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首页 » 儿童英文小说 » Wild Heather » CHAPTER XVIII
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My father kept on holding my hand. We neither of us spoke1; there are moments when words fail us, and these happened to be some. The sun crept higher and higher in the heavens, it beat down on us, but it was tempered by the pleasant, cool sea breezes. We were both looking into the future, and, truth to tell, our hearts were sad. I was making up my mind, and father was making up his mind. At last I, being the younger and more impulsive2, spoke:
"It is all right, Daddy," I said. "It was a bit of a dreadful shock; I don't pretend it was anything else. I have always put you—oh, on such a pedestal! But I'll get used to it. You were tempted3 awfully4, or you would never have done it. I am certain of that, and—I have never been tempted at all, so, of course, I can't understand. You were tempted, poor darling, and it—it happened. It is hateful of people to stamp on you, and crush you when you're down; but I suppose it is something horrid5 inside of them makes them do it. Daddy, I'm not made like that. I couldn't stamp on you—I couldn't crush you. On the contrary, I have made up my mind. You and I against the world, Daddy mine, against the whole wide world. You won't return to London to-night; you'll stay here, and you'll write to Lady Helen, and you'll tell her that you and I have escaped from the worst prison, and are going to live always together, and that we aren't a bit afraid of poverty, and that, in short, we've made up our minds. We've cut the Gordian knot. We'll be happy together, and we don't care a scrap6 about poverty."
"That's your firm resolve, is it, Heather?" said my father.
"It is. I have been thinking it out—I can't get away from it."
"All right. Give me a kiss, child."
I put my arms round him, and kissed him many times. Again I noticed that there wasn't a bit of shame in his eyes; they looked quite clear, and steadfast7, and blue, with that wonderful blue light which I think only comes into the eyes of men who are accustomed to face the sea and the wind, and who have lived a great deal out of doors.
"So that is your final decision?" he repeated. "I like to feel your kisses on my cheek, Heather."
I kissed him again.
"It is," I said.
"Well, now you've to hear mine."
"Oh, yours," I said; "you won't go away from your own Heather—you couldn't—you love her too well."
"God knows I love you, pretty one. You are the only creature on earth I do love. I love you with all my heart and soul, and that's saying a great deal. For the ten long years I was in prison I kept thinking and thinking of you, child. But for you I might have lost my reason; but your little face, and your ways, and your love for me kept me—well, all right. And now I am a free man again—I mean, I am free to claim your love. But you haven't decided8 what part Carbury is to play in this."
I shivered very slightly.
"I have told you," I said. "He won't play any part. I—I'm going to write to him. We need not talk about him any more. Yesterday you and my stepmother were opposed to my marrying him; now I also am opposed. There will be no marriage between us. I am all yours."
"Oh, you best child in all the world!"
"Then it's settled, isn't it, Daddy?"
"My little girl, I can't tell. It rests with Carbury himself. But my part—you've got to hear my part now."
I felt very, very sad when he said this. I seemed to guess in advance that a great strain and trial was about to be put upon me. My father looked at me, and then he looked away. Again he took up some great, full bells of heather and crushed them in his hand; he threw them away and turned and faced me.
"There! The worst is out. I have got to stay with her ladyship."
"Yes. I can't get away from it, Heather child. I can't live on nothing, nor, my little girl, can you. We are both dependent on Lady Helen for our daily bread."
"I am not—I won't be," I said.
"But you are," he answered, "and you must be; that's just it. You can't get away from it. She holds the purse. Do you think she will unfasten those purse strings9 to give you and me an allowance to live away from her?"
"But we can live on so little," I said; "and I can work. I should love to work."
"Well, now, Heather," said my father, "you are no fool."
"I hope I am not," I said.
"You're a very wise girl for your age."
"I hope so," I replied.
"I have watched you, and I know you are wise for your age—very. Being so, therefore, what can you do to earn a living? Just tell me."
I sat very quiet and still. I thought over my different accomplishments10. I could play a little, I could sing a little; I had a smattering of French—a very slight smattering—and I was fond of good English books, history books, and books of travel, and I adored books of adventure, and I could recite a good many pieces from our best poets. But all these things did not form much of a cargo11 to take on board my ship of life. My father kept looking at me, with that whimsical light in his blue eyes.
"Eh, little woman? Suppose I take you at your word, how do you propose to support yourself and me? There would be, first of all, our lodgings13. We might go to Plymouth, or some other place, not too dear. We might find rooms—kind of country cottage rooms—by the sea, and pay, say, six shillings a week each. It is very unlikely we'd get them for that, but I really want to bring you down as lightly as possible. Well, six shillings a week for you and six shillings for me means twelve shillings, and that would mean, probably, a tiny, tiny sitting-room14, and two of the wee-est bedrooms in all the world. Still, it might be done for the price of twelve shillings a week. There would be extras, of course—landladies greatly live by extras—and we should have to put them down, counting coal and light, one part of the year with another, at about three shillings a week, which mounts up, our lodging12 and our light and coal, to fifteen shillings a week.
"Then, my dear little Heather, there comes that important thing, food, for the bravest of all little girls would get very hungry at times, and if she didn't get hungry she wouldn't be worth her salt. There'd be your breakfast, my dear, and my breakfast, and your snack in the middle of the day, and your tea in the afternoon, and your dinner in the evening; and I don't think the shopkeepers would give us bread, and butter, and milk, and beef, and mutton, and vegetables, and all those sort of things for nothing—I have an impression that they wouldn't. Of course I may be wrong, but that is my impression, and I have a pretty good knowledge of the world. I don't think, dear, that even at starvation price we could be fed under something like another fifteen shillings to a pound a week. Now, my little Heather, how are you to earn, say, one pound fifteen shillings a week—to say nothing of the expense of note-paper, and stamps, and envelopes, and dress?"
"Oh, I have heaps of dress," I said. "There are a great many dresses of mine at the house in London."
"Which have been supplied to you by Lady Helen. I don't really know, if we made this great severance15 from her, whether we should have any right to take those dresses from her or not—I am inclined to think not, if you ask me. However, suppose you don't want dress for the time being, at least you will want shoe leather, and gloves, and trifles of that sort. My dear, we can't put down our living, between us, however hard we try, at less than two pounds a week, and that means over a hundred pounds a year. Now, Heather child, I have nothing a year—nothing!"
He stretched out both his arms as he spoke.
"Oh, yes; I am supposed to be one of the richest of old men. I can drive in my motor-car, and I can have a horse, and I can go here, there, and everywhere. I can live in the softest rooms, and I can eat the most dainty food, and I can curse luxury in my heart as you curse it in yours; but I haven't a penny piece to get away from it—not a penny piece; and, as far as I can tell, no more have you."
"Couldn't we live here with Aunt Penelope?" I said.
My voice was very weak and faint. A good deal of my courage was being taken out of me.
"As if we would, Heather! Think how that brave woman supported you during the long years when I was in prison, and could not earn a halfpenny! No, no, Heather; no, no! It was partly to relieve your aunt that I married her ladyship, and, Heather child, I can't get away from her now—I can't—and I am greatly afraid you can't either."
"But she won't have me," I said; "she'll have you back, of course, but not me; and, father, darling, I can't go back!"
"She would have you if I pleaded," said my father, "and if I could tell her you had quite given up young Carbury. She has taken a dislike to that poor boy, God alone knows why—but I think I can manage it. You see, it's this way. Her ladyship has a great horror of anything approaching a scandal; I never knew anyone with such a downright horror of it; upon my word, in her case it amounts to a downright sin—it does, really. Well, there she is, hating scandal, and if you left her there'd be no end of talk, for in your way you have paid her well for all the luxuries she has showered upon you. People have been civil to her, not for her sake—who would look at a frowzy16 old woman like her?—yes, child, I say it; I don't mind what I say to you—but a great many people would want to look at your dear, fresh little face; and it is just because of that same dear little face that so many people have come to her ladyship's 'At Homes'; and it is because of that same little face that you and Lady Helen have been asked out so much. She knows it well enough; she knows why she's popular. I can easily get her to let the old life go on, and you shan't be worried with—with that poor fellow Hawtrey. I said to myself, when she was so full of it, 'I don't believe the child will consent,' but there, she told me I was wrong. She said there wasn't a girl in England who'd refuse a match like that; and even I allowed myself to be persuaded that that was the case."
"But, oh, father, wouldn't you have hated it?"
"No, child, not altogether; there might have been worse fates for you. He's a good man, is Hawtrey; he'd have treated you well; he'd have been very kind to you. I have heard before of girls marrying men old enough to be their fathers, and being happy with them. I dare say if young Carbury had not come in the way you'd have taken him, for there isn't his like in England for chivalry17 and kindness of heart."
"But he did come," I said.
"Yes; youth naturally mates with youth—it's the true story of life. I'm not blaming you a bit, Heather—not in my heart, I mean. I had to pretend to blame you, of course, the other day."
Here my father rose to his feet.
"You shan't be worried about Hawtrey," he said, "and I'll promise that Carbury shall not cross your path. But I don't think there is any help for it; you'll have to come back with me. I'll stay here to-night; I'll telegraph to her ladyship again, and tell her that you are all right, and that we are coming back to-morrow morning. I'd rather have you in the house than not in the house, for even though we can't often talk to each other we can at least understand each other."
"But Aunt Penelope is ill; even if I could agree to what you wish, Aunt Penelope is very ill. I ought not to leave her now."
"Well, perhaps not; perhaps your aunt ought to be considered. In that case I would go back myself to-night—it would be best for me to do so; her ladyship might want me, and I know I'd be in the right to go back, and as quickly as possible. Well, we'll go and see your aunt now; only, before we visit her, I want you to make me a promise. You will come to London—you will take up the old life for my sake?"
I looked him in the eyes.
"Do you want this very, very badly?" I said.
"I want it more than anything on earth."
"And wanting it so badly," I said very sadly, "you yet would have pretended to be glad if I had said 'Yes' to Lord Hawtrey?"
"I might have, there's no saying. I'd have had your house to come to then; but that's out of the question, and needn't be thought of. You'll come back to me, Heather, when your aunt can spare you?"
"Yes, I will come," I said, and then I kissed him, and we walked slowly back from the Downs, my hand clasped in his.
Aunt Penelope was better; the doctor had been again, and was pleased with her. Jonas, in his very best suit, his face shining with soap and water, gave us the good news on our arrival. There was a nice little lunch waiting for us in the tiny dining-room, and my father, as he expressed it, was "downright hungry."
"Delicious, this cold beef and salad tastes," he said. "Upon my word, there's nothing like plain food; one does get sick to death of made-up dishes."
I helped him to the best that my aunt's little table could afford, and then I ran softly up to her room. She was lying high up in bed, her eyes were bright, and she was watching for me.
"Well, child; well?"
"You are better, aren't you, auntie?"
"Better? I am all right, child; what about yourself?"
"I am quite well, of course."
"Heather, is that poor man, your father, downstairs?"
"He is."
"Has he expressed a wish to see me?"
"He has come back for the purpose."
"I will see him; only he must be quiet, in order to prevent my coughing. If I start coughing again I may get really bad; you tell him that. Heather, my love, you're not going to leave me, are you?"
"Not at present, at any rate," I said.
"Kiss me, dear. You are a very good girl; you take after your mother. You have got her patient, steadfast light in your eyes. Now send that father of yours up, and tell him, whatever he does, to be careful that he doesn't set me coughing."
I ran downstairs, and gave my father Aunt Penelope's message. He said:
"Poor old girl! I'll be careful, right enough," and then he went softly and slowly upstairs. I watched until he was out of sight; then I ran quickly into the little drawing-room. I had not a minute to lose, and I would not delay. I would not postpone18 setting a seal on my own fate for a single moment.
There was the little room, looking just as of old. I had dusted it and tidied it that morning, and put a few fresh flowers in one or two vases, and made it look quite gay and pretty. I knew where Aunt Penelope kept her note-paper; I opened her Davenport and took out a sheet now and began to write. I wrote straight to Vernon Carbury. My letter was very short.
"I have to give you up, Vernon," I wrote; "there is no other way out. My father, Major Grayson, has told me his true story. I never heard it until to-day. I understand everything now, and I wish you, Vernon, clearly to understand that I, Major Grayson's daughter, take his shame, and bind19 it on me, and not for all the world will I loosen that badge of shame from my heart. So, because of this very thing, I can never be your true wife. You are a brave soldier of the King, and my father has been cashiered, because of a crime, from the King's Army. Is it likely that you and I can be husband and wife? Good-bye, dear. It gives me dreadful pain to write this letter, but all the same, I am glad we have met, and that you have put me into your gallery of heroines, as I have put you into my gallery of heroes. Forget me soon—find a girl who has no shame to bind round her heart, and be happy. Dearest darling, best beloved,—Your little
I knew his address, and put it on the letter. I stamped it, and ran out with it myself. Jonas saw me going, and called after me:
"Miss Heather, I'll post that for you."
"No, thank you," I answered; "I'd like to go."
The letter was dropped into the post-box before my father came downstairs again after his interview with Aunt Penelope. His face was pale, and he looked tired.
"Upon my word, this has been a trying day to me. She's the best of women, Heather; I don't wonder you're proud of her. She reminds me wonderfully of your poor mother; not in appearance, of course, for I never saw your mother except with the glint and the glamour20 of youth on her face; but she's what your poor mother would have been had she lived. She's a right-down good woman. She wants you to go on living with her, but I have got her to see reason, and she is satisfied that you shall return to me as soon as she is well. Take care of her, child—here's a ten-pound note to spend on her, and when you want more money you have only to write to me."
"But—but I thought you had no money?" I answered.
"I have, and I haven't. As long as I live with Lady Helen I have more money than I know what to do with. Don't take that little drop of honey out of my cup. I can spend that money as I please, and no questions asked; and now, my child, I'm going back to London. I'll write to you in a day or two; you needn't fear her ladyship, she'll go on giving you a good time, and some day perhaps you'll marry."
"No," I said. "You know that—father—you know that I won't."
"Well, well, there's no saying, and a girl of your age can't prophesy21 with regard to the future. Good-bye, little girl. God bless you! You have comforted me as you alone could to-day."


1 spoke XryyC     
n.(车轮的)辐条;轮辐;破坏某人的计划;阻挠某人的行动 v.讲,谈(speak的过去式);说;演说;从某种观点来说
  • They sourced the spoke nuts from our company.他们的轮辐螺帽是从我们公司获得的。
  • The spokes of a wheel are the bars that connect the outer ring to the centre.辐条是轮子上连接外圈与中心的条棒。
2 impulsive M9zxc     
  • She is impulsive in her actions.她的行为常出于冲动。
  • He was neither an impulsive nor an emotional man,but a very honest and sincere one.他不是个一冲动就鲁莽行事的人,也不多愁善感.他为人十分正直、诚恳。
3 tempted b0182e969d369add1b9ce2353d3c6ad6     
  • I was sorely tempted to complain, but I didn't. 我极想发牢骚,但还是没开口。
  • I was tempted by the dessert menu. 甜食菜单馋得我垂涎欲滴。
4 awfully MPkym     
  • Agriculture was awfully neglected in the past.过去农业遭到严重忽视。
  • I've been feeling awfully bad about it.对这我一直感到很难受。
5 horrid arozZj     
  • I'm not going to the horrid dinner party.我不打算去参加这次讨厌的宴会。
  • The medicine is horrid and she couldn't get it down.这种药很难吃,她咽不下去。
6 scrap JDFzf     
  • A man comes round regularly collecting scrap.有个男人定时来收废品。
  • Sell that car for scrap.把那辆汽车当残品卖了吧。
7 steadfast 2utw7     
  • Her steadfast belief never left her for one moment.她坚定的信仰从未动摇过。
  • He succeeded in his studies by dint of steadfast application.由于坚持不懈的努力他获得了学业上的成功。
8 decided lvqzZd     
  • This gave them a decided advantage over their opponents.这使他们比对手具有明显的优势。
  • There is a decided difference between British and Chinese way of greeting.英国人和中国人打招呼的方式有很明显的区别。
9 strings nh0zBe     
  • He sat on the bed,idly plucking the strings of his guitar.他坐在床上,随意地拨着吉他的弦。
  • She swept her fingers over the strings of the harp.她用手指划过竖琴的琴弦。
10 accomplishments 1c15077db46e4d6425b6f78720939d54     
n.造诣;完成( accomplishment的名词复数 );技能;成绩;成就
  • It was one of the President's greatest accomplishments. 那是总统最伟大的成就之一。
  • Among her accomplishments were sewing,cooking,playing the piano and dancing. 她的才能包括缝纫、烹调、弹钢琴和跳舞。 来自《现代英汉综合大词典》
11 cargo 6TcyG     
  • The ship has a cargo of about 200 ton.这条船大约有200吨的货物。
  • A lot of people discharged the cargo from a ship.许多人从船上卸下货物。
12 lodging wRgz9     
  • The bill is inclusive of the food and lodging. 账单包括吃、住费用。
  • Where can you find lodging for the night? 你今晚在哪里借宿?
13 lodgings f12f6c99e9a4f01e5e08b1197f095e6e     
n. 出租的房舍, 寄宿舍
  • When he reached his lodgings the sun had set. 他到达公寓房间时,太阳已下山了。
  • I'm on the hunt for lodgings. 我正在寻找住所。
14 sitting-room sitting-room     
  • The sitting-room is clean.起居室很清洁。
  • Each villa has a separate sitting-room.每栋别墅都有一间独立的起居室。
15 severance WTLza     
  • Those laid off received their regular checks,plus vacation and severance pay.那些被裁的人都收到他们应得的薪金,再加上假期和解职的酬金。Kirchofer was terminated,effective immediately--without severance or warning.科奇弗被解雇了,立刻生效--而且没有辞退费或者警告。
16 frowzy ahfxo     
  • The drowsy browser knits its brows to browbeat the frowzy crow.昏昏欲睡的吃草动物皱眉头恐吓邋遢的乌鸦。
  • The frowzy street was disgusting.那条肮脏的街道令人作呕。
17 chivalry wXAz6     
  • The Middle Ages were also the great age of chivalry.中世纪也是骑士制度盛行的时代。
  • He looked up at them with great chivalry.他非常有礼貌地抬头瞧她们。
18 postpone rP0xq     
  • I shall postpone making a decision till I learn full particulars.在未获悉详情之前我得从缓作出决定。
  • She decided to postpone the converastion for that evening.她决定当天晚上把谈话搁一搁。
19 bind Vt8zi     
  • I will let the waiter bind up the parcel for you.我让服务生帮你把包裹包起来。
  • He wants a shirt that does not bind him.他要一件不使他觉得过紧的衬衫。
20 glamour Keizv     
  • Foreign travel has lost its glamour for her.到国外旅行对她已失去吸引力了。
  • The moonlight cast a glamour over the scene.月光给景色增添了魅力。
21 prophesy 00Czr     
  • He dares to prophesy what will happen in the future.他敢预言未来将发生什么事。
  • I prophesy that he'll be back in the old job.我预言他将重操旧业。


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