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首页 » 经典英文小说 » Sentimental Tommy多愁善感的汤米 » CHAPTER XXVII — THE LONGER CATECHISM
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 In the meantime Mr. McLean was walking slowly to the Quharity Arms, fanning his face with his hat, and in the West town end he came upon some boys who had gathered with offensive cries round a girl in a lustre1 jacket. A wave of his stick put them to flight, but the girl only thanked him with a look, and entered a little house the window of which showed a brighter light than its neighbors. Dr. McQueen came out of this house a moment afterwards, and as the two men now knew each other slightly, they walked home together, McLean relating humorously how he had spent the evening. "And though Commander Sandys means to incarcerate2 me in the Tower of London," he said, "he did me a good service the other day, and I feel an interest in him."
"What did the inventive sacket do?" the doctor asked inquisitively3; but McLean, who had referred to the incident of the pass-book, affected5 not to hear. "Miss Ailie has told me his history," he said, "and that he goes to the University next year."
"Or to the herding," put in McQueen, dryly.
"Yes, I heard that was the alternative, but he should easily carry a bursary; he is a remarkable6 boy."
"Ay, but I'm no sure that it's the remarkable boys who carry the bursaries. However, if you have taken a fancy to him you should hear what Mr. Cathro has to say on the subject; for my own part I have been more taken up with one of his band lately than with himself—a lassie, too."
"She who went into that house just before you came out?"
"The same, and she is the most puzzling bit of womankind I ever fell in with."
"She looked an ordinary girl enough," said Mr. McLean.
The doctor chuckled8. "Man," he said, "in my time I have met all kinds of women except ordinary ones. What would you think if I told you that this ordinary girl had been spending three or four hours daily in that house entirely9 because there was a man dying in it?"
"Some one she had an affection for?"
"My certie, no! I'm afraid it is long since anybody had an affection for shilpit, hirpling, old Ballingall, and as for this lassie Grizel, she had never spoken to him until I sent her on an errand to his house a week ago. He was a single man (like you and me), without womenfolk, a school-master of his own making, and in the smallest way, and his one attraction to her was that he was on his death-bed. Most lassies of her age skirl to get away from the presence of death, but she prigged, sir, fairly prigged, to get into it!"
"Ah, I prefer less uncommon11 girls," McLean said. "They should not have let her have her wish; it can only do her harm."
"That is another curious thing," replied the doctor. "It does not seem to have done her harm; rather it has turned her from being a dour12, silent crittur into a talkative one, and that, I take it, is a sign of grace."
He sighed, and added: "Not that I can get her to talk of herself and her mother. (There is a mystery about them, you understand.) No, the obstinate13 brat14 will tell me nothing on that subject; instead of answering my questions she asks questions of me—an endless rush of questions, and all about Ballingall. How did I know he was dying? When you put your fingers on their wrist, what is it you count? which is the place where the lungs are? when you tap their chest what do you listen for? are they not dying as long as they can rise now and then, and dress and go out? when they are really dying do they always know it themselves? If they don't know it, is that a sign that they are not so ill as you think them? When they don't know they are dying, is it best to keep it from them in case they should scream with terror? and so on in a spate15 of questions, till I called her the Longer Catechism."
"And only morbid16 curiosity prompted her?"
"Nothing else," said the confident doctor; "if there had been anything else I should have found it out, you may be sure. However, unhealthily minded though she be, the women who took their turn at Ballingall's bedside were glad of her help."
"The more shame to them," McLean remarked warmly; but the doctor would let no one, save himself, miscall the women of Thrums.
"Ca' canny," he retorted. "The women of this place are as overdriven as the men, from the day they have the strength to turn a pirn-wheel to the day they crawl over their bed-board for the last time, but never yet have I said, 'I need one of you to sit up all night wi' an unweel body,' but what there were half a dozen willing to do it. They are a grand race, sir, and will remain so till they find it out themselves."
"But of what use could a girl of twelve or fourteen be to them?"
"Use!" McQueen cried. "Man, she has been simply a treasure, and but for one thing I would believe it was less a morbid mind than a sort of divine instinct for nursing that took her to Ballingall's bedside. The women do their best in a rough and ready way; but, sir, it cowed to see that lassie easying a pillow for Ballingall's head, or changing a sheet without letting in the air, or getting a poultice on his back without disturbing the one on his chest. I had just to let her see how to do these things once, and after that Ballingall complained if any other soul touched him."
"Ah," said McLean, "then perhaps I was uncharitable, and the nurse's instinct is the true explanation."
"No, you're wrong again, though I might have been taken in as well as you but for the one thing I spoke10 of. Three days ago Ballingall had a ghost of a chance of pulling through, I thought, and I told the lassie that if he did, the credit would be mainly hers. You'll scarcely believe it, but, upon my word, she looked disappointed rather than pleased, and she said to me, quite reproachfully, 'You told me he was sure to die!' What do you make of that?"
"It sounds unnatural17."
"It does, and so does what followed. Do you know what straiking is?"
"Arraying the corpse18 for the coffin19, laying it out, in short, is it not?"
"Ay, ay. Well, it appears that Grizel had prigged with the women to let her be present at Ballingall's straiking, and they had refused."
"I should think so," exclaimed McQueen, with a shudder20.
"But that's not all. She came to me in her difficulty, and said that if I didna promise her this privilege she would nurse Ballingall no more."
"Ugh! That shows at least that pity for him had not influenced her."
"No, she cared not a doit for him. I question if she's the kind that could care for anyone. It's plain by her thrawn look when you speak to her about her mother that she has no affection even for her. However, there she was, prepared to leave Ballingall to his fate if I did not grant her request, and I had to yield to her."
"You promised?"
"I did, sore against the grain, but I accept the responsibility. You are pained, but you don't know what a good nurse means to a doctor."
"Well, he died after all, and the straiking is going on now. You saw her go in."
"I think you could have been excused for breaking your word and turning her out."
"To tell the truth," said the doctor, "I had the same idea when I saw her enter, and I tried to shoo her to the door, but she cried, 'You promised, you can't break a promise!' and the morbid brat that she is looked so horrified21 at the very notion of anybody's breaking a promise that I slunk away as if she had right on her side."
"No wonder the little monster is unpopular," was McLean's comment. "The children hereabout seem to take to her as little as I do, for I had to drive away some who were molesting22 her. I am sorry I interfered23 now."
"I can tell you why they t'nead her," replied the doctor, and he repeated the little that was known in Thrums of the Painted Lady, "And you see the womenfolk are mad because they can find out so little about her, where she got her money, for instance, and who are the 'gentlemen' that are said to visit her at Double Dykes25. They have tried many ways of drawing Grizel, from heckle biscuits and parlies to a slap in the face, but neither by coaxing26 nor squeezing will you get an egg out of a sweer hen, and so they found. 'The dour little limmer,' they say, 'stalking about wi' all her blinds down,' and they are slow to interfere24 when their laddies call her names. It's a pity for herself that she's not more communicative, for if she would just satisfy the women's curiosity she would find them full of kindness. A terrible thing, Mr. McLean, is curiosity. The Bible says that the love of money is the root of all evil, but we must ask Mr. Dishart if love of money is not a misprint for curiosity. And you won't find men boring their way into other folk's concerns; it is a woman's failing, essentially27 a woman's." This was the doctor's pet topic, and he pursued it until they had to part. He had opened his door and was about to enter when he saw Gavinia passing on her way home from the Den4.
"Come here, my lass," he called to her, and then said inquisitively, "I'm told Mr. McLean is at his tea with Miss Ailie every day?"
"And it's true," replied Gavinia, in huge delight, "and what's more, she has given him some presents."
"You say so, lassie! What were they now?"
"I dinna ken7," Gavinia had to admit, dejectedly. "She took them out o' the ottoman, and it has aye been kept looked."
McQueen looked very knowingly at her. "Will he, think you?" he asked mysteriously.
The maid seemed to understand, for she replied, promptly28, "I hope he will."
"But he hasna spiered her as yet, you think?"
"No," she said, "no, but he calls her Ailie, and wi' the gentry29 it's but one loup frae that to spiering."
"Maybe," answered the doctor, "but it's a loup they often bogle at. I'se uphaud he's close on fifty, Gavinia?"
"There's no denying he is by his best," she said regretfully, and then added, with spirit, "but Miss Ailie's no heavy, and in thae grite arms o' his he could daidle her as if she were an infant."
This bewildered McQueen, and he asked, "What are you blethering about, Gavinia?" to which she replied, regally, "Wha carries me, wears me!" The doctor concluded that it must be Den language.
"And I hope he's good enough for her," continued Miss Ailie's warm-hearted maid, "for she deserves a good ane."
"She does," McQueen agreed heartily30; "ay, and I believe he is, for he breathes through his nose instead of through his mouth; and let me tell you, Gavinia, that's the one thing to be sure of in a man before you take him for better or worse."
The astounded31 maid replied, "I'll ken better things than that about my lad afore I take him," but the doctor assured her that it was the box which held them all, "though you maun tell no one, lassie, for it's my one discovery in five and thirty years of practice."
Seeing that, despite his bantering32 tone, he was speaking seriously, she pressed him for his meaning, but he only replied sadly, "You're like the rest, Gavinia, I see it breaking out on you in spots."
"An illness!" she cried, in alarm.
"Ay, lassie, an illness called curiosity. I had just been telling Mr. McLean that curiosity is essentially a woman's ailment33, and up you come ahint to prove it." He shook a finger at her reprovingly, and was probably still reflecting on woman's ways when Grizel walked home at midnight breathing through her nose, and Tommy fell asleep with his mouth open. For Tommy could never have stood the doctor's test of a man. In the painting of him, aged34 twenty-four, which was exhibited in the Royal Academy, his lips meet firmly, but no one knew save himself how he gasped35 after each sitting.


1 lustre hAhxg     
  • The sun was shining with uncommon lustre.太阳放射出异常的光彩。
  • A good name keeps its lustre in the dark.一个好的名誉在黑暗中也保持它的光辉。
2 incarcerate a98xM     
  • Why do you incarcerate yourself in the room every afternoon?你为何每天下午将自己关在房间里?
  • Many people think that it is wrong to incarcerate criminals in confined quarters for as long as thirty years.很多人认为把罪犯监禁在禁闭营里达30年之久是不对的。
3 inquisitively d803d87bf3e11b0f2e68073d10c7b5b7     
过分好奇地; 好问地
  • The Mouse looked at her rather inquisitively, and seemed to her to wink with one of its little eyes, but It'said nothing. 这老鼠狐疑地看着她,好像还把一只小眼睛向她眨了眨,但没说话。
  • The mouse looked at her rather inquisitively. 那只耗子用疑问的眼光看看她。
4 den 5w9xk     
  • There is a big fox den on the back hill.后山有一个很大的狐狸窝。
  • The only way to catch tiger cubs is to go into tiger's den.不入虎穴焉得虎子。
5 affected TzUzg0     
  • She showed an affected interest in our subject.她假装对我们的课题感到兴趣。
  • His manners are affected.他的态度不自然。
6 remarkable 8Vbx6     
  • She has made remarkable headway in her writing skills.她在写作技巧方面有了长足进步。
  • These cars are remarkable for the quietness of their engines.这些汽车因发动机没有噪音而不同凡响。
7 ken k3WxV     
  • Such things are beyond my ken.我可不懂这些事。
  • Abstract words are beyond the ken of children.抽象的言辞超出小孩所理解的范围.
8 chuckled 8ce1383c838073977a08258a1f3e30f8     
轻声地笑( chuckle的过去式和过去分词 )
  • She chuckled at the memory. 想起这件事她就暗自发笑。
  • She chuckled softly to herself as she remembered his astonished look. 想起他那惊讶的表情,她就轻轻地暗自发笑。
9 entirely entirely     
  • The fire was entirely caused by their neglect of duty. 那场火灾完全是由于他们失职而引起的。
  • His life was entirely given up to the educational work. 他的一生统统献给了教育工作。
10 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。
11 uncommon AlPwO     
  • Such attitudes were not at all uncommon thirty years ago.这些看法在30年前很常见。
  • Phil has uncommon intelligence.菲尔智力超群。
12 dour pkAzf     
  • They were exposed to dour resistance.他们遭受到顽强的抵抗。
  • She always pretends to be dour,in fact,she's not.她总表现的不爱讲话,事实却相反。
13 obstinate m0dy6     
  • She's too obstinate to let anyone help her.她太倔强了,不会让任何人帮她的。
  • The trader was obstinate in the negotiation.这个商人在谈判中拗强固执。
14 brat asPzx     
  • He's a spoilt brat.他是一个被宠坏了的调皮孩子。
  • The brat sicked his dog on the passer-by.那个顽童纵狗去咬过路人。
15 spate BF7zJ     
  • Police are investigating a spate of burglaries in the area.警察正在调查这一地区发生的大量盗窃案。
  • Refugees crossed the border in full spate.难民大量地越过了边境。
16 morbid u6qz3     
  • Some people have a morbid fascination with crime.一些人对犯罪有一种病态的痴迷。
  • It's morbid to dwell on cemeteries and such like.不厌其烦地谈论墓地以及诸如此类的事是一种病态。
17 unnatural 5f2zAc     
  • Did her behaviour seem unnatural in any way?她有任何反常表现吗?
  • She has an unnatural smile on her face.她脸上挂着做作的微笑。
18 corpse JYiz4     
  • What she saw was just an unfeeling corpse.她见到的只是一具全无感觉的尸体。
  • The corpse was preserved from decay by embalming.尸体用香料涂抹以防腐烂。
19 coffin XWRy7     
  • When one's coffin is covered,all discussion about him can be settled.盖棺论定。
  • The coffin was placed in the grave.那口棺材已安放到坟墓里去了。
20 shudder JEqy8     
  • The sight of the coffin sent a shudder through him.看到那副棺材,他浑身一阵战栗。
  • We all shudder at the thought of the dreadful dirty place.我们一想到那可怕的肮脏地方就浑身战惊。
21 horrified 8rUzZU     
  • The whole country was horrified by the killings. 全国都对这些凶杀案感到大为震惊。
  • We were horrified at the conditions prevailing in local prisons. 地方监狱的普遍状况让我们震惊。
22 molesting 9803a4c212351ba8f8347ac71aad0f44     
v.骚扰( molest的现在分词 );干扰;调戏;猥亵
  • He was accused of sexually molesting a female colleague. 他被指控对一位女同事进行性骚扰。 来自辞典例句
  • He was charged with molesting a woman. 他被指控调戏妇女。 来自辞典例句
23 interfered 71b7e795becf1adbddfab2cd6c5f0cff     
v.干预( interfere的过去式和过去分词 );调停;妨碍;干涉
  • Complete absorption in sports interfered with his studies. 专注于运动妨碍了他的学业。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • I am not going to be interfered with. 我不想别人干扰我的事情。 来自《简明英汉词典》
24 interfere b5lx0     
  • If we interfere, it may do more harm than good.如果我们干预的话,可能弊多利少。
  • When others interfere in the affair,it always makes troubles. 别人一卷入这一事件,棘手的事情就来了。
25 dykes 47cc5ebe9e62cd1c065e797efec57dde     
abbr.diagonal wire cutters 斜线切割机n.堤( dyke的名词复数 );坝;堰;沟
  • They built dykes and dam to hold back the rising flood waters. 他们修筑了堤坝来阻挡上涨的洪水。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • The dykes were built as a protection against the sea. 建筑堤坝是为了防止海水泛滥。 来自《简明英汉词典》
26 coaxing 444e70224820a50b0202cb5bb05f1c2e     
v.哄,用好话劝说( coax的现在分词 );巧言骗取;哄劝,劝诱;“锻炼”效应
  • No amount of coaxing will make me change my mind. 任你费尽口舌也不会说服我改变主意。
  • It took a lot of coaxing before he agreed. 劝说了很久他才同意。 来自辞典例句
27 essentially nntxw     
  • Really great men are essentially modest.真正的伟人大都很谦虚。
  • She is an essentially selfish person.她本质上是个自私自利的人。
28 promptly LRMxm     
  • He paid the money back promptly.他立即还了钱。
  • She promptly seized the opportunity his absence gave her.她立即抓住了因他不在场给她创造的机会。
29 gentry Ygqxe     
  • Landed income was the true measure of the gentry.来自土地的收入是衡量是否士绅阶层的真正标准。
  • Better be the head of the yeomanry than the tail of the gentry.宁做自由民之首,不居贵族之末。
30 heartily Ld3xp     
  • He ate heartily and went out to look for his horse.他痛快地吃了一顿,就出去找他的马。
  • The host seized my hand and shook it heartily.主人抓住我的手,热情地和我握手。
31 astounded 7541fb163e816944b5753491cad6f61a     
  • His arrogance astounded her. 他的傲慢使她震惊。
  • How can you say that? I'm absolutely astounded. 你怎么能说出那种话?我感到大为震惊。
32 bantering Iycz20     
adj.嘲弄的v.开玩笑,说笑,逗乐( banter的现在分词 );(善意地)取笑,逗弄
  • There was a friendly, bantering tone in his voice. 他的声音里流露着友好诙谐的语调。
  • The students enjoyed their teacher's bantering them about their mistakes. 同学们对老师用风趣的方式讲解他们的错误很感兴趣。 来自《现代英汉综合大词典》
33 ailment IV8zf     
  • I don't have even the slightest ailment.我什么毛病也没有。
  • He got timely treatment for his ailment.他的病得到了及时治疗。
34 aged 6zWzdI     
  • He had put on weight and aged a little.他胖了,也老点了。
  • He is aged,but his memory is still good.他已年老,然而记忆力还好。
35 gasped e6af294d8a7477229d6749fa9e8f5b80     
v.喘气( gasp的过去式和过去分词 );喘息;倒抽气;很想要
  • She gasped at the wonderful view. 如此美景使她惊讶得屏住了呼吸。
  • People gasped with admiration at the superb skill of the gymnasts. 体操运动员的高超技艺令人赞叹。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》


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