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CHAPTER XXVIII — BUT IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN MISS KITTY
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 The ottoman whence, as Gavinia said, Miss Ailie produced the presents she gave to Mr. McLean, stood near the door of the blue-and-white room, with a reel of thread between, to keep them apart forever. Except on washing days it was of a genteel appearance, for though but a wooden kist, it had a gay outer garment with frills, which Gavinia starched2, and beneath this was apparel of a private character that tied with tapes. When Miss Ailie, pins in her mouth, was on her knees arraying the ottoman, it might almost have been mistaken for a female child.
 
The contents of the ottoman were a few trivial articles sewn or knitted by Miss Kitty during her last illness, "just to keep me out of languor," she would explain wistfully to her sister. She never told Miss Ailie that they were intended for any special person; on the contrary, she said, "Perhaps you may find someone they will be useful to," but almost without her knowing it they always grew into something that would be useful to Ivie McLean.
 
"The remarkable3 thing is that they are an exact fit," the man said about the slippers4, and Miss Ailie nodded, but she did not think it remarkable.
 
There were also two fluffy5 little bags, and Miss Ailie had to explain their use. "If you put your feet into them in bed," she faltered6, "they—they keep you warm."
 
McLean turned hastily to something else, a smoking-cap. "I scarcely think this can have been meant for me," he said; "you have forgotten how she used to chide7 me for smoking."
 
Miss Ailie had not forgotten. "But in a way," she replied, flushing a little, "we—that is, Kitty—could not help admiring you for smoking. There is something so—so dashing about it."
 
"I was little worthy8 all the friendship you two gave me, Ailie," he told her humbly9, and he was nearly saying something to her then that he had made up his mind to say. The time came a few days later. They had been walking together on the hill, and on their return to the Dovecot he had insisted, "in his old imperious way," on coming in to tea. Hearing talking in the kitchen Miss Ailie went along the passage to discover what company her maid kept; but before she reached the door, which was ajar, she turned as if she had heard something dreadful and hurried upstairs, signing to Mr. McLean, with imploring10 eyes, to follow her. This at once sent him to the kitchen door.
 
Gavinia was alone. She was standing11 in the middle of the floor, with one arm crooked12 as if making believe that another's arm rested on it, and over her head was a little muslin window-blind, representing a bride's veil. Thus she was two persons, but she was also a third, who addressed them in clerical tones.
 
"Ivie McLean," she said as solemnly as tho' she were the Rev1. Mr. Dishart, "do you take this woman to be thy lawful13 wedded14 wife?" With almost indecent haste she answered herself, "I do."
 
"Alison Cray," she said next, "do you take this man to be thy lawful wedded husband?" "I do."
 
Just then the door shut softly; and Gavinia ran to see who had been listening, with the result that she hid herself in the coal-cellar.
 
While she was there, Miss Ailie and Mr. McLean were sitting in the blue-and-white room very self-conscious, and Miss Ailie was speaking confusedly of anything and everything, saying more in five minutes than had served for the previous hour, and always as she slackened she read an intention in his face that started her tongue upon another journey. But, "Timid Ailie," he said at last, "do you think you can talk me down?" and then she gave him a look of reproach that turned treacherously15 into one of appeal, but he had the hardihood to continue; "Ailie, do you need to be told what I want to say?"
 
Miss Ailie stood quite still now, a stiff, thick figure, with a soft, plain face and nervous hands. "Before you speak," she said, nervously16, "I have something to tell you that—perhaps then you will not say it.
 
"I have always led you to believe," she began, trembling, "that I am forty-nine. I am fifty-one."
 
He would have spoken, but the look of appeal came back to her face, asking him to make it easier for her by saying nothing. She took a pair of spectacles from her pocket, and he divined what this meant before she spoke17. "I have avoided letting you see that I need them," she said. "You—men don't like—" She tried to say it all in a rush, but the words would not come.
 
"I am beginning to be a little deaf," she went on. "To deceive you about that, I have sometimes answered you without really knowing what you said."
 
"Anything more, Ailie?"
 
"My accomplishments—they were never great, but Kitty and I thought my playing of classical pieces—my fingers are not sufficiently18 pliable19 now. And I—I forget so many things."
 
"But, Ailie—"
 
"Please let me tell you. I was reading a book, a story, last winter, and one of the characters, an old maid, was held up to ridicule20 in it for many little peculiarities21 that—that I recognized as my own. They had grown upon me without my knowing that they made me ridiculous, and now I—I have tried, but I cannot alter them."
 
"Is that all, Ailie?"
 
"No."
 
The last seemed to be the hardest to say. Dusk had come on, and they could not see each other well. She asked him to light the lamp, and his back was toward her while he did it, wondering a little at her request. When he turned, her hands rose like cowards to hide her head, but she pulled them down. "Do you not see?" she said.
 
"I see that you have done something to your hair," he answered, "I liked it best the other way."
 
Most people would have liked it best the other way. There was still a good deal of it, but the "bun" in which it ended had gone strangely small. "The rest was false," said Miss Ailie, with a painful effort; "at least, it is my own, but it came out when—when Kitty died."
 
She stopped, but he was silent. "That is all now," she said, softly; and she waited for him to speak if he chose. He turned his head away sharply, and Miss Ailie mistook his meaning. If she gave one little sob—Well, it was but one, and then all the glory of womanhood came rushing to her aid, and it unfurled its flag over her, whispering, "Now, sweet daughter, now, strike for me," and she raised her head gallantly22, and for a moment in her life the old school-mistress was a queen. "I shall ring for tea," she said, quietly and without a tremor23; "do you think there is anything so refreshing24 after a walk as a dish of tea?"
 
She rang the bell, but its tinkle25 only made Gavinia secede26 farther into the cellar, and that summons has not been answered to this day, and no one seems to care, for while the wires were still vibrating Mr. McLean had asked Miss Ailie to forgive him and marry him.
 
Miss Ailie said she would, but, "Oh," she cried, "ten years ago it might have been my Kitty. I would that it had been Kitty!"
 
Miss Ailie was dear to him now, and ten years is a long time, and men are vain. Mr. McLean replied, quite honestly, "I am not sure that I did not always like you best," but that hurt her, and he had to unsay the words.
 
"I was a thoughtless fool ten years ago," he said, bitterly, and Miss Ailie's answer came strangely from such timid lips. "Yes, you were!" she exclaimed, passionately27, and all the wrath28, long pent up, with very different feelings, in her gentle bosom29, against the man who should have adored her Kitty, leapt at that reproachful cry to her mouth and eyes, and so passed out of her forever.
 

点击收听单词发音收听单词发音  

1 rev njvzwS     
v.发动机旋转,加快速度
参考例句:
  • It's his job to rev up the audience before the show starts.他要负责在表演开始前鼓动观众的热情。
  • Don't rev the engine so hard.别让发动机转得太快。
2 starched 1adcdf50723145c17c3fb6015bbe818c     
adj.浆硬的,硬挺的,拘泥刻板的v.把(衣服、床单等)浆一浆( starch的过去式和过去分词 )
参考例句:
  • My clothes are not starched enough. 我的衣服浆得不够硬。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》
  • The ruffles on his white shirt were starched and clean. 白衬衫的褶边浆过了,很干净。 来自辞典例句
3 remarkable 8Vbx6     
adj.显著的,异常的,非凡的,值得注意的
参考例句:
  • 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。
4 slippers oiPzHV     
n. 拖鞋
参考例句:
  • a pair of slippers 一双拖鞋
  • He kicked his slippers off and dropped on to the bed. 他踢掉了拖鞋,倒在床上。
5 fluffy CQjzv     
adj.有绒毛的,空洞的
参考例句:
  • Newly hatched chicks are like fluffy balls.刚孵出的小鸡像绒毛球。
  • The steamed bread is very fluffy.馒头很暄。
6 faltered d034d50ce5a8004ff403ab402f79ec8d     
(嗓音)颤抖( falter的过去式和过去分词 ); 支吾其词; 蹒跚; 摇晃
参考例句:
  • He faltered out a few words. 他支吾地说出了几句。
  • "Er - but he has such a longhead!" the man faltered. 他不好意思似的嚅嗫着:“这孩子脑袋真长。”
7 chide urVzQ     
v.叱责;谴责
参考例句:
  • However,they will chide you if you try to speak French.然而,如果你试图讲法语,就会遭到他们的责骂。
  • He thereupon privately chide his wife for her forwardness in the matter.于是他私下责备他的妻子,因为她对这种事热心。
8 worthy vftwB     
adj.(of)值得的,配得上的;有价值的
参考例句:
  • I did not esteem him to be worthy of trust.我认为他不值得信赖。
  • There occurred nothing that was worthy to be mentioned.没有值得一提的事发生。
9 humbly humbly     
adv. 恭顺地,谦卑地
参考例句:
  • We humbly beg Your Majesty to show mercy. 我们恳请陛下发发慈悲。
  • "You must be right, Sir,'said John humbly. “你一定是对的,先生,”约翰恭顺地说道。
10 imploring cb6050ff3ff45d346ac0579ea33cbfd6     
恳求的,哀求的
参考例句:
  • Those calm, strange eyes could see her imploring face. 那平静的,没有表情的眼睛还能看得到她的乞怜求情的面容。
  • She gave him an imploring look. 她以哀求的眼神看着他。
11 standing 2hCzgo     
n.持续,地位;adj.永久的,不动的,直立的,不流动的
参考例句:
  • After the earthquake only a few houses were left standing.地震过后只有几幢房屋还立着。
  • They're standing out against any change in the law.他们坚决反对对法律做任何修改。
12 crooked xvazAv     
adj.弯曲的;不诚实的,狡猾的,不正当的
参考例句:
  • He crooked a finger to tell us to go over to him.他弯了弯手指,示意我们到他那儿去。
  • You have to drive slowly on these crooked country roads.在这些弯弯曲曲的乡间小路上你得慢慢开车。
13 lawful ipKzCt     
adj.法律许可的,守法的,合法的
参考例句:
  • It is not lawful to park in front of a hydrant.在消火栓前停车是不合法的。
  • We don't recognised him to be the lawful heir.我们不承认他为合法继承人。
14 wedded 2e49e14ebbd413bed0222654f3595c6a     
adj.正式结婚的;渴望…的,执著于…的v.嫁,娶,(与…)结婚( wed的过去式和过去分词 )
参考例句:
  • She's wedded to her job. 她专心致志于工作。
  • I was invited over by the newly wedded couple for a meal. 我被那对新婚夫妇请去吃饭。 来自《简明英汉词典》
15 treacherously 41490490a94e8744cd9aa3f15aa49e69     
背信弃义地; 背叛地; 靠不住地; 危险地
参考例句:
  • The mountain road treacherously. 山路蜿蜒曲折。
  • But they like men have transgressed the covenant: there have they dealt treacherously against me. 他们却如亚当背约,在境内向我行事诡诈。
16 nervously tn6zFp     
adv.神情激动地,不安地
参考例句:
  • He bit his lip nervously,trying not to cry.他紧张地咬着唇,努力忍着不哭出来。
  • He paced nervously up and down on the platform.他在站台上情绪不安地走来走去。
17 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
参考例句:
  • 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。
18 sufficiently 0htzMB     
adv.足够地,充分地
参考例句:
  • It turned out he had not insured the house sufficiently.原来他没有给房屋投足保险。
  • The new policy was sufficiently elastic to accommodate both views.新政策充分灵活地适用两种观点。
19 pliable ZBCyx     
adj.易受影响的;易弯的;柔顺的,易驾驭的
参考例句:
  • Willow twigs are pliable.柳条很软。
  • The finely twined baskets are made with young,pliable spruce roots.这些编织精美的篮子是用柔韧的云杉嫩树根编成的。
20 ridicule fCwzv     
v.讥讽,挖苦;n.嘲弄
参考例句:
  • You mustn't ridicule unfortunate people.你不该嘲笑不幸的人。
  • Silly mistakes and queer clothes often arouse ridicule.荒谬的错误和古怪的服装常会引起人们的讪笑。
21 peculiarities 84444218acb57e9321fbad3dc6b368be     
n. 特质, 特性, 怪癖, 古怪
参考例句:
  • the cultural peculiarities of the English 英国人的文化特点
  • He used to mimic speech peculiarities of another. 他过去总是模仿别人讲话的特点。
22 gallantly gallantly     
adv. 漂亮地,勇敢地,献殷勤地
参考例句:
  • He gallantly offered to carry her cases to the car. 他殷勤地要帮她把箱子拎到车子里去。
  • The new fighters behave gallantly under fire. 新战士在炮火下表现得很勇敢。
23 tremor Tghy5     
n.震动,颤动,战栗,兴奋,地震
参考例句:
  • There was a slight tremor in his voice.他的声音有点颤抖。
  • A slight earth tremor was felt in California.加利福尼亚发生了轻微的地震。
24 refreshing HkozPQ     
adj.使精神振作的,使人清爽的,使人喜欢的
参考例句:
  • I find it'so refreshing to work with young people in this department.我发现和这一部门的青年一起工作令人精神振奋。
  • The water was cold and wonderfully refreshing.水很涼,特别解乏提神。
25 tinkle 1JMzu     
vi.叮当作响;n.叮当声
参考例句:
  • The wine glass dropped to the floor with a tinkle.酒杯丁零一声掉在地上。
  • Give me a tinkle and let me know what time the show starts.给我打个电话,告诉我演出什么时候开始。
26 secede iEwyt     
v.退出,脱离
参考例句:
  • They plotted to make the whole Mississippi Valley secede from the United States.他们阴谋策划使整个密西西比流域脱离美国。
  • We won't allow Tibet to secede from China and become an independent nation.我们决不允许西藏脱离中国独立。
27 passionately YmDzQ4     
ad.热烈地,激烈地
参考例句:
  • She could hate as passionately as she could love. 她能恨得咬牙切齿,也能爱得一往情深。
  • He was passionately addicted to pop music. 他酷爱流行音乐。
28 wrath nVNzv     
n.愤怒,愤慨,暴怒
参考例句:
  • His silence marked his wrath. 他的沉默表明了他的愤怒。
  • The wrath of the people is now aroused. 人们被激怒了。
29 bosom Lt9zW     
n.胸,胸部;胸怀;内心;adj.亲密的
参考例句:
  • She drew a little book from her bosom.她从怀里取出一本小册子。
  • A dark jealousy stirred in his bosom.他内心生出一阵恶毒的嫉妒。


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