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首页 » 经典英文小说 » The Altar of the Dead » CHAPTER III.
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 The next day, in the afternoon, in the great grey suburb, he knew his long walk had tired him.  In the dreadful cemetery1 alone he had been on his feet an hour.  Instinctively2, coming back, they had taken him a devious3 course, and it was a desert in which no circling cabman hovered4 over possible prey5.  He paused on a corner and measured the dreariness6; then he made out through the gathered dusk that he was in one of those tracts7 of London which are less gloomy by night than by day, because, in the former case of the civil gift of light.  By day there was nothing, but by night there were lamps, and George Stransom was in a mood that made lamps good in themselves.  It wasn’t that they could show him anything, it was only that they could burn clear.  To his surprise, however, after a while, they did show him something: the arch of a high doorway8 approached by a low terrace of steps, in the depth of which—it formed a dim vestibule—the raising of a curtain at the moment he passed gave him a glimpse of an avenue of gloom with a glow of tapers9 at the end.  He stopped and looked up, recognising the place as a church.  The thought quickly came to him that since he was tired he might rest there; so that after a moment he had in turn pushed up the leathern curtain and gone in.  It was a temple of the old persuasion10, and there had evidently been a function—perhaps a service for the dead; the high altar was still a blaze of candles.  This was an exhibition he always liked, and he dropped into a seat with relief.  More than it had ever yet come home to him it struck him as good there should be churches.
This one was almost empty and the other altars were dim; a verger shuffled11 about, an old woman coughed, but it seemed to Stransom there was hospitality in the thick sweet air.  Was it only the savour of the incense12 or was it something of larger intention?  He had at any rate quitted the great grey suburb and come nearer to the warm centre.  He presently ceased to feel intrusive13, gaining at last even a sense of community with the only worshipper in his neighbourhood, the sombre presence of a woman, in mourning unrelieved, whose back was all he could see of her and who had sunk deep into prayer at no great distance from him.  He wished he could sink, like her, to the very bottom, be as motionless, as rapt in prostration14.  After a few moments he shifted his seat; it was almost indelicate to be so aware of her.  But Stransom subsequently quite lost himself, floating away on the sea of light.  If occasions like this had been more frequent in his life he would have had more present the great original type, set up in a myriad15 temples, of the unapproachable shrine16 he had erected17 in his mind.  That shrine had begun in vague likeness18 to church pomps, but the echo had ended by growing more distinct than the sound.  The sound now rang out, the type blazed at him with all its fires and with a mystery of radiance in which endless meanings could glow.  The thing became as he sat there his appropriate altar and each starry19 candle an appropriate vow20.  He numbered them, named them, grouped them—it was the silent roll-call of his Dead.  They made together a brightness vast and intense, a brightness in which the mere21 chapel22 of his thoughts grew so dim that as it faded away he asked himself if he shouldn’t find his real comfort in some material act, some outward worship.
This idea took possession of him while, at a distance, the black-robed lady continued prostrate23; he was quietly thrilled with his conception, which at last brought him to his feet in the sudden excitement of a plan.  He wandered softly through the aisles24, pausing in the different chapels25, all save one applied26 to a special devotion.  It was in this clear recess27, lampless and unapplied, that he stood longest—the length of time it took him fully28 to grasp the conception of gilding29 it with his bounty30.  He should snatch it from no other rites31 and associate it with nothing profane32; he would simply take it as it should be given up to him and make it a masterpiece of splendour and a mountain of fire.  Tended sacredly all the year, with the sanctifying church round it, it would always be ready for his offices.  There would be difficulties, but from the first they presented themselves only as difficulties surmounted33.  Even for a person so little affiliated34 the thing would be a matter of arrangement.  He saw it all in advance, and how bright in especial the place would become to him in the intermissions of toil35 and the dusk of afternoons; how rich in assurance at all times, but especially in the indifferent world.  Before withdrawing he drew nearer again to the spot where he had first sat down, and in the movement he met the lady whom he had seen praying and who was now on her way to the door.  She passed him quickly, and he had only a glimpse of her pale face and her unconscious, almost sightless eyes.  For that instant she looked faded and handsome.
This was the origin of the rites more public, yet certainly esoteric, that he at last found himself able to establish.  It took a long time, it took a year, and both the process and the result would have been—for any who knew—a vivid picture of his good faith.  No one did know, in fact—no one but the bland36 ecclesiastics37 whose acquaintance he had promptly38 sought, whose objections he had softly overridden39, whose curiosity and sympathy he had artfully charmed, whose assent40 to his eccentric munificence41 he had eventually won, and who had asked for concessions42 in exchange for indulgences.  Stransom had of course at an early stage of his enquiry been referred to the Bishop43, and the Bishop had been delightfully44 human, the Bishop had been almost amused.  Success was within sight, at any rate from the moment the attitude of those whom it concerned became liberal in response to liberality.  The altar and the sacred shell that half encircled it, consecrated45 to an ostensible46 and customary worship, were to be splendidly maintained; all that Stransom reserved to himself was the number of his lights and the free enjoyment47 of his intention.  When the intention had taken complete effect the enjoyment became even greater than he had ventured to hope.  He liked to think of this effect when far from it, liked to convince himself of it yet again when near.  He was not often indeed so near as that a visit to it hadn’t perforce something of the patience of a pilgrimage; but the time he gave to his devotion came to seem to him more a contribution to his other interests than a betrayal of them.  Even a loaded life might be easier when one had added a new necessity to it.
How much easier was probably never guessed by those who simply knew there were hours when he disappeared and for many of whom there was a vulgar reading of what they used to call his plunges48.  These plunges were into depths quieter than the deep sea-caves, and the habit had at the end of a year or two become the one it would have cost him most to relinquish49.  Now they had really, his Dead, something that was indefensibly theirs; and he liked to think that they might in cases be the Dead of others, as well as that the Dead of others might be invoked50 there under the protection of what he had done.  Whoever bent51 a knee on the carpet he had laid down appeared to him to act in the spirit of his intention.  Each of his lights had a name for him, and from time to time a new light was kindled52.  This was what he had fundamentally agreed for, that there should always be room for them all.  What those who passed or lingered saw was simply the most resplendent of the altars called suddenly into vivid usefulness, with a quiet elderly man, for whom it evidently had a fascination53, often seated there in a maze54 or a doze55; but half the satisfaction of the spot for this mysterious and fitful worshipper was that he found the years of his life there, and the ties, the affections, the struggles, the submissions56, the conquests, if there had been such, a record of that adventurous57 journey in which the beginnings and the endings of human relations are the lettered mile-stones.  He had in general little taste for the past as a part of his own history; at other times and in other places it mostly seemed to him pitiful to consider and impossible to repair; but on these occasions he accepted it with something of that positive gladness with which one adjusts one’s self to an ache that begins to succumb58 to treatment.  To the treatment of time the malady59 of life begins at a given moment to succumb; and these were doubtless the hours at which that truth most came home to him.  The day was written for him there on which he had first become acquainted with death, and the successive phases of the acquaintance were marked each with a flame.
The flames were gathering60 thick at present, for Stransom had entered that dark defile61 of our earthly descent in which some one dies every day.  It was only yesterday that Kate Creston had flashed out her white fire; yet already there were younger stars ablaze62 on the tips of the tapers.  Various persons in whom his interest had not been intense drew closer to him by entering this company.  He went over it, head by head, till he felt like the shepherd of a huddled63 flock, with all a shepherd’s vision of differences imperceptible.  He knew his candles apart, up to the colour of the flame, and would still have known them had their positions all been changed.  To other imaginations they might stand for other things—that they should stand for something to be hushed before was all he desired; but he was intensely conscious of the personal note of each and of the distinguishable way it contributed to the concert.  There were hours at which he almost caught himself wishing that certain of his friends would now die, that he might establish with them in this manner a connexion more charming than, as it happened, it was possible to enjoy with them in life.  In regard to those from whom one was separated by the long curves of the globe such a connexion could only be an improvement: it brought them instantly within reach.  Of course there were gaps in the constellation64, for Stransom knew he could only pretend to act for his own, and it wasn’t every figure passing before his eyes into the great obscure that was entitled to a memorial.  There was a strange sanctification in death, but some characters were more sanctified by being forgotten than by being remembered.  The greatest blank in the shining page was the memory of Acton Hague, of which he inveterately65 tried to rid himself.  For Acton Hague no flame could ever rise on any altar of his.


1 cemetery ur9z7     
  • He was buried in the cemetery.他被葬在公墓。
  • His remains were interred in the cemetery.他的遗体葬在墓地。
2 instinctively 2qezD2     
  • As he leaned towards her she instinctively recoiled. 他向她靠近,她本能地往后缩。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • He knew instinctively where he would find her. 他本能地知道在哪儿能找到她。 来自《简明英汉词典》
3 devious 2Pdzv     
  • Susan is a devious person and we can't depend on her.苏姗是个狡猾的人,我们不能依赖她。
  • He is a man who achieves success by devious means.他这个人通过不正当手段获取成功。
4 hovered d194b7e43467f867f4b4380809ba6b19     
鸟( hover的过去式和过去分词 ); 靠近(某事物); (人)徘徊; 犹豫
  • A hawk hovered over the hill. 一只鹰在小山的上空翱翔。
  • A hawk hovered in the blue sky. 一只老鹰在蓝色的天空中翱翔。
5 prey g1czH     
  • Stronger animals prey on weaker ones.弱肉强食。
  • The lion was hunting for its prey.狮子在寻找猎物。
6 dreariness 464937dd8fc386c3c60823bdfabcc30c     
  • The park wore an aspect of utter dreariness and ruin. 园地上好久没人收拾,一片荒凉。
  • There in the melancholy, in the dreariness, Bertha found a bitter fascination. 在这里,在阴郁、倦怠之中,伯莎发现了一种刺痛人心的魅力。
7 tracts fcea36d422dccf9d9420a7dd83bea091     
大片土地( tract的名词复数 ); 地带; (体内的)道; (尤指宣扬宗教、伦理或政治的)短文
  • vast tracts of forest 大片大片的森林
  • There are tracts of desert in Australia. 澳大利亚有大片沙漠。
8 doorway 2s0xK     
  • They huddled in the shop doorway to shelter from the rain.他们挤在商店门口躲雨。
  • Mary suddenly appeared in the doorway.玛丽突然出现在门口。
9 tapers a0c5416b2721f6569ddd79d814b80004     
(长形物体的)逐渐变窄( taper的名词复数 ); 微弱的光; 极细的蜡烛
  • The pencil tapers to a sharp point. 铅笔的一段细成笔尖。
  • She put five tapers on the cake. 她在蛋糕上放了五只小蜡烛。
10 persuasion wMQxR     
  • He decided to leave only after much persuasion.经过多方劝说,他才决定离开。
  • After a lot of persuasion,she agreed to go.经过多次劝说后,她同意去了。
11 shuffled cee46c30b0d1f2d0c136c830230fe75a     
v.洗(纸牌)( shuffle的过去式和过去分词 );拖着脚步走;粗心地做;摆脱尘世的烦恼
  • He shuffled across the room to the window. 他拖着脚走到房间那头的窗户跟前。
  • Simon shuffled awkwardly towards them. 西蒙笨拙地拖着脚朝他们走去。 来自《简明英汉词典》
12 incense dcLzU     
  • This proposal will incense conservation campaigners.这项提议会激怒环保人士。
  • In summer,they usually burn some coil incense to keep away the mosquitoes.夏天他们通常点香驱蚊。
13 intrusive Palzu     
  • The cameras were not an intrusive presence.那些摄像机的存在并不令人反感。
  • Staffs are courteous but never intrusive.员工谦恭有礼却从不让人感到唐突。
14 prostration e23ec06f537750e7e1306b9c8f596399     
n. 平伏, 跪倒, 疲劳
  • a state of prostration brought on by the heat 暑热导致的虚脱状态
  • A long period of worrying led to her nervous prostration. 长期的焦虑导致她的神经衰弱。
15 myriad M67zU     
  • They offered no solution for all our myriad problems.对于我们数不清的问题他们束手无策。
  • I had three weeks to make a myriad of arrangements.我花了三个星期做大量准备工作。
16 shrine 0yfw7     
  • The shrine was an object of pilgrimage.这处圣地是人们朝圣的目的地。
  • They bowed down before the shrine.他们在神龛前鞠躬示敬。
adj. 直立的,竖立的,笔直的 vt. 使 ... 直立,建立
  • A monument to him was erected in St Paul's Cathedral. 在圣保罗大教堂为他修了一座纪念碑。
  • A monument was erected to the memory of that great scientist. 树立了一块纪念碑纪念那位伟大的科学家。
18 likeness P1txX     
  • I think the painter has produced a very true likeness.我认为这位画家画得非常逼真。
  • She treasured the painted likeness of her son.她珍藏她儿子的画像。
19 starry VhWzfP     
adj.星光照耀的, 闪亮的
  • He looked at the starry heavens.他瞧着布满星星的天空。
  • I like the starry winter sky.我喜欢这满天星斗的冬夜。
20 vow 0h9wL     
  • My parents are under a vow to go to church every Sunday.我父母许愿,每星期日都去做礼拜。
  • I am under a vow to drink no wine.我已立誓戒酒。
21 mere rC1xE     
  • That is a mere repetition of what you said before.那不过是重复了你以前讲的话。
  • It's a mere waste of time waiting any longer.再等下去纯粹是浪费时间。
22 chapel UXNzg     
  • The nimble hero,skipped into a chapel that stood near.敏捷的英雄跳进近旁的一座小教堂里。
  • She was on the peak that Sunday afternoon when she played in chapel.那个星期天的下午,她在小教堂的演出,可以说是登峰造极。
23 prostrate 7iSyH     
  • She was prostrate on the floor.她俯卧在地板上。
  • The Yankees had the South prostrate and they intended to keep It'so.北方佬已经使南方屈服了,他们还打算继续下去。
24 aisles aisles     
n. (席位间的)通道, 侧廊
  • Aisles were added to the original Saxon building in the Norman period. 在诺曼时期,原来的萨克森风格的建筑物都增添了走廊。
  • They walked about the Abbey aisles, and presently sat down. 他们走到大教堂的走廊附近,并且很快就坐了下来。
25 chapels 93d40e7c6d7bdd896fdd5dbc901f41b8     
n.小教堂, (医院、监狱等的)附属礼拜堂( chapel的名词复数 );(在小教堂和附属礼拜堂举行的)礼拜仪式
  • Both castles had their own chapels too, which was incredible to see. 两个城堡都有自己的礼拜堂,非常华美。 来自互联网
  • It has an ambulatory and seven chapels. 它有一条走廊和七个小教堂。 来自互联网
26 applied Tz2zXA     
  • She plans to take a course in applied linguistics.她打算学习应用语言学课程。
  • This cream is best applied to the face at night.这种乳霜最好晚上擦脸用。
27 recess pAxzC     
  • The chairman of the meeting announced a ten-minute recess.会议主席宣布休会10分钟。
  • Parliament was hastily recalled from recess.休会的议员被匆匆召回开会。
28 fully Gfuzd     
  • The doctor asked me to breathe in,then to breathe out fully.医生让我先吸气,然后全部呼出。
  • They soon became fully integrated into the local community.他们很快就完全融入了当地人的圈子。
29 gilding Gs8zQk     
  • The dress is perfect. Don't add anything to it at all. It would just be gilding the lily. 这条裙子已经很完美了,别再作任何修饰了,那只会画蛇添足。
  • The gilding is extremely lavish. 这层镀金极为奢华。
30 bounty EtQzZ     
  • He is famous for his bounty to the poor.他因对穷人慷慨相助而出名。
  • We received a bounty from the government.我们收到政府给予的一笔补助金。
31 rites 5026f3cfef698ee535d713fec44bcf27     
仪式,典礼( rite的名词复数 )
  • to administer the last rites to sb 给某人举行临终圣事
  • He is interested in mystic rites and ceremonies. 他对神秘的仪式感兴趣。
32 profane l1NzQ     
  • He doesn't dare to profane the name of God.他不敢亵渎上帝之名。
  • His profane language annoyed us.他亵渎的言语激怒了我们。
33 surmounted 74f42bdb73dca8afb25058870043665a     
战胜( surmount的过去式和过去分词 ); 克服(困难); 居于…之上; 在…顶上
  • She was well aware of the difficulties that had to be surmounted. 她很清楚必须克服哪些困难。
  • I think most of these obstacles can be surmounted. 我认为这些障碍大多数都是可以克服的。
34 affiliated 78057fb733c9c93ffbdc5f0ed15ef458     
adj. 附属的, 有关连的
  • The hospital is affiliated with the local university. 这家医院附属于当地大学。
  • All affiliated members can vote. 所有隶属成员都有投票权。
35 toil WJezp     
  • The wealth comes from the toil of the masses.财富来自大众的辛勤劳动。
  • Every single grain is the result of toil.每一粒粮食都来之不易。
36 bland dW1zi     
  • He eats bland food because of his stomach trouble.他因胃病而吃清淡的食物。
  • This soup is too bland for me.这汤我喝起来偏淡。
37 ecclesiastics 8e35e35ee875d37db44c85c23529c53f     
n.神职者,教会,牧师( ecclesiastic的名词复数 )
38 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。
39 overridden 3ea029046b4ce545504601a0be429279     
越控( override的过去分词 ); (以权力)否决; 优先于; 比…更重要
  • The chairman's veto was overridden by the committee. 主席的否决被委员会推翻了。
  • Property '{0}' is not declarable, and cannot be overridden. 属性“{0}”是不可声明的,不能被重写。
40 assent Hv6zL     
  • I cannot assent to what you ask.我不能应允你的要求。
  • The new bill passed by Parliament has received Royal Assent.议会所通过的新方案已获国王批准。
41 munificence munificence     
  • He is kindness and munificence by nature. 他天生既仁慈又宽宏大量。 来自辞典例句
  • He is not only kindness but also munificence. 他天生既仁慈又宽宏大量。 来自互联网
42 concessions 6b6f497aa80aaf810133260337506fa9     
n.(尤指由政府或雇主给予的)特许权( concession的名词复数 );承认;减价;(在某地的)特许经营权
  • The firm will be forced to make concessions if it wants to avoid a strike. 要想避免罢工,公司将不得不作出一些让步。
  • The concessions did little to placate the students. 让步根本未能平息学生的愤怒。
43 bishop AtNzd     
  • He was a bishop who was held in reverence by all.他是一位被大家都尊敬的主教。
  • Two years after his death the bishop was canonised.主教逝世两年后被正式封为圣者。
44 delightfully f0fe7d605b75a4c00aae2f25714e3131     
  • The room is delightfully appointed. 这房子的设备令人舒适愉快。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》
  • The evening is delightfully cool. 晚间凉爽宜人。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》
45 consecrated consecrated     
adj.神圣的,被视为神圣的v.把…奉为神圣,给…祝圣( consecrate的过去式和过去分词 );奉献
  • The church was consecrated in 1853. 这座教堂于1853年祝圣。
  • They consecrated a temple to their god. 他们把庙奉献给神。 来自《简明英汉词典》
46 ostensible 24szj     
  • The ostensible reason wasn't the real reason.表面上的理由并不是真正的理由。
  • He resigned secretaryship on the ostensible ground of health.他借口身体不好,辞去书记的职务。
47 enjoyment opaxV     
  • Your company adds to the enjoyment of our visit. 有您的陪同,我们这次访问更加愉快了。
  • After each joke the old man cackled his enjoyment.每逢讲完一个笑话,这老人就呵呵笑着表示他的高兴。
48 plunges 2f33cd11dab40d0fb535f0437bcb9bb1     
n.跳进,投入vt.使投入,使插入,使陷入vi.投入,跳进,陷入v.颠簸( plunge的第三人称单数 );暴跌;骤降;突降
  • Even before he plunges into his program, he has his audience in his pocket. 他的节目甚至还没有出场,就已控制住了观众。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • 'Monseigneur, he precipitated himself over the hill-side, head first, as a person plunges into the river.' “大人,他头冲下跳下山坡去了,像往河里跳一样。” 来自英汉文学 - 双城记
49 relinquish 4Bazt     
  • He was forced to relinquish control of the company.他被迫放弃公司的掌控权。
  • They will never voluntarily relinquish their independence.他们绝对不会自动放弃独立。
50 invoked fabb19b279de1e206fa6d493923723ba     
v.援引( invoke的过去式和过去分词 );行使(权利等);祈求救助;恳求
  • It is unlikely that libel laws will be invoked. 不大可能诉诸诽谤法。
  • She had invoked the law in her own defence. 她援引法律为自己辩护。 来自《简明英汉词典》
51 bent QQ8yD     
  • He was fully bent upon the project.他一心扑在这项计划上。
  • We bent over backward to help them.我们尽了最大努力帮助他们。
52 kindled d35b7382b991feaaaa3e8ddbbcca9c46     
(使某物)燃烧,着火( kindle的过去式和过去分词 ); 激起(感情等); 发亮,放光
  • We watched as the fire slowly kindled. 我们看着火慢慢地燃烧起来。
  • The teacher's praise kindled a spark of hope inside her. 老师的赞扬激起了她内心的希望。
53 fascination FlHxO     
  • He had a deep fascination with all forms of transport.他对所有的运输工具都很着迷。
  • His letters have been a source of fascination to a wide audience.广大观众一直迷恋于他的来信。
54 maze F76ze     
  • He found his way through the complex maze of corridors.他穿过了迷宮一样的走廊。
  • She was lost in the maze for several hours.一连几小时,她的头脑处于一片糊涂状态。
55 doze IsoxV     
  • He likes to have a doze after lunch.他喜欢午饭后打个盹。
  • While the adults doze,the young play.大人们在打瞌睡,而孩子们在玩耍。
56 submissions 073d6f2167f8d9a96d86b9fe6b9d5b37     
n.提交( submission的名词复数 );屈从;归顺;向法官或陪审团提出的意见或论据
  • The deadline for submissions to the competition will be Easter 1994. 递交参赛申请的截止时间为1994年的复活节。 来自辞典例句
  • Section 556(d) allows the agency to substitute written submissions for oral direct testimony in rulemaking. 第五百五十六条第(四)款准允行政机关在规则制定中用书面提交材料替代口头的直接证言。 来自英汉非文学 - 行政法
57 adventurous LKryn     
  • I was filled with envy at their adventurous lifestyle.我很羨慕他们敢于冒险的生活方式。
  • He was predestined to lead an adventurous life.他注定要过冒险的生活。
58 succumb CHLzp     
  • They will never succumb to the enemies.他们决不向敌人屈服。
  • Will business leaders succumb to these ideas?商业领袖们会被这些观点折服吗?
59 malady awjyo     
  • There is no specific remedy for the malady.没有医治这种病的特效药。
  • They are managing to control the malady into a small range.他们设法将疾病控制在小范围之内。
60 gathering ChmxZ     
  • He called on Mr. White to speak at the gathering.他请怀特先生在集会上讲话。
  • He is on the wing gathering material for his novels.他正忙于为他的小说收集资料。
61 defile e9tyq     
  • Don't defile the land of our ancestors!再不要污染我们先祖们的大地!
  • We respect the faith of Islam, even as we fight those whose actions defile that faith.我们尊重伊斯兰教的信仰,并与玷污伊斯兰教的信仰的行为作斗争。
62 ablaze 1yMz5     
  • The main street was ablaze with lights in the evening.晚上,那条主要街道灯火辉煌。
  • Forests are sometimes set ablaze by lightning.森林有时因雷击而起火。
63 huddled 39b87f9ca342d61fe478b5034beb4139     
  • We huddled together for warmth. 我们挤在一块取暖。
  • We huddled together to keep warm. 我们挤在一起来保暖。
64 constellation CptzI     
  • A constellation is a pattern of stars as seen from the earth. 一个星座只是从地球上看到的某些恒星的一种样子。
  • The Big Dipper is not by itself a constellation. 北斗七星本身不是一个星座。
65 inveterately 5f44ee478587465ffb9217ee5a407e60     


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