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首页 » 经典英文小说 » The Altar of the Dead » CHAPTER VI.
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 She was always in mourning, yet the day he came back from the longest absence he had yet made her appearance immediately told him she had lately had a bereavement1.  They met on this occasion as she was leaving the church, so that postponing2 his own entrance he instantly offered to turn round and walk away with her.  She considered, then she said: “Go in now, but come and see me in an hour.”  He knew the small vista3 of her street, closed at the end and as dreary4 as an empty pocket, where the pairs of shabby little houses, semi-detached but indissolubly united, were like married couples on bad terms.  Often, however, as he had gone to the beginning he had never gone beyond.  Her aunt was dead—that he immediately guessed, as well as that it made a difference; but when she had for the first time mentioned her number he found himself, on her leaving him, not a little agitated5 by this sudden liberality.  She wasn’t a person with whom, after all, one got on so very fast: it had taken him months and months to learn her name, years and years to learn her address.  If she had looked, on this reunion, so much older to him, how in the world did he look to her?  She had reached the period of life he had long since reached, when, after separations, the marked clock-face of the friend we meet announces the hour we have tried to forget.  He couldn’t have said what he expected as, at the end of his waiting, he turned the corner where for years he had always paused; simply not to pause was a efficient cause for emotion.  It was an event, somehow; and in all their long acquaintance there had never been an event.  This one grew larger when, five minutes later, in the faint elegance6 of her little drawing-room, she quavered out a greeting that showed the measure she took of it.  He had a strange sense of having come for something in particular; strange because literally7 there was nothing particular between them, nothing save that they were at one on their great point, which had long ago become a magnificent matter of course.  It was true that after she had said “You can always come now, you know,” the thing he was there for seemed already to have happened.  He asked her if it was the death of her aunt that made the difference; to which she replied: “She never knew I knew you.  I wished her not to.”  The beautiful clearness of her candour—her faded beauty was like a summer twilight—disconnected the words from any image of deceit.  They might have struck him as the record of a deep dissimulation8; but she had always given him a sense of noble reasons.  The vanished aunt was present, as he looked about him, in the small complacencies of the room, the beaded velvet9 and the fluted10 moreen; and though, as we know, he had the worship of the Dead, he found himself not definitely regretting this lady.  If she wasn’t in his long list, however, she was in her niece’s short one, and Stransom presently observed to the latter that now at least, in the place they haunted together, she would have another object of devotion.
“Yes, I shall have another.  She was very kind to me.  It’s that that’s the difference.”
He judged, wondering a good deal before he made any motion to leave her, that the difference would somehow be very great and would consist of still other things than her having let him come in.  It rather chilled him, for they had been happy together as they were.  He extracted from her at any rate an intimation that she should now have means less limited, that her aunt’s tiny fortune had come to her, so that there was henceforth only one to consume what had formerly11 been made to suffice for two.  This was a joy to Stransom, because it had hitherto been equally impossible for him either to offer her presents or contentedly12 to stay his hand.  It was too ugly to be at her side that way, abounding13 himself and yet not able to overflow—a demonstration14 that would have been signally a false note.  Even her better situation too seemed only to draw out in a sense the loneliness of her future.  It would merely help her to live more and more for their small ceremonial, and this at a time when he himself had begun wearily to feel that, having set it in motion, he might depart.  When they had sat a while in the pale parlour she got up—“This isn’t my room: let us go into mine.”  They had only to cross the narrow hall, as he found, to pass quite into another air.  When she had closed the door of the second room, as she called it, he felt at last in real possession of her.  The place had the flush of life—it was expressive15; its dark red walls were articulate with memories and relics16.  These were simple things—photographs and water-colours, scraps17 of writing framed and ghosts of flowers embalmed18; but a moment sufficed to show him they had a common meaning.  It was here she had lived and worked, and she had already told him she would make no change of scene.  He read the reference in the objects about her—the general one to places and times; but after a minute he distinguished19 among them a small portrait of a gentleman.  At a distance and without their glasses his eyes were only so caught by it as to feel a vague curiosity.  Presently this impulse carried him nearer, and in another moment he was staring at the picture in stupefaction and with the sense that some sound had broken from him.  He was further conscious that he showed his companion a white face when he turned round on her gasping20: “Acton Hague!”
She matched his great wonder.  “Did you know him?”
“He was the friend of all my youth—of my early manhood.  And you knew him?”
She coloured at this and for a moment her answer failed; her eyes embraced everything in the place, and a strange irony21 reached her lips as she echoed: “Knew him?”
Then Stransom understood, while the room heaved like the cabin of a ship, that its whole contents cried out with him, that it was a museum in his honour, that all her later years had been addressed to him and that the shrine22 he himself had reared had been passionately23 converted to this use.  It was all for Acton Hague that she had kneeled every day at his altar.  What need had there been for a consecrated24 candle when he was present in the whole array? The revelation so smote25 our friend in the face that he dropped into a seat and sat silent.  He had quickly felt her shaken by the force of his shock, but as she sank on the sofa beside him and laid her hand on his arm he knew almost as soon that she mightn’t resent it as much as she’d have liked.


1 bereavement BQSyE     
  • the pain of an emotional crisis such as divorce or bereavement 诸如离婚或痛失亲人等情感危机的痛苦
  • I sympathize with you in your bereavement. 我对你痛失亲人表示同情。 来自《简明英汉词典》
2 postponing 3ca610c0db966cd6f77cd5d15dc2b28c     
v.延期,推迟( postpone的现在分词 )
  • He tried to gain time by postponing his decision. 他想以迟迟不作决定的手段来争取时间。 来自辞典例句
  • I don't hold with the idea of postponing further discussion of the matter. 我不赞成推迟进一步讨论这件事的想法。 来自辞典例句
3 vista jLVzN     
  • From my bedroom window I looked out on a crowded vista of hills and rooftops.我从卧室窗口望去,远处尽是连绵的山峦和屋顶。
  • These uprisings come from desperation and a vista of a future without hope.发生这些暴动是因为人们被逼上了绝路,未来看不到一点儿希望。
4 dreary sk1z6     
  • They live such dreary lives.他们的生活如此乏味。
  • She was tired of hearing the same dreary tale of drunkenness and violence.她听够了那些关于酗酒和暴力的乏味故事。
5 agitated dzgzc2     
  • His answers were all mixed up,so agitated was he.他是那样心神不定,回答全乱了。
  • She was agitated because her train was an hour late.她乘坐的火车晚点一个小时,她十分焦虑。
6 elegance QjPzj     
  • The furnishings in the room imparted an air of elegance.这个房间的家具带给这房间一种优雅的气氛。
  • John has been known for his sartorial elegance.约翰因为衣着讲究而出名。
7 literally 28Wzv     
  • He translated the passage literally.他逐字逐句地翻译这段文字。
  • Sometimes she would not sit down till she was literally faint.有时候,她不走到真正要昏厥了,决不肯坐下来。
8 dissimulation XtrxX     
  • A habit of dissimulation is a hindrance, and a poorness to him. 在他这样的一个人,一种掩饰的习惯是一种阻挠,一个弱点。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • Still we have our limits beyond which we call dissimulation treachery. 不过我们仍然有自己的限度,超过这个界限,就是虚伪与背信弃义。 来自辞典例句
9 velvet 5gqyO     
  • This material feels like velvet.这料子摸起来像丝绒。
  • The new settlers wore the finest silk and velvet clothing.新来的移民穿着最华丽的丝绸和天鹅绒衣服。
10 fluted ds9zqF     
  • The Taylor house is that white one with the tall fluted column on Polyock Street. 泰勒家的住宅在波洛克街上,就是那幢有高大的雕花柱子的白色屋子。
  • Single chimera light pink two-tone fluted star. Plain, pointed. Large. 单瓣深浅不一的亮粉红色星形缟花,花瓣端有凹痕。平坦尖型叶。大型。
11 formerly ni3x9     
  • We now enjoy these comforts of which formerly we had only heard.我们现在享受到了过去只是听说过的那些舒适条件。
  • This boat was formerly used on the rivers of China.这船从前航行在中国内河里。
12 contentedly a0af12176ca79b27d4028fdbaf1b5f64     
  • My father sat puffing contentedly on his pipe.父亲坐着心满意足地抽着烟斗。
  • "This is brother John's writing,"said Sally,contentedly,as she opened the letter.
13 abounding 08610fbc6d1324db98066903c8e6c455     
adj.丰富的,大量的v.大量存在,充满,富于( abound的现在分词 )
  • Ahead lay the scalloped ocean and the abounding blessed isles. 再往前是水波荡漾的海洋和星罗棋布的宝岛。 来自英汉文学 - 盖茨比
  • The metallic curve of his sheep-crook shone silver-bright in the same abounding rays. 他那弯柄牧羊杖上的金属曲线也在这一片炽盛的火光下闪着银亮的光。 来自辞典例句
14 demonstration 9waxo     
  • His new book is a demonstration of his patriotism.他写的新书是他的爱国精神的证明。
  • He gave a demonstration of the new technique then and there.他当场表演了这种新的操作方法。
15 expressive shwz4     
  • Black English can be more expressive than standard English.黑人所使用的英语可能比正式英语更有表现力。
  • He had a mobile,expressive,animated face.他有一张多变的,富于表情的,生动活泼的脸。
16 relics UkMzSr     
  • The area is a treasure house of archaeological relics. 这个地区是古文物遗迹的宝库。
  • Xi'an is an ancient city full of treasures and saintly relics. 西安是一个有很多宝藏和神圣的遗物的古老城市。
17 scraps 737e4017931b7285cdd1fa3eb9dd77a3     
  • Don't litter up the floor with scraps of paper. 不要在地板上乱扔纸屑。
  • A patchwork quilt is a good way of using up scraps of material. 做杂拼花布棉被是利用零碎布料的好办法。
18 embalmed 02c056162718f98aeaa91fc743dd71bb     
adj.用防腐药物保存(尸体)的v.保存(尸体)不腐( embalm的过去式和过去分词 );使不被遗忘;使充满香气
  • Many fine sentiments are embalmed in poetry. 许多微妙的情感保存于诗歌中。 来自辞典例句
  • In books, are embalmed the greatest thoughts of all ages. 伟大思想古今有,载入书中成不朽。 来自互联网
19 distinguished wu9z3v     
  • Elephants are distinguished from other animals by their long noses.大象以其长长的鼻子显示出与其他动物的不同。
  • A banquet was given in honor of the distinguished guests.宴会是为了向贵宾们致敬而举行的。
20 gasping gasping     
adj. 气喘的, 痉挛的 动词gasp的现在分词
  • He was gasping for breath. 他在喘气。
  • "Did you need a drink?""Yes, I'm gasping!” “你要喝点什么吗?”“我巴不得能喝点!”
21 irony P4WyZ     
  • She said to him with slight irony.她略带嘲讽地对他说。
  • In her voice we could sense a certain tinge of irony.从她的声音里我们可以感到某种讥讽的意味。
22 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。
23 passionately YmDzQ4     
  • 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。
24 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》
25 smote 61dce682dfcdd485f0f1155ed6e7dbcc     
v.猛打,重击,打击( smite的过去式 )
  • Figuratively, he could not kiss the hand that smote him. 打个比方说,他是不能认敌为友。 来自英汉文学 - 嘉莉妹妹
  • \"Whom Pearl smote down and uprooted, most unmercifully.\" 珠儿会毫不留情地将这些\"儿童\"踩倒,再连根拔起。 来自英汉 - 翻译样例 - 文学


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