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首页 » 经典英文小说 » The Dark Star » CHAPTER III IN EMBRYO
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 A child on the floor, flat on her stomach in the red light of the stove, drawing pictures; her mother by the shaded lamp mending stockings; her father reading; a faint odour of kerosene1 from the glass lamp in the room, and the rattle2 of sleet3 on roof and window; this was one of her childhood memories which never faded through all the years of Ruhannah’s life.
Of her waking hours she preferred that hour after supper when, lying prone4 on the worn carpet, with pencil and paper, just outside the lamp’s yellow circle of light, her youthful imagination kindled5 and caught fire.
For at that hour the magic of the stove’s glowing eyes transformed the sitting-room6 chairs to furtive7 watchers of herself, made of her mother’s work-table a sly and spidery thing on legs, crouching8 in ambush9; bewitched the ancient cottage piano so that its ivory keys menaced her like a row of monstrous10 teeth.
She adored it all. The tall secretary stared at her with owlish significance. Through that neutral veil where lamplight and shadow meet upon the wall, the engraved11 portrait of a famous and godly missionary12 peered down at her out of altered and malicious13 eyes; the claw-footed, haircloth sofa was a stealthy creature offering to entrap14 her with wide, inviting15 arms; three folded umbrellas leaned over the edge of their shadowy stand, looking down at her like scrawny and baleful 31birds, ready to peck at her with crooked16 handles. And as for Adoniram, her lank17 black cat, the child’s restless creative fancy was ever transforming him from goblin into warlock, from hydra18 to hippogriff, until the earnestness of pretence19 sent agreeable shivers down her back, and she edged a trifle nearer to her mother.
But when pretence became a bit too real and too grotesque20 she had always a perfect antidote21. It was merely necessary to make a quick picture of an angel or two, a fairy prince, a swan, and she felt herself in their company, and delightfully22 protected.
There was a night when the flowing roar of the gale23 outside filled the lamplit silence; when the snow was drifting level with the window sills; when Adoniram, unable to prowl abroad, lay curled up tight and sound asleep beside her where she sat on the carpet in the stove radiance. Wearied of drawing castles and swans, she had been listening to her father reading passages aloud from the book on his knees to her mother who was sewing by the lamp.
Presently he continued his reading:
“I asked Alaro the angel: ‘Which place is this, and which people are these?’
“And he answered: ‘This place is the star-track; and these are they who in the world offered no prayers and chanted no liturgies24. Through other works they have attained25 felicity.’”
Her mother nodded, continuing to sew. Ruhannah considered what her father had read, then:
“Yes––” He looked down at her absently.
“What were you reading?”
“A quotation26 from the Sacred Anthology.”32
“Isn’t prayer really necessary?”
Her mother said:
“Yes, dear.”
“Then how did those people who offered no prayers go to Heaven?”
Her father said:
“Eternal life is not attained by praise or prayer alone, Ruhannah. Those things which alone justify27 prayer are also necessary.”
“What are they?”
“What we really think and what we do—both only in Christ’s name. Without these nothing else counts very much—neither form nor convention nor those individual garments called creed28 and denomination29, which belief usually wears throughout the world.”
Her mother, sewing, glanced gravely down at her daughter:
“Your father is very tolerant of what other people believe—as long as they really do believe. Your father thinks that Christ would have found friends in Buddha30 and Mahomet.”
“Do such people go to Heaven?” asked Ruhannah, astonished.
“Listen,” said her father, reading again:
“‘I came to a place and I saw the souls of the liberal, adorned31 above all other souls in splendour. And it seemed to me sublime32.
“‘I saw the souls of the truthful33 who walked in lofty splendour. And it seemed to me sublime.
“‘I saw the souls of teachers and inquirers; I saw the friendly souls of interceders and peacemakers; and these walked brilliantly in the light. And it seemed to me sublime––’”
He turned to his wife:33
“To see and know is sublime. We know, Mary; and Ruhannah is intelligent. But in spite of her faith in what she has learned from us, like us she must one day travel the common way, seeking for herself the reasons and the evidences of immortality34.”
“Perhaps her faith, Wilbour––”
“Perhaps. But with the intelligent, faith, which is emotional, usually follows belief; and belief comes only from reasoning. I think that Ruhannah is destined35 to travel the way of all intelligence when she is ready to think for herself.”
“I am ready now,” said the girl. “I have faith in our Lord Jesus, and in my father and mother.”
Her father looked at her:
“It is good building material. Some day, God willing, you shall build a very lofty temple with it. But the foundation of the temple must first be certain. Intelligence ultimately requires reasons for belief. You will have to seek them for yourself, Ruhannah. Then, on them build your shrine36 of faith; and nothing shall shake it down.”
“I don’t understand.”
“And I cannot explain. Only this; as you grow older, all around you in the world you will become aware of people, countless37 millions and millions of people, asking themselves—ready with the slightest encouragement, or without it, to ask you the question which is the most vital of all questions to them. And whatever way it is answered always they ask for evidence. You, too, will one day ask for evidence. All the world asks for it. But few recognise it as evidence when it is offered.”
He closed his book and dropped a heavy hand upon it.34
“Amid the myriad38 pursuits and interests and trades and professions of the human race, amid their multitudinous aspirations39, perplexities, doubts, passions, endeavours, deep within every intelligent man remains40 one dominant41 desire, one persistent42 question to be answered if possible.”
“What desire, father?”
“The universal desire for another chance—for immortality. Man’s never-ending demand for evidence of an immortality which shall terminate for him the most tremendous of all uncertainties43, which shall solve for him the most vital of all questions: What is to become of him after physical death? Is he to live again? Is he to see once more those whom he loved the best?”
Ruhannah sat thinking in the red stove light, cross-legged, her slim ankles clasped in either hand.
“But our souls are immortal,” she said at last.
“Our Lord Jesus has said it.”
“Then why should anybody not believe it?”
“Try to believe it always. Particularly after your mother and I are no longer here, try to believe it.... You are unusually intelligent; and if some day your intelligence discovers that it requires evidence for belief seek for that evidence. It is obtainable. Try to recognise it when you encounter it.... Only, in any event, remember this: never alter your early faith, never destroy your childhood’s belief until evidence to prove the contrary convinces you.”
“No.... There is no such evidence, is there, father?”
“I know of none.”
“Then,” said the girl calmly, “I shall take Christ’s 35evidence that I shall live again if I do no evil.... Father?”
“Is there any evidence that Adoniram has no soul?”
“I know of none.”
“Is there any that he has a soul?”
“Yes, I think there is.”
“Are you sure?”
“Not entirely44.”
“I wonder,” mused45 the girl, looking gravely at the sleeping cat.
It was the first serious doubt that Ruhannah had ever entertained in her brief career.
That night she dreamed of the Yellow Devil in Herr Wilner’s box, and, awaking, remembered her dream. It seemed odd, too, because she had not even thought of the Yellow Devil for over a year.
But the menacing Mongol figure seemed bound to intrude46 into her life once more and demand her attention as though resentful of long oblivion and neglect; for, a week later, an old missionary from Indo-China—a native Chinese—who had lectured at the Baptist Church in Gayfield the evening previous, came to pay his respects to the Reverend Wilbour Carew. And Rue47 had taken the Yellow Devil from the olive-wood box that day and was busily making a pencil drawing of it.
At sight of the figure the native missionary’s narrow almond eyes opened extremely wide, and he leaned on the table and regarded the bronze demon48 very intently.
Then he took from his pocket and adjusted to his button nose a pair of large, horn spectacles; and he carefully examined the Chinese characters engraved on the base of the ancient bronze, following them slowly with a yellow and clawlike forefinger49.36
“Can you read what is written there?” inquired the Reverend Mr. Carew.
“Yes, brother. This is what is written: ‘I am Erlik, Ruler of Chaos50 and of All that Was. The old order passes when I arrive. I bring confusion among the peoples; I hurl51 down emperors; kingdoms crumble52 where I pass; the world begins to rock and tip, spilling nations into outer darkness. When there are no more kingdoms and no more kings; no more empires and no emperors; and when only the humble53 till, the blameless sow, the pure reap; and when only the teachers teach in the shadow of the Tree, and when the Thinker sits unstirring under the high stars, then, from the dark edges of the world I let go my grasp and drop into those immeasurable deeps from which I came—I, Erlik, Ruler of All that Was.’”
After a silence the Reverend Mr. Carew asked whether the figure was a very old one.
“It is before the period called ‘Han’—a dynasty during which the Mongols were a mighty54 people. This inscription55 is Mongol. Erlik was the Yellow Devil of the Mongols.”
“Not a heathen god, then?”
“No, a heathen devil. Their Prince of Darkness.”
Ruhannah, pencil in hand, looked curiously56 at this heathen Prince of Darkness, arrived out of the dark ages to sit to her for his scowling57 portrait.
“I wonder what he thinks of America,” she said, partly to herself.
The native missionary smiled, picked up the Yellow Devil, shook the figure, listening.
“There is something inside,” he said; “perhaps jewels. If you drilled a hole in him you could find out.”
The Reverend Mr. Carew nodded absently:37
“Yes; it might be worth while,” he said.
“If there is a jewel,” repeated the missionary, “you had better take it, then cast away the figure. Erlik brings disaster to the land where his image is set up.”
The Reverend Mr. Carew smiled at his Chinese and Christian58 confrère’s ineradicable vein59 of superstition60.


1 kerosene G3uxW     
  • It is like putting out a fire with kerosene.这就像用煤油灭火。
  • Instead of electricity,there were kerosene lanterns.没有电,有煤油灯。
2 rattle 5Alzb     
  • The baby only shook the rattle and laughed and crowed.孩子只是摇着拨浪鼓,笑着叫着。
  • She could hear the rattle of the teacups.她听见茶具叮当响。
3 sleet wxlw6     
  • There was a great deal of sleet last night.昨夜雨夹雪下得真大。
  • When winter comes,we get sleet and frost.冬天来到时我们这儿会有雨夹雪和霜冻。
4 prone 50bzu     
  • Some people are prone to jump to hasty conclusions.有些人往往作出轻率的结论。
  • He is prone to lose his temper when people disagree with him.人家一不同意他的意见,他就发脾气。
5 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。
6 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。
7 furtive kz9yJ     
  • The teacher was suspicious of the student's furtive behaviour during the exam.老师怀疑这个学生在考试时有偷偷摸摸的行为。
  • His furtive behaviour aroused our suspicion.他鬼鬼祟祟的行为引起了我们的怀疑。
8 crouching crouching     
v.屈膝,蹲伏( crouch的现在分词 )
  • a hulking figure crouching in the darkness 黑暗中蹲伏着的一个庞大身影
  • A young man was crouching by the table, busily searching for something. 一个年轻人正蹲在桌边翻看什么。 来自汉英文学 - 散文英译
9 ambush DNPzg     
  • Our soldiers lay in ambush in the jungle for the enemy.我方战士埋伏在丛林中等待敌人。
  • Four men led by a sergeant lay in ambush at the crossroads.由一名中士率领的四名士兵埋伏在十字路口。
10 monstrous vwFyM     
  • The smoke began to whirl and grew into a monstrous column.浓烟开始盘旋上升,形成了一个巨大的烟柱。
  • Your behaviour in class is monstrous!你在课堂上的行为真是丢人!
11 engraved be672d34fc347de7d97da3537d2c3c95     
v.在(硬物)上雕刻(字,画等)( engrave的过去式和过去分词 );将某事物深深印在(记忆或头脑中)
  • The silver cup was engraved with his name. 银杯上刻有他的名字。
  • It was prettily engraved with flowers on the back. 此件雕刻精美,背面有花饰图案。 来自《简明英汉词典》
12 missionary ID8xX     
  • She taught in a missionary school for a couple of years.她在一所教会学校教了两年书。
  • I hope every member understands the value of missionary work. 我希望教友都了解传教工作的价值。
13 malicious e8UzX     
  • You ought to kick back at such malicious slander. 你应当反击这种恶毒的污蔑。
  • Their talk was slightly malicious.他们的谈话有点儿心怀不轨。
14 entrap toJxk     
  • The police have been given extra powers to entrap drug traffickers.警方已经被进一步授权诱捕毒贩。
  • He overturned the conviction,saying the defendant was entrapped.他声称被告是被诱骗的,从而推翻了有罪的判决。
15 inviting CqIzNp     
  • An inviting smell of coffee wafted into the room.一股诱人的咖啡香味飘进了房间。
  • The kitchen smelled warm and inviting and blessedly familiar.这间厨房的味道温暖诱人,使人感到亲切温馨。
16 crooked xvazAv     
  • 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。
17 lank f9hzd     
  • He rose to lank height and grasped Billy McMahan's hand.他瘦削的身躯站了起来,紧紧地握住比利·麦默恩的手。
  • The old man has lank hair.那位老人头发稀疏
18 hydra Fcvzu     
  • Let's knock down those hydras and drive them to the sea!让我们铲除祸根,把他们赶到大海去!
  • We may be facing a hydra that defies any easy solution.我们也许正面临一个无法轻易解决的难题。
19 pretence pretence     
  • The government abandoned any pretence of reform. 政府不再装模作样地进行改革。
  • He made a pretence of being happy at the party.晚会上他假装很高兴。
20 grotesque O6ryZ     
  • His face has a grotesque appearance.他的面部表情十分怪。
  • Her account of the incident was a grotesque distortion of the truth.她对这件事的陈述是荒诞地歪曲了事实。
21 antidote 4MZyg     
  • There is no known antidote for this poison.这种毒药没有解药。
  • Chinese physicians used it as an antidote for snake poison.中医师用它来解蛇毒。
22 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》
23 gale Xf3zD     
  • We got our roof blown off in the gale last night.昨夜的大风把我们的房顶给掀掉了。
  • According to the weather forecast,there will be a gale tomorrow.据气象台预报,明天有大风。
24 liturgies 9c34cb6653964fe18f826fbff8228350     
n.礼拜仪式( liturgy的名词复数 );(英国国教的)祈祷书
  • Politicians recite their liturgies in TV studios. 政客们在电视演播室里朗诵祷文。 来自互联网
  • The Martyrium was a five nave basilica terminatedapse and a and festive liturgies were celebrated. 殉道者大殿是全部五大殿之一,一直通到另一个圆秃型的神殿人员公署。 来自互联网
25 attained 1f2c1bee274e81555decf78fe9b16b2f     
(通常经过努力)实现( attain的过去式和过去分词 ); 达到; 获得; 达到(某年龄、水平、状况)
  • She has attained the degree of Master of Arts. 她已获得文学硕士学位。
  • Lu Hsun attained a high position in the republic of letters. 鲁迅在文坛上获得崇高的地位。
26 quotation 7S6xV     
  • He finished his speech with a quotation from Shakespeare.他讲话结束时引用了莎士比亚的语录。
  • The quotation is omitted here.此处引文从略。
27 justify j3DxR     
  • He tried to justify his absence with lame excuses.他想用站不住脚的借口为自己的缺席辩解。
  • Can you justify your rude behavior to me?你能向我证明你的粗野行为是有道理的吗?
28 creed uoxzL     
  • They offended against every article of his creed.他们触犯了他的每一条戒律。
  • Our creed has always been that business is business.我们的信条一直是公私分明。
29 denomination SwLxj     
  • The firm is still operating under another denomination.这家公司改用了名称仍在继续营业。
  • Litre is a metric denomination.升是公制单位。
30 Buddha 9x1z0O     
  • Several women knelt down before the statue of Buddha and prayed.几个妇女跪在佛像前祈祷。
  • He has kept the figure of Buddha for luck.为了图吉利他一直保存着这尊佛像。
31 adorned 1e50de930eb057fcf0ac85ca485114c8     
  • The walls were adorned with paintings. 墙上装饰了绘画。
  • And his coat was adorned with a flamboyant bunch of flowers. 他的外套上面装饰着一束艳丽刺目的鲜花。
32 sublime xhVyW     
  • We should take some time to enjoy the sublime beauty of nature.我们应该花些时间去欣赏大自然的壮丽景象。
  • Olympic games play as an important arena to exhibit the sublime idea.奥运会,就是展示此崇高理念的重要舞台。
33 truthful OmpwN     
  • You can count on him for a truthful report of the accident.你放心,他会对事故作出如实的报告的。
  • I don't think you are being entirely truthful.我认为你并没全讲真话。
34 immortality hkuys     
  • belief in the immortality of the soul 灵魂不灭的信念
  • It was like having immortality while you were still alive. 仿佛是当你仍然活着的时候就得到了永生。
35 destined Dunznz     
  • It was destined that they would marry.他们结婚是缘分。
  • The shipment is destined for America.这批货物将运往美国。
36 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。
37 countless 7vqz9L     
  • In the war countless innocent people lost their lives.在这场战争中无数无辜的人丧失了性命。
  • I've told you countless times.我已经告诉你无数遍了。
38 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。
39 aspirations a60ebedc36cdd304870aeab399069f9e     
强烈的愿望( aspiration的名词复数 ); 志向; 发送气音; 发 h 音
  • I didn't realize you had political aspirations. 我没有意识到你有政治上的抱负。
  • The new treaty embodies the aspirations of most nonaligned countries. 新条约体现了大多数不结盟国家的愿望。
40 remains 1kMzTy     
  • He ate the remains of food hungrily.他狼吞虎咽地吃剩余的食物。
  • The remains of the meal were fed to the dog.残羹剩饭喂狗了。
41 dominant usAxG     
  • The British were formerly dominant in India.英国人从前统治印度。
  • She was a dominant figure in the French film industry.她在法国电影界是个举足轻重的人物。
42 persistent BSUzg     
  • Albert had a persistent headache that lasted for three days.艾伯特连续头痛了三天。
  • She felt embarrassed by his persistent attentions.他不时地向她大献殷勤,使她很难为情。
43 uncertainties 40ee42d4a978cba8d720415c7afff06a     
无把握( uncertainty的名词复数 ); 不确定; 变化不定; 无把握、不确定的事物
  • One of the uncertainties of military duty is that you never know when you might suddenly get posted away. 任军职不稳定的因素之一是你永远不知道什么时候会突然被派往它处。
  • Uncertainties affecting peace and development are on the rise. 影响和平与发展的不确定因素在增加。 来自汉英非文学 - 十六大报告
44 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。
45 mused 0affe9d5c3a243690cca6d4248d41a85     
v.沉思,冥想( muse的过去式和过去分词 );沉思自语说(某事)
  • \"I wonder if I shall ever see them again, \"he mused. “我不知道是否还可以再见到他们,”他沉思自问。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • \"Where are we going from here?\" mused one of Rutherford's guests. 卢瑟福的一位客人忍不住说道:‘我们这是在干什么?” 来自英汉非文学 - 科学史
46 intrude Lakzv     
  • I do not want to intrude if you are busy.如果你忙我就不打扰你了。
  • I don't want to intrude on your meeting.我不想打扰你们的会议。
47 rue 8DGy6     
  • You'll rue having failed in the examination.你会悔恨考试失败。
  • You're going to rue this the longest day that you live.你要终身悔恨不尽呢。
48 demon Wmdyj     
  • The demon of greed ruined the miser's happiness.贪得无厌的恶习毁掉了那个守财奴的幸福。
  • He has been possessed by the demon of disease for years.他多年来病魔缠身。
49 forefinger pihxt     
  • He pinched the leaf between his thumb and forefinger.他将叶子捏在拇指和食指之间。
  • He held it between the tips of his thumb and forefinger.他用他大拇指和食指尖拿着它。
50 chaos 7bZyz     
  • After the failure of electricity supply the city was in chaos.停电后,城市一片混乱。
  • The typhoon left chaos behind it.台风后一片混乱。
51 hurl Yc4zy     
  • The best cure for unhappiness is to hurl yourself into your work.医治愁苦的最好办法就是全身心地投入工作。
  • To hurl abuse is no way to fight.谩骂决不是战斗。
52 crumble 7nRzv     
  • Opposition more or less crumbled away.反对势力差不多都瓦解了。
  • Even if the seas go dry and rocks crumble,my will will remain firm.纵然海枯石烂,意志永不动摇。
53 humble ddjzU     
  • In my humble opinion,he will win the election.依我拙见,他将在选举中获胜。
  • Defeat and failure make people humble.挫折与失败会使人谦卑。
54 mighty YDWxl     
  • A mighty force was about to break loose.一股巨大的力量即将迸发而出。
  • The mighty iceberg came into view.巨大的冰山出现在眼前。
55 inscription l4ZyO     
  • The inscription has worn away and can no longer be read.铭文已磨损,无法辨认了。
  • He chiselled an inscription on the marble.他在大理石上刻碑文。
56 curiously 3v0zIc     
  • He looked curiously at the people.他好奇地看着那些人。
  • He took long stealthy strides. His hands were curiously cold.他迈着悄没声息的大步。他的双手出奇地冷。
57 scowling bbce79e9f38ff2b7862d040d9e2c1dc7     
怒视,生气地皱眉( scowl的现在分词 )
  • There she was, grey-suited, sweet-faced, demure, but scowling. 她就在那里,穿着灰色的衣服,漂亮的脸上显得严肃而忧郁。 来自英汉文学 - 嘉莉妹妹
  • Scowling, Chueh-hui bit his lips. 他马上把眉毛竖起来。 来自汉英文学 - 家(1-26) - 家(1-26)
58 Christian KVByl     
  • They always addressed each other by their Christian name.他们总是以教名互相称呼。
  • His mother is a sincere Christian.他母亲是个虔诚的基督教徒。
59 vein fi9w0     
  • The girl is not in the vein for singing today.那女孩今天没有心情唱歌。
  • The doctor injects glucose into the patient's vein.医生把葡萄糖注射入病人的静脉。
60 superstition VHbzg     
  • It's a common superstition that black cats are unlucky.认为黑猫不吉祥是一种很普遍的迷信。
  • Superstition results from ignorance.迷信产生于无知。


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