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首页 » 经典英文小说 » Lord Dolphin » CHAPTER IV. THE MERMAID'S CAVE
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 As I have never been in a truly house, I cannot know of all the kinds of carpets or coverings that Folks use on the floors.
Yet I have had peeps at very lovely carpets, as in a ship's cabin, and I know that velvet1 and fine, beautiful straw, as well as other kinds of nice carpets, must be used in what Folks call their houses.
Oh, but never has a floor of wood been covered with such wonderful material, or covering of such marvellous workmanship, as that over which I have roamed, and on which I have rested all my life. Yet, except in deep waters, I will not pretend that my carpets are always very soft.
In the deeper waters that I love, there are miles and miles of soft, blue mud, that to a Dolphin is far more luxurious2 and enjoyable than the thickest of velvet or the most closely, evenly plaited straw could be. But when, after a long, delightful3 journey, I visit the regions of shallower waters, ah, the beautiful things I could bring you, were there a tunnel, a car, or an air-shaft to convey me safely to land!
What are these shining, many-colored things I see lying about, with all kinds of fishes sailing around and playing with, as a child plays with blocks or cards?
Shells! all kinds and shapes, many of them rough outside but smooth and glossy4 as glass inside.
What is a shell? You know the word "marine5," called ma-reen, means belonging to the sea, so shells are marine curiosities, for they are always found in or near the sea. And they are really the hard, outer covering of some sea-animal or other.
But how can I describe shells such as I have looked upon a thousand times? You have seen some kinds, I know, but they would not even pass as samples of the splendid shapes and tints6 that lie scattered7 around my floor. A few Folks have made a study of the different kinds of shells that have floated or been carried to the shore, and have been able to tell the class of sea-animals to which they have belonged. They once were the coats or outside garment of a swimmer or a clinger of the sea.
One day a mother-Dolphin missed her boy-Dolphin, and as he was quite a young fellow, she felt much distressed8. Away she sailed, peering amidst the many objects covering the sea-floor.
Do you suppose it is an easy matter to find a fish that has got lost? I caught the flying-fish because he never got far away from me. But here was a young rascal9 that had gone off roaming, almost before he knew how to feed himself, and search as she might, nowhere could his mother find the rogue10 of a runaway11.
If you will believe it, he was gone a week, then back he came, his eyes as big as saucers. You see, I know how to say some things that Folks do; by and by you will find out how I learned them.
Master Dolphy had a story to tell. He made us understand in fish-language that he had found a wonderful, wonderful cave, where a party of mermaids12 had collected a lot of shells, oh, enough to fill a great house!
Now, I can't tell a thing as to the truth about mermaids. But "they say," that is, Folks and fishes say, that they are strange, fascinating creatures, with the head, shoulders, arms, and breast of a beautiful woman, and part of the body and the tail of a fish. Sometimes they are called sea-nymphs; others call them sirens.
Have you ever lived by the sea? And on stormy evenings, when rain was rattling14 on the window-pane, and the wind went screaming around the house, have you ever imagined there were queer calls, and have you seen strange shapes thrown up by the waves?
Or have you ever heard an old sailor or an old fisherman tell stories of the deep? If not, you cannot take in the kind of spell or enchantment15 that lingers about the sea after listening to these sounds or hearing these stories. They are all mixed up with the "myth" stories you heard of a little way back.
But these stories have been told ever since the world was young. And the mermaids are said to be daughters of the river-god that have lived ever in the deep and sounding ocean.
And they were strange and weird—that is, wild, unnatural16, and witching. They would appear in both calm and stormy weather.
Sirens were sometimes thought to be different from mermaids, but we fishes know them to be one and the same thing—that is, if they exist at all. It used to be said that a mermaid13 murmured, but that a siren sang, with dangerous sweetness. Both murmur17 and both sing, one as much as the other.
They will all at once be seen poised18 on perilous19 rocks, their long and splendid hair floating back in the wild wind, their eyes shining like stars, their faces bright and glorious, their white arms and gleaming shoulders rising like snow from midst the dark and stormy waves.
Ah! the singing, the beckoning20, and the coaxing21 of a mermaid! Let me tell you how they work.
They have a sly, four-legged creature on land, all dressed in fur, and sporting a fine, thick tail, and they say that when this Madame Puss wants to catch a bird that is wheeling in the air, she will manage to first catch its eye. Then the little creature will not be able to look away, but will wheel and circle, and circle and wheel, all the time coming nearer, until, if no one frightens Madame Puss away, she will keep her yellow eye fixed22 on the eye that she has caught, until the bird flies close to her and is caught.
This is called "charming a bird." And the truth must be that poor birdie, after catching23 sight of that great, shining eye, does not see Madame Puss herself, but only the bright eye, and being unable to look away, flies nearer and nearer the strange, glittering light, until Madame Puss makes a spring, and all is over.
Just so, it is said, the sailors cannot look away from the fair, wonderful creatures tossing their rich hair, beckoning wildly, singing and singing with a sweetness that is not natural or earthly, until, what with the beauty and luring24, and voices of honey, the poor sailormen are close against the rocks, and do not seem to know that they are charmed or harmed when the waters close softly over them.
I do not know whether I have ever seen a mermaid or not. But when I took that dangerous voyage up into the storm circle, I saw strange shapes that I never saw before, and heard sounds that were new to my ear. Two or three times I thought I saw streaming hair, and white faces seemed to rise and ride atop of the foaming25 billows.
But when one is very much excited, will not imagination produce almost any kind of an object that happens to come into the mind? Ah, I am afraid so. Still, there are both Folks and fishes that believe in the mermaids and their songs, and what am I that I should dare dispute them!
Yet—let me whisper—I have heard that Folks who do not know so very much, will tell about "goblins," "spooks," and "catch-ums," and whenever there is talk about the mermaids and the sirens, I think of those Folks who believe in creatures that "never were."
But it would not do to talk in my watery26 home as if I had no belief in mermaids, because, you see, as most fishes have never been with Folks, and learned a thing or two from them, they do not know any better than to believe in these sweet, dangerous creatures.
So, now, here came Dolphy, with flapping fins27, wild eye, and his story of a mermaid's cave. Then a party was made up to go and see the rare and amazing place.
Well, it did look as if some creatures of surprising taste and skill had brought together a collection of shells such as are never seen above the surface of the sea, and formed, indeed, a cave fit for a mermaid's home.
I know little about time, but it must have been days and nights I stayed in the enchanting28 place, roving hither and thither29, rubbing my fins against the soft, smooth shells, and half wondering how they really came to be grouped together in such shining rows.
And the colors! And the shapes! Some were well-opened on the inside, and looked as if entirely30 covered with pink enamel31. They were of clear, ivory white, pinkish white, pale rose, deep rose, pale yellow, or straw color, orange yellow, blue and green mixed in glossy sheen, shades of pink running into rich reds, purples and grayish pinks, making the fair, sweet mother-o'-pearl.
Some were cup-shaped, having deep hollows. Should you hold your ear fairly shut into one of these, it is said you would hear always as often as you so held it, the roaring of the ocean. And a roaring sound you would hear, in very truth. Yet, let me tell you! Take a common china cup, shut your ear into it, and the same roaring will be heard.
Is that old ocean? No, it is simply the sound of your own blood coursing through your veins32.
A wide-awake Frenchman once wrote that, could you look within your own body and see the engines pumping, the valves opening and shutting, the pipes working, and the whole machinery33 in action, it would surprise and perhaps scare you into the bargain.
We have got a little off the track, but it is well to know the facts about these things. Now we will return to the shells.
Look at that splendid one shaped like a bowl, but with pink lips rolled back, through which can be seen changing tints of pink and white. Here is one that is oblong, lined with rose enamel, but having strange horns pointing out at one side.
See that beauty, wide open and shaped like a saucer. Dear me, hold it a little toward the light, and there gleams every color of the rainbow on the polished surface. Here is another, striped with hair-like lines in red, yellow, blue, and brown. There is a fan, wide open, beautifully polished; it has no handle, but its coloring is in nearly all tints, and changeable in the light. What a lovely thing is this heart-shaped shell, with a line along the centre, and beautifully blending colors on either side. There are many of these scattered around.
Now, how can I describe these singular yet perfect shapes banked up against rocks that are completely hidden on the inside of the cave?
Over there is a funny, snarly34 head, with fine shreds35 of hair laced over a smooth shell. Ah, what gleams of colored light shoot through the hair! Here is a bird's nest on a bar, lying side of a wide fan, shaped like a palm leaf; in the plaitings are curled all colors, pink, blue, yellow, and green.
This shell is like a foot with eighteen or twenty toes, smooth, shining, and of flesh-like tints. This is like a bat's wing, with lines and webs finely tinted36. Look at that enamelled jug37 with a pipe at the top. Near by is a perfect leaf on a small branch.
Do see this worm, ringed around with dark purple stripes. Isn't it queer? In that corner is a trumpet38, splendidly colored inside. That shape over there must be a fool's cap, one mass of sheeny tints inside. Here are beautifully rounded little bowls, all scalloped around the top; ah, see them glisten39 and change shades as the light strikes them!
See the beetle-bugs, with horns sticking out in every direction. And if here isn't a perfect shape of a lady's slipper40! The lady should wear it inside out, so all could see its exquisite41 mother-o'-pearl.
Here are shells exactly like the feathery wing of a bird, and how birdie would enjoy snuggling his soft head against the exquisite smoothness of these shells!
Is that a large carrot split lengthwise? It looks like it, but no carrot split along its length ever brought to light such rainbows as glint along these. Those shells looking so much like rattles42 would amuse a lot of babies if they could play in the mermaid's cave. They would try to catch the fine colors, and might cry when they changed and changed, and then appeared to dance away.
Those serpents, some half uncoiled, some out straight, will not bite. Those flashes are not from dangerous eyes, but are only fine shell tints.
Here are a lot of squat43 jars for holding small ornaments44. They are ornaments themselves. Are they not? And what queer combs with three shining rows of teeth, each tooth a point of color.
Really, I might as well stop. There would be no use in trying to describe a third of these shapes, and as to coloring, with all I have said, you can have but a faint idea of the soft, brilliant, ever changing hues45 and gleams in the mermaid's cave.


1 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。
2 luxurious S2pyv     
  • This is a luxurious car complete with air conditioning and telephone.这是一辆附有空调设备和电话的豪华轿车。
  • The rich man lives in luxurious surroundings.这位富人生活在奢侈的环境中。
3 delightful 6xzxT     
  • We had a delightful time by the seashore last Sunday.上星期天我们在海滨玩得真痛快。
  • Peter played a delightful melody on his flute.彼得用笛子吹奏了一支欢快的曲子。
4 glossy nfvxx     
  • I like these glossy spots.我喜欢这些闪闪发光的花点。
  • She had glossy black hair.她长着乌黑发亮的头发。
5 marine 77Izo     
  • Marine creatures are those which live in the sea. 海洋生物是生存在海里的生物。
  • When the war broke out,he volunteered for the Marine Corps.战争爆发时,他自愿参加了海军陆战队。
6 tints 41fd51b51cf127789864a36f50ef24bf     
色彩( tint的名词复数 ); 带白的颜色; (淡色)染发剂; 痕迹
  • leaves with red and gold autumn tints 金秋时节略呈红黄色的树叶
  • The whole countryside glowed with autumn tints. 乡间处处呈现出灿烂的秋色。
7 scattered 7jgzKF     
  • Gathering up his scattered papers,he pushed them into his case.他把散乱的文件收拾起来,塞进文件夹里。
8 distressed du1z3y     
  • He was too distressed and confused to answer their questions. 他非常苦恼而困惑,无法回答他们的问题。
  • The news of his death distressed us greatly. 他逝世的消息使我们极为悲痛。
9 rascal mAIzd     
  • If he had done otherwise,I should have thought him a rascal.如果他不这样做,我就认为他是个恶棍。
  • The rascal was frightened into holding his tongue.这坏蛋吓得不敢往下说了。
10 rogue qCfzo     
  • The little rogue had his grandpa's glasses on.这淘气鬼带上了他祖父的眼镜。
  • They defined him as a rogue.他们确定他为骗子。
11 runaway jD4y5     
  • The police have not found the runaway to date.警察迄今没抓到逃犯。
  • He was praised for bringing up the runaway horse.他勒住了脱缰之马受到了表扬。
12 mermaids b00bb04c7ae7aa2a22172d2bf61ca849     
n.(传说中的)美人鱼( mermaid的名词复数 )
  • The high stern castle was a riot or carved gods, demons, knights, kings, warriors, mermaids, cherubs. 其尾部高耸的船楼上雕满了神仙、妖魔鬼怪、骑士、国王、勇士、美人鱼、天使。 来自辞典例句
  • This is why mermaids should never come on land. 这就是为什么人鱼不应该上岸的原因。 来自电影对白
13 mermaid pCbxH     
  • How popular would that girl be with the only mermaid mom!和人鱼妈妈在一起,那个女孩会有多受欢迎!
  • The little mermaid wasn't happy because she didn't want to wait.小美人鱼不太高兴,因为她等不及了。
14 rattling 7b0e25ab43c3cc912945aafbb80e7dfd     
adj. 格格作响的, 活泼的, 很好的 adv. 极其, 很, 非常 动词rattle的现在分词
  • This book is a rattling good read. 这是一本非常好的读物。
  • At that same instant,a deafening explosion set the windows rattling. 正在这时,一声震耳欲聋的爆炸突然袭来,把窗玻璃震得当当地响。
15 enchantment dmryQ     
  • The beauty of the scene filled us with enchantment.风景的秀丽令我们陶醉。
  • The countryside lay as under some dread enchantment.乡村好像躺在某种可怖的魔法之下。
16 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。
17 murmur EjtyD     
  • They paid the extra taxes without a murmur.他们毫无怨言地交了附加税。
  • There was a low murmur of conversation in the hall.大厅里有窃窃私语声。
18 poised SlhzBU     
  • The hawk poised in mid-air ready to swoop. 老鹰在半空中盘旋,准备俯冲。
  • Tina was tense, her hand poised over the telephone. 蒂娜心情紧张,手悬在电话机上。
19 perilous E3xz6     
  • The journey through the jungle was perilous.穿过丛林的旅行充满了危险。
  • We have been carried in safety through a perilous crisis.历经一连串危机,我们如今已安然无恙。
20 beckoning fcbc3f0e8d09c5f29e4c5759847d03d6     
adj.引诱人的,令人心动的v.(用头或手的动作)示意,召唤( beckon的现在分词 )
  • An even more beautiful future is beckoning us on. 一个更加美好的未来在召唤我们继续前进。 来自辞典例句
  • He saw a youth of great radiance beckoning to him. 他看见一个丰神飘逸的少年向他招手。 来自辞典例句
21 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
22 fixed JsKzzj     
  • Have you two fixed on a date for the wedding yet?你们俩选定婚期了吗?
  • Once the aim is fixed,we should not change it arbitrarily.目标一旦确定,我们就不应该随意改变。
23 catching cwVztY     
  • There are those who think eczema is catching.有人就是认为湿疹会传染。
  • Enthusiasm is very catching.热情非常富有感染力。
24 luring f0c862dc1e88c711a4434c2d1ab2867a     
  • Cheese is very good for luring a mouse into a trap. 奶酪是引诱老鼠上钩的极好的东西。
  • Her training warned her of peril and of the wrong, subtle, mysterious, luring. 她的教养警告她:有危险,要出错儿,这是微妙、神秘而又诱人的。
25 foaming 08d4476ae4071ba83dfdbdb73d41cae6     
  • He looked like a madman, foaming at the mouth. 他口吐白沫,看上去像个疯子。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • He is foaming at the mouth about the committee's decision. 他正为委员会的决定大发其火。 来自《简明英汉词典》
26 watery bU5zW     
  • In his watery eyes there is an expression of distrust.他那含泪的眼睛流露出惊惶失措的神情。
  • Her eyes became watery because of the smoke.因为烟熏,她的双眼变得泪汪汪的。
27 fins 6a19adaf8b48d5db4b49aef2b7e46ade     
  • The level of TNF-α positively correlated with BMI,FPG,HbA1C,TG,FINS and IRI,but not with SBP and DBP. TNF-α水平与BMI、FPG、HbA1C、TG、FINS和IRI呈显著正相关,与SBP、DBP无相关。 来自互联网
  • Fins are a feature specific to fish. 鱼鳍是鱼类特有的特征。 来自辞典例句
28 enchanting MmCyP     
  • His smile, at once enchanting and melancholy, is just his father's. 他那种既迷人又有些忧郁的微笑,活脱儿象他父亲。
  • Its interior was an enchanting place that both lured and frightened me. 它的里头是个吸引人的地方,我又向往又害怕。
29 thither cgRz1o     
  • He wandered hither and thither looking for a playmate.他逛来逛去找玩伴。
  • He tramped hither and thither.他到处流浪。
30 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。
31 enamel jZ4zF     
  • I chipped the enamel on my front tooth when I fell over.我跌倒时门牙的珐琅质碰碎了。
  • He collected coloured enamel bowls from Yugoslavia.他藏有来自南斯拉夫的彩色搪瓷碗。
32 veins 65827206226d9e2d78ea2bfe697c6329     
n.纹理;矿脉( vein的名词复数 );静脉;叶脉;纹理
  • The blood flows from the capillaries back into the veins. 血从毛细血管流回静脉。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • I felt a pleasant glow in all my veins from the wine. 喝过酒后我浑身的血都热烘烘的,感到很舒服。 来自《简明英汉词典》
33 machinery CAdxb     
  • Has the machinery been put up ready for the broadcast?广播器材安装完毕了吗?
  • Machinery ought to be well maintained all the time.机器应该随时注意维护。
34 snarly snarly     
  • It was fought in East Main Street in Columbus with a large, snarly nondescript. 这一架是在哥伦布东大街打的,对手是个大膘肥,呲牙咧嘴,是个不伦不类的杂种。 来自辞典例句
35 shreds 0288daa27f5fcbe882c0eaedf23db832     
v.撕碎,切碎( shred的第三人称单数 );用撕毁机撕毁(文件)
  • Peel the carrots and cut them into shreds. 将胡罗卜削皮,切成丝。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • I want to take this diary and rip it into shreds. 我真想一赌气扯了这日记。 来自汉英文学 - 中国现代小说
36 tinted tinted     
adj. 带色彩的 动词tint的过去式和过去分词
  • a pair of glasses with tinted lenses 一副有色镜片眼镜
  • a rose-tinted vision of the world 对世界的理想化看法
37 jug QaNzK     
  • He walked along with a jug poised on his head.他头上顶着一个水罐,保持着平衡往前走。
  • She filled the jug with fresh water.她将水壶注满了清水。
38 trumpet AUczL     
  • He plays the violin, but I play the trumpet.他拉提琴,我吹喇叭。
  • The trumpet sounded for battle.战斗的号角吹响了。
39 glisten 8e2zq     
  • Dewdrops glisten in the morning sun.露珠在晨光下闪闪发光。
  • His sunken eyes glistened with delight.他凹陷的眼睛闪现出喜悦的光芒。
40 slipper px9w0     
  • I rescued the remains of my slipper from the dog.我从那狗的口中夺回了我拖鞋的残留部分。
  • The puppy chewed a hole in the slipper.小狗在拖鞋上啃了一个洞。
41 exquisite zhez1     
  • I was admiring the exquisite workmanship in the mosaic.我当时正在欣赏镶嵌画的精致做工。
  • I still remember the exquisite pleasure I experienced in Bali.我依然记得在巴厘岛所经历的那种剧烈的快感。
42 rattles 0cd5b6f81d3b50c9ffb3ddb2eaaa027b     
(使)发出格格的响声, (使)作嘎嘎声( rattle的第三人称单数 ); 喋喋不休地说话; 迅速而嘎嘎作响地移动,堕下或走动; 使紧张,使恐惧
  • It rattles the windowpane and sends the dog scratching to get under the bed. 它把窗玻璃震得格格作响,把狗吓得往床底下钻。
  • How thin it is, and how dainty and frail; and how it rattles. 你看它够多么薄,多么精致,多么不结实;还老那么哗楞哗楞地响。
43 squat 2GRzp     
  • For this exercise you need to get into a squat.在这次练习中你需要蹲下来。
  • He is a squat man.他是一个矮胖的男人。
44 ornaments 2bf24c2bab75a8ff45e650a1e4388dec     
n.装饰( ornament的名词复数 );点缀;装饰品;首饰v.装饰,点缀,美化( ornament的第三人称单数 )
  • The shelves were chock-a-block with ornaments. 架子上堆满了装饰品。
  • Playing the piano sets up resonance in those glass ornaments. 一弹钢琴那些玻璃饰物就会产生共振。 来自《简明英汉词典》
45 hues adb36550095392fec301ed06c82f8920     
色彩( hue的名词复数 ); 色调; 信仰; 观点
  • When the sun rose a hundred prismatic hues were reflected from it. 太阳一出,更把它映得千变万化、异彩缤纷。
  • Where maple trees grow, the leaves are often several brilliant hues of red. 在枫树生长的地方,枫叶常常呈现出数种光彩夺目的红色。


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