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首页 » 经典英文小说 » The Ice Queen » Chapter IX. SKATING BY COMPASS.
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 The next day was Sunday. Fortunately, the sacred day had found them in such a position that they could spend it quietly. Katy persuaded Jim and the two young men to listen while she read them some chapters from the little Testament1 she had carefully packed among her "necessary articles."
This, together with the work that must be done, took up a good part of the morning, and the afternoon was spent in making a trip to the boat, looking the situation over carefully, and laying plans for a very early start the next day. Supper over, they soon crawled into bed, and woke at day break, ready for work, and all the better for their day of rest.
After a hasty breakfast camp was broken, and work was resumed at the hummock2. All hands labored3 with such a will that long before noon they had let the boat down to the smooth white plain upon the other side; and though it got away from them at the last minute, and went spinning off on its own account, no harm was done.
The onward4 march was then resumed, and splendid headway made. At noon a short halt was called and gladly accepted, all lounging upon the straw and boxes in the boat, munching5 crackers6 and cheese, and drinking Katy's cold chocolate. The sun had been out all the morning, and the ice was not only a trifle soft, but frequently rough, which had made the skating and dragging a little harder work than before.
No land appeared ahead, but Aleck knew the name and position of a lighthouse just visible upon an island at the mouth of a river away off at their right. He therefore took out of his pocket a small map of the western end of the lake, that he had copied from a big chart, and began to study it. He found that it was about fifteen miles across the end of the lake to a certain cape7 on the southern shore, which lay beyond the great marshy8 bay into which emptied the river just mentioned. He took the direction of this cape from where they were at present, by compass, and made a note of it in his pocket-book. It was almost exactly southeast. Aleck reckoned on reaching so near there by sundown that the party could go ashore9 if very hard pushed by any misfortune or bad turn of the weather, though it was too long a march to make unless they were compelled.
"But supposing we find open water, and have to change our course?" asked Katy.
"Well, we shall know, at all events, that we mustn't go east of southeast, and must try to keep as close to that direction as possible. I don't like this sunshine and westerly breeze. I'd much rather the weather kept real cold."
"Why?" said Jim. "It's much nicer when it's warm."
"I'm afraid of snow and fogs, Youngster. Now let us be off."
No snow or fog came to bother them, however, and at sunset they were out of sight of any landmark10, and travelling by the compass, like a ship at sea.
You may ask, How could they be sure they were following it truly, since they had no object, like a long bowsprit, to guide the eye in ranging their course into line with the needle point, as the steersman on a ship does when he glances across his binnacle?
This is the plan they took: The compass was a small one, but it was hung in a box so as always to stand level. It was, in fact, an old boat compass which Mr. Kincaid had had for many years. This was set exactly in the middle of the seat at the stern of the boat, where Katy still skated, with her hands resting upon the stern-board. Here she could keep her eye easily upon the face of the compass, and make a straight line from its pointer through the middle of the boat. When the compass point "southeast" and the stem-post of the yawl were in line, she knew they were going on a straight course. When these were out of line, she knew her team had swerved13, and she called out "Right!" or "Left!" to bring them back to the true course, just as a quartermaster would order "Port!" and "Starboard!" to his helmsman.
The sun went down slowly at their right hands as they rushed along, and as Jim saw his shadow stretching taller and taller, he found it difficult to keep pace with the older lads. Noting this, the Captain ordered a halt, and put Jim into the boat as a passenger, tying his sled behind.
"Don't you want to ride also?" asked Tug15 of Katy, very gallantly16.
Katy was tired, and one of her skate-straps chafed17 her instep a little, but she didn't propose to give up.
"Oh, no," she said, cheerily. "I have so much help by resting on the stern of the boat that I can go a long time yet before I give in. Besides, who would steer11?"
So they rushed away again, the clink-clink of their strokes keeping perfect time on the smooth ice. All at once—it was about four o'clock in the afternoon now—a dark line appeared ahead, and in a few moments more they could plainly see open water across their path.
When they became sure of this they went more slowly, and in about ten minutes had approached as close as they dared to a wide space like a river, beyond which white ice could be seen again. Here all knew they must spend the night, for it would be foolish to attempt to cross before morning.
"Well," remarked Tug, as they came to a halt, "according to orders, it's my duty to take the axe18 and cut fuel; so I can loaf, for there's no wood to chop round here that I see;" and he pretended to search in every direction.
"Loaf? Not a bit of it," shouted Aleck, with a grin. "My order to you is, Unload that tent, and set it up on the ice! Jim will help you. I'll help Katy make a fire."
"I wish you would," said the girl. "I'm 'fraid I shouldn't make it go very well out here. I have never built a kitchen fire on ice."
"This is the best way."
Saying this, Aleck took two of the largest pieces of wood from Jim's sled, and laid them down a little way apart. Then he laid across them a platform of the next largest sticks, and on top of this arranged his kindling19, ready to touch a match to.
"We won't set the fire going till we are quite ready for it, and—"
"But I'm cold," Jim complained.
"Well, Youngster, I've heard that the Indians never let their boys come near the lodge20 fire to get warm, but bid them run till they work the chill off. You'd better move livelier if you want to get warm, for we can't afford any more fire than is necessary for a short bit of cooking. Katy, what do you propose to have?"
"I thought I would make tea, boil potatoes, and bake some johnny-cake in my skillet. May I?"
"Oh, yes, but you must economize21 fuel."
With this warning, Aleck struck a match, and the little fire was soon blazing merrily in the "wooden stove," as Katy called it. Only one or two sticks had been burned clear through before the fire had done its work, and was put out in order to save every splinter of wood possible. They sat down in the shelter of the boat to eat their dinner, and enjoyed it very much, in spite of the cold, their loneliness, and the gathering22 darkness.
Meanwhile the tent had been set up. Over its icy floor were laid the thwarts23 taken out of the boat, the rudder, and two box covers, which nearly covered the whole space. On top of this was placed as much straw as could be spared, and upon the straw Aleck and Tug spread their blankets.
Dinner out of the way, the after-part of the boat was cleared out and re-arranged, until a level space was left. Here, upon a heap of straw, beds for the younger ones were arranged. Then the spare canvas was spread across like an awning24, and was held up on an oar12 laid lengthwise. This made a snug25 cabin for Katy and the wearied Jim, who were not long in creeping into it. Rex followed, and slept in the straw at their feet, which was good for them all.
With the coming of darkness came also a damp sort of cold, that caused them to huddle26 close in their blankets; and though they presently fell asleep, it was with a shivering sense of discomfort27 that spoiled the refreshment28.
Midnight passed, and Aleck, only half awake, was trying to tuck his blankets closer about him without disturbing his bedfellow, when the tent was suddenly struck by some large object, and considerably29 shaken. Alarmed and puzzled at the same time, Aleck paused to listen an instant before rising, when the shrieks30 and barking of the sleepers31 in the boat came to his ears. He sprang out of his blankets only in time to see two shadowy objects rise from the camp, and drift away across the face of the moon, which was just rising.
"Wh-what w-was that?" came from two scared figures sitting bolt-upright in the yawl, their tongues stuttering with terror and cold combined.
"I don't know." Aleck was as bewildered, if not quite as much frightened, as they.
"Humph!" cried Tug's voice, behind; "you're a pretty set to be scared out of your wits and wake everybody up on account of two birds. They're nothing but snow-owls32. Go to bed, or we'll all freeze."
"Wh-wh-what are they?" asked Jim, his teeth playing castanets in spite of all his efforts to control them.
"Tell you in the morning," was the reply. "Go to bed. Come in, Cap'n. Owls are nothing. Come to bed."
This seemed good advice, however gruffly given; but you can hardly expect a person to mince33 his phrases at two o'clock of a winter's morning, on an ice-floe. Aleck was ready to comply, but he was too cold.
"I must get warm first, and so must you, Jim." Katy had wisely disappeared some time before, and said she was pretty comfortable. "Come and run with me till we get our blood stirring."
Neither of the boys had dared undress at all, so it only remained for Jim to creep out from under the canvas, and limp stiffly to his brother's side. Then hand in hand they raced up and down the ice half a dozen times in the pale greenish moonlight. Once or twice they disturbed an owl14 perched on the ice, or heard wild hooting—a sound so hollow and unearthly that they could not tell whether it came from near by or far off.
This strange voice and the gray, silent half-light on the wide waste gave them a very lonely and dismal34 feeling, and when they had put themselves into a glow by exercise, they were very glad to creep back into their beds.


1 testament yyEzf     
  • This is his last will and testament.这是他的遗愿和遗嘱。
  • It is a testament to the power of political mythology.这说明,编造政治神话可以产生多大的威力。
2 hummock XdCzX     
  • He crawled up a small hummock and surveyed the prospect.他慢腾腾地登上一个小丘,看了看周围的地形。
  • The two young men advanced cautiously towards the hummock.两个年轻人小心翼翼地向小丘前进。
3 labored zpGz8M     
adj.吃力的,谨慎的v.努力争取(for)( labor的过去式和过去分词 );苦干;详细分析;(指引擎)缓慢而困难地运转
  • I was close enough to the elk to hear its labored breathing. 我离那头麋鹿非常近,能听见它吃力的呼吸声。 来自辞典例句
  • They have labored to complete the job. 他们努力完成这一工作。 来自辞典例句
4 onward 2ImxI     
  • The Yellow River surges onward like ten thousand horses galloping.黄河以万马奔腾之势滚滚向前。
  • He followed in the steps of forerunners and marched onward.他跟随着先辈的足迹前进。
5 munching 3bbbb661207569e6c6cb6a1390d74d06     
v.用力咀嚼(某物),大嚼( munch的现在分词 )
  • He was munching an apple. 他在津津有味地嚼着苹果。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • Munching the apple as he was, he had an eye for all her movements. 他虽然啃着苹果,但却很留神地监视着她的每一个动作。 来自辞典例句
6 crackers nvvz5e     
adj.精神错乱的,癫狂的n.爆竹( cracker的名词复数 );薄脆饼干;(认为)十分愉快的事;迷人的姑娘
  • That noise is driving me crackers. 那噪声闹得我简直要疯了。
  • We served some crackers and cheese as an appetiser. 我们上了些饼干和奶酪作为开胃品。 来自《简明英汉词典》
7 cape ITEy6     
  • I long for a trip to the Cape of Good Hope.我渴望到好望角去旅行。
  • She was wearing a cape over her dress.她在外套上披着一件披肩。
8 marshy YBZx8     
  • In August 1935,we began our march across the marshy grassland. 1935年8月,我们开始过草地。
  • The surrounding land is low and marshy. 周围的地低洼而多沼泽。
9 ashore tNQyT     
  • The children got ashore before the tide came in.涨潮前,孩子们就上岸了。
  • He laid hold of the rope and pulled the boat ashore.他抓住绳子拉船靠岸。
10 landmark j2DxG     
  • The Russian Revolution represents a landmark in world history.俄国革命是世界历史上的一个里程碑。
  • The tower was once a landmark for ships.这座塔曾是船只的陆标。
11 steer 5u5w3     
  • If you push the car, I'll steer it.如果你来推车,我就来驾车。
  • It's no use trying to steer the boy into a course of action that suits you.想说服这孩子按你的方式行事是徒劳的。
12 oar EH0xQ     
  • The sailors oar slowly across the river.水手们慢慢地划过河去。
  • The blade of the oar was bitten off by a shark.浆叶被一条鲨鱼咬掉了。
13 swerved 9abd504bfde466e8c735698b5b8e73b4     
v.(使)改变方向,改变目的( swerve的过去式和过去分词 )
  • She swerved sharply to avoid a cyclist. 她猛地急转弯,以躲开一个骑自行车的人。
  • The driver has swerved on a sudden to avoid a file of geese. 为了躲避一队鹅,司机突然来个急转弯。 来自《简明英汉词典》
14 owl 7KFxk     
  • Her new glasses make her look like an owl.她的新眼镜让她看上去像只猫头鹰。
  • I'm a night owl and seldom go to bed until after midnight.我睡得很晚,经常半夜后才睡觉。
15 tug 5KBzo     
  • We need to tug the car round to the front.我们需要把那辆车拉到前面。
  • The tug is towing three barges.那只拖船正拖着三只驳船。
16 gallantly gallantly     
adv. 漂亮地,勇敢地,献殷勤地
  • 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。
17 chafed f9adc83cf3cbb1d83206e36eae090f1f     
v.擦热(尤指皮肤)( chafe的过去式 );擦痛;发怒;惹怒
  • Her wrists chafed where the rope had been. 她的手腕上绳子勒过的地方都磨红了。
  • She chafed her cold hands. 她揉搓冰冷的双手使之暖和。 来自《现代英汉综合大词典》
18 axe 2oVyI     
  • Be careful with that sharp axe.那把斧子很锋利,你要当心。
  • The edge of this axe has turned.这把斧子卷了刃了。
19 kindling kindling     
n. 点火, 可燃物 动词kindle的现在分词形式
  • There were neat piles of kindling wood against the wall. 墙边整齐地放着几堆引火柴。
  • "Coal and kindling all in the shed in the backyard." “煤,劈柴,都在后院小屋里。” 来自汉英文学 - 骆驼祥子
20 lodge q8nzj     
  • Is there anywhere that I can lodge in the village tonight?村里有我今晚过夜的地方吗?
  • I shall lodge at the inn for two nights.我要在这家小店住两个晚上。
21 economize Sr3xZ     
  • We're going to have to economize from now on. 从现在开始,我们不得不节约开支。
  • We have to economize on water during the dry season. 我们在旱季不得不节约用水。
22 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。
23 thwarts ba268d891889fae488d94d41e38e7678     
阻挠( thwart的第三人称单数 ); 使受挫折; 挫败; 横过
  • Matcham steady and alert, at a sign from Dick, ran along the thwarts and leaped ashore. 麦青机警、镇静地照着狄克向他做的手势,急急地沿着船上的座板,跳到岸上。
  • He laid himself down under the thwarts and waited, panting. 躺在坐板下面,气喘吁吁地等着开船。
24 awning LeVyZ     
  • A large green awning is set over the glass window to shelter against the sun.在玻璃窗上装了个绿色的大遮棚以遮挡阳光。
  • Several people herded under an awning to get out the shower.几个人聚集在门栅下避阵雨
25 snug 3TvzG     
  • He showed us into a snug little sitting room.他领我们走进了一间温暖而舒适的小客厅。
  • She had a small but snug home.她有个小小的但很舒适的家。
26 huddle s5UyT     
  • They like living in a huddle.他们喜欢杂居在一起。
  • The cold wind made the boy huddle inside his coat.寒风使这个男孩卷缩在他的外衣里。
27 discomfort cuvxN     
  • One has to bear a little discomfort while travelling.旅行中总要忍受一点不便。
  • She turned red with discomfort when the teacher spoke.老师讲话时她不好意思地红着脸。
28 refreshment RUIxP     
  • He needs to stop fairly often for refreshment.他须时不时地停下来喘口气。
  • A hot bath is a great refreshment after a day's work.在一天工作之后洗个热水澡真是舒畅。
29 considerably 0YWyQ     
  • The economic situation has changed considerably.经济形势已发生了相当大的变化。
  • The gap has narrowed considerably.分歧大大缩小了。
30 shrieks e693aa502222a9efbbd76f900b6f5114     
n.尖叫声( shriek的名词复数 )v.尖叫( shriek的第三人称单数 )
  • shrieks of fiendish laughter 恶魔般的尖笑声
  • For years, from newspapers, broadcasts, the stages and at meetings, we had heard nothing but grandiloquent rhetoric delivered with shouts and shrieks that deafened the ears. 多少年来, 报纸上, 广播里, 舞台上, 会场上的声嘶力竭,装腔做态的高调搞得我们震耳欲聋。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》
31 sleepers 1d076aa8d5bfd0daecb3ca5f5c17a425     
n.卧铺(通常以复数形式出现);卧车( sleeper的名词复数 );轨枕;睡觉(呈某种状态)的人;小耳环
  • He trod quietly so as not to disturb the sleepers. 他轻移脚步,以免吵醒睡着的人。 来自辞典例句
  • The nurse was out, and we two sleepers were alone. 保姆出去了,只剩下我们两个瞌睡虫。 来自辞典例句
32 owls 7b4601ac7f6fe54f86669548acc46286     
n.猫头鹰( owl的名词复数 )
  • 'Clumsy fellows,'said I; 'they must still be drunk as owls.' “这些笨蛋,”我说,“他们大概还醉得像死猪一样。” 来自英汉文学 - 金银岛
  • The great majority of barn owls are reared in captivity. 大多数仓鸮都是笼养的。 来自辞典例句
33 mince E1lyp     
  • Would you like me to mince the meat for you?你要我替你把肉切碎吗?
  • Don't mince matters,but speak plainly.不要含糊其词,有话就直说吧。
34 dismal wtwxa     
  • That is a rather dismal melody.那是一支相当忧郁的歌曲。
  • My prospects of returning to a suitable job are dismal.我重新找到一个合适的工作岗位的希望很渺茫。


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