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首页 » 经典英文小说 » The Ice Queen » Chapter XIV. THE ARCTIC VISITORS.
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 "Help me catch these wounded ones!" cried Tug1, dancing round in chase of several wing-tipped and lame2 birds that were floundering in the snow.
The others rushed after them too, and it was exciting sport, for the chase often led them into deep drifts and down the scraggy sides of the hummock3; it thus became the scene of many comical tumbles and failures, for several of the birds, having been shot as they crowded together in a bunch, were only slightly wounded, and able to make a vigorous attempt to escape. Rex took part also, but his work consisted chiefly in barking himself hoarse4, for all he accomplished5 was the finding of one dead bird; and this, as he was not a retriever, he devoured6 on the spot.
When, panting, red-faced, and tired out, they gathered again at the door, they counted up seventeen fat buntings and one long-spur as the result of the three shots. Three of these were badly mangled7, and were given to Rex; the others they began at once to make into a stew8 for supper, which they always ate about sundown. This meal also took the place of a dinner, as they ate only "a bite" at noon.
While they were plucking the birds—and their bodies seemed wofully small when the thick coat of feathers had been removed—they asked Tug many questions about the buntings. He could not answer all of them, but the substance of what he told them was this:
The snow-buntings—white snow-birds, or snow-flakes—belong to the far northern regions, where they go in summer to make their nests, often within the arctic circle. As soon as their young are able to fly they must begin their southward migration9, for the excessive cold and the deep snow cut off all the grass-seeds, mosses10, and insects upon which they feed in summer. So they begin to spread southward, not into British America alone, but also into Lapland and Russia, and the lower parts of Siberia. The bird seems to be a lover of cold, and used to scant11 fare and the roughest climate. It is not always, therefore, that they are to be seen in the United States south of the Great Lakes.
Around these lakes, however, they are likely to come in large flocks after a cold snap or a deep fall of snow. The wild rice tracts12 and frozen marshes13 afford them an abundance of seeds and dried berries, upon which they grow fat. Though seeming less in danger than most other birds, since our hawks14 are gone southward, these buntings are exceedingly restless and timid, which makes them scurry15 away at the least alarm. Yet their timidity is not enough to insure their safety, for though they are constantly rising up and settling again, their flights are so short and uncertain that, as we have seen, a good marksman has no difficulty in shooting them. They are so small, however, that in this country of large game-birds they are never shot for food unless a necessity like the present one compels it. With the first bit of warm weather the snow-buntings and their companions, the long-spurs, whirl away to the bleak16 northward17, crowding close upon the heels of Winter as he retreats to his polar stronghold.
In the cool mountainous parts of the Far West there are several species of birds closely akin18 to the snow-flake, whose summer homes are among the peaks. They belong to the same genus (Plectrophanes), but none of them are so white as the Eastern bunting; in fact, like the ptarmigan, he is pure white only in midwinter, changing in summer to a dress much mottled with warm brown and black, traces of which remain in his winter hood19 and collar.
"What do you suppose brought the snow-flakes away out hither on the ice?" Tug was asked.
"Oh, we're not so far from land—though we might as well be a hundred miles away for all the good it will do us!—and I suppose they were flying across to the marshes and islands on the north shore. Probably our smoke attracted them."
Having got done with their birds, the boys returned to their chopping. Two or three large pieces were hacked20 out as back-logs to build their fire upon, instead of making it right on the ice; and since this last load was not needed in the wall, which had been banked up anew, it was spread around on the floor of the house to lift their canvas carpet above the chilly21 and often wet floor, for the weather was not cold enough now to keep it frozen always hard and dry under the tent.
Evening came, and with it a feeling of homelike comfort queer to think about, yet not quite impossible under the circumstances, forlorn and dangerous as they were. The boys perched themselves on the gunwale of the boat, and watched Katy making snow-bird stew and steeping the fragrant22 tea.
Then, how good it tasted! What a royal change from steady bacon and crackers23, or tough dried beef, and water!
"I wonder if they'll come again?" said Aleck, examining his friend's gun. "Costs a heap o' powder, though, and the noise scares them. Say, Tug, don't you know how to build traps?"
"I could make a figure four," piped Jim, "if I had the box."
"Guess we could manage that. Ugh! what a frightful24 smoke!"
"I should say so," added Katy, rubbing her smarting eyes. "I think, if you would punch a hole under the wall, there would be a better draught25. That hole in the corner of the roof don't make a very fine chimney."
Tug took his ramrod and worked the snow away from a crevice26 at the foot of the wall, near the floor. The cooler air outside sucked in to take the place of the heated air within, which ascended27 to the hole at the edge of the roof, and a draught was set in motion, taking enough of the smoke out to make the place endurable while they ate their supper.
How good that bird soup was! And what fun they had, eating it out of their tin cups with wooden spoons! There was only one bowl for the tea, which had to be passed around for each to drink from in turn. They forgot their difficulties for a little while, and were as merry as anybody could be. All at once Katy stopped short in a laugh, with an exclamation28 of astonishment29:
"I do believe we've never one of us thought what day it is! This is Christmas eve!"
The evening was given to chatting, as they sat in the darkness half illumined by the red embers of their fire, for they wanted to save their lantern oil, and would not allow themselves to burn it uselessly; nor was it late when they went to sleep.


1 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。
2 lame r9gzj     
  • The lame man needs a stick when he walks.那跛脚男子走路时需借助拐棍。
  • I don't believe his story.It'sounds a bit lame.我不信他讲的那一套。他的话听起来有些靠不住。
3 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。
4 hoarse 5dqzA     
  • He asked me a question in a hoarse voice.他用嘶哑的声音问了我一个问题。
  • He was too excited and roared himself hoarse.他过于激动,嗓子都喊哑了。
5 accomplished UzwztZ     
  • Thanks to your help,we accomplished the task ahead of schedule.亏得你们帮忙,我们才提前完成了任务。
  • Removal of excess heat is accomplished by means of a radiator.通过散热器完成多余热量的排出。
6 devoured af343afccf250213c6b0cadbf3a346a9     
吞没( devour的过去式和过去分词 ); 耗尽; 津津有味地看; 狼吞虎咽地吃光
  • She devoured everything she could lay her hands on: books, magazines and newspapers. 无论是书、杂志,还是报纸,只要能弄得到,她都看得津津有味。
  • The lions devoured a zebra in a short time. 狮子一会儿就吃掉了一匹斑马。
7 mangled c6ddad2d2b989a3ee0c19033d9ef021b     
  • His hand was mangled in the machine. 他的手卷到机器里轧烂了。
  • He was off work because he'd mangled his hand in a machine. 他没上班,因为他的手给机器严重压伤了。 来自《简明英汉词典》
8 stew 0GTz5     
  • The stew must be boiled up before serving.炖肉必须煮熟才能上桌。
  • There's no need to get in a stew.没有必要烦恼。
9 migration mDpxj     
  • Swallows begin their migration south in autumn.燕子在秋季开始向南方迁移。
  • He described the vernal migration of birds in detail.他详细地描述了鸟的春季移居。
10 mosses c7366f977619e62b758615914b126fcb     
n. 藓类, 苔藓植物 名词moss的复数形式
  • Ferns, mosses and fungi spread by means of spores. 蕨类植物、苔藓和真菌通过孢子传播蔓生。
  • The only plants to be found in Antarctica are algae, mosses, and lichens. 在南极洲所发现的植物只有藻类、苔藓和地衣。
11 scant 2Dwzx     
  • Don't scant the butter when you make a cake.做糕饼时不要吝惜奶油。
  • Many mothers pay scant attention to their own needs when their children are small.孩子们小的时候,许多母亲都忽视自己的需求。
12 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。
13 marshes 9fb6b97bc2685c7033fce33dc84acded     
n.沼泽,湿地( marsh的名词复数 )
  • Cows were grazing on the marshes. 牛群在湿地上吃草。
  • We had to cross the marshes. 我们不得不穿过那片沼泽地。 来自《简明英汉词典》
14 hawks c8b4f3ba2fd1208293962d95608dd1f1     
鹰( hawk的名词复数 ); 鹰派人物,主战派人物
  • Two hawks were hover ing overhead. 两只鹰在头顶盘旋。
  • Both hawks and doves have expanded their conditions for ending the war. 鹰派和鸽派都充分阐明了各自的停战条件。
15 scurry kDkz1     
  • I jumped on the sofa after I saw a mouse scurry by.看到一只老鼠匆匆路过,我从沙发上跳了起来。
  • There was a great scurry for bargains.大家急忙着去抢购特价品。
16 bleak gtWz5     
  • They showed me into a bleak waiting room.他们引我来到一间阴冷的会客室。
  • The company's prospects look pretty bleak.这家公司的前景异常暗淡。
17 northward YHexe     
  • He pointed his boat northward.他将船驶向北方。
  • I would have a chance to head northward quickly.我就很快有机会去北方了。
18 akin uxbz2     
  • She painted flowers and birds pictures akin to those of earlier feminine painters.她画一些同早期女画家类似的花鸟画。
  • Listening to his life story is akin to reading a good adventure novel.听他的人生故事犹如阅读一本精彩的冒险小说。
19 hood ddwzJ     
  • She is wearing a red cloak with a hood.她穿着一件红色带兜帽的披风。
  • The car hood was dented in.汽车的发动机罩已凹了进去。
20 hacked FrgzgZ     
  • I hacked the dead branches off. 我把枯树枝砍掉了。
  • I'm really hacked off. 我真是很恼火。
21 chilly pOfzl     
  • I feel chilly without a coat.我由于没有穿大衣而感到凉飕飕的。
  • I grew chilly when the fire went out.炉火熄灭后,寒气逼人。
22 fragrant z6Yym     
  • The Fragrant Hills are exceptionally beautiful in late autumn.深秋的香山格外美丽。
  • The air was fragrant with lavender.空气中弥漫薰衣草香。
23 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》
24 frightful Ghmxw     
  • How frightful to have a husband who snores!有一个发鼾声的丈夫多讨厌啊!
  • We're having frightful weather these days.这几天天气坏极了。
25 draught 7uyzIH     
  • He emptied his glass at one draught.他将杯中物一饮而尽。
  • It's a pity the room has no north window and you don't get a draught.可惜这房间没北窗,没有过堂风。
26 crevice pokzO     
  • I saw a plant growing out of a crevice in the wall.我看到墙缝里长出一棵草来。
  • He edged the tool into the crevice.他把刀具插进裂缝里。
27 ascended ea3eb8c332a31fe6393293199b82c425     
v.上升,攀登( ascend的过去式和过去分词 )
  • He has ascended into heaven. 他已经升入了天堂。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • The climbers slowly ascended the mountain. 爬山运动员慢慢地登上了这座山。 来自《简明英汉词典》
28 exclamation onBxZ     
  • He could not restrain an exclamation of approval.他禁不住喝一声采。
  • The author used three exclamation marks at the end of the last sentence to wake up the readers.作者在文章的最后一句连用了三个惊叹号,以引起读者的注意。
29 astonishment VvjzR     
  • They heard him give a loud shout of astonishment.他们听见他惊奇地大叫一声。
  • I was filled with astonishment at her strange action.我对她的奇怪举动不胜惊异。


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