酷兔英语



THE LADY OF THE DECORATION

By Frances Little

To All Good Sisters, And To Mine In Particular

THE LADY OF THE DECORATION

SAN FRANCISCO, July 30, 1901.

My dearest Mate:

Behold a soldier on the eve of battle! I am writing this in a stuffy

little hotel room and I don't dare stop whistling for a minute. You

could cover my courage with a postage stamp. In the morning I sail for

the Flowery Kingdom, and if the roses are waiting to strew my path it

is more than they have done here for the past few years. When the

train pulled out from home and I saw that crowd of loving, tearful

faces fading away, I believe that for a few moments I realized the

actual bitterness of death! I was leaving everything that was dear to

me on earth, and going out into the dark unknown, alone.

Of course it's for the best, the disagreeable always is. You are

responsible, my beloved cousin, and the consequences be on your

head. You thought my salvation lay in leaving Kentucky and seeking my

fortune in strange lands. Your tender sensibilities shrank from having

me exposed to the world as a young widow who is not sorry. So you

"shipped me some-wheres East of Suez" and tied me up with a four

years' contract.

But, honor bright, Mate, I don't believe in your heart you can blame

me for not being sorry! I stuck it out to the last,--faced neglect,

humiliations, and days and nights of anguish, almost losing my

self-respect in my effort to fulfil my duty. But when death suddenly

put an end to it all, God alone knows what a relief it was! And how

curiously it has all turned out! First my taking the Kindergarten

course just to please you, and to keep my mind off things that ought

not to have been. Then my sudden release from bondage, and the

dreadful manner of it, my awkward position, my dependence,--and in the

midst of it all this sudden offer to go to Japan and teach in a

Mission school!

Isn't it ridiculous, Mate? Was there ever anything so absurd as my lot

being cast with a band of missionaries? I, who have never missed a

Kentucky Derby since I was old enough to know a bay from a sorrel! I

guess old Sister Fate doesn't want me to be a one part star. For

eighteen years I played pure comedy, then tragedy for seven, and now I

am cast for a character part.

Nobody will ever know what it cost me to come! All of them were so

terribly opposed to it, but it seems to me that I have spent my entire

life going against the wishes of my family. Yet I would lay down my

life for any one of them. How they have stood by me and loved me

through all my blind blunders. I'd back my mistakes against anybody

else's in the world!

Then Mate there was Jack. You know how it has always been with

Jack. When I was a little girl, on up to the time I was married, after

that he never even looked it, but just stood by me and helped me like

a brick. If it hadn't been for you and for him I should have put an

end to myself long ago. But now that I am free, Jack has begun right

where he left off seven years ago. It is all worse than useless; I am

everlastingly through with love and sentiment. Of course we all know

that Jack is the salt of the earth, and it nearly kills me to give him

pain, but he will get over it, they always do, and I would rather for

him to convalesce without me than with me. I made him promise not to

write me a line, and he just looked at me in that quiet, quizzical way

and said: "All right, but you just remember that I'm waiting, until

you are ready to begin life over again with me."

Why it would be a death blow to all his hopes if he married me! My

widow's mite consists of a wrecked life, a few debts, and a worldly

notion that a brilliant young doctor like himself has no right to

throw away all his chances in order to establish a small hospital for

incurable children. Whenever I think of his giving up that

long-cherished dream of studying in Germany, and buying ground for the

hospital instead, I just gnash my teeth.

Oh! I know that you think it is grand and noble and that I am horrid

to feel as I do. Maybe I am. At any rate you will acknowledge that I

have done the right thing for once in coming away. I seem to have been

a general blot on the landscape, and with your help I have erased

myself. In the meanwhile, I wish to Heaven my heart would ossify!

The sole power that keeps me going now is your belief in me. You have

always claimed that I was worth something, in spite of the fact that I

have persistently proven that I was not. Don't you shudder at the

risk you are taking? Think of the responsibility of standing for me in

a Board of Missions! I'll stay bottled up as tight as I know how, but

suppose the cork _should_ fly?

Poor Mate, the Lord was unkind when he gave me to you for a cousin.

Well it's done, and by the time you get this I will probably be well

on my sea-sick way. I can't trust myself to send any messages to the

family. I don't even dare send my love to you. I am a soldier lady,

and I salute my officer.

ON SHIP-BOARD. August 8th, 1901.

It's so windy that I can scarcely hold the paper down but I'll make

the effort. The first night I came aboard, I had everything to

myself. There were eighty cabin passengers and I was the only lady on

deck. It was very rough but I stayed up as long as I could. The blue

devils were swarming so thick around me that I didn't want to fight

them in the close quarters of my state-room. But at last I had to go

below, and the night that followed was a terror. Such a storm raged as

I had never dreamed of, the ship rocked and groaned, and the water

dashed against the port-holes; my bag played tag with my shoes, and my

trunk ran around the room like a rat hunting for its hole. Overhead

the shouts of the captain could be heard above the answering shouts of

the sailors, and men and women hurried panic-stricken through the

passage.

Through it all I lay in the upper berth and recalled all the unhappy

nights of the past seven years; disappointment, heartache,

disillusionment, disgust; they followed each other in silent

review. Every tender memory and early sentiment that might have

lingered in my heart was ruthlessly murdered by some stronger memory

of pain. The storm without was nothing to the storm within, I felt

indifferent as to the fate of the vessel. If she floated or if she

sank, it was one and the same to me.

When morning came something had happened to me. I don't know what it

was, but my past somehow seemed to belong to someone else. I had taken

a last farewell of all the old burdens, and I was a new person in a

new world.

I put on my prettiest cap and my long coat and went up on deck. Oh, my

dear, if you could only have seen the sight that greeted me! It was

the limpest, sickest crowd I ever encountered! They were pea-green

with a dash of yellow, and a streak of black under their eyes, pale

around the lips and weak in their knees. There was only one other

woman besides myself who was not sick, and she was a missionary with

short hair, and a big nose. She was going around with some tracts

asking everybody if they were Christians. Just as I came up she

tackled a big, dejected looking foreigner who was huddled in a corner.

"Brother, are you a Christian?"

"No, no," he muttered impatiently. "I'm a Norwegian."

Now what that man needed was a cocktail, but it was not for me to

suggest it.

At table I am in a corner with three nice old gentlemen and one young

German. They are great on story-telling, and I've told all of mine,

most of yours and some I invented. One of the old gentlemen is a

missionary; when he found that I was distantly connected with the fold

he immediately called me "Dear Sister". If I were at home I should

call him "Dear Pa", but I am on my good behavior.

The eating is fairly good, only sometimes it is so hot with curry and

spice that it nearly takes my breath. My little Chinese waiter is

entirely too solicitous for my comfort. No amount of argument will

induce him to leave my plate until I have finished, after a few

mouthfuls he whisks it away and brings me another relay. After

pressing upon me dishes of every kind, he insists on my filling up all

crevices with nuts and raisins, and after I have eaten, and eaten, he

looks hurt, and says regretfully: "Missy sickee, no eatee."

There is one other person, who is just as solicitous. The little

German watches my every mouthful with round solemn eyes, and insists

upon serving everything to me. He looks bewildered when anyone tells a

funny story, and sometimes asks for an explanation. He has been

around the world twice, and is now going to China for three years for

the Society of Scientific Research. He seems to think I am the

greatest curio he has yet encountered in his travels.

The chief excitement of our trip so far has been the day in

Honolulu. I wanted to sing for joy when we sighted land. The trees and

grass never looked so beautiful as they did that morning in the

brilliant sunshine. It took us hours to land on account of the red

tape that had to be unwound, and then there was an extra delay of

which I was the innocent cause. The quarantine doctor was inspecting

the ship, and after I had watched him examine the emigrants, and had

gotten my feelings wrought up over the poor miserable little children

swarming below, I found a nice quiet nook on the shelter deck where I

snuggled down and amused myself watching the native boys swim. The

water on their bronze bodies made them shine in the sunlight, and they

played about like a shoal of young porpoises. I must have stayed there

an hour, for when I came down there was considerable stir on board. A

passenger was missing and we were being held while a search of the

ship was made. I was getting most excited when the purser, who is the

sternest and best looking man you ever saw, came up and pounced upon

me. "Have you been inspected?" he demanded, eyeing me from head to

foot. "Not any more than at present," I answered meekly. "Come with

me," he said.

I asked him if he was going to throw me overboard, but he was too full

of importance to smile. He handed me over to the doctor saying: "Here

is the young woman that caused the delay." Young woman, indeed! but I

was to be crushed yet further for the doctor looked over his glasses

and said: "Now how did we miss that?"

But on to Honolulu! I don't wonder people go wild over it. It is as if

all the artists in all the world had spilled their colors over one

spot, and Nature had sorted them out at her own sweet will. I kept

wondering if I had died and gone to Heaven! Marvelous palms, and

tropical plants, and all hanging in a softly dreaming silence that

went to my head like wine.

I started out to see the city, with two old ladies and a girl from

South Dakota, but Dear Pa and Little Germany joined the party. Oh!

Mate how I longed for you! I wanted to tie all those frousy old freaks

up in a hard knot and pitch them into the sea! The girl from South

Dakota is a little better than the rest, but she wears a jersey!

There _are_ real tailor-made people on board, but I don't dare

associate with them. They play bridge most of the time and if I

hesitated near them I'd be lost. I'll play my part, never fear, but I

hereby swear that I will not dress it!

STILL ON BOARD. August 18th.

Dear Mate:

I am writing this in my berth with the curtains drawn. No I am not a

bit sea-sick, just popular. One of the old ladies is teaching me to

knit, the short-haired missionary reads aloud to me, the girl from

South Dakota keeps my feet covered up, and Dear Pa and Little Germany

assist me to eat.

The captain has had a big bathing tank rigged up for the ladies, and I

take a cold plunge every morning. It makes me think of our old days at

the cottage up at the Cape. Didn't we have a royal time that summer

and weren't we young and foolish? It was the last good time I had for

many a long day--but there, none of that!

Last night I had an adventure, at least it was next door to one. I was

sitting up on deck when Dear Pa came by and asked me to walk with him.

After several rounds we sat down on the pilot house steps. The moon

was as big as a wagon wheel and the whole sea flooded with silver,

while the flying fishes played hide and seek in the shadows. I forgot

all about Dear Pa and was doing a lot of thinking on my own account

when he leaned over and said:

"I hope you don't mind talking to me. I am very, very lonely." Now I

thought I recognized a grave symptom, and when he began to tell me

about his dear departed, I knew it was time to be going.

"You have passed through it," he said. "You can sympathize."

I crossed my fingers in the dark. "We are both seeking a life work in

a foreign field--" he began again, but just here the purser passed. He

almost stumbled over us in the dark and when he saw me and my elderly

friend, he actually smiled!

Don't you dare tell Jack about this, I should never hear the last of

it.

Can you realize that I am three whole weeks from home? I do, every

second of it. Sometimes when I stop to think what I am doing my heart

almost bursts! But then I am so used to the heartache that I might be

lonesome without it; who knows?

If I can only do what is expected of me, if I can only pick up the

pieces of this smashed-up life of mine and patch them into a decent

whole that you will not be ashamed of, then I will be content.

The first foreign word I have learned is "Alohaoe", I think it means

"my dearest love to you." Any how I send it laden with the tenderest

meaning. God bless and keep you all, and bring me back to you a wiser

and a gladder woman.

KOBE. August 18th, 1901.

Actually in Japan! I can scarcely believe it, even with all this

strange life going on about me. This morning a launch came out to the

steamer bringing Miss Lessing and Miss Dixon, the two missionaries in

whose school I am to work. When I saw them, I must confess that my

heart went down in my boots! Theirs must have done the same thing, for

we stood looking at each other as awkwardly as if we belonged to

different planets. The difference began with our heels and extended

right on up to the crown of our hats. Even the language we spoke

seemed different, and when I faced the prospect of living with such

utter strangers, I wanted to jump overboard!

My fellow passengers suddenly became very dear, I clung to everything

about that old steamer as the last link that bound me to America.

As we came down the gang plank, I was introduced to "Brother Mason"

and "Brother White", and we all came ashore together. I felt for all

the world like a convict sentenced to four years in the

penitentiary. When we reached the Hotel, I fled to my room and flung

myself on the bed. I knew I might as well have it out. I cried for two

hours and thirty-five minutes, then I got up and washed my face and

looked out of the window.

It was all so strange and picturesque that I got interested before I

knew it. By and by Miss Lessing came in. Now that her hat was off I

saw that she had a very sweet face with pretty dark hair and a funny

little twinkle behind her eyes that made me think of you. She told me

how she had come out to Japan when she was a young girl, and how she

had built up the school, and all she longed to do for it. Then she

said, "Your coming seems like the direct answer to prayer. It has been

one of my dearest dreams to have a Kindergarten for the little ones,

it just seems too good to be true!" And she looked at me out of her


生词表:
  • writing [´raitiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.书写;写作;书法   (初中英语单词)
  • postage [´pəustidʒ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.邮费;邮资   (初中英语单词)
  • waiting [´weitiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.等候;伺候   (初中英语单词)
  • beloved [bi´lʌvd] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.为….所爱的 n.爱人   (初中英语单词)
  • fulfil [ful´fil] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.履行;完成;执行   (初中英语单词)
  • relief [ri´li:f] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.救济;援救;减轻   (初中英语单词)
  • release [ri´li:s] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt&n.释放;放松;赦免   (初中英语单词)
  • absurd [əb´sə:d] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.荒谬的,可笑的   (初中英语单词)
  • tragedy [´trædʒidi] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.悲剧;惨案;灾难   (初中英语单词)
  • character [´kæriktə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.特性;性质;人物;字   (初中英语单词)
  • useless [´ju:sləs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.无用的,无价值的   (初中英语单词)
  • sentiment [´sentimənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.情绪;多愁善感   (初中英语单词)
  • brilliant [´briliənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.灿烂的;杰出的   (初中英语单词)
  • whenever [wen´evə] 移动到这儿单词发声  conj.&ad.无论何时   (初中英语单词)
  • acknowledge [ək´nɔlidʒ] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.(公开)承认;感谢   (初中英语单词)
  • meanwhile [´mi:n´wail] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&ad.其间;同时   (初中英语单词)
  • belief [bi´li:f] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.相信;信仰,信条   (初中英语单词)
  • responsibility [ri,spɔnsə´biliti] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.责任(心);职责;任务   (初中英语单词)
  • standing [´stændiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.持续 a.直立的   (初中英语单词)
  • salute [sə´lu:t] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&v.招呼;行礼;敬礼   (初中英语单词)
  • aboard [ə´bɔ:d] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.&prep.在…上   (初中英语单词)
  • terror [´terə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.恐怖;惊骇   (初中英语单词)
  • disappointment [,disə´pɔintmənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.失望;挫折   (初中英语单词)
  • disgust [dis´gʌst] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.厌恶 vt.令(人)作呕   (初中英语单词)
  • vessel [´vesəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.容器;船;脉管   (初中英语单词)
  • farewell [feə´wel] 移动到这儿单词发声  int.再见 n.&a.告别   (初中英语单词)
  • foreigner [´fɔrinə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.外国人   (初中英语单词)
  • breath [breθ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.呼吸;气息   (初中英语单词)
  • amount [ə´maunt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.总数;数量 v.合计   (初中英语单词)
  • argument [´ɑ:gjumənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.辩论;争论;论证   (初中英语单词)
  • solemn [´sɔləm] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.严肃的;隆重的   (初中英语单词)
  • explanation [,eksplə´neiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.解释;说明;辩解   (初中英语单词)
  • scientific [,saiən´tifik] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.科学(上)的   (初中英语单词)
  • research [ri´sə:tʃ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&vi.调查;探究;研究   (初中英语单词)
  • excitement [ik´saitmənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.兴奋;骚动;煽动   (初中英语单词)
  • sunshine [´sʌnʃain] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.日光,阳光   (初中英语单词)
  • account [ə´kaunt] 移动到这儿单词发声  vi.说明 vt.认为 n.帐目   (初中英语单词)
  • innocent [´inəsənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.无罪的;单纯的   (初中英语单词)
  • wrought [rɔ:t] 移动到这儿单词发声  work 的过去式(分词)   (初中英语单词)
  • miserable [´mizərəbəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.悲惨的;可怜的   (初中英语单词)
  • sunlight [´sʌnlait] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.日光   (初中英语单词)
  • considerable [kən´sidərəbəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.重要的;值得重视   (初中英语单词)
  • missing [´misiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.缺掉的;失踪的   (初中英语单词)
  • marvelous [´mɑ:viləs] 移动到这儿单词发声  (=marvellous) a.奇异的   (初中英语单词)
  • softly [´sɔftli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.软化地;柔和地   (初中英语单词)
  • plunge [plʌndʒ] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.插进 n.投入;冲击   (初中英语单词)
  • cottage [´kɔtidʒ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.村舍;小屋;小别墅   (初中英语单词)
  • actually [´æktʃuəli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.事实上;实际上   (初中英语单词)
  • ashamed [ə´ʃeimd] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.惭愧;不好意思   (初中英语单词)
  • confess [kən´fes] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.供认;坦白;承认   (初中英语单词)
  • prospect [´prɔspekt, prəs´pekt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.景色;境界 v.勘察   (初中英语单词)
  • steamer [´sti:mə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.汽船;轮船;蒸笼   (初中英语单词)
  • ashore [ə´ʃɔ:] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.向岸上   (初中英语单词)
  • twinkle [´twiŋkl] 移动到这儿单词发声  vi.&n.闪烁;眨眼   (初中英语单词)
  • loving [´lʌviŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.爱的,有爱情的   (高中英语单词)
  • bitterness [´bitənis] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.苦味;辛酸;苦难   (高中英语单词)
  • disagreeable [,disə´gri:əbl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.令人不悦的   (高中英语单词)
  • salvation [sæl´veiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.救助;拯救   (高中英语单词)
  • kentucky [kən´tʌki] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.肯塔基   (高中英语单词)
  • anguish [´æŋgwiʃ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.(极度的)痛苦;苦恼   (高中英语单词)
  • awkward [´ɔ:kwəd] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.笨拙的;为难的   (高中英语单词)
  • ridiculous [ri´dikjuləs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.荒谬的;可笑的   (高中英语单词)
  • comedy [´kɔmidi] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.喜剧;喜剧场面   (高中英语单词)
  • landscape [´lændskeip] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.风景;景色;风景画   (高中英语单词)
  • shudder [´ʃʌdə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&vi.震颤;发抖   (高中英语单词)
  • hurried [´hʌrid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.仓促的,慌忙的   (高中英语单词)
  • streak [stri:k] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.纹理 v.用线条(条纹)   (高中英语单词)
  • missionary [´miʃənəri] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.传教(士)的 n.传教士   (高中英语单词)
  • cocktail [´kɔkteil] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&a.鸡尾酒(的)   (高中英语单词)
  • bronze [brɔnz] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.青铜(器)   (高中英语单词)
  • saying [´seiŋ, ´sei-iŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.言语;言论;格言   (高中英语单词)
  • hanging [´hæŋiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.绞刑 a.悬挂着的   (高中英语单词)
  • dakota [də´kəutə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&a.达科他人(语)   (高中英语单词)
  • symptom [´simptəm] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.症状,症候   (高中英语单词)
  • learned [´lə:nid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.有学问的,博学的   (高中英语单词)
  • launch [lɔ:ntʃ] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.发动 n.发射;汽艇   (高中英语单词)
  • theirs [ðeəz] 移动到这儿单词发声  pron.他们的   (高中英语单词)
  • convict [kən´vikt, ´kɔnvikt] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.证明…有罪 n.罪犯   (高中英语单词)
  • picturesque [,piktʃə´resk] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.似画的;别致的   (高中英语单词)
  • flowery [´flauəri] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.多花的   (英语四级单词)
  • bondage [´bɔndidʒ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.奴役;束缚   (英语四级单词)
  • unkind [,ʌn´kaind] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.不客气的;不和善的   (英语四级单词)
  • impatiently [im´peiʃəntli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.不耐烦地,急躁地   (英语四级单词)
  • waiter [´weitə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.侍者,服务员   (英语四级单词)
  • mouthful [´mauθful] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.一口;少量   (英语四级单词)
  • meekly [´mi:kli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.温顺地;卑恭屈节地   (英语四级单词)
  • overboard [´əuvəbɔ:d] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.向船外;到水中   (英语四级单词)
  • bridge [bridʒ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.桥(梁);鼻梁;桥牌   (英语四级单词)
  • awkwardly [´ɔ:kwədli] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.笨拙地;棘手地   (英语四级单词)
  • shrank [ʃræŋk] 移动到这儿单词发声  shrink的过去式   (英语六级单词)
  • taking [´teikiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.迷人的 n.捕获物   (英语六级单词)
  • august [ɔ:´gʌst] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.尊严的;威严的   (英语六级单词)
  • hunting [´hʌntiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.打猎   (英语六级单词)
  • dejected [di´dʒektid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.垂头丧气的   (英语六级单词)
  • departed [di´pɑ:tid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.已往的;已故的   (英语六级单词)

  • 上传人 欢乐鱼 分享于 2017-06-26 17:43:14
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