BOOK ONE INFANCY (1865-1869)






INFANCY (1865-1869)



The curtain of the big bed hung down beside the cot.

When old Jenny shook it the wooden rings rattled on the pole and grey

men with pointed heads and squat, bulging bodies came out of the folds

on to the flat green ground. If you looked at them they turned into

squab faces smeared with green.

Every night, when Jenny had gone away with the doll and the donkey,

you hunched up the blanket and the stiff white counterpane to hide the

curtain and you played with the knob in the green painted iron railing

of the cot. It stuck out close to your face, winking and grinning at

you in a friendly way. You poked it till it left off and turned grey

and went back into the railing. Then you had to feel for it with your

finger. It fitted the hollow of your hand, cool and hard, with a blunt

nose that pushed agreeably into the palm.

In the dark you could go tip-finger along the slender, lashing

flourishes of the ironwork. By stretching your arm out tight you could

reach the curlykew at the end. The short, steep flourish took you to

the top of the railing and on behind your head.

Tip-fingering backwards that way you got into the grey lane where the

prickly stones were and the hedge of little biting trees. When the

door in the hedge opened you saw the man in the night-shirt. He had

only half a face. From his nose and his cheek-bones downwards his

beard hung straight like a dark cloth. You opened your mouth, but

before you could scream you were back in the cot; the room was light;

the green knob winked and grinned at you from the railing, and behind

the curtain Papa and Mamma were lying in the big bed.

One night she came back out of the lane as the door in the hedge was

opening. The man stood in the room by the washstand, scratching his long

thigh. He was turned slantwise from the nightlight on the washstand so

that it showed his yellowish skin under the lifted shirt. The white

half-face hung by itself on the darkness. When he left off scratching

and moved towards the cot she screamed.

Mamma took her into the big bed. She curled up there under the shelter

of the raised hip and shoulder. Mamma's face was dry and warm and

smelt sweet like Jenny's powder-puff. Mamma's mouth moved over her wet

cheeks, nipping her tears.

Her cry changed to a whimper and a soft, ebbing sob.

Mamma's breast: a smooth, cool, round thing that hung to your hands

and slipped from them when they tried to hold it. You could feel the

little ridges of the stiff nipple as your finger pushed it back into

the breast.

Her sobs shook in her throat and ceased suddenly.


The big white globes hung in a ring above the dinner table. At first,

when she came into the room, carried high in Jenny's arms, she could

see nothing but the hanging, shining globes. Each had a light inside

it that made it shine.

Mamma was sitting at the far end of the table. Her face and neck shone

white above the pile of oranges on the dark blue dish. She was dipping

her fingers in a dark blue glass bowl.

When Mary saw her she strained towards her, leaning dangerously out of

Jenny's arms. Old Jenny said "Tchit-tchit!" and made her arms tight

and hard and put her on Papa's knee.

Papa sat up, broad and tall above the table, all by himself. He was

dressed in black. One long brown beard hung down in front of him and

one short beard covered his mouth. You knew he was smiling because his

cheeks swelled high up his face so that his eyes were squeezed into

narrow, shining slits. When they came out again you saw scarlet specks

and smears in their corners.

Papa's big white hand was on the table, holding a glass filled with

some red stuff that was both dark and shining and had a queer, sharp


"Porty-worty winey-piney," said Papa.

The same queer, sharp smell came from between his two beards when he


Mark was sitting up beside Mamma a long way off. She could see them

looking at each other. Roddy and Dank were with them.

They were making flowers out of orange peel and floating them in the

finger bowls. Mamma's fingers were blue and sharp-pointed in the water

behind the dark blue glass of her bowl. The floating orange-peel

flowers were blue. She could see Mamma smiling as she stirred them

about with the tips of her blue fingers.

Her underlip pouted and shook. She didn't want to sit by herself on

Papa's knee. She wanted to sit in Mamma's lap beside Mark. She wanted

Mark to make orange-peel flowers for her. She wanted Mamma to look

down at her and smile.

Papa was spreading butter on biscuit and powdered sugar on the butter.

"Sugary--Buttery--Bippery," said Papa.

She shook her head. "I want to go to Mamma. I want to go to Mark."

She pushed away the biscuit. "No. No. Mamma give Mary. Mark give


"Drinky--winky," said Papa.

He put his glass to her shaking mouth. She turned her head away, and

he took it between his thumb and finger and turned it back again. Her

neck moved stiffly. Her head felt small and brittle under the weight

and pinch of the big hand. The smell and the sour, burning taste of

the wine made her cry.

"Don't tease Baby, Emilius," said Mamma.

"I never tease anybody."

He lifted her up. She could feel her body swell and tighten under the

bands and drawstrings of her clothes, as she struggled and choked,

straining against the immense clamp of his arms. When his wet red lips

pushed out between his beards to kiss her she kicked. Her toes drummed

against something stiff and thin that gave way and sprang out again

with a cracking and popping sound.

He put her on the floor. She stood there all by herself, crying, till

Mark came and took her by the hand.

"Naughty Baby. Naughty Mary," said Mamma. "Don't kiss her, Mark."

"No, Mamma."

He knelt on the floor beside her and smiled into her face and wiped it

with his pocket-handkerchief. She put out her mouth and kissed him and

stopped crying.

"Jenny must come," Mamma said, "and take Mary away."

"No. Mark take Mary."

"Let the little beast take her," said Papa. "If he does he shan't come

back again. Do you hear that, sir?"

Mark said, "Yes, Papa."

They went out of the room hand in hand. He carried her upstairs

pickaback. As they went she rested her chin on the nape of his neck

where his brown hair thinned off into shiny, golden down.


Old Jenny sat in the rocking-chair by the fireguard in the nursery.

She wore a black net cap with purple rosettes above her ears. You

could look through the black net and see the top of her head laid out

in stripes of grey hair and pinky skin.

She had a grey face, flattened and wide-open like her eyes. She held

it tilted slightlybackwards out of your way, and seemed to be always

staring at something just above your head. Jenny's face had tiny

creases and crinkles all over it. When you kissed it you could feel

the loose flesh crumpling and sliding softly over the bone. There was

always about her a faint smell of sour milk.

No use trying to talk to Jenny. She was too tired to listen. You

climbed on to her lap and stroked her face, and said "Poor Jenny. Dear

Jenny. Poor Jenny-Wee so tired," and her face shut up and went to

sleep. Her broad flat nose drooped; her eyelids drooped; her long,

grey bands of hair drooped; she was like the white donkey that lived

in the back lane and slept standing on three legs with his ears lying


Mary loved old Jenny next to Mamma and Mark; and she loved the white

donkey. She wondered why Jenny was always cross when you stroked her

grey face and called her "Donkey-Jenny." It was not as if she minded

being stroked; because when Mark or Dank did it her face woke up

suddenly and smoothed out its creases. And when Roddy climbed up with

his long legs into her lap she hugged him tight and rocked him,

singing Mamma's song, and called him her baby.

He wasn't. _She_ was the baby; and while you were the baby you could

sit in people's laps. But old Jenny didn't want her to be the baby.

The nursery had shiny, slippery yellow walls and a brown floor, and a

black hearthrug with a centre of brown and yellow flowers. The greyish

chintz curtains were spotted with small brown leaves and crimson

berries. There were dark-brown cupboards and chests of drawers, and

chairs that were brown frames for the yellow network of the cane. Soft

bits of you squeezed through the holes and came out on the other side.

That hurt and made a red pattern on you where you sat down.

The tall green fireguard was a cage. When Jenny poked the fire you

peeped through and saw it fluttering inside. If you sat still you

could sometimes hear it say "teck-teck," and sometimes the fire would

fly out suddenly with a soft hiss.

High above your head you could just see the gleaming edge of the brass


"Jenny--where's yesterday and where's to-morrow?"


When you had run a thousand hundred times round the table you came to

the blue house. It stood behind Jenny's rocking-chair, where Jenny

couldn't see it, in a blue garden. The walls and ceilings were blue;

the doors and staircases were blue; everything in all the rooms was


Mary ran round and round. She loved the padding of her feet on the

floor and the sound of her sing-song:

"The pussies are blue, the beds are blue, the matches are blue and the

mousetraps and all the litty mouses!"

Mamma was always there dressed in a blue gown; and Jenny was there,

all in blue, with a blue cap; and Mark and Dank and Roddy were there,

all in blue. But Papa was not allowed in the blue house.

Mamma came in and looked at her as she ran. She stood in the doorway

with her finger on her mouth, and she was smiling. Her brown hair was

parted in two sleek bands, looped and puffed out softly round her

ears, and plaited in one plait that stood up on its edge above her

forehead. She wore a wide brown silk gown with falling sleeves.

"Pretty Mamma," said Mary. "In a blue dress."


Every morning Mark and Dank and Roddy knocked at Mamma's door, and if

Papa was there he called out, "Go away, you little beasts!" If he was

not there she said, "Come in, darlings!" and they climbed up the big

bed into Papa's place and said "Good morning, Mamma!"

When Papa was away the lifted curtain spread like a tent over Mary's

cot, shutting her in with Mamma. When he was there the drawn curtain

hung straight down from the head of the bed.



White patterns on the window, sharp spikes, feathers, sprigs with

furled edges, stuck flat on to the glass; white webs, crinkled like

the skin of boiled milk, stretched across the corner of the pane;

crisp, sticky stuff that bit your fingers.

Out of doors, black twigs thickened with a white fur; white powder

sprinkled over the garden walk. The white, ruffled grass stood out

stiffly and gave under your feet with a pleasant crunching. The air

smelt good; you opened your mouth and drank it in gulps. It went down

like cold, tingling water.


You saw the sun for the first time, a red ball that hung by itself on

the yellowish white sky. Mamma said, "Yes, of course it would fall if

God wasn't there to hold it up in his hands."

Supposing God dropped the sun--


The yellowish white sky had come close up to the house, a dirty

blanket let down outside the window. The tree made a black pattern on

it. Clear glass beads hung in a row from the black branch, each black

twig was tipped with a glass bead. When Jenny opened the window there

was a queer cold smell like the smell of the black water in the butt.

Thin white powder fluttered out of the blanket and fell. A thick

powder. A white fluff that piled itself in a ridge on the window-sill

and curved softly in the corner of the sash. It was cold, and melted

on your tongue with a taste of window-pane.

In the garden Mark and Dank and Roddy were making the snow man.

Mamma stood at the nursery window with her back to the room. She

called to Mary to come and look at the snow man.

Mary was tired of the snow man. She was making a tower with Roddy's

bricks while Roddy wasn't there. She had to build it quick before he

could come back and take his bricks away, and the quicker you built it

the sooner it fell down. Mamma was not to look until it was finished.

"Look--look, Mamma! M-m-mary's m-m-made a tar. And it's _not_ falled


The tower reached above Jenny's knee.

"Come and look, Mamma--" But Mamma wouldn't even turn her head.

"I'm looking at the snow man," she said.

Something swelled up, hot and tight, in Mary's body and in her face.

She had a big bursting face and a big bursting body. She struck the

tower, and it fell down. Her violence made her feel light and small

again and happy.

"Where's the tower, Mary?" said Mamma.

"There isn't any tar. I've knocked it down. It was a nashty tar."


Aunt Charlotte--

Aunt Charlotte had sent the Isle of Skye terrier to Dank.

There was a picture of Aunt Charlotte in Mamma's Album. She stood on a

strip of carpet, supported by the hoops of her crinoline; her black

lace shawl made a pattern on the light gown. She wore a little hat

with a white sweeping feather, and under the hat two long black curls

hung down straight on each shoulder.

The other people in the Album were sulky, and wouldn't look at you.

The gentlemen made cross faces at somebody who wasn't there; the

ladies hung their heads and looked down at their crinolines. Aunt

Charlotte hung her head too, but her eyes, tilted up straight under

her forehead, pointed at you. And between her stiff black curls she

  • childhood [´tʃaildhud] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.幼年(时代);早期   (初中英语单词)
  • wooden [´wudn] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.木制的;呆板的   (初中英语单词)
  • pointed [´pɔintid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.尖(锐)的;中肯的   (初中英语单词)
  • slender [´slendə] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.细长的;微薄的   (初中英语单词)
  • flourish [´flʌriʃ] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.茂盛;挥动 n.挥舞   (初中英语单词)
  • scream [skri:m] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.&n.尖叫(声)   (初中英语单词)
  • throat [θrəut] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.咽喉;嗓子;出入口   (初中英语单词)
  • scarlet [´skɑ:lit] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.猩红色 a.猩红的   (初中英语单词)
  • immense [i´mens] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.广大的,无限的   (初中英语单词)
  • sprang [spræŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  spring 的过去式   (初中英语单词)
  • purple [´pə:pl] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.紫色 a.紫(红)的   (初中英语单词)
  • slightly [´slaitli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.轻微地;细长的   (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)
  • standing [´stændiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.持续 a.直立的   (初中英语单词)
  • yesterday [´jestədi] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&ad.昨天;前不久   (初中英语单词)
  • violence [´vaiələns] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.猛烈;暴力(行)   (初中英语单词)
  • carpet [´kɑ:pit] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.地毯 vt.铺地毯   (初中英语单词)
  • feather [´feðə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.羽毛   (初中英语单词)
  • forehead [´fɔrid] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.额,前部   (初中英语单词)
  • 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)
  • biscuit [´biskit] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.饼干   (高中英语单词)
  • stiffly [´stifli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.硬;顽固地   (高中英语单词)
  • tighten [´taitn] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.(使)变(拉)紧   (高中英语单词)
  • naughty [´nɔ:ti] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.顽皮的;下流的   (高中英语单词)
  • donkey [´dɔŋki] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.驴子;蠢人;顽固的人   (高中英语单词)
  • nursery [´nə:səri] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.托儿所;苗床;养鱼场   (高中英语单词)
  • slippery [´slipəri] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.滑的;不稳固的   (高中英语单词)
  • sweeping [´swi:piŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.掠过的 n.扫除;清除   (高中英语单词)
  • infancy [´infənsi] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.婴儿期;初期   (英语四级单词)
  • maturity [mə´tjuəriti] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.成熟;完备   (英语四级单词)
  • railing [´reiliŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.栏杆   (英语四级单词)
  • downwards [´daunwədz] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.向下,以下   (英语四级单词)
  • trying [´traiiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.难堪的;费劲的   (英语四级单词)
  • network [´netwə:k] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.网状物 vt.联播   (英语四级单词)
  • backwards [´bækwədz] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.向后 a.向后的   (英语六级单词)
  • biting [´baitiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.刺痛的;尖利的   (英语六级单词)
  • whimper [´wimpə] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.&n.啜泣(声)   (英语六级单词)
  • dangerously [´deindʒrəsli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.危险   (英语六级单词)
  • holding [´həuldiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.保持,固定,存储   (英语六级单词)
  • sticky [´stiki] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.胶粘的;顽固的   (英语六级单词)
  • charlotte [´ʃɑ:lət] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.水果奶油布丁   (英语六级单词)

  • 上传人 欢乐鱼 分享于 2017-06-26 17:04:36
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