酷兔英语



LADDIE

A TRUE BLUE STORY

by

GENE STRATTON PORTER

To

LEANDER ELLIOT STRATTON

"The Way to Be Happy Is to Be Good"

Contents

CHAPTER

I. Little Sister

II. Our Angel Boy

III. Mr. Pryor's Door

IV. The Last Day in Eden

V. The First Day of School

VI. The Wedding Gown

VII. When Sally Married Peter

VIII. The Shropshire and the Crusader

IX. "Even So"

X. Laddie Takes the Plunge

XI. Keeping Christmas Our Way

XII. The Horn of the Hunter

XIII. The Garden of the Lord

XIV. The Crest of Eastbrooke

XV. Laddie, the Princess, and the Pie

XVI. The Homing Pigeon

XVII. In Faith Believing

XVIII. The Pryor Mystery

LADDIE

CHARACTERS

LADDIE, Who Loved and Asked No Questions.

THE PRINCESS, From the House of Mystery.

LEON, Our Angel Child.

LITTLE SISTER, Who Tells What Happened.

MR. and MRS. STANTON, Who Faced Life Shoulder to Shoulder.

SALLY and PETER, Who Married Each Other.

ELIZABETH, SHELLEY, MAY and Other Stanton Children.

MR. and MRS. PRYOR, Father and Mother of the Princess.

ROBERT PAGET, a Chicago Lawyer.

MRS. FRESHETT, Who Offered Her Life for Her Friend.

CANDACE, the Cook.

MISS AMELIA, the School Mistress.

Interested Relatives, Friends, and Neighbours.

CHAPTER I

Little Sister

"And could another child-world be my share,

I'd be a Little Sister there."

"Have I got a Little Sister anywhere in this house?" inquired Laddie at

the door, in his most coaxing voice.

"Yes sir," I answered, dropping the trousers I was making for Hezekiah,

my pet bluejay, and running as fast as I could. There was no telling

what minute May might take it into her head that she was a little

sister and reach him first. Maybe he wanted me to do something for

him, and I loved to wait on Laddie.

"Ask mother if you may go with me a while."

"Mother doesn't care where I am, if I come when the supper bell rings."

"All right!" said Laddie.

He led the way around the house, sat on the front step and took me

between his knees.

"Oh, is it going to be a secret?" I cried.

Secrets with Laddie were the greatest joy in life. He was so big and

so handsome. He was so much nicer than any one else in our family, or

among our friends, that to share his secrets, run his errands, and love

him blindly was the greatest happiness. Sometimes I disobeyed father

and mother; I minded Laddie like his right hand.

"The biggest secret yet," he said gravely.

"Tell quick!" I begged, holding my ear to his lips.

"Not so fast!" said Laddie. "Not so fast! I have doubts about this.

I don't know that I should send you. Possibly you can't find the way.

You may be afraid. Above all, there is never to be a whisper. Not to

any one! Do you understand?"

"What's the matter?" I asked.

"Something serious," said Laddie. "You see, I expected to have an hour

or two for myself this afternoon, so I made an engagement to spend the

time with a Fairy Princess in our Big Woods. Father and I broke the

reaper taking it from the shed just now and you know how he is about

Fairies."

I did know how he was about Fairies. He hadn't a particle of patience

with them. A Princess would be the Queen's daughter. My father's

people were English, and I had heard enough talk to understand that. I

was almost wild with excitement.

"Tell me the secret, hurry!" I cried.

"It's just this," he said. "It took me a long time to coax the

Princess into our Big Woods. I had to fix a throne for her to sit on;

spread a Magic Carpet for her feet, and build a wall to screen her.

Now, what is she going to think if I'm not there to welcome her when

she comes? She promised to show me how to make sunshine on dark days."

"Tell father and he can have Leon help him."

"But it is a secret with the Princess, and it's HERS as much as mine.

If I tell, she may not like it, and then she won't make me her Prince

and send me on her errands."

"Then you don't dare tell a breath," I said.

"Will you go in my place, and carry her a letter to explain why I'm not

coming, Little Sister?"

"Of course!" I said stoutly, and then my heart turned right over; for I

never had been in our Big Woods alone, and neither mother nor father

wanted me to go. Passing Gypsies sometimes laid down the fence and

went there to camp. Father thought all the wolves and wildcats were

gone, he hadn't seen any in years, but every once in a while some one

said they had, and he was not quite sure yet. And that wasn't the

beginning of it. Paddy Ryan had come back from the war wrong in his

head. He wore his old army overcoat summer and winter, slept on the

ground, and ate whatever he could find. Once Laddie and Leon, hunting

squirrels to make broth for mother on one of her bad days, saw him in

our Big Woods and he was eating SNAKES. If I found Pat Ryan eating a

snake, it would frighten me so I would stand still and let him eat me,

if he wanted to, and perhaps he wasn't too crazy to see how plump I

was. I seemed to see swarthy, dark faces, big, sleek cats dropping

from limbs, and Paddy Ryan's matted gray hair, the flying rags of the

old blue coat, and a snake in his hands. Laddie was slipping the

letter into my apron pocket. My knees threatened to let me down.

"Must I lift the leaves and hunt for her, or will she come to me?" I

wavered.

"That's the biggest secret of all," said Laddie. "Since the Princess

entered them, our woods are Enchanted, and there is no telling what

wonderful things may happen any minute. One of them is this: whenever

the Princess comes there, she grows in size until she is as big as, say

our Sally, and she fills all the place with glory, until you are so

blinded you scarcely can see her face."

"What is she like, Laddie?" I questioned, so filled with awe and

interest, that fear was forgotten.

"She is taller than Sally," said Laddie. "Her face is oval, and her

cheeks are bright. Her eyes are big moonlit pools of darkness, and

silken curls fall over her shoulders. One hair is strong enough for a

lifeline that will draw a drowning man ashore, or strangle an unhappy

one. But you will not see her. I'm purposely sending you early, so

you can do what you are told and come back to me before she even

reaches the woods."

"What am I to do, Laddie?"

"You must put one hand in your apron pocket and take the letter in it,

and as long as you hold it tight, nothing in the world can hurt you.

Go out our lane to the Big Woods, climb the gate and walk straight back

the wagon road to the water. When you reach that, you must turn to

your right and go toward Hoods' until you come to the pawpaw thicket.

Go around that, look ahead, and you'll see the biggest beech tree you

ever saw. You know a beech, don't you?"

"Of course I do," I said indignantly. "Father taught me beech with the

other trees."

"Well then," said Laddie, "straight before you will be a purple beech,

and under it is the throne of the Princess, the Magic Carpet, and the

walls I made. Among the beech roots there is a stone hidden with moss.

Roll the stone back and there will be a piece of bark. Lift that, lay

the letter in the box you'll find, and scamper to me like flying. I'll

be at the barn with father."

"Is that all?"

"Not quite," said Laddie. "It's possible that the Fairy Queen may have

set the Princess spinning silk for the caterpillars to weave their

little houses with this winter; and if she has, she may have left a

letter there to tell me. If there is one, put it in your pocket, hold

it close every step of the way, and you'll be safe coming home as you

were going. But you mustn't let a soul see it; you must slip it into

my pocket when I'm not looking. If you let any one see, then the Magic

will be spoiled, and the Fairy won't come again."

"No one shall see," I promised.

"I knew you could be trusted," said Laddie, kissing and hugging me

hard. "Now go! If anything gets after you that such a big girl as you

really wouldn't be ashamed to be afraid of, climb on a fence and call.

I'll be listening, and I'll come flying. Now I must hurry. Father

will think it's going to take me the remainder of the day to find the

bolts he wants."

We went down the front walk between the rows of hollyhocks and

tasselled lady-slippers, out the gate, and followed the road. Laddie

held one of my hands tight, and in the other I gripped the letter in my

pocket. So long as Laddie could see me, and the lane lay between open

fields, I wasn't afraid. I was thinking so deeply about our woods

being Enchanted, and a tiny Fairy growing big as our Sally, because she

was in them, that I stepped out bravely.

Every few days I followed the lane as far back as the Big Gate. This

stood where four fields cornered, and opened into the road leading to

the woods. Beyond it, I had walked on Sunday afternoons with father

while he taught me all the flowers, vines, and bushes he knew, only he

didn't know some of the prettiest ones; I had to have books for them,

and I was studying to learn enough that I could find out. Or I had

ridden on the wagon with Laddie and Leon when they went to bring wood

for the cookstove, outoven, and big fireplace. But to walk! To go all

alone! Not that I didn't walk by myself over every other foot of the

acres and acres of beautiful land my father owned; but plowed fields,

grassy meadows, wood pasture, and the orchard were different. I played

in them without a thought of fear.

The only things to be careful about were a little, shiny, slender

snake, with a head as bright as mother's copper kettle, and a big thick

one with patterns on its back like those in Laddie's geometry books,

and a whole rattlebox on its tail; not to eat any berry or fruit I

didn't know without first asking father; and always to be sure to

measure how deep the water was before I waded in alone.

But our Big Woods! Leon said the wildcats would get me there. I sat

in our catalpa and watched the Gypsies drive past every summer. Mother

hated them as hard as ever she could hate any one, because once they

had stolen some fine shirts, with linen bosoms, that she had made by

hand for father, and was bleaching on the grass. If Gypsies should be

in our west woods to-day and steal me, she would hate them worse than

ever; because my mother loved me now, even if she didn't want me when I

was born.

But you could excuse her for that. She had already bathed, spanked,

sewed for, and reared eleven babies so big and strong not one of them

ever even threatened to die. When you thought of that, you could see

she wouldn't be likely to implore the Almighty to send her another,

just to make her family even numbers. I never felt much hurt at her,

but some of the others I never have forgiven and maybe I never will.

As long as there had been eleven babies, they should have been so

accustomed to children that they needn't all of them have objected to

me, all except Laddie, of course. That was the reason I loved him so

and tried to do every single thing he wanted me to, just the way he

liked it done. That was why I was facing the only spot on our land

where I was in the slightest afraid; because he asked me to.

If he had told me to dance a jig on the ridgepole of our barn, I would

have tried it.

So I clasped the note, set my teeth, and climbed over the gate. I

walked fast and kept my eyes straight before me. If I looked on either

side, sure as life I would see something I never had before, and be

down digging up a strange flower, chasing a butterfly, or watching a

bird. Besides, if I didn't look in the fence corners that I passed,

maybe I wouldn't see anything to scare me. I was going along finely,

and feeling better every minute as I went down the bank of an old creek

that had gone dry, and started up the other side toward the sugar camp

not far from the Big Woods. The bed was full of weeds and as I passed

through, away! went Something among them.

Beside the camp shed there was corded wood, and the first thing I knew,

I was on top of it. The next, my hand was on the note in my pocket.

My heart jumped until I could see my apron move, and my throat went all

stiff and dry. I gripped the note and waited.

Father believed God would take care of him. I was only a little girl

and needed help much more than a man; maybe God would take care of me.

There was nothing wrong in carrying a letter to the Fairy Princess. I

thought perhaps it would help if I should kneel on the top of the

woodpile and ask God to not let anything get me.

The more I thought about it, the less I felt like doing it, though,

because really you have no business to ask God to take care of you,

unless you KNOW you are doing right. This was right, but in my heart I

also knew that if Laddie had asked me, I would be shivering on top of

that cordwood on a hot August day, when it was wrong. On the whole, I

thought it would be more honest to leave God out of it, and take the

risk myself. That made me think of the Crusaders, and the little gold

trinket in father's chest till. There were four shells on it and each

one stood for a trip on foot or horseback to the Holy City when you had

to fight almost every step of the way. Those shells meant that my

father's people had gone four times, so he said; that, although it was

away far back, still each of us had a tiny share of the blood of the

Crusaders in our veins, and that it would make us brave and strong, and

whenever we were afraid, if we would think of them, we never could do a

cowardly thing or let any one else do one before us. He said any one

with Crusader blood had to be brave as Richard the Lion-hearted.

Thinking about that helped ever so much, so I gripped the note and

turned to take one last look at the house before I made a dash for the

gate that led into the Big Woods.

Beyond our land lay the farm of Jacob Hood, and Mrs. Hood always teased

me because Laddie had gone racing after her when I was born. She was

in the middle of Monday's washing, and the bluing settled in the rinse

water and stained her white clothes in streaks it took months to bleach

out. I always liked Sarah Hood for coming and dressing me, though,


生词表:
  • wedding [´wediŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.婚礼,结婚   (初中英语单词)
  • princess [,prin´ses] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.公主;王妃;亲王夫人   (初中英语单词)
  • anywhere [´eniweə] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.无论何处;任何地方   (初中英语单词)
  • trousers [´trauzəz] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.裤子,长裤   (初中英语单词)
  • running [´rʌniŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.奔跑的;流动的   (初中英语单词)
  • whisper [´wispə] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.耳语 n.低语;沙沙声   (初中英语单词)
  • engagement [in´geidʒmənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.婚约;雇用;受聘   (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)
  • screen [skri:n] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.银幕 vt.遮蔽   (初中英语单词)
  • welcome [´welkəm] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.受欢迎的;可喜的   (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)
  • whatever [wɔt´evə] 移动到这儿单词发声  pron.&a.无论什么   (初中英语单词)
  • frighten [´fraitn] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.吓唬,使惊惧   (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)
  • 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)
  • hidden [´hid(ə)n] 移动到这儿单词发声  hide 的过去分词   (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)
  • pasture [´pɑ:stʃə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.牧场;放牧 v.吃(草)   (初中英语单词)
  • orchard [´ɔ:tʃəd] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.果园   (初中英语单词)
  • copper [´kɔpə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.铜 a.铜制的   (初中英语单词)
  • kettle [´ketl] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.水壶   (初中英语单词)
  • stolen [´stəulən] 移动到这儿单词发声  steal 的过去分词   (初中英语单词)
  • butterfly [´bʌtəflai] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.蝴蝶;蝶式   (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)
  • particle [´pɑ:tikl] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.微粒;极小量   (高中英语单词)
  • throne [θrəun] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.宝座;王位   (高中英语单词)
  • overcoat [´əuvəkəut] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.大衣   (高中英语单词)
  • spinning [´spiniŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.纺织 a.纺织品的   (高中英语单词)
  • remainder [ri´meində] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.剩余物;残余部分   (高中英语单词)
  • fireplace [´faiəpleis] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.壁炉,炉灶   (高中英语单词)
  • implore [im´plɔ:] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.乞求,恳求   (高中英语单词)
  • horseback [´hɔ:sbæk] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.马背   (高中英语单词)
  • chicago [ʃi´kɑ:gəu] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.芝加哥   (英语四级单词)
  • blindly [blaindli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.盲目地;没头脑地   (英语四级单词)
  • scamper [´skæmpə] 移动到这儿单词发声  vi.浏览;涉猎 n.蹦跳   (英语四级单词)
  • almighty [ɔ:l´maiti] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.万能的;全能的   (英语四级单词)
  • forgiven [fə´givn] 移动到这儿单词发声  forgive的过去分词   (英语四级单词)
  • minded [´maindid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.有…心的   (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)
  • 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)
  • swarthy [´swɔ:ði] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.黑皮肤的,黝黑的   (英语六级单词)
  • moonlit [´mu:n,lit] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.月光普照的   (英语六级单词)
  • indignantly [in´dignəntli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.愤慨地,义愤地   (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)
  • crusader [kru:´seidə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.十字军参加者   (英语六级单词)

  • 上传人 欢乐鱼 分享于 2017-06-26 17:35:58
    文章信息 浏览:0 评论:  赞: