酷兔英语



The Privet Hedge

By

J. E. BUCKROSE

[Transcriber's note: J. E. Buckrose is the pseudonym for Annie Edith

Jameson.]

By the Same Author

THE HOUSE WITH THE GOLDEN WINDOWS

YOUNG HEARTS

THE GIRL IN FANCY DRESS

MARRIAGE WHILE YOU WAIT

THE GOSSIP SHOP

THE SILENT LEGION

THE TALE OF MR. TUBBS

THE MATCHMAKERS

THE ROUND-ABOUT

DOWN OUR STREET

A LITTLE GREEN WORLD

BECAUSE OF JANE

LOVE IN A LITTLE TOWN

THE GREY SHEPHERD

Hodder and Stoughton Limited

London

1921

Contents

CHAP.

I THE COTTAGE

II CAROLINE

III THE PROMENADE

IV THE THREE MEN

V THE DANCE ON THE PROMENADE

VI MORNING CALLS

VII SEA-ROKE

VIII THE HEIGHT OF THE SEASON

IX WEDDING CLOTHES

X SUNDAY NIGHT

XI THE GALA

XII THE END OF THE GALA

XIII NEXT MORNING

XIV THE CLIFF TOP

XV THE CINEMA

XVI NEW-COMERS

XVII THE BENEFIT CONCERT

XVIII UPROOTING

XIX A WINDY MORNING

XX LEVELLING

XXI ST. MARTIN'S SUMMER

XXII MORNING

XXIII ON THE SHORE

_Chapter I_

_The Cottage_

At the far end of Thorhaven towards the north was a little square house

surrounded by a privet hedge. It had a green door under a sort of

wooden canopy with two flat windows on either side, and seemed to stand

there defying the rows and rows of terraces, avenues and meanish

semi-detached villas which were creeping up to it. Behind lay the flat

fields under a wide sky just as they had lain for centuries, with the

gulls screaming across them inland from the mud cliffs, and so the

cottage formed a sort of outpost, facing alone the hordes of

jerry-built houses which threatened to sweep on and surround it.

The ladies who lived at the Cottage had once been nicknamed the Misses

Canute--which showed how plainly all this could be seen, as a sort of

symbol, by anyone in the least imaginative; though it was a rather

unsatisfactory curate from Manchester who actually gave them the name.

No one felt surprised when he afterwards offended his bishop and went

into the motor business, for he suffered from that constitutional

ability to take people as seriously as they wished to be taken, which

is so bad for any career.

Thus the curate departed, but his irreverence lived on after him for

quite a long time, because many people like a mild joke which every one

must see at once--which is ready-made--and for which they cannot be

held responsible. So this became for a little while the family jest of

Thorhaven, in no way spoiled by the fact that one sister had married a

man called Bradford and was now a widow, while the other retained the

paternal Wilson.

The two ladies were walking together on this twenty-sixth of March, by

the side of the privet hedge which divided their garden from the large

field beyond and hid from them everything which they did not care to

see.

Miss Ethel's name was entirely unsuited to her, but she had received it

at a period when Ethels were as thick as blackberries in every girls'

school of any pretensions; and she was not in the very least like any

Miss Amelia out of a book, though she possessed an elder sister and had

reached fifty-five without getting married. On the contrary, she

carried her head with great assurance on her spare shoulders, put her

hair in curling pins each night as punctually as she said her prayers,

and wore a well-cut, shortish tweed skirt with sensible shoes. Her

face was thin and she had a delicately-shaped, rather long nose,

together with a charmingly-shaped mouth that had grown compressed and

lost its sweetness. A mole over her right eyebrow accentuated her

habit of twitching that side of her face a little when she was nervous

or excited.

But she was calm now, walking there with her sister, enjoying the keen

air warmed with sunshine which makes life on such a day in Thorhaven

sparkle with possibilities.

"I'm glad," she said, "that we decided not to clip the hedge. It has

grown up until it hides that odious Emerald Avenue entirely from the

garden."

"I can still see it from my bedroom window all the same," said Mrs.

Bradford.

"Don't look out of your window, then!" retorted Miss Ethel sharply.

"You take care of that," said Mrs. Bradford. "You have made the short

blinds so high that I can scarcely see over them."

"Do you want the people in those awful little houses to see you

undressing?" demanded Miss Ethel.

"They couldn't--not unless they used a telescope or opera glasses,"

said Mrs. Bradford. And she managed to convey, by some subtle

inflexion of voice and expression--though she was a dull woman--that if

you had been married, you were not so pernickitty about such things;

and, finally, that if Emerald Avenue cared to go to that trouble it was

welcome, because she remained always invested with the mantle of Hymen.

As a matter of fact, she had--in a way--spent her life for some years

in echoing that romanticdeclaration of the lady in the play: "I have

lived and loved." Only she had never said anything so vivid as

that--she simply sat down on the fact for the rest of her life in a

sort of comatose triumph.

Her husband had been a short, weasely man of bilious temperament;

still, he sufficed; and his death at the end of two years from

whooping-cough only added to Mrs. Bradford's complacency. She came

back home again to the Cottage, feeling as immeasurably superior to her

unmarried sister as only a woman of that generation could feel, who had

found a husband while most of her female relatives remained spinsters.

She at once caused the late Mr. Bradford's photograph to be

enlarged--the one in profile where the eyebrows had been strengthened,

and the slight squint was of course invisible--and she referred to him

in conversation as "such a fine intellectual-looking man." After a

while, she began to believe her own words more and more thoroughly, so

that at the end of ten years she would not have recognized him at all

had he appeared in the flesh.

"At any rate," she remarked, "our field won't be built over."

"No, thank goodness!" assented Miss Ethel emphatically, her left

eyebrow twitching a little. "The Warringborns will never sell their

land, whatever other people do. I remember grandfather telling us how

he was ordered out of the room by old Squire Warringborn when he once

went to suggest buying this field. Oh, no; the Warringborns won't

sell. Not the least fear of that."

But she only talked in this way because she was afraid--trying to keep

her heart up, as she saw in her mind's eye that oncoming horde of

yellowish-red houses.

Before Mrs. Bradford could reply about the Warringborns, there came a

sound of voices in the great field which stretched park-like beyond the

privet hedge. "Butcher Walker putting some sheep in, I expect," said

Mrs. Bradford. "He has the lease of it now."

But even as she spoke, her heavy jaw dropped and she stood staring.

Miss Ethel swerved quickly round in the same direction, and her pale

eyes focused. Neither of them uttered a sound as they looked at the

square board which rose slowly above the privet hedge. They could not

see the pole on which it was supported from that position in the

garden, and so it appeared to them like a banner upheld by unseen hands.

"Well," said Mrs. Bradford at last, "we mustn't clip the hedge this

year, that's all. Then----"

"Hedge!" cried Miss Ethel. "What's the use of talking about the hedge

when our home is spoilt? Look! Read!" She pointed to that square

object which flaunted now in all its glaring black and white newness--a

blot against the grey sky.

FOR SALE

FOR THE ERECTION OF VILLAS AND BUNGALOWS

APPLY MESSRS. GLATT & WILSON

Miss Ethel could not have felt deeper dismay if the square notice board

on the pole had been indeed held aloft by the very Spirit of Change

itself, with streaming hair still all aflame from rushing too closely

past a bursting sun. Only those who hate change as she did could ever

understand her dismay.

"We shall be driven out of our house. We shall have to leave," she

said, very pale. "After all these years, we shall have to go. We

_can't_ stand all their nasty little back ways!"

"Where are we to go to?" said Mrs. Bradford. She paused a moment.

"It's the same everywhere. Besides, the houses are not built yet."

There was nothing for them to do but to turn their backs on the board

and walk quietly away, filled with that aching home-sickness for the

quiet past which thousands of middle-aged people were feeling at that

moment all over Europe. Everything was so different, and the knowledge

of it gave to Miss Ethel a constant sense of exasperated discomfort,

like the ache of an internal disease which she could not forget for a

moment.

"I expect," she said after a while, "that Mrs. Graham will once more

tell us to let ourselves go with the tide and not worry. Thank God, I

never was a supine jelly-fish, and I can't start being one now."

"She was talking about servants," said Mrs. Bradford, who was troubled,

but not so troubled, because she took things differently. "I expect

she only meant we should never get another like Ellen; but we can't

expect to do so after having her for eleven years."

"No. We are lucky to have Ellen's niece coming. But I wish she were a

little older," said Miss Ethel. "Nineteen is very young."

"Yes," replied Mrs. Bradford, letting the conversation drop, for she

was not very fond of talking. And in the silence they looked back; and

to both of them nineteen seemed a rather ridiculous and foolish

age--even for a servant, who is supposed to be rather young.

Then Miss Ethel began again--talking on to try and banish the insistent

vision in her mind's eye of that square board over the privet hedge,

which she knew herself foolish to dwell upon. "I wish Caroline had not

lived with Ellen's sister and gone out as a day-girl to that little

grocer's shop in the Avenue. I'm afraid that may have spoilt her. But

it is Caroline or nobody. We may want a sensiblemiddle-aged maid, but

in these days it isn't what you want--it's what you can get."

Mrs. Bradford nodded; and again they felt all over them that resentful

home-sickness for the past.

"One thing--we must begin as we mean to go on," said Miss Ethel. "If

mistresses were only firmer there would never be such ridiculous

proceedings as one hears about; but they are so afraid of losing maids

that they put up with anything. No wonder the girls find this out and

cease to have any respect for them. Look at Mrs. Graham! A latch-key

allowed, and no caps or aprons. That's swimming with the tide, with a

vengeance."

"There's no fear of Caroline wanting anything of that sort," said Mrs.

Bradford. "Ellen's sister, Mrs. Creddle, is as steady as Ellen."

"She'd need to be, with four children on her hands, and a husband like

one of those coco-nuts at Hull fair that have the husk partly left on,"

said Miss Ethel. "I never could understand how a nice-looking girl,

such as Mrs. Creddle was then, came to marry such a man."

Mrs. Bradford looked down at her fat hands and smiled a little, seeming

to see things in the matrimonial philosophy that no spinster was likely

to understand. Then after opening the door they both turned again,

from force of long habit, to look across the garden, and saw the square

board more plainly now than they had done when close under the hedge.

It stood there in the midst of the grass field--as if it were leading

on--while in the distance the wind from the east was blowing the smoke

like flags from the long row of chimney-tops in Emerald Avenue.

At last Miss Ethel said with a sort of doubtful hopefulness, as if

keeping her courage up before those advancing hordes: "Perhaps nobody

will want to buy the land there. Always heard it was boggy."

Mrs. Bradford shook her head silently and went in, followed by her

sister: in a world where all things were now odiously possible, one had

to take what came and make the best of it.

But Miss Ethel already experienced the faint beginning of a state of

suspense which was never to cease, day or night, though at times she

was not conscious of it. She fancied that every person who crossed the

field was an intending buyer, and woke with a start when the old

wardrobe gave the sudden "pop!" in the night to which she had been long

accustomed, thinking for the moment that she heard the first stroke of

a workman's hammer. In truth she was run down with doing most of the

work of the house since Ellen's departure to look after an invalid

mother, besides suffering from several severe colds during the winter,

so that the possibility of new houses being built close at hand had got

on her nerves, and gained an almost ridiculous importance.

She and her sister had thought, like so many others, that they could

escape change by living in one place, but it had followed them, as it

always inexorably does. Shut their eyes as they might, they had to see

neighbours leaving, neighbours dying. And even those who remained did

not continue the same. One day Miss Ethel was obliged to notice how

grey little Mrs. Baker at the newspaper shop was going--and that

brought to mind that she had been married thirty years come Christmas.

Thirty years! It seemed incredible that so much of life had slipped

almost imperceptibly away.

All the same, she _ached_ to stand still. She simply could not realize

that perhaps some other generation would look back on hers as she did

on the past. One Saturday the following lines in the local corner of

the _Thorhaven and County Weekly Budget_--between an advertisement of a

new poultry food and a notice of a fine goat for sale--did express a

little of her state of mind, though they were written by a retired


生词表:
  • height [hait] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.高度;顶点;卓越   (初中英语单词)
  • wedding [´wediŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.婚礼,结婚   (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)
  • plainly [´pleinli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.平坦地;简单地   (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)
  • bishop [´biʃəp] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.主教   (初中英语单词)
  • seriously [´siəriəsli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.严肃;严重,重大   (初中英语单词)
  • beheld [bi´held] 移动到这儿单词发声  behold的过去式(分词)   (初中英语单词)
  • responsible [ri´spɔnsəbəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.尽责的;责任重大的   (初中英语单词)
  • contrary [´kɔntrəri] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.相反的 n.相反   (初中英语单词)
  • sensible [´sensəbəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.感觉得到的   (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)
  • convey [kən´vei] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.运送;传达;转让   (初中英语单词)
  • romantic [rəu´mæntik] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.传奇(式)的;浪漫的   (初中英语单词)
  • generation [,dʒenə´reiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.发生;世代;同龄人   (初中英语单词)
  • female [´fi:meil] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.女(性)的 n.女人   (初中英语单词)
  • awhile [ə´wail] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.少顷;片刻   (初中英语单词)
  • thoroughly [´θʌrəli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.完全地,彻底地   (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)
  • grandfather [´grænd,fɑ:ðə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.(外)祖父;祖先   (初中英语单词)
  • squire [skwaiə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.护卫,侍从;乡绅   (初中英语单词)
  • banner [´bænə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.旗(帜);头号标题   (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)
  • dismay [dis´mei] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.惊慌 vt.使惊慌   (初中英语单词)
  • driven [´driv(ə)n] 移动到这儿单词发声  drive 的过去分词   (初中英语单词)
  • constant [´kɔnstənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.坚定的;坚贞的   (初中英语单词)
  • supposed [sə´pəuzd] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.想象的;假定的   (初中英语单词)
  • partly [´pɑ:tli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.部分地;不完全地   (初中英语单词)
  • philosophy [fi´lɔsəfi] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.哲学;人生观   (初中英语单词)
  • opening [´əupəniŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.开放;开端 a.开始的   (初中英语单词)
  • silently [´sailəntli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.寂静地;沉默地   (初中英语单词)
  • beginning [bi´giniŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.开始,开端;起源   (初中英语单词)
  • conscious [´kɔnʃəs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.意识的;自觉的   (初中英语单词)
  • hammer [´hæmə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.锤子 v.重击   (初中英语单词)
  • departure [di´pɑ:tʃə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.离开,出发   (初中英语单词)
  • suffering [´sʌfəriŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.痛苦;灾害   (初中英语单词)
  • severe [si´viə] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.严厉的;苛刻的   (初中英语单词)
  • possibility [,pɔsə´biliti] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.可能(性);希望;前途   (初中英语单词)
  • weekly [´wi:kli] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.&ad.每周一次(的)   (初中英语单词)
  • gossip [´gɔsip] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&vi.说闲话;聊天   (高中英语单词)
  • inland [´inlənd, in´lænd] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.&n.内地的 ad.在内地   (高中英语单词)
  • manchester [´mæntʃistə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.曼彻斯特   (高中英语单词)
  • assurance [ə´ʃuərəns] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.保证;自信;信任   (高中英语单词)
  • sweetness [´swi:tnis] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.甜蜜;芳香;亲切   (高中英语单词)
  • eyebrow [´aibrau] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.眉   (高中英语单词)
  • decided [di´saidid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.明显的;决定的   (高中英语单词)
  • telescope [´teliskəup] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.望远镜   (高中英语单词)
  • mantle [´mæntl] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.斗蓬 v.覆盖;笼罩   (高中英语单词)
  • declaration [,deklə´reiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.宣布;宣言;申报   (高中英语单词)
  • unseen [,ʌn´si:n] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.未看见的   (高中英语单词)
  • internal [in´tə:nl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.内部的;国内的   (高中英语单词)
  • differently [´difrentli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.不同地,有差别地   (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)
  • banish [´bæniʃ] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.流放;消除(顾虑等)   (高中英语单词)
  • doubtful [´dautful] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.怀疑的,可疑的   (高中英语单词)
  • incredible [in´kredəbəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.不能相信的;惊人的   (高中英语单词)
  • advertisement [əd´və:tismənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.(做)广告;宣传   (高中英语单词)
  • poultry [´pəultri] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&v.家禽   (高中英语单词)
  • canopy [´kænəpi] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.(床上的)罩篷;天篷   (英语四级单词)
  • odious [´əudiəs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.可憎的;丑恶的   (英语四级单词)
  • emerald [´emərəld] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.纯绿宝石;翠绿色   (英语四级单词)
  • graham [´greiəm] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.&n.用全麦粉做的   (英语四级单词)
  • experienced [ik´spiəriənst] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.有经验的;熟练的   (英语四级单词)
  • imaginative [i´mædʒənətiv] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.富于想象(力)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)
  • compressed [kəm´prest] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.压缩的   (英语六级单词)
  • profile [´prəufail] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.侧面 vt.画…侧面   (英语六级单词)
  • emphatically [im´fætikəli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.强调地;断然地   (英语六级单词)
  • erection [i´rekʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.直立,建立;建筑物   (英语六级单词)
  • middle-aged [´midl´eidʒid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.中年的   (英语六级单词)
  • wanting [´wɔntiŋ, wɑ:n-] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.短缺的;不足的   (英语六级单词)
  • retired [ri´taiəd] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.退休的;通职的   (英语六级单词)

  • 上传人 欢乐鱼 分享于 2017-06-26 18:04:04
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