酷兔英语



REBECCA MARY

By Annie Hamilton Donnell

Contents

I. THE HUNDRED AND ONETH

II. THE THOUSAND QUILT

III. THE BIBLE DREAM

IV. THE COOK-BOOK DIARY

V. THE BEREAVEMENT

VI. THE FEEL DOLL

VII. THE PLUMMER KIND

VIII. ARTICLE SEVEN

IX. UN-PLUMMERED

The Hundred and Oneth

Rebecca Mary took another stitch. Then another. "Ninety-sevvun,

ninety-eight," she counted aloud, her little pointed face gravely

intent. She waited the briefest possible space before she took

ninety-nine. It was getting very close to the Time now. "At the hundred

an' oneth," Rebecca Mary whispered. "It's almost it." Her breath came

quicker under her tight little dress. Between her thin, light eyebrows a

crease deepened anxiously.

"Ninety--n-i-n-e," she counted, "one hun-der-ed"--it was so very close

now! The next stitch would be the hundred and oneth. Rebecca Mary's face

suddenly grew quite white.

"I'll wait a m-minute," she decided; "I'm just a little scared. When

you've been lookin' head to the hundred and oneth so LONG and you get

the very next door to it, it scares you a little. I'll wait until--oh,

until Thomas Jefferson crows, before I sew the hundred and oneth."

Thomas Jefferson was prospecting under the currant bushes. Rebecca Mary

could see him distinctly, even with her nearsighted little eyes, for

Thomas Jefferson was snow-white. Once in a while he stalked dignifiedly

out of the bushes and crowed. He might do it again any minute now.

The great sheet billowed and floated round Rebecca Mary, scarcely whiter

than her face. She held her needle poised, waiting the signal of Thomas

Jefferson. At any minute.... He was coming out now! A fleck of

snow-white was pricking the green of the currant leaves.

"He's out. Any minute he'll begin to cr--" He was already beginning! The

warning signals were out--chest expanding, neck elongating, and great

white wing aflap.

"I'm just a little scared," breathed the child in the foam of the sheet.

Then Thomas Jefferson crowed.

"Hundred and one!" Rebecca Mary cried out, clearly, courage born within

her at the crucial instant. The Time--the Time--had come. She had taken

her last stitch.

"It's over," she panted. "It always was a-coming, and it's come. I knew

it would. When it's come, you don't feel quite so scared. I'm glad it's

over."

She folded up the great sheet carefully, making all the edges meet with

painful precision. It took time. She had left the needle sticking in the

unfinished seam--in the hundred-and-oneth stitch--and close beside it

was a tiny dot of red to "keep the place."

"Rebecca! Rebecca Mary!" Aunt Olivia always called like that. If there

had been still another name--Rebecca Mary Something Else--she would have

called: "Rebecca! Rebecca Mary! Rebecca Mary Something Else!"

"Yes'm; I'm here."

"Where's 'here'?" sharply.

"HERE--the grape-arbor, I mean."

"Have you got your sheet?"

"I--yes'm."

"Is your stent 'most done?"

Rebecca Mary rose slowly to her reluctant little feet, and with the

heavy sheet across her arm went to meet the sharp voice. At last the

Time had come.

"Well?" Aunt Olivia was waiting for her answer. Rebecca Mary groaned.

Aunt Olivia would not think it was "well."

"Well, Rebecca Mary Plummer, you came to fetch my answer, did you? You

got your stent 'most done?" Aunt Olivia's hands were extended for the

folded sheet.

"I've got it DONE, Aunt 'Livia," answered little Rebecca Mary, steadily.

Her slender figure, in its quaint, scant dress, looked braced as if to

meet a shock. But Rebecca Mary was terribly afraid.

"Every mite o' that seam? Then I guess you can't have done it very well;

that's what I guess! If it ain't done well, you'll have to take it--"

"Wait--please, won't you wait, Aunt 'Livia? I've got to say something.

I mean, I've got all the over-'n'-overing I'm ever going to do done.

THAT'S what's done. The hundred-and-oneth stitch was my stent, and it's

done. I'm not ever going to take the hundred and twoth. I've decided."

Understanding filtered drop by drop into Aunt Olivia's bewildered brain.

She gasped at the final drop.

"Not ever going to take another stitch?" she repeated, with a calmness

that was awfuler than storm.

"No'm."

"You've decided?"

"Yes'm."

"May I ask when this--this state of mind began?"

Rebecca Mary girded herself afresh. She had such need of recruiting

strength.

"It's been coming on," she said. "I've felt it. I knew all the time it

was a-coming--and then it came."

It seemed to be all there. Why must she say any more? But still Aunt

Olivia waited, and Rebecca Mary read grim displeasure in capitals across

the gray field of her face. The little figure stiffened more and more.

"I've over-'n'-overed 'leven sheets," the steady little voice went on,

because Aunt Olivia was waiting, and it must, "and you said I did 'em

pretty well. I tried to. I was going to do the other one well, till you

said there was going to be another dozen. I couldn't BEAR another dozen,

Aunt Olivia, so I decided to stop. When Thomas Jefferson crowed I sewed

the hundred-and-oneth stitch. That's all there's ever a-going to be."

Rebecca Mary stepped back a step or two, as if finishing a speech and

retiring from her audience. There was even the effect of a bow in the

sudden collapse of the stiff little body. It was Aunt Olivia's turn now

to respond--and Aunt Olivia responded:

"You've had your say; now I'll have mine. Listen to me, Rebecca Mary

Plummer! Here's this sheet, and here's this needle in it. When you get

good and ready you can go on sewing. You won't have anything to eat till

you do. I've got through."

The grim figure swept right-about face and tramped into the house as

though to the battle-roll of drums. Rebecca Mary stayed behind, face to

face with her fate.

"She's a Plummer, so it'll be SO," Rebecca Mary thought, with the dull

little thud of a weight falling into her heart. Rebecca Mary was a

Plummer too, but she did not think of that, unless the un-swerving

determination in her stout little heart was the unconscious recognition

of it.

"I wonder"--her gaze wandered out towards the currant-bushes and came

to rest absently on Thomas Jefferson's big, white bulk--"I wonder if it

hurts very much." She meant, to starve. A long vista of food-less days

opened before her, and in their contemplation the weight in her heart

grew very heavy indeed.

"We were GOING to have layer-cake for supper. I'm VERY fond of

layer-cake," Rebecca Mary sighed, "I suppose, though, after a few

weeks"--she shuddered--"I shall be glad to have ANYTHING--just common

things, like crackers and skim-milk. Perhaps I shall want to eat

a--horse. I've heard of folks--You get very unparticular when you're

starving."

It was five o'clock. They WERE going to have supper at half past. She

could hear the tea things clinking in the house. She stole up to a

window. There was Aunt Olivia setting the layer-cake on the table. It

looked plump and rich, and it was sugared on top.

"There's strawberry jam in between it," mused Rebecca Mary, regretfully.

"I wish it was apple jelly. I could bear it better if it was apple

jelly." But it was jam. And there was honey, too, to eat with Aunt

Olivia's little fluffy biscuits. How very fond Rebecca Mary was of

honey!

Aunt Olivia stood in the kitchen doorway and rang the supper bell in

long, steady clangs just as usual. But no one responded just as usual,

and by the token she knew Rebecca Mary had not taken the other stitch

that lay between her and supper.

"She's a Plummer," sighed Aunt Olivia, inwardly, unrealizing her own

Plummership, as little Rebecca Mary had unrealized hers. Each recognized

only the other's. The pity that both must be Plummers!

Rebecca Mary stayed out of doors until bedtime. She made but one

confidant.

"I've done it, Thomas Jefferson," she said, sadly. "You ought to be

sorry for me, because if you hadn't crowed I shouldn't have sewed the

hundred and oneth. But you're not really to BLAME," she added, hastily,

mindful of Thomas Jefferson's feelings. "I should have done it sometime

if you hadn't crowed. I knew it was coming. I suppose now I shall have

to starve. You'd think it was pretty hard to starve, I guess, Thomas

Jefferson."

Thomas Jefferson made certain gloomy responses in his throat to the

effect that he was always starving; that any contributions on the

spot in the way of corn kernels, wheat grains, angleworms--any

little delicacies of the kind--would be welcome. And Rebecca Mary,

understanding, led the way to the corn bin. In the dark hours that

followed, the intimacy between the great white rooster and the little

white girl took on tenderer tones.

At breakfast next morning--at dinner time--at supper--Rebecca Mary

absented herself from the house. Aunt Olivia set on the meals regularly

and waited with tightening heartstrings. It did not seem to occur to her

to eat her own portions. She tasted no morsel of all the dainties she

got together wistfully. At nightfall the second day she began to feel

real alarm. She put on her bonnet and went to the minister's. He was

rather a new minister, and the Plummers had always required a good deal

of time to make acquaintance. But in the present stress of her need Aunt

Olivia did not stop to think of that.

"You must come over and--and do something," she said, at the conclusion

of her strange little story. "It seems to me it's time for the minister

to step in."

"What can I do, Miss Plummer?" the embarrassed young man ejaculated,

with a feeling of helplessness.

"Talk to her," groaned Aunt Olivia, in her agony. "Tell her what her

duty is. Rebecca Mary might listen to the minister. All she's got to do

is to take just one stitch to show her submission. It won't take but an

instant. I've got supper all out on the kitchen table--I don't care if

it's ten o'clock at night!"

"It isn't a case for the minister. It's a case for the Society for the

Prevention of Cruelty to Children!" fumed the minister's kind little

wife inwardly. And she stole away in the twilight to deal with little

Rebecca Mary herself. She came back to the minister by and by, red-eyed

and fierce.

"You needn't go over; I've been. It won't do any good, Robert. That

poor, stiff-willed, set little thing is starving by inches!"

"I think her aunt is, too!"

"Well, perhaps--I can't help it, Robert, perhaps the--aunt--ought--to."

"My dear!--Felicia!"

"I told you I couldn't help it. She is so hungry, Robert! If you had

seen her--What do you think she was doing when I got there?"

"Crying?"

"Crying! She was laughing. _I_ cried. She sat there under some

grapevines watching a great white rooster eat his supper. His name, I

think, is Thomas Jefferson."

"Yes, Thomas Jefferson," agreed the minister, with the assurance of

acquaintance. For Thomas Jefferson was one of his parishioners.

"Well, she was laughing at him in the shakiest, hungriest little voice

you ever heard. 'Is it good?' she says. 'It LOOKS good.' He was eating

raw corn. 'If I could, I'd eat supper with you when you're VERY hungry,

you don't mind eating things raw.' Then she saw me."

"Well?"

"Well, I coaxed her, Robert. It didn't do any good. Tomorrow somebody

must go there and interfere."

"She must be a remarkably strange child," the minister mused. He was

thinking of the holding-out powers of the three children he had a

half-ownership in.

"I don't think Rebecca Mary IS a child, Robert. She must be fifty years

old, at the least. She and her aunt are about the same age. Perhaps if

her mother had lived, or she hadn't made so many sheets, or learned to

knit and darn and cook--" The minister's kind little wife finished out

her sentence with a sigh. She took up a little garment in dire straits

to be mended. It suggested things to the minister.

"Can Rhoda darn?"

"RHODA!"

"Or make sheets and bread and things?"

"Robert, don't you feel well? Where is the pain?" But the laugh in the

pleasant blue eyes died out suddenly. Little Rebecca Mary lay too heavy

on the minister's wife's heart for mirth.

Aunt Olivia went into Rebecca Mary's room in the middle of the night.

She had been in three times before.

"She looks thinner than she did last time," Aunt Olivia murmured,

distressedly. "Tomorrow night--how long do children live without eating?

It's four meals now--four meals is a great many for a little thin thing

to go without!" Aunt Olivia had been without four meals too; she would

have been able to judge how it felt--if she had remembered that part.

She stood in her scant, long nightgown, gazing down at the little

sleeper. The veil was down and her heart was in her eyes.

Rebecca Mary threw out her arm and sighed. "It LOOKS good, Thomas

Jefferson," she murmured. "When you're VERY hungry you can eat things

raw." Suddenly the child sat up in bed, wide-eyed and wild. She did not

seem to see Aunt Olivia at all.

"Once I ate a pie!" she cried. "It wasn't a whole one, but I should eat

a whole one now--I think I should eat the PLATE now." She swayed back

and forth weakly, awake and not awake.

"Once I ate a layer-cake. There was jam in it. I wouldn't care if it

was apple jelly in it now--I'd LIKE apple jelly in it now. Once I ate

a pudding and a doughnut a-n-d--a--a--I think it was a horse. I'd eat

a horse now. Hush! Don't tell Aunt Olivia, but I'm going to

eat--to--e-at--Thom-as--Jeffer--" She swayed back on the pillows again.

Aunt Olivia shook her in an agony of fear--she was so white--she lay so

still.

"Rebecca! Rebecca Mary! Rebecca Mary PLUMMER!" Aunt Olivia shrilled in

her ear. "You get right out o' bed this minute and come downstairs and

eat your supper! It's high time you had something in your stomach--I

don't care if it's twelve o'clock. You get right out o' bed REBECCA

MARY!"

Aunt Olivia had the limp little figure in her arms, shaking it gently

again and again. Rebecca's startled eyes flew open. In that instant was

born inspiration in the brain of Aunt Olivia. She thought of an appeal

to make.

"Do you want ME to starve, too? Right here before your face and eyes? I

haven't eat a mouthful since you did, and I shan't till you DO."


生词表:
  • pointed [´pɔintid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.尖(锐)的;中肯的   (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)
  • distinctly [di´stiŋktli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.清楚地,明晰地   (初中英语单词)
  • needle [´ni:dl] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.针;指针 v.用针缝   (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)
  • instant [´instənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.立即的 n.紧迫;瞬间   (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)
  • terribly [´terəbli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.可怕地   (初中英语单词)
  • audience [´ɔ:diəns] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.听众;观众;接见   (初中英语单词)
  • starve [stɑ:v] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.(使)饥饿   (初中英语单词)
  • doorway [´dɔ:wei] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.门口   (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)
  • 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)
  • minister [´ministə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.部长;大臣 v.伺候   (初中英语单词)
  • acquaintance [ə´kweintəns] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.相识;熟人,相识的人   (初中英语单词)
  • stress [stres] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.强调;压力 vt.强调   (初中英语单词)
  • twilight [´twailait] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.黎明;黄昏   (初中英语单词)
  • sentence [´sentəns] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.判决 vt.宣判;处刑   (初中英语单词)
  • garment [´gɑ:mənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.衣服,外衣   (初中英语单词)
  • downstairs [,daun´steəz] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.在楼下 a.楼下的   (初中英语单词)
  • stitch [stitʃ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.针脚 v.缝(纫)   (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)
  • quaint [kweint] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.离奇的;奇妙的   (高中英语单词)
  • repeated [ri´pi:tid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.反复的;重复的   (高中英语单词)
  • collapse [kə´læps] 移动到这儿单词发声  vi.&n.崩溃;病倒;衰败   (高中英语单词)
  • sewing [´səuiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.缝纫;(书的)装订   (高中英语单词)
  • unconscious [ʌn´kɔnʃəs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.无意识的;不觉察的   (高中英语单词)
  • strawberry [´strɔ:bəri] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.草莓   (高中英语单词)
  • gloomy [´glu:mi] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.昏暗的;忧郁的   (高中英语单词)
  • bonnet [´bɔnit] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.无边女帽;童帽   (高中英语单词)
  • cruelty [´kru:əlti] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.残忍;残酷行为   (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)
  • 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)
  • pudding [´pudiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.布丁   (高中英语单词)
  • inspiration [,inspi´reiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.鼓舞;灵感;启发   (高中英语单词)
  • currant [´kʌrənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.无核葡萄干   (英语四级单词)
  • precision [pri´siʒən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.精密(度) a.精确的   (英语四级单词)
  • reluctant [ri´lʌktənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.勉强的;难得到的   (英语四级单词)
  • displeasure [dis´pleʒə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.不高兴,不快,生气   (英语四级单词)
  • contemplation [,kɔntem´pleiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.注视;冥想;打算   (英语四级单词)
  • setting [´setiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.安装;排字;布景   (英语四级单词)
  • bedtime [´bedtaim] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.就寝时间   (英语四级单词)
  • intimacy [´intiməsi] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.亲密;熟悉;秘密   (英语四级单词)
  • rooster [´ru:stə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.公鸡;雄鸟   (英语四级单词)
  • morsel [´mɔ:səl] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.佳肴 vt.少量地分配   (英语四级单词)
  • submission [səb´miʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.屈服;谦恭   (英语四级单词)
  • remarkably [ri´mɑ:kəbli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.非凡地;显著地   (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)
  • extended [iks´tendid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.伸长的;广大的   (英语六级单词)
  • absently [´æbsəntli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.心不在焉地   (英语六级单词)
  • fluffy [´flʌfi] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.绒毛似的   (英语六级单词)
  • inwardly [´inwədli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.内向;独自地   (英语六级单词)
  • wistfully [´wistfuli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.渴望地;不满足地   (英语六级单词)
  • nightfall [´nait,fɔ:l] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.黄昏;傍晚   (英语六级单词)
  • doughnut [´dəunʌt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.炸面圈   (英语六级单词)

  • 上传人 欢乐鱼 分享于 2017-06-26 18:09:13
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