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An Experiment in Love

2006-07-23 17:31

  The dog discovered them——four newborn kittens abandoned in tall grass beside the road. When I returned from my walk carrying the tiny creatures in the palm of my hand, my partner, Mike, said firmly, " No more animals." Mike had already been saddled1 with my dog and three cats, and he wasn't used to a houseful of pets.

  " I won't keep them," I promised." Just till they're old enough to be on their own." Mike looked dubious. " Word of honor," I assured him, never dreaming how much I'd come to regret the easily uttered words.

  I made a warm nest for the babies by ripping up2 an old blue blanket and lining a wicker3 basket with it. Then I set out for the general store in the village to get advice about feeding them. " You can't raise kittens that young," the storekeeper told me. But he sold me a set of toy nursing bottles and I went home to try. I warmed milk, and after we all got the hang of4 it, the infants drank avidly5.

  Two hours later they woke and set up an insistent6 chorus of soft little screams to be fed again. And every two hours after that. Four times in the night, I crawled out of bed to warm their milk, and in the morning I congratulated myself that they were looking just a little bit stronger, a little bit bigger.

  Mike, reporting on their progress to his co-workers, came home one evening with word that his secretary had offered to adopt Peaches, my favorite because of her lovely soft coloring. Now that she soon would be leaving, I found myself picking up Peaches less often. Idly I wondered if no longer being treated as special would affect her personality. Then the thought turned itself around. Suppose I were to give one of the other kittens extra amounts of mothering? Suppose I held and cuddled and talked to him more? Would he grow up to be any different than his siblings? I thought it might be an interesting experiment.

  I continued to love all the kittens, but I chose the most unpromising of the kittens as my subject. This was the little black one Mike had named Bat Cat because he was so homely, with his dull fur, squashed porcine7 face and little folded flaps of skin for ears. The runt8 of the litter, Bat Cat was always on the bottom of the kitten heap9, the last to be picked up, the last to be fed, and so the one who got the least attention. I gave the tiny creature a new name——Boston——and I repeated it over and over while I held him for his bottle. He would drink until, blissfully full, he fell asleep. Then I tucked him into my sweater so that he slept against my beating heart while I worked at my desk. When he woke, I snuffled10 his small body with my warm breath and talked to him before putting him back in the basket to play with his siblings.

  The effect on the kitten was immediate11. His newly opened eyes, vague and unfocused like his siblings, became alert, and he studied my face with interest. Quickly he learned his name and, when I spoke it, he clambered over the folds of the blue blanket as fast as his unsteady little legs could carry him to come to me. Now when he was in the sleeping heap of kittens, he no longer passively accepted the bottom spot; sweetly but determinedly he wriggled12 out from under and nested himself on top. Was it that, sensing himself valued, Boston began to value himself?

  He was the first of the kittens to discover he could purr, the first to make endearingly clumsy13 attempts to wash himself, the first to undertake the adventure of climbing out of the wicker basket. When the others, exhausted from their tumbling14 play, fell asleep, he would climb over the side of the basket and search for me.

  It is said that when a child is born into this world, the first years of his life are taken up15 with finding an swers to the most basic of questions: Is it a good and benign16 world? Can the people in it be trusted? Am I loved? If a little kitten can also be curious about such things, then the special love given Boston answered all those questions with a resounding " Yes!"

  Even Boston's looks changed. His fur, once rusty and rough, grew sleek17 and shiny. At first, the luster18 was just on his head, but gradually the glossiness19 moved down his entire body until little Boston gleamed from the tip of his nose to the tip of his tail. Though never beautiful, he became so alert and merry, so trusting and affectionate, that the mere sight of him was a delight.

  He was in his usual spot one evening when Mike walked in and heard us " talking" .

  " You're going to miss him when he goes," Mike said.

  I wheeled from the sink." Oh, Mike……"

  Mike looked steadily back. I saw from his expression that this was a test between us. Would I keep my word to him or did I value a little black kitten more than his wishes? During our relationship, Mike and I had had our troubles learning to trust. I couldn't jeopardize20 the confidence I had struggled to gain.

  " Yes," I said as evenly as I could. " Yes, I'm going to miss him."

  Soon all but Boston went to new homes. When Mike came home with word of a church fair that was requesting kittens be donated for sale at a pet table, it was obvious that these were to be my last days with Boston. Now when I cradled him in my arms, it was often tears on my cheeks that he patted." Oh, little Boss, it's going to be so empty without you," I would tell him and his eyes would narrow with the effort to understand my distress.

  I was in the kitchen getting dinner that night when Mike came home. Boston went to the door to greet him but I couldn't; I was fighting too hard not to cry. It was a long time before Mike joined me. When he did, he was carrying Boston, who had a big red ribbon tied around his neck. Silently Mike held out an envelope. Inside was a Christmas card and written on it was: " It's only November, but let's give ourselves a Christmas present."

  I reached out to hug Mike through my tears.

  " If you can be big21 enough to let him go," he said, " I can be big enough to let him stay."



  我把一条旧的蓝色毯子撕碎衬在一个柳条筐里,给这些小猫崽做了一个温暖的窝。然后我起身到村里的商店询问怎样喂养它们。"你养不了这么小的猫崽儿," 店主对我说。但他还是卖了我一套玩具奶瓶,然后我回家去试着喂。我热了牛奶,等我们都掌握了使用奶瓶的窍门后,猫崽们就贪婪地喝了起来。














  那天晚上迈克回家时,我正在厨房准备晚饭。波士顿到门口迎接他,但我做不到。我正强忍着不要哭出来。过了很长时间迈克才走进厨房。他过来时,抱着波士顿,波士顿脖子上系着条红色的丝带。迈克什么也没说,掏出一个信封。信封里是一张圣诞卡,上面写着:"尽管现在才11月,但让咱们给自己一份圣诞礼物吧。 "




  1.saddle vt.使承担任务(或责任)

  2.rip up把…撕成碎片

  3.wicker adj.柳条编的

  4.get the hang of[口]掌握…的窍门

  5.avidly adv.渴望地,急切地

  6.insistent adj.急切的,紧急的

  7.porcine adj.像猪的,肥猪似的

  8.runt n.(比一般)矮小的动物,(一胎中)最小的仔畜

  9.heap n.(一)堆

  10.snuffle vt.出声地呼吸,嗅

  11.immediate adj.直接的

  12.wriggle vi.扭动,蠕动

  13.clumsy adj.笨拙的,手脚不灵活的

  14.tumbling n.翻跟头,翻滚


  16.benign adj.善良的,宽厚的

  17.sleek adj.油光的,油亮的

  18.luster n.光泽

  19.glossiness n.光泽

  20.jeopardize vt.危及,损害

  21.big adj.[口]宽宏的,大度的

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