外语教育网
您的位置:外语教育网 > 英语文化视窗 > 文学与艺术 > 小说 正文
  • 站内搜索:

What Katy Did Next(chapter8)

2006-08-22 19:17

  CHAPTER 8

  ON THE TACK OF ULYSSES

  `We are going to follow the track of Ulysses,' said Katy, with her eyes fixed on the little travelling map in her guide book. `Do you realize that, Polly dear? He and his companions sailed these very seas before us, and we shall see the sights they saw - Circe's Cape and the Isles of the Sirens, and Polyphemus himself, perhaps - who knows?'

  The Marco Polo had just cast off her moorings, and was slowly steaming out of the crowded port of Genoa into the heart of a still rosy sunset. The water was perfectly smooth; no motion could be felt but the engine's throb. The trembling foam of the long wake showed glancing points of phosphorescence here and there, while low or the eastern sky a great silver planet burned like a signal lamp.

  `Polyphemus was a horrible giant. I read about him once, and I don't want to see him,' observed Amy, from her safe protected perch in her mother's lap.

  `He may not be so bad now as he was in those old times. Some missionary may have come across him and converted him. If he were good, you wouldn't mind his being big, would you?' suggested Katy.

  `N-o,' replied Amy doubtfully, `but it would take a great lot of missionaries to make him good, I should think. One all alone would be afraid to speak to him. We shan't really see him, shall we?'

  `I don't believe we shall, and if we stuff cotton in our ears, and look the other way, we need not hear the sirens sing,' said Katy, who was in the highest spirits. `And oh, Polly dear, there is one delightful thing I forgot to tell you about! The captain says he will stay in Leghorn all day tomorrow taking on freight, and we shall have plenty of time to run up to Pisa and see the cathedral and the Leaning Tower and everything else. Now, that is something Ulysses didn't do! I am so glad I didn't die of measles when I was little, as Rose Red used to say!' She gave her book a toss into the air as she spoke, and caught it again as it fell, very much as the Katy Carr of twelve years ago might have done.

  `What a child you are!' said Mrs Ashe approvingly, you never seem out of sorts or tired of things.'

  `Out of sorts! I should think not! And pray why should I be, Polly dear?'

  Katy had taken to calling her friend `Polly dear' of late - a trick picked up half unconsciously from Lieutenant Ned. Mrs Ashe liked it; it was sisterly and intimate, she said, and made her feel nearer Katy's age.

  `Does the tower really lean?' questioned Amy - `far over, I mean, so that we can see it?'

  `We shall know tomorrow,' replied Katy. `If it doesn't, I shall lose all my confidence in human nature.'

  Katy's confidence in human nature was not doomed to be impaired. There stood the famous tower, when they reached the Place dei Duomo in Pisa, next morning, looking all aslant, exactly as it does in the pictures and the alabaster models, and seeming as if in another moment it must topple over, from its own weight, upon their heads. Mrs Ashe declared that it was so unnatural that it made her flesh creep, and when she was coaxed up the winding staircase to the top, she turned so giddy that they were all thankful to get her safely down to firm ground again. She turned her back upon the tower, as they crossed the grassy space to the majestic old Cathedral, saying that if she thought about it any more, she should become a disbeliever in the attraction of gravitation, which she had always been told all respectable people must believe in.

  The guide showed them the lamp, swinging by a long, slender chain, before which Galileo is said to have sat and pondered while he worked out his theory of the pendulum. This lamp seemed a sort of own cousin to the attraction of gravitation, and they gazed upon it with respect. Then they went to the Baptistery to see Niccolo Pisano's magnificent pulpit of creamy marble, a mass of sculpture supported on the backs of lions, and the equally lovely font, and to admire the extraordinary sound which their guide evoked from a mysterious echo, with which he seemed to be on intimate terms, for he made it say whatever he would, and almost `answer back'.

  It was in coming out of the Baptistery that they met with an adventure which Amy could never quite forget. Pisa is the mendicant city of Italy, and her streets are infested with a band of religious beggars who call themselves the Brethren of the Order of Mercy. They wear loose black gowns, sandals laced over their bare feet, and black cambric masks with holes, through which their eyes glare awfully, and they carry tin cups for the reception of offerings, which they thrust into the faces of all strangers visiting the city, whom they look upon as their lawful prey.

  As our party emerged from the Baptistery, two of these Brethren espied them, like great human bats came swooping down upon them with long strides, their black garments flying in the wind, their eyes rolling strangely behind their masks, and brandishing their alms cups, which had `Pour les Pauvres' lettered upon them, and gave forth a clapping sound like a watchman's rattle. There was something terrible in their appearance and the rushing speed of their movements. Amy screamed and ran behind her mother, who visibly shrank. Katy stood her ground; but the bat-winged fiends in Doré's illustrations to Dante occurred to her, and her fingers trembled as she dropped some money in their cups.

  Even mendicant friars are human. Katy ceased to tremble as she observed that one of them, as he retreated, walked backward for some distance in order to gaze longer at Mrs Ashe, whose cheeks were flushed bright pink, and who was looking particularly handsome. She began to laugh instead, and Mrs Ashe laughed too, but Amy could not get over the impression of having been attacked by demons, and often afterwards she shuddered when she thought of those awful black things that flew at her and she had hidden behind mamma. The ghastly pictures of the Triumph of Death, which were presently exhibited to them on the walls of the Campo Santo, did not reassure her, and it was with quite a pale, scared little face that she walked toward the hotel where they were to lunch, and she held fast to Katy's hand.

  Their way led them through a narrow street inhabited by the poorer classes - a dusty street with high shabby buildings on either side and wide doorways giving glimpses of interior courtyards, where empty hogsheads and barrels and rusty cauldrons lay, and great wooden trays of macaroni were spread out in the sun to dry. Some of the macaroni was grey, some white, some yellow; none of it looked at all desirable to eat, as it lay exposed to the dust, with long lines of ill-washed clothes flapping above on wires stretched from one house to another. As is usual in poor streets, there were swarms of children, and the appearance of little Amy with her long bright hair falling over her shoulders, and Mabel clasped in her arms, created a great sensation. The children in the street shouted and exclaimed, and other children within the houses heard the sounds and came trooping out, while mothers and older sisters peeped from the doorways. The very air seemed full of eager faces and little brown and curly heads bobbing up and down with excitement, and black eyes fixed upon big beautiful Mabel, who with her thick wig of flaxen hair, her blue velvet dress and jacket, feathered hat, and little muff, seemed to them like some strange small marvel from another world. They could not decide whether she was a living child or a make-believe one, and they dared not come near enough to find out, so they clustered at a little distance, pointed with their fingers, and whispered and giggled, while Amy, much pleased with the admiration shown for her darling, lifted Mabel up to view.

  At last one droll little girl with a white cap on her round head seemed to make up her mind, and, darting indoors, returned with her doll - a poor little image of wood, its only garment a coarse shirt of red cotton. This she held out for Amy to see. Amy smiled for the first time since her encounter with the bat-like friars, and Katy, taking Mabel from her, made signs that the two dolls should kiss each other. But though the little Italian screamed with laughter at the idea of a bacio between two dolls, she would by no means allow it, and hid her treasure behind her back, blushing and giggling, and saying something very fast which none of them understood, while she waved two fingers at them with a curious gesture.

  `I do believe she is afraid Mabel will cast the evil eye on her doll,' said Katy at last, with a sudden understanding as to what this pantomime meant.

  `Why, you silly thing,' cried the outraged Amy, `do you suppose for one moment that my child could hurt your dirty old dolly? You ought to be glad to have her noticed at all by anybody that's clean.'

  The sound of the foreign tongue completed the discomfiture of the little Italian. With a shriek she fled, and all the other children after her, pausing at a distance to look back at the alarming creatures who didn't speak the familiar language. Katy, wishing to leave a pleasant impression, made Mabel kiss her waxen fingers toward them. This sent the children off into another fit of laughter and chatter, and they followed our friends for quite a distance as they proceeded on their way to the hotel.

  All that night, over a sea as smooth as glass, the Marco Polo slipped along the coasts past which the ships of Ulysses sailed in those legendary days which wear so charmed a light to our modern eyes. Katy roused at three in the morning, and, looking from her cabin window, had a glimpse of an island, which her map showed her must be Elba, where that war eagle, Napoleon, was chained for a while. Then she fell asleep again, and when she awoke in full daylight the steamer was off the coast of Ostia and nearing the mouth of the Tiber. Dreamy mountain shapes rose beyond the faraway Campagna, and every curve and every indentation of the coast bore a name which recalled some interesting thing.'

  About eleven a dim-drawn bubble appeared on the horizon, which the captain assured them was the dome of St Peter's, nearly thirty miles distant. This was one of the `moments' which Clover had been fond of speculating about, and Katy, contrasting the real with the imaginary moment, could not help smiling. Neither she nor Clover had ever supposed that her first glimpse of the great dome was to be so unimpressive.

  On and on they went till the air-hung bubble disappeared, and Amy, grown very tired of scenery with which she had no associations, and grown-up raptures which she did not comprehend, squeezed herself into the end of, the long wooden settee on which Katy sat, and began to beg for another story, concerning Violet and Emma.

  `Just a tiny little chapter, you know, Miss Katy, about what they did on New Year's Day or something. It's so dull to keep sailing and sailing all day and have nothing to do, and it's ever so long since you told me anything about them, really and truly it is!'

  Now, Violet and Emma, if the truth is to be told, had grown to be the bane of Katy's existence. She had rung the changes on their uneventful adventures, and racked her brains to invent more and more details, till her imagination felt like a dry sponge from which every possible drop of moisture had been squeezed. Amy was insatiable. Her interest in the tale never flagged, and when her exhausted friend explained that she really could not think of another word to say on the subject, she would turn the tables by asking, `Then, Miss Katy, mayn't I tell you a chapter?' whereupon she would proceed somewhat in this fashion:

  `It was the day before Christmas - no, we won't have it the day before Christmas; it shall be three days before Thanksgiving. Violet and Emma got up in the morning, and - well, they didn't do anything in particular that day. They just had their breakfasts and dinners, and played and studied a little, and went to bed early, you know, and the next morning - well, nothing much happened that day, either; they just had their breakfasts and dinners and played.'

  Listening to Amy's stories was so much worse than telling them to her that Katy, in self-defence, was driven to recommence her narrations, but she had grown to hate Violet and Emma with a deadly loathing. So when Amy made this appeal on the steamer's deck, a sudden resolution took possession of her, and she decided to put an end to these dreadful children once and for all.

  `Yes, Amy,' she said. `I will tell you one more story about Violet and Emma, but this is positively the last.'

  So Amy cuddled close to her friend, and listened with rapt attention as Katy told how, on a certain day just before the New Year, Violet and Emma started by themselves in a little sleigh drawn by a pony, to carry to a poor woman who lived in a lonely house high up on a mountain slope a basket containing a turkey, a mould of cranberry jelly, a bunch of celery, and a mince pie.

  `They were so pleased at having all these nice things to take to poor widow Simpson, and in thinking how glad she would be to see them,' proceeded the naughty Katy, `that they never noticed how black the sky was getting to be, or how the wind howled through the bare boughs of the trees. They had to go slowly, for the road was uphill all the way, and it was hard work for the poor pony. But he was a stout little fellow, and tugged away up the slippery track, and Violet and Emma talked and laughed, and never thought what was going to happen. Just half way up the mountain there was a rocky cliff which overhung the road, and on this cliff grew an enormous hemlock tree. The branches were loaded with snow, which made them much heavier than usual. Just as the sleigh passed slowly underneath the cliff, a violent blast of wind blew up from the ravine, struck the hemlock, and tore it out of the ground, roots and all. It fell directly across the sleigh and Violet and Emma and the pony and the basket with the turkey and the other things in it were all crushed as flat as pancakes!'

  `Well,' said Amy, as Katy stopped, `go on! What happened then?'

  `Nothing happened then,' replied Katy, in a tone of awful solemnity, `nothing could happen! Violet and Emma were dead, the pony was dead, the things in the basket were broken all to little bits, and a great snowstorm began and covered them up, and no one knew where they were or what had become of them till the snow melted in the spring.

  With a loud shriek Amy jumped up from the bench.

  `No! No! No!' she cried, `they aren't dead! I won't let them be dead!' Then she burst into tears, ran down the stairs, locked herself into her mother's state room, and did not appear again for several hours.

  Katy laughed heartily at first over this outburst, but presently she began to repent and to think that she had treated her pet unkindly. She went down and knocked at the state room door, but Amy would not answer. She called her softly through the key hole, and coaxed and pleaded, but it was all in vain. Amy remained invisible till late in the afternoon, and when she finally crept up again to the deck, her eyes were red with crying, and her little face as pale and miserable as if she had been attending the funeral of her dearest friend.

  Katy's heart smote her.

  `Come here, my darling,' she said, holding out her hand, `come and sit in my lap and forgive me. Violet and Emma shall not be dead. They shall go on living, since you care so much for them, and I will tell stories about them to the end of the chapter.'

  `No,' said Amy, shaking her head mournfully, `you can't. They're dead, and they won't come to life again ever. It's all over, and I'm so so-o-rry.

  All Katy's apologies and efforts to resuscitate the story were useless. Violet and Emma were dead to Amy's imagination, and she could not make herself believe in them any more.

  She was too woebegone to care for the fables of Circe and her swine which Katy told as they rounded the magnificent Cape Circello, and the isles where the sirens used to sing appealed to her in vain. The sun set, the stars came out, and under the beams of their countless lamps, and the beckonings of a slender new moon, the Marco Polo sailed into the Bay of Naples, past Vesuvius, whose dusky curl of smoke could be seen outlined against the luminous sky, and brought her passengers to their landing place.

  They woke next morning to a summery atmosphere full of yellow sunshine and July warmth. Flower vendors stood on every corner, and pursued each newcomer with their fragrant wares. Katy could not stop exclaiming over the cheapness of the flowers, which were thrust in at the carriage windows as they drove slowly up and down the streets. They were tied into flat nosegays, whose centre was a white camellia, encircled with concentric rows of pink tea-rosebuds, ring after ring, till the whole was the size of an ordinary milk pan, and all to be had for the sum of ten cents! But after they had bought two or three of these enormous bouquets, and had discovered that not a single rose boasted an inch of stem, and that all were pierced with long wires through their very hearts, she ceased to care for them.

  `I would rather have one Souvenir or General Jacqueminot, with a long stem and plenty of leaves, than a dozen of these stiff platters of bouquets,' Katy told Mrs Ashe. But when they drove beyond the city gates, and the coachman came to anchor beneath walls overhung with the same roses, and she found that she might stand on the seat and pull down as many branches of the lovely flowers as she desired, and gather wallflowers for herself out of the clefts in the masonry, she was entirely satisfied.

  `This is the Italy of my dreams,' she said.

  With all its beauty there was an underlying sense of danger about Naples, which interfered with their enjoyment of it. Evil smells came in at the windows, or confronted them as they went about the city. There seemed something deadly in the air. Whispered reports met their ears of cases of fever, which the landlords of the hotels were doing their best to hush up. An American gentleman was said to be lying very ill at one house. A lady had died the week before at another. Mrs Ashe grew nervous.

  `We will just take a rapid look at a few of the principal things,' she told Katy, `and then get away as fast as we can. Amy is so on my mind that I have no peace of mind. I keep feeling her pulse and imagining that she does not look right, and though I know it is all my fancy, I am impatient to be off. You won't mind, will you, Katy?'

  After that everything they did was done in a hurry. Katy felt as if she were being driven about by a cyclone, as they rushed from one sight to another, filling up all the chinks between with shopping, which was irresistible where everything was so pretty and so wonderfully cheap. She herself purchased a tortoise-shell fan and chain for Rose Red, and had her monogram carved upon it; a coral locket for Elsie; some studs for Dorry; and for her father a small, beautiful vase of bronze, copied from one of the Pompeian antiques.

  `How charming it is to have money to spend in such a place as this!' she said to herself, with a sigh of satisfaction, as she surveyed these delightful buyings. `I only wish I could get ten times as many things and take them to ten times as many people. Papa was so wise about it! I can't think how it is that he always knows beforehand exactly how people are going to feel, and what they will want!'

  Mrs Ashe also bought a great many things for herself and Amy, and to take home as presents; it was all very pleasant and satisfactory, except for that subtle sense of danger from which they could not escape and which made them glad to go. `See Naples and die,' says the old adage, and the saying has proved sadly true in the case of many an American traveller.

  Beside the talk of fever there was also a good deal of gossip about brigands going about, as is generally the case in Naples and its vicinity. Something was said to have happened to a party on one of the heights above Sorrento, and though nobody knew exactly what the something was, or was willing to vouch for the story, Mrs Ashe and Katy felt a good deal of trepidation as they entered the carriage which was to take them to the neighbourhood where the mysterious `something' had occurred.

  The drive between Castellamare and Sorrento is in reality as safe as that between Boston and Brookline; but as our party did not know this fact till afterward, it did them no good. It is also one of the most beautiful drives in the world, following the windings of the exquisite coast mile after mile, in long links of perfectly-made road, carved on the face of sharp cliffs, with groves of oranges and lemons and olive orchards above, and the Bay of Naples beneath, stretching away like a solid sheet of lapis-lazuli, and gemmed with islands of the most picturesque form.

  It is a pity that so much beauty should have been wasted on Mrs Ashe and Katy, but they were too frightened to half enjoy it. Their carriage was driven by a shaggy young savage, who looked quite wild enough to be a bandit himself. He cracked his whip loudly as they rolled along, and every now and then gave a long shrill whistle. Mrs Ashe was sure that these were signals to his band, who were lurking somewhere on the olive-hung hillsides. She thought she detected him once or twice making signs to certain questionable-looking characters as they passed, and she fancied that the people they met gazed at them with an air of commiseration, as upon victims who were being carried to execution. Her fears affected Katy, so, though they talked and laughed, and made jokes to amuse Amy, who must not be scared or led to suppose that anything was amiss, and to the outward view seemed a very merry party, they were privately quaking in their shoes all the way, and enjoying a deal of highly superfluous misery. And after all they reached Sorrento in perfect safety, and the driver, who looked so dangerous, turned out to be a respectable young man enough, with a wife and family to support, who considered a plateful of macaroni and a glass of sour red wine as the height of luxury, and was grateful for a small gratuity of thirty cents or so, which would enable him to purchase these dainties. Mrs Ashe had a very bad headache next day, to pay for her fright, but she and Katy agreed that they had been very foolish, and resolved to pay no more attention to unaccredited rumours or allow them to spoil their enjoyment, which was a sensible resolution to make.

  Their hotel was perched directly over the sea. From the balcony of their sitting room they looked down a sheer cliff some sixty feet high, into the water; their bedrooms opened on a garden of roses, with an orange grove beyond. Not far from them was the great gorge which cuts the little town of Sorrento almost in two, and whose seaward end makes the harbour of the place. Katy was never tired of peering down into this strange and beautiful cleft, whose sides, two hundred feet in depth, are hung with vines and trailing growths of all sorts, and seem all a-tremble with the fairy fronds of maiden-hair ferns growing out of every chink and crevice. She and Amy took walks along the coast toward Massa, to look at the lovely island shapes in the bay, and admire the great clumps of cactus and Spanish bayonet which grew by the roadside, and they always came back loaded with orange flowers, which could be picked as freely as apple blossoms from New England orchards in the spring. The oranges themselves at that time of the year were very sour, but to Katy and her friends they might have been the sweetest in the world.

  They made two different excursions to Pompeii, which is within easy distance of Sorrento. They scrambled on donkeys over the hills, and had glimpses of the far-away Calabrian shore, of the natural arch, and the temples of Paestum shining in the sun many miles distant. On Katy's birthday, which fell towards the end of January, Mrs Ashe let her have her choice of a treat, and she elected to go to the island of Capri, which none of them had seen. It turned out a perfect day, with sea and wind exactly right for the sail, and to allow of getting into the famous `Blue Grotto', which can only be entered under particular conditions of tide and weather. They climbed the great cliff rise at the island's end, and saw the ruins of the villa built by the wicked emperor Tiberius, and the awful place known as his `Leap', down which, it is said, he made his victims throw themselves; and they lunched at a hotel which bore his name, and just at sunset pushed off again for the row home over the charmed sea. This return voyage was almost the pleasantest thing of all the day. The water was smooth, the moon at its full. It was larger and more brilliant than American moons are, and seemed to possess an actual warmth and colour. The boatmen timed their oar strokes to the cadence of Neapolitan barcaroles and folk songs, full of rhythmic movement, which seemed caught from the pulsing tides. And when at last the bow grated on the sands of the Sorrento landing place, Katy drew a long, regretful breath, and declared that this was her best birthday gift of all, better than Amy's flowers, or the pretty tortoise-shell locket that Mrs Ashe had given her, better even than the letter from home, which, timed by happy accident, had arrived by the morning's post to make a bright opening for the day.

  But all pleasant things must come to an end.

  `Katy,' said Mrs Ashe, one afternoon in early February, `I heard some ladies talking just now in the salon, and they said that Rome is filling up very fast. The carnival begins in less than two weeks. If we don't make haste we shall not be able to get any rooms.'

  `Oh dear!' said Katy, `it is very trying not to be able to be in two places at once. I want to see Rome dreadfully, and yet I cannot bear to leave Sorrento. We have been very happy here, haven't we?'

  So they took up their wandering again and departed for Rome, like the apostle, `not knowing what should befall them there'.

相关热词:文学 小说
栏目相关课程表
科目名称 主讲老师 课时 免费试听 优惠价 购买课程
英语零起点 郭俊霞 30课时 试听 150元/门 购买
综艺乐园 ------ 13课时 试听 100元/门 购买
边玩边学 ------ 10课时 试听 60元/门 购买
情景喜剧 ------ 15课时 试听 100元/门 购买
欢乐课堂 ------ 35课时 试听 150元/门 购买
基础英语辅导课程
郭俊霞 北京语言大学毕业,国内某知名中学英语教研组长,教学标兵……详情>>
郭俊霞:零基础英语网上辅导名师

  1、凡本网注明 “来源:外语教育网”的所有作品,版权均属外语教育网所有,未经本网授权不得转载、链接、转贴或以其他方式使用;已经本网授权的,应在授权范围内使用,且必须注明“来源:外语教育网”。违反上述声明者,本网将追究其法律责任。
  2、本网部分资料为网上搜集转载,均尽力标明作者和出处。对于本网刊载作品涉及版权等问题的,请作者与本网站联系,本网站核实确认后会尽快予以处理。本网转载之作品,并不意味着认同该作品的观点或真实性。如其他媒体、网站或个人转载使用,请与著作权人联系,并自负法律责任。
  3、联系方式
  编辑信箱:for68@chinaacc.com
  电话:010-82319999-2371