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:

The Amateur Gentleman (Chapter19)

2006-08-28 16:07

  Chapter XIX. Which Tells How Barnabas Talks with My Lady Cleone for the Second Time

  It was dark among the trees, but, away to his left, though as yet low down, the moon was rising, filling the woods with mystery, a radiant glow wherein objects seemed to start forth with a new significance; here the ragged hole of a tree, gnarled, misshapen; there a wide-flung branch, weirdly contorted, and there again a tangle of twigs and strange, leafy shapes that moved not. And over all was a deep and brooding quietude.

  Yes, it was dark among the trees, yet not so black as the frown that clouded the face of Barnabas as he strode on through the wood, and so betimes reached again the ancient barn of Oakshott. And lo! even as he came there, it was night, and because the trees grew tall and close together, the shadows lay thicker than ever save only in one place where the moon, finding some rift among the leaves, sent down a shaft of silvery light that made a pool of radiance amid the gloom. Now, as Barnabas gazed at this, he stopped all at once, for, just within this patch of light, he saw a foot. It was a small foot, proudly arched, a shapely foot and slender, like the ankle above; indeed, a haughty and most impatient foot, that beat the ground with angry little taps, and yet, in all and every sense, surely, and beyond a doubt, the most alluring foot in the world. Therefore Barnabas sighed and came a step nearer, and in that moment it vanished; therefore Barnabas stood still again. There followed a moment's silence, and then:

  "Dear," said a low, thrilling voice, "have you come——at last? Ah! but you are late, I began to fear——" The soft voice faltered and broke off with a little gasp, and, as Barnabas stepped out of the shadows, she shrank away, back and back, to the mossy wall of the barn, and leaned there staring up at him with eyes wide and fearful. Her hood, close drawn, served but to enhance the proud beauty of her face, pale under the moon, and her cloak, caught close in one white hand, fell about her ripe loveliness in subtly revealing folds. Now in her other hand she carried a silver-mounted riding-whip. And because of the wonder of her beauty, Barnabas sighed again, and because of the place wherein they stood, he frowned; yet, when he spoke, his voice was gentle:

  "Don't be afraid, madam, he is gone."

  "Gone!" she echoed, faintly.

  "Yes, we are quite alone; consequently you have no more reason to be afraid."

  "Afraid, sir? I thought——why, 'twas you who startled me."

  "Ay," nodded Barnabas, "you expected——him!"

  "Where is he? When did he go?"

  "Some half-hour since."

  "Yet he expected me; he knew I should come; why did he go?"

  Now hereupon Barnabas lifted a hand to his throat, and loosened his neckcloth.

  "Why then," said he slowly, "you have——perhaps——met him hereabouts——before to-night?"

  "Sir," she retorted, "you haven't answered me; why did he go so soon?"

  "He was——forced to, madam."

  "Forced to go,——without seeing me,——without one word! Oh, impossible!"

  "I walked with him to the cross-roads, and saw him out of sight."

  "But I——I came as soon as I could! Ah! surely he gave you some message——some word for me?"

  "None, madam!" said Barnabas evenly, but his hand had clenched itself suddenly on the stick he held.

  "But I——don't understand!" she sighed, with a helpless gesture of her white hands, "to hurry away like this, without a word! Oh, why——why did he go?"

  "Madam," said Barnabas, "it was because I asked him to."

  "You——asked him to?"

  "I did."

  "But why——why?"

  "Because, from what little I know of him, I judged it best."

  "Sir," she said, softly, "sir——what do you mean?"

  "I mean, that this is such a very lonely place for any woman and——such as he."

  Now even as Barnabas uttered the words she advanced upon him with upflung head and eyes aflame with sudden passionate scorn.

  "Insolent," she exclaimed. "So it was you——you actually dared to interfere?"

  "Madam," said Barnabas, "I did."

  Very straight and proud she stood, and motionless save for the pant and tumult of her bosom, fierce-eyed and contemptuous of lip.

  "And remained to insult me——with impunity."

  "To take you home again," said Barnabas, "therefore pray let us begone."

  "Us? Sir, you grow presumptuous."

  "As you will," said Barnabas, "only let us go."

  "With you?" she exclaimed.

  "With me."

  "No——not a step, sir; When I choose to go, I go alone."

  "But to-night," said Barnabas, gentle of voice but resolute of eye, "to-night——I go with you."

  "You!" she cried, "a man I have seen but once, a man who may be anything, a——a thief, a ploughman, a runaway groom for aught I know." Now, watching him beneath disdainful drooping lashes, she saw Barnabas flinch at this, and the curve of her scornful lips grew more bitter.

  "And now I'm going——alone. Stand aside, and let me pass."

  "No, madam."

  "Let me pass, I warn you!"

  For a minute they fronted each other, eye to eye, very silent and still, like two antagonists that measure each other's strength; then Barnabas smiled and shook his head. And in that very instant, quick and passionate, she raised her whip and struck him across the cheek. Then, as she stood panting, half fearful of what she had done, Barnabas reached out and took the whip, and snapped it between his hands.

  "And now," said he, tossing aside the broken pieces, "pray let us go."


  "Why, then," sighed Barnabas, "I must carry you again."

  Once more she shrank away from him, back and back to the crumbling wall, and leaned there. But now because of his passionless strength, she fell a-trembling and, because of his calmly resolute eyes and grimly smiling mouth, fear came upon her, and therefore, because she could not by him, because she knew herself helpless against him, she suddenly covered her face from his eyes, and a great sob burst from her.

  Barnabas stopped, and looking at her bowed head and shrinking figure, knew not what to do. And as he stood there within a yard of her, debating within himself, upon the quiet broke a sudden sound——a small, sharp sound, yet full of infinite significance——the snapping of a dry twig among the shadows; a sound that made the ensuing silence but the more profound, a breathless quietude which, as moment after moment dragged by, grew full of deadly omen. And now, even as Barnabas turned to front these menacing shadows, the moon went out.

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 ------ 15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
趣味英语速成 钟 平 18课时 试听 179元/门 购买
剑桥少儿英语预备级 (Pre-Starters) ------ ------ 试听 200元/门 购买
剑桥少儿英语一级 (Starters) ------ ------ 试听 200元/门 购买
剑桥少儿英语二级 (Movers) ------ ------ 试听 200元/门 购买
剑桥少儿英语三级 (Flyers) ------ ------ 试听 200元/门 购买
初级英语口语 ------ 55课时 ------ 350元/门 购买
中级英语口语 ------ 83课时 ------ 350元/门 购买
高级英语口语 ------ 122课时 ------ 350元/门 购买
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>>
钟平 北大才俊,英语辅导专家,累计从事英语教学八年,机械化翻译公式发明人……详情>>

  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。