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THE FRIENDLY ROAD (chapter11)

2006-09-07 20:17

    CHAPTER XI. I COME TOGRAPPLE WITH THE CITY

    I have laughed heartily many times since I came home to think of the Figure of Tragedy I felt myself that morning in the city of Kilburn. I had not slept well, had not slept at all, I think, and the experiences and emotions of the previous night still lay heavy upon me. Not before in many years had I felt such a depression of the spirits.

    It was all so different from the things I love! Not so much as a spear of grass or a leafy tree to comfort the eye, or a bird to sing; no quiet hills, no sight of the sun coming up in the morning over dewy fields, no sound of cattle in the lane, no cheerful cackling of fowls, nor buzzing of bees! That morning, I remember, when I first went out into those squalid streets and saw everywhere the evidences of poverty, dirt, and ignorance——and the sweet, clean country not two miles away——the thought of my own home among the hills (with Harriet there in the doorway) came upon me with incredible longing.

    "I must go home; I must go home!" I caught myself saying aloud.

    I remember how glad I was when I found that my friend Bill Hahn and other leaders of the strike were to be engaged in conferences during the forenoon, for I wanted to be alone, to try to get a few things straightened out in my mind.

    But I soon found that a city is a poor place for reflection or contemplation. It bombards one with an infinite variety of new impressions and new adventures; and I could not escape the impression made by crowded houses, and ill-smelling streets, and dirty sidewalks, and swarming human beings. For a time the burden of these things rested upon my breast like a leaden weight; they all seemed so utterly wrong to me, so unnecessary; so unjust! I sometimes think of religion as only a high sense of good order; and it seemed to me that morning as though the very existence of this disorderly mill district was a challenge to religion, and an offence to the Orderer of an Orderly Universe. I don't now how such conditions may affect other people, but for a time I felt a sharp sense of impatience——yes, anger——with it all. I had an impulse to take off my coat then and there and go at the job of setting things to rights. Oh, I never was more serious in my life: I was quite prepared to change the entire scheme of things to my way of thinking whether the people who lived there liked it or not. It seemed to me for a few glorious moments that I had only to tell them of the wonders in our country, the pleasant, quiet roads, the comfortable farmhouses, the fertile fields, and the wooded hills——and, poof! all this crowded poverty would dissolve and disappear, and they would all come to the country and be as happy as I was.

    I remember how, once in my life, I wasted untold energy trying to make over my dearest friends. There was Harriet, for example dear, serious, practical Harriet. I used to be fretted by the way she was forever trying to clip my wing feathers——I suppose to keep me close to the quiet and friendly and unadventurous roost! We come by such a long, long road, sometimes, to the acceptance of our nearest friends for exactly what they are. Because we are so fond of them we try to make them over to suit some curious ideal of perfection of our own——until one day we suddenly laugh aloud at our own absurdity (knowing that they are probably trying as hard to reconstruct us as we are to reconstruct them) and thereafter we try no more to change them, we just love 'em and enjoy 'em!

    Some such psychological process went on in my consciousness that morning. As I walked briskly through the streets I began to look out more broadly around me. It was really a perfect spring morning, the air crisp, fresh, and sunny, and the streets full of life and activity. I looked into the faces of the people I met, and it began to strike me that most of them seemed oblivious of the fact that they should, by good rights, be looking downcast and dispirited. They had cheered their approval the night before when the speakers had told them how miserable they were (even acknowledging that they were slaves), and yet here they were this morning looking positively good-humoured, cheerful, some of them even gay. I warrant if I had stepped up to one of them that morning and intimated that he was a slave he would have——well, I should have had serious trouble with him! There was a degree of sociability in those back streets, a visiting from window to window, gossipy gatherings in front area-ways, a sort of pavement domesticity, that I had never seen before. Being a lover myself of such friendly intercourse I could actually feel the hum and warmth of that neighbourhood.

    A group of brightly clad girl strikers gathered on a corner were chatting and laughing, and children in plenty ran and shouted at their play in the street. I saw a group of them dancing merrily around an Italian hand-organ man who was filling the air with jolly music. I recall what a sinking sensation I had at the pit of my reformer's stomach when it suddenly occurred to me that these people some of them, anyway, might actually LIKE this crowded, sociable neighbourhood! "They might even HATE the country," I exclaimed.

    It is surely one of the fundamental humours of life to see absurdly serious little human beings (like D. G. for example) trying to stand in the place of the Almighty. We are so confoundedly infallible in our judgments, so sure of what is good for our neighbour, so eager to force upon him our particular doctors or our particular remedies; we are so willing to put our childish fingers into the machinery of creation——and we howl so lustily when we get them pinched!

    "Why!" I exclaimed, for it came to me like a new discovery, "it's exactly the same here as it is in the country! I haven't got to make over the universe: I've only got to do my own small job, and to look up often at the trees and the hills and the sky and be friendly with all men."

    I cannot express the sense of comfort, and of trust, which this reflection brought me. I recall stopping just then at the corner of a small green city square, for I had now reached the better part of the city, and of seeing with keen pleasure the green of the grass and the bright colour of a bed of flowers, and two or three clean nursemaids with clean baby cabs, and a flock of pigeons pluming themselves near a stone fountain, and an old tired horse sleeping in the sun with his nose buried in a feed bag.

    "Why," I said, "all this, too, is beautiful!" So I continued my walk with quite a new feeling in my heart, prepared again for any adventure life might have to offer me.

    I supposed I knew no living soul in Kilburn but Bill the Socialist. What was my astonishment and pleasure, then in one of the business streets to discover a familiar face and figure. A man was just stepping from an automobile to the sidewalk. For an instant; in that unusual environment, I could not place him, then I stepped up quickly and said:

    "Well, well, Friend Vedder."

    He looked around with astonishment at the man in the shabby clothes-but it was only for an instant.

    "David Grayson!" he exclaimed, "and how did YOU get into the city?"

    "Walked," I said.

    "But I thought you were an incurable and irreproachable countryman! Why are you here?"

    "Love o' life," I said; "love o' life."

    "Where are you stopping?" I waved my hand.

    "Where the road leaves me," I said. "Last night I left my bag with some good friends I made in front of a livery stable and I spent the night in the mill district with a Socialist named Bill Hahn."

    "Bill Hahn!" The effect upon Mr. Vedder was magical.

    "Why, yes," I said, "and a remarkable man he is, too."

    I discovered immediately that my friend was quite as much interested in the strike as Bill Hahn, but on the other side. He was, indeed, one of the directors of the greatest mill in Kilburn——the very one which I had seen the night before surrounded by armed sentinels. It was thrilling to me, this knowledge, for it seemed to plump me down at once in the middle of things——and soon, indeed, brought me nearer to the brink of great events than ever I was before in all my days.

    I could see that Mr. Vedder considered Bill Hahn as a sort of devouring monster, a wholly incendiary and dangerous person. So terrible, indeed, was the warning he gave me (considering me, I suppose an unsophisticated person) that I couldn't help laughing outright.

    "I assure you——" he began, apparently much offended. But I interrupted him.

    "I'm sorry I laughed," I said, "but as you were talking about Bill Hahn, I couldn't help thinking of him as I first saw him." And I gave Mr. Vedder as lively a description as I could of the little man with his bulging coat tails, his furry ears, his odd round spectacles. He was greatly interested in what I said and began to ask many questions. I told him with all the earnestness I could command of Bill's history and of his conversion to his present beliefs. I found that Mr. Vedder had known Robert Winter very well indeed, and was amazed at the incident which I narrated of Bill Hahn's attempt upon his life.

    I have always believed that if men could be made to understand one another they would necessarily be friendly, so I did my best to explain Bill Hahn to Mr. Vedder.

    "I'm tremendously interested in what you say," he said, "and we must have more talk about it."

    He told me that he had now to put in an appearance at his office, and wanted me to go with him; but upon my objection he pressed me to take luncheon with him a little later, an invitation which I accepted with real pleasure.

    "We haven't had a word about gardens," he said, "and there are no end of things that Mrs. Vedder and I found that we wanted to talk with you about after you had left us."

    "Well!" I said, much delighted, "let's have a regular old-fashioned country talk."

    So we parted for the time being, and I set off in the highest spirits to see something more of Kilburn.

    A city, after all, is a very wonderful place. One thing, I recall, impressed me powerfully that morning——the way in which every one was working, apparently without any common agreement or any common purpose, and yet with a high sort of understanding. The first hearing of a difficult piece of music (to an uncultivated ear like mine) often yields nothing but a confused sense of unrelated motives, but later and deeper hearings reveal the harmony which ran so clear in the master's soul. Something of this sort happened to me in looking out upon the life of that great city of Kilburn. All about on the streets, in the buildings, under ground and above ground, men were walking, running,creeping, crawling, climbing, lifting, digging, driving, buying, selling, sweating, swearing, praying, loving, hating, struggling, failing, sinning, repenting——all working and living according to a vast harmony, which sometimes we can catch clearly and sometimes miss entirely. I think, that morning, for a time, I heard the true music of the spheres, the stars singing together.

    Mr. Vedder took me to a quiet restaurant where we had a snug alcove all to ourselves. I shall remember it always as one of the truly pleasant experiences of my pilgrimage.

    I could see that my friend was sorely troubled, that the strike rested heavy upon him, and so I led the conversation to the hills and the roads and the fields we both love so much. I plied him with a thousand questions about his garden. I told him in the liveliest way of my adventures after leaving his home, how I had telephoned him from the hills, how I had taken a swim in the mill-pond, and especially how I had lost myself in the old cowpasture, with an account of all my absurd and laughable adventures and emotions.

    Well, before we had finished our luncheon I had every line ironed from the brow of that poor plagued rich man, I had brought jolly crinkles to the corners of his eyes, and once or twice I had him chuckling down deep inside (Where chuckles are truly effective)。 Talk about cheering up the poor: I think the rich are usually far more in need of it!

    But I couldn't keep the conversation in these delightful channels. Evidently the strike and all that it meant lay heavy upon Mr. Vedder's consciousness, for he pushed back his coffee and began talking about it, almost in a tone of apology. He told me how kind he had tried to make the mill management in its dealings with its men.

    "I would not speak of it save in explanation of our true attitude of helpfulness; but we have really given our men many advantages"——and he told me of the reading-room the company had established, of the visiting nurse they had employed, and of several other excellent enterprises, which gave only another proof of what I knew already of Mr. Vedder's sincere kindness of heart.

    "But," he said, "we find they don't appreciate what we try to do for them."

    I laughed outright.

    "Why," I exclaimed, "you are having the same trouble I have had!"

    "How's that?" he inquired, I thought a little sharply. Men don't like to have their seriousness trifled with.

    "No longer ago than this morning," I said, "I had exactly that idea of giving them advantages; but I found that the difficulty lies not with the ability to give, but with the inability or unwillingness to take. You see I have a great deal of surplus wealth myself——"

    Mr. Vedder's eyes flickered up at me.

    "Yes," I said. "I've got immense accumulations of the wealth of the ages——ingots of Emerson and Whitman, for example, gems of Voltaire, and I can't tell what other superfluous coinage!" (And I waved my hand in the most grandiloquent manner.) "I've also quite a store of knowledge of corn and calves and cucumbers, and I've a boundless domain of exceedingly valuable landscapes. I am prepared to give bountifully of all these varied riches (for I shall still have plenty remaining), but the fact is that this generation of vipers doesn't appreciate what I am trying to do for them. I'm really getting frightened, lest they permit me to perish from undistributed riches!"

    Mr. Vedder was still smiling.

    "Oh," I said, warming up to my idea, "I'm a regular multimillionaire. I've got so much wealth that I'm afraid I shall not be as fortunate as jolly Andy Carnegie, for I don't see how I can possibly die poor!"

    "Why not found a university or so?" asked Mr. Vedder.

    "Well, I had thought of that. It's a good idea. Let's join our forces and establish a university where truly serious people can take courses in laughter."

    "Fine idea!" exclaimed Mr. Vedder; "but wouldn't it require an enormous endowment to accommodate all the applicants? You must remember that this is a very benighted and illiterate world, laughingly speaking."

    "It is, indeed," I said, "but you must remember that many people, for a long time, will be too serious to apply. I wonder sometimes if any one ever learns to laugh really laugh much before he is forty."

    "But," said Mr. Vedder anxiously, "do you think such an institution would be accepted by the proletariat of the serious-minded?"

    "Ah, that's the trouble," said I, "that's the trouble. The proletariat doesn't appreciate what we are trying to do for them! They don't want your reading-rooms nor my Emerson and cucumbers. The seat of the difficulty seems to be that what seems wealth to us isn't necessarily wealth for the other fellow."

    I cannot tell with what delight we fenced our way through this foolery (which was not all foolery, either)。 I never met a man more quickly responsive than Mr. Vedder. But he now paused for some moments, evidently ruminating.

    "Well, David," he said seriously, "what are we going to do about this obstreperous other fellow?"

    "Why not try the experiment," I suggested, "of giving him what he

    considers wealth, instead of what you consider wealth?"

    "But what does he consider wealth?"

    "Equality," said I.

    Mr. Vedder threw up his hands.

    "So you're a Socialist, too!"

    "That," I said, "is another story."

    "Well, supposing we did or could give him this equality you speak of-

    what would become of us? What would we get out of it?"

    "Why, equality, too!" I said.

    Mr. Vedder threw up his hands up with a gesture of mock resignation.

    "Come," said he, "let's get down out of Utopia!"

    We had some further good-humoured fencing and then returned to the inevitable problem of the strike. While we were discussing the meeting of the night before which, I learned, had been luridly reported in the morning papers, Mr. Vedder suddenly turned to me and asked earnestly:

    "Are you really a Socialist?"

    "Well," said I, "I'm sure of one thing. I'm not ALL Socialist, Bill Hahn believes with his whole soul (and his faith has made him a remarkable man) that if only another class of people——his class——could come into tile control of material property, that all the ills that man is heir to would be speedily cured. But I wonder if when men own property collectively——as they are going to one of these days——they will quarrel and hate one another any less than they do now. It is not the ownership of material property that interests me so much as the independence of it. When I started out from my farm on this pilgrimage it seemed to me the most blessed thing in the world to get away from property and possession."

    "What are you then, anyway?" asked Mr. Vedder, smiling.

    "Well, I've thought of a name I would like to have applied to me sometimes," I said. "You see I'm tremendously fond of this world exactly as it is now. Mr. Vedder, it's a wonderful and beautiful place! I've never seen a better one. I confess I could not possibly live in the rarefied atmosphere of a final solution. I want to live right here and now for all I'm worth. The other day a man asked me what I thought was the best time of life. 'Why,' I answered without a thought, 'Now.' It has always seemed to me that if a man can't make a go of it, yes, and be happy at this moment, he can't be at the next moment. But most of all, it seems to me, I want to get close to people, to look into their hearts, and be friendly with them. Mr. Vedder, do you know what I'd like to be called?"

    "I cannot imagine," said he.

    "Well, I'd like to be called an Introducer. My friend, Mr. Blacksmith, let me introduce you to my friend, Mr. Plutocrat. I could almost swear that you were brothers, so near alike are you! You'll find each other wonderfully interesting once you get over the awkwardness of the introduction. And Mr. White Man, let me present you particularly to my good friend, Mr. Negro. You will see if you sit down to it that this colour of the face is only skin deep."

    "It's a good name!" said Mr. Vedder, laughing. "It's a wonderful name," said I, "and it's about the biggest and finest work in the world——to know human beings just as they are, and to make them acquainted with one another just as they are. Why, it's the foundation of all the democracy there is, or ever will be. Sometimes I think that friendliness is the only achievement of life worth while——and unfriendliness the only tragedy."

    I have since felt ashamed of myself when I thought how I lectured my unprotected host that day at luncheon; but it seemed to boil out of me irresistibly. The experiences of the past two days had stirred me to the very depths, and it seemed to me I must explain to somebody how it all impressed me——and to whom better than to my good friend Vedder?

    As we were leaving the table an idea flashed across my mind which seemed, at first, so wonderful that it quite turned me dizzy.

    "See here, Mr. Vedder," I exclaimed, "let me follow my occupation practically. I know Bill Hahn and I know you. Let me introduce you. If you could only get together, if you could only understand what good fellows you both are, it might go far toward solving these difficulties."

    I had some trouble persuading him, but finally he consented, said he wanted to leave no stone unturned, and that he would meet Bill Hahn and some of the other leaders, if proper arrangements could be made.

    I left him, therefore, in excitement, feeling that I was at the point of playing a part in a very great event. "Once get these men together," I thought, "and they MUST come to an understanding."

    So I rushed out to the mill district, saying to myself over and over (I have smiled about it since!): "We'll settle this strike: we'll settle this strike: we'll settle this strike." After some searching I found my friend Bill in the little room over a saloon that served as strike headquarters. A dozen or more of the leaders were there, faintly distinguishable through clouds of tobacco smoke. Among them sat the great R—— D——, his burly figure looming up at one end of the table, and his strong, rough, iron-jawed face turning first toward this speaker and then toward that. The discussion, which had evidently been lively, died down soon after I appeared at the door, and Bill Hahn came out to me and we sat down together in the adjoining room. Here I broke eagerly into an account of the happenings of the day, described my chance meeting with Mr. Vedder——who was well known to Bill by reputation——and finally asked him squarely whether he would meet him. I think my enthusiasm quite carried him away.

    "Sure, I will," said Bill Hahn heartily.

    "When and where?" I asked, "and will any of the other men join you?"

    Bill was all enthusiasm at once, for that was the essence of his temperament, but he said that he must first refer it to the committee. I waited, in a tense state of impatience, for what seemed to me a very long time; but finally the door opened and Bill Hahn came out bringing R—— D

    - himself with him. We all sat down together, and R—— D—— began to ask questions (he was evidently suspicious as to who and what I was); but I think, after I talked with them for some time that I made them see the possibilities and the importance of such a meeting. I was greatly impressed with R—— D——, the calmness and steadiness of the man, his evident shrewdness. "A real general," I said to myself. "I should like to know him better." After a long talk they returned to the other room, closing the door behind them, and I waited again, still more impatiently. It seems rather absurd now, but at that moment I felt firmly convinced that I was on the way to the permanent settlement of a struggle which had occupied the best brains of Kilburn for many weeks.

    While I was waiting in that dingy ante-room, the other door slowly

    opened and a boy stuck his head in.

    "Is David Grayson here?" he asked.

    "Here he is," said I, greatly astonished that any one in Kilburn should

    be inquiring for me, or should know where I was.

    The boy came in, looked at me with jolly round eyes for a moment, and dug a letter out of his pocket. I opened it at once, and glancing at the signature discovered that it was from Mr. Vedder.

    "He said I'd probably find you at strike headquarters," remarked the

    boy. This was the letter: marked "Confidential." My Dear Grayson: I think you must be something of a hypnotist. After you left me I began to think of the project you mentioned, and I have talked it over with one or two of my associates. I would gladly hold this conference, but it does not now seem wise for us to do so. The interests we represent are too important to be jeopardized. In theory you are undoubtedly right, but in this case I think you will agree with me (when you think it over), we must not show any weakness. Come and stop with us to-night: Mrs. Vedder will be overjoyed to see you and we'll have another fine talk.

    I confess I was a good deal cast down as I read this letter.

    "What interests are so important?" I asked myself, "that they should keep friends apart?"

    But I was given only a moment for reflection for the door opened and my friend Bill, together with R—— D——and several other members of the committee, came out. I put the letter in my pocket, and for a moment my brain never worked under higher pressure. What should I say to them now? How could I explain myself ?

    Bill Hahn was evidently labouring under considerable excitement, but R—— D—— was as calm as a judge. He sat down in the chair opposite and said to me:

    "We've been figuring out this proposition of Mr. Vedder's. Your idea is all right, and it would be a fine thing if we could really get together as you suggest upon terms of common understanding and friendship."

    "Just what Mr. Vedder said," I exclaimed.

    "Yes," he continued, "it's all right in theory; but in this case it simply won't work. Don't you see it's got to be war? Your friend and I could probably understand each other——but this is a class war. It's all or nothing with us, and your friend Vedder knows it as well as we do."

    After some further argument and explanation, I said:

    "I see: and this is Socialism."

    "Yes," said the great R—— D——, "this is Socialism."

    "And it's force you would use," I said.

    "It's force THEY use," he replied.

    After I left the strike headquarters that evening——for it was almost dark before I parted with the committee——I walked straight out through the crowded streets, so absorbed in my thoughts that I did not know in the least where I was going. The street lights came out, the crowds began to thin away, I heard a strident song from a phonograph at the entrance to a picture show, and as I passed again in front of the great, dark, many-windowed mill which had made my friend Vedder a rich man I saw a sentinel turn slowly at the corner. The light glinted on the steel of his bayonet. He had a fresh, fine, boyish face.

    "We have some distance yet to go in this world," I said to myself, "no man need repine for lack of good work ahead."

    It was only a little way beyond this mill that an incident occurred which occupied probably not ten minutes of time, and yet I have thought about it since I came home as much as I have thought about any other incident of my pilgrimage. I have thought how I might have acted differently under the circumstances, how I could have said this or how I ought to have done that——all, of course, now to no purpose whatever. But I shall not attempt to tell what I ought to have done or said, but what I actually did do and say on the spur of the moment.

    It was in a narrow, dark street which opened off the brightly lighted main thoroughfare of that mill neighbourhood. A girl standing in the shadows between two buildings said to me as I passed:

    "Good evening."

    I stopped instantly, it was such a pleasant, friendly voice.

    "Good evening," I said, lifting my hat and wondering that there should be any one here in this back street who knew me.

    "Where are you going?" she asked.

    I stepped over quickly toward her, hat in hand. She was a mere slip of a girl, rather comely, I thought, with small childish features and a half-timid, half-bold look in her eyes. I could not remember having seen her before.

    She smiled at me——and then I knew!

    Well, if some one had struck me a brutal blow in the face I could not have been more astonished. We know of things!——and yet how little we know until they are presented to us in concrete form. Just such a little school girl as I have seen a thousand times in the country, the pathetic childish curve of the chin, a small rebellious curl hanging low on her temple.

    I could not say a word. The girl evidently saw in my face that something was the matter, for she turned and began to move quickly away. Such a wave of compassion (and anger, too) swept over me as I cannot well describe. I stepped after her and asked in a low voice:

    "Do you work in the mills?"

    "Yes, when there's work."

    "What is your name?"

    "Maggie——"

    "Well, Maggie," I said, "let's be friends."

    She looked around at me curiously, questioningly.

    "And friends," I said, "should know something about each other. You see I am a farmer from the country. I used to live in a city myself, a good many years ago, but I got tired and sick and hopeless. There was so much that was wrong about it. I tried to keep the pace and could not. I wish I could tell you what the country has done for me."

    We were walking along slowly, side by side, the girl perfectly passive but glancing around at me from time to time with a wondering look. I don't know in the least now what prompted me to do it, but I began telling in a quiet, low voice——for, after all, she was only a child——I began telling her about our chickens at the farm and how Harriet had named them all, and one was Frances E. Willard, and one, a speckled one, was Martha Washington, and I told her of the curious antics of Martha Washington and of the number of eggs she laid, and of the sweet new milk we had to drink, and the honey right out of our own hives, and of the things growing in the garden.

    Once she smiled a little, and once she looked around at me with a curious, timid, half-wistful expression in her eyes.

    "Maggie," I said, "I wish you could go to the country."

    "I wish to God I could," she replied. We walked for a moment in silence. My head was whirling with thoughts: again I had that feeling of helplessness, of inadequacy, which I had felt so sharply on the previous evening. What could I do?

    When we reached the corner, I said:

    "Maggie, I will see you safely home."

    She laughed——a hard, bitter laugh.

    "Oh, I don't need any one to show me around these streets!"

    "I will see you home," I said.

    So we walked quickly along the street together.

    "Here it is," she said finally, pointing to a dark, mean-looking, one-story house, set in a dingy, barren areaway.

    "Well, good night, Maggie," I said, "and good luck to you."

    "Good night," she said faintly.

    When I had walked to the corner, I stopped and looked back. She was

    standing stock-still just where I had left her——a figure I shall never forget.

    I have hesitated about telling of a further strange thing that happened to me that night——but have decided at last to put it in. I did not accept Mr. Vedder's invitation: I could not; but I returned to the room in the tenement where I had spent the previous night with Bill Hahn the Socialist. It was a small, dark, noisy room, but I was so weary that I fell almost immediately into a heavy sleep. An hour or more later I don't know how long indeed——I was suddenly awakened and found myself sitting bolt upright in bed. It was close and dark and warm there in the room, and from without came the muffled sounds of the city. For an instant I waited, rigid with expectancy. And then I heard as clearly and plainly as ever I heard anything:

    "David! David!" in my sister Harriet's voice.

    It was exactly the voice in which she has called me a thousand times. Without an instant's hesitation, I stepped out of bed and called out:

    "I'm coming, Harriet! I'm coming!"

    "What's the matter?" inquired Bill Hahn sleepily.

    "Nothing," I replied, and crept back into bed.

    It may have been the result of the strain and excitement of the previous two days. I don't explain it——I can only tell what happened.

    Before I went to sleep again I determined to start straight for home in the morning: and having decided, I turned over, drew a long, comfortable breath and did not stir again, I think, until long after the morning sun shone in at the window.

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