سال اول - فصل 09
- زمان مطالعه 12 دقیقه
- سطح متوسط
دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»
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متن انگلیسی فصل
9 Trix Taylor was curled up in the tower one night in February, while little flurries of snow hissed against the windows and that absurdly tiny stove purred like a red-hot black cat. Trix was pouring out her woes to Anne. Anne was beginning to find herself the recipient of confidences on all sides. She was known to be engaged, so that none of the Summerside girls feared her as a possible rival, and there was something about her that made you feel it was safe to tell her secrets.
Trix had come up to ask Anne to dinner the next evening. She was a jolly, plump little creature, with twinkling brown eyes and rosy cheeks, and did not look as if life weighed too heavily on her twenty years. But it appeared that she had troubles of her own.
“Dr. Lennox Carter is coming to dinner tomorrow night. That is why we want you especially. He is the new Head of the Modern Languages Department at Redmond and dreadfully clever, so we want somebody with brains to talk to him.
You know I haven’t any to boast of, nor Pringle either. As for Esme . . . well, you know, Anne, Esme is the sweetest thing and she’s really clever, but she’s so shy and timid she can’t even make use of what brains she has when Dr. Carter is around. She’s so terribly in love with him. It’s pitiful. I’m very fond of Johnny . . . but before I’d dissolve into such a liquid state for him!”
“Are Esme and Dr. Carter engaged?”
“Not yet” . . . significantly. “But, oh, Anne, she’s hoping he means to ask her this time. Would he come over to the Island to visit his cousin right in the middle of the term if he didn’t intend to? I hope he will for Esme’s sake, because she’ll just die if he doesn’t. But between you and me and the bed-post I’m not terribly struck on him for a brother-in-law. He’s awfully fastidious, Esme says, and she’s desperately afraid he won’t approve of us. If he doesn’t, she thinks he’ll never ask her to marry him. So you can’t imagine how she’s hoping everything will go well at the dinner tomorrow night. I don’t see why it shouldn’t . . . Mamma is the most wonderful cook . . . and we have a good maid and I’ve bribed Pringle with half my week’s allowance to behave himself. Of course he doesn’t like Dr. Carter either . . . says he’s got swelled head . . . but he’s fond of Esme. If only Papa won’t have a sulky fit on!”
“Have you any reason to fear it?” asked Anne. Every one in Summerside knew about Cyrus Taylor’s sulky fits.55
“You never can tell when he’ll take one,” said Trix dolefully. “He was frightfully upset tonight because he couldn’t find his new flannel nightshirt. Esme had put it in the wrong drawer. He may be over it by tomorrow night or he may not. If he’s not, he’ll disgrace us all and Dr. Carter will conclude he can’t marry into such a family. At least, that is what Esme says and I’m afraid she may be right. I think, Anne, that Lennox Carter is very fond of Esme . . . thinks she would make a ‘very suitable wife’ for him . . . but doesn’t want to do anything rash or throw his wonderful self away. I’ve heard that he told his cousin a man couldn’t be too careful what kind of family he married into. He’s just at the point where he might be turned either way by a trifle. And, if it comes to that, one of Papa’s sulky fits isn’t any trifle.”
“Doesn’t he like Dr. Carter?”
“Oh, he does. He thinks it would be a wonderful match for Esme. But when Father has one of his spells on, nothing has any influence over him while it lasts.
That’s the Pringle for you, Anne. Grandmother Taylor was a Pringle, you know.
You just can’t imagine what we’ve gone through as a family. He never goes into rages, you know . . . like Uncle George. Uncle George’s family don’t mind his rages. When he goes into a temper he blows off . . . you can hear him roaring three blocks away . . . and then he’s like a lamb and brings every one a new dress for a peace-offering. But Father just sulks and glowers, and won’t say a word to anybody at meal times. Esme says that, after all, that’s better than cousin Richard Taylor, who is always saying sarcastic things at the table and insulting his wife; but it seems to me nothing could be worse than those awful silences of Papa’s. They rattle us and we’re terrified to open our mouths. It wouldn’t be so bad, of course, if it was only when we are alone. But it’s just as apt to be where we have company. Esme and I are simply tired of trying to explain away Papa’s insulting silences. She’s just sick with fear that he won’t have got over the nightshirt before tomorrow night . . . and what will Lennox think? And she wants you to wear your blue dress. Her new dress is blue, because Lennox likes blue.
But Papa hates it. Yours may reconcile him to hers.”
“Wouldn’t it be better for her to wear something else?”
“She hasn’t anything else fit to wear at a company dinner except the green poplin Father gave her at Christmas. It’s a lovely dress in itself . . . Father likes us to have pretty dresses . . . but you can’t think of anything as awful as Esme in green.
Pringle says it makes her look as if she was in the last stages of consumption.
And Lennox Carter’s cousin told Esme he would never marry a delicate person.
I’m more than glad Johnny isn’t so ‘fastidious.’“56
“Have you told your father about your engagement to Johnny yet?” asked Anne, who knew all about Trix’s love affair.
“No,” poor Trix groaned. “I can’t summon up the courage, Anne. I know he’ll make a frightful scene. Papa has always been so down on Johnny because he’s poor. Papa forgets that he was poorer than Johnny when he started out in the hardware business. Of course he’ll have to be told soon . . . but I want to wait until Esme’s affair is settled. I know Papa won’t speak to any of us for weeks after I tell him, and Mamma will worry so . . . she can’t bear Father’s sulky fits. We’re all such cowards before Papa. Of course, Mamma and Esme are naturally timid with every one, but Pringle and I have lots of ginger. It’s only Papa who can cow us. Sometimes I think if we had any one to back us up . . . but we haven’t, and we just feel paralyzed. You can’t imagine, Anne darling, what a company dinner is like at our place when Papa is sulking. But if he only behaves tomorrow night I’ll forgive him for everything. He can be very agreeable when he wants to be . . . Papa is really just like Longfellow’s little girl . . . ‘when he’s good he’s very, very good and when he’s bad he’s horrid.’ I’ve seen him the life of the party.”
“He was very nice the night I had dinner with you last month.”
“Oh, he likes you, as I’ve said. That’s one of the reasons why we want you so much. It may have a good influence on him. We’re not neglecting anything that may please him. But when he has a really bad fit of sulks on he seems to hate everything and everybody. Anyhow, we’ve got a bang-up dinner planned, with an elegant orange-custard dessert. Mamma wanted pie because she says every man in the world but Papa likes pie for dessert better than anything else . . . even Professors of Modern Languages. But Papa doesn’t, so it would never do to take a chance on it tomorrow night, when so much depends on it. Orange custard is Papa’s favorite dessert. As for poor Johnny and me, I suppose I’ll just have to elope with him some day and Papa will never forgive me.
“I believe if you’d just get up enough spunk to tell him and endure his resulting sulks you’d find he’d come round to it beautifully and you’d be saved months of anguish.”
“You don’t know Papa,” said Trix darkly.
“Perhaps I know him better than you do. You’ve lost your perspective.”
“Lost my . . . what? Anne darling, remember I’m not a B.A. I only went through the High. I’d have loved to go to college, but Papa doesn’t believe in the Higher Education of women.”57
“I only meant that you’re too close to him to understand him. A stranger could very well see him more clearly . . . understand him better.”
“I understand that nothing can induce Papa to speak if he has made up his mind not to . . . nothing. He prides himself on that.”
“Then why don’t the rest of you just go on and talk as if nothing was the matter?”
“We can’t . . . I’ve told you he paralyzes us. You’ll find it out for yourself tomorrow night if he hasn’t got over the nightshirt. I don’t know how he does it but he does. I don’t believe we’d mind so much how cranky he was if he would only talk. It’s the silence that shatters us. I’ll never forgive Papa if he acts up tomorrow night when so much is at stake.”
“Let’s hope for the best, dear.”
“I’m trying to. And I know it will help to have you there. Mamma thought we ought to have Katherine Brooke too, but I knew it wouldn’t have a good effect on Papa. He hates her. I don’t blame him for that, I must say. I haven’t any use for her myself. I don’t see how you can be as nice to her as you are.”
“I’m sorry for her, Trix.”
“Sorry for her! But it’s all her own fault she isn’t liked. Oh, well, it takes all kinds of people to make a world . . . but Summerside could spare Katherine Brooke . . . glum old cat!”
“She’s an excellent teacher, Trix. . . .”
“Oh, do I know it? I was in her class. She did hammer things into my head . . . and flayed the flesh off my bones with sarcasm as well. And the way she dresses!
Papa can’t bear to see a woman badly dressed. He says he has no use for dowds and he’s sure God hasn’t either. Mamma would be horrified if she knew I told you that, Anne. She excused it in Papa because he is a man. If that was all we had to excuse in him! And poor Johnny hardly daring to come to the house now because Papa is so rude to him. I slip out on fine nights and we walk round and round the square and get half frozen.”
Anne drew what was something like a breath of relief when Trix had gone, and slipped down to coax a snack out of Rebecca Dew.58
“Going to the Taylors for dinner, are you? Well, I hope old Cyrus will be decent.
If his family weren’t all so afraid of him in his sulky fits he wouldn’t indulge in them so often, of that I feel certain. I tell you, Miss Shirley, he enjoys his sulks.
And now I suppose I must warm That Cat’s milk. Pampered animal!”
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