- زمان مطالعه 10 دقیقه
- سطح متوسط
دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»
این فصل را میتوانید به بهترین شکل و با امکانات عالی در اپلیکیشن «زیبوک» بخوانید
متن انگلیسی فصل
The day of the Gathering was approaching. Its nearness was palpable in the village. People began to finish projects and delayed the start of new ones. Kira noticed that in the weaving shed fabrics were folded and stacked, but the looms were not restrung.
The noise level subsided, as if people were distracted with preparations and didn’t want to waste time with the usual bickering.
Some people washed.
In his room, Thomas was meticulously polishing the Singer’s staff again and again. He used thick oils and rubbed them into the wood with a soft cloth. Smooth and golden, it began to take on a glow and fragrance.
Matt did not return. It had been many days now since he had disappeared. At night, before she slept, Kira held the scrap of cloth that had so often assuaged her fears and even answered her questions. She wrapped it around her fingers and concentrated on Matt; she pictured the laughing boy and sought some feeling of where he might be and whether he was safe. A feeling of reassurance, of solace, came from the scrap. But no answer.
They could occasionally hear the voice of the small singer, Jo, during the day. The crying had ceased. Most often they heard repetitive chanting, the same phrases over and over, though sometimes, as if she were allowed a moment of her own, the high lyrical voice soared into melodies that made Kira hold her breath in awe.
She crept down at night with the key in her hand and visited the tyke. Jo had stopped asking for her mother, but she clung to Kira in the darkness. Together they whispered little stories and jokes. Kira brushed Jo’s hair.
“I could thump with the hairbrush iffen I needed,” Jo reminded her, looking up at the ceiling.
“Yes. And we would come.” Kira stroked Jo’s soft cheek.
“Want I should make a song for you?” Jo asked.
“Someday,” Kira told her. “But not now. We mustn’t make noise in the night. It must be our secret, that I come here.”
“I be thinking up a song,” Jo said. “And someday I sing it for you horrid loud.”
“All right.” Kira laughed.
“The Gathering be soon,” Jo said importantly.
“Yes, I know.”
“I be right up front, they say.”
“Good for you! So you’ll be able to see everything. You’ll be able to see the beautiful Singer’s robe. I’ve been working on it,” Kira told her. “It has wonderful colors.”
“When I be Singer,” the tyke confided, “then I can make my own songs again. Iffen I learn the old ones good.”
When Jamison came to her room, Kira showed him that the repairs to the robe were complete. He was obviously pleased with her work. Together they spread the fabric across the table, turning it, unfolding its pleating and cuffs, examining the intricate stitches and the scenes they created.
“You’ve done a fine job, Kira,” he said. “Particularly here.”
He pointed to a place that she recalled had been difficult for her; though tiny in size, as each embroidered scene was, it was a complicated portrayal of tall buildings in shades of gray, each of them toppling, against a background of fiery explosions. Kira had matched oranges and reds of different shades and had found the various grays for the smoke and the buildings. But the threading had been hard for her because she had no sense of what the buildings were. She had never seen anything like them. The Council Edifice in which she lived and worked was the only large building she knew, and it was small compared to these. These, before they toppled, had seemed to extend up into the sky to amazing heights, much, much higher than any tree she had ever seen.
“That was the hardest part,” she told Jamison. “It was so complicated. Perhaps if I had known more about the buildings, about what happened to them —”
She was embarrassed. “I should have paid more attention to the Ruin Song each year,” she confessed. “I was always so excited when it began, but then my mind would wander a bit, and I didn’t always listen carefully.”
“You were young,” Jamison reminded her, “and the Song is very, very long. No one listens carefully to every part, and especially not the tykes.”
“This year I will!” Kira told him. “This year I’ll be paying special attention because I know the scenes so well. I’ll be listening especially for this scene, with the buildings falling.”
Jamison closed his eyes. She could see his lips move silently. He started to hum, and she recognized a recurrent melody from part of the Song. Then he began to chant aloud: Burn, scourged world,
Inferno impure —
He opened his eyes. “I believe that’s the part,” he said. “It goes on and on after that — I forget the next words - but I believe that’s the part where the buildings toppled. Of course I’ve listened to the Song for many more years than you.”
“I can’t imagine how the Singer remembers it all,” Kira said. For a moment she thought of asking him about the captive child below, the Singer of the future, who was being forced to learn the interminable Song. But she hesitated, and the moment passed.
“Of course he has the staff as a guide,” Jamison said. “And he began the learning when he was just a small tyke. That was a very long time ago. And he rehearses constantly. While you’ve been preparing his robe, he’s been preparing this year’s Song. The words are always the same, of course, but I believe he decides, each year, to emphasize certain parts. He studies all year, planning and rehearsing the singing of it.”
“He has special quarters in a different section of the Edifice.”
“I’ve never seen him except at the time of the Song.”
“No. He stays apart.”
They turned again to the robe, examining each section to be certain that Kira had missed nothing. A tender brought tea and they sat together, talking of the robe and its stories, of the history it told, of the time before the Ruin. Jamison closed his eyes again and recited.
Totoo now gone…
Kira recognized the lines, some of her favorites, though she didn’t understand them. As a tyke the rhyming sounds had charmed her out of the boredom she often felt during the interminable Song. “Bogo tabal, timore toron,” she had chanted to herself at times.
“What does it mean, that section?” she asked Jamison now.
“I believe it tells the names of lost places,” he explained.
“I wonder what those places looked like. Timore toron. I like the sounds.”
“That’s part of your job,” Jamison reminded her. “You use the threads to remind us of how they looked.”
Kira nodded and smoothed the robe again, finding the tragic toppling cities and the interspersed meadows of soft greens.
Jamison set his teacup on the table, went to the window, and looked down. “The workers are finished. After the Gathering and this year’s Song, you’ll be able to start dyeing new threads for the robe.”
She looked up, dismayed, hoping to see by his expression that he was making a small joke. But his look was solemn. Kira had thought that when this work was complete she could turn to her own projects, to some of the elaborate patterns that she could feel and see in her mind. Sometimes her fingers quivered with the desire to make those scenes. “Will the robe become so damaged during the Song that it will need repairing again?” she asked him, trying not to show how distressing the thought was to her. She wanted to please him. He had been her protector. But she didn’t want to keep doing this forever.
“No, no.” His voice was reassuring. “Your mother kept up with the small repairs each year. And now you’ve very capably redone the places that needed restoration. After this year’s Song there will probably be only a few scattered broken threads for you to fix.”
“Then —?” Kira was puzzled.
Jamison reached toward the robe and gestured at the empty unadorned expanse across the shoulders. “Here lies the future,” he said.
“And now you will tell it to us, with your fingers and your threads,” he told her. His eyes had a piercing, excited look.
She tried to conceal her shock. “So soon?” she murmured. He had referred to this enormous task before. But she had thought that when she was older — when she had more skill — more knowledge — “We have waited a long time for you,” he said, and looked at her firmly as if he dared her to refuse.
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