کتاب 02 - فصل 03

مجموعه: چهارگانه بخشنده / کتاب: پسر / فصل 19

کتاب 02 - فصل 03

توضیح مختصر

  • زمان مطالعه 10 دقیقه
  • سطح خیلی سخت

دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

این فصل را می‌توانید به بهترین شکل و با امکانات عالی در اپلیکیشن «زیبوک» بخوانید

دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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متن انگلیسی فصل

Three

Claire was there, at the hut. With her coppery hair tied back by a ribbon, and a cloth tied around her waist to protect her simple homemade skirt, she was chopping the long pale green stems of early onions fresh from the garden. Newly picked greens lay heaped on the table with a thick mutton bone near them, ready to add to the pot of water that was already simmering over the fire. When Alys entered, she smiled.

“I’m starting soup,” the girl said.

“Aye. I see that.” Alys emptied her basket of raspberry leaves into a bowl. “I’ll just take some of the water first, for my brew.” With a ladle she slowly poured hot water from the pot over the leaves. Steam rose as the leaves began to steep and tint the liquid.

“For Bryn?” The girl looked at the darkening tea.

“Aye. To lose another will surely make her heartsick.”

Claire leaned toward the bowl. As Alys watched, she closed her eyes and breathed the steam. At her forehead, tendrils of hair curled from the moisture, framing her pale face. For a moment she stood there, motionless, breathing. Then she gasped, drew her head back, opened her eyes, and looked around with a puzzled gaze.

“I cannot—” she began, then fell silent.

Alys went to her and smoothed the damp hair. “What is it, child?” she asked.

“I thought—” But the girl couldn’t continue. Moving tentatively, she sat down in the nearby rocker and stared into the fire.

Alys watched her for a moment. Then she went to the trunk against the wall. Unopened for years, it bore an iron clasp that was rusty and worn. But Alys’s strong fingers pried it loose, and she raised the heavy, carved lid. Her father had made this trunk for her mother almost a century before, a bride-gift when they were wed. It had come to Alys when her mother died. Her mother had stored things in it: linens and baby dresses, sprinkled with dried lavender blossoms. None of those things remained, though the scent of the lavender lingered. Alice used the trunk only for treasures, and there were few enough of those in her life.

Now she reached through the things within and took from near the bottom a fragile bit of folded cloth. Holding it, she went to the rocker and said to the girl: “Watch now.” Gently she unfolded the cloth and showed her bits of torn brown shreds. “Smell,” Alys told her, and held it to the girl’s nose.

“Old,” Claire said. “Sweet.” She leaned back in the chair and sighed. “What is it?”

“Beach roses from sixty years ago.”

“Why—”

“To hold memories. Scents do that. When you smelled the tea—”

“Yes. For a moment something came back,” the girl acknowledged. “Like a bit of breeze. It drifted past. I couldn’t keep it with me. I wanted—” But she couldn’t say what she wanted. She sighed and shook her head. “It went away.” “It’s waiting,” Alys said. Carefully she refolded the cloth around the dried petals and leaves and replaced the little packet in the carved trunk. Then, while Claire watched, she strained the dark tea and poured it carefully into small bottles, which she corked tightly. “I’ll take this now to Bryn,” she said.

“Add a raspberry leaf or two to the soup. And some of that sorrel from the garden. It’ll give flavor,” she added. “Those greens you have give bulk, but their taste is ordinary.” Claire nodded. Alys watched as the girl pushed the chopped onions into a neat pile with the side of her hand.

“Did you cook once, mayhap?” Alys asked.

The girl looked up. She frowned and furrowed her brow. “I don’t think so,” she said, finally.

“But something come back to you a minute ago,” Alys said, “when you breathed the tea.”

Claire stood thinking. She closed her eyes. Then, finally, she looked up and shrugged. “It wasn’t the tea,” she said. “It came from something else, I think.”

“You talk elegant,” Alys said with a chuckle. “Probably somebody done your cooking for you, once.”

Claire took a deep breath, still thinking. Then she picked up the stirring spoon and turned toward the pot of simmering soup. “Well,” she said, “those days are gone.” The three little girls, Bethan, Delwyth, and Eira, barefoot and grass-stained, smoothed and tidied the little corner of meadow that they called their Tea Place. A flat rock there became their table; they decorated it with blossoms from the clumps of wildflowers nearby. With a leafy branch acting as a broom, Eira swept the ground around the rock. “Sit down, dear ladies,” she said. “Now that it’s tidy here, we’ll have tea.” It was a game they often played, serving imaginary tea to one another, pretending to be grown women.

“Your hair’s a wee bit straggled, Miss Bethan,” Eira said haughtily as she set the broom aside. “Was you rushed? I’d expect you’d be more primped up, and maybe brush some, when you’ve got a tea invite.” Bethan giggled and pulled at her unruly curls. “So sorry, Miss Eira,” she said. “This baby in my belly makes me forgetful.” Dramatically she pulled her frock away from her own thin middle.

“Can I have a belly baby too?” whispered solemn-eyed Delwyth.

“Yes. Let’s all.” Eira tugged at her own skirt. “Oh, I do hope mine is born soon, because I’m so weary of being fat.”

“Yes, fat is hard,” Delwyth agreed in a serious voice. “It makes you breathe all puffy.

“When do you expect yours?” she asked the others. “Mine’s coming tomorrow. I do hope for a boy. I’m going to name him . . .” She pondered briefly. “Dylan,” she decided. “Tea?” Delicately she sipped from her own imaginary cup.

“Oops!” Bethan announced. “Mine just be born. A little girl.” She cradled an invisible baby in her arms.

“Mine too!” The other two little girls announced. Rhythmically they rocked their invisible infants.

“My mum be cross with me if she knowed we did this,” Bethan confided. “She says it be bad luck to pretend about a baby.”

Delwyth stopped her rocking motion. “Bad luck?”

Bethan nodded.

“Better we don’t do it, then. We can pretend tea, though.” Delwyth smoothed her skirt. “Want a teacake?” She offered the other girls each a twig.

Eira pretended to chew. “You be a fine cook, Miss Delwyth,” she said.

Delwyth nodded solemnly. “I learnt it from the queen,” she said, “when I be’d a helper in her kitchen.”

Claire, listening from where she stood in a small grove of trees nearby, smiled at the sweetness of the children. But their conversation troubled her, as well, because it reminded her of what she had lost. It was more than the loss of memories. She had no knowledge. She wondered what a queen might be. Had she known that once? Had she played this way, once?

This baby in my belly makes me forgetful, one little girl had said. Claire, working now with Alys, preparing the herbs for Bethan’s mother, understood what the child was pretending. Why did it make Claire feel so unbearably sad?

She straightened her straw hat and walked slowly back to the hut with the herbs she had been sent to find and gather. She resolved that she would learn. She would learn everything—about queens, whatever they were; and herbs, and birds, and how the men farmed and what they thought, and the women, too, how they spent their hours, and what they talked about, what they dreamed, what they yearned for.

It would be a start, Claire thought. Perhaps somehow she would learn her own lost life.

From a field higher up, where he was prying weeds from the rocky soil with his hoe, Tall Andras stopped his work, wiped sweat from his glistening forehead, and watched the mysterious girl walk along the path. She had favored one leg for some weeks, until the bruise and swelling disappeared. He had worried for her, that she might become hunched and lame, as people did when their wounds went unhealed. Andras’s own father, flung years before against rocks when a boat swung around and tipped, still held one arm locked into a curved and crooked shape.

But he could see that Water Claire strode easily now along the path, her legs strong and equal, her feet sure in the soft leather sandals she wore. He watched her make her way easily to the turning; then she disappeared into the woods, heading back to the hut she shared with Alys.

A shadow crossed the ground in front of him, and Tall Andras looked up and waved his arm at the crows that circled the field. His weeding was turning up bugs and worms, morsels that the crows wanted, he knew, and it put his seedlings at risk. He couldn’t afford to lose the crops. Winter was long here, and in the good weather seasons they prepared for it: growing, catching, storing things away. His father was getting old and his mother had been unwell for months, with fever that came and went. Tall Andras was young, just seventeen, but the family depended on him. He would make a bird-scarer, a mommet, he decided. Last summer that had helped. And he had a large gourd in the shed that he could use for a head, with a face carved on it: a fierce face. He twisted his own face, practicing, pushing his lips up against his nose, and then flapped his arms, the way the cloth of his mommet might flap in the wind to frighten away the crows.

Then he stopped, feeling childish and foolish, and glad that the girl had not seen. For her, he wanted to seem a wise and hard-working man, worthy soon of a wife.

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