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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»
این فصل را میتوانید به بهترین شکل و با امکانات عالی در اپلیکیشن «زیبوک» بخوانید
متن انگلیسی فصل
The first thing to say is that Cranford is held by the ladies. They rent all the best houses. If a married couple comes to live in the town, the gentleman soon disappears from sight. He is either frightened away by being the only man at the Cranford evening parties or he is at his business all week in Drumble, twenty miles away by train.
Anyway, what is there for a gentleman to do in Cranford? The town already has a doctor, and the ladies manage everything else perfectly well themselves. They keep the gardens tidy and their maid-servants busy. They have opinions on every important matter without troubling themselves with unnecessary reasons or arguments. They know exactly what everyone in the town is doing. They are kind to the poor and, usually, very kind and friendly to each other.
‘A man,’ as one of them said to me once, ‘is terribly in the way in the house!’
The Cranford ladies are not fashionable, and they prefer the old ways. When I lived there, they had exact rules for visiting, which they explained most seriously to any young people who came to stay: ‘Our friends have asked how you are, my dear, after your journey. They are sure to call on you the day after tomorrow, so be ready to receive them from twelve o’clock. From twelve to three are our calling hours.’
Then, after the friends had called: ‘Always return a call within three days, my dear. And never stay longer than a quarter of an hour.’
The result of this rule, of course, was that nothing interesting was ever discussed. We talked about things like the weather, and left at the right time.
One or two of the Cranford ladies were poor. I imagine, but they tried to hide it, and the others kindly helped. When Mrs Forrester gave a party and her little maid had to get the tea-tray from under the sofa on which we sat, everyone just went on talking. And when Mrs Forrester pretended she did not know what cakes were on the tray, no one looked surprised. But we knew, and she knew that we knew, and we knew that she knew that we knew, that she had made the cakes herself that morning.
In fact, the Cranfordians thought it was ‘vulgar’ (a favourite word) to give anything expensive to eat or drink at their evening parties. Thin bread-and-butter was all that the Honourable Mrs Jamieson gave - and she was related to the late Lord Glenmire.
Yes, spending money was always ‘vulgar’, and we certainly did not tell anyone that, we had very little to spend. So I shall never forget the horror when an old army captain came to live in Cranford and spoke openly about being poor! In the street! The ladies were already rather cross about the arrival of a gentleman, and even more cross that he was going to work for a new railway near the town. If, as well as being a man and working for that awful railway, Captain Brown was going to talk about being poor, then nobody must speak to him.
I was surprised, therefore, when I visited the town a year after the captain arrived, to discover that he had made himself very popular. My own friends had been strongly against calling on him, but now they welcomed him into their house, even before twelve o’clock in the morning. He had been friendly and sensible, though the Cranford ladies had been cool, and at last his helpfulness had won him a place in their hearts.
Captain Brown was living, with his two daughters, in a small house on the edge of the town. He was probably over sixty at this time, though he looked younger. In fact, Miss Brown, his elder daughter, looked almost as old as he did. She was only about forty, but her face was white and tired.
Miss Jessie Brown was ten years younger and twenty times prettier. Her face was round and had dimples. Miss Jenkyns once said, when she was annoyed with Captain Brown (for a reason I’ll explain later), that it was time Miss Jessie stopped having dimples and looking like a child. There was indeed something childish about the way she looked, but I liked her face. So did everybody - and I do not think she could prevent the dimples.
I first saw the Brown family together in Cranford church. The captain sang loudly and happily; and when we came out, he smiled at everyone and patiently helped Miss Brown with her umbrella.
I wondered what the Cranford ladies did with him at their card-parties. We had often been glad in the past that there were no gentlemen to worry about. Indeed, we had almost persuaded ourselves that it was ‘vulgar’ to be a man. So now, when Miss Deborah Jenkyns (with whom I was staying) gave a party for me and invited the Browns, I wondered how the evening would go.
It was the third week of November, so it was dark by four o’clock. The card-tables were arranged. Candles and clean packs of cards were put on each one. The fire was lit. The maid was given final orders. And there we stood in our best dresses, ready to light the candles as soon as the first person knocked at the door.
The Browns arrived when the tea-trays were on the tables. The captain took immediate care of all the ladies, passing round cups and bread-and-butter. He was clearly a favourite. But all the time he kept an eye on his elder daughter - a sick woman, I was sure. Miss Jessie seemed almost as popular as her father. She talked to those not playing cards, and later she sang while Miss Jenkyns beat time to the music.
It was good of Miss Jenkyns to do this, because she had been much annoyed by Miss Jessie a little earlier.
‘My mother’s brother,’ Miss Jessie had said to Miss Pole, ‘is a shopkeeper in Edinburgh.’
An uncle in trade! Oh dear! The Honourable Mrs Jamieson was sitting at the nearest cardtable and Miss Jenkyns had coughed loudly to prevent her hearing the terrible words. But Miss Jessie had happily repeated them, telling Miss Pole that her uncle sold the best knitting-wool in Edinburgh. So, I say again, it was good of Miss Jenkyns to beat time to her song.
At a quarter to nine, when the trays came back with a little more food, there was conversation. After a while Captain Brown began to talk about books.
‘Have you seen any of The Pickwick Papers?’ he asked. (It was 1836, and Mr Dickens’s new book was appearing month by month.)
‘Yes, I have,’ answered Miss Jenkyns. Miss Jenkyns was the daughter of a past rector of Cranford church and, having his library of church books and sermons, she considered that she knew about books of all kinds.
‘And what do you think of them?’ asked the captain enthusiastically. ‘Aren’t they good?’
‘Not as good as Dr Johnson,’ replied Miss Jenkyns. ‘But perhaps your man is young. If he copies the style of the great doctor, he may succeed.’
“But it’s quite a different thing, my dear madam!’ cried Captain Brown, ‘Let me just read you something from this month’s paper.’
The Pickwick story he read was a very amusing one about a party in Bath, but Miss Jenkyns did not smile. She sent me to fetch Dr Johnson’s Rasselas, and read us a slow conversation, full of long words, between Rasselas and his teacher.
‘Now you understand.’ she said grandly as she put the book down, ‘why I prefer Dr Johnson as a writer. Beginners should copy his style, I did, when I began to write letters. Your favourite should do the same.’
‘I hope he won’t copy anything so self-important!’ said Captain Brown.
He was sorry later for what he had said, and stood near Miss Jenkyns’s armchair, trying to please her. But she did not give in. The next day she said what she thought of Miss Jessie’s dimples.
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