من سلطنتی شدم
- زمان مطالعه 14 دقیقه
- سطح سخت
دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»
این فصل را میتوانید به بهترین شکل و با امکانات عالی در اپلیکیشن «زیبوک» بخوانید
متن انگلیسی فصل
IN WHICH I Become Royalty
Alice is not at Manorkill Falls. I was certain she would be.
Bando and I climbed the steep gorge to the top, searching every cave and ledge along the ascent, and found no sign of her or her pig, no clues to say that they were here.
“If Alice,” Bando says as we stand on the rim of the gorge, “was in search of a beautiful waterfall, she should be right here where I am.” The water roars and tumbles below us, sending up a soft spray that nurtures mosses and maidenhair ferns where it falls.
“But she’s not,” I say. “And I don’t think she will be.”
“Why?” he asks.
“Pigs don’t care about views and water music. No sensible pig, and Crystal is a sensible pig as we well know, is going to let anyone, not even Alice, lead her up to this place. Federal Hill is one thing, but Crystal would need pitons for this ascent,” I say, looking at all the watercress available for dinner.
“That’s right. But where is she then?” Bando asks, not really expecting me to answer. Rather, he looks for an answer himself by taking out the map of Schoharie county, which we’re in, and the map of Albany county, which we’re coming to, and spreading them contiguously. As for me, I’ve given up trying to think like Alice for the day, and turn to a job I know I can do.
I dig a beetle larva out of a decaying log and put it on a thornbush fishhook I made and tied to a fine cord of deer tendon. Then, taking off my moccasins, I wade into the cold water and cast into a pool below a submerged log. A dragonfly skims over the surface, his crystal wings reflecting the sunlight.
Wop! I yank, and hook a large trout. Playing it carefully so it won’t break my line as it darts from side to side, I concentrate on dinner. After a lively battle, I land the fish.
Bando is still bent over the maps. I clean the trout and wrap it in May-apple leaves, then dig a hole in the earth and build a fire. When the coals are hot, I push them into the hole, place the fish on them, and cover all with leaves, then soil.
“There’s a farm at the bottom of the gorge,” Bando says as I brush the dirt off my hands and sit down beside him. “There aren’t many around. The land’s too steep.” “Hmmm,” I say, trying to think like my sister. “Let’s go there and ask the farmer if she’s been by for corn.” “Let’s not ask people and get them all stirred up. We know she’s all right, but they won’t. They’ll call the police and we don’t want that.” “I’m going to ask, anyway,” I say. “I think those stones at John Burroughs’ home meant change of plans as well as change of direction.” “Why do you think that?”
“Because that’s the first time she’s used a plain old pathfinder’s sign. She wanted to be sure that message was seen. Furthermore, she signed it with an acorn so I’d make no mistake about who laid the stones.
“And,” I go on, still trying to think like Alice, “I’ve got a hunch she’s left the change of plans with a person. Once we talked about how we might leave clues with people if we ever got off the mountain. It’s like her to try it, so I’m going to take a chance and speak to that farmer. He’s the only one around for miles, and since she’s not at this falls, she’s doing something radically different.” “I still don’t think you should,” Bando says as I serve him the fish on a nice thin slab of slate, garnished with watercress and crisp daylily roots. “But maybe you’re right.” We find a log and sit down. A woodthrush sings. His song sounds like water spilling down the rocks in a cool, dark forest. As I listen, I thank Alice in spite of myself. Were it not for her, I would not be hearing that glorious song on top of this magnificent gorge.
Bando eats and goes back to the maps.
“Look at this, Sam,” he says brightly. He is feeling better with sweet trout in his belly. “There’s got to be some granddaddy of a waterfall at the Helderberg Escarpment. A large stream runs right off the edge of that eight-hundred-foot cliff.” I get down on my knees and look.
“Wow!” I say. “I’ll bet Alice is going there.” I study the map. “And there are fields and farms nearby for Crystal. I think we’re on Alice’s brain wave now.” “Let’s go,” Bando says. “I’d like to see the goshawks.” He packs his belongings, and we start the long descent to the bottom of the gorge.
About an hour later we are standing in the enormous rock bowl that holds the reservoir. The sun has just gone down.
“Where’s the farm?” I ask.
“Up the road about half a mile on the right.” I start off.
“Hold on,” Bando says. “I really don’t like this idea, so I’ll let you go alone to ask about Alice.”
“You’re not coming?”
“I’ll meet you later. Zella asked me to give her a call if I got the chance.” He shifts his packbasket. “West Conesville is about half a mile from here. Since it’ll soon be dark and we can’t go on, this looks like a good time to telephone her.” “All right,” I say reluctantly. “Where shall we meet?”
“I saw a rural cemetery on the map about a mile beyond the farm. Make camp and I’ll meet you there.”
“I’m not sure. Don’t wait up for me.”
As I approach the farm, I slow down to study the situation I’m walking into. The land is well tended, the buildings strong and freshly painted. This is reassuring, because these things speak of a hardworking farmer, and hardworking farmers are usually sincere people. The ones I know have no time for pretense. They answer yes or no. I trust this farmer will do likewise when I ask if he’s seen Alice.
The farmhouse is very old. It has two small low windows on the second floor, and the clapboard is slightly wider than the boards on houses today. I glance at the corncrib as I pass it and hope that Alice did not help herself to a meal for Crystal. I scold myself for thinking this.
I tuck my shirt in my jeans and, combing my hair with a teasel-weed head I found near the corncrib, I walk up the steps to the house.
As I lift the knocker, I read the Dutch name, Van Sandtford, beneath it. The Dutch were the first settlers in this part of New York, so it could be that this is a pioneer family. Thinking this helps me relax. I understand pioneers. I am one with them.
Footsteps resound and the door is opened by a large, bony gentleman. He has sandy hair, a long nose, and deep-set blue eyes. He looks like one of the portraits of the pioneers on the walls of the Delhi library.
“Sir,” I begin. “I’m inquiring about my sister. She was purchasing corn. Did she by any chance come by here today?” “Alice, you mean? The pretty girl with the pig?” My heart bangs; I’m on the track.
“Yes, Alice,” I say and smile broadly, wondering what to say next. I am saved by Mr. Van Sandtford.
“She stayed here for a few days with her pig,” he says. “But she’s gone on to the Livingstonville fair with my daughter, Hanni.” “Oh,” I say, trying not to cry out in disappointment.
“She and Hanni met at the Roxbury fair, and Hanni invited her to stay here until the 4-H Club fair at Livingstonville started.” So that’s why she gave me the change-of-plans sign at John Burroughs’ place, I say to myself. She saw the Roxbury fair posters and went down to see it. She wasn’t at Manorkill Falls because she got a ride.
“My son, Hendrik,” Mr. Van Sandtford goes on, “drove Alice and Hanni to Livingstonville last evening with their hogs. Hanni raises hogs, too. The girls are going to sleep in the barn with their animals.” I must look surprised, for he says, “I hope that’s all right, and that your family won’t object.” “No, no. It’s fine,” I say.
Mr. Van Sandtford steps out on the porch to join me, and his eyes sweep over his farm as he checks barn, silo, and fields in the manner of a farmer. A cow might be sick or a fox might be in the chicken coop. Apparently all is well. He sits on the railing.
“I love the way these 4-H Club kids take care of their animals,” he goes on. “You’d think they were their children.” I walk down the steps, trying to make an exit.
“I hope Alice hasn’t been a burden,” I say.
“A burden? Alice?” he replies. “She worked very hard. She cleaned the hog barn, swept the porch, and helped Hanni and Hendrick with the cows and horses. She’s a great little girl.” “Good,” I answer almost too eagerly.
“Clever sow Alice has,” her host continues. “Isn’t it amazing the way she rolls over?”
“Yes. Yes, it is,” I stutter and jump down the stone path, hoping to escape before it becomes evident that I don’t know much about Crystal.
Mrs. Van Sandtford has come out on the porch and is looking at me as if she knew something about me that I don’t know. I feel uneasy.
“We enjoyed Alice,” she says. “I just know she’s going to win a blue ribbon with that Spotted Poland China of hers.” Spotted Poland China? I am thinking she means dishes, until I realize she is talking about Alice’s pig.
“Well, I appreciate your helping her,” I repeat awkwardly. “She was so anxious to get to the pig fair that she couldn’t wait for me to drive her there.” I bite my lips. I am getting myself in trouble. Huck Finn is right—truth is better and actually safer than a lie.
I hurry toward the gate.
“Wouldn’t you like a cup of tea before you go, Mr. Van Rensselaer?” Mrs. Van Sandtford asks.
I suck in air. Mr. Van Rensselaer? Now what is Alice up to?
“No, thank you,” I say. “I’ve really got to go.” With that empty remark, I smile and leave.
Halfway to the rural cemetery, I think of something, turn around, and run the mile to West Conesville. Bando told me not to wait up for him. I know why.
The full moon is rising over the chimneys and gabled rooftops of the little town as I walk up the steps to the RuflFed Grouse Hotel and enter the lobby. At the registration desk I tap a bell and a tall man appears.
“Sir,” I say. “Would you please tell Mr. Zackery that Sam Gribley is here.”
“He’s in the dining room,” he replies and directs me to a large room hung with red drapes and dimly lit with electric sconces.
“Bando.” It’s as I suspected. He’s eating.
“Sit down, Sam. Have a bite on me.”
He grins sheepishly.
“Sam, I’m not as young as you are. I just have to get a good meal before I can think like a pig and a girl again.” “Well, you don’t have to think like either anymore,” I say. “I found Alice and the pig.”
“They’re at the 4-H Club fair in Livingstonville.”
Bando puts down his fork. “A 4-H Club fair? Alice? I wonder what she’s up to there?”
He opens the menu to the list of desserts, and I think about my new name but can’t make any sense out of it.
“Who are the Van Rensselaers, Bando?” I finally ask.
“The Van Rensselaers? They were the feudal lords of what is now Albany county. Before we were a democracy—in fact, in the 1600s—they were given hundreds of thousands of acres of land by the Dutch king—all of Albany county. They divided this land into 120-acre parcels and rented them to their countrymen who came to the New World. The Van Rensselaers made fortunes and became a powerful and influential family. Why?” “Meet Sam Van Rensselaer,” I say, extending my hand.
“Alice is calling herself Alice Van Rensselaer, so that makes me Sam Van Rensselaer.”
“Well,” Bando smiles. “With a name like that you can go to all the fanciest places. The Van Rensselaers were colonial New York’s royalty.” This does not help me figure out why she picked that name. She must be trying to tell me something, but what?
Bando finishes his meal, and we leave the dining room, with me dashing ahead for the door.
“Sam,” Bando takes my arm. “I’ve taken a room here.”
“I’m tired,” he says. “I need a comfortable bed.”
He does look tired. I have been very thoughtless.
“I’m sorry,” I say. “I didn’t know you were that exhausted, or I would have stopped earlier.”
“One night’s good sleep will fix me up,” he says, putting his hand on his hip and limping like an old man.
“Sure,” I laugh. “Sleep well.”
“There are twin beds in my room. You can have one of them. If it’s too soft, there’s always the floor.”
“No, thanks,” I say. “I couldn’t sleep indoors if I wanted to. I’ll meet you in the cemetery at sunup.” “Zella sends her love,” he calls as I leave.
Love goes a long way. I stride down the street.
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