از آلیس خبردار شدم
- زمان مطالعه 16 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 Get News of Alice
We leave the Catskills behind north of the cemetery and enter the Helderbergs. I know we are in them when the forest trees change. Maples and hemlocks are replaced by yellow birch and the northland’s black spruce. Dark bogs pock the mountaintops. We sink up to our calves in one of these, so avoid the others by checking the map and plotting a course around them.
As we bushwhack along, the mountains themselves tell me we have arrived. The Helderbergs are made up of layers of limestone and shale, through which underground streams and rivers have carved miles of caverns. Some near the surface have caved in, leaving gaping sink holes in the land. Others are walk-in caves.
These are magnets, and we explore each one we come upon. Deep in them we can hear subterranean rivers rushing off through the netherworld, and our voices echo and reecho through the halls. We see a dimly illumed underground waterfall and climb down to it for a dark thundering shower.
We spend the night by a cavern and before sunup are jogging along toward the 4-H Club fair. I am concerned about Alice’s using the name Van Rensselaer. I can sense an Alice-scrape coming up. Imposters are not appreciated, not even yellow-headed ones.
Shortly after sunrise we come down the steep road into Livingstonville, a small town of no more than forty houses and stores cozied at the confluence of the Catskill and Lake creeks.
Virtually no cars pass us; the sidewalks are empty, and the homes, which were built many years ago, stand gray or paint-chipped behind walls of lilacs and groves of stately trees. Modernizing is not fashionable in Livingstonville. Even the store is an old grocery-gas-hardware-feed store and luncheonette–post office that dates back to the twenties, Bando says. It’s a wonderful town.
We enter the all-purpose store and sit down at the luncheonette counter. Only four people are here, which is the right number for any store as far as I’m concerned. Bando picks up the menu.
“Coffee, homemade sausage sandwich, and strawberry-rhubarb pie,” he says to the woman behind the counter. She also seems to be the postmistress, for she is sorting mail as well as listening to Bando’s order.
I stare at him. We’ve just finished a breakfast of fish chowder and sow-thistle leaves, and here he is eating again. No wonder he has a paunch! Or he did have one. He’s walked it off, I see.
“Sam,” Bando says. “What do you want to eat?”
“Nothing,” I reply. “I’m stuffed.”
When Bando’s breakfast is set before him, I turn to the burly man beside me.
“Sir,” I say to the stranger, emboldened by the comforting shelves of canning jars and bins of nails and feed. “Can you tell me how to get to the Livingstonville fairgrounds?” “Fairgrounds?” His voice is so low it vibrates. “Ain’t no fairgrounds in Livingstonville.”
“There aren’t? But there’s supposed to be a 4-H Club fair in Livingstonville.” I’m devastated as Alice slips away again. We just can’t ever quite catch up with her. The postmistress finishes sorting the mail and brings me a glass of water.
“I just happened to overhear you,” she says, pushing back her gray hair. “I’ll bet you’re looking for that hog show.” “I am,” I reply.
“It’s at the Monroe Farm, a piece up Hauverville Road toward Rensselaerville.”
“Is that what you’re looking for?” the man beside me asks. I nod. “Mammie’s right. The hog show’s up there on that farm. Lots of kids. Nice kids. They like pigs.” I impatiently wait for Bando to finish his meal so I can go outside and talk to him without being overheard. I know why Alice took the name Van Rensselaer. The postmistress unwittingly gave me the answer. I nudge Bando. He picks up the newspaper lying on the counter, sips his coffee, and reads. He’s not ready to leave.
I count to one hundred slowly, then watch the postmistress read a postcard before putting it in a box.
“Here’s a news story on the 4-H Club fair,” Bando says. I count tractor tires. He turns the page and reads on.
“This note in the personal column ought to interest you. ‘Skri. Hacking falcons at Huyck Preserve, 6:00 P.M., 25th of June. Check R library for final arrangements.’ ” “That is interesting,” I say, leaning over his shoulder to read this item.
I ask the postmistress where the Huyck Preserve is.
“Just this side of Rensselaerville,” she answers, and I thank her and get right to my feet. Bando is still reading, so I look at the jelly jars. My clay ones are nicer.
Finally he lays down the paper, pays his bill, and we leave.
“Bando,” I say as soon as we step on the sidewalk. “I know why Alice used the name Van Rensselaer.”
“You do? Why?”
“She’s telling me her destination.”
“You’re kidding. Where is she going?”
“How do you know that?”
“Let me look at the Rensselaerville quadrangle map,” I say and open it on the hood of a truck.
“Yep, there’s a waterfall there. It drops about a hundred feet.”
“She sent a message by changing her name?” Bando says incredulously. “That’s pretty farfetched. She doesn’t even know we’re following her.” “She sure does.”
“Come on, Sam. She’s been at least twenty miles ahead of us ever since we left.”
“But she’s playing On the Track.”
“So?” He throws up his hands.
“I should have known when I found the compass on the sand spit. We always begin with a directional guide. I was so sure she was off to find her own home that I forgot about that game pretty much.” I go on. “I didn’t realize the name Van Rensselaer was a clue until the postmistress mentioned Rensselaerville. Then I knew Alice was telling me where she was going.” “You two sure make life complicated for yourselves up there in the woods.”
“Lively,” I reply. “Look here.” I point to the map. “I’m right. Near the town is a waterfall and lots of acres for a pig to forage.” “Desdemondia,” Bando says under his breath. “Well, if you are right, we should skip the pig farm. Alice won’t be there.” “She won’t. I’m sure of that. She’s at that falls right now, climbing up a cascade or sitting in an air pocket under an overshoot.” We pack up the map and head for the road to Rensselaerville.
“I think we should stop at the pig farm, anyway,” Bando says after a while.
“I’d rather go on,” I say. “I’d like to find her before she’s fined for having a pig on a nature preserve. The waterfall’s on the Huyck Preserve. And we’re tracking her to keep her out of scrapes, aren’t we?” “Nevertheless,” Bando says, “I think we should talk to Hanni. It’ll only take a minute to ask her if Alice told her where she is going. Hanni should still be there. The paper said the fair would last four days.” “Okay,” I agree. “Maybe she left another clue with Hanni.” We trek along in silence for about a mile.
“Sam,” Bando suddenly says. “Want to watch the hacking tonight after we find Alice?”
“You bet I do,” I answer. “Maybe there’ll be some young peregrine falcons at hack.”
The thought of seeing falcons on the wing lightens my feet, and I step up our pace through the rugged farmland.
Along the way we talk about the weather and about the poor crops to our right and left, and finally we stop talking. Bando’s brow is wrinkled, which means he’s troubled. We walk on.
The uphill road plunges through a quaking aspen grove. A brown thrasher sits on a twig imitating all the birds in his area. I name them as he sings, “bluebird, cardinal, yellow-throated warbler.” Then I whistle Frightful’s name several times. It would be fun if he added that to his repertoire. There would be a bird in the Helderbergs who could call her name. I shake my head at the idea. I miss Frightful so much.
Around a bend, we see a large white farmhouse with Greek pillars, a barn, a silo, and a fenced yard where a dozen or so pickup and farm trucks are parked. Kids my age are everywhere.
“The Monroe Farm. Spotted Poland Chinas, Breeders.” I read on the gatepost, then pause. A sumac bush has been deliberately cut and bent toward Rensselaerville. In the break is an acorn.
“Bando, I’m right,” I say, pointing to Alice’s woodland signature. “She’s going to that falls.”
We walk to the pig yard. A boy and a girl about my age are leaning on the fence, chatting, and I look down on the prettiest, cleanest pigs I’ve ever seen. I could almost like them.
I exchange hellos with them and ask for Hanni.
“She’s in the first hog barn,” the boy says, pointing. “Right over there.”
“Come on, Bando.”
“I’ll stay here,” Bando says. “You should talk to her alone. I’ll study the pigs. I’ve never been this close to real pigs before.” I go in the barn where, after my eyes have adjusted to the dim light, I see a tall girl with bangs and shoulder-length soft brown hair crouched over a pig. She hears my steps and looks up.
“Is Alice here?” I ask.
“Oh, you must be Sam.” I nod. Her very blue eyes smile into mine. “She was expecting you, but she had to leave before you got here. She told me to tell you she was going ahead with the original plans you two made. She said you’d know what that meant.” “Oh, yes. The original plans,” I say out loud while crying inside. What original plans?
“Good,” I add, then take a deep breath, wondering if this is another Alice-clue.
“Did she take Crystal?” I ask, grasping for something to say.
“No, Crystal’s here. Mr. Monroe will take care of her until Alice comes back.”
“Oh, that’s nice.” I’m surprised to hear this and delighted. It’s the first real news I’ve gotten. She’s coming back to this farm.
“Where is Crystal?” I ask, trying to sound appropriately eager to see her. “I’d like to say hello. She’s a neat pig.” I think of Huck Finn again and feel myself blush.
“Crystal’s in the third pen. Go talk to her. She’s so lonely without Alice. Alice talked about how much you liked Crystal.” Hanni looks smack into my eyes and smiles mischievously. There is a bolt of honesty skipping between us. She knows Alice likes to tell tall tales about me. I smile. I like her in her 4-H Club green shirt and trousers even if she does like pigs, or hogs, as they call them here.
“I’ll be with you in a minute,” she says.
I look in the third pen in despair. There are three pigs here. Which one is Crystal? I decide to leave before Hanni finds out I don’t know, but she joins me.
“Sam,” she says. “Pet little Crystal. Look at her, she’s so sad.” In vain I study the three spotted pigs to see which one is sad. They all have turned up mouths and seem to be completely happy.
“You are sad, aren’t you Crystal?” Hanni says. I glance sidewise to see which pig she is looking at. Her lashes are so long I can’t tell where her eyes are focused. I shift nervously from one foot to the other. I can’t keep up this hoax much longer. I’m about to spoil Alice’s story about my liking Crystal and come out with the truth when a pig with a white nose and black spots on her snout sniffs the air and runs toward me. I take a chance that she is recognizing the odor of her human family like all pets do—even members of the family they’ve never met. To all animals, even pollywogs, the family has a distinctive aroma, as distinctive as a clan plaid.
“Hello, Crystal,” I say and pat the pig with the nose spots, hoping I’m right. The pig grunts expressively, and I scratch the bristly head. Hanni is smiling and watching the happy reunion. I am right.
Two other kids join us, but they are not interested in Crystal. They are staring at me, smiling, almost in deference. I am flattered, until I remember who I am, and when I do, want nothing more than to escape.
I back away, and just in time. Crystal is showing the tips of her tusks in warning. Having recognized the Gribley odor, this clever pig now knows something else about me. She knows I don’t like pigs.
“Hanni,” I say. “It’s been nice to meet you. I want to thank you for all you did for Alice.”
“It was fun, Sam Van Rensselaer,” she says, and her eyes twinkle. She lowers her voice. “Did you understand the message? Do you know where she’s going from here?” “Yes,” I reply. She tosses her hair with a flip of her head and smiles her beautiful smile. I wish it were for Sam Gribley, not Sam Van Rensselaer.
Then she winks and her eyes shine softly. She knows who I really am. The smile is for Sam Gribley.
With a couple of lilting strides, I join Bando. We take to the county road.
“Does she know where Alice is going?” he asks.
“Yes,” I say, then stop stone still. I look at him sheepishly. “I forgot to ask her. She asked me.”
“What did you say?”
“That I knew.” I am blushing. I start off again.
“She is very pretty,” Bando chides and sets his pace to mine.
“I did learn something,” I tell him defensively.
“Alice is coming back here.”
“Good. We can take it easy,” he says and slows down.
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