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鸟鸣溪谷柳鸣春,万类和融释醉痕。骚客登楼临曲水,金威雅集胜兰亭。

 
 
 

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第四章 玛 莎(上)  

2016-03-05 10:02:13|  分类: 译著 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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第四章  玛 莎(上)

【美】弗朗西丝·霍奇森·伯内特 

 熊良銋 

 

清晨,玛丽睁开了眼睛,因为有个小侍女进入她的房间来生火,正跪在炉毯上叮里哐当地往外扒煤渣。玛丽躺着看了她一阵子,然后便开始打量起房间来。她还从来没有见过这样的房间,觉得它很古怪,阴沉沉的。四面墙上挂着壁毯,上面绣着林中景色。树下有许多身穿奇装异服的人,远处隐约可以瞥见城堡的一个个角楼。画里还有猎人、骏马、猎犬和贵妇人。玛丽仿佛觉得自己也和他们一起置身在森林里。从一扇深嵌在墙里的窗户往外看,她可以看到一大片坡地,坡上好象看不到树木,看上去似乎是一片无边无际死气沉沉的紫色海洋。

那儿是什么?她手指着窗外问道。

玛莎,就是那个小侍女,刚刚站起身来,瞧了瞧,也手指着窗外。

是那儿啵?她问道。

是的。

那正是荒野咯,她很和蔼可亲地露齿一笑。您喜欢那儿啵?

不喜欢,玛丽答道。我厌恶它。

那是因为您还不习惯咯,玛莎说着,又回到壁炉前。您现在自然觉得它太大了,光秃秃的。不过您会喜欢它的。

你喜欢吗?玛丽问道。

啊吔,我喜欢的咯,玛莎一边回答,一边在兴致勃勃地擦着炉隔栅。我就是喜欢它。它根本就不光秃。它上面会长满着许多花草,可香咯。春天和夏天最可爱了,荆豆花、金雀花、石楠花都竞相开放。老远的就可以闻到蜂蜜的香味,到处都是新鲜的空气,而且,天空显得那么高,蜜蜂嗡嗡叫,云雀在欢唱,可好听咯。啊!无论什么都不能让我离开这荒野的哩。

玛丽认真地听她说着,显得很有点困惑。这和她习惯的印度土著仆人完全不一样。他们都那么温驯谦卑,从来就不敢放肆地和主人平等对话。他们要行额手礼,称主人是穷人的救星,以及诸如此类好听的说词。是命令,而不是请印度仆人做事。对他们说声谢谢你是不合规矩的,玛丽发脾气时总是搧她奶妈子的脸。她稍微捉摸了一下,如果有人搧了这个小女孩的脸,她会有什么反应。她的脸圆滚滚红扑扑的,看样子脾气挺不错的,可是她言行举止很有主见,这些让玛丽小姐担心,她是否甚至会回敬一下的,如果搧她脸的人只是一个小女孩儿的话。

你这个仆人倒是有点怪怪的呢,她靠在枕头上,非常傲慢地说道。

玛丽跪坐在自己的脚后跟上,手里拿着黑毛刷,笑了起来,丝毫儿也没有要发脾气的样子。

啊!这我明白着哩,她说道。要是米瑟尔斯威特有位大小姐的话,那我是连个干粗活的下人也当不上的。他们顶多能让我当个洗碗碟的女工,但永远不会让我上二楼来的。我这人长相太一般,说话时约克腔太重。但这个人家有点儿怪,尽管它外表这么堂皇。好象是除了皮切尔先生和梅德洛克太太之外,就再没有男主人和女主人了。克雷文先生在这里的时候,什么都不操心,而且他差不多总是外出不归。梅德洛克太太是出于好心才给了我这个差事的。她对我说,要是米瑟尔斯威特也跟别的大庄园一样,她就是想做这好事也做不成的。

你要来当我的仆人吗?玛丽问道,仍然摆出一副在印度当小主子时专横跋扈的模样。

玛莎又开始擦起她的炉隔栅来了。

我是梅德洛克的仆人,”她毫不含糊地说。“而她是克雷文先生的仆人。不过,楼上楼下的活儿我都要干的,侍候你是其中的一小部分。再说,你也不大需要侍候的咯。

谁来给我穿衣服呢?玛丽问道。

玛莎又跪坐在自己的后退跟上直起身来,眼睛瞪得大大的。一惊之下,她又满口说起浓重的的约克话来了。

您甭会自家穿衣嗒!她说道。

你说的什么?我听不懂你的土话。玛丽说道。

啊!我竟忘了,玛莎说道。梅德洛克太太对我说过,我说话得小心点,不然你会听不懂我在说什么。我刚才说的是,你不会自己穿衣服吗?

不会,玛丽非常气愤地答道。我生来就不自己穿衣服。当然是我的奶妈子给我穿的。

那好啦,玛莎说道,显然丝毫没意识到自己多么鲁莽。您该学学了。您也甭算小咯。自顾自一些对您自家有好处。俺娘常说,她真不明白大户人家的孩子为何不变成大傻瓜。啥子事都由保姆代做,洗脸洗澡啦,穿衣戴帽啦,外出走走也要人领着,仿佛他们是小狗似的!

在印度就是不一样。玛丽小姐鄙视地说,她简直是难以忍受了。

可是玛莎一点也不甘示弱。

啊!我看得出那是不一样,她几乎是带着同情的语气回答道。我敢说,那是因为那里黑人多,而体面的白人少。当我听说你将从印度来时,我还以为你也是个黑人呢。

玛丽怒气冲冲地在床上坐起来。

什么!她吼叫了起来。什么!你以为我是个土人!你,你这个母猪养的!

玛莎瞪直了眼睛,看上去也光火了。

你在骂谁呢?她说道。你没必要生这么大的气咯。年轻小姐哪能这样说粗话呀。我一点儿也没有看不起黑人的意思。你从教会小册子里头看到,他们总是很虔诚的。小册子上还说黑人也是人,也是兄弟的。我还从来没有见过黑人,想着就要在身边见到一个,我还满高兴的哩。今天清早,我进来给你生火,我轻手轻脚地溜到你床边,把被子掀开一点儿瞧了你一眼。原来你呀,她语带失望地说道。并不比我黑多少,只是脸色黄一些。

玛丽甚至没有想要抑制自己的愤怒和屈辱了。

你以为我是个土人!你敢这样认为!你根本就不了解土人!他们不算人,他们是必须向你行额手礼的仆人。关于印度的事你一无所知!你什么都不懂!

她是如此的怒火中烧,以致于在这个小女孩纯朴的注视面前,又觉得无可奈何,不知怎的她突然觉得自己非常孤独,与以往她所熟悉的一切以及熟悉她的一切,都已经隔得那么遥远,于是把脸埋在枕头上,情绪激动地哭泣起来。她哭得那么伤心,使得那个好心肠的约克郡女孩玛莎觉得有点儿惊慌,也在为她难过了。她走到床边,弯下身子。

啊!你勿要哭得这么伤心的咯!她恳求道。真的勿要啊。我不知道你会生气的。我就象你说的那样,什么都不懂的。我求你原谅咯,小姐。千万别再哭了咯。

她那奇特的约克郡口音和很有办法的神态里,显出十分的真诚友好,很能宽慰人的,对玛丽产生了良好的效果。她渐渐地不哭了,安静了下来。玛莎也松了一口气。

您也该起床了,她说道。梅德洛克太太吩咐我,要把您的早饭和茶点和正餐全都端到隔壁房间去。那个房间改成活动室了。您要是想起床的话,我可以帮你穿衣服。要是扣子在背后,您自家确实不容易扣上。

玛丽终于决定起床了,可是,玛莎从衣橱里拿出来的衣服,却不是昨天晚上她和梅德洛克太太一起来到时穿的。

那些不是我的,她说道。我的衣服都是黑色的。

她仔细看了那件厚实的白色毛外套和连衣裙,又冷冷地赞许道:他们倒是比我的好看些。

这些您非得穿上的,玛莎答道。是克雷文先生吩咐梅德洛克太太从伦敦买来的。他说咯,我可不想让一个孩子穿着黑衣服,象个幽魂一样到处游荡。他还说咯,那会让这个地方更凄凉的。要让她穿的花哨些。俺娘说她知道他是什么意思。娘总是知道别人的心思。她自家也不喜欢黑颜色。

我讨厌黑色的东西,玛丽说道。

穿衣服的过程让她们两人都长了见识。玛莎以前也常常给她的弟弟妹妹们扣过钮扣,但是 从没见过一个小孩一动也不动地站在那里,等着别人来为她做这做那,仿佛她自己没有手没有脚似的。

你干吗勿自己穿上鞋子呢?当玛丽心安理得地伸出脚时,她问道。

以前一直是我的奶妈子做的,玛丽瞪着眼睛回答道。这是规矩。

 “这是规矩。这句话她是经常这么讲的,土著仆人也总把这话挂在嘴边。假如你叫他们去做一件他们的祖先千年来没有做过的事,他们就总是温顺地凝视着你,说道:这不合规矩。于是,你就知道这件事到此为止了。

要玛丽小姐做事是不合规矩的,她只须站着,象洋娃娃一样让别人给她穿衣穿鞋。但是,在她准备去吃早饭之前,她已开始意识到,她在米瑟尔斯威特庄园的生活,必将教会她好些全新的东西,比如说自己穿鞋袜啦,掉落在地上的东西自己捡起来啦。假如玛莎是某个受过良好教育年轻文雅的小姐的侍女,她可能会更顺从,更恭敬,就会知道梳头,扣靴扣,把散落的东西捡起来放好,这些都是她自己分内的事。然而,她只是一个没有受过训练的约克郡农家女,在荒野上一家农舍里和一群弟弟妹妹一起长大,他们要自己照顾自己,还要照顾好比自己小的小孩,他们有的是抱在怀里的婴儿,有的是刚刚蹒跚学步,随时可能绊倒的小家伙,除此之外,从来没有梦想过还要干别的事儿。

假如玛丽·楞诺克斯是个容易被逗乐的小孩子,她也许会因为玛莎的唧唧喳喳而开心大笑起来的。可是,玛丽只是冷漠地听着,对玛莎的举止这么自由放任感到吃惊。起先她根本不感兴趣,可是渐渐地,随着这个小女孩亲切和气聊家常般无拘无束地继续絮叨,玛丽对她所说的事儿也开始留意起来。

啊!你该去瞧瞧他们那一帮子咯,她说道。我们兄弟姐妹一共十二个,俺爹每周只挣十六个先令。俺娘只好用这点钱做稀饭给娃们买喝。他们在荒野上到处爬滚,整天打闹。娘说荒野上的空气把他们养肥了。她说她相信他们和野马驹一样吃草。俺们的小迪康,才十二岁,他弄到了一匹野马驹,还说是他自己的。

他在哪里弄到的?玛丽问道。

他是在荒野上发现的,当时野马驹还很小,跟母马在一起。他开始跟它交上了朋友,喂它吃面包屑,又拔嫩草喂它。小马驹慢慢就喜欢上迪康了,跟着他到处跑,还让他骑到背上。迪康这小子心眼好,动物都喜欢他。

玛丽从来没有过自己的宠物,总希望能养上一只。所以她对迪康产生了一丝兴趣。在以前,除了对自己以外,她从未对任何别人产生过兴趣,这真是健康情感的一缕曙光了。她走进为她改成活动室的那个房间,发现这跟她睡觉的房间很相似。那并不是专为孩子用的房间,而是供成年人用的,墙上挂着灰蒙蒙的旧画像,室内有几把重沉沉的老式橡木椅子。房间中央的桌子上,摆好了丰盛诱人的早餐。但是她一向饭量小,她非常冷淡地看着玛莎给她端上的第一盘东西。

这个我不想吃,她说道。

您勿要麦片粥!玛莎喊道,简直不敢相信。

不要。

您勿知它有多好吃。加点儿糖浆,要不加点白糖。

我不想吃嘛,玛丽重复道。

啊!玛莎说道。我真不忍心眼看着好好的粮食白白浪费掉。要是俺家那群小家伙坐在这张桌子边上,要不了五分钟就能吃个精光。

为什么?玛丽冷淡地问道。

为什么!玛莎学着说道。因为他们出生后几乎从未填饱过肚子。他们象小鹰和小狐狸一样总是饿。

我不明白什么是挨饿。玛丽带着无知的冷漠说道。

玛莎显得很愤然。

那好呀,试着饿几天准对您有好处。这我看得清楚的咯,她直率地说道。我可没耐心看着那种人,面对着那么好吃的面包和肉,坐在那里只看不动。我的天!我倒是希望在这儿围着餐巾的是俺家迪康、菲儿和珍妮他们呢。

那你为什么不把这些吃的给他们拿去呢?玛丽建议道。

这又不是我的,玛丽丝毫不含糊地说道。而且,今天不该我休息。我每月休息一次,跟大伙儿一样。到休息日,我就回家去帮俺娘做清洁卫生,好让他也能歇息一天。

玛丽喝了几口茶,吃了点烤面包加果酱。

穿裹的暖和些,去外头跑着玩你的咯,玛莎说道。这对你有好处,能让你胃口大开,吃肉香。

玛丽走到窗户跟前。窗外有大花园小路和大树,可一切都显得阴沉沉冷清清的。

去外头?象这种天气我干吗要去外头?

那好吧,您要是勿去外头,就只好待在屋里,您有啥子干呢?

玛丽朝身边看了看。的确是没事可干。梅德洛克太太在设计活动房时,没有考虑到玩耍。也许还是出去走走的好,还可以看看大花园是什么样子。

谁愿意陪我一块儿去呢?玛丽询问道。

玛莎一听,眼睛瞪得大大的。

你自己去吧,她答道。你必得象那些无有兄弟姐妹的孩子一样,学着自己一个人玩咯。俺家迪康总是自己去荒野玩的,一玩就是好几个钟头。他就是这样和小马驹交上朋友的。荒野里的羊也认识他,鸟雀都飞来吃他手上东西。尽管他自己可吃的不多,他总是会省下一些面包屑去笼络他的那些宠物。

正是因为提及迪康的这番话才使得玛丽下决心出去走走的,虽然她自己并没有意识到这一点。就算外面没有马驹和羊羔,小鸟雀总会有的吧。它们可能会和印度的不一样,去看看它们也许能让她高兴起来。

玛莎为玛丽找来外套和帽子,还找到一双结实的小靴子,又领着她下楼。

您顺着那条路绕过去,就来到大花园咯,她一边说,一边指着掩映在一堵灌木墙里的一扇门。夏天的时候,会开有很多花的,不过现在没有花开放。她似乎犹豫了一下,又补充了一句:大花园里有一处是锁起来的。十年来一直没人进去过。

为什么?玛丽不由自主地问道。这宅子真古怪,已经有了一百扇上了锁的门,现在又添上了一扇。

是克雷文先生在他的妻子突然去世后,让人把花园锁上的。他不愿让任何人进去。那花园是她的。他锁了门,挖了个坑,把钥匙埋了。哦,梅德洛克太太在按铃了,我得赶紧过去。

 

附录:原文

 

Chapter 4  Martha (Part I)

Written byFrances Hodgson Burnett

Translated by Liangren Xiong


When she opened her eyes in the morning it was because a young housemaid had come into her room to light the fire and was kneeling on the hearth-rug raking out the cinders noisily. Mary lay and watched her for a few moments and then began to look about the room. She had never seen a room at all like it and thought it curious and gloomy. The walls were covered with tapestry with a forest scene embroidered on it. There were fantastically dressed people under the trees and in the distance there was a glimpse of the turrets of a castle. There were hunters and horses and dogs and ladies. Mary felt as if she were in the forest with them. Out of a deep window she could see a great climbing stretch of land which seemed to have no trees on it, and to look rather like an endless, dull, purplish sea.

"What is that?" she said, pointing out of the window.

Martha, the young housemaid, who had just risen to her feet, looked and pointed also.

"That there?" she said.

"Yes."

"That's th' moor," with a good-natured grin. "Does tha' like it?"

"No," answered Mary. "I hate it."

"That's because tha'rt not used to it," Martha said, going back to her hearth. "Tha' thinks it's too big an' bare now. But tha' will like it."

"Do you?" inquired Mary.

"Aye, that I do," answered Martha, cheerfully polishing away at the grate. "I just love it. It's none bare. It's covered wi' growin' things as smells sweet. It's fair lovely in spring an' summer when th' gorse an' broom an' heather's in flower. It smells o' honey an' there's such a lot o' fresh air—an' th' sky looks so high an' th' bees an' skylarks makes such a nice noise hummin' an' singin'. Eh! I wouldn't live away from th' moor for anythin'."

Mary listened to her with a grave, puzzled expression. The native servants she had been used to in India were not in the least like this. They were obsequious and servile and did not presume to talk to their masters as if they were their equals. They made salaams and called them "protector of the poor" and names of that sort. Indian servants were commanded to do things, not asked. It was not the custom to say "please" and "thank you" and Mary had always slapped her Ayah in the face when she was angry. She wondered a little what this girl would do if one slapped her in the face. She was a round, rosy, good-natured looking creature, but she had a sturdy way which made Mistress Mary wonder if she might not even slap back—if the person who slapped her was only a little girl.

"You are a strange servant," she said from her pillows, rather haughtily.

Martha sat up on her heels, with her blacking-brush in her hand, and laughed, without seeming the least out of temper.

"Eh! I know that," she said. "If there was a grand Missus at Misselthwaite I should never have been even one of th' under housemaids. I might have been let to be scullery-maid but I'd never have been let up-stairs. I'm too common an' I talk too much Yorkshire. But this is a funny house for all it's so grand. Seems like there's neither Master nor Mistress except Mr. Pitcher an' Mrs. Medlock. Mr. Craven, he won't be troubled about anythin' when he's here, an' he's nearly always away. Mrs. Medlock gave me th' place out o' kindness. She told me she could never have done it if Misselthwaite had been like other big houses."

"Are you going to be my servant?" Mary asked, still in her imperious little Indian way.

Martha began to rub her grate again.

"I'm Mrs. Medlock's servant," she said stoutly. "An' she's Mr. Craven's—but I'm to do the housemaid's work up here an' wait on you a bit. But you won't need much waitin' on."

"Who is going to dress me?" demanded Mary.

Martha sat up on her heels again and stared. She spoke in broad Yorkshire in her amazement.

"Canna' tha' dress thysen!" she said.

"What do you mean? I don't understand your language," said Mary.

"Eh! I forgot," Martha said. "Mrs. Medlock told me I'd have to be careful or you wouldn't know what I was sayin'. I mean can't you put on your own clothes?"

"No," answered Mary, quite indignantly. "I never did in my life. My Ayah dressed me, of course."

"Well," said Martha, evidently not in the least aware that she was impudent, "it's time tha' should learn. Tha' cannot begin younger. It'll do thee good to wait on thysen a bit. My mother always said she couldn't see why grand people's children didn't turn out fair fools—what with nurses an' bein' washed an' dressed an' took out to walk as if they was puppies!"

"It is different in India," said Mistress Mary disdainfully. She could scarcely stand this.

But Martha was not at all crushed.

"Eh! I can see it's different," she answered almost sympathetically. "I dare say it's because there's such a lot o' blacks there instead o' respectable white people. When I heard you was comin' from India I thought you was a black too."

Mary sat up in bed furious.

"What!" she said. "What! You thought I was a native. You—you daughter of a pig!"

Martha stared and looked hot.

"Who are you callin' names?" she said. "You needn't be so vexed. That's not th' way for a young lady to talk. I've nothin' against th' blacks. When you read about 'em in tracts they're always very religious. You always read as a black's a man an' a brother. I've never seen a black an' I was fair pleased to think I was goin' to see one close. When I come in to light your fire this mornin' I crep' up to your bed an' pulled th' cover back careful to look at you. An' there you was," disappointedly, "no more black than me—for all you're so yeller."

Mary did not even try to control her rage and humiliation.

"You thought I was a native! You dared! You don't know anything about natives! They are not people—they're servants who must salaam to you. You know nothing about India. You know nothing about anything!"

She was in such a rage and felt so helpless before the girl's simple stare, and somehow she suddenly felt so horribly lonely and far away from everything she understood and which understood her, that she threw herself face downward on the pillows and burst into passionate sobbing. She sobbed so unrestrainedly that good-natured Yorkshire Martha was a little frightened and quite sorry for her. She went to the bed and bent over her.

"Eh! you mustn't cry like that there!" she begged. "You mustn't for sure. I didn't know you'd be vexed. I don't know anythin' about anythin'—just like you said. I beg your pardon, Miss. Do stop cryin'."

There was something comforting and really friendly in her queer Yorkshire speech and sturdy way which had a good effect on Mary. She gradually ceased crying and became quiet. Martha looked relieved.

"It's time for thee to get up now," she said. "Mrs. Medlock said I was to carry tha' breakfast an' tea an' dinner into th' room next to this. It's been made into a nursery for thee. I'll help thee on with thy clothes if tha'll get out o' bed. If th' buttons are at th' back tha' cannot button them up tha'self."

When Mary at last decided to get up, the clothes Martha took from the wardrobe were not the ones she had worn when she arrived the night before with Mrs. Medlock.

"Those are not mine," she said. "Mine are black."

She looked the thick white wool coat and dress over, and added with cool approval:

"Those are nicer than mine."

"These are th' ones tha' must put on," Martha answered. "Mr. Craven ordered Mrs. Medlock to get 'em in London. He said 'I won't have a child dressed in black wanderin' about like a lost soul,' he said. 'It'd make the place sadder than it is. Put color on her.' Mother she said she knew what he meant. Mother always knows what a body means. She doesn't hold with black hersel'."

"I hate black things," said Mary.

The dressing process was one which taught them both something. Martha had "buttoned up" her little sisters and brothers but she had never seen a child who stood still and waited for another person to do things for her as if she had neither hands nor feet of her own.

"Why doesn't tha' put on tha' own shoes?" she said when Mary quietly held out her foot.

"My Ayah did it," answered Mary, staring. "It was the custom."

She said that very often—"It was the custom." The native servants were always saying it. If one told them to do a thing their ancestors had not done for a thousand years they gazed at one mildly and said, "It is not the custom" and one knew that was the end of the matter.

It had not been the custom that Mistress Mary should do anything but stand and allow herself to be dressed like a doll, but before she was ready for breakfast she began to suspect that her life at Misselthwaite Manor would end by teaching her a number of things quite new to her—things such as putting on her own shoes and stockings, and picking up things she let fall. If Martha had been a well-trained fine young lady's maid she would have been more subservient and respectful and would have known that it was her business to brush hair, and button boots, and pick things up and lay them away. She was, however, only an untrained Yorkshire rustic who had been brought up in a moorland cottage with a swarm of little brothers and sisters who had never dreamed of doing anything but waiting on themselves and on the younger ones who were either babies in arms or just learning to totter about and tumble over things.

If Mary Lennox had been a child who was ready to be amused she would perhaps have laughed at Martha's readiness to talk, but Mary only listened to her coldly and wondered at her freedom of manner. At first she was not at all interested, but gradually, as the girl rattled on in her good-tempered, homely way, Mary began to notice what she was saying.

"Eh! you should see 'em all," she said. "There's twelve of us an' my father only gets sixteen shilling a week. I can tell you my mother's put to it to get porridge for 'em all. They tumble about on th' moor an' play there all day an' mother says th' air of th' moor fattens 'em. She says she believes they eat th' grass same as th' wild ponies do. Our Dickon, he's twelve years old and he's got a young pony he calls his own."

"Where did he get it?" asked Mary.

"He found it on th' moor with its mother when it was a little one an' he began to make friends with it an' give it bits o' bread an' pluck young grass for it. And it got to like him so it follows him about an' it lets him get on its back. Dickon's a kind lad an' animals likes him."

Mary had never possessed an animal pet of her own and had always thought she should like one. So she began to feel a slight interest in Dickon, and as she had never before been interested in any one but herself, it was the dawning of a healthy sentiment. When she went into the room which had been made into a nursery for her, she found that it was rather like the one she had slept in. It was not a child's room, but a grown-up person's room, with gloomy old pictures on the walls and heavy old oak chairs. A table in the center was set with a good substantial breakfast. But she had always had a very small appetite, and she looked with something more than indifference at the first plate Martha set before her.

"I don't want it," she said.

"Tha' doesn't want thy porridge!" Martha exclaimed incredulously.

"No."

"Tha' doesn't know how good it is. Put a bit o' treacle on it or a bit o' sugar."

"I don't want it," repeated Mary.

"Eh!" said Martha. "I can't abide to see good victuals go to waste. If our children was at this table they'd clean it bare in five minutes."

"Why?" said Mary coldly.

"Why!" echoed Martha. "Because they scarce ever had their stomachs full in their lives. They're as hungry as young hawks an' foxes."

"I don't know what it is to be hungry," said Mary, with the indifference of ignorance.

Martha looked indignant.

"Well, it would do thee good to try it. I can see that plain enough," she said outspokenly. "I've no patience with folk as sits an' just stares at good bread an' meat. My word! don't I wish Dickon and Phil an' Jane an' th' rest of 'em had what's here under their pinafores."

"Why don't you take it to them?" suggested Mary.

"It's not mine," answered Martha stoutly. "An' this isn't my day out. I get my day out once a month same as th' rest. Then I go home an' clean up for mother an' give her a day's rest."

Mary drank some tea and ate a little toast and some marmalade.

"You wrap up warm an' run out an' play you," said Martha. "It'll do you good and give you some stomach for your meat."

Mary went to the window. There were gardens and paths and big trees, but everything looked dull and wintry.

"Out? Why should I go out on a day like this?"

"Well, if tha' doesn't go out tha'lt have to stay in, an' what has tha' got to do?"

Mary glanced about her. There was nothing to do. When Mrs. Medlock had prepared the nursery she had not thought of amusement. Perhaps it would be better to go and see what the gardens were like.

"Who will go with me?" she inquired.

Martha stared.

"You'll go by yourself," she answered. "You'll have to learn to play like other children does when they haven't got sisters and brothers. Our Dickon goes off on th' moor by himself an' plays for hours. That's how he made friends with th' pony. He's got sheep on th' moor that knows him, an' birds as comes an' eats out of his hand.

However little there is to eat, he always saves a bit o' his bread to coax his pets."

It was really this mention of Dickon which made Mary decide to go out, though she was not aware of it. There would be birds outside though there would not be ponies or sheep. They would be different from the birds in India and it might amuse her to look at them.

Martha found her coat and hat for her and a pair of stout little boots and she showed her her way down-stairs.

"If tha' goes round that way tha'll come to th' gardens," she said, pointing to a gate in a wall of shrubbery. "There's lots o' flowers in summer-time, but there's nothin' bloomin' now." She seemed to hesitate a second before she added, "One of th' gardens is locked up. No one has been in it for ten years."

"Why?" asked Mary in spite of herself. Here was another locked door added to the hundred in the strange house.

"Mr. Craven had it shut when his wife died so sudden. He won't let no one go inside. It was her garden. He locked th' door an' dug a hole and buried th' key. There's Mrs. Medlock's bell ringing—I must run."

 

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