Imágenes de página

But let us proceed to the tragic catastrophe of this extraordinary story. In about twelve months the little spaniel sickened and died, and left his loving patron the most desolate of creatures. For a time the lion did not appear to conceive otherwise than that his favourite was asleep. He would continue to smell at him, and then would stir him with his nose, and turn him over with his paw ; but finding that all his efforts to awake him were vain, he would traverse his cage from end to end at a swift and uneasy pace, then stop and look down upon him with a fixed and drooping regard, and again lift his head on high, and open his horrible throat, and prolong a roar, as of distant thunder, for several minutes together.

They attempted, but in vain, to convey the carcase from him, he watched it perpetually, and would suffer nobody to touch it. The keeper then endeavoured to tempt him with variety of victuals, but he turned from all that was offered with loathing. They then put several living dogs into his cage, and these he instantly tore piecemeal, but left their members on the floor. His passion being thus inflamed, he would dart his claws into the boards, and pluck away large splinters, and again grapple at the bars of his cage, and seem enraged at his restraint from tearing the world to pieces. Again, as quite spent, he would stretch himself by the remains of his beloved associate, and gather him in with his paws, and put him to his bosom; and then utter roars of such terrible melancholy4 as seemed to threaten all round for the loss of his little playfellow, the only companion that he had upon earth.

For5 five days he thus languished, and gradually declined, without taking any sustenance, till one morning, he was found dead, with his head lovingly reclined on the carcase of his little friend. They were both interred together, and their grave plentifully watered by the tears of the keeper and his loudly lamenting family. 6

H. BROOKE. 1700–1783.

1 A roar, as of distant thunder, Un rugissement pareil au bruit lointain du tonnerre.—2 With variety of victuals, Par différentes sortes d'aliments.-3 And seem enraged at his restraint from tearing the world to pieces, Et semblait furieux de ne pouvoir mettre tout en pièces.-4 Of such terrible melancholy, Si plaintifs et en même temps si terribles.—5 See & 28, 1.–6 Loudly lamenting fumily, Famille éplorée.




Makes himself known to his Aunt Betsey. I INQUIRED about my aunt among the boatmen first, and received various answers. One said she lived in the South Foreland Light, and had singed her whiskers by doing so; another, that she was made fast to the great buoy outside the harbour, and could only be visited at half-tide ; a third, that she was locked up in Maidstone jail for child-stealing ; a fourth, that she was seen to mount a broom in the last high wind, and make direct for Calais. The fly-drivers,' among whom I inquired next, were equally jocose and equally disrespectful ;2 and the shopkeepers, not liking my appearance, generally replied, without hearing what I had to say, that they had got nothing for me. I felt more miserable and destitute 3 than I had done at any period of my running away. My money was all gone, I had nothing left to dispose of; I was hungry, thirsty, and worn out; and seemed as distant from my end as if I had remained in London.

The morning had worn away in these inquiries, and I was sitting on the step of an empty shop at a street corner, near the market-place, when a fly-driver, coming by with his carriage, dropped a horse-cloth. Something good-natured in the man's face, as I handed it up, encouraged me to ask him if he could tell me where Miss Trotwood lived, though I had asked the question so often, that it almost died upon my lips.

1 The fly-drivers, Les cochers de remise.-2 Were equally jocose and equally disrespectful, Ne furent ni moins plaisants, ni plus respectueux. 3 And destitute, Et plus dénué.

“Trotwood,” said he. “Let me see. I know the name, too. Old lady ?"

“ Yes,” I said, “ rather." “ Pretty stiff in the back ?” said he, making himself upright. “ Yes,” I said. “I should think it very likely.”

“ Carries a bag ?said he—“bag with a good deal of room in it-is gruffish, and comes down upon you, sharp ?”

My heart sank within me as I acknowledged the undoubted accuracy of this description.

“Why then, I tell you what,” said he, “ if you go up there,” pointing with his whip towards the heights, “and keep right on till you come to some houses facing the sea, I think you 'll hear of her. My opinion is she won't stand anything, a so here's a penny for you.”

I accepted the gift thankfully, and bought a loaf with it. Despatching this refreshment by the way, I went in the direction my friend had indicated, and walked on a good distance without coming to the houses he had mentioned. At length I saw some before me ; and, approaching 3 them, went into a little shop, (it was what we used to call a general shop at home,) and inquired if they would have the goodness to tell me where Miss Trotwood lived. I addressed myself to a man behind the counter, who was weighing some rice for a young woman ; but the latter,4 taking the inquiry to herself, turned round quickly.

“My mistress?” she said. “What do you want with her, boy?"5 “I want," I replied, “ to speak to her, if you please.” “ To beg of her, you mean,” retorted the damsel.

“No," I said, “indeed.” But suddenly remembering that in truth I came for no other purpose, I held my peace in confusion, and felt my face barn.

My aunt's handmaid, as I supposed she was from what she had

I See $ 3._? She won't stand anything, Elle ne te donnera rien.—3 See $ 37, 2.4. But the latter, Mais celle-ci. -5 What do you want with her, boy? Que lui veuxtu, petit garçon ?

said, put her rice in a little basket and walked out of the shop, telling me that I could follow her, if I wanted to know where Miss Trotwood lived. I needed no second permission, though I was by this time in such a state of agitation, that my legs shook under me. I followed the young woman, and we soon came to a very neat little cottage with cheerful bow-windows : in front of it, a small square gravelled court or garden full of flowers, carefully tended, and smelling deliciously.

" This is Miss Trotwood's,” said the young woman. “Now you know; and that's all I have got to say." With which words? she hurried into the house, as if to shake off the responsibility of my appearance ; and left me standing at the garden gate, looking disconsolately over the top of it towards the parlour-window, where a muslin curtain partly undrawn in the middle, a large round green screen or fan fastened on to the window-sill, a small table, and a great chair, suggested to me that my aunt might be at that moment seated in awful state.3

My shoes were by this time in a woeful condition. The soles had shed themselves bit by bit, and the upper leathers had broken and burst until the very shape and form of shoes had departed from them. My hat (which had served me for a night-cap, too) was so crushed and bent, that no old battered handleless saucepan on a dunghill need have been ashamed to vie with it.4 My shirt and trousers, stained with heat, dew, grass, and the Kentish soil on which I had slept—and torn besides—might have frightened the birds from my aunt's garden, as I stood at the gate. My hair had known no comb or brush since I left London. My face, neck, and hands, from unaccustomed exposure to the air and sun, were burnt to a berry-brown. From head to foot I was powdered almost as white with chalk and dust, as if I had come out of a lime-kiln. In this plight, and with a strong consciousness of it,

TI I needed no second permission, Je ne me le fis pas dire deux fois.—2 With which words, À ces mots.—3 In awful state, Dans toute sa dignité.--4 That no old battereil handleless saucepan on a dunghill need have been ashamed to vie with it, Qu'une vieille casserole bosselée et sans queue, sur un tas d'ordures, n'eût pas eu à souffrir de la comparaison.—5 My hair had known no comb or brush since I left London, Ni peigne ni brosse n'avaient touché mes cheveux depuis que j'avais quitté Londres.

I waited to introduce myself to, and make my first impression on my formidable aunt.

The unbroken stillness of the parlour-window leading me to infer, after a while, that she was not there, I lifted up my eyes to the window above it, where I saw a florid, pleasant-looking gentleman, with a gray head, who shut up one eye in a grotesque manner, nodded his head at me several times, laughed, and went away.

I had been discomposed enough before ; but I was so much the more discomposed by this unexpected behaviour, that I was on the point of slinking off, to think how I had best proceed, when there came out of the house a lady? with a handkerchief tied over her cap, a pair of gardening gloves on her hands, and carrying a great knife. I knew her immediately to be Miss Betsey, for she came stalking out of the house exactly as my poor mother had so often described her stalking up our garden of Blunderstone Rookery.

“Go away !” said Miss Betsey, shaking her head, and making a distant chop in the air with her knife. “Go along! No boys here !”

I watched her as 3 she marched to a corner of her garden, and stooped to dig up some little root there. Then, without a scrap of courage, but with a great deal of desperation, I went softly in and stood beside her, touching her with my finger.

“ If you please, ma'am," I began.
She started, and looked up.
“If you please, aunt.”

“Eh ?" exclaimed Miss Betsey, in a tone of amazement I have never heard approached.

“ If you please, aunt, I am your nephew."

“Oh, Lord !” said my aunt, and sat flat down in the gardenpath.

“I am David Copperfield, of Blunderstone, in Suffolk—where you came, on the night when I was born, and saw my dear

1 The window above it, La fenêtre au-dessus.—2 When there came out of the house a lady, Lorsqu'il sortit de la maison une dame.-3 I watched her as, Je saisis le moment où.

« AnteriorContinuar »