Work: A Story of Experience - Chapter 18
文章来源:未知 文章作者:enread 发布时间:2021-01-24 02:38 字体: [ ]  进入论坛
THREE months later the war seemed drawing toward an end, and Christie was dreaming happy dreams of home and rest with David, when, as she sat one day writing a letter full of good news to the wife of a patient, a telegram was handed to her, and tearing it open she read:
"Captain Sterling1 dangerously wounded. Tell his wife to come at once. E. WILKINS."
"No bad news I hope, ma'am?" said the young fellow anxiously, as his half-written letter fluttered to the ground, and Christie sat looking at that fateful strip of paper with all the strength and color stricken out of her face by the fear that fell upon her.
"It might be worse. They told me he was dying once, and when I got to him he met me at the door. I'll hope for the best now as I did then, but I never felt like this before," and she hid her face as if daunted2 by ominous3 forebodings too strong to be controlled.
In a moment she was up and doing as calm and steady as if her heart was not torn by an anxiety too keen for words. By the time the news had flown through the house, she was ready; and, coming down with no luggage but a basket of comforts on her arm, she found the hall full of wan4 and crippled creatures gathered there to see her off, for no nurse in the hospital was more beloved than Mrs. Sterling. Many eyes followed her, - many lips blessed her, many hands were outstretched for a sympathetic grasp: and, as the ambulance went clattering5 away, many hearts echoed the words of one grateful ghost of a man, "The Lord go with her and stand by her as she's stood by us."
It was not a long journey that lay before her; but to Christie it seemed interminable, for all the way one unanswerable question haunted her, "Surely God will not be so cruel as to take David now when he has done his part so well and the reward is so near."
It was dark when she arrived at the appointed spot; but Elisha Wilkins was there to receive her, and to her first breathless question, "How is David?" answered briskly:
"Asleep and doin' well, ma'am. At least I should say so, and I peeked6 at him the last thing before I started."
"Where is he?"
"In the little hospital over yonder. Camp warn't no place for him, and I fetched him here as the nighest, and the best thing I could do for him."
"How is he wounded?"
"Shot in the shoulder, side, and arm."
"Dangerously you said?"
"No, ma'am, that warn't and ain't my opinion. The sergeant7 sent that telegram, and I think he done wrong. The Captain is hit pretty bad; but it ain't by no means desperate accordin' to my way of thinkin'," replied the hopeful Wilkins, who seemed mercifully gifted with an unusual flow of language.
"Thank heaven! Now go on and tell me all about it as fast as you can," commanded Christie, walking along the rough road so rapidly that Private Wilkins would have been distressed8 both in wind and limb if discipline and hardship had not done much for him.
"Well, you see we've been skirmishin' round here for a week, for the woods are full of rebs waitin' to surprise some commissary stores that's expected along. Contrabands is always comin' into camp, and we do the best we can for the poor devils, and send 'em along where they'll be safe. Yesterday four women and a boy come: about as desperate a lot as I ever see; for they'd been two days and a night in the big swamp, wadin' up to their waists in mud and water, with nothin' to eat, and babies on their backs all the way. Every woman had a child, one dead, but she'd fetched it, 'so it might be buried free,' the poor soul said."
Mr. Wilkins stopped an instant as if for breath, but the thought of his own "little chaps" filled his heart with pity for that bereaved9 mother; and he understood now why decent men were willing to be shot and starved for "the confounded niggers," as he once called them.
"Go on," said Christie, and he made haste to tell the little story that was so full of intense interest to his listener.
"I never saw the Captain so worked up as he was by the sight of them wretched women. He fed and warmed 'em, comforted their poor scared souls, give what clothes we could find, buried the dead baby with his own hands, and nussed the other little creeters as if they were his own. It warn't safe to keep 'em more 'n a day, so when night come the Captain got 'em off down the river as quiet as he could. Me and another man helped him, for he wouldn't trust no one but himself to boss the job. A boat was ready, - blest if I know how he got it, - and about midnight we led them women down to it. The boy was a strong lad, and any of 'em could help row, for the current would take 'em along rapid. This way, ma'am; be we goin' too fast for you?"
"Not fast enough. Finish quick."
"We got down the bank all right, the Captain standing10 in the little path that led to the river to keep guard, while Bates held the boat stiddy and I put the women in. Things was goin' lovely when the poor gal11 who'd lost her baby must needs jump out and run up to thank the Captain agin for all he'd done for her. Some of them sly rascals12 was watchin' the river: they see her, heard Bates call out, 'Come back, wench; come back!' and they fired. She did come back like a shot, and we give that boat a push that sent it into the middle of the stream. Then we run along below the bank, and come out further down to draw off the rebs. Some followed us and we give it to 'em handsome. But some warn't deceived, and we heard 'em firin' away at the Captain; so we got back to him as fast as we could, but it warn't soon enough. - Take my arm, Mis' Sterlin': it's kinder rough here."
"And you found him?" -
"Lyin' right acrost the path with two dead men in front of him; for he'd kep 'em off like a lion till the firin' brought up a lot of our fellers and the rebs skedaddled. I thought he was dead, for by the starlight I see he was bleedin' awful, - hold on, my dear, hold on to me, - he warn't, thank God, and looked up at me and sez, sez he, 'Are they safe?' 'They be, Captain,' sez I. 'Then it's all right,' sez he, smilin' in that bright way of his, and then dropped off as quiet as a lamb. We got him back to camp double quick, and when the surgeon see them three wounds he shook his head, and I mistrusted that it warn't no joke. So when the Captain come to I asked him what I could do or git for him, and he answered in a whisper, 'My wife.'"
For an instant Christie did "hold on" to Mr. Wilkins's arm, for those two words seemed to take all her strength away. Then the thought that David was waiting for her strung her nerves and gave her courage to bear any thing.
"Is he here?" she asked of her guide a moment later, as he stopped before a large, half-ruined house, through whose windows dim lights and figures were seen moving to and fro.
"Yes, ma'am; we've made a hospital of this; the Captain's got the best room in it, and now he's got the best miss that's goin' anywheres. Won't you have a drop of something jest as a stand-by before you see him?"
"Nothing; take me to him at once."
"Here we be then. Still sleepin': that looks well."
Mr. Wilkins softly led the way down a long hall, opened a door, and after one look fell back and saluted13 as the Captain's wife passed in.
A surgeon was bending over the low bed, and when a hoarse14 voice at his elbow asked:
"How is he?" The doctor answered without looking up:
"Done for: this shot through the lungs will finish him before morning I'm afraid."
"Then leave him to me: I am his wife," said the voice, clear and sharp now with the anguish15 those hard words had brought.
"Good God, why did no one tell me! My dear lady, I thought you were a nurse!" cried the poor surgeon rent with remorse16 for what now seemed the brutal17 frankness of his answer, as he saw the white face of the woman at his side, with a look in her eyes harder to see than the bitterest tears that ever fell.
"I am a nurse. If you can do nothing, please go and leave him to me the little while he has to live."
Without a word the surgeon vanished, and Christie was alone with David.
The instant she saw him she felt that there was no hope, for she had seen too many faces wear the look his wore to be deceived even by her love. Lying with closed eyes already sunken by keen suffering, hair damp with the cold dew on his forehead, a scarlet18 spot on either cheek, gray lines about the mouth, and pale lips parted by the painful breaths that came in heavy gasps19 or fluttered fitfully. This was what Christie saw, and after that long look she knew the truth, and sunk down beside the bed, crying with an exceeding bitter cry:
"O David, O my husband, must I give you up so soon?"
His eyes opened then, and he turned his cheek to hers, whispering with a look that tried to be a smile, but ended in a sigh of satisfaction:
"I knew you'd come;" then, as a tearless sob20 shook her from head to foot, he added steadily21, though each breath cost a pang22, "'Yes, dear, I must go first, but it won't be hard with you to help me do it bravely."
In that supremely24 bitter moment there returned to Christie's memory certain words of the marriage service that had seemed so beautiful when she took part in it: "For better for worse, till death us do part." She had known the better, so short, so sweet! This was the worse, and till death came she must keep faithfully the promise made with such a happy heart. The thought brought with it unexpected strength, and gave her courage to crush down her grief, seal up her tears, and show a brave and tender face as she took that feeble hand in hers ready to help her husband die.
He saw and thanked her for the effort, felt the sustaining power of a true wife's heart, and seemed to have no other care, since she was by him steadfast26 to the end. He lay looking at her with such serene27 and happy eyes that she would not let a tear, a murmur28, mar25 his peace; and for a little while she felt as if she had gone out of this turbulent world into a heavenly one, where love reigned29 supreme23.
But such hours are as brief as beautiful, and at midnight mortal suffering proved that immortal30 joy had not yet begun.
Christie had sat by many death-beds, but never one like this; for, through all the bitter pangs31 that tried his flesh, David's soul remained patient and strong, upheld by the faith that conquers pain and makes even Death a friend. In the quiet time that went before, he had told his last wishes, given his last messages of love, and now had but one desire, - to go soon that Christie might be spared the trial of seeing suffering she could neither lighten nor share.
"Go and rest, dear; go and rest," he whispered more than once. "Let Wilkins come: this is too much for you. I thought it would be easier, but I am so strong life fights for me inch by inch."
But Christie would not go, and for her sake David made haste to die.
Hour after hour the tide ebbed32 fast, hour after hour the man's patient soul sat waiting for release, and hour after hour the woman's passionate33 heart clung to the love that seemed drifting away leaving her alone upon the shore. Once or twice she could not bear it, and cried out in her despair:
"No, it is not just that you should suffer this for a creature whose whole life is not worth a day of your brave, useful, precious one! Why did you pay such a price for that girl's liberty?" she said, as the thought of her own wrecked34 future fell upon her dark and heavy.
"Because I owed it; - she suffered more than this seeing her baby die; - I thought of you in her place, and I could not help doing it."
The broken answer, the reproachful look, wrung35 Christie's heart, and she was silent: for, in all the knightly36 tales she loved so well, what Sir Galahad had rescued a more wretched, wronged, and helpless woman than the poor soul whose dead baby David buried tenderly before he bought the mother's freedom with his life?
Only one regret escaped him as the end drew very near, and mortal weakness brought relief from mortal pain. The first red streaks37 of dawn shone in the east, and his dim eyes brightened at the sight;
"Such a beautiful world!" he whispered with the ghost of a smile, "and so much good work to do in it, I wish I could stay and help a little longer," he added, while the shadow deepened on his face. But soon he said, trying to press Christie's hand, still holding his: "You will do my part, and do it better than I could. Don't mourn, dear heart, but work; and by and by you will be comforted."
"I will try; but I think I shall soon follow you, and need no comfort here," answered Christie, already finding consolation38 in the thought. "What is it, David?" she asked a little later, as she saw his eyes turn wistfully toward the window where the rosy39 glow was slowly creeping up the sky.
"I want to see the sun rise; - that used to be our happy time; - turn my face toward the light, Christie, and we'll wait for it together."
An hour later when the first pale ray crept in at the low window, two faces lay upon the pillow; one full of the despairing grief for which there seems no balm; the other with lips and eyes of solemn peace, and that mysterious expression, lovelier than any smile, which death leaves as a tender token that all is well with the new-born soul.
To Christie that was the darkest hour of the dawn, but for David sunrise had already come.


1 sterling yG8z6     
  • Could you tell me the current rate for sterling, please?能否请您告诉我现行英国货币的兑换率?
  • Sterling has recently been strong,which will help to abate inflationary pressures.英国货币最近非常坚挺,这有助于减轻通胀压力。
2 daunted 7ffb5e5ffb0aa17a7b2333d90b452257     
使(某人)气馁,威吓( daunt的过去式和过去分词 )
  • She was a brave woman but she felt daunted by the task ahead. 她是一个勇敢的女人,但对面前的任务却感到信心不足。
  • He was daunted by the high quality of work they expected. 他被他们对工作的高品质的要求吓倒了。
3 ominous Xv6y5     
  • Those black clouds look ominous for our picnic.那些乌云对我们的野餐来说是个不祥之兆。
  • There was an ominous silence at the other end of the phone.电话那头出现了不祥的沉默。
4 wan np5yT     
(wide area network)广域网
  • The shared connection can be an Ethernet,wireless LAN,or wireless WAN connection.提供共享的网络连接可以是以太网、无线局域网或无线广域网。
5 clattering f876829075e287eeb8e4dc1cb4972cc5     
  • Typewriters keep clattering away. 打字机在不停地嗒嗒作响。
  • The typewriter was clattering away. 打字机啪嗒啪嗒地响着。
6 peeked c7b2fdc08abef3a4f4992d9023ed9bb8     
v.很快地看( peek的过去式和过去分词 );偷看;窥视;微露出
  • She peeked over the top of her menu. 她从菜单上往外偷看。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • On two occasions she had peeked at him through a crack in the wall. 她曾两次透过墙缝窥视他。 来自辞典例句
7 sergeant REQzz     
  • His elder brother is a sergeant.他哥哥是个警官。
  • How many stripes are there on the sleeve of a sergeant?陆军中士的袖子上有多少条纹?
8 distressed du1z3y     
  • He was too distressed and confused to answer their questions. 他非常苦恼而困惑,无法回答他们的问题。
  • The news of his death distressed us greatly. 他逝世的消息使我们极为悲痛。
9 bereaved dylzO0     
adj.刚刚丧失亲人的v.使失去(希望、生命等)( bereave的过去式和过去分词);(尤指死亡)使丧失(亲人、朋友等);使孤寂;抢走(财物)
  • The ceremony was an ordeal for those who had been recently bereaved. 这个仪式对于那些新近丧失亲友的人来说是一种折磨。
  • an organization offering counselling for the bereaved 为死者亲友提供辅导的组织
10 standing 2hCzgo     
  • After the earthquake only a few houses were left standing.地震过后只有几幢房屋还立着。
  • They're standing out against any change in the law.他们坚决反对对法律做任何修改。
11 gal 56Zy9     
  • We decided to go with the gal from Merrill.我们决定和那个从梅里尔来的女孩合作。
  • What's the name of the gal? 这个妞叫什么?
12 rascals 5ab37438604a153e085caf5811049ebb     
流氓( rascal的名词复数 ); 无赖; (开玩笑说法)淘气的人(尤指小孩); 恶作剧的人
  • "Oh, but I like rascals. "唔,不过我喜欢流氓。
  • "They're all second-raters, black sheep, rascals. "他们都是二流人物,是流氓,是恶棍。
13 saluted 1a86aa8dabc06746471537634e1a215f     
v.欢迎,致敬( salute的过去式和过去分词 );赞扬,赞颂
  • The sergeant stood to attention and saluted. 中士立正敬礼。
  • He saluted his friends with a wave of the hand. 他挥手向他的朋友致意。 来自《简明英汉词典》
14 hoarse 5dqzA     
  • He asked me a question in a hoarse voice.他用嘶哑的声音问了我一个问题。
  • He was too excited and roared himself hoarse.他过于激动,嗓子都喊哑了。
15 anguish awZz0     
  • She cried out for anguish at parting.分手时,她由于痛苦而失声大哭。
  • The unspeakable anguish wrung his heart.难言的痛苦折磨着他的心。
16 remorse lBrzo     
  • She had no remorse about what she had said.她对所说的话不后悔。
  • He has shown no remorse for his actions.他对自己的行为没有任何悔恨之意。
17 brutal bSFyb     
  • She has to face the brutal reality.她不得不去面对冷酷的现实。
  • They're brutal people behind their civilised veneer.他们表面上温文有礼,骨子里却是野蛮残忍。
18 scarlet zD8zv     
  • The scarlet leaves of the maples contrast well with the dark green of the pines.深红的枫叶和暗绿的松树形成了明显的对比。
  • The glowing clouds are growing slowly pale,scarlet,bright red,and then light red.天空的霞光渐渐地淡下去了,深红的颜色变成了绯红,绯红又变为浅红。
19 gasps 3c56dd6bfe73becb6277f1550eaac478     
v.喘气( gasp的第三人称单数 );喘息;倒抽气;很想要
  • He leant against the railing, his breath coming in short gasps. 他倚着栏杆,急促地喘气。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • My breaths were coming in gasps. 我急促地喘起气来。 来自《简明英汉词典》
20 sob HwMwx     
  • The child started to sob when he couldn't find his mother.孩子因找不到他妈妈哭了起来。
  • The girl didn't answer,but continued to sob with her head on the table.那个女孩不回答,也不抬起头来。她只顾低声哭着。
21 steadily Qukw6     
  • The scope of man's use of natural resources will steadily grow.人类利用自然资源的广度将日益扩大。
  • Our educational reform was steadily led onto the correct path.我们的教学改革慢慢上轨道了。
22 pang OKixL     
  • She experienced a sharp pang of disappointment.她经历了失望的巨大痛苦。
  • She was beginning to know the pang of disappointed love.她开始尝到了失恋的痛苦。
23 supreme PHqzc     
  • It was the supreme moment in his life.那是他一生中最重要的时刻。
  • He handed up the indictment to the supreme court.他把起诉书送交最高法院。
24 supremely MhpzUo     
  • They managed it all supremely well. 这件事他们干得极其出色。
  • I consider a supremely beautiful gesture. 我觉得这是非常优雅的姿态。
25 mar f7Kzq     
  • It was not the custom for elderly people to mar the picnics with their presence.大人们照例不参加这样的野餐以免扫兴。
  • Such a marriage might mar your career.这样的婚姻说不定会毁了你的一生。
26 steadfast 2utw7     
  • Her steadfast belief never left her for one moment.她坚定的信仰从未动摇过。
  • He succeeded in his studies by dint of steadfast application.由于坚持不懈的努力他获得了学业上的成功。
27 serene PD2zZ     
adj. 安详的,宁静的,平静的
  • He has entered the serene autumn of his life.他已进入了美好的中年时期。
  • He didn't speak much,he just smiled with that serene smile of his.他话不多,只是脸上露出他招牌式的淡定的微笑。
28 murmur EjtyD     
  • They paid the extra taxes without a murmur.他们毫无怨言地交了附加税。
  • There was a low murmur of conversation in the hall.大厅里有窃窃私语声。
29 reigned d99f19ecce82a94e1b24a320d3629de5     
  • Silence reigned in the hall. 全场肃静。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》
  • Night was deep and dead silence reigned everywhere. 夜深人静,一片死寂。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》
30 immortal 7kOyr     
  • The wild cocoa tree is effectively immortal.野生可可树实际上是不会死的。
  • The heroes of the people are immortal!人民英雄永垂不朽!
31 pangs 90e966ce71191d0a90f6fec2265e2758     
突然的剧痛( pang的名词复数 ); 悲痛
  • She felt sudden pangs of regret. 她突然感到痛悔不已。
  • With touching pathos he described the pangs of hunger. 他以极具感伤力的笔触描述了饥饿的痛苦。
32 ebbed d477fde4638480e786d6ea4ac2341679     
(指潮水)退( ebb的过去式和过去分词 ); 落; 减少; 衰落
  • But the pain had ebbed away and the trembling had stopped. 不过这次痛已减退,寒战也停止了。
  • But gradually his interest in good causes ebbed away. 不过后来他对这类事业兴趣也逐渐淡薄了。
33 passionate rLDxd     
  • He is said to be the most passionate man.据说他是最有激情的人。
  • He is very passionate about the project.他对那个项目非常热心。
34 wrecked ze0zKI     
  • the hulk of a wrecked ship 遇难轮船的残骸
  • the salvage of the wrecked tanker 对失事油轮的打捞
35 wrung b11606a7aab3e4f9eebce4222a9397b1     
绞( wring的过去式和过去分词 ); 握紧(尤指别人的手); 把(湿衣服)拧干; 绞掉(水)
  • He has wrung the words from their true meaning. 他曲解这些字的真正意义。
  • He wrung my hand warmly. 他热情地紧握我的手。
36 knightly knightly     
adj. 骑士般的 adv. 骑士般地
  • He composed heroic songs and began to write many a tale of enchantment and knightly adventure. 他谱写英雄短歌并着手编写不少记叙巫术和骑士历险的故事。
  • If you wear knight costumes, you will certainly have a knightly manner. 身着骑士装,令您具有骑士风度。
37 streaks a961fa635c402b4952940a0218464c02     
n.(与周围有所不同的)条纹( streak的名词复数 );(通常指不好的)特征(倾向);(不断经历成功或失败的)一段时期v.快速移动( streak的第三人称单数 );使布满条纹
  • streaks of grey in her hair 她头上的绺绺白发
  • Bacon has streaks of fat and streaks of lean. 咸肉中有几层肥的和几层瘦的。 来自《现代英汉综合大词典》
38 consolation WpbzC     
  • The children were a great consolation to me at that time.那时孩子们成了我的莫大安慰。
  • This news was of little consolation to us.这个消息对我们来说没有什么安慰。
39 rosy kDAy9     
  • She got a new job and her life looks rosy.她找到一份新工作,生活看上去很美好。
  • She always takes a rosy view of life.她总是对生活持乐观态度。
TAG标签: face smile patient