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    IN the high-road which led through a wood stood a solitary1
farm-house; the road, in fact, ran right through its yard. The
sun was shining and all the windows were open; within the
house people were very busy. In the yard, in an arbour formed
by lilac bushes in full bloom, stood an open coffin2; thither
they had carried a dead man, who was to be buried that very
afternoon. Nobody shed a tear over him; his face was covered
over with a white cloth, under his head they had placed a
large thick book, the leaves of which consisted of folded
sheets of blotting-paper, and withered3 flowers lay between
them; it was the herbarium which he had gathered in various
places and was to be buried with him, according to his own
wish. Every one of the flowers in it was connected with some
chapter of his life.

    "Who is the dead man?" we asked.

    "The old student," was the reply. "They say that he was
once an energetic young man, that he studied the dead
languages, and sang and even composed many songs; then
something had happened to him, and in consequence of this he
gave himself up to drink, body and mind. When at last he had
ruined his health, they brought him into the country, where
someone paid for his board and residence. He was gentle as a
child as long as the sullen4 mood did not come over him; but
when it came he was fierce, became as strong as a giant, and
ran about in the wood like a chased deer. But when we
succeeded in bringing him home, and prevailed upon him to open
the book with the dried-up plants in it, he would sometimes
sit for a whole day looking at this or that plant, while
frequently the tears rolled over his cheeks. God knows what
was in his mind; but he requested us to put the book into his
coffin, and now he lies there. In a little while the lid will
be placed upon the coffin, and he will have sweet rest in the

    The cloth which covered his face was lifted up; the dead
man's face expressed peace- a sunbeam fell upon it. A swallow
flew with the swiftness of an arrow into the arbour, turning
in its flight, and twittered over the dead man's head.

    What a strange feeling it is- surely we all know it- to
look through old letters of our young days; a different life
rises up out of the past, as it were, with all its hopes and
sorrows. How many of the people with whom in those days we
used to be on intimate terms appear to us as if dead, and yet
they are still alive- only we have not thought of them for
such a long time, whom we imagined we should retain in our
memories for ever, and share every joy and sorrow with them.

    The withered oak leaf in the book here recalled the
friend, the schoolfellow, who was to be his friend for life.
He fixed5 the leaf to the student's cap in the green wood, when
they vowed6 eternal friendship. Where does he dwell now? The
leaf is kept, but the friendship does no longer exist. Here is
a foreign hothouse plant, too tender for the gardens of the
North. It is almost as if its leaves still smelt7 sweet! She
gave it to him out of her own garden- a nobleman's daughter.

    Here is a water-lily that he had plucked himself, and
watered with salt tears- a lily of sweet water. And here is a
nettle: what may its leaves tell us? What might he have
thought when he plucked and kept it? Here is a little snowdrop
out of the solitary wood; here is an evergreen8 from the
flower-pot at the tavern9; and here is a simple blade of grass.

    The lilac bends its fresh fragrant10 flowers over the dead
man's head; the swallow passes again- "twit, twit;" now the
men come with hammer and nails, the lid is placed over the
dead man, while his head rests on the dumb book- so long
cherished, now closed for ever!

                            THE END


1 solitary 7FUyx     
  • I am rather fond of a solitary stroll in the country.我颇喜欢在乡间独自徜徉。
  • The castle rises in solitary splendour on the fringe of the desert.这座城堡巍然耸立在沙漠的边际,显得十分壮美。
2 coffin XWRy7     
  • When one's coffin is covered,all discussion about him can be settled.盖棺论定。
  • The coffin was placed in the grave.那口棺材已安放到坟墓里去了。
3 withered 342a99154d999c47f1fc69d900097df9     
adj. 枯萎的,干瘪的,(人身体的部分器官)因病萎缩的或未发育良好的 动词wither的过去式和过去分词形式
  • The grass had withered in the warm sun. 这些草在温暖的阳光下枯死了。
  • The leaves of this tree have become dry and withered. 这棵树下的叶子干枯了。
4 sullen kHGzl     
  • He looked up at the sullen sky.他抬头看了一眼阴沉的天空。
  • Susan was sullen in the morning because she hadn't slept well.苏珊今天早上郁闷不乐,因为昨晚没睡好。
5 fixed JsKzzj     
  • Have you two fixed on a date for the wedding yet?你们俩选定婚期了吗?
  • Once the aim is fixed,we should not change it arbitrarily.目标一旦确定,我们就不应该随意改变。
6 vowed 6996270667378281d2f9ee561353c089     
  • He vowed quite solemnly that he would carry out his promise. 他非常庄严地发誓要实现他的诺言。
  • I vowed to do more of the cooking myself. 我发誓自己要多动手做饭。
7 smelt tiuzKF     
  • Tin is a comparatively easy metal to smelt.锡是比较容易熔化的金属。
  • Darby was looking for a way to improve iron when he hit upon the idea of smelting it with coke instead of charcoal.达比一直在寻找改善铁质的方法,他猛然想到可以不用木炭熔炼,而改用焦炭。
8 evergreen mtFz78     
  • Some trees are evergreen;they are called evergreen.有的树是常青的,被叫做常青树。
  • There is a small evergreen shrub on the hillside.山腰上有一小块常绿灌木丛。
9 tavern wGpyl     
  • There is a tavern at the corner of the street.街道的拐角处有一家酒馆。
  • Philip always went to the tavern,with a sense of pleasure.菲利浦总是心情愉快地来到这家酒菜馆。
10 fragrant z6Yym     
  • The Fragrant Hills are exceptionally beautiful in late autumn.深秋的香山格外美丽。
  • The air was fragrant with lavender.空气中弥漫薰衣草香。