wind song
文章来源: 文章作者: 发布时间:2006-09-30 03:19 字体: [ ]  进入论坛

It was a day like the day before and the day after. The wind wrapped itself around the sod cabin in gusting1 moans as the pioneer family within carried out their tasks pretending not to hear. They heard the wind, however. It had been their constant companion on the open plains since their journey from Philadelphia two years before in the spring of 1865. Following the covered wagon2 train of ten, the wind had lifted the drab landscape into billows of dust falling on everyone and everything until there seemed but one color and one sound.

Now Rachel sat on the bed hand-stitching a quilt while her mother hunched3 over a sewing machine across the room rocking her feet backwards4 and forwards on a foot treadle that turned the shaft5 that moved the needle. The thumping6 counter pointed7 the wind outside. Laughter and giggling8 erupted from Rachel's younger brother and sister playing jacks9 on the floor and it brought a smile to their sister's face, but when she glanced back at their mother she stopped smiling.

Rachel felt that her parents worked too hard. They rarely had fun or relaxation10 like they had enjoyed in Philadelphia. Now her father was always in the fields. Her mother prepared meals on a wood-stoked stove, did the laundry on a washboard, baked flatbread and sewed clothes to trade for goods in town. Rachel remembered her mother singing and telling stories at one time but that was before she had begun complaining about the wind and the dirt and the mud. Eventually she had stopped complaining, but she had stopped singing, too.

The door swung open and it was Rachel's father. Entering in a puff12 of dust, he coughed and wiped his forehead. "Mighty13 hot day out there."

"Well, I've got ale for you and flatbread too," replied his wife. She rose from the sewing machine and began setting the table as her husband eased himself into a chair.

"I know. I could smell it from outside. Smelled so good I came in early. What else have you all been up to while I was clearing rows with Molly and Bell?"

"Rachel's done with her quilt."

"Oh?" Rachel's father turned to look as his older daughter proudly showed off her masterpiece. It was a cheerful blooming of color with stitches outlining the squares.

"That's a mighty fine piece of work." He nodded. "How 'bout11 us going into town this Saturday. You can show off your quilt, your mother can take her flatbread, and I've got a bushel of onions ready."

The young children whooped14 excitedly and Michael, the boy, began dancing around the room, lifting his knees and clapping. There was reason for jubilation15. The 20-mile trip to town in the buckboard was a once-a-month affair to which everyone in the family looked forward.

The town of Wausa, Nebraska was not unlike other little towns that had sprung up to welcome the pioneers. It was a mix of old and new buildings with wood plank16 sidewalks and a wide main street of dirt to accommodate trains of oxen. In one of the newer buildings was the general store. Guarding the door was a wooden Indian and next to it hung a bird cage. The family stopped for a moment to look at the yellow bird inside.

When they stepped into the store it was a universe all its own. There was the scent17 of wood and soap and spice. The walls were lined with racks of crates18 and mason jars, and along the aisles19 were bushel barrels of potatoes and apples. In the back neatly20 propped21 against the wall were bolts of fabric22. While her brother and sister explored the store and her parents spoke23 with the grocer about their bread and onions, Rachel wandered back outside to look at the bird.

So bright a yellow it was a miniature piece of the sun in that dusty place. It hopped24 from perch25 to perch rarely standing26 still and as it hopped it kept its eyes on Rachel. Suddenly a shadow passed over the girl and startled, she looked up to see a Sioux Indian brave. Her heart beat faster. Indians sometimes came to town to barter27 although it was discouraged by the shopkeepers. Such a history of warfare28 existed between Indians and white settlers that no one felt safe. But this Indian was as fascinated by the bird as Rachel. He stared intently and then said something she couldn't understand. Seeing her puzzled face he repeated in English, "It listens to the wind."

Before Rachel could think about what he had said, the Indian turned and walked away. Her parents appeared a moment later, having seen him through the window.

"Are you all right?" asked her father.

Rachel nodded. "He was just looking at the canary."

At that moment the little bird lifted its head, swelled29 its chest, and sang out a joyous30 trill. Rachel saw her mother's face light up with delight.

Rachel traded her quilt for the canary and never regretted it because the little bird entertained them endlessly. Sir Gallant31, they called him because he did battle with the wind. The louder the wind the more loudly he sang, competition so fierce that sometimes everyone burst out laughing. Sir Gallant lifted their spirits turning dust days back into sunshine days.

Rachel thought about what the Indian had said. She'd heard the wind but unlike the canary she'd never listened to it. Now when she tried she could hear music in the moaning. Of course the music was faint and hidden in the background and she needed her imagination, but it was there if she truly listened. She began humming the sounds she heard. "That's a pretty tune32" her mother commented one day, "what song is that?" Rachel didn't reply, unsure how to explain, and her mother didn't press the question. Soon she, too, began humming.

Occasionally bachelor cowpokes stopped by the cabin to buy flatbread or to have their clothes mended. They were always welcomed, not for the money in their pocket but for their company. With no neighbors for twenty miles, it was lonely on the plains. The family and guests traded news, shared a meal, and were serenaded by Sir Gallant who was often the center of conversation.

One afternoon the younger daughter Mary noticed the canary sitting motionless on his perch. "Is Sir Gallant sick?" she asked in alarm.

"No. It's just a dark day outside," her mother reassured33 her. "It'll be raining soon and he probably doesn't feel like singing."

The younger children accepted this explanation but not Rachel. She knew that while Sir Gallant stopped singing from time to time, he had always hopped about his cage. She went to the door and looked outside. It was deathly quiet, no wind or sounds of birds or prairie dogs. She saw the outline of her father with the two oxen in the north field and at the same time she saw black thunderclouds stacked high into the sky. There was a heaviness to the air and a prickly feeling.

The Indian's words echoed in her mind. "It listens to the wind."

Rachel thought about Sir Gallant's odd behavior and the angry thunderclouds and how strange it felt. Straining to hear, she caught a faint rumbling34 and it was the sound of thunder.

Suddenly Rachel knew. She absolutely knew they were in danger. "Mom," she shouted. "It's a tornado35!"

Immediately Mary and Michael began screaming as their mother gathered them up and, along with Sir Gallant, rushed outside. The safest place was the root cellar at the side of the house. Throwing open the cellar doors, the mother yelled to Rachel to warn her father.

Rachel took off running across the field shouting and waving her arms, but not until she was halfway36 across did she get his attention.

"What's wrong?" he yelled.

It was another moment before she reached him. "Tornado."

His eyes searched the horizon. "I don't see anything, but I can bring in Molly and Bell anyway. I'll come back to the house."

"No! There's no time. Listen!" Rachel was close to hysterical37 and because she never lied or played tricks, he did as she asked. Finally able to hear the rumbling he jumped to action. Releasing the yoke38 from the harnesses on the oxen he turned them free and then grabbed Rachel's arm and they began to run. By the time they reached the sod cabin, the tornado was visible, rain drenched39 their bodies and a thunderous roaring pounded the air.

The tornado lasted only minutes although it felt like hours. When the family emerged from their shelter they were relieved to find their sod cabin intact. Fortunately the oxen, too, had escaped although the scarred earth proved the north field had been in the center of the tornado's path. The loss of crops would make things more difficult, but they felt blessed to be alive. They also felt divine intervention40 had come in the form of a little yellow bird.

The woman stood in the door of the attic41 and sighed. Gray and dusty in the half light, the room was filled with old furniture, boxes and a thousand forgotten memories. She had inherited its contents from her grandmother and now faced the chore of deciding the fate of each piece. Attracted to an old sewing machine, so old that it had a foot treadle, she opened the top drawer. Amidst the buttons and needles and scissors was a tiny bundle of lace neatly tied with ribbon. Curious she picked it up and unwrapped it. To her surprise she found she was unfolding the burial cloth of a canary, its body long ago dried up but carefully preserved. Holding it in her right hand she stared, perplexed42, and quite unconsciously put her left hand over her heart.


This story was inspired by an article I read in a magazine years ago. Inheriting her grandmother's sewing machine (who had been a pioneer in one of the plains states), the author of that article found the wrapped body of a canary in one of its drawers. Intrigued43 she had done research, discovering just how much the pioneers had loved these little birds. The article included the photograph of a prairie cabin with three cages of canaries hanging from its eaves.


1 gusting b935a53d4a54bfbe1ff80be0f64a4ae6     
  • Then the treacherous North Atlantic struck, with hail, rain, lightning and gusting wind. 这时,气候变幻莫测的北大西洋出现了冰雹、大雨、闪电和狂风。 来自英汉非文学 - 百科语料821
  • Jeff: Sometimes, the partiality and miscarriage of justice are dis-gusting too. 杰夫: 有时,裁判的不公平和误判也真是令人讨厌的一件事情。
2 wagon XhUwP     
  • We have to fork the hay into the wagon.我们得把干草用叉子挑进马车里去。
  • The muddy road bemired the wagon.马车陷入了泥泞的道路。
3 hunched 532924f1646c4c5850b7c607069be416     
  • He sat with his shoulders hunched up. 他耸起双肩坐着。
  • Stephen hunched down to light a cigarette. 斯蒂芬弓着身子点燃一支烟。
4 backwards BP9ya     
  • He turned on the light and began to pace backwards and forwards.他打开电灯并开始走来走去。
  • All the girls fell over backwards to get the party ready.姑娘们迫不及待地为聚会做准备。
5 shaft YEtzp     
  • He was wounded by a shaft.他被箭击中受伤。
  • This is the shaft of a steam engine.这是一个蒸汽机主轴。
6 thumping hgUzBs     
  • Her heart was thumping with emotion. 她激动得心怦怦直跳。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》
  • He was thumping the keys of the piano. 他用力弹钢琴。 来自《现代英汉综合大词典》
7 pointed Il8zB4     
  • He gave me a very sharp pointed pencil.他给我一支削得非常尖的铅笔。
  • She wished to show Mrs.John Dashwood by this pointed invitation to her brother.她想通过对达茨伍德夫人提出直截了当的邀请向她的哥哥表示出来。
8 giggling 2712674ae81ec7e853724ef7e8c53df1     
v.咯咯地笑( giggle的现在分词 )
  • We just sat there giggling like naughty schoolchildren. 我们只是坐在那儿像调皮的小学生一样的咯咯地傻笑。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • I can't stand her giggling, she's so silly. 她吃吃地笑,叫我真受不了,那样子傻透了。 来自《现代英汉综合大词典》
9 jacks 2b0facb0ce94beb5f627e3c22cc18d34     
n.抓子游戏;千斤顶( jack的名词复数 );(电)插孔;[电子学]插座;放弃
  • Hydraulic jacks under the machine produce the movement. 是机器下面的液压千斤顶造成的移动。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • The front end is equipped with hydraulic jacks used for grade adjustment. 前瑞安装有液压千斤顶用来调整坡度。 来自辞典例句
10 relaxation MVmxj     
  • The minister has consistently opposed any relaxation in the law.部长一向反对法律上的任何放宽。
  • She listens to classical music for relaxation.她听古典音乐放松。
11 bout Asbzz     
  • I was suffering with a bout of nerves.我感到一阵紧张。
  • That bout of pneumonia enfeebled her.那次肺炎的发作使她虚弱了。
12 puff y0cz8     
  • He took a puff at his cigarette.他吸了一口香烟。
  • They tried their best to puff the book they published.他们尽力吹捧他们出版的书。
13 mighty YDWxl     
  • A mighty force was about to break loose.一股巨大的力量即将迸发而出。
  • The mighty iceberg came into view.巨大的冰山出现在眼前。
14 whooped e66c6d05be2853bfb6cf7848c8d6f4d8     
叫喊( whoop的过去式和过去分词 ); 高声说; 唤起
  • The bill whooped through both houses. 此提案在一片支持的欢呼声中由两院匆匆通过。
  • The captive was whooped and jeered. 俘虏被叱责讥笑。
15 jubilation UaCzI     
  • The goal was greeted by jubilation from the home fans.主场球迷为进球欢呼。
  • The whole city was a scene of jubilation.全市一片欢腾。
16 plank p2CzA     
  • The plank was set against the wall.木板靠着墙壁。
  • They intend to win the next election on the plank of developing trade.他们想以发展贸易的纲领来赢得下次选举。
17 scent WThzs     
  • The air was filled with the scent of lilac.空气中弥漫着丁香花的芬芳。
  • The flowers give off a heady scent at night.这些花晚上散发出醉人的芳香。
18 crates crates     
n. 板条箱, 篓子, 旧汽车 vt. 装进纸条箱
  • We were using crates as seats. 我们用大木箱作为座位。
  • Thousands of crates compacted in a warehouse. 数以千计的板条箱堆放在仓库里。
19 aisles aisles     
n. (席位间的)通道, 侧廊
  • Aisles were added to the original Saxon building in the Norman period. 在诺曼时期,原来的萨克森风格的建筑物都增添了走廊。
  • They walked about the Abbey aisles, and presently sat down. 他们走到大教堂的走廊附近,并且很快就坐了下来。
20 neatly ynZzBp     
  • Sailors know how to wind up a long rope neatly.水手们知道怎样把一条大绳利落地缠好。
  • The child's dress is neatly gathered at the neck.那孩子的衣服在领口处打着整齐的皱褶。
21 propped 557c00b5b2517b407d1d2ef6ba321b0e     
支撑,支持,维持( prop的过去式和过去分词 )
  • He sat propped up in the bed by pillows. 他靠着枕头坐在床上。
  • This fence should be propped up. 这栅栏该用东西支一支。
22 fabric 3hezG     
  • The fabric will spot easily.这种织品很容易玷污。
  • I don't like the pattern on the fabric.我不喜欢那块布料上的图案。
23 spoke XryyC     
n.(车轮的)辐条;轮辐;破坏某人的计划;阻挠某人的行动 v.讲,谈(speak的过去式);说;演说;从某种观点来说
  • They sourced the spoke nuts from our company.他们的轮辐螺帽是从我们公司获得的。
  • The spokes of a wheel are the bars that connect the outer ring to the centre.辐条是轮子上连接外圈与中心的条棒。
24 hopped 91b136feb9c3ae690a1c2672986faa1c     
跳上[下]( hop的过去式和过去分词 ); 单足蹦跳; 齐足(或双足)跳行; 摘葎草花
  • He hopped onto a car and wanted to drive to town. 他跳上汽车想开向市区。
  • He hopped into a car and drove to town. 他跳进汽车,向市区开去。
25 perch 5u1yp     
  • The bird took its perch.鸟停歇在栖木上。
  • Little birds perch themselves on the branches.小鸟儿栖歇在树枝上。
26 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。
27 barter bu2zJ     
  • Chickens,goats and rabbits were offered for barter at the bazaar.在集市上,鸡、山羊和兔子被摆出来作物物交换之用。
  • They have arranged food imports on a barter basis.他们以易货贸易的方式安排食品进口。
28 warfare XhVwZ     
  • He addressed the audience on the subject of atomic warfare.他向听众演讲有关原子战争的问题。
  • Their struggle consists mainly in peasant guerrilla warfare.他们的斗争主要是农民游击战。
29 swelled bd4016b2ddc016008c1fc5827f252c73     
增强( swell的过去式和过去分词 ); 肿胀; (使)凸出; 充满(激情)
  • The infection swelled his hand. 由于感染,他的手肿了起来。
  • After the heavy rain the river swelled. 大雨过后,河水猛涨。
30 joyous d3sxB     
  • The lively dance heightened the joyous atmosphere of the scene.轻快的舞蹈给这场戏渲染了欢乐气氛。
  • They conveyed the joyous news to us soon.他们把这一佳音很快地传递给我们。
31 gallant 66Myb     
  • Huang Jiguang's gallant deed is known by all men. 黄继光的英勇事迹尽人皆知。
  • These gallant soldiers will protect our country.这些勇敢的士兵会保卫我们的国家的。
32 tune NmnwW     
  • He'd written a tune,and played it to us on the piano.他写了一段曲子,并在钢琴上弹给我们听。
  • The boy beat out a tune on a tin can.那男孩在易拉罐上敲出一首曲子。
33 reassured ff7466d942d18e727fb4d5473e62a235     
adj.使消除疑虑的;使放心的v.再保证,恢复信心( reassure的过去式和过去分词)
  • The captain's confidence during the storm reassured the passengers. 在风暴中船长的信念使旅客们恢复了信心。 来自《现代英汉综合大词典》
  • The doctor reassured the old lady. 医生叫那位老妇人放心。 来自《简明英汉词典》
34 rumbling 85a55a2bf439684a14a81139f0b36eb1     
n. 隆隆声, 辘辘声 adj. 隆隆响的 动词rumble的现在分词
  • The earthquake began with a deep [low] rumbling sound. 地震开始时发出低沉的隆隆声。
  • The crane made rumbling sound. 吊车发出隆隆的响声。
35 tornado inowl     
  • A tornado whirled into the town last week.龙卷风上周袭击了这座城市。
  • The approaching tornado struck awe in our hearts.正在逼近的龙卷风使我们惊恐万分。
36 halfway Xrvzdq     
  • We had got only halfway when it began to get dark.走到半路,天就黑了。
  • In study the worst danger is give up halfway.在学习上,最忌讳的是有始无终。
37 hysterical 7qUzmE     
  • He is hysterical at the sight of the photo.他一看到那张照片就异常激动。
  • His hysterical laughter made everybody stunned.他那歇斯底里的笑声使所有的人不知所措。
38 yoke oeTzRa     
  • An ass and an ox,fastened to the same yoke,were drawing a wagon.驴子和公牛一起套在轭上拉车。
  • The defeated army passed under the yoke.败军在轭门下通过。
39 drenched cu0zJp     
adj.湿透的;充满的v.使湿透( drench的过去式和过去分词 );在某人(某物)上大量使用(某液体)
  • We were caught in the storm and got drenched to the skin. 我们遇上了暴雨,淋得浑身透湿。
  • The rain drenched us. 雨把我们淋得湿透。 来自《简明英汉词典》
40 intervention e5sxZ     
  • The government's intervention in this dispute will not help.政府对这场争论的干预不会起作用。
  • Many people felt he would be hostile to the idea of foreign intervention.许多人觉得他会反对外来干预。
41 attic Hv4zZ     
  • Leakiness in the roof caused a damp attic.屋漏使顶楼潮湿。
  • What's to be done with all this stuff in the attic?顶楼上的材料怎么处理?
42 perplexed A3Rz0     
  • The farmer felt the cow,went away,returned,sorely perplexed,always afraid of being cheated.那农民摸摸那头牛,走了又回来,犹豫不决,总怕上当受骗。
  • The child was perplexed by the intricate plot of the story.这孩子被那头绪纷繁的故事弄得迷惑不解。
43 intrigued 7acc2a75074482e2b408c60187e27c73     
  • You've really intrigued me—tell me more! 你说的真有意思—再给我讲一些吧!
  • He was intrigued by her story. 他被她的故事迷住了。
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