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親愛的長腿叔叔:

 

    你說好不好笑?昨天下午寫信給你時,剛剛起頭寫了「親愛的長腿叔叔」,忽然想起我答應森普爾太太採些黑莓晚餐時吃,就把信紙留在桌上匆匆跑開了。今天打算繼續寫信,你猜我在信紙中央看到了什麼?一隻真正我的「長腿叔叔」大蜘蛛!

 

    我輕輕抓住牠的一隻腿,把牠放到窗戶外。我決不會傷害牠們,看見牠們就讓我想起你。

 

    今天早晨,我們套上馬車到鎮中心的教堂去。教堂是一所可愛的白色建築,有著尖塔和三根陶立克式的圓柱或者是愛奧尼亞式的―我總是搞不清楚)

   

    在那催人入睡的佈道聲中,眾人懶洋洋地搖著芭蕉扇。除了牧師的聲音之外,只有窗外樹叢中蚱蜢在    叫著。我一直打瞌睡,直到大家起立唱聖歌。這時,我忽然為剛才沒有聽佈道感到一陣懊悔,真想知道選擇這首聖歌的人的心理,請看:

 

 來吧,放下你的娛樂和塵世的玩物,

 與我在天國攜手騰歡。

 否則,親愛的朋友,你我就此永別,

 任你淪落地獄受盡磨難。

 

    我發現和森普爾夫婦討論宗教很不妥當。他們我上帝那是他們從清教徙的袓先完整繼承下來的)狹隘,吝嗇、不講理、不公正、報服人強又頑固不化。謝天謝地,我的上帝。他善良、有慈悲心、富想像力、寬宏大量又通情達理,還富有幽默感。

 

    我非常喜歡森普爾夫婦;他們的實際行動比理論高超得多,他們勝過了他們的上帝。他們聽我這樣說,很惶恐害怕,認為我褻瀆了上帝,我卻認為他們才是褻瀆了上帝!從此我們再不談理論。

 

    現在是星期天下午。

 

    阿馬薩(男僱工)和嘉麗(女僱工)剛才駕著馬車走了。阿馬薩滿臉通紅,鬍子刮淨,打著紫色領帶,戴著鵝黃色鹿皮手套。嘉麗戴著一頂綴有紅玫瑰的大帽子,穿著藍色細布裙子,頭髮捲成了緊緊的小卷。阿馬薩花了整整一上午洗刷那輛馬車。嘉麗不寺教堂,藉口留下來做晚飯,其實是在燙她那件細布裙子。

 

    再過兩分鐘,等這封信寫完後,我就要坐下來,認真讀我從閣樓上找到的一本書。書名是《在小路上》。扉頁上,一個潦草滑稽小男孩的筆跡寫著:

 

    傑維斯˙彭德爾頓

    如果這本書一旦到處流浪,

    請給它一記耳光,送它回家。

 

    他十一歲的那年夏天,生了一場病,曾來到這裹休養,留下了這本書。看來,他讀得很仔細,他髒髒的小手印到處留痕!在閣樓的角落裹有一輛水車、風車和一些弓箭。森普爾太太不停地提起他,讓我感覺他還是個可愛的、頭髮薘亂的髒小孩,並沒有長大為一位頭戴禮帽,拿著手杖的紳士。他吵鬧地爬上樓梯,從不記得關紗門,一天到晚要餅乾吃(而且一定會得到,我知道森普爾太太!)。聽她說,他小時候就喜歡冒險,而且勇敢而真誠。可惜他是彭德爾頓家族的人;他實際上比這家人要好得多了。

 

    明天打燕麥;新的蒸汽機器也會送來,另外還增加了三個僱工。

 

    我告訴你,那隻叫芭特柯普的花母牛(獨角;列絲比亞的母親)做了一件很無恥的事,我好傷心。星期五傍晚,她跑到蘋果園裹面,飽餐了一頓掉在樹下的蘋果。她吃呀吃呀,直到頭腦發昏。兩天了,她還是爛醉如泥!這是真的,你聽說過這麼丟人的事嗎?

 

 

對你一往情心的孤兒潔魯莎˙艾博特

星期日

 

 

附記: 第一章講印第安人,第二章講綠林好漢。我摒住呼吸,第三章會講什麼呢?卷首上寫著「印第安人躍到半空,落地身亡。」朱蒂和傑維怎麼能不開心呢?

  

 

Sunday

Dear Daddy-Long-Legs,

     Isn’t it funny?  I started to write to you yesterday afternoon, but as far as I got was the heading, “Dear Daddy-Long-Legs,” and then I remembered I’d promised to pick some  blackberries for supper, so I went off and left the sheet lying on the table, and when I came back today, what do you think I found sitting in the middle of the page?  A real true Daddy-Long –Legs!

     I picked him up very gently by one leg, and dropped him out of the window.  I wouldn’t hurt one of them for the world.  They always remind me of you.

     We hitched up the spring wagon this morning and drove to the Center to church.  It’s a sweet little white frame church with a spire and three Doric[陶立克式,一種純樸、古老的希臘建築風格。] columns in front (or maybe Ionic[愛奧尼亞式,愛奧尼亞位於小亞細亞兩岸,西元前希臘工商業文化中心之一。]―I always get them mixed.)

    A nice, sleepy sermon with everybody drowsily waving palmleaf fans, and the only sound aside from the minister, the buzzing of locusts in the trees outside.  I didn’t wake up till I found myself on my feet singing the hymn, and then I was awfully sorry I hadn’t listened to the sermon; I should like to know more of the psychology of a man who would pick out such a hymn.  This was it:

 

   Come, leave your sports and earthly toys

   And join me in celestial joys.

   Or else, dear friend, a long farewell.

   I leave you now to sink to hell.

 

     I find that it isn’t safe to discuss religion with the Semples.  Their god (whim they have inherited intact from their remote Puritan ancestors) is a narrow, irrational, unjust, mean, revengeful, bigoted person.  Thank heaven I don’t inherit any god from anybody!  I am free to make mine up as I wish him.  He’s kind and sympathetic and imaginative and forgiving and understanding―and he has a sense of humor.

     I like the Semples immensely; their practice is so superior to their theory.  They are better than their own god.  I told them so―and they are horribly troubled.  They think I am blasphemous―and I think they are!  We’ve dropped theology from our conversation.

     This is Sunday afternoon.

     Amasai (hired man) in a purple tie and some bright yellow buckskin gloves, very red and shaved, has just driven off with Carrie (hired girl) in a big hat trimmed with red roses and a blue muslin dress and her hair curled as tight as it will curl.  Amasai spent all the morning washing the buggy; and Carrie stayed home from church ostensibly to cook the dinner, but really to iron the muslin dress.

     In two minutes more when this letter is finished I am going to settle down to a book which I found in the attic.  It’s entitled On the Trail, and sprawled across the front page in a funny little-boy hand:

 

Jervis Pendleton

If this book should ever roam,

Box its ears and send it home.

 

    He spent the summer here once after he had been ill, when he about eleven years old; and he left On the Trail behind.  It looks well read―the marks of his grimy little hands are frequent!  Also in a corner of the attic there is a waterwheel and a windmill and some bows and arrows.  Mrs. Semple talks so constantly about him that I begin to believe he really lives―not a grown man with a silk hat and walking stick, but a nice, dirty, tousleheaded boy who clatters up the stairs with an awful racket, and leaves the screen doors open, and is always asking for cookies.  (And getting them, too, if I know Mrs. Semple!)  He seems to heave been an adventurous little soul―and brave and truthful.  I’m sorry to think he is a Pendleton; he was meant for something better.

     We’re going to begin threshing oats tomorrow; a steam engine is coming and three extra men.

     It grieves me to tell you that Buttercup (the spotted cow with one horn, mother of Lesbia) has done a disgraceful thing.  She got into the orchard Friday evening and ate apples under the trees, and are and ate until they went to her head.  For two days she has been perfectly dead drunk!  That is the truth I am telling.  Did you ever hear anything so scandalous?

 

Sir,

I remain,

Your affectionate orphan,

Judy Abbott

  

PS.  Indians in the first chapter and highwaymen in the second.  I hold my breath.  What can the third contain?  “Red Hawk[指印第安人。] leapt twenty feet in the air and bit the dust[{美俚}死。].”  That is the subject of the frontispiece.  Aren’t Judy and Jervie having fun?