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The Water Babies

更新时间:2009-08-20    来源/发布    作者/编辑:admin

  Once upon a time there was a little chimney sweep named Tom who lived in a city in northern England. He could not read or write and he never washed or said his prayers. He had never been taught to do these things. Mr. Grimes, his master, made him work hard, fed him little, and beat him.


  One summer day, they were called to clean the chimneys at Harthover——a grand place owned by the rich Sir John. On the way, a mysterious woman with a red petticoat walked with them for a while.


  Harthover House was as big as a whole street of ordinary houses. It had many large and crooked chimneys that were connected to each other. While inside one of them, Tom got lost and came down the wrong chimney into a bedroom.


  Under the snow white coverlet, upon the snow-white pillow, lay the most beautiful little girl that Tom had ever seen. Her cheeks were almost as white as the pillow, and her hair was like threads of gold spread all about over the bed. She might have been as old as Tom, or maybe a year or two older: but Tom did not think of that. He thought only of her delicate skin and golden hair, and wondered whether she were a real live person, or one of the wax dolls he had seen in the shops. But when he saw her breathe, he made up his mind that she was alive, and stood staring at her, as if she had been an angel out of heaven.


  She awoke to see the black, ragged figure of little Tom. She screamed and a nurse came in. Tom escaped out a window and down a tree. He ran through the park around the house, climbed over a wall, and slowed to a walk. He went for miles through the moors and climbed a mountain. He was hot, tired, and thirsty, but down below was a wonderful sight.


  A deep, deep green and rocky valley, very narrow, and filled with woods: but through the woods, hundreds of feet below him, he could see a clear stream glance. Oh, if he could but get down to that stream! Then, by the stream, he saw the roof of a little cottage, and a little garden, set out in squares and beds. And there was a tiny little red thing moving in the garden, no bigger than a fly. As Tom looked down, he saw that it was a woman in a red petticoat! The name of the place was Vendale. The woman in the cottage was teaching some children the alphabet. She gave Tom a cup of milk and a piece of bread and told him to rest. Being feverish, he could not sleep. He went down to the brook, took off his clothes, and tumbled into the cool, clear water.


 Tom suddenly found himself to be less than four inches long. The fairies had turned him into a water baby. He swam downstream, passing salmon going upstream. On the banks were men fishing. One of them fell into the swift current, rolled over and sank to the bottom of a deep hole. Tom saw that it was his old master, Mr. Grimes. Fairies carried the body away.


  Tom reached the sea in the autumn. One day a man and a little girl were walking on the rocks at water's edge. She was Ellie, the same little girl Tom had seen in the great house. The man groped with his net in the weeds and caught little Tom by accident. Tom bit the man's finger and dropped back into the water. Excited, Ellie slipped and hit her head on a rock. That night, fairies came to her bed and carried her away.





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