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        > 小學英語 > 小學英語教材 > 澳大利亞語文第六冊 >  第56篇

        (原版)澳大利亞語文第六冊 LESSON 56






        A ROUGH RIDE

        Well, young un, what be gaping at? He gave pretty Annie a chuck on the chin, and took me all in without winking. "Your mare," said I, standing stoutly up, being a tall boy now. "I never saw such a beauty, sir. Will you let me have a ride on her?"

        Think thou couldst ride her, lad? She will have no burden but mine. Thou couldst never ride her. Tut! I would be loath to kill thee.

        Ride her! I cried with the bravest scorn, for she looked so kind and gentle; "there never was horse upon Exmoor foaled, but I could tackle in half an hour. Only I never ride upon saddle. Take those leathers [1] off her."

        He looked at me, with a dry little whistle, and thrust his hands into his breeches-pockets, and so grinned that I could not stand it. And Annie laid hold of me, in such a way, that I was almost mad with her. And he laughed, and approved her for doing so. And the worst of all was—he said nothing.

        Get away, Annie, will you? Do you think I am a fool, good sir? Only trust me with her, and I will not over-ride her.

        For that I will go bail [2] , my son. She is like to over-ride thee. But the ground is soft to fall upon, after all this rain. Now come out into the yard, young man, for the sake of your mother's cabbages. And the mellow straw-bed will be softer for thee, since pride must have its fall. I am thy mother's cousin, boy, and am going up to house. Tom Faggus is my name, as everybody knows; and this is my young mare, Winnie.

        What a fool I must have been not to know it at once! Tom Faggus, the great highwayman, and his young blood-mare, the strawberry! Already her fame was noised abroad, nearly as much as her master's; and my longing to ride her grew tenfold, but fear came at the back of it. Not that I had the smallest fear of what the mare could do to me, by fair play and horse-trickery; but that the glory of sitting upon her seemed to be too great for me; especially as there were rumours abroad that she was not a mare after all, but a witch. However, she looked like a filly all over, and wonderfully beautiful, with her supple [3] stride, and soft slope of shoulder, and glossy coat beaded with water, and eyes full of love or fire.

        Mr. Faggus gave his mare a wink, and she walked demurely [4] after him, a bright young thing, flowing over with life, yet dropping her soul to a higher one, and led by love to anything.

        Up for it still, boy, be ye? Tom Faggus stopped, and the mare stopped there; and they looked at me provokingly [5] .

        Is she able to leap sir? There is good take-off on this side of the brook.

        Mr. Faggus laughed very quietly, turning round to Winnie, so that she might enter into it. And she, for her part, seemed to know exactly where the joke was.

        Good tumble-off, you mean, my boy. Well there can be small harm to thee. I am akin to [6] thy family, and know the substance of their skulls.

        Let me get up, said I, waxing wroth, for reasons I cannot tell you, because they are too manifold [7] . "Take off your saddlebag things. I will try not to squeeze her ribs in, unless she plays nonsense with me."

        Then Mr. Faggus was up on his mettle, at this proud speech of mine; and John Fry was running up all the while, and Bill Dadds, and a half dozen. Tom Faggus gave one glance around and then dropped all regard for me. The high repute of his mare was at stake, and what was my life compared to it? Through my defiance, and stupid ways, here was I in a duello [8] , and my legs not come to their strength yet, and my arms as limp as a herring.

        Something of this occurred to him, even in his wrath with me, for he spoke very softly to the filly, who now could scarcely subdue herself; but she drew in her nostrils, and breathed to his breath, and did all she could to answer him.

        Not too hard, my dear, he said; "let him gently down on the mixen [9] . That will be quite enough." Then he turned the saddle off, and I was up in a moment. She began at first so easily, and pricked her ears so lovingly, and minced about as if pleased to find so light a weight on her, that I thought she knew I could ride a little, and feared to show any capers [10] . "Gee wugg, Polly!" cried I, for all the men were now looking on, being then at the leaving-off time, "and show what thou art made of." With that I plugged my heels into her, and Billy Dadds flung his hat up.

        Nevertheless, she outraged not, though her eyes were frightening Annie, and John Fry took a pick to keep him safe; but she curbed to and fro, with her strong fore-arms rising, like springs ingathered, waiting and quivering, grievously, and beginning to sweat about it. Then her master gave a shrill clear whistle, when her ears were bent towards him, and I felt her form beneath me gathering up like whalebone, and her hind-legs coming under her, and I knew that I was in for it.

        First she reared upright in the air, and struck me full on the nose with her comb, till I bled worse than Robin Snell made me; and then down with her fore-feet deep in the straw, and her hind-feet going to heaven. Finding me stick to her still like wax (for my mettle was up as hers was), away she flew with me, swifter than ever I went before, or since, I trow. She drove full-head at the cobwall—"Oh, Jack, slip off," screamed Annie—then she turned like light, when I thought to crush her, and ground my left knee against it. "Mux me!" I cried, for my breeches were broken, and short words went the furthest-"If you kill me, you shall die with me." Then she took the courtyard gate at a leap, knocking my words between my teeth, and then right over a quickset [11] hedge, as if the sky were a breath to her; and away for the water meadows, while I lay on her neck like a child at the breast and wished I had never been born. Straight away, all in the front of the wind, and scattering clouds around her, all I knew of the speed we made was the frightful flash of her shoulders, and her mane like trees in a tempest. I felt the earth under us rushing away, and the air left far behind us, and my breath came and went, and I prayed to God, and was sorry to be so late of it.


        All the long swift while, without power of thought, I clung to her crest and shoulders, and dug my naris into her creases, and my toes into her flank-part, and was proud of holding on so long, though sure of being beaten. Then in her fury at feeling me still, she rushed at another device for it, and leaped the wide water-trough sideways across, to and fro, till no breath was left in me. The hazel-boughs took me too hard in the face, and the tall dog-briars got hold of me, and the ache of my back was like crimping [12] a fish; till I longed to give up, and, thoroughly beaten, lie there and die in the cresses [13] . But there came a shrill whistle from up the home-hill where the people had hurried to watch us; and the mare stopped as if with a bullet; then set off for home with the speed of a swallow, and going as smoothly and silently. I never had dreamed of such delicate motion, fluent, and graceful, soft as the breeze flitting over the flowers, but swift as the summer lightning. I sat up again, but my strength was spent, and no time left to recover it; and at last, as she rose at our gate like a bird, I tumbled off into the mixen.

        —From "Lorna Doone" by R. D. Blackmore

        * * *

        [1] leathers: Saddle and stirrup straps.

        [2] go bail: Be sure; a man who has done some wrong and who has been brought before a court of law may be relieved of imprisonment while his case is being decided, if someone is willing to deposit a sum of money as a promise that he will not flee. The money so paid is called bail.

        [3] supple: Moving easily.

        [4] demurely: Quietly.

        [5] provokingly: Annoyingly.

        [6] akin to: Related to.

        [7] manifold: Numerous.

        [8] duello: Duel, combat.

        [9] mixen: Rubbish heap.

        [10] show capers: Jump about.

        [11] quickset: A plant grown as a hedge.

        [12] crimping: Making the skin to wrinkle by gashing it with a knife.

        [13] cresses: Plants growing close to the ground, used in salads.


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