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牛津书虫系列 大卫科波菲尔 Chapter 8 David's new life

所属教程:牛津书虫系列 大卫·科波菲尔




  With Agnes's encouragement I felt much stronger,and no longer depressed.My life now bad a purpose.I intended to work as hard as I could,to help my aunt and to earn enough money to marry Dora.I got up every morning at five o’clock,walked to Dr Strong's house on the other side of London,worked with him for two hours every morning,and then walked back to Mr Spenlow's office,where I spent most of the day in the lawcourts.Then I returned to Dr Strong's for two or three more hours in the evening,and finally came home to my flat,where my aunt,Peggotty and Mr Dick would be waiting for me.I was glad to be able to tell my aunt that Dr Strong would pay me seventy pounds a year for my work.With that,and the rent from my aunt's house in Kent,we could live quite well,if we were careful.Because I was young and healthy,I did not mind hard work,and whenever I was tired,I told myself,‘You're doing it for Dora!’and that made me work even harder.


  When I met Traddles one day near the courts,I told him about my new situation,and he was very sympathetic.


  ‘But I have news for you too,Copperfield!’he said.‘The Micawbers are moving to Canterbury.’


  ‘Oh!That means something must have turned up for them!’I replied,interested.


  ‘Yes,Mr Micawber is going to become assistant to someone called Uriah Heep,a partner in a firm of Canterbury lawyers.’


  ‘Heep!’I cried in horror.‘I know him!Why would Mr Micawber want to work for him?’


  ‘Well,I do know that Heep has paid all Mr Micawber's debts in London,’answered Traddles.‘The whole family is leaving tomorrow.They asked me to tell you.’


  I wondered why Heep wanted Micawber to work for him,and I felt sure Uriah had some evil plan in his ugly head.


  The next day Peggotty was returning to Yarmouth to look after Ham,while Daniel was away.After I had taken her to the coach station and said goodbye to her,I hurried to Miss Mills's house.I had not yet told Dora about the changes in my life,because I had not wanted to explain it all in a letter,but today she was visiting Julia Mills and was expecting me to come to tea.


  How happy and heautiful Dora looked when she met me in the sitting-room!And how shocked and miserable she looked when I asked her immediately,‘Can you love a beggar,Dora?’My pretty little Dora!She had no idea what I meant.


  ‘Don't be silly,David!’she cried.‘What are you talking about?’


  ‘It's true,Dora,my love!’I cried.‘I've lost all my money!I'm a beggar!’And I looked so serious that Dora was frightened,and began to sob bitterly on my shoulder.


  ‘But I love you,Dora,and always will!’I continued.‘It doesn't matter if we are poor,because I'll work hard to buy our bread.We don't need much as long as we have each other!Tell me your heart is still mine,dear Dora!’


  ‘Oh yes!’she cried.‘Oh yes,it's all yours!Only,don't frighten me again!Don't talk of hard work and bread!I don't understand!I hardly ever eat bread!’


  I loved her more than ever.But I felt she was not very practical.In a few moments,when she had stopped crying and was calmer,I tried again to make her understand.


  ‘My dearest!May I mention something?’


  ‘Oh,please don't be practical!begged Dora,tears coming to her lovely eyes.‘It frightens me so much!’


  ‘My dear one,if we work together,and share our problems,it will make us,and our love,stronger.


  ‘But I'm not strong at all!’she cried miserably.‘Ask Julia!She'll tell you—I'm weak,and foolish!’


  ‘But if you thought sometimes,my sweet Dora,that you are engaged to a poor man—if you tried to see how your father manages the servants,or how much food costs in the markets,it would be helpful to us.We must be brave,dear Dora!Our path in life is steep and rocky—’


  I was becoming quite enthusiastic,but I suddenly realized I had said far too much.Poor little Dora was sobbing and screaming with fear,and in a moment was lying unconscious on the sofa.I really thought I had killed her.I threw water on her face and went down on my knees to ask her to forgive me.I called myself a selfish,heartless creature,and shouted for Julia Mills.At last she hurried in,and I explained what had happened.When Dora opened her eyes,her friend helped her upstairs.


  While Dora was upstairs,washing her face and calming herself,I asked Miss Mills's advice on the best way to encourage Dora to become more practical.Miss Mills shook her head sadly.


  ‘I must be honest with you,Mr Copperfield.Our dearest Dora is a beautiful,innocent child of nature,full of light and happiness.She is above the things of this world,which we poor humans have to worry about.I think you'll just have to accept that fact.’


  When Dora came downstairs again,she looked so lovely that I felt bitterly angry with myself for making her unhappy, even for a moment.We had tea,and she sang her French songs to me,and played the guitar.We were happy again,until the moment when I stupidly mentioned that I had to get up at five o’clock the next morning.Suddenly her pretty face looked sad,and she did not play or sing again.When I got up to go,she came up close to me,and said lovingly,‘You bad boy,don't be so silly!Don't get up at five o’clock!Why should you?’


  ‘But my love,I have work to do!I have to work in order to live!’ I replied.


  ‘ Work?Don't be so foolish, David dear!’and she seemed to think that was the end of the matter, as she gave me a kiss straight from her innocent little heart.


  I loved her, and went on loving her. But I went on working hard too, and worrying about earning money. Some evenings,as I sat opposite my aunt in my little sitting-room at the end of another exhausting day, I was quite frightened, when I thought of the problems I was going to have to solve alone.


  Several months passed in this way. Dora and I wrote to each other every day, and occasionally I was able to visit her at Miss Mills's house. But one morning when I arrived at the office for work, Mr Spenlow greeted me very coldly and asked me to step into his office, where we could talk privately.When I entered the room,I was surprised to see Miss Murd-stone standing by his desk, staring unpleasantly at me. I knew at once that Dora's father had discoversd our secret, and I guessed who had told him.


  ‘ Mr Copperfield,’ said Mr Spenlow, frowning sternly at me,‘ I am sorry to say that Miss Murdstone has found some letters which appear to be from you to my daughter Dora. Are they yours?’


  I looked at the letters he handed to me, blushed, and whispered,‘ Yes, sir,’ Poor little Dora!I hoped she had not been frightened by that horrible Murdstone woman. I hated to think Of Dora's unhappiness at losing my letters.


  ‘ I suspected something was wrong when Miss Spenlow came back from her last visit to Miss Mills,’ said Miss Murd-stone, looking very pleased with herself.‘ I always said Julia Mills was not a suitable friend for Miss Spenlow, and I was right!’


  Mr Spenlow appeared to agree, but rather sadly.


  ‘ I am very sorry, sir,’ I said,‘ but it is all my fault. Please don't blame Dora—’


  ‘ Miss Spenlow to you, young man!’ said her father angrily.


  ‘ I know it wasn't right to keep it secret, sir, but I love your daughter,and I hope that one day—’


  ‘ Don't speak to me of love, Mr Copperfield! cried Mr Spenlow.‘ You are both much too young! We'll throw these letters in the fire, and you must promise to forget the whole thing. There is no question of your marrying Dora!’


  ‘ But sir,I can't forget her!I love her!’ I protested.


  ‘That is my last word, M Copperfield! When you have time to consider, you'll realize it's wiser to do as I say. Now go to your work!’


  I spent all day thinking of poor sweet Dora, and how she must be feeling. In the evening I hurried round to Miss Mills's house, but although she spoke wisely of love and broken hearts, she could not offer me any practical advice.


  The next day, after a sleepless night, I arrived at the office at the normal time, and discovered all the clerks standing talking at the front door. This was so unusual that I stopped to ask what had happened.


  ‘ Why,don't you know?’ asked one of them.‘The police have found Mr Spenlow dead!’I fell back, shocked.


  ‘ You look very pale, Mr Copperfield!’ said another.‘Sit down here, sir!’


  ‘ Tell me——tell me what happened, I gasped.


  ‘Well, he went into town to dinner last night, and the carriage and horses came back at midnight without him. He was driving himself, you see. So the servants went to look for him, and found him dead in the road. He must have been ill,and have fallen out of the carriage. Anyway, he was dead when they found him.’


  This was a terrible shock to me. Perhaps his anger with me had made him ill.In that case I was partly to blame for his death. But I am sorry to say I was also jealous of Dora's sadness. White she was crying for her dead father, she was not thinking of me, and I selfishly wanted to be the only person in her life.


  In the next few weeks I became quite desperate because I could not see or speak to my sweet Dora. Miss Mills reported that Dora cried all day, and when my name was mentioned,only sobbed more loudly and said,‘Oh poor dear Father!How wicked of me to keep a secret from him! Oh! Oh!’ So I did not feel encouraged to visit her. Soon after her father's funeral, Dora was taken to live with her two aunts at Putney,in south London, where she seemed to be further away from me than ever.


  My aunt, meanwhile, began to be seriously worried about my health, as I was getting more and more depressed. So she suggested I should go to Dover for a few days, to make sure that her house was still in good condition, and then to Canter-bury, to visit the Wickfields. I agreed willingly, as I was always happy to see Agnes. It was easy to take a few day's hoilday from my work at the lawcourts and with Dr Strong.


  I was glad to find that the person who was renting my aunt's house in Dover was looking after it well. I was then free to continue my journey to Canterbury, that beautiful ancient city, which seemed very little changed since my schooldays. The soft, clean air made me feel better than I had done for weeks.


  When I arrived at the Wickfields’House, I found Mr Micawber in Uriah Heep's old office.


  We were pleased to see each other, but we both felt a little embarrassed. I realized that he did not want to talk about confidential matters concerning the firm of Heep and Wickfield, and he knew that I disliked his employer, Heep. So conversation was difficult,and in the end I was glad to leave him, and go upstairs to look for Agnes.


  I found her in her sitting-room, and she looked up at me with such a warm welcome in her smile that I was very moved.


  ‘Ah, Agnes!’ I sald.‘ I've missed you so much recently!You helped me such a lot in the old days that I suppose I never learnt to think for myself. I always feel I need your help and advice. I get into such trouble, and I get so worried, and have so little confidence in myself, but when I'm with you, you give me purpose! You make me strong! What is your secret,my dear adopted sister?’


  Agnes gave me her hand, which I kissed, and she went on,in her sisterly way, to listen sympathetically as I told her everything that had happened in the past few weeks. As usual,she knew the right thing to do.She advised me to write to Dora's aunts, to ask if I could visit Dora occasionally, and she encouraged me in my hopes of marriage. I felt again that peace which Agnes always brought to me.


  We had not been sitting together long when Mrs Heep came in.She did not leave us for a moment all that evening, and I wondered whether Uriah had told her to watch over us.Whenever I looked at Agnes's lovely face, I saw Mrs Heep's evil black eyes staring at me.


  The next day, Mrs Heep did not leave Agnes and me alone even for a minute. The Heeps, mother and son, seemed to me like two ugly great black birds hanging over the house, and they made me so uncomfortable that I went out for a walk in the afternoon. I was walking along a path near the house,wondering if I should warn Agnes about Uriah's plan of marriage,when I heard footsteps behind me,and turned to see Uriah himself running after me.


  ‘Wait for me, Mr Copperfield!’ he cried.


  ‘Actually,’ I said,‘I came out to be alone.’


  ‘ Ah!’ he said, with his oily smile,‘ you don't like my mother being there all the time, do you?’


  ‘No,I don't,’I replied,not caring if I sounded rude.


  ‘ But you see,’ he continued,‘ in my humble position,I have to be very careful. I'm not married to my Agnes yet,and you're a dangerous rival, Mr Copperfield.’


  ‘What!’I cried in disgust.‘ You allow Miss Wickfield no peace in her own home because of me?Don't you realize I think of her as my very dear sister, nothing more? Let me tell you I am engaged to another lady! There! Is that enough for you?’


  ‘ Oh Mr Copperfield!’ cried Uriah, gratefully shaking my hand with his cold fishy one.‘ I'll tell Mother to stop watching you at once! Why didn't you tell me that before? I know you've never liked and trusted me,as I've liked you!’


  We returned to the house together in silence. That evening after dinner, when Agnes and Mrs Heep had left us, Uriah said to Mr Wickfield,‘Let's have some wine, partner,and drink to young Mr Copperfield's health. It isn't often we have the pleasure of his company, is it, partner?’


  I knew Uriah was deliberately encouraging Mr Wickfield to drink too much, but I saw that although Agnes's father was aware of his weakness, he could no longer stop himself. As the evening passed, I was disgusted to see that Uriah became more and more cheerful as Mr Wickfield became more and more drunk. Finally Uriah stood up with a glass in his hand.


  ‘ Come, partner!’ he said with his evil smile.‘Let's drink to the health of the most beautiful woman in the world!’


  Poor, broken Mr wickfield looked for a moment at the picture of his dead wife on the wall, so similar to Agnes.


  ‘ I may be humble,’ continued Uriah,‘but I admire, no, I love your daughter Agnes!’


  Suddenly a horrible cry came from Mr Wickfield.He had stood up, and was screaming with anger. He behaved so wildly and desperately that I thought he had gone mad.‘ My child and you, Heep! No, never! You've taken everything from me , my business, my good name, my home, but you'll never take her!’


  ‘ Perhaps I've said too much too soon,’ said Uriah, looking uncomfortable.‘But you'll be sorry, partner, if you say any more! You need me, remember? You've got nothing without me! Remember that before you accuse me of anything!’


  Just then the door opened and Agnes entered silently.


  ‘ You're not well, Father, come with me,’ she whispered gently, and helped the ashamed old man out. I thought she must have heard what had been said.


  Later that night she came to say goodnight to me in the sitting-room, where I was alone, reading.


  ‘ Agnes, my dear sister,’ I said to her,‘ promise me that you will never agree to marry that evil creature, for any reason!’


  Through her tears she smiled calmly at me.‘ Don't worry,brother,I'm not afraid of him. My duty is to take care of Father, and I trust in God for the rest. Goodnight, David.’


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