ページの画像
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

mute entreaty. My eyes were the mirrors where this little cat's soul sought anxiously to find a reflection of mine.

As for me, I looked closely for the first time at the 5 little visitor, who for two weeks had shared my room.

She was tawny like a wild rabbit, spotted like a tiger, and with a white nose and neck. In fact, she was a lean, ugly cat — and yet she seemed more odd than ugly to a

man like myself who is free from all commonplace rules 10 on beauty. She was so different besides from our French

cats, with her stealthy step, her excessively long tail, her great ears standing erect. All her charm was in her eyes, deep like the eyes of the Orient, golden instead of green, always restless, and wonderfully expressive.

While I was looking at her I laid my hand on her odd little head and stroked the yellow fur.

She felt in it something beyond a physical pleasure. She had a feeling of protection, of sympathy in her dis

tress. This was why Moumoutte had come out from her 20 dark hiding place. This was what she had resolved after

much hesitation to ask of me. It was neither to eat nor to drink. The little cat's soul asked for friendship.

Where had she learned this need, poor outcast cat, who had never been stroked by a kind hand, never loved by 25 any one — unless perhaps the junk had held some poor little Chinese child as miserable and famished as herself?

Soon she touched me timidly with her feeble paw — Oh,

15

so delicately and carefully! — and after looking at me for a long time Moumoutte finally jumped upon my knee.

There she lay quietly, making herself as light as possible, scarcely touching me, almost without weight, — and watching me always. She stayed there for a long time 5 at a great inconvenience to me, and yet I lacked courage to drive her away, as I should have done without doubt had she been pretty and gay. Alarmed at my least movement, she did not take her eyes off me, not for fear that I should hurt her (she was too intelligent to believe me 10 capable of that), but with a look which said, “Is it true that I do not weary nor trouble you ?” Then her eyes became more expressive and coaxing and said to me plainly, “On this autumn day, so sad to a cat's heart, since we two are alone here, lost in the midst of dangers I know 15 nothing of, let us give to each other a little of that sweet something that quiets our misery, that is called affection, and that is expressed from time to time by a caress.”

The days and the weeks passed. Whenever I entered my cabin she ran to meet me with a little murmur of joy. 20 If I tried to write she sat upon my knees, watching the coming and going of my pen and sometimes blotting out with her paw lines of which she did not entirely approve. Before long it seemed to me that she was like some little princess condemned by wicked fairies thus to share my 25 solitude.

Abridged.
Moumoutte (moo-moot'): pussy. — junk: a Chinese ship.

THE HERITAGE

JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL

LOWELL, Longfellow, Bryant, Whittier, and Holmes belong to the group known as the New England poets. Lowell stands high among them. He was a great critic as well as a great poet, and he was deeply

interested in American politics. During the Mexican War, and again dur5 ing the Civil War, he wrote a series of poems called “The Biglow Papers,”

which had undoubted influence in political questions. Lowell was at one time United States minister to Spain, and later to England. As American representative abroad he was popular for his tact and courtesy and ready

address. He died in 1891. 10 James Russell Lowell's name is one long to be remembered in American

literature. One of his best known poems is “ The Vision of Sir Launfal.”

15

The rich man's son inherits lands,

And piles of brick, and stone, and gold,
And he inherits soft white hands,

And tender flesh that fears the cold,

Nor dares to wear a garment old;
A heritage, it seems to me,
One scarce would wish to hold in fee.

20

The rich man's son inherits cares;

The bank may break, the factory burn,
A breath may burst his bubble shares,

And soft white hands could hardly earn

A living that would serve his turn;
A heritage, it seems to me,
One scarce would wish to hold in fee.

25

The rich man's son inherits wants,

His stomach craves for dainty fare; With sated heart, he hears the pants

Of toiling hinds with brown arms bare,

And wearies in his easy-chair;
A heritage, it seems to me,
One scarce would wish to hold in fee.

5

10

What doth the poor man's son inherit ?

Stout muscles and a sinewy heart, A hardy frame, a hardier spirit ;

King of two hands, he does his part

In every useful toil and art;
A heritage, it seems to me,
A king might wish to hold in fee.

15

What doth the poor man's son inherit ?

Wishes o’erjoyed with humble things, A rank adjudged by toil-worn merit,

Content that from employment springs,

A heart that in his labor sings;
A heritage, it seems to me,
A king might wish to hold in fee.

20

What doth the poor man's son inherit ?

A patience learned of being poor, Courage, if sorrow come, to bear it,

A fellow-feeling that is sure

25

To make the outcast bless his door;
A heritage, it seems to me,
A king might wish to hold in fee.

5

O rich man's son! there is a toil

That with all others level stands;
Large charity doth never soil,

But only whiten, soft white hands,

This is the best crop from thy lands;
A heritage, it seems to me,
Worth being rich to hold in fee.

10

O poor man's son! scorn not thy state;

There is worse weariness than thine, In merely being rich and great ;

Toil only gives the soul to shine,

And makes rest fragrant and benign;
A heritage, it seems to me,
Worth being poor to hold in fee.

15

20

Both, heirs to some six feet of sod,

Are equal in the earth at last; Both, children of the same dear God,

Prove title to your heirship vast

By record of a well-filled past;
A heritage, it seems to me,
Well worth a life to hold in fee.

in fee : in possession.

hinds : peasants or farm workers.

« 前へ次へ »