若草物語チャプター6.1 Beth Finds the Palace Beautiful

警戒心の高い子猫のようなベスがグランドピアノに出会う話

今回の新しい単語 (14個)
benefactor、truant、coddle、convulse、yearn、infirmity、anecdote、be obliged to、stroke、impart、blithe、beatitude、cluster、pansy


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若草物語チャプター5.3 | 英語で読む若草物語 | 若草物語チャプター6.2

Chapter 6. Beth Finds the Palace Beautiful

美しい宮殿

The big house did prove a Palace Beautiful, though it took some time for all to get in, and Beth found it very hard to pass the lions. Old Mr. Laurence was the biggest one, but after he had called, said something funny or kind to each one of the girls, and talked over old times with their mother, nobody felt much afraid of him, except timid Beth. The other lion was the fact that they were poor and Laurie rich, for this made them shy of accepting favors which they could not return. But, after a while, they found that he considered them the benefactors, and could not do enough to show how grateful he was for Mrs. March’s motherly welcome, their cheerful society, and the comfort he took in that humble home of theirs. So they soon forgot their pride and interchanged kindnesses without stopping to think which was the greater.

All sorts of pleasant things happened about that time, for the new friendship flourished like grass in spring. Every one liked Laurie, and he privately informed his tutor that “the Marches were regularly splendid girls.” With the delightful enthusiasm of youth, they took the solitary boy into their midst and made much of him, and he found something very charming in the innocent companionship of these simple-hearted girls. Never having known mother or sisters, he was quick to feel the influences they brought about him, and their busy, lively ways made him ashamed of the indolent life he led. He was tired of books, and found people so interesting now that Mr. Brooke was obliged to make very unsatisfactory reports, for Laurie was always playing truant and running over to the Marches’.

“Never mind, let him take a holiday, and make it up afterward,” said the old gentleman. “The good lady next door says he is studying too hard and needs young society, amusement, and exercise. I suspect she is right, and that I’ve been coddling the fellow as if I’d been his grandmother. Let him do what he likes, as long as he is happy. He can’t get into mischief in that little nunnery over there, and Mrs. March is doing more for him than we can.”

benefactor : 恩恵を与える者
truant : 怠ける
coddle : 甘やかす

大きな家は、とうとう美しい宮殿になりました。けれど、みんながそこへいくのに、かなりの時間がかかり、ことにベスがライオンのそばをとおりぬけるのに、かなり骨がおれました。そして、ローレンス老人は、一ばん大きなライオンでしたが、訪ねて来て、娘の一人一人に、おどけ言葉や親切な言葉をかけ、おかあさんとむかし話をしてからは、もうだれも老人をこわがりませんでした。もう一つのライオンは、こちらが貧乏で、むこうが金持ということで、それもそのうちに、ローリイが、貧乏でも、愛のこもった家から受けるなぐさめを、どんなにありがたがっているかがわかったので、じぶんたちがローレンスの家から受けるものを、べつに恐縮しないでもいいと思うようになりました。そして、そこに春の草のめばえのように、あたらしい友情がもえました。ローリイは、今までおかあさんの味も、姉妹の味も知らなかったので、マーチ家にみなぎるゆたかな、あたたかなものに心をひかれ、ひまさえあると、遊びに来ました。それを心配してブルック先生は老人へくわしく告げました。「いや、かまわん。遊ばせておくさ。あとでとりかえせばいい。マーチ夫人の意見のとおり、あまり勉強させすぎたのがいけなかったのだ。マーチ夫人がよくやってくれる」

What good times they had, to be sure. Such plays and tableaux, such sleigh rides and skating frolics, such pleasant evenings in the old parlor, and now and then such gay little parties at the great house. Meg could walk in the conservatory whenever she liked and revel in bouquets, Jo browsed over the new library voraciously, and convulsed the old gentleman with her criticisms, Amy copied pictures and enjoyed beauty to her heart’s content, and Laurie played ‘lord of the manor’ in the most delightful style.

But Beth, though yearning for the grand piano, could not pluck up courage to go to the ‘Mansion of Bliss’, as Meg called it. She went once with Jo, but the old gentleman, not being aware of her infirmity, stared at her so hard from under his heavy eyebrows, and said “Hey!” so loud, that he frightened her so much her ‘feet chattered on the floor’, she never told her mother, and she ran away, declaring she would never go there any more, not even for the dear piano. No persuasions or enticements could overcome her fear, till, the fact coming to Mr. Laurence’s ear in some mysterious way, he set about mending matters. During one of the brief calls he made, he artfully led the conversation to music, and talked away about great singers whom he had seen, fine organs he had heard, and told such charming anecdotes that Beth found it impossible to stay in her distant corner, but crept nearer and nearer, as if fascinated. At the back of his chair she stopped and stood listening, with her great eyes wide open and her cheeks red with excitement of this unusual performance. Taking no more notice of her than if she had been a fly, Mr. Laurence talked on about Laurie’s lessons and teachers. And presently, as if the idea had just occurred to him, he said to Mrs. March . . .

“The boy neglects his music now, and I’m glad of it, for he was getting too fond of it. But the piano suffers for want of use. Wouldn’t some of your girls like to run over, and practice on it now and then, just to keep it in tune, you know, ma’am?”

sleigh : そり
convulse : 激しく揺する
yearn : 熱望する
infirmity : 弱さ
anecdote : 逸話

老人は、もうわかっていました。そして、みんなはどんなにおもしろく遊んだでしょう!お芝居、そり遊び、氷すべり、にぎやかな夜会、たのしい談話。マーチ家からも三人の姉妹がおしかけ、メグは温室で花たばをつくり、ジョウは文庫で本をむさぼり読み、エミイは絵をうつしました。ただ、ベスだけは、グランド・ピアノにあこがれながら、老人をこわがって、逃げて帰りました。老人は、そのことを知って、わざわざ訪ねて来ておかあさんにいいました。「ローリイは、ピアノを怠けています。やりすぎたから、いいあんばいなのですが、ピアノは使わんといかん。どなたか来て使ってもらえんかな、いつはいって来てもいいし、口をきかんでもいい。だまって来て、だまってひけばいいんだが。」

Beth took a step forward, and pressed her hands tightly together to keep from clapping them, for this was an irresistible temptation, and the thought of practicing on that splendid instrument quite took her breath away. Before Mrs. March could reply, Mr. Laurence went on with an odd little nod and smile . . .

“They needn’t see or speak to anyone, but run in at any time. For I’m shut up in my study at the other end of the house, Laurie is out a great deal, and the servants are never near the drawing room after nine o’clock.”

Here he rose, as if going, and Beth made up her mind to speak, for that last arrangement left nothing to be desired. “Please, tell the young ladies what I say, and if they don’t care to come, why, never mind.” Here a little hand slipped into his, and Beth looked up at him with a face full of gratitude, as she said, in her earnest yet timid way . . .

“Oh sir, they do care, very very much!”

“Are you the musical girl?” he asked, without any startling “Hey!” as he looked down at her very kindly.

“I’m Beth. I love it dearly, and I’ll come, if you are quite sure nobody will hear me, and be disturbed,” she added, fearing to be rude, and trembling at her own boldness as she spoke.

“Not a soul, my dear. The house is empty half the day, so come and drum away as much as you like, and I shall be obliged to you.”

“How kind you are, sir!”

be obliged to : せざるを得ない

聞いていたベスは、もうたまらなくなって、「あたしベスです。音楽が好きです。おじゃまでなければ、まいりたいのですが」「どうぞ。どうぞ。半日だれもいないんだから、えんりょなく、ピアノを使ってもらえれば、こちらからお礼をいわねばならん。」

Beth blushed like a rose under the friendly look he wore, but she was not frightened now, and gave the hand a grateful squeeze because she had no words to thank him for the precious gift he had given her. The old gentleman softly stroked the hair off her forehead, and, stooping down, he kissed her, saying, in a tone few people ever heard . . .

“I had a little girl once, with eyes like these. God bless you, my dear! Good day, madam.” And away he went, in a great hurry.

Beth had a rapture with her mother, and then rushed up to impart the glorious news to her family of invalids, as the girls were not home. How blithely she sang that evening, and how they all laughed at her because she woke Amy in the night by playing the piano on her face in her sleep. Next day, having seen both the old and young gentleman out of the house, Beth, after two or three retreats, fairly got in at the side door, and made her way as noiselessly as any mouse to the drawing room where her idol stood. Quite by accident, of course, some pretty, easy music lay on the piano, and with trembling fingers and frequent stops to listen and look about, Beth at last touched the great instrument, and straightway forgot her fear, herself, and everything else but the unspeakable delight which the music gave her, for it was like the voice of a beloved friend.

She stayed till Hannah came to take her home to dinner, but she had no appetite, and could only sit and smile upon everyone in a general state of beatitude.

stroke : なでる
impart : 知らせる
blithe : 陽気な
beatitude : 最高に幸福

ああ、ベスは顔をほてらし、ローレンスさんの手をにぎり、お礼の言葉がいえないので、ただきつくにぎりしめました。老人は、そっとベスの髪に口をあてて、「わしには、こういう娘があった。ああ、かわいい子じゃ、さよなら、おくさん。」老人が大いそぎで帰っていくと、ベスはおかあさんといっしょによろこび、そのうれしいニュースを仲よしの人形たちに告げに二階へかけあがっていきました。その晩、ベスは今までにない、たのしさでうたいました。あくる日、老人とローリイが出かけたのを見とどけたベスは、こっそりと、客間へしのびこみ、ふるえるゆびでピアノをひきました。おお、その美しい音、ベスはうっとりとなり、よろこびはてしなく、やすまずにひきつづけ、ハンナが食事のむかえに来るまで手をやめませんでした。

After that, the little brown hood slipped through the hedge nearly every day, and the great drawing room was haunted by a tuneful spirit that came and went unseen. She never knew that Mr. Laurence opened his study door to hear the old-fashioned airs he liked. She never saw Laurie mount guard in the hall to warn the servants away. She never suspected that the exercise books and new songs which she found in the rack were put there for her especial benefit, and when he talked to her about music at home, she only thought how kind he was to tell things that helped her so much. So she enjoyed herself heartily, and found, what isn’t always the case, that her granted wish was all she had hoped. Perhaps it was because she was so grateful for this blessing that a greater was given her. At any rate she deserved both.

“Mother, I’m going to work Mr. Laurence a pair of slippers. He is so kind to me, I must thank him, and I don’t know any other way. Can I do it?” asked Beth, a few weeks after that eventful call of his.

“Yes, dear. It will please him very much, and be a nice way of thanking him. The girls will help you about them, and I will pay for the making up,” replied Mrs. March, who took peculiar pleasure in granting Beth’s requests because she so seldom asked anything for herself.

その後、ベスはまい日のように生垣をくぐり、客間にしのびこんでひきました。ベスは、老人がそのしらべを聞くために、じぶんの部屋の扉を開けることも、新らしい音譜をそなえておいてくれることも、ローリイが広間にいて女中たちの来るのをおっぱらってくれることも知りませんでした。ただ、ベスは、じぶんの望みのかなったことを感謝して、まことにたのしかったのであります。二三週間たちました。ある日、ベスはおかあさんにいいました。「おかあさん、あたしローレンスのおじいさんに、スリッパを一つ、つくってあげたいの。あたしお礼をしたいんだけど、ほかにどうしていいかわからないんです。」おかあさんは、にっこり笑って、「ええ、ええ。つくっておあげなさい。きっとおよろこびになるでしょう。みんなも手伝ってくれるでしょうし、かかるお金は、おかあさんが出してあげますよ。」と、いいましたが、おかあさんは、ベスがめったにおねだりをすることがないので、今、ベスの望みをかなえてやるのを、とくべつうれしく思いました。

After many serious discussions with Meg and Jo, the pattern was chosen, the materials bought, and the slippers begun. A cluster of grave yet cheerful pansies on a deeper purple ground was pronounced very appropriate and pretty, and Beth worked away early and late, with occasional lifts over hard parts. She was a nimble little needlewoman, and they were finished before anyone got tired of them. Then she wrote a short, simple note, and with Laurie’s help, got them smuggled onto the study table one morning before the old gentleman was up.

When this excitement was over, Beth waited to see what would happen. All day passed and a part of the next before any acknowledgement arrived, and she was beginning to fear she had offended her crochety friend. On the afternoon of the second day, she went out to do an errand, and give poor Joanna, the invalid doll, her daily exercise. As she came up the street, on her return, she saw three, yes, four heads popping in and out of the parlor windows, and the moment they saw her, several hands were waved, and several joyful voices screamed . . .

“Here’s a letter from the old gentleman! Come quick, and read it!”

“Oh, Beth, he’s sent you . . .” began Amy, gesticulating with unseemly energy, but she got no further, for Jo quenched her by slamming down the window.

Beth hurried on in a flutter of suspense. At the door her sisters seized and bore her to the parlor in a triumphal procession, all pointing and all saying at once, “Look there! Look there!” Beth did look, and turned pale with delight and surprise, for there stood a little cabinet piano, with a letter lying on the glossy lid, directed like a sign board to “Miss Elizabeth March.”

cluster : 果実の房
pansy : パンジー(植物)

ベスは、メグやジョウと相談して、型をえらび、材料をととのえて、スリッパをつくりはじめました。紫紺の布地に、しなやかな三色すみれの花をおいたのが、たいそうかわいいと、みんながいいました。ベスは、手が器用でしたし、ほとんど朝から晩までかかりきりでしたから、まもなくできあがりました。それから、ベスはごくみじかい手紙を書き、ローリイに頼んで、ある朝、老人がまだ起きないうちに、こっそり書斎のテーブルの上に、スリッパといっしょに、のせておいてもらいました。ベスは、心待ちに、待ちましたが、その日も、つぎの日の朝も、なんの返事もありません。きっと老人をおこらせたのだと、ベスは心配しはじめました。けれど、その日の午後、ベスがちょっとお使いに出た帰りに、思いがけないことが起りました。ベスが家のちかくまで来たとき、四つの頭が客間の窓から、見え、たくさんの手がふられ、いっせいにさけぶ声が耳をうったのです。「ローレンスさんから御返事よ!」ベスは胸をとどろかせながら、いそいで帰って来ました。すると、姉妹たちは扉口のところに待っていて、ベスをつかまえ、わいわいいいながらかついで、客間へつれていきました。「ほれ、あれよ!」と、みんなが、ゆびさすほうを見たとき、ベスはうれしいのと、おどろいたのとで、まっさおな顔色になりました。ああ、そこには、小さなキャビネット・ピアノがおいてあって、ぴかぴかしたふたの上に「エリザベス・マーチさん」にあてた手紙がのっていました。

若草物語チャプター5.3 | 英語で読む若草物語 | 若草物語チャプター6.2

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