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The Adventures of Herr Baby试读：
版权信息书名：The Adventures of Herr Baby作者：Molesworth,Mrs.排版：HMM出版时间：2017-11-28本书由当当数字商店（公版书）授权北京当当科文电子商务有限公司制作与发行。— · 版权所有 侵权必究 · —CHAPTER IFOUR YEARS OLD"I was four yesterday; when I'm quite oldI'll have a cricket-ball made of pure gold;I'll never stand up to show that I'm grown;I'll go at liberty upstairs or down."
He trotted upstairs. Perhaps trotting is not quite the right word, but I can't find a better. It wasn't at all like a horse or pony trotting, for he went one foot at a time, right foot first, and when right foot was safely landed on a step, up came left foot and the rest of Baby himself after right foot. It took a good while, but Baby didn't mind. He used to think a good deal while he was going up and down stairs, and it was not his way to be often in a hurry. There was one thing he could not bear, and that was any one trying to carry him upstairs. Oh, that did vex him! His face used to get quite red, right up to the roots of his curly hair, and down to the edge of the big collar of his sailor suit, for he had been put into sailor suits last Christmas, and, if the person who was lifting him up didn't let go all at once, Baby would begin to wriggle. He was really clever at wriggling; even if you knew his way it was not easy to hold him, and with any one that didn't know his way he could get off in half a minute.
But this time there was no one about, and Baby stumped on—yes that is a better word—Baby stumped on, or up, "wifout nobody teasing." His face was grave, very grave, for inside the little house of which his two blue eyes were the windows, a great deal of work was going on. He was busy wondering about, and trying to understand, some of the strange news he had heard downstairs in the drawing-room.
"Over the sea," he said to himself. "Him would like to see the sea. Auntie said over the sea in a boat, a werry big boat. Him wonders how big."
And his mind went back to the biggest boat he had ever seen, which was in the toy-shop at Brookton, when he had gone with his mother to be fitted for new boots. But even that wouldn't be big enough. Mother, and auntie, and grandfather, and Celia, and Fritz, and Denny, and cook, and Lisa, and Thomas and Jones, and the other servants, and the horses, and—and—— Baby stopped to take breath inside, for though he had not been speaking aloud he felt quite choked with all the names coming so fast. "And pussy, and the calanies, and the Bully, and Fritz's dormice, oh no, them couldn't all get in." Perhaps if Baby doubled up his legs underneath he might squeeze himself in, but that would be no good, he couldn't go sailing, sailing all over the sea by himself, like the old woman in "Harry's Nursery Songs," who went sailing, sailing, up in a basket, "seventy times as high as the moon." Oh no, even that boat wouldn't be big enough. They must have one as big as—and Baby stopped to look round. But just then a shout from inside the nursery made him wake up, for he had got to the last little stair before the top landing, and again right foot and half Baby, followed by left foot and the other half Baby, stumped on their way.
They pulled up—right foot and left foot, with Baby's solemn face top of all—at the nursery door. It was shut. Now one of the things Baby liked to do for himself was to open doors, and now and then he could manage it very well. But, alas, the nursery lock was too high up for him to get a good hold of it. He pulled, and pushed, and got quite red, all for no use. Worse than that, the pushing and pulling were heard inside. Some one came forward and opened the door, nearly knocking poor Baby over.
"Ach, Herr Baby, mine child, why you not say when you come?" Lisa cried out. Lisa was Baby's nurse. Her face was rosy and round, and she looked very kind. She would have liked to pick him up to make sure he had got no knocks, but she knew too well that would not do. So all she could do was to say again—
"Mine child—ach, Herr Baby!"
Baby did not take any notice.
"Zeally," he said coolly, "ganfather must do somesing to zem locks. Zem is all most dedful 'tiff."
Lisa smiled to herself. She was used to Baby's ways.
"Herr Baby shall grow tall some day," she said. "Zen him can open doors."
Lisa's talking was nearly as funny as Baby's, and, indeed, I rather think that hers had made his all the funnier. But, any way, they understood each other. He was thinking over what she had said, when a scream from the nursery made them both turn round in a hurry.
"O Lisa, O Baby, come in quick, do. Peepy-Snoozle has got out of the cage, and he'll be out at the door in another moment. Quick, quick, come in and shut the door."
Lisa and Baby did not wait to be twice told. Inside the nursery there was a great flurry. Celia, Fritz, and Denny were all there crawling over the floor and screaming at each other.
"I have him! there—oh, now that's too bad. Fritz, you frightened him away again," called out Celia.
"Me frighten him away! Why he knows me ever so much better than you girls," said Fritz.
"He just doesn't then," said Denny with triumph, "for here he is safe in my apron."
But she had hardly said the words when she gave a little scream. "He's off again, oh quick, Baby, quick, catch him."
How Baby did it, I can't tell. His hands seemed too small to catch anything, even a dormouse. But catch the truant he did, and very proud Baby looked when he held up his two little fists, which he had made into a "mouse-trap" really, for the occasion, with Peepy-Snoozle's "coxy" little head and bright beady eyes poking out at the top.
"Oh look, look, Baby's made Peepy-Snoozle into 'the parson in the pulpit that couldn't say his prayers,'" cried Denny, dancing about.
"All the same, he'd better go back into his cage," said Fritz, who had a right to be heard, as he was the master and owner of the dormice. "Come along, Baby, poke him in."
Baby was busy kissing and petting Peepy-Snoozle by this time, for, though he did not approve of much of that sort of thing for himself, he was very fond of petting little animals, who were not little boys. And to tell the truth, it was not often he got a chance of petting his big brother's dormice. It was quite pretty to see the way he kissed Peepy-Snoozle's soft brown head, especially his nose, stroking it gently against his own smooth cheeks and chattering to the little creature.
"Dear little darling. Sweet little denkle darling," he said. "Him would like to have a house all full of Peepy-'noozles, zem is so sweet and soft."
"Wouldn't you like a coat made of their skins?" said Denny. "Think how soft that would be.""Oh look, look, Baby's made Peepy-Snoozle into 'the parson in the pulpit thatcouldn't say his prayers,'" cried Denny.—P.6
"No, sairtin him wouldn't," said Baby. "Him wouldn't pull off all their sweet little skins and hairs to make him a coat. Denny's a c'uel girl."
"There won't be much more skin or hairs left if you go on scrubbing him up and down with your sharp little nose like that," said Fritz.
Baby drew back his face in a fright.
"Put him in the cage then," he said, and with Fritz's help this was safely done. Then Baby stood silent, slowly rubbing his own nose up and down, and looking very grave.
"Him's nose isn't sharp," he said at last, turning upon Denny. "Sharp means knifes and scidders."
All the children burst out laughing. Of course they understood things better than Baby, for even Denny, the youngest next to him, was nine, that is twice his age, which by the by was a puzzle to Denny herself, for Celia had teased her one day by saying that according to that when Baby was eighty Denny would be a hundred and sixty, and nobody ever lived to be so old, so how could it be.
But Denny, though she didn't always understand everything herself, was very quick at taking up other people if they didn't.
"Oh, you stupid little goose," she said. "Of course, Fritz didn't mean as sharp as a knife. There's different kinds of sharps—there's different kinds of everything."
Baby looked at her gravely. He had his own way of defending himself.
"Werry well. If him's a goose him won't talk to you, and him won't tell you somesing werry funny and dedful bootiful that him heard in the 'groind room."
All eyes were turned on Baby.
"Oh, do tell us, Baby darling, do tell us," said Celia and Denny.
Fritz gave Baby a friendly pat on the back.
"You'll tell me, old fellow, won't you?" he said. Baby looked at him.
"Yes," he said at last; "him will tell you,'cos you let him have Peepy-'noozle, and 'cos you doesn't call him a goose—like girls does. I'll whister in your ear, Fritz, if you'll bend down."
But Celia thought this was too bad.
"I didn't call you a goose, Baby," she said. "I think you might tell me too."
"And I'll promise never to call you a goose again if you'll tell me," said Denny.
Baby had a great soul. It was beneath him to take a mean revenge, he felt, especially on a girl! So he shut his little mouth tightly, knit his little brows, and thought it over for a moment or two. Then his face cleared.
"Him will tell you all—all you children," he said at last, "but it's werry long and dedful wonderful, and you mustn't inrumpt him. P'omise?"
"Promise," shouted the three.
"Well then, litsen. We's all goin' away—zeally away—over the sea—dedful far. As far as the sky, p'raps."
"In a balloon?" said Denny, whose tongue wouldn't keep still even though she was very much interested in the news.
"No, in a boat," replied Baby, forgetting to notice that this was an "inrumption," "in a werry 'normous boat. All's going. Him was looking for 'tamps in mother's basket of teared letters under the little table, and mother and ganfather and auntie didn't know him were there, and ganfather said to mother somesing him couldn't understand—somesing about thit house, and mother said, yes, 'twould be a werry good thing to go away 'fore the cold weather comed, and the children would be p'eased. And auntie said she would like to tell the children, but——"
Another "inrumption." This time from Fritz.
"Baby, stop a minute," he exclaimed. "Celia, Denny—Baby's too little to understand, but," and here Fritz's round chubby face got very red, "don't you think we've no right to let him tell, if it's something mother means to tell us herself? She didn't know Baby was there—he said so."
But before Celia or Denny could answer, Baby turned upon Fritz.
"Him tolded you not to inrumpt," he said, with supreme contempt. "If you would litsen you would see. Mother did know him was there at the ending, for auntie said she'd like to tell the children—that's you, and Denny and Celia—but him comed out from the little table and said him would like to tell the children hisself. And mother were dedful surprised, and so was ganfather and auntie. And then they all bursted out laughing and told him lots of things—about going in the railway, and in a 'normous boat to that other country, where there's cows to pull the carts, and all the people talk lubbish-talk, like Lisa when she's cross. And zen, and zen, him comed upstairs to tell you."
Baby looked round triumphantly. Celia and Fritz and Denny looked first at him and then at each other. This was wonderful news—almost too wonderful to be true.
"We must be going to Italy or somewhere like that," said Celia. "How lovely! I wonder why they didn't tell us before?"
"Italy," repeated Denny, "that's the country like a boot, isn't it? I do hope there won't be any snakes. I'd rather far stay at home than go where there's snakes."
"I wouldn't," said Fritz, grandly. "I'd like to go to India or Africa, or any of those places where there's lots of lions and tigers and snakes, and anything you like. Give me a good revolver and you'd see."
"Don't talk nonsense, Fritz," said Celia. "You're far too little a boy for shooting and guns and all that. It's setting a bad example to Baby to talk that boasting way, and it's very silly too."
"Indeed, miss. Much obliged to you, miss," said Fritz. "I'd only just like to know, miss, who it was came to my room the other night and was sure she heard robbers, and begged Fritz to peep behind the swing-door in the long passage. And 'oh,' said this person, 'I do so wish you had a gun that you could point at them to frighten them away.' Fritz wasn't such a very little boy just then."
Celia's face got rather red, and she looked as if she was going to get angry, but at that moment, happily, Lisa appeared with the tray for the nursery tea. She had left the room when the dormouse was caught, so she had not heard the wonderful news, and it had all to be told over again. She smiled and seemed pleased, but not as surprised as the children expected.
"Why, aren't you surprised, Lisa?" said the children. "Did you know before? Why didn't you tell us?"
Lisa shook her head and looked very wise.
"What country are we going to? Can you tell us that?" said Celia.
"Is it to your country? Is it to what you call Dutchland?" said Fritz. "I think it's an awfully queer thing that countries can't be called by the same names everywhere. It makes geography ever so much harder. We've got to call the people that live in Holland Dutch, and they call themselves—oh, I don't know what they call themselves——"
"Hollanders," said Lisa.
"Hollanders!" repeated Fritz. "Well, that's a sensible sort of name for people that live in Holland. But we've got to call them Dutch; and then, to make it more muddled still, Lisa calls her country Dutchland, and the people Dutch, and we call them German I think it's very stupid. If I was to make geography I wouldn't do it that way."
"What's jography?" said Baby.
"Knowing all about all the countries and all the places in the world," said Denny.
"Him wants to learn that," said Baby.
"Oh, you're far too little!" said Denny. "I only began it last year. Oh, you're ever so much too little!"
"Him's not too little to go in the 'normous boat to see all zem countlies," said Baby, valiantly. "Him will learn jography."
"That's right, Baby," said Fritz. "Stick up for yourself. You'll be a great deal bigger than Denny some day."
Denny was getting ready an answer when Lisa, who knew pretty well the signs of war between Fritz and Denny, called to all the children to come to tea; and as both Fritz and Denny were great hands at bread and butter, they forgot to quarrel, and began pulling their chairs in to the table, and in a few minutes all four were busy at work.
What a pretty sight, and what a pleasant thing a nursery tea is! when the children, that is to say, are sweet-faced and smiling, with clean pinafores, and clean hands, and gentle voices; not leaning over the table, knocking over cups, and snatching rudely at the "butteriest" pieces of bread and butter, and making digs at the sugar when nurse is not looking. That kind of nursery tea is not to my mind, and not at all the kind to which I am always delighted to receive an invitation, written in very round, very black letters, on very small sheets of paper. The nursery teas in Baby's nursery were not always quite what I like to see them, for Celia, Fritz, and Denny, and Baby too, had their tiresome days as well as their pleasant ones, and though they meant to be good to each other, they did not always do just what they meant, or really wished, at the bottom of their hearts. But to-day all the little storms were forgotten in the great news, and all the faces looked bright and eager, though just at first not much was said, for when children are hungry of course they can't chatter quite so fast, and all the four tongues were silent till at least one cup of tea, and perhaps three or four slices of bread and butter each—just as a beginning, you know—had disappeared.
Then said Celia,—
"Lisa, do tell us if you know what sort of a place we're going to."
"Cows pulls carts there," observed Baby; "and—and—what was the 'nother thing? We'll have frogses for dinner."
"Baby!" said the others, "what nonsense!"
"'Tisn't nonsense. Ganfather said Thomas and Dones wouldn't go 'cos they was fightened of frogses for dinner. Him doesn't care—frogses tastes werry good."
"How do you know? You've never tasted them," said Fritz.
"Ganfather said zem was werry good."
"Grandfather was joking," said Celia. "I've often heard him laugh at people that way. It's just nonsense—Thomas and Jones don't know any better. Do they eat frogs in your country, Lisa?"
"In mine country, Fräulein Célie?" said Lisa, looking rather vexed. "No indeed. Man eats goot, most goot tings, in mine country. Say, Herr Baby—Herr Baby knows what goot tings Lisa would give him in her country."
"Yes," said Baby, "such good tings. Tocolate and cakes—lots—and bootiful soup, all sweet, not like salty soup. Him would like werry much to go to Lisa's countly."
"Do cows pull carts in your country, Lisa?" asked Denny.
"Some parts. Not where mine family lives," said Lisa. "No, Fräulein Denny, it's not to mine country we're going. Mine country is it colt, so colt; and your lady mamma and your lady auntie they want to go where it is warm, so warm, and sun all winter."
"I should like that too," said Celia, "I hate winter."
"That's 'cos you're a girl," said Fritz; "you crumple yourself up by the fire and sit shivering—no wonder you're cold. You should come out skating like Denny, and then you'd get warm."
"Denny's a girl too. You said it was because I was a girl," said Celia.
"Well, she's not as silly as some girls, any way," said Fritz, rather "put down."
Baby was sitting silent. He had made an end of two cups of tea and five pieces of bread and butter.
He was not, therefore, quite so hungry as he had been at the beginning, but still he was a long way off having made what was called in the nursery a "good tea." Something was on his mind. He sat with one arm propped on the table, and his round head leaning on his hand, while the other held the piece of bread and butter—butter downwards, of course—which had been on its way to his mouth when his brown study had come over him.He sat with one arm propped on the table and his round head leaning on hishand, while the other held the piece of bread and butter—butter downwards, ofcourse.—p. 16.
"Herr Baby," said Lisa, "eat, mine child."
Baby took no notice.
"What has he then?" said Lisa, who was very easily frightened about her dear Herr Baby. "Can he be ill? He eats not."
"Ill," said Celia. "No fear, Lisa. He's had ever so much bread and butter. Don't you want any more, Baby? What are you thinking about? We're going to have honey on our last pieces to-night, aren't we, Lisa? For a treat, you know, because of the news of going away."
Celia wanted the honey because she was very fond of it; but besides that, she thought it would wake Baby out of his brown study to hear about it, for he was very fond of it too.
He did catch the word, for he turned his blue eyes gravely on Celia.
"Honey's werry good," he said, "but him's not at his last piece yet. Him doesn't sink he'll ever be at his last piece to-night; him's had to stop eating for he's so dedful busy in him's head."
"Poor little man, have you got a pain in your head?" said his sister, kindly. "Is that what you mean?"
"No, no," said Baby, softly shaking his head, "no pain. It's only busy sinking."
"What about?" said all the children.
Baby sat straight up.
"Children," he said, "him zeally can't eat, sinking of what a dedful packing there'll be. All of everysing. Him zeally sinks it would be best to begin to-night."
At this moment the door opened. It was mother. She often came up to the nursery at tea-time, and"When the children had been good; That is, be it understood, Good at meal times, good at play,"I need hardly say, they were very, very pleased to see her. Indeed there were times even when they were glad to see her face at the door when they hadn't been very good, for somehow she had a way of putting things right again, and making them feel both how wrong and how silly it is to be cross and quarrelsome, that nobody else had. And she would just help the kind words out without seeming to do so, and take away that sore, horrid feeling that one can't be good, even though one is longing so to be happy and friendly again.
But this evening there had been nothing worse than a little squabbling; the children all greeted mother merrily, only Baby still looked rather solemn.