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从深层意义上说，该书探讨了一个主题，那就是“金钱与幸福”。米尔德里德为找到父亲留给自己的财富，不惜从纽约跟随约翰来到加利福尼亚州；米格尔一时见钱眼开，不惜违背自己的良心，但最后也良心发现。对于该如何对待金钱，伊内兹说了一段非常深刻的话，她说，穷人要工作，富人也要工作，已去世的有钱的Cristoval先生比我们更幸福吗？不是的。如果一个人不工作，那他不会幸福。如果一个人必须工作，有没有钱不会妨碍他的幸福。所以，当米尔德里德发现她仍然很贫穷，没有她渴望的钱和蕾丝时，她会像以前一样工作，一样幸福。她的话打动了米格尔，让他悔悟。相比之下，约翰叔叔的财富观更值得推崇，文中是这样写的：A modest little man, who had made an enormous fortune in the far Northwest—almost before he realized it—John Merrick had never allowed the possession of money to deprive him of his simple tastes or to alter his kindly nature。虽然身为纽约的百万富翁，他从未让金钱丧失掉简单、和蔼的性情。所以说，金钱固然重要，但它不是人生的全部，为金钱违背自己的良心、牺牲自己的人格更是错误至极。拥有一个良好的心态，才能真正地享受生活。这也是鲍姆想告诉孩子们的。
哈恩夫妇（亚瑟的朋友）Mr. and Mrs. Hahn
雷顿（米尔德里德父亲）LeightonChapter 1UNCLE JOHN DECIDES纽约的冬天要到了，约翰本打算去气候条件好的百慕大过冬，后来发生的一件事让他改变了主意，转变了行程……
"And now," said Major Doyle, rubbing his hands together as he half reclined in his big chair in a corner of the sitting room,"now we shall enjoy a nice cosy winter in dear New York."
"Cosy?" said his young daughter, Miss Patricia Doyle, raising her head from her sewing to cast a glance through the window at the whirling snowflakes.
"Ab-so-lute-ly cosy, Patsy, my dear," responded the major. "Here we are in our own steam-heated flat—seven rooms and a bath, not counting the closets—hot water any time you turn the faucet; a telephone call brings the butcher, the baker, the candlestick-maker; latest editions of the papers chucked into the passage! What more do you want?"
This scornful ejaculation came from a little bald-headed man seated in the opposite corner, who had been calmly smoking his pipe and dreamily eyeing the flickering gas-log in the grate. The major gave a start and turned to stare fixedly at the little man. Patsy, scenting mischief, indulged in a little laugh as she threaded her needle.
"Sir! what am I to understand from that brutal interruption?" demanded Major Doyle sternly.
"You're talking nonsense," was the reply, uttered in a tone of cheery indifference. "New York in winter is a nightmare. Blizzards, thaws, hurricanes, ice, la grippe, shivers—grouches."
"Drumsticks!" cried the major indignantly. "It's the finest climate in the world—bar none. We've the finest restaurants, the best theatres, the biggest stores and—and the stock exchange. And then, there's Broadway! What more can mortal desire, John Merrick?"
The little man laughed, but filled his pipe without reply.
"Uncle John is getting uneasy," observed Patsy. "I've noticed it for some time. This is the first snowstorm that has caught him in New York for several years."
"The blizzard came unusually early," said Mr. Merrick apologetically. "It took me by surprise. But I imagine there will be a few days more of decent weather before winter finally sets in. By that time —"
"Well, what then?" asked the major in defiantaccents, as his brother-in-law hesitated.
"By that time we shall be out of it, of course," was the quiet reply. Patsy looked at her uncle reflectively, while the major grunted and shifted uneasily in his chair. Father and daughter were alike devoted to John Merrick, whose generosity and kindliness had rescued them from poverty and thrust upon them all the comforts they now enjoyed. Even this pretty flat building in Willing Square, close to the fashionable New York residence district, belonged in fee to Miss Doyle, it having been a gift from her wealthy uncle. And Uncle John made his home with them, quite content in a seven-room-flat when his millions might have purchased the handsomest establishment in the metropolis. Down in Wall Street and throughout the financial districts the name of the great John Merrick was mentioned with awe; here in Willing Square he smoked a pipe in his corner of the modest sitting room and cheerfully argued with his irasciblebrother-in-law, Major Doyle, whose business it was to look after Mr. Merrick's investments and so allow the democratic little millionaire the opportunity to come and go as he pleased.
The major's greatest objection to Uncle John's frequent absences from New York—especially during the winter months—was due to the fact that his beloved Patsy, whom he worshiped with a species of idolatry, usually accompanied her uncle. It was quite natural for the major to resent being left alone, and equally natural for Patsy to enjoy these travel experiences, which in Uncle John's company were always delightful.
Patsy Doyle was an unprepossessinglittle thing, at first sight. She was short of stature and a bit plump; freckled and red-haired; neat and wholesomein appearance but lacking"style" in either form or apparel. But to her friends Patricia was beautiful. Her big blue eyes, mischievous and laughing, won hearts without effort, and the girl was so genuine—so natural and unaffected—that she attracted old and young alike and boasted a host of admiring friends.
This girl was Uncle John's favorite niece, but not the only one. Beth De Graf, a year younger than her cousin Patsy, was a wardof Mr. Merrick and lived with the others in the little flat at Willing Square. Beth was not an orphan, but her father and mother, residents of an Ohio town, had treated the girl so selfishly and inconsiderately that she had passed a very unhappy life until Uncle John took her under his wing and removed Beth from her depressing environment. This niece was as beautiful in form and feature as Patsy Doyle was plain, but she did not possess Patsy's cheerful and uniform temperament and was by nature reserved and diffidentin the presence of strangers.
Yet Beth had many good qualities, among them a heart-felt sympathy for young girls who were not so fortunate as herself. On this disagreeable winter's day she had set out to visit a settlement school where she had long since proved herself the good angel of a score of struggling girls. The blizzard had developed since she left home, but no one worried about her, for Beth was very resourceful.
There was another niece, likewise dear to John Merrick's heart, who had been Louise Merrick before she married a youth named Arthur Weldon, some two years before this story begins. A few months ago Arthur had taken his young wife to California, where he had purchased a fruit ranch, and there a baby was born to them which they named "Jane Merrick Weldon"—a rather big name for what was admitted to be a very small person.
This baby, now five months old and reported to be thriving, had been from its birth of tremendous interest to every inhabitant of the Willing Square flat. It had been discussed morning, noon and night by Uncle John and the girls, while even the grizzledmajor was not ashamed to admit that "that Weldon infant" was an important addition to the family. Perhaps little Jane acquired an added interest by being so far away from all her relatives, as well as from the fact that Louise wrote such glowing accounts of the baby's beauty and witcheries that to believe a tithe of what she asserted was to establish the child as an infantile marvel.
Now, Patsy Doyle knew in her heart that Uncle John was eager to see Louise's baby, and long ago she had confided to Beth her belief that the winter would find Mr. Merrick at Arthur Weldon's California ranch, with all his three nieces gathered around him and the infantile marvel in his arms. The same suspicion had crept into Major Doyle's mind, and that is why he so promptly resented the suggestion that New York was not an ideal winter resort. Somehow, the old major "felt in his bones" that his beloved Patsy would be whisked away to California, leaving her father to face the tedious winter without her; for he believed his business duties would not allow him to get away to accompany her.
Yet so far Uncle John, in planning for the winter, had not mentioned California as even a remote possibility. It was understood he would go somewhere, but up to the moment when he declared "we will be out of it, of course, when the bad weather sets in," he had kept his own counsel and forborne to express a preference or a decision.
But now the major, being aroused, decided to "have it out" with his elusive brother-in-law.
"Where will ye go to find a better place?" he demanded.
"We're going to Bermuda," said Uncle John.
"For onions?" asked the major sarcastically.
"They have other things in Bermuda besides onions. A delightful climate, I'm told, is one of them."
The major sniffed. He was surprised, it is true, and rather pleased, because Bermuda is so much nearer New York than is California; but it was his custom to object.
"Patsy can't go," he declared, as if that settled the question for good and all. "The sea voyage would kill her. I'm told by truthful persons that the voyage to Bermuda is the most terrible experience known to mortals. Those who don't die on the way over positively refuse ever to come back again, and so remain forever exiled from their homes and families—until they have the good luck to die from continually eating onions."
Mr. Merrick smiled as he glanced at the major's severe countenance.
"It can't be as bad as that," said he. "I know a man who has taken his family to Bermuda for five winters, in succession."
"And brought 'em back alive each time?"
"Certainly. Otherwise, you will admit he couldn't take them again."
"That family," asserted the major seriously, "must be made of cast-iron, with clockwork stomachs."
Patsy gave one of her low, musical laughs.
"I think I would like Bermuda," she said. "Anyhow, whatever pleases Uncle John will please me, so long as we get away from New York."
"Why, ye female traitor!" cried the major; and added, for Uncle John's benefit: "New York is admitted by men of discretion to be the modern Garden of Eden. It's the one desideratumof—"
Here the door opened abruptly and Beth came in. Her cheeks were glowing red from contact with the wind and her dark tailor-suit glistened with tiny drops left by the melted snow. In her mittened hand she waved a letter.
"From Louise, Patsy!" she exclaimed, tossing it toward her cousin; "but don't you dare read it till I've changed my things."
Then she disappeared into an inner room and Patsy, disregarding the injunction, caught up the epistle and tore open the envelope.
Uncle John refilled his pipe and looked at Patsy's tense face inquiringly. The major stiffened, but could not wholly repress his curiosity. After a moment he said：
"All well, Patsy?"
"How's the baby?" asked Uncle John.
"Dear me!" cried Patsy, with a distressed face; "and no doctor nearer than five miles!"
Both men leaped from their chairs.
"Why don't they keep a doctor in the house?" roared the major.
"Suppose we send Dr. Lawson, right away!" suggested Uncle John.
Patsy, still holding up the letter, turned her eyes upon them reproachfully.
"It's all over," she said with a sigh.
The major dropped into a chair, limp and inert. Uncle John paled.
"The—the baby isn't—dead!" he gasped.
"No, indeed," returned Patsy, again reading. "But it had colicmost dreadfully, and Louise was in despair. But the nurse, a dark-skinned Mexican creature, gave it a dose of some horrid hot stuff—"
"Chile con carne, most likely!" ejaculated the major.
"Horrible!" cried Uncle John.
"And that cured the colic but almost burned poor little Jane's insides out."
"However, Louise says the dear baby is now quite well again," continued the girl.
"Perhaps so, when she wrote," commented the major, wiping his forehead with a handkerchief; "but that's a week ago, at least. A thousand things might have happened to that child since then. Why was Arthur Weldon such a fool as to settle in a desert place, far away from all civilization? He ought to be prosecuted for cruelty."
"The baby's all right," said Patsy, soothingly. "If anything serious happened, Louise would telegraph."
"I doubt it," said the major, walking the floor. "I doubt if there's such a thing as a telegraph in all that forsaken country."
Uncle John frowned.
"You are getting imbecile, Major. They've a lot more comforts and conveniences on that ranch than we have here in New York."
"Name 'em!" shouted the Major. "I challenge ye to mention one thing we haven't right here in this flat."
"Chickens!" said Beth, re-entering the room in time to hear this challenge. "How's the baby, Patsy?"
"Growing like a weed, dear, and getting more lovely and cunning every second. Here—read the letter yourself."
While Beth devouredthe news from California Uncle John replied to the major.
"At El Cajon Ranch," said he, "there's a fine big house where the sunshine peeps in and floods the rooms every day in the year. Hear that blizzard howl outside, and think of the roses blooming this instant on the trellisof Louise's window. Arthur has two automobiles and can get to town in twenty minutes. They've a long-distance telephone and I've talked with 'em over the line several times."
"You have!" This in a surprised chorus.
"I have. Only last week I called Louise up."
"An expensive amusement, John," said the major grimly.
"Yes; but I figured I could afford it. I own some telephone stock, you know, so I may get part of that investment back. They have their own cows, and chickens—as Beth truly says—and any morning they can pick oranges and grapefruit from their own trees for breakfast."
"I'd like to see that precious baby," remarked Beth, laying the letter on her lap to glance pleadingly at her uncle.
"Uncle John is going to take us to Bermuda," said Patsy in a serious voice.
The little man flushed and sat down abruptly. The major, noting his attitude, became disturbed.
"You've all made the California trip," said he. "It doesn't pay to see any country twice."
"But we haven't seen Arthur's ranch," Beth reminded him.
"Nor the baby," added Patsy, regarding the back of Uncle John's head somewhat wistfully.
The silence that followed was broken only by the major's low growls. The poor man already knew his fate.
"That chile-con-carne nurse ought to be discharged," mumbled Uncle John, half audibly. "Mexicans are stupid creatures to have around. I think we ought to take with us an experienced nurse, who is intelligent and up-to-date."
"Oh, I know the very one!" exclaimed Beth. "Mildred Travers. She's perfectly splendid. I've watched her with that poor girl who was hurt at the school, and she's as gentle and skillful as she is refined. Mildred would bring up that baby to be as hearty and healthful as a young savage."
"How soon could she go?" asked Uncle John.
"At an hour's notice, I'm sure. Trained nurses are used to sudden calls, you know. I'll see her to-morrow—if it's better weather."
"Do," said Uncle John. "I suppose you girls can get ready by Saturday?"
"Of course!" cried Patsy and Beth in one voice.
"Then I'll make the reservations. Major Doyle, you will arrange your business to accompany us."
"You will, or I'll discharge you. You're working for me, aren't you?"
"I am, sir."
"Then obey orders."Chapter 2ELCAJON RANCH在去露易丝家的路上，约翰和道尔对保姆米尔德里德产生怀疑，后来他们一行人到达车站，露易丝和丈夫热情欢迎他们……
Uncle John always traveled comfortably and even luxuriously, but without ostentation. Such conveniences as were offered the general public he indulged in, but no one would suspect him of being a multi-millionaire who might have ordered a special train of private cars had the inclination seized him. A modest little man, who had made an enormous fortune in the far Northwest—almost before he realized it—John Merrick had never allowed the possession of money to deprive him of his simple tastes or to alter his kindly nature. He loved to be of the people and to mingle with his fellows on an equal footing, and nothing distressed him more than to be recognized by some one as the great New York financier. It is true that he had practically retired from business, but his huge fortune was invested in so many channels that his name remained prominent among men of affairs and this notorietyhe was unable wholly to escape.
The trip to California was a delight because none of his fellow passengers knew his identity. During the three days' jaunt from Chicago to Los Angeles he was recognized only as an engaging little man who was conducting a party of three charming girls, as well as a sedate, soldierly old gentleman, into the sunny Southland for a winter's recreation.
Of these three girls we already know Patsy Doyle and Beth DeGraf, but Mildred Travers remains to be introduced. The trained nurse whom Beth had secured was tall and slight, with a sweet face, a gentle expression and eyes so calm and deep that a stranger found it disconcerting to gaze within them. Beth herself had similar eyes—big and fathomless—yet they were so expressive as to allure and bewitchthe beholder, while Mildred Travers' eyes repelledone as being masked—as concealing some well guarded secret. Both the major and Uncle John had felt this and it made the latter somewhat uneasy when he reflected that he was taking this girl to be the trusted nurse of Louise's precious baby. He questioned Beth closely concerning Mildred and his niece declared that no kindlier, more sympathetic or more skillful nurse was ever granted a diploma. Of Mildred's history she was ignorant, except that the girl had confided to her the story of her struggles to obtain recognition and to get remunerativework after graduating from the training school.
"Once, you know," explained Beth, "trained nurses were in such demand that none were ever idle; but the training schools have been turning them out in such vast numbers that only those with family influence are now sure of work. Mildred is by instinct helpful and sympathetic—a natural born nurse, Uncle John—but because she was practically a stranger in New York she was forced to do charity and hospital work, and that is how I became acquainted with her."
"She seems to bear out your endorsement, except for her eyes," said Uncle John. "I—I don't like—her eyes. They're hard. At times they seem vengeful and cruel, like tigers' eyes."
"Oh, you wrong Mildred, I'm sure!" exclaimed Beth, and Uncle John reluctantly accepted her verdict. On the journey Miss Travers appeared well bred and cultured, conversing easily and intelligently on a variety of subjects, yet always exhibiting a reserve, as if she held herself to be one apart from the others. Indeed, the girl proved so agreeable a companion that Mr. Merrick's misgivings gradually subsided. Even the major, still suspicious and doubtful, admitted that Mildred was "quite a superior person."
Louise had been notified by telegraph of the coming of her relatives, but they had withheld from her the fact that they were bringing a "proper" nurse to care for the Weldon baby. The party rested a day in Los Angeles and then journeyed on to Escondido, near which town the Weldon ranch was located.
Louise and Arthur were both at the station with their big seven-passenger touring car. The young mother was promptly smothered in embraces by Patsy and Beth, but when she emerged from this ordeal