本文选自《大西洋月刊》（The Atlantic Monthly）1953年7月号。作者贝茨（E. Bates，1905—1974）生于英国之Rushden，所著长短篇小说甚多。贝茨以观察精微、笔触轻灵见称于世。本文叙一母亲与其盈盈长成之女儿间的微妙关系，故事甚平淡，然描写女性心理，丝丝入扣，简洁细腻，玲珑透剔，不愧名家之作也。
From the calm of her place under the acacia tree, on the swinging canopy seat, Mrs. Fairfax listened with growing impatience to the loud chock of croquet balls cracking the silence of afternoon, each stroke like the chime of a wooden clock setting off peals of senseless and exhausting laughter. She did not know how anyone, even the young, could be so energetic or so furiously amused in the three o'clock heat of July.
"Children—please! Couldn't you please? Melanie!—Fay!—couldn't you please shout a little less? It sounds like a madhouse—please!"
- acacia：树名，译名金合欢。swinging canopy seat：上有天幕遮阳的悬空摇椅。这篇小说的背景甚简单，一开头点明了大树和摇椅，全文的活动范围即不离此大树之下与摇椅之上。
- with growing impatience：愈听愈难受。croquet balls：槌球。chock似为槌击球之声音，普通字典上并无此义，但按上下文语气，似应作此解。cracking the silence：打破沉寂。cracking之意义，除“打破”之外，在修辞上同chock一样另有“模声作用”（onomatopoeia），即模仿实际的“噼拍”之声。
- chime：（钟之）鸣声。wooden clock：木钟（槌球之槌与球皆为木制）。setting off：引起（笑声）。peals：钟声；连续的洪亮的响声。exhausting：伤人精神的。这里恐怕并不指使笑的人伤精神，而是使听的人伤精神，因为一切心理活动，皆由这位太太出发也。
- how anyone could be so energetic or so furiously amused：竟然有人（在这种大热天气）会如此精神焕发，如此狂欢高兴。即使年轻人有这种精神，她也无法理解。heat与第一句calm相类似，中国人惯说the hot month或hot afternoon的。
- Couldn't you please？加重前面的please（请）。Melanie和Fay当是她的children的名字。
She supposed that if they could hear her they were taking no notice. Or if they were taking no notice it was because of that old habit of hers of calling them children when they were nineteen and twenty.
"Fay—don't shriek like that! I won't have that shrieking, Melanie—stop her!"
- 母亲要安静，厉声告诫之后，孩子们还在闹。这可能是她们没有听见她的话，也许是她们听见了，故意不作理会（taking no notice）。她也知道她们为什么不理会。女儿已经一个十九，一个二十（至于哪一个十九，哪一个是二十，下文自有分晓），做母亲的习惯（habit）不改，还是叫她们。“孩子们”。她们自己不承认是孩子们了，无怪她们只当不听见。
- shriek：尖声怪叫。stop her之her指Fay；母亲命令Melanie去制止Fay的怪叫。
She was cut off from the main lawn of the house by a semicircular bank of azaleas and guelder-rose, so that she could not see the figures of her daughters and the three young men. She did not think she had ever been allowed to shriek like that as a girl. It irritated her exactly as if someone had started to fire off rockets in midafternoon.
- main lawn：（园里的）大草坪。azalea：杜鹃花。guelder-rose：绣球花。花树密集，种在半圆形的土堆（bank）之上，她视线被阻，因此看不见草地上是什么情形了。figures：身形。daughters就是上段的Melanie和Fay，笑声无疑也是这群青年男女所发出来的。
- had been allowed（过去完成式，被动语态）：她做小姑娘的时候，大人不许她这样尖声怪叫的。
"I shall have to stop it. I shall go and speak to them. I won't have that sort of thing."
Then she remembered that going to speak to them would be awkward because she had suggested croquet herself. She had remembered, after lunch, the old croquet box in the stable loft. It struck her as being just the sort of quiet and companionable game that did not require energy on hot afternoons and she thought that perhaps it would keep them out of mischief.
- I shall have to stop it中之have to解作“非……不可”。
- going to speak中之going为动名词，作从句的主语。awkward：怪不好意思的，因为打槌球还是她自己建议的。
- croquet box：盛槌球用具的盒子。stable loft：马厩的阁楼。连用两个过去完成式的动词had suggested和had remembered，把时间推前了两三个钟头。这一段都是倒叙午饭甫罢以后的事，不是她在摇椅里的所见所闻了。
- 她那时忽然想起了槌球这种游戏很安静，可以使大家一起来玩（companionable），热天下午玩起来，也不大需要多少精神；她还这样想：她们有了这个玩也免得去淘气（out of mischief）了。她怕她们淘气，无形中还当她们是小孩子。
For the same reason she had invited three young men to lunch instead of two. That was also companionable. She wanted her daughters to have companions. She was not after all so very old herself, not so very far removed from the time when those things filled your head. But children grew up so quickly. They flashed through childhood. They whisked through adolescence into young womanhood and you did not know where you were. You felt you did not know at times what was best for them.
- For the same reason之reason 即本段第二句：That was also companionable，人多了更宜于社交。
- after all：此一成语作为“话得说回来”或“说来说去”。“话得说回来了，她自己也不好算很老。”removed（过去分词）：离开得远。those things：男女社交之事。your head之your泛指一般人。人在青春时期，脑筋里所想的总是这些事情，她自己的年龄距青春也还不远。
- 下面几句是母亲的感慨：孩子们的童年过得太快了，青春发育时期（adolescence）很快过去（whisked），转瞬便成少妇；做母亲的真有点摸不着头脑之感（you did not know where you were）。她也不知道该怎么办才算是对她们最合适的。
Before lunch Melanie, for instance, had made a great fuss about wearing a dress from last summer. Mrs. Fairfax thought it an enchanting dress; she thought it made her daughter look like a young fresh flower. There was something budlike and tender about it, but the child had suddenly thrown an exhausting tantrum up in her bedroom and said she wouldn't be seen dead in it for her or anybody.
"You will wear it and like it," Mrs. Fairfax said. "Don't be so tiresome. It fits just as well as ever. You haven't grown a scrap."
"Fay had a new one on. You bought it for her. If Fay can, why can't I?"
"Fay's that much older than you. She's grown out of hers. That's why."
- for instance：孩子们已经长大，举个例来说吧。Before lunch：这两个字提得也很妙，上面才说过有男朋友来共进午膳，那两位小姐在进餐之前，难免要打扮一番。made a great fuss：小题大做；空发脾气。a dress from last summer：去年夏天穿过的一件衣服。
- enchanting：迷人的。something：某种性质或情调，后随两个形容词，budlike（含苞未放的）和tender（温柔的）。母亲以为女儿穿了很好看，可是这孩子（在母亲心目中，她总是个孩子）在卧室里大发脾气。tantrum：一阵脾气。这阵脾气是掀起来（thrown up）的。exhausting：此字第二次出现，大约并不是作者爱用这个字，他只是描写Mrs. Fairfax的心理，这位太太的脑筋里恐怕常出现这个字。
- she wouldn't be seen dead in it for her or anybody是间接陈述法，直接陈述法当是：I wouldn't be seen dead in it for you or anybody（不论是为她母亲或是为别人，她死了也不愿意让人看见穿这身衣服）。
- You haven't grown a scrap：你一点也没有长大。
- Fay had a new one on之on表示“穿着”。
- Fay's that much older than you：姐姐就比你大那么一点。that为副词，形容much。谁是姐姐，谁是妹妹，到这里才完全说明。
- She's grown out of hers=she has grown out of her dress：她人长大，衣服穿不下了。
It ended in a strange thing happening, and she supposed it was that which had begun her irritation. Melanie had not come down to lunch in the fresh, flowerlike dress that Mrs. Fairfax liked so much and thought was right for her. She had put on the last thing for a scorching summer day. It was a shining bottle-green dress of Fay's that was too severe at the neck and far too drawn-in at the waist, and until she saw it Mrs. Fairfax had not realized how alarmingly and fully her child had grown. The girl had done her hair differently too, in a high, severe style that made her look, Mrs. Fairfax thought, old and false and sophisticated.
- 女儿发脾气的结果是发生了一件奇怪的事情。她想她自己心里的不痛快，就是从那时候开始的。二女儿下来吃饭的时候，没有穿那身母亲所喜欢，而认为对她合适的衣服（that Mrs. Fairfax…thought was right for her此一从句中，主语为that，动词为was，Mrs. Fairfax thought相当于括弧中语）。
- the last thing=the least suitable thing。在炎热炙人（scorching）的夏天，穿这样一件衣服是最不合适了。
- done her hair：修饰头发。（do作“梳”解也是标准英文。）high, severe style：头发往上梳，高高束成一团。头发这样一梳，使得她看来年纪大了很多，也显得虚伪（false）造作（sophisticated）。Mrs. Fairfax thought三字是插进去的，其前后两“,”当作是括弧看可也。
Then Fay appeared in a dress that, at first, Mrs. Fairfax did not recognize. She became aware only slowly of its uneasy familiarity. It was not until she was actually sitting at the lunch table that she grasped that this was the new dress: the white summer organdy that had been so fresh and youthful with its wide crinkled collar and cuffs to match. Now it had a broad black velvet waistband and the collar had been taken away, leaving all the soft wide shoulders bare.
- did not recognize：本来该认识的，可是不认识了。上面妹妹说母亲替姐姐买过一件新衣服，今天姐姐穿了下来,母亲可认不得了。
- aware of：注意到。familiarity：本是相识。uneasy：发觉了是相识的反而使人难受。
- 买来的时候，这件衣服本来（had been）显得青春朝气，但是现在给那位小姐改得老气横秋了。腰部添了一条黑丝绒（velvet）的阔腰带（waistband），领子拆掉，双肩全部暴露在外。
She was so upset that she looked severely at Fay and said, "Don't go out into the sun without putting something on your shoulders, child. You'll suffer for it if you don't. You burn so easily."
"I never burn. I've never burned in my life." Fay said.
"There's always a first time. You don't want to be sick, child, do you? It's terribly hot today."
- There's always a first time：以前虽然没有晒坏过，以后初犯还是可能的。
After lunch she said to Mr. Fairfax, who was kicking off his shoes in the bedroom with relief before lying on the bed, "Did you notice Fay's dress?"
"What about it?" he said. "Isn't it the one she always wears?"
"She's taken the collar off."
"Well, I can hardly blame her," he said, and began laughing. "I wanted to take mine off. And would have done for two pins."
"You never notice anything," she said. "I don't believe you'd notice if they turned black, would you?"
"I did notice," Mr. Fairfax said. "I thought they both looked stunning and I don't wonder the boys are after them."
"I suppose that's all you ever think about," she said.
- with relief：解除束缚后的轻松之感。
- blame：责备。And would have done for two pins.=And I would have taken my collar off for a trifle. two pins喻代价之低：即使为了两个小钉之微我也愿意把我的领子拆去的。
- if they turned black：假如女儿给晒黑了。
That was why she had taken her book and her spectacles and gone off alone to sit under the reclusive calm of the acacia tree, irritated about things and not realizing, until the wooden chock of croquet balls began to scrape more and more harshly on her nerves, how vulgar the sound of shrieking could be in the hot still afternoon.
"You really must stop it!" she lifted her voice at last in a spurt of anger. "Can't you play quietly for a change?"
- reclusive：隐遁的。not realizing的宾语是“how vulgar…”这一从句。scrape on her nerves：扰乱（擦伤）她的神经。harshly：刺耳地。vulgar：恶俗。等到她感到木球之声愈来愈聒耳烦心，她才明白这种尖声怪叫，在平静（still）的热天下午听来，是多么的恶俗可厌。
- a spurt of anger：怒气突发，从今天下午开始，Mrs. Fairfax是百般地不痛快，女儿丈夫都在惹她生气，饭后想求片刻宁静，偏偏木球声、笑声、叫声扰得她心情更为不安，现在忍无可忍，怒火直冒矣。
Then she realized, slowly, and at first with unbelief, that there was not a sound in the afternoon. The air above the tall acacia tree was not strong enough to quiver the smallest leaves. Coming down so suddenly, after the shrieking and the laughter, the silence had a creepiness about it. She actually heard a bird scratching at dry earth, among summer-burned leaves, under the bushes of guelder-rose, a small obsessional sound of tiny claws searching in shadow that awoke in her, almost before she was aware of it, new sources of irritation.
- slowly, and at first with unbelief：她慢慢地才听出来（园里已经寂然无声），起初她还不信呢。照语法结构，realized应直跟that；可是作者插进了一个副词（slowly）和一个副词短语，加上了三个逗点，念的时候就得多停三次。本来可以一气直下的，现在便多顿挫。浩浩荡荡，一鼓作气，固然痛快；然而吞吐盘旋，一波三折，文章便多妩媚。初学作文者，往往直叙无文，如欲更进一层，稍事修饰增益，宜在此等地方用功夫。
- air名曰气，实即风也。风弱，虽至细之叶亦不为吹动。quiver：使之震颤。Coming为现在分词，形容主语silence。creepiness：身上如有物爬行之感。怪叫大笑之后，沉寂如此突然地来临，令人起某种（a creepiness）悚然之感。
- scratching：扒抓。obsessional：萦绕心头的，盘旋耳边的。a small obsessional sound是同位语，说明前面的a bird scratching。tiny：细小的。claws：爪。searching：搜寻。that是关系代名词，代替sound。awoke：唤醒，引起；其宾语为“new sources（根由）of irritation”。细微的扒抓之声，在她耳边萦绕不去，在她心头造成了新的烦恼因素。
- almost before she was aware of it：几乎在她自觉烦恼之前，烦恼已经上了身了。她的新烦恼是不知不觉中来的。
Now what had happened? Now where had everyone disappeared to? Now what were they up to?
In uneasiness she tried to peer first over, then half under, the canopy seat, searching for the movement of figures through the lower branches of the shrubbery of acacia and guelder-rose. But it was no use; there was nothing there to see.
- up to=doing；about to do。她们在“搞”些什么呢？
- uneasiness：不安，不自在。peer：窥视。over是介词，其宾语为the canopy seat。她先从椅子上面探望，继而半俯身子，向下窥视。figures：人的身形。branches：树枝。shrubbery：灌木。
It was in a final effort towards calmness, towards being rational, that she lay full length on the seat. The toes of her shoes clung to her feet by the tips and presently one of them fell off, dropping down on the lawn, as she moved on the canopy.
- 她力求镇静，力求合理（rational，自寻烦恼便是无理取闹）；东张西望，既然看不出一个结果，她索性全身伸直（full length）了，躺在摇椅之上。这是她使自己心平气和的最后一次努力（final effort），以后孩子们不管多么吵闹，或是在偷偷摸摸地顽皮，她都不去理会了。
- toes：鞋的前端。clung：附着。by the tips：只有鞋尖一点点的地方，还附着在脚尖上。人躺好了，神经宽舒，鞋自然松下；所以她在椅上（canopy是canopy seat的简写）挪动一下，鞋就落在草地之上。她当然也懒得去捡了。
A moment or two later she was aware that the creeping sound of the bird in its obsessional scratching among leaves seemed to be growing louder. It seemed also to be coming nearer. And suddenly she was aware of it under the very corner of the canopy. She saw that it belonged to the tousled dark head of a young man who was crawling almost underneath her on his hands and knees.
- crawling on his hands and knees：两手两膝着地地爬。地上悉悉索索在扒的，扰乱得她心神不宁的，原来并不是鸟。
"Oh! my God," he said.
He was already holding her shoe in his hand.
"I'm terribly sorry, Mrs. Fairfax," he was saying, and as he opened his mouth, she noticed quickly how handsome the level lines of his teeth were.
"What on earth are you supposed to be doing?" she said.
"I thought you were Fay," he said.
"What ever made you think I was Fay?"
"You're such a lot like her," he said, "and I thought she came this way."
- on earth用以加强疑问代名词what，相当于中文的“到底”。are you supposed是被动语态，可能解释作“人家以为你是在干什么的？”，但此处似应为反身动词（reflexive verb）的被动语态：What on earth do you think you are doing？你到底自以为在干些什么呢？
- I thought you were Fay此句的动词是过去式：我刚才把你看错了，以为你是Fay（大小姐之名，见前文），所以才把你的鞋子捡起来的。
- such a lot：多么的。对母亲说她像她的妙龄女儿，该是一句很巧妙的谀辞，这位青年并不存心恭维，但是大约无意中已经博得这位太太的欢心了。
He began to try to put the shoe on the canopy seat without her noticing it and she said, "What were you going to do if I were Fay?"
"Oh! we're having a game," he said. "It's a sort of treasure game. You have to find so many things in a given time."
- noticing：注意。趁她不注意时，把鞋放在椅上。捡鞋子原来为的是游戏。参加“觅宝”游戏的人（即末句的You），一定要在指定时间（given time）之内，找到某些东西。
"Such as shoes?" she said.
"A shoe was one."
"And what else?"
Perhaps because he was still kneeling on the grass, perhaps because both her feet were now shoeless, he seemed more embarrassed than ever. "Oh! a clothespin," he said, and he hesitated so much before the next of his things that she had suddenly an idea he was making things up. "Then a collar stud. That was for the girls."
- both her feet：另外一只鞋也掉下来了。embarrassed：窘迫。
- clothespin：晾晒衣服时用的木夹子。before the next of his things：说了木夹子，再说下一样东西之前，他吞吞吐吐（hesitated）了好久，才说得出来，以致她忽然有了一个印象：她以为他在编造（making up）了话来骗她。其实他是因为不好意思，才难于启齿的。
- collar stud：衬衫领子上的活动钮扣（这种衬衫的领子大多不是缝在一起，而是临时装上的）。女孩子要觅的宝是男人衬衫上的钮扣，这种事情说出来不大雅观，无怪那人要格格不吐。
"Oh! it was different for girls then, was it?"
"It has to be," he said. "It's more fun."
"You look terribly hot," she said. "It would do you much good to rest. How far had you got? What had you found?"
- It has to be：非这么不可。had got，had found（过去完成式）：他来到这里以前，找到了些什么了？
"I'd got the clothespin and the shoe… well, I thought I had,"he said, and again she saw the smile, perfect and handsome in the startling whiteness of its expanse between dark lips.
Suddenly she drew her feet up towards her and said, "Wouldn't you like to sit down on the canopy? You look so hot and uncomfortable down there."
"Oh! I don't want to disturb you...."
- I thought I had：我那时还以为找到了。那男子的牙齿洁白整齐，笑时尤为明显，此处不提牙齿，只说他的笑占地甚大（expanse：嘴咧得很开），在两片暗红色嘴唇之间，露出一片耀目的白色。
- drew up：把脚缩进，好让那人来坐。
"Not disturbing. Sit down and cool off a bit."
He sat down and began almost at once, unconsciously, with regular motions of one foot, to swing the canopy up and down.
After some moments of that sensation, so delicious and soothing that she wanted to shut her eyes, she said, "You didn't finish telling me what the girls had to find."
- began应该直连to swing（摇荡）的，作者又插了好几个形容的字眼进去。unconsciously：不知不觉中。regular motions of one foot：一只脚有规律地动，一推一撑之间，摇椅就上下摆动起来了。
- that sensation：摇荡的感觉。delicious：引起酣美的快感的。soothing：使神经平静舒适的。摇椅轻轻摆动，她周身快慰舒适，把眼睛闭上了，好好地享受一下。她方才何等暴躁，现在变得如此平易近人，读者请注意其心理变迁过程。
The swinging of the canopy made the top of the acacia tree rock with heady gentleness against the sky. The sensation it woke in her body reminded her of a swing on which she had played, under a big tree, as a child.
"Oh! it was a bit silly."
- rock也是摇动，但并不悬空，其动亦较着实而缓慢。婴孩摇篮之摇为rock，秋千之动则为swing。swing作名词用，即为秋千。摇椅摆动，牵动树梢，动势虽和缓（gentle），但望之亦使人头眩（heady）。against the sky：以天空为陪衬。她想把眼闭上，事实上恐怕没有闭，因此看天际树梢摇动而微觉头眩也。
- it woke in her body是定语从句：在她身上引起的（这种快感）。reminded her of：使她想起（一架幼时曾荡过的秋千）。
In a new spasm of nervousness he swung the canopy higher and said, "Well, if you must know, it was a hair off my chest…."
"Oh! what a thing to think of!" she began laughing in spite of herself, partly, because under the sensation of that swinging canopy she could not control it, partly as a small protection against being shocked. She supposed she really ought to have been shocked at something like that, but in an odd way the swinging of the canopy lifted the sensation of shock and bore it far away.
- what a thing to think of：惊叹句，相当于“这事亏你们想出来的”。
- in spite of herself：自己按捺不住。她的笑有两个原因：一是摇摇摆摆得自己不能控制（it=laughing）了；二是拿笑来作为小小的掩护，免得自己受惊（shocked）。男孩子胸口的毛，拔下来藏起，叫女孩子找，这事多么骇人听闻！这位太太爱护女儿，无微不至，更应该不能忍受了。
- something like that：像这一类的事。in an odd way：不知怎么的。lifted：举起，移除。bore away：带走。
"And what about the rest of the things you had to find?"
"Most of them sound stupid too."
"A shoe was one. Then there were one or two silly things—the clothespin, then a stocking. Then—"
Under the small, thrilling sensation of the swinging canopy she was laughing quite openly now, not so much amused as in sheer exhilaration. Higher and higher, she thought, all the time higher and higher, as she had done when a child, until you were one, as it were, with the sky, until….
- not so much… as…与其说是前者，不如说是后者。与其说她看见了那人神里神经觉得好笑（amused：引以为乐），不如说她是完完全全（sheer）心里高兴（exhilaration）才开口大笑的。
- Higher and higher：高呀，高呀，愈荡愈高。one with the sky：与天空合而为一。as it were：似乎；可以这么说；人与天空并不能合一，不过不妨如此夸张而已。
- when a child=when she was a child。
"Oh! you must win," she said, "Take my shoe. Here, you can take this too—"
He turned in time to see her rolling down her stocking, slipping it swiftly over her foot.
"Oh! no, Mrs. Fairfax. I don't really—"
"Go on!" she said. "Take it. Start running. Get there—"
The sudden motion of his reluctant body as he got up, taking shoe and stocking with him, gave the canopy its final swing.
- take this之this何所指，看下段自明。
- turned：转过头去。in time：恰当其时。rolling：卷。slipping：滑过。此两现在分词形容脱袜情形很贴切。
- Get there：跑到他们那边去。
"What a nice boy," she said to herself. "How silly to be playing that game," and then, as the canopy swung less, "Dying, dying; dying down," in the same blissful way she remembered as a child.
It was only when the canopy was nearly motionless that she remembered to put out her foot and start it swinging again. The grass was cool on the naked sole of her foot. The boughs of the acacia tree seemed to sway in exact time with her body. The shade of the tree embalmed her exquisitely, alone but no longer deserted, and out in the hot still sunlight there was now a new sound of voices, hunting for their treasure.
- put out her foot：摇椅快停的时候，她才想起了伸脚出去，再把它推动。
- boughs：树之大枝。swayed：摇摆；此字涵义大致与swing相似，所不同者，sway之摇摆较笨重而不稳定，swing则专指较轻快之摇摆。rock着实，swing悬空，sway则悬空着实，兼可适用。exact：恰巧，适合。in time with：动作的节拍相合。
- 综观全文，故事平淡无奇，叙事似亦多琐碎，然而贯串全文的，乃是Mrs. Fairfax的心理发展：如何从暴躁化为和易，从严厉化为慈爱。人与人相知本来不易，任何人的同情心假如能增加一点，他的生活内容即多充实了一点。Mrs. Fairfax午饭之后在树下小憩，正满怀气愤，偏偏巧遇“觅宝”青年，交谈片刻，共坐摇椅，态度即判然大变，对青年男女的“胡闹”，非但不再那么憎厌，而且同情之心油然而生，自己在心理上也随着年轻了不少。这一种内心生活的转变，是一个人生命里的大事；可是人生逢到这种转变的时候，可能在外表上很少动静，甚至和他最密切的人，也可能一无所知；写小说的凭了他的同情心和想象力，是不会把这种场合轻易放过的。本文作者选取了短篇小说最理想的题材，以轻松经济的文字，写入情入理的故事，结果才完成了这一篇杰作。