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rumour/['ru(:)mə]/ n. 谣言, 传闻 vt. 谣传...


TEXT A Spring Sowing

It was still dark when Martin Delaney and his wife Mary got up. Martin stood in his shirt by the window, rubbing his eyes and yawning, while Mary raked out the live coals that had lain hidden in the ashes onthe hearth all night. Outside, cocks were crowing and a white streak was rising form the ground, as it were, and beginning to scatter the darkness. It was a February morning, dry, cold and starry.

The couple sat down to their breakfast of tea. bread and butter, in silence. They had only been married the previous autumn and it was hateful leaving a warm bed at such and early hour. Martin, with his brown hair and eyes, his freckled face and his little fair moustache, ooked too young to be married, and hsi wife looked hardly more than a girl, red-cheeked and blue-eyed,her black hair piled at the rear of her head with a large comb gleaming in the middle of the pile, Spanish fashion. They were both dressed in rough homespuns, and both wore the loose white shirt that Inverara speasants use for work in the fields.

The ate in silence, sleepy and yet on fire with excitement, for it was the first day of their first spring sowing as man and wife. And each felt the glamour of that day on which they were to open up the earth together and plant seeds in it . But somehow the imminence of an event that had been long expected loved, feared and prepared for made them dejected. Mary, with her shrewd woman's mind, thought of as many things as there are in life as a woman would in the first joy and anxiety of her mating. But Martin's mind was fixed on one thought. Would he be able to prove himself a man worthy of being the head of a family by dong his spring sowing well?

In the barn after breakfast, when they were getting the potato seeds and the line ofor measuring the tround and the spade, Martin fell over a basket in the half-darkness of the barn, he swore and said that a man would be better off dead than.. But before he could finish whatever he was gong to say, Mary had her arms around his waist and her face to his ."Martin," she said,"let us not begin this day cross with one another." And there was a tremor in her voice. And somehow,as they embraced, all their irritation and sleepiness left them. And they stood there embracing until at last Martin pushed her from him with pretended roughness and said:"Come,come, girl, it wil be sunset before we begin at this rate."

Still, as they walked silently in their rawhide shoes through the little hamlet, there was not a soul about. Lights were glimmering in the windows of a few cabins. The sky had a big grey crack in it in the east, as if it were going to burst in order to give birth to the sun. Birdes were singing somewhere at a distance. Martin and Mary proudly:"We are first,Mary." And they both looked back at the little cluster of cabins that was the centre of their world, with throbbing hearts. For the jy of sping had now taken complete hold of them.

They reached the little field where they were to sow. It was a little triangular patch of ground under an ivy-covered limestone hill. the little field had been manured with seaweed some weeks before, and the weeds had rotted and whitened on the grass. And there was a big red heap of gresh seaweed lying in a corner by the fence to be spread under the seeds as they were laid. Martin, in spite of the cold, threw off everything above his waist except his striped woollen shirt. Then he spat on his hands, seized his spade and cried: "Now you are going to see what kind of a man you have, Mary."

"There, now," said Mary, rying a little shawl clser under her chin.

"Aren't we boastful this early hour of the morning? Maybe I'll wait till sunset to see what kind of a man I have got."

The work began. Martin measured the ground by the southern fence for the first ridge, a strip of ground four feet wide, and he placed the line along the edge and pegged it at each end. Then he spread fresh seaweed over the strip. Mary filled her apron with seeds and began to lay them in rows. When she was a little distance down the ridge, Martin advanced with his spade to the head, eager to commence.

"Now in the name of God," he cried, spitting on his palms,"let us raise the first sod!"

"Oh, Martin, wait till I'm with you !" cried Mary, dropping her seeds on the ridge and running up to him .Her fingers outside her woollen mittens were numb with the cold, and she couldn't wipe them in her apron. Her cheeks seemed to be on fire. She put an arm round Martin's waist and stood looking at the green sod his spade was going to cut, with the excitement of a little child.

"Now for God's sake,girl, keep back!"said Martin gruffly. "Suppose anybody saw us like this in the field of our spring sowing, what would they take us for but a pair of useless, soft, empty-headed people that would be sure to die of hunger. Huh!" He spoke very rapidely, and his eyes were fixed on the ground before hm. His eyes had a wild, eager light in them as if some primeval impulse were burning within his brain and driving out every other desire but that of asserting his manhood and of subjugating the earth.

"Oh, what do we care who is looking?" said Mary; but she drew back at the same time and gazed distantly at the ground. Then Martin cut the sod, and pressing the spade deep into the earth with his foot, he turned up the first sod with a crunching sound as the gras roots were dragged out of the earth. Mary sighed and walked back hurriedly to her seeds with furrowed brows. She picked up her seeds and began to spread them rapidly to drive out the sudden terror that had seized her at that moment whten she saw the fierce, hard look in her husband's eyes that were unconscious of her presence. She became suddenly afraid of that pitiless, cruel earth, the peasant's slave master, that would keep her chained to hard work and poverty all her life until she would sink again into its bosom. Her short-lived love was gone. Henceforth she was only her husband's helper to till the earth . And Martin, absolutely without thought, worked furiously, covering the ridge with block earth, his sharp spade gleaming white as he whirled it sideways to beat the sods.

Then, as the sun rose,the little valley beneath the ivy-covered hills became dotted with white shirts, and everywhere men worked madly, without speaking, and women spread seeds. There was no heat in the light of the sun, and there was a sharpness in the still thin air that made the men jump on their spade halts ferociously and beat the sods as if they were living enemies. birds hopped silently before the spades, with their heads cocked sideways, watching for worms. Made brave by hunger, they often dashed under the spades to secure their food.

Then, when the sun reached a certain point, all the women went back to the village to get dinner for their men, and the men worked on without stopping. Then the women trturned ,almost running, each carrying a tin can with a flannel tied around it adn a little bundle tied with a white cloth, Martin threw down his spade when Mary arrived back in the field. Smiling at one another they sat under the hill for their meal .It was the same as their breakfast, tea and bread and butter.

"Ah," said Martin, when he had taken a long draught of tea form his mug, "is there anything in this world as fine as eating dinner out in the open like this after doing a good morning's work? Ther, I have done two ridges and a half. That's more than any man in the village could do . Ha!" And he looked at his wife proudly.

"Yes,isn't it lovely," said Mary, looking at the back ridges wistfully. She was just munching her bread and butter .The hurried trip to the village and the trouble of getting the tea ready had robbed her of her appetite. she had to keep blowing at the turf fire with the rim of her skirt, and the smoke nearly blinded her. But now, sitting on that grassy knoll, with the valley all round glistening with fresh seaweed and a light smoke rising from the freshly truned earth, a strange joy swept over her . It overpowered that ofther felling of dread that had been with her during the morning.

Martin ate heartily, revelling in his great thirst and his great hunger, with every pore of his body open to the pure air. And he looked around at his neighbours' fields boastfully, comparing them with his own. Then he looked at his wife's little round black head and felt very proud of having her as his own. He leaned back on his elbow and took her hand in his. Shyly and in silence, not knowing what to say and ashamed of their gentle feelings, they finished eating and still sat hand in hand looking away intothe distance. Everywhere the sowers were resting on little knolls, men,women and children sitting in silence. and the great calm of nature in spring filled the atmosphere around them. Everying seemed to sit still and wait until midday had passed. Only the gleaming sun chased westwards at a mighty pace, in and out through white clouds.

Then in a distant field an old man got up, took his spade and began to clean the earth from it with a piece of stone. Therasping noise carried a long way in the silence. That was the signal for a general rising all along the little valley. Young men stretched themselves and yawned. They walked slowly back to their ridges.

Martin's back and his wrists were getting sore, and Mary felt that if she stooped again over her seeds her neck would break, but neither said anything and soon they had forgotten their tiredness in the mechanical movement of their bodes. The strong smell of the upturned earth acted like a drug on their nerves.

by sundown Martin had five ridges finished. He threw down his spade and stretched himself. All his bones ached and he wanted to lie down and rest. "It's time to be gong home, Mary," he said.

Mary straightened herself, but she was too tired to reply. she looked at Martin wearily and it seemed to her that it was a great many years since they had set out that morning. Then shen thought of the journey home and the trouble of feeding the igs, putting the fowls into their coops and getting the supper ready , and a momentary flash of rebellion against the slavery of being a peasat's wife crossed her mind. It passed in a moment. Martin was saying ,as he dressed himself:

"Ha! It has been a good day's work.Five ridges done, and each one of them as straight as a steel rod. By God Mary, it's no boasting to say that you might well be rpoud of bing the wife of Martin Delaney. and that's not sayingthe whole of it ,my girl. You did your share bettrer than any woman in Inverara could do it this blessed day."

They stood for a few moments in silence, looking at the work they had done. All her dissatisfaction and weariness vanished form Mary's mind with the delicious feeling of comfort that overcame her at having done this work with her husband. They had done it together. They had planted seeds in the earth. The next day and the next and all their lives, when spring came they would have to bend their backs and do it until their hands and bones got twisted with rheumatism. But night would always bring sleep and forgetfulness.

As they walked home slowly, Martin walked in front with another peasant talking about the sowing, and Mary walked behind, with her eyes on the ground, thinking.

Cows were lowing at a distance.
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