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Elizabeth George Speare / Элизабет Джордж Спир
The Witch of Blackbird Pond / Ведьма с пруда Чёрных Дроздов
Книга для чтения на английском языке в 10–11 классах общеобразовательных учебных заведений
Адаптация и словарь: А. В. Шитова
© Шитова А. В., адаптация, словарь, 2014
© ООО «Антология», 2014
On a morning in April, 1687, the brigantine Dolphin sailed into Saybrook harbor. Kit Tyler was standing on the deck, looking at the land for the first time in five weeks.
“There’s Connecticut Colony,” someone spoke in her ear. She looked up, surprised. The whole long voyage the captain’s son didn’t say a word to her. But she had often noticed him, his thin figure, tanned skin and sunburned hair. His name was Nathaniel Eaton or just Nat. “How do you like it?” he asked.
“Is that Wethersfield?” she asked Nat. America looked disappointing to Kit. The thin shoreline, gray harbor, ugly wooden houses – they were such a contrast to Barbados which was her home.
“No, this is the port of Saybrook, our home.”
She could see nothing interesting and was happy because this was not her destination.
“Have you ever been on a ship before?” Nat asked.
“I’ve sailed on little row boats in the islands all my life.”
He smiled, “That’s where you learned to keep your balance.” So he had noticed!
“Weren’t you scared of the wind and the waves?” Nat asked.
“I was! But now I think that it was the most exciting thing I’ve ever known.”
There was a sudden activity on the deck. “What is happening?” Kit asked. “Are we stopping here?”
“Some passengers will get off,” Nat explained. “We’re going to anchor here and take a boat to the shore. That means I have to go.” He went away, lightly and confidently.
Then Kit saw the captain’s wife Mistress Eaton among the passengers leaving the ship. They were the only two women aboard the Dolphin, and the older woman was friendly and kind. Now, seeing Kit, she walked up to her. “I am leaving the ship, Katherine. But don’t look so sad. This is not far to Wethersfield, and we’ll meet again.”
Kit looked at the shore again. Suddenly she had an idea. “Can I ride in the boat to the shore with you?” she asked. “There is America and I can’t wait to see it!”
“You are such a child, Kit,” smiled Mrs. Eaton. “Sometimes it’s hard to believe that you are sixteen.” She asked her husband about it. The captain looked at the girl’s shining eyes and then agreed.
On the shore Nat helped his mother to get out of the boat first and then gave a hand to Kit. When she set foot on America, she smelled the salty air and looked around. Three poorly-dressed women stood nearby. Kit smiled and wanted to talk to them, but then she stopped herself. There was something in the women’s stare: they looked critically at Kit’s tangled brown curls and sunburned face. She had no gloves, no cover for her head. Embarrassment was a new feeling for Kit. No one on Barbados had ever stared like that at Sir Francis Tyler’s granddaughter.
“Katherine, dear,” said Mrs. Eaton at that moment, “Are you sure your aunt will be waiting for you at Wethersfield? There’s Goodwife Cruff going aboard. I’ll tell her to keep you company.”
Then she walked away, and Nat followed her along the narrow dirty road. Kit stood alone, waiting. She already regretted this trip to the shore. There was no welcome for her at this Saybrook.* * *
At last the captain called everyone back to the boat. There were four new passengers: a tall young man with long fair hair, then a sullen older man, his wife and their little girl with a wooden toy. They were halfway back to the ship when the child started crying. Her mother smacked her, but the child only started crying harder. “Ma! The dolly’s gone!” she cried. “The doll Grandpa made for me!”
Kit could see the little wooden doll drifting in the water right behind the boat.
“Shame on you!” the woman said angrily to the girl. “He worked so hard to make you a toy, and now you throw it away!”
“I was showing her the ship! Please get her back, Ma! Please!”
The toy was drifting farther and farther away from the boat. No one in the boat paid any attention. Kit could not keep silent. “Turn back, Captain,” she asked.
The captain did not even look at her. Kit had never been ignored before. Then, suddenly, she took off her shoes and jumped over the side of the boat. The water was terribly cold. Kit saw the wooden doll and quickly swam to it. She had the doll in her hand when she saw that Nathaniel too was in the water beside her. She laughed and swam back to the boat. The captain helped her and Nat to get in. Kit was smiling excitedly, and her cheeks were red, but then she saw the shock, horror and anger in the faces of the other passengers.
“You must be mad,” the woman said angrily.
Even Nathaniel was furious. “You don’t think about anybody else, do you?” he asked her.
“Why did you jump in anyway?” Kit asked.
“I wouldn’t have, if I had known that you could swim.”
“Swim?” she was surprised. “My grandfather taught me to swim before I could walk.”
The others stared at Kit silently. What was wrong with these people? Only the young man with fair hair smiled warmly, and the child, holding her wet doll, looked gratefully at her.* * *
Two hours later Kit was sitting on the deck when the tall young man came up to her. “I am John Holbrook,” he said. “I’m going to Wethersfield.”
Kit had not forgotten his warm smile. “I am Katherine Tyler,” she answered. “I am on the way to Wethersfield too to live with my aunt, Mistress Wood.”
“Is Matthew Wood your uncle then? His name is well-known there.”
“Yes, but I have never seen either him or my aunt. I only know that she was my mother’s very beautiful sister back in England.”
The young man looked puzzled. “I have never met your aunt,” he said. “I came to talk to you because I think that it was a kind thing you did for the child.”
“It was a very foolish thing, I understand now,” she replied. “But I don’t understand why it made everyone so angry.”
He paused. “You surprised us, that’s all. We were sure you would drown. It was shocking to see you swimming.”
“But can’t you swim?”
“No, and no one else on this ship can, except Nat who was born on the water. Where in England do they teach you that?”
“Not England. I was born on Barbados.”
“Barbados? The wild island in the West Indies?”
“Yes, but it is as civilized as England, with towns and fine streets and shops. My grandfather had one of the first plantations there, with a grant from the King.”
“You are not a Puritan then?”
“Puritan? One of those who betrayed King James?”
The young man opened his mouth to protest, but then looked at Kit and just asked, “Are you going to stay here in Connecticut? I think you will be a surprise to the good people of Wethersfield.”
Kit suddenly felt uncomfortable. Can he possibly know? Had he guessed? There was no one to tell him. She had kept her secret even from the captain’s wife. “Do you live in Wethersfield yourself?” she asked to change the subject.
The young man shook his head. “My home is in Saybrook, but I am going to Wethefsfield to study under the Reverend Bulkeley. In another year I hope to have my own church.”
A clergyman! She should have known it! Suddenly she was distracted by Nat Eaton. His friendly morning smile was gone and he spoke formally. “My father sent me to find you, Mistress Tyler. He thinks you should now eat with Goodwife Cruff and her family.”
“Ugh,” Kit exclaimed, “her sour face will spoil my food!”
Nat laughed. “And yours will spoil hers,” he answered. “She has told my father that you are a witch because no good woman could swim like that.”
“Nonsense!” Kit cried.
“Don’t you know about the water test?” Nat asked her. “A true witch will always float. The innocent ones just sink like a stone.” Nat was clearly joking, but she was surprised to see that John Holbrook’s face was now even darker than before. “That is not a funny thing,” he said. “Was the woman serious, Nat?”
“She was,” Nat answered. “But my father has calmed her down. He knows Barbados. He explained that the sea is always warm there, and that even good people sometimes swim in it. But, Mistress Katherine, now that you’re in Connecticut, I’d advise you to forget that you can swim.”
They all laughed, but inside Kit felt uneasy. Nat was joking, but he definitely warned her. There was something strange about this country of America; something that they all seemed to understand, but she did not.
It took nine days for the Dolphin to make the voyage from Saybrook to Wethersfield. As if the ship was bewitched – from the moment they left Saybrook everything went wrong. The wind almost died away, and the ship was moving down the river very slowly. Kit was very frustrated. How could she stand another meal at the same table with Goodwife Cruff, her sullen husband and that miserable little child Prudence. Yet Kit couldn’t get the girl out of her mind. There was something in that small child. One afternoon Kit saw the little girl standing alone on the deck. Kit moved closer and they stood side by side watching beautiful birds and dark trees on the shore. The child looked at the scenery with wonder. But soon a call from her mother made her run away. Suddenly, Kit realized that she hadn’t seen the girl’s wooden doll.
Captain Eaton and Nat were avoiding Kit. John Holbrook was the only one on this ship who didn’t mind her company. Most of the time, he was reading his books, even forgetting about the meals. But the moment he noticed Kit, John would smile, shut his book and come to join her. Slowly Kit learned the details of his dull history.
“It was foolish of me, the farmer’s son, even to think about Harvard,” John told her. “It was too far to the school, and my father could never let me go for more than a month out of the year. But he wanted me to learn, and I wanted to go to college. Till this spring I was hoping I could save enough money. Well, the Lord didn’t provide the money, but now He has another plan for me. Reverend Bulkeley of Wethersfield has agreed to take me as a pupil. He is a famous scholar, in medicine as well as theology. There isn’t a more learned teacher, even at Harvard.”
This talk about money embarrassed Kit. Her grandfather seldom mentioned such things. For sixteen years she had never questioned the expensive and beautiful things she had. In the last few months she had had a terrifying experience of living without money, but she didn’t want to speak about it. Instead, she tried to tell John Holbrook of her own childhood. She saw that he didn’t like the way she had grown up on the island. The green palms, warm blue ocean, white sandy beaches meant nothing to him. Didn’t her parents give her work to do?
“I don’t remember my parents at all,” she told him. “My father was born on the island and was sent to England to school. He met my mother there and brought her back to Barbados with him. They had only three years together. They both drowned by accident on a pleasure trip to Antigua, and Grandfather and I were left alone.”