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  • Hi, I'm Al Gore and this is part of the BookPALS program, sponsored by the Screen Actor's Guild Foundation.

  • And today, I'm going to read you this book, written and illustrated by William Steig, it's called "Brave Irene."

  • Here's how it begins. . .

  • Mrs. Bobbin, the dressmaker, was tired and had a bad headache, but she still managed to sew the last stiches in the gown she was making.

  • "It's the most beautiful dress in the whole world!" said her daughter, Irene. "The duchess will love it."

  • "It is nice," her mother admitted. "But, dumpling, it's for tonight's ball, and I don't have the strength to bring it. I feel sick."

  • "Poor Mama," said Irene. "I can get it there!"

  • "No, cupcake, I can't let you," said Mrs. Bobbin. "Such a huge package, and it's such a long way to the palace. Besides, it's starting to snow."

  • "But I love snow," Irene insisted. She coaxed her mother into bed, covered her with two quilts, and added a blanket for her feet.

  • Then she fixed some tea with lemon and honey and put more wood in the stove.

  • With great care, Irene took the splendid gown down from the dummy and packed it in a big box with plenty of tissue paper.

  • "Dress warmly, pudding," her mother called in a weak voice, "and don't forget to button up. It's cold out there, and windy."

  • Irene put on her fleece-lined boots, her red hat and muffler, her heavy coat, and her mittens.

  • She kissed her mother's hot forehead six times, then once again, made sure she was tucked in snugly,

  • and slipped out with the big box, shutting the door firmly behind her.

  • It really was cold outside, very cold. The wind whirled the falling snow-flakes about, this way, that way, and into Irene's squinting face.

  • She set out on the uphill path to Farmer Bennett's sheep pasture.

  • By the time she got there, the snow was up to her ankles and the wind was worse. It hurried her along and made her stumble.

  • Irene resented this; the box was problem enough.

  • "Easy does it!" she cautioned the wind, leaning back hard against it.

  • By the middle of the pasture, the flakes were falling thicker.

  • Now the wind drove Irene along so rudely she had to hop, skip, and go helter-skeltering over the knobby ground.

  • Cold snow sifted into her boots and chilled her feet. She pushed out her lip and hurried on. This was an important errand.

  • When she reached Apple Road, the wind decided to put on a show. It ripped branches from trees and flung them about,

  • swept up and scattered the fallen snow, got in front of Irene to keep her from moving ahead. Irene turned around and pressed on backwards.

  • "Go home!" the wind squalled. "Irene. . . go hooooooome. . ."

  • "I will do no such thing," she snapped. "No such thing, you wicked wind!"

  • "Go ho-o-ome," the wind yodeled. "GO HO-WO-WOME," it shrieked, "or else."

  • For a short second, Irene wondered if she shouldn't heed the wind's warning. But no! The gown had to get to the duchess!

  • The wind wrestled her for the package-walloped it, twisted it, shook it, snatched at it. But Irene wouldn't yield. "It's my mother's work!" she screamed.

  • Then-oh, woe!-the box was wrenched from her mittened grasp and sent bumbling along in the snow. Irene went after it.

  • She pounced and took hold, but the ill-tempered wind ripped the box open.

  • The ball gown flounced out and went waltzing through the powdered air with tissue-paper attendants.

  • Irene clung to the empty box and watched the beautiful gown disappear.

  • How could anything so terribly wrong be allowed to happen? Tears froze on her lashes.

  • Her dear mother's hard work, all those days of measuring, cutting, pinning, stitching. . . for this?

  • And the poor duchess! Irene decided she would have to trudge on with just the box and explain everything in person.

  • She went shuffling through the snow. Would her mother understand, she wondered, that it was the wind's fault, not hers?

  • Would the duchess be angry? The wind was howling like a wild animal.

  • Suddenly Irene stepped in a hole and fell over with a twisted ankle. She blamed it on the wind.

  • "Keep quiet! she scolded. "You've done enough damage already. You've spoiled everything! Everything!" The wind swallowed up her words.

  • She sat in the snow in great pain, afraid she wouldn't be able to go on. But she managed to get to her feet and start moving. It hurt.

  • Home, where she longed to be, where she and her mother could be warm together, was far behind.

  • It's got to be closer to the palace, she thought. But where any place was in all this snow, she couldn't be sure.

  • She plowed on, dragging furrows with her sore foot. The short winter day was almost done.

  • Am I still going the right way?, she wondered. There was no one around to advise her.

  • Whoever else there was in this snow-covered world was far, far away, and safe indoors-even the animals in their burrows. She went plodding on.

  • Soon night took over. She knew in the dark that the muffled snow was still falling-she could feel it. She was cold and alone in the middle of nowhere. Irene was lost.

  • She had to keep moving. She was hoping she'd come to a house, any house at all, and be taken in.

  • She badly needed to be in someone's arms. The snow was above her knees now. She shoved her way through it, clutching the empty box.

  • She was asking how long a small person could keep this struggle up, when she realized it was getting lighter. There was a soft glow coming from somewhere below her.

  • She waded toward this glow, and soon was gazing down a long slope at a brightly lit mansion. It had to be the palace!

  • Irene pushed forward with all her strength and-sloosh! thwump!-she plunged downward and was buried. She had fallen off a little cliff.

  • Only her hat and the box in her hands stuck out above the snow.

  • Even if she could call for help, no one would hear her. Her body shook. Her teeth chattered.

  • Why not freeze to death, she thought, and let all these troubles end. Why not? She was already buried.

  • And never see her mother's face again? Her good mother who smelled like fresh-baked bread?

  • In an explosion of fury, she flung her body about to free herself and was finally able to clim up on her knees and look around.

  • How to get down to that glittering palace? As soon as she raised the question, she had the answer.

  • She laid the box down and climbed aboard. But it pressed into the snow and stuck.

  • She tried again, and this time, instead of climbing on, she leaped. The box shot forward, like a sled.

  • The wind raced after Irene but couldn't keep up. In a moment she would be with people again, inside where it was warm.

  • The sled slowed and jerked to a stop on paving stones.

  • The time had come to break the bad news to the duchess. With the empty box clasped to her chest, Irene strode nervously toward the palace.

  • But then her feet stopped moving and her mouth fell open. She stared.

  • Maybe this was impossible, yet there it was, a little way off and over to the right, hugging the trunk of a tree-the beautiful ball gown! The wind was holding it there.

  • "Mama!" Irene shouted. "Mama, I found it!"

  • She managed somehow, despite the wind's meddling, to get the gown off the tree and back in its box.

  • And in another moment she was at the door of the palace. She knocked twice with the big brass knocker. The door opened and she burst in.

  • She was welcomed by cheering servants and a delirious duchess. They couldn't believe she had come over the mountain in such a storm, all by herself.

  • She had to tell the whole story, every detail. And she did.

  • Then she asked to be taken right back to her sick mother. But it was out of the question, they said; the road that ran around the mountain wouldn't be cleared until morning.

  • "Don't fret, child," said the duchess. "Your mother is surely sleeping now. We'll get you there first thing tomorrow."

  • Irene was given a good dinner as she sat by the fire, the moisture steaming off her clothes.

  • The duchess, meanwhile, got into her freshly ironed gown before the guests began arriving in their sleighs.

  • What a wonderfull ball it was! The duchess in her new gown was like a bright star in the sky.

  • Irene in her ordinary dress was radient. She was swept up into dances by handsome aristocrats, who kept her feet off the floor to spare her ankle.

  • Her mother would enjoy hearing all about it.

  • Early the next morning, when snow had long since ceased falling, Mrs. Bobbin woke from a good night's sleep feeling much improved.

  • She hurried about and got a fire going in the cold stove. Then she went to look in on Irene.

  • But Irene's bed was empty! She ran to the window and gazed at the white landscape. No one out there. Snow powder fell from the branch of a tree.

  • "Where is my child?" Mrs. Bobbin cried. She whipped on her coat to go out and find her.

  • When she pulled the door open, a wall of drift faced her. But peering over it, she could see a horse-drawn sleigh hastening up the path.

  • And seated on the sleigh, between two large footmen, was Irene herself, asleep but smiling.

  • Would you like to hear the rest?

  • Well, there was a bearded doctor in the back of the sleigh. .

  • and the duchess had sent Irene's mother a ginger cake with white icing, some oranges and a pineapple, and spice candy of many flavors,

  • along with a note saying how much she cherished her gown, and what a brave and loving person Irene was.

  • Which, of course, Mrs. Bobbin knew. Better than the duchess.

  • I hope you enjoyed this book, "Brave Irene."

Hi, I'm Al Gore and this is part of the BookPALS program, sponsored by the Screen Actor's Guild Foundation.

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アル・ゴアが読むブレイブアイリーン (Brave Irene read by Al Gore)

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    稲葉白兎 に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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