The beautiful valley provided stunning (极好的) views for the little girl. A waterfall fell from the crest (顶部) of the steep surrounding cliffs (悬崖), plunging (骤然下落) to a sparkling (闪着光的), winding (蜿蜒的) stream below. The meadows (草地) were filled with flowers and lush (茂盛的) greenery (草木). Often rainbows rose from the water, glimmering (闪光) and arching (弯成拱形) over the stone tower.
During the day, Mother Gothel would frequently (经常地) go outside the tower to gather herbs (草药) and vegetables. On other occasions (在别的时候), the little girl watched as Mother Gothel went to the edge of the valley and slipped into a dark hole at the base of (在…的底部) a rocky cliff, disappearing through a tunnel (地道) that led her beyond the places that the child could see.
The tunnel opened to a forest outside of the valley. Mother Gothel made sure that when she came and went through the tunnel, no one ever saw her. If anyone did see, they might find the hidden tower—and the Princess.
Mother Gothel adored (非常喜欢) Rapunzel. And the child loved Mother Gothel, too. After all, she was the only mother—the only person!— whom Rapunzel knew or remembered. Mother Gothel was there to feed and bathe (给…洗澡) the infant. She watched Rapunzel take her first steps. And she sang lullabies (摇篮曲) to the little girl as she stroked (轻抚) and brushed her hair every day. Rapunzel never knew the true love of her real parents.
Nearly four years passed before Rapunzel asked Mother Gothel, “Why can’t I go outside?” Mother Gothel remained cautious (谨慎的) in her response. She knew she had to make the little girl fearful (害怕地) so she would never stray from (离开) the safety of the tower.
“The outside world is a dangerous place filled with horrible, selfish people,” she replied. She did not want to lose Rapunzel. The child was a part of her now. She treasured (珍视) Rapunzel as she would a prized (珍贵的) rose or a precious jewel.
Mother Gothel lifted a section (部分) of Rapunzel’s hair. Rapunzel reached back and touched the small tuft on the nape (后颈) of her neck. It was the only part of her hair that was dark and short.
“They wanted your gift for themselves,” Mother Gothel said, lying (撒谎) to Rapunzel as she gazed at the hair that she herself had cut. “So they cut a piece of your hair.”
“Yes, Mommy.” Rapunzel shivered (发抖) a little. The outside world must be a terribly dangerous place.
But on the night of her fourth birthday, Rapunzel tiptoed over to the tower window. There in the night sky she saw thousands of sparkling lights drifting (飘动) up beyond the ridge (山脊) of the valley toward the stars.
The same thing happened on the night of her fifth birthday, and on her sixth and seventh birthdays. Rapunzel loved those floating (飘浮的) lights. She even grew to believe that somehow they were meant for (是为了…) her.
Rapunzel didn’t know that each year, the King and Queen and all the people in the kingdom released (放出) thousands of glowing lanterns as beacons (指路明灯) for their lost princess. They hoped that one day the lights would guide her home.
Years passed, and Rapunzel grew into a beautiful young woman with sparkling green eyes and golden hair that was nearly seventy feet long—seventy feet of hair that was used to make a swing (秋千) so that she could swoop (猛冲) from the rafters (椽) in the tower, and that made brushes (刷子) for her beloved paintings. And despite her lonely life spent inside the top of the tower, nothing could destroy Rapunzel’s spirit.
With her eighteenth birthday approaching, Rapunzel had decided that this birthday would be different. At least, she hoped so. But first she had to gather enough courage (鼓起勇气) to ask Mother Gothel for the biggest favor she could grant (准许).
Mother Gothel had always told Rapunzel that someday, when she was old enough, when she was ready, she would be allowed to go outside. Outside! Rapunzel could only imagine outside—a place she barely glimpsed (看见) from her window, a place filled with creatures and plants and with sights, sounds, and smells she had never experienced!
Rapunzel nervously hoped that Mother Gothel would finally allow her to go out. She needed to find the source (来源) of those mysterious (神秘的) floating lights!