“Okay,” Rapunzel said to Pascal, trying to be calm. “No big deal (没什么大不了), I’m just going to do it. I’m just going to say, ‘Mother? There’s something I’ve been wanting to ask you!’” Rapunzel’s strong voice grew faint (微弱的) as she added, “For eighteen years.” She was beginning to feel her heart sinking. Maybe she wasn’t ready to go outside.
Pascal took one look at Rapunzel and arched (弓起) his little body, puffing (吹气) out his chest to tell her to be brave.
“I know, Pascal,” Rapunzel said, appreciating (感激) the encouragement. “Come on, now,” she said, motioning to him to hide. “Don’t let her see you.” Mother Gothel had never approved of (赞成) indoor pets.
Pascal nodded and camouflaged (伪装) himself to look like the stone on the mantel (壁炉架).
Down below, Mother Gothel yelled, “Rapunzel! I’m not getting any younger down here!” Rapunzel hurried toward the window.
“Coming, Mother!” Rapunzel shouted. She placed a loop (圈) of her golden hair around a pulley (滑轮) outside the window and lowered it down. As soon as Mother Gothel set her foot in (踏上) the loop of hair, Rapunzel began to pull her slowly up to the tower window. It was hard work!
“Hello, Mother!” Rapunzel said, nearly out of breath (喘不过气).
“Rapunzel, how do you manage to do that every day? It looks absolutely exhausting (令人筋疲力尽的)!” Mother Gothel said as she climbed inside.
“Oh, it’s nothing,” Rapunzel replied cheerfully.
“Then I don’t know why it takes so long,” Mother Gothel snapped (厉声说), adding in the sweetest voice she could muster (聚集), “Oh, I’m just teasing (逗笑).”
Meanwhile (同时), Rapunzel remained focused on her big question.
“Uh, so, Mother—” she began. But Mother Gothel immediately interrupted (打断) her.
“Oh, Rapunzel, look in the mirror. Do you know what I see?” she said, pulling Rapunzel into a half hug as they stood side by side (并排). “I see a strong, confident, beautiful young lady.”
Rapunzel was puzzled (糊涂的), until she realized Mother Gothel was talking about her own reflection (影像)!
Rapunzel took a breath and tried to speak to her mother again.
“So ... Mother?” Rapunzel began, stumbling (结巴) nervously over her words. “As you know, tomorrow I turn eighteen. And I wanted to ask ... what I really want for this birthday ... actually, I’ve wanted it for quite a few birthdays now ...”
Mother Gothel shook her head impatiently (不耐烦地). “Oh, Rapunzel, please stop with the mumbling (含糊地说). You know how I feel about the mumbling. ‘Blah blah blah!’ It’s very annoying (讨厌的).”
Rapunzel sighed. Pascal made a gesture for Rapunzel to keep going.
Rapunzel nodded and blurted out (脱口而出), “I want to see the floating lights!”
Mother Gothel was stunned (吃惊的). Rapunzel herself was stunned. I did it! she thought. I finally asked!
“What?” Mother Gothel said to Rapunzel.
“Well,” Rapunzel answered, “I was hoping you would take me to see the floating lights this year.”
“Oh, you mean the stars,” Mother Gothel said, hoping Rapunzel was still young enough to be fooled (愚弄).
Rapunzel shook her head. “That’s the thing (是这么回事),” she said excitedly, “I’ve charted (绘制) stars and they’re always constant (固定不变的). But these? They appear every year on my birthday, Mother! Only on my birthday! And I can’t help but feel that they’re meant for me!
“I need to see them, Mother,” she said. “And not just from my window—in person (亲自). I have to know what they are.”
Mother Gothel tried to appear calm. “Go outside?” she said as she gathered her wits (智慧). “Why, Rapunzel, you know why we stay up in this tower.”
“I know,” Rapunzel replied. A shiver crept up her back as Mother Gothel described terrible, frightening (令人恐惧的) things—men, ruffians (暴徒) and thugs (恶棍), with sharp fangs (尖牙) and weapons.
Mother Gothel kept going until she felt certain Rapunzel understood that she was responsible for protecting her gift: her magical golden hair. Then she spoke firmly (坚决地): “Rapunzel. Don’t ever ask to leave this tower again.”
“Yes, Mother,” Rapunzel replied obediently (顺从地), slumping in sadness (陷入悲伤中).
“Oh ...” Mother Gothel changed her tone (语调) and swept Rapunzel into a warm hug. “I love you very much, dear.”
“I love you more,” Rapunzel answered quietly, as she always did.
“I love you most!” Mother Gothel whispered as she kissed Rapunzel atop her head and got ready to leave again.
Rapunzel looked up at the sky. How could she doubt her mother’s love? She looked down and waved as Mother Gothel disappeared beyond the walls of the valley ... into the mysterious world beyond.