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拯救简和库尔特(英汉对照)

(2007-03-25 11:18:21)
分类: 翻译

声明:本文选自本人翻译的《善心如水》(2007年2月出版)一书,请批评指正,欢迎购买.  购买办法可通过卓越网等网上书店。 本文版权为青岛出版社所有,切勿转载。

       

         The Salvation of Jan and Kurt

Lucy Hobbs had recently lost her husband and now, in her seventies, found herself living on a Social Security pittance. She could have moved in with her daughter, but she wasn’t ready for that yet. Surely, she was still needed somewhere. The advertisement posted on the bulletin board at Stanton’s General Store in Alvin, Texas, seemed the perfect answer: “Widower needs housekeeper to cook, clean, and take care of two boys, ten and five years old—room, board, and a small salary.”

The door of the ramshackle farmhouse opened, and Mrs. Hobbs introduced herself to a family in a desperate situation. The father, Gus, had lost his wife to cancer in 1943, when Jan Arthur was six years old and Kurt Rolf was only one. A few days before his wife’s death, Gus’s father, a seaman with Gulf Oil, had been killed when his oil tanker collided with a ship. Gus’s mother had moved in with him and helped care for his boys; but just one year later, she had died of cancer. Shortly after his mother’s death, Gus discovered he had colon cancer and subsequently had a colostomy. By the time Lucy Hobbs stepped through their doorway in 1947, Gus had begun to crumble, along with the family finances and the house.

Mrs. Hobbs, gray-haired and grandmotherly plump, peered at Jan and Kurt through round wire-rim glasses that perched on her nose like a small silver bird. The boys were sunburned, bare-chested, and barefoot. From their heads to their toes, they were ragged, skinny, and mosquito-bitten. She knew immediately that she was needed there and took the job.

The unruly boys had driven off every other housekeeper their father had hired. Some left in tears after enduring only one day of Jan’s deliberate defiance and disobedience. The boys were often left alone and hungry, subsisting on jelly sandwiches. 

The moment Mrs. Hobbs finished moving her few possessions into the drafty farmhouse, Jan began his usual tactics. He pedaled his bike down the driveway and onto the shell road that led to town, several miles from their farm on a busy highway. Mrs. Hobbs lumbered diagonally across the uncut yard, cockleburs and nettles nipping at her ankles, caught his handlebars and told him not to leave the farm.

“You’re not my mother, and I don’t have to mind you,” Jan spit out angrily.

With surprising strength, she dragged him into the house and plopped him down on a chair. She emphatically told the boys, “I will not put up with any disobedience. If you wa拯救简和库尔特(英汉对照)nt homemade biscuits and gravy for dinner, you’d better behave for the rest of the day!” The salvation of Jan and Kurt had begun.

Armed only with the force of her willpower and the promise of regular meals, Mrs. Hobbs brought stability. She began the transformation process by insisting on cleanliness and good manners. “Cleanliness is next to Godliness,” she told them. She assigned chores to Jan and Kurt and insisted they do a good job. “Anything worth doing is worth doing well,” the boys heard often.

She took them shopping at Stanton’s General Store, where they picked out patterned chicken feed sacks, and then she bargained with them, “I’ll make shirts for you out of the sacks you pick, but you have to take good care of the chickens.” She made sure that the boys fed and watered the chickens, kept the nest boxes filled with clean hay, and gathered the eggs daily. Their rewards were new shirts for school and bacon and eggs for breakfast.

Mrs. Hobbs used Tom Sawyer’s tactics to get the boys to plant a garden. “I’d plant it myself, but I want you boys to have some of the fun. And won’t you be proud of yourselves when you see those nice straight rows of vegetables sprouting up? And just think how delicious they’ll taste.” She encouraged them through the preparation and planting, and when the dog days of the project came around, she required they keep the garden weeded and watered. Their reward was a lesson in perseverance and fresh vegetables for dinner: beans, corn, squash, and tomatoes.

She asked them to chop down the weeds in the yard and make a path for her to the clothesline. “I just can’t stand thrashing through these weeds to get to the clothesline. I’m afraid I can’t do the washing anymore if you boys don’t chop me a path.” When they complained that they didn’t have a lawnmower, she recited one of her favorite principles: “Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” and insisted they do the job with a hoe. Their reward was a yard they could run across without getting stickers in their bare feet and line-dried clothes and linens.

Mrs. Hobbs kept clean sheets on the bed the boys shared. At first, they rebelled at going to sleep at a decent hour, but she insisted, telling them, “Pretend you’re going to Mary White’s party.” Then she tucked them in and made sure they said their prayers. It didn’t take long for them to figure out that Mary White’s party was a good night’s rest between clean white sheets.

The farmhouse was not insulated. It was cooled by fans in the hot Gulf Coast summers, and warmed in the winter by a Dearborn butane space heater located in the kitchen. Tin can lids were tacked over holes in the floor to keep warm air inside and to keep cold wind and mice outside.

During the intensely hot summer afternoons, Mrs. Hobbs called the boys into the house. “You boys come in here and rest a while before that sun turns you into lobsters.” At first they rebelled, but they soon enjoyed resting and listening to the radio: the King of Swing, Bob Wills and the Light Crust Doughboys from Burris Mills, out of Fort Worth.

On frigid winter mornings, Mrs. Hobbs lit the Dearborn and started breakfast before she woke the boys. Drawn by the smell of bacon frying, they shivered all the way to the kitchen, the only warm room in the house, where they dressed for school.

Lucy Hobbs was not opposed to using dessert as an incentive to good manners, hard work, and compliance with her rules. When they had accomplished a particularly obnoxious task, such as cleaning out the pigpen or chopping weeds with the hoe, she would treat them to homemade donuts rolled in sugar or their favorite, rice pudding.

With the structure of regular meals and bedtimes, Jan and Kurt began to blossom. They were occasionally tempted to defy Mrs. Hobbs and go skinny-dipping in snake-ridden rice canals, but drawn by the delicious smell of fried chicken and mashed potatoes and gravy wafting through the kitchen window, they resisted the urge to run away.

The boys’ father continued his downward spiral, drinking more and more heavily, coming home less and less. Mrs. Hobbs and the boys were often stuck in the country, miles from town, with no transportation. Gus was no longer able to pay her, but Mrs. Hobbs stayed on, using her Social Security check to buy butane and food. She was petrified at what would happen to Jan and Kurt if she left. When they told her they were afraid she would leave, she reassured them: “God gave me a mission to save you boys, and I’m going to stay as long as I can.”

But after five years with them, her health and eyesight began to fail. In spite of her fears, she couldn’t keep up with the job of raising them. Mrs. Hobbs told them many times that she would have to leave soon. At first Jan and Kurt panicked and begged her to stay. But after having heard her expressing her need to leave over and over, they no longer took it seriously. One day while the boys were at school, she packed everything she owned into one suitcase and went to live with her daughter in Galveston. Now in her eighties, she had given all she had to give. 

Several years later, her daughter brought her to Alvin to see Jan and Kurt. She was growing deaf and nearly blind. They were happy to see her, but as teenage boys, they were not adept at expressing tender emotions. She never told them she loved them, but she did. They never told her they loved her, but they did.

Lucy Hobbs could not have realized how well she had accomplished her mission. Her lessons had soaked into their souls, and they grew like oak trees, strong and beautiful. I have benefited from her sacrifices. I married Jan.

On a frosty December dawn, I flick a switch and the house begins to warm; another switch, and the coffee perks. I sit at the kitchen table and watch the outline of bare oak branches appear as the first gray strokes of light brush across the black sky. My prayer for the soul of Lucy Hobbs rises with the steam from my coffee. If she were here today I would tell her about a family that she never knew belonged to her. I would spread before her a meal of her own makin g: the meat and potatoes of our lives—a marriage of more than forty years, four children, and eight grandchildren. I would see to her comfort, cover her shoulders with a warm shawl, keep her coffee cup filled to the brim. And at last, reward her with the rice pudding of words not said to her in time: They love you. You are the mother they remember.

                                   —Nancy Gustafson拯救简和库尔特(英汉对照)


     露西·霍布斯最近刚刚失去丈夫。她已70多岁,仅靠微薄的社会保障金生活。她本来可以搬去和女儿一起生活,但是她还没有这个打算。的确,她还可以找个地方发挥余热。德克萨斯州阿尔文市有家斯坦顿杂货店,那里公告牌上的一个广告似乎正好给她提供了这样一个再合适不过的去处:“丧妻,需女管家做饭、清扫、照看两个10岁和5岁的男孩。提供食宿,另奉薄薪。

农房摇摇欲坠,那扇门打开后,霍布斯太太就出现在陷入绝境的这家人面前。这个家里,父亲名叫格斯,1943年妻子患癌症去世,当时简·亚瑟6岁,库尔特·罗尔夫才1岁。就在妻子去世前几天,格斯在海湾石油公司当海员的父亲因油轮跟轮船相撞丧生。格斯的妈妈搬到他家,帮着照看孩子。但是刚刚过了一年,她便死于癌症。母亲去世后不久,格斯便检查出患有结肠癌,后来接受了结肠造口手术。1947年,露西·霍布斯迈进格斯家的门槛之前,格斯已经开始崩溃了,家里陷入了经济危机,房子岌岌可危。拯救简和库尔特(英汉对照)

霍布斯太太俨然一个满头灰发、体态发福的老奶奶,她透过圆圆的金属框眼镜盯着简和库尔特。她的眼镜搁在鼻子上,活像一只银色的小鸟儿。这两个孩子晒得黝黑,露着胸膛,赤着双脚。他们衣衫褴褛,瘦骨嶙峋,浑身被蚊子咬得没个好地方。她马上就清楚了,这正是需要她的地方,就把这活儿应了下来。

这两个男孩子不服管教,格斯以前请的女管家都被他们赶出了家门。简故意针锋相对,拒不服从,有的管家只熬过了一天就含泪而去。因为没人管没人理,他们两个经常忍饥挨饿,仅靠果冻三明治填饱肚子。

霍布斯太太刚把自己为数不多的几件物品搬进四面漏风的农房,简便开始故伎重演。他骑着自行车沿着车道就跑,上了通往镇上的贝壳路。镇离他们的农场有几英里远,靠着一条繁忙的公路。霍布斯太太沿对角线方向笨重地穿过未修剪的院子,不顾苍耳和荨麻绊住她的脚踝,过去一把抓住他的车把,吩咐他不准离开农场。

“你不是我妈妈,我没有必要听你的话。”简气呼呼地脱口而出。

不知从哪里来的力气,她把他拯救简和库尔特(英汉对照)拖进屋子,扑通一声按在椅子上。

她掷地有声地告诉两个孩子:“我不容许谁不听话。晚饭要是想吃肉汁小饼的话,今天就识相点!” 从此揭开了拯救简和库尔特的序幕。

霍布斯太太仅仅凭借自己的意志 A typical order of biscuits and gravy, with a side of homefries.力,并保证让他们吃上一日三餐,就稳住了局面。为了改造他们,她首先提出来让他们做到干干净净、彬彬有礼。她告诉他们:“干净整洁仅次于对主的虔诚。”她把家务活派给简和库尔特,坚持让他们做得利利索索。“凡事值得做,就要做好。”孩子们经常听到她把这句话挂在嘴边。

她带着孩子们去斯坦顿杂货店购物。他们挑选一些带有图案的鸡饲料袋子,然后她就与孩子们讨价还价:“我用你们挑选的袋子给你们做衬衫,但是你们要照看好家里养的鸡。”她吩咐孩子们务必做到:鸡要有食吃,有水喝,窝里要填满干净的干草,鸡下的蛋要天天捡。他们得到的奖赏是穿新衬衫,早饭吃熏肉鸡蛋。

霍布斯太太效仿汤姆·索亚的策略,让孩子们种菜园。“我本可以自己种,但是我想让你们也体会一下其中的乐趣。等你们看到一垄垄漂亮的蔬菜发芽的那一天,你们难道不为自己感到自豪吗?想想这些蔬菜有多好吃呀!”不管是准备期间,还是种的时候,她一直鼓励他们。等到菜园子工程到了酷热的时期,她又要求他们到园子里除草浇水。一方面,他们从中体会到了什么是坚韧不拔。另一方面,餐桌上也有了新鲜蔬菜,像豆子、玉米、南瓜、西红柿等等。

她吩咐他们把院子里的杂草割掉,给她割出一条通向凉衣绳的小路。“到凉衣绳那儿还要从乱草中走来走去,那么费事,简直让人受不了。要是你们两个不给我割出条路来,我怕是洗不了衣服了。”他们抱怨说没有割草机,她就讲了一条她最喜欢的原则:“有志者事竟成。”她坚持让她们用锄去耪。他们的回报是有了一个可以撒欢跑的院子,无论是光着脚走,还是晾晒衣物,都不会扎上刺了。

两个男孩睡一张床,霍布斯太太把他们的床单洗得干干净净。最初,让他们早点就寝,他们还一万个不情愿,于是她对他们强调说:“你们假装是去参加玛丽·怀特的派对。”随后,她给他们掖好被子,让他们一定别忘了祷告。没有多久,他们就弄明白了,所谓的玛丽·怀特派对只不过是钻进洁白的床单睡个好觉而已。

农房没有进行隔热防寒处理。这里地处墨西哥海湾沿岸,炎热的夏天只能风扇降温。冬天,则靠厨房里的一台迪尔伯恩牌丁烷散热器取暖。马口铁罐头盒盖子被固定在地板上,一是为了室内保温,二是挡住冷风和老鼠。

夏天,在酷热难耐的下午,霍布斯太太把孩子们叫进房子。“你们进来休息一会儿,要不然太阳把你们烤成龙虾了。”起初,他们还对抗,不久他们就喜欢上了边在屋里休息,边听收音机:他们听摇摆乐之王;听来自沃尔斯堡市的伯里斯·米尔斯旗下的鲍伯·威尔斯及其领衔的松壳油炸面团乐队。

冬天早晨寒冷时,霍布斯太太会先点上迪尔伯恩取暖器,开始准备早餐,然后才叫醒孩子。受煎熏肉香味的诱惑,加上厨房是家里唯一暖和的房间,所以他们会一路哆嗦着来到厨房,穿好衣服准备上学。

为了让孩子们能讲礼貌、努力工作、听她的管教,霍布斯太太并不反对使用甜点心作为一种激励。每当他们做完一件特别令人讨厌的活,譬如清理猪圈或者用锄头耪草,她总是给他们做油炸甜圈饼,或者做他们最喜欢吃的米饭布丁。

简和库尔特能定时吃上饭,作息有了规律,开始茁壮成长。他们偶尔也会经不起诱惑,想无视霍布斯太太的权威,到水蛇出没的灌溉稻田用的水渠中光溜溜地游泳。但是,他们又被厨房里飘出的炸鸡和肉汁土豆泥的香味深深吸引,只好克制住要溜出去的冲动。

这两个孩子的爸爸继续一步步堕落,酒喝得越来越多,家回得越来越少。霍布斯太太和孩子们经常在乡下陷入困境,这里离镇上有好几英里远,交通又不便。格斯已经无力给霍布斯太太支付工钱了,但是她还是留了下来,用她的社会保障金购买丁烷和食品。如果她走了,简和库尔特会何去何从,她脑子里一片空白。当他们告诉霍布斯太太害怕她离开时,她这样安慰他们:“上帝派我来拯救你们两个孩子,只要能不走,我就呆在这里。”

在陪伴了他们5年后,霍布斯太太的健康和视力都开始衰落。尽管她对孩子们顾虑重重,但是要接着照顾孩子,她实在是力不从心了。她多次说过要走的事。起初,简和库尔特心里发慌,求她别走。但是,听她说起要走的次数多了,他们就不再把她的话当真了。有一天,趁着孩子们上学去了,她把自己的物品装到箱子里,去加尔维斯敦市跟女儿一起生活了。她80多岁了,已经奉献出了自己的一切。

几年后,女儿带她回阿尔文看望简和库尔特。她耳朵都快背得听不见了,眼睛已接近失明。他们见到她心里说不出有多高兴,但是他们都是十多岁的孩子,还不善于表达心中的那份柔情。她从未说过她爱他们,但是她深深地爱着他们。他们从未告诉过她他们爱她,但是他们深深地爱着她。

露西·霍布斯可能并没有意识到,她照看孩子的使命完成得有多么出色。她的谆谆教诲滋润着两个孩子幼小的心田,他们像橡树一样茁壮成长,强壮而伟岸。我是她无私奉献的受益者,因为我嫁给了简。

 

    12月一天寒冷的清晨,我啪的一声打开开关,房子里开始暖和起来。我又啪的一声打开另一个开关,煮起了咖啡。外边第一缕灰蒙蒙的光线正拂过黒漆漆的夜空,我端坐在厨房里餐桌旁边,凝视着光秃秃的橡树树枝的轮廓。咖啡升起一缕香气,我心中默默地为露西·霍布斯的灵魂祈祷。如果今天,她就在眼前,我会告诉她有一个家属于她,而她却从不知晓。我会在她面前摆上一桌她自己亲手烹制的饭菜:我们生命中的土豆炖肉——40年之久的一桩婚姻、4个子女和8个孙子孙女。我会让她感到安慰,把暖和的围巾披在她的肩头,让她的杯子一直倒满咖啡。最后,用米饭布丁一样甜蜜温馨的话语告诉她当年没来得及说的话:他们深深地爱你。你是他们永远铭记在心的妈妈。

拯救简和库尔特(英汉对照)

 

     (Rice pudding)

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