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(2007-09-23 15:31:10)









                             The man




                              作者:Fane Stone (England)

                              翻译:Ironox (China)

No one knew when he came to the village. All that the adults, those proud possessors of worldly knowledge, could tell us was “ he came.” One night, it was late September, and the house stood empty, as it always had, and we went up scrumping (a term used, usually by children, to describe the taking of apples or other fruit from trees in other people’s gardens or orchards) apples as we always had---well, on one claimed them now. The leaves were wet and soggy underfoot, and we frightened ourselves with tales of ghosts evolving out of the thin spirals of mist which wrapped around the trees.


That was the last time we ever climbed the apple tree, or watched the squirrels scurrying through the leaves to bed. The last time, that is , in play. The next night, the gate was locked, fences repaired, and lighted windows fended off even Johnny McCrae, who lost much status in consequence.

那可是我们最后一次爬那棵苹果树,也是最后一次看着松鼠从树叶中窜过,逃回自己的窝。那是最后一次,是的,最后一次,铁定的。第二天晚上,大门便上了锁;栅栏也修好了。那亮着灯的窗子甚至把善于推理判断的那个Jonny McCrae也拒之门外了。

But by far the most important thing was the old man who stood peering out of the curtainless windows downstairs. He wasn’t very tall----he was stocky----he had a bushy moustache, thinning hair and he wore “sort of baggy pants”, said Andy.


“Like a clown,” described Mary-Lou, but “plus fours,” corrected the grown-ups. “Country gentleman’s wear,” they added reverently----but we thought it a stupid name, for “plus means add,” said Andy. “And four what?” he said.


For days after that we asked ourselves, “Who is he?” bitterly resenting the interloper who had taken over our playground at such short notice. Until, one day, “We gotta find out,” stated Andy. And when Andy stated anything, we did it.


That night the seven of us met, scared stiff, at the gates of the house. It was late now, and a solitary light flicked above the door. It came from the only room with curtains----at least at the front of the house. It was dark, and silent, and “ Let’s go back, then,” whimpered Angie McClean, who always was a coward and never improved. “Let’s go on!” we said in chorus.

那天夜里,我们七个人聚集到那房子的大门口,个个心惊胆战。天已经完全黑下来了,一盏孤灯发出的飘忽不定的光从门上的缝隙中飘出来;这光来自唯一挂有窗帘的那个房间——然而,它在整个房子的前部。天很黑,也很静。Angie McClean嗓音颤抖地低声嘟囔:“那,那,那我们回家吧。”这家伙从来都是个懦夫相,永远克服不了胆小怕事。“我们继续前进!”大家异口同声地说。

Up the silent path, my heart jerking the strings of my cotton pinafore; up the path and across the strip of lawn we went. No one spoke because no one wanted to. That is a way with children. The stillness pressed upon us from behind, driving us up, up, into the relative sanctity of the long dark windows.


Andy, longing to show off his knowledge of house-breaking, was as eager as a young blood-hound. It was common knowledge that Andy’s brother had been the best clickie in the West Riding and it was also common knowledge that Andy showed promise far beyond his years. But as it happened that promise wasn’t to be displayed. The door was open.

Andy早就盼着露一手他那溜门撬锁的本事,甚至急切得就像一只执行任务的大警犬。其实这一手是Andy的哥哥在West Riding最露脸的拿手好戏,他一直是那儿最出色的窃贼,那也是Andy早几年就许诺要给我们表演的能耐。可是,事与愿违,他的许诺没法实现了——门是开着的。

Andy’s brother had not outrun his uses, however. From his pocket Andy produced a huge torch, with a beam so powerful that it illuminated the whole of the room we entered. It was a lovely room, long and high and spacious but, “Heck!” said a disappointed Andy, “It’s empty!” And so it was.


No carpets, no chairs, no heavy ugly dressers, concave mirrors, plaster dogs and plastic flowers such as made up the comfortable familiarity of our own homes. More sad than all these, the room was clean. Gleamingly; spotlessly clean. Our spirits fell, but, “We might as well go on,” said Jo-----so we crossed the room.


The door didn’t creak as we opened it, like doors in mystery stories or the Ghostly Tales books I’d just been reading. No, this door was smooth, varnished, well-oiled. The hall into which it led was, surprisingly, circular, with a floor patterned in tiles of ivory and gold. In the center stood a type of plinth----“for a statue!” whispered Jo----but the statue must have gone visiting, and the hall was clean and bare.


We crossed the hall, forgetting for an instant to be silent, pulling up short, poised, ready to fly, as our serviceable steel-tipped shoes made contact with the tiles. “Hope this’n’s locked,” said Andy, darting towards the door. “Wunna be,” stated Johnny. “There inna nothin’ worth takin.”


He was right. It wasn’t locked. And neither were any of the other doors, And not a single stick of furniture, thread of carpet or speck of dust did we see in any of them. The kitchen was of most interest, with a sink and a stove but, “No food,” I said, in disappointment. I always was the greedy one.

他说得对,没有锁。两边都没有其他门。没有一件家具,没有一根毯子线,也没有任何地方能看到灰尘。厨房是最能引起我们兴趣的地方,可里面除了一个洗槽和一个炉子,什么都没有。“没吃的。” 我用失望的口气说。我一直都是个谗嘴的孩子。

So there we stood, a depressed little group, bunched at the foot of the stairs, debating whether to go on or back. Andy had just set his foot upon the bottom stair and Jo had turned towards the door when Angie McClean was sick. We looked at her in horror and we turned and ran.

因此我们都站住了。一群闷闷不乐的孩子,扎成堆站在楼梯口上,七嘴八舌地争论究竟是上楼还是回家。Andy把他的一只脚放在楼梯最下边的台阶上,而当Andie McClean吓得要打退堂鼓时,Jo转身向门外走。我们厌恶地看看吓得直哆嗦的她,然后我们转身跑出来。

Yet the next day, our appetite for the mystery was keener than ever. We organized a watching day to observe the movements which could be seen so clearly through the uncovered windows. There were six of us, so we split into twos and took shifts; Johnny and Mary-Lou for the morning, Andy and Jo for the afternoon, and Jimmy and me for the evening. Angie McClean, since her lapse of the previous day, was banned from our company.

到了第二天,我们渴望揭开它秘密的愿望比以前更强烈了。我们组织了一个侦察日来观察通过那些没有遮拦的窗子能够被我们清晰看到的活动,我们总共六个人,因此我们分成两人一组来轮班;Johnny和Mary-Lou负责观察早晨的情况,Andy和Jo负责下午,我和Jimmy负责晚上。Angie McClean因为她前一天的表现,被我们开除了。

By the end of the day we knew most of the man’s movements. He rose late in the morning---by our standards at least, for we were mainly farmworkers’ children and used to being up with the milk. Johnny and Mary-Lou, crouching in the orchard, watched a front window flung wide open, and there he was, short, stocky, “in black pyjamas!” stated Johnny importantly, “Black pyjamas, an’ then he----” “What?” we shouted in exasperation. “He sorta jumped an’ waved his arms about an’ then”-----his voice dropped to a whisper----“he takes his clothes off, an’jumps about with onthin’on!” “He does not then,” broke in Mary-Lou sharply, “You can never tell anythin’ straight Johnny McCrae. He had his trouser on.”

到这一天天黑下来的时候,我们了解到很多关于那老头的活动。他早晨起床很晚——至少照我们的规矩是这样,因为我们都是农家孩子,我们那时常常到了挤牛奶的时间就起床。Johnny和Mary-Lou蜷缩在果园里,盯着开着的那扇窗子,窗子被风吹得摇来晃去。那人就在那儿,矮个儿;健壮。“穿着黑睡衣!”Johnny得意洋洋地说:“他挥着胳膊跳了一下,又跳了一下——。”他突然改成小声说:“他把睡衣脱了,跳了一下,然后什么也没干。”“他还是什么也没干。”Mary-Lou尖着嗓子打断他:“你们永远也别想听到Johnny McCrae能告诉你们点儿有用的事情,我告诉你们吧,他穿上裤子了。”

Then the man disappeared for a while, presumably for food, though where he had it we did not know. It occurred to us, though, that the upstairs rooms might possibly be more homely than those downstairs. Mary-Lou and Johnny had filled in the time by exploring the outhouses and found: “Wood,” said Johnny, “little tiny bits of wood, all done up in bundles.” “And cloth,” broke in Mary-Lou excitedly, “little packs of silk and stuff----all laid out on a table,” we wondered if he could be a carpenter, or a tailor, but “There wasn’t enough of anything,” said Johnny, “Not to make things.”


After the exploration, they had picked up a few large apples, and sat in the shrubbery, munching and waiting. Some time later, the man came out through the front door and took a turn round the grounds. He walked carelessly over the damp garden, his heavy boots plodding aimlessly over rotting apples, brilliant michaelmas daisies and fallen rotten leaves.


He stood for a while peering up at the gnarled apple trees, loaded with fruit. Then he went inside and reappeared, armed with a curved stick, and attacked the branches with it. Hearing this hurt us most of all, for we had become so used to regarding the apples as our own particular property, it hurt us to think of their beautiful ripe redness as they tumbled higgledy---piggledy upon the grass. It hurt us to hear how the old man had gathered them up in a huge basket, taking them who knew where, perhaps to that high-up room of his. The damsons, too, were picked---“the pig,” Mary-Lou had said, her mouth open and watering, “he can’t possibly want them all.”


He had come out on to the terrace afterwards, with a pipe and a glass of beer, and sat, legs stretched out in front of him, alternately sipping and puffing, squinting at the tossing trees through the smoke. Then he disappeared again. Johnny and Mary-Lou watched and waited, as minute after minute went by, to try to get some inkling of what was going on. At length, they grew quite bold, leaving their hiding place in the shrubbery and going right round the house to see if they could see into the upstairs rooms. But there was no sign of movement; and when Andy and Jo came to relieve them, they shook their heads in disappointment.

他又出来,往前走到阳台上,手里拿着烟斗和一杯啤酒,然后坐下,两腿展展地在他身前伸开,咂一口小酒,喷一口烟地轮换享受,眯着眼透过烟雾看着在迷雾里飘忽的树木。然后他又不见了。Johnny和Mary-Lou瞧着,等着,随着时间一分一秒地过去,他们在揣摸着下面会发现些什么。最后,他们竟然胆子大起来,离开他们藏身的灌木丛向右绕到老头的房子跟前去看是否他们能看到楼上的房间。可是,没有任何动静。当Andy和 Jo来接他俩班的时候,他俩失望地摇摇他们的头。

Andy and Jo hid themselves in the orchard for the afternoon watch. “He has his food upstairs, out of tins,” said Andy, and this wasn’t all guesswork, for he was a good sleuth, and had spent some time educating himself with the contents of the dustbin, “Sardines, baked beans, and---Spagg Hetty,” said Andy. None of us had heard of spaghetti before.

Andy和Jo为了下午的刺探把自己隐藏在果园里。“他在楼上吃的东西,全是罐头。”Andy说。这可不全是他的猜测,因为他是个相当有经验的探子,他花了些时间用垃圾堆里的东西来证明他是正确的:“沙丁鱼,烧豌豆,还有——Spagg Hetty。”Andy又说。我们从来没有人以前听说过这种意大利式细面条。

“And after his food?” we asked---if it was after his food---“but I think it must be,” said Jo, “because he sleeps.” “Outside,” put in Andy; “Even though it clouded over he still sat out side.”


Then came the operation that we knew must happen sometime----the time we’d been waiting for, “A man, dusting and polishing,” scowled Andy, in disgust. “An’why not?” said Jo. “He’s not got a woman.” “But me dad---wouldna do it,” said Andy, as if that set the seal on things.


Jimmy and I came on duty just after tea. Ours was the dullest time of the day. We watched the light come on in the mysterious up stairs room, the only room with curtains. And all we could see were shadows. Shadows flickering here and there over the blinds, now a hand, now an arm, now some strange(stump-like) object waved about like a witch’s wand. Crouching there in the damp leaves, with the mist just beginning to rise, we felt ourselves hard done by.


“Nothing happenin,” grumbled Jimmy. “We gotta explore them rooms.” “But not alone,” I said, I did not want him to think me a coward so, “it wouldn’t be fair to the others.” I said. Jimmy gave in, and we spent the rest of the evening munching sweets and windfalls, huddling together for warmth in the clammy mist, speculating about the strange ritual in the upstairs room. “He probably murders rich women,” fancied Jimmy, “cuts their clothes up and makes them into new cloth and then dries their bones to make wood.” I imagined my own bones joining that little piles of sticks and felt sick, “I must know,” I said. “Right,” said Jimmy, “tomorrow night.”

“什么都没发生,”Jimmy抱怨道:“我们干脆进到房子里冒个险。” “可我们不能光自己去呀,”我说,为了让他别以为我是个胆小鬼,我又补充道:“那样,对其他人也不公平。”Jimmy不说话了。这个夜晚的其他时间我们都用来不停地吃糖果和被风吹落的苹果;在湿粘的雾中挤在一起取暖,同时猜测楼上房间里那奇怪的黑影。“他可能谋杀了不少阔太太,”Jimmy猜测道:“然后把太太们的衣裳绞成碎条,然后用这些碎条再作成新衣裳,然后晒干她们的骨头,绑成一捆捆的小棒棒。”我想象着自己的骨头也成了一捆捆小棒棒,于是心里感到恶心:“我们必须把这一切都搞清楚。”我说。Jimmy说:“对!明天晚上!”



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