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★ A Bouquet for Miss Benson (送给卞老师的一束花)

(2010-04-29 22:58:00)







      Miss Benson was the kindest, sweetest, most beautiful person that ever walked the earth. She was my second-grade teacher, and I was going to marry her when I grew upif she would wait. I would sit squirming in my seat for the entire morning to keep from raising my hand. I could not bear to miss one precious moment of her presence by leaving the room.
      My hand was always the first to be raised, however, when Miss Benson called for volunteers to clean the blackboards or to gather papers and bring them to her desk. That was the best chore of all. It made possible getting near enough to her to close out the others in the classroom. I would arrange and rearrange the papers. They had to be in perfect order before I would make my reluctant way back to my seat.
      Early in the term, I started asking my mother to put an extra apple or peach in my lunch. I never quit worked up the courage to say it was for my teacher, as I never quite worked up the courage to hand my gift to her directly. Each day the delicacy found its way unobserved to the corner of her desk. And each day the response was the same.
      Miss Benson would come in and sit down. "Good morning, children."
      "Good morning, Miss Benson." in unison.
      "Why, how nice!" She would pick up the offering of the day, then look around the room. "What thoughtful little boy or girl brought me this?"
      No one claimed the honor, least of all me. I kept my head down, looking at my desk.
      "Can it be that I have a secret admirer?" she would ask.
      I would feel the red rising in my face. I was certain that everyone was looking at me, and I would sigh with relief when Miss Benson put the fruit away and started the lesson.
      One fall morning, the class was abuzz with excitement. Someone had discovered that the next day, Friday, was Miss Benson's birthday. Everyone wanted to get her a present. My heart gave a leap, at last I could give her something, openly. That afternoon was spent combing the fields for wild flowers. Not many were in bloom at that time of year, but I found several kinds of height berries on shrubs, some dry thistle heads. And finally I came upon a patch of gorgeous crimson leaves....
      In the morning I hung back as others presented their gifts. Finally I went to the desk and gave the bouquet to Miss Benson. She exclaimed with pleasure as she look it, and held it to her cheek for a moment. My reward was a smile and a pat on the head.
      The next Monday, Miss Benson was not in class. About the middle of the morning, I was asked to go to the principal's office. When I arrived, I was surprised to see my mother. On a table was my bouquet.
      "Do yon know where Miss Benson is today?" the principal asked.
      "No, sir," I answered.
      "Miss Benson." he said, slowly and clearly, "is in the hospital, and you sent her there!"
      I sat, stricken, in my chair.
      "Do you know what you gave her?" he continued.
      I nodded. "Berries, thistles and pretty red leaves." I listed.
      "Those 'pretty red leaves' are poison ivy, young man." (Poison ivy is a kind of sumac which can cause a severe skin rash if touched) His voice was filling with anger. "How did you protect yourself when you picked them? Gloves?"
      I shook my head. "Honest, I didn't know they were poison ivy." I started to cry.
      The principal stood up. "Paul, I am suspending you for ten days. What happens after that depends upon your behavior when you return.

      I sniffed all the way home.Not because I had been put out of school, but because of the appalling tragedy to my lady love. I went to the woods to pick poison-ivy leaves and show them to my mother. "You see,"  I said, holding back the tears, "I didn't wear anything at all."

      Mother looked at the leaves. "Put them in the garbage can, honey . Then wash your hands real well."
      When I went back, Mother was sitting in her rocker, she held out her arms, and I sat in her lap while she rocked me for a few minutes. "Let's have a party!"  she exclaimed finally. "What would you like to do the very most?"
      "I'd like to go see Miss Benson," I replied.
      Miss Benson was sitting up in bed when we arrived. Her face was covered with bandages. Only one eye was showing. Both of her hands were swathed as well.
      "I didn't know they were poison ivy," I blurted out. "I didn't mean to make you sick. I only wanted to give you something...." I stopped talking and swallowed hard.
      Miss Benson's one eye studied me. "You wanted to give me something special, didn't you Paul?" I nodded.
      "All those apples were from you, weren't they?" Again I nodded.
      "When I get these bandages off," she said, "I am going to give you a great big hug."
      I was filled with happiness. She was not mad at me.
      "And I'll tell you a great big secret, too. Paul," she continued, "When I am married, if I have a son, I would like him to grow up just like you."
      I wasn't certain that I saw a tear in her eye as Mother led me out of the room.


                                                                           —— Paul Villiard

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------    卞老师是世界上最亲切可爱、美得出奇的人。她是我二年级的老师,我长大了一定要娶她——只要她肯等我。我常常一整个上午都憋在座位上扭来扭去,就是不举手。有她在教室,一时一刻都很宝贵,我舍不得出去。


































                                                    作者:保罗·维拉德  李贻荫译


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