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Dark Angle(翻译连载十四)

(2010-03-09 08:31:05)





分类: UNCLE赵&他国际事务部的同事们

He asked her first about her lessons-which was perhaps a mistake, because Charlotte was now at boarding school and she had already, during our walk, given me her opinion of girls who stayed at home for their education.

“Your mother teaches you? I thought you at least had a governess.”

“Well, I did. But she left.” I hesitated, because that was difficult territory. None of the governesses had stayed long; we now no longer had a parlormaid and the cooks were always giving warning. This was because of wages, and the boiler in the basement, which ate money, and the orphanages, which ate up even more.

“She takes you for everything?”

“She’s very clever. I do English and French and geography with her, and next year we shall begin on Latin. Mr.Birdsong comes over three times a week for mathematics.”

“Mr. Birdsong? But he’s the curate.”

Definitive scorn. I was instantly ashamed of Mr. Birdsong, a mild and patient man whom I had always liked. Sitting in the drawing room, I now began to wish that my father would change the subject. Charlotte was lecturing him on Roedean, and the small supercilious smile was still on her face.





“她很聪明,我跟她学英语、法语和地理,下一年我们学拉丁语。Mr.Birdsong 一周给我上三次数学课。”





“And what about the summer holidays?” my father said, when that speech came to the end. He said it in his most polite and gentle way, but I could tell he didn’t like Charlotte at all. In fact, I think he found her funny, but no one would have known, because his manners were perfect.

“Oh, Mummy says we shan’t go to France next year. She says the Riviera is overrun. We may go to Italy. Or Germany. Daddy says Germany is on the up-and-up.” She paused and swung her foot and gave me a sly glance.

“And what about you, Vicky? You didn’t say.”

“Oh, we have great plans,” my father said in his easy way.

“Really?” Charlotte fixed upon him a small hard gaze.

“Yes. We shall stay here, you know. Just as we always do.”

“All summer?”

“Definitely. All summer---- shan’t we, darling?”

He turned to my mother, and I saw an amused glance pass between them.

My mother smiled. “I think so,” she said, in her quiet voice. “Winterscombe is so lovely in June and July, and besides, the boys come over---- you know, from the orphanage. We have to be here for that, you see, Charlotte. Now, would you like a sandwich? Perhaps a piece of cake?”

When tea was over, my parents left us. Charlotte and I sat by the fire and played cards. We played gin rummy for a while and then, in a desultory way, took turns at patience. Charlotte told me about the new Rolls, which would be coming to collect her, and why it was so much better than the Rolls of the preceding year. She told me about Roedean, and how many name tags her brown-uniformed nanny had sewn on her new uniform, and she made it quite clear that playing patience was not her idea of after-tea entertainment.





“哦,我们的计划很棒。” 我父亲轻轻地说。

“真的吗?” Charlotte 一下子集中注意力注视着父亲。






下午茶时间结束后,我的父母就离开了房间。Charlotte和我坐在火炉旁玩扑克。我们玩了一会儿拉米牌戏,然后完全没有规律地轮流交换着。Charlotte告诉我关于新入学的事情,她将被入选,以及优于去年的原因。她还聊到了穿着棕色制服的保姆Roedean, 以及Roedean在她的新制服上缝了多少的名牌。然后她还明确的告诉我,她可不想将考验耐心这件事作为下午茶后的娱乐。


I was very humiliated, and very afraid that Charlotte might return to the question of summer holidays, to the fact that we never took holidays abroad. When it was my turn to lay out the cards I did it very slowly, trying to pluck up the courage to mention my mother’s diamonds. By that time I wanted to mention them very much indeed, because I could see that Charlotte thought my mother was plain and shabby, like the house. The thought of my mother’s disapproval held me back, though, and so I continued to lay out the cards and scan my memory: There must be something I could mention that would wipe that supercilious smile off Charlotte’s face-but it was hard to think of anything.




There were my two uncles, those other pillars of my life, and laying out the cards, I did consider them. Both my uncles were exotic in their ways: Uncle Freddie had had so many careers, including flying mail planes in South America, which must surely be glamorous. He had his enthusiasms, as my Aunt Maud called them, and the latest of these were two greyhounds, brought to Winterscombe the previous month and fed – to my mother’s horror – on beefsteak. These dogs were “go-ers,” Uncle Freddie said. They were going to win the Irish Greyhound Derby.


On the other hand, I was not too sure about these dogs, which spent most of the time, when not eating, asleep, and wouldn’t listen to the special commands Uncle Freddie had been given by their Irish trainer. Uncle Freddie’s enthusiasms had – as he would sadly put it – a way of “fizzling out.” Better not to mention the dogs, perhaps, or South America, which Uncle Freddie had left in clouded circumstances. Uncle Steenie, then?


Uncle Steenie was definitely glamorous. He was an exquisite dresser and an exquisite speaker. He had the blondest hair I had ever seen, and the most beautiful pink-and-white complexion. Uncle Steenie knew everyone-but-everyone, and he called everyone-but-everyone “Darling” in a very warm tone of voice. He also said “too” a great deal: The journey was too impossible; the wine was too squalid; the last hotel was too quaint. Uncle Steenie had a great many friends all over the world, and, since he did not work, he was always visiting them. He was very good about sending postcards, and I usually received one every week. Their messages were brief: Salut, Vicky! Here I am on Capri, he might write, and then he would draw one of his little lightning pictures underneath, of himself or a tree or a shell. Uncle Steenie drew very cleverly and wrote in violet ink. I had a great collection of these postcards: That year alone he had been in Capri, Tangier, Marseilles, Berlin, and a villa in Fiesole which was too marvelous, and which was owned by his best friend, Conrad Vickers, the famous photographer. Uncle Steenie had a great many famous friends: He knew film stars and painters and singers and writers. My godfather Wexton, who used to be his best friend, had dedicated a whole book of poems to my uncle Steenie, poems he had written in the Great War which were called shells.






Steenie叔叔就更具迷人魅力了。他衣着考究,言辞优雅。他长着一头我所见过的最金黄的秀发,还有漂亮的白里透红的肤色。他跟每个人都显得非常熟悉,他热情洋溢地统称每个人为“亲爱的”。他还经常把“太”字挂在嘴边:这个旅程太不可思议了;这酒太差劲了;最后那个旅馆太古怪了。Steenie叔叔在世界各地都有很多朋友,他不用工作,所以经常去探访他的老朋友们。他经常寄明信片,我几乎每星期就会收到一张。上面的留言都非常简短,他可能会写:VIcky,见好!我在卡普里。然后下面会画上他独创的速写画,有可能是他的自画像、一棵树或者一个贝壳。他画得非常聪明,字都是用紫色墨水写的。我收集了一堆他寄来的明信片,光那一年他就到了卡普里、丹吉尔、马赛、柏林,还有位于Fiesole的一座“太”令人惊叹的别墅,是属于他的好朋友——著名摄影师Conrad Vickers的。Steenie叔叔拥有很多出名的朋友:他认识电影明星、画家、歌星和作家。我的教父Wexton以前是他最好的朋友。Wexton曾经把一整本在第一次世界大战中写成的诗集《炮轰》题献给Steenie叔叔。


—— 吴昱宏    


Should I mention my uncle Steenie? He did not come to Winterscombe very often, it was true, and when he did, there were arguments about money: Uncle Steenie wanted to be the Best-Kept Boy in the world, and he used to remind people of this in a loud voice when he had finished all the wine at luncheon. I found this very odd, because although Uncle Steenie was undeniably well kept and had that beautiful complexion, he was not a boy and hadn’t been a boy for quite a long time. When he talked about being one, he made my father furiously angry.


“For god’s sake, Steenie,” I heard my father say once, when I passed them in the library and the door was open. “for God’s sake, you’re almost forty years old. This can’t go on. What happened to the last check I sent you?” Perhaps, on the whole, it was better not to mention my uncle Steenie, either. Charlotte would be sure to ask what he did-she always asked that; she even asked it about my father.


“But what does he do?” she said, after I had explained about the estate and my mother’s orphanages and the lake, which needed dredging, and the boiler and its inexhaustible appetite for pound notes.


“I suppose he has a private income?” She made it sound like a dreadful disease. “Daddy said he thought he must. He said you couldn’t possibly manage otherwise, not in this great barn of a place. Of course, there is the thitle…...” She wrinkled her nose. “But Daddy says titles don’t count these days. Not unless they’re very old-and yours isn’t very old, is it? Daddy says they can be useful, of course. He wouldn’t mind a title on his board, because there’s still some people they impress. It’s a pity he isn’t in the City, like Daddy, don’t you think? It must be horrid to be so poor.”


“I don’t think we’re poor. Not exactly poor.” I was red in the face. “Mummy says we’re very lucky.”


“Nonsense. You haven’t two halfpennies to rub together-Daddy said so. He made a big killing last week and he told Mummy then. He made more money on that one deal than your father makes in five years. It’s true! You ask him.”


No, better not to mention my uncle Steenie, who did not work, or my uncle Freddie and his reluctant greyhounds; better not to mention my aunt Maud, who had been famous as a hostess once but who was now vague and old and wrong about my possililities. Better, in fact, to stay off the subject of my family altogether.


I sneaked a look at the clock, hoping it would soon be time for Charlotte to go, and began to stack up my cards: black queen on red king; red knave on black queen: this patience (I could already tell) was not going to come out.


Charlotte sat opposite me,, watching the pack as if she expected me to cheat. She tapped her fingers on the green baize cloth. Queen of spades on king of hearts. Suddenly it came to me: the perfect candidate, the trump card.




有一次在图书馆,碰巧门是开着的,经过他们的时候,听到父亲说:“看在上帝的份上,Steenie,你已经差不多40岁了。你不能再这样下去了。 我上次寄给你的那张支票现在如何了?”或许,基本上,最好也就别提到Steenie叔叔。 Charlotte却是一定会问个清清楚楚的。她总是这样去问,有时候还找我父亲问个究竟。


















“Oh, by the way,” I began—there was no time to be subtle—“I may go to America next year. Did I tell you?”


“Yes. To stay in New York. My godmother lives there, and she wants me to stay with her.”

“Your godmother? You never mentioned an American godmother.”

“Well, I call her ‘aunt’. Aunt Constance. But she isn’t really my aunt.”

This was now more than a boast; it was a lie, since I called her no such thing, but I was launched, and scented victory. Charlotte’s eyes had grown small and concentrated.


“Constance Shawcross,” I said.

I brought out the name with a flourish. I hoped, I suppose, that it would impress, for I know, in a vague way, that my godmother was celebrated. She must, however, have been far more celebrated that I had ever imagined, for Charlotte’s reaction exceeded my greatest hopes. She drew in her breath; her eyes rounded; her expression_r was of envy tinged with disbelief.

“No! The Constance ? Shawcross?”

“Of course,” I said firmly, although I was at once afraid there might be two and my godmother the wrong one.

“Heavens!” Charlotte looked at me with new respect. “Wait till I tell mummy.”

Such triumph! I was a little afraid it would be difficult to sustain, because I could tell that charlotte was about to press me with questions, to which my answers were sure to be wrong. But I was saved, there was a scrunch of tires on gravel, the blaring of a horn. Charlotte looked up. I took the opportunity to switch the order of my cards.

“Your father’s here,” I said. “Oh – and look – this patience is coming out, after all.”









“对 Constance shawcross。”


“不!你是说 Constance?shawcross?”










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