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Dark Angle(翻译连载十六)

(2010-06-17 14:46:42)





分类: UNCLE赵&他国际事务部的同事们

So my uncle Steenie changed the subject – more dexterously than the rest of my family, but he changed it nonetheless. That night there were storms and slammed doors downstairs, and Uncle Steeine became so upset he had to be helped up to bed by my father and William. The next morning he departed, early, so I never received my jar of violet cream, and I discovered no more on the subject of Constance.


For several months nothing happened: Charlotte contracted measles; her party was canceled; her mother took her to Switzerland for a period of convalescence. Christmas came and went, and it was not until January of the new year, 1938, that I saw Charlotte again.


I was invited to her house for tea, alone – an honor never accorded me before. To my surprise I was invited again the following week; the week after that there was most pressing invitation to join Charlotte and her friends on an expedition to see a London pantomime.












My stock had risen, it seemed, not just with Charlotte but with her parents also. I was no longer just a dull child from an impoverished background; I was Constance Shawcross’s godchild. I was about to visit her in New York. Quite suddenly I had acquired possibilities.



At first, I am afraid, I enjoyed this very much. I was given wings by Constance’s surrogate glamour; I took those wings and I flew. Since I knew virtually nothing about my godmother, I was free to invent. I discovered the addictions of fiction.



In the beginning I gave Constance all those attributes I myself most secretly admired: I gave her black hair and dark-blue eyes and a fiery temperament. I gave her five gray Persian cats(I love cats) and an Irish wolfhound. I made her a superlative horsewoman who rode sidesaddle to hounds. I lived at the top of one of the tallest towers in New York, overlooking the Statue of Liberty, ate roast beef three times a week, and insisted on Oxford marmalade for breakfast. All her clothes, right down to her underwear, came from Harrods.










“Harrods? Are you sure, Victoria?” Charlotte’s mother had been eavesdropping on these boasts avidly, but now she looked doubtful.


“Well, perhaps not all of them,” I said carefully, and cast about in my mind. I thought of my aunt Maud and her reminiscences. “I think sometimes… that she goes to Paris.”

 “Oh, I feel sure she must. Schiaparelli, perhaps Chanel. There’s a picture I saw somewhere—Charlotte, where did I put that book?” Charlotte’s mother always called magazines “books,” and on that occasion a much- thumbed copy of vogue was produced. It was two years old at least. There, in my trembling hands, was the first photograph of my godmother I had ever seen. Sleek, insolently chic, she was photographed at a London party in a group that included wicked Wallis Simpson, Conrad Vickers, and the then Prince of Wales. She was gesturing, so her hand obscured her face.”


After that my lies became less pure. I had learned from that error about harrods, and I trimmed my image of my godmother to suite the tastes of my audience. I gave Constance several motorcars (a touch of malice there, for none was a Rolls-Royce); I gave her a yacht, a permanent suite at the Ritz, a collection of yellow diamonds, crocodile-skin luggage, silk underwear, and intimate friendship with king Farouk.










I was learning fast, and most of these details I picked up either from Charlotte and her parents or from the fat and glossy magazines that lay scattered around their home—magazines that were never permitted at Winterscombe. I think I liked this Constance less than I did the Constance of her first incarnation, who lived in a tower and rode to hounds at full tilt. But my preferences were unimportant; I could see that these new details impressed my audience. When I mentioned the crocodile luggage Charlotte’s mother gave a sigh; she herself, she said in a wistful way, had admired something very similar, just the other day, at Asprey’s.


There were dangers—I could see that. Both Charlotte and her mother seemed alarmingly well informed about my godmother seemed to know into their everyday conversation: “Lady Diana’s dress—what did you think, Mummy?” “Oh, a teensy bit dull, not up to her usual standards.” Did they know Lady Diana? I was never quite sure, but I sensed I must be careful. Was my god mother married, for instance? Could she conceivably have been divorced? If she was divorced, that might explain her fall from favor, for my mother was adamantly opposed to divorce. I had no way of knowing, but I suspected that both Charlotte and her parents might know. They also presumably knew—as I did not—why my godmother was rich, what she did, who her parents were, where she came from.







So I spun the tales of fabled godmother, but I spun them more warily,avoiding all mention of husbands or antecedents. In return for my inventions I gleaned certain facts, which I squirreled away. I learned that my godmother had been born in England but was now a naturalized American citizen. I learned that she “did up” houses, although no one explained what this involved. I leaned that she crossed the Atlantic as casually as the Channel, and adored Venice, which she visited every year. When there, she would stay nowhere but the Danieli.

“Not the Gritti. I told you, Harold,” We were sitting in their drawing room, on a shiny brocade sofa. Charlotte’s mother was drinking a martini in a frosted glass. She twirled the olive, set the glass down on a bright table of glass and chrome, and gave her husband a cold look. She turned back to me in her new apologetic way, as if I were an arbiter of taste, too, like my godmother. “We stayed at the Gritti last year, Victoria, because the Danieli was chockablock. Of course if we had had a choice… but it was such a last-minute arrangement....”

Holidays. I tensed at once, for there, of course, lay another danger: my own visit to New York. I had hoped Charlotte might have forgotten that part of my boast, but she had not. She also remembered I had given a date: this year.

But when, this year? As the weeks passed, the questions became more pressing. Charlotte returned to boarding school but as soon as the Easter holidays came around, the invitations to tea were renewed.

When, exactly, did I plan to leave? Had it been decided whether I should sail on the Aquitania or the Ile de France? Was I to travel alone, or was my godmother to visit England and collect me? Surely I could not be going to New York in the summer---no one went to New York then, and my godmother was usually in Europe.


因此我编织着预言中教母的传说,而且小心翼翼地讲述着,避免提及其丈夫或其他前辈。 为了回馈我的故事,作为奖赏,我得知了一些很遥远模糊的事实。我了解到我的教母生于英格兰,但现在是一个地道的美国公民。我还了解到她“整理”房间,虽然没人能解释这究竟暗指什么。她曾横跨大西洋,偶然地通过了大隧道,并且喜爱威尼斯,每年都去那里旅游。除了Danieli酒店,她哪也不去。

“不要Gritti酒店。我告诉你,哈罗兹。” 我们坐在他们客厅的一个发亮的金丝边沙发上。 夏洛特的母亲正用一个充满热雾的瓶子喝马提尼。她把弄着橄榄枝,把瓶子放在一个用玻璃和铝合金做的桌子上,瞪了她丈夫一眼。她转向我并道歉,就好像我也是一个有品味的仲裁者,就像我的教母一样。“我们去年待在Gritti酒店,因为Danieli酒店已经满员了。如果我们碰巧有机会的话。。。但这确实是一个最后时刻的安排。。。”

假期。 我警觉起来,因为,当然了,潜伏着另一个威胁: 我独自去纽约。我本希望夏洛特能忘掉我曾炫耀过的经历,但她没有。她也记起来了,我曾说过的一个日期:今年。

但是是今年什么时候呢? 时间过的飞快,这个问题也变得越来越压抑。夏洛特回学校注册,但复活节一临近,在午茶时间,这个话题又被提起来了。

我应该确定哪个具体时间呢?我坐船去吗?我独自旅行,还是在我教母去英格兰的时候稍上我? 我决不可能夏天去纽约的——没人会在那个时候去纽约的, 而且我的教母通常都待在欧洲。



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