時間︰2014-07-15 00:10 作者︰未知 點擊︰

My Average Uncle

艾默大叔——一個普普通通的人

Robert P. Tristram Coffin

羅伯特·P.T.科芬

He stood out splendidly above all my uncles because he did not stand out at all. That was hisdistinction. He was the averagest man I ever knew.

在我眾多的叔叔大爺中,他是最突出的一個,原因就在于他從不突出自己。這就是他與眾不同之處。他是我見過的最普通的人。

You would never pick him out in a crowd. He became just another man the minute he was inone. So many more pounds of man. Good solid pounds,but just pounds. You would neverremember his hair or his chin, or the shape of his ears. If he said something, you would agreewith it, and, an hour later, you would be sure you had said it yourself.

他在人群里一點也不顯眼。他一混人人海就和周圍的人沒什麼兩樣了,他長得敦敦實實,體重超過常人許多磅,但也僅此而已。你永遠也想不起他頭發是什麼顏色,他的下巴、耳朵是什麼樣子。如果他說些什麼,你會表示同意,過一個小時,你會覺得這話就是你自己說的。

Sometimes I think men like that get along about the best . They are the easiest on theirhouses, their wives, and their children. They are easiest on the world. They slide along withouthaving to do anything about it as small boys do on their breeches after they have slid on themenough to wear them down smooth. The world is all so much pine needles under them.

有時我想,正是這種人才活得輕松自在。他們對住房、對妻子、對兒女總是那麼寬宏大量,從不挑剔。他們是世界上最寬容的人。他們總是那麼順其自然地活著,從不為任何事情操心,就像小孩子坐滑梯把褲襠磨破了也不在乎。這個世界就像鋪在身子底下的松針一樣,柔軟舒適。

Uncle Amos was easy on his wives and children. He had three of them, in all. Wives, I mean. Inever did get the count of his children straight, there were too many assortments of them.Three wives. It seemed surprising to me at the time. With all the trouble I had, myself, havingto stand on my head and work my legs, or bung stones at cherrybirds, to keep the attention ofjust one girl for a month. I often wondered how Uncle Amos, who never stood on his head orwhittled out even a butterpat, could attract so many women as he did. Wlth hair a little thin onhis head, and legs that could not possibly do more than three and a half miles an hour on theroad, there he was with three families behind him. Of course, he had the families spaced. Thewives of Uncle Amos did not come all at once. They were drawn out . One batch of children grewpretty well up by the time the next batch hove insight, waddling and falling on thek faces-tosave their hands-as waddling children do.

艾默大叔對妻子兒女和和氣氣。他總共有三個。我是說他有三個妻子。我從來數不準他到底有多少孩子,他們太多了。而且各種各樣。居然有三個妻子。那時我覺得這太不可思議了。因為我在這方面吃過不少苦頭。我曾經使出全身本領︰拿大頂、兔子蹦、投石打鳥,好不容易才使一個女孩注意我一個月。我真不明白,艾默大叔從不拿大頂,甚至連一個黃油球也削不出來,居然能吸引那麼多女人。他頭發有點稀疏,兩條腿一小時走不了十里半路,就這樣一個人,一生居然有過三撥家小。當然啦,艾默大叔三房妻子之間都隔著一段時間,不是同時娶來的,而是一個接著一個。一撥孩子已經長大,另一撥才呱呱落地。他們蹣跚地走路,常常臉朝下跌倒在地,也不知用手去撐——小孩子學走路都是這樣。

I knew my Bible, especially the marital parts, in which I took deep interest. I had read the Biblethrough many times under the eye of one particular aunt. I knew a lot about matrimony fromthat. But Uncle Amos had me puzzled. He had broken no commandments. All his marriageswere open and aboveboard. He wasn't like the patriarchs who didn't always wait for one wifeto go before another came. Yet Uncle Amos's status and his children's status were rathercomplicated.

我對聖經很熟,對有關婚娶的章節尤感興趣。在一位愛挑剔的姑媽監督之下曾多次誦讀聖經,從中學到許多有關婚姻的清規戒律。但艾默大叔卻令我困惑。他沒有觸犯任何一條戒規,每次結婚都是公開的,光明正大的,不像那些道貌岸然的人,妻子還好好的,就又勾搭上了別的女人。然而艾默大叔的情況和他的孩子們的情況卻頗為復雜。

The women must have been drawn to him because he was so muchlike whatan average fairhusband would seem to a woman to be.

女人迷戀他,一定是因為在她們的心目中他十分接近一個普通模範丈夫的形象。

This man made no flourishes to attract anybody. He never drove a fast horse. He never woretrousers with checks any larger than an inch square-which,for the time, was conservative. Hishouse never got afire and burned downjust after the fire insurance had run out. Not one of hisboys and girls got drowned or run over by the steamcars. The few that died growing died ofdiphtheria or scarlet fever, which were what children died of then, the usual ways.

他這個人從不嘩眾取寵。他沒騎過快馬,褲子上的方格從不超過一英寸——這在當時已是相當保守的了。他的房手也從未在火災保險剛過期就失火燒塌過。他的眾多子女中也沒有一個落水溺死或死于車禍的。幾個夭折的,不是死于白喉就是死于猩紅熱,那時許多孩子都得這種病死的,十分常見。

Uncle Amos never had a fight.

艾默大叔從未打過架。

Uncle Amos never lost a pocket-book. At least not one with much money in it.

艾默大叔從未丟過錢包,至少沒丟過里面裝有很多錢的錢包。

Uncle Amos never went even as far as Boston.

艾默大叔甚至連波士頓那麼遠的地方都沒去過。

But there he was, never making much money, but with all the comforts of home around him,eating his stewed eels, sitting in his galluses out in the orchard in the cool of the evening, witha plump baby to climb up in his lap,whenever he felt like having a baby on his lap and had hisold trousers on and didn't care much what happened to him. There he was, shingling his houseonly when it got to leaking so it put the kitchen fire out. Drinking a little ale now and then,when he came by it easy. No big hayfields to worryabout. No wife that craved more than onenew dress a year, and that one she generally ran up herself on her sewing machine. One bestpair of trousers to his name, which the moths got into, but not so deep but what they couldbe healed up with a needle. Not many books to excite him and keep him awake nights, or putideas into his head and make him uneasy. No itch ever spreading out upon him to go out andtake the world by its horns .There he was, in clover!

然而就是這樣一個人,從未掙過大錢,卻盡情享受著家的舒適溫馨,吃著炖鰻魚,穿著背帶褲,涼爽的黃昏,坐在果園里。想抱孩子時,便有個胖娃娃爬到膝頭上來,穿的是舊褲子,所以不怕孩子糟蹋。他就是這樣一個人,屋頂漏雨,廚房里的火都快澆滅了他才去修。要是啤酒來得容易,偶爾也喝上一杯。沒有大塊干草場要他操心。妻子也從不吵著一年要兩件新衣服,就是那一件,還是她親自動手,用縫紉機做的。在他的名下只有一條像樣的褲子,還讓蛀蟲蛀了,但並不嚴重,三針兩線就可補好。沒有幾本書使他激動不已,徹夜難眠,或是把各種思想塞進他的腦袋里,使他坐立不安。沒有難以抑制的渴望在內心泛濫,使他離開家門去闖世界。他就是這樣一個人,日子過得舒舒服服,,安安逸逸!

Amos was a Republican. But then, most everybody around was. It was an average condition.Uncle Amos didn't have much to do except carry a torchlight when the Republican Presidentsgot elected, as they did regularly. And if Uncle Amos got grease on him, it never was very muchgrease, and his current wife took it out of him with her hot iron. Politics passed him by.Greatevents passed him by. And big taxes.

艾默是共和黨人,不過那時周圍的人,哪個不是?當時的情形就是這樣。艾默大叔倒也沒干過什麼,不過是在共和黨人當選總統時,舉舉火把而已(這是他們的慣例)。如果他衣服沾上了油脂,也總是不太嚴重,他當時的妻子會用熱熨斗幫他去掉。政治和他不沾邊,大事沒他的份兒,巨額稅款也輪不到他的頭上。

But we nephews did not pass him by. We were strangely drawn to him. Especially when some ofour specialist uncles wore us down with their crankiness and difference. I spent some of thequietest Sundays of my life in Uncle Amos's yard, lying under apple trees and listening to beesand not listeningto Uncle Amos who was bumbling away at something he did not expect me tolisten to at all.And caterpillars came suddenly down on fine wires shining like gold, and hit UncleAmos on his bald spot, and he brushed them off and went on bumbling. The heat was aburden, and the apple blossoms fell to pieces and drifted down on me, and I could see the roofof the world over the black twigs they came from. These were my solidest hours of pure being. Idid not have to do anything to live up to this quiet, friendly man. He did not expect me to standon my head and show off, or go after his pipe, or keep the flies from lighting on his bald spot.And he always had lemon drops somewhere deep in his roomy pockets? fore or aft, and he likedto give them to me.

但我們這些佷子們卻沒有忽略他,反而被他緊緊地吸引住,特別是在我們那些當專家的叔叔們用他們的古怪脾氣和意見分歧搞得我們不耐煩的時候。我的一生中,有許多寧靜的星期天都是在艾默大叔的果園里度過的。躺在隻果樹下,耳邊響著蜜蜂的嗡嗡聲,無須用心去听艾默大叔永無休止的嘮叨。他也完全沒有要我听的意思。毛毛蟲拖著金光閃閃的細絲掉下來,打在艾默大叔的禿頂上。他揮揮手把蟲子彈掉,又繼續嘮叨下去。暑熱難當,隻果花紛紛揚揚落在我的身上花兒落了,透過黑乎乎的枝條可以看見高懸的蒼穹。這是我生活中最充實的時刻,我無須著意做什麼來取悅這位安詳的老人。他也不指望我拿大頂炫耀宜己,或跑腿為他取煙斗,或為他趕走禿頂上的蒼蠅。他的寬大的前後農袋里總是裝著檸檬糖,而且十分樂意送給我吃。

The only trouble Uncle Amos had in his life was after he had got through with it. When theycame to bury him, they could not fix it so he could lie next to all his three women. He had likedthem all equally well. But there was not enough of Uncle Amos to go round. So they put him onthe end of the row.

艾默大叔一生中遇到的唯一麻煩是在他走完了生命的旅途之後。為他下葬時人們怎麼也想不出辦法把他同時和三個女人並排埋在一起。生前這三個女人他都愛,而艾默大叔卻只有一個,沒法平均分給三個女人,只好把他埋在那一排墳的最後。

Uncle Amos did not mind, I am sure. I am sure he sleeps average well.

一我相信艾默大叔是不會介意的,我也相信他會和平時睡得同樣的香甜。

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