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英语散文:迟到的情书(1)

发表时间:2011/5/3字号:T|T
IwasalwaysalittleinaweofGreat-auntStephinaRoos.Indeed,aschildrenwewereallfranklyterrifiedofher.Thefactthatshedidnotlivewiththefamily,preferringhertinycottageandsolitudetothecomfortablebutrathernoisyho...
I was always a little in awe of Great-aunt Stephina Roos. Indeed, as children we were all frankly terrified of her. The fact that she did not live with the family, preferring her tiny cottage and solitude to the comfortable but rather noisy household where we were brought up-added to the respectful fear in which she was held.
  我对斯蒂菲娜老姑总是怀着敬畏之情。说实在话,我们几个孩子对她都怕得要死。她不和家人一块生活,宁愿住在她的小屋子里,而不愿住在舒舒服服、热热闹闹的家里--我们六个孩子都是在家里带大的--这更加重了我们对她的敬畏之情。

  We used to take it in turn to carry small delicacies which my mother had made down from the big house to the little cottage where Aunt Stephia and an old colored maid spent their days. Old Tnate Sanna would open the door to the rather frightened little messenger and would usher him-or her - into the dark voor-kamer, where the shutters were always closed to keep out the heat and the flies. There we would wait, in trembling but not altogether unpleasant.
  我们经常轮替着从我们住的大房子里带些母亲为她做的可口的食品到她和一名黑人女仆一块过活的那间小屋里去。桑娜老姨总是为每一个上门来的怯生生的小使者打开房门,将他或她领进昏暗的客厅。那里的百叶窗长年关闭着,以防热气和苍蝇进去。我们总是在那里哆哆嗦嗦、但又不是完全不高兴地等着斯蒂菲娜老姑出来。

  She was a tiny little woman to inspire so much veneration. She was always dressed in black, and her dark clothes melted into the shadows of the voor-kamer and made her look smaller than ever. But you felt. The moment she entered. That something vital and strong and somehow indestructible had come in with her, although she moved slowly, and her voice was sweet and soft.
  一个像她那样身材纤细的女人居然能赢得我们如此尊敬。她总是身穿黑色衣服,与客厅里的阴暗背景融成一体,将她的身材衬托得更加娇小。但她一进门,我们就感到有一种说不清道不明、充满活力和刚强的气氛,尽管她的步子慢悠、声调甜柔。

  She never embraced us. She would greet us and take out hot little hands in her own beautiful cool one, with blue veins standing out on the back of it, as though the white skin were almost too delicate to contain them.
  她从不拥抱我们,但总是和我们寒暄,将我们热乎乎的小手握在她那双秀美清爽的手里,她的手背上露出一些青筋,就像手上白嫩的皮肤细薄得遮不住它们似的。

      Tante Sanna would bring in dishes of sweet, sweet, sticky candy, or a great bowl of grapes or peaches, and Great-aunt Stephina would converse gravely about happenings on the farm ,and, more rarely, of the outer world.
  桑娜阿姨每次都要端出几碟粘乎乎的南非糖果和一钵葡萄或桃子给我们吃。斯蒂菲娜老姑总是一本正经他说些农场里的事,偶尔也谈些外边世界发生的事。

  When we had finished our sweetmeats or fruit she would accompany us to the stoep, bidding us thank our mother for her gift and sending quaint, old-fashioned messages to her and the Father. Then she would turn and enter the house, closing the door behind, so that it became once more a place of mystery.
  待我们吃完糖果或水果,她总要将我们送到屋前的门廊,叮嘱我们要多谢母亲给她送食品,要我们对父母亲转达一些稀奇古怪的老式祝愿,然后就转身回到屋里,随手关上门,使那里再次成为神秘世界。

  As I grew older I found, rather to my surprise, that I had become genuinely fond of my aloof old great-aunt. But to this day I do not know what strange impulse made me take George to see her and to tell her, before I had confided in another living soul, of our engagement. To my astonishment, she was delighted.
  让我感到吃惊的是,随着我逐渐长大,我发现打心眼里喜欢起我那位孤伶伶的老姑姑来。至今我仍不知道那是一种什么样的奇异动力,使我在还没有透露给别人之前就把乔治领去看望姑姑,告诉她我们已经订婚的消息。不成想,听到这个消息以后,她竟非常高兴。

  "An Englishman,"she exclaimed."But that is splendid, splendid. And you,"she turned to George,"you are making your home in this country? You do not intend to return to England just yet?"
      “是英国人!”她惊讶地大声说道,“好极了。你,”她转向乔治,“你要在南非安家吗?你现在不打算回国吧?”

  She seemed relieved when she heard that George had bought a farm near our own farm and intended to settle in South Africa. She became quite animated, and chattered away to him.
  当她听说乔治已经在我们农场附近购置了一片农场并打算定居下来时,好像松了一口气。她兴致勃勃地和乔治攀谈起来。

      After that I would often slip away to the little cottage by the mealie lands. Once she was somewhat disappointed on hearing that we had decided to wait for two years before getting married, but when she learned that my father and mother were both pleased with the match she seemed reassured.
  从那以后,我常常到那所位于玉米地边的小屋。有一次,当斯蒂菲娜老姑听说我们决定再过两年结婚时,露出了失望的神色,但一听说我的父母亲都对这门亲事满意时,她又放宽了心。

  Still, she often appeared anxious about my love affair, and would ask questions that seemed to me strange, almost as though she feared that something would happen to destroy my romance. But I was quite unprepared for her outburst when I mentioned that George thought of paying a lightning visit to England before we were married."He must not do it,"she cried."Ina, you must not let him go. Promise me you will prevent him."she was trembling all over. I did what I could to console her, but she looked so tired and pale that I persuaded her to go to her room and rest, promising to return the next day.
  但她对我的婚姻大事还是经常挂在嘴边。她常常问一些怪怪的问题,几乎像担心我的婚事会告吹一样。当我提到乔治打算在婚前匆匆回一趟国时,她竟激动了起来。只见她浑身哆嗦着大声嚷道:"他不能回去!爱娜!你不能放他走,你得答应我不放他走!"我尽力安慰她,但她还是显得萎靡不振。我只得劝她回屋休息,并答应第二天再去看她。

  When I arrived I found her sitting on the stoep. She looked lonely and pathetic, and for the first time I wondered why no man had ever taken her and looked after her and loved her. Mother had told me that Great-aunt Stephina had been lovely as a young girl, and although no trace of that beauty remained, except perhaps in her brown eyes, yet she looked so small and appealing that any man, one felt, would have wanted to protect her.
  我第二天去看她时,她正坐在屋前的门廊上,流露出抑郁孤寂的神情。我第一次感到纳闷:以前怎么没有人娶她、照料和爱抚她呢?记得母亲曾经说过,斯蒂菲娜老姑以前曾是一个楚楚可爱的小姑娘。尽管除了她那褐色的眼睛尚能保留一点昔日的风韵之外,她的美貌早已荡然无存。但她看上去还是那样小巧玲珑、惹人爱怜,引起男人们的惜香怜玉之情。

   She paused, as though she did not quite know how to begin.
Then she seemed to give herself, mentally, a little shake. "You must have wondered ", she said, "why I was so upset at the thought of young George's going to England without you. I am an old woman, and perhaps I have the silly fancies of the old, but I should like to tell you my own love story, and then you can decide whether it is wise for your man to leave you before you are married."
  我走到她的跟前。她拍着身边的椅子,淡淡一笑。“坐下吧,亲爱的,”她说,“我有话要告诉你。”她欲言又止,好像不知道话从何说起似的。接着,她仿佛振作了起来。她说:"我听你说乔治要回国,又不带你走,心里非常不安。我这份心事你是不明白的。我是一个老婆子了,大概还怀着老人们的那颗痴心吧。不过,我想把自己的爱情故事讲给你听。这样你就能明白在你们结婚之前让你的未婚夫离开你,是不是一个明智之举。"

  "I was quite a young girl when I first met Richard Weston. He was an Englishman who boarded with the Van Rensburgs on the next farm, four or five miles from us. Richard was not strong. He had a weak chest, and the doctors had sent him to South Africa so that the dry air could cure him. He taught the Van Rensburg children, who were younger than I was, though we often played together, but he did this for pleasure and not because he needed money.
  “我第一次遇见理查德·威斯顿时还是一个年轻姑娘。他是一个英国人,寄宿在我家附近四、五英里一个农场上的范·伦斯堡家里。他身体不好,胸闷气短。医生让他去南非让干燥的气候治好他的病。他教伦斯堡的孩子们念书,他们都比我小,尽管我们经常在一块玩。理查德是以教书为乐,并不是为了赚钱。

      "We loved one another from the first moment we met, though we did not speak of our love until the evening of my eighteenth birthday. All our friends and relatives had come to my party, and in the evening we danced on the big old carpet which we had laid down in the barn. Richard had come with the Van Rensburgs, and we danced together as often as we dared, which was not very often, for my father hated the Uitlanders. Indeed, for a time he had quarreled with Mynheer Van Rensburg for allowing Richard to board with him, but afterwards he got used to the idea, and was always polite to the Englishman, though he never liked him.
  “我和理查德是一见钟情,尽管直到我18岁生日那天我们才表示彼此的爱慕之情。那天晚上的舞会上,我们的亲友都来了。我们在仓房里铺上一条宽大的旧毛毯,翩翩起舞。我和他壮起胆子频频起舞。但事实上,没有多少次,因为我的父亲很讨厌'洋人'。有一次,他曾抱怨说伦斯堡先生不应该让理查德寄住在他的家里,为此还跟他吵过一场,他后来就习以为常了。虽谈不上喜欢,但对这个英国人以礼相待。"那是我一生中最快乐的一个生日,因为理查德在跳舞间歇将我领到外面清凉的月光中,在点点繁星之下对我倾诉爱慕之情,并向我求婚。我二话没说答应了他的要求,因为我早已心醉神迷,想不到父母亲会说什么。我的心中除了理查德和他的爱情,什么也顾不上了。   

      "That was the happiest birthday of my life, for while we were resting between dances Richard took me outside into the cool, moonlit night, and there, under the stars ,he told me he loved me and asked me to marry him. Of course I promised I would, for I was too happy to think of what my parents would say, or indeed of anything except Richard was not at our meeting place as he had arranged. I was disappointed but not alarmed, for so many things could happen to either of us to prevent out keeping our tryst. I thought that next time we visited the Van Ransburgs, I should hear what had kept him and we could plan further meetings…
  “从那以后,我们就尽可能多地见面,但往往是秘密进行。我们就这样度过了将近1年时间。后来有一天,在他安排的约会处,理查德爽约没有来。失望之际,我没有大惊小怪,因为我们俩谁碰到形形色色的事都可能使我们无法幽会。我想我们以后去范·伦斯堡家看望之时,我就会明白理查德未能赴约的原因,再安排以后的约会……

  "So when my father asked if I would drive with him to Driefontein I was delighted. But when we reached the homestead and were sitting on the stoep drinking our coffee, we heard that Richard had left quite suddenly and had gone back to England. His father had died, and now he was the heir and must go back to look after his estates.
  “所以,当父亲问我是否愿意和他一块开车去德里方丹时,我就高兴地答应了。但待我们赶到范·伦斯堡家,坐在他们家屋前的门廊上喝咖啡时,却听说理查德已经不辞而别回英国去了。他的父亲死了,他是继承人,不得不回去料理遗产。

   "I do not remember very much more about that day, except that the sun seemed to have stopped shining and the country no longer looked beautiful and full of promise, but bleak and desolate as it sometimes does in winter or in times of drought. Late that afternoon, Jantje, the little Hottentot herd boy, came up to me and handed me a letter , which he said the English baas had left for me. It was the only love letter I ever received, but it turned all my bitterness and grief into a peacefulness which was the nearest I could get, then, to happiness. I knew Richard still loved me, and somehow, as long as I had his letter, I felt that we could never be really parted, even if he were in England and I had to remain on the farm. I have it yet, and though I am an old, tired woman, it still gives me hope and courage."
  “那天的事我记不大清楚了,只记得当时阳光惨淡,田野也失去了美丽的丰采和欣欣向荣的景象,萧瑟凄凉得跟冬天或大旱时一样。那天傍晚,在我和父亲动身回家之前,霍但托特族的小牧童詹杰交给我一封信,他说是那位英国老爷留给我的。这可是我有生以来收到的唯一的情书!它将我的忧伤一扫而光,使我的心情变得平静--当时对我来说几乎类似幸福的平静。我知道理查德仍在爱着我。不知怎么回事,有了这封信,我便觉得我们不可能真正分开,哪怕他到了英国、我还留在南非的农场。这封信我至今仍保留着,尽管我已经年迈体衰,但它仍能带给我希望和勇气。”

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