Mark Twain(马克·吐温,1835—1910),原名Samuel Langhorne Clemens(萨缪尔·兰亨·克莱门),美国著名的幽默大师、小说家、作家,19世纪后期美国现实主义文学的杰出代表,被誉为“文学史上的林肯”。其写作风格融幽默与讽刺为一体,既富有独特的个人机智与妙语,又不乏深刻的社会洞察与剖析。他的代表作有《百万英镑》、《汤姆索亚历险记》等。本文是他的一则短篇小说,因篇幅所限,有删节。 ——Maisie
One day I was standing watch in the nursery. That is to say, I was asleep on the bed. The baby was asleep in the crib, which was alongside the bed, on the side next to the fireplace. It was the kind of crib that has a 1)lofty tent over it made of 2)gauzy stuff that you can see through. The nurse was out, and we two sleepers were alone. A spark from the wood-fire was shot out, and it lit on the slope of the tent. I suppose a quiet interval followed, then a scream from the baby awoke me, and there was that tent flaming up toward the ceiling! Before I could think, I 3)sprang to the floor in my fright, and in a second was half-way to the door; but in the next half-second my mother’s farewell was sounding in my ears, and I was back on the bed again. I reached my head through the flames and dragged the baby out by the waist-band, and tugged it along, and we fell to the floor together in a cloud of smoke; I 4)snatched a new hold, and dragged the screaming little creature along and out at the door and around the bend of the hall, and was still tugging away, when the master’s voice shouted:
“5)Begone you cursed 6)beast!” and I jumped to save myself; but he was furiously quick, and chased me up, striking furiously at me with his cane, I dodging this way and that, in terror, and at last a strong blow fell upon my left foreleg, which made me7)shriek and fall, for the moment, helpless; the cane went up for another blow, but never descended, for the nurse’s voice rang wildly out, “The nursery’s on fire!” and the master rushed away in that direction, and my other bones were saved.
The pain was cruel, but, no matter, I must not lose any time; he might come back at any moment; so I limped on three legs to the other end of the hall, where there was a dark little stairway leading up into a 8)garret where old boxes and such things were kept, as I had heard say, and where people seldom went. I managed to climb up there, then I searched my way through the dark among the piles of things, and hid in the most secret place I could find. So afraid that I 9)held in and hardly even whimpered, though it would have been such a comfort to whimper, because that eases the pain, you know.
For half an hour there was a 10)commotion downstairs, and shoutings, and rushing footsteps, and then there was quiet again. Quiet for some minutes, and that was grateful to my spirit, for then my fears began to go down; and fears are worse than pains—oh, much worse. Then came a sound that 11)froze me. They were calling me—calling me by name—hunting for me!
It was 12)muffled by distance, but that could not take the terror out of it, and it was the most dreadful sound to me that I had ever heard. It went 13)all about: along the halls, through all the rooms, in both 14)stories, and in the basement and the 15)cellar; then outside, and farther and farther away—then back, and all about the house again, and I thought it would never, never stop. But at last it did, hours and hours after the vague16)twilight of the garret had long ago been 17)blotted out by black darkness.
Then in that blessed stillness my terrors fell little by little away, and I was at peace and slept. It was a good rest I had, but I woke before the twilight had come again. I was feeling fairly comfortable, and I could think out a plan now. I made a very good one; which was, to creep down, all the way down the back stairs, and hide behind the cellar door, and slip out and escape when the 18)iceman came at dawn, while he was inside filling the refrigerator; then I would hide all day, and start on my journey when night came; my journey to—well, anywhere where they would not know me and betray me to the master. I was feeling almost cheerful now; then suddenly I thought: 19)Why, what would life be without my 20)puppy!
Then—well, then the calling began again! They called and called—days and nights, it seemed to me. So long that the hunger and thirst near drove me mad, and I recognized that I was getting very weak. When you are this way you sleep a great deal, and I did. Once I woke in an awful fright—it seemed to me that the calling was right there in the garret! And so it was: it was Sadie’s voice, and she was crying; my name was falling from her lips all broken, poor thing, and I could not believe my ears for the joy of it when I heard her say: “Come back to us—oh, come back to us, and forgive—it is all so sad without our—” I broke in with such a grateful little 21)yelp, and the next moment Sadie was22)plunging and stumbling through the darkness and the 23)lumber and shouting for the family to hear, “She’s found, she’s found!”
The days that followed—well, they were wonderful. The mother and Sadie and the servants—why, they just seemed to worship me. They couldn’t seem to make me a bed that was fine enough; and as for food, they couldn’t be satisfied with anything but 24)game and 25)delicacies that were out of season; and every day the friends and neighbors 26)flocked in to hear about my 27)heroism—and a dozen times a day Mrs. Gray and Sadie would tell the tale to new-comers, and say I risked my life to save the baby’s, and both of us had 28)burns to prove it, and then the 29)company would pass me around and 30)pet me and 31)exclaim about me, and you could see the pride in the eyes of Sadie and her mother; and when the people wanted to know what made me limp, they looked ashamed and changed the subject, and sometimes when people hunted them this way and that way with questions about it, it looked to me as if they were going to cry.
I have watched two whole weeks, and he doesn’t come up! This last week a fright has been stealing upon me. I think there is something terrible about this. I do not know what it is, but the fear makes me sick, and I cannot eat, though the servants bring me the best of food; and they pet me so, and even come in the night, and cry, and say, “Poor 32)doggie—do give it up and come home; Don’t break our hearts!” and all this terrifies me the more, and makes me sure something has happened. And I am so weak; since yesterday I cannot stand on my feet anymore. And within this hour the servants, looking toward the sun where it was sinking out of sight and the night chill coming on, said things I could not understand, but they carried something cold to my heart. “Those poor creatures! They do not suspect. They will come home in the morning, and eagerly ask for the little doggie that did the brave deed, and who of us will be strong enough to say the truth to them: ‘The humble little friend is gone where go the beasts that 33)perish.’”