苏西·克莱门斯(Susy Clemens, 1872~1896)在马克·吐温的三个女儿中排行老大，是马克·吐温最喜爱的女儿。她聪明、漂亮、活泼、善解人意，被马克·吐温称为“神童”。马克·吐温认为，将全世界所有的赞美献给苏西都不为过。但不幸的是，在24岁时，苏西因患脑膜炎离开了人世。她的离去给马克·吐温带来了十分沉重的打击，成为马克·吐温心中永远的痛。下面的文字选自未删节版《马克·吐温自传》(Autobiography of Mark Twain)的第一卷(该自传共三卷，将分三次出版)。在文中，马克·吐温一改往日辛辣、讽刺、诙谐的文风，用细腻的笔触回忆了苏西儿时认识周遭事物的情景。从中我们可以看到苏西那颗悲天悯人的小小心灵，也可以体会到马克·吐温那细腻而深沉的父爱之情……
The summer seasons of Susy's childhood were spent at Quarry Farm on the hills east of Elmira, New York, the other seasons of the year at the home in Hartford. Like other children, she was blithe1) and happy, fond of play; unlike the average of children, she was at times much given to2) retiring within herself and trying to search out the hidden meanings of the deep things that make the puzzle and pathos3) of human existence, and in all the ages have baffled4) the inquirer and mocked him. As a little child aged seven, she was oppressed and perplexed by the maddening repetition of the stock5) incidents of our race's fleeting sojourn6) here, just as the same thing has oppressed and perplexed maturer minds from the beginning of time. A myriad7) of men are born; they labor and sweat and struggle for bread; they squabble8) and scold and fight; they scramble for little mean advantages over each other; age creeps upon them; infirmities9) follow; shames and humiliations bring down their prides and their vanities; those they love are taken from them, and the joy of life is turned to aching grief. The burden of pain, care, misery, grows heavier year by year; at length ambition is dead; pride is dead; vanity is dead; longing for release is in their place. It comes at last—the only unpoisoned gift earth ever had for them—and they vanish from a world where they were of no consequence; where they achieved nothing; where they were a mistake and a failure and a foolishness; where they have left no sign that they have existed—a world which will lament them a day and forget them forever. Then another myriad takes their place, and copies all they did, and goes along the same profitless road, and vanishes as they vanished—to make room for another and another and a million other myriads to follow the same arid10) path through the same desert and accomplish what the first myriad, and all the myriads that came after it accomplished—nothing!
“Mamma, what is it all for?” asked Susy, preliminarily stating the above details in her own halting11) language, after long brooding over12) them alone in the privacy of the nursery.
A year later, she was groping13) her way alone through another sunless bog14), but this time she reached a rest for her feet. For a week, her mother had not been able to go to the nursery, evenings, at the child's prayer hour. She spoke of it—was sorry for it, and said she would come tonight, and hoped she could continue to come every night and hear Susy pray, as before. Noticing that the child wished to respond, but was evidently troubled as to how to word her answer, she asked what the difficulty was. Susy explained that Miss Foote (the governess) had been teaching her about the Indians and their religious beliefs, whereby it appeared that they had not only a God, but several. This had set Susy to thinking. As a result of this thinking, she had stopped praying. She qualified this statement—that is, she modified it—saying she did not now pray “in the same way” as she had formerly done. Her mother said, “Tell me about it, dear.”
“Well, mamma, the Indians believed they knew, but now we know they were wrong. By and by it can turn out that we are wrong. So now I only pray that there may be a God and a heaven—or something better.”
I wrote down this pathetic prayer in its precise wording, at the time, in a record which we kept of the children's sayings, and my reverence for it has grown with the years that have passed over my head since then. Its untaught grace and simplicity are a child's, but the wisdom and the pathos of it are of all the ages that have come and gone since the race of man has lived, and longed, and hoped, and feared, and doubted.
To go back a year—Susy aged seven. Several times her mother said to her, “There, there, Susy, you mustn't cry over little things.”
This furnished15) Susy a text for thought. She had been breaking her heart over what had seemed vast disasters—a broken toy; a picnic cancelled by thunder and lightning and rain; the mouse that was growing tame and friendly in the nursery caught and killed by the cat—and now came this strange revelation. For some unaccountable reason, these were not vast calamities. Why? How is the size of calamities measured? What is the rule? There must be some way to tell the great ones from the small ones; what is the law of these proportions? She examined the problem earnestly and long. She gave it her best thought from time to time, for two or three days—but it baffled her—defeated her. And at last she gave up and went to her mother for help.
“Mamma, what is ‘little things'?”
It seemed a simple question—at first. And yet before the answer could be put into words, unsuspected and unforeseen difficulties began to appear. They increased; they multiplied; they brought about another defeat. The effort to explain came to a standstill. Then Susy tried to help her mother out—with an instance, an example, an illustration. The mother was getting ready to go downtown, and one of her errands16) was to buy a long-promised toy watch for Susy.
“If you forgot the watch, mamma, would that be a little thing?”
She was not concerned about the watch, for she knew it would not be forgotten. What she was hoping for was that the answer would unriddle the riddle, and bring rest and peace to her perplexed little mind.
The hope was disappointed, of course—for the reason that the size of a misfortune is not determinable by an outsider's measurement of it, but only by the measurements applied to it by the person specially affected by it. The king's lost crown is a vast matter to the king, but of no consequence to the child. The lost toy is a great matter to the child, but in the king's eyes it is not a thing to break the heart about. A verdict was reached, but it was based upon the above model, and Susy was granted leave to measure her disasters thereafter with her own tape-line.
As a child, Susy had a passionate temper; and it cost her much remorse17) and many tears before she learned to govern it, but after that it was a wholesome18) salt19), and her character was the stronger and healthier for its presence. It enabled her to be good with dignity; it preserved her not only from being good for vanity's sake, but from even the appearance of it. In looking back over the long-vanished years it seems but natural and excusable that I should dwell with longing affection and preference upon incidents of her young life which made it beautiful to us, and that I should let its few small offences go unsummoned20) and unreproached.
1. blithe [blaɪð] adj. 欢乐的，愉快的；无忧无虑的
2. be given to：喜欢，癖好
3. pathos [ˈpeɪθɒs] n. 痛苦，不幸
4. baffle [ˈbæf(ə)l] vt. 使困惑，使难住；使受挫折
5. stock [stɒk] adj. 通常的，平凡的
6. sojourn [ˈsɒdʒə(r)n] n. 逗留
7. myriad [ˈmɪriəd] n. 无数的人或物
8. squabble [ˈskwɒb(ə)l] vi. (为琐事)争吵
9. infirmity [ɪnˈfɜː(r)məti] n. 体弱，虚弱
10. arid [ˈærɪd] adj. 不毛的，贫瘠的
11. halting [ˈhɔːltɪŋ] adj. 结结巴巴的，吞吞吐吐的；不流畅的
12. brood over：苦思
13. grope [ɡrəʊp] vt. 摸索(路等)
14. bog [bɒɡ] n. 沼泽；困境
15. furnish [ˈfɜː(r)nɪʃ] vt. 供应；提供
16. errand [ˈerənd] n. 差事，差使
17. remorse [rɪˈmɔː(r)s] n. 痛悔，悔恨；自责
18. wholesome [ˈhəʊls(ə)m] adj. 有益身心健康的
19. salt [sɔːlt] n. 风趣；兴味；机智
20. unsummoned [ˈʌn ˈsʌmənd] adj. 未被召集(或传唤、邀请)的