吉米·哈利（James Herriot）（1916—1995），苏格兰兽医作家。原名James Alfred Wight。他以描述自己一生的兽医系列故事闻名，其平实而不失风趣的文风和朴素的博爱主义打动了千千万万英美读者。其多部自传体小说《万物既伟大又渺小》（All Creatures Great and Small，1972）、《万物有灵且美》（All Things Bright and Beautiful，1974）和《万物既聪慧又奇妙》（All Things Wise and Wonderful，1977）等相继荣登《纽约时报》畅销书榜首，后被BBC拍成电影和系列热门电视剧《All Creatures Great and Small》。英美出版界公认他是少数几位能在英国和美国长期畅销的作家之一。一系列畅销书为他带来了非凡的荣誉和财富，但是吉米·哈利依然安之若素，坚持在乡间从事兽医工作，执业长达五十多年。
I looked down at the slip of paper where I had written my visits. “Dean, 3 Thompson's Yard. Old dog ill.”
The flakes of paint quivered on the rotten wood of the door as I knocked. A small, white haired man answered. His face, pinched and lined, was 1)enlivened by a pair of cheerful eyes; he wore a much-darned woollen 2)cardigan, patched trousers and slippers.
“I've come to see your dog,” I said, and the old man smiled.
“Oh, I'm glad you've come, sir,” he said. “I'm getting a bit worried about the old chap. Come inside, please.”
He led me into the tiny living-room. “I'm alone now, sir. Lost my missus over a year ago. She used to think the world of the old dog.”
The grim evidence of poverty was everywhere. In the worn out 3)lino, the fireless hearth, the dank, musty smell of the place.
In the corner, on a blanket, lay my patient, a cross-bred 4)Labrador. He must have been a big, powerful dog in his time, but the signs of age showed in the white hairs round his muzzle and the pale 5)opacity in the depth of his eyes. He lay quietly and looked at me without hostility.
“Getting on a bit, isn't he, Mr. Dean?”
“Aye he is that. Nearly fourteen, but he's been like a pup 6)galloping about until these last few weeks. Wonderful dog for his age, is old Bob and he's never offered to bite anybody in his life. Children can do anything with him. He's my only friend now—I hope you'll soon be able to put him right.”
I looked at the dog with growing uneasiness. The 7)abdomen was grossly distended and I could read the tell-tale symptoms of pain; the catch in the 8)respirations, the retracted 9)commissures of the lips, the anxious, preoccupied expression in the eyes.
I passed my hand carefully over the dog's abdomen. 10)Ascites was pronounced. “Come on, old chap,” I said, “Let's see if we can roll you over.” The dog made no resistance as I eased him slowly on to his other side, but, just as the movement was completed; he whimpered and looked round. The cause of the trouble was now only too easy to find.
I stroked the old dog's head as I tried to collect my thoughts. This wasn't going to be easy.
“Is he going to be ill for long?” the old man asked, and again came the thump, thump of the tail at the sound of the loved voice. “It's miserable when Bob isn't following me round the house when I'm doing my little jobs.”
“I'm sorry, Mr. Dean, but I'm afraid this is something very serious. You see this large swelling. It is caused by an internal growth.”
“You mean...cancer?” the little man said faintly.
“I'm afraid so, and it has progressed too far for anything to be done. I wish there was something I could do to help him, but there isn't.”
The old man looked bewildered and his lips trembled. “Then he's going to die?”
I swallowed hard. “We really can't just leave him to die, can we? He's in some distress now, but it will soon be an awful lot worse. Don't you think it would be kindest to put him to sleep? After all, he's had a good, long 11)innings.” I always aimed at a brisk, matter-of-fact approach, but the old clichés had an empty ring.
The old man was silent, then he said, “Just a minute,” and slowly and painfully knelt down by the side of the dog. He did not speak, but ran his hand again and again over the grey old muzzle and the ears, while the tail thump, thump thumped on the floor.
He knelt there a long time while I stood in the cheerless room, my eyes taking in the faded pictures on the walls, the frayed, grimy curtains, the broken-springed armchair.
At length the old man struggled to his feet and gulped once or twice. Without looking at me, he said 12)huskily, “All right, will you do it now?” I filled the 13)syringe and said the things I always said.
“You needn't worry, this is absolutely painless.”
The dog did not move as the needle was inserted, and, as the 14)barbiturate began to flow into the vein, the anxious expression left his face and the muscles began to relax. By the time the injection was finished, the breathing had stopped.
The old man stood motionless except for the clasping and unclasping of his hands. When he turned to face me his eyes were bright. “That's right, we couldn't let him suffer, and I'm grateful for what you've done. And now, what do I owe you for your services, sir?”
“Oh, that's all right, Mr. Dean,” I said quickly, “It's nothing—nothing at all. I was passing right by here—it was no trouble.”
The old man was astonished. “But you can't do that for nothing.”
“Now please say no more about it, Mr. Dean. As I told you, I was passing right by your door.” I said goodbye and went out of the house, through the passage and into the street. In the bustle of people and the bright sunshine, I could still see only the stark, little room, the old man and his dead dog.