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老虎!老虎!(三)  

2016-06-21 11:02:35|  分类: 译著 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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老虎!老虎!(三)

【英】鲁迪亚德·吉卜林 著

熊良銋 译

 

“快发命令吧!”阿克拉喘着气说道。“他们又要纠集到一起了。”

莫格里悄悄跨到了拉獁背上。“阿克拉,把公牛赶到左边去。灰哥,等我们走了以后,你把母牛聚到一起,把她们赶进溪谷脚下去。”

“赶多远?”灰哥喘着气厉声问道。

“赶到溪谷两边高得让谢尔汗跳不上去的地方,”莫格里喊道。“让她们留在那里,直到我们下来。“阿克拉一声吠吼,那些公牛便旋风似地飞奔开去,而灰哥挡在那些母牛的前面。她们向他冲去,他就在她们的前面跑,诱引她们一直跑到溪谷脚下,而这时阿克拉把公牛赶到了左边很远的地方。

“干得好!再冲一次,他们就会完全惊动起来。小心,阿克拉,现在要小心。你再吆吠一声,那些公牛就会冲锋了。呼吔!这可比驱赶黑鹿要狂野得多。你想到过这些牲口会跑得这么飞快吗?”莫格里喊道。

“我当年也曾经,曾经捕猎过这些牲口,”阿克拉在飞扬的尘土中上气不接下气地说道。“要我把他们转进莽林里去吗?”

“吔,转吧!要赶快转进去!拉犸现在气疯了。哦,要是我能告诉他今天我需要他做什么,该有多好。”

这一次公牛都被转到了右边,闯进了茂密的灌木丛。其他的放牛娃与牛群一起在半英哩外观望着这种景象,就扯动双腿拚命跑回村里,大声喊着水牛都疯了,全都跑掉了。

但莫格里的计划相当简单。他所要做的就是想绕一个大圈上山,到达溪谷源头,然后赶着公牛冲下山,在公牛阵和母牛阵中间捉住谢尔汗;因为他知道,吃饱喝足以后,谢尔汗是没有力气投入战斗,也难以爬上溪谷两边的。他现在用自己的声音抚慰着水牛,而阿克拉已经远远地落在后面,只是哼哧一两声,催促殿后的牛快点走。这是个很大很大的圈子,因为他们不想离溪谷太近,那样会引起谢尔汗的警觉。最后,莫格里把晕头转向的牛群汇拢到了溪谷源头的一块草地上,这块草地实际上是向溪谷倾斜的一个陡坡。站在那块高坡上,就可以越过树梢俯瞰下面的原野;但是莫格里所看的是溪谷两边,他非常满意地看到,溪谷两边几乎是直上直下的峭壁,上面悬挂满了藤蔓和爬山虎,一只老虎就是想逃出去,在这里也是找不到立足之地的。

“阿克拉,让他们歇口气,”他抬起一只手说道。“他们还没有嗅到他的气味呢。让他们歇口气吧。我必须告诉谢尔汗是谁来了。我们已经把他装进圈套里了。”

他把两只手拢在嘴边,冲着下面的溪谷高声大喊,这样子简直象朝一条隧洞呼喊一样,回声在岩石间持续回荡着。

过了很久,才传回来一只刚刚惊醒、吃得饱饱的老虎那有气无力、睡眼惺忪的怒吼声。

“谁在喊叫?”谢尔汗问道,这时,一只华丽的孔雀从溪谷里尖叫着振翅飞了出来。

“是我,莫格里。你这偷牛贼,现在是该上议会岩去的时候了!冲下去!快把他们赶下去,阿克拉!冲下去,拉犸,往下冲啊!”

牛群在斜坡边缘停顿了片刻,但阿克拉扯起喉舌喊着捕猎号子,牛群便一个接一个地象轮船穿过激流一样向下冲去,到处都是飞沙走石。一旦惊跑起来,就休想停住,他们还没有完全冲到谷底,拉犸就嗅出了谢尔汗的气味,嘶吼起来了。

“哈!哈!”莫格里骑在牛背上说道。“现在你可明白了吧!”只见黑压压的牛角、喷白沫的鼻子、圆睁睁的眼睛,牛群洪流般飞旋而下,如同山洪暴发时冲击着大圆石坠落一样;体弱的水牛都被挤到溪谷两边,冲破了那些攀缘藤蔓。他们知道眼下要干什么:水牛阵要疯狂冲锋,任何老虎都抵挡不住。谢尔汗听见了他们雷鸣般的奋蹄声,便爬起身来,笨重地沿着溪谷往下走,左顾右盼着想找一条逃生之路,可是溪谷两边都是悬崖峭壁,他只好继续逃窜,肚里装满了食物和汤水,沉甸甸的,他愿意做任何事,就是不愿搏斗。牛群从他们刚才离开的泥塘冲出来,泥水四溅,一路吼叫着,直搅得狭窄的溪谷震天轰鸣。莫格里听见溪谷脚下传来了回响,看见谢尔汗转身奔去,因为这只老虎知道,到了最糟糕的紧急关头,就是对付公牛,也别去带着小牛犊的母牛,接着拉犸被绊了一下,打了个踉跄,又踩着个什么软绵绵的东西过去了,那些公牛都跟在他身后,完全冲进了另一群牛当中,那些较弱的水牛被迎头撞来的冲力,都被掀得四蹄离地。这次冲锋把两群牛都卷出了溪谷,进入了原野,抵着角,尥着蹄子,喷着鼻息。莫格里看准了时机,从拉犸的脖子上悄悄溜下来,左右挥舞着棍子。

“快,阿克拉!快把他们分开。驱散他们,不然他们会互相斗起来的。把他们赶走,阿克拉。嗨,拉犸!嗨!嗨!嗨!我的孩子们,现在轻轻地,慢慢地!一切都结束了。”

阿克拉和灰哥跑前跑后,轻轻地咬着水牛腿,虽说这群牛一度又回过头要往溪谷上冲,可莫格里还是设法让拉犸掉转身,其余的牛便都跟着他跑到那些他们打滚的泥潭去了。

谢尔汗再不需要踩踏了。他已经死了,鸢鹰们已经在向他飞扑来了。

“弟兄们,他象一条狗那样死了,”莫格里说道,一面伸手摸他的小刀。因为他和人在一起生活,他就老是挂在脖子上的刀鞘里插上一把刀。“不过,他从来就没有显示过武士精神,他的皮铺在议会岩上一定很好看,我们必须赶快动手干。”

一个在人们中间教养大的孩子,做梦也不会想独自去剥掉一条十尺长的老虎皮,但是莫格里比谁都了解一头动物的皮是怎样长上的,也知道怎样把它剥下来。然而这件活儿确实很费力气,莫格里用刀又砍又撕,累得嘴里直哼哼,干了一个钟头,两只狼在一边懒洋洋地伸出舌头,当他命令他们的时候,他们就上前帮忙拽。这时,有一只手搭在了他的肩上,他抬头一看,原来是那个有一支塔牌火枪的布尔多。那些放牛娃已经把水牛惊跑的事儿报告了村里人,布尔多就怒冲冲地跑出来了,只是急着要惩罚莫格里没有照顾好牛群。那两条狼一看到有人来,就跑得渺无踪影了。

“这种荒唐事也想得出来?”布尔多气兀兀地说道。“你以为你能剥下老虎的皮!水牛是在哪里踩死他的?这还是那只瘸腿虎哩,已经悬赏一百卢比的赏金要他的脑袋。好啦,好啦,我们就不追究你把放跑牛群的事了,等我把虎皮拿到卡尼瓦拉以后,也许我会分给你一卢比赏金。”他从腰布里摸出打火石和打火鐮,弯下身子去燎谢尔汗的胡须。大多数本地猎人总要燎老虎的胡须,以防他的鬼魂缠上自己。

“哼!”莫格里一边仿佛在是对自己说道,一边撕下了一只前爪的皮。“原来你想把虎皮送到卡尼瓦拉去领赏呀,也许还会分给我一个卢比?现在我想我需要留下这张虎皮自己用。喂,老头儿,把那火拿开!”

“这是对村里的猎人头领说的什么话?是你的运气和你那群水牛的蠢劲帮你杀死这头老虎。这只老虎刚刚吃撑了,不然到他此刻早已跑出二十英哩外去了。小叫化子,你连正确剥虎皮都不会,还有脸来教训我布尔多不要燎他的胡须。莫格里,这下子我一个安那的赏钱也不给你了,倒是要狠狠揍你一顿。快离开那具虎尸!”

“凭那头赎买我的公牛起誓,”莫格里说道,他正在设法剥老虎的肩上的皮。“难道我整个中午都必须跟一个老人猿唠叨个没完吗?喂,阿克拉,这个人老缠着我,烦死了。”

还在弯腰看着谢尔汗脑袋的布尔多,突然发现自己被掀翻仰八叉躺在草地上,一条灰狼站在他身边,而莫格里还在继续剥皮,仿佛整个印度只有他一个人似的。

“吔是,”他抿着嘴低声说道。“你说得完全正确,布尔多。你永远也不会给我一个安那的赏钱。这只瘸腿虎和我之间以前结过怨仇,——很久以前的怨仇,而现在,我赢了。”

说句公道话,如果布尔多年轻十岁,假使在林子里碰见了阿克拉,他是会和他比试一下的,但是一条服从这个跟吃人老虎有过私仇的孩子命令的狼,决不是等闲之辈。布尔多认为这是巫术,是最恶劣的魔法,而且他不知道,他脖子上的护身符是否能保护他。他躺在那里,一动也不敢动,每时每刻都期待着看见莫格里也变成一只老虎。

“大王!伟大的国王!”他终于嘶哑着嗓子低声说道。

“吔是,”莫格里没有掉转头去,轻轻地咯咯笑道。

“我是个老头。我不知道你不只是个放牛娃。我能不能站起来离去,还是你的仆人要把我撕成碎片?”

“去吧,你平安无事了。只是下次再不要乱动我的猎物了。放他走吧,阿克拉。”

布尔多一瘸一拐尽可能快地往村在里跑,还在不住地回头望望,害怕莫格里会变成什么可怕的东西。跑到村子后,他就讲了一个魔法、妖术和巫术的故事,祭司听了,神色也变得凝重起来。

莫格里继续干他的活,但直到将近薄暮时分,他和那两条狼才把那张花斑大皮从老虎身上剥下来。

“现在我们必须把这张虎皮藏起来,把水牛赶回家!来帮我赶吧,阿克拉。”

牛群在雾濛濛的暮色中聚到一块了,当他们走近村子时,莫格里看见了灯火,听到了寺庙里的螺号在吹着,钟声在响着。村子里有一半人似乎在村口等他。“这大概是因为我杀死了谢尔汗吧,”他暗自思忖道。但是,石块象阵雨似的在他耳边呼啸而过,村民们喊道:“巫师!狼崽!丛莽魔鬼!滚开!马上从这里滚,不然的话,祭司会把你再变成狼。开枪,布尔多,开枪呀!”

那支塔牌老火枪砰地一声响了,一头小水牛痛得直吼叫。

“又是巫术!”村民们喊道。“他能让子弹拐弯。布尔多,那是你家的水牛。”

“这到底是怎么回事呀?”莫格里迷惑不解地说道,石块飞得越来越密了。

“你的这些兄弟跟狼群没什么不同,”阿克拉镇定自若地坐下说道。“依我看,假如子弹有什么用意的话,那就是想把你驱逐出去。”

“狼!狼崽!滚开!”祭司挥舞着一根圣罗勒枝,喊道。

“又是滚?上次因为我是人。这次因为我是狼。我们走吧,阿克拉。”

一个妇人,她是梅丝娃,跑到牛群这边来,喊道:“啊,我的儿呀,我的儿!他们说你是个巫师,能任意把自己变成野兽。我不相信,不过你还是走吧,否则他们会杀死你的。布尔多说你是个巫师,可我知道,你已经替纳图的死报过仇了。”

“回来,梅丝娃!”人群喊道。“快回来,不然的话,我们就要扔石头砸你了。”

莫格里狰狞而短暂地笑了一声,因为一块石头正好打中了他的嘴。“跑回去吧,梅丝娃。那是他们黄昏时在大树下面编的一个荒唐故事。我至少已经偿还了你儿子的生命。再会了;赶快跑吧,因为我要以比他们的碎砖头块还要快的速度把牛群赶进村去。我决不是巫师,梅丝娃。再会!”

“好啦,再来一次,阿克拉,”他喊道。“把牛群赶进来。”

那些水牛也急不可待地要回到村里。他们几乎不需要阿克拉的大声吆喝,就象一阵旋风冲过村门,把人群冲得七零八散。

“点一点数吧!”莫格里轻蔑地喊道。“或许我已经偷走了一头。仔细数一数吧,因为我再也不会给你们放牛了。再见吧,人群的孩子们,我没有带领我的狼群,在村街上到处追捕你们,这要感谢梅丝娃。”

他向后急转身,跟孤狼一起走开了,他抬起头仰望着星星,觉得很高兴。“我再也不会睡在陷阱里了,阿克拉。我们去拿起谢尔汗的皮,离开这里吧。我们不可,千万不可伤害村民,因为梅丝娃待我很好。”

 

附录:原文

 

Tiger! Tiger!III

Written by Rudyard Kipling

Translated by William Xiong

 

“What orders!” panted Akela. “They are trying to join again.”

Mowgli slipped on to Rama’s back. “Drive the bulls away to the left, Akela. Gray Brother, when we are gone, hold the cows together, and drive them into the foot of the ravine.”

“How far?” said Gray Brother, panting and snapping.

“Till the sides are higher than Shere Khan can jump,” shouted Mowgli. “Keep them there till we come down.” The bulls swept off as Akela bayed, and Gray Brother stopped in front of the cows. They charged down on him, and he ran just before them to the foot of the ravine, as Akela drove the bulls far to the left.

“Well done! Another charge and they are fairly started. Careful, now — careful, Akela. A snap too much and the bulls will charge. Hujah! This is wilder work than driving black-buck. Didst thou think these creatures could move so swiftly?” Mowgli called.

“I have — have hunted these too in my time,” gasped Akela in the dust. “Shall I turn them into the jungle?”

“Ay! Turn. Swiftly turn them! Rama is mad with rage. Oh, if I could only tell him what I need of him today.”

The bulls were turned, to the right this time, and crashed into the standing thicket. The other herd children, watching with the cattle half a mile away, hurried to the village as fast as their legs could carry them, crying that the buffaloes had gone mad and run away.

But Mowgli’s plan was simple enough. All he wanted to do was to make a big circle uphill and get at the head of the ravine, and then take the bulls down it and catch Shere Khan between the bulls and the cows; for he knew that after a meal and a full drink Shere Khan would not be in any condition to fight or to clamber up the sides of the ravine. He was soothing the buffaloes now by voice, and Akela had dropped far to the rear, only whimpering once or twice to hurry the rear-guard. It was a long, long circle, for they did not wish to get too near the ravine and give Shere Khan warning. At last Mowgli rounded up the bewildered herd at the head of the ravine on a grassy patch that sloped steeply down to the ravine itself. From that height you could see across the tops of the trees down to the plain below; but what Mowgli looked at was the sides of the ravine, and he saw with a great deal of satisfaction that they ran nearly straight up and down, while the vines and creepers that hung over them would give no foothold to a tiger who wanted to get out.

“Let them breathe, Akela,” he said, holding up his hand. “They have not winded him yet. Let them breathe. I must tell Shere Khan who comes. We have him in the trap.”

He put his hands to his mouth and shouted down the ravine — it was almost like shouting down a tunnel — and the echoes jumped from rock to rock.

After a long time there came back the drawling, sleepy snarl of a full-fed tiger just wakened.

“Who calls?” said Shere Khan, and a splendid peacock fluttered up out of the ravine screeching.

“I, Mowgli. Cattle thief, it is time to come to the Council Rock! Down — hurry them down, Akela! Down, Rama, down!”

The herd paused for an instant at the edge of the slope, but Akela gave tongue in the full hunting-yell, and they pitched over one after the other, just as steamers shoot rapids, the sand and stones spurting up round them. Once started, there was no chance of stopping, and before they were fairly in the bed of the ravine Rama winded Shere Khan and bellowed.

“Ha! Ha!” said Mowgli, on his back. “Now thou knowest!” and the torrent of black horns, foaming muzzles, and staring eyes whirled down the ravine just as boulders go down in floodtime; the weaker buffaloes being shouldered out to the sides of the ravine where they tore through the creepers. They knew what the business was before them — the terrible charge of the buffalo herd against which no tiger can hope to stand. Shere Khan heard the thunder of their hoofs, picked himself up, and lumbered down the ravine, looking from side to side for some way of escape, but the walls of the ravine were straight and he had to hold on, heavy with his dinner and his drink, willing to do anything rather than fight. The herd splashed through the pool he had just left, bellowing till the narrow cut rang. Mowgli heard an answering bellow from the foot of the ravine, saw Shere Khan turn (the tiger knew if the worst came to the worst it was better to meet the bulls than the cows with their calves), and then Rama tripped, stumbled, and went on again over something soft, and, with the bulls at his heels, crashed full into the other herd, while the weaker buffaloes were lifted clean off their feet by the shock of the meeting. That charge carried both herds out into the plain, goring and stamping and snorting. Mowgli watched his time, and slipped off Rama’s neck, laying about him right and left with his stick.

“Quick, Akela! Break them up. Scatter them, or they will be fighting one another. Drive them away, Akela. Hai, Rama! Hai, hai, hai! my children. Softly now, softly! It is all over.”

Akela and Gray Brother ran to and fro nipping the buffaloes’ legs, and though the herd wheeled once to charge up the ravine again, Mowgli managed to turn Rama, and the others followed him to the wallows.

Shere Khan needed no more trampling. He was dead, and the kites were coming for him already.

“Brothers, that was a dog’s death,” said Mowgli, feeling for the knife he always carried in a sheath round his neck now that he lived with men. “But he would never have shown fight. His hide will look well on the Council Rock. We must get to work swiftly.”

A boy trained among men would never have dreamed of skinning a ten-foot tiger alone, but Mowgli knew better than anyone else how an animal’s skin is fitted on, and how it can be taken off. But it was hard work, and Mowgli slashed and tore and grunted for an hour, while the wolves lolled out their tongues, or came forward and tugged as he ordered them. Presently a hand fell on his shoulder, and looking up he saw Buldeo with the Tower musket. The children had told the village about the buffalo stampede, and Buldeo went out angrily, only too anxious to correct Mowgli for not taking better care of the herd. The wolves dropped out of sight as soon as they saw the man coming.

“What is this folly?” said Buldeo angrily. “To think that thou canst skin a tiger! Where did the buffaloes kill him? It is the Lame Tiger too, and there is a hundred rupees on his head. Well, well, we will overlook thy letting the herd run off, and perhaps I will give thee one of the rupees of the reward when I have taken the skin to Khanhiwara.” He fumbled in his waist cloth for flint and steel, and stooped down to singe Shere Khan’s whiskers. Most native hunters always singe a tiger’s whiskers to prevent his ghost from haunting them.

“Hum!” said Mowgli, half to himself as he ripped back the skin of a forepaw. “So thou wilt take the hide to Khanhiwara for the reward, and perhaps give me one rupee? Now it is in my mind that I need the skin for my own use. Heh! Old man, take away that fire!”

“What talk is this to the chief hunter of the village? Thy luck and the stupidity of thy buffaloes have helped thee to this kill. The tiger has just fed, or he would have gone twenty miles by this time. Thou canst not even skin him properly, little beggar brat, and forsooth I, Buldeo, must be told not to singe his whiskers. Mowgli, I will not give thee one anna of the reward, but only a very big beating. Leave the carcass!”

“By the Bull that bought me,” said Mowgli, who was trying to get at the shoulder, “must I stay babbling to an old ape all noon? Here, Akela, this man plagues me.”

Buldeo, who was still stooping over Shere Khan’s head, found himself sprawling on the grass, with a gray wolf standing over him, while Mowgli went on skinning as though he were alone in all India.

“Ye-es,” he said, between his teeth. “Thou art altogether right, Buldeo. Thou wilt never give me one anna of the reward. There is an old war between this lame tiger and myself — a very old war, and — I have won.”

To do Buldeo justice, if he had been ten years younger he would have taken his chance with Akela had he met the wolf in the woods, but a wolf who obeyed the orders of this boy who had private wars with man-eating tigers was not a common animal. It was sorcery, magic of the worst kind, thought Buldeo, and he wondered whether the amulet round his neck would protect him. He lay as still as still, expecting every minute to see Mowgli turn into a tiger too.

“Maharaj! Great King,” he said at last in a husky whisper.

“Yes,” said Mowgli, without turning his head, chuckling a little.

“I am an old man. I did not know that thou wast anything more than a herdsboy. May I rise up and go away, or will thy servant tear me to pieces?”

“Go, and peace go with thee. Only, another time do not meddle with my game. Let him go, Akela.”

Buldeo hobbled away to the village as fast as he could, looking back over his shoulder in case Mowgli should change into something terrible. When he got to the village he told a tale of magic and enchantment and sorcery that made the priest look very grave.

Mowgli went on with his work, but it was nearly twilight before he and the wolves had drawn the great gay skin clear of the body.

“Now we must hide this and take the buffaloes home! Help me to herd them, Akela.”

The herd rounded up in the misty twilight, and when they got near the village Mowgli saw lights, and heard the conches and bells in the temple blowing and banging. Half the village seemed to be waiting for him by the gate. “That is because I have killed Shere Khan,” he said to himself. But a shower of stones whistled about his ears, and the villagers shouted: “Sorcerer! Wolf’s brat! Jungle demon! Go away! Get hence quickly or the priest will turn thee into a wolf again. Shoot, Buldeo, shoot!”

The old Tower musket went off with a bang, and a young buffalo bellowed in pain.

“More sorcery!” shouted the villagers. “He can turn bullets. Buldeo, that was thy buffalo.”

“Now what is this?” said Mowgli, bewildered, as the stones flew thicker.

“They are not unlike the Pack, these brothers of thine,” said Akela, sitting down composedly. “It is in my head that, if bullets mean anything, they would cast thee out.”

“Wolf! Wolf’s cub! Go away!” shouted the priest, waving a sprig of the sacred tulsi plant.

“Again? Last time it was because I was a man. This time it is because I am a wolf. Let us go, Akela.”

A woman — it was Messua — ran across to the herd, and cried: “Oh, my son, my son! They say thou art a sorcerer who can turn himself into a beast at will. I do not believe, but go away or they will kill thee. Buldeo says thou art a wizard, but I know thou hast avenged Nathoo’s death.”

“Come back, Messua!” shouted the crowd. “Come back, or we will stone thee.”

Mowgli laughed a little short ugly laugh, for a stone had hit him in the mouth. “Run back, Messua. This is one of the foolish tales they tell under the big tree at dusk. I have at least paid for thy son’s life. Farewell; and run quickly, for I shall send the herd in more swiftly than their brickbats. I am no wizard, Messua. Farewell!”

“Now, once more, Akela,” he cried. “Bring the herd in.”

The buffaloes were anxious enough to get to the village. They hardly needed Akela’s yell, but charged through the gate like a whirlwind, scattering the crowd right and left.

“Keep count!” shouted Mowgli scornfully. “It may be that I have stolen one of them. Keep count, for I will do your herding no more. Fare you well, children of men, and thank Messua that I do not come in with my wolves and hunt you up and down your street.”

He turned on his heel and walked away with the Lone Wolf, and as he looked up at the stars he felt happy. “No more sleeping in traps for me, Akela. Let us get Shere Khan’s skin and go away. No, we will not hurt the village, for Messua was kind to me.”

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