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哩叽·嘀叽·塔韦(二)  

2016-07-29 09:55:37|  分类: 译著 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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哩叽·嘀叽·塔韦(二)

【英】鲁迪亚德·吉卜林 著

熊良銋 译

 

纳格心中在暗自思忖着,眼睛则注视着哩叽·嘀叽身后草丛里极其细微的动静。他知道,花园里有獴就意味着他和他的家属早晚要遭殃,不过他还是想设法让哩叽·嘀叽放松警惕。所以,他稍微低下了脑袋头,故意把脑袋偏向了一边。

“咱们聊聊吧,”他说道。“你可以吃蛋,我为什么不可以吃小鸟呢?”

“小心你背后!瞧瞧你背后!”达齐鸣唱道。

哩叽·嘀叽当然知道不能浪费时间往后瞧了。他使出全身力气腾空跃起,这时,纳格的阴险妻子纳格娜的脑袋,就从他身子底下一蹿而过。原来他在谈话时,她就偷偷摸摸地爬到他背后,企图袭击他;他听见了她一击不中后发出了狂暴的咝咝声。他跳落下来时几乎跨在她背上。如果他是一只老獴,他一定会明白,此刻正是一口咬断她脊背的最佳时机;但是他害怕眼镜蛇回击时那恐怖的抽杀。他确实是咬了一口,但咬得不够狠,很快就跳开躲避那条飞扫过来的蛇尾巴,让纳格娜在那里恼怒生闷气。

“可恶,可恶的达齐!”纳格说道,使劲向上抽打,想打中荆棘林的鸟窝;可是达齐把窝筑在蛇够不着的高处,它只是前后晃了晃。

哩叽·嘀叽感觉到自己的眼睛变红发热了,如果獴的眼睛变红,就说明他在发怒了,这时,他象一只小袋鼠那样,坐在自己的尾巴和后腿上,环视着四周,气得吱吱叫。可是,纳格和纳格娜已经消失在草丛里了。如果一条蛇攻击失败以后,他决不会说什么,也决不会透露下一步要干什么。哩叽·嘀叽也无意去跟踪他们,因为要同时对付两条蛇,他还没有把握。所以,他快步跑到房子附近的碎石路上,坐下来要仔细想一想。这对他来说可是一桩需要认真对待的大事。

假如你读过几本讲自然史的古书,你就会发现书上说,獴在和蛇大战时,偶然被咬伤,他就会跑开去吃一些能解毒的草药。这种说法不对。获胜的关键只在于眼疾腿快,蛇的一击对付獴的一跃,由于任谁的眼睛都跟不上蛇在出击时头部动作的迅速,这就使事情显得比神奇的药草还要奇妙得多。哩叽·嘀叽明白自己还很年轻,想到自己能成功躲过背后的袭击,就感到更加得意了。这使他获得了自信,当泰迪跑到小路上来时,哩叽·嘀叽很乐意接受他的爱抚。

可是,当泰迪正在俯身时,泥土里有什么东西稍稍蠕动了一下,一个细小的声音说道:“当心。我是死神!”原来是卡莱特,一条浑身灰土的棕色小蛇,偏喜欢躺在泥土里;他咬起人来跟眼镜蛇一样有毒。但是,由于他那么细小,谁也没有很注意他,所以他对人的危害更大。

哩叽·嘀叽的已经又变红了,他以他家祖传的一种晃动摇摆的奇特动作跃向卡莱特。这动作显得非常滑稽可笑,但却是一种巧妙地保持身体平衡的步态,可以随心所欲地从任何角度飞出;对付蛇这一招是非常有利的。他正在做一件比大战纳格还要危险得多的事情,因为卡莱特身子那么小,转身又那么快,除非哩叽一口咬住他靠近后脑勺的要害部位,不然的话,哩叽就会被他反转一抽击中眼睛或嘴唇的,要是哩叽·嘀叽知道这一点就好了。可是哩叽惜并不知道,他的眼睛全红了,他的身子前后晃动着,在寻找一个适合咬住的部位。卡莱特出击了。哩叽跳到一侧,正要猛扑上去,可是那只恶毒的沾满尘土的小灰脑袋迅速一抽,险些击中他的肩部,他不得不跳过蛇身,而蛇脑袋又紧跟着到了他的脚后跟。

泰迪朝着房子里的人喊道:“哦,快来这儿瞧呀!我们的獴正在捕杀蛇呢。”哩叽·嘀叽还听见了泰迪妈妈的一声尖叫。他爸爸手拿一根木棒跑了出来,但当他赶到时,卡莱特的一次冲击蹿过了头,哩叽·嘀叽纵身一跃,跳到了蛇背上,把脑袋低下伸进蛇的两条前腿中间,尽量对准蛇背上靠头部处,狠狠咬了一口,然后又翻滚开去。这一口使卡莱特全身瘫痪了,哩叽·嘀叽正打算按照他的家族就餐习惯,从尾到头吃掉他,这时他忽然想起,饱吃一餐会让獴行动迟缓,而如果想让自己永远处于精力旺盛速度敏捷的临战状态,就必须保持自身的瘦小精悍。

他走开去到蓖麻丛下面洗了个尘土浴,这时,泰迪的爸爸在敲打那只死卡莱特。“敲打有什么用?”哩叽·嘀叽想道。“我已经彻底敲定了。”泰迪的妈妈把他从尘土里抱起来,搂着他哭着说,是他救了泰迪免了一死,泰迪的爸爸说他是一尊天使,泰迪则瞪大着受惊吓的眼睛观望着。哩叽·嘀叽倒是觉得,他们的慌乱很有点可笑,而这一切,他是当然不能理解的。泰迪的妈妈也完全可能是因为泰迪喜欢在尘土里玩耍而爱抚他的。总之,哩叽觉得,他在这里玩得很开心。

那天晚上吃晚饭时,他在餐桌上酒杯中间走来走去,他本来可以给自己塞进三倍的美味佳肴,把肚皮撑得大大的;但是他想起了纳格和纳格娜,虽然他受到泰迪妈妈的宠爱抚摸,坐在泰迪的肩头上,感觉痛快极了,但他的眼睛仍然不时地发红,并且总是要发出那长长的呐喊声:“哩叽、嘀喀、嘀叽、嘀叽、嚓喀!

泰迪把他抱上了床,并坚持要哩叽·嘀叽睡在自己的下巴底下。因为哩叽·嘀叽很有教养,他既不咬人也不抓人,但是泰迪一睡着,他就出去绕着房子巡夜去了,他在黑暗中遇见了正在贴着墙根转悠的麝香鼠楚淳德拉。楚淳德拉是一只非常伤心的小动物。他整夜都在呜呜咽咽吱吱呀呀地哭叫,想下决心跑到房子中间去,却从来没有到过那里。

“别杀我,”楚淳德拉说道,几乎要哭出声来了。“哩叽·嘀叽,别杀我!”

“你以为捕蛇者会捕杀麝香鼠吗?”哩叽·嘀叽轻蔑地反问道。

“捕蛇者终究会被蛇捕杀的,”楚淳德拉说道,比先前更加伤心了。“我怎么能确定黑夜里纳格不会错把我当成了你呢?”

“绝对不会有这种危险的,”哩叽·嘀叽说道。“可是纳格住在花园里,而我知道你是不去那里的。”

“我的表哥楚娃,那只老鼠他告诉我——”楚淳德拉说到这里,又停了下来。

“告诉你什么啦?”

“嘘!纳格是无处不在的,哩叽·嘀叽。你本该去花园里跟楚娃聊聊的。”

“我没去,所以一定要告诉我。快点,楚淳德拉,不然我就要咬你啦!”

楚淳德拉坐下后就哭了起来,直哭得泪流胡须。“我本是个可怜虫,”他哽咽道。“我从来就没有足够的勇气跑到房子中间去。嘘!我决不能告诉你任何事了。你倒是听见了吗,哩叽·嘀叽?”

哩叽·嘀叽在侧耳倾听着。屋子里寂静无声,但是他觉得自己听见了世间最微弱的嚓嚓声,象是一只黄蜂在窗玻璃上爬的声音,那是蛇鳞在砖块上干涩的爬擦声。

“那不是纳格,就是纳格娜,”他自言自语地说道。“而且他正在爬进浴室的下水道。楚淳德拉,你说得对;我是该去找楚娃聊聊的。”

他悄悄溜到泰迪的浴室,可是那里什么都更没有,接着,他又溜进了泰迪妈妈的浴室。在平滑的灰泥墙跟脚下,有一块砖头被拔了出来,做成一个下水道,以便把洗澡水放掉,而当哩叽·嘀叽悄悄溜到安放浴缸的砖槽边时,就听见了纳格和纳格娜正在外边的月光下窃窃私语。

当房子空无一人时,纳格娜对她的丈夫说道。“那家伙他就不得不离去了,到那时花园又归我们所有了。悄悄溜进去吧,记住,第一个就要咬死不过杀死卡莱特的大个子男人。然后你出来告诉我,我们一块儿去追猎哩叽·嘀叽。”

“可你能确信,把人杀死了我们会得到什么吗?”纳格问道。

“全世界呀。你想想呀,要是平房里没有了人,我们花园里还会有獴吗?只要平房空了,我们就成了花园里的国王和王后;别忘了,我们在瓜地里的蛋孵化出来后,他们可能明天就要出壳了,我们的孩子就需要空间,也需要安静的环境。”

“我可没有想到那么多,”纳格说道。“那我就去,不过事后我们就没有必要去追捕哩叽·嘀叽了。我会杀掉那个大男人和他的妻子,如果可能的话,也干掉那个小孩,然后我就悄悄溜走。这样一来,那幢平房空了,哩叽·嘀叽自然就会走了。”

听了这番话,哩叽·嘀叽气得浑身直震颤,又怒又恨,这时,纳格的脑袋从下水道钻了出来,随后露出了他那五英呎长的冰凉的身子。尽管哩叽·嘀叽气得要命,看到一条眼镜蛇那么大的块头,心中还真有几分害怕。纳格盘起了身子,抬起了头,在黑暗中窥看着浴室,哩叽·嘀叽看见那一双眼睛闪着寒光。

“嗯,如果我在这里杀死他,纳格娜就会知道;而如果我在开阔的地板上跟他搏斗,他又会占优势。我该怎么办呀?”哩叽·嘀叽·塔韦说道。

 

附录:原文

 

Rikki-Tikki-TaviII

Written by Rudyard Kipling

Translated by William Xiong

 

Nag was thinking to himself, and watching the least little movement in the grass behind Rikki-tikki. He knew that mongooses in the garden meant death sooner or later for him and his family, but he wanted to get Rikki-tikki off his guard. So he dropped his head a little, and put it on one side.

“Let us talk,” he said. “You eat eggs. Why should not I eat birds?”

“Behind you! Look behind you!” sang Darzee.

Rikki-tikki knew better than to waste time in staring. He jumped up in the air as high as he could go, and just under him whizzed by the head of Nagaina, Nag’s wicked wife. She had crept up behind him as he was talking, to make an end of him. He heard her savage hiss as the stroke missed. He came down almost across her back, and if he had been an old mongoose he would have known that then was the time to break her back with one bite; but he was afraid of the terrible lashing return stroke of the cobra. He bit, indeed, but did not bite long enough, and he jumped clear of the whisking tail, leaving Nagaina torn and angry.

“Wicked, wicked Darzee!” said Nag, lashing up as high as he could reach toward the nest in the thorn-bush. But Darzee had built it out of reach of snakes, and it only swayed to and fro.

Rikki-tikki felt his eyes growing red and hot (when a mongoose’s eyes grow red, he is angry), and he sat back on his tail and hind legs like a little kangaroo, and looked all round him, and chattered with rage. But Nag and Nagaina had disappeared into the grass. When a snake misses its stroke, it never says anything or gives any sign of what it means to do next. Rikki-tikki did not care to follow them, for he did not feel sure that he could manage two snakes at once. So he trotted off to the gravel path near the house, and sat down to think. It was a serious matter for him.

If you read the old books of natural history, you will find they say that when the mongoose fights the snake and happens to get bitten, he runs off and eats some herb that cures him. That is not true. The victory is only a matter of quickness of eye and quickness of foot — snake’s blow against mongoose’s jump — and as no eye can follow the motion of a snake’s head when it strikes, this makes things much more wonderful than any magic herb. Rikki-tikki knew he was a young mongoose, and it made him all the more pleased to think that he had managed to escape a blow from behind. It gave him confidence in himself, and when Teddy came running down the path, Rikki-tikki was ready to be petted.

But just as Teddy was stooping, something wriggled a little in the dust, and a tiny voice said: “Be careful. I am Death!” It was Karait, the dusty brown snakeling that lies for choice on the dusty earth; and his bite is as dangerous as the cobra’s. But he is so small that nobody thinks of him, and so he does the more harm to people.

Rikki-tikki’s eyes grew red again, and he danced up to Karait with the peculiar rocking, swaying motion that he had inherited from his family. It looks very funny, but it is so perfectly balanced a gait that you can fly off from it at any angle you please, and in dealing with snakes this is an advantage. If Rikki-tikki had only known, he was doing a much more dangerous thing than fighting Nag, for Karait is so small, and can turn so quickly, that unless Rikki bit him close to the back of the head, he would get the return stroke in his eye or his lip. But Rikki did not know. His eyes were all red, and he rocked back and forth, looking for a good place to hold. Karait struck out. Rikki jumped sideways and tried to run in, but the wicked little dusty gray head lashed within a fraction of his shoulder, and he had to jump over the body, and the head followed his heels close.

Teddy shouted to the house: “Oh, look here! Our mongoose is killing a snake.” And Rikki-tikki heard a scream from Teddy’s mother. His father ran out with a stick, but by the time he came up, Karait had lunged out once too far, and Rikki-tikki had sprung, jumped on the snake’s back, dropped his head far between his forelegs, bitten as high up the back as he could get hold, and rolled away. That bite paralyzed Karait, and Rikki-tikki was just going to eat him up from the tail, after the custom of his family at dinner, when he remembered that a full meal makes a slow mongoose, and if he wanted all his strength and quickness ready, he must keep himself thin.

He went away for a dust bath under the castor-oil bushes, while Teddy’s father beat the dead Karait. “What is the use of that?” thought Rikki-tikki. “I have settled it all;” and then Teddy’s mother picked him up from the dust and hugged him, crying that he had saved Teddy from death, and Teddy’s father said that he was a providence, and Teddy looked on with big scared eyes. Rikki-tikki was rather amused at all the fuss, which, of course, he did not understand. Teddy’s mother might just as well have petted Teddy for playing in the dust. Rikki was thoroughly enjoying himself.

That night at dinner, walking to and fro among the wine-glasses on the table, he might have stuffed himself three times over with nice things. But he remembered Nag and Nagaina, and though it was very pleasant to be patted and petted by Teddy’s mother, and to sit on Teddy’s shoulder, his eyes would get red from time to time, and he would go off into his long war cry of “Rikk-tikk-tikki-tikki-tchk!”

Teddy carried him off to bed, and insisted on Rikki-tikki sleeping under his chin.

Rikki-tikki was too well bred to bite or scratch, but as soon as Teddy was asleep he went off for his nightly walk round the house, and in the dark he ran up against Chuchundra, the musk-rat, creeping around by the wall. Chuchundra is a broken-hearted little beast. He whimpers and cheeps all the night, trying to make up his mind to run into the middle of the room. But he never gets there.

“Don’t kill me,” said Chuchundra, almost weeping. “Rikki-tikki, don’t kill me!”

“Do you think a snake-killer kills muskrats?” said Rikki-tikki scornfully.

“Those who kill snakes get killed by snakes,” said Chuchundra, more sorrowfully than ever. “And how am I to be sure that Nag won’t mistake me for you some dark night?”

“There’s not the least danger,” said Rikki-tikki. “But Nag is in the garden, and I know you don’t go there.”

“My cousin Chua, the rat, told me —” said Chuchundra, and then he stopped.

“Told you what?”

“H’sh! Nag is everywhere, Rikki-tikki. You should have talked to Chua in the garden.”

“I didn’t — so you must tell me. Quick, Chuchundra, or I’ll bite you!”

Chuchundra sat down and cried till the tears rolled off his whiskers. “I am a very poor man,” he sobbed. “I never had spirit enough to run out into the middle of the room. H’sh! I mustn’t tell you anything. Can’t you hear, Rikki-tikki?”

Rikki-tikki listened. The house was as still as still, but he thought he could just catch the faintest scratch-scratch in the world — a noise as faint as that of a wasp walking on a window-pane — the dry scratch of a snake’s scales on brick-work.

“That’s Nag or Nagaina,” he said to himself, “and he is crawling into the bath-room sluice. You’re right, Chuchundra; I should have talked to Chua.”

He stole off to Teddy’s bath-room, but there was nothing there, and then to Teddy’s mother’s bathroom. At the bottom of the smooth plaster wall there was a brick pulled out to make a sluice for the bath water, and as Rikki-tikki stole in by the masonry curb where the bath is put, he heard Nag and Nagaina whispering together outside in the moonlight.

“When the house is emptied of people,” said Nagaina to her husband, “he will have to go away, and then the garden will be our own again. Go in quietly, and remember that the big man who killed Karait is the first one to bite. Then come out and tell me, and we will hunt for Rikki-tikki together.”

“But are you sure that there is anything to be gained by killing the people?” said Nag.

“Everything. When there were no people in the bungalow, did we have any mongoose in the garden? So long as the bungalow is empty, we are king and queen of the garden; and remember that as soon as our eggs in the melon bed hatch (as they may tomorrow), our children will need room and quiet.”

“I had not thought of that,” said Nag. “I will go, but there is no need that we should hunt for Rikki-tikki afterward. I will kill the big man and his wife, and the child if I can, and come away quietly. Then the bungalow will be empty, and Rikki-tikki will go.”

Rikki-tikki tingled all over with rage and hatred at this, and then Nag’s head came through the sluice, and his five feet of cold body followed it. Angry as he was, Rikki-tikki was very frightened as he saw the size of the big cobra. Nag coiled himself up, raised his head, and looked into the bathroom in the dark, and Rikki could see his eyes glitter.

“Now, if I kill him here, Nagaina will know; and if I fight him on the open floor, the odds are in his favor. What am I to do?” said Rikki-tikki-tavi.

 

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