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鸟鸣溪谷柳鸣春,万类和融释醉痕。骚客登楼临曲水,金威雅集胜兰亭。

 
 
 

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女王的仆役(三)  

2016-08-22 10:38:26|  分类: 译著 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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女王的仆役(三)

【英】鲁迪亚德·吉卜林 著

熊良銋 译

 

“当然啦,”战马说道。“并不是大家都按同一的模式造出来的,我看得很清楚,你的家族,就你的父系而论,还有许多情况没有弄明白呢。”

“你别老是提及我的家族父系,”比利气呼呼地说道,因为每一头骡子都讨厌别人提醒他的父亲是头驴。“我父亲是印度南方的大爷,而且他能把他所遇见的每一匹马拽倒,咬碎,踢烂。记住这一点,你这个褐色的大布伦比!”

布伦比的意思是没有驯化的澳大利亚野马。想想看,如果一匹拉车马把纯种赛马苏诺尔称作老滑头,她会有什么样的感受,你就可以想象到,那匹澳大利亚马的心情了。我看见了他的眼白在黑暗中闪光。

“看这里,你这进口来的马拉加蠢驴的儿子,”他咬牙切齿地说道。“我要让你明白,在母系方面,我与墨尔本杯获胜者卡宾家族有血缘关系;在我的故乡,我们可不习惯让玩射豆枪的炮兵连里那些鹦鹉嘴猪脑袋的骡子胡作非为。你们准备好了吗?”

“用后腿站起来!”比利尖声叫道。他们面对面,都用后腿站了起来,我在等着一场恶战,这时,黑暗中从右边传来了一个咯咯啰啰的声音:“孩子们,你们在那里争斗什么呀?请安静。”

那两头牲口都把前腿放了下来,厌恶地哼着鼻子,因为不管是战马还是骡子,都忍受不了大象的声音。

“那是双尾!”战马说道。“我真的受不了他。两头都有尾巴,不公平!”

“我也有这种感觉,”比利说道,一边挤到战马身边表示友好。“在某些方面我们还是很相象的。”

“我想我们是从我们的母系方面继承了这些的,”战马说道。“这不值得争吵的。嗨!双尾,你拴好了吗?”

“是的,”双尾说道,笑着把长鼻子向上一扬。“我是拴在尖木桩上过夜的。我听见了你们二位说的话了。不过别害怕。我不会走过来的。”

犍牛和骆驼用不高不低的声音说道:“害怕双尾,简直是胡说八道!”犍牛接着说道:“我们很抱歉让你听见了,不过我们说的全是实话。双尾,炮击时你为什么害怕呀?”

“这个,”双尾说道,一边用一条后腿去蹭另一条后腿,简直就象一个小孩子在背诗。“我不大清楚你们是否理解。”

“我们不理解,可我们必须拉大炮呀,”犍牛兄弟说道。

“这我知道,我还知道你们比你们自己想象的还要勇敢得多。但是这跟我不一样。前些天,我的炮兵连长把我称作厚皮草包。”

“我想,这又是一阵打仗的方式吧?”比利说道,这会儿他又打起了精神。

“你们当然不懂那种说法的意思,可是我懂。那意思是甘居中游,而这正是我的处境。我在脑子里就看得出,当炮弹炸开时,会发生什么事,可你们犍牛不能。”

“我能,”战马说道。“至少能看出一点点。我只是设法不去想它罢了。”

“我比你的见识多,还要仔细琢磨它。我知道,我还有很多方面要当心,我也知道,我要是病了,谁也不知道怎样医治好。他们所能做的就是停发我主人的工资,直到我康复了为止,而我信不过我的主人。”

“啊!”战马说道。“这是很可以说明问题的。我可以信任迪克。”

“你可以整整一个团的迪克放在我的背上,也不会使我感觉好受一点儿。我相当清楚不舒服的滋味,可不太清楚没有它这么继续活下去。”

“我们仍然不理解,”犍牛兄弟说道。

“我知道你们不理解。我不会对你们讲的。你们不知道血是什么。”

“我们知道,”犍牛兄弟说道。“血是一种红物质,可以渗透到地里去,还有腥味儿。”

那匹战马踢了一下,蹦了一下,还喷了一下鼻子。

“别说它了,”他说道。“只要一想起它,我马上就能闻到它。它使我想奔跑,即使在我背上没有迪克的时候。”

“可这儿没有血,”骆驼和犍牛兄弟说道。“你为什么这样蠢笨呀?”

“血是很讨厌的,”比利说道。“我不想奔跑,不过我也不愿意再谈论它了。”

“你们都说中那地方了!”双尾摇摆着尾巴解释道。

“当然啦。对了,我们一整夜都在这地方。”犍牛兄弟说道。

双尾跺起脚来,直跺到脚上的铁环叮当响。“哦,我真不想对你们讲了。你们没有长心眼,什么都看不见。”

“你说的不对。我们用四只眼睛看,”犍牛兄弟说道。“我们径直朝我们的前方看。”

“如果我能那样看,没有别的,就根本用不着你们了拖拽大炮了。要是我象队长那样,他有心眼,开炮前就能看清楚事态,而且全身发抖,但他知道的太多,他跑不掉了,要是我象他那样,我就能拉大炮了。然而,假如我也象大伙儿一样那么聪明,我也就决不会到这里来了。我就应该去当森林大王,象我往昔那样,半天睡大觉,想洗澡时就洗澡。我都一个月没有好好儿洗个澡了。”

“那全都挺好的,”比利说道。“但是,给一样东西取个长长的名字并不能使它更美好。”

“嘘!”战马说道。“我认为我理解了双尾的意思。”

“过一会儿你们就会理解得更好的,”双尾气愤地说道。“现在,你们给我解释一下,你们为什么不喜欢这样!”

他开始发狂地高声大嗓吼叫了起来。

“别狂吼了!”比利和战马一起说道,我能听见他们在跺脚在发颤。大象的狂吼总是挺吓人的,尤其是在黑夜里。

“我偏要!”双尾说道。“难道不能请你们解释一下那个吗?呵噜呋!噜嗒!噜呋!噜哈!”然后他突然不吼叫了,只听见黑暗中一阵轻微的呜咽声,我知道是雌狐终于找到我了。她跟我一样明白,如果这世上有一种大象最害怕的东西,那就是一种吠叫的小狗了;所以她停下来去吓唬拴在尖木桩上的双尾,围着他的大脚狂吠。双尾拖着脚步尖叫。“滚开去,小狗!”他说道。“别在我的脚脖子旁边闻闻嗅嗅的,否则我要踢死你。呵呵,好小狗,乖小狗!回家去吧,你这汪汪叫的小畜生!唉,为什么不来人把她带走呢?过会儿她要咬我的。”

“在我看来,”比利对战马说道。“我们的朋友双尾害怕的东西真多。好吧,如果是因为我在检阅场上踢遍的每一条狗,我都能饱餐一顿,那我就几乎会象双尾一样胖了。”

我吹了声口哨,那满身泥浆的雌狐向我扑来,舔我的鼻子,还讲了她在军营里四处寻找我的漫长的故事。我从来没有让她知道我懂畜语,否则,她就会自由自便处处捣乱了。于是我把外套的扣子解开,把她揣在怀里,而双尾在那儿拖沓着脚,跺着地,自个儿咕噜着。

“不可思议!太不可思议了!”他说道。“这是我的家族传统。喏,那个讨厌的小畜生到哪儿去啦?”

我听见他在用长鼻子到处摸索。

“我们大家在不同的方面似乎都受了影响,”他吹着鼻子继续说道。“嗯,我相信,我在吹喇叭吼叫时,你们几位大爷受惊啦。”

“确切地说,不是受惊,”战马说道。“不过这使我觉得,好象在该放鞍具的地方来了一窝大黄蜂。别再来这一套了。”

“我被一只小狗搞怕了,而这儿的那头骆驼被夜里的噩梦吓怕了。”

“非常幸运,我们不全都必须以同一种发生打仗,”战马说道。

“我想知道的是,”年轻的骡子说道,他有好长时间没吭声了。“我呀想知道的是,我们到底为什么非打仗不可。”

“因为我们是奉命,”战马说道,轻蔑地哼了一声。

“命令,”骡子比利说道,牙关紧咬着。

“虎刻呣嗨!(印度话:这时命令),”骆驼嘎咕着说道;双尾和犍牛兄弟重复道:“虎刻呣嗨!”

“是的,可是谁下的命令呢?”那头新来的骡子问道。

“是走在你头里的人,或是骑在你背上的人,或是牵着你鼻绳的人,或是拧住你尾巴的人,”比利、战马、骆驼和犍牛兄弟一个接一个地说道。

“可又是谁给他们下命令呀?”

“好啦,你想知道的太多啦,小伙子,”比利说道。“这个样子是要挨踢的。你应该做的就是服从你头里的那个人,千万别问这问那的。”

“他说的很正确,”双尾说道。“总是服从,这我做不到,因为我甘居中游;不过比利说得对。服从你身边那个发号施令的人,否则的话,你除了挨揍,还会阻挡了整个炮连前进的步伐。”

那两头拖炮犍牛站了起来要走。“快要天亮了,”他们说道。“我们要归队了。确实,我们只能用眼睛看,我们也不怎么聪明;不过话说回来,我们却是今晚唯一没有被吓倒的伙计。晚安,你们这些勇士们。”

 

附录:原文

 

Her Majesty’s ServantsIII

Written by Rudyard Kipling

Translated by William Xiong

 

“Of course,” said the troop horse, “everyone is not made in the same way, and I can quite see that your family, on your father’s side, would fail to understand a great many things.”

“Never you mind my family on my father’s side,” said Billy angrily, for every mule hates to be reminded that his father was a donkey. “My father was a Southern gentleman, and he could pull down and bite and kick into rags every horse he came across. Remember that, you big brown Brumby!”

Brumby means wild horse without any breeding. Imagine the feelings of Sunol if a car-horse called her a “skate,” and you can imagine how the Australian horse felt. I saw the white of his eye glitter in the dark.

“See here, you son of an imported Malaga jackass,” he said between his teeth, “I’d have you know that I’m related on my mother’s side to Carbine, winner of the Melbourne Cup, and where I come from we aren’t accustomed to being ridden over roughshod by any parrot-mouthed, pig-headed mule in a pop-gun pea-shooter battery. Are you ready?”

“On your hind legs!” squealed Billy. They both reared up facing each other, and I was expecting a furious fight, when a gurgly, rumbly voice, called out of the darkness to the right —“Children, what are you fighting about there? Be quiet.”

Both beasts dropped down with a snort of disgust, for neither horse nor mule can bear to listen to an elephant’s voice.

“It’s Two Tails!” said the troop-horse. “I can’t stand him. A tail at each end isn’t fair!”

“My feelings exactly,” said Billy, crowding into the troop-horse for company. “We’re very alike in some things.”

“I suppose we’ve inherited them from our mothers,” said the troop horse. “It’s not worth quarreling about. Hi! Two Tails, are you tied up?”

“Yes,” said Two Tails, with a laugh all up his trunk. “I’m picketed for the night. I’ve heard what you fellows have been saying. But don’t be afraid. I’m not coming over.”

The bullocks and the camel said, half aloud, “Afraid of Two Tails — what nonsense!” And the bullocks went on, “We are sorry that you heard, but it is true. Two Tails, why are you afraid of the guns when they fire?”

“Well,” said Two Tails, rubbing one hind leg against the other, exactly like a little boy saying a poem, “I don’t quite know whether you’d understand.”

“We don’t, but we have to pull the guns,” said the bullocks.

I know it, and I know you are a good deal braver than you think you are. But it’s different with me. My battery captain called me a Pachydermatous Anachronism the other day.”

“That’s another way of fighting, I suppose?” said Billy, who was recovering his spirits.

“You don’t know what that means, of course, but I do. It means betwixt and between, and that is just where I am. I can see inside my head what will happen when a shell bursts, and you bullocks can’t.”

“I can,” said the troop-horse. “At least a little bit. I try not to think about it.”

“I can see more than you, and I do think about it. I know there’s a great deal of me to take care of, and I know that nobody knows how to cure me when I’m sick. All they can do is to stop my driver’s pay till I get well, and I can’t trust my driver.”

“Ah!” said the troop horse. “That explains it. I can trust Dick.”

“You could put a whole regiment of Dicks on my back without making me feel any better. I know just enough to be uncomfortable, and not enough to go on in spite of it.”

“We do not understand,” said the bullocks.

“I know you don’t. I’m not talking to you. You don’t know what blood is.”

“We do,” said the bullocks. “It is red stuff that soaks into the ground and smells.”

The troop-horse gave a kick and a bound and a snort.

“Don’t talk of it,” he said. “I can smell it now, just thinking of it. It makes me want to run — when I haven’t Dick on my back.”

“But it is not here,” said the camel and the bullocks. “Why are you so stupid?”

“It’s vile stuff,” said Billy. “I don’t want to run, but I don’t want to talk about it.”

“There you are!” said Two Tails, waving his tail to explain.

“Surely. Yes, we have been here all night,” said the bullocks.

Two Tails stamped his foot till the iron ring on it jingled. “Oh, I’m not talking to you. You can’t see inside your heads.”

“No. We see out of our four eyes,” said the bullocks. “We see straight in front of us.”

“If I could do that and nothing else, you wouldn’t be needed to pull the big guns at all. If I was like my captain —he can see things inside his head before the firing begins, and he shakes all over, but he knows too much to run away —if I was like him I could pull the guns. But if I were as wise as all that I should never be here. I should be a king in the forest, as I used to be, sleeping half the day and bathing when I liked. I haven’t had a good bath for a month.”

“That’s all very fine,” said Billy. “But giving a thing a long name doesn’t make it any better.”

“H’sh!” said the troop horse. “I think I understand what Two Tails means.”

“You’ll understand better in a minute,” said Two Tails angrily. “Now you just explain to me why you don’t like this!”

He began trumpeting furiously at the top of his trumpet.

“Stop that!” said Billy and the troop horse together, and I could hear them stamp and shiver. An elephant’s trumpeting is always nasty, especially on a dark night.

“I shan’t stop,” said Two Tails. “Won’t you explain that, please? Hhrrmph! Rrrt! Rrrmph! Rrrhha!” Then he stopped suddenly, and I heard a little whimper in the dark, and knew that Vixen had found me at last. She knew as well as I did that if there is one thing in the world the elephant is more afraid of than another it is a little barking dog. So she stopped to bully Two Tails in his pickets, and yapped round his big feet. Two Tails shuffled and squeaked. “Go away, little dog!” he said. “Don’t snuff at my ankles, or I’ll kick at you. Good little dog — nice little doggie, then! Go home, you yelping little beast! Oh, why doesn’t someone take her away? She’ll bite me in a minute.”

“Seems to me,” said Billy to the troop horse, “that our friend Two Tails is afraid of most things. Now, if I had a full meal for every dog I’ve kicked across the parade-ground I should be as fat as Two Tails nearly.”

I whistled, and Vixen ran up to me, muddy all over, and licked my nose, and told me a long tale about hunting for me all through the camp. I never let her know that I understood beast talk, or she would have taken all sorts of liberties. So I buttoned her into the breast of my overcoat, and Two Tails shuffled and stamped and growled to himself.

“Extraordinary! Most extraordinary!” he said. “It runs in our family. Now, where has that nasty little beast gone to?”

I heard him feeling about with his trunk.

“We all seem to be affected in various ways,” he went on, blowing his nose. “Now, you gentlemen were alarmed, I believe, when I trumpeted.”

“Not alarmed, exactly,” said the troop-horse, “but it made me feel as though I had hornets where my saddle ought to be. Don’t begin again.”

“I’m frightened of a little dog, and the camel here is frightened by bad dreams in the night.”

“It is very lucky for us that we haven’t all got to fight in the same way,” said the troop-horse.

“What I want to know,” said the young mule, who had been quiet for a long time —“what I want to know is, why we have to fight at all.”

“Because we’re told to,” said the troop-horse, with a snort of contempt.

“Orders,” said Billy the mule, and his teeth snapped.

“Hukm hai!” (It is an order!), said the camel with a gurgle, and Two Tails and the bullocks repeated, “Hukm hai!”

“Yes, but who gives the orders?” said the recruit-mule.

“The man who walks at your head — Or sits on your back — Or holds the nose rope — Or twists your tail,” said Billy and the troop-horse and the camel and the bullocks one after the other.

“But who gives them the orders?”

“Now you want to know too much, young un,” said Billy, “and that is one way of getting kicked. All you have to do is to obey the man at your head and ask no questions.”

“He’s quite right,” said Two Tails. “I can’t always obey, because I’m betwixt and between. But Billy’s right. Obey the man next to you who gives the order, or you’ll stop all the battery, besides getting a thrashing.”

The gun-bullocks got up to go. “Morning is coming,” they said. “We will go back to our lines. It is true that we only see out of our eyes, and we are not very clever. But still, we are the only people to-night who have not been afraid. Good-night, you brave people.”

 

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