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2016-10-11 10:42:29|  分类: 译著 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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【英】鲁迪亚德·吉卜林 著

熊良銋 译



































The King’s AnkusIV

Written by Rudyard Kipling

Translated by William Xiong


Bagheera leaped back to the original trail, leaving Mowgli stooping above the curious narrow track of the wild little man of the woods.

“Now,” said Bagheera, moving step by step along the chain of footprints, “I, Big Foot, turn aside here. Now I hide me behind a rock and stand still, not daring to shift my feet. Cry thy trail, Little Brother.”

“Now, I, Little Foot, come to the rock,” said Mowgli, running up his trail. “Now, I sit down under the rock, leaning upon my right hand, and resting my bow between my toes. I wait long, for the mark of my feet is deep here.”

“I also,” said Bagheera, hidden behind the rock. “I wait, resting the end of the thorn-pointed thing upon a stone. It slips, for here is a scratch upon the stone. Cry thy trail, Little Brother.”

“One, two twigs and a big branch are broken here,” said Mowgli, in an undertone. “Now, how shall I cry THAT? Ah! It is plain now. I, Little Foot, go away making noises and tramplings so that Big Foot may hear me.” He moved away from the rock pace by pace among the trees, his voice rising in the distance as he approached a little cascade. “I— go, far— away — to — where — the — noise — of — falling-water — covers — my — noise; and — here — I— wait. Cry thy trail, Bagheera, Big Foot!”

The panther had been casting in every direction to see how Big Foot’s trail led away from behind the rock. Then he gave tongue:

“I come from behind the rock upon my knees, dragging the thorn-pointed thing. Seeing no one, I run. I, Big Foot, run swiftly. The trail is clear. Let each follow his own. I run!”

Bagheera swept on along the clearly-marked trail, and Mowgli followed the steps of the Gond. For some time there was silence in the Jungle.

“Where art thou, Little Foot?” cried Bagheera. Mowgli’s voice answered him not fifty yards to the right.

“Um!” said the Panther, with a deep cough. “The two run side by side, drawing nearer!”

They raced on another half-mile, always keeping about the same distance, till Mowgli, whose head was not so close to the ground as Bagheera’s, cried: “They have met. Good hunting — look! Here stood Little Foot, with his knee on a rock —and yonder is Big Foot indeed!”

Not ten yards in front of them, stretched across a pile of broken rocks, lay the body of a villager of the district, a long, small-feathered Gond arrow through his back and breast.

“Was the Thuu so old and so mad, Little Brother?” said Bagheera gently. “Here is one death, at least.”

“Follow on. But where is the drinker of elephant’s blood — the red-eyed thorn?”

“Little Foot has it — perhaps. It is single-foot again now.”

The single trail of a light man who had been running quickly and bearing a burden on his left shoulder held on round a long, low spur of dried grass, where each footfall seemed, to the sharp eyes of the trackers, marked in hot iron.

Neither spoke till the trail ran up to the ashes of a camp-fire hidden in a ravine.

“Again!” said Bagheera, checking as though he had been turned into stone.

The body of a little wizened Gond lay with its feet in the ashes, and Bagheera looked inquiringly at Mowgli.

“That was done with a bamboo,” said the boy, after one glance. “I have used such a thing among the buffaloes when I served in the Man–Pack. The Father of Cobras — I am sorrowful that I made a jest of him — knew the breed well, as I might have known. Said I not that men kill for idleness?”

“Indeed, they killed for the sake of the red and blue stones,” Bagheera answered. “Remember, I was in the King’s cages at Oodeypore.”

“One, two, three, four tracks,” said Mowgli, stooping over the ashes. “Four tracks of men with shod feet. They do not go so quickly as Gonds. Now, what evil had the little woodman done to them? See, they talked together, all five, standing up, before they killed him. Bagheera, let us go back. My stomach is heavy in me, and yet it heaves up and down like an oriole’s nest at the end of a branch.”

“It is not good hunting to leave game afoot. Follow!” said the panther. “Those eight shod feet have not gone far.”

No more was said for fully an hour, as they worked up the broad trail of the four men with shod feet.

It was clear, hot daylight now, and Bagheera said, “I smell smoke.”

Men are always more ready to eat than to run, Mowgli answered, trotting in and out between the low scrub bushes of the new Jungle they were exploring. Bagheera, a little to his left, made an indescribable noise in his throat.

“Here is one that has done with feeding,” said he. A tumbled bundle of gay-coloured clothes lay under a bush, and round it was some spilt flour.

“That was done by the bamboo again,” said Mowgli. “See! that white dust is what men eat. They have taken the kill from this one — he carried their food — and given him for a kill to Chil, the Kite.”

“It is the third,” said Bagheera.

“I will go with new, big frogs to the Father of Cobras, and feed him fat,” said Mowgli to himself. “The drinker of elephant’s blood is Death himself — but still I do not understand!”

“Follow!” said Bagheera.

They had not gone half a mile farther when they heard Ko, the Crow, singing the death-song in the top of a tamarisk under whose shade three men were lying. A half-dead fire smoked in the centre of the circle, under an iron plate which held a blackened and burned cake of unleavened bread. Close to the fire, and blazing in the sunshine, lay the ruby-and-turquoise ankus.

“The thing works quickly; all ends here,” said Bagheera. “How did THESE die, Mowgli? There is no mark on any.”

A Jungle-dweller gets to learn by experience as much as many doctors know of poisonous plants and berries. Mowgli sniffed the smoke that came up from the fire, broke off a morsel of the blackened bread, tasted it, and spat it out again.

“Apple of Death,” he coughed. “The first must have made it ready in the food for THESE, who killed him, having first killed the Gond.”

“Good hunting, indeed! The kills follow close,” said Bagheera.

“Apple of Death” is what the Jungle call thorn-apple or dhatura, the readiest poison in all India.

“What now?” said the panther. “Must thou and I kill each other for yonder red-eyed slayer?”

“Can it speak?” said Mowgli in a whisper. “Did I do it a wrong when I threw it away? Between us two it can do no wrong, for we do not desire what men desire. If it be left here, it will assuredly continue to kill men one after another as fast as nuts fall in a high wind. I have no love to men, but even I would not have them die six in a night.”

“What matter? They are only men. They killed one another, and were well pleased,” said Bagheera. “That first little woodman hunted well.”

“They are cubs none the less; and a cub will drown himself to bite the moon’s light on the water. The fault was mine,” said Mowgli, who spoke as though he knew all about everything. “I will never again bring into the Jungle strange things — not though they be as beautiful as flowers. This”— he handled the ankus gingerly —“goes back to the Father of Cobras. But first we must sleep, and we cannot sleep near these sleepers. Also we must bury HIM, lest he run away and kill another six. Dig me a hole under that tree.”

“But, Little Brother,” said Bagheera, moving off to the spot, “I tell thee it is no fault of the blood-drinker. The trouble is with the men.”

“All one,” said Mowgli. “Dig the hole deep. When we wake I will take him up and carry him back.”




Two nights later, as the White Cobra sat mourning in the darkness of the vault, ashamed, and robbed, and alone, the turquoise ankus whirled through the hole in the wall, and clashed on the floor of golden coins.

“Father of Cobras,” said Mowgli (he was careful to keep the other side of the wall), “get thee a young and ripe one of thine own people to help thee guard the King’s Treasure, so that no man may come away alive any more.”

“Ah-ha! It returns, then. I said the thing was Death. How comes it that thou art still alive?” the old Cobra mumbled, twining lovingly round the ankus-haft.

“By the Bull that bought me, I do not know! That thing has killed six times in a night. Let him go out no more.”


The Song of the Little Hunter


Ere Mor the Peacock flutters, ere the Monkey People cry,

Ere Chil the Kite swoops down a furlong sheer,

Through the Jungle very softly flits a shadow and a sigh

He is Fear, O Little Hunter, he is Fear!

Very softly down the glade runs a warning, watching shade,

And the whisper spreads and widens far and near;

And the sweat is on the brow, for the passes even now

     He is Fear, O Little Hunter, he is Fear!


Ere the moon has climbed the mountain,  the rocks are ribbed with light,

When the downward dippling trails are dank and dreer,

Comes a breathing hard behind theesnuffle-snuffle through the night

It is Fear, O Little Hunter, it is Fear!

On thy knees and draw the brow;  bid the shrilling arrows go;

In the empty, mocking thicket plunge the spear;

But thy hands are loosed and weak, and the blood has left thy cheek

It is Fear, O Little Hunter, it is Fear!


When the heat-cloud sucks the tempest, when the slivered pine-trees fall,

When the blinding, blaring rain-squalls lash and veer;

Through the war-gongs of the thinder rings a voice more loud and call——

It is Fear, O Little Hunter, it is Fear!

Now spates are banked and deep; now the footless boulders leap

Now the lightning shows each littlest leaf-rib clear

But thy throat is shut and dried, and thy heart against thy side hanmmers:

This is Fear, O Little Hunter,thist is Fear!


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