英语短篇小说 | A Day’s Wait 一整天的等待 欧内斯特·海明威

欧内思特·海明威(Ernest Hemingway,1899-1961),美国著名小说家。他的早期长篇小说《太阳照样升起》(The Sun Also Rises)(1926)、《永别了,武器》(A Farewell to Arms)(1927)成为表现美国“迷惘的一代”的主要代表作。他的代表作《老人与海》(The Old Man and the Sea)获1954年的诺贝尔文学奖。

He came into the room to shut the window while we were still in bed and I saw he looked ill. He was shivering. His face was white and he walked slowly as though it ached to move.

“What's the matter, Schatz?”
“I've got a headache.”
“You better go back to bed.”
“No. I'm all right.”
“You go to bed. I'll see you when I'm dressed.”

But when I came downstairs he was dressed, sitting by the fire looking a very sick and miserable boy of nine years. When I put my hand on his forehead I knew he had a fever.

“You go up to bed,” I said,“you're sick.”
“I'm all right,” he said.
When the doctor came he took the boy's temperature.
“What is it?” I asked him.
“One hundred and two.”

Downstairs, the doctor left three different medicines in different colored capsules2 with instructions for giving them. One was to bring down the fever, another purgative3, the third to overcome an acid condition. The germs of influenza4 can only exist in an acid condition, he explained. He seemed to know all about influenza and said there was nothing to worry about if the fever did not go above one hundred and four degree. This was a light epidemic5 of flu and there was no danger if you avoided pneumonia6.
Back in the room I wrote the boy's temperature down and made a note of the time to give the various capsules.

“Do you want me to read to you?”
“All right. If you want to,”said the boy. His face was very white and there ware dark areas under his eyes. He lay still in the bed and seemed very detached7 from what was going on.

I read aloud from Howard Pyle's Book of Pirates; but I could see he was not following what I was reading.

“How do you feel, Schatz?” I asked him.
“Just the same, so far,”he said.

I sat at the foot of the bed and read to myself while I waited for it to be time to give another capsule. It would have been natural for him to go to sleep, but when I looked up he was looking at the foot of the bed, looking very strangely.

“Why don't you try to sleep? I'll wake you up for the medicine.”
“I'd rather stay awake.”
After a while he said to me, “You don't have to stay in here with me, Papa, if it bothers you.”
“It doesn't bother me.”
“No, I mean you don't have to stay if it's going to bother you.”

I thought perhaps he was a little lightheaded, and after giving him the prescribed capsules at eleven o' clock I went out for a while.

It was a bright, cold day, the ground covered with a sleet8 that had frozen so that it seemed as if all the bare trees, the bushes, the cut brush and all the grass and the bare ground had been varnished9 with ice. I took the young Irish setter for a little walk up the road and along a frozen creek, but it was difficult to stand or walk on the glassy surface and the red dog slipped and slithered and I fell twice, hard, once dropping my gun and having it slide away over the ice.

We flushed10 a covey11 of quail12 under a high clay bank with overhanging brush and killed two as they went out of sight over the top of the bank. Some of the covey lit in trees, but most of them scattered into brush piles and it was necessary to jump on the ice-coated mounds of brush several times before they would flush. Coming out while you were poised13 unsteadily on the icy, springy brush they made difficult shooting and I killed two, missed five, and started back pleased to have found a covey close to the house and happy there were so many left to find another day.
At the house, they said the boy had refused to let anyone come into the room.

“You can't come in,” he said. “You mustn't get what I have.”

I went up to him and found him in exactly the position I had left him, white-faced, but with the tops of his cheeks flushed by the fever, staring still, as he had stared, at the foot of the bed.

I took his temperature.

“What is it?”
“Something like a hundred,” I said. It was one hundred and two and four tenths.
“It was a hundred and two,”he said.
“Who said so?”
“The doctor.”
“Your temperature is all right,” I said. “It's nothing to worry about.”
“I don't worry,” he said, “but I can't keep from thinking.”
“Don't think,” I said. “Just take it easy.”
“I'm taking it easy,” he said and looked straightly ahead. He was evidently holding tight onto himself about something.
“Take this with water.”
“Do you think it will do any good?”
“Of course will.”

I sat down and opened the Pirate book and commenced to read but I could see he was not following, so I stopped.

“About what time do you think I'm going to die?” he asked.
“What?”
“About how long will it be before I die?”
“You aren't going to die. What's the matter with you?”
“Oh, yes, I am. I heard him say a hundred and two.”
“People don't die with a fever of one hundred and two. That's a silly way to talk.”
“I know they do. At school in France, the boys told me you can't live with forty-four degrees. I've got a hundred and two.”

He had been waiting to die all day, ever since nine o'clock in the morning.

“You poor Schatz,” I said. “It's like miles and kilometers. You know, like how many kilometers we make when we do seventy miles in the car?”
“Oh,”he said.

But his gaze14 at the foot of the bed relaxed slowly. The hold over himself relaxed too, finally, and the next day it was very slack15  and he cried very easily at little things that were of no importance.

他走进我们房间关窗户的时候,我们还没起床。我见他一幅病容,全身哆嗦,脸色苍白,步履艰难,好像每迈一步都会引起疼痛。

“怎么啦,宝贝?”
“我头痛。”
“你最好再回床上去躺一会儿。”
“不,我没事儿。”
“你先去躺一会儿,我穿好衣服就去看你。”
可是当我下楼时,他已经穿好了衣服,坐在炉边。他才9岁啊,看上去病得很厉害,一幅招人可怜的样子。我用手摸摸他的额头,知道他发烧了。
“你到楼上去躺着,”我说,“你病了。”
“我没病,”他说。
医生来后,量了孩子的体温。
“多少度?”我问医生。
“102度。”

下楼后,医生留下三种药,胶囊的颜色各不相同,并下了医嘱。第一种是退烧药,另一种是泻药,第三种能解酸。他解释说,流感细菌只生存于酸性环境中。他好像对流感很有研究,还说,不烧到104度就不用担心。这是轻度流感,只要不引起肺炎没有什么危险。
我回到房里记下了孩子的体温,还记下了各种药物的服用时间。

“要不要给你念点什么听啊?”
“好吧,你要是想念就念吧,”孩子说。他的脸色十分苍白,眼窝下方有黑晕。躺在床上一动也不动,看上去对身边发生的一切都没有兴致。
我给他念霍华德·派尔的《海盗故事》,但看得出他并没有听。
“你感觉怎么样,宝贝?”我问他。
“到目前为止,还是老样子。”他说。
我坐在床脚。干脆自顾自地读了起来,我得等时间一到再给他服另一种药。按理说,他该睡过去了。但是,当我抬起头时,却看到他两眼盯着床脚,神情异常。
“你为什么不睡一会儿呢?到吃药的时候我会叫醒你的。”
“我宁愿醒着。”
过了一会,他对我说:“你不必在这里陪我,爸爸,要是这事让你烦恼的话。”
“没什么可烦恼的。”
“不,我是说要是这事将会给你带来烦恼的话,你就不必在这里陪我。”

我想,他大概有些神志不清了。我按规定十一点时给他服了药。随后,便出去了一会儿。
那天天气很晴朗,也很寒冷,地面上覆盖的一层冻雨已经结成了冰。那光秃秃的落叶树木,那灌木丛,还有砍下的树枝,以及所有的草坪和空地都像涂了一层冰。我带着那条幼小的爱尔兰猎犬出去逛逛。我们走上公路,又沿着一条冰封的小溪往前走。但在那玻璃般光滑的冰面上,无论是站立还是行走,都很困难。红毛狗一路上连哧溜带滑,我自己也重重地摔倒了两次,其中一次连猎枪也摔掉了,在冰上滑出去老远。

高高的土堤上长着倒垂下来的灌木丛,我们从灌木丛下面哄起一群鹌鹑。就在它们快要越过堤岸飞离视野时我击落了两只。有几只鹌鹑落在了树上,但大部分飞散了,钻进了灌木丛。它们得在裹了一层冰的树冠上跳上几跳,才能起飞。你在这些又滑又颤的树丛上摇摇晃晃尚未立稳,它们却飞了出来,使你很难瞄准。但我还是击落了两只,另有五只没有击中。动身返回时,我心情很愉快,因为在离家不远的地方又发现了一群鹌鹑,猎获了两只,还剩下许多,改日可再来猎取。

回到家里听说孩子不让任何人进他的房间。

“你们不能进来,”他说,“你们绝不能染上我这种病。”

我来到他身边,发现他还像我离开时那样躺着,脸色苍白,但脸颊上烧出了两朵红晕,眼睛依然一动不动地盯着床脚。

我给他量了体温。

“多少度?”
“大约100度,”我说。实际上是102.4度。
“原先是102度,”他说。
“谁说的?”
“医生。”
“你的体温没啥问题,”我说,“根本不用担心。”
“我倒不担心,”他说,“可我就是不能不想。”
“不要想了,”我说。“放心好了。”
“我倒没有什么不放心的,”他说着,眼睛直盯着前方。显然,他有什么心事,但却极力克制着不说。
“把这个用水吞下去。”
“你觉得有用吗?”
“当然有用。”

我坐下来,又打开了《海盗故事》,开始念给他听。但看得出他没有听,于是,我就不念了。

“你认为我会什么时候死呢?”他问道。
“你说什么?”
“你看我还能活多久?”
“你不会死的。你怎么啦?”
“哦,我会死的。我听见他说102度了。”
“人烧到102度是不会死的。你这是在说傻话呢。”
“会的。在法国上学的时候,我就听说,烧到44度就不能活了。我已经到102度了。”
原来从上午9点钟起,他一整天都在等死啊。
“我可怜的宝贝,”我说,“这就像英里和公里的区别一样。知道吗?就像我们开车开了70英里能折合成多少公里一样。”
“噢,”他恍然大悟。

他那凝视床脚的目光渐渐放松了,心里的紧张状态也终于缓解了,第二天,他一点儿也打不起精神来,这还不说,为了一点点小事他还动不动就哭鼻子。

wechat-qrcode