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George H. Brooks - A Gift of Dreams(Excerpt) 汉译

2014-07-02    来源:网络    【      美国外教 在线口语培训
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A Gift of Dreams(Excerpt)

George H. Brooks

Christmas Eve, 1944. I was a sailor in the U.S. Navy, on a one-day leave in San Francisco, I had won $300 at poker that ordinarily would have burned a hole in my pocket, but I couldn’t shake an overwhelming sadness.

Scuttlebutt had it we’d be pulling out before the New Year for the South Pacific. I’d just received word that another friend had been killed in Europe. And here I was, an 18-year-old alone in a strange city. Nothing seemed to make any kind of sense. What was I going to be fighting for, anyway?

I spent most of the day in a mental fog, wandering aimlessly through crowds of laughing, happy people. Then, late in the afternoon, my vision suddenly focused, and for the first time a scene registered.

There in a departure-store window were two electric trains chugging through a miniature, snow-covered town. In front of the window was a skinny boy around nine years old, his nose pressed against the glass. He just stood there, fixed on those trains.

Suddenly the boy was me nine short years before, and the store was Macy’s in New York City, my hometown. I could see, could feel the same longing, the same desperate hoping. I could hear the sigh of resignation—the frail attempt to hide the disappointment that Dad could not afford those trains. And I saw the reluctant turning away and then the one last look.

Not this time! I don’t know what came over me, but I grabbed the boy by the arm, scaring him half to death.

“My name is George,” I told him.

“Jeffrey Hollis Jr.,” he managed to reply.

“Well, Jeff Hollis Jr.,” I said in my best grown-up voice, “we are going to get us those trains.”

His eyes grew wide, and he let me lead him into the store. I knew it was crazy, but I didn’t care. Suddenly I wanted to be nine again and have a kid’s dream come true. The salesclerk looked at us suspiciously, a scruffy black boy and a black sailor in ill-fitting drew blues.

“Those trains in the window,” I blurted before he could speak. “The whole setup. How much is it?”

His snorting response was interrupted by the arrival of a much older man wearing a warm Christmas smile. “One hundred and sixty-five dollars and sixty-three cents,” the elder man replied, “delivery included.”

“We’ll take it,” I said. “Right now if we can.”

Jeff Hollis Sr.’s reaction reminded me of what my own father’s would have been if I had shown up with a stranger and a whole lot of gifts. I could see he was a hard-working man, breaking his back to make ends meet and knowing he couldn’t give his family all he wanted.

“I’m just a sailor a long way from home, Mr. Hollis,” I said respectfully, explaining how I had seen myself in his son’s longing gaze at the store display.

“You couldn’t have spent the money any other way?” he asked gruffly.

“No, sir,” I replied.

His face softened, and he welcomed me to share their table. After supper, I read to Jeff Jr. and his sisters until they went off to bed.

“I guess you know we’ve got a lot to do before morning,” Jeff Sr. said. His words startled me for a moment. Then I understood. I was no longer a child; I was a man now, with adult responsibilities. So I joined him at what turned out to be nearly an all-night job of getting the trains put together and set up. His wife, Marge, made sandwiches and coffee and kept me talking about growing up in New York. At midnight we paused to wish each other a Merry Christmas, then went back to the task of making a boy’s dream come true.

Dreams, I thought sleepily. Kid dreams. I guess I dozed because the next thing I knew it was five o’clock, and Jeff Jr. was shaking me. He had remembered I had to be back by eight.

For about five minutes Jeff Jr. ran his train. Then abruptly, he stopped and, without a word, left the room. He returned with the presents he had bought, a look of pride on his face. He’d had some help, but he’d made the choices himself.

I thought he was finished when he turned to me with a package in his hand. “Merry Christmas, George,” he said quietly.

I was totally surprised. The gift was a comb-and-brush set, along with a case for other toilet articles. He held out his hand, then changed his mind and hugged me warmly. The moment of parting was bittersweet, for I knew I would probably never see the Hollises again. Jeff Sr. and Marge thanked me, but I was the grateful one.

As I made my way to the station to catch a bus back to the base, I realized I had no more nagging doubts. I had found more in this experience than I had received for all the pep talks and patriotic speeches I had ever heard.

For me, it was a revelation. I knew now what this war and all the fighting was about. It was something at once wonderful and simple. This country, my country, was a place of dreams…and of dreamers who had the faith and the will to make dreams come true.


梦寐以求的礼物(节选)

乔治·H·布鲁克斯

1944年圣诞夜。当时我是美国海军士兵,到旧金山休假一天。在那以前,我玩扑克游戏,赢了300元。通常,钱烧口袋漏,一有就不留。可我当时极为忧愁烦闷,怎么也无法摆脱那种恶劣的心境。

据传闻,部队在新前要开赴南太平洋。而且刚刚听说又有一位朋友在欧洲阵亡。我年仅18,如今在一个陌生的城市里,单身无靠。干什么都没有意思。我究竟为什么打打仗来着?

我精神迷惘,在欢笑的人群毫无目的地逛荡,消磨了差不多一整天。后来,在黄昏的时候,视线突然集中,第一次有一个情景引起了我的注意。

在一家百货商店的橱窗里,有两列电动火车正在一座白雪覆盖的微型城市里喀嚓喀嚓地行驶。在橱窗前,一个约莫九岁光景的瘦小男孩,鼻子紧贴着玻璃,一动不动地站在那里,目不转睛地注视着那两列火车。

那男孩忽地成了短短的九年前的我,那商店成了我的家乡纽约市的梅西商店。我看得见,也感觉得到那同样的渴望和急切的期待。我听得见那无可奈何的叹息——爸爸买不起那种火车只好这么强憋住失望的心情。那恋恋不舍地转身起开,最后又看上一眼,恍如就在眼前。

不能再这样了!我至今都弄不明白当时中的什么邪,反正我一把抓住男孩的胳臂,把他吓得半死。

“我叫乔治。”我告诉他。

“我叫小杰弗里·霍利斯,”我尽量说得像大人,“咱们去把那火车买下来。”

他睁大了眼睛,随我进了商店。我知道这真荒唐,可我不管。我忽然想再回到九岁,实现孩时梦想。售货员心怀疑虑地望着我们:一个是衣衫褴褛的黑孩子,一个是黑人水兵,穿着一套不合身的海军制服。

“橱窗里那套火车,”不等售货员说话我就脱口而出,“要整套。多少钱?”

他刚露出一副不屑答理的模样,过来一位年纪大得多的人,满脸喜气洋洋的过节神情。“165元6角3分,”他回答,“包送到家。”

“我们要了,”我说,“可以现买现送吧。”

……

老杰弗·霍利斯的反应使我想起我的父亲,要是我当初也领着一个陌生人,抱着一大堆礼物回来,他会怎么样呢?我看得出这人很勤劳,累死累活也只能勉强糊口,他也知道他没法尽心尽意满足这一大家人。

“我只是个远离家乡的水兵,霍利斯先生。”我说得很谦恭,说我见他儿子眼巴巴地盯着商店里的摆设,像是看到了我自己。

“你有钱就不能往别处花了?”他问得挺生硬。

“不能,先生。”我回答。

他脸色和气了,邀我一起吃晚饭。饭后,我给小杰弗和他的两个妹妹念故事,直到他们去睡觉。

“我想你也知道,这下我可得忙乎到天亮了。”老杰弗说。我一听吃了一惊,过了一会才明白过来。我已不再是孩子,是大人了,该尽成年人的责任了。于是,我和他一起把火车攒起来,装配好,几乎干了一个通宵。他的妻子玛吉做三明治,煮煮咖啡,一面要我讲从小怎么在纽约长大的。午夜时分,我们停下来互相祝贺圣诞,过后,又再接再厉,把一个孩子的梦想变成现实。

……

多少个梦想,我睡眼蒙眬地想。儿时的梦想。我猜想我后来打了个盹儿,因为待到清醒进来已是五点,小杰弗正忙着推我。他记得必须在八点钟以前赶回基地。

……

小杰弗玩了大约五分钟的火车。突然,他停了下来,一句话没说就离开了房间。他回来时,拿着他买好的礼物,脸上神气十足。当时店里是有人领他去的,可东西都是他自己挑的。

他手里拿着个小盒子转向我的时候,我想他准是准备好了。“圣诞快乐,乔治。”他轻声说。

我大为惊奇。他的礼物是一套梳洗用具,还一盒其他梳妆物品。他伸出手,接着又改变了主意,诚挚地拥抱了我。分别的时刻让人百感交集,因为我知道,我也许再也见不着霍利斯一家了。老杰夫和玛吉向我表达了谢意,不过该表示感激的人是我。

在赶往车站搭车返回基地的路上,我意识到我不再有那些牵肠挂肚的疑虑了。我从这次经历中觉得的,要比我从所有听过的鼓动性讲话和宣扬爱国精神的演讲中得到的更多。

这对我是个启发。我终于明白这场战争和所有这些战斗为的是什么了。它是某种既精彩又简单的东西。这个国家、我的祖国,是将人梦寐以求的国土……是一片让那些有信心和意志让梦想成真的人梦寐以求的国土。

(乔萍、瞿淑蓉、宋洪玮 编著)



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