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人生珍品           ★★★

人生珍品

作者:佚名 文章来源:互聯網 點擊數: 更新时间:2012-7-5 10:26:51

 

下載華洋英語翻譯工具條2007:

 


My Irreplaceable Treasure

 

Recently I gave a dinner party for some close friends. To add a touch of elegance to the evening, I brought out the good stuff--my white Royal Crown Derby china with the fine blue-and-gold border. When we were seated, one of the guests noticed the beat-up gravy boat I'd placed among the newer, better dinnerware. "Is it an heirloom?" she asked tactfully.

 

I admit the piece does look rather conspicuous. For one thing, it matches nothing else. It's also old and chipped. But that little gravy boat is much more than an heirloom to me. It is the one thing in this world I will never part with.

 

The story begins more than 50 years ago, when I was seven years old and we lived in a big house along the Ohio River in New Richmond, Ohio. All that separated the house from the river was the street and our wide front lawn. In anticipation of high water, the ground floor had been built seven feet above grade.

 

Late in December the heavy rains came, and the river climbed to the tops of its banks. When the water began to rise in a serious way, my parents made plans in case the river should invade our house. My mother decided she would pack our books and her fine china in a small den off the master bedroom.

 

The china was not nearly as good as it was old. Each piece had a gold rim and a band of roses. But the service had been her mother's and was precious to her. As she packed the china with great care, she said to me, "You must treasure the things that people you love have cherished. It keeps you in touch with them."

 

I didn't understand, since I'd never owned anything I cared all that much about. Still, planning for disaster held considerable fascination for me.

 

The plan was to move upstairs if the river reached the seventh of the steps that led to the front porch. We would keep a rowboat downstairs so we could get from room to room. The one thing we would not do was leave the house. My father, the town's only doctor, had to be where sick people could find him.

 

I checked on the river's rise several times a day and lived in a state of hopeful alarm that the water would climb all the way up to the house. It did not disappoint. The muddy water rose higher until, at last, the critical seventh step was reached.

We worked for days carrying things upstairs, until, late one afternoon, the water edged over the threshold and rushed into the house. I watched, amazed at how rapidly it rose.

 

After the water got about a foot deep inside the house, it was hard to sleep at night. The sound of the river moving about downstairs was frightening. Debris had broken windows, so every once in a while some floating battering ram--a log or perhaps a table--would bang into the walls and make a sound like a distant drum.

 

Every day I sat on the landing and watched the river rise. Mother cooked simple meals in a spare bedroom she had turned into a makeshift kitchen. She was worried, I could tell, about what would happen to us. Father came and went in a small fishing boat. He was concerned about his patients and possible outbreaks of dysentery, pneumonia or typhoid.

 

Before long, the Red Cross began to pitch tents on high ground north of town. "We are staying right here," my father said.

 

As the water continued to rise, I kept busy rowing through the house and looking at the furniture that had been too big to move upstairs. I liked to row around the great cozy couch, now almost submerged, and pretend it was an island in a lake.

 

One night very late I was awakened by a tearing noise, like timbers creaking. Then there was the rumbling sound of heavy things falling. I jumped out of bed and ran into the hallway. My parents were standing in the doorway to the den, where we had stored the books and my mother's beloved china.

 

The floor of the den had fallen through, and all the treasures we had tried to save were now on the first floor, under the stealthily rising river. My father lit our camp light, and we went to the landing to look. We could see nothing except the books bobbing like little rafts on the water.

 

Mother had been courageous, it seemed to me, through the ordeal of the flood. She was steady and calm, and kept things going in good order. But that night she sat on the top of the stairs with her head on her crossed arms and cried. I had never seen her like that, and there was a sound in her weeping that made me afraid. I wanted to help her, but I couldn't think of what I could possibly do. I just knew I had to figure out something.

 

The next morning, after breakfast, I did a geography lesson and then Mother said I could go downstairs and play in the boat. I rowed once around the down-stairs, avoiding the mess of timbers in the hall where the terrible accident had occurred. The books had begun to sink. I stared down into the dark water and could see nothing. It was right then that I got the idea.

 

I made a hook from a wire coathanger and carefully fastened it to a weighted line. Then I let it sink and began to drag it slowly back and forth. I spent the next hour or so moving the boat and dragging my line--hoping to find pieces of my mother's lost treasure. But time after time the line came up empty.

 

As the water rose day after day, I continued trying to recover some remnant of my mother's broken china. Soon, however, the water inside had risen to the stairway landing. On the day water covered the gutters outside, my father decided we would have to seek shelter in the tents on the hill. A powerboat was to pick us up that afternoon. We would leave by the porch roof.

 

I spent the morning hurriedly securing things in my room. Then I got into my rowboat for the last time. I dragged my line through the water. Nothing. After some time I heard my parents calling, so I headed back toward the stairway. Just as I made the last turn, I snagged something.

 

Holding my breath, I slowly raised my catch to the surface. As the dark water drained from it, I could make out the bright roses and gold leaf design. It seemed dazzling to me. I had found the gravy boat from my mother's china service. My line had caught on a small chip in the lip.

 

My father called down to me again. "This is serious business," he said. "Let's go." So I stowed the treasure in my jacket and rowed as fast as I could to the stair landing.

 

The powerboat picked us up and headed to higher ground. It began to rain, and for the first time I was really afraid. The water might rise forever, might cover the whole valley, the trees, even the hills.

 

By the time we were settled in a Red Cross tent, we were worn out. Father had gone off to care for sick people, and Mother sat on my cot with her arm around my shoulder. She smiled at me, if you can call it that. Then I reached under my pillow and took out the gravy boat.

 

She looked at it, then at me. Then she took it in her hands and held it for a long time. She was very quiet, just sitting, gazing at the gravy boat. She seemed both close to me and also very far away, as though she was remembering. I don't know what she was thinking, but she pulled me into her arms and held me tight.

 

We lived in the tent for weeks, cold and often hungry. As the flood crested, an oil slick caught fire and burned our house down to the waterline. We never went back. Instead, we moved to a house near Cincinnati, far from the river.

 

By Easter we were settled in, and we celebrated that special Sunday with a feast. While Dad carved the lamb, Mother went into the kitchen and returned with the gravy boat. She held my gift for a moment as though it was something unspeakably precious. Then, smiling at me, she placed it gently on the table. I said to myself right then that nothing would ever happen to that gravy boat as long as I lived.

 

And nothing ever has. Now I use the gravy boat just as she had, taking it carefully from the shelf and filling it just as she did with dark, rich turkey gravy for family dinners and other special occasions. When guests ask about the curious old dish, I sometimes tell the story of how I fished it from the river in our house.

 

But beyond the events of the flood, the gravy boat is a treasure that connects me to the people and the places of my past. Mother tried to explain, and now I understand. It is not the object so much as the connection that I cherish. That little porcelain boat, chipped and worn with age, keeps me in touch--just as she said it would--with her life, her joy and her love.

最近我舉辦了一次晚宴,招待幾位親密的朋友。爲了給那個晚上增添一點優雅的情趣,我擺出了一件奇珍異寶----繪有精美藍邊和金邊的白色王冠德比牌的瓷器。大夥兒就座後,其中一位客人注意到了這只殘破的船形肉鹵盤----我已把它放在了滿桌新穎而別致的餐具當中。“這是一件傳家寶麽?”她機敏地問道。

 

我承認這只盤子看起來確實惹人注目。首先,它跟其他任何東西都不相匹配;再者,它古老而且傷痕累累。但對我而言,這只小小的船形肉鹵盤絕不只是一件傳家之寶。它是這個世界上我一生都不會放棄的珍愛之物。

 

故事發生在50多年前,當時我才七歲,我們家住在俄亥俄州新裏士滿俄亥俄河邊的一幢大房子裏。房子跟河水只隔著一條街道和房前寬闊的草坪。考慮到河水有上漲的可能,房子一樓的地板安裝得比地面高出七英尺

 

12月下旬下起了大暴雨,河水漲到河沿上。河水剛開始猛漲時,我爸媽就作出了各種應急方案,以防河水淹進我們的房子。媽媽決定將我們所有的書籍以及她的精美瓷器搬出大臥室,放在樓上的小書齋裏。

 

這些瓷器絲毫也顯不出年代久遠的痕迹。每一件都繪有金邊和玫瑰花束。這套餐具是我外婆遺留下來的,對我媽來說十分珍貴。她一邊小心翼翼地把它們包好,一邊對我說:“你必須珍惜這些你所愛的人曾經珍惜過的東西。這可以保持你同他們的聯系。”

 

我當時並不懂得她的意思,因爲我從未擁有過什麽能令我如此珍愛的器皿。不過,爲了防備遭受災難而出謀劃策使我興趣盎然。

 

家裏的計劃是,如果河水上漲到通向前廊的第七級台階,我們就搬到樓上去。我們將在樓下系一條劃艇,以便能夠從一個房間劃到另一個房間。我們就是不願意離開自己的家園。我爸爸是鎮上唯一的一名大夫,他得守在病人能找到他的地方。

 

我每天查看幾次河水上漲的情況,並驚恐地預料河水會一直漫進屋裏。果然不出所料,渾濁的河水竟不斷地高漲,終于淹到了至關重要的第七級台階。

 

連著幾天,我們忙于把東西搬到樓上,有一天一直忙到下午五六點鍾,河水徐徐地漫過門檻,沖進屋裏。我監視著,發現河水上漲的速度快得令人驚訝。

 

當屋裏的積水深達一英尺時,晚上就很難睡個安穩覺了。河水在樓下撞擊的聲音叫人驚恐萬分。隨水沖進來的碎石片擊碎了窗戶玻璃,偶爾,飄浮在水上的撞擊物——一根圓木,也有可能是一張桌子----會猛烈地撞到牆上,發出的聲音像是遠方傳來的鼓聲。

 

每天我都坐在樓梯平台上,看著河水上漲。媽媽把樓上一間空余的臥室臨時當作廚房,做一些簡單的飯菜。我看得出來,她對我們將要面臨的困境深感憂慮。爸爸坐在一條小漁船上來來去去。他擔心的是他的病人以及可能突然蔓延開來的痢疾、肺炎和傷寒等諸多疾病。

 

不久,紅十字會開始在小鎮北面的高地上架設帳篷。“我們就呆在家裏,”爸爸說。

 

河水繼續上漲,我不停地劃著船,在屋裏來回穿梭,看一看那些沒法搬上樓去的大件家具。我喜歡劃到那張舒適的長沙發椅的四周轉悠,如今它差不多浸在了水下,我把它設想成一座湖心島。

 

一天深夜,我被一陣猛烈撕扯的聲音驚醒,好像是木頭在吱吱嘎嘎地斷裂。然後傳來重物坍塌時的隆隆聲。我跳下床,沖進過道。爸媽正站在小書齋的門口,小書齋裏存放著全家人的書籍和媽媽珍愛的那套瓷器。

 

小書齋的地板已經塌陷下去,我們一直沒法保全的珍貴瓷器如今都落到樓下的地板上了,淹沒在不停暗漲的河水裏。爸爸點亮露營用的燈,我們借著燈光到樓梯平台上察看。除了書籍像小木筏一樣飄浮在水面上,什麽也看不見。

 

在我看來,媽媽一直勇敢地經受著這場洪水的嚴峻考驗。她從容、鎮靜,把每一件事情都安排得有條不紊。可是那個晚上,她坐在樓梯口上抱頭痛哭。我以前從未見過她這般傷心,她的哭聲讓我感到有些害怕。我想幫她,卻又不知所措。我只知道我必須把什麽事情弄清楚。

 

第二天上午吃過早餐,我做完地理功課,媽媽說我可以下樓到船上去玩了。我在樓下劃了一圈,繞開門廳頭天晚上掉下來的亂七八糟的木料。水面上的書籍已經開始下沈。我盯著黑漆漆的水往下瞧,什麽也看不見,就在這個時候我計上心來。

 

我用金屬衣架做了一個鈎子,小心翼翼地把它系到一根加重的繩子上。接著我將它沈入水中,開始緩慢地來回拖動。我花了大約一個小時,劃船,拖繩----希望能夠找到媽媽失去的那套珍貴的瓷器。但一次又一次,繩子拉上來,空無一物。

 

河水日複一日地漲個不停,我繼續嘗試著去找回媽媽的哪怕是一些已經破損的瓷器的殘片。可是不多時,樓下的河水已漲到了樓梯平台上。河水淹上房外檐槽的那一天,爸爸決定,我們必須到山上的帳篷裏尋求庇護了。當天下午有一艘汽艇來接我們,我們將從前廊的屋頂上撤離。

 

我上午匆匆忙忙地將我房間裏的東西捆牢。然後我跳上劃艇准備作最後一次努力。我把繩子拖過水面。什麽也沒有。過了一會兒,聽到爸媽在叫,我只好朝著樓梯的方向往回劃。就在我轉最後一個彎時,我鈎住了什麽東西。

 

我屏住呼吸,慢慢地將打撈到的物品拉上水面。它剛一浮出黑色的河水,我就辨認出鮮亮的玫瑰以及金色的花瓣圖案。我感到一陣暈眩。我竟然找到了媽媽那套瓷器中的這只船形肉鹵盤。我的繩子剛好挂住了這只瓷盤邊上的一個小缺口。

 

爸爸又在朝下喊我。“這可不是鬧著玩的,”他說。“咱們快走。”我便把這件寶物藏在上衣裏,盡快地朝樓梯平台劃過去。

汽艇帶上我們往高地方向駛去。天又開始下雨,我第一次真正感到了害怕。河水也許會漲個沒完,淹沒整個山谷、樹林甚至山丘。

 

我們在紅十字會的帳篷裏安頓下來,全都精疲力竭。爸爸照看病人去了;媽媽坐在我的帆布床上,摟著我的肩頭。她對著我微笑——如果那能稱爲微笑的話。這當兒,我把手伸到枕頭下面,拿出了那只船形肉鹵盤。

 

她先看了看盤子,然後看著我。接著她把盤子拿過去握了很久。她十分平靜,就那樣坐著,凝視著這件珍品。她離我很近,卻又仿佛非常遙遠,好像陷入了某種回憶。我不知道她在想什麽,但她將我擁入懷裏,緊緊地抱著。

 

我們在帳篷裏住了幾個星期,常常忍饑耐寒。洪峰到來時,水面上的一層油膜不幸著火,把我家的房子吃水線以上部分全部燒塌。我們再也沒有回去,而是舉家遷往離河很遠的辛辛那提附近的另一幢房子。

 

複活節那天,我們住進了新家,舉行盛宴慶祝那個特別的星期日。趁爸爸在切羊肉,媽媽走進廚房拿出那只船形肉鹵盤。好一陣子,她捧著我的這份禮物,仿佛這是一件無法用言語形容的最寶貴的器皿。然後,她一邊微笑著望著我,一邊輕輕地將盤子放到餐桌上。就在那時我對自己說,只要我活著,我決不會再讓這只盤子出事。

 

的確上直沒有出事。如今我就像媽媽當年一樣使用著這只盤子,小心翼翼地從碗櫃的擱板上拿下來,在家庭晚宴上和其他特別的節日裏盛上黑色而肥美的火雞肉汁。當有客人問起這只奇特而古老的盤子時,我偶爾也會講講這個故事,告訴他們我是如何從淹入我家的河水裏撈出來的。

 

但是除了那場洪水的經曆之外,這只船形肉鹵盤還是一件將我同我過去的親人和住處緊密相聯的珍奇之物。媽媽曾努力解釋過這一點,如今我真正感悟到了。我珍惜的與其說是這件器皿本身,還不如說是通過它而建立起來的那種聯系。這只小小的船形瓷器,年深日久,傷痕累累,卻將我同媽媽的人生、媽媽的歡樂和媽媽的慈愛永遠相聯——正如她曾經說過的那樣。

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