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池塘惊魂

2006-03-01 00:00

  PRISCILLA IN THE POND

  Priscilla was always ready for the unexpected. Much of her success in love and business had come from understanding that nothing could last forever. Things happened. People died. Meanwhile, she found strength, dignity, and a private sense of advantage of knowing that nothing could wholly surprise her. Until the very day she fell into the pond, at the age of 36, she was able to say with the poet, "Safe shall be my going, secretly armed against all death's endeavor." 碧雪乐总是乐天知命,处变不惊。她在爱情与事业上的成功多半由于她懂得天下事没有那件事是可以持久的。天有不测风云,人有旦夕祸福。同时,因为她知道没有任何事会使她全然地惊慌失措,所以她朝气蓬勃胸有成竹。一直到她卅六岁了,有一天她掉到池塘里去,她都应和着诗人说:「我之大行也,必心安理得,盖死神的一切绝招,我秘密地已有防备。」

  She fell off a long footbridge near the teahouse. If the month had been June or July, the teahouse would have been occupied and all would have been well, or at least better. As it was, with the year nearly over, the teahouse was empty. The pond was covered with ice. So were the planks of the bridge, and that was why she slipped. 她在茶馆附近,自一座很长的人行桥上跌落下去。如果发生在六月或七月,茶馆里有人,一切就都会平安无事,至少她不会那么惨。事实是一年将尽,茶馆里空无一人。池塘覆盖着冰。人行桥的木板上也一样,所以她才会滑那一跤。

  It was perfectly ridiculous. Her hip struck the flimsy railing, which broke and let her through. She fell several feet and then met the ice with her shoulder and the side of her head. Fortunately, it was her shoulder that broke the ice, so that her head struck only yielding fragments in the water. 说起来真是可笑到极点。她的臀部撞到脆弱的桥栏干,栏干一断,她就摔到水池里了。摔落了好几尺,她的肩膀和头的侧面才碰上冰的。好在是肩膀先撞上结冻的池面,头部碰到的只是水中浮动的冰块。

  Half stunned, but already beginning to struggle and make swimming motions, she plunged on an angle toward the bottom. Her fur coat was confining but buoyant. By the time she got her wits about her, she had risen to the layer of ice. Unfortunately, the hole she had made in it was somewhere else. There wasn't any air. 她呈半昏迷状态,但已经开始挣扎着做滑水的动作,向水里的角度潜去。她的皮裘大衣绊手绊脚的,但鼓涨漂浮着。等她完全恢复了心智时,她已经浮升到冰层处了。不幸的是,她摔穿的那个洞口在别的地方。一点空气都没有。

  After a second or two of panic, she got control of herself. She was a good swimmer, quite at home in cold water. The pond wasn't Lake Superior. All she had to do was find the hole in the ice and get out. 经过一两秒钟的慌张之后,她镇静了下来。她很会游泳,在冰水里也颇自在。这个池塘又不是苏必烈湖。只要找到结冰层的那个洞口,出去就行了。

  Her coat was bunched maddeningly under her arms, though. Her head ached. There was a dreadful roaring in her ears-perhaps from hitting the ice, perhaps from plunging so deep, perhaps, already, for holding her breath too long. She'd have to be quick. 可是碧雪乐的大衣纠綑在她胳膊底下,简直要使她疯掉。她头痛。她耳朵里有可怕的隆隆耳鸣-也许掉到冰上时撞的,也许潜水潜得太深了,也许搞不好,是因为已经在水里闭气太久了。她得赶快。

  She took off her shoes and let them go. She fought free of her coat and pushed it away. Only then did she realize that her eyes had been shut tight since before she entered the water. 她脱下了鞋子让它们漂去。她挣脱了大衣,把它推开。这时她才知道自己从落水前就紧闭着眼睛。

  She opened them. Blue light was coming from above. She raised both hands and pushed upward against the milky ice, but succeeded only in forcing herself lower in the water. The ice did look thin, and she knew skaters mistrusted it. If only she could get her feet on something solid, she might be able to break out. She pointed her feet downward, feeling for the bottom, and felt only more water. She swam a few yards and tried again. Still no bottom. Clearly, the best chance of keeping matters from getting serious lay in searching for the hole she'd entered by. She couldn't do much without air. 她睁开眼睛,看到有蓝蓝的光自上面而来。她举起双手,用力推乳白的冰,可是结果是使自己更往下沉。水看起来是很薄,而且她也知道溜冰的人向来对池面的冰不敢大意。只要她能踩在一处结实的地上,她也许就可以弄破冰层的。她脚尖向下,搜索池塘的底,但只找到更多的水。她游了好几码后,再试了一次。仍然没有踩到底。显然的,找到她跌穿的那个洞是不使事态恶化的最上策。问题是没有空气,她很难办事。

  Treading water and keeping her eyes open, she turned slowly in a circle. She hoped there might be a brightening of the water in the direction of the hole. Instead, when she had made about half the turn, she saw something dark. Part of the bridge? If so, it probably indicated a good direction to try. 一边踩着水,一边保持眼睛张开,她缓缓地打着圈子,她希望能找到洞口方向比较亮的水,没想到,绕了大约半圈的时候,反而看到了黑区区的一样东西。是桥的一部份吗?如果是的话,那可能表示是可以一试的好地方呢?

  Using an easy breastroke, sometimes feeling the ceiling of ice against her back, she swam toward the dark thing. As she did so, it began to seem the only hope she had. Then she saw what it was. Stupid fur coat! Stupid coat of her own, from the Shangri-La Salon, looming like a walrus or and angel of death, watching her. It wasn't fair. 她用轻松的俯泳姿势,时而感觉到背部碰到水面的冰层,向着黑巴巴的东西游过去。她这样游的时候,那黑色物体竟然开始变得似乎是她仅有的希望了。然后她看清它是什么了。该死的蠢皮裘大衣!她自己那件蠢大衣,在香格里拉沙龙买的,像一头海象,像死神派来的一个使者,阴森森隐浮着看她。这太不公平了。

  The roaring in her ears increased. Her chest muscles jerked, trying to breathe. There wasn't much more time. 她的耳鸣增强。她一试图呼吸她的胸肌便抽蓄不止。时间不能多耽搁了。

  Beyond the coat was a heavier darkness-the shadow of the bridge, this time for sure. She swam toward it, now unable to suppress the alarming spasms in her chest. Soon a vertical timber came into focus, straight ahead. It was brownish green. She ran her hand up its surface, expecting the ice to stop her. Instead, her hand encountered spongy material like packed snow. She forced her fingers upward into the slush, and they went clear through, into the air above. 大衣后面有一处更浓的黑暗-这个错不了,是桥的影子。她向它游去,已经无法克制胸肌警告性的抽慉。很快地,就在正前面,清晰地出现了笔直的一根木材支柱。是绿褐色的。她用一个手顺着木材往上抚过去,心想会被池塘表面的那层冰挡住,不意竟碰到像积雪一样的海棉似的东西。她用力将手指插进那泥泞里,手指便穿越到池面的空气中。

  Using both hands, she clawed a larger hole. It was disappointingly narrow. The sun's heat had warmed the dark post, but not enough. The slot between the hard ice and the wood was too narrow for her body. If it proved too narrow for her head as well, she would die. 双手并用,她抓大了洞,失望的是洞太窄了。太阳的热能使黑色的柱子有了温度,只可惜温度不够,坚硬的冰层和木头之间的空隙不够让她爬上去。假如连头也伸不出去的话,她只有死路一条了。

  She embraced the post and forced her head upward beside it, scraping one cheek on the granular ice and the other on the wood. A moment later, her face was above water. She gasped air into herself, blew it out, and gasped more in. Dizzy with oxygen, dizzy with relief, she felt like weeping. Then she realized the relief was unwarranted. She was still in the water. The slot was like a vise holding her head in one position. She was free to escape the vise, but only downward. 她紧抱柱子,把头靠上去用力往上顶去,有一边的脸颊被融成粗粒状的冰层边缘划伤了。一会儿之后,她的脸总算伸到水面上。她吸了一大口空气,呼出来,再吸了更多的空气。氧气使她眼花潦乱,脱困使她心花怒放,她好想哭一场。然后她意识到脱不脱困尚在未定之天。她还泡在水里。冰缝像一把虎头钳把她的头按在一个固定的方位。她可以自由地摆脱虎头钳,但只能向下去。

  She shouted for help. She did it again and again. At first she yelled the word "Help" very clearly, but later not. She sounded like a dog barking, and then like a whimpering child. No one came. 她高喊救命。喊了又喊。最先她喊的那声「救命」十分的清晰宏亮,但慢慢地就不行了。她的声音像狗的吠叫,然后就像嘤嘤噎噎孩的哭泣声。没有人来。

  She heaved her shoulders against the collar of ice around the post, but failed to break it. Clutching the post, she pushed her head as high as it would go and looked out. Her eyes were barely above the upper surface of the ice. She was facing toward the teahouse. There weren't any signs of a break in the ice beside the bridge. 她抬高肩膀去顶柱子周围那一圈冰,但怎么也冲不破它。紧抓住木柱,她尽力使她的头向上伸去,好看看四周。她的眼睛好不容易才够到冰层的最表面。她面向着茶馆。桥旁边的结冰面,没有任何会破劣的迹象。

  Gritting her teeth, she lowered herself into the water far enough to be free to turn her head. Then she came up, facing in the opposite direction. She scratched both cheeks again, but this time she saw something. The splintered railing of the bridge was pointing at the ice, not twenty yards away. 轧轹着牙,她沉入水中掉了一个头,再升上水面,看看另外一个方向,她又划伤了两边的面颊,但这一次她看到了一些东西;二十码不到的前方。她撞断的桥栏干指着冰面。

  She took three big breaths and held most of the last one. Then, she lowered her head, released her grip on the post, and pushed off along the shadow of the bridge. With the bridge's underpinnings to guide her, she expected to have little trouble in locating the proper place to look for the hole in the ice. 她吸了三口气,尽量留住最后那一口,再把头低下,松开了紧抓的柱子,向桥的影子推进。有桥的这些支柱引导,她预料不会有什么困难就能游到一个恰当的地方找到她落水的那个洞口。

  She turned out to be wrong about that. Following the line of the bridge was easy enough, but accurately guessing the distance she had swum was impossible. By the time a few seconds had passed, she was terribly unsure. Ten yards to go? Five? She swam a little farther and stopped for a methodical search of the underside of the ice. She cruised in a small circle, then a larger one, without seeing anything encouraging. Soon she lost her orientation almost completely. All she could recognize was the shadow of the bridge, and its direction kept seeming to change. 岂知她的预料完全错了。沿着桥游泳是很简单,但要准确地猜测已经游了多少距离却不可能。才只不过了几秒钟她就惶惶地拿不定主意了。再游十码?五码?她向前游了一会儿便停下来,在冰层底下做了一次有条不紊的搜寻。先绕小圈子巡了一下,再扩大圈子游了一会,什么眉目也没有。不多久她几乎完全弄不清自己的方位了。唯一她认得清的是桥的影子,但桥的方向却好像一直变换个不停似的。

  She wasn't going to find the hole. The truth grew on her very slowly. As soon as she was sure, she swam to the bridge and then to the nearest vertical post. She touched it and pushed her hand upward. This time, perhaps because the color of the post wasn't very dark, there hadn't been so much softening. Hard ice came within two inches of the wood. She wasn't going to be able to get her head through. 她是找不着那个洞了。她很缓慢地理解到这个事实。这样确定以后,她便游向行人桥,来到最近的一根直立的支柱,手碰支柱往上顺去。这一次,可能是支柱的颜色不如刚才那一根暗,冰被融软的部份也就不多,离木头两寸就是坚硬的冰。她不可能把头伸出水面了。

  Slowly she lowered her hand. Here, then, would be the place. Safe shall be my going. Now would be the time. 慢慢地她把手缩回来。此其所哉!我之行也必心安理得。此其时也!

  But the prospect of failing to survive was not merely frightening, as she had expected. It was devastating. The dignity with which she had intended to face her final moments, whenever they might come, turned out to have depended entirely on the ability to draw breath. Dignity was in consistent with this straining chest, this locked throat now almost too tired to keep the water out. She perceived that her life had been not safe but smug, and that she was about to spend the last of it in mindless archings and jerkings, like a fish on a dusty bank. It wasn't to be borne. 可是不能活命的预感,岂止是她预料的可怕而已?简直是惨烈不忍睹。她原意不管最后那一刻何时来临,都要十分尊严地面对它;而今那尊严全看她回不回得了一口气,尊严随着上紧的胸腔和闭锁得眼看要让水灌进来的喉管漂忽不定。她理解到她对生命的胸有成竹只是虚张声势而已,如今生命的最后一刻就要消弭在无意识的拱背哈腰抽搐痉挛之中,像一条河岸上涸辙中的鱼。这真是匪夷所思啊!

  Her mind grew clear and crafty. Somehow a way must be found to survive after all, if only to proceed thereafter, always unsafe and unready, toward the earning of a better death. 她的心智清,脑骄薏就活动了。再怎么也得想个方法活命呀,就算以前不再那么胸有成竹自以为有万全的准备,就算以后好歹也有一死。

  Ignoring the jerking of her chest muscles and holding her breath resolutely, she pushed away from the post and swam along the bridge shadow. The bridge was long, but it had to lead to shallow water. She kept going. 顾不得胸肌的抽搐,拼全力憋住呼吸,她离桥墩那根支柱,沿着桥的影子游去。桥是很长,但总有浅水桥端。她不停地游。

  She swam for many more seconds than she'd known she could stay alive. She kept going until the bottom of the pond was within a few feet of the ice. Then she stopped, planted her feet in the mud, and heaved upward against the ice with her back. 她比自己估计能支持的时间还多游了几秒钟。她一直游到池底离冰层只几尺的地方,然后她停下来,两脚栽牢在泥里,用她的背部向上使劲地顶去。

  At first the ice held, only creaking a bit, like a heavy gate. Then it gave way with a crash-almost unbearably loud because her ears were underwater-she stood up, throwing off great slabs and shards of ice. It was like being born. 起先冰层分毫不动,只叽嘎了一下,像沉重的门扉。然后突然哗啦啦一声、破碎了-声音大得她几乎受不了,因为她的耳朵在水中。

  She stumbled to the shore and sat down against a tree. Then the cold began to penetrate, and she stood up and started for home. It wouldn't do to freeze to death now, right at the beginning. 她站起来,扔掉大大小小的冰碎片。这真是恍如隔世,再一次诞生。她一脚高一脚低走到岸上,靠着一棵树坐下来。寒意开始刺穿她,她站起身转回家。这会儿才再开始,可不能就给冻死。

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