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英语散文:浪漫路曲曲折折

2006-05-17 13:54

  Detour to Romance

  Located in the checkroom in Union Station as I am, I see everybody that comes up the stairs.

  Harry came in a little over three years ago and waited at the head of the stairs for the passengers from the 9∶05 train.

  I remember seeing Harry that first evening. He wasn't much more than a thin, anxious kid then. He was all dressed up and I knew he was meeting his girl and that they would be married twenty minutes after she arrived.

  Well, the passengers came up and I had to get busy. I didn't look toward the stairs again until nearly time for the 9∶18 and I was very surprised to see that the young fellow was still there.

  She didn't come on the 9∶18 either, nor on the 9∶40, and when the passengers from the 10∶02 had all arrived and left, Harry was looking pretty desperate. Pretty soon he came close to my window so I called out and asked him what she looked like.

  "She's small and dark," he said, "and nineteen years old and very neat in the way she walks. She has a face," he said, thinking a minute, "that has lots of spirit. I mean she can get mad but she never stays mad for long, and her eyebrows come to a little point in the middle. She's got a brown fur, but maybe she isn't wearing it."

  I couldn't remember seeing anybody like that.

  He showed me the telegram he'd received: ARRIVE THURSDAY. MEET ME STATION. LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE. MAY. It was from Omaha, Nebraska.

  "Well," I finally said, "why don't you phone to your home? She's probably called there if she got in ahead of you."

  He gave me a sick look. "I've only been in town two days. We were going to meet and then drive down South where I've got a job. She hasn't any address for me." He touched the telegram.

  When I came on duty the next day he was still there and came over as soon as he saw me.

  "Did she work anywhere?" I asked.

  He nodded. "She was a typist. I telegraphed her former boss. All they know is that she left her job to get married."

  Harry met every train for the next three or four days. Of course, the railroad lines made a routine checkup and the police looked into the case. But nobody was any real help. I could see that they all figured that May had simply played a trick on2 him. But I never believed that, somehow.

  One day, after about two weeks, Harry and I were talking and I told him about my theory. "If you'll just wait long enough," I said, "you'll see her coming up those stairs some day." He turned and looked at the stairs as though he had never seen them before.

  The next day when I came to work Harry was behind the counter of Tony's magazine stand. He looked at me rather sheepishly and said, "Well, I had to get a job somewhere, didn't I?"

  So he began to work as a clerk for Tony. We never spoke of May anymore and neither of us ever mentioned my theory. But I noticed that Harry always saw every person who came up the stairs.

  Toward the end of the year Tony was killed in some argument over gambling, and Tony's widow left Harry in complete charge of the magazine stand. And when she got married again some time later, Harry bought the stand from her. He borrowed money and installed a soda fountain and pretty soon he had a very nice little business.

  Then came yesterday. I heard a cry and a lot of things falling. The cry was from Harry and the things falling were a lot of dolls and other things which he had upset while he was jumping over the counter. He ran across and grabbed a girl not ten feet from my window. She was small and dark and her eyebrows came to a little point in the middle.

  For a while they just hung there to each other laughing and crying and saying things without meaning. She'd say a few words like, "It was the bus station I meant" and he'd kiss her speechless and tell her the many things he had done to find her. What apparently had happeded three years before was that May had come by bus, not by train, and in her telegram she meant "bus station," not "railroad station." She had waited at the bus station for days and had spent all her money trying to find Harry. Finally she got a job typing.

  "What?" said Harry. "Have you been working in town? All the time?"

  She nodded.

  "Well, Heavens. Didn't you ever come down here to the station?" He pointed across to his magazine stand. "I've been there all the time. I own it. I've watched everybody that came up the stairs."

  She began to look a little pale. Pretty soon she looked over at the stairs and said in a weak voice, "I never came up the stairs before. You see, I went out of town yesterday on a short business trip. Oh, Harry!" Then she threw her arms around his neck and really began to cry.

  After a minute she backed away and pointed very stiffly toward the north end of the station. "Harry, for three years, for three solid years, I've been right over there working right in this very station, typing, in the office of the stationmaster."

  浪漫路曲曲折折

  由于我工作的地方在联合车站的行李寄存处,我看得见每一个上楼的人。

  哈里3年多以前来到这里,站在楼梯口等待9点05分到达的火车旅客。

  我还记得那第一晚见到哈里时的情景。那时,他瘦瘦的,神情焦虑,就像个孩子似的。他穿戴整齐,我知道他是在等女朋友,而且在她到达20分钟之后他们就要结婚。

  旅客们过来了,我得忙碌起来。等到9点18分的那趟车快到的时候我才再往楼梯方向看去,我吃惊地发现那个年轻人还在那里。

  她也没乘9点18分的那趟车来,9点40分的车上也没她。等10点02分那趟车的旅客全都到达并离开后,哈里显得很失望。很快他走近我的窗口,我就招呼他,问她长得什么模样。

  “她个子小,皮肤黑,”他说,“19岁。走路的样子很利落。她的脸,”他想了一会儿,说,“很有个性。我的意思是说她会生气,但从不会生气太久。她的眉心处有一个小点儿。她有一件褐色毛皮大衣,不过可能没穿着。”

  我想不起来看见过有谁长得像那样。

  他给我看他收到的电报:星期四到。车站接我。爱爱爱爱。——梅。电报寄自内布拉斯加州的奥马哈市。

  “呃,”我最后说,“你干吗不往家里打个电话?如果她先你到达这里,她可能已给你家打过电话。”

  他懊恼地看了我一眼。“我到城里才两天。我们打算见面之后开车去南方,我在那儿找到了一份工作。她——她也没给我任何地址。”他摸了摸电报。

  第二天我去值班时他还在那儿。一看见我,他就走了过来。

  “她在哪儿工作过吗?”我问。

  他点了点头。“她本来是个打字员。我给她以前的老板拍了电报。他们只知道她不干了,结婚去了。”

  哈里在后来的三四天接了每趟车。当然,铁路方面作了例行检查,警察也参与了这件事。但是实际上谁也没帮上忙。我看得出来,他们都觉得梅只不过是跟他开了个玩笑,但不知怎么我却根本不这么认为。

  有一天,大约是过了两周之后,哈里和我聊天,我给他谈了我的想法。“假如你等的时间够长的话,”我说,“总有一天,你会看见她走上楼梯的。”他转过身看着楼梯,仿佛过去从来没见过似的。

  第二天我去上班时,哈里已经站在托尼杂志摊的柜台后面了。他不大好意思地看着我说,“呃,我总得在哪儿找个工作,是不是?”

  于是,他开始给托尼卖杂志。我们再也不谈梅,谁也不提我的看法。但是我注意到哈里总要看看每个上楼的人。

  到年底时,托尼由于赌博发生争执而被别人杀了。托尼的妻子将杂志摊完全交给了哈里打理。过了些时候她再次结婚,哈里就从她那儿把杂志摊买了过来。他借了钱,装了个冷饮柜,不久小生意就做得不错了。

  于是到了昨天,我听见了一声叫喊,还听见好多东西掉到地上。是哈里在叫。掉在地上的是一大堆玩具和其他的东西,都是他跳过柜台时弄翻的。他从这些东西上面跑过去抓住了一个女孩,她就在离我窗户不到10英尺的地方。她个子小小的,黑黑的,眉心处有一个小点。

  好一会儿的时间他们就那么呆着,相对着笑呀,哭呀,讲些没什么意义的话。她好像说“我指的是汽车站——”而他则把她吻得说不出话来,告诉她自己为找她所做的许多事情。显然,3年前梅是乘汽车而不是火车来的。她电报里指的是“汽车站”而不是“火车站”。她在汽车站等了好几天,为找哈里花掉了所有的钱。最后,她找了一份打字的工作。

  “什么?”哈里说,“你在城里工作?一直都在?”

  她点了点头。

  “哎呀,老天爷——你就从来没到这个车站来过?”他把手指向杂志摊。“我一直就在那儿。那个摊儿是我的。我看过每个上楼的人。”

  她的脸色开始变得有些苍白。过了

  一会儿,她向楼梯看去,声音微弱地

  说:“我——我过去一直没上这个楼梯。你看,我昨天出城是去办点公事——噢,哈里!”然后,她伸手搂住他的脖子,真的哭了起来。

  过了一会儿,她往后一站,用手直指车站的最北头。“哈里,3年来,整整3年,我就在那儿——就在这个车站工作,在站长办公室里,打字。”

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