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英语散文:林中漫步

2006-05-16 16:28

  A Walk In The Woods

  I was puzzled! Why was this old woman making such a fuss about an old copse which was of no use to anybody? She had written letters to the local paper, even to a national, protesting about a projected by-pass to her village, and, looking at a map, the route was nowhere near where she lived and it wasn't as if the area was attractive. I was more than puzzled, I was intrigued.

  The enquiry into the route of the new by-pass to the village was due to take place shortly, and I wanted to know what it was that motivated her. So it was that I found myself knocking on a cottage door, being received by Mary Smith and then being taken for a walk to the woods.

  "I've always loved this place", she said, "it has a lot of memories for me, and for others. We all used it. They called it 'Lovers lane'. It's not much of a lane, and it doesn't go anywhere important, but that's why we all came here. To be away from people, to be by ourselves " she added.

  It was indeed pleasant that day and the songs of many birds could be heard. Squirrels gazed from the branches, quite bold in their movements, obviously few people passed this way and they had nothing to fear. I could imagine the noise of vehicles passing through these peaceful woods when the by-pass was built, so I felt that she probably had something there but as I hold strong opinions about the needs of the community over-riding the opinions of private individuals, I said nothing. The village was quite a dangerous place because of the traffic especially for old people and children, their safety was more important to me than an old woman's whims.

  "Take this tree", she said pausing after a short while. "To you it is just that, a tree. Not unlike many others here". She gently touched the bark. "Look here, under this branch, what can you see?"

  "It looks as if someone has done a bit of carving with a knife" I said after a cursory inspection.

  "Yes, that's what it is!" she said softly. "There are letters and a lover's heart".

  I looked again, this time more carefully. The heart was still there and there was a suggestion of an arrow through it. The letters on one side were indistinct, but on the other an 'R' was clearly visible with what looked like an 'I' after it. "Some budding romance?" I asked, "did you know who they were?"

  "Oh yes, I knew them", said Mary Smith, "it says RH loves MS".

  I realised that I could be getting out of my depth, and longed to be in my office, away from here and this old lady, snug, and with a mug of tea in my hand.

  She went on …"He had a penknife with a spike for getting stones from a horse's hoof, and I helped him to carve my initials. We were very much in love, but he was going away, and could not tell me what he was involved in the army. I had guessed of course. It was the last evening we ever spent together,because he went away the next day, back to his Unit. "

  Mary Smith was quiet for a while, then she sobbed. "His mother showed me the telegram. 'Sergeant R Holmes ……… Killed in action in the 9)invasion of France'".

  "'I had hoped that you and Robin would one day get married" she said, "He was my only child, and I would have loved to be a Granny, they would have been such lovely babies'- she was like that! "

  "Two years later she too was dead. 'Pneumonia, following a chill on the chest' was what the doctor said, but I think it was an old fashioned broken heart. A child would have helped both of us."

  There was a further pause. Mary Smith gently caressed the wounded tree, just as she would have caressed him. "And now they want to take our tree away from me." Another quiet sob, then she turned to me. "I was young and pretty then, I could have had anybody, I wasn't always the old woman you see here now. I had everything I wanted in life, a lovely man, health and a future to look forwards to".

  She paused again and looked around. The breeze gently moved through the leaves with a sighing sound. "There were others, of course, but not a patch on my Robin!" she said strongly. "And now I have nothing - except the memories this tree holds. If only I could get my hands on that awful man who writes in the paper about the value of the road they are going to build where we are standing now, I would tell him. Has he never loved, has he never lived, does he not know anything about memories? We were not the only ones, you know, I still meet some who came here as Robin and I did. Yes, I would tell him!"

  I turned away, sick at heart.

  我实在不明白!为什么这个年老女士会对一片毫无用处的老灌木林如此紧张呢?她给当地报纸写了信,甚至给全国性的报纸也写了信,对拟将在她们村子里修建小路的方案表示抗议。但从地图上看,这条拟建的小路离她家并不近,那一带也并非风景优美。这不仅使我感到迷惑,还激起了我的好奇心。

  很快就要进行对新小路的调查了,我想了解一下她反对的原因。于是我敲响了小屋的门,一位叫玛丽·史密斯的女士接待了我,然后她带我去树林中走走。

  “我一直深爱这个地方,”她说,“这里珍藏了我和其他许多人的回忆。我们都曾在这个地方呆过。人们称它为‘情人路’。它其实并不能算是什么路,也不通往什么重要的地方,但这正是我们来这里的原因。远离他人,只有我们自己。”她补充说道。

  那天林间实在迷人,小鸟唱着歌,松鼠在树枝间张望,很自在地活动,显然这里人迹罕至,它们一点都不害怕。我能想象得出,在小路修好后,汽车通过这片宁静的树林将会是怎样的喧闹,因此我猜这对她来说可能意味着些什么。但我坚持认为社区的需要重于个人的意见,所以我没说什么。村里目前的交通,特别是对于老人和小孩来说,尤其危险,所以对我来说他们的安全比这个老年女士的怪念头更重要。

  “拿这棵树来说吧,”她停了一会儿说,“对你来说它只是一棵普通的树,与这里其它的树没什么区别。”她轻轻地摸着这棵树的树皮说:“看这,在这个枝条下面,你看见了什么?”

  “好像有人用小刀在这里刻过什么东西。”我略略看了一下后说。

  “是的,正是这样!”她轻轻地说,“是一些字母和一颗爱人的心。”

  我又看了一下,这回看得认真了一些。刻的那颗心还在那,此外还依稀可以看见有支箭穿心而过。心一边的字母已无法辨认了,但在另一边,字母“R”清晰可见,后面还有个像是“I”的字母。“初恋罗曼史?”我问道,“你知道他们是谁吗?”

  “唔,我知道。”玛丽·史密斯说,“写的是‘RH爱MS’。”

  我意识到我可能涉入太深了,真希望自己身在办公室,远离这个地方和这个老年女士,手里还端着杯茶,舒舒服服地。

  她继续讲着……“他拿着一把袖珍折刀,折刀上嵌有长钉,那种长钉可以用来挖出夹在马蹄上的石块,我们一起刻了我名字的第一个字母。我们深深相爱,但他却要离开了,而且不知道他将在军队里干什么。当然我也曾猜想过。那是我们在一起的最后一个夜晚,因为他第二天就回部队去了。

  玛丽·史密斯停了一会儿,接着抽泣起来。“他母亲给我看了那封电报。‘R·荷尔姆斯军士….在解放法国的战役中牺牲。’

  “我本来希望你和罗宾会结婚的。”她母亲说,“我只有他一个孩子,我本希望能做祖母,有非常可爱的小宝宝。”――她真是那么说的!

  “两年后她也去世了。医生说是‘肺炎,胸部着凉造成的’,但我认为这是典型的伤心过度。如果有个孩子那我们俩就都不会这样了。”

  玛丽·史密斯又停了会儿没说话。她轻柔地抚摸着那棵刻过的树,就像她曾经抚摸他一样。“现在他们想把我们的树夺走。”她又轻轻地抽噎了一下,然后她转过身来对着我。“当时我年轻漂亮,我爱嫁给谁都可以,我当时可不是现在这么老的。我拥有生命里所要的一切,一个值得爱的男人、健康的身体和充满梦想的未来。”

  她顿了顿,朝四周看了一眼。微风轻轻吹拂着树叶,发出叹息般的沙沙声。“当然, 那时还有其他人,但他们连罗宾的一丝一毫都比不上!”她肯定地说。“现在我一无所有——只剩下残留在这棵树上的记忆。那个可恶的家伙竟建议把路修在我们所站的这个地方,我真希望掐死他,我会对他说:你从没爱过吗,你活过吗,你从不知道什么叫记忆吗?你知道,不仅仅是我们,现在我仍能看见些男男女女像当年的我和罗宾那样到这儿来。是的,我一定要对他说!”

  我转过身去,心里感到很难过。

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