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2006-07-29 00:31

  My "best" room, however, my withdrawing room, always ready for company, on whose carpet the sun rarely fell, was the pine wood behind my house.  Thither in summer days, when distinguished guests came, I took them, and a priceless domestic swept the floor and dusted the furniture and kept the things in order.

  If one guest came he sometimes partook of my frugal meal, and it was no interruption to conversation to be stirring a hasty-pudding,or watching the rising and maturing of a loaf of bread in the ashes,in the meanwhile.  But if twenty came and sat in my house there was nothing said about dinner, though there might be bread enough for two, more than if eating were a forsaken habit; but we naturally practised abstinence; and this was never felt to be an offence against hospitality, but the most proper and considerate course. The waste and decay of physical life, which so often needs repair,seemed miraculously retarded in such a case, and the vital vigor stood its ground.  I could entertain thus a thousand as well as twenty; and if any ever went away disappointed or hungry from my house when they found me at home, they may depend upon it that I sympathized with them at least.  So easy is it, though many housekeepers doubt it, to establish new and better customs in the place of the old.  You need not rest your reputation on the dinners you give.  For my own part, I was never so effectually deterred from frequenting a man's house, by any kind of Cerberus whatever, as by the parade one made about dining me, which I took to be a very polite and roundabout hint never to trouble him so again.  I think I shall never revisit those scenes.  I should be proud to have for the motto of my cabin those lines of Spenser which one of my visitors inscribed on a yellow walnut leaf for a card:——

  "Arrived there, the little house they fill,Ne looke for entertainment where none was;Rest is their feast, and all things at their will:The noblest mind the best contentment has."

  When Winslow, afterward governor of the Plymouth Colony, went with a companion on a visit of ceremony to Massasoit on foot through the woods, and arrived tired and hungry at his lodge, they were well received by the king, but nothing was said about eating that day. When the night arrived, to quote their own words —— "He laid us on the bed with himself and his wife, they at the one end and we at the other, it being only planks laid a foot from the ground and a thin mat upon them.  Two more of his chief men, for want of room, pressed by and upon us; so that we were worse weary of our lodging than of our journey."  At one o'clock the next day Massasoit "brought two fishes that he had shot," about thrice as big as a bream.  "These being boiled, there were at least forty looked for a share in them;the most eat of them.  This meal only we had in two nights and a day; and had not one of us bought a partridge, we had taken our journey fasting."  Fearing that they would be light-headed for want of food and also sleep, owing to "the savages' barbarous singing,(for they use to sing themselves asleep,)" and that they might get home while they had strength to travel, they departed.  As for lodging, it is true they were but poorly entertained, though what they found an inconvenience was no doubt intended for an honor; but as far as eating was concerned, I do not see how the Indians could have done better.  They had nothing to eat themselves, and they were wiser than to think that apologies could supply the place of food to their guests; so they drew their belts tighter and said nothing about it.  Another time when Winslow visited them, it being a season of plenty with them, there was no deficiency in this respect.

  我的“最好的”房间,当然是我退隐的那间,它是随时准备招侍客人的,但太阳却很难得照到地毯上,它便是我屋后的松林。在夏天里,来了尊贵的宾客时,我就带他们上那儿去,有一个可贵的管家已打扫好地板,抹拭好家具,一切都井然有序了。如果只来了一个客人,有时要分享我的菲薄的饭食;一边说话一边煮一个玉米糊,或者注意火上在胀大、烤熟的面包,是不,130.会打断谈话的。可是一来来了二十个人的话,坐在屋里,关于吃饭问题就不好提了,虽然我所有的面包还够两个人吃,可是吃饭好像成了一个大家都已戒掉了的习惯;大家都节欲了;然而这不算失礼,反倒被认为是最合适的,是考虑周到的办法。肉体生命的败坏,向来是急求补救的,现在却被拖宕了,而生命的活力居然还能持续下去。像这样,要招待的人如果不止二十个,而是一千个人的话,我也可以办到;如果来访者看到我在家,却饿了肚子失望地回去,他们可以肯定,我至少总是同情他们的。许多管家尽管对此怀疑,但是建立起新规矩和好习惯来代替旧的是容易的。你的名誉并不靠你请客。至于我自己,哪怕看管地狱之门的三个头的怪犬也吓不住我,可是有人要请我作客,大摆筵席,那稳可以吓得我退避三舍,我认为这大约是客气地兜圈子暗示我以后不必再去麻烦他了。

  我想我从此不会再去这些地方了。我引以为骄做的是,有一个访客在一张代替名片的黄色胡桃叶上写下了这几行斯宾塞的诗,大可拿来做我的陋室铭,“到了这里,他们填充着的小房屋,不寻求那些本来就没有的娱乐;休息好比宴席,一切听其自然,最高贵的心灵,最能知足自满。”

  当后来担任普利茅斯垦殖区总督的温斯罗跟一个伴侣去正式访问玛萨索特时,他步行经过了森林,又疲倦又饥饿地到了他的棚屋,这位酋长很恭敬地招待了他们。可是这一天没有提到饮食。夜来了以后,用他们自己的话吧,——“他把我们招待到他自己和他夫人的床上,他们在一头,我们在另一头,这床是离地一英尺的木板架成的,上面只铺了一条薄薄的席子。他手下的两个头目,因为房屋不够,就挤在我们身旁,因此我们不乐意于住所,尤甚我们不乐意于旅途。”第二天一点钟,玛萨索特“拿出了两条他打来的鱼”,三倍于鲤鱼的大小:“鱼烧好之后,至少有四十个人分而食之。总算大多数人都吃到了。两夜一天,我们只吃了这点;要不是我俩中间的一人买到了一只鹧鸪,我们这旅行可谓是绝食旅行了。”温斯罗他们既缺少食物,又缺少睡眠,这是因为“那种野蛮的歌声(他们总是唱着歌儿直唱到他们自己睡着为止)”,他们害怕这样可能会使他们晕倒,为了要在他们还有力气的时候,回得到家里,他们就告辞了。真的,他们在住宿方面没有受到好的招待,虽然使他们深感不便的,倒是那种上宾之礼;至于食物呢,我看印第安人真是再聪明也没有了。他们自己本来没有东西吃,他们很聪明,懂得道歉代替不了粮食;所以他们束紧了裤带,只字不提。温斯罗后来还去过一次,那次正好是他们的食粮很丰富的季节,所以在这方面没有匮乏。

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