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中英:月亮和六便士(52)

2006-08-22 21:46

    Chapter LII

    I suppose the next three years were the happiest of Strickland's life. Ata's house stood about eight kilometres from the road that runs round the island, and you went to it along a winding pathway shaded by the luxuriant trees of the tropics. It was a bungalow of unpainted wood, consisting of two small rooms, and outside was a small shed that served as a kitchen. There was no furniture except the mats they used as beds, and a rocking-chair, which stood on the verandah. Bananas with their great ragged leaves, like the tattered habiliments of an empress in adversity, grew close up to the house. There was a tree just behind which bore alligator pears, and all about were the cocoa-nuts which gave the land its revenue. Ata's father had planted crotons round his property, and they grew in coloured profusion, gay and brilliant; they fenced the land with flame. A mango grew in front of the house, and at the edge of the clearing were two flamboyants, twin trees, that challenged the gold of the cocoa-nuts with their scarlet flowers.

    Here Strickland lived, coming seldom to Papeete, on the produce of the land. There was a little stream that ran not far away, in which he bathed, and down this on occasion would come a shoal of fish. Then the natives would assemble with spears, and with much shouting would transfix the great startled things as they hurried down to the sea. Sometimes Strickland would go down to the reef, and come back with a basket of small, coloured fish that Ata would fry in cocoa-nut oil, or with a lobster; and sometimes she would make a savoury dish of the great land-crabs that scuttled away under your feet. Up the mountain were wild-orange trees, and now and then Ata would go with two or three women from the village and return laden with the green, sweet, luscious fruit. Then the cocoa-nuts would be ripe for picking, and her cousins (like all the natives, Ata had a host of relatives) would swarm up the trees and throw down the big ripe nuts. They split them open and put them in the sun to dry. Then they cut out the copra and put it into sacks, and the women would carry it down to the trader at the village by the lagoon, and he would give in exchange for it rice and soap and tinned meat and a little money. Sometimes there would be a feast in the neighbourhood, and a pig would be killed. Then they would go and eat themselves sick, and dance, and sing hymns.

    But the house was a long way from the village, and the Tahitians are lazy. They love to travel and they love to gossip, but they do not care to walk, and for weeks at a time Strickland and Ata lived alone. He painted and he read, and in the evening, when it was dark, they sat together on the verandah, smoking and looking at the night. Then Ata had a baby, and the old woman who came up to help her through her trouble stayed on. Presently the granddaughter of the old woman came to stay with her, and then a youth appeared —— no one quite knew where from or to whom he belonged —— but he settled down with them in a happy-go-lucky way, and they all lived together,

    我想,这以后的三年是思特里克兰德一生中最幸福的一段日子。爱塔的房子距离环岛公路有八公里远,要到那里去需要走过一条为热带丛林浓荫覆盖着的羊肠小道。这是一幢用本色木头盖成的带凉台的平房,一共有两间屋子,屋外还有一间用作厨房的小棚子。室内没有家具,地上铺着席子当床用。只有凉台上放着一把摇椅。

    芭蕉树一直长到房子的跟前;巨大的叶子破破烂烂,好象一位遭了厄运的女王的破烂衣衫。房子背后有一株梨树,房子四周到处种着能变钱花的椰子树。爱塔的父亲生前围着这片地产种了一圈巴豆;这些巴豆如今生得密密匝匝,开着绚烂的花朵,象一道火焰墙似地把椰林围绕起来。此外,正对着房子还有一棵芒果树,房前一块空地边上有两棵姊妹树,开着火红的花朵,同椰子树的金黄椰果竞相斗妍。

    思特里克兰德就靠着这块地的出产过活,很少到帕皮提去。离他住的地方不远有一条小河,他经常在里面洗澡。有时候河水里有鱼群出现,土人们便拿着长矛从各处走来,大吵大嚷地把正向海里游去的受惊的大鱼叉上来。思特里克兰德有时候也到海滩上去,回来的时候总带来一筐各种颜色的小鱼。爱塔用椰子油把鱼炸了,有时还配上一只大海虾,另外她还常常给他做一盘味道鲜美的螃蟹,这种螃蟹在脚底下爬来爬去,一伸手就可以捉住。山上面长着野桔子树;爱塔偶然同村子里两三个女伴上山去,总是满载而归,带回许多芬芳甘美的绿色小桔子。不久以后,椰子成熟,就该到采摘的时候了。爱塔的表兄表弟、堂兄堂弟(象所有的土人一样,她的亲戚数也数不过来)成群结队地爬到树上去,把成熟的大椰子扔下来。他们把椰子剖开,放在太阳底下晒。晒干以后就把椰肉取出来,装在口袋里。妇女们把一袋袋的椰肉运到咸水湖附近一个村落的贸易商人那里,换回来大米、肥皂、罐头肉和一点点儿钱。有时候邻村有什么庆贺宴会,就要杀猪。附近的人蜂拥到那里,又是跳舞,又是唱赞美诗,大吃大喝一顿,吃得人人都快要呕吐了。

    但是他们的房子离附近的村子很远,塔希提的人是不喜欢活动的。他们喜欢旅行,喜欢闲聊天,就是不喜欢走路。有时候一连几个星期也没有人到思特里克兰德同爱塔家里来。思特里克兰德画画儿、看书,天黑了以后,就同爱塔一起坐在凉台上,一边抽烟一边望着天空。后来爱塔给他生了一个孩子。生孩子的时候来服侍她的一个老婆婆待下来,一直也没有走。不久,老婆婆的一个孙女也来同他们住在一起,后来又来了个小伙子——谁也不清楚这个人从哪儿来,同哪个人有亲属关系——,他也毫无牵挂地在这里落了户。就这样他们逐渐成了个大家庭。

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