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人生珍品           ★★★

人生珍品

作者:佚名 文章来源:互联网 点击数: 更新时间:2012-7-5 10:26:51

 

下载华洋英语翻译工具条2007:

 


My Irreplaceable Treasure

 

Recently I gave a dinner party for some close friends. To add a touch of elegance to the evening, I brought out the good stuff--my white Royal Crown Derby china with the fine blue-and-gold border. When we were seated, one of the guests noticed the beat-up gravy boat I'd placed among the newer, better dinnerware. "Is it an heirloom?" she asked tactfully.

 

I admit the piece does look rather conspicuous. For one thing, it matches nothing else. It's also old and chipped. But that little gravy boat is much more than an heirloom to me. It is the one thing in this world I will never part with.

 

The story begins more than 50 years ago, when I was seven years old and we lived in a big house along the Ohio River in New Richmond, Ohio. All that separated the house from the river was the street and our wide front lawn. In anticipation of high water, the ground floor had been built seven feet above grade.

 

Late in December the heavy rains came, and the river climbed to the tops of its banks. When the water began to rise in a serious way, my parents made plans in case the river should invade our house. My mother decided she would pack our books and her fine china in a small den off the master bedroom.

 

The china was not nearly as good as it was old. Each piece had a gold rim and a band of roses. But the service had been her mother's and was precious to her. As she packed the china with great care, she said to me, "You must treasure the things that people you love have cherished. It keeps you in touch with them."

 

I didn't understand, since I'd never owned anything I cared all that much about. Still, planning for disaster held considerable fascination for me.

 

The plan was to move upstairs if the river reached the seventh of the steps that led to the front porch. We would keep a rowboat downstairs so we could get from room to room. The one thing we would not do was leave the house. My father, the town's only doctor, had to be where sick people could find him.

 

I checked on the river's rise several times a day and lived in a state of hopeful alarm that the water would climb all the way up to the house. It did not disappoint. The muddy water rose higher until, at last, the critical seventh step was reached.

We worked for days carrying things upstairs, until, late one afternoon, the water edged over the threshold and rushed into the house. I watched, amazed at how rapidly it rose.

 

After the water got about a foot deep inside the house, it was hard to sleep at night. The sound of the river moving about downstairs was frightening. Debris had broken windows, so every once in a while some floating battering ram--a log or perhaps a table--would bang into the walls and make a sound like a distant drum.

 

Every day I sat on the landing and watched the river rise. Mother cooked simple meals in a spare bedroom she had turned into a makeshift kitchen. She was worried, I could tell, about what would happen to us. Father came and went in a small fishing boat. He was concerned about his patients and possible outbreaks of dysentery, pneumonia or typhoid.

 

Before long, the Red Cross began to pitch tents on high ground north of town. "We are staying right here," my father said.

 

As the water continued to rise, I kept busy rowing through the house and looking at the furniture that had been too big to move upstairs. I liked to row around the great cozy couch, now almost submerged, and pretend it was an island in a lake.

 

One night very late I was awakened by a tearing noise, like timbers creaking. Then there was the rumbling sound of heavy things falling. I jumped out of bed and ran into the hallway. My parents were standing in the doorway to the den, where we had stored the books and my mother's beloved china.

 

The floor of the den had fallen through, and all the treasures we had tried to save were now on the first floor, under the stealthily rising river. My father lit our camp light, and we went to the landing to look. We could see nothing except the books bobbing like little rafts on the water.

 

Mother had been courageous, it seemed to me, through the ordeal of the flood. She was steady and calm, and kept things going in good order. But that night she sat on the top of the stairs with her head on her crossed arms and cried. I had never seen her like that, and there was a sound in her weeping that made me afraid. I wanted to help her, but I couldn't think of what I could possibly do. I just knew I had to figure out something.

 

The next morning, after breakfast, I did a geography lesson and then Mother said I could go downstairs and play in the boat. I rowed once around the down-stairs, avoiding the mess of timbers in the hall where the terrible accident had occurred. The books had begun to sink. I stared down into the dark water and could see nothing. It was right then that I got the idea.

 

I made a hook from a wire coathanger and carefully fastened it to a weighted line. Then I let it sink and began to drag it slowly back and forth. I spent the next hour or so moving the boat and dragging my line--hoping to find pieces of my mother's lost treasure. But time after time the line came up empty.

 

As the water rose day after day, I continued trying to recover some remnant of my mother's broken china. Soon, however, the water inside had risen to the stairway landing. On the day water covered the gutters outside, my father decided we would have to seek shelter in the tents on the hill. A powerboat was to pick us up that afternoon. We would leave by the porch roof.

 

I spent the morning hurriedly securing things in my room. Then I got into my rowboat for the last time. I dragged my line through the water. Nothing. After some time I heard my parents calling, so I headed back toward the stairway. Just as I made the last turn, I snagged something.

 

Holding my breath, I slowly raised my catch to the surface. As the dark water drained from it, I could make out the bright roses and gold leaf design. It seemed dazzling to me. I had found the gravy boat from my mother's china service. My line had caught on a small chip in the lip.

 

My father called down to me again. "This is serious business," he said. "Let's go." So I stowed the treasure in my jacket and rowed as fast as I could to the stair landing.

 

The powerboat picked us up and headed to higher ground. It began to rain, and for the first time I was really afraid. The water might rise forever, might cover the whole valley, the trees, even the hills.

 

By the time we were settled in a Red Cross tent, we were worn out. Father had gone off to care for sick people, and Mother sat on my cot with her arm around my shoulder. She smiled at me, if you can call it that. Then I reached under my pillow and took out the gravy boat.

 

She looked at it, then at me. Then she took it in her hands and held it for a long time. She was very quiet, just sitting, gazing at the gravy boat. She seemed both close to me and also very far away, as though she was remembering. I don't know what she was thinking, but she pulled me into her arms and held me tight.

 

We lived in the tent for weeks, cold and often hungry. As the flood crested, an oil slick caught fire and burned our house down to the waterline. We never went back. Instead, we moved to a house near Cincinnati, far from the river.

 

By Easter we were settled in, and we celebrated that special Sunday with a feast. While Dad carved the lamb, Mother went into the kitchen and returned with the gravy boat. She held my gift for a moment as though it was something unspeakably precious. Then, smiling at me, she placed it gently on the table. I said to myself right then that nothing would ever happen to that gravy boat as long as I lived.

 

And nothing ever has. Now I use the gravy boat just as she had, taking it carefully from the shelf and filling it just as she did with dark, rich turkey gravy for family dinners and other special occasions. When guests ask about the curious old dish, I sometimes tell the story of how I fished it from the river in our house.

 

But beyond the events of the flood, the gravy boat is a treasure that connects me to the people and the places of my past. Mother tried to explain, and now I understand. It is not the object so much as the connection that I cherish. That little porcelain boat, chipped and worn with age, keeps me in touch--just as she said it would--with her life, her joy and her love.

最近我举办了一次晚宴,招待几位亲密的朋友。为了给那个晚上增添一点优雅的情趣,我摆出了一件奇珍异宝----绘有精美蓝边和金边的白色王冠德比牌的瓷器。大伙儿就座后,其中一位客人注意到了这只残破的船形肉卤盘----我已把它放在了满桌新颖而别致的餐具当中。“这是一件传家宝么?”她机敏地问道。

 

我承认这只盘子看起来确实惹人注目。首先,它跟其他任何东西都不相匹配;再者,它古老而且伤痕累累。但对我而言,这只小小的船形肉卤盘绝不只是一件传家之宝。它是这个世界上我一生都不会放弃的珍爱之物。

 

故事发生在50多年前,当时我才七岁,我们家住在俄亥俄州新里士满俄亥俄河边的一幢大房子里。房子跟河水只隔着一条街道和房前宽阔的草坪。考虑到河水有上涨的可能,房子一楼的地板安装得比地面高出七英尺

 

12月下旬下起了大暴雨,河水涨到河沿上。河水刚开始猛涨时,我爸妈就作出了各种应急方案,以防河水淹进我们的房子。妈妈决定将我们所有的书籍以及她的精美瓷器搬出大卧室,放在楼上的小书斋里。

 

这些瓷器丝毫也显不出年代久远的痕迹。每一件都绘有金边和玫瑰花束。这套餐具是我外婆遗留下来的,对我妈来说十分珍贵。她一边小心翼翼地把它们包好,一边对我说:“你必须珍惜这些你所爱的人曾经珍惜过的东西。这可以保持你同他们的联系。”

 

我当时并不懂得她的意思,因为我从未拥有过什么能令我如此珍爱的器皿。不过,为了防备遭受灾难而出谋划策使我兴趣盎然。

 

家里的计划是,如果河水上涨到通向前廊的第七级台阶,我们就搬到楼上去。我们将在楼下系一条划艇,以便能够从一个房间划到另一个房间。我们就是不愿意离开自己的家园。我爸爸是镇上唯一的一名大夫,他得守在病人能找到他的地方。

 

我每天查看几次河水上涨的情况,并惊恐地预料河水会一直漫进屋里。果然不出所料,浑浊的河水竟不断地高涨,终于淹到了至关重要的第七级台阶。

 

连着几天,我们忙于把东西搬到楼上,有一天一直忙到下午五六点钟,河水徐徐地漫过门槛,冲进屋里。我监视着,发现河水上涨的速度快得令人惊讶。

 

当屋里的积水深达一英尺时,晚上就很难睡个安稳觉了。河水在楼下撞击的声音叫人惊恐万分。随水冲进来的碎石片击碎了窗户玻璃,偶尔,飘浮在水上的撞击物——一根圆木,也有可能是一张桌子----会猛烈地撞到墙上,发出的声音像是远方传来的鼓声。

 

每天我都坐在楼梯平台上,看着河水上涨。妈妈把楼上一间空余的卧室临时当作厨房,做一些简单的饭菜。我看得出来,她对我们将要面临的困境深感忧虑。爸爸坐在一条小渔船上来来去去。他担心的是他的病人以及可能突然蔓延开来的痢疾、肺炎和伤寒等诸多疾病。

 

不久,红十字会开始在小镇北面的高地上架设帐篷。“我们就呆在家里,”爸爸说。

 

河水继续上涨,我不停地划着船,在屋里来回穿梭,看一看那些没法搬上楼去的大件家具。我喜欢划到那张舒适的长沙发椅的四周转悠,如今它差不多浸在了水下,我把它设想成一座湖心岛。

 

一天深夜,我被一阵猛烈撕扯的声音惊醒,好像是木头在吱吱嘎嘎地断裂。然后传来重物坍塌时的隆隆声。我跳下床,冲进过道。爸妈正站在小书斋的门口,小书斋里存放着全家人的书籍和妈妈珍爱的那套瓷器。

 

小书斋的地板已经塌陷下去,我们一直没法保全的珍贵瓷器如今都落到楼下的地板上了,淹没在不停暗涨的河水里。爸爸点亮露营用的灯,我们借着灯光到楼梯平台上察看。除了书籍像小木筏一样飘浮在水面上,什么也看不见。

 

在我看来,妈妈一直勇敢地经受着这场洪水的严峻考验。她从容、镇静,把每一件事情都安排得有条不紊。可是那个晚上,她坐在楼梯口上抱头痛哭。我以前从未见过她这般伤心,她的哭声让我感到有些害怕。我想帮她,却又不知所措。我只知道我必须把什么事情弄清楚。

 

第二天上午吃过早餐,我做完地理功课,妈妈说我可以下楼到船上去玩了。我在楼下划了一圈,绕开门厅头天晚上掉下来的乱七八糟的木料。水面上的书籍已经开始下沉。我盯着黑漆漆的水往下瞧,什么也看不见,就在这个时候我计上心来。

 

我用金属衣架做了一个钩子,小心翼翼地把它系到一根加重的绳子上。接着我将它沉入水中,开始缓慢地来回拖动。我花了大约一个小时,划船,拖绳----希望能够找到妈妈失去的那套珍贵的瓷器。但一次又一次,绳子拉上来,空无一物。

 

河水日复一日地涨个不停,我继续尝试着去找回妈妈的哪怕是一些已经破损的瓷器的残片。可是不多时,楼下的河水已涨到了楼梯平台上。河水淹上房外檐槽的那一天,爸爸决定,我们必须到山上的帐篷里寻求庇护了。当天下午有一艘汽艇来接我们,我们将从前廊的屋顶上撤离。

 

我上午匆匆忙忙地将我房间里的东西捆牢。然后我跳上划艇准备作最后一次努力。我把绳子拖过水面。什么也没有。过了一会儿,听到爸妈在叫,我只好朝着楼梯的方向往回划。就在我转最后一个弯时,我钩住了什么东西。

 

我屏住呼吸,慢慢地将打捞到的物品拉上水面。它刚一浮出黑色的河水,我就辨认出鲜亮的玫瑰以及金色的花瓣图案。我感到一阵晕眩。我竟然找到了妈妈那套瓷器中的这只船形肉卤盘。我的绳子刚好挂住了这只瓷盘边上的一个小缺口。

 

爸爸又在朝下喊我。“这可不是闹着玩的,”他说。“咱们快走。”我便把这件宝物藏在上衣里,尽快地朝楼梯平台划过去。

汽艇带上我们往高地方向驶去。天又开始下雨,我第一次真正感到了害怕。河水也许会涨个没完,淹没整个山谷、树林甚至山丘。

 

我们在红十字会的帐篷里安顿下来,全都精疲力竭。爸爸照看病人去了;妈妈坐在我的帆布床上,搂着我的肩头。她对着我微笑——如果那能称为微笑的话。这当儿,我把手伸到枕头下面,拿出了那只船形肉卤盘。

 

她先看了看盘子,然后看着我。接着她把盘子拿过去握了很久。她十分平静,就那样坐着,凝视着这件珍品。她离我很近,却又仿佛非常遥远,好像陷入了某种回忆。我不知道她在想什么,但她将我拥入怀里,紧紧地抱着。

 

我们在帐篷里住了几个星期,常常忍饥耐寒。洪峰到来时,水面上的一层油膜不幸着火,把我家的房子吃水线以上部分全部烧塌。我们再也没有回去,而是举家迁往离河很远的辛辛那提附近的另一幢房子。

 

复活节那天,我们住进了新家,举行盛宴庆祝那个特别的星期日。趁爸爸在切羊肉,妈妈走进厨房拿出那只船形肉卤盘。好一阵子,她捧着我的这份礼物,仿佛这是一件无法用言语形容的最宝贵的器皿。然后,她一边微笑着望着我,一边轻轻地将盘子放到餐桌上。就在那时我对自己说,只要我活着,我决不会再让这只盘子出事。

 

的确上直没有出事。如今我就像妈妈当年一样使用着这只盘子,小心翼翼地从碗柜的搁板上拿下来,在家庭晚宴上和其他特别的节日里盛上黑色而肥美的火鸡肉汁。当有客人问起这只奇特而古老的盘子时,我偶尔也会讲讲这个故事,告诉他们我是如何从淹入我家的河水里捞出来的。

 

但是除了那场洪水的经历之外,这只船形肉卤盘还是一件将我同我过去的亲人和住处紧密相联的珍奇之物。妈妈曾努力解释过这一点,如今我真正感悟到了。我珍惜的与其说是这件器皿本身,还不如说是通过它而建立起来的那种联系。这只小小的船形瓷器,年深日久,伤痕累累,却将我同妈妈的人生、妈妈的欢乐和妈妈的慈爱永远相联——正如她曾经说过的那样。

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