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双语全文 ● 鲁迅——风波






Storm in a Teacup


On the mud flat by the river, the sun’s bright yellow rays were gradually fading. The parched leaves of the tallow trees beside the river were at last able to take breath, while below them a few striped mosquitoes danced and droned. The smoke from the peasants’ kitchen chimneys along the riverside dwindled, as the women and children sprinkled the ground before their doors with water and set out little tables and low stools. Everyone knew it was time for the evening meal.


The old folk and the men sat on the low stools, fanning themselves with plantain-leaf fans as they chatted. The children raced about or squatted under the tallow trees playing with pebbles. The women brought out steamed black dried rape and yellow rice, piping hot. Some literati passing in a pleasure boat waxed quite lyrical at the sight.


“Such carefree tranquillity!” they exclaimed. “How idyllic!”


However, these literati were wide of the mark, not having heard what Old Mrs. Ninepounder was saying. Old Mrs. Ninepounder was in a towering temper, whacking the legs of her stool with a tattered plantain fan.


“Seventy-nine years I’ve lived, that’s enough,” she declared. “I’m sick of watching this family go to the dogs.... Better die and be done with it. Just one minute to supper time, yet still eating roast beans—do you want to eat us out of house and home?”


Her great-granddaughter Sixpounder was just running towards her with a handful of beans, but seeing the situation she flew straight to the river bank and hid herself behind a tallow tree. Sticking out her small head with its twin tufts, she hooted, “Old Won’t-die!”


Old Mrs. Ninepounder for all her great age was not deaf. She did not,however, catch what the child had called and went on muttering to herself,“Yes, indeed. Each generation is worse than the last.”
















It was the somewhat unusual custom in this village for mothers to weigh their children at birth and to call them the number of pounds they happened to weigh. Since Old Mrs. Ninepounder’s celebration of her fiftieth birthday she had gradually become a fault-finder, for ever complaining that in her young days the summer had not been so hot nor the beans so tough as now. In a word, there was something wrong with the present-day world. Why else had Sixpounder weighed three pounds less than her great­grandfather and one pound less than her father, Sevenpounder? Surely this was irrefutable evidence. So she reiterated emphatically, “Yes, indeed. Each generation is worse than the last.”


Her granddaughter-in-law, Mrs. Sevenpounder, had just brought out a basket of rice. Plonking this down on the table, she said crossly, “There you go again, granny! Sixpounder weighed six pounds five ounces at birth,didn’t she? Your family scales weigh light: eighteen ounces to the pound. With proper sixteen-ounce scales, Sixpounder would have weighed over seven pounds. I don’t believe grandfather and father really weighed a full nine or eight pounds either. I dare say they were weighed with fourteenounce scales.....”


“Each generation is worse than the last.”


Before Mrs. Sevenpounder could answer, she saw her husband emerge from the top of the lane and rounded on him instead.


“Why so late back, you zombie? I thought you must be dead, keeping us waiting all this time for supper! ”


Although a villager, Sevenpounder had always wanted to better himself. For three generations—grandfather, father and son—not a man in his family had handled a hoe. Like his father before him he worked on a boat which left Luzhen every morning for the town, returning to Luzhen in the evening. As a result he knew pretty well all that was going on; where,for instance, the thunder god had blasted a centipede spirit, or where a virgin had given birth to a demon. In the village he was quite a personage. Still he stuck to the country custom of not lighting a lamp for supper in the summer, so if he came home late he rated a scolding.












In one hand Sevenpounder held a speckled bamboo pipe over six feet long with an ivory mouthpiece and a pewter bowl. He walked slowly over,his head bent, and sat on one of the low stools. Sixpounder seized this chance to slip out and sit down beside him, calling “Dad!” But her father made no answer.


“Each generation is worse than the last,” repeated Old Mrs. Ninepounder.


Sevenpounder slowly raised his head and sighed. “There’s an emperor again on the Dragon Throne. ”


Mrs. Sevenpounder looked blank for a moment. Suddenly taking in the news she cried, “Good! That means another general amnesty, doesn’t it?”


Sevenpounder sighed again. “I’ve no queue.”


“Does the emperor insist on queues?”


“He does.”


“How do you know?” she demanded in dismay.


“Everybody in Prosperity Tavern says so.”


At that Mrs. Sevenpounder realized instinctively that things were in a bad way, because Prosperity Tavern was a place where you could pick up all the news. She threw a glance at Sevenpounder’s shaved head, unable to hold back her anger, blaming him, hating him, resenting him. Then,abruptly reduced to despair, she filled a bowl with rice and slapped it down before him. “Hurry up and eat. Pulling a long face won’t grow a queue for you,will it?”


The sun had withdrawn its last rays, the darkling water was cooling off again. From the mud flat rose a clatter of bowls and chopsticks, and the backs of all the diners were beaded with sweat. Mrs. Sevenpounder had finished three bowls of rice when she happened to look up. At once her heart started pounding. Through the tallow leaves she could see the short plump figure of Seventh Master Zhao approaching from the one-plank bridge. And he was wearing his long sapphire-blue glazed cotton gown.


Seventh Master Zhao was the owner of Abundance Tavern in the next village,the only notable within a radius of thirty li who also had some learning. And because of this learning there was about him a whiff of the musty odour of a departed age. He owned a dozen volumes of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms annotated by Jin Shengtan, which he would sit poring over character by character. Not only could he tell you the names of the Five Tiger Generals, he even knew that Huang Zhong was also known as Hansheng, and Ma Chao as Mengqi. After the Revolution he had coiled his queue on the top of his head like a Taoist priest, and he often remarked with a sigh that if only Zhao Yun were still alive the empire would not be in such a bad way.


























Mrs. Sevenpounder’s eyesight was good. She had noticed at once that Seventh Master Zhao no longer looked like a Taoist. He had shaved the front of his head and let his queue down. From this she knew beyond a doubt that an emperor had ascended the throne, that queues were required again, and that Sevenpounder must be in great danger. For Seventh Master Zhao did not wear his long glazed cotton gown for nothing. During the last three years he had only worn it twice: once when his enemy Pock-marked Asi fell ill, once when First Master Lu who had wrecked his wineshop died. This was the third time, and it undoubtedly meant that something had happened to rejoice his heart and bode ill for his enemies.


Two years ago, Mrs. Sevenpounder remembered, her husband in a fit of drunkenness had cursed Seventh Master Zhao as a “bastard.” Hence she at once realized instinctively the danger her husband was in, and her heart started pounding.


As Seventh Master Zhao passed them, all those sitting eating stood up and, pointing their chopsticks at their rice bowls, invited him to join them. He nodded greetings to them all, urging them to go on with their meal,while he made straight for Sevenpounder’s table. Sevenpounder’s family got up at once to greet him. Seventh Master Zhao urged them with a smile, “Go on with your meal, please!” At the same time he took a good look at the food on the table.


“That dried rape smells good—have you heard the news?” Seventh Master Zhao was standing behind Sevenpounder opposite Mrs. Sevenpounder.








“There’s an emperor again on toe Dragon Throne,” said Sevenpounder.


Wathcing Seventh Master’s expression, Mrs. Sevenpounder forced a smile. “Now that there’s an emperor on the throne, when will there be a general amnesty?” She asked.


“A general amnesty?... All in good time.” Suddenly Seventh Master spoke more sternly, “But what about Sevenpounder’s queue, eh? That’s the important thing. You know how it was in the time of the Long Hairs: keep your hair and lose your head; keep your head and lose your hair.”


Sevenpounder and his wife had never read any books, so this classical lore was lost on them; but this statement from a learned man like Seventh Master convinced them that the situation must be desperate, past saving. It was as if they had received their death sentence. Their ears buzzed, and they were unable to utter another word.


“Each generation is worse than the last.” Old Mrs. Ninepounder, feeling put out, seized this chance to speak to Seventh Master Zhao. “The Long Hairs nowadays just cut off men’s queues, leaving them looking neither Buddhist nor Taoist. The old Long Hairs never did that. Seventy-nine years I’ve lived and that’s enough. The old Long Hairs wore red satin turbans with one end hanging down, right down to their heels. The prince wore a yellow satin turban with one end hanging down ... yellow satin. Red satin, yellow satin ... I’ve lived long enough ... seventy-nine. ”


“What’s to be done?” muttered Mrs. Sevenpounder, standing up. “Such a big family, old and young, and all dependent on him....”


“There’s nothing you can do.” Seventh Master Zhao shook his head.“The punishment for having no queue is written down clearly in a book,sentence by sentence. The size of a man’s family makes no difference.”


When Mrs. Sevenpounder heard that it was written in a book, she really gave way to despair. Beside herself with anxiety, she felt a sudden fresh hatred for Sevenpounder. Pointing her chopsticks at the tip of his nose, she cried. “As you make your bed, so you must lie on it! Didn’t I say at the time of the revolt: don’t go out with the boat, don’t go to town. But go he would. Off he rolled, and in town they cut off his queue, his glossy black queue. Now he looks neither Buddhist nor Taoist. He’s made his own bed, he’ll have to lie on it. But what right has the wretch to drag us into it? Jail-bird zombie....”


















Seventh Master Zhao’s arrival in the village made all the villagers finish their supper quickly and gather round Sevenpounder’s table. Sevenpounder knew how unseemly it was for a prominent citizen to be cursed in public like this by his wife. So he raised his head to retort slowly:


“you’ve plenty to say today, but at the time....”


“Jail-bird zombie!...”


Widow Ba Yi had the kindest heart of all the onlookers there. Carrying her two-year-old, born after her husband’s death, she was watching the fun at Mrs. Sevenpounder’s side. Now she felt things had gone too far and hurriedly tried to make peace.


“Never mind, Mrs. Sevenpounder. People aren’t spirits—who can foretell the future? Didn’t you yourself say at the time there was nothing to be ashamed of in having no queue? Besides, no order’s come down yet from the big mandarin in the yamen.... ”


Before she had finished, Mrs. Sevenpounder’s ears were scarlet. She turned her chopsticks to point at the widow’s nose. “Aiya, what a thing to say, Mrs. Ba Yi! I’m still a human being, ain’t I— how could I have said anything so ridiculous? Why, at the time I cried for three whole days. Ask anyone you like. Even this little devil Sixpounder cried....” Sixpounder had just finished a big bowl of rice and was holding out her empty bowl clamouring to have it refilled. Mrs. Sevenpounder, being in a temper,smacked her chopsticks down between the twin tufts on the child’s head.“Who wants you to barge in?” She yelled, “Little slut!”


Chuck! The empty bowl in Sixpounder’s hand thudded to the ground striking the corner of a brick so that a big piece broke off. Sevenpounder jumped to his feet and picked up the broken bowl. Having fitted the pieces together he examined it, swearing, “Mother’s!” He gave Sixpounder a slap that knocked her over. Sixpounder lay there crying until Old Mrs. Ninepounder took her hand and led her away repeating, “Each generation is worse than the last.”














Now it was Widow Ba Yi’s turn to be angry. “How can you hit out at random like that, Mrs. Sevenpounder! ” she shouted.


Seventh Master Zhao had been looking on with a smile, but after Widow Ba Yi’s statement that no order had come down from “the big mandarin in the yamen” he began to lose his temper. Coming right up to the table, he declared, “Hitting out at random doesn’t matter. The Imperial Army will be here any time now. I’d have you know the new Protector is General Zhang, who’s descended from Zhang Fei of the former state of Yan. With his huge lance eighteen feet long, he dares take on ten thousand men. Who can stand against him?” Raising both hands as if grasping a huge invisible lance, he took a few swift paces towards Widow Ba Yi. “Are you a match for him?”


Widow Ba Yi was trembling with rage as she held her child. But the sudden sight of Seventh Master Zhao bearing down on her with glaring eyes, his whole face oozing sweat, gave her the fright of her life. Not daring to say more, she turned and fled. Then Seventh Master Zhao left too. The villagers as they made way for him deplored Widow Ba Yi’s interference,while a few men who had cut their queues and started growing them again hid hastily behind the rest for fear Seventh Master should see them. However, without making a careful inspection Seventh Master passed through the group, dived behind the tallow trees, and with a parting “Think you’re a match for him!” strode on to the one-plank bridge and swaggered off.


The villagers stood there blankly, turning things over in their minds. All felt they were indeed no match for Zhang Fei, hence Sevenpounder’s life was as good as lost. And since Sevenpounder had broken the imperial law he should not, they felt, have adopted that lordly air, smoking that long pipe of his, when he told them the news from town. So the thought that he had broken the law gave them a certain pleasure. They would have liked to air their views, but did not know what to say. Buzzing mosquitoes, brushing past their bare arms, zoomed back to swarm beneath the tallow trees; and the villagers too slowly scattered to their homes, shut their doors and went to bed. Grumbling to herself, Mrs. Sevenpounder also cleared away the dishes and took in the table and stools, then closed the door and went to bed.










Sevenpounder took the broken bowl inside, then sat on the doorstep smoking. He was so worried, however, that he forgot to inhale, and the light in the pewter bowl of his six-foot speckled bamboo pipe with the ivory mouthpiece gradually turned black. It struck him that matters had reached a most dangerous pass, and he tried to think of a way out, some plan of action. But his thoughts were in too much of a whirl for him to straighten them out. “Queues, eh, queues? An eighteen foot lance. Each generation is worse than the last! An emperor is on the Dragon Throne. The broken bowl will have to be taken to town to be riveted. Who’s a match for him? It’s written in a book. Mother’s!...”


Early the next day, as usual, Sevenpounder went with the boat to town,coming back to Luzhen towards evening with his six-foot speckled bamboo pipe and the rice bowl. At supper he told Old Mrs. Ninepounder that he had had the bowl riveted in town. Because it was such a large break, sixteen copper clamps had been needed, each costing three cash, making the total cost forty-eight cash.


“Each generation is worse than the last,” said Old Mrs. Ninepounder crossly. “I’ve lived long enough. Three cash for a clamp. Clamps didn’t cost so much in the old day. The clamps we had.... Seventy-nine years I’ve lived ....”


After this, though Sevenpounder continued making his daily trip to town, his house seemed to be under a cloud. Most of the villagers kept out of his way, no longer coming to ask him the news from town. Mrs. Sevenpounder was in a bad temper too, constantly addressing him as “Jail­bird.”


A fortnight or so later, on his return from town Sevenpounder found his wife in a rare good humour. “Heard anything in town?” She asked him.












“No, nothing.”


“Is there an emperor on the Dragon Throne?”


“They didn’t say.”


“Did no one in Prosperity Tavern say anything?”


“No, nothing.”


“I don’t believe there’s an emperor again. I passed Seventh Master Zhao’s wineshop today and he was sitting there reading, with his queue coiled on top of his head again. He wasn’t wearing his long gown either.”




“Do you think there’s no emperor after all?”


“I think probably not. ”


Today Sevenpounder is once more respected and well treated by his wife and the villagers. In the summer his family still have their meals on the mud flat outside their door, and everyone greets them with smiles. Old Mrs. Ninepounder celebrated her eightieth birthday some time ago and is as full of complaints, as hale and hearty as ever. Sixpounder’s twin tufts of hair have changed into a thick braid. Although recently they started binding her feet, she can still help Mrs. Sevenpounder with odd jobs. She hobbles to and fro on the mud flat carrying the rice bowl with sixteen copper rivets.




























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