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双语全文 ● 鲁迅——风波

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2020年06月30日

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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.”

 

风波

 

临河的土场上,太阳渐渐的收了他通黄的光线了。场边靠河的乌桕树叶,干巴巴的才喘过气来,几个花脚蚊子在下面哼着飞舞。面河的农家的烟突里,逐渐减少了坎烟,女人孩子们都在自己门口的土场上泼些水,放下小桌子和矮竟;人知道,这已经是晚饭时候了。

 

老人男人坐在矮凳上,摇着大芭蕉扇闲谈,孩子飞也似的跑,或者蹲在乌桕树下赌玩石子。女人端出乌黑的蒸干菜和松花黄的米饭,热蓬蓬冒烟。河里驶过文人的酒船,文豪见了,大发诗兴,说:“无思无虑,这真是田家乐呵!”

 

但文豪的话有些不合事实,就因为他们没有听到九斤老太的话。这时候,九斤老太正在大怒,拿破芭蕉扇敲着凳脚说:

 

“我活到七十九岁了,活够了,不愿意眼见这些败家相,——还是死的好。立刻就要吃饭了,还吃炒豆子,吃穷了一家子!”

 

伊的曾孙女儿六斤捏着一把豆,正从对面跑来,见这情形,便直奔河边,藏在乌桕树后,伸出双丫角的小头,大声说,“这老不死的!”

 

九斤老太虽然高寿,耳朵却还不很聋,但也没有听到孩子的话,仍旧自己说,“这真是一代不如一代!”

 

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.

 

这村庄的习惯有点特别,女人生下孩子,多喜欢用秤称了轻重,便用斤数当作小名。九斤老太自从庆祝了五十大寿以后,便渐渐的变了不平家,常说伊年青的时候,天气没有现在这般热,豆子也没有现在这般硬:总之现在的时世是不对了。何况六斤比伊的曾祖,少了三斤,比伊父亲七斤,又少了一斤,这真是一条颠扑不破的实例。所以伊又用劲说,“这真是一代不如一代!”

 

伊的儿媳七斤嫂子正捧着饭篮走到桌边,便将饭篮在桌上一摔,愤愤的说,“你老人家又这么说了。六斤生下来的时候,不是六斤五两么?你家的秤又是私秤,加重称,十八两秤;用了准十六,我们的六斤该有七斤多哩。我想便是太公和公公,也不见得正是九斤八斤十足,用的秤也许是十四两......”

 

“一代不如一代!”

 

七斤嫂还没有答话,忽然看见七斤从小巷口转出,便移了方向,对他嚷道,“你这死尸怎么这时候才回来,死到那里去了!不管人家等着你开饭!”

 

七斤虽然住在农村,却早有些飞黄腾达的意思。从他的祖父到他,三代不捏锄头柄了;他也照例的帮人撑着航船,每日一回,早晨从鲁镇进城,傍晚又回到鲁镇,因此很知道些时事:例如什么地方,雷公劈死了蜈蚣精;什么地方,闺女生了一个夜叉之类。他在村人里面,的确已经是一名出场人物了。但夏天吃饭不点灯,却还守着农家习惯,所以回家太迟,是该骂的。

 

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.

 

七斤一手捏着象牙嘴白铜头六尺多长的湘妃竹烟管,低着头,慢慢地走来,坐在矮凳上。六斤也趁势溜出,坐在他身边,叫他爹爹。七斤没有应。

 

“一代不如一代!”九斤老太说。

 

七斤慢慢地抬起头来,叹一口气说,“皇帝坐了龙庭了。”

 

七斤嫂呆了一刻,忽而恍然大悟的道,“这可好了,这不是又要皇恩大赦了么!”

 

七斤又叹了一口气,说,“我没有辫子。”

 

“皇帝要辫子么?”

 

“皇帝要辫子。”

 

“你怎么知道呢?”七斤嫂有些着急,赶忙的问。

 

“咸亨酒店里的人,都说要的。”

 

七斤嫂这时从直觉上觉得事情似乎有些不妙了,因为咸亨酒店是消息灵通的所在。伊一转眼瞥见七斤的光头,便忍不住动怒,怪他恨他怨他;忽然又绝望起来,装好一碗饭,搡在七斤的面前道,“还是赶快吃你的饭罢!哭丧着脸,就会长出辫子来么?”

 

太阳收尽了他最末的光线了,水面暗暗地回复过凉气来;土场上一片碗筷声响,人人的脊梁上又都吐出汗粒。七斤嫂吃完三碗饭,偶然抬起头,心坎里便禁不住突突地发跳。伊透过乌桕叶,看见又矮又胖的赵七爷正从独木桥上走来,而且穿着宝蓝色竹布的长衫。

 

赵七爷是邻村茂源酒店的主人,又是这三十里方圆以内的唯一的出色人物兼学问家;因为有学问,所以又有些遗老的臭味。他有十多本金圣叹批评的《三国志》,时常坐着一个字一个字的读;他不但能说出五虎将姓名,甚而至于还知道黄忠表字汉升和马超表字孟起。革命以后,他便将辫子盘在顶上,像道士一般;常常叹息说,倘若赵子龙在世,天下便不会乱到这地步了。七斤嫂眼睛好,早望见今天的赵七爷已经不是道士,却变成光滑头皮,乌黑发顶;伊便知道这一定是皇帝坐了龙庭,而且一定须有辫子,而且七斤一定是非常危险。因为赵七爷的这件竹布长衫,轻易是不常穿的,三年以来,只穿过两次:一次是和他呕气的麻子阿四病了的时候,一次是曾经砸烂他酒店的鲁大爷死了的时候;现在是第三次了,这一定又是于他有庆,于他的仇家有殃了。

 

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.

 

七斤嫂记得,两年前七斤喝醉了酒,曾经骂过赵七爷是“贱胎”,所以这时便立刻直觉到七斤的危险,心坎里突突地发起跳来。

 

赵七爷一路走来,坐着吃饭的人都站起身,拿筷子点着自己的饭碗说,“七爷,请在我们这里用饭!”七爷也一路点头,说道“请请”,却一径走到七斤家的桌旁。七斤们连忙招呼,七爷也微笑着说“请请”,一面细细的研究他们的饭菜。

 

“好香的干菜,——听到了风声了么?”赵七爷站在七斤的后面七斤嫂的对面说。

 

“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....”

 

“皇帝坐了龙庭了。”七斤说.

 

七斤嫂看着七爷的脸,竭力陪笑道,“皇帝已经坐了龙庭,几时皇恩大赦呢?”

 

“皇恩大赦?——大赦是慢慢的总要大赦罢。”七爷说到这里,声色忽然严厉起来,“但是你家七斤的辫子呢,辫子?这倒是要紧的事。你们知道:长毛时候,留发不留头,留头不留发,……”

 

七斤和他的女人没有读过书,不很懂得这古典的奥妙,但觉得有学问的七爷这么说,事情自然非常重大,无可挽回,便仿佛受了死刑宣告似的,耳朵里嗡的一声,再也说不出一句话。

 

“一代不如一代,——”九斤老太正在不平,趁这机会,便对赵七爷说,“现在的长毛,只是剪人家的辫子,僧不僧,道不道的。从前的长毛,这样的么?我活到七十九岁了,活够了。从前的长毛是——整匹的红缎子裹头,拖下去,拖下去,一直拖到脚跟;王爷是黄缎子,拖下去,黄缎子;红缎子,黄缎子,——我活够了,七十九岁了。”

 

七斤嫂站起身,自言自语的说,“这怎么好呢?这样的一班老小,都靠他养活的人,……”

 

赵七爷摇头道,“那也没法。没有辫子,该当何罪,书上都一条一条明明白白写着的。不管他家里有些什么人。”

 

七斤嫂听到书上写着,可真是完全绝望了;自己急得没法,便忽然又恨到七斤。伊用筷子指着他的鼻尖说,“这死尸自作自受!造反的时候,我本来说,不要撑船了,不要上城了。他偏要死进城去,滚进城去,进城便被人剪去了辫子。从前是绢光乌黑的辫子,现在弄得僧不僧道不道的。这囚徒自作自受,带累了我们又怎么说呢?这活死尸的囚徒……”

 

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.”

 

村人看见赵七爷到村,都赶紧吃完饭,聚在七斤家饭桌的周围。七斤自己知道是出场人物,被女人当大众这样辱骂,很不雅观,便只得抬起头,慢慢地说道:

 

“你今天说现成话,那时你……”

 

“你这活死尸的囚徒……”

 

看客中间,八一嫂是心肠最好的人,抱着伊的两周岁的遗腹子,正在七斤嫂身边看热闹;这时过意不去,连忙解劝说,“七斤嫂,算了罢。人不是神仙,谁知道未来事呢?便是七斤嫂,那时不也说,没有辫子倒也没有什么丑么?况且衙门里的大老爷也还没有告示,……”

 

七斤嫂没有听完,两个耳朵早通红了;便将筷子转过向来,指着八一嫂的鼻子,说,“阿呀,这是什么话呵!八一嫂,我自己看来倒还是一个人,会说出这样昏诞胡涂话么?那时我是,整整哭了三天,谁都看见;连六斤这小鬼也都哭,……”六斤刚吃完一大碗饭,拿了空碗,伸手去嚷着要添。七斤嫂正没好气,便用筷子在伊的双丫角中间,直扎下去,大喝道,“谁要你来多嘴!你这偷汉的小寡妇!”

 

扑的一声,六斤手里的空碗落在地上了,恰巧又碰着一块砖角,立刻破成一个很大的缺口。七斤直跳起来,检起破碗,合上了检查一回,也喝道,“入娘的!”一巴掌打倒了六斤。六斤躺着哭,九斤老太拉了伊的手,连说着“一代不如一代”,一同走了。

 

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.

 

八一嫂也发怒,大声说,“七斤嫂,你‘恨棒打人’……”

 

赵七爷本来是笑着旁观的;但自从八一嫂说了“衙门里的大老爷没有告示”这话以后,却有些生气了。这时他已经绕出桌旁,接着说,“‘恨棒打人’,算什么呢。大兵是就要到的。你可知道,这回保驾的是张大帅,张大帅就是燕人张翼德的后代,他一支丈八蛇矛,就有万夫不当之勇,谁能抵挡他,”他两手同时捏起空拳,仿佛握着无形的蛇矛模样,向八一嫂抢进几步道,“你能抵挡他么!”

 

八一嫂正气得抱着孩子发抖,忽然见赵七爷满脸油汗,瞪着眼,准对伊冲过来,便十分害怕,不敢说完话,回身走了。赵七爷也跟着走去,众人一面怪八一嫂多事,一面让开路,几个剪过辫子重新留起的便赶快躲在人丛后面,怕他看见。赵七爷也不细心察访,通过人丛,忽然转入乌桕树后,说道“你能抵挡他么!”跨上独木桥,扬长去了。

 

村人们呆呆站着,心里计算,都觉得自己确乎抵不住张翼德,因此也决定七斤便要没有性命。七斤既然犯了皇法,想起他往常对人谈论城中的新闻的时候,就不该含着长烟管显出那般骄傲模样,所以对于七斤的犯法,也觉得有些畅快。他们也仿佛想发些议论,却又觉得没有什么议论可发。嗡嗡的一阵乱嚷,蚊子都撞过赤膊身子,闯到乌桕树下去做市;他们也就慢慢地走散回家,关上门去睡觉。七斤嫂咕哝着,也收了家伙和桌子矮凳回家,关上门睡觉了。

 

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.

 

七斤将破碗拿回家里,坐在门槛上吸烟;但非常忧愁,忘却了吸烟,象牙嘴六尺多长湘妃竹烟管的白铜斗里的火光,渐渐发黑了。他心里但觉得事情似乎十分危急,也想想些方法,想些计画,但总是非常模糊,贯穿不得:“辫子呢辫子?丈八蛇矛。一代不如一代!皇帝坐龙庭。破的碗须得上城去钉好。谁能抵挡他?书上一条一条写着。入娘的!……”

 

第二日清晨,七斤依旧从鲁镇撑航船进城,傍晚回到鲁镇,又拿着六尺多长的湘妃竹烟管和一个饭碗回村。他在晚饭席上,对九斤老太说,这碗是在城内钉合的,因为缺口大,所以要十六个铜钉,三文一个,一总用了四十八文小钱。

 

九斤老太很不高兴的说,“一代不如一代,我是活够了。三文钱一个钉;从前的钉,这样的么?从前的钉是……我活了七十九岁了,——”

 

此后七斤虽然是照例日日进城,但家景总有些黯淡,村人大抵回避着,不再来听他从城内得来的新闻。七斤嫂也没有好声气,还时常叫他“囚徒”。

 

过了十多日,七斤从城内回家,看见他的女人非常高兴,问他说,“你在城里可听到些什么?”

 

“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.

 

Oct-20

 

“没有听到些什么。”

 

“皇帝坐了龙庭没有呢?”

 

“他们没有说。”

 

“咸亨酒店里也没有人说么?”

 

“也没人说。”

 

“我想皇帝一定是不坐龙庭了。我今天走过赵七爷的店前,看见他又坐着念书了,辫子又盘在顶上了,也没有穿长衫。”

 

“…………”

 

“你想,不坐龙庭了罢?”

 

“我想,不坐了罢。”

 

现在的七斤,是七斤嫂和村人又都早给他相当的尊敬,相当的待遇了。到夏天,他们仍旧在自家门口的土场上吃饭;大家见了,都笑嘻嘻的招呼。七斤老太早已做过八十大寿,仍然不平而且康健。六斤的双丫角,已经变成一支大辫子了;伊虽然新近裹脚,却还能帮同七斤嫂做事,捧着十八个铜钉的饭碗,在土场上一瘸一拐的往来。

 

一九二〇年十月。

 

太阳收尽了他最末的光线了,水面暗暗地回复过凉气来;土场上一片碗筷声响,人人的脊梁上又都吐出汗粒。七斤嫂吃完三碗饭,偶然抬起头,心坎里便禁不住突突地发跳。伊透过乌桕叶,看见又矮又胖的赵七爷正从独木桥上走来,而且穿着宝蓝色竹布的长衫。

 


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