沈从文《鸭窠围的夜》中英双语 -《湘西散记:汉英对照》

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鸭窠围的夜

天快黄昏时落了一阵雪子,不久就停了。天气真冷,在寒气中一切都仿佛结了冰。便是空气,也像快要冻结的样子。我包定的那一只小船,在天空大把撒着雪子时已泊了岸。从桃源县沿河而上这已是第五个夜晚。看情形晚上还会有风有雪,故船泊岸边时便从各处挑选好地方。沿岸除了某一处有片沙岨宜于泊船以外,其余地方全是黛色如屋的大岩石。石头既然那么大,船又那么小,我们都希望寻觅得到一个能作小船风雪屏障,同时要上岸又还方便的处所。凡是可以泊船的地方早已被当地渔船占去了。小船上的水手,把船上下各处撑去,钢钻头敲打着沿岸大石头,发出好听的声音,结果这只小船,还是不能不同许多大小船只一样,在正当泊船处插了篙子,把当作锚头用的石碇抛到沙上去,尽那行将来到的风雪,摊派到这只船上。

这地方是个长潭的转折处,两岸是高大壁立千丈的山,山头上长着小小竹子,长年翠色逼人。这时节两山只剩余一抹深黑,赖天空微明为画出一个轮廓。但在黄昏里看来如一种奇迹的,却是两岸高处去水已三十丈上下的吊脚楼。这些房子莫不俨然悬挂在半空中,借着黄昏的余光,还可以把这些稀奇的楼房形体,看出个大略。这些房子同沿河一切房子有个共通相似处,便是从结构上说来,处处显出对于木材的浪费。房屋既在半山上,不用那么多木料,便不能成为房子吗?半山上也用吊脚楼形式,这形式是必须的吗?然而这条河水的大宗出口是木料,木材比石块还不值价。因此,即或是河水永远涨不到处,吊脚楼房子依然存在,似乎也不应当有何惹眼惊奇了。但沿河因为有了这些楼房,长年与流水斗争的水手,寄身船中枯闷成疾的旅行者,以及其他过路人,却有了落脚处了。这些人的疲劳与寂寞是从这些房子中可以一律解除的。地方既好看,也好玩。

河面大小船只泊定后,莫不点了小小的油灯,拉了篷。各个船上皆在后舱烧了火,用铁鼎罐煮红米饭。饭焖熟后,又换锅子熬油,哗的把菜蔬倒进热锅里去。一切齐全了,各人蹲在舱板上三碗五碗把腹中填满后,天已夜了。水手们怕冷怕动的,收拾碗盏后,就莫不在舱板上摊开了被盖,把身体钻进那个预先卷成一筒、又冷又湿的硬棉被里去休息。至于那些想喝一杯的,发了烟瘾得靠靠灯,船上烟灰又翻尽了的,或一无所为,只是不甘寂寞,好事好玩想到岸上去烤烤火谈谈天的,便莫不提了桅灯,或燃一段废缆子,摇晃着从船头跳上了岸,从一堆石头间的小路径,爬到半山上吊脚楼房子那边去,找寻自己的熟人,找寻自己的熟地。陌生人自然也有来到这条河中来到这种吊脚楼房子里的时节,但一到地,在火堆旁小板凳上一坐,便是陌生人,即刻也就可以称为熟人了。

这河边两岸除了停泊有上下行的大小船只三十左右以外,还有无数在日前趁融雪涨水放下的形体大小不一的木筏。较小的木筏,上面供给人住宿过夜的棚子也不见,一到了码头,便各自上岸找住处去了。大一些的木筏呢,则有房屋,有船只,有小小菜园与养猪养鸡栅栏,还有女眷和小孩子。

黑夜占领了全个河面时,还可以看到木筏上的火光,吊脚楼窗口的灯光,以及上岸下船在河岸大石间飘忽动人的火炬红光。这时节岸上船上都有人说话,吊脚楼上且有妇人在黯淡灯光下唱小曲的声音,每次唱完一支小曲时,就有人笑嚷。什么人家吊脚楼下有匹小羊在叫,固执而且柔和的声音,使人听来觉得忧郁。我心中想着:“这一定是从别一处牵来的,另外一个地方,那小畜生的母亲,一定也那么固执的鸣着吧。”算算日子,再过十一天便过年了。“小畜生明不明白只能在这个世界上活过十天八天?”明白也罢,不明白也罢,这小畜生是为了过年而赶来,应在这个地方死去的。此后固执而又柔和的声音,将在我耳边永远不会消失。我觉得忧郁起来了。我仿佛触着了这世界上一点儿东西,看明白了这世界上一点儿东西,心里软和得很。

但我不能这样子打发这个长夜。我把我的想象,追随了一个唱曲时清中夹沙的妇女声音,到她的身边去了。于是仿佛看到了一个床铺,下面是草荐,上面摊了一床用旧帆布或别的旧货做成的脏而又硬的棉被,搁在床正中被单上面的是一个长方木托盘,盘中有一把小茶壶,一个小烟盒,一支烟枪,一块小石头,一盏灯。盘边躺着一个人在烧烟。唱曲子的妇人,或是袖了手捏着自己的膀子站在吃烟者的面前,或是靠在男子对面的床头,为客人烧烟。房子分两进,前面临街,地是土地,后面临河,便是所谓吊脚楼了。这些人房子窗口既一面临河,可以凭了窗口呼喊河下船中人,当船上人过了瘾,胡闹已够,下船时,或者尚有些事情嘱托,或有其他原因,一个晃着火炬停顿在大石间,一个便凭立在窗口。“大老你记着,船下行时又来。”“好,我来的,我记着的。”“你见了顺顺就说:会呢,完了;孩子大牛呢,脚膝骨好了。细粉带三斤,冰糖或片糖带三斤。”“记得到,记得到,大娘你放心,我见了顺顺大爷就说:会呢,完了。大牛呢,好了。细粉来三斤,冰糖来三斤。”“杨氏,杨氏,一共四吊七,莫错账!”“是的,放心呵,你说四吊七就四吊七,年三十夜莫会要你多的!你自己记着就是了!”这样那样的说着,我一一都可听到,而且一面还可以听着在黑暗中某一处咩咩的羊鸣。我明白这些回船的人是上岸吃过“荤烟”了的。

我还估计得出,这些人不吃“荤烟”,上岸时只去烤烤火的,到了那些屋子里时,便多数只在临街那一面铺子里。这时节天气太冷,大门必已上好了,屋里一隅或点了小小油灯,屋中土地上必就地掘了浅凹火炉膛,烧了些树根柴块。火光煜煜,且时时刻刻爆炸着一种难于形容的声音。火旁矮板凳上坐有船上人,木筏上人,有对河住家的熟人。且有虽为天所厌弃还不自弃年过七十的老妇人,闭着眼睛蜷成一团蹲在火边,悄悄的从大袖筒里取出一片薯干或一枚红枣,塞到嘴里去咀嚼。有穿着肮脏身体瘦弱的孩子,手擦着眼睛傍着火旁的母亲打盹。屋主人有退伍的老军人,有翻船背运的老水手,有单身寡妇。借着火光灯光,可以看得出这屋中的大略情形,三堵木板壁上,一面必有个供奉祖宗的神龛,神龛下空处或另一面,必贴了一些大小不一的红白名片。这些名片倘若有那些好事者加以注意,用小油灯照着,去仔细检查检查,便可以发现许多动人的名衔,军队上的连副、上士、一等兵,商号中的管事,当地的团总、保正、催租吏,以及照例姓滕的船主,洪江的木簰商人,与其他各行各业人物,无所不有。这是近一二十年来经过此地若干人中一小部分的题名录。这些人各用一种不同的生活,来到这个地方,且同样的来到这些屋子里,坐在火边或靠近床边,逗留过若干时间。这些人离开了此地后,在另一世界里还是继续活下去,但除了同自己的生活圈子中人发生关系以外,与一同在这个世界上其他的人,却仿佛便毫无关系可言了。他们如今也许早已死掉了,水淹死的,枪打死的,被外妻用砒霜谋杀的,然而这些名片却依然将好好的保留下去。也许有些人已成了富人名人,成了当地的小军阀,这些名片却仍然写着催租人,上士等等的头衔。……除了这些名片,那屋子里是不是还有比它更引人注意的东西呢?锯子,小捞兜,香烟大画片,装干栗子的口袋……

提起这些问题使人心中很激动。我到船头上去眺望了一阵。河面静静的,木筏上火光小了,船上的灯光已很少了,远近一切只能借着水面微光看出个大略情形。另外一处的吊脚楼上,又有了妇人唱小曲的声音,灯光摇摇不定,且有猜拳声音。我估计那些灯光同声音所在处,不是木筏上的簰头在取乐,就是水手们小商人在喝酒。妇人手指上说不定还戴了水手特别为从常德府捎带来的镀金戒指,一面唱曲一面用那只手理着鬓角,多动人的一幅画图!我认识他们的哀乐,这一切我也有份。看他们在那里把每个日子打发下去,也是眼泪也是笑,离我虽那么远,同时又与我那么相近。这正同读一篇描写西伯利亚的农人生活的动人作品一样,使人掩卷引起无言的哀戚。我如今只用想象去领味这些人生活的表面姿态,却用过去一分经验,接触着了这些人的灵魂。

羊还固执的鸣着。远处不知什么地方有锣鼓声音,那一定是某个人家禳土酬神还愿巫师的锣鼓。声音所在处必有火燎与九品蜡照耀争辉,炫目火光下必有头包红布的老巫师独立作旋风舞,门上架上有黄钱,平地有装满了谷米的平斗。有新宰的猪羊伏在木架上,头上插着小小五色纸旗。有行将为巫师用口把头咬下的活生公鸡,缚了双脚与翼翅,在土坛边无可奈何的躺卧。主人锅灶边则热了满锅猪血稀粥,灶中正火光熊熊。

邻近一只大船上,水手们已静静的睡下了,只剩余一个人吸着烟,且时时刻刻把烟管敲着船舷。也像听着吊脚楼的声音,为那点儿声音所激动,引起种种联想,忽然按捺自己不住了,只听到他轻轻的骂着野话,擦了支自来火,点上一段废缆,跳上岸往吊脚楼那里去了。他在岸上大石间走动时,火光便从船篷空处漏进我的船中。也是同样的情形吧,在一只装载棉军服向上行驶的船上,泊到同样的岸边,躺在成束成捆的军服上面,夜既太长,水手们爱玩牌的各蹲坐在舱板上小油灯光下玩天九,既睡不成,便胡乱穿了两套棉军服,空手上岸,借着石块间还未融尽的残雪返照的微光,一直向高岸上有灯光处走去。到了街上,除了从人家门罅里露出的灯光成一条长线横卧着,此外一无所有。在计算中以为应可见到的小摊上成堆的花生,用哈德门长烟盒装着的干瘪瘪的小橘子,切成小方块的片糖,以及在灯光下看守摊子把眉毛扯得极细的妇人(这些妇人无事可作时还会在灯光下做点儿针线的),如今什么也没有。既不敢冒昧闯进一个人家里面去,便只好又回转河边船上了。但上山时向灯光凝聚处走去,方向不会错误。下河时可糟了。糊糊涂涂在大石小石间走了许久,且大声喊着,才走近自己所坐的一只船。上船时,两脚全是泥,刚攀上船舷还不及脱鞋落舱,就有人在棉被中大喊:“伙计哥子们,脱鞋呀!”把鞋脱了还不即睡,便镶到水手身旁去看牌,一直看到半夜——十五年前自己的事,在这样的地方温习起来,使人对于命运感到十分惊异。我懂得那个忽然独自跑上岸去的人,为什么上去的理由!

等了一会儿,邻船上那人还不回到他自己的船上来,我明白他所得的必比我多了一些。我想听听他回来时,是不是也像别的船上人,有一个妇人在吊脚楼窗口喊叫他。许多人都陆续回到船上了,这人却没有上船。我记起“柏子”。但是,同样是水上人,一个那么快乐的赶到岸上去,一个却是那么寂寞的跟着别人后面走上岸去,到了那些地方,情形不会同柏子一样,也是很显然的事了。

为了想听听那个人上船时那点儿推篷声音,我打算着,在一切声音全已安静时,我仍然不能睡觉。我等待那点儿声音。大约到午夜十二点,水面上却起了另外一种声音。仿佛鼓声,也仿佛汽油船马达转动声,声音慢慢的近了,可是慢慢的又远了。像是一个有魔力的歌唱,单纯到不可比方,也便是那种固执的单调,以及单调的延长,使一个身临其境的人,想用一组文字去捕捉那点儿声音,以及捕捉在那长潭深夜一个人为那声音所迷惑时节的心情,实近于一种徒劳无功的努力。那点儿声音使我不得不再从那个业已用被单塞好空罅的舱门,到船头去搜索它的来源。河面一片红光,古怪声音也就从红光一面掠水而来。原来日里隐藏在大岩下的一些小渔船,在半夜前早已静悄悄的下了拦江网。到了半夜,把一个从船头伸在水面的铁兜,盛上燃着熊熊烈火的油柴,一面用木棒槌有节奏的敲着船舷各处漂去。身在水中见了火光而来与受了柝声吃惊四窜的鱼类,便在这种情形中触了网,成为渔人的俘虏。当地人把这种捕鱼方法叫“赶白”。[6]

一切光,一切声音,到这时节已为黑夜所抚慰而安静了,只有水面上那一分红光与那一派声音。那种声音与光明,正为着水中的鱼和水面的渔人生存的搏战,已在这河面上存在了若干年,且将在接连而来的每个夜晚依然继续存在。我弄明白了,回到舱中以后,依然默听着那个单调的声音。我所看到的仿佛是一种原始人与自然战争的情景。那声音,那火光,都近于原始人类的战争,把我带回到四五千年前那个“过去”时间里去。

不知在什么时候开始落了很大的雪,听船上人细语着,我心想,第二天我一定可以看到邻船上那个人上船时节,在岸边雪地上留下的那一行足迹。那寂寞的足迹,事实上我却不曾见到,因为第二天到我醒来时,小船已离开那个泊船处很远了。

A Night at Mallard-Nest Village

Towards dusk it started snowing, but soon the snow stopped.It was bitterly cold. In that glacial atmosphere everything seemed turned to ice, the air itself as if on the point of freezing. The small boat I had hired moored after the first flurries of snow fell. This was the fifth night of my trip upstream from Taoyuan. Because it looked as if we were in for a blizzard, the boatmen had searched for a good anchorage. But apart from a suitable beach, the bank was a mass of black boulders the size of houses. Since they were so big and our boat was so small, we wanted to find some shelter from the wind in a place where we could easily go ashore.However, all the best moorings were occupied by local fishing boats. The crew punted our little craft up and down, the steel tips of the punting-poles clinking melodiously on the rocks; but in the end we had to draw alongside the other vessels large and small in the regular anchorage, dropping the rock which served us as an anchor on to the sand and leaving our little craft exposed to the coming blizzard.

This place, at a bend in a long lake, was flanked by high cliffs on the peaks of which grew small bamboos, an enchanting emerald the whole year round. Now that darkness was falling,only their silhouettes were outlined against the faintly glimmering sky. What we could make out in the dusk, though, was amazing—about three hundred feet up the cliff, high above the water, was a cluster of houses on stilts. There they hung majestically in mid air, and in the fading light we could still see the outline of these extraordinary buildings. In common with all the houses along the river, their construction was characterized by a wasteful use of timber. Why was so much timber needed for houses halfway up a hill? Yet they were built on stilts, quite needlessly. Well, timber was the main product shipped out from this river, costing less than stone; and so, though there was no danger at all of flooding,it was really not astonishing that these houses were still built on stilts. And because they were there, the boatmen who grappled year in year out with the current, their passengers nearly bored to death, and other travellers too had somewhere to rest. They could shake off their weariness and loneliness in these houses. So the place, besides being attractive, provided distractions.

After the boats large and small had moored, all lit tiny oil lamps and fixed up mat canopies. Rice was boiled in iron cauldrons over fires in the stern, and once this was cooked the vegetables were fried in another pan of sizzling oil. When the meal was ready, everyone aboard could wolf down three or five bowls. By then it was dark. When the bowls had been cleared away, the boatmen who felt cold or tired out spread their bedding on the deck and burrowed into their stiff, clammy quilts which they had laid out like tubing. Those who wanted to drank or smoked by the lamp, and when the fire on the boat had burned to ashes or there was nothing to do, if lonely or eager for a bit of fun they would go ashore to sit by a fire and chat, taking the lantern from the mast or lighting a strip of old hawser with which they jumped unsteadily ashore to take the path through rocks to the stilt-houses halfway up the cliff, in search of an old friend or familiar house. Strangers naturally travelled along the river too,but once inside these stilt-houses, sitting on low stools by the fire,in no time they would feel not strangers buy friends.

Apart from the thirty or so boats plying up or downstream which moored here, there were also countless rafts of different sizes taking advantage of the melted snow which had raised the water level. The smaller rafts had no canopies to provide shelter,so at each wharf the men went ashore to look for lodgings. The owners of larger rafts had houses, boats, tiny vegetable plots,pigsties and hen-coops, and the men took their wives and children along.

When the whole river was swallowed up by darkness, fires appeared on the rafts, lights in the windows of the stilt-houses,and torches flickered as men made their way up the rocky cliff or down again to their boats. Voices could be heard ashore and in the boats; women sang by the dim lamps in the stilt-houses, and after each song laughter and shouts rang out. Under one stilt-house a lamb was bleating persistently yet softly. The heart-rending sound set me thinking: “This lamb must have been brought from somewhere else, and its mother there must be calling it just as persistently.” I reckoned that there were eleven days till New Year. “Does the little creature know that it has no more than ten days left on earth?” Whether it knew or not, it had been brought here for New Year and would die here. Its soft, persistent bleating would always sound in my ears. My heart ached. The insight which this small episode seemed to give me into the world really melted my heart.

But this was no way to dismiss the long night. From the song sung in a clear yet husky voice my thoughts turned to the woman singer. I fancied I saw a bed with a mat on it, and spread on the mat a stiff, dirty quilt made of canvas or some other old material.In the middle of the bedding an oblong tray held a small teapot, a small casket of opium, an opium pipe, a flint and a lamp. Beside this a man lay smoking. The singer might be standing with folded arms in front of him, or leaning against the bed-post facing her client and preparing opium for him. The front of the room opened on to the street at ground level, the back on to the river below the stilts. As one window overlooked the river, the inmates could call down to the men in the boats. When travellers had smoked enough or fooled about enough, back they went to their boats. Then if the woman still had some commission or other message, the man with the flaring torch would stop among the rocks while she leaned out of her window. “Mind you come again on your way downstream,Elder Brother.” “Right, I’ll remember.” “When you see Shunshun tell him: Hui’s gone; Little Ox’s foot is better. Bring three catties of vermicelli and three of crystal sugar or granulated sugar.” “I won’t forget, missus. Don’t worry. When I see Master Shunshun I’m to tell him: Hui’s gone, Little Ox is better. You want three catties of vermicelli and crystal sugar.” “My name is Yang, Yang!Forty-seven cash, don’t get that wrong.” “All right, don’t worry.Forty-seven cash it is. Who’d overcharge you on New Year’s Eve?Just remember for yourself!” I could hear all these exchanges, as well as the lamb bleating in the dark. I gathered that these men coming back to the boats had gone ashore to smoke opium and have fun with women.

I also deduced that some, instead of smoking opium, just went ashore to toast themselves by a fire, and up in the village most of them just went into the shop on the street. By now it was so cold, the gates must be closed and a small oil lamp might be lit in one corner of the room, which would have a hearth hollowed out in the earthen floor in which to burn firewood. The flames flickered and every so often burst out crackling in a way defying description. The people from the boats and rafts, as well as friends who lived on the opposite bank, sat on low stools round the fire.There were also old women in their seventies, who although given up by Heaven had not given up, and squatted hunched up with closed eyes by the fire, surreptitiously fumbling in their big sleeves for a scrap of dried sweet potato or a red jujube to stuff in their mouths and munch. Puny children in dirty clothes, rubbing their eyes, cuddled against their mothers by the fire and dozed.The owner of the house might be a demobilized veteran, an old boatman whose boat had unluckily capsized, or a widow living alone. By the light of the fire and the lamp you could make out the furnishings in the room: on one of the three wooden walls there was bound to be a shrine for ancestral worship. On the space below or stuck to another wall would be red and white visiting cards of different sizes. If inquisitive visitors held up the little oil lamp to examine them carefully, they could discover some intriguing titles: vice company commander, sergeant, first-class private, manager of a firm, commander of some local corps, ward headman, tax-collector, boat-owner whose name was usually Teng, timber merchant from Hongjiang, as well as members of every kind of profession. These were the cards of a small fraction of those who had passed this way in the last ten or twenty years.These men from different walks of life had dropped in here to sit by the fire or on the bed, and after a brief stay had left to go on living in another world; but apart from their relations with their own circles and others in the same sphere, they seemed to have no other relations to speak of. They might be long since dead—drowned, shot or poisoned with arsenic by a mistress—yet their cards would still be carefully preserved here. Some might have grown rich or famous, become small local warlords, but they were still designated by their cards as a tax-collector or sergeant … Was there anything in the room more noteworthy than these cards? A saw, a small ladle, a cigarette poster, a sackful of chestnuts …

Thoughts such as these are most disturbing. I went to the prow to look round. The river was quiet, the fires on the rafts were going out, and the lamps on the boats had been turned down. The glimmer of light on the water revealed only the rough outline of the scene. A woman was singing in a stilt-house, where lamplight flickered and drinkers noisily played finger-guessing games. At least I guessed that the light and the singing came from the same house, where either some raft owners were enjoying themselves or some boatmen and tradesmen were drinking. The woman might be wearing a gilded ring brought her by one of the boatmen from Changde. As she sang she smoothed her hair—what a picture that made! I could enter into all their griefs and joys. Could see that each passing day brought its tears and smiles,and although so remote from me they were also near. It was like reading a moving tale about village life in Siberia, so that you closed the book with unspeakable sadness. I am simply imagining the surface of these people’s lives, but drawing on my own experience to relate to their innermost feelings.

The lamb persisted in bleating. Somewhere in the distance gonging and drumming sounded as some family sacrificed to the God of the Earth to repay a favour granted. There was bound to be firelight there rivalling the brilliance of big candles! And in this light an old wizard in a red turban would be whirling alone in a dance. Yellow paper coins would be stuck on the lintel, and a peck measure full of rice would stand on the ground. Newly slaughtered pigs and sheep would lie on trestles, small motley coloured paper flags stuck on their heads. A cock, destined to have its head bitten off by the wizard, would have flopped down helplessly by the earthen altar, its legs tied, its wings pinioned.The host by the stove would be heating a panful of gruel mixed with pigs’ blood, and the fire in the stove would be blazing.

The crew on a large boat near by were already sleeping,except for one man still smoking, who rapped his pipe from time to time on the bulwark. He too seemed to be listening to the sounds from the stilt-houses which aroused associations, for on a sudden uncontrollable impulse he swore softly, struck a flint to light a rotten hawser, and jumped ashore to make his way up the cliff. As he climbed up through the rocks, his torchlight shone into my cabin through gaps in the canopy. Another boat, plying upstream with a cargo of padded uniforms, had moored by the same cliff. The boatmen sprawled on the bundles of uniforms found the night too long, so some of them were squatting on the deck gambling by the light of a small oil lamp; others, who could not sleep, threw on padded army overcoats and went ashore empty-handed. By the faint light reflected from the snow which had not yet melted between the rocks, they made their way up to where there were lamps on the cliff. The street then was empty except for the threads of lamplight which fell in a long line through cracks in the doors. They had hoped to find some peanuts stacked on stalls, small dried tangerines packed into cigarette cartons, little cubes of sugar, and women with plucked eyebrows minding the stalls in the lamplight (when at a loose end they might do some needlework)—but there was nothing here now.Not daring to barge into a stranger’s house, they had to go back to the boat. But when climbing up towards the cluster of lights they could not lose their way, whereas going back they might blunder round and round the rocks and stones, yelling out until they finally neared their own boat. Once astride the bulwark, their feet covered with mud, before they had time to take off their shoes and go into the cabin, someone in a quilt would shout, “Take off your shoes, mates!” Having done this they did not turn in immediately but squeezed in to watch the men who went on gambling till midnight. My experiences of fifteen years ago, reviewed in this context, made me marvel at fate. I understood why that man had suddenly hurried ashore alone!

When presently the man on the boat next to ours failed to come back, I knew that he must have fared better than me. I wanted to hear, when he did come, if a woman called to him from the window of a stilt-house, as had happened to some men on other boats. A number of men returned one after another, but our neighbour was not among them. I remembered the one called“Bozi”. Though we were all travelling by boat, one fellow went ashore cheerfully while another followed later all on his own, so he could not expect the same treatment—that was obvious.

Because I was listening for the sound of my neighbour raising the canopy to come aboard, I decided not to sleep until all sounds were hushed. I was still waiting, listening, round about midnight when another sound broke the silence of the river. It was reminiscent of gongs or drums, or of a motor-boat,and it approached slowly, then just as slowly receded. Like an indescribably simple incantation it was reiterated monotonously,making anyone within earshot search for words to capture it, to capture the psychology of the men on that lake at midnight who were bewitched by the sound—a futile attempt, actually. This sound drew me out of the cabin door, which had a sheet stuck over its cracks, to stand in the prow and look round. There was a red light on the river, and that was where the strange sound was coming from, drifting over the water. Some small fishing boats, concealed below the cliff in the daytime, had quietly cast their nets after darkness fell. At midnight, blazing fires of oil and faggots were lit in tins on their prows jutting out above the water,while batons were beaten rhythmically on the bulwarks and the boats drifted to and fro. The fish in the river, dazzled by those bright lights and alarmed by the din, fled helter-skelter into the fishermen’s nets.

By this time all light was shrouded by the dark night, all sounds were hushed, with the exception of those red lights and rub-a-dub on the river. For years this river had been the scene of this din and glaring light in the battle for survival between the fish in the water and the fishermen in the boats, and it would be repeated on each night to come. No longer mystified I reentered the cabin, where I went on listening quietly to that monotonous sound. What I had seen seemed like a fight between primitive men and Nature. That sound and firelight resembling the battle of primitive men carried me back four or five thousand years to the past.

Some time later, just when I didn’t know, it began to snow heavily. I heard the boatmen whispering together and thought:Tomorrow I’m bound to see that man coming back to the next boat, leaving his footprints in the snow on the shore. In fact, I never saw those lonely footprints, because by the time I woke the next day our boat had left that mooring far behind.

未经允许不得转载:帕布莉卡 » 沈从文《鸭窠围的夜》中英双语 -《湘西散记:汉英对照》

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