◎ 何 为 He Wei
那次公开的考试是在那间古色古香的大厅里举行的。当陈伊玲镇静地站在考试委员会里几位有名的声乐专家面前，唱完了冼星海的那支有名的“二月里来”，门外窗外挤挤挨挨的都站满了人，甚至连不带任何表情 〔1〕 的教授们也不免暗暗递了个眼色。按照规定，应试者还要唱一支外国歌曲，她演唱了意大利歌剧“蝴蝶夫人” 〔2〕 中的咏叹调“有一个良辰佳日” 〔3〕 ，以她灿烂的音色和深沉的理解惊动四座，一向以要求严格闻名的苏林教授也不由颔首表示赞许，在他严峻的眼光下，隐藏着一丝微笑。大家都默无一言地注视陈伊玲：嫩绿色的绒线上衣，一条贴身的咖啡色西裤，宛如春天早晨一株亭亭玉立的小树。众目睽睽下，这个本来笑容自若的姑娘也不禁微微困惑了。
谁知道事实却出乎意料之外。陈伊玲是参加复试的最后一个人，唱的还是那两支歌，可是声音发涩，毫无光彩，听起来前后判若两人。是因为怯场、心慌，还是由于身体不适，影响声音？人们甚至怀疑到她的生活作风上是否有不够慎重的地方 〔4〕 ！在座的人面面相觑，大家带着询问和疑惑的眼光举目望她。虽然她掩饰不住自己脸上的困倦，一双聪颖的眼睛显得黯然无神，那顽皮的嘴角也流露出一种无可诉说的焦急，可是就整个看来，她通体是明朗的，坦率的，可以使人信任的；仅仅只因为一点意外的事故使她遭受挫折，而这正是人们感到不解之处。她抱歉地对大家笑笑，于是飘然走了。
考试委员会对陈伊玲有两种意见：一种认为从两次考试可以看出陈伊玲的声音极不稳固，不扎实 〔5〕 ，很难造就；另一种则认为给她机会，让她再试一次。苏林教授有他自己的看法，他觉得重要的是为什么造成她先后两次声音悬殊的根本原因，如果问题在于她对事业和生活的态度，尽管声音的禀赋再好，也不能录取她！这是一切条件中的首要条件！
第二天，苏林教授乘早上第一班电车出发。根据报名单上的地址，好容易找到了在杨树浦 〔6〕 的那条僻静的马路，进了弄堂，蓦地不由吃了一惊。
苏林教授手持纸条，不知从何处找起，忽然听见对屋的楼窗上，有一个孩子有事没事地 〔7〕 张口叫着：
The Second Test
◎ He Wei
Professor Su Lin, a well-known expert on vocal music, found something very puzzling. Twenty-year-old girl Chen Yiling from the Chorus Training Class of more than 200 students had come out exceedingly well in the preliminary test, scoring high marks in vocal music, sightsinging, ear training and music theory. Her beautiful tone color and broad range, in particular, won high praise. But, to the great disappointment of everybody, she failed the second test. The professor, who had trained a large number of students, many of them now of international fame, had never seen a young girl with such a brilliant talent. And the above strange happening was something he had never known before.
The preliminary test took place in a spacious hall of antique style. Chen Yiling stood calmly before the eminent vocal music experts on the Test Committee. When she finished singing Xian Xinhai’s famous When February Comes, throngs of listeners could be seen standing entranced outside the doors and windows, and even the professors, who usually wore an air of casual indifference, could not help exchanging knowing looks at one another. As it was required of each candidate to sing a foreign song as well, Chen sang the aria Un bel di from the Italian opera Madama Butterfly. The audience were amazed by her splendid tone color and deep comprehension. Even Professor Su, known for his strict demands, also nodded his approval, his stern eyes twinkling with delight. Chen, wearing a light green woollen sweater and close-fitting brown trousers, stood there like a graceful tree on a spring morning. However, under the silent stare of so many eyes, the smiling girl appeared somewhat ill at ease.
The second test came to pass a week later. The result of this test was to determine each candidate’s fate — accepted or otherwise, and what his or her future career would be like. With most of the candidates already eliminated by the preliminary test, this second test was even more demanding in every respect. All celebrated local musicians were present. During the test almost all Test Committee members and visitors wore a harsh and nitpicking look. Nevertheless, they were all under the impression that of all the remaining candidates Chen would undoubtedly be the last one to fail the second test.
Unfortunately, the result was contrary to everybody’s expectation. When Chen’s turn came last, she sang the same two songs, but her voice was unpleasant and utterly lacklustre as if she were no longer her old self. Was it due to stage fright, nervousness or indisposition? People even suspected some sort of impropriety in her private life. They stared at each other in speechless despair and eyed her questioningly. Weariness was written all over her face. Her bright eyes now looked dejected and dull. And the corners of her otherwise playful mouth wore an expression of unspeakable anxiety. But, as a whole, she was bright, candid and trustworthy. People just could not understand what little accident, if any, had been the cause of her frustration. She smiled apologetically and disappeared out of the room.
Professor Su was obviously upset. He had always believed that to win people’s genuine love and esteem, an artist must first of all be exemplary in every way, first of all a noble-minded person. A singer was of course no exception. But a girl like Chen, who had no urge for self-improvement, would never become a successful singer. He turned in anger to look out of the window. The town had just been hit by the worst typhoon of the year. The ground outside was strewn with broken twigs and dry leaves. Fallen bamboo fences on the sodden ground. What a pitiful sight!
The Test Committee were divided in their opinions about Chen. Some held out little hope of her achieving success as a vocalist, saying that the two tests had shown her voice far from able to hold its own. Others wanted to give her an opportunity for another try. Professor Su, however, had a view of his own. He thought it important to find out the root cause of her failure in the second test. He maintained that if her failure was due to her questionable attitude towards her career and life, she should on no account be admitted no matter how highly gifted she was. That, he said, should be the first and foremost of all things to be considered.
Now what on earth was the cause of her failure?
Professor Su got Chen’s application form for enrollment from his secretary and underlined in red pencil the address she had put down on it. The photo attached to the form showed a very cute face with a pretty little mouth, lucid guitless eyes and a nose which would pucker up a little bit whenever she smiled. All that seemed to warn the professor against treating a person in a simplistic way — a person alive with thought and emotion. There must be certain practical aspects of the young girl which the simple application form made no mention of. Her failure to pass the second test might mean her life-long divorce from music and hence a permanent stifling of her musical talent. Should that be the case, the professor, whose duty it was to foster young musical talents, would never forgive himself.
The next morning, Professor Su took the first tram of the day. Thanks to the address given on the application form, he finally managed to find the secluded street in Yangshupu. The moment he stepped into the lane, he was taken aback by what he saw.
There were broken walls, charred beams of a ghastly black and scorched rags here and there among debris — all telling of the destruction wrought by the recent typhoon and the ensuing fire. Since early in the morning, some people had already been busying themselves amongst the rubble.
Professor Su, with a slip of paper in hand, was wondering where to find the address when all of a sudden he heard a child crying out randomly from an upstairs window of the opposite building, like a singer practising his voice:
“Mi—yi—yi—yi—, ma—ah—ah—ah—” The professor could not help smiling. He guessed right that the kid was Chen’s younger brother affectedly parroting his elder sister’s voice.
The professor then learned from the child that his elder sister Chen, ex-member of a PLA art troupe, was now on the administrative staff of a factory after being transferred from the army to civilian work in Shanghai. As a Youth Leaguer, she was enthusiastic and earnest. Whenever the factory or her neighborhood was in need of some help, she was always considered the right person to approach. Just a couple of days before, the neighborhood had caught fire as a result of electric wire sparking caused by the typhoon. Consequently, many families were left homeless. Chen spent a sleepless night caring for the disaster victims, which in turn affected her voice. The next day, when it occurred to her that it was the very day for the second test, she blurted out, “Oh, my!” Yet, she went to the test all the same.
That was the whole story.
“Look, she’s still busy working over there!” exclaimed the child from the window, gesticulating with his raised hand. “Let me call her! I’ll go and call her!”
“No, don’t. But just tell your sister that she’s been admitted after passing the second test! She has every qualification for being a superb singer, hasn’t she? I’ve almost made a mistake!”
The professor walked away from Chen’s house, and that very quickly. Yes, his bosom swelling with a thrill, he wanted to hurry back to let everybody know of the music student he had discovered and the whole story about her.
〔1〕 “不带任何表情”意即“表情冷漠”，现译为wore an air of casual indifference。
〔2〕 《蝴蝶夫人》为意大利著名歌剧作曲家普契尼（Giacomo Puccini）的作品，共三幕，于1904年2月17日在意大利米兰首演。原名为Madama Butterfly或Madame Butterfly。
〔3〕 “有一个良辰佳日”为意大利歌剧《蝴蝶夫人》中的著名女高音独唱曲。原名为Un bel di或Un bel di vedremo。另一中文译名为《晴朗的一天》。
〔4〕 “她的生活作风上是否有不够慎重的地方”指“她在私生活方面恐有不够检点之处”，故译为some sort of impropriety in her private life，其中impropriety意为“不正当的行为”或“不合适的举止”。
〔5〕 “声音极不稳固，不扎实”译为her voice far from able to hold its own，其中to hold its own是习语，意为“维持原有的状态”或“不衰退”。