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    翻译中国

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    《命若琴弦》中英对照双语在线阅读 作者:史铁生

    命若琴弦

    Strings of Life
    命若琴弦

    Two blindmen walked single-file across the vast expanse of the mountain range, one old, the other young, their two blackened straw hats bobbing, the two of them darting forward as if they were drifting with the current of a restless river. It mattered little from where they came or where they were headed. Each of them carried a three-stringed banjo, and told stories to earn their livelihood.

    The mountain stretched over several hundred kilometres in circumference, each peak stretching higher than the last; it was criss- crossed by gullies and ravines, and sparsely populated, so that one could walk a whole day and see only a single patch of open terrain dotted by villages. Passing by thickets of brush, at any time one might see pheasants spring up, or a rabbit or fox jump out, or other game. Hawks often circled above the valley floor. The sun beat down fiercely on the bleak, shadeless mountains.

    "Keep hold of the banjo," the blind old man called out, and the sounds of his echo rang back from the facing mountain.

    "Got it," the blind lad answered.

    "Mind you don't let your sweat get on the banjo. If it gets wet we'll have to strum your ribs to make tonight's music? "

    "It's right here in my hand."

    莽莽苍苍的群山之中走着两个瞎子,一老一少,一前一后,两顶发了黑的草帽起伏躜动,匆匆忙忙,像是随着一条不安静的河水在漂流。无所谓从哪儿来,也无所谓到哪儿去,每人带一把三弦琴,说书为生。

    方圆几百上千里的这片大山中,峰峦叠嶂,沟壑纵横,人烟稀疏,走一天才能见一片开阔地,有几个村落。荒草丛中随时会飞起一对山鸡,跳出一只野兔、狐狸,或者其他小野兽。山谷中常有鹞鹰盘旋。

    寂静的群山没有一点阴影,太阳正热得凶。

    “把三弦子抓在手里。”老瞎子喊,在山间震起回声。

    “抓在手里呢。”小瞎子回答。

    “操心身上的汗把三弦子弄湿了。弄湿了晚上弹你的肋条?”

    “抓在手里呢。”

    Senior and junior, both half-naked, each carried a stick to feel his way. Their coarse cloth coats tied up around their waists were soaked through with sweat and their steps stirred up a choking dust. It was peak season for storytelling —days were long, and after dinner the villagers all lounged outdoors; some of them even carried their bowls out to eat by the roadside or on the village common. The elder blindman was eager to get in as much story-telling as possible; during the heat of summer he had dragged the blind lad from village to village performing night after night. The old man grew more nervous and excited by the day. By his reckoning, the day he would play through his thousandth string might yet be this summer, and maybe it would happen right up ahead in Goat Valley.

    The shadows lengthened as the day's blistering sun retreated from its attack on the earth. Cicadas everywhere relaxed and quieted their voluminous drone.

    "Boy! Can't you walk any faster?" the old man called from ahead without slowing his pace. As the lad ran a few steps forward his satchel banged against his rump with a clatter and he failed to close the gap between him and the old man.

    "The wild pigeons are all headed for their nests."

    "What?" the lad again quickened his step.

    "I said the pigeons have already returned to their nests, and you're still dragging."

    老少二人都赤着上身,各自拎了一条木棍探路,缠在腰间的粗布小褂已经被汗水洇湿了一大片。䠀起来的黄土干得呛人。这正是说书的旺季。天长,村子里的人吃罢晚饭都不呆在家里;有的人晚饭也不在家里吃,捧上碗到路边去,或者到场院里。老瞎子想赶着多说书,整个热季领着小瞎子一个村子一个村子紧走,一晚上一晚上紧说。老瞎子一天比一天紧张、激动,心里算定:弹断一千根琴弦的日子就在这个夏天了,说不定就在前面的野羊坳。

    暴躁了一整天的太阳这会儿正平静下来,光线开始变得深沉。远远近近的蝉鸣也舒缓了许多。

    “小子!你不能走快点吗?”老瞎子在前面喊,不回头也不放慢脚步。

    小瞎子紧跑几步,吊在屁股上的一只大挎包叮啷哐啷地响,离老瞎子仍有几丈远。

    “野鸽子都往窝里飞啦。”

    “什么?”小瞎子又紧走几步。

    “我说野鸽子都回窝了,你还不快走!”

    "Oh. "

    "Are you playing with that electric box of mine again?"

    "Oh no! The damn thing moved."

    "Those headphones are going to break if you tinker with them like that."

    "The damn thing moved."

    The old man laughed darkly: how many days had this boy been born now? "I can even hear ants fighting," he boasted.

    The lad was not going to argue; he quietly slipped the headphones inside his satchel and trailed the old man along the dull, endless road.

    After a while the lad heard the sound of a badger gnawing away at some field grain. He growled out his best imitation of a dog's bark; the badger rolled, crawled, and ran to make its escape. Feeling cheered, the lad softly sang a few bars from a love song. Master wouldn't let him keep a dog because he feared it might fight with villagers' dogs and thus affect their business. A little later, the lad heard the slithering of a snake not far off. After leaning over and groping for stones on the ground, he chucked one toward the snake, sending a loud rustle through the sorghum leaves. The old man took pity and stopped to let him catch up.

    “噢。”

    “你又鼓捣我那电匣子呢。”

    “噫—!鬼动来。”

    “那耳机子快让你鼓捣坏了。”

    “鬼动来!”

    老瞎子暗笑:你小子才活了几天?“蚂蚁打架我也听得着。”老瞎子说。

    小瞎子不争辩了,悄悄把耳机子塞到挎包里去,跟在师父身后闷闷地走路。无尽无休的无聊的路。

    走了一阵子,小瞎子听见有只獾在地里啃庄稼,就使劲学狗叫,那只獾连滚带爬地逃走了,他觉得有点开心,轻声哼了几句小调儿,哥哥呀妹妹的。师父不让他养狗,怕受村子里的狗欺负,也怕欺负了别人家的狗,误了生意。又走了一会,小瞎子又听见不远处有条蛇在游动,弯腰摸了块石头砍过去,“哗啦啦”一阵高粱叶子响。老瞎子有点可怜他了,停下来等他。

    "If it's not badgers, it's snakes," the lad hastened to explain, fearing his master would curse him.

    "There's a field coming up, not too far." The old man passed a water jug to his apprentice.

    "In our trade, a fellow walks his whole lifetime." Then he added, "Tired?" The lad didn't answer; he knew Master hated it when he said he was tired.

    "My master never got his due. He played his whole life without going through a thousand strings."

    Observing the old man was in a better mood, the lad asked, "What's a green lounge chair?"

    "What? Oh, it's most likely a kind of chair, I suppose."

    "What's a twisting corridor?"

    "A corridor? What kind of corridor?"

    "A twisting corridor."

    "I don't know."

    "They said it on the radio."

    "All you like is listening to that toy. What good does it do you? The world is full of nice things, but what do they have to do with us?"

    “除了獾就是蛇。”小瞎子赶忙说,担心师父骂他。

    “有了庄稼地了,不远了。”老瞎子把一个水壶递给徒弟。

    “干咱们这营生的,一辈子就是走,”老瞎子又说,“累不?”

    小瞎子不回答,知道师父最讨厌他说累。

    “我师父才冤呢。就是你师爷,才冤呢,东奔西走一辈子,到了没弹够一千根琴弦。”

    小瞎子听出师父这会儿心绪好,就问:“什么是绿色的长乙(椅)?"

    “什么?噢,八成是一把椅子吧。”

    “曲折的油狼(游廊)呢?”

    “油狼?什么油狼?”

    “曲折的油狼。”

    “不知道。”

    “匣子里说的。”

    “你就爱瞎听那些玩艺儿。听那些玩艺儿有什么用?天底下的好东西多啦,跟咱们有什么关系?”

    "I've never heard you say just what does have something to do with us?" The lad drew out the word "does".

    "The banjo! Your dad sent you with me so you could learn to play the banjo and tell stories."

    The lad gurgled loudly as he drank from the bottle, and when they started off again he walked in front.

    Shadows from the mountains spread across the valley. Gradually the terrain levelled off and opened up.

    Drawing near the village the old man called the lad to stop by a spring in the shadows of the mountain. A trickle of water spurted from a crack in the rock face and dribbled down into a depression the size of a wash basin. On all sides the weeds flourished, but several metres away the thirsty, barren soil soaked up what little remained of the water flow.

    "Come on over and wash the sweat off your back and face."

    The lad brushed aside the weeds and squatted down by the pool of water —he was still trying to guess what "corridoor" might mean.

    "Give your whole body a scrubbing. You must look like a little beggar."

    “我就没听您说过,什么跟咱们有关系。”小瞎子把“有”字说得重。

    “琴!三弦子!你爹让你跟了我来,是为让你弹好三弦子,学会说书。”

    小瞎子故意把水喝得咕噜噜响。

    再上路时小瞎子走在前头。

    大山的阴影在沟谷里铺开来。地势也渐渐地平缓、开阔。

    接近村子的时候,老瞎子喊住小瞎子,在背阴的山脚下找到一个小泉眼。细细的泉水从石缝里往外冒,淌下来,积成脸盆大的水洼,周围的野草长得茂盛,水流出去几十米便被干渴的土地吸干。

    “过来洗洗吧,洗洗你那身臭汗味。”

    小瞎子拨开野草在水洼边蹲下,心里还在猜想着“曲折的油狼”。

    “把浑身都洗洗。你那样儿准像个小叫花子。”

    "Are you anything more than an old beggar?" The lad giggled as he dipped his hands in the water. The old man, pulling his hands from the pool to splash water on his face, laughed, too. "But we're not beggars; we're artisans."

    "It seems like we've been to this place before." The lad cupped his ear to listen to the sounds around him.

    "But your mind's not on learning your craft. Your young heart is too full of wild ambitions. You never listen to what your elders tell you."

    "I'm sure we've been here before."

    "Don't interrupt! You still can't play the banjo worth a hoot. Our life is in these strings. That's what my master once told me."

    Feeling the refreshing coolness of the spring, the lad began singing his tune about young lovers again. The old man barked at him, "Did you hear what I said?"

    "Our lives are these strings; your master said so. I've heard it eight hundred times. And your master left you a medical prescription which you can't get until you've played through a thousand strings. And once you take the medicine you'll be able to see again. I've heard you say it a thousand times."

    "You don't believe it?"

    "Why should you have to go through a thousand strings before you can get the medicine?"

    “那您不就是个老叫花子了?”小瞎子把手按在水里,嘻嘻地笑。

    老瞎子也笑,双手掏起水往脸上泼。“可咱们不是叫花子,咱们有手艺。”

    “这地方咱们好像来过。”小瞎子侧耳听着四周的动静。

    “可你的心思总不在学艺上。你这小子心太野。老人的话你从来不着耳朵听。”

    “咱们准是来过这儿。”

    “别打岔!你那三弦子弹得还差着远呢。咱这命就在这几根琴弦上,我师父当年就这么跟我说。”

    泉水清凉凉的。小瞎子又哥哥呀妹妹地哼起来。

    老瞎子挺来气:“我说什么你听见了吗?”

    “咱这命就在这几根琴弦上,您师父我师爷说的。我都听过八百遍了。您师父还给您留下一张药方,您得弹断一千根琴弦才能去抓那付药,吃了药您就能看见东西了。我听您说过一千遍了。”

    “你不信?”

    小瞎子不正面回答,说:“干吗非得弹断一千根琴弦才能去抓那付药呢?”

    "That's what makes the medicine go down. You clever devil, you can't take medicine without it."

    "What's so tough about getting a thousand broken strings?" The lad couldn't help but sneer.

    "What are you laughing at? What is it that you think you know? It won't work unless you earnestly play through them, one at a time." The lad did not dare make a sound; he could sense his master's indignation. It always happened this way; the master could not tolerate any questioning of his beliefs.

    The old man said nothing more, but he seemed distracted. With his hands resting on his kneecaps and his bonelike eyes facing the sky, he appeared to be ruminating on all those broken strings. Oh, longing for so many years, thought the man. Longing for fifty years! In fifty years how many mountains and miles had he tracked? How much exposure to the sun and cold had he suffered? How many indignities? Night after night he had played, ever mindful that it would not do unless he went through new strings one by one, playing with his whole heart. Now the goal of his hopes would soon come to pass, for he was certain to finish his thousand strings by summer's end. "How much more fortunate I am than my master," he declared. "Right until the very end he didn't have a chance to open his eyes and see even once."

    "Hey! I know where we are," burst out the lad.

    “那是药引子。机灵鬼儿,吃药得有药引子!”

    “一千根断了的琴弦还不好弄?”小瞎子忍不住嗤嗤地笑。

    “笑什么笑!你以为你懂得多少事?得真正是一根一根弹断了的才成。”

    小瞎子不敢吱声了,听出师父又要动气。每回都是这样,师父容不得对这件事有怀疑。

    老瞎子也没再作声,显得有些激动,双手搭在膝盖上,两颗骨头一样的眼珠对着苍天,像是一根一根地回忆着那些弹断的琴弦。盼了多少年了呀,老瞎子想,盼了五十年了!五十年中翻了多少架山,走了多少里路哇,挨了多少回晒,挨了多少回冻,心里受了多少委屈呀。一晚上一晚上地弹,心里总记着,得真正是一根一根尽心尽力地弹断的才成。现在快盼到了,绝出不了这个夏天了。老瞎子知道自己又没什么能要命的病,活过这个夏天一点不成问题。“我比我师父可运气多了,”他说,“我师父到了没能睁开眼睛看一回。”

    “咳!我知道这地方是哪儿了!”小瞎子忽然喊起来。

    That prompted the old man to pick up his banjo and give it a shake. A piece of paper scraped against the snakeskin soundboard; that paper in the belly of his banjo was the prescription.

    "Master, isn't this Goat Hill?" asked the lad.

    The old man made no reply; he could tell the lad was getting excited.

    "Master, Goat Valley's just up ahead, isn't it?"

    The old man bent his already hunched back still further and called, "Boy, come over here and swab my back."

    "Master, is this Goat Valley or not?"

    "Yes! What of it? Stop whining like a kitten."

    The lad's heart thumped and he obediently scrubbed his master's back. The old man felt vigor in the boy's movements.

    "What if it is Goat Valley? Don't you go sniffing around like a donkey again."

    The lad timidly kept silent to conceal his elation.

    "Now what are you thinking about? Don't think I don't know what's on your mind."

    "What did I do?"

    老瞎子这才动了动,抓起自己的琴来摇了摇,叠好的纸片碰在蛇皮上发出细微的响声,那张药方就在琴槽里。

    “师父,这儿不是野羊岭吗?”小瞎子问。

    老瞎子没搭理他,听出这小子又不安稳了。

    “前头就是野羊坳,是不是,师父?”

    “小子,过来给我擦擦背。”老瞎子说,把弓一样的脊背弯给他。

    “是不是野羊坳,师父?”

    “是!干什么?你别又闹猫似的。”

    小瞎子的心扑通扑通跳,老老实实地给师父擦背。老瞎子觉出他擦得很有劲。

    “野羊坳怎么了?你别又叫驴似的会闻味儿。”

    小瞎子心虚,不吭声,不让自己显出兴奋。

    “又想什么呢?别当我不知道你那点心思。”

    “又怎么了,我?”

    "What did you do? Didn't you go crazy enough last time we were here? That girl isn't worth a damn!" Maybe I shouldn't have brought him to Goat Valley again, the old man thought to himself. But this is a big village; year after year the business is good enough to tell stories for half a month. How he wished he could play through the last few strings all at once. Meanwhile, the lad's heart was palpitating with thoughts of the girl with the piercing voice.

    "Listen to me a second; it won't hurt you," the old man said.

    "That one's not dependable."

    "What one?"

    "Don't get smart with me. You know what I'm talking about."

    "It's just that I've never heard you say what is dependable." The lad held back a laugh.

    The old man paid him no mind and he again turned his bonelike eyes toward the sky. The sun appeared to him like a circle of blood. One of them was young, the other bony and thin, like the craggy, exposed rocks at the base of a mountain. The old blind man was aged seventy, the blind lad, seventeen. At the age of fourteen the lad's father had entrusted him to the care of the old man, with whom he was to learn the art of storytelling and thus have a means to support himself.

    “怎么了你?上回你在这儿疯得不够?那妮子是什么好货!”老瞎子心想,也许不该再带他到野羊坳来。可是野羊坳是个大村子,年年在这儿生意都好,能说上半个多月。老瞎子恨不能立刻弹断最后几根琴弦。

    小瞎子嘴上嘟嘟囔囔的,心却飘飘的,想着野羊坳里那个尖声细气的小妮子。

    “听我一句话,不害你,”老瞎子说,“那号事靠不住。”

    “什么事?”

    “少跟我贫嘴。你明白我说的什么事。”

    “我就没听您说过,什么事靠得住。”小瞎子又偷偷地笑。

    老瞎子没理他,骨头一样的眼珠又对着苍天。那儿,太阳正变成一汪血。

    两面脊背和山是一样的黄褐色。一座已经老了,嶙峋瘦骨像是山根下裸露的基石。另一座正年青。老瞎子七十岁,小瞎子才十七。

    小瞎子十四岁上父亲把他送到老瞎子这儿来,为的是让他学说书,这辈子好有个本事,将来可以独自在世上活下去。

    The old man had been storytelling for over fifty years, and everyone in this remote, desolate, mountain region knew him. Each day his hair grew greyer and his back more hunched. Month after month and year after year he carried his three-stringed banjo everywhere, stopping wherever lonely villagers were willing to pay for the entertainment of his banjo and stories.

    His opening lines were often just so:

    Ever since Pan Gu's division of heaven and earth,

    The emperors have ruled through the ages.

    When the Way prevailed, they ruled peacefully;

    But when the Way was absent, they oppressed the peasants.

    Lightly I pluck my three-stringed banjo, slowly I pause to tell a story;

    I have three thousand seven hundred stories,

    I wonder which one will stir your hearts tonight?

    Thereupon the audience would call out their choices: "Dong Yong sells himself to bury his father" for the old; "Wu Erlang's Midnight Raid of Centipede Mountain" for the young; and tales of the industrious and courageous maiden Qin Xianglian for the girls. That was the moment which gave the old blind man greatest pleasure; when he would forget about the fatigue of his body and the loneliness in his heart, and, cool and composed, take a few sips of water while waiting for the noise of the crowd to build, then suddenly slam his fingers into the strings and bellow: "Today I'll sing no other ballad but 'The Prince Luo Cheng', Early Tang-period young general.or I'll drink my tea and smoke my tobacco, then I'll sing the ballad of the woman whose tears felled the Great Wall. " A romantic folk tale about star-crossed lovers set during the Qin Dynasty (221—206 BC).The whole square would fall silent, and the old man would immerse himself in the spirit of the story. He knew a countless number of old tales. He even had an electric box, too; rumour had it that he had spent a great sum to buy it — from an outsider who lived well beyond the mountains — in order to learn new stories.

    Actually, the mountain villagers cared little what stories he sang and told. They all praised his playing of the three-stringed banjo as being skillful, graceful, yet with a wonderful touch of uninhibited madness as if his music carried the spirit of the sun, the moon and the people of the earth. Blind since birth and thus aurally attuned, the old man could simulate the sound of nearly anything, including men and women, wind and rain, beast and fowl.

    老瞎子说书已经说了五十多年。这一片偏僻荒凉的大山里的人们都知道他:头发一天天变白,背一天天变驼,年年月月背一把三弦琴满世界走,逢上有愿意出钱的地方就拨动琴弦唱一晚上,给寂寞的山村带来欢乐。开头常是这么几句:“自从盘古分天地,三皇五帝到如今,有道君王安天下,无道君王害黎民。轻轻弹响三弦琴,慢慢稍停把歌论,歌有三千七百本,不知哪本动人心。”于是听书的众人喊起来,老的要听董永卖身葬父,小的要听武二郎夜走蜈蚣岭,女人们想听秦香莲。这是老瞎子最知足的一刻,身上的疲劳和心里的孤寂全忘却,不慌不忙地喝几口水,待众人的吵嚷声鼎沸,便把琴弦一阵紧拨,唱道:“今日不把别人唱,单表公子小罗成。”或者:“茶也喝来烟也吸,唱一回哭倒长城的孟姜女。”满场立刻鸦雀无声,老瞎子也全心沉到自己所说的书中去。

    他会的老书数不尽。他还有一个电匣子,据说是花了大价钱从一个山外人手里买来,为的是学些新词儿,编些新曲儿。其实山里人倒不太在乎他说什么唱什么。人人都称赞他那三弦子弹得讲究,轻轻曼曼的,飘飘洒洒的,疯癫狂放的,那里头有天上的日月,有地上的生灵。老瞎子的嗓子能学出世上所有的声音,男人、女人、刮风下雨,兽啼禽鸣。不知道他脑子里能呈现出什么景象,他一落生就瞎了眼睛,从没见过这个世界。

    The blind lad had once seen the world, but only for his first three years, and so he hardly could have interpreted what he saw. He was little interested in playing the banjo and telling stories. The day his father brought him to live with the old blind man, despite his attempts to explain and plead with him, even deceive him, the lad had refused. But in the end his enchantment with that electric box enticed him to stay. He had clung to that box and let its sounds flow into his spirit, so much so that he failed to notice when his father departed.

    This mysterious box fascinated him; its endless talk of unfamiliar places and alien affairs fired his imagination, and aroused his fuzzy memories of colours and shapes. For instance, the box had said the sea was a body of water, boundless as the blue sky. Having once seen both water in a pot and the blue sky, he could imagine the sea as a huge pot of water which stretched as wide as the sky. Or beautiful girls; the box had described them as flowers in bloom but he refused to believe it — flowers were what he had seen when his mother's coffin was carried far into the mountains. But he wanted to think about girls; more and more he wanted to think about girls, especially that girl with piercing voice at Goat Valley — thinking about her always set his heart aflame. But once the box had sung, "A girl's eyes are like the sun," then he had a suitable image in mind, an image of his mother approaching him, silhouetted against the brilliant red sunset. Like everyone else, the lad used his limited knowledge to make inferences about the limitless world. But there was always something the blind lad could not imagine, such as a "twisting corridor."

    小瞎子可以算见过世界,但只有三年,那时还不懂事。他对说书和弹琴并无多少兴趣,父亲把他送来的时候费尽了唇舌,好说歹说连哄带骗,最后不如说是那个电匣子把他留住。他抱着电匣子听得入神,甚至没发觉父亲什么时候离去。

    这只神奇的匣子永远令他着迷,遥远的地方和稀奇古怪的事物使他幻想不绝,凭着三年朦胧的记忆,补充着万物的色彩和形象,譬如海,匣子里说蓝天就像大海,他记得蓝天,于是想象出海;匣子里说海是无边无际的水,他记得锅里的水,于是想象出满天排开的水锅。再譬如漂亮的姑娘,匣子里说就像盛开的花朵,他实在不相信会是那样,母亲的灵柩被抬到远山上去的时候,路上正开遍着野花,他永远记得却永远不愿意去想。但他愿意想姑娘,越来越愿意想;尤其是野羊坳的那个尖声细气的小妮子,总让他心里荡起波澜。直到有一回匣子里唱道,“姑娘的眼睛就像太阳”,这下他才找到了一个贴切的形象,想起母亲在红透的夕阳中向他走来的样子,其实人人都是根据自己的所知猜测着无穷的未知,以自己的感情勾画出世界。每个人的世界就都不同。

    也总有一些东西小瞎子无从想象,譬如“曲折的油狼”。

    That evening the lad had accompanied the old man in telling stories at Goat Valley. Again he had heard that young girl standing not far from him as she laughed in her distinctive voice when their story reached its climax:

    Luo Cheng rode his horse back to engage them in battle,

    Courageous Su Lie answered with his army.

    Su Lie's broadsword darted and flashed like a glittering stream,

    Luo Cheng's lance soared through the air like a thunderbolt.

    They appeared as two dragons at sea competing for a treasure,

    Or two tigers deep in the mountains battling for the pride.

    They fought for seven days and seven nights,

    And not a drop of tea touched Luo Cheng's lips.

    On his banjo the old man played the sounds of the driving rain and howling wind as he sang each word and phrase in a sonorous, forceful voice. But the lad was so distracted that he played out of tune.

    这天晚上,小瞎子跟着师父在野羊坳说书,又听见那小妮子站在离他不远处尖声细气地说笑。书正说到紧要处—

    “罗成回马再交战,大胆苏烈又兴兵。苏烈大刀如流水,罗成长枪似腾云,好似海中龙吊宝,犹如深山虎争林。又战七日并七夜,罗成清茶无点唇……”老瞎子把琴弹得如雨骤风疾,字字句句唱得铿锵。小瞎子却心猿意马,手底下早乱了套数……

    At the crest of Goat Hill, one kilometre from Goat Valley, was a small temple in which the master and his apprentice stayed. Some of the stone wall circling the temple had fallen in, leaving breaches; several rooms in the temple had severe warps in floors and walls and were pockmarked with holes both large and small. Only the large room at the centre could still keep out the wind and rain, presumably because in this room offerings were still made to the spirits. Three clay statues had long ago lost the decorous colourings of the mortal world and were thus left naked in their natural yellow earth tones, having returned to the simple and true, neither one distinguishable as clearly Buddhist or Taoist statues. In the courtyard and on the roofs and walls various weeds sprouted, so lush and flourishing that they supplied a strange vitality to the place. Each time the old man returned to Goat Valley he stayed here at no charge and without hassle. It was the lad's second time at the temple.

    Having finished storytelling quite late, the two of them set to work soon after arriving at the temple; the old man found a place for their baggage in the main hall while the lad busied himself building a fire to boil water beneath the caves of an adjacent hall. The stove they had made last time they had stayed here only needed some minor repairs. Bent at the waist, buttocks high in the air, the lad blew on the tiny fire. The smoke sent up by moist grass and kindling choked him and he reeled around the courtyard coughing violently. The old man chided, "Don't you know how to do anything right?"

    野羊岭上有一座小庙,离野羊坳村二里地,师徒二人就在这里住下。石头砌的院墙已经残断不全,几间小殿堂也歪斜欲倾百孔千疮,唯正中一间尚可遮蔽风雨,大约是因为这一间中毕竟还供奉着神灵。三尊泥像早脱尽了尘世的彩饰,还一身黄土本色返朴归真了,认不出是佛是道。院里院外、房顶墙头都长满荒藤野草,蓊蓊郁郁倒有生气。老瞎子每回到野羊坳说书都住这儿,不出房钱又不惹是非。小瞎子是第二次住在这儿。

    散了书已经不早,老瞎子在正殿里安顿行李,小瞎子在侧殿的檐下生火烧水。去年砌下的灶稍加修整就可以用。小瞎子撅着屁股吹火,柴草不干,呛得他满院里转着圈咳嗽。

    老瞎子在正殿里数叨他:“我看你能干好什么。”

    "But the wood's wet!"

    "I'm not talking about that, I'm talking about your banjo; what do you think of the way you played tonight?"

    The lad refused to take the bait. Having caught his breath, he returned to kneel by the fire, and, puffing out his cheeks, blew a monstrous breath on the embers.

    "If you don't want to ply this trade, then we can send for your father to take you home now. This cat-and-dog attitude won't do!"

    Coughing as he jumped back from the fire, the lad ended up after a few confused hops at the other side of the courtyard, again gasping for breath and cursing.

    "What's that you're saying?"

    "I'm cursing this fire."

    "Is that the way to blow on it?"

    "How else should I blow?"

    "How should you blow? Hmph!" The old man paused a moment, then said, "Blow as if this fire were the face of that girl of yours."

    The lad again did not venture a reply, and instead knelt by the fire to blow, silently wondering about Lanxiu's appearance.

    “柴湿嘛。”

    “我没说这事。我说的是你的琴,今儿晚上的琴你弹成了什么?”

    小瞎子不敢接这话茬儿,吸足了几口气又跪到灶火前去,鼓着腮帮子一通猛吹。“你要是不想干这行,就趁早给你爹捎信把你领回去。老这么闹猫闹狗的可不行,要闹回家闹去。”

    小瞎子咳嗽着从灶火边跳开,几步蹿到院子另一头,呼嗤呼嗤大喘气,嘴里一边骂。

    “说什么呢?”

    “我骂这火。”

    “有你那么吹火的?”

    “那怎么吹?”

    “怎么吹?哼,”老瞎子顿了顿,又说,“你就当这灶火是那妮子的脸!”

    小瞎子又不敢搭腔了,跪到灶火前去再吹,心想:真的,不知道兰秀儿的脸什么样。那个尖声细气的小妮子叫兰秀儿。

    "If the fire were that girl's face, I think you'd know how to blow without being shown." The lad began to laugh, and the more he laughed, the more he coughed.

    "What's so funny?"

    "Have you ever blown on a woman's face?"

    The old man was struck dumb for an instant. The lad fell to the ground roaring with laughter. "Ah, to hell with it!" The old man cursed and laughed, then his expression changed and he said no more.

    The flames inside the stove leapt up with a crackle. The lad went over to add wood but his mind was on Lanxiu. Just after they'd finished the storytelling, Lanxiu had squeezed over in front of him and softly said, "Hey! What was it you promised me last time?" With his master so near he dared not speak, but a moment later the force of the thronging crowd pushed Lanxiu up against him. "Eh? When I gave you that boiled egg for nothing?" She spoke louder this time. Meanwhile his master was busy chatting to some men, so he quickly said, "Shhh — I still remember." Lanxiu lowered her voice again, "You promised to let me hear the electric box, but you haven't yet."

    "Shhh, I still remember."

    “那要是妮子的脸,我看你不用教也会吹。”老瞎子说。

    小瞎子笑起来,越笑越咳嗽。

    “笑什么笑!”

    “您吹过妮子脸?”

    老瞎子一时语塞。小瞎子笑得坐在地上。“日他妈!”老瞎子骂道,笑笑,然后变了脸色,再不言语。

    灶膛里腾地一声,火旺起来。小瞎子再去添柴,一心想着兰秀儿。才散了书的那会儿,兰秀儿挤到他跟前来小声说:“哎,上回你答应我什么来?”师父就在旁边,他没敢吭声。人群挤来挤去,一会儿又把兰秀儿挤到他身边。“噫,上回吃了人家的煮鸡蛋倒白吃了?”兰秀儿说,声音比上回大。这时候师父正忙着跟几个老汉拉话,他赶紧说:“嘘—,我记着呢。”兰秀儿又把声音压低:“你答应给我听电匣子你还没给我听。”“嘘—,我记着呢。”幸亏那会儿人声嘈杂。

    No sound issued from the temple's main hall for a long while. Later the banjo sounded; the old man had just put on a new string. He should have been happy — after a single night at Goat Valley he had already gone through a string — but in fact the voice of his banjo sang out sad and strident.

    The lad, having detected the mournful tone, called from the courtyard, "Master, the water's boiled."

    No answer. The playing of the banjo sounded ever more strained.

    The lad carried a basin of hot water into the room, placed it before the master, and forced a laugh, saying, "How come you're trying to play through a second string tonight?"

    Preoccupied by thoughts of his past, the old man failed to hear him. The banjo sang out its troubled, restless tune as if it were telling of the wind and rain of each year in the wilderness, or of the countless brooks and rivulets winding throughout the mountains and valleys, or the hurried pit-a-pat of steps made by feet which knew no home. The lad grew slightly alarmed; it had been a long, long time since the master had been like this. Each time he would be racked with chest pains, general body aches, and it would be several months before he could get out of bed.

    "Master, perhaps you should wash your feet first."

    He continued playing.

    正殿里好半天没有动静。之后,琴声响了,老瞎子又上好了一根新弦。他本来应该高兴的,来野羊坳头一晚上就又弹断了一根琴弦。可是那琴声却低沉、零乱。

    小瞎子渐渐听出琴声不对,在院里喊:“水开了,师父。”

    没有回答。琴声一阵紧似一阵了。

    小瞎子端了一盆热水进来,放在师父跟前,故意嘻嘻笑着说:“您今晚还想弹断一根是怎么着?”

    老瞎子没听见,这会儿他自己的往事都在心中,琴声烦躁不安,像是年年旷野里的风雨,像是日夜山谷中的流溪,像是奔奔忙忙不知所归的脚步声。小瞎子有点害怕了:师父很久不这样了,师父一这样就要犯病,头疼、心口疼、浑身疼,会几个月爬不起炕来。

    “师父,您先洗脚吧。”

    琴声不停。

    "Master, you should wash your feet." The lad's voice trembled.

    He continued playing.

    "Master!"

    Abruptly he stopped playing and heaved a sigh; the lad breathed a sigh of relief. As the old man washed his feet, he sat respectfully by his side.

    "You go to bed," said the old man. "It's been a long day. "

    "And you?"

    "You go ahead; I want to let my feet soak — when a fellow gets old his ailments multiply." The old man spoke softly.

    "I'll wait for you."

    A breeze whisked leaves along the brick wall. In the distance two cats exchanged mournful cries in the night. From Goat Valley came the occasional sound of a dog's bark and subsequent crying of a child. The moon rose high and its white light shone through the lattices, beaming down on two blindmen and three clay deities.

    "Why wait for me? It's late. Don't you worry; there's nothing wrong with me," said the old man.

    "Did you hear me, lad?"

    “师父,您该洗脚了。”小瞎子的声音发抖。

    琴声不停。

    “师父!”

    琴声戛然而止,老瞎子叹了口气。小瞎子松了口气。

    老瞎子洗脚,小瞎子乖乖地坐在他身边。

    “睡去吧,”老瞎子说,“今儿个够累的了。”

    “您呢?”

    “你先睡,我得好好泡泡脚。人上了岁数毛病多。”老瞎子故意说得轻松。

    “我等您一块儿睡。”

    山深夜静。有了一点风,墙头的草叶子响。夜猫子在远处哀哀地叫。听得见野羊坳里偶尔有几声狗吠,又引得孩子哭。月亮升起来,白光透过残损的窗棂进了殿堂,照见两个瞎子和三尊神像。

    “等我干吗?时候不早了。”

    “你甭担心我,我怎么也不怎么。”老瞎子又说。

    “听见没有,小子?”

    The lad had already fallen asleep. As the old man gently pushed him into a better sleeping position, he mumbled a few words before nodding off again. As he pulled the lad's quilt over him, it was clear to the old man the lad's muscles were filling out more each day; the child had arrived at that age when he would think about those things: it was certain to be an awkward and frustrating period for him. And no one could suffer it for him.

    The old man held the banjo to his chest again and, gently caressing the taut strings, forced himself to silently repeat: another string is broken, another string is broken. Shaking the belly of the banjo, he could hear the scraping sound of the paper brushing across the snakeskin soundboard; this alone could purge his mind of sorrows and frustrations: it was his lifelong hope.

    小瞎子到底年轻,已经睡着。老瞎子推推他让他躺好,他嘴里咕囔了几句倒头睡去。老瞎子给他盖被时,从那身日渐发育的筋肉上觉出,这孩子到了要想那些事的年龄,非得有一段苦日子过不可了。唉,这事谁也替不了谁。

    老瞎子再把琴抱在怀里,摩挲着根根绷紧的琴弦,心里使劲念叨:又断了一根了,又断了一根了。再摇摇琴槽,有轻微的纸和蛇皮的磨擦声。唯独这事能为他排忧解烦。一辈子的愿望。

    The lad had a good dream and upon waking was startled to hear the rooster crowing. He dragged himself to his feet to listen. Master was sleeping peacefully. He felt for the large satchel, quietly drew out the electric box, and tiptoed from the room.

    He walked for a while in the direction of Goat Valley before noticing something was not right: the crowing of the chickens had subsided, and Goat Valley was again quiet and devoid of the villagers' stirrings. Confused, he stopped a moment. Could it be only the cock's first crowing? He thought to switch on the electric box. It was quiet, too. He knew from experience that meant it must be the middle of the night. This electric box was like a clock; one could judge the time based on which program was playing.

    Just as the lad returned to the temple, the old man awaked.

    "What are you doing?"

    "I went to take a piss."

    All morning the master forced him to practice banjo. Not until after lunch did the lad have a chance to sneak out of the temple and head down to Goat Valley. The chickens had dozed off in the shade of trees, the pigs lay at the foot of the wall grunting in their sleep, and the sun beat down fiercely again: the village rested, peaceful and quiet.

    小瞎子做了一个好梦,醒来吓了一跳,鸡已经叫了。他一骨碌爬起来听听,师父正睡得香,心说还好。他摸到那个大挎包,悄悄地掏出电匣子,蹑手蹑脚出了门。

    往野羊坳方向走了一会儿,他才觉出不对头,鸡叫声渐渐停歇,野羊坳里还是静静的没有人声。他愣了一会儿,鸡才叫头遍吗?灵机一动扭开电匣子。电匣子里也是静悄悄。现在是半夜。他半夜里听过匣子,什么都没有。这匣子对他来说还是个表,只要扭开一听,便知道是几点钟,什么时候有什么节目都是一定的。

    小瞎子回到庙里,老瞎子正翻身。

    “干吗呢?”

    “撒尿去了。”小瞎子说。

    一上午,师父逼着他练琴。直到晌午饭后,小瞎子才瞅机会溜出庙来,溜进野羊坳。鸡也在树阴下打盹,猪也在墙根下说着梦话,太阳又热得凶,村子里很安静。

    Stepping up on the millstone, the lad clutched the top of the wall in front of Lanxiu's home, and called, "Lanxiu — Lanxiu!"

    From inside rolled the sound of a thunderous snore.

    He hesitated a moment, then raised his voice slightly, "Lanxiu! Lanxiu!"

    The dog began barking, the snoring stopped, and a sleepy, grouchy voice called out, "Who is it?"

    The lad could not muster a reply and instead pulled his head back from above the wall. He heard the smack of lips inside the room and then a return of the snore.

    He sighed, stepped down from the millstone, and sullenly headed back toward the temple. Suddenly he heard a gate creak open behind him, then the sound of dainty footsteps fast approaching.

    "Guess who!" It was that piercing voice. She covered his eyes with the soft flesh of her hands — but that was hardly necessary. Not yet fifteen, Lanxiu was still naive.

    "Lanxiu!"

    "Did you bring the electric box?"

    小瞎子踩着磨盘,扒着兰秀儿家的墙头轻声喊:“兰秀儿—兰秀儿—”

    屋里传出雷似的鼾声。

    他犹豫了片刻,把声音稍稍抬高:“兰秀儿—!兰秀儿—!"

    狗叫起来。屋里的鼾声停了,一个闷声闷气的声音问:“谁呀?”

    小瞎子不敢回答,把脑袋从墙头上缩下来。

    屋里吧唧了一阵嘴,又响起鼾声。

    他叹口气,从磨盘上下来,怏怏地往回走。忽听见身后嘎吱一声院门响,随即一阵细碎的脚步声向他跑来。

    “猜是谁?”尖声细气。小瞎子的眼睛被一双柔软的小手捂上了。—这才多余呢。兰秀儿不到十五岁,认真说还是个孩子。

    “兰秀儿!”

    “电匣子拿来没?”

    Pulling open the front of his jacket, the lad revealed the electric box hanging at his waist. "Shhh! Not here; let's find some place where there's no one around."

    "Why?"

    "Otherwise we'll draw a crowd."

    "So?"

    "Having too many listeners wastes the batteries."

    The two of them threaded their way through the village and came to a spring at the rear of a small hill. The lad abruptly asked, "Have you ever seen a twisting corridor?"

    "Huh?"

    "A twisting corridor."

    "A twisting corridor?"

    "You know?"

    "Do you know?"

    "Sure. And a green lounge chair. It's a chair."

    "Who doesn't know what a chair is ."

    "Then how about a twisting corridor?"

    小瞎子掀开衣襟,匣子挂在腰上。“嘘—,别在这儿,找个没人的地方听去。”

    “咋啦?”

    “回头招好些人。”

    “咋啦?”

    “那么多人听,费电。”

    两个人东拐西弯,来到山背后那眼小泉边。小瞎子忽然想起件事,问兰秀儿:“你见过曲折的油狼吗?”

    “啥?”

    “曲折的油狼。”

    “曲折的油狼?”

    “知道吗?”

    “你知道?”

    “当然。还有绿色的长椅。就是一把椅子。”

    “椅子谁不知道。”

    “那曲折的油狼呢?”

    Lanxiu shook her head, bemused. Only then did he carefully switch on the electric box, from which floated a sprightly melody about the gully. Here it was cool and free of disruptions.

    "This one's called Higher, Step by Step," the lad announced, and he sang along. A little later came a tune called Song of the Drought, and he could sing along with that song, too. Bashful Lanxiu felt embarrassed.

    "This song is called A Monk Longing for Women."

    "You're kidding," Lanxiu laughingly pronounced.

    "You don't believe me?"

    "No, I don't."

    "As you wish. Stranger things than that come out of this box." The lad dipped his foot in the cold spring water; after a moment's reflection, he asked, "Do you know what kiss means?"

    "What does it mean?"

    This time it was the lad's turn to laugh, which he gave in lieu of a reply. Lanxiu, sensing it was a bad word, blushed, and asked no further.

    The music broadcast finished, and a female voice announced, "Next is a program discussing hygiene."

    兰秀儿摇摇头,有点崇拜小瞎子了。小瞎子这才郑重其事地扭开电匣子,一支欢快的乐曲在山沟里飘荡。

    这地方又凉快又没有人来打扰。

    “这是《步步高》。”小瞎子说,跟着哼。

    一会儿又换了支曲子,叫《旱天雷》,小瞎子还能跟着哼。兰秀儿觉得很惭愧。

    “这曲子也叫《和尚思妻》。”

    兰秀儿笑起来:“瞎骗人!”

    “你不信?”

    “不信。”

    “爱信不信。这匣子里说的古怪事多啦。”小瞎子玩着凉凉的泉水,想了一会儿。“你知道什么叫接吻吗?”

    “你说什么叫?”

    这回轮到小瞎子笑,光笑不答。兰秀儿明白准不是好话,红着脸不再问。

    音乐播完了,一个女人说:“现在是讲卫生节目。”

    "Huh?" Lanxiu had not heard it clearly.

    "A program about hygiene."

    "What's that?"

    "Hmm — do you have lice in your hair?"

    "Hey! Don't touch me!"

    The lad quickly drew back his hand, and hurriedly explained, "If you have lice, that means you don't pay attention to hygiene."

    "No! Absolutely not!" Lanxiu scratched her head and felt something itchy. "Hey! Look what I found on you! "she said, holding his head. "Look at these big ones I caught."

    At that moment they heard the old man calling from halfway up the hill: "Boy, why haven't you come back yet? It's time to make dinner, then after we finish eating, we have to go tell stories." He had been standing there listening for some time.

    It was already dusk in Goat Valley. From the midst of the jumble of sounds — sheep, donkeys, dogs and children — one could see the smoke rising from the kitchen chimneys. Up on Goat Hill the small temple silently rested in the middle of the day's last faint glow of sunlight.

    “啥?”兰秀儿没听清。

    “讲卫生。”

    “是什么?”

    “嗯—,你头发上有虱子吗?”

    “去—,别动!”

    小瞎子赶忙缩回手来,赶忙解释:“要有就是不讲卫生。”

    “我才没有。”兰秀儿抓抓头,觉得有些刺痒。“噫—,瞧你自个儿吧!”兰秀儿一把搬过小瞎子的头。“看我捉几个大的。”

    这时候听见老瞎子在半山上喊:“小子,还不给我回来!该做饭了,吃罢饭还得去说书!”他已经站在那儿听了好一会儿了。

    野羊坳里已经昏暗,羊叫、驴叫、狗叫、孩子们叫,处处起了炊烟。野羊岭上还有一线残阳,小庙正在那淡薄的光中,没有声响。

    The lad was again bent over building a fire, rump protruding. The old man sat to the side washing the rice; he used his sense of hearing to pick out bits of sand and grit.

    "The wood is dry today," said the lad.

    "Uh-huh."

    "Boiled millet again?"

    "Uh-huh."

    The lad was full of pep and eager to talk, but the master was still out of sorts — better to keep quiet and avoid trouble. Each of them silently went about the business of preparing their meal.

    It was past nightfall when the lad put millet into a bowl and passed it to his master. "Go ahead," he spoke nervously, uncharacteristically diffident.

    The old man finally spoke. "You listen to me for a minute, O.K.?"

    "Uh-huh," came his garbled reply as he stuffed the food into his mouth.

    "If you're not going to listen, I won't bother."

    "Who said I wouldn't listen? I said 'Uh-huh'!”

    "I have experience; I understand many things you don't."

    小瞎子又撅着屁股烧火。老瞎子坐在一旁淘米,凭着听觉他能把米中的沙子捡出来。

    “今天的柴挺干。”小瞎子说。

    “嗯。”

    “还是焖饭?”

    “嗯。”

    小瞎子这会儿精神百倍,很想找些话说,但是知道师父的气还没消,心说还是少找骂。

    两个人默默地干着自己的事,又默默地一块儿把饭做熟。岭上也没了阳光。

    小瞎子盛了一碗小米饭,先给师父:“您吃吧。”声音怯怯的,无比驯顺。

    老瞎子终于开了腔:“小子,你听我一句行不?”

    “嗯。”小瞎子往嘴里扒拉饭,回答得含糊。

    “你要是不愿意听,我就不说。”

    “谁说不愿意听了?我说‘嗯’!"

    “我是过来人,总比你知道的多。”

    The lad silently stuffed the food into his mouth.

    "I've been through that before."

    "Been through what?"

    "You're getting smart with me again!" The old man flung his chopsticks onto the stovetop.

    "Lanxiu just wanted to hear the electric box. We were just listening to the electric box together."

    "And what else?"

    "Nothing else."

    "Nothing?"

    "And I asked her if she'd ever seen a twisting corridor."

    "That's not what I'm talking about!”小瞎子闷头扒拉饭。

    “我经过那号事。”

    “什么事?”

    “又跟我贫嘴!”老瞎子把筷子往灶台上一摔。

    “兰秀儿光是想听听电匣子。我们光是一块儿听电匣子来。”

    “还有呢?”

    “没有了。”

    “没有了?”

    “我还问她见没见过曲折的油狼。”

    “我没问你这个!”

    "And then — and then —” the lad fell short on pluck. "I don't know how but we were soon talking about lice..."

    "And what else?"

    "That's all. Really, that's all!"

    The two of them continued their meal in silence. The old man had looked after his apprentice for several years and he knew the child would not lie: more than anything else, his honesty was beyond reproof.

    "Listen to me for a minute; I guarantee it won't hurt you; keep your distance from that girl."

    "Lanxiu is a good person."

    "I know she is, but it's better if you keep a distance from her. Many years ago my master told me the same thing — and I didn't believe it either."

    "Your master? Speaking about Lanxiu?"

    "Not about Lanxiu. She wasn't even born then; neither of you had been born yet." The old man, long-faced, turned toward the dense sunset colour on the horizon, his bonelike eyes flitting uncontrollably. After a long while, the lad spoke: "Tonight you can probably play through another string." He wanted the master to feel happy.

    “后来,后来,”小瞎子不那么气壮了,“不知怎么一下就说起了虱子……”

    “还有呢?”

    “没了。真没了!”

    两个人又默默地吃饭。老瞎子带了这徒弟好几年,知道这孩子不会撒谎,这孩子最让人放心的地方就是诚实、厚道。

    “听我一句话,保准对你没坏处。以后离那妮子远点儿。”

    “兰秀儿人不坏。”

    “我知道她不坏,可你离她远点儿好。早年你师爷这么跟我说,我也不信……”

    “师爷?说兰秀儿?”

    “什么兰秀儿,那会儿还没她呢。那会儿还没有你们呢……”老瞎子阴郁的脸又转向暮色浓重的天际,骨头一样白色的眼珠不住地转动,不知道在那儿他能“看”见什么。

    许久,小瞎子说:“今儿晚上您多半又能弹断一根琴弦。”想让师父高兴些。

    On this night the master and the apprentice again told stories in Goat Valley.

    Last time we sang of Luo Cheng's death,

    and his soul's journey to the netherworld.

    Don't make a sound, don't make a fuss, gentle folk.

    Remain orderly and listen while I sing the sequel.

    Luo Cheng's spirit left its place in Hades,

    and a whirlwind raised his body.

    In a gusty rush comes the wind,

    Chang'an lies not far before us.

    The old man's banjo sounded sloppy, as did the lad's. The lad was enjoying the memory of feeling that pair of soft, gentle hands on his face, and of having his head brushed by Lanxiu. The old man was thinking of much more than that.

    这天晚上师徒俩又在野羊坳说书。“上回唱到罗成死,三魂七魄赴幽冥,听歌君子莫嘈嚷,列位听我道下文。罗成阴魂出地府,一阵旋风就起身,旋风一阵来得快,长安不远面前存……”老瞎子的琴声也乱,小瞎子的琴声也乱。小瞎子回忆着那双柔软的小手捂在自己脸上的感觉,还有自己的头被兰秀儿搬过去时的滋味。老瞎子想起的事情更多……

    That night the old man tossed and turned; so many things from the past cluttered his mind he had a steady din in his ears and unrest in his heart, and deep inside he felt as if something were about to burst. The old illness was attacking again, he thought. He at once felt dizziness, a strange pressure in his abdomen, and general discomfort throughout his body. He sat upright and mumbled to himself, "I can't fall sick again; if I fall sick then the chance to play through those strings this year will be lost." He touched his banjo again; if he could only strum a few bars, flowing with the whims and fancies of his heart, then the thoughts and anguish on his mind might subside. But the lad was sleeping peacefully.

    His only recourse was to think about that medicine and the banjo strings: he still had a few strings to go, just the last few strings. Then he could go get that medicine, then he could see the world: the mountains he had climbed, the paths he had trodden, the sun whose warmth and blazing heat he had felt all those countless times, and the moon and stars — and what else? Suddenly he felt a great emptiness inside; had it all been just for this? What else was there? In his sleepy daze, the things he hoped for seemed much more than just these things.

    The night breeze ambled about the mountain.

    An owl hooted her sorrowful call.

    夜里老瞎子翻来覆去睡不安稳,多少往事在他耳边喧嚣,在他心头动荡,身体里仿佛有什么东西要爆炸。坏了,要犯病,他想。头昏,胸口憋闷,浑身紧巴巴地难受。他坐起来,对自己叨咕:“可别犯病,一犯病今年就甭想弹够那些琴弦了。”他又摸到琴。要能叮叮当当随心所欲地疯弹一阵,心头的忧伤或许就能平息,耳边的往事或许就会消散。可是小瞎子正睡得香甜。

    他只好再全力去想那张药方和琴弦:还剩下几根,还只剩最后几根了。那时就可以去抓药了,然后就能看见这个世界—他无数次爬过的山,无数次走过的路,无数次感到过她的温暖和炽热的太阳,无数次梦想着的蓝天、月亮和星星……还有呢?突然间心里一阵空,空得深重。就只为了这些?还有什么?他朦胧中所盼望的东西似乎比这要多得多……

    夜风在山里游荡。

    猫头鹰又在凄哀地叫。

    But now he was old, and in any case he had just a few more years; what was lost was lost forever: that is what he seemed to have just realized. Seventy years of suffering and hardship, all for the purpose of getting one look at the world — was it worth it?

    The lad laughed in his sleep, and dreamt aloud, saying, "It's a chair, Lanxiu."

    The old man sat quietly. Sitting equally quietly were those three clay deities which were neither clearly Buddhist nor Taoist statues.

    At the sound of the first cock crow the old man decided that at dawn he would leave Goat Valley with the boy. Lanxiu was a good person, but the prospects for these two was something the old blindman could "see" most clearly. At the second cock crow he began to gather their things.

    But upon waking, the lad was found to be ill, having both a bad stomach and a fever. The old man had to set back the date of departure. For several days straight the old man busied himself building fires, washing rice, collecting firewood, or uprooting and boiling medicinal herbs, all the while consoling himself. "It's worth it; of course it's worth it." It seemed that repeating those words was his only hope of countering the enervation of despair. "I must have one look. What else was there? To quit now and die? And besides, I only have a few strings left to go." The old man regained his composure and went down each evening to tell stories in Goat Valley.

    不过现在他老了,无论如何没几年活头了,失去的已经永远失去了,他像是刚刚意识到这一点。七十年中所受的全部辛苦就为了最后能看一眼世界,这值得吗?他问自己。

    小瞎子在梦里笑,在梦里说:“那是一把椅子,兰秀儿……”

    老瞎子静静地坐着。静静地坐着的还有那三尊分不清是佛是道的泥像。

    鸡叫头遍的时候老瞎子决定,天一亮就带这孩子离开野羊坳。否则这孩子受不了,他自己也受不了。兰秀儿人不坏,可这事会怎么结局,老瞎子比谁都“看”得清楚。鸡叫二遍,老瞎子开始收拾行李。

    可是一早起来小瞎子病了,肚子疼,随即又发烧。老瞎子只好把行期推迟。

    一连好几天,老瞎子无论是烧火、淘米、捡柴,还是给小瞎子挖药、煎药,心里总在说:“值得,当然值得。”要是不这么反反复复对自己说,身上的力气似乎就全要垮掉。“我非要最后看一眼不可。”“要不怎么着?就这么死了去?”“再说就只剩下最后几根了。”后面三句都是理由。老瞎子又冷静下来,天天晚上还到野羊坳去说书。

    This unexpectedly brought good fortune to the lad. Each evening after the master had descended the hill, Lanxiu would steal into the temple to hear the electric box. She would also bring hard-boiled eggs, on the condition that he let her manipulate the controls of the electric box. "Which way should I twist?"

    "To the right."

    "It won't twist."

    "To the right, dummy — don't you know which way is right?"

    The box crackled with static — it seemed to make all kinds of sounds — but regardless, the two of them loved to listen.

    After a few days the old man had played through three more strings.

    One night, he was down in Goat Valley alone, playing and singing:

    Today we'll not sing of Luo Cheng's reincarnation,

    But instead the Qin Prince Li Shimin.

    Upon hearing of the death of his most loyal minister,

    The Prince shed tears.

    "Your death," he said, "is, for some, of no consequence, But for me it means I have no one worthy to be my general."

    这一下小瞎子倒来了福气。每天晚上师父到岭下去了,兰秀儿就猫似的轻轻跳进庙里来听匣子。兰秀儿还带来熟的鸡蛋,条件是得让她亲手去扭那匣子的开关。“往哪边扭?”“往右。”“扭不动。”“往右,笨货,不知道哪边是右哇?”“咔哒”一下,无论是什么便响起来,无论是什么俩人都爱听。

    又过了几天,老瞎子又弹断了三根琴弦。

    这一晚,老瞎子在野羊坳里自弹自唱:“不表罗成投胎事,又唱秦王李世民。秦王一听双泪流,可怜爱卿丧残身,你死一身不打紧,缺少扶朝上将军……”

    Meanwhile a lively scene was taking place inside the temple on Goat Mountain: the electric box was blaring the sounds of an embattled city — a youth crying, an adult shouting, rumbling of explosions, the call of trumpets. The moonlight beamed into the main hall, where the lad was reclined nibbling a hard-boiled egg, and Lanxiu was seated by his side. Both of them listened eagerly and occasionally laughed, sometimes not even knowing why.

    "Where did your master get this electric box?"

    "From someone outside the mountains."

    "Have you ever been outside the mountains?"

    "No. But I'll go someday; I'll take a ride on a train."

    "A train?"

    "You don't know what a train is either? Dummy!"

    "Oh, I know, I know. It spouts puffs of smoke, right?"

    After a while, Lanxiu said, "Maybe sometime I'll go outside the mountains." She spoke a little uneasily.

    "Is that so?" The lad sat up erect. "Then you can find out what a twisting corridor is."

    "Do you think all the people outside the mountains have electric boxes?"

    野羊岭上的小庙里这时更热闹。电匣子的音量开得挺大,又是孩子哭,又是大人喊,轰隆隆地又响炮,嘀嘀哒哒地又吹号。月光照进正殿,小瞎子躺着啃鸡蛋,兰秀儿坐在他旁边。两个人都听得兴奋,时而大笑,时而稀里糊涂莫名其妙。

    “这匣子你师父哪买来?”

    “从一个山外头的人手里。”

    “你们到山外头去过?”兰秀儿问。

    “没。我早晚要去一回就是,坐坐火车。”

    “火车?”

    “火车你也不知道?笨货。”

    “噢,知道知道,冒烟哩是不是?”

    过了一会儿兰秀儿又说:“保不准我就得到山外头去。”语调有些恓惶。

    “是吗?”小瞎子一挺坐起来:“那你到底瞧瞧曲折的油狼是什么。”

    “你说是不是山外头的人都有电匣子?”

    "Who knows. Did you hear me clearly? This twisting corridor is outside the mountains."

    "Then I must get an electric box from them," Lanxiu mused to herself.

    "You want one?" The lad chuckled, then laughed without restraint. "Why not get two, seeing as how you're so clever. Ha, do you know how many thousands of yuan this box cost? Even if you sold yourself, I doubt if you could buy one."

    Lanxiu felt at once hurt and indignant. She grabbed the lad's ear, and twisting with force, cursed, "Go to hell blind boy."

    The two of them began wrestling inside the temple. The three clay statues watched impassively. The two youths collided, their pubescent bodies became entangled, one pressed down on top of the other, then the reverse, and their curses changed to laughter.

    Exhausted, they ceased struggling and lay sprawled together on the ground facing each other, hearts pounding, gasping for breath, neither of them willing to pull away from the other. Lanxiu's breath blew on the lad's face; he felt her allure, and recalling his master's words that day while he was building the fire, he blew on Lanxiu's face. Lanxiu did not shy away.

    "Hey," the lad whispered, "you know what a kiss is?"

    "What is it?" Lanxiu whispered back.

    “谁知道。我说你听清楚没有?曲、折、的、油、狼,这东西就在山外头。”

    “那我得跟他们要一个电匣子。”兰秀儿自言自语地想心事。

    “要一个?”小瞎子笑了两声,然后屏住气,然后大笑:“你干吗不要两儿?你可真本事大。你知道这匣子几千块钱一个?把你卖了吧,怕也换不来。”

    兰秀儿心里正委屈,一把揪住小瞎子的耳朵使劲拧,骂道:“好你个死瞎子。”

    两个人在殿堂里扭打起来。三尊泥像袖手旁观帮不上忙。两个年青的正在发育的身体碰撞在一起,纠缠在一起,一个把一个压在身下,一会儿又颠倒过来,骂声变成笑声。匣子在一边唱。

    打了好一阵子,两个人都累得住了手,心怦怦跳,面对面躺着喘气,不言声儿,谁却也不愿意再拉开距离。

    兰秀儿呼出的气吹在小瞎子脸上,小瞎子感到了诱惑,并且想起那天吹火时师父说的话,就往兰秀儿脸上吹气。兰秀儿并不躲。

    “嘿,”小瞎子小声说,“你知道接吻是什么了吗?”

    “是什么?”兰秀儿的声音也小。

    The lad whispered the answer in her ear. Lanxiu said nothing. Before the old man came back, they gave it a try — what delight!

    On this very evening, the old man had unexpectedly played through the last two strings. He half-ran, half-crawled his way up the hill back to the temple. The lad, frightened, asked, "Master, what's wrong?"

    The old man sat gasping for breath, unable to speak. The lad's heavy conscience struck terror in his heart: could it be that the master had found out about him and Lanxiu?

    The old man finally believed it was true: it had all been worth it. A lifetime of suffering had been worth it. To see just once, to have only one glimpse: it was all worth it.

    "Boy, tomorrow I'm going to get the medicine. "

    "Tomorrow?"

    "Tomorrow."

    "You broke another string?"

    "Two. I broke two."

    小瞎子对着兰秀儿的耳朵告诉她。兰秀儿不说话。老瞎子回来之前,他们试着亲了嘴儿,滋味真不坏……

    就是这天晚上,老瞎子弹断了最后两根琴弦。两根弦一齐断了。他没料到。他几乎是连跑带爬地上了野羊岭,回到小庙里。

    小瞎子吓了一跳:“怎么了,师父?”

    老瞎子喘吁吁地坐在那儿,说不出话。

    小瞎子有些犯嘀咕:莫非是他和兰秀儿干的事让师父知道了?

    老瞎子这才相信:一切都是值得的。一辈子的辛苦都是值得的。能看一回,好好看一回,怎么都是值得的。

    “小子,明天我就去抓药。”

    “明天?”

    “明天。”

    “又断了一根了?”

    “两根。两根都断了。”

    The old man removed the strings from his banjo, rubbed them with his fingers, then bundled them together with the other nine hundred ninety eight strings.

    "You're going tomorrow?"

    "I'll get started at daybreak."

    The lad's heart sank as the old man peeled the snakeskin away from the belly of his banjo.

    "But I'm not healthy yet," the lad muttered in protest.

    "Oh, I've thought about that. You stay here; I'll be back within ten days."

    The lad was excited beyond all hope.

    "Can you manage by yourself?"

    "Yes!"

    The old man had already forgotten about Lanxiu. "Food, drink, and firewood are all here. When you're well and back on your feet again you should practice storytelling on your own. All right?"

    "All right," he affirmed, but somehow the lad felt as though he was forsaking his master.

    老瞎子把那两根弦卸下来,放在手里揉搓了一会儿,然后把它们并到另外的九百九十八根中去,绑成一捆。

    “明天就走?”

    “天一亮就动身。”

    小瞎子心里一阵发凉。老瞎子开始剥琴槽上的蛇皮。

    “可我的病还没好利索。”小瞎子小声叨咕。

    “噢,我想过了,你就先留在这儿,我用不了十天就回来。”

    小瞎子喜出望外。

    “你一个人行不?”

    “行!”小瞎子紧忙说。

    老瞎子早忘了兰秀儿的事。“吃的、喝的、烧的全有。你要是病好利索了,也该学着自个儿去说回书。行吗?”

    “行。”小瞎子觉得有点对不住师父。

    Having peeled back the snakeskin soundboard, the old man reached inside the belly of the banjo and pulled out a neatly folded slip of paper. Thinking back on when he had put this prescription inside the banjo — he was only twenty then — gave him the shivers.

    The lad too, solemnly rubbed the prescription between his fingers.

    "My master went his whole life without getting the justice due to him."

    "How many strings did he play through?"

    "He might have played through one thousand, but he only recorded eight hundred, or I'm sure he would have made it."

    The old blindman set out before dawn. He said he would be gone at most ten days, but in fact it was winter when the old man returned to Goat Valley. On the horizon, the gloomy grey of the sky met the snow-covered whiteness of the mountain range. Without sound or spirit, the vast expanse rested silently before him. Against this scene, the bobbing of the old man's blackened straw hat appeared all the more pronounced as he hobbled up Goat Hill. As he walked through the courtyard the rustling of leaves startled a fox and sent it scampering away.

    A villager told him the lad had left a few days earlier.

    蛇皮剥开了,老瞎子从琴槽中取出一张叠得方方正正的纸条。他想起这药方放进琴槽时,自己才二十岁,便觉得浑身上下都好像冷。

    小瞎子也把那药方放在手里摸了一会儿,也有了几分肃穆。

    “你师爷一辈子才冤呢。”

    “他弹断了多少根?”

    “他本来能弹够一千根,可他记成了八百。要不然他能弹断一千根。”

    天不亮老瞎子就上路了。他说最多十天就回来,谁也没想到他竟去了那么久。

    老瞎子回到野羊坳时已经是冬天。

    漫天大雪,灰暗的天空连接着白色的群山。没有声息,处处也没有生气,空旷而沉寂。所以老瞎子那顶发了黑的草帽就尤其躜动得显著。他蹒蹒跚跚地爬上野羊岭。庙院中衰草瑟瑟,蹿出一只狐狸,仓惶逃远。

    村里人告诉他,小瞎子已经走了些日子。

    "I told him to wait for me."

    "I don't know why, but he's already left."

    "Did he say where? Did he leave a message?"

    "He said you don't need to worry about him."

    "When did he leave?"

    People said he left quite some time ago, the day Lanxiu was married to someone from outside the mountains. The old blindman understood.

    The villagers begged the old man to stay in Goat Valley telling stories for the winter, for where could he go in the midst of this snow and ice? The old man pointed to his banjo, the neck of which, the people now saw, had no strings. The old man appeared thin and pallid; his breathing was short, his voice hoarse: he looked almost unfamiliar to the villagers. He said he had to find his apprentice.

    “我告诉他我回来。”

    “不知道他干吗就走了。”

    “他没说去哪儿?留下什么话没?”

    “他说让您甭找他。”

    “什么时候走的?”

    人们想了好久,都说是在兰秀儿嫁到山外去的那天。

    老瞎子心里便一切全都明白。

    众人劝老瞎子留下来,这么冰天雪地的上哪去?不如在野羊坳说一冬书。老瞎子指指他的琴,人们见琴柄上空荡荡已经没了琴弦。老瞎子面容也憔悴,呼吸也孱弱,嗓音也沙哑了,完全变了个人。他说得去找他的徒弟。

    Were it not for his concern, the old man would not have returned to Goat Valley. The prescription he had safeguarded for fifty years turned out to be a blank slip of paper. At first disbelieving, he had asked countless numbers of literate and honest people to read it for him, and all had attested it was blank. The old man had sat for a short spell on the steps of the apothecary's shop, or at least it seemed only a short time. In fact, he had sat there several days and nights, his bone-like eyes turned to the sky, his face even taking on the same pallor. Some passers-by, presuming him insane, comforted and consoled him. The old man had laughed bitterly: why would he wait until the age of seventy to go crazy? He simply had no interest in playing the banjo again: the object which had breathed in him the will to live, to walk, and to sing, had suddenly vanished. The old man's heartstrings had snapped, and like an untightened string, could no longer produce a pleasant melody. He had sequestered himself in a small inn where each day he lay on his bed, neither strumming nor singing, feeling the flame of his body dying out. But when he had spent all his money, he suddenly remembered his apprentice, whom he knew was awaiting his return.

    若不是还想着他的徒弟,老瞎子就回不到野羊坳。那张他保存了五十年的药方原来是一张无字的白纸。他不信,请了多少个识字而又诚实的人帮他看,人人都说那果真就是一张无字的白纸。老瞎子在药铺前的台阶上坐了一会儿,他以为是一会儿,其实已经几天几夜,骨头一样的眼珠在询问苍天,脸色也变成骨头一样地苍白。有人以为他是疯了,安慰他,劝他。老瞎子苦笑;七十岁了再疯还有什么意思?他只是再不想动弹,吸引着他活下去、走下去、唱下去的东西骤然间消失干净。就像一根不能拉紧的琴弦,再难弹出赏心悦耳的曲子。老瞎子的心弦断了。现在发现那目的原来是空的。老瞎子在一个小客店里住了很久,觉得身体里的一切都在熄灭。他整天躺在炕上,不弹也不唱,一天天迅速地衰老。直到花光了身上所有的钱,直到忽然想起了他的徒弟,他知道自己的死期将至,可那孩子在等他回去。

    As he bobbed his way along, a tiny black spot in the universe, the old man reminisced on days gone by: he realized all the bustle, the zestful trekking across mountains, the banjo playing, even the anxieties and frustration were in fact a joy! Then he had had something to hold his heart strings taut, even if it was an illusion. The old man thought of his own master's final days. His master had sealed that prescription, which he himself had never used, inside the old man's banjo. "Don't give in; play a few more years and you'll open your eyes and see." He was only a child when he'd heard those words. His master had fallen silent a long while before saying, "Remember, a person's life is just like these banjo strings: when pulled taut, they can be played; if they can be played, that's enough." So it was. The point was to draw some enjoyment from the strings while they were stretched tight. But could he tell the lad that? The old man had been prepared to gird the lad with knowledge of the truth, but thoughts of the blank piece of paper emasculated his will.

    He found the lad much as he had expected: exhausted and despondent, and in the lad's words, awaiting his death. The old man knew it wasn't faking sorrow. He pulled the defenseless lad back into a cave.

    茫茫雪野,皑皑群山,天地之间躜动着一个黑点。走近时,老瞎子的身影弯得如一座桥。他去找他的徒弟。他知道那孩子目前的心情、处境。

    他想自己先得振作起来,但是不行,前面明明没有了目标。

    他一路走,便怀恋起过去的日子,才知道以往那些奔奔忙忙兴致勃勃地翻山、赶路、弹琴,乃至心焦、忧虑都是多么欢乐!那时有个东西把心弦扯紧,虽然那东西原是虚设。老瞎子想起他师父临终时的情景。他师父把那张自己没用上的药方封进他的琴槽。“您别死,再活几年,您就能睁眼看一回了。”说这话时他还是个孩子。他师父久久不言语,最后说:“记住,人的命就像这琴弦,拉紧了才能弹好,弹好了就够了。”……不错,那意思就是说:目的本来没有。老瞎子知道怎么对自己的徒弟说了。可是他又想:能把一切都告诉小瞎子吗?老瞎子又试着振作起来,可还是不行,总摆脱不掉那张无字的白纸……

    在深山里,老瞎子找到了小瞎子。

    小瞎子正跌倒在雪地里,一动不动,想那么等死。老瞎子懂得那绝不是装出来的悲哀。老瞎子把他拖进一个山洞,他已无力反抗。

    The old man picked up a pile of firewood and made a fire.

    The lad gradually began to cry, at which point the old man relaxed. Let him cry for all he is worth; if he can still cry, then he will at some time have cried enough.

    Shadows grew long and the sky darkened while the lad cried; the old man waited silently. The firelight and the sobs startled and flushed a rabbit, a pheasant, a mountain goat, a fox and a sparrowhawk.

    Finally the lad spoke, "Why are we blind?"

    "Just because we're blind."

    At length the lad spoke again. "I want to open my eyes and see; Master, even if only once, I want to open my eyes and see!"

    The old man poked the fire.

    This snow stopped. Against the ashen-coloured sky, the sun appeared, flashing like a small mirror. A hawk glided by in stable flight.

    "Then play your banjo," said the old man, "play through the strings for all you're worth."

    老瞎子捡了些柴,打起一堆火。

    小瞎子渐渐有了哭声。老瞎子放了心,任他尽情尽意地哭。只要还能哭就还有救,只要还能哭就有哭够的时候。

    小瞎子哭了几天几夜,老瞎子就那么一声不吭地守候着。火光和哭声惊动了野兔子、山鸡、野羊、狐狸和鹞鹰……

    终于小瞎子说话了:“干吗咱们是瞎子!”

    “就因为咱们是瞎子。”老瞎子回答。

    终于小瞎子又说:“我想睁开眼看看,师父,我想睁开眼看看!哪怕就看一回。”

    “你真那么想吗?”

    “真想,真想—”

    老瞎子把篝火拨得更旺些。

    雪停了。铅灰色的天空中,太阳像一面闪光的小镜子。鹞鹰在平稳地滑翔。

    “那就弹你的琴弦,”老瞎子说,“一根一根尽力地弹吧。”

    "Master, did you get the medicine?" The lad sounded as if he had just awakened from a dream.

    "Remember, the strings don't count unless you've played your best until they break."

    "Can you see? Master, can you see now?"

    The lad struggled to get up, and reached over to feel his master's eyes. The old man checked his hands.

    "Remember, you must play through one thousand two hundred strings."

    "One thousand two hundred?"

    The old man thought: no matter how much he played, the lad could not play through twelve hundred strings. Let him forever feel the joyful release of playing taut banjo strings; he need never know that piece of paper was blank.

    "It's one thousand two hundred. Give me your banjo. I'll seal the prescription inside."

    “师父,您的药抓来了?”小瞎子如梦方醒。

    “记住,得真正是弹断的才成。”

    “您已经看见了吗?师父,您现在看得见了?”

    小瞎子挣扎着起来,伸手去摸师父的眼窝。老瞎子把他的手抓住。

    “记住,得弹断一千二百根。”

    “一千二?”

    “把你的琴给我,我把这药方给你封在琴槽里。”老瞎子现在才弄懂了他师父当年对他说的话—咱的命就在这琴弦上。

    目的虽是虚设的,可非得有不行,不然琴弦怎么拉紧;拉不紧就弹不响。

    “怎么是一千二,师父?”

    “是一千二,我没弹够,我记成了一千。”老瞎子想:这孩子再怎么弹吧,还能弹断一千二百根?永远扯紧欢跳的琴弦,不必去看那张无字的白纸……

    这地方偏僻荒凉,群山不断。荒草丛中随时会飞起一对山鸡,跳出一只野兔、狐狸,或者其他小野兽。山谷中鹞鹰在盘旋。

    Let us return to the beginning: amid the misty haze of the mountain range walked two blindmen, one old the other young, one in front the other behind, their blackened straw hats bobbing, darting forward as if swept along by the current of a restless stream. It mattered little from where they came nor where they were headed, nor did it matter who they were…

    Translated by Mark Wallace

    现在让我们回到开始:

    莽莽苍苍的群山之中走着两个瞎子,一老一少,一前一后,两顶发了黑的草帽起伏躜动,匆匆忙忙,像是随着一条不安静的河水在漂流。无所谓从哪儿来、到哪儿去,也无所谓谁是谁…… (责任编辑:admin)
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