第三章--The First of the Secrets(1-3)

上一篇 / 下一篇  2008-10-04 15:51:35 / 个人分类:小说翻译

How did we all start debating about boundaries? When did we become convinced we were all something other than human? Every starting point has an earlier starting point before it. Some of the roots of how it came about, I remember. Others have become misty and autumn-colored with time.



If I had to choose a starting point, there were three I would select, not one. I remember when Victor made us all put our hands together and promise. I remember when Vanity found the notes, which had our lost tales in them. And then, many years later, Quentin discovered the secret.

如果一定要让我选择一个开端的话, 我会有三个选择, 而不是一个. 我记得当维克托让我们所有人把手叠在一起发誓. 我记得当瓦妮特发现了记载着我们传说的笔记.还有,很多年以后,昆廷发现了秘密.

I don’t know how old I was. Vanity (or Tertia, as she was called then) only came to my shoulder, and Quentin was small enough that Victor (Primus) could carry him in his arms. When he stood up, Quentin’s head only came to the level of Victor’s elbow. Quentin was too young for lessons; I remember being jealous when he was allowed to sit on the floor and play with a wooden horse on wheels while I had to practice penmanship, making rows and endless rows of slightly lopsided O’s and Q’s.

As for me, the doorknob to the coal cellar was right below the level of my eye, because when Mr. Glum slapped me roughly on the back of my head (I was afraid to open the door to the cellar) the doorknob struck me on the cheek, and I had a bruise there for a week.



那个时候, 煤窖的门把手的高度刚好到我的眼睛下方,由于格罗姆先生粗鲁地拍我的后脑勺(我害怕打开煤窖的门)门把手撞在了我的脸颊上,然后我的脸瘀了一个礼拜.

I don’t remember why they were locking us in the coal cellar, but I do remember wishing and hoping that the Headmaster would come back from wherever he was, and set things to rights. He and Dr. Fell had dressed up in dark clothing, with black scarves fluttering from their top hats, looking grim and terrible. A funeral, I suppose. I remember the two stalking silently off into the freezing rain, wide black umbrellas overhead. The rest of the staff was particularly cruel to us that evening, or so it seemed to me. Mrs. Wren was raging up and down the corridors, howling like a banshee, toppling suits of armor on racks and pushing over floral vases that stood on the pillars next to the main doors. I think this was before she took up strong drink.

我不记得他们为什么要把我们关在煤窖里,但是我清楚地记得十分期待和盼望校长回来,无论他在哪, 然后让一切事情都恢复正常.他和费尔医生出去时穿着黑色衣服,礼帽上飘动着黑色的丝巾,看上去严肃而可怕.是去参加葬礼,我猜想.我记得他们两个撑着黑伞,昂首阔步,安静地消失在冰冷的雨里.那天晚上其他人对我们特别严酷,或着是对我特别严酷.瑞文女士在走廊里暴怒,想女妖精一样嚎叫,推倒架子上的盔甲,掀翻大门旁边柱子上的花盆.而且这还是在她喝了烈酒之前做的.

They locked us in the dark and cold. Whatever our crime had been, I did not know. It was dark and starless that night, the drafts smelled of snow, and the dirt floor was colder than ice. I was shivering and my teeth were chattering. I remember Vanity saying, “Quentin’s all cold. He stopped moving. Is he going to die?” her voice was as thin and high as a flute.


Victor told us all to gather up in a huddle for warmth. His voice was high-pitched then, but it was very earnest, and just hearing it made me feel better. I could hear him rummaging around in the dark.


“This is a coal cellar,” young Victor said. “There is wood and kindling in the wood box.” There was a tremble in his voice,too, but I could hear how he forced himself to speak calmly.Colin, or as he was called back then, Quartinus, said,“Boogers! There’s nothing to start a fire with! Mrs. Wren’s had a nightmare, and we’re all going to die for it.”


In the pitch blackness, Quentin’s voice came up from the pile where we all lay together, “A ghost. She saw her husband’s ghost.” I was relieved to hear him, because I was so very afraid he had passed away. Certainly his skin felt like ice up against mine.


Victor laid his coat over the pile of us. I wondered how he could stand the cold in his thin shirt, but he did not complain.Victor never complained. “I’ll start a fire. I’ll make something.Lend me your tie. I found a bent stick in the woodpile, and I can make a drill.”


Minutes passed, and it grew colder. I could hear Victor sawing away at something, the hissing noise of wood on wood, but no fire came.


“Boogers!” shouted Colin, who did not know any of the many foul words he was to learn later in life. “Do you think you are a Red Indian? Rubbing two bloody sticks together? We’re all going to die, and it will be your fault!”


Victor said to me, “Secunda. Get them talking. Keep their mind off it, you know? We’ve all got to hang together.” My teeth wanted to chatter, but I made myself speak. “OK,attention, everyone! I know we are all cold and afraid. But we have something we have to do. We have to remember our Tales.”


I do not remember a time when I had not been the unofficial Keeper of the Tales for our group. It had always been my task.Colin used to joke that I was to be the Tale Keeper because my memory was so good. (“Whenever I do something wrong, she always remembers to remind me, eh?” so he would say.)


I spoke gently to young little Quentin. “The Tales are the only thing we know about our home. Our real home. Quentin, you start.”


“I-I’m t-too cold.”


“Quentin, you must start. We can’t lose our Tales. You have to tell.”


But Quentin simply whimpered and did not answer.


Colin said, “C’mon you great booger. Talk! You don’t want them to win, do you?”


I felt Quentin’s cold body stir in my arms.


He spoke in a voice so weak and thin that I could barely hear him, even though my ear was but inches from his mouth. “I remember my mum. Her hair is gray. She’s blind. I remember how I would run and she would spread her arms and say, ‘Where’s my little shadow? Where’s my little shadow?’ and I would run and jump into her arms, and mum would hug me, and give me a kiss, and she would say, ‘I know you, little one. I will always know you.’ And I would say, ‘How’d’ you know it’s me? How’d’ you know it’s me?’ and she would say, ‘My soul knows your soul,
little one, my heart knows your heart.’ That’s what I remember.”

I said, “Tell us more. Tell us about the giant. You’ve got to remember the whole of the Tale. It is your Tale.”

他说话的声音非常微弱,即使我的耳朵只离他的嘴一英尺,也是能刚好听见他的声音."我记得我的妈妈.她的头发是灰色的.她蒙着眼.我记得我在一边跑,而她张开双臂说,'我的小尾巴在哪?我的小尾巴在哪?'然后我跑着跳进她的怀里,妈妈抱着我,吻我,她说,'我知道是你,小家伙.我知道总是你.'然后我说,'你怎么知道是我?你怎么知道是我?' 她回答说,'我的灵魂感到了你的灵魂,小家伙,我的心感到了你的心.'这就是我记得的."


Quentin said, “My dad. He lives in a room with statues. Statues and chessmen and dolls. His beard is gray and comes to the floor, and his hair is gray, too. He has a harp that sits in his lap. And when he plays, the statues dance. Once upon a time, he took me and took his harp, and sat on the statue of a big crow, and he played, and the crow flew up in the air.”


Vanity said, “That couldn’t really happen, could it?” Victor, from somewhere in the gloom, said, “Maybe it was an airplane. Only looked like a crow.”


I said sternly, “Stop! You can’t talk back to the Tales. You can’t change them or make fun of them! That’s the rule! If you start changing the Tales, they might go away, and then we won’t have anything!”


Victor said, “She’s right.”


I said, “Go on, Quentin. Tell us about the giant.”
Quentin was quiet, and then he spoke in a sad whisper. “I don’t know the rest.”



“Sure you do! Your father took you to see the Shining Mountains! Instead of snow, the mountains all have light, silver light,all along the tops. Do you remember what he said? He told you,‘This is the place where the falling stars fall whenever stars fall down.’ ”


Quentin said, “I don’t remember. I don’t. Leave me alone.”


I said insistently, “In the dark valley between the mountains of light, your father the magician took you to see the giant, who was trapped up to his neck in the ice. There were dwarfs all digging and digging, chipping away at the ice, to get him out.”


Quentin said, “It was cold. It was so cold. I saw his hand. It was a mile below me. Under the ice. The fingers. I thought it was five rivers coming to a lake, it was so big. So cold.”


I said, “Yes! Yes! And the giant said—do you remember what the giant told you—once he was free, the bad people would be punished, and the good people would all live happily ever after? The Golden Age would come again. Do you remember?”


“It was so cold.”


“Quentin, maybe the giant has gotten out of the dark valley! Maybe he is coming to save us, right now!”


Quentin sniffled and shivered, but did not answer.


Vanity spoke up next: “I remember my Tale! Me next! Oh, pick me! Oh, me!”


“OK. It is your turn, Tertia.”


“My house is in fairyland,” Vanity said primly. “There is a gold dog who sits by my front door, and a silver dog, too. They come to life when you want them to, and fetch a stick or chase away someone making fun of you. When you don’t need them, they just sit still. There is a singer who sings to me, and he sits in the sunlight in his chair of ivory, and beats the ground with his stick when he sings. He sings of wars and ships and deeds of kings. There are bowls made of silver that hop on three legs like bugs. Hop! Hop! Hop! They walk around and give you fruit and candy. If you’re good. It is always springtime there. My mommy has red hair like me. My daddy is the king there, but Mommy is the one who actually runs the kingdom. My brothers play out in the green field, and throw spears and throw disks.And they run. Sometimes Daddy takes me sailing, and our boat is faster than the wind. Sometimes Mommy plays hide-andseek with me, and she pops out of the floor! Pop! And she puts her arms around me. She tells me to be good, because she loves me. That’s all.”


I said, “There is another part. Something about being watched.”


“Oh, that. It is not like here. Nothing pays you any mind here. The rocks and the wind and the grass. It’s all dead. Where I come from, they are all friends. They are all alive. You can feel them watching you, like a tingling all over your skin. It is like being at the recital, when everyone applauded. Like being on stage. Remember how nice that was? It tingled. It wasn’t lonely. I am always lonely here. I want to go home. I don’t want to be alone any more. When can we go home?”


Victor said, “I will get you home. I promise. I will get us all home.”


I said, “You next!”


Victor said, “Let Quartinus go first.”


Colin said, “My story is better than his. My turn. I climbed up the pole of my da’s longhouse, all the way to where it holds up the sky. That’s where he keeps his cloak, in the North Star. My brothers all sent me to get it, because I was the youngest and lightest, and the roof pole wouldn’t break under me. They said I would not get punished for stealing it, on account of I was too young.“I put on the cloak and told it to make me into a wolf. A big,ferocious, giant wolf. So I turned into a wolf, and jumped out the window, and I ran through the forest. The trees are so tall there that sometimes the stars get caught in them. The stars are these beautiful women with lanterns, and when their robes get caught in the branches, they sing, and the trees feel sorry for them, and let them go. Anyway, I remember I was running to this spot my brothers had told me about. This black cave where my uncle lived, guarded by this big three-headed dog. I figured I could take on the dog, seeing as I was a big wolf. Then a storm came, and the clouds fell down through the trees, and it was my ma. She took me around the throat and yanked da’s cloak clean off me. I thought she was going to be mad, but it was weird, because she just cried and cried and held on to me. Like she was afraid. And she pushed my hair back and she said, ‘If ever you go away from me, oh my beloved son, on that day sorrow surely will slay me.’ She took me home and fed me from this big pot we had over the fire in the middle of the house.


“I sat in the middle of the pot and ate stew, and da beat the tar out of my brothers. I have three. One wears a mask. One wears an animal pelt. The third has leaves and twigs in his hair. And they were right. I didn’t get punished. They did. That’s all I remember about it. Cool, huh?”


Colin was silent for a while, shivering in the cold. Then he said, “You don’t suppose my ma’s really dead, do you?”


I said, “No, she is not dead. No one is dead. My father told me.”


Victor said to me, “Your turn.”


I said, “It is warm there. My home is filled with light. I am a princess and I live in a palace. My father is the king, and he knows everything. He sees everything. I remember once my mother, the queen, took me swimming in our pool. But the pool hangs like a ball in midair. It is bigger on the inside than on the outside. There are stars inside it. And planets. You can swim right up to them and look at them with your eye. I remember once I was swimming. I saw a dark world and it was filled with dead bodies. Mother folded her arms around me, and took me
back up out of the pool. I remember how afraid I was that something from the Dark World would get me. My mother sang a song for me, ‘My little spark, my shining one, never fear, never fear. The darkness is so very small, and the world of light is endless, here.’


“I remember she took me to the tower where she said she first saw my father. It was a palace that floated, and everything was rose-red marble. The windows were pink and the walls were scarlet. I remember he had a throne set in the very middle of a floor of glass, and the floor was one hundred miles wide. When you sat on the throne, you could look down at the world, and see everything in it. It was like a telescope, but bigger. Bigger than the moon. Father made me look at the Dark World again, even though I was scared and didn’t want to. I remember he held my hand, and said, ‘Shining daughter, do not be afraid to look into the darkness. There are no dead, no ghosts, no shadows. Look,
look closely, and you will see the happy gardens made of light,into which all of those who have been hurt by Time are brought,once Time has no more power over them.’ I looked and I looked,but I did not find the happy place anywhere in the picture. That made him sad, and Mother was sad, too, and Father kissed me right here on the forehead, and said, ‘I have commanded all my people to love you, but there are those whom I cannot command.You will be taken from us for a time, brought into a cold,dark land. But you shall soon be free, and return to the land of
light, and return to be with your mother and me.’ He promised. My father promised. He will come save me.”


Victor said, “No one is coming to save us. No giants, no kings. We are going to save ourselves.”


I shouted, “That’s not fair! You can’t talk back to the Tales! They are all we have!”


Colin said, “It’s his turn. Tell us your dumb story about the worm, Prime.” By which he meant Victor.


Victor said, “There’s not much to tell. I don’t remember any mother or father. We lived in a space station. Once I put my hand out the window into the rain. How there was rain in outer space, I don’t know, but that’s what I remember. The raindrops rolled together in my palm and made a puddle. I stuck my finger in the puddle and it thickened into clay. I rolled the clay between my palms and made a worm. Then the worm came to life, and started climbing up my arm. I thought it was gross, so I threw it out the window into outer space, where it fell forever. “They took me to see a man. I don’t remember who the man was, but I was scared of him. He was like a teacher or something.He had a lamp in his forehead like a miner’s torch. He said, ‘Life is a set of rules. If those rules break, life ends. Here is our first rule: Any life you create is yours, and must be cared for. No matter how humble or small, it is still yours, and you must answer for it. Do you understand?’


“I remember I answered some smart answer back. I don’t know what it was, though.


“The teacher said, ‘Your own death is nothing, because death is nothing but the disintegration of the atoms of your body. There is no pain and no sorrow afterwards. But to kill another living thing is wrong, and is forbidden by our law.’ “I said, ‘Human beings kill each other.’

"那个老师说,'你自己的死亡什么也不是,因为死亡只是你身体原子能的瓦解.然后就会没有痛苦和悲伤.但是杀死另一个生命是错误的,在我们的法律中是被禁止的.' "我说,'人们总是互相残杀.'

“The teacher said, ‘In every human being, there is a spark of divine fire, which makes them sacred. We have nothing like that in us. We are mightier, older, wiser than man, and we do not violate our laws; but Mankind is a finer thing than we are, and some day we will save them from the Demiurge, who made them merely to be playthings. He did not know what he made.’


“I said, ‘If we are greater and stronger, why must we serve them?’


“The teacher said, ‘The great must protect the weak. If this law is broken, those who are greater than us, those who made us, would destroy us. The same logic applies to all beings. I am putting this memory into your permanent storage, so that you will not be able to forget it, even after all else is lost.’ And a light came from his head.


“That is all I remember,” Victor said.


And he smiled, and I was able to see him smile, because a little spark had come to life where he was drilling a stick back and forth with a crude bow he had made. Gently, he breathed on the spark, and gently the darkness receded.


One twig, one dry stick at a time, he fed the flame, until it was large enough to accept a lump of coal.


That night, in the cold cellar, Victor told us all to put our hands together like the Three Musketeers.


He said to me, “We must all promise not to forget. We have to remember our Tales. We must all remember Quentin’s giant, and Quartinus’ wolf cloak, and the golden dogs that sit outside the House of Tertia in Fairyland, and the palace of light where the father of Secunda is a king, and the city in the void where my Teacher lived, and told me what my duty was. We must all keep our Tales for each other, if one of us loses or changes or forgets them, the others will remind him. Everything in this world will try to convince us that these are nursery tales, or
dreams, or that we’re mad, or that we’re just playing pretend.We must promise never to forget. We must promise never to give up. We must promise we will escape from this place, and find the mothers and fathers who love us, our friends, our kin, our real world. Promise!”


And then he promised us that he would see to it that we would all get out of here together.


Oh, and it was warm when he said that.


I do not know how old I was when I found the notes, but I must have been quite young, because I remember that I had to stand on tiptoe to reach the handles of the cabinet where the cleaning things were kept. We had been told to scrub the floor of the dining hall, a task usually done by the servants, because of some prank Colin had pulled involving a bucket of fishheads. None of us was willing to turn Colin in, not even Vanity, even though (I am sure) everyone knew who had done it. This was back before we chose names, so it was Quartinus we were all mad at for getting us in trouble. I remember it was spring, and the great windows were wide open, and I could smell the new-mown grass of the playing field outside, and I remember how dearly I wanted to jump and run and play, rather than kneel and scrub.



I was wearing a smock from the art room, and had my hair tucked into a kerchief. I remember there was a bucket of smelly stuff I was rubbing into the floor boards with a brush. I had taken the bigger bucket, because I thought Tertia (Vanity) was too small to carry it. I remember how proud I was when I picked up that bucket, because I felt like a grown-up girl; and I remember how terrible it was, once I had walked out to the
spigot and filled it, that I could not carry it. I staggered and stumbled as I waddled up the steps (and the steps were taller back then) and there were tears in my eyes, because I was so afraid I would be punished if I spilled it.


We had been studying astronomy in Lecture Hall that morning, and I remember thinking that if the five of us could build a rocket ship, we could fly to the moon, and be away from this place forever. And I remember my plan was to ask Tertia to stay aboard the ship once we landed, so I could be the first woman on the moon; and the moon people would be so grateful they would make me their princess; but I was going to let her be the first off the ship when we landed on the next planet, Mars or Venus, to make it up to her.

那天早上我们在讲堂学习天文学, 我记得我在想如果我们五个能造一艘太空船,我们就能飞到月亮上去,永远地离开这个地方.我的计划是当我们降落时让特西娅留在飞船上,那样我就能成为第一个登上月球的女性;月亮上的人们很友善,他们会让我作他们的公主;但是当我们降落到下一个行星的时候,比如火星或者金星,我会让她先下飞船,以和她扯平.

It was actually Tertia who found the notes, some sheets of foolscap paper folded and refolded and crammed into a little crack where the wainscoting had become separated from the wall. We were both kneeling and scrubbing, and we exchanged a quick glance at each other. By the look in her eye, I knew she knew (as I did) that we had found a great treasure, which must be kept away from the grown-ups at all costs.


I pretended I had to go to the lavatory and made a fuss, while Vanity stole a fork from the silver drawer. Mrs. Wren, of course, did not let me go until chores were done. So we both diligently pretended to scrub the section of wainscoting where our treasure was, and Vanity would pluck at the papers with the tines of the fork when Mrs. Wren was idling near the liquor cabinet.


Like a fluttering pale moth, the papers came free with a rustle of noise, and I quickly stuffed them down my shirtfront. We were let out for recess and exercise, but I was too cunning to take them out where someone might see, so I quickly folded them into my uniform shirt when I was changing into my field hockey gear, and then ripped a button from the shirt. Sadly, I displayed the torn shirt to Mr. ap Cymru, who was coach then, and I got permission to go put it in the hamper in the East Hall for the maid to repair, and told to get a new blouse from the dormitory,
so that I would have something to change into after practice.


Easy as pie. The notes were soon hidden in my room. I gazed at the handwriting, seeing the fine but strong feminine penmanship, and thinking how lovely it would be to have a hand as fine as that. Whoever wrote this (I remember thinking) would never have her knuckles rapped because her Q’s and O’s were lopsided.It was some sort of fairy tale, but one that made no sense, merely fragments; and I remember thinking that I was too old for fairy stories.


This will seem strange, and impossible to explain, but I did not recognize the stories, the handwriting, any of it. I wrapped the sheaf of paper in a plastic bag and took it to a hidden spot, a dry deep hole in the bark of a tree on the back campus, deep enough so that rain could not reach. And left it.A year, perhaps two, went by before I was old enough not to be ashamed of my interest in children’s tales, and I thought to look at it again.


By that time, I had learned my penmanship. My cursive letters flowed in a fair, clean hand from my pen, far better than the crooked scrawl I had been using even a year before.


And here were these papers at least ten years old, or more.It was my handwriting.




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