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火车上的女孩

The Girl on the Train

I had the compartment on the train to myself up to Rohana, and then a girl got on. The couple seeing her off were probably her parents, they seemed very anxious about her comfort, and the woman gave the girl detailed instructions as to where to keep her things, when not to lean out of windows, and how to avoid speaking to strangers.

As I had become blind by then, I could not tell what the girl looked like, but I knew she wore slippers from the way they slapped against her heels, and I liked the sound of her voice.

“Are you going all the way to Dehra Dun?” I asked her as the train pulled out of the station.

I must have been sitting in a dark corner, because my voice startled her. She gave a little exclamation, and said, “I didn’t know anyone else was here.”

Well, it often happens that people with good eyesight fail to see what is right in front of them. They have too much to observe, I suppose, whereas those who cannot see take in what registers most telling on their remaining senses.

“I didn’t see you either at first,” I said. “But I heard you come in.” I wondered if I would be able to prevent her from discovering that I couldn’t see. I thought, provided I keep to my seat, it shouldn’t be too difficult.

“I’m getting down at Saharanpur,” the girl said. “My aunt is meeting me there. Where are you going?”

“To Dehra Dun, and then to Mussoorie,” I replied. “Oh, lucky you! I wish I were going to Mussoorie. I love the mountains. Especially in October.”

“Yes, this is the best time.” I said, calling on my memories when I could see. “The hills are covered with wild dahlias, the sun is delicious, and at night you can sit in front of a log fire and drink a little brandy.

Most of the tourists have gone, and the roads are quiet and almost deserted.”

She was silent, and I wondered if my words had touched her, or whether she thought me a romantic fool. Then I made a mistake. “What is it like outside?” I asked.

She seemed to find nothing strange in the question. Had she noticed already that I could not see? But her next question removed my doubts.

“Why don’t you look out of the window?” she asked quite naturally.

I moved easily along the berth and felt for the window ledge. The window was open and I faced it, making a pretense of studying the landscape. In my mind’s eye, I could see the telegraph posts flashing by. “Have you noticed,” I ventured, “that the trees seem to be moving while we seem to be standing still?”

“That always happens,” she said.

I turned from the window and faced the girl, and for a while we sat in silence. “You have an interesting face,” I commented. I was becoming quite daring, but it was a safe remark, few girls can resist flattery.

She laughed pleasantly, a clear, ringing laugh. “It’s nice to be told that,” she said. “I’m so tired of people telling me that I have a pretty face.”

Oh, so you do have a pretty face, thought I, and aloud I said, “Well, an interesting face can also be pretty.”

“You are very gallant,” she said. “But why are you so serious?”

“We’ll soon be at your station,” I said rather abruptly. “Thank goodness it’s a short journey. I can’t bear to sit in a train for more than two or three hours.”

Yet I was prepared to sit there for almost any length of time, just to listen to her talking. Her voice had the sparkle of a mountain stream. As soon as she left the train, she would forget our brief encounter, but it would stay with me for the rest of the journey, and for some time after.

The engine’s whistle shrieked, the carriage wheels changed their sound and rhythm. The girl got up to collect her things. I wondered if she wore her hair in a bun, or if it hung down loose over her shoulders, or if it was cut very short.

The train drew slowly into the station. Outside, there was the shouting of porters and vendors and, near the carriage door, a highpitched female voice that must have belonged to the girl’s aunt. “Goodbye,” said the girl.

She was standing very close to me, so close that the perfume from her hair was tantalizing. I wanted to raise my hand and touch her hair, but she moved away, and only the perfume still lingered where she had stood.

There was some confusion in the doorway. A man getting into the compartment, stammered an apology. Then the door banged shut, and the world was closed out again. I returned to my berth. The guard blew his whistle and we moved off.

The train gathered speed, the wheels took up their song, the carriage groaned and shook. I found the window and sat in front of it, staring into daylight that was darkness for me. Once again I had a game to play and a new fellow traveller.

“She was an interesting girl,” I said. “Can you tell me — did she keep her hair long or short?” “I don’t remember,” he replied, sounding puzzled. “It was her eyes I noticed, not her hair. She had such beautiful eyes, but they were of no use to her — she was completely blind. Didn’t you notice?”

  火车上的少女

  火车一直开到罗哈那,车厢里只有我一个人。在罗哈那上来一位少女,送行的那对夫妇大概是她的父母,他们好像很为她的舒适而担忧,那个妇人详细地交待少女东西放在什么地方,什么时候不可将身子探出窗外,以及如何避免同素不相识的人交谈。

  我那时候双目已经失明,所以不知道那少女的容貌如何。不过,从鞋子拍打着她脚后跟的声音听来,我知道她穿着拖鞋。我喜欢她说话的声音。

  火车驶出车站的时候,我问她:“您要一直到台拉登吗?”

  我肯定是坐在阴暗的角落里,因为我的声音把她吓了一跳。她轻轻地惊呼一声,说:“我不知道这里还有一个人。”

  咳,视力好的人常常看不到近在眼前的东西。他们有太多的东西要观察,我这样猜想,而双目失明的人反倒能注意到其他感官所接触到的最明显的感受。

  “起初我也没有看到您,”我说道。“不过我听到您进车厢了。”我不知道自己能否不让她发现我是瞎子,我想如果我坐着原地不动的话,应该不难做到。

  “我要在萨哈兰布尔下车,”少女说道。“我的姑姑在那里接我。您到哪儿去?”

  “先去台拉登,然后到穆索里,”我回答道。

  “啊,您的运气真好!我也想去穆索里,我喜欢那里的山,尤其是10月份的时候。”

  “是的,这是最好的时节。”我一边说,一边回忆自己当初亲见的情景。“漫山遍野开着野生大丽花,阳光宜人。到了晚上,您可以坐在篝火前,喝点白兰地。大多数游客都已离去,山路上静悄悄的,几乎有些荒凉。”

  她沉默了,我不知道是我的言语感染了她,还是她以为我是个爱幻想的傻瓜。后来我说错了一句话。“外面是什么样子?”我问。

  她似乎没发现我这一问有什么奇怪。难道她早已注意到我是个瞎子?不过,她下一句问话打消了我的疑虑。“您干吗自己不往窗外看看?”她非常自然地问道。

  我在卧铺上毫不费力地挪了挪,用手摸到窗台。车窗开着,我面朝窗外,假装观赏风景。在我的脑海里,我能看见一根根电线杆闪过。“您是否注意到,”我冒险地问道,“树好像在动,而我们好像是静止的?”

  “这很正常啊,”她说道。

  我从窗口转过身,面对着她,两人沉默地坐了一会儿。“您长得挺有趣的,”我这样评价她。我胆子有点大了,不过,这是个安全的评价:哪个少女不喜欢被奉承呢?

  她愉快地笑了,发出银铃般的笑声。“听您这样说,我很高兴,”她说。“人们老说我有一张漂亮的脸蛋,我都听腻了!”

  啊,原来你的确有张漂亮的脸蛋,我想道。于是我又大声说:“嗯,有趣的脸也可以很美呀!”

  “您真会献殷勤,”她说。“可是,您为什么那么严肃呢?”

  “我们马上就要到您下车的站了,”我非常唐突地说道。

  “谢天谢地,路程不远。在火车上坐两三个小时以上,我可受不了。”

  我却坐多久都可以,只要能听到她说话。她的嗓音如山间溪水般生机勃勃。她也许一下火车,就会忘却我们短暂的相遇;但是我余下的旅程都将忘不了她,以后相当一段时间也忘不了。

  火车汽笛尖啸,车轮的声响和节奏起了变化。少女站起来收拾东西。我想知道她的头发是结成一个髻还是长发披肩,或是剪得很短。

  火车徐徐进站,从外面传来了搬运工和小贩的叫喊声。车门附近有一个尖嗓门的女人在说话,那肯定是她的姑妈了。

  “再见!”少女说。

  她站得离我很近,头发上的香气令我心神荡漾。我想抬手摸摸她的秀发,但是她走开了,只把香气留在了那里。

  车门口一阵骚乱,一个男人走进车厢,结结巴巴地道了歉,车门砰的一声关上了,把世界又关到了外面。我回到自己的卧铺上。站台员吹了哨,火车又开动了。

  火车加快了速度,轮子又唱着有节奏的调调,车厢呻吟着、颤抖着。我摸到车窗,坐在窗前,凝视着白昼,其实对我犹如黑夜。我又有新游戏玩了,这次是与一个新旅伴。

  “她是个挺有意思的少女,”我说。“您能不能告诉我――她留的是长发还是短发?”

  “记不得了,”他回答说,听起来有点困惑不解似的。“我注意的是她的眼睛,不是她的头发。她的眼睛很美,但是对她毫无用处――她完全瞎了,难道您没有注意到吗?”

(文章来源:洋腔洋调美语网)

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