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A Legend of Love “不,我爱的人是你!”

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If love does not know how to give and take without restrictions,it is not love,but a transaction. — Emma Goldman 如果爱不是自然而然地付出与获得,那它就不是爱,而只是一种交易。 ——艾玛•高曼

  Edward Wellman bade good-bye to his family in the old country headed for a better life in America. Papa handed him the family’s savings hidden in a leather satchel. “Times are desperate here,” he said, hugging his son goodbye. “You are our hope.”

  Edward boarded the Atlantic freighter offering free transport to young men willing to shovel coal in return for the month-long journey. If Edward struck gold in the Colorado Rockies, the rest of the family could eventually join him.

  For months, Edward worked his claim tirelessly, and the small vein of gold provided a moderate but steady income. At the end of each day, as he walked through the door of his two-room cabin, he yearned for the woman he loved to greet him. Leaving Ingrid behind before he could officially court her had been his only regret in accepting this American adventure. Their families had been friends for years and for as long as he could remember; he had secretly hoped to make Ingrid his wife. Her long, flowing hair and radiant smile made her the most beautiful of the Henderson sisters. He had just begun sitting by her at church picnics and making up silly reasons to stop by her house, just so he could see her. As he went to sleep in his cabin each night, Edward longed to stroke her auburn hair and hold her in his arms. Finally, he wrote to Papa, asking him to help make this dream come true.

  After nearly a year, a telegraph came with a plan to make his life complete. Mr. Henderson had agreed to send his daughter to Edward in America. Because she was a hardworking young woman with a good mind for business, she would work alongside Edward for a year to help the mining business grow. By then both families could afford to come to America for their wedding.

  Edward’s heart soared with joy as he spent the next month trying to make the cabin into a home. He bought a cot for him to sleep on in the living area and tried to make his former bedroom suitable for a woman. Floral cloth from flour sacks replaced the burlap-bag curtains covering the grimy window. He arranged dried sage from the meadow into a tincan vase on the nightstand.

  At last, the day he had been waiting for his whole life arrived. With a bouquet of fresh-picked daisies in hand, he left for the train depot. Steam billowed and wheels screeched as the train crawled to a stop. Edward scanned every window looking for Ingrid’s glowing hair and smile.

  His heart beat with eager anticipation, then stopped with a sinking thud. Not Ingrid, but her older sister Marta, stepped down from the train. She stood shyly before him, her eyes cast down.

  Edward only stared - dumbfounded. Then with shaking hands he offered Marta the bouquet. “Welcome,” he whispered, his eyes burning. A smile etched across her plain face.

  “I was pleased when Papa said you sent for me,” Marta said, looking into his eyes briefly, before dropping her head again.

  “I’ll get your bags, “Edward said with a fake smile. Together they headed for the buggy.

  Mr. Henderson and Papa were right. Marta did have a great grasp of business. While Edward worked the mine, she worked the office. From her makeshift desk in one corner of the living area, she kept detailed records of all claim activity. Within six months, their assets doubled.

  Her delicious meals and quiet smile graced the cabin with a wonderful woman’s touch. But the wrong woman, Edward mourned as he collapsed onto his cot each night. Why did they send Marta? Would he ever see Ingrid again? Was his lifelong dream to have her as his wife forsaken?

  For a year, Marta and Edward worked and played and laughed, but never loved. Once, Marta had kissed Edward on the cheek before retiring to her room. He only smiled awkwardly. From then on, she seemed content with their exhilarating hikes in the mountains and long talks on the porch after suppers.

  One spring afternoon, torrential rains washed down the hillside, eroding the entrance to their mine. Furiously, Edward filled sand bags and stacked them in the water’s path. Soaked and exhausted, his frantic efforts seemed futile. Suddenly there was Marta at his side holding the next burlap bag open. Edward shoveled sand inside, then with the strength of any man, Marta hurled it onto the pile and opened another bag… For hours they worked, knee-deep in mud, until the rains diminished.

  Hand in hand, they walked back to the cabin. Over warm soup Edward sighed, “I never could have saved the mine without you. Thank you, Marta.”

  “You’re welcome,” she answered with her usual smile, then went quietly to her room.

A few days later, a telegraph came announcing the arrival of the Henderson and Wellman families next week. As much as he tried to stifle it, the thought of seeing Ingrid again started Edward’s heart beating in the old familiar way.

  Together, he and Marta went to the train station. They watched as their families exited the train at the far end of the platform. When Ingrid appeared, Marta turned to Edward. “Go to her,” she said.

  Astonished, Edward stammered, “What do you mean?”

  “Edward, I have always known I was not the Henderson girl you intended to send for. I had watched you flirt with Ingrid at the church picnics.” She nodded toward her sister descending the train steps. “I know it is she, not me, you desire for your wife.” “But ...”

  Marta placed her fingers over his lips. “Shhh,” she hushed him. “I do love you, Edward. I always have. And because of that, all I really want is your happiness. Go to her.”

He took her hand from his face and held it. As she gazed up at him, he saw for the first time how very beautiful she was. He recalled their walks in the meadows, their quiet evenings before the fire, her working beside him with the sandbags. It was then he realized what he had known for months.

“No, Marta. It is you I want.” Sweeping her into his arms, he kissed her with all the love bursting inside him. Their families gathered around them chorusing, “We are here for the wedding!”

爱德华•威尔曼就要告别家人、移民美国去寻求更美好的生活了。爸爸把家里所有的积蓄藏在一个小皮包里交给了他。“你知道,我们这儿的情况越来越糟了,日子越来越不好过了,”爸爸拥抱着爱德华,叮嘱道:“你是我们全家的希望啊!”

  爱德华搭上了一艘大西洋货船,货船专门为愿意无偿为货船铲煤的年轻人提供一个月的免费旅行。如果爱德华能够在美国科罗拉多州的落基山脉淘到黄金,那么,他的家人们就能够到美国和他团聚了。

  经过几个月不知疲倦地工作,爱德华终于找到了一个小型的金矿,他开始有了一些收入,虽然不多,但是很稳定。每天晚上,当劳累了一天的他走进他那有两个房间的小木屋的门的时候,他多么希望他钟爱的女人能在门口迎接他的归来啊!直到如今,他惟一感到遗憾的仍旧是在他决定离开英格里德前来美国开创事业之前没能正式向她求婚。他家和英格里德家是多年的世交,至少从记事以来就是。而英格里德是汉德森姐妹中最漂亮的一个,她那一头长长的、宛如流云飞瀑一般的秀发是那么地潇洒飘逸;她那灿烂而又甜美的微笑是那么地令人心醉神迷……他一直都默默地爱着英格里德,期盼着有朝一日能够娶她为妻。记得他很小的时候,就喜欢和英格里德在一起玩,即使是在教堂野餐时,他也是从一开始就坐在她的旁边,并且,他还总是找一些愚蠢的理由到她家里去拜访,这样一来,他就能够见到她了。如今,每天晚上,当他回到他的小木屋,开始睡觉的时候,他总是渴望能够轻抚着英格里德那赤褐色的长发,与她相拥而眠。终于,他再也无法忍受这相思之苦,提笔给他的爸爸写了一封信,求他帮助他实现他的梦想。

  在经历了将近一年的漫长期待之后,终于,一封写着使他的生活更加完美的计划的电报飞到了他的身边。汉德森先生已经同意让他的女儿到美国来找爱德华了。由于她很有商业头脑,而且又能吃苦耐劳,所以,她将在爱德华的身边工作一年,帮助他料理金矿的事务,以使金矿的生意不断发展。到那时,他们两家就可以一起来美国参加他们的婚礼了。

  爱德华高兴极了,心也仿佛要飞出胸膛一样。他花了一个月的时间,想尽一切办法将他的小木屋改造成了一个“家”。他买了一张轻便小床,放在起居室里留自己睡觉,而把他原本睡觉的房间改造成一间适合女人居住的卧室。他用从面粉袋子上剪下来的花布做成窗帘,换下了原来挂在肮脏不堪的窗户上的粗麻布口袋。他还从牧场里采摘来干的山艾,插在锡罐里,摆在床头柜上。

  终于,他生命里一直在期待的那天来到了。他采来一束新鲜的雏菊,拿在手里,前往火车站迎接心上人的到来。当火车喷着蒸汽,车轮发出刺耳的尖叫声徐徐驶进车站的时候,爱德华怀着激动的心情翘首向每一扇车窗里张望着,期待着能再见到英格里德那长长的秀发和迷人的微笑。

  想着马上就要见到最心爱的女孩了,因此,他兴奋,他激动,他的心在剧烈地跳动着。但是,不久,那颗充满渴望的心就一下子跌落到了最底处。因为,在他的眼前,正走下火车的不是英格里德,而是她的姐姐玛塔!她羞答答地站在他面前,头也不敢抬,眼睛注视着地面。

  爱德华简直就不敢相信自己的眼睛――他大惑不解地站在那里,哑口无言。良久,他才颤抖着手把花递给玛塔。“欢迎你,”他轻声说道,眼睛仿佛被灼烧一样难受。这时,玛塔的那平平常常的脸上掠过了一丝微笑。

  “当爸爸告诉我说你希望我能来美国的时候,我真是高兴极了,”玛塔看着他的眼睛,羞涩地说,说完,就又低下了头。

  “我来替你拿行李吧,”爱德华勉强地挤出一丝笑容说。然后,他们一起向马车走去。

  汉德森先生和爸爸说的没错,玛塔的确具有很强的商业头脑。当爱德华在金矿工作的时候,她则在办公室里料理各方面的事务。在起居室的一个角落里,她临时找了一张代用的办公桌,并把所有顾客提出的要求都逐条记录了下来。在半年的时间里,他们的资产翻了一番。

  不仅如此,她还有一手精湛的厨艺,每天都能让爱德华吃上可口的饭菜,还有她每天在门口迎接他归来时那恬静的微笑,这一切都使他的小木屋里有了一丝美好的女人的气息。“但是,她并不是我想要的女人啊,”每天晚上,当他拖着疲惫不堪的身体倒在他的轻便小床上时,他总是会忧伤难过地想,“他们为什么让玛塔来?我是不是再也见不到英格里德了?我要娶英格里德为妻的终生的梦想是不是实现不了了?”

  转眼,一年过去了。在这一年里,玛塔和爱德华一起生活,一起工作,一起玩乐,一起欢笑,但是,他们之间却从来不曾有过爱情。有一次,在回自己的房间之前,玛塔在爱德华的脸颊上轻轻地吻了一下。虽然,爱德华只是很笨拙地笑了笑,然而,就是从那时起,他们之间的任何一次愉快的爬山、旅行,或者是晚饭后坐在走廊里的促膝长谈,似乎都让玛塔感到非常满足。

  一个春日的午后,天空中突然下起了倾盆大雨,雨水形成的山洪猛烈地冲下山坡,把他们的金矿的入口冲垮了。眼看着自己的金矿即将毁于一旦,爱德华心里非常焦急,非常恼怒。他把沙袋堆积在一起,企图阻挡住水流。尽管他已经浑身湿透,且筋疲力尽,但是,他的努力好像没有起到一点儿作用。就在这时,突然,玛塔来到了他的身边,打开了一个粗麻布袋,示意爱德华向里面装沙子。爱德华先是一愣,继而奋力挥动铁锨,把沙子装进了粗麻布袋。然后,玛塔竟像一个男人一样,用力扛起沙袋,把它扔进那一堆沙袋之中,接着,她又拿起了另一只粗麻布袋……他们一起在雨中奋战了好几个小时,直到雨停。其实,他们的膝盖都已经深陷淤泥之中了……

然后,他们拖着疲惫的身体,手拉着手回到了小木屋。喝过一碗热汤之后,爱德华感慨地说:“如果没有你,我根本保不住金矿。谢谢你,玛塔。”

  “不用谢,”她答道,脸上依旧荡漾着与往常一样的笑容,然后,她默默地走进自己的房间里。

  几天之后,一封来自家乡的电报又飞到了爱德华的手上。电报给他带来了一个惊人的好消息:汉德森和威尔曼两家将于下星期抵达美国。尽管,爱德华竭力控制着自己的喜悦与激动,但是,再次见到英格里德的喜悦使他的心又像以往那样剧烈地跳动起来……

  转眼,那一天到来了。爱德华和玛塔早早来到了火车站,翘首盼望着。终于,他们看到了自己的家人走下火车,沿着远处的月台向这边走来。英格里德仍像以前一样秀发飘逸,笑靥如花。这时,玛塔转过身,看着爱德华,说:“去吧,爱德华。”

  爱德华惊讶地看着玛塔,结结巴巴地问:“你这是什么意思?”

  “爱德华,其实我早就知道我并不是你所希望的来这里的女孩。我曾经看到过你和英格里德在教堂野餐时坐在一起谈情说爱。”玛塔一边说着,一边向正走下台阶的妹妹点点头,“我知道你想娶的人是她,不是我。”

  “但是……”

  “嘘——”玛塔把她的手指压在爱德华的嘴唇上,示意他保持安静。然后,她深情地说:“我爱你,爱德华,永远都是。正因为如此,所以,我真诚地希望你能幸福。快去迎接她吧。”

  这时,爱德华猛地抬起双臂,双手抓住了玛塔压在他嘴唇上的手,并紧紧地握着,握着。玛塔抬起头,痴痴地凝视着他。直到此时,爱德华才第一次发现玛塔竟是如此的美丽!昔日他们在一起相处的那些情景此刻又一幕一幕地在他的眼前闪回:清晨的牧场里,他们并肩漫步;火红的篝火旁,他们促膝谈心;滂沱的大雨中,他们携手奋战……哦,其实,早在几个月以前,他就已经意识到他爱的归宿了!

  “不,玛塔。我爱的人是你。”说着,爱德华将她拥入怀中。此刻,他那积聚在胸中的爱仿佛火山喷发一样,恣意地、尽情地宣泄出来,他用他全部的爱,忘情地、狂热地亲吻着她。这时,他们的家人已经聚拢到了他们的身旁,齐声欢呼道:“哦,真是太好了,我们就是来参加婚礼的!”
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