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失窃的孩子 The stolen Child C H A P T E R 2

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Her face betrayed her every emotion: blotchy skin, chapped with salty tears, her pale blue eyes rimmed in red, her hair matted and disheveled. She reached out for me with trembling hands and emitted a small sharp cry, the kind a rabbit makes when in the distress of the snare. She wiped her eyes on her shirtsleeve and wrapped me in the wracking shudder of a woman in love. Then she began laughing in that deep coloratura.

她的脸完全泄露了她的情绪:发着疹子的皮肤上纵横着一道道咸咸的泪水,浅蓝色的眼睛框着红圈,头发纠结蓬乱。她朝我张开双臂,两手直抖,发出一声短促的尖叫,痛苦得好像掉入了陷阱的兔子。她用衬衫袖子擦了擦眼,用满怀爱意的女人那饱受摧折的肩膀围住了我,接着用深沉的花腔高音大笑起来。

"Henry? Henry?" She pushed me away and held on to my shoulders at arms length. "Let me look at you. Is it really you?"

"Im sorry, Mom."

She brushed away the bangs hiding my eyes and then pulled me against her breast. Her heart beat against the side of my face, and I felt hot and un-comfortable.

"You neednt worry, my little treasure. Youre home and safe and sound, and thats all that matters. Youve come back to me."

“亨利?亨利?”她手撑在我肩上,把我推在一臂远的地方,“让我看看你。真是你吗?”

“对不起,妈妈。”

她拂开遮着我眼睛的额发,把我压在胸前。她的心在我脸侧跳动,我觉得又热又不舒服。

“别担心,我的小宝贝。你回家了,一点事儿都没有,这点最要紧。你回到我身边了。”

Dad cupped the back of my head with his large hand, and I thought this homecoming tableau might go on forever. I squirmed free and dug out the handkerchief from Henrys pocket, crumbs spilling to the floor.

爸爸用他的大手包住我的后脑勺,我想这个欢迎回家的生动场面还会永远继续下去。我一点点挣脱出来,从亨利的口袋里掏出条手帕,饼干屑撒在了地板上。

"Im sorry I stole the biscuit, Mom."

“对不起,妈妈,我偷了饼干。”

She laughed, and a shadow passed behind her eyes. Maybe she had been wondering up to that point if I was indeed her flesh and blood, but mention-ing the biscuit did the trick. Henry had stolen one from the table when he ran away from home, and while the others took him to the river, I stole and pock-eted it. The crumbs proved that I was hers.

她笑起来,眼中的阴影消退了。也许她直到前一刻还在怀疑我是否是她的亲骨肉,提到饼干奏效了。亨利离家出走时,从桌上偷了块饼干,别的换生灵把他带到河边时,我把饼干偷过来放在口袋里。饼干碎屑证明了我是她的孩子。

Well after midnight, they put me to bed, and such a comfort may be the greatest invention of mankind. In any case, it tops sleeping in a hole in the cold ground, a moldy rabbit skin for your pillow, and the grunts and sighs of a dozen changelings anxious in their dreams. I stretched out like a stick be-tween the crisp sheets and pondered my good fortune. Many tales exist of failed changelings who are uncovered by their presumptive families. One child who showed up in a Nova Scotia fishing village so frightened his poor parents that they fled their own home in the middle of a snowstorm and were later found frozen and bobbing in the frigid harbor. A changeling girl, age six, so shocked her new parents when she opened her mouth to speak that, thus frightened, they poured hot wax into each others ears and never heard an-other sound. Other parents, upon learning that their child had been replaced by changelings, had their hair turn white overnight, were stunned into cata-tonia, heart attacks, or sudden death. Worse yet, though rare, other families drive out the creature through exorcism, banishment, abandonment, murder. Seventy years ago, I lost a good friend after he forgot to make himself look older as he aged. Convinced he was a devil, his parents tied him up like an unwanted kitten in a gunnysack and threw him down a well. Most of the time, though, the parents are confounded by the sudden change of their son or daughter, or one spouse blames the other for their queer fortune. It is a risky endeavor and not for the fainthearted.

午夜后,他们让我上床睡觉,这种安慰大概是人类最伟大的发明。不管怎么说,这好过睡在洞里冷冰冰的地上,拿发霉的兔皮当枕头,还有十来个换生灵在不安的睡梦中咕哝和叹气。我在松软的被子里伸直手脚,寻思着我的好运。有很多故事说的是换生灵的失败,身份被所谓的家人揭露了。一个出现在新斯科舍①①加拿大省名。某渔村的孩子把他可怜的父母吓坏了,他们在暴风雪中弃家而逃,后来被发现浮尸在寒冷的港口上,已经冻僵了。一个换生灵女孩,六岁,一开口说话就让她的新父母不堪恐惧,把滚烫的蜡油灌进对方耳朵,从此再也听不到声音。还有一些父母,得知他们的孩子被换生灵替换,一夜白发,有的精神分裂,有的心脏病突发,还有的猝死。更惨的是,虽然很少见,但确有一些人家把这种生物赶出去,有的使用咒语,有的驱赶、丢弃或者杀害他们。七十年前,我失去了一位好朋友,因为他忘了让自己随年龄长大。他的父母当他是魔鬼,把他像一只没人要的小猫一样捆起来装在麻袋里,丢到一口井里。大多数时候,父母为他们儿女的突变大惑不解,或一方为这种离奇的命运而责备另一方。这种危险的事情,怯弱者不宜。

That I had come this far undetected caused me no small satisfaction, but I was not completely at ease. A half hour after I had gone to bed, the door to my room swung open slowly. Framed against the hallway light, Mr. and Mrs. Day stuck their heads through the opening. I shut my eyes to mere slits and pretended to be sleeping. Softly, but persistently, she was sobbing. None could cry with such dexterity as Ruth Day. "We have to mend our ways, Billy. You have to make sure this never happens again."

"I know, I promise," he whispered. "Look at him sleeping, though. The innocent sleep that knits up the ravelld sleeve of care."

我走到这一步而没有被揭穿,感到心满意足,但还没有完全放下心来。我上床后半小时,房间的门慢慢打开了。在走廊灯光的映照下,戴先生和戴夫人从门缝里探进头来。我把眼睛眯成一道缝,假装睡着。露丝?戴不断地低声抽泣,没人能哭得这样有技巧。“我们得改一改了,比利。你不能让这种事再发生了。”

“我知道,我保证,”他小声说道。“不过看看他的睡相吧。‘天真的睡眠,缝补好忧虑的乱丝 。’”

He pulled shut the door and left me in the darkness. My fellow changelings and I had been spying on the boy for months, so I knew the contours of my new home at the edge of the forest. Henrys view of their few acres and the world beyond was magical. Outside, the stars shone through the window above a jagged row of firs. Through the open windows, a breeze blew across the top of the sheets, and moths beat their wings in retreat from their perches on the window screen. The nearly full moon reflected enough light into the space to reveal the dim pattern on the wallpaper, the crucifix above my head, pages torn from magazines and newspapers tacked along the wall. A baseball mitt and ball rested on top of the bureau, and on the washstand a pitcher and bowl glowed as white as phosphorous. A short stack of books lay propped against the bowl, and I could barely contain my excitement at the prospect of reading come morning。

他关上门,把我留在黑暗中。我和我的换生灵同伴们监视了这个男孩好几个月,所以我在森林边就知道新家的轮廓。在亨利的眼里,这几英亩地还有这外面的世界是如此奇妙。屋外,星光从一排参差的冷杉树梢上透进窗子。习习轻风吹进敞开的窗户,从被子上掠过。停在窗玻璃上的蛾子扑扇着翅膀飞走。将圆未圆的月亮投下清辉,照亮了墙纸上暗淡的纹饰,十字架悬在我头上,从杂志上裁下的纸页和报纸用大头钉钉在墙上。桌上摆着棒球手套和棒球,盥洗架上的水罐和碗闪闪发光,如磷光般皎洁。碗上斜靠着一小摞书,一想到明天就能读这些书,我激动不已。

The twins began bawling at the break of day. I padded down the hallway, past my new parents room, following the sound. The babies hushed the mo-ment they saw me, and I am sure that had they the gifts of reason and speech, Mary and Elizabeth would have said "Youre not Henry" the moment I walked into the room. But they were mere tots, with more teeth than sentences, and could not articulate the mysteries of their young minds. With their clear wide eyes, they regarded my every move with quiet attentiveness. I tried smiling, but no smiles were returned. I tried making funny faces, tickling them under their fat chins, dancing like a puppet, and whistling like a mockingbird, but they simply watched, passive and inert as two dumb toads. Racking my brain to find a way to get through to them, I recalled other occasions when I had encountered something in the forest as helpless and dangerous as these two human children. Walking along in a lonesome glen, I had come across a bear cub separated from its mother. The frightened animal let out such a godforsaken scream that I half expected to be surrounded by every bear in the mountains. Despite my powers with animals, there was nothing to be done with a monster that could have ripped me open with a single swat. By croon-ing to the beast, I soothed it, and remembering this, I did so with my new-found sisters. They were enchanted by the sound of my voice and began at once to coo and clap their chubby hands while long strings of drool ran down their chins. "Twinkle, Twinkle" and "Bye, Baby Bunting" reassured or con-vinced them that I was close enough to be their brother, or preferable to their brother, but who knows for certain what thoughts flitted through their simple minds. They gurgled, and they gooed. In between songs, for counterpoint, I would talk to them in Henrys voice, and gradually they came to believe—or abandon their sense of disbelief.

天刚亮,双胞胎就开始哭嚎。我顺着声音经过我新父母的房间,蹑手蹑脚地走过走廊。婴儿们一看到我就鸦雀无声,我肯定如果她们——玛丽和伊丽莎白——天生聪慧,又能说话的话,我一走进屋子她们就会说“你不是亨利”。可惜她们还在襁褓中,会说的句子比长出的牙齿还少,说不清她们幼小心灵中的秘密。她们瞪大清澈的眼睛,安静地注视着我的每个动作。我微笑,但她们不笑。我做鬼脸,给她们胖胖的下巴挠痒痒,学木偶跳舞,学鸟儿吹口哨,但她们只是看着,像两只哑巴蟾蜍一样无动于衷。我搜肠刮肚地想要找到亲近她们的法子,于是想起了有几次我在森林中遇见的与这两个人类小孩一般无助而又危险的东西。一次我走在幽深的峡谷中,碰到一只和母亲分开的小熊崽。受惊吓的动物发出凄楚的叫声,我差点以为山里所有的熊都要来包围我了。虽然我能制服动物,但对那种一爪就能把我撕成两半的怪物无能为力。我只好哼起歌谣,安抚了熊崽。想到此处,我就对我的新妹妹们如法炮制。她们被我的嗓音迷住了,立即开始呀呀叫唤,拍着胖嘟嘟的手,口水长长地流出来,挂在下巴上。《小星星,亮晶晶》和《再见,小鸟》打消了她们的疑虑,向她们保证我和哥哥差不多,或者还是个更好的哥哥,但谁又能确定她们简单的脑瓜里转过什么念头呢。她们咯咯,咕咕。我一边唱歌,一边用亨利的口气和她们说话,她们便渐渐地相信了,或者说不再怀疑了。

Mrs. Day bustled into the babies room, humming and tra-la-la-ing. Her general girth and amplitude amazed me; I had seen her many times before, but not quite at such close quarters. From the safety of the woods, she had seemed more or less the same as all adult humans, but in person, she assumed a singu-lar tenderness, though she smelled faintly sour, a perfume of milk and yeast. She danced across the floor, throwing open curtains, dazzling the room with golden morning, and the girls, brightened by her presence, pulled themselves up by the slats of their cribs. I smiled at her, too. It was all I could do to keep from bursting into joyous laughter. She smiled back at me as if I were her only son.

戴夫人匆匆走进婴儿室,欢快地一遍遍哼着歌句。她的腰围和身量让我吃惊,我之前见过她多次,但距离从没这么近过。从森林中安全的地方观察,她似乎和所有的成年人类一般无二,但个别地看,她有种独特的温柔,带着一股子淡淡的酸味,那是牛奶和酵母的香味。她迈着舞步走过地板,拉开窗帘,让金色的早晨炫亮了房间,而女孩们一看到她来,就满脸放光,抓着婴儿床的板条要起来。我也朝她微笑——否则我就没法忍住哈哈大笑。她也向我报以微笑,好似我是她惟一的儿子。

"Help me with your sisters, would you, Henry?"

I picked up the nearest girl and announced very pointedly to my new mother, "Ill take Elizabeth." She was as heavy as a badger. It is a curious feel-ing to hold an infant one is not planning to steal; the very young convey a pleasant softness.

The girls mother stopped and stared at me, and for a beat, she looked puzzled and uncertain. "How did you know that was Elizabeth? Youve never been able to tell them apart."

"Thats easy, Mom. Elizabeth has two dimples when she smiles and her names longer, and Mary has just one."

"Arent you the clever one?" She picked up Mary and headed off down-stairs.

“帮我照顾你的妹妹好吗,亨利?”

我抱起离我最近的女孩,非常明确地对我的新母亲说:“我来抱伊丽莎白。”她像一头獾那么重。抱着一个不打算偷的婴儿是种奇怪的感觉,幼小的身躯抱起来有种舒适的柔感。

女孩的母亲站住脚,瞪着我,有一瞬间,她表情迷惑而动摇。“你怎么知道这是伊丽莎白?你从来没法把她们区分开。”

“这容易,妈妈。伊丽莎白笑起来有两个酒窝,她的名字也更长,但玛丽只有一个酒窝。”

“你可真够聪明的!”她抱起玛丽,率先走下楼梯。

Elizabeth hid her face against my shoulder as we followed our mother. The kitchen table groaned with a huge feast—hotcakes and bacon, a jug of warm maple syrup, a gleaming pitcher of milk, and china bowls filled with sliced bananas. After a long life in the forest eating what-you-can-find, this simple fare appeared a smorgasbord of exotic delicacies, rich and ripe, the promise of fullness.

我跟在母亲后面,伊丽莎白把脸窝在我肩上。餐桌被丰盛的宴席压得嘎嘎作响——薄煎饼,熏肉,一壶热枫糖汁,一罐冒热气的牛奶,还有盛在瓷碗里的香蕉片。在森林中经历过有什么吃什么的漫长岁月后,这顿简单的早餐就像散发着异国情调的高级自助餐,丰盛而且都是熟的,允诺着我将会衣食无忧。

"Look, Henry, I made all your favorites."

I could have kissed her right on the spot. If she was pleased with herself for taking the trouble to fix Henrys favorite foods, she must have been ex-tremely gratified by how I tucked in and enjoyed breakfast. After four hot-cakes, eight strips of bacon, and all but two small glassfuls of the pitcher of milk, I complained of hunger, so she made me three eggs and a half loaf of toast from home-baked bread. My metabolism had changed, it seemed. Ruth Day saw my appetite as a sign of love for her, and for the next eleven years, until I left for college, she indulged me. In time, she sublimated her own anxieties and began to eat like me. Decades as a changeling had molded my appetites and energies, but she was all too human, growing heavier with each passing season. Over the years, Ive often wondered if she would have changed so much with her real firstborn or whether she filled her gnawing suspicion with food.

“看,亨利,我做了所有你爱吃的。”

我真能当场亲她一下。如果她不辞劳苦做出亨利喜欢的食物,并为此而高兴的话,那么我大快朵颐,尽情享用,她一定会欢天喜地了。吃完四个煎饼,八条熏肉,牛奶喝得只剩两小杯后,我还在嚷饿,于是她又给我做了三个蛋,并拿家里烤的面包做了半条吐司。我的新陈代谢似乎已经改变了。露丝?戴把我的好胃口当做是我爱她的表现,于是在接下来的十一年,到我去上大学之前,她一直娇惯着我。不久,她升华了自己的焦虑,开始和我一样大吃大喝起来。数十年的换生灵生活塑造了我的胃口和精力,但她是个十足的人类,年年都在发福。这些年,我常想,如果她是和自己真正的长子在一起,会不会变得这么厉害,还会不会用食物来填补疑心的侵蚀呢?
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