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outlander/[ˋaʊtˌlændə(r)]/ n. 外国人, 外地人...

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My l4-year-old son, John, and I spotted the coat simultaneously. It was hanging on a rack at a secondhand clothing store in Northampton Mass, crammed in with shoddy trench coats and an assortment of sad, woolen overcoats -- a rose among thorns.

在马萨诸塞州北安普顿市的一家出售二手服装的店里,我和我14岁的儿子约翰同时盯上了那件大衣。它就挂在衣架上,夹在劣质的军用风雨衣和各式各样寒酸的羊毛大衣当中,然而它却像荆棘丛中的一朵玫瑰。

While the other coats drooped, this one looked as if it were holding itself up. The thick, black wool of the double-breasted chesterfield was soft and unworn, as though it had been preserved in mothballs for years in dead old Uncle Henry's steamer trunk. The coat had a black velvet collar, beautiful tailoring, a Fifth Avenue label and an unbelievable price of $28. We looked at each other, saying nothing, but John's eyes gleamed. Dark, woolen topcoats were popular just then with teenage boys, but could cost several hundred dollars new. This coat was even better, bearing that touch of classic elegance from a bygone era.

其他的大衣都显得没精打采,惟独这件衣服趾高气扬。厚厚的黑色羊绒柔软而蓬松,这件双排扣暗钮长大衣显然还没上过身,看样子,就像用樟脑球在老亨利叔叔的扁平旅行箱里保存了多年。其做工精细:领子是黑天鹅绒的,商标是第五大街的,价钱让人难以置信,只卖28美元。我们彼此看着对方,一言不发,可约翰的眼里却闪着欣喜的光。黑色的羊绒轻便大衣那时在小伙子们中很流行,买一件新的要花好几百美元,而这一件质地更好一些,还带有一种逝去年代的古典美。

John slid his arms down into the heavy satin lining of the sleeves and buttoned the coat. He turned from side to side, eyeing himself in the mirror with a serious, studied expression that soon changed into a smile. The fit was perfect.

约翰将胳膊伸进了袖管里——衬里是厚厚的缎子,系上了扣子。他在镜子面前转过来调过去地打量着自己,脸上的严肃表情不一会儿就变成了微笑。衣服合身极了。

John wore the coat to school the next day and came home wearing a big grin. "Ho. did the kids like your coat?" I asked. "They loved it," he said, carefully folding it over the back of a chair and smoothing it flat. I started calling him "Lord Chesterfield" and "The Great Gatsby."

第二天约翰就穿着它去上学了。放学回来他笑逐颜开。我问他:“那些孩子觉得你的大衣怎么样?”“他们非常喜欢。”他一边说,一边在椅子背儿上把衣服仔细地叠起来,并甩手把它展平。我于是就开始叫他“切斯特菲尔德大人”和“了不起的盖茨比”。

Over the next few weeks, a change came over John. Agreement replaced contrariness, quiet, reasoned discussion replaced argument. He became more judicious, more mannerly, more thoughtful, eager to please. “Good dinner, Mom," he would say every evening.

在接下来的几周内,约翰慢慢地变了:变得听话而不再故意作对,遇事能心平气和地商讨而不再强词夺理。他变得更明事理、更有礼貌,也更体贴人了。他也乐于讨人欢喜。每天晚上都要说:“妈妈,晚饭好极了。”

 He would generously loan his younger brother his tapes and lecture him on the niceties of behaviour; without a word of objection, he would carry in wood for the stove. One day when I suggested that he might start on homework before dinner, John -- a veteran procrastinator ? said, “You’re right. I guess I will.”

他会很慷慨地把自己的磁带借给弟弟,并告诫他如何有良好的行为举止;他会毫无怨言地把烧炉子用的劈柴抱进来。有一天当我建议他在晚饭前开始做作业时,约翰这个一贯拖拉的家伙居然说:“您是对的,我想我会做的。”

When I mentioned this incident to one of his teachers and remarked that I didn't know what caused the changes, she said laughing. "It must be his coat!" Another teacher told him she was giving him a good mark not only because he had earned it but because she liked his coat. At the library, we ran into a friend who had not seen our children in a long time, “Could this be John?" he asked, looking up to John's new height, assessing the cut of his coat and extending his hand, one gentleman to another.

当我对他的一个老师提起这件事,并说我不知道这是为什么时,她笑着说:“一定是因为他的大衣!”另一个老师告诉他,她要给他一个好成绩,不仅仅因为他理应获得,还因为她喜欢他的大衣。在图书馆里我们遇见了一位朋友,他已经很长时间没有看见我们的孩子了。看着约翰长高的个子,品评着他大衣的样式,这位朋友不禁问道:“这是约翰吗?” 同时向约翰伸出了手,完全是绅士间的行为。

John and I both know we should never mistake a person's clothes for the real person within them. But there is something to be said for wearing a standard of excellence for the world to see, for practising standards of excellence in though, speech, and behaviour, and for matching what is on the inside to what is on the outside.

约翰和我都知道不应该以貌取人,可穿着优雅为世人看,在思想上、言语上、行动上实践优秀的标准,以达到内外的和谐统一,这又另当别论。

Sometimes, watching John leave for school, I've remembered with a keen sting what it felt like to be in the eighth grade -- a time when it was as easy to try on different approaches to life as it was to try on a coat. The whole world, the whole future is stretched out ahead, a vast panorama where all the doors are open. And if I were there right now, I would picture myself walking through those doors wearing my wonderful, magical coat.

有时看着约翰上学去,我就不禁怦然心动,想起自己上8年级时的感觉——那时尝试不同的生活方式就如同试衣服一样简单。整个世界、整个未来在你面前展开,犹如一幅巨大的画卷,那里的每一扇门都敞开着。如果此刻我能回到那儿,我会在这些门间穿行,身上就穿着那件奇妙的、带有魔力的大衣。

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