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The drugstore was beginning to close for the night. Young Alfred Higgins, who worked in the store was putting on his coat, getting ready to go home. On his way out, he passed Mr. Carr, the little gray-haired man who owned the store. Mr. Carr looked up at Alfred as he passed, and said in a very soft voice, "Just one moment, Alfred. One moment before you go." Mr. Carr spoke so quietly that he worried Alfred.

天晚了,杂货店即将打烊,在店里工作的年轻的艾尔弗雷德·希金斯穿上大衣准备回家。出门时,他碰上了店主卡尔先生。卡尔先生是个小个子,头发灰白。当艾尔弗雷德经过时卡尔先生抬头看着他,然后低声说:“等一下,艾尔弗雷德。等一下再走。”卡尔先生的声音那么低沉,使艾尔弗雷德不禁紧张起来。 "What is it, Mr. Carr?"

“什么事,卡尔先生?”

"Maybe, you' d be good enough to take a few things out of your pockets and leave them here before you go.” said Mr. Carr.

“你也许在走之前会把兜里的东西拿出来,放在这儿。”卡尔先生说。

"What -- What things? What are you talking about?"

“什么——什么东西?你在说些什么呀?”

"You've got a compact and a lipstick and at least two tubes of toothpaste in your pockets, Alfred,"

“你拿了一个粉盒,一支口红还有至少两管牙膏在你衣兜里,艾尔弗雷德。”

"What do you mean?" Alfred answered.

“你这是什么意思?”艾尔弗雷德回答:“你以为我疯了吗?”他的脸红了。

"Do you think I' m crazy?" his face got red. Mr. Carr kept looking at Alfred coldly. Alfred did not know what to say, and tried to keep his eyes from meeting the eyes of his boss. After a few moments, he put his hand into his pockets and took out the things he had stolen.

卡尔先生冷冷地直盯着艾尔弗雷德。艾尔弗雷德一时语塞,努力避开老板的目光、过了一会儿,他把手伸进口袋,把偷的东西拿了出来。

"Petty thieving, eh, Alfred.” said Mr. Carr. "And maybe you'd be good enough to tell me how long this has been going on."

“小偷小摸,是吧,艾尔弗雷德?”卡尔先生发话了。“也许你能老实告诉我这种事已持续多久了?”

"This is the first time I ever took anything."

“这是我头一次从店里拿东西。”

Mr. Carr was quick to answer, "So now you think you'll tell me a lie, eh? What kind of fool I look like, huh? I don't know what goes on in my own store, eh? I tell you, you've been doing this for a long time." Mr. Carr had a strange smile on his face. "I don' t like to call the police," he said, "but maybe I should call your father, and let him know I'm going to have you put in jail."

卡尔先生当即反驳道:“你想骗我,嗯?看看我究竟有多傻,嗯?我会不知道我自己店里发生的事情,嗯?我告诉你,你这种行为已经持续很长一段时间了。”卡尔先生睑上露出了怪异的笑。“我不想叫警察,”他说,“但我也许应该给你父亲打个电话,让他知道我得把你送到监狱里去。”

"My father is not home. He is a printer. He works nights."

“我父亲不在家。他是个印刷工,上夜班。”

"Who is at home?" Carr asked.

“那么谁在家?”卡尔问道。

"My mother, I think."

“我想,我母亲大概在吧。”

Mr. Carr started to go to the phone. Alfred's fear made him raise his voice. He wanted to show he was afraid of nobody. He acted this way every time he got into trouble. This had happened many times since he left school. At such times he always spoke in a loud voice, as he did tonight. "Just a minute," he said to Mr. Carr. "You don' t have to get anybody else into this. You don't have to tell her." Alfred tried to sound big, but deep down he was like a child. He hoped that someone at home would come quickly to save him. But Mr. Carr was already talking to his mother. He told her to come to the store in a hurry.

卡尔先生准备去打电话。因为恐惧,艾尔弗雷德提高了音量。他想以此显示他谁也不怕。每当他碰上麻烦时,他都这么做。自从他离开学校后他经常闯祸。每次遇到这种情况,他就拉大嗓门说话,今晚也不例外。“稍等一下,”他对卡尔先生说,“你没必要把别人扯进来。你没必要告诉她。”艾尔弗雷德说话时努力想使自己显得像个大人,可内心里他却像个孩子。他希望家里很快有人来救他。这时卡尔先生已在和他的母亲通话了。他让她赶紧到店里来。

Alfred thought his mother would come, rushing in, eyes burning with anger. Maybe she would be crying and would push him away when he tried to explain to her. She would make him feel so small. Yet, he wanted her to come quickly before Mr. Carr called in a policeman. Alfred and Mr. Carr waited, but said nothing. At last they heard someone at the closed door. Mr. Carr opened it and said, “Come in, Mrs. Higgins. "His face was harsh and serious.

艾尔弗雷德想像着他母亲来时一定是急急忙忙,满眼怒火。她也许还会哭着一把将他推开,不容他分辩。她会让他觉得非常渺小。尽管如此,他还是希望她能在卡尔先生叫来警察之前尽快赶来。艾尔弗雷德和卡尔先生都等着,谁也不吭声。他们终于听到有人敲紧闭的房门。卡尔先生打开门说:“请进,希金斯太太。”他的脸绷得紧紧的,非常严肃。

Alfred's mother came in with a friendly smile on her face and put out her hand to Mr. Carr, said politely, "I' m Mrs. Higgins, Alfred's mother."

艾尔弗雷德的母亲脸上挂着友好的微笑走了进来,并向卡尔先生伸出手,很有礼貌地说:“我是希金斯夫人,艾尔弗雷德的母亲。” Mr. Carr was surprised at the way she came in. She was very calm, quiet and friendly. "Is Alfred in trouble?" Mrs. Higgins asked.

她进来时的举止完全出乎卡尔先生所料。她镇定自若,心平气和且很友好。“艾尔弗雷德闯祸了吗?”希金斯夫人问道。

"He is. He has been taking things from the store -- little things, like toothpaste and lipsticks, things he can easily sell," Mrs. Higgns looked at her son and said sadly. "Is it so, Alfred?"

“是的。他不断从店里偷拿东西——一些牙膏以及口红之类的小东西,他可以很容易地将这些东西卖掉。” 希金斯夫人看了看儿子,哀伤地说:“是这样吗,艾尔弗雷德?”

"Yes."

“是的。”

"Why have you been doing it?" she asked.

“你为什么要这么做?”她问道。

"I've been spending money, I believe.”

“我钱花得太多,我想。”

"On what?"

“花在什么上?”

"On going around with the boys, I guess.” said Alfred.

“我想是和朋友们一起出去,”艾尔弗雷德说。

Higgins put out her hand and touched Mr. Carr's arm with great gentleness, as if she knew just how he felt. She spoke as if she did not want to cause him any more trouble. She said, "If you will just listen to me before doing anything?" Her voice was cool and she turned her head away as if she had said too much already. Then she looked again at Mr. Carr with a pleasant smile and asked, "What do you want to do, Mr. Carr?"

希金斯夫人伸出手极其轻柔地碰了碰卡尔先生的胳膊,似乎她知道他是怎么想的。她说话的口吻似乎表明她不想再给他添更多的麻烦。她说:“在您采取任何行动之前,能否听我说句话?”她的声音很冷静,接着她把头扭到一边,似乎她已说得太多。之后她又把目光移回到卡尔先生的脸上,带着一脸和气的笑容问道:“您打算怎么办,卡尔先生?”

"I was going to get a cop. That is what I should do -- call the police."

“我要叫警察。这也是我应该做的——叫警察。”

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