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新编大学英语教程第四册Unit 11

I shrug my shoulders when people tell me that their first impressions of a person are always right. I wonder if they are more often right than wrong. For my own part I find that the longer I know people the more they puzzle me.

2 These reflections have occurred to me because I read in this morning's paper that Edward Hyde Burton had died at Kobe. He was a merchant and he had been in business in Japan for many years. I knew him very little, but he interested me because once he gave me a great surprise. Unless I had heard the story from his own lips, I should never have believed that he was capable of such an action. It was more startling because both in appearance and manner he suggested a very definite type. I suppose he was about sixty when I knew him. He was always neatly and quietly dressed in accordance with his age and station.

3 Though his offices were in Kobe, Burton often came down to Yokohama. I happened on one occasion to be spending a few days there, waiting for a ship, and I was introduced to him at the British Club. He seemed to be popular at the club. It happened that we were both staying at the Grand Hotel and next day he asked me to dine with him. I think the chief thing that struck me about Burton was his kindliness. There was something very pleasing in his mild blue eyes. His voice was gentle; you could not imagine that he could raise it in anger; his smile was benign. He liked his game of cards and his cocktail, he could tell with point a good and spicy story, and in his youth he had been something of an athlete.

4 One afternoon I was sitting in the lounge of the Grand Hotel.From the windows you had a spacious view of the harbour with its crowded traffic. It was a busy exhilarating scene and yet,I know not why,restful to the spirit. Here was romance and it seemed that you had but to stretch out your hand to touch it.

Burton came into the lounge presently and caught sight of me.He seated himself in the chair next to mine.

5 "What do you say to a little drink?"

6 He clapped his hands for a boy and ordered two gin fizzes. As the boy brought them a man passed along the street outside and seeing me waved his hand.

7 "Do you know Turner?" said Burton as I nodded a greeting.

8 "I've met him at the club. I'm told he's a remittance man."

9 "Yes, I believe he is. We have a good many here."

10 "He plays bridge well."

11 "They generally do. There was a fellow here last year, oddly enough a namesake of mine, who was the best bridge player I ever met. I suppose you never came across him in London. Lenny Burton he called himself.

12 "No, I don't believe I remember the name."

13 "He was quite a remarkable player. He seemed to have an instinct about the cards. It was uncanny. I used to play with him a lot. He was in Kobe for some time."

14 Burton sipped his gin fizz.

15 "It's rather a funny story,' he said. 'He wasn't a bad chap. I liked him. He was always well-dressed and smart-looking. He was handsome in a way with curly hair and pink-and-white cheeks. There was no harm in him, you know, he was only wild. Of course he drank too much. Those sort of fellows always do. A bit of money used to come on for him once a quarter and he made a bit more by card-playing. He won a good deal of mine, I know that."

16 Burton gave a kindly chuckle. I knew from my own experience that he could lose money at bridge with a good grace.

17 "I suppose that is why he came to me when he went broke, that and the fact that he was a namesake of mine. He came to see me in my office one day and asked me for a job. I was rather surprised. He told me that there was no more money coming from home and he wanted to work. I asked him how old he was.

18 "'Thirty-five,' he said.

19 "'And what have you been doing before?' I asked him.

20 "'Well, nothing very much,' he said.

21 I couldn't help laughing.

22 "'I'm afraid I can't do anything for you just now,' I said. 'Come back and see me in another thirty-five years, and I'll see what I can do.'

23 "He didn't move. He went rather pale. He hesitated for a moment and then he told me that he had had bad luck at cards for some time. He couldn't pay his hotel bill and they wouldn't give him any more credit. He was down and out. If he couldn't get something to do he'd have to commit suicide.

24 "I looked at him for a bit. I could see now that he was all to pieces. He'd been drinking more than usual and he looked fifty.

25 "'Well isn't there anything you can do except play cards?' I asked him.

26 "'I can swim,' he said.

27 "'Swim!'

28 "I could hardly believe my ears; it seemed such an insane answer to give.

29 "'I swam for my university.'

30 "I got some glimmering of what he was driving at. I've known too many men who were little tin gods at their university to be impressed by it.

31 "'I was a pretty good swimmer myself when I was a young man,' I said.

32 "Suddenly I had an idea."

33 Pausing in his story, Burton turned to me.

34 "Do you know Kobe?" he asked.

35 "No," I said, "I passed through it once, but I only spent a night there."

36 "Then you don't know the Shioya Club. When I was a young man I swam from there round the beacon and landed at the creek of Tarumi. It's over three miles and it's rather difficult on account of the currents round the beacon. Well, I told my young namesake about it and I said to him that if he'd do it I'd give him a job.

37 "I could see he was rather taken aback.

38 "'You say you're a swimmer,' I said.

39 "'I'm not in very good condition,' he answered.

40 "I didn't say anything. I shrugged my shoulders. He looked at me for a moment and then he nodded.

41 "'All right,' he said. 'When do you want me to do it?'

42 "I looked at my watch. It was just after ten.

43 "'The swim shouldn't take you much over an hour and a quarter. I'll drive round to the creek at half past twelve and meet you. I'll take you back to the club to dress and then we'll have lunch together.'

44 "'Done,' he said.

45 "We shook hands. I wished him good luck and he left me. I had a lot of work to do that morning and I only just managed to get to the creek at Tarumi at half past twelve. But I needn't have hurried; he never turned up."

46 "Did he funk it at the last moment?" I asked.

47 "No, he didn't . He started all right. But of course he'd ruined his constitution by drink and dissipation. The currents round the beacon were more than he could manage. We didn't get the body for about three days."

48 I didn't say anything for a moment or two. I was a trifle shocked. Then I asked Burton a question.

49 "When you made him that offer of a job, did you know he'd be drowned?"

50 He gave a little mild chuckle and he looked at me with those kind and candid blue eyes of his. He rubbed his chin with his hand.

51 "Well, I hadn't got a vacancy in my office at the moment."

By Somerset Maugham

危难中的朋友

人们告诉我他们对人的第一印象总是对的时候,我总是耸耸肩。我不知道他们是否时常是对的。对我来说,我发现认识人们的时间越长,我对他们反而越是迷惑不解。

我突然想到这些是因为今早的报上得知爱德华 海德 伯顿在神户去世。他是位商人,在日本做生意很多年了。我对他知之甚少,但他引起了我的兴趣,因为他的所作所为曾我大感意外。如果不是我亲耳听他本人告诉我这个故事,我怎么也想不出他会做出这种事。更令我吃惊的是他的外表和行为方式使人想到他是某种类型的人。我认识他时,他约60岁。他的穿着总是整洁 得体 与其年龄和地位非常想配。

尽管伯顿的办公室在神户,但他常驻来横滨。一次我恰巧在那呆了几天,等船。在英国俱乐部我经人介绍与他相识,他在俱乐部里好像很受欢迎。碰巧我们都住在“大饭店”里,第二天他约我与他一起吃饭。我想主要是他友好和善的态度给我留下了深刻的印象。他柔和的蓝眼睛令人喜爱,声音非常温和,你想不到他生气时会提高嗓音,而且笑容非常亲切。他喜欢打桥牌 喝鸡尾酒,会生动地讲述既高雅又粗俗的故事,他年轻时还有点运动员的才能。

一天下午,我坐在“大饭店”的休息室。透过窗口,视野很开阔,可以看到港口拥挤的交通。一派令人振奋的繁忙景象,然而,我不知为什么,觉得这是一幅平静的悠闲画面。这里有迷人的魅力,让人感觉好像有只手就能触摸到。

不一会儿,伯顿走过休息室,看见我,就坐在我旁边的椅子上。

“你要喝点什么?”

他拍拍手叫来了侍者,要了两杯松子香槟酒。侍者送酒过来时,外面的大街上走过一个男人,看见我,便向我挥挥手。

我点头回应,“你认识特纳吗?”伯顿问。

我在俱乐部见过他,听说他是靠家里汇款生活的人。“

“是,我想他是,我们这儿有许多这样的人。”

“他桥牌打的不错。”

“一般说来,他们是这样的。去年这儿有一个人,说也奇怪与我同名,是我遇见的最好的桥牌高手。我想你在伦敦从来没有见过他。他称自己中莱尼 伯顿。”

“是,我想我不记得这个名字。”

“他是个相当出色的桥牌手。有打牌的天分,很离奇。我过去经常和他打招呼,他来神户一些日子了。”

伯顿呷了一口杜松子香槟酒。

“这是个非常滑稽的故事。”他说,“他是个不错的小伙子。我喜欢他,他一向穿着考究,看上去很时髦。某种程度上讲,他还算相当英俊,头发卷曲,脸颊白里透红。你知道,他对人没有恶意,只是生活放荡。当然,他经常酗酒。这种人是这样。他过去每个季度有点钱到帐,打牌又挣不少钱。他嬴了我很多钱,我知道。“

伯顿友善地轻声笑笑。据我的经验,我知道他可以欣然地接受打桥牌输钱。

“我想这就是他身无分文来找我时的原因吧,他与我同名也是其中一个原因吧。一天,他来我办公室找我,要我给他一份工作。我想当惊讶。他告诉我家里不再寄钱给他了,他想要工作。我问他多大年龄。

“35”他说。

“以前做过什么工作?”我问他。

“没做过什么工作”他说

“我不禁笑了。”

“我恐怕现在帮不了你,”我说“再过35年来找我,到那时我看能不能帮你。”

他没动,脸色很苍白。犹豫了一会,他说一段时间来他牌运不好,旅馆的帐也没钱付,再也没人给他赊帐了。他生活潦倒,如果找不到工作,就只好自杀了。

我看了也一会。我能够看出他已经疲备不堪了。他酗酒比平时更厉害了,看上去像50 多岁的人。

“哦,除了打桥牌,你难道没有其它会做的事情吗?”我问他。

“会游泳,”他说。

“游泳!”

我几乎相信自己听错了!“这样荒唐的回答。

“大学时代我代表学校参加过游泳。”

我模糊知道了他的用意所在。我认识有太多人在大学或小范围内莫名地被奉为偶像,于是我一言不发。

“我年轻的时候是个相当优秀的游泳健将,”我说。

“我突然有个想法。”

伯顿暂停讲述故事,转向我。

“你知道神户吗?”他问。

“不知道,”我说,“我曾路过那,但只在那呆过一夜。”

“那你知不知道盐谷俱乐部。我年轻的时候在那游泳,绕过灯塔,在垂水湾上岸。全程超过3英里,因为灯塔周围的小流湍急,要游完全程还是相当困难的。“

“唔,我把这些情况告诉我与我同名的年轻人,对他说,如果他能这样做,我就会给他一份工作。”

我可以看出他大吃一惊。

“你说你是个游泳健将。”我说

“我现在身体状况不太好。”他回答说。

我没说什么,耸了耸肩。他看了我一会儿,然后点点头。

“好,”他说。“你要我什么时候游?”

我看看手表,刚过10点。

“不用一个小时15分你就可以游完全程。我12点半开车绕道去垂水湾接你,带你回俱乐部换衣服,然后我们一起用午餐!”

可以,他说

“我们握了手。我祝他好运,他就离开了。那天早上我有很多工作要做,我只是刚好在12点半到达垂水湾。然而我并不需要这样匆忙的,他再也没有出现过。”

“他最后因害怕而退缩了?”我问。

“不,他没有。他开始游得还顺利。但当然,酗酒和放荡的生活已经毁了他的身体。灯塔周围湍急的水流远远超过他能应付的范围。我们花了大概3天的时间才打捞到尸体。“

片刻之间我一时无语。我有点震惊。然后我问了伯顿一个问题。

“提议给他一份工作的时候,你知道他会被淹死吗?”

他和善地轻声笑了笑,在好的蓝眼睛坦率地看着我,用手摸了摸下巴。

“噢,我办公室那个时候没有空位。”
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