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calumnious/[kəˋlʌmnɪəs]/ a. 惯于中伤的, 惯于诬蔑的...

安徒生童话 10 THE OLD HOUSE 老房子

THE OLD HOUSE

In the street, up there, was an old, a very old house--it was almost three hundred years old, for that might be known by reading the great beam on which the date of the year was carved: together with tulips and hop-binds there were whole verses spelled as in former times, and over every window was a distorted face cut out in the beam. The one story stood forward a great way over the other; and directly under the eaves was a leaden spout with a dragon's head; the rain-water should have run out of the mouth, but it ran out of the belly, for there was a hole in the spout.

All the other houses in the street were so new and so neat, with large window panes and smooth walls, one could easily see that they would have nothing to do with the old house: they certainly thought, "How long is that old decayed thing to stand here as a spectacle in the street? And then the projecting windows stand so far out, that no one can see from our windows what happens in that direction! The steps are as broad as those of a palace, and as high as to a church tower. The iron railings look just like the door to an old family vault, and then they have brass tops--that's so stupid!"

On the other side of the street were also new and neat houses, and they thought just as the others did; but at the window opposite the old house there sat a little boy with fresh rosy cheeks and bright beaming eyes: he certainly liked the old house best, and that both in sunshine and moonshine. And when he looked across at the wall where the mortar had fallen out, he could sit and find out there the strangest figures imaginable; exactly as the street had appeared before, with steps, projecting windows, and pointed gables; he could see soldiers with halberds, and spouts where the water ran, like dragons and serpents. That was a house to look at; and there lived an old man, who wore plush breeches; and he had a coat with large brass buttons, and a wig that one could see was a real wig. Every morning there came an old fellow to him who put his rooms in order, and went on errands; otherwise, the old man in the plush breeches was quite alone in the old house. Now and then he came to the window and looked out, and the little boy nodded to him, and the old man nodded again, and so they became acquaintances, and then they were friends, although they had never spoken to each other--but that made no difference. The little boy heard his parents say, "The old man opposite is very well off, but he is so very, very lonely!"

The Sunday following, the little boy took something, and wrapped it up in a piece of paper, went downstairs, and stood in the doorway; and when the man who went on errands came past, he said to him--"I say, master! will you give this to the old man over the way from me? I have two pewter soldiers--this is one of them, and he shall have it, for I know he is so very, very lonely."

And the old errand man looked quite pleased, nodded, and took the pewter soldier over to the old house. Afterwards there came a message; it was to ask if the little boy himself had not a wish to come over and pay a visit; and so he got permission of his parents, and then went over to the old house.

And the brass balls on the iron railings shone much brighter than ever; one would have thought they were polished on account of the visit; and it was as if the carved-out trumpeters--for there were trumpeters, who stood in tulips, carved out on the door--blew with all their might, their cheeks appeared so much rounder than before. Yes, they blew--"Trateratra! The little boy comes! Trateratra!"--and then the door opened.

The whole passage was hung with portraits of knights in armor, and ladies in silken gowns; and the armor rattled, and the silken gowns rustled! And then there was a flight of stairs which went a good way upwards, and a little way downwards, and then one came on a balcony which was in a very dilapidated state, sure enough, with large holes and long crevices, but grass grew there and leaves out of them altogether, for the whole balcony outside, the yard, and the walls, were overgrown with so much green stuff, that it looked like a garden; only a balcony. Here stood old flower-pots with faces and asses' ears, and the flowers grew just as they liked. One of the pots was quite overrun on all sides with pinks, that is to say, with the green part; shoot stood by shoot, and it said quite distinctly, "The air has cherished me, the sun has kissed me, and promised me a little flower on Sunday! a little flower on Sunday!"

And then they entered a chamber where the walls were covered with hog's leather, and printed with gold flowers.

"The gilding decays, but hog's leather stays!" said the walls.

And there stood easy-chairs, with such high backs, and so carved out, and with arms on both sides. "Sit down! sit down!" said they. "Ugh! how I creak; now I shall certainly get the gout, like the old clothespress, ugh!"

And then the little boy came into the room where the projecting windows were, and where the old man sat.

"I thank you for the pewter soldier, my little friend!" said the old man. "And I thank you because you come over to me."

"Thankee! thankee!" or "cranky! cranky!" sounded from all the furniture; there was so much of it, that each article stood in the other's way, to get a look at the little boy.

In the middle of the wall hung a picture representing a beautiful lady, so young, so glad, but dressed quite as in former times, with clothes that stood quite stiff, and with powder in her hair; she neither said "thankee, thankee!" nor "cranky, cranky!" but looked with her mild eyes at the little boy, who directly asked the old man, "Where did you get her?"

"Yonder, at the broker's," said the old man, "where there are so many pictures hanging. No one knows or cares about them, for they are all of them buried; but I knew her in by-gone days, and now she has been dead and gone these fifty years!"

Under the picture, in a glazed frame, there hung a bouquet of withered flowers; they were almost fifty years old; they looked so very old!

The pendulum of the great clock went to and fro, and the hands turned, and everything in the room became still older; but they did not observe it.

"They say at home," said the little boy, "that you are so very, very lonely!"

"Oh!" said he. "The old thoughts, with what they may bring with them, come and visit me, and now you also come! I am very well off!"

Then he took a book with pictures in it down from the shelf; there were whole long processions and pageants, with the strangest characters, which one never sees now-a-days; soldiers like the knave of clubs, and citizens with waving flags: the tailors had theirs, with a pair of shears held by two lions--and the shoemakers theirs, without boots, but with an eagle that had two heads, for the shoemakers must have everything so that they can say, it is a pair! Yes, that was a picture book!

The old man now went into the other room to fetch preserves, apples, and nuts--yes, it was delightful over there in the old house.

"I cannot bear it any longer!" said the pewter soldier, who sat on the drawers. "It is so lonely and melancholy here! But when one has been in a family circle one cannot accustom oneself to this life! I cannot bear it any longer! The whole day is so long, and the evenings are still longer! Here it is not at all as it is over the way at your home, where your father and mother spoke so pleasantly, and where you and all your sweet children made such a delightful noise. Nay, how lonely the old man is--do you think that he gets kisses? Do you think he gets mild eyes, or a Christmas tree? He will get nothing but a grave! I can bear it no longer!"

"You must not let it grieve you so much," said the little boy. "I find it so very delightful here, and then all the old thoughts, with what they may bring with them, they come and visit here."

"Yes, it's all very well, but I see nothing of them, and I don't know them!" said the pewter soldier. "I cannot bear it!"

"But you must!" said the little boy.

Then in came the old man with the most pleased and happy face, the most delicious preserves, apples, and nuts, and so the little boy thought no more about the pewter soldier.

The little boy returned home happy and pleased, and weeks and days passed away, and nods were made to the old house, and from the old house, and then the little boy went over there again.

The carved trumpeters blew, "Trateratra! There is the little boy! Trateratra!" and the swords and armor on the knights' portraits rattled, and the silk gowns rustled; the hog's leather spoke, and the old chairs had the gout in their legs and rheumatism in their backs: Ugh! it was exactly like the first time, for over there one day and hour was just like another.

"I cannot bear it!" said the pewter soldier. "I have shed pewter tears! It is too melancholy! Rather let me go to the wars and lose arms and legs! It would at least be a change. I cannot bear it longer! Now, I know what it is to have a visit from one's old thoughts, with what they may bring with them! I have had a visit from mine, and you may be sure it is no pleasant thing in the end; I was at last about to jump down from the drawers.

"I saw you all over there at home so distinctly, as if you really were here; it was again that Sunday morning; all you children stood before the table and sung your Psalms, as you do every morning. You stood devoutly with folded hands; and father and mother were just as pious; and then the door was opened, and little sister Mary, who is not two years old yet, and who always dances when she hears music or singing, of whatever kind it may be, was put into the room--though she ought not to have been there--and then she began to dance, but could not keep time, because the tones were so long; and then she stood, first on the one leg, and bent her head forwards, and then on the other leg, and bent her head forwards--but all would not do. You stood very seriously all together, although it was difficult enough; but I laughed to myself, and then I fell off the table, and got a bump, which I have still--for it was not right of me to laugh. But the whole now passes before me again in thought, and everything that I have lived to see; and these are the old thoughts, with what they may bring with them.

"Tell me if you still sing on Sundays? Tell me something about little Mary! And how my comrade, the other pewter soldier, lives! Yes, he is happy enough, that's sure! I cannot bear it any longer!"

"You are given away as a present!" said the little boy. "You must remain. Can you not understand that?"

The old man now came with a drawer, in which there was much to be seen, both "tin boxes" and "balsam boxes," old cards, so large and so gilded, such as one never sees them now. And several drawers were opened, and the piano was opened; it had landscapes on the inside of the lid, and it was so hoarse when the old man played on it! and then he hummed a song.

"Yes, she could sing that!" said he, and nodded to the portrait, which he had bought at the broker's, and the old man's eyes shone so bright!

"I will go to the wars! I will go to the wars!" shouted the pewter soldier as loud as he could, and threw himself off the drawers right down on the floor. What became of him? The old man sought, and the little boy sought; he was away, and he stayed away.

"I shall find him!" said the old man; but he never found him. The floor was too open--the pewter soldier had fallen through a crevice, and there he lay as in an open tomb.

That day passed, and the little boy went home, and that week passed, and several weeks too. The windows were quite frozen, the little boy was obliged to sit and breathe on them to get a peep-hole over to the old house, and there the snow had been blown into all the carved work and inscriptions; it lay quite up over the steps, just as if there was no one at home--nor was there any one at home--the old man was dead!

In the evening there was a hearse seen before the door, and he was borne into it in his coffin: he was now to go out into the country, to lie in his grave. He was driven out there, but no one followed; all his friends were dead, and the little boy kissed his hand to the coffin as it was driven away.

Some days afterwards there was an auction at the old house, and the little boy saw from his window how they carried the old knights and the old ladies away, the flower-pots with the long ears, the old chairs, and the old clothes-presses. Something came here, and something came there; the portrait of her who had been found at the broker's came to the broker's again; and there it hung, for no one knew her more--no one cared about the old picture.

In the spring they pulled the house down, for, as people said, it was a ruin. One could see from the street right into the room with the hog's-leather hanging, which was slashed and torn; and the green grass and leaves about the balcony hung quite wild about the falling beams. And then it was put to rights.

"That was a relief," said the neighboring houses.

A fine house was built there, with large windows, and smooth white walls; but before it, where the old house had in fact stood, was a little garden laid out, and a wild grapevine ran up the wall of the neighboring house. Before the garden there was a large iron railing with an iron door, it looked quite splendid, and people stood still and peeped in, and the sparrows hung by scores in the vine, and chattered away at each other as well as they could, but it was not about the old house, for they could not remember it, so many years had passed--so many that the little boy had grown up to a whole man, yes, a clever man, and a pleasure to his parents; and he had just been married, and, together with his little wife, had come to live in the house here, where the garden was; and he stood by her there whilst she planted a field-flower that she found so pretty; she planted it with her little hand, and pressed the earth around it with her fingers. Oh! what was that? She had stuck herself. There sat something pointed, straight out of the soft mould.

It was--yes, guess! It was the pewter soldier, he that was lost up at the old man's, and had tumbled and turned about amongst the timber and the rubbish, and had at last laid for many years in the ground.

The young wife wiped the dirt off the soldier, first with a green leaf, and then with her fine handkerchief--it had such a delightful smell, that it was to the pewter soldier just as if he had awaked from a trance.

"Let me see him," said the young man. He laughed, and then shook his head. "Nay, it cannot be he; but he reminds me of a story about a pewter soldier which I had when I was a little boy!" And then he told his wife about the old house, and the old man, and about the pewter soldier that he sent over to him because he was so very, very lonely; and he told it as correctly as it had really been, so that the tears came into the eyes of his young wife, on account of the old house and the old man.

"It may possibly be, however, that it is the same pewter soldier!" said she.

"I will take care of it, and remember all that you have told me; but you must show me the old man's grave!"

"But I do not know it," said he, "and no one knows it! All his friends were dead, no one took care of it, and I was then a little boy!"

"How very, very lonely he must have been!" said she.

"Very, very lonely!" said the pewter soldier. "But it is delightful not to be forgotten!"

"Delightful!" shouted something close by; but no one, except the pewter soldier, saw that it was a piece of the hog's-leather hangings; it had lost all its gilding, it looked like a piece of wet clay, but it had an opinion, and it gave it:

"The gilding decays, but hog's leather stays!" This the pewter soldier did not believe.

老房子

街上有一幢很老很老的房子,它几乎有300年的历史,这一点,人们在它的大梁上就可以看得出来;那上面刻着郁金香和牵藤的啤酒花花纹——在这中间刻着的是它兴建的年月。在那上面人们还可以看到整首用古老的字体刻出来的诗篇。在每个窗子上的桁条上还刻着做出讥笑样子的脸谱。第二层楼比第一层楼向外突出很多;屋檐下有一个刻着龙头的铅水笕。雨水本来应该是从龙的嘴里流出来的,但它却从它的肚皮中冒出来了,因为水笕有一个洞。

街上所有的别的房子都是很新、很整齐的;它们的墙很光,窗玻璃很宽,人们可以看得出,它们不愿意跟这座老房子有什么来往。它们无疑地在想:“那个老垃圾堆作为街上的一个笑柄还能站得住多久呢?它的吊窗凸出墙外太远,谁也不能从我们的窗子这边看到那边所发生的事情。它的楼梯宽得像宫殿里的楼梯,高得像是要通到一个教堂的塔里面去。它的铁栏杆像一个家庭墓窖的门——上面还装置着黄铜小球。这真可笑!”

它的对面也是整齐的新房子。它们也有同样的看法。不过这儿有一个孩子坐在窗子里面。他有一副红润的面孔和一对闪耀的眼睛。他特别喜欢这幢老房子,不论在太阳光里或在月光里都是这样。他看到那些泥灰全都脱落了的墙壁,就坐着幻想出许多奇怪的图景来——这条街、那些楼梯、吊窗和尖尖的山形墙,在古时会像一个什么样子呢?他可以看到拿着戟的兵士,以及形状像龙和鲛的水笕。这的确是一幢值得一看的房子!那里面住着一个老人。他穿着一条天鹅绒的马裤,一件有大黄铜扣子的上衣;他还戴着一副假发①——人们一眼就可以看出这是真正的假发。每天早晨有一个老仆人来为他打扫房间和跑腿。除此以外,这座老房子里就只孤独地住着这位穿天鹅绒马裤的老人了。他偶尔来到窗子跟前,朝外面望一眼。这时这个小孩就对他点点头,作为回答。他们就这样相互认识了,而且成了朋友,虽然他们从来没有讲过一句话。不过事实上也没有这个必要。小孩曾经听到他的父母说过:“对面的那个老人很富有,不过他是非常孤独的!”

①古时欧洲的绅士和富有的人常常戴着假发,以掩住秃顶,同时也借此显得尊严一些。

在下一个星期天,这孩子用一张纸包了一点东西,走到门口。当那个为这老人跑腿的仆人走过时,他就对他说:“请听着!你能不能把这东西带给对面的那个老人呢?我有两个锡兵①。这是其中的一个;我要送给他,因为我知道他是非常孤独的。”

①锡兵,这里是指用镀锡铁皮做成的玩具兵。

老仆人表示出高兴的样子。他点了点头,于是就把锡兵带到老房子里去了。不久他就来问小孩,愿意不愿意亲自去拜访一次。他的爸爸妈妈准许他去。所以他就去拜访那个老房子了。

台阶栏杆上的那些铜球比平时要光亮得多;人们很可能以为这是专门为了他的拜访而擦亮的。那些雕刻出来的号手——因为门上都刻着号手,他们立在郁金香花里——都在使劲地吹喇叭;他们的双颊比以前要圆得多。是的,他们在吹:“嗒—嗒—啦—啦!小朋友到来了!嗒—嗒—啦—啦!”于是门便开了。

整个走廊里挂满了古老的画像:穿着铠甲的骑士和穿着丝绸的女子。铠甲发出响声,绸衣在窸窸窣窣地颤动。接着就是一个楼梯。它高高地伸向上面去,然后就略微弯下一点。这时他就来到一个阳台上。它的确快要坍塌了。处处是长长的裂痕和大洞,不过它们里面却长出了许多草和叶子。因为阳台、院子和墙都长满了那么多的绿色植物,所以它们整个看起来像一个花园。但这还不过是一个阳台。

这儿有些古旧的花盆;它们都有一个面孔和驴耳朵。花儿自由自在地随处乱长。有一个花盆全被石竹花铺满了,这也就是说:长满了绿叶子,冒出了许多嫩芽——它们在很清楚地说:“空气抚爱着我,太阳吻着我,同时答应让我在下星期日开出一朵小花——下星期日开出一朵小花啦!”

于是他走进一个房间。这儿的墙上全都糊满了猪皮;猪皮上印着金花。墙儿说:镀金消失得很快,但猪皮永远不坏!沿墙摆着许多高背靠椅;每张椅子都刻着花,而且还有扶手。

“请坐吧!请坐吧!”它们说。“啊,我的身体真要裂开了!像那个老碗柜一样,我想我一定得了痛风病!我背上得了痛风病,噢!”

不一会儿孩子走进一个客厅,那个吊窗就在这儿,那个老人也在这儿。

“亲爱的小朋友,多谢你送给我的锡兵!”老人说,“多谢你来看我!”

“谢谢!谢谢!”——也可以说是——“嘎!啪!”这是所有的家具讲的话。它们的数目很多,当它们都来看这孩子的时候,它们几乎挤做一团。

墙中央挂着一个美丽女子的画像。她的样子很年轻和快乐,但是却穿着古时的衣服;她的头发和挺直的衣服都扑满了粉。她既不说“谢谢”,也不说“啪”;她只是用温和的眼睛望着这个小孩子。他当时就问这老人:“您从什么地方弄到这张像的?”

“从对面的那个旧货商人那里!”老人说。“那儿挂着许多画像。谁也不认识他们,也不愿意去管他们,因为他们早就被埋葬掉了。不过从前我认识这个女子,现在她已经死了,而且死了半个世纪啦。”

在这幅画下边,在玻璃的后面,挂着一个枯萎了的花束。它们无疑也有半个世纪的历史,因为它们的样子也很古老。那个大钟的摆摇来摇去;钟上的针在转动。这房间里每件东西在时时刻刻地变老,但是人们却不觉得。

小孩子说:“家里的人说,你一直是非常孤独的!”

“哎,”老人说,“旧时的回忆以及与回忆相联的事情,都来拜访,现在你也来拜访了!我感到非常快乐!”

于是他从书架上取出一本画册:那里面有许多我们现在见不到的华丽的马车行列,许多打扮得像纸牌上的“贾克”的兵士和挥着旗子的市民。裁缝挥着的旗帜上绘着一把由两只狮子抬着的大剪刀;鞋匠挥着的旗子上绘有一只双头鹰——不是靴子,因为鞋匠必须把一切东西安排得使人一看就说:“那是一双。”是的,就是这样的一本画册!

老人走到另外一个房间里去拿出一些蜜饯、苹果和硬壳果来——这个老房子里的一切东西真是可爱。

“我再也忍受不了!”立在五斗柜上的那个锡兵说。“这儿是那么寂寞,那么悲哀。一个惯于过家庭生活的人,在这儿实在住不下去!我再也忍受不了!日子已经够长了,而晚间却是更长!这儿的情形跟他们那儿的情形完全不一样。你的爸爸和妈妈总是愉快地在一起聊天,你和别的一些可爱的孩子也发出高兴的闹声。嗨!这个老人,他是多么寂寞啊!你以为他会得到什么吻么?你以为会有人温和地看他一眼么?或者他会有一棵圣诞树么?他什么也没有,只有等死!我再也忍受不了!”

“你不能老是从悲哀的角度去看事情呀!”小孩子说。“我觉得这儿什么东西都可爱!而且旧时的回忆以及与回忆相联的事情都到这儿来拜访!”

“是的,但是我看不见它们,也不认识它们!”锡兵说。

“我再也忍受不了!”

“你要忍受下去。”小孩子说。

这时老人带着一副最愉快的面孔和最甜美的蜜饯、苹果以及硬壳果走来了。小孩子便不再想起锡兵了。这个小年轻人,怀着幸福和高兴的心情,回到家来。许多日子、许多星期过去了。和对面那个老房子,又有许多往返不停的点头。最后小孩子又走过去拜访了。

那些雕刻的号手又吹起:“嗒—啦—啦,嗒—啦—啦!小朋友又来了!嗒—啦—啦!”

接着那些骑士身上的剑和铠甲又响起来了,那些绸衣服又沙沙地动起来了。那些猪皮又讲起话来了,那些老椅子的背上又有痛风病了。噢!这跟头一次来的时候完全一样,因为在这儿,这一天,这一点钟完全跟另一天,另一点钟是一样。

“我再也忍受不了!”锡兵说。“我已经哭出了锡眼泪!这儿是太悲哀了!我宁愿上战场,牺牲掉我的手和脚——这种生活总算还有点变化。我再也忍受不了!现在我才懂得,回忆以及与回忆相联的事情来拜访是一种什么味道!我的回忆也来拜访了。请相信我,结果并不是太愉快。我几乎要从五斗柜上跳下来了。你们在对面房子里面的情形,我看得清清楚楚,好像你们就在这儿一样。又是一个礼拜天的早晨——你们都很熟悉的一天!你们孩子们围着桌子站着,唱你们每天早晨唱的圣诗。你们把手合在一起,庄严地站着;爸爸和妈妈也是同样地庄严。于是门开了,小妹妹玛利亚被领进来了——她还不到两岁;无论什么时候,只要她听到音乐或歌声,而且不管什么音乐或歌声,她就跳起舞来。她还不大会跳,但是她却要马上跳起来,虽然她跳得不合拍子,因为拍子是太长了。她先用一只腿站着,把头向前弯,然后又用另一只腿站着,又把头向前弯,可是这次却弯得不好。你们都站着不做一声,虽然这是很困难的。但是我在心里却笑起来了,因此我就从桌上滚下来了,而且还跌出一个包来——这个包现在还在——因为我笑是不对的。但是这一切,以及我所经历过的许多事情,现在又来到我的心里——这一定就是回忆以及与回忆相联的事情了。请告诉我,你们仍然在礼拜天唱歌吗?请告诉我一点关于小玛利亚的消息好吗?我的老朋友——那另一个锡兵——现在怎样了?是的,他一定是很快乐的!——我却是再也忍受不了!”

“你已经被送给别人了!”小孩子说。“你应该安心下来。这一点你还看不出来吗?”

这时那个老人拿着一个抽屉走进来。抽屉里有许多东西可看:粉盒、香膏盒、旧扑克牌——它们都很大,还镀着金,现在我们是看不到这样的东西的。他还抽开了许多抽屉,拉开了一架钢琴,钢琴盖上绘着风景画。当这老人弹着的时候,钢琴就发出粗哑的声音。于是他就哼出一支歌来。

“是的,她也能唱这支歌!”他说。于是他就对这幅从旧货商人那儿买来的画点点头。老人的眼睛变得明亮起来了。“我要到战场上去!我要到战场上去!”锡兵尽量提高嗓子大叫;接着他就栽到地上去了。是的,他到什么地方去了呢?老人在找,小孩也在找,但是他不见了,他失踪了。“我会找到他的!”老人说。不过他永远也没有找到他,因为地板上有许多洞和裂口。锡兵滚到一个裂口里去了。他躺在那里,好像躺在一个没有盖土的坟墓里一样。

这一天过去了。小孩子回到家里。一星期又过去了,接着又有许多星期过去了。窗子上都结了冰,小孩子得坐下来,在窗玻璃上用嘴哈气融出一个小视孔来看看那座老房子。雪花飘进那些刻花和刻字中间去,把整个台阶都盖住了,好像这座老房子里没有住着什么人似的。的确,这里现在没有人,因为那个老人已经死了!

黄昏的时候,门外停着一辆马车。人们把他放进棺材,抬上马车。他不久就要给埋进他乡下的坟墓里,他现在就要被运到那儿去,可是没有人来送葬,因为他所有的朋友都已经死了。当棺材被运走的时候,小孩子在后面用手对他飞吻。

几天以后,这座老房子里举行一次拍卖。小孩子从他的窗子里看到那些古老的骑士和女子、那些有长耳朵的花盆、那些古旧的椅子和碗柜,统统都被人搬走了。有的搬到这儿去,有的搬到那儿去。她的画像——在那个旧货商店里找来的——仍然回到那个旧货商店里去了,而且一直挂在那里,因为谁也不认识她,谁也不愿意要一张老画。到了春天,这座房子就被拆掉了,因为人们说它是一堆烂垃圾。人们可以从街上一眼就看到墙上贴着猪皮的那个房间。这些皮已经被拉下来了,并且被撕碎了。阳台上那些绿色植物凌乱地在倒下的屋梁间悬着。现在人们要把这块地方扫清。

“这才好啦!”周围的房子说。

一幢漂亮的新房子建立起来了;它有宽大的窗子和平整的白墙。不过那座老房子原来所在的地方恰恰成了一个小花园。邻近的墙上长满了野生的葡萄藤。花园前面有一道铁栏杆和一个铁门。它们的样子很庄严。行人在它们面前停下步子,朝里面望。

麻雀成群地栖在葡萄藤上,叽叽喳喳地互相叫着。不过它们不是谈着关于那幢老房子的事情,因为它们记不清那些事。许多年已经过去了,那个小孩子已经长大成人,长成了一个像他父母所期望的有能力的人。他刚结婚不久。他要同他的妻子搬进这幢有小花园的房子里来。当她正在栽一棵她认为很美丽的野花的时候,他站在她的身边。她用小巧的手栽着花,用指头在花周围紧按上些泥土。

“噢!这是什么?”她觉得有件什么东西刺着了她。

有一件尖东西在柔软的泥土里冒出来了。想想看吧!这就是那个锡兵——在那个老人房间里跑掉的锡兵。他曾经在烂木头和垃圾里混了很久,最后又在土里睡了许多年。年轻的妻子先用一片绿叶子、然后又用她美丽的、喷香的手帕把锡兵擦干净。锡兵好像是从昏睡中恢复了知觉。

“让我瞧瞧他吧!”年轻人说。于是他笑起来,摇着头。

“啊!这不可能就是他,但是他使我记起了我小时候跟一个锡兵的一段故事!”

于是他就对他的妻子讲了关于那座老房子、那个老人和锡兵的故事。他把锡兵送给了老人,因为他是那么孤独。他讲得那么仔细,好像是真事一样。年轻的妻子不禁为那座老房子和那个老人流出泪来。

“这也许就是那个锡兵!”她说。“让我把他保存起来,以便记住你所告诉我的这些事情。但是你得把那个老人的坟指给我看!”

“我不知道它在什么地方呀,”他说,“谁也不知道它!他所有的朋友都死了;没有谁去照料它,而我自己那时还不过是一个小孩了!”

“那么他一定是一个非常孤独的人了!”她说。

“是的,可怕地孤独!”锡兵说,“不过他居然没有被人忘记掉,倒也真使人高兴!”

“高兴!”旁边一个声音喊。但是除了锡兵以外,谁也看不出这就是过去贴在墙上的一块猪皮。它上面的镀金已经全没有了。它的样子很像潮湿的泥土,但它还是有它的意见。它说:

镀金消失得很快,

但猪皮永远不坏!

不过锡兵不相信这套理论。

(1848年)

这个故事收集在《新的童话》第二卷第二辑里,主人公是一位基本上已经是快要走完人生道路的老人和一个刚刚进入人生的小男孩。两人结成了在一般情况下不可能有的友谊。这是因为:正如小男孩所说的,“我觉得这儿(老房子)什么东西都可爱,而且旧时的回忆以及与回忆相联的事情都到这儿来拜访!”人生就是这样:平淡无奇的日子中也有使人(甚至对刚进入人世的孩子)留恋和喜爱的东西。写这篇故事的诱因,安徒生在他的手记中说:“……1847年诗人莫生(德国人,JuliusMosen,1803—1862)的小儿子在我离开奥尔登堡(Oldenborg,德国西北部的一个州)时,送给了我他的一个锡兵,为的是使我不要感到太可怕的寂寞。作曲家哈特曼(丹麦人,JohanPeterHartmann,1805—1900)的两岁的女儿玛莉日娅,只要一听到音乐,就想跳舞。当她的哥哥和姐姐们来到房间里唱圣诗的时候,她就要开始跳舞,但是她的音乐感不让她作不合拍的动作,她只好站着,先用这只脚,然后用另一只,直到她进入圣诗的完满节奏后开始不知不觉地跳起来。
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