A Double Barrelled Detective Story  案中案

It was a crisp and spicy morning in early October.

这是十月上旬一个清新宜人的早晨。丁香花和金链花沐浴著秋日的艳阳,灼灼其华,在半空中显露出它们鲜丽夺目的容颜,这是慷慨的大自然为那些没有翅膀的野生生灵架起的一座仙桥。这些生灵在树梢结巢,常在那里聚首。顺著一望无际、布满秦莽的斜坡,落叶松和石榴树像燃烧著的紫色和蓝色的烈焰;落英缤纷,升腾起醉人的芳香,让人目眩神迷。在虚空深处,一根孤寂的食管1安睡在静止的一侧;主宰四野的是沉寂、宁静与和平之神。

The lilacs and laburnums, lit with the glory-fires of autumn, hung burning and flashing in the upper air, a fairy bridge provided by kind Nature for the wingless wild things that have their homes in the tree-tops and would visit together; the larch and the pomegranate flung their purple and yellow flames in brilliant broad splashes along the slanting sweep of the woodland; the sensuous fragrance of innumerable deciduous flowers rose upon the swooning atmosphere; far in the empty sky a solitary œsophagus1 slept upon motionless wing; everywhere brooded stillness, serenity, and the peace of God.

1引自斯普林菲尔德《共和党人》1902年4月12日一期。——原注

October is the time;1900; Hope Canyon is the place, a silver-mining camp away down in the Esmeralda region. It is a secluded spot, high and remote; recent as to discovery; thought by its occupants to be rich in metal;a year or twos prospecting will decide that matter one way or the other. For inhabitants, the camp has about two hundred miners, one white woman and child, several Chinese washermen, five squaws, and a dozen vagrant buck Indians in rabbit-skin robes, battered plug hats, and tin-can necklaces. There are no mills as yet; no church, no newspaper. The camp has existed but two years; it has made no big strike; the world is ignorant of its name and place.

致《共和党人》编辑:

On both sides of the canyon the mountains rise wall-like, three thousand feet, and the long spiral of straggling huts down in its narrow bottom gets a kiss from the sun only once a day, when he sails over at noon. The village is a couple of miles long; the cabins stand well apart from each other. The tavern is the only frame house;the only house, one might say. It occupies a central position, and is the evening resort of the population. They drink there, and play seven-up and dominoes; also billiards, for there is a table, crossed all over with torn places repaired with court-plaster; there are some cues, but no leathers; some chipped balls which clatter when they run, and do not slow up gradually, but stop suddenly and sit down; there is a part of a cube of chalk, with a projecting jag of flint in it; and the man who can score six on a single break can set up the drinks at the bars expense.

贵城的一位公民向我询问有关“食管”的问题,我希望能通过您来给予答复。这样做是想让这答复广为人知,给我留下一点儿爬格子的时间,就同一问题我已经回答过许多次,把我应有的休假时间占用了不少。

Flint Buckners cabin was the last one of the village, going south; his silver claim was at the other end of the village, northward, and a little beyond the last hut in that direction. He was a sour creature, unsociable, and had no companionships. People who had tried to get acquainted with him had regretted it and dropped him. His history was not known. Some believed that Sammy Hillyer knew it; others said no. If asked, Hillyer said no, he was not acquainted with it. Flint had a meek English youth of sixteen or seventeen with him, whom he treated roughly, both in public and in private; and of course this lad was applied to for information, but with no success. Fetlock Jones;name of the youth;said that Flint picked him up on a prospecting tramp, and as he had neither home nor friends in America, he had found it wise to stay and take Buckners hard usage for the sake of the salary, which was bacon and beans. Further than this he could offer no testimony.

我新近发表了一个短篇,正是在这个短篇中我用了“食管”一词。平心而论,我是希望什么人为这个词绞绞脑汁——说实话,这正是我的用意所在——没想到收效超出了我的预料。“食管”受到了心里有鬼和天真无邪这两方人士的共同关注,而我本来只想吊吊天真无邪者的胃口——天真无邪和轻信的人。我预料到这些人中会有个别的人写信来问我;这倒不会给我添多少麻烦;可是,连聪慧博学之士都找上门来要求解疑释惑,这倒是我始料不及的。无论如何,这已是既成事实,现在是我出来讲清楚,结束答疑的时候了——但愿我能办得到,因为写答复信对我来说非但不是一种休息方式,也不会使我从中体味到多少乐趣。如蒙体谅我的苦衷,我将附上两封质询信。第一封是菲律宾的一位公职人员写来的:

Fetlock had been in this slavery for a month now, and under his meek exterior he was slowly consuming to a cinder with the insults and humiliations which his master had put upon him. For the meek suffer bitterly from these hurts; more bitterly, perhaps, than do the manlier sort, who can burst out and get relief with words or blows when the limit of endurance has been reached. Good-hearted people wanted to help Fetlock out of his trouble, and tried to get him to leave Buckner; but the boy showed fright at the thought, and said he dasnt. Pat Riley urged him, and said:

亲爱的先生,我刚刚读了您的新作《案中案》的第一部分,我非常喜欢这篇作品。在《哈泼氏》杂志一月号第264页第四段,这篇小说写到:“在虚空深处,一根孤寂的食管安睡在静止的一侧;主宰四野的是沉寂、宁静与和平之神。”这里有一个词我难以理解,就是“食管”。我手头仅有的工具书〈标淮辞典〉没能给出这个词的解释。如蒙在百忙之中拨冗澄清此词的含义,我将感到高兴,因为我认为这一段写得很美,动人心弦。您也许觉得这个要求愚不可及,那就请体谅一下我蛰居吕宋岛北部,书笥匠乏的苦衷吧。

You leave the damned hunks and come with me; dont you be afraid. Ill take care of him.

你真诚的读者

The boy thanked him with tears in his eyes, but shuddered and said he dasnt risk it; he said Flint would catch him alone, some time, in the night, and then;Oh, it makes me sick, Mr. Riley, to think of it.

菲律宾南伊罗戈省圣克鲁兹

Others said, Run away from him; well stake you; skip out for the coast some night. But all these suggestions failed; he said Flint would hunt him down and fetch him back, just for meanness.

1902年2月13日

The people could not understand this. The boys miseries went steadily on, week after week. It is quite likely that the people would have understood if they had known how he was employing his spare time. He slept in an out-cabin near Flints; and there, nights, he nursed his bruises and his humiliations, and studied and studied over a single problem;how he could murder Flint Buckner and not be found out. It was the only joy he had in life; these hours were the only ones in the twenty-four which he looked forward to with eagerness and spent in happiness.

您注意到了没有?这段话仅有这一个词让他感到费解,说明原来迷惑读者的意图在这一段中被包装得天衣无缝。我原想让这段话读起来貌似真实,现在看来已经奏效了。我还想让这一段感情充沛,动人心弦;瞧,您自己也能看得出来,这段文章确实引起了这位公职人员的共鸣。啊,假如当初剔除了这个故弄玄虚的字眼,我定能大获全胜,无往不胜!这段文字就会水乳交融地渗入每位读者的感性世界,而不会留下任何猜疑。

He thought of poison. No;that would not serve; the inquest would reveal where it was procured and who had procured it. He thought of a shot in the back in a lonely place when Flint would be homeward bound at midnight;his unvarying hour for the trip. No;somebody might be near, and catch him. He thought of stabbing him in his sleep. No;he might strike an inefficient blow, and Flint would seize him. He examined a hundred different ways;none of them would answer; for in even the very obscurest and secretest of them there was always the fatal defect of a risk, a chance, a possibility that he might be found out. He would have none of that.

另外一封信是新英格兰一所大学的一位教授写来的。这封信里有一句我忍不住要删去的俗话,好在他不在神学系任教,所以倒也无伤大雅。亲爱的克莱门斯先生:

But he was patient, endlessly patient. There was no hurry, he said to himself. He would never leave Flint till he left him a corpse; there was no hurry;he would find the way. It was somewhere, and he would endure shame and pain and misery until he found it. Yes, somewhere there was a way which would leave not a trace, not even the faintest clew to the murderer;there was no hurry;he would find that way, and then;oh, then, it would just be good to be alive! Meantime he would diligently keep up his reputation for meekness; and also, as always theretofore, he would allow no one to hear him say a resentful or offensive thing about his oppressor.

“在虚空深处,一根孤寂的食管安睡在静止的一侧。”

Two days before the before-mentioned October morning Flint had bought some things, and he and Fetlock had brought them home to Flints cabin: a fresh box of candles, which they put in the corner; a tin can of blasting-powder, which they placed upon the candle-box; a keg of blasting-powder, which they placed under Flints bunk; a huge coil of fuse, which they hung on a peg. Fetlock reasoned that Flints mining operations had outgrown the pick, and that blasting was about to begin now. He had seen blasting done, and he had a notion of the process, but he had never helped in it. His conjecture was right;blasting-time had come. In the morning the pair carried fuse, drills, and the powder-can to the shaft; it was now eight feet deep, and to get into it and out of it a short ladder was used. They descended, and by command Fetlock held the drill;without any instructions as to the right way to hold it;and Flint proceeded to strike. The sledge came down; the drill sprang out of Fetlocks hand, almost as a matter of course.

我平素不大看期刊上的文学作品,不过,我刚刚在这份过期杂志上拜读了您的大作《案中案》,不胜愉悦,获益匪浅。

You mangy son of a nigger, is that any way to hold a drill? Pick it up! Stand it up! There;hold fast. D;you! Ill teach you!

可是,这个“食管”到底是什么意思呢?食管我自己倒也长著一条,可是它既不安睡在空中,也不安睡在其他地方。我的职业是和文字打交道,所以,一看到“食管”这个词,我就兴味盎然。不过,正如我青年时代的一位友人所说,如果我能把这个词解读出来,“就会和始作俑者一道被千夫所指。”到底是您开了个玩笑,还是我才疏学浅呢?

At the end of an hour the drilling was finished.

如果仅限于你我之间谈论的话,我对耍弄了这位先生真有点儿不好意思;不过,出于自尊我不能明说。我写了一封信告诉他这是一个玩笑——这也是此刻我对斯普林菲尔德的读者要讲的话。我告诉他细细读一读整个段落,就会发现其中每个细节都谈不上有什么意义。我建议斯普林菲尔德的读者也这样看。

Now, then, charge it.

我已经做了交待。我表示歉意——部分的歉意。目前我不打算再这样做了。请不要再向我提问;让那根食管休息休息——就在原来那个静止的一侧休息吧。

The boy started to pour in the powder.

马克·吐温

Idiot!

纽约,1902年4月10日

A heavy bat on the jaw laid the lad out.

(编辑部文章)

Get up! You cant lie sniveling there. Now, then, stick in the fuse first. Now put in the powder. Hold on, hold on! Are you going to fill the hole all up? Of all the sap-headed milksops I;Put in some dirt! Put in some gravel! Tamp it down! Hold on, hold on! Oh, great Scott! get out of the way! He snatched the iron and tamped the charge himself, meantime cursing and blaspheming like a fiend. Then he fired the fuse, climbed out of the shaft, and ran fifty yards away, Fetlock following. They stood waiting a few minutes, then a great volume of smoke and rocks burst high into the air with a thunderous explosion; after a little there was a shower of descending stones; then all was serene again.

一月和二月在《哈泼氏》杂志上连载的《案中案》是诙谐派侦探小说的精品。由于手法圆熟,强烈的戏剧性因素深藏其中,令人难以觉察奥妙所在。不过,在本刊二月号上第一次出现误解之后,就不应该继续以讹传讹了。最能完整体现克莱门斯先生令人赞歎的技巧,并体现了读者们粗心大意的那个段落如下:

I wish to God youd been in it! remarked the master.

“这是十月上旬一个清新宜人的早晨。丁香花和金锭花沐浴著秋日的艳阳,灼灼其华,在半空中显露出它们鲜丽夺目的容颜,这是慷慨的大自然为那些没有翅膀的野生生灵架起了一座仙桥。这些生灵在树梢结巢,常在那里聚首。顺著一望无际、布满秦莽的斜坡,落叶松和石榴树像燃烧著的紫色和蓝色的烈焰;落英缤纷,升腾起醉人的芳香气息,让人目眩神迷。在虚空深处,一根孤寂的食管安睡在静止的一侧;主宰四野的是沉寂、宁静与和平之神。”

They went down the shaft, cleaned it out, drilled another hole, and put in another charge.

马克·吐温的玩笑收到预期效果,不禁使人想到他写的那个令人肝肠寸断的洞穴男子的故事,他对那个人物的描写极为严谨。先是描绘景色,那荒凉寂寥的景色以及所有的场面都给人留下了深刻的印象;然后,作品刻画了人物的超凡气概,不经意地提到他右手的拇指搁在鼻侧的动作;接著,作者又描写主人公的右手五指依次伸开,表现了他风度高雅和仪表堂堂;偶尔还提及他的左手大拇指触及右手小指的动作——如此等等。联系到他以前在一份当年的杰出刊物《银河》上发表的文章,马克称从来没有人识破过那个玩笑,这种说法能说是明智之举吗?如果我们记得不错的话,这个令人惊诧的陈年玩笑的根子应该到马克曾经呆过的内华达去找,他在那儿做过报纸编辑。毫无疑问,马克·吐温的跳蛙就比其他的青蛙身子沉了不少。

Look here! How much fuse are you proposing to waste? Dont you know how to time a fuse?

时间是1900年,地点是希望谷一个远离埃斯梅拉达地区的银矿屯子。这是个偏僻的去处,山高水远,开发的时间不长;居住在这里的人都把它看做开矿发财的地方——这财到底发得成还是发不成,只消一年到两年便可见分晓。说到居民,这屯子里有大约二百个矿工,一个白人女子和她的孩子,几个开洗衣房的华人,五个印地安女人,十来个漂泊四方的印地安男人,他们穿著兔子皮袍子,旧皮帽子和罐头盒做的项圈。这里没有磨坊,没有教堂,也看不到报纸。两年前才有了这屯子;迄今这里还没有过什么重大发现,外界对这里的地名和地点一无所知。

No, sir.

山谷两侧群山壁立,有三千英尺高,在狭窄的谷底七零八落的小木头房子转著困排成一字长蛇阵,一天里,只有中午时分阳光才来草草地光顾一下。这屯子有两英里长;一座座小木屋彼此拉开距离。酒店是这屯子里惟一有点“模样”的房子,也可以说是惟一的房子。它居于屯子中心,是居民们夜间消遣的去处。他们在这里喝酒,玩纸牌和多米诺骨牌,也玩台球。那张台球桌伤痕累累,横七竖八地贴满了橡皮膏;有几根缺皮裹头的球杆;几个刀削的球一滚起来就发出喀啦啦的响声。这些球从来不一点点慢慢地滚,而是忽地一下停下来,就坐在那儿不动弹了。还有残缺不全的一方计分用的白粉板,当中还凸出一块硬石头、一局能赢六分的人可以从柜台上白拿一杯酒喝。

You dont! Well, if you dont beat anything I ever saw!

弗林特·布克纳的小木屋是屯子南头的最后一幢;他采矿的地盘却在北面,在屯子的另一头,比屯子北头的最后一幢木屋还远一点儿。他脾气乖戾,不好交往,也没有朋友。那些想跟他套近乎的人碰了钉子以后,都掉头而去。没有人知道他的来历。有人说萨姆·希里尔知道,可别人不相信。人们问希里尔,他也摇头,说不大清楚。弗林特身边有一个十六七岁的英国小伙子,脾气温顺,弗林特无论人前人后都像凶神恶煞般地对待他。人们自然而然地想从这小伙子身上套点情况,却没有得手。这个名叫菲特洛克·琼斯的小伙子说,弗林特有一次在找矿时收留了他,因为他在美国举目无亲,所以还不如留下来给布克纳卖苦力挣点薪水,这薪水就是咸肉和豆子。除了这些,他就一句话也不肯再说了。

He climbed out of the shaft and spoke down:

如今菲特洛克已经当了一个月的奴仆,弗林特·布克纳对他的欺凌和羞辱正在蚕食著他柔弱的心田里一点点剩余的勇气。这种伤害使他苦不堪言。如果这种苦难再深重一些,超出一个男人所能承受的极限,或许这人会突然爆发,用言语或者行动来求得解脱。好心肠的人们想帮助菲特洛克脱离苦海,他们想方设法让他离开布克纳;可是,这男孩子听到这种想法吓得心惊胆战,说他“不干”。帕特·利雷劝他说:

Well, idiot, are you going to be all day? Cut the fuse and light it!

“你离开那个混账东西到我这儿来,别怕。我来照看你。”

The trembling creature began,

那男孩眼含热泪千恩万谢,却战战兢兢地说他“不能冒险”;他说弗林特在夜里什么时候会抓住他,然后——“啊,利雷先生,一想我就心慌。”

If you please, sir, I;

别人也说:“从他那儿逃走,我们接应你。哪天趁黑夜逃到海边去。”可是,所有的建议都没有生效;他说弗林特哪怕只是为了出口恶气,也会追上他,把他抓回去。

You talk back to me? Cut it and light it!

人们百思不解。一个星期,又一个星期,那男孩继续挨著昔日子。假如大家知道他怎样支配自己的工余时间,就很有可能理解他了。他睡在离弗林特住处不远的一座小木屋里,每天夜里,他强忍被侮辱和伤害的感情,一遍又一遍地思考著同一个问题——怎样杀了弗林特。布克纳又不被人发觉。这是他生活中的惟一乐趣;在一天二十四小时中,他只盼望这几个小时赶快来临,然后愉快地度过。

The boy cut and lit.

他想到了用毒药。不行——这不是稳妥的办法;一审问就能查出是在哪儿下的毒以及谁下的毒。他想到半夜里在弗林特回家的路上,挑一个僻静的地方从背后开枪——弗林特总是在这个时候回家。不行——有人会听见枪声,逮住他。他想等弗林特熟睡时动刀。不行——也许一刺不中要害,反倒被弗林特擒住。他琢磨了一百种不同的方法,没有一种可行;因为在这些方法里,即使是最隐秘的方法也有致命的缺陷,使得他要冒风险,有可能被发觉。这些方法全都不能用。

Ger-reat Scott! a one-minute fuse! I wish you were in;

不过,他有耐性,有足够的耐性。他暗自说,不用著急。他不会离开弗林特,离开时就要留下他的尸首。不用著急——会找到出路的。办法总会有,他要忍著屈辱、忍著痛苦、忍著不幸,一直到想出办法来。是的,总有一种没有痕迹、谋杀者连一点儿蛛丝马迹都不留的办法——不用著急——他会找到出路的,那时——啊,那时的生活该有多么美好!到那个时候,他会小心翼翼地维护自己谦恭温顺的名声,别人也绝不会从他口中听到对自己压迫者的一句怨言。

In his rage he snatched the ladder out of the shaft and ran. The boy was aghast.

就在上述十月那个早晨的两天以前,弗林特和菲特洛克一起把买的一些东西搬回自己的木屋去。他们把一箱蜡烛放在屋角,把一铁罐炸药放在蜡烛箱子上,一小桶炸药放在了弗林特的床舖底下,还有一大盘导火索,他们挂在了一个木桩子上。菲特洛克推测弗林特探矿已经告一段落,就要开始爆破了。他曾经见过爆破,明白爆破的程序,但是他从来没有参与过。他的推测确实不错,爆破的时间到了。俩人一早抬起导火索、钢钎和炸药来到了矿井。矿井已经有八英尺深,他们用一架短梯子爬进爬出。他们下了井,菲特洛克按照弗林特的吩咐握住钢钎,不过弗林特并没有告诉他握钢钎的正确姿势。弗林特抡起大锤。不出所料,大锤落下时,菲特洛克握住的钢钎震飞了。

Oh, my God! Help! Help! Oh, save me! he implored. Oh what can I do! What can I do!

“你这个狗娘养的,连个钢钎都不知道怎么拿啦?拣起来!握直了!快握住。该死——你!非训你不可!”

He backed against the wall as tightly as he could; the sputtering fuse frightened the voice out of him; his breath stood still; he stood gazing and impotent; in two seconds, three seconds, four he would be flying toward the sky torn to fragments. Then he had an inspiration. He sprang at the fuse; severed the inch of it that was left above ground, and was saved.

一小时后,炮眼打好了。

He sank down limp and half lifeless with fright, his strength gone; but he muttered with a deep joy:

“来,装药。”

He has learnt me! I knew there was a way, if I would wait.

那男孩开始往炮眼里倒炸药。

After a matter of five minutes Buckner stole to the shaft, looking worried and uneasy, and peered down into it. He took in the situation; he saw what had happened. He lowered the ladder, and the boy dragged himself weakly up it. He was very white. His appearance added something to Buckners uncomfortable state, and he said, with a show of regret and sympathy which sat upon him awkwardly from lack of practice:

“白痴!”

It was an accident, you know. Dont say anything about it to anybody; I was excited, and didnt notice what I was doing. Youre not looking well; youve worked enough for to-day; go down to my cabin and eat what you want, and rest. Its just an accident, you know, on account of my being excited.

弗林特一拳狠狠打在男孩的下巴上,把他打倒在地。

It scared me, said the lad, as he started away; but I learnt something, so I dont mind it.

“站起来!别在那儿假装哭哭啼啼的。看著,先栽药捻。然后再倒炸药。慢点儿,慢点儿!你是不是想把炮眼都填上啊?没本事的笨蛋!软骨头!我——填一点泥!填点儿碎石!捣实!慢著,慢著!废物!快滚开!”他拿起工具,一边自己动手把炸药捣实,一边凶神恶煞般不停地数黄道黑。后来,他点著了导火索,一爬出矿井,跑出五十码开外,菲特洛克跟在后头。他们等了几分钟,随著滚雷般的爆炸声,石块夹著滚滚浓烟飞上了半空,又像雨点般地落了下来。过后,现场又恢复了平静。

Dammed easy to please! muttered Buckner, following him with his eye. I wonder if hell tell? Mightnt he?… I wish it had killed him.

“让上帝把你填了炮眼才好呢!”主子说。

The boy took no advantage of his holiday in the matter of resting; he employed it in work, eager and feverish and happy work. A thick growth of chaparral extended down the mountain-side clear to Flints cabin; the most of Fetlocks labor was done in the dark intricacies of that stubborn growth; the rest of it was done in his own shanty. At last all was complete, and he said:

他们下到井底,清理干淨,再打另外一个炮眼,再装炸药。

If hes got any suspicions that Im going to tell on him, he wont keep them long, to-morrow. He will see that I am the same milksop as I always was;all day and the next. And the day after to-morrow night therell be an end of him; nobody will ever guess who finished him up nor how it was done. He dropped me the idea his own self, and thats odd.

“瞧瞧!你到底想浪费多少药捻哪?你不会算要用多长的药捻子吗?”

1 [From the Springfield Republican April 12, 1902.]

“先生,我不会。”

To the Editor of the Republican:;

“你不会!好,我倒要瞧瞧你会不会!”

One of your citizens has asked me a question about the œsophagus, and I wish to answer him through you. This in the hope that the answer will get around, and save me some penmanship, for I have already replied to the same question more than several times, and am not getting as much holiday as I ought to have.

他爬出矿井,开了腔:

I published a short story lately, and it was in that that I put the œsophagus. I will say privately that I expected it to bother some people;in fact, that was the intention,;but the harvest has been larger than I was calculating upon. The œsophagus has gathered in the guilty and the innocent alike, whereas I was only fishing for the innocent;the innocent and confiding. I knew a few of these would write and ask me; that would give me but little trouble; but I was not expecting that the wise and the learned would call upon me for succor. However, that has happened, and it is time for me to speak up and stop the inquiries if I can, for letter-writing is not restful to me, and I am not having so much fun out of this thing as I counted on. That you may understand the situation, I will insert a couple of sample inquiries. The first is from a public instructor in the Philippines:

“哎,白痴,”你想混到天黑呀?截断药捻子,点火!”

Santa Cruz, Ilocos Sur, P. I.
February 13, 1902.

男孩战战兢兢地说:

My Dear Sir: I have just been reading the first part of your latest story, entitled A Double-barreled Detective Story, and am very much delighted with it. In Part IV, page 264, Harpers Magazine for January, occurs this passage: far in the empty sky a solitary ‘œsophagus slept, upon motionless wing; everywhere brooded stillness, serenity, and the peace of God. Now, there is one word I do not understand, namely, œsophagus. My only work of reference is the Standard Dictionary, but that fails to explain the meaning. If you can spare the time, I would be glad to have the meaning cleared up, as I consider the passage a very touching and beautiful one. It may seem foolish to you, but consider my lack of means away out in the northern part of Luzon.

“先生,要是你乐意,我就——”

Yours very truly.

“你跟我顶嘴?截断,点上!”

Do you notice? Nothing in the paragraph disturbed him but that one word. It shows that that paragraph was most ably constructed for the deception it was intended to put upon the reader. It was my intention that it should read plausibly, and it is now plain that it does; it was my intention that it should be emotional and touching, and you see, yourself, that it fetched this public instructor. Alas, if I had but left that one treacherous word out, I should have scored! scored everywhere; and the paragraph would have slidden through every readers sensibilities like oil, and left not a suspicion behind.

男孩剪断导火索,点了火。

The other sample inquiry is from a professor in a New England university. It contains one naughty word (which I cannot bear to suppress), but he is not in the theological department, so it is no harm:;

“大、大、大笨蛋!一分钟的药捻子!我真想让你填了——”

Dear Mr. Clemens: Far in the empty sky a solitary œsophagus slept upon motionless wing.

他气急败坏地把梯子抽出矿井,撒腿就跑。男孩吓坏了。

It is not often I get a chance to read much periodical literature, but I have just gone through at this belated period, with much gratification and edification, your Double-Barreled Detective Story.

“啊,上帝!救命!救命!哎,救救我!”他哀求著。“啊,我怎么办哪!我怎么办哪!”

But what in hell is an œsophagus? I keep one myself, but it never sleeps in the air or anywhere else. My profession is to deal with words, and œsophagus interested me the moment I lighted upon it. But as a companion of my youth used to say, Ill be eternally, co-eternally cussed if I can make it out. Is it a joke, or I an ignoramus?

他紧紧地背靠矿井壁,火花四溅的导火索吓得他喊不出声音来了;他停住了呼吸,直瞪瞪地盯著导火索,浑身发软。再有两秒钟、三秒钟或者四秒钟,他的肉身就会飞上天空,撕成碎片。这时他突然灵机一动。他跑到导火索跟前,把露在地面上只剩下一小截的导火索揪断。他得救了。

Between you and me, I was almost ashamed of having fooled that man, but for prides sake I was not going to say so. I wrote and told him it was a joke;and that is what I am now saying to my Springfield inquirer. And I told him to carefully read the whole paragraph, and he would find not a vestige of sense in any detail of it. This also I commend to my Springfield inquirer.

他四肢无力地瘫倒在地,仍然吓得半死,他虽然有气无力,却带著发自内心深处的喜悦之情喃喃地说:

I have confessed. I am sorry;partially. I will not do so any more;for the present. Dont ask me any more questions; let the œsophagus have a rest;on his same old motionless wing.

“他教会我了!我明白只要能等,总会有办法的。”

Mark Twain.

大约过了五分钟,布克纳蹑手蹑脚地来到矿井旁边,小心翼翼、忐忑不安地张望了一下,然后溜了下去。他查看现场,弄清楚了到底是怎么回事。布克纳放下梯子,男孩吃力地攀著梯子爬上井去。他脸色惨白,表情中多了一些让布克纳感到不自在的东西。他用一种遗憾和同情的口气对菲特洛克说话,这种口气分明是说出事都是因为菲特洛克太缺乏经验。

New York City, April 10, 1902.

“你知道,这是个意外。别跟任何人说这件事。我当时太著急,都不知道自己干了什么。看起来你不大舒服。你今天干得够多了,上我屋里去,想吃什么就吃点儿什么,再歇一会儿。这不过是个意外,你明白吗?因为我太著急了。”

(Editorial.)

“我吓坏了,”那男孩边走边说,“不过我学了点儿东西,所以我不在意。”

The Double-Barreled Detective Story, which appeared in Harpers Mag. for January and February last, is the most elaborate of burlesques on detective fiction, with striking melodramatic passages in which it is difficult to detect the deception, so ably is it done. But the illusion ought not to endure even the first incident in the February number. As for the paragraph which has so admirably illustrated the skill of Mr. Clemenss ensemble and the carelessness of readers, here it is:;

“他妈的,说得倒轻巧!”布克纳盯著菲特洛克的背影,自言自语。“他会不会说出去啊?他会说吗?……怎么没炸死他呢?”

It was a crisp and spicy morning in early October. The lilacs and laburnums, lit with the glory-fires of autumn, hung burning and flashing in the upper air, a fairy bridge provided by kind nature for the wingless wild things that have their home in the tree-tops and would visit together; the larch and the pomegranate flung their purple and yellow flames in brilliant broad splashes along the slanting sweep of the woodland; the sensuous fragrance of innumerable deciduous flowers rose upon the swooning atmosphere; far in the empty sky a solitary œsophagus slept upon motionless wing; everywhere brooded stillness, serenity, and the peace of God.

菲特洛克没有利用因为这件事得到的假期来休息;他投入了自己的工作,干得又热切,又快乐。一道茂密的灌木丛一直延伸到山脚下弗林特小屋所在的开阔地,菲特洛克的工作大多是在枝繁叶茂的幽暗灌木丛中完成的;另有一些是在他自己的小木屋里干的。最后一切就绪了,他说:

The success of Mark Twains joke recalls to mind his story of the petrified man in the cavern, whom he described most punctiliously, first giving a picture of the scene, its impressive solitude, and all that; then going on to describe the majesty of the figure, casually mentioning that the thumb of his right hand rested against the side of his nose; then after further description observing that the fingers of the right hand were extended in a radiating fashion; and, recurring to the dignified attitude and position of the man, incidentally remarked that the thumb of the left hand was in contact with the little finger of the right;and so on. But it was so ingeniously written that Mark, relating the history years later in an article which appeared in that excellent magazine of the past, the Galaxy, declared that no one ever found out the joke, and, if we remember aright, that that astonishing old mockery was actually looked for in the region where he, as a Nevada newspaper editor, had located it. It is certain that Mark Twains jumping frog has a good many more pints than any other frog.

“如果他怀疑我要把那件事说出去,他不会老憋在肚子里,明天就能见分晓了。他会看到我还像往常那样,是个笨蛋——今天是,明天还是。后天晚上他的日子就要到头了;没人会猜到是谁结果了他,到底是怎么干的。是他自己把这主意扔给我的,真怪。”