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Chapter 4 Loneliness

The next day was rainy and dark. Rain fell on the roof of the barn and dripped steadily from the eaves. Rain fell in the barnyard and ran in crooked courses down into the lane where thistles and pigweed grew. Rain spattered against Mrs. Zuckerman's kitchen windows and came gushing out of the downspouts. Rain fell on the backs of the sheep as they grazed in the meadow. When the sheep tired of standing in the rain, they walked slowly up the lane and into the fold.

  Rain upset Wilbur's plans. Wilbur had planned to go out, this day, and dig a new hole in his yard. He had other plans, too. His plans for the day went something like this:

  Breakfast at six-thirty. Skim milk, crusts, middlings, bits of doughnuts, wheat cakes with drops of maple syrup sticking to them, potato skins, leftover custard pudding with raisins, and bits of Shredded Wheat.

  Breakfast would be finished at seven.

  From seven to eight, Wilbur planned to have a talk with Templeton, the rat that lived under his trough. Talking with Templeton was not the most interesting occupation in the world but it was better than nothing.

  From eight to nine, Wilbur planned to take a nap outdoors in the sun.

  From nine to eleven he planned to dig a hole, or trench, and possibly find something good to eat buried in the dirt.

  From eleven to twelve he planned to stand still and watch flies on the boards, watch bees in the clover, and watch swallows in the air.

  Twelve o'clock-lunchtime. Middlings, warm water, apple parings, meat gravy, carrot scrapings, meat scraps, stale hominy, and the wrapper off a package of cheese. Lunch would be over at one.

  From one to two, Wilbur planned to sleep.

  From two to three, he planned to scratch itchy places by rubbing against the fence.

  From three to four, he planned to stand perfectly still and think of what it was like to be alive, and to wait for Fern.

  At four would come supper. Skim milk, provender, leftover sandwich from Lurvy's lunchbox, prune skins, a morsel of this, a bit of that, fried potatoes, marmalade drippings, a little more of this, a little more of that, a piece of baked apple, a scrap of upside down cake.

  Wilbur had gone to sleep thinking about these plans. He awoke at six and saw the rain, and it seemed as though he couldn't bear it.

  "I get every thing all beautifully planned out and it has to go and rain," he said.

  For a while he stood gloomily indoors. Then he walked to the door and looked out. Drops of rain struck his face. His yard was cold and wet. his trough had and inch of rainwater in it. Templeton was nowhere to be seen.

  "Are you out there, Templeton?" called Wilbur. There was no answer. Suddenly Wilbur felt lonely and friendless.

  "One day just like another," he groaned. "I'm very young, I have no real friend here in the barn, it's going to rain all morning and all afternoon, and Fern won't come in such bad weather. Oh, honestly!" And Wilbur was crying again, for the second time in two days.

  At six-thirty Wilbur heard the banging of a pail. Lurvy was standing outside in the rain, stirring up breakfast.

  "C'mon, pig!" said Lurvy.

  Wilbur did not budge. Lurvy dumped the slops, scraped the pail and walked away. He noticed that something was wrong with the pig.

  Wilbur didn't want food, he wanted love. He wanted a friend--someone who would play with him. He mentioned this to the goose, who was sitting quietly in a corner of the sheepfold.

  "Will you come over and play with me?" he asked.

  "Sorry, sonny, sorry," said the goose. "I'm sitting-sitting on my eggs. Eight of them. Got to keep them toasty-oasty-oasty warm. I have to stay right here, I'm no flibberty-ibberty-gibbet. I do not play when there are eggs to hatch. I'm expecting goslings.""Well, I didn't think you were expecting wood-peckers," said Wilbur, bitterly.

  Wilbur next tried one of the lambs.

  "Will you please play with me?" he asked.

  "Certainly not," said the lamb. "In the first place, I cannot get into your pen, as I am not old enough to jump over the fence. In the second place, I am not interested in pigs. Pigs mean less than nothing to me.""What do you mean, less than nothing?" replied Wilbur. "I don't think there is any such thing as less than nothing. Nothing is absolutely the limit of nothingness. It's the lowest you can go. It's the end of the line. How can something be less than nothing? If there were something that was less than nothing, then nothing would not be nothing, it would be something--even though it's just a very little bit of something. But if nothing is nothing, then nothing has nothing that is less than it is.""Oh, be quiet!" said the lamb. "Go play by yourself! I don't play with pigs.

  Sadly, Wilbur lay down and listened to the rain. Soon he saw the rat climbing down a slanting board that he used as a stairway.

  "Will you play with me, Templeton?" asked Wilbur.

  "Play?" said Templeton, twirling his whiskers. "Play? I hardly know the meaning of the word.""Well," said Wilbur, "it means to have fun, to frolic, to run and skip and make merry.""I never do those things if I can avoid them, " replied the rat, sourly. "I prefer to spend my time eating, gnawing, spying, and hiding. I am a glutton but not a merry-maker. Right now I am on my way to your trough to eat your breakfast, since you haven't got sense enough to eat it yourself." And Templeton, the rat, crept stealthily along the wall and disappeared into a private tunnel that he had dug between the door and the trough in Wilbur's yard. Templeton was a crafty rat, and he had things pretty much his own way. The tunnel was an example of his skill and cunning. The tunnel enabled him to get from the barn to his hiding place under the pig trough without coming out into the open. He had tunnels and runways all over Mr. Zuckerman's farm and could get from one place to another without being seen. Usually he slept during the daytime and was abroad only after dark.

  Wilbur watched him disappear into his tunnel. In a moment he saw the rat's sharp nose poke out from underneath the wooden trough. Cautiously Templeton pulled himself up over the edge of the trough. This was almost more than Wilbur could stand: on this dreary, rainy day to see his breakfast being eaten by somebody else. He knew Templeton was getting soaked, out there in the pouring rain, but even that didn't comfort him. Friendless, dejected, and hungry, he threw himself down in the manure and sobbed.

  Late that afternoon, Lurvy went to Mr. Zuckerman. "I think there's something wrong with that pig of yours. He hasn't touched his food.""Give him two spoonfuls of sulphur and a little molasses," said Mr. Zuckerman.

  Wilbur couldn't believe what happening to him when Lurvy caught him and forced the medicine down his throat. This was certainly the worst day of his life. He didn't know whether he could endure the awful loneliness any more.

  Darkness settled over everything. Soon there were only shadows and the noises of the sheep chewing their cuds, and occasionally the rattle of a cow-chain up overhead. You can imagine Wilbur's surprise when, out of the darkness, came a small voice he had never heard before. It sounded rather thin, but pleasant. "Do you want a friend, Wilbur?" it said. "I'll be a friend to you. I've watched you all day and I like you.""But I can't see you," said Wilbur, jumping to his feet. "Where are you? And who are you?""I'm right up here," said the voice. "Go to sleep. You'll see me in the morning."V. Charlotte(1)The night seemed long. Wilbur's stomach was empty and his mind was full. And when your stomach is empty and your mind is full, it's always hard to sleep.

  A dozen times during the night Wilbur woke and stared into the blackness, listening to the sounds and trying to figure out what time it was. A barn is never perfectly quiet. Even at midnight there is usually something stirring.

  The first time he woke, he heard Templeton gnawing a hole in the grain bin. Templeton's teeth scraped loudly against the wood and made quite a racket. "That crazy rat!" thought Wilbur. "Why does he have to stay up all night, grinding his clashers and destroying people's property? Why can't he go to sleep, like any decent animal?"the second time Wilbur woke, he heard the goose turning on her nest and chuckling to herself.

  "What time is it?" whispered Wilbur to the goose.

  "Probably-obably-obably about half-past eleven," said the goose, "Why aren't you asleep, Wilbur?""Too many things on my mind," said Wilbur.

  "Well," said the goose, "that's not my trouble. I have nothing at all on my mind, but I've too many things under my behind. Have you ever tried to sleep while sitting on eight eggs?""No," replied Wilbur, "I suppose it is uncomfortable. How long does it take a goose egg to hatch?""Approximately-oximately thirty days, all told," answered the goose. "But I cheat a little. On warm afternoons, I just pull a little straw over the eggs and go out for a walk."Wilbur yawned and went back to sleep. In his dreams he heard again the voice saying, "I'll be a friend to you. Go to sleep--you'll see me in the morning."About half an hour before dawn, Wilbur woke and listened. The barn was still dark. The sheep lay motionless. Even the goose was quiet. Overhead, on the main floor, nothing stirred: the cows were resting, the horses dozed. Templeton had quit work and gone off somewhere on an errand. The only sound was a slight scraping noise from the rooftop, where the weather-vane swung back and forth. Wilbur loved the barn when it was like this--calm and quiet, waiting for light.

  "Day is almost here," he thought.

  Through a small window, a faint gleam appeared.

  One by one the stars went out. Wilbur could see the goose a few feet away. She sat with head tucked under a wing. Then he could see the sheep and the lambs. The sky lightened.

  "Oh, beautiful day, it is here at last! Today I shall find my friend."Wilbur looked everywhere. He searched his pen thoroughly. He examined the window ledge, stared up at the ceiling. But he saw nothing new. Finally he decided he would have to speak up. He hated to break the lovely stillness of dawn by using his voice, but he couldn't think of any other way to locate the mysterious new friend who was nowhere to be seen. So Wilbur cleared his throat.

  "Attention, please!" he said in a loud, firm voice. "Will the party who addressed me at bedtime last night kindly make himself or herself known by giving an appropriate sign or signal!"Wilbur paused and listened. All the other animals lifted their heads and stared at him. Wilbur blushed. But he was determined to get in touch with his unknown friend.

  "Attention, please!" he said. "I will repeat the message. Will the party who addressed me at bedtime last night kindly speak up. Please tell me where you are, if you are my friend!"The sheep looked at each other in disgust.

  "Stop your nonsense, Wilbur!" said the oldest sheep. "If you have a new freind here, you are probably disturbing his rest; and the quickest way to spoil a friendship is to wake somebody up in the morning before he is ready. How can you be sure your friend is an early riser?""I beg everyone's pardon," whispered Wilbur. "I didn't mean to be objectionable."He lay down meekly in the in the manure, facing the door. He did not know it, but his friend was very near. and the old sheep was right--the friend was still asleep.

  Soon Lurvy appeared with slops for breakfast. Wilbur rushed out, ate everything in a hurry, and licked the trough. The sheep moved off down the lane, the gander waddled along behind them, pulling grass. And then, just as Wilbur was settling down for his morning nap, he heard again the thin voice that had addressed him the night before.

  "Salutations!" said the voice.

  Wilbur jumped to his feet. "Salu-what?" he cried.

  "Salutations!" said the voice.

  "What are they, and where are you?" screamed Wilbur. "Please, please, tell me where you are. And what are salutations?""Salutations are greetings," said the voice. "When I say 'salutations,' it's just my fancy way of saying hello or good morning. Actually, it's a silly expression, and I am surprised that I used it at all. As for my whereabouts, that's easy. Look up here in the corner of the dooway! Here I am. Look, I'm waving!"At last Wilbur saw the creature that had spoken to him in such a kindly way. Stretched across the upper part of the doorway was a big spiderweb, and hanging from the top of the web, head down, was a large grey spider. She was about the size of a gumdrop. She had eight legs, and she was waving one of them at Wilbur in friendly greeting. "See me now?" she asked.

 

  第二天是个阴沉的雨天。雨珠儿落到谷仓上面,又一滴滴地从屋檐上滑了下来。雨珠儿落到谷仓旁边的地上,一路溅跳到长满刺儿菜和灰菜的小路里面。雨珠儿轻轻拍打着祖克曼太太厨房的窗子,顺着玻璃汩汩地往下淌。雨珠儿也落到正在草地吃草的绵羊们的背上。当绵羊们在雨中吃腻了,便慢吞吞地沿着小路回到了羊圈里。

  雨打乱了威伯的所有计划。今天威伯本打算出去散个步,在他的院子里掘一个新坑呢。而且他还有其他的计划。他今天的所有计划大致如下:

  六点半吃早饭。早饭包括脱脂奶,面包渣儿,粗麦粉,一小块油煎圈饼,上面沾着枫蜜的麦糕,土豆皮,缀着葡萄干的小块布丁,零碎的麦片。

  早餐将在七点结束。

  从七点到八点,威伯打算和住在他的食槽下面的耗子坦普尔曼谈天儿。虽然和坦普尔曼谈天不是这世上最有趣的事情,但至少比什么都不做要好。

  八点到九点,威伯想在外面的太阳下打一个盹儿。

  九点到十一点,他打算挖一个洞,或者一条小沟也行,没准儿还能从脏土里翻出什么好吃的呢。

  十一点到十二点,他只想默默地站着,瞧瞧落在木板上的苍蝇,瞅瞅在苜蓿花间的蜜蜂,望望天空里的燕子。

  十二点钟——该吃午餐了。午饭有粗麦粉,温水,苹果皮,肉汁,尖尖的胡萝卜,肉末儿,陈玉米粒儿,去皮的干酪。用餐将在下午一点结束。

  从一点到两点,威伯打算睡觉。

  两点到三点,他准备在栅栏上蹭痒。

  三点到四点,他打算静默而又完美地站在地上,想想生活的乐趣到底是什么,并且等芬来看他。

  四点钟吃晚饭。晚饭有脱脂奶,剩饭,鲁维的午餐盒里剩下的三明治,干梅皮,一小片这个,一小块那个,还有炸薯片,稀稀的果酱,一点儿苹果干,一块蛋糕等等这些那些东西。

  昨晚睡觉时,威伯还一直想着这些计划。可是今早六点睁开眼,却看到外面正在下雨,这可真让他无法忍受。

  “我把计划订得多么完美呀,可天却下起了雨,”他说。

  他忧郁地在屋里站了一会儿。然后他走到门口往外看。雨滴撞到了他的脸。他的院子里又冷又湿。他的食槽里足有一英寸厚的雨水。不知道坦普尔曼躲到哪儿去了。

  “你在吗,坦普尔曼?”威伯喊道。没有谁回答他。陡然间,威伯觉得自己是那么的孤独,无助。

  “今天就像昨天一样没劲,”他叹息。“我很年轻,我在谷仓里没有真正的朋友,雨会下一早晨,甚至整个下午,这样的坏天气,芬可能也不会出来。唉,她准不会来!”威伯又难过得哭起来,这两天里,他已经哭了两次了。

  六点半,威伯听到了食桶晃动的声音。鲁维正在外面的雨里给自己准备早饭呢。

  “来吃吧,小猪!”鲁维说。

  威伯动都懒得动。鲁维把饲料倒进食槽,又刮了刮桶壁,才走开了。他注意到小猪好像有毛病了。

  威伯想要的不是食物,而是关爱。他想有一个朋友——某个能和他一起玩儿的人。他把这心思对在羊圈角落里静静坐着的母鹅讲了出来。

  “你愿意来和我一起玩儿吗?”他问。

  “抱歉,宝贝儿,抱歉,”母鹅说。”我正在孵我的蛋呢。他们共有八个,得时刻让他们又干-干-干又暖。因此我只好呆在这儿,不能走-走-走开。我孵蛋时不能玩儿。我盼着能早点孵出小鹅来。”

  “当然,我想你一定不愿孵出一群啄木鸟来,”威伯酸溜溜地说。

  威伯又试着去问羊羔。

  “你能来和我一起玩儿吗?”他请求。

  “当然不能了,”一只羊羔说。“首先,我无法进到你的院子里,因为我还太小,跳不过这篱笆。其次,我对猪一点儿也不感兴趣。照我看,猪比啥都不是还不是。”

  “什么叫比啥都不是还不是?”威伯回答。“我不认为有什么东西会比啥都不是还不是。'啥都不是'已经不是到了顶了,那绝对是天地的顶端,世界的尽头了。怎么可能还会有比啥都不是还不是的东西呢?要是你说得对,那'啥都不是'就该是点啥,哪怕只是那么一丁点儿。但是如果'啥都不是'就是'啥都不是',那么你就找不到会比啥都不是还不是的东西。”①

  “哎呀,吵死了!”羊羔说。“自己上一边儿玩去!我就是不和猪一起玩儿。”

  威伯悲伤地躺下来,去听雨的声音。不久,他看见耗子正在顺着一块他自称为楼梯的,斜放在那里的木板往下爬。

  “你愿意和我玩儿吗,坦普尔曼?”威伯恳求。

  “玩儿?”坦普尔曼说着,捻了捻他的胡子。“玩儿?我都不懂这词儿是什么意思。”

  “哦,”威伯说,“玩就是做游戏,嬉耍,跑跳,找乐子。”

  “我从不愿意在这些事儿上浪费时间。”耗子冷冷的回答。“我宁愿把我的时间用在吃,咬,偷,藏上面。我是一个贪吃的老鼠,不是游戏主义者。我要去吃你食槽里的早餐了,反正现在你也不想去吃。”老鼠坦普尔曼说完,便沿着墙缝爬进他开凿的那条贯穿门和食槽的秘密通道里去了。坦普尔曼是只非常狡猾的耗子,也很有些高明的手段。这条通道不过是他的狡猾与挖洞技巧的一个证明而已。这条通道能令他不用在谷仓的明处露面,就能在谷仓和自己在猪食槽下的藏身处来回。他在祖克曼先生的农场里挖了很多条地道,这样就可以不被发现的任意来去了。通常他都在白天睡觉,夜深才出来活动。

  威伯看着他爬进了通道。瞬间来历,他就看见耗子的尖鼻头从木头食槽下面探出来。坦普尔曼小心地顺着食槽边爬了进去。威伯几乎再也不能忍受了:谁愿意在一个忧伤的下雨天,看到自己的早餐被别人吃掉呢?他知道外面的雨水正浇着在那里大嚼的坦普尔曼,可这也不会使他感到有所安慰。无助,失意,饥饿……他趴在牛粪堆里啜泣起来。

  傍晚,鲁维去见祖克曼先生。“我想你的猪有毛病了。他没吃食。”

  “给他喝两勺硫磺,里面和点儿糖水。”祖克曼先生说。

  当鲁维抓住威伯,强行把药水灌到他喉咙里时,威伯还不能相信这些发生在自己身上的事。这是他一生中最糟糕的一天。他不知道自己是否还能再忍受这可怕的孤独了。

  黑暗朦胧了一切。不久,除了影子和绵羊咀嚼的声音,还有头顶的牛牵动链子发出的哗啦声外,什么也感觉不到了。所以你一定能想象得出,当一个从未听见过的纤细的声音从黑夜中传出来时,威伯是多么的惊奇。这声音相当的微弱,但听来却那么使人愉快。“你想要一个朋友吗,威伯?”那个声音说。“我将成为你的朋友。我已经观察你好多天了,我喜欢你。”

  “可我看不见你呀,”威伯说着,踮起脚来寻找。“你在哪儿,你是谁?”

  “我就在这儿,”那个声音说。“你先睡吧。明早你就会看到我了。”


  注释①:威伯对小羊的这通解释,翻译时把我累得直冒烟——这绝不是因为我当时抽的纸烟太冲的关系。而是因为以我的水平,怎么看都迷糊的缘故。它们的原文如下:

  “what do you mean,less than nothiong?”replied wilbur。”I don't think there is any such thing as less than nothing。nothing is absolutely the limit of nothingness。It's the lowest you can go。 It's the end of the line.。How can somgthing be less than nothing? If there were something that was less than nothing,then nothing would not be nothing,it would be songthing——even though it's just a very little bit of something。but if nothing is nothing,then nothing has nothing that is less than it is。”

  也许别人觉得这很容易,但我不。于是就求助新语丝的高手,因此得到了乐平,Brant,暮紫,虎子等的精彩的译文,还有亦歌等朋友的指点,非常感谢!下面就是其中的三种译文。(当然,最后一种是爆笑版的,但也很有趣,不是吗?)

  “我认为猪还不如一文不值你什么意思?比一文不值还不如?我不认为有什么东西还不如一文不值的。一文不值已经到头啦,那是最无价值的东西。怎么还会有东西比一文不值还要不值的呢。如果有东西比一文不值还要无价值,那原来的一文不值就不是一文不值,而是值得一文了。即使只是值得一文。但是一文不值就要真真正正的一文不值,你找不到比他还不值的东西了”——Brant

  “什么叫比啥都不是还不是。”威伯答道:“既然啥都不是了,怎么会有比它还不是的?'啥都不是'绝对绝对就是'不是'到了顶了,那是天地的底端、世界的尽头。怎么还会有比'啥都不是'还不是的呢?要是你说得对,那'啥都不是'就该是点啥,哪怕只是那么一丁点。要是'啥都不是'就是'啥都不是',那么你说的就不对。”——乐平

  “你以为你是谁啊?百兽之王啊?动物园管理员啊?在我看来,你什么都不是,比什么都不是还要不是!还是好好地做你猪这份有前途的职业去吧。”

  “小羊,你又在吓我!什么叫比什么都不是还不是啊?既然什么都不是了,怎么还有比什么都不是还不是?本来什么都不是就是一点点东西都没有,但是现在有了个比什么都不是还不是的,什么都不是就比比什么都不是还不是多了一点点了。怎么可以有了什么都不是,又有比什么都不是还不是?如果有了比什么都不是还不是,什么都不是怎么会是什么都不是?大家讲讲道理嘛。现在你想清楚,我数一二三,你告诉我什么是比什么都不是还要不是。”

  “我KAO!大家看见了,这个家伙整天哼哼唧唧,像是一只猪……不不不,一大群猪在那里哼哼,救命啊……现在大家知道,我为什么不喜欢和他玩了吧。”



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