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chapter 12
As time went on Philip’s deformity ceased to interest. It was accepted like one boy’s red hair and another’s unreasonable corpulence. But meanwhile he had grown horribly sensitive. He never ran if he could help it, because he knew it made his limp more conspicuous, and he adopted a peculiar walk. He stood still as much as he could, with his club-foot behind the other, so that it should not attract notice, and he was constantly on the look out for any reference to it. Because he could not join in the games which other boys played, their life remained strange to him; he only interested himself from the outside in their doings; and it seemed to him that there was a barrier between them and him. Sometimes they seemed to think that it was his fault if he could not play football, and he was unable to make them understand. He was left a good deal to himself. He had been inclined to talkativeness, but gradually he became silent. He began to think of the difference between himself and others.

The biggest boy in his dormitory, Singer, took a dislike to him, and Philip, small for his age, had to put up with a good deal of hard treatment. About half-way through the term a mania ran through the school for a game called Nibs. It was a game for two, played on a table or a form with steel pens. You had to push your nib with the finger-nail so as to get the point of it over your opponent’s, while he manoeuvred to prevent this and to get the point of his nib over the back of yours; when this result was achieved you breathed on the ball of your thumb, pressed it hard on the two nibs, and if you were able then to lift them without dropping either, both nibs became yours. Soon nothing was seen but boys playing this game, and the more skilful acquired vast stores of nibs. But in a little while Mr. Watson made up his mind that it was a form of gambling, forbade the game, and confiscated all the nibs in the boys’ possession. Philip had been very adroit, and it was with a heavy heart that he gave up his winning; but his fingers itched to play still, and a few days later, on his way to the football field, he went into a shop and bought a pennyworth of J pens. He carried them loose in his pocket and enjoyed feeling them. Presently Singer found out that he had them. Singer had given up his nibs too, but he had kept back a very large one, called a Jumbo, which was almost unconquerable, and he could not resist the opportunity of getting Philip’s Js out of him. Though Philip knew that he was at a disadvantage with his small nibs, he had an adventurous disposition and was willing to take the risk; besides, he was aware that Singer would not allow him to refuse. He had not played for a week and sat down to the game now with a thrill of excitement. He lost two of his small nibs quickly, and Singer was jubilant, but the third time by some chance the Jumbo slipped round and Philip was able to push his J across it. He crowed with triumph. At that moment Mr. Watson came in.

‘What are you doing?’ he asked.

He looked from Singer to Philip, but neither answered.

‘Don’t you know that I’ve forbidden you to play that idiotic game?’

Philip’s heart beat fast. He knew what was coming and was dreadfully frightened, but in his fright there was a certain exultation. He had never been swished. Of course it would hurt, but it was something to boast about afterwards.

‘Come into my study.’

The headmaster turned, and they followed him side by side Singer whispered to Philip:

‘We’re in for it.’

Mr. Watson pointed to Singer.

‘Bend over,’ he said.

Philip, very white, saw the boy quiver at each stroke, and after the third he heard him cry out. Three more followed.

‘That’ll do. Get up.’

Singer stood up. The tears were streaming down his face. Philip stepped forward. Mr. Watson looked at him for a moment.

‘I’m not going to cane you. You’re a new boy. And I can’t hit a cripple. Go away, both of you, and don’t be naughty again.’

When they got back into the school-room a group of boys, who had learned in some mysterious way what was happening, were waiting for them. They set upon Singer at once with eager questions. Singer faced them, his face red with the pain and marks of tears still on his cheeks. He pointed with his head at Philip, who was standing a little behind him.

‘He got off because he’s a cripple,’ he said angrily.

Philip stood silent and flushed. He felt that they looked at him with contempt.

‘How many did you get?’ one boy asked Singer.

But he did not answer. He was angry because he had been hurt

‘Don’t ask me to play Nibs with you again,’ he said to Philip. ‘It’s jolly nice for you. You don’t risk anything.’

‘I didn’t ask you.’

‘Didn’t you!’

He quickly put out his foot and tripped Philip up. Philip was always rather unsteady on his feet, and he fell heavily to the ground.

‘Cripple,’ said Singer.

For the rest of the term he tormented Philip cruelly, and, though Philip tried to keep out of his way, the school was so small that it was impossible; he tried being friendly and jolly with him; he abased himself, so far as to buy him a knife; but though Singer took the knife he was not placated. Once or twice, driven beyond endurance, he hit and kicked the bigger boy, but Singer was so much stronger that Philip was helpless, and he was always forced after more or less torture to beg his pardon. It was that which rankled with Philip: he could not bear the humiliation of apologies, which were wrung from him by pain greater than he could bear. And what made it worse was that there seemed no end to his wretchedness; Singer was only eleven and would not go to the upper school till he was thirteen. Philip realised that he must live two years with a tormentor from whom there was no escape. He was only happy while he was working and when he got into bed. And often there recurred to him then that queer feeling that his life with all its misery was nothing but a dream, and that he would awake in the morning in his own little bed in London.

 

第十二章

日子一久,菲利普的残疾不再使孩子们感兴趣,而是像某个孩子的红头发,或者像某个孩子的过度肥胖那样,终于也为大家所认可。然而在这段时间里,菲利普却变得极度敏感。只要能不跑,他就尽量避免奔跑,因为他知道自己一奔跑就越发病得厉害,即使平时走路,也扭。泥作态,步履奇特。在人前,他尽可能伫立不动,把跛足藏在另一只脚后边,以免惹人注目。他每时每刻都在留神别人是否牵扯到自己的跛足。其他孩子玩的游戏,他没法参加,所以对于他们的生活始终很生疏。他们的各种活动也没有他的份,他只能自个儿站在一边观看。他觉得自己同别的孩子之间,似乎横着一道无形的壁障。有时候,孩子们似乎也认为,菲利普不会踢足球那全该怪他自己,而菲利普自己又无法取得孩子们的谅解。他经常茕茕孑立,形影相吊。他一向饶舌多话,现在却渐渐变得沉默寡言。他开始思索起自己跟别的孩子之间究竟有什么不同来了。

宿舍里最大的孩子辛格不喜欢菲利普。就年龄来说,菲利普的个儿算是矮小的,他得经常忍受各种虐待。大约过了半个学期,学校里出现一股玩"笔尖"游戏的热潮。这是种双人游戏,用钢笔尖在桌子或长凳上斗着玩。玩的人须用指甲推动自己的一只笔尖,设法让它迎着对手的笔尖头爬上去;而对手一面招架防备,一面也竭力设法使自己的笔尖迎头爬上对方的笔尖背。谁成功了,就在自己拇指向球上呵口气,然后用力按这两只笔尖,假如能把它们粘住,同时提起来,那么,这两只笔尖就属于赢者的了。没多久,学校里净看见学生们在玩这种游戏,那些心灵手巧的孩子赢得了大量笔尖。过了一阵子,沃森先生认定这是一种赌博,断然禁止这种游戏,并把学生手里的笔尖全部充公。这种游戏菲利普玩得挺得心应手,结果也只好忍痛割爱,交出全部战利品。但是,他手指痒痒的,总想再过过痛。几天以后,他在去足球场途中,跑进一家商店,花了一个便士,买了几枚丁字形钢笔尖。他把这些笔尖散放在口袋里,摸着过瘾。辛格很快发现菲利普手头有这些笔尖。辛格的笔尖也上缴了,但是他偷偷留下一只封号叫"大象"的特大笔尖,这只笔尖几乎是常胜将军。这会儿,他怎么也不愿坐失良机,非要把菲利普的丁字形笔尖赢到手不可。菲利普尽管明明知道用自己的小笔尖和他对阵,无异是以卵击石,但他生性爱冒险,所以还是愿意背水一战。再说他也明白,要是自己拒绝比赛,辛格决不肯善罢甘休。他已经歇手了一个星期,现在坐下来重新挥戈上阵,心头止不住一阵兴奋。菲利普一下子就输掉了两只小笔尖,辛格乐得眉开眼笑。可是第三次交锋时,辛格的"大象"不知怎么地突然一个滑转,菲利普乘机把他的丁字形笔尖推上了"大象"脊背。他由于得胜而欢呼起来。就在这时,沃森先生一脚跨了进来。

"你们在干什么?"他问。

他望望辛格,又望望菲利普,他俩谁也不吱声。

"难道你们不知道,我禁止你们玩这种愚蠢的游戏?"

菲利普的心怦怦直跳。他知道会有什么样的结果,吓得魂不附体,但恐惧之中又掺杂着几分喜悦。菲利普还从未挨过老师鞭答。皮肉之苦固然难熬,但事过之后,未尝不可借此在别的孩子面前吹嘘一番。

"上我书房来。"

校长转过身,两个孩子并排跟在后面,辛格轻声对菲利普嘀咕了一句:

"这回咱们该倒霉了。"

沃森先生指着辛格说:

"弯下身子!"

菲利普脸色煞白,看见辛格每挨一鞭,身子就抽搐一下,三鞭抽下,辛格哇哇号啕起来。紧接着又是三鞭。

"够了,站起来。"

辛格直起身,泪水流了一脸。菲利普跨上一步,沃森先生打量了他一番:

"我可不想用藤鞭抽你。你刚来不久,而且我也不能揍一个瘸腿的孩子。走吧,你们俩都走吧,今后不许再胡闹了。"

他俩走回教室时,一群孩子正在那儿等候着,他们已经通过某种神秘的渠道打听到出了什么事。孩子们急不可耐地冲着辛格问这问那。辛格面朝着他们,脸疼得涨成猪肝色,面颊上还留着斑斑泪痕。辛格将脑袋朝站在身后不远的菲利普一撇,悻悻然说:

"给他滑了过去,他因为是个瘸子沾光啦。"

菲利普红着脸,默不作声地站着。他察觉到孩子们向他投来鄙夷的目光。

"挨了几下?"有个孩子问辛格。

辛格没有理睬。他因为受了皮肉之苦,一肚子怒火。

"以后再也别来找我斗笔尖了,"他冲着菲利普吼道,"你可真占便宜,一点风险也不用担。"

"我可没来找你。"

"你没有?"

辛格说着猛起一脚,将菲利普绊倒在地。菲利普平时就站不太稳,这一交摔得着实不轻。

"瘸子!"辛格骂了一声。

后半学期里,辛格持命作践菲利普。尽管菲利普竭力回避,无奈学校太小,总是冤家路窄。他试图主动同辛格搞好关系,甚至还巴结奉承他,买了一把小刀送他,小刀他倒收下了,可就是不肯握手言和。有一两回,菲利普实在忍无可忍,一时性起,就朝这个比他大的男孩挥拳踢脚,但是辛格的气力要大得多,菲利普哪是他的对手,到头来好歹挨了一顿揍,而且还得哀告求饶。这一点特别使他疾首痛心他忍受不了讨饶的屈屏,但每当疼痛超过了肉体所能忍受的限度,他又不得不认错道歉。更糟糕的是,这种悲惨的生活不知得捱到何年何月。辛格才十一岁,一直要到十三岁才会升到中学部去。菲利普明白还得同这个作践自己的冤家同窗两年,而且休想躲得了他。菲利普只有在埋头做功课的当儿,再不就是上床睡觉的时候,才稍许快活一点。一种莫名的感觉经常萦绕在他脑际:眼前的生活,连同它的百般苦难,都不过是一场幻梦,说不定早晨一觉醒来,自己又躺在伦敦老家的那张小床上了。


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