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A Cosmopolite in a Cafe (O·Henry)  

2011-06-19 09:21:01|  分类: English |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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A Cosmopolite in a Cafe (O·Henry)

___________________________________________

At midnight the cafe was crowded. By some chance the little table at which I sat had escaped the eye of incomers, and two vacant chairs at it extended their arms with venal hospitality to the influx of patrons.

And then a cosmopolite sat in one of them, and I was glad, for I held a theory that since Adam no true citizen of the world has existed. We hear of them, and we see foreign labels on much luggage, but we find travellers instead of cosmopolites.

I invoke your consideration of the scene--the marble-topped tables, the range of leather-upholstered wall seats, the gay company, the ladies dressed in demi-state toilets, speaking in an exquisite visible chorus of taste, economy, opulence or art; the sedulous and largess-loving garcons, the music wisely catering to all with its raids upon the composers; the melange of talk and laughter--and, if you will, the Wurzburger in the tall glass cones that bend to your lips as a ripe cherry sways on its branch to the beak of a robber jay. I was told by a sculptor from Mauch Chunk that the scene was truly Parisian.

My cosmopolite was named E. Rushmore Coglan, and he will be heard from next summer at Coney Island. He is to establish a new "attraction" there, he informed me, offering kingly diversion. And then his conversation rang along parallels of latitude and longitude. He took the great, round world in his hand, so to speak, familiarly, contemptuously, and it seemed no larger than the seed of a Maraschino cherry in a table d'hote grape fruit. He spoke disrespectfully of the equator, he skipped from continent to continent, he derided the zones, he mopped up the high seas with his napkin. With a wave of his hand he would speak of a certain bazaar in Hyderabad. Whiff! He would have you on skis in Lapland. Zip! Now you rode the breakers with the Kanakas at Kealaikahiki. Presto! He dragged you through an Arkansas post-oak swamp, let you dry for a moment on the alkali plains of his Idaho ranch, then whirled you into the society of Viennese archdukes. Anon he would be telling you of a cold he acquired in a Chicago lake breeze and how old Escamila cured it in Buenos Ayres with a hot infusion of the chuchula weed. You would have addressed a letter to "E. Rushmore Coglan, Esq., the Earth, Solar System, the Universe," and have mailed it, feeling confident that it would be delivered to him.

I was sure that I had found at last the one true cosmopolite since Adam, and I listened to his worldwide discourse fearful lest I should discover in it the local note of the mere globe-trotter. But his opinions never fluttered or drooped; he was as impartial to cities, countries and continents as the winds or gravitation. And as E. Rushmore Coglan prattled of this little planet I thought with glee of a great almost-cosmopolite who wrote for the whole world and dedicated himself to Bombay. In a poem he has to say that there is pride and rivalry between the cities of the earth, and that "the men that breed from them, they traffic up and down, but cling to their cities' hem as a child to the mother's gown." And whenever they walk "by roaring streets unknown" they remember their native city "most faithful, foolish, fond; making her mere-breathed name their bond upon their bond." And my glee was roused because I had caught Mr. Kipling napping. Here I had found a man not made from dust; one who had no narrow boasts of birthplace or country, one who, if he bragged at all, would brag of his whole round globe against the Martians and the inhabitants of the Moon.

Expression on these subjects was precipitated from E. Rushmore Coglan by the third corner to our table. While Coglan was describing to me the topography along the Siberian Railway the orchestra glided into a medley. The concluding air was "Dixie," and as the exhilarating notes tumbled forth they were almost overpowered by a great clapping of hands from almost every table.

It is worth a paragraph to say that this remarkable scene can be witnessed every evening in numerous cafes in the City of New York. Tons of brew have been consumed over theories to account for it. Some have conjectured hastily that all Southerners in town hie themselves to cafes at nightfall. This applause of the "rebel" air in a Northern city does puzzle a little; but it is not insolvable. The war with Spain, many years' generous mint and watermelon crops, a few long-shot winners at the New Orleans race-track, and the brilliant banquets given by the Indiana and Kansas citizens who compose the North Carolina Society have made the South rather a "fad" in Manhattan. Your manicure will lisp softly that your left forefinger reminds her so much of a gentleman's in Richmond, Va. Oh, certainly; but many a lady has to work now--the war, you know.

When "Dixie" was being played a dark-haired young man sprang up from somewhere with a Mosby guerrilla yell and waved frantically his soft- brimmed hat. Then he strayed through the smoke, dropped into the vacant chair at our table and pulled out cigarettes.

The evening was at the period when reserve is thawed. One of us mentioned three Wurzburgers to the waiter; the dark-haired young man acknowledged his inclusion in the order by a smile and a nod. I hastened to ask him a question because I wanted to try out a theory I had.

"Would you mind telling me," I began, "whether you are from--"

The fist of E. Rushmore Coglan banged the table and I was jarred into silence.

"Excuse me," said he, "but that's a question I never like to hear asked. What does it matter where a man is from? Is it fair to judge a man by his post-office address? Why, I've seen Kentuckians who hated whiskey, Virginians who weren't descended from Pocahontas, Indianians who hadn't written a novel, Mexicans who didn't wear velvet trousers with silver dollars sewed along the seams, funny Englishmen, spendthrift Yankees, cold-blooded Southerners, narrow- minded Westerners, and New Yorkers who were too busy to stop for an hour on the street to watch a one-armed grocer's clerk do up cranberries in paper bags. Let a man be a man and don't handicap him with the label of any section."

"Pardon me," I said, "but my curiosity was not altogether an idle one. I know the South, and when the band plays 'Dixie' I like to observe. I have formed the belief that the man who applauds that air with special violence and ostensible sectional loyalty is invariably a native of either Secaucus, N.J., or the district between Murray Hill Lyceum and the Harlem River, this city. I was about to put my opinion to the test by inquiring of this gentleman when you interrupted with your own--larger theory, I must confess."

And now the dark-haired young man spoke to me, and it became evident that his mind also moved along its own set of grooves.

"I should like to be a periwinkle," said he, mysteriously, "on the top of a valley, and sing tooralloo-ralloo."

This was clearly too obscure, so I turned again to Coglan.

"I've been around the world twelve times," said he. "I know an Esquimau in Upernavik who sends to Cincinnati for his neckties, and I saw a goatherder in Uruguay who won a prize in a Battle Creek breakfast food puzzle competition. I pay rent on a room in Cairo, Egypt, and another in Yokohama all the year around. I've got slippers waiting for me in a tea-house in Shanghai, and I don't have to tell 'em how to cook my eggs in Rio de Janeiro or Seattle. It's a mighty little old world. What's the use of bragging about being from the North, or the South, or the old manor house in the dale, or Euclid avenue, Cleveland, or Pike's Peak, or Fairfax County, Va., or Hooligan's Flats or any place? It'll be a better world when we quit being fools about some mildewed town or ten acres of swampland just because we happened to be born there."

"You seem to be a genuine cosmopolite," I said admiringly. "But it also seems that you would decry patriotism."

"A relic of the stone age," declared Coglan, warmly. "We are all brothers--Chinamen, Englishmen, Zulus, Patagonians and the people in the bend of the Kaw River. Some day all this petty pride in one's city or State or section or country will be wiped out, and we'll all be citizens of the world, as we ought to be."

"But while you are wandering in foreign lands," I persisted, "do not your thoughts revert to some spo--some dear and--"

"Nary a spot," interrupted E. R. Coglan, flippantly. "The terrestrial, globular, planetary hunk of matter, slightly flattened at the poles, and known as the Earth, is my abode. I've met a good many object-bound citizens of this country abroad. I've seen men from Chicago sit in a gondola in Venice on a moonlight night and brag about their drainage canal. I've seen a Southerner on being introduced to the King of England hand that monarch, without batting his eyes, the information that his grandaunt on his mother's side was related by marriage to the Perkinses, of Charleston. I knew a New Yorker who was kidnapped for ransom by some Afghanistan bandits. His people sent over the money and he came back to Kabul with the agent. 'Afghanistan?' the natives said to him through an interpreter. 'Well, not so slow, do you think?' 'Oh, I don't know,' says he, and he begins to tell them about a cab driver at Sixth avenue and Broadway. Those ideas don't suit me. I'm not tied down to anything that isn't 8,000 miles in diameter. Just put me down as E. Rushmore Coglan, citizen of the terrestrial sphere."

My cosmopolite made a large adieu and left me, for he thought he saw some one through the chatter and smoke whom he knew. So I was left with the would-be periwinkle, who was reduced to Wurzburger without further ability to voice his aspirations to perch, melodious, upon the summit of a valley.

I sat reflecting upon my evident cosmopolite and wondering how the poet had managed to miss him. He was my discovery and I believed in him. How was it? "The men that breed from them they traffic up and down, but cling to their cities' hem as a child to the mother's gown."

Not so E. Rushmore Coglan. With the whole world for his--

My meditations were interrupted by a tremendous noise and conflict in another part of the cafe. I saw above the heads of the seated patrons E. Rushmore Coglan and a stranger to me engaged in terrific battle. They fought between the tables like Titans, and glasses crashed, and men caught their hats up and were knocked down, and a brunette screamed, and a blonde began to sing "Teasing."

My cosmopolite was sustaining the pride and reputation of the Earth when the waiters closed in on both combatants with their famous flying wedge formation and bore them outside, still resisting.

I called McCarthy, one of the French garcons, and asked him the cause of the conflict.

"The man with the red tie" (that was my cosmopolite), said he, "got hot on account of things said about the bum sidewalks and water supply of the place he come from by the other guy."

"Why," said I, bewildered, "that man is a citizen of the world--a cosmopolite. He--"

"Originally from Mattawamkeag, Maine, he said," continued McCarthy, "and he wouldn't stand for no knockin' the place."

 

咖啡馆里的世界公民 (欧·亨利)

___________________________________________

  半夜,咖啡馆拥挤不通。我随意间选坐的一张小桌恰好不为人们所注目,还剩下两把空椅以诱人的殷勤,伸开双臂欢迎新拥进的顾客。

  当时,一位世界公民和我同一张小桌,坐在另一张椅子上。我真高兴,因为我持这种理论,自亚当以来,还没有过一位真正的属于整个世界的居民。我们听说过世界公民,也在许多包裹上见过异国标签,但那是旅游者,不是世界公民。

  我提到下面的情景定会引起你的思考——大理石桌面的桌子,一排排靠墙的皮革椅座,愉快的侣伴,稍加打扮的女士们正以微妙而又明显可见的情趣争相谈论着经济、繁盛和艺术,小心周到喜欢慷慨的侍者,使作曲家慌忙不迭的音乐机灵地满足一切人的口味,还有杂七杂八的谈话声、欢笑声——假如你乐意的话,高高的玻璃锥体维尔茨堡酒①将躬身到你的唇边,就像那枝头上的熟樱桃摇晃进强盗樫鸟的嘴壳一样。一位来自英奇·丘恩克的雕塑家告诉我,这景象真真是巴黎式的。

  我这位世界公民名叫E·拉什莫尔·科格兰,明年夏天他将在科尼岛②——他对我说,他即将在那儿建立一种新的"诱惑力",并提供国王式的消遣。过后,他的谈话便随同经纬度的平行线而展开,把巨大的圆圆的世界握在手里,这样说吧,对世界了如指掌,又极为瞧不起,世界似乎只是客饭中黑葡萄酒里的樱桃核那般大小。他粗俗无礼地谈及赤道,匆匆由这块大陆转到那块大陆,他嘲笑那些地区,用餐巾抹掉狂涛巨浪。他把手一挥,谈起了海德拉巴帮③的某个东方集市。噗!他会让你在拉普兰④滑雪。嘘!你在基莱卡希基同夏威夷的土著一起驰骋在浪尖波顶。一转眼,他拖着你穿过阿肯色州长满星毛栎的沼泽,让你在艾达荷州他那碱性平原的牧场上炙烤一阵子,然后才旋风似地带你去维也纳大公们的上流社会。之后,他会给你讲到,有一次他在芝加哥湖吹了凉风而感冒,有位年长的埃斯卡米拉人在布宜诺斯艾丽斯⑤又怎样用丘丘拉草药热浸剂才把他治好。你该致函"宇宙、太阳系、地球、E·拉什莫尔·科格兰先生,"一旦寄出,便会觉得信定会交到。

  我确信自己终于发现了从亚当以来的第一个真正的世界公民,我倾听他纵横整个世界的宏论,生怕从中发现他仅仅是个环球旅行的地方口音。他的见解决非飘浮不定或令人沮丧,他对不同的城市、国家和各大洲都是不偏不依,有如吹风和万有引力一样自然。

  正当E·拉什莫尔·科格兰对这小小的星球高谈阔论之际,我高兴地想起了一位差不多算伟大的世界公民来,他为整个世界而写作,把自己献给了孟买⑥。在一首诗中,他不得不说,地球上的城市之间不免有些妄自尊大,互相竞争,"靠这城市抚育着人们,让他们来来往往,但仅仅依附于城市的折缝之中,有如孩子依附于母亲的睡袍一样。"当他们走在"陌生的繁华街道上,"便会记起对故乡城镇是"多么忠诚、多么愚笨、多么令人喜爱,"使他们的名字与故乡的名字生死与共,紧紧相连。我的兴趣被激起来了,因为突然记起了吉卜林⑦的疏忽大意。现在,我已经找到了一个不是由尘埃造就的人,他不是狭隘地吹捧自己的出生地或自己的国家,如果说褒扬的话,他是在赞美圆圆的整个地球,而与火星人和月球的居民相抗衡。

  关于这类问题的见解是坐在这张桌子的第三转角处的E·拉什莫尔·科格兰突然抛掷出来的。科格兰正在给我描绘西伯利亚铁路的地形时,乐队转成了集成曲。结束的曲调是"迪克西⑧",振奋人心的乐曲加快时,几乎被张张桌子的人们鼓掌声所淹没。

  值得花上一段来讲讲纽约市内众多的咖啡馆每天晚上处处可见的这种引人入胜的场面。成吨的饮料挥霍于阐释各种理论。有人轻率地猜测,城里所有的南方人在夜幕降临之际都赶紧上咖啡馆。在北方的一座城市里如此赞许这种"反叛"气氛真有点叫人迷惑不解,但并非不可解答。对西班牙的战争,多年来薄荷和西瓜等农作物的丰收,新奥尔良的跑道上暴出冷门的获胜者,由印地安纳和堪萨斯的居民所组成的"北卡罗来纳社团"举办盛大的宴会已经使南方成了曼哈顿的"时尚"。你修剪指甲暗示着你的左手食指会提醒她你是个弗吉尼亚州里士满的绅士。呵,当然罗,不过,现在不少女士不得不工作——战争,你是知道的。

  正演奏着"迪克西",就在这时一位黑发年轻小伙子不知从什么地方蹦了出来,一声莫斯比⑨游击队队员的吼声,疯狂地挥舞着软边帽,迂回地穿过烟雾,落座于我们桌旁的空椅子上,抽出一只烟来。

  这夜晚到了打破缄默的时候了。我们当中有人向侍者要了三杯维尔茨堡酒,黑发小伙子明白也包括他有一杯在内,便笑了笑,点了点头。我赶忙问他一个问题,因为我要证实我的一种理论。

  "你不介意告诉我,你是哪儿的人……"

  E·拉什莫尔·科格兰的拳头砰一声砸在桌上,把我吓得沉默了。

  "原谅我,"他说,"但我决不喜欢听到这种问话。是哪里人又有什么相干呢?从一个人的通讯地址来判断人公正吗?唉,我见过肯塔基人厌恶威士忌,弗吉尼亚人不是从波卡洪塔丝⑩传下来的,印地安纳人没写过一本小说。墨西哥人不穿缝口上钉银币的丝绒裤,有趣的英国人,挥霍的北方佬,冷酷的南方人,气量狭小的西方人,纽约人太匆忙,没能花上一小时在街上瞧瞧杂货店的独臂售货员怎样把越橘装进纸袋。让人真正像人,不要用任何地域的标签给他设置障碍。"

  "请原谅,"我说,"但我的好奇心不是毫无根据的。我了解南方,当乐队奏起'迪克西'时,我喜欢观察。我相信那位为这只乐曲喝采特别卖劲、假装对南方最为忠诚的人一定来自新泽西州的塞考卡,或者在本市默里·希尔·吕克昂和哈莱姆河之间。我正要寻问这位绅士来证实我的看法,恰好被你的理论所打断,当然是更大的理论,我必须承认。"

  现在,黑发小伙子对我说,很明显,他的思想也是按自己的一套习惯运行。

  "我倒喜欢成为一枝长春花,"他玄妙地说,"长在峡谷之巅,高唱嘟——啦卢——拉卢。"

  这显然过于朦胧了,因此,我又转向科格兰。

  "我已经围绕地球走了十二遍,"他说。"我了解到厄珀纳维克的一位爱斯基摩人寄钱到辛辛那提⑾去买领带,我看到乌拉圭的牧羊人在一次"战斗小湾"早餐食品谜语竞赛中获了奖。我在开罗、希腊为间房间付房租,在横滨为另一间付了全年租金。上海的一家茶馆专门为我准备了一双拖鞋,在里约热内卢的贾尼罗或者西雅图,我不必告诉他们怎样给我煮蛋。真是一个太小的旧世界。吹嘘自己是北方人、南方人有什么用呢?吹嘘山谷中的旧庄园的房舍、克里夫兰市的欧几里德大街、派克峰⑿、弗吉尼亚的费尔法克斯县或阿飞公寓或者其他任何地方又有什么用呢?只有当我们摒弃这些糊涂观念,即由于我们碰巧出生在某个发霉的城市或者十公顷沼泽地便沾沾自喜的时候,这个世界才会变得更美好。"

  "你似乎是个货真价实的世界公民,"我羡慕地说。"不过,你似乎也抵毁了爱国主义。"

  "石器时代的残余,"科格兰激烈地宣称。"我们都是兄弟——中国人、英国人、祖鲁人⒀、巴塔哥尼亚人⒁以及住在考河湾的人都是兄弟。将有这么一天,一切为自己出生的城市、州、地区或国家的自豪感将一扫而光,正如我们理当如此的那样,都是世界公民。"

  "可是,当你在陌生的地方游荡时,"我仍坚持道,"你的思想是否会回复到某个地点——某些亲近的和……"

  "从来也没有这样一个地点,"E·拉什莫尔·科格兰毫不在意地打断我。"这一大块陆地的世界的行星的东西,只要稍微把两极弄平一点,称之为地球,这就是我的寓所。在国外,我碰到过这个国家的无数公民被某个地方所束缚。我见过芝加哥人在威尼斯的月夜,坐在凤尾船上,吹嘘他们的排水沟。我见过一位被介绍给英格兰国王的南方人,他连眼皮子也不眨一下,便把消息通给了那位独裁者——他母亲方面的一位姑婆,通过婚姻关系,同查尔斯顿⒂的珀金斯⒃家的人搭上了关系。我知道一位纽约人被几个阿富汗的匪徒绑架索取赎金,等他的人送钱去,才同代理人一道回到喀布尔⒄。

  '阿富汗?'当地人通过翻译对他说。'呵,不是太慢了,你以为?''哦,我不知道,'他说,然后他开始告诉他们关于第六大街和百老汇大街的一个马车驾驶人的事。我不是固定在直径不足八千英里的任何地方。请记下我,E·拉什莫尔·科格兰,属于整个地球的公民。"

  我的世界公民作了个夸张的辞别,离开了我,因为他越过闲谈、透过烟雾看见某个熟悉的人。因此,只留下想当长春花的人和我在一起,他屈尊于维尔茨堡酒,再也没有能力去声言他在谷顶上唱歌的抱负了。

  我坐在那儿,回味着我那明白无误的世界公民,弄不准怎么那位诗人没有注意到他。他是我的新发现,我信赖他。那是怎么回事呢?"靠这些城市抚育着人们,让他们来来往往,但仅仅依附于城市的折缝之中,有如孩子依附于母亲的睡袍一样。"

  而E·拉什莫尔·科格兰却不是这样。把整个世界作为他的……

  我的沉思默想被咖啡馆另一边传来的高声吵嚷和争执所打断。从坐着的顾客头顶上望过去,我看见E·拉什莫尔·科格兰和另一个陌生人正激烈搏斗。他俩像泰坦⒅们一样,在桌子之间打来打去,玻璃杯砸碎了,人们抓起帽子还来不及躲开便被打翻在地,一位微黑女郎尖声叫喊,另一位金发女郎却开始唱《取笑》。

  我的世界公民仍保持着地球的骄傲和名声,就在这时,侍者们利用著名的飞速楔形结构插入两个格斗者之间,硬把他两个推出了咖啡馆,尽管还在抵抗。

  我叫住一位法国侍者麦卡锡,问他争执的缘由。

  "打红领带的那个人"(即我的世界公民),他说,"给惹火了,原因是另一个谈起了他出生的那个地方的人行道和供水都太差劲。"

  "哦,"我难为情地说,"那人是个世界的公民——世界公民。他……"

  "原籍是缅因州的马托瓦姆基格,他说,"麦卡锡继续道,"他不愿再忍受不敲掉那个鬼地方。"

  ①维尔茨堡(Wurzburg):德意志联帮的中南部城市。在这里指该地所产的酒。

  ②科尼岛(ConeyIsland):美国纽约布鲁克林区南部的一个海滨游憩地带,原为一个小岛。

  ③海德拉巴帮(Hyderabad):印度原帮名。

  ④拉普兰(Lapland):北欧一地区名,指拉普人居住的地区,包括挪威、瑞典、芬兰等国的北部和原苏联的科拉岛。

  ⑤布宜诺斯艾丽斯(BuenoAyres):阿根廷首府。

  ⑥孟买(Brmbay):印度一城市名。

  ⑦吉卜林〔Joseph Rud-yard Kipling 1865-1936〕:英国小说家、诗人,1907年获诺贝尔文学奖。

  ⑧迪克西(Dixie):美国南北战争时期在南部各州流行的战歌,现仍旧流行。

  ⑨莫斯比(John Singleton Mosly 1833-1916):美国内战时,南方联盟别动队首领。南军投降后队伍解散(1865),后加入共和党,曾任美国驻香港领事(1878-1885)、司法部长助理(1904-1910)。

  ⑩波卡洪塔丝(Pochahontas 1595-1617):北美波瓦坦印第安人部落联盟首领波瓦坦之女,曾搭救过英国殖民者John Smith,与英国移民John Rolf结婚(1614),后去英国(1616),受到上流社会礼遇。

  ⑾辛辛那提(Cimcinnati):美国俄亥俄州西部城市。

  ⑿派克峰(Pike's Peak):指科罗拉多州为纪念派克而命名的山峰。

  ⒀祖鲁人(Zulu):居住在南非纳塔尔。

  ⒁巴塔哥尼亚人(Patagonian):居住在南美东南部巴塔哥尼亚高原的民族。

  ⒂查尔斯顿(Charleston):美国西弗吉尼亚州首府。

  ⒃珀金斯(Franceo Perkins 1882-1965):美国劳工部长、女社会改革家,主持制定并实施合理劳动标准法,举办失业保险和儿童福利事业,后任文职人员委员会委员。

  ⒄喀布尔(Kabul):阿富汗首都。

  ⒅泰坦(Titan):希腊神话中天神(Llranus)和大地女神(Gaea)之子。

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