带家具出租的房间·The Furnished Room(O Henry 欧亨利)英汉双语

Posted by 橙叶 on Wed, Apr 5, 2017

The Furnished Room

by O Henry

Restless, shifting, fugacious as time itself is a certain vast bulk of the population of the red brick district of the lower West Side. Homeless, they have a hundred homes. They flit from furnished room to furnished room, transients forever - transients in abode, transients in heart and mind. They sing “Home, Sweet Home” in ragtime; they carry their lares et penates in a bandbox; their vine is entwined about a picture hat; a rubber plant is their fig tree.

     Hence the houses of this district, having had a thousand dwellers, should have a thousand tales to tell, mostly dull ones, no doubt; but it would be strange if there could not be found a ghost or two in the wake of all these vagrant guests.

     One evening after dark a young man prowled among these crumbling red mansions, ringing their bells. At the twelfth he rested his lean hand baggage upon the step and wiped the dust from his hatband and forehead. The bell sounded faint and far away in some remote, hollow depths.

     To the door of this, the twelfth house whose bell he had rung, came a housekeeper who made him think of an unwholesome, surfeited worm that had eaten its nut to a hollow shell and now sought to fill the vacancy with edible lodgers.

     He asked if there was a room to let.

     “Come in,” said the housekeeper. Her voice came from her throat; her throat seemed lined with fur. “I have the third-floor-back, vacant since a week back. Should you wish to look at it?"

     The young man followed her up the stairs. A faint light from no particular source mitigated the shadows of the halls. They trod noiselessly upon a stair carpet that its own loom would have forsworn. It seemed to have become vegetable; to have degenerated in that rank, sunless air to lush lichen or spreading moss that grew in patches to the staircase and was viscid under the foot like organic matter. At each turn of the stairs were vacant niches in the wall. Perhaps plants had once been set within them. If so, they had died in that foul and tainted air. It may be that statues of the saints had stood there, but it was not difficult to conceive that imps and devils had dragged them forth in the darkness and down to the unholy depths of some furnished pit below. <  2  >

     “This is the room,” said the housekeeper, from her furry throat. “It’s a nice room. It ain’t often vacant. I had some most elegant people in it last summer - no trouble at all, and paid in advance to the minute. The water’s at the end of the hall. Sprowls and Mooney kept it three months. They done a vaudeville sketch. Miss B’retta Sprowls - you may have heard of her - oh, that was just the stage names - right there over the dresser is where the marriage certificate hung, framed. The gas is here, and you see there is plenty of closet room. It’s a room everybody likes. It never stays idle long."

     “Do you have many theatrical people rooming here?” asked the young man.

     “They comes and goes. A good proportion of my lodgers is connected with the theaters. Yes, sir, this is the theatrical district. Actor people never stays long anywhere. I get my share. Yes, they comes and they goes."

     He engaged the room, paying for a week in advance. He was tired, he said, and would take possession at once. He counted out the money. The room had been made ready, she said, even to towels and water. As the housekeeper moved away he put, for the thousandth time, the question that he carried at the end of his tongue.

     “A young girl - Miss Vashner - Miss Eloise Vashner - do you remember such a one among your lodgers? She would be singing on the stage, most likely. A fair girl, of medium height and slender, with reddish gold hair and a dark mole near her left eyebrow."

     “No, I don’t remember the name. Them stage people has names they change as often as their rooms. No, I don’t call that one to mind."

     No. Always no. Five months of ceaseless interrogation and the inevitable negative. So much time spent by day in questioning managers, agents, schools and choruses; by night among the audiences of theaters from all-star casts down to music halls so low that he dreaded to find what he most hoped for. He who had loved her best had tried to find her. He was sure that since her disappearance from home this great, water-girt city held her somewhere, but it was like a monstrous quicksand, shifting its particles constantly, with no foundation, its upper granules of today buried tomorrow in ooze and slime. <  3  >      The furnished room received its latest guest with a first glow of pseudo hospitality, a hectic, haggard, perfunctory welcome like the specious smile of a demirep. The sophistical comfort came in reflected gleams from the decayed furniture, the ragged brocade upholstery of a couch and two chairs, a foot-wide cheap pier glass between the two windows, from one or two gilt picture frames and a brass bedstead in a corner.

     The guest reclined, inert, upon a chair, while the room, confused in speech as though it were an apartment in Babel, tried to discourse to him of its divers tenantry.

     A polychromatic rug like some brilliant-fowered, rectangular, tropical islet lay surrounded by a billowy sea of soiled matting. Upon the gay-papered wall were those pictures that pursue the homeless one from house to house - The Huguenot Lovers, The First Quarrel, The Wedding Breakfast, Psyche at the Fountain. The mantel’s chastely severe outline was ingloriously veiled behind some pert drapery drawn rakishly askew like the sashes of the Amazonian ballet. Upon it was some desolate flotsam cast aside by the room’s marooned when a lucky sail had borne them to a fresh port - a trifling vase or two, pictures of actresses, a medicine bottle, some stray cards out of a deck. One by one, as the characters of a cryptograph became explicit, the little signs left by the furnished room’s procession of guests developed a significance. The threadbare space in the rug in front of the dresser told that lovely women had marched in the throng. The tiny fingerprints on the wall spoke of little prisoners trying to feel their way to sun and air. A splattered stain, raying like the shadow of a bursting bomb, witnessed where a hurled glass or bottle had splintered with its contents against the wall. Across the pier glass had been scrawled with a diamond in staggering letters the name Marie. It seemed that the succession of dwellers in the furnished room had turned in fury - perhaps tempted beyond forbearance by its garish coldness - and wreaked upon it their passions. The furniture was chipped and bruised; the couch, distorted by bursting springs, seemed a horrible monster that had been slain during the stress of some grotesque convulsion. Some more potent upheaval had cloven a great slice from the marble mantel. Each plank in the floor owned its particular cant and shriek as from a separate and individual agony. It seemed incredible that all this malice and injury had been wrought upon the room by those who had called it for a time their home; and yet it may have been the cheated home instinct surviving blindly, the resentful rage at false household gods that had kindled their wrath. A hut that is our own we can sweep and adorn and cherish. <  4  >      The young tenant in the chair allowed these thoughts to file, softshod; through his mind, while there drifted into the room furnished sounds and furnished scents. He heard in one room a tittering and incontinent, slack laughter; in others the monologue of a scold, the rattling of dice, a lullaby, and one crying dully; above him a banjo tinkled with spirit. Doors banged somewhere; the elevated trains roared intermittently; a cat yowled miserably upon a back fence. And he breathed the breath of the house - a dank savor rather than a smell - a cold, musty effluvium as from underground vaults mingled with the reeking exhalations of linoleum and mildewed and rotten woodwork.

     Then suddenly, as he rested there, the room was filled with the strong, sweet odor of mignonette. It came as upon a single buffet of wind with such sureness and fragrance and emphasis that it almost seemed a living visitant. And the man cried aloud, “What, dear?” as if he had been called, and sprang up and faced about. The rich odor clung to him and wrapped him around. He reached out his arms for it, all his senses for the time confused and commingled. How could one be peremptorily called by an odor? Surely it must have been a sound. But was it not the sound that had touched, that had caressed him?

     “She has been in this room,” he cried, and he sprang to wrest from it a token, for he knew he would recognize the smallest thing that had belonged to her or that she had touched. This enveloping scent of mignonette, the odor that she had loved and made her own - whence came it?

     The room had been but carelessly set in order. Scattered upon the flimsy dresser scarf were half a dozen hairpins - those discreet, indistinguishable friends of womankind, feminine of gender, infinite of mood and uncommunicative of tense. These he ignored, conscious of their triumphant lack of identity. Ransacking the drawers of the dresser he came upon a discarded, tiny, ragged handkerchief. He pressed it to his face. It was racy and insolent with heliotrope; he hurled it to the floor. In another drawer he found odd buttons, a theater program, a pawnbroker’s card, two lost marshmallows, a book on the divination of dreams. In the last was a woman’s black satin hair bow, which halted him, poised between ice and fire. But the black satin hair bow also is femininity’s demure, impersonal common ornament and tells no tales. <  5  >      And then he traversed the room like a hound on the scent, skimming the walls, considering the corners of the bulging matting on his hands and knees, rummaging mantel and tables, the curtains and hangings, the drunken cabinet in the corner, for a visible sign, unable to perceive that she was there beside, around, against, within, above him, clinging to him, wooing him, calling him so poignantly through the finer senses that even his grosser ones became cognizant of the call. Once again he answered loudly, “Yes, dear!” and turned, wild-eyed, to gaze on vacancy, for he could not yet discern form and color and love and outstretched arms in the odor of mignonette. Oh, God! Whence that odor, and since when have odors had a voice to call! Thus he groped.

     He burrowed in crevices and corners, and found corks and cigarettes. These he passed in passive contempt. But once he found in a fold of the matting a half-smoked cigar, and this he ground beneath his heel with a green and trenchant oath. He sifted the room, from end to end. He found dreary and ignoble small records of many a peripatetic tenant; but of her whom he sought, and who may have lodged there, and whose spirit seemed to hover there, he found no trace.

     And then he thought of the housekeeper.

     He ran from the haunted room downstairs and to a door that showed a crack of light. She came out to his knock. He smothered his excitement as best he could.

     “Will you tell me, madam,” he besought her, “who occupied the room I have before I came”

     “Yes, sir. I can tell you again. Twas Sprowls and Mooney, as I said. Miss B’retta Sprowls it was in the theaters, but Missis Mooney she was. My house is well known for respectability. The marriage certificate hung, framed, on a nail over–"

     “What kind of a lady was Miss Sprowls - in looks, I mean?"

     “Why, black-haired, sir, short, and stout, with a comical face. They left a week ago Tuesday." <  6  >      “And before they occupied it?"

     “Why, there was a single gentleman connected with the draying business. He left owing me a week. Before him was Missis Crowder and her two children, that stayed four months; and back of them was old Mr. Doyle, whose sons paid for him. He kept the room six months. That goes back a year, sir, and further I do not remember."

     He thanked her and crept back to his room. The room was dead. The essence that had vivified it was gone. The perfume of mignonette had departed. In its place was the old, stale odor of moldy house furniture, of atmosphere in storage.

     The ebbing of his hope drained his faith. He sat staring at the yellow, singing gaslight. Soon he walked to the bed and began to tear the sheets into strips. With the blade of his knife he drove them tightly into every crevice around windows and door. When all was snug and taut he turned out the light, turned the gas full on again and laid himself gratefully upon the bed.


It was Mrs. McCool’s night to go with the can for beer. So she fetched it and sat with Mrs. Purdy in one of those subterranean retreats where housekeepers forgather and the worm dieth seldom.

     “I rented out my third-floor-back this evening,” said Mrs. Purdy, across a fine circle of foam. “A young man took it. He went up to bed two hours ago."

     “Now, did ye, Mrs. Purdy, ma’am?” said Mrs. McCool, with intense admiration. “You do be a wonder for rentin' rooms of that kind. And did ye tell him, then?” she concluded in a husky whisper laden with mystery.

     “Rooms,” said Mrs. Purdy, in her furriest tones, “are furnished for to rent. I did not tell him, Mrs. McCool."

     “‘Tis right ye are, ma’am; ‘tis by renting rooms we kape alive. Ye have the rale sense for business, ma’am. There be many people will rayjict the rentin’ of a room if they be tould a suicide has been after dyin’ in the bed of it." <  7  >      “As you say, we has our living to be making,” remarked Mrs. Purdy. “Yis, ma’am; ‘tis true.‘Tis just one wake ago this day I helped ye lay out the third-floor-back. A pretty slip of a colleen she was to be killin’ herself wid the gas - a swate little face she had, Mrs. Purdy, ma’am."

     “She’d a-been called handsome, as you say,” said Mrs. Purdy, assenting but critical, “but for that mole she had a-growin’ by her left eyebrow. Do fill up your glass again, Mrs. McCool."












“他们这个来,那个去。我的房客中有很多人在演出界干事。对了,先生,这一带剧院集中,演戏的人从不在一个地方长住。到这儿来住过的也不少。他们这个来,那个去。” 他租下了房间,预付了一个星期的租金。他说他很累,想马上住下来。他点清了租金。她说房间早就准备规矩,连毛巾和水都是现成的。房东走开时,——他又——已经是第一千次了——把挂在舌尖的问题提了出来。 “有个姑娘——瓦西纳小姐——埃卢瓦丝·瓦西纳小姐——你记得房客中有过这人吗?她多半是在台上唱歌的。她皮肤白嫩,个子中等,身材苗条,金红色头发,左眼眉毛边长了颗黑痣。”






渐渐地,密码的笔形变得清晰可辨,前前后后居住过这间客房的人留下的细小痕迹所具有的意义也变得完整有形。 梳妆台前那片地毯已经磨得只剩麻纱,意味着成群的漂亮女人曾在上面迈步。墙上的小指纹表明小囚犯曾在此努力摸索通向阳光和空气之路。一团溅开的污迹,形如炸弹爆炸后的影子,是杯子或瓶子连同所盛之物一起被砸在墙上的见证。穿衣镜镜面上用玻璃钻刀歪歪扭扭地刻着名字“玛丽”。看来,客房留宿人——也许是受到客房那俗艳的冷漠之驱使吧——






随后他在房间里四处搜寻,像一条猎狗东嗅西闻,扫视四壁,趴在地上仔细查看拱起的地毡角落,翻遍壁炉炉额和桌子、窗帘和门帘、角落里摇摇欲坠的酒柜,试图找到一个可见的、但他还未发现的迹象,以证明她就在房间里面,就在他旁边、周围、对面、心中、上面,紧紧地牵着他、追求他,并通过精微超常的感觉向他发出如此哀婉的呼唤,以至于连他愚钝的感觉都能领悟出这呼唤之声。他再次大声回答“我在这儿,亲爱的!”然后转过身子,目瞪口呆,一片漠然,因为他在木犀花香中还察觉不出形式、色彩、爱情和张开的双臂。唔,上帝啊,那芳香是从哪儿来的?从什么时候起香味开始具有呼唤之力?就这样他不停地四下摸索。 他把墙缝和墙角掏了一遍,找到一些瓶塞和烟蒂。对这些东西他不屑一顾。但有一次他在一折地毡里发现一支抽了半截的纸雪茄,铁青着脸使劲咒了一声,用脚后跟把它踩得稀烂。他把整个房间从一端到另一端筛了一遍,发现许许多多流客留下的无聊、可耻的记载。但是,有关可能曾住过这儿的、其幽灵好像仍然徘徊在这里的、他正在寻求的她,他却丝毫痕迹也未发现。





“好的,先生。我可以再说一遍。以前住的是斯普罗尔斯和穆尼夫妇,我已经说过。布雷塔·斯普罗尔斯小姐,演戏的,后来成了穆尼夫人。我的房子从来声誉就好。他们的结婚证都是挂起的,还镶了框,挂在钉子上——” “斯普罗尔斯小姐是哪种女人——我是说,她长相如何?”





希望破灭,他顿觉信心殆尽。他坐在那儿,呆呆地看着咝咝作响的煤气灯的黄光。稍许,他走到床边,把床单撕成长条,然后用刀刃把布条塞进门窗周围的每一条缝隙。一切收拾得严实紧扎以后,他关掉煤气灯,却又把煤气开足,最后感激不尽地躺在床上。 按照惯例,今晚轮到麦克库尔夫人拿罐子去打啤酒。她取酒回来,和珀迪夫人在一个地下幽会场所坐了下来。这是房东们聚会、蛆虫猖獗的地方。








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