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马克吐温 百万英镑 09

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The 1,000,000 Bank-Note          Mark Twain


You know, I even kept my old suit of rags, and every now and then appeared in them, so as to have the old pleasure of buying trifles, and being insulted, and then shooting the scoffer dead with the million-pound bill. But I couldn't keep that up. The illustrated papers made the outfit so familiar that when I went out in it I was at once recognized and followed by a crowd, and if I attempted a purchase the man would offer me his whole shop on credit before I could pull my note on him.

你看,我还留着那套破衣服呢,时不时地穿出去,为的是品味一下从前那种乐趣:先买点儿小东西,接着受一肚子气,最后用那张百万大钞把势力眼毙掉。可是,我的这种乐趣维持不下去了。画刊上把我的那套行头弄得尽人皆知,只要我穿着它一上街,就有一大群人跟在屁股后面;我刚想买东西,还没来得及拽出那张百万大钞,老板就已经要把整个铺子都赊给我了。

About the tenth day of my fame I went to fulfil my duty to my flag by paying my respects to the American minister. He received me with the enthusiasm proper in my case, upbraided me for being so tardy in my duty, and said that there was only one way to get his forgiveness, and that was to take the seat at his dinner-party that night made vacant by the illness of one of his guests. I said I would, and we got to talking. It turned out that he and my father had been schoolmates in boyhood, Yale students together later, and always warm friends up to my father's death. So then he required me to put in at his house all the odd time I might have to spare, and I was very willing, of course.

出了名以后的大约十天左右,我去拜会美国公使,想为祖国效一点儿犬马之劳。他用对我这种身份的人恰如其分的热情接待了我,批评我为祖国效力栅栅来迟。公使说当天晚上他正要宴客,刚好有一位嘉宾因病缺席,我只有补这位嘉宾的缺,才能获得公使的原谅。我应允之后,就和公使聊天。一说起来,原来他和我爸爸从小同学,后来又在耶鲁大学同窗就读;一直到我爸爸去世,他俩都是贴心朋友。因此,他吩咐我只要得闲,就来他府上走动走动;我当然愿意啦。

In fact, I was more than willing; I was glad. When the crash should come, he might somehow be able to save me from total destruction; I didn't know how, but he might think of a way, maybe. I couldn't venture to unbosom myself to him at this late date, a thing which I would have been quick to do in the beginning of this awful career of mine in London. No, I couldn't venture it now; I was in too deep; that is, too deep for me to be risking revelations to so new a friend, though not clear beyond my depth, as I looked at it. Because, you see, with all my borrowing, I was carefully keeping within my means - I mean within my salary.

说真的,岂止愿意,我简直就是高兴。因为假如将来有个三长两短的,他也许能救我,让我免受灭顶之灾;他究竟怎么救我我不知道,不过他也许能想出办法来。事情已经到了这个地步,我已经不能冒险把自己的底细向他和盘托出;要是在这段伦敦奇遇一开场时就碰上他,我会马上说清楚。不行,现在我不敢说;我陷得太深了,深到不敢对刚结识的朋友说真话;不过,依我自己看来,也还没有深到完全没顶的地步。你知道,这是因为我小心不让全部外债超过我的支付能力——也就是说,不超过我的那份薪水。

Of course, I couldn't know what my salary was going to be, but I had a good enough basis for an estimate in the fact, that if I won the bet I was to have choice of any situation in that rich old gentleman's gift provided I was competent - and I should certainly prove competent; I hadn't any doubt about that. And as to the bet, I wasn't worrying about that; I had always been lucky. Now my estimate of the salary was six hundred to a thousand a year; say, six hundred for the first year, and so on up year by year, till I struck the upper figure by proved merit. At present I was only in debt for my first year's salary. Everybody had been trying to lend me money, but I had fought off the most of them on one pretext or another; so this indebtedness represented only ?00 borrowed money, the other ?00 represented my keep and my purchases. I believed my second year's salary would carry me through the rest of the month if I went on being cautious and economical, and I intended to look sharply out for that. My month ended, my employer back from his journey, I should be all right once more, for I should at once divide the two years' salary among my creditors by assignment, and get right down to my work.

我当然不知道那份薪水到底有多少,不过有一点我有把握、也可以想见:假如我帮忙把这个赌打赢了,我就能在那位大亨的职权范围里任意选择一个职位,只要我干得了就行——我当然干得了啦;这一点我根本不怀疑。说到他们打的那个赌,我才不操心呢;我想必运气不错。至于薪水,我想年薪总会有六百到一千英镑;即使第一年只拿六百英镑,以后每过一年就要加薪,到我的能力得到证实的时候,薪水总能加到一千英镑了吧。尽管谁都想借给我钱,我却找出各种各样的借口婉言谢绝了一大部分;这样我欠的债只有借来的三百英镑现款,再加上拖欠的三百英镑生活费和赊的东西。我相信,只要我依旧小心节俭,靠我下一年度的薪水就能补上这一个这剩余日子的亏空,何况我真是格外小心,从不大手大脚。只等这个月到头,我的老板回来,就万事大吉了;那时,我就可以马上用头两年的薪水分头向各位债主还账,也就能立即开始工作了。

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