Unit 10 Two Strangers……………………………………165
Not that I would have cared. No, it is not the reason why I stopped. He gave a faint sigh, like the sigh of one who has a thousand stories to tell but only a moment left in one’s life.
In fact it was the sound of a piece of metal hitting the pavement that made me turn around. I had already passed the man, walking promptly as I always do. I had all the time in the world that evening, and I had nowhere to go--I just took a walk along the street.
But as I tried to draw out my keys from the pocket of my brown leather jacket, a small coin fell on the ground making that clinking(叮当响的) noise. Why would I pull out the keys from the pocket here, on the street, kilometers away from any door which the keys could open? It was the sense of security: wishing to be sure that everything is completely in my control.
Yes, I had heard the sound right: there was a ten-cent coin lying on the ground beside an old man, a stranger to me, and seemingly(看来) a stranger to all the people who passed him on the pavement that afternoon. It was spring then; the first warm and sunny evenings of the year were at hand. The day was all too beautiful to be wasted in talking to a complete stranger, who was not even handsome or beautiful or good-looking, and listening to the obscure groans he uttered. Why should I care what he was trying to say, what kind of a burden he might have on his heart?
But I did pick up the coin from the ground, and put it into the pocket of my fashionable leather jacket. "Fashionable", that’s what they said in the advertisements of the clothing company. Latest designs, latest cuts, best colors.
I was better off(富裕的) than the old man, who was sitting on the bench with a newspaper in his hands, murmuring something at me. I guess my income had to be twice more than what he had.And I looked more stylish--younger, healthier, more joyous(高兴的).
The man grabbed the sleeve of my jacket and drew me closer to himself. It was surprising--such sudden demand of personal contact and intimacy which two strangers passing each other on the street did not often develop between themselves. I was curious to know what could come out of such an exceptional situation, I... I forgot to draw myself back, to forcefully free myself of the grip of the man and rush away.
The old man put his newspaper in my hand and said, "Please read it for me. " I am not so sure what the exact words were which he uttered from his mouth, but I understood what his meaning to be. The man was not blind; he could see both me and all the people who were walking on the street. But perhaps his sight was too weak for reading the small print of the newspaper.
I looked at the front page; it was dated four days ago. I was disappointed. I didn’t want to waste a nice day in reading news that were no news any more. Wasn’t it like throwing one’s coins away when one could as well buy candies with them, or sitting beside a stranger when one could as well walk free and alone on the street, hurrying somewhere?
"Read the classified advertisements", said the old man, whom I scarcely knew at all, but who had courageously(勇敢地) grabbed my sleeve without permission, demanding me to pay attention to him.
I opened the requested page. What then? Should I read all the ads:cats for sale, lost dogs wanted, motor vehicles rented, repaired, washed, and painted?
"Go to the miscellaneous(综合的，混杂的) section," the man pleaded.
Those ads were not so many, only fifteen or twenty. In a monotonous voice I recited announcement after announcement: second-hand bicycles, unused electronic devices, lost wedding ring...
"There! Read that one again, please," said the man, filled with excitement.
"Mr. Whoever(敬启者，某某先生), the lost wedding ring described in your ad is in my possession. Meet me at railway station next Sunday, at 19 o’clock. " I read the announcement once again.
It was Sunday then. And the time was, at the moment when I looked at my watch and announced it to the man who asked about it, 18:27.
The old man wanted to explain something to me. He leaned forward, getting his face close to my ear, and whispered, "It is the ring of my wife. She lost it a month ago. Oh! What a sorrowful thing it was to find out that the ring which you have worn for five decades cannot be found anywhere. I bought it at Dahlberg’s jewellery shop. I can still remember how the saleswoman was dressed that morning. In pink, that’s what it was, in soft, charming pink... But the shop isn’t there any more. I think they went bankrupt soon after the war. Such a pity, it was a nice little store. And we have our fiftieth anniversary on Sunday. "
The man didn’t say more about his wife or the wedding ring; he only brushed his gray hair with a plastic comb.
"I think I will go and buy a bunch of roses", the gray-haired gentleman said. "I’11 ask the saleswoman to choose beautiful ones. What do you think, will she be dressed in light pink, just like the lady at Dahlberg’s jewellery shop? But my wife wore a dark dress this morning. That’s how you can tell that a woman is getting old... They wear darker clothes. No, I will tell my darling to wear something brighter this evening. "
The man stood up and started to slowly walk toward the direction of the railway station. There was an air of steadfastness(坚定) in him--something that could not be purchased with money, or won in a lottery. Was he stylish? Yes--he was not like the laughing youngsters in the advertisements, but there was something else in him, something more admirable, more valuable.
I still held the newspaper in my hand when the old gentleman disappeared behind the corner of one of the houses. I didn’t open or read the paper any more, I only sat in silence on the bench. Time was the only thing that moved; everything else stood still.
I leaned back in the bench and stared into the distance. I did not want to walk away, hurrying into a direction chosen at random.内容来自 听力课堂网：http://www.tingclass.net/show-8583-246972-1.html