The Sampler

2019-11-09 12:18:34  巢圣  所属诗集  阅读1293 】


Unit 2[Text A]
The Sampler
In a certain store where they sell plum puddings, a number of these delicious articles are laid out in a row during the Christmas season. Here you may select the one which is most to your taste, and you are even allowed to sample the various qualities before coming to a decision.
I have often wondered whether this privilege was not occasionally imposed (推行,采用)on by people who had no intention of making a purchase, and one day when my curiosity drove me to ask this question to the shop girl, I learned that it was indeed the case.

“Now there’s one old gentleman, for instance,” she told me, “who comes here almost every week and samples each one of the puddings, though he never buys anything and I suppose he never will. I remember him from last year and the year before that, too. Well, let him come if he wants it that bad, say I, and welcome to it. And what’s more, I hope there are a lot more stores where he can go and get his share as well. He looks as if he needed it all right, poor fellow, and I guess they can afford it.”
She was still speaking when an elderly gentleman limped up to the counter and began scrutinizing the row of puddings with great interest.
“Why (exclamations), that’s the very party (当事人person) I’ve been telling you about,” whispered the shop girl. “Just you watch him now.” And then turning to him: “Would you like to sample them, sir?” she asked. “Here is a spoon for you to use.”
The elderly gentleman who, as the novelists say, was poorly but neatly dressed, accepted the spoon and began eagerly to sample the puddings one after another, only breaking off occasionally to wipe his red eyes with a large torn handkerchief which he drew from the breast pocket of his shoddy (poor in quality) overcoat.
“This is quite good,” he declared in an absurdly rusty (out of practice) voice of one variety, and when he came to the next, “This is not bad, either, but a trifle too heavy.” All the time it was quite evident that he sincerely believed that he might eventually buy one of these puddings, and I am positive that he did not for a moment feel that he was in any way cheating the shop. Poor old chap! Probably he had come down in the world and this sampling was all that was left him from the time when he could afford to come and select his favorite pudding, which he would later carry home under his arm.
Amidst this throng of happy, prosperous-looking Christmas shoppers the little black figure of the old man seemed incongruous and pathetic, and in a sudden burst of benevolence, one of those bursts which so often bring pain instead of joy, (???) I went up to him and said: “Pardon me, sir, will you do me a favor? Let me purchase you one of these puddings. It would give me much pleasure.”
He jumped back as if he had been stung, and the blood rushed into his wrinkled face.(????)
“Excuse me,” he said, with more dignity than I would have thought possible considering his shabby appearance, (???) “I do not believe I have the pleasure of knowing you. Undoubtedly, you have mistaken me for someone else,” and with a quick decision he turned towards the shop girl and said in a loud voice: “Kindly pack me up this one here. I will take it with me,” and he pointed at one of the largest and most expensive of the puddings.
In surprise, the girl took down the pudding from its stand and proceeded to make a parcel of it, while he extracted a worn little black pocketbook and began counting out shillings and sixpenny pieces onto the counter. To save his “honour” he had been forced into a purchase which he could not possibly afford and which probably meant many bitter privations in other things为了保住他的“荣誉”,他被迫购买了一件他买不起的东西,这可能意味着在其他方面有许多痛苦的贫困。 . How I longed for the power to unsay my hasty, tactless words.我多么渴望有能力收回我仓促而不得体的话。 But it was too late, and I felt that the kindest thing I could do now would be to walk away.(What do you think you would do if you were the author???)
“You pay at the desk,” the shop girl was telling him, but he did not seem to understand and kept trying to put the coins into her hand; (???) and that was the last I saw or heard of the old man. Now he may never come there to sample plum puddings again.

[Text B]
The Day Mother Cried Gerald Moore
Coming home from school that dark winter's day so long ago, I was filled with anticipation. I had a new issue of my favorite sports magazine tucked under my arm, and the house to myself. Dad was at work, my sister was away, and Mother wouldn't be home from her new job for an hour. I bounded up the steps, burst into the living room and flipped on a light.
I was shocked into stillness by what I saw. Mother, pulled into a tight ball with her face in her hands, sat at the far end of the couch. She was crying. I had never seen her cry.
I approached cautiously and touched her shoulder. "Mother?" I said. "What's happened?"
She took a long breath and managed a weak smile. "It's nothing, really. Nothing important. Just that I'm going to lose this new job. I can't type fast enough." "But you've only been there three days," I said. "You'll catch on." I was repeating a line she had spoken to me a hundred times when I was having trouble learning or doing something important to me.
"No," she said sadly. "I always said I could do anything I set my mind to, and I still think I can in most things. But I can't do this."
I felt helpless and out of place. At age 16 I still assumed Mother could do anything. Some years before, when we sold our ranch and moved to town, Mother had decided to open a day nursery. She had had no training, but that didn't stand in her way. She sent away for correspondence courses in child care, did the lessons and in six months formally qualified herself for the task. It wasn't long before she had a full enrollment and a waiting list. I accepted all this as a perfectly normal instance of Mother's ability.
But neither the nursery nor the motel my parents bought later had provided enough income to send my sister and me to college. In two years I would be ready for college. In three more my sister would want to go. Time was running out, and Mother was frantic for ways to save money. It was clear that Dad could do no more than he was doing already——farming 80 acres in addition to holding a fulltime job.

A few months after we'd sold the motel, Mother arrived home with a used typewriter. It skipped between certain letters and the keyboard was soft. At dinner that night I pronounced the machine a "piece of junk."

"That's all we can afford," mother said. "It's good enough to learn on." And from that day on, as soon as the table was cleared and the dishes were done, Mother would disappear into her sewing room to practice. The slow tap, tap, tap went on some nights until midnight.
It was nearly Christmas when I heard Mother got a job at the radio station. I was not the least bit surprised, or impressed. But she was ecstatic.
Monday, after her first day at work, I could see that the excitement was gone. Mother looked tired and drawn. I responded by ignoring her.(??)
Tuesday, Dad made dinner and cleaned the kitchen. Mother stayed in her sewing room, practicing. "Is Mother all right?" I asked Dad.
"She's having a little trouble with her typing," he said. "She needs to practice. I think she'd appreciate it if we all helped out a bit more."(可以给当下全球疫情的一句话) "I already do a lot," I said, immediately on guard.(??) "I know you do," Dad said evenly. "And you may have to do more. You might just remember that she is working primarily so you can go to college." I honestly didn't care. I wished she would just forget the whole thing.
My shock and embarrassment at finding Mother in tears on Wednesday was a perfect index (indication) of how little I understood the pressures on her. Sitting beside her on the couch, I began very slowly to understand.
"I guess we all have to fail sometime (someday)" Mother said quietly. I could sense her pain and the tension of holding back the strong emotions that were interrupted by my arrival. Suddenly, something inside me turned. I reached out and put my arms around her.
M my She broke then. She put her face against my shoulder and sobbed. I held her close and didn't try to talk. I knew I was doing what I should, what I could, and that it was enough. In that moment, feeling Mother's back racked (tormented) with emotion, I understood for the first time her vulnerability(易受伤). She was still my mother, but she was something more: a person like me, capable of fear and hurt and failure. I could feel her pain as she must have felt mine on a thousand occasions when I had sought comfort in her arms.(!!)
A week later Mother took a job selling dry goods at half the salary the radio station had offered. "It's a job I can do," she said simply. But the evening practice sessions (lessons) on the old green typewriter continued. I had a very different feeling(??) now when I passed her door at night and heard her tapping away. I knew there was something more(??) going on in there than a woman learning to type.

When I left for college two years later, Mother had an office job with better pay and more responsibility. I have to believe that in some strange way she learned as much from her moment of defeat as I did, because several years later, when I had finished school and proudly accepted a job as a newspaper reporter, she had already been a journalist (!!)with our hometown paper for six months.
Mother and I never spoke again about the afternoon when she broke down. But more than once, when I failed on a first attempt and was tempted by pride or frustration to scrap (do away with; dispose of) something I truly wanted, I would remember her selling dresses while she learned to type. In seeing her weakness I had not only learned to appreciate her strengths, I had discovered some of my own.(!!!!)
Not long ago, I helped Mother celebrate her 62nd birthday. I made dinner for my parents and cleaned up the kitchen afterward. Mother came in to visit while I worked, and I was reminded of the day years before when she had come home with that terrible old typewriter. "By the way," I said, "whatever happened to that monster typewriter?"
"Oh, I still have it," she said. "It's a memento, you know... of the day you realized your mother was human. Things are a lot easier when people know you're human." I had never guessed that she saw what happened to me that day. I laughed at myself. "Someday," I said, "I wish you would give me that machine." "I will," she said, "but on one condition." "What's that?" "That you never have it fixed. It is nearly impossible to type on that machine and that's the way it served this family best." I smiled at the thought. "And another thing," she said. "Never put off hugging someone when you feel like it. You may miss the chance forever."(!!!) I put my arms around her and hugged her and felt a deep gratitude for that moment, for all the moments of joy she had given me over the years. "Happy birthday!" I said.
The old green typewriter sits in my office now, unrepaired. It is a memento, but what it recalls for me is not quite what it recalled for Mother. When I'm having trouble with a story and think about giving up or when I start to feel sorry for myself and think things should be easier for me, I roll a piece of paper into that cranky (working badly; shaky) old machine and type, word by painful word, just the way mother did. What I remember then is not her failure, but her courage, the courage to go ahead.(!!!!) It's the best memento anyone ever gave me.


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