|http://www.sina.com.cn 2004/05/28 10:11 英语沙龙|
After starving as a barber during the Depression2, my father traded his straight razor3 for a bench saw at the local lumberyard. His salary wasn’t much, but it was steady. Mama was filled with thanksgiving so thankful in fact that she vowed to tithe the family earnings to the Lord. Every Sunday she would go to her tithe box a colorful White Owl cigar box extract some dollar bills from it, deposit the money into a churchprovided envelope, and hand it to Dad to drop in the offering4 plate.
Because Mama and Dad lived from paycheck to paycheck, that cigar box also served as a lastgasp fund5 for family emergencies. It always had to be repaid. Mama was picky6 about what constituted an emergency. A new pair of shoes was not necessary if the old ones could be restitched7, halfsoled8 or heeled. Neither was a new Easter dress for her or my sister, not if Mama could find some material, fashion a pattern, and sew it herself.
During World War II Dad was drafted9 and went off to war, leaving behind Mama and three kids. Only 10 years old at the time, I contributed a little to the family financial pool10 with money earned from delivering the Toledo Blade. I delivered my newspapers on an old dilapidated11 bicycle. The fenders were gone, the frame was bent and both pedals were missing. Flat tires were my biggest problem. I carried a repair kit12 and pump with me so I could mend tires on the go. “I’ve put my name on the bicycle list at Mr. Martin’s hardware store,” I revealed one night at dinner. Because of the war, bicycles were in short supply. “You could use a new bike,” Mama said. Was a bike an emergency? I didn’t know what Mama’s thought was at the time.
One day I saw Mr. Martin in front of his store assembling a shiny red Rollfast. “Ain’t it a beauty?” he said. “And your name’s at the top of the list.” “How much?” I asked breathlessly. Mr. Martin wiped his hand on his apron. “Fortyone dollars,” he said. “Don’t sell it to anyone else until I get back,” I shouted over my shoulder. I jumped on my old bike and rattled home. “Mr. Martin’s got my bike,” I exclaimed, running into the house. “It’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen apple red with gray trim and chrome1 wheels.” Mama looked up from her ironing board and asked, “How much does it cost?” “Fortyone dollars,” I said. “I’ve got about twenty saved.” Mama pursed2 her lips, considering the situation. She started to shake her head no, but something stopped her.
She went to her bedroom and came back with the White Owl box in hand. She opened it and began counting, pulling out two fives first, followed by several ones. Sixteen, seventeen, eighteen... Then she stopped counting. For the first time in my life, the box seemed to be empty. I felt a hollowness of disappointment I’d never known before. Lord, please help her find three more dollars, I prayed, closing my eyes tight. When I opened them I saw her reach into the box again and pull out a little blue cloth purse with a silver catch on it. From the purse she extracted another dollar, another and another until she reached the required number.
“Oh, mama, thank you,” I said, hugging her and kissing her cheek. “Just remember,” she cautioned as I gathered up the cash, “this is the Lord’s money, and you’ll have to repay it. When we give to the Lord, he gives right back.” “I will repay it,” I answered, and I did. On my sleek3 new Rollfast I could deliver more papers. And it was just as Mama said，I earned enough to give back to the tithe box and then I earned some more. “Ten percent for the tithe box,” Mama said and in it went. As long as we gave, we were blessed.
二战期间，爸爸应征入伍，去了战场，留下妈妈和我们3个孩子。虽然当时我才10岁，但是我也通过送《托莱多刀刃报》为家庭经济出一份力。我骑一辆破旧不堪的自行车送报。自行车前后挡板都没了，车架弯了，两个脚踏板也没了。瘪胎是最头疼的问题。我随身带着修理工具和打气筒，这样我可以随时补胎。“我在马丁先生的五金商店登了记，准备买辆新车，”一天吃晚饭时，我透露说。由于战争的原因，自行车供应短缺。“你可以用辆新车，” 妈妈说。 一辆新自行车是家中急需吗？我不知道妈妈当时是怎样想的。
一天，我看见马丁先生正在店门口组装一辆锃亮的红色“飞滚”牌自行车。“这车是不是很漂亮？” 他说道。“你的名字排在登记单的第一位。” “多少钱？” 我屏住呼吸问道。马丁先生在围裙上擦了擦手说：“41块。” “别卖给别人，我很快就回来，” 我边走边回头喊道。我跳上旧车，一路吱嘎声，匆忙骑回家。“马丁先生有辆新车要卖给我，” 我大声喊道，飞奔进屋。“你从没见过这么漂亮的车——苹果红镶着灰边，还有铬合金车轮。” 妈妈从烫衣板上抬起头，问道： “多少钱？” “41块，” 我说。“我攒了差不多20块。” 妈妈噘起嘴唇，掂量着这件事情。她开始摇头说不，但不知怎么又停住了。
她去了卧室，手上拿着那个“白猫头鹰”捐献盒出来。她打开盒子，开始数钱，先拿出了两张5块的，接着拿出来几张1块的，16，17，18 …… 然后，她停住了。我生平第一次觉得，这个盒子似乎空了。我感到一种从未有过的失望。上帝，帮帮她再找到3块钱吧，我紧闭双眼，心中祈祷着。当我睁开眼睛时，我看见她的手又伸进了盒子，拿出了一个蓝色小布钱包，上面有一条银色拉锁。从这个钱包中，她拿出了1块，又1块，再1块，直到钱够数为止。
“噢，妈妈，谢谢你，” 我说道，拥抱着她，亲吻她的面颊。“要记住，” 我把钱收拢时，她提醒说：“这是上帝的钱，你必须还回来。我们献给上帝的，他即刻就会赐还给我们。” “我会还回来的，” 我回答说，并且我做到了。骑着我优美、闪亮的“飞滚”车，我能多送报纸。正像妈妈说的那样，我挣了足够的钱，不但把从捐献盒中拿的钱还上了，而且还多挣了一些钱。 “10%的收入进入捐献盒，”妈妈要求说。妈妈的话我照办了。只要我们给予，就会得到赐福。
□by Fred Bauer ＆ Engle Wood 如雪 选奥古 译
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