安徒生童话:她是一个废物

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所属分类:民间故事

她是一个废物简介

她被社会上的人称为废物,她为养大儿子,拼命地工作,但其他人却教唆她的儿子说她是一个废物,甚至认为她工作累了喝点酒都不配。最后她因为工作太辛苦而累死了,人们却仍然看不起她,说她死了是一桩好事,因为她是一个废物。更叮嘱她的儿子要永远记住他的母亲是一个废物。

她是一个废物的故事

市长正站在开着的窗子面前。他只穿着衬衫;衬衫的前襟上别着一根领带别针。他的胡子刮得特别光——是他亲自刮的。的确,他划开了一个小口,但是他已经在上面贴了一小片报纸。

“听着,小家伙!”他大声说。

这小家伙不是别人,就是那个贫苦的洗衣妇的儿子。他正在这房子前面经过;他恭恭敬敬地把帽子摘下来。帽子已经破了,因为他随时可以把帽子卷起来塞在衣袋里。这孩子穿着一件朴素的旧衣服,但是衣服很干净,补得特别平整,脚上拖着一双厚木鞋,站在那儿,卑微得好像是站在皇帝面前一样。

“你是一个好孩子,”市长先生说。“你是一个有礼貌的孩子。我想你的妈妈正在河边洗衣服吧?你现在是要把藏在衣袋里的东西一定是送给她。这对你母亲说来是一件很不好的事情!你弄到了多少?”

“半斤,”孩子用一种害怕的声音吞吞吐吐地说。

“今天早晨她已经喝了这么多。”市长说。

“没有,那是昨天!”孩子回答说。

“两个半斤就整整是一斤!她真是一个废物!你们这个阶级的人说来也真糟糕!告诉你妈妈,她应该觉得羞耻。你自己切记不要变成一个酒徒——不过你会的!可怜的孩子,你去吧!”

孩子走开了。帽子仍然拿在手中。风在吹着他金黄的头发,把鬈发都弄得直立起来了。他绕过一个街角,拐进一条通向河流的小巷里去。他的母亲站在水里一个洗衣凳旁边,用木杵打着一大堆沉重的被单。水在滚滚地流,因为磨房的闸门已经抽开了;这些被单被水冲着,差不多要把洗衣凳推翻。这个洗衣妇不得不使尽一切力气来稳住凳子。

“我差不多也要被卷走了!”她说,“你来得正好,我正需要人来帮帮忙,站在水里真冷,但是我已经站了六个钟头了。你带来什么东西给我吗?”

孩子取出一瓶酒来。妈妈把它凑在嘴上,喝了一点。

“啊,这算是救了我!”她说。“它真叫我感到温暖!它简直像一顿热饭,而且价钱还不贵!你也喝点吧,我的孩子!你看起来简直一点血色也没有。你穿着这点单衣,要冻坏的。而且现在又是秋天。噢,水多冷啊!我希望我不要闹起病来。不,我不会生病的!再给我喝一口吧,你也可以喝一点,不过只能喝一点,可不能喝上瘾,我可怜的、亲爱的孩子!”

于是她走出河水,爬到孩子站着的那座桥上来。水从她的草编的围裙上和她的衣服上不停地往下滴。

“我要苦下去,我要拼命的工作,工作得直到手指流出血来。不过,我亲爱的孩子,只要我能凭诚实的劳动把你养大,我吃什么苦也愿意。”

当她正在说这话的时候,也一个年纪比她大一点的女人向他们走来了。她的衣服穿得非常寒碜,一只脚也跛了,还有一卷假发盖在一只眼睛上。这卷假发的作用本来是要掩住这只瞎眼的,不过它反而把这个缺点弄得更突出了。她是这个洗衣妇的朋友。邻居们把她叫做“假发跛子玛伦”。

“咳,你这可怜的人!你简直在冷水里工作得不要命了!你的确应该喝点什么东西,把自己暖一下;不过有人一看到你喝几滴就大喊大叫起来!”不一会儿,市长刚才说的话就全部传到洗衣妇的耳朵里去了,因为玛伦把这些话全都听到了,而且她很生气,觉得他居然敢把一个母亲所喝的几滴酒,那样郑重其事地告诉她亲生的儿子,特别是因为市长正在这天要举行一个盛大的宴会;在这个宴会上,大家将要一瓶瓶地喝着酒。“而且是强烈的好酒!有许多人将要喝得超过他们的酒量——但是这却不叫做喝酒!他们是有用的人;但是你就算是废物!”

“咳,我的孩子,他居然对你说那样的话!”洗衣妇说,同时她的嘴唇在发抖。“你看,你的妈妈是个废物!也许他的话有道理,但他不能对我的孩子说呀,况且我在他家里吃的苦头已经够了。”

“当市长的父母还是活着的时候,你就在他家里当佣人,并且住在他家里。那是多少年前的事!从那时起,人们不知吃了多少斗的盐,现在人们也应该感到渴了!”玛伦笑了一下。“市长今天要举行一个盛大的午宴。他本来要请那些客人改期再来的,不过已经来不及了,因为菜早就准备好了。这事是门房告诉我的。一个钟头以前他接到一封信,说他的弟弟已经在哥本哈根死了。”

“死了?”洗衣妇大叫一声。她变得象死一样地惨白。

“是的,死了,”玛伦说。“你感到特别伤心吗?是的,你认识他,你在他家里当过佣人。”

“他死了!他是一个非常好、非常可爱的人!我们的上帝是少有像他那样的人的。”于是眼泪就沿着她的脸滴下来了。“啊,老天爷!我周围一切东西在打旋转!——这是因为我把一瓶酒喝光了的缘故。我实在没有那么大的酒量!我觉得我病了!”于是她就靠着木栅栏,免得倒下来。

“天老爷,你真的病了!”玛伦说。“不要急,你可能会清醒过来的。不对!你真的病了!我最好还是把你送回家去吧。”

“不过我这堆衣服——”

“交给我好了!扶着我吧!你的孩子可以留在这儿等着。我一会儿就回来把它洗完;它并不多。”

这个洗衣妇的腿在发抖。

“我在冷水里站得太久了!从清早起,我就没有吃喝过什么东西。我全身烧得滚烫。啊,耶稣上帝!请帮助我走回家去吧!啊,我可怜的孩子!”于是她就哭起来。

孩子也哭起来。他单独坐在河边,守着这一大堆湿衣服。这两个女人走得很慢。洗衣妇摇摇摆摆地走过一条小巷,拐过一条街就来到市长住着的那条街上。一到他的公馆面前,她就倒到人行道上去了。许多人围拢来。

跛脚玛伦跑进这公馆里去找人来帮忙。市长和他的客人们走到窗子面前来朝外面望。

“原来是那个洗衣的女人!”他说。“她喝得太多,醉了!她是一个废物!真可惜,她有一个可爱的儿子。我的确喜欢这孩子。不过这母亲是一个废物!”

不一会儿洗衣妇恢复了知觉。大家把她扶到她简陋的屋子里去,然后把她放在床上。好心肠的玛伦为她热了一杯啤酒,里面加了一些黄油和糖;她认为这是最好的药品。然后她就匆匆忙忙地跑向河边去,把衣服洗完了——洗得够马虎,虽然她的本意很不坏。严格地说,她不过只是把潮湿的衣服拖上岸来,放进桶里去罢了。

天黑的时候,她来到那间简陋的小房子里,坐在洗衣妇的旁边。她特别为病人向市长的厨子讨一点烤洋山芋和一片肥火腿来。玛伦和孩子大吃了一通,不过病人只能欣赏这食物的香味。她说香味也是很滋补的。

不一会儿,孩子就上床去睡了,睡在他的妈妈睡的那张床上。他横睡在她的脚头,盖着一床缝满了蓝色和白色补丁的旧地毯。

洗衣妇感到现在精神稍微好了一点。温暖的啤酒使她有了一点力气;食物的香味也对她起了好的作用。

“多谢你,你这个好心肠的人,”她对玛伦说。“孩子睡着以后,我就把一切经过都告诉你。我想他已经睡着了。你看,他闭着眼睛躺在那儿,是一副多么温柔好看的样儿!他一点也不知道妈妈的痛苦——我希望老天爷永远不要让他知道。我那时是帮那位枢密顾问官——就是市长的父亲——做佣人。有一天他的在大学里念书的小儿子回来了。我那时是一个粗野的年轻女孩子;但是我可以在老天爷面前发誓,我是正派的!”洗衣妇说。“那大学生是一个快乐、和蔼、善良和勇敢的人!他身上的每一滴血都是善良和诚实的。我在这世界上没有看到过比他更好的人。他是这家的少爷,我不过是一个女佣人;但是我们相爱起来了——我们相爱是真诚的,正当的。他把这件事告诉了他的母亲,她在他的眼中就像是世上的一个活神仙。她既聪明,又温柔。他离开家的时候就把他的戒指套在我的手指上。他已经走了很远以后,我的女主人就喊我去。她用一种坚定的、但是温和严肃的语气对我说话——只有我们的上帝才能这样讲话。她把他跟我的区别,无论从精神方面或实质方面,都清楚地告诉了我。

“‘他现在只是看到你是多么漂亮,’她说,‘不过漂亮是保持不住多久的。你没有受过他那样的教育。你在智力方面永远赶不上他——不幸的关键就在这里。我尊重穷人,’她继续说:‘在上帝的面前。他们比许多富人的位置还高;不过在我们人的世界里,我们必须当心不要越过了界限,不然车子就会翻掉,你们两人也就会翻掉。我知道有一个很好的人向你求过婚——一个手艺人——就是那个手套匠人爱力克。他的妻子已经死了,没有小孩。他的境遇也很好。你考虑考虑吧!’

“她讲的每个字都像一把刺进我心里的尖刀。不过我知道她的话是有道理的。这使我感到难过,感到沉重。我吻了她的手,流出苦痛的眼泪。当我回到我的房里倒到床上的时候,我哭得更痛苦。这是我最难过的一夜。只有上帝知道,我是在怎样受难,怎样挣扎!

“第二个礼拜天我到教堂里去,祈求上帝指引我。当我走出教堂的时候,手套匠人爱力克正在向我走来——这好像就是上帝的意志。这时我心里的一切疑虑都消除了。我们在身分和境遇方面都是相称的——他还可以算得是境况好的人。因此我就走向他,握着他的手,同时说:

“‘你的心还没有变吧?’

“‘没有,永远不会变!’他回答说。

“‘你愿跟一个尊重和敬服你、但是不爱你的女子结婚吗——虽然她以后可能会对你发生爱情?’

“‘是的,爱情以后就会来的!’他说。这样,我们就同意了。我回到女主人的家里来。她的儿子给我的那个戒指一直是藏在我的怀里。我在白天不敢戴它;只是在晚上我上床去睡的时候才戴上它。现在我吻着戒指,一直吻到我的嘴唇要流出血来。然后我把它交还给我的女主人,同时告诉她,下星期牧师就要宣布我和手套匠人的结婚的预告。我的女主人双手抱着我,吻我。她没有说我是一个废物;不过那时我可能是比现在更有用一点的,因为我还没有碰上生活的灾难。在圣烛节①那天我们就结婚了。头一年我们的生活还不坏:我们有一个伙计和一个学徒,还有你,玛伦——你帮我们的忙。”

“啊,你是一个善良的女主人,”玛伦说。“我永远也忘不了,你和你的丈夫对我是多么好!”

“是的,你和我们住在一起的时候,正是我们过得好的时候!我们那时还没有孩子。那个大学生我再也没有见到过——啊,对了,我看到过他,但是他却没有看到我!他回来参加他母亲的葬礼。我看到他站在坟旁,脸色惨白,样子很消沉,不过那是因为母亲死了的缘故。后来,当他的父亲死的时候,他正住在国外,没有回来。以后他也没有回来。我知道他一直没有结婚。后来他成了一个律师。他已经把我忘记了。即使他再看到我,大概也不会认识我的——我已经变得非常难看。这也可算是一件幸事!”

于是她谈到她那些苦难的日子和她家所遭遇到的不幸。他们积蓄了五百块钱,街上有一座房子要卖,估价是两百块钱。把它拆了,再建一座新的,还是值得。所以他们就把它买下来了。石匠和木匠把费用计算了一下;新房子的建筑费要1020块钱。手套匠人爱力克很有信用,所以他在京城里借了这笔钱。不过带回这笔钱的那个船长,在半路上翻了船;钱和他本人都没有了。

“这时候,现在正在睡着的我的这个亲爱的孩子出世了。长期的重病把我的丈夫拖倒了。有九个月的光景,我得每天替他穿衣和脱衣。我们一天不如一天,而且在不停地借债。我们把所有的东西都卖了,接着丈夫也死了。我工作着,操劳着,为我的孩子操劳和工作,替人擦楼梯,替人洗粗细衣服,但是我的境遇还是没有办法改好——这就是上帝的意志!他将要在适当的时候把我唤走的,他也不会不管我的孩子。”

于是她便睡去了。

到了早晨她的精神好了许多,也觉得有了些气力;她觉得自己可以去继续工作。不过她一走进冷水里去的时候,就感到一阵寒颤和无力。她用手在空中乱抓,向前走了一步,便倒下来了。她的头搁在岸上,但脚仍然浸在水里。她的一双木鞋——每只鞋里垫着一把草——顺着水流走了。这情形是玛伦送咖啡来时看到的。

这时市长家的一个仆人跑到她简陋的屋子里来,叫她赶快到市长家里去,因为他有事情要对她讲。但是现在已经迟了!大家请来了一个剃头兼施外科手术的人来为她放血。不过这个可怜的洗衣妇已经死了。

“她喝酒喝死了!”市长说。

那封关于他弟弟去世的信里附有一份遗嘱的大要。这里面有一项是:死者留下六百块钱给他母亲过去的佣人——就是现在的手套匠的寡妇。这笔钱应该根据实际需要,以或多或少的数目付给她或她的孩子。

“我的弟弟和她曾经闹过一点无聊的事儿,”市长说。“幸亏她死了。现在那个孩子可以得到全部的钱。我将把他送到一个正经人家里去寄养,好使他将来可以成为一个诚实的手艺人。”

请我们的上帝祝福这几句话吧。

市长把这孩子喊来,答应照顾他,同时还说他的母亲死了是一桩好事,因为她是一个废物!

人们把她抬到教堂墓地上去,埋在穷人的公墓里。玛伦在她的坟上栽了一棵玫瑰树;那个孩子立在她旁边。

“我亲爱的妈妈!”他哭了起来,眼泪不停地流着。“人们说她是一个废物,这是真的吗?”

“不,她是一个非常有用的人!”那个老佣人说,同时生气地朝天上望着。“我在许多年以前就知道她是一个好人;从昨天晚上起我更知道她是一个好人。我告诉你她是一个有用的人!老天爷知道这是真的。让别人说‘她是一个废物’吧!”

①圣烛节(Kyndelmisse)是在二月二日举行的基督教的节日,纪念耶稣生后40天,圣母玛利亚带他到耶路撒冷去祈祷。

她是一个废物的寓意

这个童话故事告诉我们:现在拥有的奶酪不一定永远都属于自己。我们在生活中也是一样,现在拥有的成绩只是现在的,而不是以后的。我们必须要努力努力再努力,要更上一层楼,不断地进取,才能得到最后的幸福。

英文版:She Was Good for Nothing

THE mayor stood at the open window. He looked smart, for his shirt-frill, in which he had stuck a breast-pin, and his ruffles, were very fine. He had shaved his chin uncommonly smooth, although he had cut himself slightly, and had stuck a piece of newspaper over the place. “Hark ’ee, youngster!” cried he.

The boy to whom he spoke was no other than the son of a poor washer-woman, who was just going past the house. He stopped, and respectfully took off his cap. The peak of this cap was broken in the middle, so that he could easily roll it up and put it in his pocket. He stood before the mayor in his poor but clean and well-mended clothes, with heavy wooden shoes on his feet, looking as humble as if it had been the king himself.

“You are a good and civil boy,” said the mayor. “I suppose your mother is busy washing the clothes down by the river, and you are going to carry that thing to her that you have in your pocket. It is very bad for your mother. How much have you got in it?”

“Only half a quartern,” stammered the boy in a frightened voice.

“And she has had just as much this morning already?”

“No, it was yesterday,” replied the boy.

“Two halves make a whole,” said the mayor. “She’s good for nothing. What a sad thing it is with these people. Tell your mother she ought to be ashamed of herself. Don’t you become a drunkard, but I expect you will though. Poor child! there, go now.”

The boy went on his way with his cap in his hand, while the wind fluttered his golden hair till the locks stood up straight. He turned round the corner of the street into the little lane that led to the river, where his mother stood in the water by her washing bench, beating the linen with a heavy wooden bar. The floodgates at the mill had been drawn up, and as the water rolled rapidly on, the sheets were dragged along by the stream, and nearly overturned the bench, so that the washer-woman was obliged to lean against it to keep it steady. “I have been very nearly carried away,” she said; “it is a good thing that you are come, for I want something to strengthen me. It is cold in the water, and I have stood here six hours. Have you brought anything for me?”

The boy drew the bottle from his pocket, and the mother put it to her lips, and drank a little.

“Ah, how much good that does, and how it warms me,” she said; “it is as good as a hot meal, and not so dear. Drink a little, my boy; you look quite pale; you are shivering in your thin clothes, and autumn has really come. Oh, how cold the water is! I hope I shall not be ill. But no, I must not be afraid of that. Give me a little more, and you may have a sip too, but only a sip; you must not get used to it, my poor, dear child.” She stepped up to the bridge on which the boy stood as she spoke, and came on shore. The water dripped from the straw mat which she had bound round her body, and from her gown. “I work hard and suffer pain with my poor hands,” said she, “but I do it willingly, that I may be able to bring you up honestly and truthfully, my dear boy.”

At the same moment, a woman, rather older than herself, came towards them. She was a miserable-looking object, lame of one leg, and with a large false curl hanging down over one of her eyes, which was blind. This curl was intended to conceal the blind eye, but it made the defect only more visible. She was a friend of the laundress, and was called, among the neighbors, “Lame Martha, with the curl.” “Oh, you poor thing; how you do work, standing there in the water!” she exclaimed. “You really do need something to give you a little warmth, and yet spiteful people cry out about the few drops you take.” And then Martha repeated to the laundress, in a very few minutes, all that the mayor had said to her boy, which she had overheard; and she felt very angry that any man could speak, as he had done, of a mother to her own child, about the few drops she had taken; and she was still more angry because, on that very day, the mayor was going to have a dinner-party, at which there would be wine, strong, rich wine, drunk by the bottle. “Many will take more than they ought, but they don’t call that drinking! They are all right, you are good for nothing indeed!” cried Martha indignantly.

“And so he spoke to you in that way, did he, my child?” said the washer-woman, and her lips trembled as she spoke. “He says you have a mother who is good for nothing. Well, perhaps he is right, but he should not have said it to my child. How much has happened to me from that house!”

“Yes,” said Martha; “I remember you were in service there, and lived in the house when the mayor’s parents were alive; how many years ago that is. Bushels of salt have been eaten since then, and people may well be thirsty,” and Martha smiled. “The mayor’s great dinner-party to-day ought to have been put off, but the news came too late. The footman told me the dinner was already cooked, when a letter came to say that the mayor’s younger brother in Copenhagen is dead.”

“Dead!” cried the laundress, turning pale as death.

“Yes, certainly,” replied Martha; “but why do you take it so much to heart? I suppose you knew him years ago, when you were in service there?”

“Is he dead?” she exclaimed. “Oh, he was such a kind, good-hearted man, there are not many like him,” and the tears rolled down her cheeks as she spoke. Then she cried, “Oh, dear me; I feel quite ill: everything is going round me, I cannot bear it. Is the bottle empty?” and she leaned against the plank.

“Dear me, you are ill indeed,” said the other woman. “Come, cheer up; perhaps it will pass off. No, indeed, I see you are really ill; the best thing for me to do is to lead you home.”

“But my washing yonder?”

“I will take care of that. Come, give me your arm. The boy can stay here and take care of the linen, and I’ll come back and finish the washing; it is but a trifle.”

The limbs of the laundress shook under her, and she said, “I have stood too long in the cold water, and I have had nothing to eat the whole day since the morning. O kind Heaven, help me to get home; I am in a burning fever. Oh, my poor child,” and she burst into tears. And he, poor boy, wept also, as he sat alone by the river, near to and watching the damp linen.

The two women walked very slowly. The laundress slipped and tottered through the lane, and round the corner, into the street where the mayor lived; and just as she reached the front of his house, she sank down upon the pavement. Many persons came round her, and Lame Martha ran into the house for help. The mayor and his guests came to the window.

“Oh, it is the laundress,” said he; “she has had a little drop too much. She is good for nothing. It is a sad thing for her pretty little son. I like the boy very well; but the mother is good for nothing.”

After a while the laundress recovered herself, and they led her to her poor dwelling, and put her to bed. Kind Martha warmed a mug of beer for her, with butter and sugar—she considered this the best medicine—and then hastened to the river, washed and rinsed, badly enough, to be sure, but she did her best. Then she drew the linen ashore, wet as it was, and laid it in a basket. Before evening, she was sitting in the poor little room with the laundress. The mayor’s cook had given her some roasted potatoes and a beautiful piece of fat for the sick woman. Martha and the boy enjoyed these good things very much; but the sick woman could only say that the smell was very nourishing, she thought. By-and-by the boy was put to bed, in the same bed as the one in which his mother lay; but he slept at her feet, covered with an old quilt made of blue and white patchwork. The laundress felt a little better by this time. The warm beer had strengthened her, and the smell of the good food had been pleasant to her.

“Many thanks, you good soul,” she said to Martha. “Now the boy is asleep, I will tell you all. He is soon asleep. How gentle and sweet he looks as he lies there with his eyes closed! He does not know how his mother has suffered; and Heaven grant he never may know it. I was in service at the counsellor’s, the father of the mayor, and it happened that the youngest of his sons, the student, came home. I was a young wild girl then, but honest; that I can declare in the sight of Heaven. The student was merry and gay, brave and affectionate; every drop of blood in him was good and honorable; a better man never lived on earth. He was the son of the house, and I was only a maid; but he loved me truly and honorably, and he told his mother of it. She was to him as an angel upon earth; she was so wise and loving. He went to travel, and before he started he placed a gold ring on my finger; and as soon as he was out of the house, my mistress sent for me. Gently and earnestly she drew me to her, and spake as if an angel were speaking. She showed me clearly, in spirit and in truth, the difference there was between him and me. ‘He is pleased now,’ she said, ‘with your pretty face; but good looks do not last long. You have not been educated like he has. You are not equals in mind and rank, and therein lies the misfortune. I esteem the poor,’ she added. ‘In the sight of God, they may occupy a higher place than many of the rich; but here upon earth we must beware of entering upon a false track, lest we are overturned in our plans, like a carriage that travels by a dangerous road. I know a worthy man, an artisan, who wishes to marry you. I mean Eric, the glovemaker. He is a widower, without children, and in a good position. Will you think it over?’ Every word she said pierced my heart like a knife; but I knew she was right, and the thought pressed heavily upon me. I kissed her hand, and wept bitter tears, and I wept still more when I went to my room, and threw myself on the bed. I passed through a dreadful night; God knows what I suffered, and how I struggled. The following Sunday I went to the house of God to pray for light to direct my path. It seemed like a providence that as I stepped out of church Eric came towards me; and then there remained not a doubt in my mind. We were suited to each other in rank and circumstances. He was, even then, a man of good means. I went up to him, and took his hand, and said, ‘Do you still feel the same for me?’ ‘Yes; ever and always,’ said he. ‘Will you, then, marry a maiden who honors and esteems you, although she cannot offer you her love? but that may come.’ ‘Yes, it will come,’ said he; and we joined our hands together, and I went home to my mistress. The gold ring which her son had given me I wore next to my heart. I could not place it on my finger during the daytime, but only in the evening, when I went to bed. I kissed the ring till my lips almost bled, and then I gave it to my mistress, and told her that the banns were to be put up for me and the glovemaker the following week. Then my mistress threw her arms round me, and kissed me. She did not say that I was ‘good for nothing;’ very likely I was better then than I am now; but the misfortunes of this world, were unknown to me then. At Michaelmas we were married, and for the first year everything went well with us. We had a journeyman and an apprentice, and you were our servant, Martha.”

“Ah, yes, and you were a dear, good mistress,” said Martha, “I shall never forget how kind you and your husband were to me.”

“Yes, those were happy years when you were with us, although we had no children at first. The student I never met again. Yet I saw him once, although he did not see me. He came to his mother’s funeral. I saw him, looking pale as death, and deeply troubled, standing at her grave; for she was his mother. Sometime after, when his father died, he was in foreign lands, and did not come home. I know that he never married, I believe he became a lawyer. He had forgotten me, and even had we met he would not have known me, for I have lost all my good looks, and perhaps that is all for the best.” And then she spoke of the dark days of trial, when misfortune had fallen upon them.

“We had five hundred dollars,” she said, “and there was a house in the street to be sold for two hundred, so we thought it would be worth our while to pull it down and build a new one in its place; so it was bought. The builder and carpenter made an estimate that the new house would cost ten hundred and twenty dollars to build. Eric had credit, so he borrowed the money in the chief town. But the captain, who was bringing it to him, was shipwrecked, and the money lost. Just about this time, my dear sweet boy, who lies sleeping there, was born, and my husband was attacked with a severe lingering illness. For three quarters of a year I was obliged to dress and undress him. We were backward in our payments, we borrowed more money, and all that we had was lost and sold, and then my husband died. Since then I have worked, toiled, and striven for the sake of the child. I have scrubbed and washed both coarse and fine linen, but I have not been able to make myself better off; and it was God’s will. In His own time He will take me to Himself, but I know He will never forsake my boy.” Then she fell asleep. In the morning she felt much refreshed, and strong enough, as she thought, to go on with her work. But as soon as she stepped into the cold water, a sudden faintness seized her; she clutched at the air convulsively with her hand, took one step forward, and fell. Her head rested on dry land, but her feet were in the water; her wooden shoes, which were only tied on by a wisp of straw, were carried away by the stream, and thus she was found by Martha when she came to bring her some coffee.

In the meantime a messenger had been sent to her house by the mayor, to say that she must come to him immediately, as he had something to tell her. It was too late; a surgeon had been sent for to open a vein in her arm, but the poor woman was dead.

“She has drunk herself to death,” said the cruel mayor. In the letter, containing the news of his brother’s death, it was stated that he had left in his will a legacy of six hundred dollars to the glovemaker’s widow, who had been his mother’s maid, to be paid with discretion, in large or small sums to the widow or her child.

“There was something between my brother and her, I remember,” said the mayor; “it is a good thing that she is out of the way, for now the boy will have the whole. I will place him with honest people to bring him up, that he may become a respectable working man.” And the blessing of God rested upon these words. The mayor sent for the boy to come to him, and promised to take care of him, but most cruelly added that it was a good thing that his mother was dead, for “she was good for nothing.” They carried her to the churchyard, the churchyard in which the poor were buried. Martha strewed sand on the grave and planted a rose-tree upon it, and the boy stood by her side.

“Oh, my poor mother!” he cried, while the tears rolled down his cheeks. “Is it true what they say, that she was good for nothing?”

“No, indeed, it is not true,” replied the old servant, raising her eyes to heaven; “she was worth a great deal; I knew it years ago, and since the last night of her life I am more certain of it than ever. I say she was a good and worthy woman, and God, who is in heaven, knows I am speaking the truth, though the world may say, even now she was good for nothing.”

文章来源:安徒生童话

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