2009年1月9日星期五

The Last Night (from Charlotte Gray)

This is a passage from Charlotte Gray, written by Sebastian Faulks. The book is about the Jews in France in the 1940s (second world war). Andre and his brother Jacob are two orphaned boys. They are waiting to be taken to a concentration camp.

Andre was lying on the foor when a Jewish orderly came with postcards on which the deportees might write a final message. He advised them to leave them at the station or throw them from the train as camp orders forbabe access to the post. Two or three pencils that had survived the barracks search were passed round among the people in the room. Some wrote with sobbing passion, some with punctiliors care, as though their safety, or at least the way in which they were remembered, depended upon their choice of words.

A woman came with a sandwich for each child to take on the journey. She also had a pail of water, round which they clustered, holding out sardine cans they passed from one to another. One of the older boys enbranced her in his gratitude, but the bucket was soon empty.

When she was gone, there were only the small hours of the night to go through. Andre was ting on the straw, the soft bloom of his cheek laid, uncaring, in the dung. Jacob's limbs were interwined with his for warmth.

The adults in the room sat slumped against the walls, wakeful and talking in lowered voices. Somehow, the children were spared the last hours of the wait by their ability to fall asleep where they lay, to dream of other places. It was still the low part of the night ehen they knew it meant breakfast, and therefore the departure. The children were at the deepest moments of their sleep.

Then there went through the room a sudden ripple, a quickening of muscle and nerve as a sound came to them from below: it was te noise of an engine - a familiar sound to many of them, the fomely thudding of a Parisian bus. Five white-and-green municipal buses had come in through the main entrance, and now stood trembling in the wired-off corner of the yard. At a long table, the commandent of the camp himself sat with a list of manes that another policeman was calling out in alphabetical order. In the place where its suburban destination was nrmally signalled, each bus carried the number of a wagon on the eastbound train.

Many of the children were too deeply asleep to be rouse, and those who were awake refused to come down when the gendarmes were sent up to fetch them. In the filthy straw the dug in their heels and screamed.

Andre heard his name and moved with Jacob towards the bus. From the other side of the courtyard, from windows open on the dawn, a shower of food was thrown towars them by women wailing and calling out their names, though none of the scraps reached as far as the enclosure.

Andre looked up, and in a chance angle of light he saw a woman's face in which the eyes were fixed with terrible ferocity on a child beside him. Why did she stare ass thought she hated him? Then it came toAndre that she was not looking in hatred, but had lept her eyes so intensely open in order to fix the picture of her child in her mind. She was looking to remember, for ever.

He held on hard to Jacob as they mounted the platform of the bus. Some of the children were to small to manage the step up and had to be helped on by gendarmes, or pulled in by grown-ups already on board.

Andre's bus was given the signal to depart, but was delayed. A baby of a few weekd was being lifted on to the back, and the gendarme needed time to work the wooden crib over the passenger rail and into the crammed interior.

Eventually, the bus roared as the driver engaged the gear and bumped slowly out through the entrance, the headlights for a moment lighting up the cafe opposite before the driver turned the wheel and headed for the station.

1 則留言:

  1. Absolutely Amazing.
    A brilliant tribute to the character that she was

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