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        > 在線聽力 > 有聲讀物 > 世界名著 > 譯林版·彩虹鴿 >  第16課

        第二部 第七章 彩虹鴿講述如何送情報






        PART TWO Chapter Seven Gay-Neck Tells How He Carried the Message

        All that night preceding the eventful day I slept very little. Though I lay under his coat, Ghond had no knowledge that I was awake. You cannot sleep next to the heart of a man who runs like a stag, climbs trees like a squirrel or picks up strange dogs for company every half-hour.… Ghond's heart thumped so hard now and then that you might have heard it yards away. He did another thing that was not conducive to sleep at such close quarters; he breathed irregularly all that night. Sometimes he inhaled long breaths. Sometimes he breathed as fast as a mouse fleeing from a cat. I might as well have tried to sleep on a storm in the sky as under the coat of such a man. Then that dog! Shall I ever forget him? I was frightened when Ghond first annexed him, but he got no scent from my body, and the air that rose from below told me that somehow, like a clean-smelling ghost, he had come to befriend us. His footsteps I shall remember all my life. He walked as softly as a cat. He must have been a savage dog, for dogs that live in civilization are noisy. They cannot even walk quietly. Man's company is corrupting: every animal, excepting cats, becomes careless and noisy in human society. But that dog was quite wild. He walked without noise. He breathed without any sound. Then how did I know that he was there? It was that odour that came up from the ground and greeted my nostrils.

        After a sleepless and most uncomfortable night Ghond let me go, and I could hardly recognize the place where he had released me. So I flew from tree to tree to find my bearings, which only drove fright into my very soul. For now that day had broken, the trees were filling up with eyes. Strange blue eyes were looking through tubes in different directions. There were men behind them, and one was looking from a tree-top about a foot from where I perched. He had not heard my coming, on account of all those metal dogs barking around us—puff papapa pack! But as I flew up, he saw me. I felt that if I did not make haste and hide under other trees he would shoot me; and he did fire many times, but I was behind a copse as thick as the matted hair of a hermit. I decided to hop from tree to tree, not flying until the prospect was free of danger. I spent no little time in going about half a mile that way. At last my feet felt very fatigued, and I decided to fly, danger or no danger.

        Fortunately, no one had seen me fly up. I rose high after making large circles in the air. From a place whence the forest of trees appeared as small as saplings, I looked in different directions. Far off in the east, like chariots of gold, flew a flock of aeroplanes against the dawning sky. That meant the enemy's coming upon me if I waited much longer. So I started westwards. That seemed to be the signal for a thousand sharpshooters on tree-tops to fire at me. I think that when I circled up and above their trees, the Germans were uncertain whether I was their carrier or not, but the moment the sharpshooters perceived that I was going west they were sure that I was not their messenger, and so they shot at me to bring me down and find out what I carried on my foot.

        I could not go up for ever in the clear winter air without being frozen and anyway, I did not want those enemy planes to gain on me. Again I dashed westwards, and again the wall of bullets spread before me like barbs of death. But I had no choice left; either pierce my way through, or be killed by the oncoming aeroplanes, who were so near that I could see their passengers. So I dashed towards the west. Fortunately, by now my tail, which was hurt about a month ago, had grown almost to its normal size. Without that rudder my task would have been twice as hard. As I kept on going towards our line, the fusillade increased. There was no doubt now that all the sharpshooters and men in the trenches far off were taking a shot at me. But I zigzagged, circled, tumbled and in fact did all the stunts and tricks I knew to cheat the ever-augmenting swarm of bullets, but all that zigzagging business lost me time. One of the aeroplanes had come within striking distance of even so small a mark as I made, and began to pour loads of fire from above and behind. There was nothing to do but go forward, so I dashed on. Oh! How hard I flew— fast as the fastest storm. Then—ftatattafut—I was hit! My leg was broken right near the groin, and it, with its message, dangled under me like a sparrow in a single talon of a hawk. Oh! The pain, but I had no time to think of that, for that aeroplane was still after me, and I flew harder than before. At last our own line came into view. I fled lower. The machine dived down too. I tried to tumble, but failed. My leg prevented me from trying any of my tricks. Then pa-pa-pat-pattut—my tail was hit, and a shower of feathers fell below, obscuring for a moment the view of the men in the German trenches. So I shot down in a slanting flight towards our line and—passed it, making a circle. Then I beheld a strange sight—the aeroplane had been hit by our men. It swayed, lurched, and fell. But it had done its worst ere it went down in flames—it had hit my right wing and broken it. It gave me satisfaction to see it catch fire in the air and fall, yet my own pain had increased so that I felt as if twenty buzzards were tearing me to pieces, but, thanks to the Gods of my race, I lost consciousness of either pain or pleasure, and felt as if a mountainous weight were pulling me down.…

        They kept me at the pigeon hospital for a month. Though my wing was repaired and my leg sewn up where it belonged, they could not make me fly again. Every time I hopped up in the air my ears, I know not how, were filled with terrible noises of guns, and my eyes saw nothing but flaming bullets. I was so frightened that I would dash immediately to the ground. You may say that I was hearing imaginary guns and seeing imaginary walls of bullets: maybe, but their effect on me was the same as that of real ones. My wings were paralysed, my entrails frozen with terror. Besides, I would not fly without Ghond. Why should I spring from the hands of a man whose complexion was not brown and whose eyes were blue? I had not known such people before. We pigeons don't take to any and every outsider. At last they brought me in a cage to the hospital where Ghond was, and left me beside him. When I saw him I hardly recognized him, for his eyes—Ghond's eyes—wore a look of real fear! Yes, he too had been frightened out of his wits for once. I know, as all birds and beasts do, what fear looks like, and I felt sorry for Ghond.

        But on seeing me, that film of terror left his eyes, and they burned with a light of joy. He sat up in bed, took me in his hands and kissed my foot that had held the message that he had sent. Then he patted my right wing, and said: 'Even in great distress, O thou constellation of divine feathers, thou hast borne thy owner with his message among friends and won glory for all pigeons and the whole Indian Army. Again he kissed my foot. His humility touched me and by example humbled me. I felt no more pride when I remembered how I fell in the trenches of an Indian brigade after that aeroplane had partly smashed my wing, for had I fallen in a German trench, then…they would have seized the message on my leg; they would have surrounded the forest where Ghond lay hid with that wild dog—I shuddered to think of what they would have done! Alas! The dog, our true friend and saviour, where was he now?

        第二部 第七章 彩虹鴿講述如何送情報













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