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The Rose
--- Logan Pearsall Smith ( 1865-1946 )
  The old lady had always been proud of the great rose-tree in her garden, and was fond of telling how it had grown from a cutting she had brought years before from Italy, when she was first married. She and her husband had been travelling back in their carriage from Rome ( it was before the time of railways ) and on a bad piece of road south of Siena they had broken down, and had been forced to pass the night in a little house by the road-side. The accommodation was wretched of course; she had spent a sleepless night, and rising early had stood, wrapped up, at her window, with the cool air blowing on her face, to watch the dawn. She could still, after all these years, remember the blue mountains with the bright moon above them, and how a far-off town on one of the peaks had gradually grown whiter and whiter, till the moon faded, the mountains were touched with the pink of the rising sun, and suddenly the town was lit as by an illumination, one window after another catching and reflecting the sun's beam, till at last the whole little city twinkled and sparkled up in the sky like a nest of stars.
  That morning, finding they would have to wait while their carriage was being repaired, they had driven in a local conveyance up to the city on the mountain, where they had been told they would find better quarters; and there they had stayed two or three days. It was one of the miniature Italian cities with a high church, a pretentious piazza, a few narrow streets and little palaces, perched, all compact and complete, on the top of a mountain, within and enclosure of walls hardly larger than an English kitchen garden. But it was full of life and nose, echoing all day and all night with the sounds of feet and voices.
  The Cafe of the simple inn where they stayed was the meeting place of the notabilities of the little city; the Sindaco, the avvocato, the doctor, and a few others; and among them they noticed a beautiful, slim, talkative old man, with bright black eyes and snow-white hair — tall and straight and still with the figure of a youth, although the waiter told them with pride that the Conte was molto vecchio — would in fact be eightey in the following year. He was the last of his family, the waiter added — they had once been great and rich people — but he had no descendants; in fact the waiter mentioned with complacency, as if it were a story on which the locality prided itself, that the Conte had been unfortunate in love, and had never married.
  The old gentleman, however, seemed cheerful enough; and it was plain that he took an interest in the strangers, and wished to make their acquaintance. This was soon effected by the friendly waiter; and after a little talk the old man invited them to visit his villa and garden which were just outside the walls of the town. So the next afternoon, when the sun began to descend, and they saw in glimpses through door-ways and windows, blue shadows beginning to spread over the brown mountains, they went to pay their visit. It was not much of a place, a small, modernized, stucco villa, with a hot pebbly garden, and in it a stone basin with torpid gold-fish, and a statue of Diana and her hounds against the wall. But what gave a glory to it was a gigantic rose-tree which clambered over the house, almost smothering the windows, and filling the air with the perfume of its sweetness. Yes, it was a fine rose, the Conte said proudly when they praised it, and he would tell the Signora about it. And as they sat there, drinking the wine he offered them, he alluded with the cheerful indifference of old age to his love-affair, as though he took for granted that they had heard of it already.
  "The lady lived across the valley there beyond that hill. I was a young man then, for it was many years ago. I used to ride over to see her; it was a long way, but I rode fast, for young men, as no doubt the Signora knows, are impatient. But the lady was not kind, she would keep me waiting, oh, for hours; and one day when I had waited very long I grew very angry, and as I walked up and down in the garden where she had told me she would see me, I broke one of her roses, broke a branch from it ; and when I saw what I had done, I hid it inside my coat — so —; and when I came home I planted it, and the Signora sees how it has grown. If the Signora admires it, I must give her a cutting to plant also in her garden; I am told the English have beautiful gardens that are green, and not burnt with the sun like ours."
  The next day, when their mended carriage had come up to fetch them, and they were just starting to drive away from the inn, the Conte's old servant appeared with the rose-cutting neatly wrapped up, and the compliments and wishes for a buon viaggio from her master. The town collected to see them depart, and the children heard a rush of feet behind them for a few moments, but soon they were far down towards the valley; the little town with all its noise and life was high above them on its mountain peak.
  She had planted the rose at home, where it had grown and flourished in a wonderful manner; and every June the great mass of leaves and shoots still broke out into a passionate splendour of scent and crimson colour, as if in its root and fibres there still burnt the anger and thwarted desire of that Italian lover. Of course the old Conte must have died many years ago; she had forgotten his name, and had even forgotten the name of the mountain city that she had stayed in, after first seeing it twinkling at dawn in the sky, like a nest of stars.

Siena: 意年夜利城镇名
piazza: 特指意年夜利都邑中的广场或市场
Sindaco: 意语,市长
avvocato: 意语,状师
Conte: 意语,伯爵
molto vecchio: 意语,very old
buon viaggio: =good journey.
  老太太一向为她园中那株蔷薇树感想自得,好对人讲,这树是怎么从一根由意年夜利带回的枝条上长起来的,那是很多若干好多年过去的事,其时她刚成婚。 她和她丈夫正从罗马乘坐马车返国(其时还没有火车),一天在辛拿城南一段高卑的路上,车子出了短处,不得已只好且则到路边一所小宅院去过夜。 配置固然是简略极了;她渡过了一个不眠之夜,越日很夙起家,披衣凝立窗前,在拂面的习习晓风中,谛视天气破晓。 虽然事隔多年,她仍旧记得青山让一轮皓月,远山之颠的一座城镇,徐徐泛白,继而月落,山边为渐渐升起的旭日染成绯红;不久,城镇恍然似为巨焰所映,斗然年夜亮,窗扉一扇扇执政霞的晖映下,光晶泛彩。 末了整个小城在天宇之间闪烁辉耀起来,宛若一团星群。
因为修车尚待时日,那天早上他们便搭乘当地车辆去了那座山城,那儿那里听说可以觅到较好住处;他们在那儿那里停顿了两三天。 那座城是规范意年夜利式的小城,有一座高耸的教堂,一个矜饰的广场,几条狭小的街道,几所矮小的楼房,紧凑齐全,毕集于一座山头之上,四周另有城墙环抱,占地比一个英国的家厨菜园也年夜不良多。 然而这里却充塞朝气,很是热闹,轮蹄鼓噪,彻夜接续。
  他们下榻的一家平常酒店中的餐馆为城中绅士聚会之地;包孕市长,状师,年夜夫,以及一些其他人物;这些人中他们碰见了一位风韵翩翩,瘦削健谈的白叟,黝黑的眼珠炯炯有神,头发已经皎白 —— 他的体格修长耸立,仍旧具康年青人的身段,虽然酒保自得地对他们讲,这位伯爵已经molto vecchio (岁数很年夜)了 —— 实际上翌年即满八十。 他是他眷属的末了一人,酒保补充到 —— 他家曾经是荣华王谢 —— 但他没有儿女;伯爵在情上受过妨害,并以后不曾成婚,如斯。 实际上酒保说起此事时面有写意之色,宛如这是当地人平易近引觉得荣的一段故事。
  这位先生长教师兴致很高;显然他对这两位生疏人很感乐趣,并乐意结识他们。 这事随即由友好的酒保促成;于是,在一次短暂的扳谈之后,白叟便约请他们去他的别墅与花园做客,所在即在城墙之外不远的处所。 于是越日下昼,当夕照起头西沉,门窗启处,兰色阴影已逐步笼盖棕褐的山岭时,他们遂欣然命驾。 那儿那里阵势狭隘 —— 一座不年夜的当代式灰墁别墅而外,还有一个炎澳的软石路面的花园,石砌池塘之中浮游着一些懒散的金鱼,池旁靠墙处并有一尊女猎神及其猎犬的雕像等等。 可是足为这小园增色的是其中一巨株蔷薇,树身过屋,绿荫翳窗,使院中沁满浓喷香。 切实其实,这是一株不错的蔷薇,伯爵听了客人奖励之后写意地说,并说他甘愿批准把树的源头讲给夫人听听。 于是当他们坐定之后,一边饮着酒时,他便以老年人满不在乎的欣然神气,略微提了提他的一段旧情,宛如他信托他们对此必然早有所闻似的。
  “女士就住在青山背后的河谷对岸。 其时我照样个少年,由于这已是多年前的事了。 我常常骑马已往看她;路途不近,但我骑得很快,这点夫人固然理解理睬,年青人老是急的。 但这位女士心地不善良,喜欢叫人等个接续,每每一等便是几个小时;一天,我由于等得过久而使气起来。 当我在她叫我等她的阿谁花园中踱来踱去时,我折了她的一朵,应该说一枝,蔷薇;当我发明自己做了这么一件事时,我便把那枝蔷薇藏在外衣内里 —— 就像这样 ——;回来拜别往后我就把它种上,而夫人也已看到,它长得多好。 要是夫人喜好的话,我固然要奉赠一枝,好把它栽在园里;风闻英国人的花园很是斑斓,青葱青翠,不象我们此地给太阳晒得那么燥热。”
  第二天,修睦了的马车来欢迎他们。 正当他们即将分开旅店之际,伯爵的老仆赶来,奉上包扎柔美的蔷薇枝条一束,并代其主人转致一起安然之意。 城中的人也都跑来向他们作别,儿童尾随在车子后头,一向跟出城外。 他们听见车后的脚步声乱哄了一阵,但不久车子已经往下走了很远,进入河谷地带,而这座闹热强烈热闹荣华的山顶小城则早已高高地在他们头顶之上了。
  她把蔷薇栽在家中,蔷薇长得枝遂叶茂,非凡很是斑斓;每逢六月到来,浓碧的枝叶丛中,猩红馥郁,蔚成一派情如火灼的奇不美观,宛如它的根茎之间仍然燃烧着那位意年夜利情人的愤慨与愁闷。 固然那老伯爵此时必定早已弃世多年;而她也记不起他的名字,乃至连她所住过的那座山城叫什么名字,她也都记不起了,虽然她曾经在凌晨之时看它在空中闪烁发光,宛若一团星群。

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