The house was very still. In the little room over the porch, the lady in black sat alone. Near her, a childs white dress lay across a chair. On the floor at her feet lay a tiny pair of shoes. A doll hung over a chair and a toy soldier occupied the little stand by the bed.
And everywhere was silence-the strange silence that comes only to a room where the clock has stopped ticking.
The clock stood on the shelf near the end of the bed. The Lady in Black looked at it. She remembered the wave of anger that had come over her when she had reached out her hand and silenced the clock that night three months before.
莫里兹早期短篇小说《七个铜板》，以别开生面的形式描写了穷人的“哭”与“笑”，因内容与形式的创新而轰动文坛。第一次世界大战期间到前线采访，1916年发表了反战小说《穷人》。中篇小说《火炬》描写一个有志于社会改革的青年牧师被旧势力同化的过程。20年代的中篇小说《一生做好人》、长篇三部曲《爱尔德伊》、长篇小说《通宵达旦》、《老爷的狂欢》和《亲戚》，多以揭露封建社会的腐朽堕落和探索治国道路为主题。 30年代写出《 幸福的人》、《强盗》、《罗饶·山多尔》等小说，反映农民悲惨遭遇和反抗斗争。莫里兹一生还写过80多部剧本，大部分根据自己的小说改编。SEVEN PENNIES
It had been silent ever since and it should remain silent, too. Of what possible use were the hours it would tick away now? As if anything mattered, with little Kathleen lying out there white and still under the black earth!
The gods in their wisdom have granted the benefit of laughter also to the poor.
The tenants of huts do not wail all the time, often enough a hearty laughter comes ringing from their dwellings. I might even go to the length of saying that the poor often laugh when they have every reason to cry.
The Lady in Black moved restlessly and looked toward the closed door. Behind it, she knew, was a little boy with wide blue eyes who wanted her. But she wished he would not call her by that name.
I happen to be thoroughly familiar with that kind of world. The generation of the Soós tribe that had brought forth my father went through the direst stages of destitution. At that time, my father worked as a day-labourer in a machine shop. There was nothing for him, nor for anyone else, to brag about in those days. (Yet brag they did.)
It only reminded her of those other little lips--silent now.
And it is a fact that never in my life was I to laugh as much as in those very years of my childhood.
Muvver! The voice was more demanding.
How, indeed, should I ever again have laughed so heartily after I had lost my merry, red-cheeked mother, who used to laugh so sweetly that, in the end, tears came trickling down her cheeks and her laughter ended in a fit of coughing that almost choked her...
The Lady in Black did not answer. He might go away, she thought, if she did not answer.
But she never laughed as merrily as on the afternoon which we spent searching for seven pennies. We searched, and we found them, too. Three were in the drawer of the sewing machine one in the cupboard... the rest were more difficult to find.
There was a short silence, and then the door opened slowly.
My mother found the first three pennies all by herself. She thought there ought to be more coins in the drawer, for she used to turn a penny by sewing and kept whatever she earned in that drawer. To me, the drawer of the sewing machine seemed an inexhaustible gold mine, and whenever you delved into it, all your wishes came true.
Pe-eek! It was a cry of joyful discovery, but it was followed almost immediately by silence. The unsmiling woman did not invite him to come near. The boy was unsteady at his first step.
Thus I was flabbergasted to see my mother digging into a mess of needles, thimbles, scissors, bits of ribbon, braid and buttons, and, after she had poked around in them a while, to hear her say in astonishment:
He paused, then spoke carefully, Is--here.
They have gone into hiding.
It was maybe the worst thing he could have said. To the Lady in Black it was a yet more painful reminder of that other one who was not there. She gave a sharp cry and covered her face with her hands.
Bobby, Bobby she cried out, in a release of unreasoning sadness. Go away! Go away! I want to be alone--alone!
The coins, she said with a laugh.
All the brightness fled from the boys face. His eyes showed a feeling of deep hurt. He waited, but she did not move. Then, with a half-quieted cry, he left the room.
She pulled out the drawer.
Long minutes afterward, the Lady in Black raised her head and saw him through the window. He was in the yard with his father, playing under the apple tree.
Come on, sonny, let us find the wicked things. Naughty, naughty coins.
She squatted on the floor and put down the drawer so cautiously, she seemed to fear its contents might fly away; then she daintily turned it upside down, as though she were catching butterflies under a hat.
The Lady in Black looked at them with serious eyes, and her mouth hardened at the corners.
You couldnt help laughing over the way she acted.
Bobby had someone to play with him, someone to love him and care for him, while out there on the hillside Kathleen was alone--all alone.
Here they are, in here, she giggled, and was in no hurry to lift up the drawer. If theres but a single one, it must be in here.
With a little cry the Lady in Black sprang to her feet and hurried into her own room. Her hands shook as she pinned on her hat and covered herself with her black veil. But her step was firm as she walked downstairs and out through the hall.
I squatted on my heels and watched closely for a shiny coin to creep forth somewhere. Nothing stirred.
The man under the apple tree rose hurriedly and came forward.
To be quite frank, neither of us really believed that there were any inside.
Helen, dearest,--not again, today! he begged. Darling, it cant do any good!
We glanced at each other, laughing over the childish joke.
But shes alone--all alone. You dont seem to think! No one thinks--no one knows how I feel. You dont understand. If you did, youd come with me. You wouldnt ask me to stay--here! choked the woman.
I touched the drawer as it lay there upside down.
I have been with you, dear, said the man gently. Ive been with you today, and every day, almost, since--since she left us.
Ssht! my mother shushed me. Keep still, child, or theyll run away. You have no idea how nimble pennies can be. They run so fast, they simply roll away. My, how they roll...
But it cant do any good--this continuous mourning over her grave.
We rocked with laughter. We had seen often enough, how easily the pennies could roll away.
It only makes more sadness for you, for me, and for Bobby. Bobby is--here, you know, dear!
When we got over our fit of laughter, I stretched out my hand once more to lift the drawer.
No, no, dont say it, cried the woman wildly. You dont understand! You dont understand! And she turned and hurried away, followed by the worried eyes of the man, and the sad eyes of the boy.
Dont! mother cried out, and I snatched back my finger as if I had scorched it on a stove.
It was not a long walk to the burial place. The Lady in Black knew the way. Yet, she stumbled and reached out blindly. She fell before a little stone marked Kathleen. Near her a gray-haired woman, with her hands full of pink and white roses, watched her sympathetically. The gray-haired woman paused and opened her lips as if she would speak. Then she turned slowly and began to arrange her flowers on a grave nearby.
Easy, you spendthrift. Why be in such a hurry to send them off? They belong to us only while they are safe here, under the hood. Let them remain there for a little while yet. For, you see, I have to do some washing and for that I need some soap, and for the soap I must have at least seven pennies, they wont give me any for less. Ive got three already, I need four more, they must be in this little house. They live here, but they hate to be disturbed, and if they grow angry, theyll vanish and we shant ever get hold of them again. Easy, then, for money is a delicate thing and must be handled gently. It wants to be respected. It takes offence quickly, like a sensitive lady... Dont you know a verse that would lure it from its house?
The Lady in Black raised her head. For a time she watched in silence. Then she threw back her veil and spoke, “You care, too, she said softly. You understand. Ive seen you here before, Im sure. And was yours --a little girl?
Oh, how we laughed while she babbled along! My incantation was odd indeed. It went like this:
The gray-haired woman shook her head. “No, dearie, its a little boy--or he was a little boy forty years ago.
Uncle Coin, Im no liar,
Forty years--so long! How could you have lived forty years--without him?
Your house is on fire...
Again the little woman shook her head.One has to--sometimes, dearie, but this little boy wasnt mine.
At this I turned the drawer right side up again.
But you care. You understand. Ive seen you here so often before.
There was every kind of rubbish below it, but coins... there were none.
Yes. You see, theres no one else to care. But there was once, and Im caring now, for her sake.
My mother kept rummaging in the heap, making a sour face, but that didnt help.
What a pity, she said, that we have no table. It would have been more respectful to turn it over on a table, and then the coins would have stayed put.
I swept up the things and put them back into the drawer. Mother was doing some hard thinking the while. She racked her brains to remember whether she had some time or other put any money elsewhere, but she couldnt recall it.
Oh-h! It was a tender little cry, full of quick sympathy. The eyes of the Lady in Black were on the stone marked Kathleen.
Of a sudden, I had an idea.
It aint as if I didnt know how shed feel, said the gray-haired woman. You see, I was nurse to the boy when it happened, and for years afterward I worked in the family. So I know. I saw the
Mother, I know a place where there is a coin.
whole thing from the beginning, from the very day when the little boy here met with the accident.
Where is it, sonny? Let us catch it before it melts like snow.
Accident! It was a cry of concern and sympathy from Kathleens mother.
There used to be one in the drawer of the glass cupboard.
Yes. It was a runaway and he didnt live two days.
Oh, my lamb, Im glad you didnt tell me before, it would surely no longer be there.
I know! I know! choked the Lady in Black. Yet she was not thinking of the boy and the runaway horse accident.
We stood up and went to the cupboard that had lost its glass pane ever so long ago; the penny was actually in the drawer I had suspected it to be in. I had been tempted to filch it for the past three days, but I never mustered enough courage to do so. Had I dared, I would have spent it on candy.
Things stopped then for my mistress, continued the little gray-haired woman, and that was the beginning of the end. She had a husband and a daughter, but they didnt seem to be important—not either of em. Nothin seemed important except this little grave out here. She came and spent hours over it, bringin flowers and talkin to it.
Now we have got four pennies. Dont worry, sonny, thats already the bigger half. All we need is three more. And if it has taken us an hour to find four, we shall find the rest before We have a snack. That will leave me plenty of time to do a batch of washing by nightfall. Come on, let us see, perhaps there are some more in the other drawers.
The Lady in Black raised her head suddenly and quickly looked into the womans face. The woman went on speaking.
All would have been well, had each drawer contained one coin. That would have been more than we needed. For, in the prime of its life, the old cupboard had done service in a prosperous dwelling, where it had harboured many treasures. In our home, however, the poor thing contained little enough - weak-chested, worm-eaten, gap-toothed as it was.
The house got sadder and sadder, but she didnt seem to mind. She seemed to want it so. She shut out the sunshine and put away many of the pictures. She sat only in the boys room. And
Mother chided each drawer as she pulled it open.
there, everything was just as it was when he left it. She wouldnt let a thing be touched. I wondered afterward that she didnt see where it was all leadin to, but she didnt.
This one used to be rich - once upon a time. This one never had a thing. This one here always lived on tick. As for you, you miserable beggar, you havent a farthing to your name. This one wont ever have any, we keep our poverty in it. And you there, may you never have a single one: I ask you for a penny just this once, and even so you begrudge it me. This one is sure to be the richest, look! she burst out laughing, as she jerked open the lowest drawer, which had not a splinter to its bottom.
Leading to? The voice shook.
She hung it around my neck, and we both laughed so hard, we had to sit down on the floor.
Yes. I wondered she didnt see she was losin em--that husband and daughter; but she didnt see it.
Wait a minute, she started, Ill get some money in a jiffy. There must be some in your fathers suit.
The Lady in Black sat very still. Even the birds seemed to have stopped their singing. Then the gray-haired woman spoke:
There were some nails in the wall upon which our clothes were hung. My mother delved into the topmost pocket of my fathers jacket, and, marvel of marvels, her fingers pulled out a penny.
So, you see, thats why I come and put flowers here. Its for her. Theres no one else now to care, she sighed, rising to her feet.
She could hardly believe her eyes.
But you havent told yet--what happened, said the Lady in Black, softly.
Bless me, she shouted, here it is. How much does that make? Why, we can hardly manage to count them all up. One - two - three - four - five... Five! All we need is two more. Two pennies, that is nothing. Where there are five, there are bound to be two more.
I dont know myself really. I know the man went away. He got somethin to do travelin so he wasnt home much. When he did come he looked sick and bad. He come less and less, and he died. But that was after she died. Hes buried over there beside her and the boy. The girl --well, nobody knows where the girl is. Girls like flowers and sunshine and laughter and young people, you know, and she didnt get any of them at home. So she went--where she did get em, I suppose.
She went about feverishly searching all my fathers pockets, but alas, to no avail. She couldnt find another. Even the merriest jokes failed to lure forth two more pennies.
There, and if I havent gone and tired you all out with my talkin! said the little gray-haired woman regretfully.
My mothers cheeks burned like two red roses with excitement and exertion. She was not supposed to work, for, whenever she did, she was taken ill. This was, of course, a special kind of work, and you cant forbid people to look for money.
No, no. I was glad to hear it, said the Lady in Black, rising unsteadily to her feet. Her face had grown white, and her eyes showed a sudden fear. But I must go now. Thank you. And she turned and hurried away.
Snack-time came and went. Soon it would be getting dark. My father needed a clean shirt for the morning, and no washing could be done. Well-water alone was not enough to remove the greasy dirt.
The house was very still when the Lady in Black reached home. She shivered at its silence. She hurried up the stairs, almost with guilt. In her own room she pulled at the dark veil that covered her face. She was crying now, a choking little cry with broken words running through it. She was still crying as she removed her black dress.
Suddenly, mother tapped her forehead:
Long minutes later, the Lady--in black no longer--moved slowly down the stairway. Her eyes showed traces of tears, but her lips were bravely curved in a smile. She wore a white dress and a single white rose in her hair. Behind her, in the little room over the porch, a tiny clock ticked loudly on its shelf near the end of the bed.
How silly of me. I never thought of searching my own pocket! Now that I think of it, I shall have a look.
There came a sound of running feet in the hall below, then:
She did, and sure enough, there was a penny in it. The sixth one.
Muvver!--its Muvver come back! shouted a happy voice.