生活的经验固然会叫人忘记许多事情 〔2〕 。但是有些记忆经过了多少时间的磨洗 〔3〕 也不会消灭。
他平日在店里。但是他也常常到相熟的公馆里去做活 〔4〕 ，或者做包工，或者做零工 〔5〕 。我们家里需要木匠的时候，总是去找他。我就在这时候认识他。他在我们家里做活，我只要有空，就跑去看他工作。
我那时注意的，并不是他本人，倒是他的那些工具：什么有轮齿的锯子啦，有两个耳朵的刨子啦，会旋转的钻子啦，像图画里板斧一般的斧子啦。这些奇怪的东西我以前全没有看见过。一块粗糙的木头经过了斧子劈，锯子锯，刨子刨，就变成了一方或者一条光滑整齐的木板，再经过钻子、凿子等等工具以后，又变成了各种各样的东西 〔6〕 ；像美丽的窗格，镂花的壁板等等细致的物件，都是这样制成的。
老陈和他的徒弟的工作使我的眼界宽了不少 〔7〕 。那时我还在家里读书，祖父聘请了一位前清的老秀才来管教我们。老秀才不知道教授的方法，他只教我们认一些字，呆板地读一些书。此外他就把我们关在书房里，端端正正地坐 〔8〕 在凳子上，让时间白白地过去。过惯了这种单调的生活以后，无怪乎我特别喜欢老陈了。
老陈常常弯着腰，拿了尺子和墨线盒在木板上面画什么东西。我便安静地站在旁边专心地望着，连眼珠也不转一下。他画好了墨线，便拿起锯子或者凿子来。我有时候觉得有些地方很奇怪，不明白，就问他，他很和气地对我一一说明。他的态度比那个老秀才的好得多 〔9〕 。
“为什么不该学做木匠？做官有什么好？修房子，做家具，才有趣啊！我做木匠，我要给自己修房子，爬到上面去，爬得高高的，”我看见他不相信我的话，把它只当做小孩子的胡说 〔10〕 ，我有些生气，就起劲地争论道。
有时候他在店里招呼我；有时候他不在，只有一两个徒弟在那里钉凳子或者制造别的物件。他的店起初还能够维持下去，但是不久省城里发生了巷战，一连打了三天，然后那两位军阀因为别人的调解又握手言欢了。老陈的店在这个时期遭到“丘八”的光顾，他的一点点积蓄都给抢光了，只剩下一个空铺子 〔11〕 。这以后他虽然勉强开店，生意却很萧条。我常常看见他哭丧着脸在店里做工。他的精神颓丧，但是他仍然不停手地做活。我听说他晚上时常到小酒馆里喝酒。
又过了几个月他的店终于关了门。我也就看不见他的踪迹了。有人说他去吃粮当了兵 〔12〕 ，有人说他到外县谋生去了。然而有一天我在街上碰见了他。他手里提着一个篮子，里面装了几件木匠用的工具。
“老陈，你还在省城！人家说你吃粮去了 〔13〕 ！”我快活地大声叫起来。
他告诉我：老陈同别的木匠一起在南门一家大公馆里修楼房 〔14〕 ，工程快要完了，但是不晓得怎样，老陈竟然从楼上跌下来，跌死了。
在那么多的木匠里面，偏偏是他跟着他父亲落进了横死的命运圈里。这似乎是偶然，似乎又不是偶然。总之，一个安分守己的人就这样地消灭了 〔15〕 。
Carpenter Lao Chen
◎ Ba Jin
Lots of things are apt to fade from memory as one’s life experiences accumulate. But some memories will withstand the wear and tear of time.
Those houses and streets in my home town still remain engraved on my mind. I still can recall how every day on my way to school I would invariably walk past Carpenter Lao Chen’s shop.
Carpenter Lao Chen was then only about forty years old, with a longish face like that of a donkey, a scar under his left eye, and a wispy moustache on his upper lip. People said he looked ugly, yet they praised him for his good temper.
He usually worked in his own shop. But from time to time he was employed by some rich people he knew well to work at their residences, either as a hired hand on contract or as an odd jobber. Whenever my family needed a carpenter, he was always the man we wanted. That was how I got to know him. While he was in our home, I would come out to watch him work in my spare time.
What attracted my attention, however, was not the man himself, but the tools he used, such as the saw with toothed blade, the plane with two ear-like handles, the revolving drill, the hatchet that looked like the broad axe in drawings — things entirely strange to me. A piece of coarse wood, after being processed with the hatchet, saw and plane, would become pieces of smooth and tidy wood, square or rectangular in shape. After further treatment with the chisel, drill, etc., they would end up as various kinds of exquisite articles, such as beautiful window lattices, ornamental engravings on wooden partitions.
The work which Lao Chen and his apprentices did was a real eye-opener to me. I was then studying at home under the tutorship of an old scholar of the Qing Dynasty whom my grandfather had engaged. The old scholar knew nothing about teaching methods. All he did was make me learn some Chinese characters and do some dull reading. Apart from that, he had me cooped up in my study and sit bolt upright doing nothing while time was slipping through my fingers. Because of this monotonous life, it was no wonder that I developed a particular liking for Carpenter Lao Chen.
He was often bent over drawing something on a plank with a ruler and an ink marker. And I would stand by and watch quietly and intently, my eyes riveted on him. After making the line with the ink marker, he would pick up the saw or the chisel. Sometimes, when something puzzled me, I would ask him questions out of curiosity, and he would explain patiently everything in detail. He was much more agreeable than the old scholar.
My folks, however, showed no sign of disapproval when they found me so much interested in Lao Chen’s work, but only teasingly called me an apprentice of his. Father even said jokingly that he was going to apprentice me to Lao Chen. All that was the well-meaning remarks of an affectionate father. Once I even believed that father had meant what he said, and I even told Lao Chen that that was exactly what I had in mind.
“You want to learn carpentry?” said Lao Chen immediately with a smile “No kidding! A wealthy young master like you should study and grow up to be a government official! Only poor people’s kids learn carpentry.”
Somewhat annoyed by the way he shrugged off my words as childish nonsense, I argued heatedly, “Why not become a carpenter? What’s the good of being a government official? It’s great fun to build houses and make furniture. If I’m a carpenter, I’ll climb high up, very high up, to build a house for myself.”
“You may fall down if you climb high,” said he casually, the smile on his face fading away.
“Fall down? You’re fooling me! I’ve never seen a carpenter fall down.”
Shooting a glance at me, he continued with undiminished patience,
“A carpenter often has to risk his own life in building a house. One careless slip, and you fall down. You’ll be disabled for life, if not reduced to a pulp.” Thereupon, he bent his head and forcefully pushed his plane over a plank, the shavings of which fell continuously onto the ground amidst the screeching sound. Then he added after a moment’s silence,
“That’s how my father died.”
I just could not bring myself to believe it. How could a man die like that? I had never seen it happen, nor had I ever heard of it. If his father had died of an accident as a carpenter, why should Lao Chen himself still be a carpenter now? I just couldn’t figure it out.
“You’re fooling me. I don’t believe you! How come you’re still a carpenter? Can you be unafraid of death?”
“Lots of guys are in this trade,” he went on gloomily. “It doesn’t follow that everybody meets with such a violent death. Carpentry is my trade. What else could I rely on to make a living?” He looked up at me, some teardrops visible from the corners of his eyes. He was crying!
I was at a loss when I saw him in tears, so I went away quietly.
Not long afterwards, my grandpa fell ill and died, and I was enrolled in a school, no longer under the control of the old scholar. Lao Chen never came again to work in our household after grandpa’s death. But every day on my way to school, I would pass by his small shop.
Sometimes he beckoned me from his shop. Sometimes he was absent, leaving a couple of his apprentices there hammering nails into a stool or making some other articles. At first, he could somehow scrape along. Soon street fighting broke out in the provincial capital, lasting three days until the dispute between two warlords was settled through the mediation of a third party. In the course of the fighting, soldiers looted Lao Chen’s shop until it was empty of everything. After that, nevertheless, he still managed to keep his shop open though business was bad. I often saw him working in his shop with a saddened look on his face. Dejected as he was, he worked on as usual. I heard that he often went drinking at a small wine shop in the evening.
Several months later, his shop closed down for good and I lost all trace of him. Some said he had gone soldiering, others said he had gone to another county to seek a livelihood. One day, however, I ran into him in the street. He was carrying a basket filled with some carpenter’s tools.
“Lao Chen,” I yelled out in joy, “you’re still here in the provincial capital! People say you’ve joined up!”
“I’m good at nothing else but carpentry, I’m good at nothing else but carpentry! One should be content with one’s lot.” He shook his head, wearing a faint smile with a touch of sorrow. There was not much change in him except that he was thinner, his face darker and his clothes dirtier.
“Young master,” he continued smilingly, “you should study hard. Let me build a house for you someday when you’re a government official.”
I took hold of his sleeve, unable to utter a word. He said goodbye to me and went away. He had told me that he was now working at the shop of a former apprentice of his. The apprentice was doing quite well while Lao Chen was now his hired hand.
Thenceforth I never saw Lao Chen again. Much as I liked him, I soon forgot him. It was not until the sedan-chair bearer of a rich household passed on to me the news that I remembered him again.
What news did the sedan-chair bearer tell me?
He told me: Lao Chen, together with other carpenters, was building a mansion for a rich household at the southern city gate. When it was nearing completion, it suddenly came to pass that he fell off the building and died.
Why did Lao Chen, of all carpenters, die such a violent death like his father? All that seems accidental, and also seems predestined. In short, an honest man has thus passed out of existence.
〔1〕 “木匠老陈”译为Carpenter Lao Chen，其中Carpenter为称号化名词，故在前面不加任何冠词。这是现代英语中的常见用法。
〔2〕 “生活的经验……叫人忘记许多事情”意即“随着生活经历的积累，许多往事，难免给忘了”，故译为Lots of things are apt to fade from memory as one’s life experiences accumulate。
〔3〕 “时间的磨洗”意即“岁月的腐蚀”，现译为the wear and tear of time，其中wear and tear是英语成语，作“磨损”（loss and damage resulting from use）解。
〔4〕 “他……到相熟的公馆里去做活”中的“公馆”指“大户”、“有钱人家”，故全句译为he was employed by some rich people he knew well to work at their residences。
〔5〕 “包工”指“按合同操作”，“零工”指“不按合同操作”，故两者按上下文分别译为a hired hand on contract和an odd jobber。
〔6〕 “又变成各种各样（细致）的东西”译为would end up as various kinds of exquisite articles，其中end up是成语，作“最终成为”解。这里使用它是为了避免重复前句中的become一词。
〔7〕 “……使我的眼界宽了不少”译为 … was a real eye-opener to me，其中eye-opener作“令人大开眼界的事物”（something very surprising, from which one learns something unknown before）解，通常和revelation意相近。
〔8〕 “端端正正地坐……”译为sit bolt upright …，其中bolt upright是常用搭配，bolt可与to sit或to stand等连用，作“笔直”解。此句也可译为sit very straight …。
〔9〕 “他的态度比那个老秀才的好得多”中的“好”的意思是“令人愉快”或“易于相处”，故全句译为He was much more agreeable than the old scholar，其中agreeable意即“易于相处”（pleasant或likeable）。
〔10〕 “……不相信我的话，把它只当做小孩子的胡说”译为…shrugged off my words as childish nonsense，其中shrugged off是英语成语，本作“耸肩对……表示不屑理睬”解，现指“不当一回事”，与to ignore意同。
〔11〕 “老陈的店……遭到‘丘八’的光顾，他的一点点积蓄都给抢光了，只剩下一个空铺子”中的“丘八”为旧时对士兵的轻蔑称呼，现全句译为soldiers looted Lao Chen’s shop until it was empty of everything，其中until一词的意思不是“直到……为止”，而是“以至于”（to the point that / so that finally / and at last）。
〔12〕 “有人说他去吃粮当了兵”中的“吃粮”旧时和“当兵”同义，现全句译为Some said he had gone soldiering即可。
〔13〕 “人家说你吃粮去了”译为People say you’ve joined up，其中to join up为成语，意同to join the army。
〔14〕 “在……一家大公馆里修楼房”译为was building a mansion for a rich household，其中mansion的意思是“大楼”（a large house, usually belonging to a wealthy person）。如按字面把“楼房”译为a large multi-storied house未尝不可，但欠简练。
〔15〕 “总之，一个安分守己的人就这样地消灭了”一句带有“惋惜”、“同情”的口气，故译为In short, an honest man has thus passed out of existence，其中has thus passed out of existence似比has thus perished确切。