上一级

讨论区

本书首页    Previous    Next    Chinese


AUNTIE TOOTHACHE

 

WHERE did we get the story from

Would you like to know that

We got it from the barrel the one with the old pa-

pers in itMany good and rare books have gone to the chandler's and the greengrocer's not as reading but asnecessary articles They must have paper at the grocer'sfor starch and coffeebeanspaper for salt herrings butter and cheese Written things are also useful Oftenthere goes into the barrel what should not go there

I know a greengrocer's boythe son of a chandlerhe has risen from the cellar to the shop a man of greatreading psperbag readingboth the printed and the written kindHe has an interesting collectionand in itseveral important documents from the wastepaper basketof one and another absentminded and too much occu- pied official confidential letters from lady friends to eachotherscandalcommunicationswhich must go no far- ther and not be spoken of to anyoneHe is a living rescueinstitution for no small part of literature and has alarge field to work in he has the shops of his employerand his parents and in these he has rescued many a book or pages of a book which might well deserve a second reading

He has shown me his collection of printed and writ ten things from the barrelmostly from the chandler'sThere were two or three leaves of a bigger copy book itspeculiarly beautiful and distinct writing drew my attentionto it at once

"The student has written that"he said"the student who lived right opposite here and died about a month agoOne can see he has suffered severely fromtoothache It is very amusing to read Here is only a littlepart of what was written it was a whole book and a littlemore my parents gave half a pound of green soap for itto the student's landlady Here is what I rescued"Iborrowed itand read it and now I communicate it Thetitle was

 

Auntie Toothache

 

 

Auntie gave me sweet things when I was little My teeth held out and were not destroyednow I am olderand have become a student she spoils me still with sweet things and says that I am a poet I have something of thepoet in me but not sufficient Often when I am walking inthe streets of the town it seems to me as if I walk in a biglibrary The houses are bookcases every floor a shelf withbooks There stands an everyday story there a good old comedy scientific works in all departments here filthy literature and there good reading I can both exercise my fancy and philosophize over all the literatureThere is something of the poet in me but not sufficientMany people have certainly as much in themselves as Iand yet wear neither badge nor neckband with the name"Poet"

There is given to them and to me a gift of God ablessing big enough for oneselfbut far too small to be given out again to others It comes like a sunbeamand fills the soul and the thoughts It comes as the scent of flowersas a melody which one knows and remembers but cannot tell from where

The other evening I sat in my room wanting to read but had neither book nor paper just then a leaffresh andgreen fell from the lime tree The wind bore it in at thewindow to me

I looked at the many spreading veins a little insect crawled over these as if it would make a thorough study ofthe leaf Then I had to think of the wisdom of men we also crawl about upon a leaf know only it and then at oncehold a discourse about the whole big tree the root the trunk and the crown the great treeGod the world and eternity and know of the whole only a little leaf

As I sat there I had a visit of Auntie Milly I showed her the leaf with the insect told her my thoughts about it and her eyes shone

"You are a poet"said she"perhaps the gnatest we haveIf I should live to see it then I shall willingly go tomy graveYou have always amazed me with your powerful imaginationfrom the very day of Brewer Rasmussen's funeral"

So said Auntie Milly and kissed me

Now who was Auntie Millyand who was Brewer Rasmussen Mother's aunt was called"Auntie by us children we had no other name for her

She gave us jam and sugar although it was a great destruction for our teeth but she was weak where thesweet children were concernedshe saidIt was cruel to deny them the little bit of sweetstuff they thought so much of

And because of that we thought so much of Auntie

She was an old maid as far back as I can remember always oldShe stood still in the years

In earlier years she suffered much from toothacheand always spoke about it and so it was that her friend Brewer Rasmussen who was witty called her"Auntie Toothache"

He lived on his money and came often to see Auntie and was older than she He had no teeth only some black stumps

As a child he had eaten too much sugar she told us children and so one came to look like that Auntie had certainly never in her childhood eaten sugar she had the most lovely white teethShe saved them too"and did not sleep with them at night"said Brewer Rasmussen

That was maliciouswe children knew but Auntie said he did not mean anything by it

One morning at breakfast she told of a nastydream she had had in the night one of her teeth had fallen out

"That means"said she"that I will lose a true friend"

"Was it a false tooth"said Brewer Rasmussenand laughed"then it may only mean that you will lose a false friend"

"You are a rude old gentleman"said Auntieangry as I have never seen her before or since

Later on she said it was only the teasing of her old friend He was the most noble man on earth and whenhe died he would be one of God's little angels in heaven

I thought much over the changeand whether she would be in a position to recognize him in the new shapeWhen Auntie and he were both young he had courted herShe considered too longsat still remained sitting too longand became an old maidbut always a faithful friendAnd then Brewer Rasmussen died

He was carried to the grave in the most expensive hearseand had a great following of people with orders and uniforms

Auntie stood in mourning at the window with all us children with the exception of the little brother whom thestork had brought a week before When the hearse and the company had gone past and the street was emptyAuntie

turned to go but not I I waited for the angel BrewerRasmussen he had become a littlewinged child of Godand must show himself

"Auntie" said I"don't you think he will come now or that when the stork again brings us a little brotherhe will bring us Brewer Rasmussen"

Auntie was quite overpowered with my fantasy and said"The child will become a great poet"And she re peated it during the whole of my schooltime even after myconfirmation and now in my student years She was andis to me the most sympathetic friend both in poetic acheand toothache I have attacks of both

"Write all your thoughts down"said she"and put them in the table-drawerJean Paul did that he became a great poetwhom I really don't think much of he dosen'texcite one[You must exciteand you will excite"] The night after this conversation I lay in longing andpain in vehement desire to become the great poet Auntie saw and perceived in me I lay in poetic achebut there isa worse achetoothache It crushed and pulverized meIbecame a writhing worm with a herb bag and Spanish flies

"I know what that is" said Auntie

There was a sorrowful smile about her mouth herteeth shone so white

But I must begin a new section in Auntie's historyand mine

 

 

 I had removed to new lodgings and had been there a month and I was talking to Auntie about it I stay with a very quiet family they do not think about meeven if I ring three timesFor the rest it is truly a rackety house with noise of wind and weather and people Istay right over the gate every cart which drives out orinmakes the pictures shake on the walls The gate bangs and the house shakes as if there was an earth- quakeIf I lie in bed the shock goes through all my limbs but that is said to be good for the nerves If itblows and it is always blowing here in this country then the windowcatch swings back and forward and knocks against the wall The neighbour's door-bellrings with every gust of wind

The people in our house come home in detach ments late in the evening and far on in the night thelodger right above me who in the daytime gives lessons on the bassoon comes home latest and does not go to bed until he has gone for a little midnight walk with heavy steps and ironnailed boots

There are not double windows but there is a bro-ken pane over which the landlady has pasted paper

The wind blows through the crack and makes a noise like the buzzing of a hornet It is a lullaby

When I do fall asleep at last I am soon wakened by a cock Cocks and hens from the cellarman's hen-runannounce that it will soon be morningThe little Norwe- gian poniesthey have no stable but are tethered in thesandhole under the stair kick against the door in turningthemselves The day dawns the porter who with his family sleeps in the garretrattles down the stairthe wooden shoes clatter the door bangs the house shakes and when that is finished the lodger upstairs begins toexercise his gymnasticslifts in each hand a heavy iron ball which he cannot hold it falls and falls again whilstat the same time the young people of the house who aregoing to school come tearing downstairs shriekingI go to the windowopen it to get fresh air and it is refreshing when I can get it

For the rest it is a rare house and I live with a quiet familyThat is the report I gave Auntie of my lodgings but I gave it in a more lively way verbal narration has a fresher effect than the written

"You are a poet"cried Auntie"Write your thoughts down and you will be as good as DickensYes you inter- est me much more You paintwhen you talkYou de scribe your house so that one can see it One shud ders!—Compose furtherPut something living into it people delightful people especially unhappy people"

I really did write about the house with all its sounds and lack of soundness but with only myself in it withoutany action that came later

 

 

 It was in winter late in the evening after the the atre frightful weather a snow-storm so that one could hardly force oneself forward

Auntie was at the theatre and I was there to take her home but one had difficulty in walking alone to say nothing of taking another The cabs were all seized upon Auntie lived a long way out in the town my lodging was onthe contraryclose to the theatrehad that not been the case we must have stood in the sentrybox until further notice We stumbled forward in the deep snow surrounded by the whirling snowflakes I lifted her I held herI pushed her forward We only fell twice but we fell softly

We approached my gatewhere we shook ourselves

we also shook ourselves on the stairand had still enough snow on us to fill the floor of the lobby We got off our overcoats and goloshes and everything which could be thrown offThe landlady lent Auntie dry stockings and a dressinggownit was necessary the landlady said andaddedwhich was true that Auntie could not possibly gohome that night and invited her to use her sittingroomwhere she would make a bed on the sofa in front of thedoor into my room which was always locked And so it happened

The fire burned in my stove the teathings stood onthe table it was comfortable in the little room althoughnot so comfortable as at Auntie's where in winter thereare thick curtains on the doors thick curtains on the windows double carpets with three layers of paper under neath one sits there as if in a wellcorked bottle with warm airYet as I said it was also comfortable in my room the wind whistled outside

Auntie talked and talked Youth returned BrewerRasmussen returned and old memories

She could remember when I cut my first tooth and the family joy over it

The first toothThe tooth of innocence shining like a little white drop of milk,—the milk tooth There came one there came several a whole rowSide by side above and below the most lovely children's teeth andstill only the advance troops not the real ones which should be for the whole lifeThey came and also the wis dom teeth with them the men at the wingsborn with pain and great difficulty They go again every single one They go before their time of service is over even thelast tooth goes and it is not a festival day it is a day ofsadness

Then one is old even although the honour is young

Such thoughts and conversation are not pleasant and yet we talked about all that we came back to childhood' syears talked and talked the clock struck twelve before Auntie retired to rest in the room close to mine

"Good nightmy sweet child"she called"now I sleep as if I lay in my own clotheschest"

And she went to rest but rest there was none nei-ther in the house nor outside The storm shook the win-dowsknocked with the long hanging windowcatches rang the neighbour's bell in the backyard The lodger upstairs had come home

He went for a little evening walk up and downthrew his boots down went to bed and to rest but he snored soloud that one with good hearing could hear him through the roof

I found no restthe weather did not go to rest either it was lively in an unmannerly degreeThe wind whistled and blew in its own manner my teeth also began to be lively they whistled and sang in their own way It turned into a great attack of toothache

There was a draught from the window The moon shone in on the floor The light went and came as clouds came and went in the storm There was restlessness in thelight and shade I looked at the movementand I felt an icy-cold blast

On the floor sat a figure long and thin as when achild draws on a slate with a pencil something which shallrepresent a man a single thin stroke is the body twostrokes are arms the legs are also two strokes the head is many-cornered

Soon the figure became more distinct it got a kind ofcloakvery thin very finebut it showed that it was a woman

I heard a buzzing Was it she or the wind buzzinglike a hornet in the window crack No it was herself Mrs Toothache Her terrible Satanic Majesty God preserve and save us from her visit

"It is good to be here"she buzzed"here are good quartersboggy groundmossy ground Mosquitoes have buzzed here with poison in their sting now I have thesting It must be sharpened on human teeth They shine so white as he lies here in bed They have defied sweet and sour hot and cold nutshells and plum stones But I shallshake them feed the root with draughtsgive them cold in their feet" That was frightful talk and a terrible guest

"So you are a poet"said she"I shall make poems about you in all the metres of pain I shall put iron and steel in your body put strings in all your nerves"

It seemed as if a glowing awl was pushed into the cheekbone I writhed and turned myself

"An excellent toothache "said she"an organ to play on A magnificent concert on the Jew'sharp withkettledrums and trumpets flutes and the bassoon in the wisdom tooth Great poetgreat music"

She played up and she looked horrible even if onesaw no more of her than the hand the shadowy grey icycold hand with the long thin fingers each of them was an instrument of torture The thumb and the forefinger had a knife-blade and a screw the middle finger ended in a pointed awl the next one was a gimletand the little fin- ger squirted mosquito venom

"I shall teach you metres"said she"Great poets shall have great toothaches little poets littletoothaches"

"Oh let me be little" I begged"Let me not be at allAnd I am not a poet I have only attacks of compos ing attacks as of toothache go away go away"

"Do you recognize then that I am mightier than poetry philosophy mathematics and music"said she

"Mightier than all these painted and craved marble con ceptions I am older than all of them together I was born close by the garden of Paradiseoutside where the wind blew and the damp toadstools grew I got Eve to clothe myself in the cold weatherand Adam tooYou can believe that there was strength in the first toothache"

"I believe everything"said I"go away go away"

"Yes if you will give up being a poet never set verse on paper slate or any kind of writing material

then I shall let you go but I will come again if you make verses"

"I swear" said I"Let me only never see or think of you again"

"See me you shall but in a fullerand to you a dearer shape than I am now You shall see me as Auntie Milly and I will say' Versify my sweet boy You are agreat poetthe greatest perhaps that we have ' butbelieve me and begin to make poetry then I will set your verse to music and play it on the mouthharp You sweet childRemember me when you see Auntie Milly"

Then she vanished

I got a glowing awlprick in the jawbone as a parting shotbut it soon subsided I seemed to glide on the softwater saw the white waterlilies with the broad green leaves bend themselves and sink down under me witherand decay and I sank with them was dissolved in rest andpeace

"Diemelt like the snow" it sang and sounded in the water"evaporate in the clouddisappear like the cloud"Down to me through the water shone greatilluminating names inscriptions on waving banners the patentof immortality written on the wings of ephemeral flies

The sleep was deep sleep without dreams I neitherheard the whistling wind the banging gate the neighbour'sdoorbells nor the lodger's heavy gymnastics

BlessednessHappiness

Then there came a gust of wind and the unlocked door into Auntie's room burst openAuntie sprang up and came in to me

"You slept like an angel of God" she said and shehad not the heart to waken me

I woke of myself opened my eyes had quite forgot- ten that Auntie was here in the house but soon remembered it and remembered my toothache apparition Dreamand reality were mixed up together

"You have written nothing last nightafter we said Good-night" she asked "I would like if you had You aremy poet and that you will remain"

I thought that she smiled so cunningly I knew not if it was the real Auntie Milly who loved me or the terribleone I had made a promise to in the night

"Have you composed sweet child"

"Nono"I cried"you are really Auntie Milly"

"Who else"said sheand it was Auntie Millyshe kissed me got into a cab and drove home

I wrote down what is written here It is not in verseand shall never be printed….

Here the manuscript stopped

My young friendthe future grocer's assistantcould not discover the rest it had gone out into the world as paper for smoked herringbutter and green soap It had fulfilled its destiny

The brewer is dead Auntie is dead the student isdead he from whom the sparks of thought came into thebarrel that is the end of the storythe story of AuntieToothache

 


 

Previous    Next    Chinese

 
 
上一级

讨论区