夏志清譯白先勇的「謫仙記」(2)           1973 3 / 4           
 
 
LI T'UNG: A CHINESE GIRL IN NEW YORK —— Pai Hsien - yung
Translated by the author and C. T. Hsia
 
 
                              謝晉導演慘不忍睹的《謫仙記》電影版 《最後的貴族》,潘虹 (左二) 演李彤
 
 
(continued from part 1)
We picked up Li T'ung and headed for Central Park. She wore a pink organdy gown, very chic. But this time her diamond spider had slid down almost to the end of the flowing mane around her left shoulder, swaying there as if it were suspended from some invisible filament. It was altogether striking. Chou Ta-ch'ing had been waiting for us for some time at the Tavern-on-the-Green. He had just had his hair cut, and looked overly trim. He got up as soon as he saw us. With a stiff smile on his face, seemingly still as nervous as when, back in his college days, he had waited outside the girls' dormitory to take his date to a dance. After we were seated, Chou Ta-ch'ing removed the gold wrapping paper from a box with a transparent plastic lid and took there from a large purple orchid as a present for Li T'ung. She smiled, her eyelids drooping, and pinned the orchid to the sash around her waist. Chou Ta-ch'ing ordered champagne for all of us, but Li T'ung asked the waiter to bring her a Manhattan.
 
"I detest champagne." Li T'ung said. "It tastes like water."
 
"A Manhattan is quite strong, isn't it?" Chou asked with evident concern as he saw Li T'ung emptying half of her glass in one gulp.
 
''It suits me beautifully." So saying, Li T'ung proceeded to drain her glass in no time, and picking up the cherry, she stuck it into her mouth. As a waiter passed by, she pointed to the empty glass with the cigarette between her fingers:
 
"Another Manhattan, please."
 
Thus drinking, Li T'ung began to talk with great gusto about her adventures at Yonkers. She said she had had no luck in horse racing either; she would win at the start but then lose. She asked me if I knew how to play poker; I said I was rather good at it. She stretched her arm across the table and gave me a firm handshake. 
 
"Huang Hui-fen, your husband is so sweet!" Li T'ung turned to Hui-fen. "Better let me have him. He and I could run a prosperous casino in Chinatown."
 
We all broke out laughing. Chou Ta-ch'ing laughed uneasily: he knew nothing about gambling and Li T'ung had paid him scarcely any attention. A couple of times he had tried to change the topic of our conversation, but was brushed aside by Li T'ung.
 
"You may have him," Hui-fen answered Li T'ung laughingly and gave me a push. Li T'ung got up and slipped her arm into mine. We made for the dance floor in the open surrounded by lamps casting amber light. Li T'ung rested her head on my shoulder while dancing. The amber light shone radiantly on her hair and gown.
 
"Chou Ta-ch'ing is crazy about you," I whispered to her. Chou and Hui-fen had also stepped down to the dance floor.
 
"He's a very nice fellow."
 
"I'm not supposed to marry a non-gambler, you know that," she grinned, and rested her head on my shoulder again.
 
Li T'ung had five or six Manhattans before we finished our dinner. Each time she ordered a drink, Chou Ta-ch'ing looked at her with sheepish disapproval.
 
"Why look at me like that? Too stingy to buy me a drink or something?" Li T'ung suddenly turned her head toward Chou Ta-ch'ing. She was laughing, her cheeks flushed crimson and the left corner of her mouth curved upward. Embarrassed, Chou Ta-ch'ing hastened to explain, "I was only afraid you have had too many."
 
"Tell you what, I'm not going to dance with you until I have another." Li T'ung flipped her fingers toward the waiter for another Manhattan. After finishing that, she got up to dance with Chou. The Latin American band was playing the Latino Cha Cha with much spirit.
 
"I don't Cha Cha too well." Chou Ta-ch'ing got up after some hesitation.
 
"I'll coach you." Li T'ung stepped straight to the dance floor, Chou Ta-ch'ing following behind.
 
 
Instantly, Li T'ung attended herself perfectly to the frenzied tempo of the Cha Cha. She danced very well, with ease and abandon. Chou Ta-ch'ing could hardly follow her. At first Li T'ung accommodated herself to Chou's clumsy steps, but soon she surrendered herself completely to the ever-quickening pace. Her body surged up and down, whirling in wider and wider circles, her steps getting almost frantic. The Cha Cha rhythm became, as it were, a whirlwind of noise, blowing out her long rippling hair and the sash around her waist. The diamond spider was flung into the air, clinging tenaciously to her mane, but the purple orchid flew off the sash, swirled down to the floor, and was trodden to a pulp by her feet. She held up her head, her eyelids lowered, her brows closely knit, her long supple waist swaying urgently. She was like a cobra mesmerized by a magic flute, whirling agonizingly even to the point of allowing its body to disintegrate. The Latin musicians played in frenzy until at the climax of the tune they broke out in singing and yelling. The other dancers had stopped to watch Li T'ung even though Chou Ta-ch'ing still struggled to stay near her, and they applauded with the musicians when the tune stopped. Li T'ung waved to the musicians and came back to her seat. Sweat stood in beads all over her face and a big tuft of hair clung to her cheek. Chou Ta-ch'ing kept wiping his forehead with a handkerchief, his face flushed purple. The minute she sat down, Li T'ung waved to the waiter for another Manhattan.
 
"Li T'ung you're going to get stoned," Hui-fen patted Li T'ung's hand, trying to stop her.
 
Li T'ung flung her arms around Hui-fen's neck and said laughing. "Huang Hui-fen, my dear Huang Hui-fen, don't stop me, not tonight. I'm so happy. I've never been so happy as this."
 
She pointed to her chest, her eyes burning darkly. Before she would let us lead her away, she had two more Manhattans. She staggered a little on her way out. As the Negro porter opened the door for us, Li T'ung suddenly pulled out a ten-dollar bill and unsteadily stuck it into his hand.
 
"Your Manhattans are the best in the world!" Li T'ung said, bending forward.
 
On reaching home, Hui-fen blamed me. "I told you to leave Li T'ung alone. She is so willful I really feel sorry for Chou Ta-ch'ing."
 
Our first two years in New York were as busy as the Lexington Avenue Express. Both of us worked on weekdays, but as soon as we got home, we would be asked by Hui-fen's friends to go out again. On weekends there were the inevitable dinner parties, very often planned weeks ahead. Both Chang Chia-hsing and Lei Chih-ling were then going steady. Chang with Dr. Wang, a physician, and Lei with an engineer named Chiang T'eng. Both Wang and Chiang loved to play mahjong and poker, and when we saw the two couples, we passed the time playing either one or the other game: you might say their courtship was carried out among cards and tiles. Li T'ung did not have a steady boy friend and changed her escorts often. Moreover, she had lost interest in mahjong, calling it a tepid game, and one Saturday she suggested horse racing. So off we went that afternoon, the eight of us, to the Yonkers racecourse. Li T'ung's escort was Teng Mao-ch'ang, a businessman from Hong Kong in his late thirties who ran a Chinese curio shop on Fifth Avenue. Li T'ung said that Teng was an expert on horse racing, winning nine out of ten times. It was a sunny and hot day and all four girls wore broad-rimmed straw hats. Li T'ung also wore magenta shorts and a white shirt. Its collar was turned back, exposing a rakish wisp of her lavender neckerchief.
 
The racecourse was already packed when we got there. Except for Teng Mao-ch'ang, we all knew little about horse racing, and he enthusiastically acted as our broker, running up and down in the crowd to gather information and then ordering us with authority to place bets. The first two rounds we each won thirty or fifty dollars and on the third race Teng urged us to throw in a big bet on Lucky.
 
"I don't want him." Li T'ung said. "I want to pick my own horse."
 
"Just listen to tile once, will you?" Teng advised anxiously. His hand holding a bundle of bills we had given him. "I swear Lucky will hit the jack pot."
 
Checking over the program, Li T'ung pointed to a name and told Teng, "I want to bet on Bold Lad."
 
"Lucky's got to win." answered Teng.
 
"But Bold Lad, what a pretty name! I want to bet fifty bucks on that."
 
"But that's a lousy horse."
 
"Throw in a hundred for me then." Li T'ung fished out five twenty-dollar bills and stuck them into Teng's hands. While he was still trying to talk her out of it, Chang Chia-hsing cut in, "Why should you care if she loses! She makes over a thousand a month."
 
"Why are you so sure I'm going to lose." Li T'ung turned to Chang with a sneer. "You people like to run after a sure thing. I don't."
 
Lucky dashed to the forefront as the race began and after two or three rounds of the track he had left the other horses far behind. Chang Chia-hsing. Lei Chih-ling, and Hui-fen, hugging each other, jumped with excitement. Bold Lad, however, had lagged behind from the very beginning. Li T'ung took off her hat and swung it in the air, shouting at the top of her voice:
 
"Come on, my boy! Come on!"
 
Her face went red and her voice got hoarse but her Bold Lad failed her pitiably. In the end we all won big on Lucky except Li T'ung. In the next few rounds she got more and more erratic and made random bets on whichever horses took her fancy. The day over, Hui-fen and I turned out to have made the biggest pot, over five hundred dollars. Li T'ung, the sole loser, had thrown away over four hundred. In a happy mood Hui-fen took all our friends to a Chinese restaurant on Upper Broadway and ordered a sumptuous dinner. At the table Teng Mao-ch'ang began to recount his experiences at the Hong Kong races; much fascinated, Chaig Chia-hsing and Lei Chih-ling showered him with questions.
 
"You made me slip today," Li T'ung suddenly broke in on Teng. "You are responsible for all my losses."
 
"You wouldn't have lost if you had listened to me," Teng said.
 
"Why should I have listened to you? Who gave you the right to boss us around anyway"' Li T'ung flipped her chopsticks down on the table and retorted, her eyes flashing.
 
"All right, all right, I'll try to keep quiet the next time we go to Yonkers." Teng smiled appealingly.
 
"What next time? Can't I go horse racing without you!"
 
Teng couldn't find anything to say to these cutting words; he looked at Li T'ung with that helpless smile fixed on his face. We all felt a little uneasy. It was an uncomfortable dinner.
 
During the third year of our stay in New York, Hui-fen came down with a serious case of insomnia. The doctor blamed it on her taut nerves, but I knew it must be those frantic parties that had impaired her health. Without waiting for Hui-fen's consent, I asked for a transfer to the Buffalo branch of our company. Although Hui-fen didn't make too much of a fuss about the move, I knew she must resent it. When Chang Chia-hsing and Lei Chih-ling heard the news, they all became indignant and accused me of kidnapping their Huang Hui-fen.
 
During the six years we lived in Buffalo, we came back to New York only twice, once for Lei's wedding and the other time for Chang's. We met Li T'ung on both occasions. In fact, she was Chang's bridesmaid. She looked thinner, but her striking beauty still arrested attention. The reception was held in Dr. Wang's luxurious apartment on Central Park West; with his wide connections, little wonder that he had so many well-wishers gathered in the living room and dining room. Pushing through the crowd, Li T'ung came near me and asked me to take her out for a walk. She dragged me to Hui-fen's side, asking with a smile, "Won't you lend me your husband for a moment?"
 
"Take him along. I don't want him anymore," Hui-fen smiled.
 
"You'd better keep an eye on that girl," Lei Chih-ling teased. "She's going to kidnap your husband."
 
"All the better." Hui-fen said, still smiling. "I won't have to go back to Buffalo then."
 
"There were too many people in there and I was suffocating," Li T'ung said to me when we were in Central Park. "To tell you the truth, Ch'en Yin, I want you to buy me a drink, too. It was all Chang Chia-hsing's brilliant idea: a champagne party. You know I loathe that stuff.'
 
I walked Li T'ung to the Tavern-on-the-Green and ordered a Manhattan for her and a Scotch on the rocks for myself. She chatted gaily while drinking. She said she had changed her job. Originala had raised her pay to fifteen hundred a month, but she had quit because she had had a fight with her boss. Now she worked at Vogue where she got even higher pay as the second in command in the design department. Not happy with her new job, either, she shrugged her shoulders, since her new boss was an unbearable crank who had rheumatism all year round. I asked her if she still lived on Lexington Avenue. She laughed and said she had moved three times since I had last seen her. She had already gulped down three drinks during our talk and her face was beginning to turn red.
 
"Take it easy, Li T'ung," I said to her, "you don't want to get high as you did the last time here."
 
"So you still remember it," Li T'ung tossed her head and laughed. "I must have been terribly drunk that night. Did I scare your friend Chou Ta-ch'ing?"
 
"No, he wasn't scared, but he has been saying since that you're the best-looking girl he's ever met."
 
"No kidding," Li T'ung laughed. "Now I remember seeing him at Macy's four or five months ago. He was shopping with his wife. He gave me his address and asked me to visit him."
 
"He's a very nice guy."
 
"He must be," Li T'ung laughed again, "he keeps sending me a Christmas card each year with best wishes for my happiness. A very interesting fellow, but he doesn't gamble."
 
I asked Li T'ung if she still went to the races. She suddenly beamed, gulped down her drink, and gave me a slap on the hand.
 
"Tell you what, last Saturday I went to Yonkers, all by myself. I picked Gallant Knight-isn't that a cute name? Guess what, I won four hundred and fifty on that. Four hundred and fifty on a single bet! That was my greatest accomplishment in my whole damn life, Ch'en Yin. You remember Teng Mao-ch'ang, don't you, the self-appointed expert on horse racing. He went back to Hong Kong and married someone of Chinese and Portuguese blood. Well, anyway, I've suddenly become lucky on horses since he left. I've won every single bet for the last three months."
 
Li T'ung talked rapidly, shaking with laughter, and kept asking the bartender to fill it up for her. It was getting dark outside and Li T'ung got up abruptly, saying, "We'd better go; otherwise Huang Hui-fen might think I've really kidnapped her husband."
 
We had Lili during our second year in Buffalo. When the time came for her to go to kindergarten, Hui-fen gave me her ultimatum: if I persisted in staying in Buffalo, she would take Lili with her to New York and resume her work there. She said she wouldn't mind having insomnia again. I agreed that the methodical, dull life in Buffalo was not very healthful and so we moved back to New York and bought a new house on Long Island. Hui-fen decided that we should give a big party the first Saturday after we moved into the new house. On that day Chang Chia-hsing and Lei Chih-ling came with their husbands. Li T'ung, however, came unescorted. Some other friends came in Dr.Wang's car.
 
To be continued ………
 
相關參考﹕電影版《謫仙記》-《最後的貴族》(可以對比二十年後現時一般製作的進步) (優酷)