It was just an error, a stupid error, the kind anyone could make. Only now Earth is never going to have another visitor from space. Not ever.
这仅仅是一个错误,一个愚蠢的错误,那种人人都可能犯的错误。只是从今往后再也不会有太空客前来访问地球了。再也不会了。



The Watery Place
Issac Asimov
1 We're never going to have visitors from space. No extraterrestrials will ever land on Earth -- at least, any more.
水 乡
伊萨克?阿西莫夫
我们不会再有太空游客前来了。外星人将不会登陆地球――至少是再也不会了。



 
2 I'm not just being a pessimist. As a matter of fact, extraterrestrials have landed. I know that. Space ships are crisscrossing space among a million worlds, probably, but they will never come here. I know that, too. All on account of a ridiculous error.
我这不是悲观。事实上,外星人登陆过地球。这个我知道。在宇宙的千百万颗星球当中穿梭往来的太空飞船可能有许多,可它们永远不会再来我们这儿了。这我也知道。而这一切都是由于一个荒唐的错误导致的。




3 I'll explain.
且听我解释。




4 It was actually Bart Cameron's error and you'll have to understand about Bart Cameron. He's the sheriff at Twin Gulch, Idaho, and I'm his deputy. Bart Cameron is an impatient man and he gets most impatient when he has to work up his income tax. You see, besides being sheriff, he also owns and runs the general store, he's got some shares in a sheep ranch, he's got a kind of pension for being a disabled veteran (bad knee) and a few other things like that. Naturally, it makes his tax figures complicated.
这实际上是巴特?卡默伦的错,所以你得对巴特?卡默伦这人有所了解。他是爱达荷州特温加尔奇的治安官,我是他的副手。巴特?卡默伦是个脾气暴躁的人,到了他不得不整理个人应缴多少所得税时更是容易光火。你想,他除了当治安官,还经营着一家杂货铺,并拥有一家牧羊场的股份,同时还享有残疾退伍军人(膝盖受过伤)津贴,以及其他某些类似的津贴。这样一来他的个人所得税计算起来自然就变得复杂。




5 It wouldn't be so bad if he'd let a taxman work on the forms with him, but he insists on doing it himself and it makes him a bitter man. By April 14, he isn't approachable. 要是他让税务人员帮他填表就不至于那么糟糕,可他非得要自己填,于是填得他牢骚满腹。每年到了4月14日,他就变得难以接近。




6 So it's too bad the flying saucer landed on April 14, 19
  56.
那个飞碟在1956年4月14日这一天登陆真是大错特错。




7 I saw it land. My chair was backed up against the wall in the sheriff's office, and I was looking at the stars through the windows and wondering if I ought to knock off and hit the sack or keep on listening to Cameron curse real steady as he went over his columns of figures for the hundred twenty-seventh time.
我是看着它降落的。当时我的椅子背靠着治安官办公室的墙,我正望着窗外的星星,琢磨着是不是该下班去睡觉,还是继续听卡默伦骂个不停,他正在第127次核对他在税单上填写的一栏栏数字。




8 It looked like a shooting star at first, but then the track of light broadened into two things that looked like rocket exhausts and the thing came down without a sound.
一开始像是颗流星,可接着那轨迹越来越亮,变成两个光点,就像是火箭喷出的气流,那个东西一点没出声就着落了。




9 Two men got out.
两个人走了出来。




10 I couldn't say anything or do anything. I couldn't choke or point; I couldn't even bug my eyes. I just sat there.
我没法说话,也无法做事。喉部肌肉僵直,也没法用手示意,甚至眼睛都没法瞪大。我就那么呆坐着。




11 Cameron? He never looked up.
卡默伦?他压根儿就没抬起过头。




12 There was a knock on the door. It opened and the two men from the flying saucer stepped in. I would have thought they were city fellows if I hadn't seen the flying saucer land. They wore gray suits, with white shirts and dark red-brown ties. They had on black shoes and black hats. They had dark complexions, black wavy hair and brown eyes. They had very serious looks on their faces and were about five foot ten apiece. They looked very much alike.
有敲门声。门开了,飞碟上的那两个人走了进来。要不是我看着飞碟降落,我还会以为他们就是镇上的人。两人身着灰套装、白衬衣,戴着深红棕色的领带。他们穿着黑皮鞋,戴着黑帽子,肤色黑黑的,卷曲的头发黑黑的,眼睛呈棕色。两人神情严肃,身高都在
  5.10英尺左右,看上去非常相象。




13 God, I was scared.
天哪,我害怕极了。




14 But Cameron just looked up when the door opened and frowned. He said, "What can I do for you, folks?" and he tapped his hand on the forms so it was obvious he hadn't much time.
可卡默伦只是在门开的那会儿略一抬头,皱了皱眉头。 “有什么事吗,伙计?”他边说边用手拍着税单,显然正忙着呢。




15 One of the two stepped forward. He said, "We have had your people under observation a long time." He pronounced each word carefully and all by itself.
那两人中的一个走上前说道:“我们对你们的人已经观察很久了。”他说话时小心翼翼一字一顿的。




16 Cameron said, "My people? All I got's a wife. What's she been doing?"
卡默伦说:“我们的人?我只有老婆一个人。她干什么来着?”




17 The fellow in the suit said, "We have chosen this locality for our first contact because it is isolated and peaceful. We know that you are the leader here."
穿西装的那人说:“我们选择此地作为第一接触点,因为这里偏僻安静。我们知道您是这里的首领。”




18 "I'm the sheriff, if that's what you mean, so spit it out. What's your trouble?"
“我是治安官,这是你要说的吧,有什么话就直说, 你们遇到什么麻烦了?”




19 "We have been careful to adopt your mode of dress and even to assume your appearance. We have also learned your language."
“我们非常谨慎,沿用了你们的衣着模式,甚至采用了你们的外貌。我们还学习了你们的语言。”




20 You could see the light break in on Cameron. He said, "You guys foreigners?" Cameron didn't go much for foreigners, never having met many outside the army, but generally he tried to be fair.
你可以看到卡默伦脸上开始现出领悟的神情。他说:“你俩是外国人?”卡默伦不怎么喜欢外国人,退伍后就没怎么见过外国人,不过总的来说他尽力做到为人公正。




21 The man from the saucer said, "Foreigners? Indeed we are. We come from the watery place your people call Venus."
飞碟来人说:“外国人?正是如此。我们来自你们称之为金星的水乡。”




22 Cameron never blinked an eye. He said, "All right. This is the U.S.A. We all got equal rights regardless of race, color, or nationality. I'm at your service. What can I do for you?"
卡默伦连眼也没眨一下便说:“好吧。这里是美国。我们这儿不论种族、肤色、国籍,一律平等。我为你们效劳。你们有何贵干?”




23 "We would like to have you make immediate arrangements for the important men of your U.S.A., as you call it, to be brought here for discussions leading to your people joining our great organization."
“我们希望您马上与贵国,即你们所说的美国的要人联系,前来此地商讨加入我们组织的事宜。”




24 Slowly, Cameron got red. "Our people join your organization. We're already part of the U.N. and God knows what else. And I suppose I'm to get the President here, eh? Right now? In Twin Gulch? Send a hurry-up message?" He looked at me, as though he wanted to see a smile on my face, but I couldn't as much as fall down if someone had pushed the chair out from under me.
卡默伦的脸色渐渐涨红。“我们加入你们的组织。我们已经是联合国的成员了,天知道还有别的什么。我想是让我把总统找来,呃?就现在?前来特温加尔奇?要我送去一封加快信?”他看了看我,似乎想在我脸上看到一丝笑意,可此刻若有人从我身后把椅子抽开,我也不会摔倒在地。




25 The saucer man said, "Speed is desirable."
飞碟来人说:“事不宜迟。”




26 "You want Congress, too? The Supreme Court?"
“你们想不想要国会也来?还有最高法院?”




27 "If they will help, sheriff."
“那也无妨,治安官。”




28 And Cameron really went to pieces. He banged his income tax form and yelled, "Well, you're not helping me, and I have no time for wise guys who come around, especially foreigners. If you don't get the hell out of here straight away, I'll lock you up for disturbing the peace and I'll never let you out."
这下卡默伦真的气坏了。他把税单向桌上重重地一摔,叫道:“好啊,你们跟我添乱,我可没时间跟你们这些自作聪明的人纠缠,尤其是外国人。要是你们不马上从这里滚出去,我就以扰乱治安罪把你们关起来,永远不放你们出来。”




29 "You wish us to leave?" said the man from Venus.
“您是要我们离开?”金星人问。




30 "Right now! Get the hell out of here and back to wherever you're from and don't ever come back. I don't want to see you and no one else around here does."
“这就走!滚出去,滚回你们老家去,别再回来。我不想见到你们,这儿谁都不想见到你们。”




31 The two men looked at each other.
那两人对望了一眼。




32 Then the one who had done all the talking said, "I can see in your mind that you really wish, with great intensity, to be left alone. It is not our way to force ourselves or our organization on people who do not wish us or it. We will respect your privacy and leave. We will not return. We will put a warning around your world and none will enter."
一直作为发言人的那人于是说:“看得出您确实极其不愿受到打搅。我们从不愿将我们自己或我们组织的意见强加于无意接受者。我们尊重您的私人自由,马上离开。我们将不再返回。我们会在你们地球周围发布警告,不再会有人前来。”




33 Cameron said, "Mister, I'm tired of this garbage, so I'll count to three -- "
卡默伦说:“先生,够了,别再胡说八道了,我要开始数3――”




34 They turned and left, and I just knew that everything they said was so. I was listening to them, you see, which Cameron wasn't, because he was busy thinking of his income tax, and it was as though I could hear their minds, know what I mean? I knew that there would be a kind of fence around earth, keeping others out.
那两人转身离去,我当然知道他们说的句句是实话。你知道,我一直在听他们说,卡默伦可没有,他一心只想着他的税单,而且我似乎知道了他们脑子里在想什么,你明白我的意思吗?我知道地球周围会竖起一道屏障,使他人无法进入。




35 And when they left, I got my voice back -- too late. I screamed, "Cameron, for God's sake, they're from space. Why'd you send them away?"
他们走了之后,我才能又开口说话――已经太迟了。我高声叫起来:“天哪,卡默伦,他们是从太空来的。你为什么要赶他们走?”




36 "From space!" He stared at me.
“从太空来的!”他两眼瞪着我。




37 I yelled, "Look!" I don't know how I did it, he being twenty-five pounds heavier than I, but I heaved him to the window by his shirt collar.
我大喝一声:“你看!”我到现在都不明白是怎么一回事,他比我重了25英磅,可我竟然扯着他的衣领把他拽到了窗前。




38 He was too surprised to resist and when he recovered his wits enough to make like he was going to knock me down, he caught sight of what was going on outside the window and the breath went out of him.
他震惊之下都没有反抗,等他回过神来想要把我击倒时,正好看见窗外的情景,顿时气都喘不出来了。
 

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