640px-Johann_Jacob_Kirstein_001.JPG
Mark Twain
Bill Lin 譯
以前有個畫家,畫了一幅小而美的畫像,他把它擺在可以從鏡子裡看得到的地方;他說:「雙倍的距離使得它更柔和,而且加倍的可愛。」

樹林裡的動物們從家貓那兒聽到了這件事;這隻貓是很受牠們尊崇的,因為牠是如此的有學問,有精緻文明,有禮貌又高貴,而且還能告訴牠們一大堆以前沒聽過,以後還是搞不懂的事情。

牠們聽了這一則新的閒話,感到非常興奮,所以牠們提問題,想要好好的了解這件事;牠們問,到底這幅畫像是什麼東西,這隻貓就這麼解釋:

「它是個扁平的東西,」牠說:「簡直是平得妙,平的出奇,平得迷人又高雅;哦,又如此的美!」

那個形容,使牠們興奮得幾乎發狂,牠們說,牠們寧願放棄所有的,來一睹為快。接著大熊問道:

「到底是什麼,使得它這麼美麗?」

「就是它的外觀,」貓回答。

這個說法,使得牠們的內心充滿了讚賞和疑惑,使得牠們更進入從未有的興奮。接著大牛問道:

「什麼是一面鏡子?」

「那是牆上的一個洞,」貓說:「你看進去,你就會看到那幅畫,它是如此的纖巧迷人,它的無法想像的美的飄渺和靈感,使你昏頭轉向,幾乎使你樂到昏倒。」

驢子還沒發過一言,但是現在牠開始拋出牠的疑問。牠說,從來就沒有像這麼美麗的東西,過去沒有,現在也不可能。牠說,用上一籮筐的又臭又長的形容詞,來哄抬一樣東西的美麗的當頭,就是該懷疑的時候了。

很顯然的,這些疑問在動物們的身上產生了影響,所以這隻貓生氣的走掉了。

這個話題消失了一兩天,不過好奇心,藉著可以察覺得到的重燃的興趣,又同時東山再起。於是動物們抨擊驢子,搞掉了可能對牠們來講是一件歡樂的事,只不過懷疑畫像不美麗,整件事又沒有任何證據。

驢子一點也不苦惱,牠很平靜的說,只有一個方法可以查出,到底是牠或那隻貓,誰是對的;牠要走去那裡,往那洞裡看,然後回來報告牠的看見。動物們都鬆了一口氣,而且很感激,請牠馬上去——牠照著辦了。

但是牠不知道牠應該站在哪裡;經過錯誤的嘗試,牠站在畫像和鏡子的中間。結果是:畫像一點也沒機會可以顯示出來。牠回去了,說:

「貓說謊,洞裡只看到一隻驢子。看不到一個像扁平的東西。只有一隻瀟灑的驢子,很友善,只有那麼一隻驢子,再沒有別的啦!」

大象問:「你真有好好的看清楚?你有靠近去看?」

「我有好好的把它看清楚,哦,獸王哈地Hathi。我是靠近到把鼻子都碰上了。」

「這真奇怪,」大象說:「這隻貓一向都很誠實——至少在我們能辨認的範圍裡。再找一個去試試看,巴魯Baloo,去看那洞裡的東西,速速回報。」

所以大熊去了。回來了,牠說:

「貓和驢子都沒講實話;那個洞裡只有一隻熊。」

動物們都大大的吃了一驚,而且不解。現在,每隻動物都渴望一展所能,來得到真相。大象就一一的派牠們去。

首先是大牛,牠從洞裡只看到一頭牛。

老虎只看到一隻虎。

獅子只看到一隻獅子。

花豹只看到一隻豹。

駱駝看到一隻駱駝,其他什麼也沒。

這下子哈地Hathi火大了,說:如果牠御駕出征,牠一定會搞個水落石出。

當牠回來時,牠把底下的這些動物都當成騙子,臭罵了一頓,而且對這隻貓的道德和心智上的盲目很不諒解。牠說:除非是近視的傻瓜,怎麼可能沒看到那洞裡只有一隻大象。

論正道
家貓著
不管是哪一篇文章,假如你站在那些文字和你自己的想像力的鏡子中間時,你可能看不到你的兩隻耳朵,但是它們一定在那兒。


A FABLE

Once upon a time an artist who had painted a small and very beautiful picture placed it so that he could see it in the mirror. He said, "This doubles the distance and softens it, and it is twice as lovely as it was before."

The animals out in the woods heard of this through the housecat, who was greatly admired by them because he was so learned, and so refined and civilized, and so polite and high-bred, and could tell them so much which they didn't know before, and were not certain about afterward. They were much excited about this new piece of gossip, and they asked questions, so as to get at a full understanding of it. They asked what a picture was, and the cat explained.

"It is a flat thing," he said; "wonderfully flat, marvelously flat, enchantingly flat and elegant. And, oh, so beautiful!"

That excited them almost to a frenzy, and they said they would give the world to see it. Then the bear asked:

"What is it that makes it so beautiful?"

"It is the looks of it," said the cat.

This filled them with admiration and uncertainty, and they were more excited than ever. Then the cow asked:

"What is a mirror?"

"It is a hole in the wall," said the cat. "You look in it, and there you see the picture, and it is so dainty and charming and ethereal and inspiring in its unimaginable beauty that your head turns round and round, and you almost swoon with ecstasy."

The ass had not said anything as yet; he now began to throw doubts. He said there had never been anything as beautiful as this before, and probably wasn't now. He said that when it took a whole basketful of sesquipedalian adjectives to whoop up a thing of beauty, it was time for suspicion.

It was easy to see that these doubts were having an effect upon the animals, so the cat went off offended. The subject was dropped for a couple of days, but in the meantime curiosity was taking a fresh start, aid there was a revival of interest perceptible. Then the animals assailed the ass for spoiling what could possibly have been a pleasure to them, on a mere suspicion that the picture was not beautiful, without any evidence that such was the case. The ass was not, troubled; he was calm, and said there was one way to find out who was in the right, himself or the cat: he would go and look in that hole, and come back and tell what he found there. The animals felt relieved and grateful, and asked him to go at once—which he did.

But he did not know where he ought to stand; and so, through error, he stood between the picture and the mirror. The result was that the picture had no chance, and didn't show up. He returned home and said:

"The cat lied. There was nothing in that hole but an ass. There wasn't a sign of a flat thing visible. It was a handsome ass, and friendly, but just an ass, and nothing more."

The elephant asked:

"Did you see it good and clear? Were you close to it?"

"I saw it good and clear, O Hathi, King of Beasts. I was so close that I touched noses with it."

"This is very strange," said the elephant; "the cat was always truthful before—as far as we could make out. Let another witness try. Go, Baloo, look in the hole, and come and report."

So the bear went. When he came back, he said:

"Both the cat and the ass have lied; there was nothing in the hole but a bear."

Great was the surprise and puzzlement of the animals. Each was now anxious to make the test himself and get at the straight truth. The elephant sent them one at a time.

First, the cow. She found nothing in the hole but a cow.

The tiger found nothing in it but a tiger.

The lion found nothing in it but a lion.

The leopard found nothing in it but a leopard.

The camel found a camel, and nothing more.

Then Hathi was wroth, and said he would have the truth, if he had to go and fetch it himself. When he returned, he abused his whole subjectry for liars, and was in an unappeasable fury with the moral and mental blindness of the cat. He said that anybody but a near-sighted fool could see that there was nothing in the hole but an elephant.

MORAL, BY THE CAT

You can find in a text whatever you bring, if you will stand between it and the mirror of your imagination. You may not see your ears, but they will be there.
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