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  外语解密学习法 逆读法(Reverse Reading Method) 和  解读法(Decode-Reading Method)训练范文 ——                 

解密目标语言:英语                                解密辅助语言:汉语
              Language to be decoded:  English             Auxiliary Language :  Chinese  

  
       
解密文本:     《老人与海》   [美] 欧内斯特·海明威  著         
 

 The Old Man and the Sea
by  
Ernest Hemingway



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普通版(General Version) iPad版(iPad Version)

  

 

He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish. In the first forty days a boy had been with him. But after forty days without a fish the boy's parents had told him that the old man was now definitely and finally salao, which is the worst form of unlucky, and the boy had gone at their orders in another boat which caught three good fish the first week. It made the boy sad to see the old man come in each day with his skiff empty and he always went down to help him carry either the coiled lines or the gaff and harpoon and the sail that was furled around the mast. The sail was patched with flour sacks and, furled, it looked like the flag of permanent defeat. (Note: The skill of the introduction of the old man should be noted. He is both in time and timeless. The numbers mentioned are significant.)

The old man was thin and gaunt with deep wrinkles in the back of his neck. The brown blotches of the benevolent skin cancer the sun brings from its reflection on the tropic sea were on his cheeks. The blotches ran well down the sides of his face and his hands had the deep-creased scars from handling heavy fish on the cords. But none of these scars were fresh. They were as old as erosions in a fishless desert.

Everything about him was old except his eyes and they were the same color as the sea and were cheerful and undefeated.

"Santiago,” the boy said to him as they climbed the bank from where the skiff was hauled up. "I could go with you again. We've made some money. "

The old man had taught the boy to fish and the boy loved him.

"No,” the old man said. "You're with a lucky boat. Stay with them. "

"But remember how you went eighty-seven days without fish and then we caught big ones every day for three weeks. "

"I remember, "the old man said,"I know you did not leave me because you doubted. "

"It was papa made me leave. I am a boy and I must obey him. "

"I know," the old man said. "It is quite normal. "

"He hasn't much faith. "

"No," the old man said. "But we have. Haven't we?"

"Yes," the boy said. "Can I offer you a beer on the Terrace and then we'll take the stuff home. "

"Why not?" the old man said. "Between fishermen. "

They sat on the Terrace and many of the fishermen made fun of the old man and he was not angry. Others, of the older fishermen, looked at him and were sad. But they did not show it and they spoke politely about the current and the depths they had drifted their lines at and the steady good weather and of what they had seen. The successful fishermen of that day were already in and had butchered their marlin out and carried them laid full across two planks, with two men staggering at the end of each plank, to the fish house where they waited for the ice truck to carry them to the market in Havana. Those who had caught sharks had taken them to the shark factory on the other side of the cove where they were hoisted on a block and tackle, their livers removed, their fins cut off and their hides skinned out and their flesh cut into strips for salting.

When the wind was in the east a smell came across the harbor from the shark factory; but today there was only the faint edge of the odor because the wind had backed into the north and then dropped off and it was pleasant and sunny on the Terrace.

"Santiago,” the boy said.

"Yes, "the old man said. He was holding his glass and thinking of many years ago.

"Can I go out to get sardines for you for tomorrow?"

" No. Go and play baseball. I can still row and Rogelio will throw the net. "

" I would like to go. If I cannot fish with you, I would like to serve in some way."

"You bought me a beer, "the old man said. "You are already a man. "

"How old was I when you first took me in a boat?"

"Five and you nearly were killed when I brought the fish in too green and he nearly tore the boat to pieces. Can you remember?"

"I can remember the tail slapping and banging and the thwart breaking and the noise of the clubbing. I can remember you throwing me into the bow where the wet coiled lines were and feeling the whole boat shiver and the noise of you clubbing him like chopping a tree down and the sweet blood smell all over me. "

"Can you really remember that or did I just tell it to you?"

"I remember everything from when we first went together. "

The old man looked at him with his sunburned, confident loving eyes.

"If you were my boy I'd take you out and gamble,” he said. "But you are your father's and your mother's and you are in a lucky boat. "

"May I get the sardines? I know where I can get four baits too. "

"I have mine left from today. I put them in salt in the box. "

"Let me get four fresh ones. "

"One,” the old man said. His hope and his confidence had never gone. But now they were freshening as when the breeze rises.

"Two,” the boy said.

"Two,” the old man agreed. "You didn't steal them?"

"I would, "the boy said. "But I bought these. " 'Thank you, the old man said. He was too simple to wonder when he had attained humility. But he knew he had attained it and he knew it was not disgraceful and it carried no loss of true pride.

"Tomorrow is going to be a good day with this current, "he said.

"Where are you going? the boy asked.

"Far out to come in when the wind shifts. I want to be out before it is light. "

"I'll try to get him to work far out, the boy said. "Then if you hook something truly big we can come to your aid. "

"He does not like to work too far out. "

"No, "the boy said. "But I will see something that he cannot see such as a bird working and get him to come out after dolphin. "

"Are his eyes that bad?"

"He is almost blind. "

"It is strange,” the old man said. "He never went turtle-ing. That is what kills the eyes. "

"But you went turtle-ing for years off the Mosquito Coast and your eyes are good.

"I am a strange old man. "

"But are you strong enough now for a truly big fish?"

"I think so. And there are many tricks. "

"Let us take the stuff home, "the boy said. "So I can get the cast net and go after the sardines. "

They picked up the gear from the boat. The old man carried the mast on his shoulder and the boy carried the wooden box with the coiled, hard-braided brown lines, the gaff and the harpoon with its shaft. The box with the baits was under the stern of the skiff along with the club that was used to subdue the big fish when they were brought alongside. No one would steal from the old man but it was better to take the sail and the heavy lines home as the dew was bad for them and, though he was quite sure no local people would steal from him, the old man thought that a gaff and a harpoon were needless temptations to leave in a boat.

They walked up the road together to the old man's shack and went in through its open door. The old man leaned the mast with its wrapped sail against the wall and the boy put the box and the other gear beside it. The mast was nearly as long as the one room of the shack. The shack was made of the tough bud-shields of the royal palm which are called guano and in it there was a bed, a table, one chair, and a place on the dirt floor to cook with charcoal. On the brown walls of the flattened, overlapping leaves of the sturdy fibered guano there was a picture in color of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and another of the Virgin of Cobre. These were relics of his wife. Once there had been a tinted photograph of his wife on the wall but he had taken it down because it made him too lonely to see it and it was on the shelf in the corner under his clean shirt. (the royal palm: a tall, graceful palm of southern Florida and Cuba.)

"What do you have to eat? " the boy asked.

"A pot of yellow rice with fish. Do you want some?"

"No, I will eat at home. Do you want me to make the fire?"

"No. I will make it later on. Or I may eat the rice cold. "

"May I take the cast net?"

"Of course. "

There was no cast net and the boy remembered when they had sold it. But they

went through this fiction every day. There was no pot of yellow rice and fish and the boy knew this too.

"Eighty-five is a lucky number, the old man said. "How would you like to see me bring one in that dressed out over a thousand pounds?"

"I'll get the cast net and go for sardines. Will you sit in the sun in the doorway?"

"Yes. I have yesterday's paper and I will read the baseball. "

The boy did not know whether yesterday's paper was a fiction too. But the old man brought it out from under the bed.

"Perico gave it to me at the bodega, " he explained. (bodega: a grocery store.)

"I'll be back when I have the sardines. I'll keep yours and mine together on ice and we can share them in the morning. When I come back you can tell me about the baseball. "(the baseball: The old man supports the Yankees of the American League.)

"The Yankees cannot lose. "

"But I fear the Indians of Cleveland. "

"Have faith in the Yankees my son. Think of the great DiMaggio. " (the great DiMaggio: Joe DiMaggio, a fisherman’s son, outfielder with the Yankees from 1936 to 1951.)

"I fear both the Tigers of Detroit and the Indians of Cleveland.

"Be careful or you will fear even the Reds of Cincinnati and the White Sox of Chicago. "

"You study it and tell me when I come back. "

"Do you think we should buy a terminal of the lottery with an eighty-five? Tomorrow is the eighty-fifth day. "(a terminal of the lottery: Lottery tickets of various kinds are sold openly in the Caribbean. Perhaps the old man refers to the last two digits of a longer number.)

"We can do that, the boy said. "But what about the eighty-seven of your great record?"

"It could not happen twice. Do you think you can find an eighty-five?"

"I can order one. "

"One sheet. That's two dollars and a half. Who can we borrow that from?"

"That's easy. I can always borrow two dollars and a half. "

"I think perhaps I can too. But I try not to borrow. First you borrow. Then you beg. "

"Keep warm old man,” the boy said. "Remember we are in September. "

"The month when the great fish come, the old man said. "Anyone can be a fisherman in May. "

"I go now for the sardines, "the boy said. When the boy came back the old man was asleep in the chair and the sun was down. The boy took the old army blanket off the bed and spread it over the back of the chair and over the old man's shoulders. They were strange shoulders, still powerful although very old, and the neck was still strong too and the creases did not show so much when the old man was asleep and his head fallen forward. His shirt had been patched so many times that it was like the sail and the patches were faded to many different shades by the sun. The old man's head was very old though and with his eyes closed there was no life in his face. The newspaper lay across his knees and the weight of his arm held it there in the evening breeze. He was barefooted.

The boy left him there and when he came back the old man was still asleep.

"Wake up old man, the boy said and put his hand on one of the old man's knees.

The old man opened his eyes and for a moment he was coming back from a long way away. Then he smiled.

"What have you got? " he asked.

"Supper,” said the boy. "We're going to have supper. "

"I'm not very hungry. "

"Come on and eat. You can't fish and not eat. "

"I have, the old man said getting up and taking the newspaper and folding it. Then he started to fold the blanket.

"Keep the blanket around you, the boy said. You'll not fish without eating while I'm alive. "

Then live a long time and take care of yourself, "the old man said. "What are we eating?"

Black beans and rice, fried bananas, and some stew. "(black beans and rice, fried bananas: staple foods of the Caribbean islands.)

The boy had brought them in a two-decker metal container from the Terrace . The two sets of knives and forks and spoons were in his pocket with a paper - napkin wrapped around each set.

"Who gave this to you?"

"Martin. The owner. "

"I must thank him. "

" I thanked him already," the boy said. " You don't need to thank him. "

"I'll give him the belly meat of a big fish, the old man said . "' Has he done this for us more than once?"

"I think so. "

"I must give him something more than the belly meat then. He is very thoughtful for us. "

"He sent two beers. "

"I like the beer in cans best. "

"I know. But this is in bottles, Hatuey beer, and I take back the bottles. "

"That's very kind of you, the old man said. "Should we eat?"

"I've been asking you to, the boy told him gently. "I have not wished to open the container until you were ready. "

"I'm ready now, the old man said. "I only needed time to wash. "

Where did you wash? The boy thought. The village water supply was two streets down the road. I must have water here for him, the boy thought, and soap and a good towel. Why am I so thoughtless? I must get him another shirt and a jacket for the winter and some sort of shoes and another blanket. (the village water supply: a community tap or well.)

"Your stew is excellent, "the old man said.

"Tell me about the baseball, "The boy asked him.

"In the American League it is the Yankees as I said, "the old man said happily.

"They lost today, "the boy told him.

"That means nothing. The great DiMaggio is himself again. "

"They have other men on the team. "

"Naturally. But he makes the difference. In the other league, between Brooklyn and Philadelphia I must take Brooklyn. But then I think of Dick Sisler and those great drives in the old park. "(the other league: the National League, to which the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Philadelphia Phillies belonged.)(Dick Sisler: player for Philadelphia from 1948 to 1951 and for other teams before and after these years(His father, George Sisler, was a well-known player for St.Louis and Boston.)

"There was nothing ever like them. He hits the longtest ball I have ever seen. "

"Do you remember when he used to come to the Terrace? I wanted to take him fishing but I was too timid to ask him. Then I asked you to ask him and you were too timid. "

I know. It was a great mistake. He might have gone with us. Then we would have that for all of our lives. "

"I would like to take the great DiMaggio fishing, "the old man said. "They say his father was a fisherman. Maybe he was as poor as we are and would understand. "

"The great Sisler's father was never poor and he, the father, was playing in the big leagues when he was my age. "

"When I was your age I was before the mast on a square rigged ship that ran to Africa and I have seen lions on the beaches in the evening. "

"I know. You told me. "

"Should we talk about Africa or about baseball?"

"Baseball I think, the boy said. "Tell me about the great John J. McGraw. "He said Jota for J.(the great John J. McGraw: manager of the New York Giants from the early 1900 ’s to 1932.)

"He used to come to the Terrace sometimes too in the older days. But he was rough and harsh-spoken and difficult when he was drinking. His mind was on horses as well as baseball. At least he carried lists of horses at all times in his pocket and frequently spoke the names of horses on the telephone. "

" He was a great manager, " the boy said. " My father thinks he was the greatest. "

"Because he came here the most times, the old man said." If Durocher had continued to come here each year your father would think him the greatest manager."(Durocher: manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1940’s and of the New York Giants from 1948 to 1955.)

"Who is the greatest manager, really, Luque or Mike Gonzalez?"(Luque: Adolfo Luque, born in Havana in 1890, played until 1935 with Boston, Cincinnati, Brooklyn, and the New York Giants. Mike Gonzalez: manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, 1938, 1940.)

"I think they are equal. "

"And the best fisherman is you. "

"No. I know others better. "

"Que va," the boy said. "There are many good fishermen and some great ones. But there is only you. "(Que va: A Spanish exclamation difficult to translate----“What does it matter?”“What of it?”)

"Thank you. You make me happy. I hope no fish will come along so great that he will prove us wrong. "

"There is no such fish if you are still strong as you say. "

"I may not be as strong as I think, "the old man said. "But I know many tricks and I have resolution. "

"You ought to go to bed now so that you will be fresh in the morning. I will take the things back to the Terrace. "

"Good night then. I will wake you in the morning. "

"You're my alarm clock, the boy said.

"Age is my alarm clock, the old man said. "Why do old men wake so early? Is it to have one longer day?"

"I don't know,” the boy said. "All I know is that young boys sleep late and hard. "

"I can remember it, "the old man said. "I'll waken you in time. "

"I do not like for him to waken me. It is as though I were inferior. "

"I know. "

"Sleep well old man. "

The boy went out. They had eaten with no light on the table and the old man took off his trousers and went to bed in the dark. He rolled his trousers up to make a pillow, putting the newspaper inside them. He rolled himself in the blanket and slept on the other old newspapers that covered the springs of the bed.

He was asleep in a short time and he dreamed of Africa when he was a boy and the long golden beaches and the white beaches, so white they hurt your eyes, and the high capes and the great brown mountains. He lived along that coast now every night and in his dreams he heard the surf roar and saw the native boats come riding through it. He smelled the tar and oakum of the deck as he slept and he smelled the smell of Africa that the land breeze brought at morning.

Usually when he smelled the land breeze he woke up and dressed to go and wake the boy. But tonight the smell of the land breeze came very early and he knew it was too early in his dream and went on dreaming to see the white peaks of the Islands rising from the sea and then he dreamed of the different harbors and roadsteads of the Canary Islands.

He no longer dreamed of storms, nor of women, nor of great occurrences, nor of great fish, nor fights, nor contests of strength, nor of his wife. He only dreamed of places now and of the lions on the beach. They played like young cats in the dusk and he loved them as he loved the boy. He never dreamed about the boy. He simply woke, looked out the open door at the moon and unrolled his trousers and put them on. He urinated outside the shack and then went up the road to wake the boy. He was shivering with the morning cold. But he knew he would shiver himself warm and that soon he would be rowing.

The door of the house where the boy lived was unlocked and he opened it and walked in quietly with his bare feet. The boy was asleep on a cot in the first room and the old man could see him clearly with the light that came in from the dying moon. He took hold of one foot gently and held it until the boy woke and turned and looked at him. The old man nodded and the boy took his trousers from the chair by the bed and, sitting on the bed, pulled them on.

The old man went out the door and the boy came after him. He was sleepy and the old man put his arms across his shoulders and said,” I am sorry. "

"Que va. "The boy said. "It is what a man must do."

They walked down the road to the old man's shack and all along the road, in the dark, barefoot men were moving, carrying the masts of their boats.

When they reached the old man's shack the boy took the rolls of line in the basket and the harpoon and gaff and the old man carried the mast with the furled sail on his shoulder.

"Do you want coffee?” the boy asked.

"We'll put the gear in the boat and then get some. "

They had coffee from condensed milk cans at an early morning place that served fishermen.

"How did you sleep old man? the boy asked. He was waking up now although it was still hard for him to leave his sleep.

"Very well, Manolin," the old man said. "I feel confident today. "

"So do I, the boy said. "Now I must get your sardines and mine and your fresh baits. He brings our gear himself. He never wants anyone to carry anything. "

"We're different, the old man said. "I let you carry things when you were five years old. "

"1 know it, the boy said. "I'll be right back. Have another coffee. We have credit here. "

He walked off, barefooted on the coral rocks, to the ice house where the baits were stored.

The old man drank his coffee slowly. It was all he would have all day and he knew that he should take it. For a long time now eating had bored him and he never carried a lunch. He had a bottle of water in the bow of the skiff and that was all he needed for the day.

The boy was back now with the sardines and the two baits wrapped in a newspaper and they went down the trail to the skiff, feeling the pebbled sand under their feet, and lifted the skiff and slid her into the water.

"Good luck old man. "

"Good luck, "the old man said. He fitted the rope lashings of the oars onto the thole pins and, leaning forward against the thrust of the blades in the water, he began to row out of the harbor in the dark. There were other boats from the other beaches going out to sea and the old man heard the dip and push of their oars even though he could not see them now the moon was below the hills. Sometimes someone would speak in a boat. But most of the boats were silent except for the dip of the oars. They spread apart after they were out of the mouth of the harbor and each one headed for the part of the ocean where he hoped to find fish. The old man knew he was going far out and he left the smell of the land behind and rowed out into the clean early morning smell of the ocean. He saw the phosphorescence of the Gulf weed in the water as he rowed over the part of the ocean that the fishermen called the great well because there was a sudden deep of seven hundred fathoms where all sorts of fish congregated because of the swirl the current made against the steep walls of the floor of the ocean. Here there were concentrations of shrimp and bait and sometimes schools of squid in the deepest holes and these rose

close to the surface at night where all the wandering fish fed on them.

In the dark the old man could feel the morning coming and as he rowed he heard the trembling sound as flying fish left the water and the hissing that their stiff set wings made as they soared away in the darkness. He was very fond of flying fish as they were his principal friends on the ocean. He was sorry for the birds, especially the small delicate dark terns that were always flying and looking and almost never finding, and he thought,” The birds have a harder life than we do except for the robber birds and the heavy strong ones. Why did they make birds so delicate and fine as those sea swallows when the ocean can be so cruel? She is kind and very beautiful. But she can be so cruel and it comes so suddenly and such birds that fly, dipping and hunting, with their small sad voices are made too delicately for the sea. "

He always thought of the sea as la mar which is what people call her in Spanish when they love her. Sometimes those who love her say bad things of her but they are always said as though she were a woman. Some of the younger fishermen, those who used buoys as floats for their lines and had motorboats, bought when the shark livers had brought much money, spoke of her as el mar which is masculine. They spoke of her as a contestant or a place or even an enemy. But the old man always thought of her as feminine and as something that gave or withheld great favors, and if she did wild or wicked things it was because she could not help them. The moon affects her as it does a woman, he thought.

He was rowing steadily and it was no effort for him since he kept well within his speed and the surface of the ocean was flat except for the occasional swirls of the current. He was letting the current do a third of the work and as it started to be light he saw he was already further out than he had hoped to be at this hour.

I worked the deep wells for a week and did nothing, he thought. Today I'll work out where the schools of bonita and albacore are and maybe there will be a big one with them.(albacore: the long-finned tunny.)

Before it was really light he had his baits out and was drifting with the current. One bait was down forty fathoms. The second was at seventy-five and the third and fourth were down in the blue water at one hundred and one hundred and twenty-five fathoms. Each bait hung head down with the shank of the hook inside the bait fish, tied and sewed solid and all the projecting part of the hook, the curve and the point, was covered with fresh sardines. Each sardine was hooked through both eyes so that they made a half-garland on the projecting steel. There was no part of the hook that a great fish could feel which was not sweet smelling and good tasting.(These pages provide a good example of Hemingway’s description from the point of view of the fisherman.)

The boy had given him two fresh small tunas, or albacores, which hung on the two deepest lines like plummets and, on the others, he had a big blue runner and a yellow jack that had been used before; but they were in good condition still and had the excellent sardines to give them scent and attractiveness. Each line, as thick around as a big pencil, was looped onto a green-sapped stick so that any pull or touch on the bait would make the stick dip and each line had two forty-fathom coils which could be made fast to the other spare coils so that, if it were necessary, a fish could take out over three hundred fathoms of line.

Now the man watched the dip of the three sticks over the side of the skiff and rowed gently to keep the lines straight up and down and at their proper depths. It was quite light and any moment now the sun would rise.

The sun rose thinly from the sea and the old man could see the other boats, low on the water and well in toward the shore, spread out across the current. Then the sun was brighter and the glare came on the water and then, as it rose clear, the flat sea sent it back at his eyes so that it hurt sharply and he rowed without looking into it. He looked down into the water and watched the lines that went straight down into the dark of the water. He kept them straighter than anyone did, so that at each level in the darkness of the stream there would be a bait waiting exactly where he wished it to be for any fish that swam there. Others let them drift with the current and sometimes they were at sixty fathoms when the fishermen thought they were at a hundred.

But, he thought, I keep them with precision. Only I have no luck any more. But who knows? Maybe today. Every day is a new day. It is better to be lucky. But I would rather be exact. (This is a favorite theme with Hemingway.) Then when luck comes you are ready.

The sun was two hours higher now and it did not hurt his eyes so much to look into the east. There were only three boats in sight now and they showed very low and far inshore.

All my life the early sun has hurt my eyes, he thought. Yet they are still good. In the evening I can look straight into it without getting the blackness. It has more force in the evening too. But in the morning it is painful.

Just then he saw a man-of-war bird with his long black wings circling in the sky ahead of him. He made a quick drop, slanting down on his backswept wings, and then circled again.(man-of-war bird: a bird with a great wingspread, also called frigate bird, it roams the tropical seas, snatching fish and robbing smaller birds.)

"He's got something, "the old man said aloud.

"He's not just looking. "

He rowed slowly and steadily toward where the bird was circling. He did not hurry and he kept his lines straight up and down. But he crowded the current a little so that he was still fishing correctly though faster than he would have fished if he was not trying to use the bird.

The bird went higher in the air and circled again, his wings motionless. Then he dove suddenly and the old man saw flying fish spurt out of the water and sail desperately over the surface.

"Dolphin," the old man said aloud. "Big dolphin. "

He shipped his oars and brought a small line from under the bow. It had a wire leader and a medium-sized hook and he baited it with one of the sardines. He let it go over the side and then made it fast to a ring bolt in the stern. Then he baited another line and left it coiled in the shade of the bow. He went back to rowing and to watching the longwinged black bird who was working, now, low over the water.

As he watched the bird dipped again slanting his wings for the dive and then swinging them wildly and ineffectually as he followed the flying fish. The old man

could see the slight bulge in the water that the big dolphin raised as they followed the escaping fish. The dolphin were cutting through the water below the flight of the fish and would be in the water, driving at speed, when the fish dropped. It is a big school of dolphin, he thought. They are wide spread and the flying fish have little chance. The bird has no chance. The flying fish are too big for him and they go too fast.

He watched the flying fish burst out again and again and the ineffectual movements of the bird. That school has gotten away from me, he thought. They are moving out too fast and too far. But perhaps I will pick up a stray and perhaps my big fish is around them. My big fish must be somewhere.

The clouds over the land now rose like mountains and the coast was only a long green line with the gray blue hills behind it. The water was a dark blue now, so dark that it was almost purple. As he looked down into it he saw the red sifting of the plankton in the dark water and the strange light the sun made now. He watched his lines to see them go straight down out of sight into the water and he was happy to see so much plankton because it meant fish. The strange light the sun made in the water, now that the sun was higher, meant good weather and so did the shape of the clouds over the land. But the bird was almost out of sight now and nothing showed on the surface of the water but some patches of yellow, sun-bleached Sargasso weed and the purple, formalized, iridescent, gelatinous bladder of a Portuguese man-of-war floating close beside the boat. It turned on its side and then righted itself. It floated cheerfully as a bubble with its long deadly purple filaments trailing a yard behind it in the water.(Portuguese man-of-war: a type of jellyfish.)

"Agua mala, "the man said. "You whore. " From where he swung lightly against his oars he looked down into the water and saw the tiny fish that were colored like the trailing filaments and swam between them and under the small shade the bubble made as it drifted. They were immune to its poison. But men were not and when some of the filaments would catch on a line and rest there slimy and purple while the old man was working a fish, he would have welts and sores on his arms and hands of the sort that poison ivy or poison oak can give. But these poisonings from the agua mala came quickly and struck like a whiplash.(agua mala: a fisherman’s exclamation; literally bad water.)

The iridescent bubbles were beautiful. But they were the falsest thing in the sea and the old man loved' to see the big sea turtles eating them. The turtles saw them, approached them from the front, then shut their eyes so they were completely carapaced and ate them filaments and all. The old man loved to see the turtles eat them and he loved to walk on them on the beach after a storm and hear them pop when he stepped on them with the horny soles of his feet.(carapaced: protected by the hard upper shell.)

He loved green turtles and hawks-bills with their elegance and speed and their great value and he had a friendly contempt for the huge, stupid loggerheads, yellow in their armor-plating, strange in their love-making, and happily eating the Portuguese men-of-war with their eyes shut.

He had no mysticism about turtles although he had gone in turtle boats for many years. He was sorry for them all, even the great trunk backs that were as long as the

skiff and weighed a ton. Most people are heartless about turtles because a turtle's heart will beat for hours after he has been cut up and butchered. But the old man thought, I have such a heart too and my feet and hands are like theirs. He ate the white eggs to give himself strength. He ate them all through May to be strong in September and October for the truly big fish.

He also drank a cup of shark liver oil each day from the big drum in the shack where many of the fishermen kept their gear. It was there for all fishermen who wanted it. Most fishermen hated the taste. But it was no worse than getting up at the hours that they rose and it was very good against all colds and grippes and it was good for the eyes.

Now the old man looked up and saw that the bird was circling again.

"He's found fish,” he said aloud. No flying fish broke the surface and there was no scattering of bait fish. But as the old man watched, a small tuna rose in the air, turned and dropped head first into the water. The tuna shone silver in the sun and after he had dropped back into the water another and another rose and they were jumping in all directions, churning the water and leaping in long jumps after the bait. They were circling it and driving it.

If they don't travel too fast I will get into them, the old man thought, and he watched the school working the water white and the bird now dropping and dipping into the bait fish that were forced to the surface in their panic.

"The bird is a great help, the old man said. Just then the stern line came taut under his foot, where he had kept a loop of the line, and he dropped his oars and felt the weight of the small tuna's shivering pull as he held the line firm and commenced to haul it in. The shivering increased as he pulled in and he could see the blue back of the fish in the water and the gold of his sides before he swung him over the side and into the boat. He lay in the stern in the sun, compact and bullet shaped, his big, unintelligent eyes staring as he thumped his life out against the planking of the boat with the quick shivering strokes of his neat, fast-moving tail. The old man hit him on the head for kindness and kicked him, his body still shuddering, under the shade of the stern.

"Albacore, "he said aloud. "He'll make a beautiful bait. He'll weigh ten pounds. "

He did not remember when he had first started to talk aloud when he was by himself. He had sung when he was by himself in the old days and he had sung at night sometimes when he was alone steering on his watch in the smacks or in the turtle boats. He had probably started to talk aloud, when alone, when the boy had left. But he did not remember. When he and the boy fished together they usually spoke only when it was necessary. They talked at night or when they were stormbound by bad weather. It was considered a virtue not to talk unnecessarily at sea and the old man had always considered it so and respected it. But now he said his thoughts aloud many times since there was no one that they could annoy.

"If the others heard me talking out loud they would think that I am crazy, "he said aloud. "But since I am not crazy, I do not care. And the rich have radios to talk to them in their boats and to bring them the baseball. "

Now is no time to think of baseball, he thought. Now is the time to think of only

one thing. That which I was born for. There might be a big one around that school, he thought. I picked up only a straggler from the albacore that were feeding. But they are working far out and fast. Everything that shows on the surface today travels very fast and to the northeast. Can that be the time of day? Or is it some sign of weather that I do not know?

He could not see the green of the shore now but only the tops of the blue hills that showed white as though they were snow-capped and the clouds that looked like high snow mountains above them. The sea was very dark and the light made prisms in the water. The myriad flecks of the plankton were annnulled now by the high sun and it was only the great deep prisms m the blue water that the old man saw now with his lines going straight down into the water that was a mile deep.

The tuna, the fishermen called all the fish of that species tuna and only distinguished among them by their proper names when they came to sell them or to trade them for baits, were down again. The sun was hot now and the old man felt it on the back of his neck and felt the sweat trickle down his back as he rowed.

I could just drift, he thought, and sleep and put a bight of line around my toe to wake me. But today is eighty-five days and I should fish the day well.

Just then, watching his lines, he saw one of the projecting green sticks dip sharply.

"Yes,” he said. "Yes, and shipped his oars without bumping the boat. He reached out for the line and held it softly between the thumb and forefinger of his right hand. He felt no strain nor weight and he held the line lightly. Then it came again. This time it was a tentative pull, not solid nor heavy, and he knew exactly what it was. One hundred fathoms down a marlin was eating the sardines that covered the point and the shank of the hook where the hand-forged hook projected from the head of the small tuna.

The old man held the line delicately, and softly, with his left hand, unleashed it from the stick. Now he could let it run through his fingers without the fish feeling any tension.

This far out, he must be huge in this month, he thought. Eat them, fish. Eat them. Please eat them. How fresh they are and you down there six hundred feet in that cold water in the dark. Make another turn in the dark and come back and eat them.

He felt the light delicate pulling and then a harder pull when a sardine's head must have been more difficult to break from the hook. Then there was nothing.

"Come on,” the old man said aloud. "Make another turn. Just smell them. Aren't they lovely? Eat them good now and then there is the tuna. Hard and cold and lovely. Don't be shy, fish. Eat them. "

He waited with the line between his thumb and his finger, watching it and the other lines at the same time for the fish might have swum up or down. Then came the same delicate pulling touch again.

"He'll take it,” the old man said aloud. "God help him to take it. "

He did not take it though. He was gone and the old man felt nothing.

"He can't have gone,” he said. "Christ knows he can’t have gone. He's making a turn. Maybe he has been hooked before and he remembers something of it."

Then he felt the gentle touch on the line and he was happy.

"It was only his turn, he said. "He'll take it. "

He was happy feeling the gentle pulling and then he felt something hard and unbelievably heavy. It was the weight of the fish and he let the line slip down, down, down, unrolling off the first of the two reserve coils. As it went down, slipping lightly through the old man's fingers, he still could feel the great weight, though the pressure of his thumb and finger were almost imperceptible.

"What a fish,” he said. "He has it sideways in his mouth now and he is moving off with it. "

Then he will turn and swallow it, he thought. He did not say that because he knew that if you said a good thing it might not happen. He knew what a huge fish this was and he thought of him moving away in the darkness with the tuna held crosswise in his mouth. At that moment he felt him stop moving but the weight was still there. Then the weight increased and he gave more line. He tightened the pressure of his thumb and finger for a moment and the weight increased and was going straight down.

''He's taken it, he said. "Now I'll let him eat it well. "

He let the line slip through his fingers while he reached down with his left hand and made fast the free end of the two reserve coils to the loop of the two reserve coils of the next line. Now he was ready. He had three forty-fathom coils of line in reserve now, as well as the coil he was using.

"Eat it a little more,” he said. "Eat it well. "

Eat it so that the point of the hook goes into your heart and kills you, he thought, Come up easy and let me put the harpoon into you. All right. Are you ready? Have you been long enough at table?

"Now! "He said aloud and struck hard with both hands, gained a yard of line and then struck again and again, swinging with each arm alternately on the cord with all the strength of his arms and the pivoted weight of his body.

Nothing happened. The fish just moved away slowly and the old man could not raise him an inch. His line was strong and made for heavy fish and he held it against his back until it was so taut that beads of water were jumping from it. Then it began to make a slow hissing sound in the water and he still held it, bracing himself against the thwart and leaning back against the pull. The boat began to move slowly off toward the northwest.

The fish moved steadily and they travelled slowly on the calm water. The other baits were still in the water but there was nothing to be done.

"I wish I had the boy,” the old man said aloud. "I'm being towed by a fish and I'm the towing bitt. I could make the line fast. But then he could break it. I must hold him all I can and give him line when he must have it. Thank God he is travelling and not going down. "(the towing bitt: a post fastened in the deck to hold a cable or rope.)

What I will do if he decides to go down, I don't know. What I'll do if he sounds and dies I don't know. But I'll do something. There are plenty of things I can do.

He held the line against his back and watched its slant in the water and the skiff moving steadily to the northwest.

This will kill him, the old man thought. He can't do this forever. But four hours later the fish was still swimming steadily out to sea, towing the skiff, and the old man was still braced solidly with the line across his back.

"It was noon when I hooked him, he said. "And I have never seen him. "

He had pushed his straw hat hard down on his head before he hooked the fish and it was cutting his forehead. He was thirsty too and he got down on his knees and, being careful not to jerk on the line, moved as far into the bow as he could get and reached the water bottle with one hand. He opened it and drank a little. Then he rested against the bow. He rested sitting on the unstepped mast and sail and tried not to think but only to endure.(the unstepped mast and sail: the sail and mast that had been removed from the step, which is the socket, frame, or platform for supporting the lower end of a mast. Notice how the passing of time is suggested.)

Then he looked behind him and saw that no land was visible. That makes no difference, he thought. I can always come in on the glow from Havana. There are two more hours before the sun sets and maybe he will come up before that. If he doesn't maybe he will come up with the moon. If he does not do that maybe he will come up with the sunrise. I have no cramps and I feel strong. It is he that has the hook in his mouth. But what a fish to pull like that. He must have his mouth shut tight on the wire. I wish I could see him. I wish I could see him only once to know what I have against me.

The fish never changed his course nor his direction all that night as far as the man could tell from watching the stars. It was cold after the sun went down and the old man's sweat dried cold on his back and his arms and his old legs. During the day he had taken the sack that covered the bait box and spread it in the sun to dry. After the sun went down he tied it around his neck so that it hung down over his back and he cautiously worked it down under the line that was across his shoulders now. The sack cushioned the line and he had found a way of leaning forward against the bow so that he was almost comfortable. The position actually was only somewhat less intolerable; but he thought of it as almost comfortable.

I can do nothing with him and he can do nothing with me, he thought. Not as long as he keeps this up.

Once he stood up and urinated over the side of the skiff and looked at the stars and checked his course. The line showed like a phosphorescent streak in the water straight out from his shoulders. They were moving more slowly now and the glow of Havana was not so strong, so that he knew the current must be carrying them to the eastward. If I lose the glare of Havana we must be going more to the eastward, he thought. For if the fish's course held true I must see it for many more hours. I wonder how the baseball came out in the grand leagues today, he thought. It would be wonderful to do this with a radio. Then he thought, think of it always. Think of what you are doing. You must do nothing stupid.

Then he said aloud," I wish I had the boy. To help me and to see this. " No one should be alone in their old age, he thought. But it is unavoidable. I must remember to eat the tuna before he spoils in order to keep strong. Remember, no matter how little you want to, that you must eat him in the morning. Remember, he

said to himself.

During the night two porpoise came around the boat and he could hear them rolling and blowing. He could tell the difference between the blowing noise the male made and the sighing blow of the female.

"They are good," he said. "They play and make jokes and love one another. They are our brothers like the flying fish. "

Then he began to pity the great fish that he had hooked. He is wonderful and strange and who knows how old he is, he thought. Never have I had such a strong fish nor one who acted so strangely. Perhaps he is too wise to jump. He could ruin me by jumping or by a wild rush. But perhaps he has been hooked many times before and he knows that this is how he should make his fight. He cannot know that it is only one man against him, nor that it is an old man. But what a great fish he is and what he will bring in the market if the flesh is good. He took the bait like a male and he pulls like a male and his fight has no panic in it. I wonder if he has any plans or if he is just as desperate as I am?(This example of fidelity should be noted. Immediately afterward, the theme of treachery is introduced.)

He remembered the time he had hooked one of a pair of marlin. The male fish always let the female fish feed first and the hooked fish, the female, made a wild, panic-stricken, despairing fight that soon exhausted her, and all the time the male had stayed with her, crossing the line and circling with her on the surface. He had stayed so close that the old man was afraid he would cut the line with his tail which was sharp as a scythe and almost of that size and shape. When the old man had gaffed her and clubbed her, holding the rapier bill with its sandpaper edge and clubbing her across the top of her head until her color turned to a color almost like the backing of mirrors, and then, with the boy's aid, hoisted her aboard, the male fish had stayed by the side of the boat. Then, while the old man was clearing the lines and preparing the harpoon, the male fish jumped high into the air beside the boat to see where the female was and then went down deep, his lavender wings, that were his pectoral fins, spread wide and all his wide lavender stripes showing. He was beautiful, the old man remembered, and he had stayed.

That was the saddest thing I ever saw with them, the old man thought. The boy was sad too and we begged her pardon and butchered her promptly.

"I wish the boy was here, he said aloud and settled himself against the rounded planks of the bow and felt the strength of the great fish through the line he held across his shoulders moving steadily toward whatever he had chosen.

When once, through my treachery, it had been necessary to him to make a choice, the old man thought.

His choice had been to stay in the deep dark water far out beyond all snares and traps and treacheries. My choice was to go there to find him beyond all people. Beyond all people in the world. Now we are joined together and have been since noon. And no one to help either one of us.

Perhaps I should not have been a fisherman, he thought. But that was the thing that I was born for. I must surely remember to eat the tuna after it gets light.

Some time before daylight something took one of the baits that were behind

him. He heard the stick break and the line begin to rush out over the gunwale of the skiff. In the darkness he loosened his sheath knife and taking all the strain of the fish on his left shoulder he leaned back and cut the line against the wood of the gunwale. Then he cut the other line closest to him and in the dark made the loose ends of the reserve coils fast. He worked skillfully with the one hand and put his foot on the coils to hold them as he drew his knots tight. Now he had six reserve coils of line. There were two from each bait he had severed and the two from the bait the fish had taken and they were all connected.

After it is light, he thought, I will work back to the forty-fathom bait and cut it away too and link up the reserve coils. I will have lost two hundred fathoms of good Catalan cordel and the hooks and leaders. That can be replaced. But who replaces this fish if I hook some fish and it cuts him off? I don't know what that fish was that took the bait just now. It could have been a marlin or a broadbill or a shark. I never felt him. I had to get rid of him too fast.

Aloud he said,” I wish I had the boy. "

But you haven't got the boy, he thought. You have only yourself and you had better work back to the last line now, in the dark or not in the dark, and cut it away and hook up the two reserve coils.

So he did it. It was difficult in the dark and once the fish made a surge that pulled him down on his face and made a cut below his eye. The blood ran down his cheek a little way. But it coagulated and dried before it reached his chin and he worked his way back to the bow and rested against the wood. He adjusted the sack and carefully worked the line so that it came across a new part of his shoulders and, holding it anchored with his shoulders, he carefully felt the pull of the fish and then felt with his hand the progress of the skiff through the water.

I wonder what he made that lurch for, he thought. The wire must have slipped on the hill of his back. Certainly his back cannot feel as badly as mine does. But he cannot pull this skiff forever, no matter how great he is. Now everything is cleared away that might make trouble and I have a big reserve of line; all that a man can ask.

"Fish, he said softly, aloud, “I’ll stay with you until I am dead. "

He'll stay with me too, I suppose, the old man thought and he waited for it to be light. It was cold now in the time before daylight and he pushed against the wood to be warm. I can do it as long as he can, he thought. And in the first light the line extended out and down into the water. The boat moved steadily and when the first edge of the sun rose it was on the old man's right shoulder.

"He's headed north, the old man said. The current will have set us far to the eastward, he thought. I wish he would turn with the current. That would show that he was tiring.

When the sun had risen further the old man realized that the fish was not tiring. There was only one favorable sign. The slant of the line showed he was swimming at a lesser depth. That did not necessarily mean that he would jump. But he might.

"God let him jump, the old man said. "I have enough line to handle him. "

Maybe if I can increase the tension just a little it will hurt him and he will jump, he thought. Now that it is daylight let him jump so that he'll fill the sacks along his

backbone with air and then he cannot go deep to die.

He tried to increase the tension, but the line had been taut up to the very edge of the breaking point since he had hooked the fish and he felt the harshness as he leaned back to pull and knew he could put no more strain on it. I must not jerk it ever, he thought. Each jerk widens the cut the hook makes and then when he does jump he might throw it. Anyway I feel better with the sun and for once I do not have to look into it.

There was yellow weed on the line but the old man knew that only made an added drag and he was pleased. It was the yellow Gulf weed that had made so much phosphorescence in the night.

"Fish, he said, “I love you and respect you very much. But I will kill you dead before this day ends. "

Let us hope so, he thought.

A small bird came toward the skiff from the north. He was a warbler and flying very low over the water. The old man could see that he was very tired.

The bird made the stern of the boat and rested there. Then he flew around the old man's head and rested on the line where he was more comfortable.

"How old are you? the old man asked the bird. "Is this your first trip?"

The bird looked at him when he spoke. He was too tired even to examine the line and he teetered on it as his delicate feet gripped it fast.

"It's steady,” the old man told him. "It's too steady. You shouldn't be that tired after a windless night. What are birds coming to?"

The hawks, he thought, that come out to sea to meet them. But he said nothing of this to the bird who could not understand him anyway and who would learn about the hawks soon enough.

"Take a good rest, small bird,” he said. "Then go in and take your chance like any man or bird or fish. "

It encouraged him to talk because his back had stiffened in the night and it hurt truly now.

"Stay at my house if you like, bird, he said. "I am sorry I cannot hoist the sail and take you in with the small breeze that is rising. But I am with a friend. "

Just then the fish gave a sudden lurch that pulled the old man down onto the bow and would have pulled him overboard if he had not braced himself and given some line.

The bird had flown up when the line jerked and the old man had not even seen him go. He felt the line carefully with his right hand and noticed his hand was bleeding.

"Something hurt him then,” he said aloud and pulled back on the line to see if he could turn the fish. But when he was touching the breaking point he held steady and settled back against the strain of the line.

"You're feeling it now, fish, he said. "And so, God knows, am I. "

He looked around for the bird now because he would have liked him for company. The bird was gone.

You did not stay long, the man thought. But it is rougher where you are going

until you make the shore. How did I let the fish cut me with that one quick pull he made? I must be getting very stupid. Or perhaps I was looking at the small bird and thinking of him. Now I will pay attention to my work and then I must eat the tuna so that I will not have a failure of strength.

"I wish the boy were here and that I had some salt, "he said aloud.

Shifting the weight of the line to his left shoulder and kneeling carefully he washed his hand in the ocean and held it there, submerged, for more than a minute watching the blood trail away and the steady movement of the water against his hand as the boat moved.

"He has slowed much, "he said.

The old man would have liked to keep his hand in the salt water longer but he was afraid of another sudden lurch by the fish and he stood up and braced himself and held his hand up against the sun. It was only a line burn that had cut his flesh. But it was in the working part of his hand. He knew he would need his hands before this was over and he did not like to be cut before it started. " Now," he said, when his hand had dried, " I must eat the small tuna. I can reach him with the gaff and eat him here in comfort. "

He knelt down and found the tuna under the stern with the gaff and drew it toward him keeping it clear of the coiled lines. Holding the line with his left shoulder again, and bracing on his left hand and arm, he took the tuna off the gaff hook and put the gaff back in place. He put one knee on the fish and cut strips of dark red meat longitudinally from the back of the head to the tail. They were wedge-shaped strips and he cut them from next to the backbone down to the edge of the belly. When he had cut six strips he spread them out on the wood of the bow, wiped his knife on his trousers, and lifted the carcass of the bonito by the tail and dropped it overboard.

"I don't think I can eat an entire one,” he said and drew his knife across one of the strips. He could feel the steady hard pull of the line and his left hand was cramped. It drew up tight on the heavy cord and he looked at it in disgust.

"What kind of a hand is that,” he said. "Cramp then if you want. Make yourself into a claw. It will do you no good. "

Come on, he thought and looked down into the dark water at the slant of the line. Eat it now and it will strengthen the hand. It is not the hand's fault and you have been many hours with the fish. But you can stay with him forever. Eat the bonito now.

He picked up a piece and put it in his mouth and chewed it slowly. It was not unpleasant.

Chew it well, he thought, and get all the juices. It would not be bad to eat with a little lime or with lemon or with salt.

"How do you feel, hand? he asked the cramped hand that was almost as stiff as rigor mortis. "I'll eat some more for you. "

He ate the other part of the piece that he had cut in two. He chewed it carefully and then spat out the skin.

"How does it go, hand? Or is it too early to know?"

He took another full piece and chewed it.

"It is a strong full-blooded fish, he thought. "I was lucky to get him instead of dolphin. Dolphin is too sweet. This is hardly sweet at all and all the strength is still in it. "

There is no sense in being anything but practical though, he thought. I wish I had some salt. And I do not know whether the sun will rot or dry what is left, so I had better eat it all although I am not hungry. The fish is calm and steady. I will eat it all and then I will be ready.

"Be patient, hand, he said, “I do this for you. "

I wish I could feed the fish, he thought. He is my brother. But I must kill him and keep strong to do it. Slowly and conscientiously he ate all of the wedge-shaped strips of fish.

He straightened up, wiping his hand on his trousers.

"Now, "he said. "You can let the cord go, hand, and I will handle him with the right arm alone until you stop that nonsense. "He put his left foot on the heavy line that the left hand had held and lay back against the pull against his back.

God help me to have the cramp go, he said. "Because I do not know what the fish is going to do. "

But he seems calm, he thought, and following his plan. But what is his plan, he thought. And what is mine? Mine I must improvise to his because of his great size. If he will jump I can kill him. But he stays down forever. Then I will stay down with him forever.

He rubbed the cramped hand against his trousers and tried to gentle the fingers. But it would not open.

Maybe it will open with the sun, he thought, Maybe it will open when the strong raw tuna is digested. If I have to have it, I will open it, cost whatever it costs. But I do not want to open it now by force. Let it open by itself and come back of its own accord. After all I abused it much in the night when it is necessary to free and unite the various lines.

He looked across the sea and knew how alone he was now. But he could see the prisms in the deep dark water and the line stretching ahead and the strange undulation of the calm. The clouds were building up now for the trade wind and he looked ahead and saw a flight of wild ducks etching themselves against the sky over the water, then blurring, then etching again and he knew no man was ever alone on the sea.

He thought of how some men feared being out of sight of land in a small boat and knew they were right in the months of sudden bad weather. But now they were in hurricane months and, when there are no hurricanes, the weather of hurricane months is the best of all the year.

If there is a hurricane you always see the signs of it in the sky for days ahead, if you are at sea. They do not see it ashore because they do not know what to look for, he thought. The land must make a difference too, in the shape of the clouds. But we have no hurricane coming now.

He looked at the sky and saw the white cumulus built like friendly piles of ice cream and high above were the thin feathers of the cirrus against the high

September sky.

"Light brisa," he said. "Better weather for me than for you, fish. "(brisa: breeze.)

His left hand was still cramped, but he was unknotting it slowly.

I hate a cramp, he thought. It is a treachery of one's own body. It is humiliating before others to have a diarrhoea from ptomaine poisoning or to vomit from it. But a cramp, he thought of it as a calambre, humiliates oneself especially when one is alone.(The distinction between humiliation, a form of treachery, and humility, a form of triumph, is important.)

If the boy were here he could rub it for me and loosen it down from the forearm, he thought. But it will loosen up.

Then, with his right hand he felt the difference in the pull of the line before he saw the slant change in the water. Then, as he leaned against the line and slapped his left hand hard and fast against his thigh he saw the line slanting slowly upward.

"He's coming up,” he said. ."Come on hand. Please come on.

The line rose slowly and steadily and then the surface of the ocean bulged ahead of the boat and the fish came out. He came out unendingly and water poured from his sides. He was bright in the sun and his head and back were dark purple and in the sun the stripes on his sides showed wide and a light lavender. His sword was as long as a baseball bat and tapered like a rapier and he rose his full length from the water and then re-entered it, smoothly, like a diver and the old man saw the great scythe-blade of his tail go under and the line commenced to race out.

"He is two feet longer than the skiff, "the old man said. The line was going out fast but steadily and the fish was not panicked. The old man was trying with both hands to keep the line just inside of breaking strength. He knew that if he could not slow the fish with a steady pressure the fish could take out all the line and break it.

He is a great fish and I must convince him, he thought. I must never let him learn his strength nor what he could do if he made his run. If I were him I would put in everything now and go until something broke. But, thank God, they are not as intelligent as we who kill them; although they are more noble and more able. The old man had seen many great fish. He had seen many that weighed more than a thousand pounds and he had caught two of that size in his life, but never alone. Now alone, and out of sight of land, he was fast to the biggest fish that he had ever seen and bigger than he had ever heard of, and his left hand was still as tight as the gripped claws of an eagle.(I must convince him: the word convince is used perhaps with two meanings, persuade and conquer.)

(At this point in the story the odds in the conflict are stated.)

It will uncramp though, he thought. Surely it will uncramp to help my right hand. There are three things that are brothers: the fish and my two hands. It must uncramp. It is unworthy of it to be cramped. The fish had slowed again and was going at his usual pace.

I wonder why he jumped, the old man thought. He jumped almost as though to show me how big he was. I know now, anyway, he thought. I wish I could show him what sort of man I am. But then he would see the cramped hand. Let him think I am

more man than I am and I will be so. I wish I was the fish, he thought, with everything he has against only my will and my intelligence.

He settled comfortably against the wood and took his suffering as it came and the fish swam steadily and the boat moved slowly through the dark water. There was a small sea rising with the wind coming up from the east and at noon the old man's left hand was uncramped.

"Bad news for you fish, "he said and shifted the line over the sacks that covered his shoulders.

He was comfortable but suffering, although he did not admit the suffering at all. "I am not religious, "he said. "But I will say ten Our Fathers and ten Hail Marys that I should catch this fish, and I promise to make a pilgrimage to the Virgin de Cobre if I catch him. That is a promise. "

He commenced to say his prayers mechanically. Sometimes he would be so tired that he could not remember the prayer and then he would say them fast so that they would come automatically. Hail Marys are easier to say than Our Fathers, he thought. "Hail Mary full of Grace the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary. Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen. "Then he added, “Blessed Virgin, pray for the death of this fish. Wonderful though he is. "

With his prayers said, and feeling much better, but suffering exactly as much, and perhaps a little more, he leaned against the wood of the bow and began, mechanically, to work the fingers of his left hand. The sun was hot now although the breeze was rising gently.

"I had better re-bait that little line out over the stern,” he said. "If the fish decides to stay another night I will need to eat again and the water is low in the bottle. I don't think I can get anything but a dolphin here. But if I eat him fresh enough he won't be bad. I wish a flying fish would come on board tonight. But I have no light to attract them. A flying fish is excellent to eat raw and I would not have to cut him up. I must save all my strength now. Christ, I did not know he was so big. "

"I'll kill him though,” he said. "In all his greatness and his glory. " Although it is unjust, he thought. But I will show him what a man can do and what a man endures. "I told the boy I was a strange old man, he said. "Now is when I must prove it. "

The thousand times that he had proved it meant nothing. Now he was proving it again. Each time was a new time and he never thought about the past when he was doing it.

(The idea of a man’s proving himself over and over again is found in many of Hemingway’s books.)

I wish he'd sleep and I could sleep and dream about the lions, he thought. Why are the lions the main thing that is left? Don’t think, old man, he said to himself. Rest gently now against the wood and think of nothing. He is working. Work as little as you can.

It was getting into the afternoon and the boat still moved slowly and steadily.

But there was an added drag now from the easterly breeze and the old man rode gently with the small sea and the hurt of the cord across his back came to him easily and smoothly.

Once in the afternoon the line started to rise again. But the fish only continued to swim at a slightly higher level. The sun was on the old man's left arm and shoulder and on his back. So he knew the fish had turned east of north.

Now that he had seen him once, he could picture the fish swimming in the water with his purple pectoral fins set wide as wings and the great erect tail slicing through the dark. I wonder how much he sees at that depth, the old man thought. His eye is huge and a horse, with much less eye, can see in the dark. Once I could see quite well in the dark. Not in the absolute dark. But almost as a cat sees.

The sun and his steady movement of his fingers had uncramped his left hand now completely and he began to shift more of the strain to it and he shrugged the muscles of his back to shift the hurt of the cord a little. "If you're not tired, fish,” he said aloud, "you must be very strange. "

He felt very tired now and he knew the night would come soon and he tried to think of other things. He thought of the Big Leagues, to him they were the Gran Ligas, and he knew that the Yankees of New York were playing the Tigres of Detroit.

This is the second day now that I do not know the result of the juegos, he thought. But I must have confidence and I must be worthy of the great DiMaggio who does all things perfectly even with the pain of the bone spur in his heel. What is a bone spur? He asked himself. Un espuela de hueso. We do not have them. Can it be as painful as the spur of a fighting cock in one's heel? I do not think I could endure that or the loss of the eye and of both eyes and continue to fight as the fighting cocks do. Man is not much beside the great birds and beasts. Still I would rather be that beast down there in the darkness of the sea.(juegos: sports; games)(bone spur: a spurlike outgrowth from a tissue, especially from a bone. The operation in 1947 for removal of the spur in Dimaggio ’s heel did not remove the danger of irritation and pain.)

(Notice the old man’s attitude towards the birds and beasts, and the foreshadowing.)

"Unless sharks come,” he said aloud. "If sharks come, God pity him and me. "

Do you believe the great DiMaggio would stay with a fish as long as I will stay with this one? He thought. I am sure he would and more since he is young and strong. Also his father was a fisherman.

But would the bone spur hurt him too much?

"I do not know,” he said aloud. "I never had a bone spur. "

As the sun set he remembered, to give himself more confidence, the time in the tavern at Casablanca when he had played the hand game with the great negro from Cienfuegos who was the strongest man on the docks. They had gone one day and one night with their elbows on a chalk line on the table and their forearms straight up and their hands gripped tight. Each one was trying to force the other's hand down onto the table. There was much betting and people went in and out of the room under the kerosene lights and he had looked at the arm and hand of the negro and at the negro's face. They changed the referees every four hours after the first eight so that the referees could sleep. Blood came out from under the fingernails of both his and the

negro's hands and they looked each other in the eye and at their hands and forearms and the bettors went in and out of the room and sat on high chairs against the wall and watched. The walls were painted bright blue and were of wood and the lamps threw their shadows against them. The negro's shadow was huge and it moved on the wall as the breeze moved the lamps. (Casablanca: a seaport in northwest Africa---another hint of the old man ’s bravels.)(Cienfuegos: a city in Cuba.)

The odds would change back and forth all night and they fed the negro rum and lighted cigarettes for him. Then the Negro, after the rum, would try for a tremendous effort and once he had the old man, who was not an old man then but was Santiago El Campeon, nearly three inches off balance. But the old man had raised his hand up to dead even again. He was sure then that he had the negro, who was a fine man and a great athlete, beaten. And at daylight when the bettors were asking that it be called a draw and the referee was shaking his head, he had unleashed his effort and forced the hand of the negro down and down until it rested on the wood. The match had started on a Sunday morning and ended on a Monday morning. Many of the bettors had asked for a draw because they had to go to work on the docks loading sacks of sugar or at the Havana Coal Company. Otherwise everyone would have wanted it to go to a finish. But he had finished it anyway and before anyone had to go to work.

For a long time after that everyone had called him The Champion and there had been a return match in the spring. But not much money was bet and he had won it quite easily since he had broken the confidence of the negro from Cienfuegos in the first match. After that he had a few matches and then no more. He decided that he could beat anyone if he wanted to badly enough and he decided that it was bad for his right hand for fishing. He had tried a few practice matches with his left hand. But his left hand had always been a traitor and would not do what he called on it to do and he did not trust it.

The sun will bake it out well now, he thought. It should not cramp on me again unless it gets too cold in the night. I wonder what this night will bring.

An airplane passed overhead on its course to Miami and he watched its shadow scaring up the schools of flying fish.

"With so much flying fish there should be dolphin, "he said, and leaned back on the line to see if it was possible to gain any on his fish. But he could not and it stayed at the hardness and waterdrop shivering that preceded breaking. The boat moved ahead slowly and he watched the airplane until he could no longer see it.

It must be very strange in an airplane, he thought. I wonder what the sea looks like from that height? They should be able to see the fish well if they do not fly too high. I would like to fly very slowly at two hundred fathoms high and see the fish from above. In the turtle boats I was in the cross-trees of the mast-head and even at that height I saw much. The dolphin look greener from there and you can see their stripes and their purple spots and you can see all of the school as they swim. Why is it that all the fast-moving fish of the dark current have purple backs and usually purple stripes or spots? The dolphin looks green of course because he is really golden. But when he comes to feed, truly hungry, purple stripes show on his sides as on a marlin.

Can it be anger, or the greater speed he makes that brings them out?

Just before it was dark, as they passed a great island of Sargasso weed that heaved and swung in the light sea as though the ocean were making love with something under a yellow blanket, his small line was taken by a dolphin. He saw it first when it jumped in the air, true gold in the last of the sun and bending and flapping wildly in the air. It jumped again and again in the acrobatics of its fear and he worked his way back to the stern and crouching and holding the big line with his right hand and arm, he pulled the dolphin in with his left hand, stepping on the gained line each time with his bare left foot. When the fish was at the stern, plunging and cutting from side to side in desperation, the old man leaned over the stern and lifted the burnished gold fish with its purple spots over the stern. Its jaws were working convulsively in quick bites against the hook and it pounded the bottom of the skiff with its long flat body, its tail and its head until he clubbed it across the shining golden head until it shivered and was still.

The old man unhooked the fish, rebaited the line with another sardine and tossed it over. Then he worked his way slowly back to the bow. He washed his left hand and wiped it on his trousers. Then he shifted the heavy line from his right hand to his left and washed his right hand in the sea while he watched the sun go into the ocean and the slant of the big cord.

"He hasn't changed at all, "he said. But watching the movement of the water against his hand he noticed that it was perceptibly slower.

"I'll lash the two oars together across the stern and that will slow him in the night, he said. "He's good for the night and so am I. "

It would be better to gut the dolphin a little later to save the blood in the meat, he thought. I can do that a little later and lash the oars to make a drag at the same time. I had better keep the fish quiet now and not disturb him too much at sunset. The setting of the sun is a difficult time for all fish. He let his hand dry in the air then grasped the line with it and eased himself as much as he could and allowed himself to be pulled forward against the wood so that the boat took the strain as much, or more, than he did.

I'm learning how to do it, he thought. This part of it anyway. Then too, remember he hasn't eaten since he took the bait and he is huge and needs much food. I have eaten the whole bonito. Tomorrow I will eat the dolphin. He called it dorado. Perhaps I should eat some of it when I clean it. It will be harder to eat than the bonito. But, then, nothing is easy.

"How do you feel, fish?” he asked aloud. "I feel good and my left hand is better and I have food for a night and a day. Pull the boat, fish. "

He did not truly feel good because the pain from the cord across his back had almost passed pain and gone into a dullness that he mistrusted. But I have had worse things than that, he thought. My hand is only cut a little and the cramp is gone from the other. My legs are all right. Also now I have gained on him in the question of sustenance.

It was dark now as it becomes dark quickly after the sun sets in September. He lay against the worn wood of the bow and rested all that he could. The first stars were

out. He did not know the name of Rigel but he saw it and knew soon they would all be out and he would have all his distant friends.(Rigel: a star in the constellation Orion.)

"The fish is my friend too," he said aloud. "I have never seen or heard of such a fish. But I must kill him. I am glad we do not have to try to kill the stars. "

Imagine if each day a man must try to kill the moon, he thought. The moon runs away. But imagine if a man each day should have to try to kill the sun? We were born lucky, he thought.(The moon runs away: This idea lies behind the myths of many nations. The old man is the hunter or fisherman of any land, interpreting the mysteries of nature.)

Then he was sorry for the great fish that had nothing to eat and his determination to kill him never relaxed in his sorrow for him. How many people will he feed, he thought. But are they worthy to eat him? No, of course not. There is no one worthy of eating him from the manner of his behavior and his great dignity.

I do not understand these things, he thought. But it is good that we do not have to try to kill the sun or the moon or the stars. It is enough to live on the sea and kill our true brothers.

Now, he thought, I must think about the drag. It has its perils and its merits. I may lose so much line that I will lose him, if he makes his effort and the drag made by the oars is in place and the boat loses al her lightness. Her lightness prolongs both our suffering but it is my safety since he has great speed that he has never yet employed. No matter what passes must gut the dolphin so he does not spoil and eat some of him to be strong.

Now I will rest an hour more and feel that he is solid and steady before I move back to the stern to do the work and make the decision. In the meantime can see how he acts and if he shows any changes. The oars are a good trick; but it has reached the time to play for safety. He is much fish still and I saw that the hook was in the corner of his mouth and he has kept his mouth tight shut. The punishment of the hook is nothing. The punishment of hunger, and that he is against something that he does not comprehend, is everything. Rest now, old man, and let him work until your next duty comes.

He rested for what he believed to be two hours. The moon did not rise now until late and he had no way of judging the time. Nor was he really resting except comparatively. He was still bearing the pull of the fish across his shoulders but he placed his left hand on the gunwale of the bow and confided more and more of the resistance to the fish to the skiff itself.

How simple it would be if I could make the line fast, he thought. But with one small lurch he could break it. I must cushion the pull of the line with my body and at all times be ready to give line with both hands.

"But you have not slept yet, old man," he said aloud. "It is half a day and a night and now another day and you have not slept. You must devise a way so that you sleep a little if he is quiet and steady. If you do not sleep you might become unclear in the head. "(sleep: Notice the repetition of the word sleep. Gertrude Stein and Hemingway discussed the importance of repletion in creating effects.)

I'm clear enough in the head, he thought. Too clear. I am as clear as the stars that are my brothers. Still I must sleep. They sleep and the moon and the sun sleep and

even the ocean sleeps sometimes on certain days when there is no current and a flat calm.

But remember to sleep, he thought. Make yourself do it and devise some simple and sure way about the lines. Now go back and prepare the dolphin. It is too dangerous to rig the oars as a drag if you must sleep.

I could go without sleeping, he told himself. But it would be too dangerous.

He started to work his way back to the stern on his hands and knees, being careful not to jerk against the fish. He may be half asleep himself, he thought. But I do not want him to rest. He must pull until he dies.

Back in the stern he turned so that his left hand held the strain of the line across his shoulders and drew his knife from its sheath with his right hand. The stars were bright now and he saw the dolphin clearly and he pushed the blade of his knife into his head and drew him out from under the stern. He put one of his feet on the fish and slit him quickly from the vent up to the tip of his lower jaw. Then he put his knife down and gutted him with his right hand, scooping him clean and pulling the gills clear. He felt the maw heavy and slippery in his hands and he slit it open. There were two flying fish inside. They were fresh and hard and he laid them side by side and dropped the guts and the gills over the stern. They sank leaving a trail of phosphorescence in the water. The dolphin was cold and a leprous gray-white now in the starlight and the old man skinned one side of him while he held his right foot on the fish's head. Then he turned him over and skinned the other side and cut each side off from the head down to the tail.(cold and a leprous gray-white: Hemingway’s careful observation of the appearance and manner of death is reflected here, as in his other books.)

He slid the carcass overboard and looked to see if there was any swirl in the water. But there was only the light of its slow descent. He turned then and placed the two flying fish inside the two fillets of fish and putting his knife back in its sheath, he worked his way slowly back to the bow. His back was bent with the weight of the line across it and he carried the fish in his right hand.

Back in the bow he laid the two fillets of fish out on the wood with the flying fish beside them. After that he settled the line across his shoulders in a new place and held it again with his left hand resting on the gunwale. Then he leaned over the side and washed the flying fish in the water, noting the speed of the water against his hand. His hand was phosphorescent from skinning the fish and he watched the flow of the water against it. The flow was less strong and as he rubbed the sides of his hand against the planking of the skiff, particles of phosphorus floated off and drifted slowly astern.

"He is tiring or he is resting," the old man said. "Now let me get through the eating of this dolphin and get some rest and a little sleep. "

Under the stars and with the night colder all the time he ate half of one of the dolphin fillets and one of the flying fish, gutted and with its head cut off.

" What an excellent fish dolphin is to eat cooked," he said. "And what a miserable fish raw. I will never go in a boat again without salt or limes. "

If I had brains I would have splashed water on the bow all day and drying, it

would have made salt, he thought. But then I did not hook the dolphin until almost sunset. Still it was a lack of preparation. But I have chewed it all well and I am not nauseated.

The sky was clouding over to the east and one after another the stars he knew were gone. It looked now as though he were moving into a great canyon of clouds and the wind had dropped.

"There will be bad weather in three or four days," he said. "But not tonight and not tomorrow. Rig now to get some sleep, old man, while the fish is calm and steady. "

He held the line tight in his right hand and then pushed his thigh against his right hand as he leaned all his weight against the wood of the bow. Then he passed the line a little lower on his shoulders and braced his left hand on it.

My right hand can hold it as long as it is braced, he thought. If it relaxes in sleep my left hand will wake me as the line goes out. It is hard on the right hand. But he is used to punishment. Even if I sleep twenty minutes or a half an hour it is good. He lay forward cramping himself against the line with all of his body, putting all his weight onto his right hand, and he was asleep.

He did not dream of the lions but instead of a vast school of porpoises that stretched for eight or ten miles and it was in the time of their mating and they would leap high into the air and return into the same hole they had made in the water when they leaped.

Then he dreamed that he was in the village on his bed and there was a norther and he was very cold and his right arm was asleep because his head had rested on it instead of a pillow.

After that he began to dream of the long yellow beach and he saw the first of the lions come down onto it in the early dark and then the other lions came and he rested his chin on the wood of the bows where the ship lay anchored with the evening off-shore breeze and he waited to see if there would be more lions and he was happy.

The moon had been up for a long time but he slept on and the fish pulled on steadily and the boat moved into the tunnel of clouds.

He woke with the jerk of his right fist coming up against his face and the line burning out through his right hand. He had no feeling of his left hand but he braked all he could with his right and the line rushed out. Finally his left hand found the line and he leaned back against the line and now it burned his back and his left hand, and his left hand was taking all the strain and cutting badly. He looked back at the coils of line and they were feeding smoothly. Just then the fish jumped making a great bursting of the ocean and then a heavy fall. Then he jumped again and again and the boat was going fast although line was still racing out and the old man was raising the strain to breaking point and raising it to breaking point again and again. He had been pulled down tight onto the bow and his face was in the cut slice of dolphin and he could not move.

This is what we waited for, he thought. So now let us take it.

Make him pay for the line, he thought. Make him pay for it.

He could not see the fish's jumps but only heard the breaking of the ocean and the

heavy splash as he fell. The speed of the line was cutting his hands badly but he had always known this would happen and he tried to keep the cutting across the calloused parts and not let the line slip into the palm nor cut the fingers.

If the boy was here he would wet the coils of line, he thought. Yes. If the boy were here. If the boy were here.

The line went out and out and out but it was slowing now and he was making the fish earn each inch of it. Now he got his head up from the wood and out of the slice of fish that his cheek had crushed. Then he was on his knees and then he rose slowly to his feet. He was ceding line but more slowly all the time. He worked back to where he could feel with his foot the coils of line that he could not see. There was plenty of line still and now the fish had to pull the friction of all that new line through the water.

Yes, he thought. And now he has jumped more than a dozen times and filled the sacks along his back with air and he cannot go down deep to die where I cannot bring him up. He will start circling soon and then I must work on him. I wonder what started him so suddenly? Could it have been hunger that made him desperate, or was he frightened by something in the night? Maybe he suddenly felt fear. But he was such a calm, strong fish and he seemed so fearless and so confident. It is strange.

"You better be fearless and confident yourself, old man," he said. "You're holding him again but you cannot get line. But soon he has to circle. "

The old man held him with his left hand and his shoulders now and stooped down and scooped up water in his right hand to get the crushed dolphin flesh off his face. He was afraid that it might nauseate him and he would vomit and lose his strength. When his face was cleaned he washed his right hand in the water over the side and then let it stay in the salt water while he watched the first light come before the sunrise. He's headed almost east, he thought. That means he is tired and going with the current. Soon he will have to circle. Then our true work begins.

After he judged that his right hand had been in the water long enough he took it out and looked at it.

"It is not bad. " he said. "And pain does not matter to a man. '

He took hold of the line carefully so that it did not fit into any of the fresh line cuts and shifted his weight so that he could put his left hand into the sea on the other side of the skiff.

"You did not do so badly for something worthless," he said to his left hand. "But there was a moment when I could not find you. "

Why was I not born with two good hands? He thought. Perhaps it was my fault in not training that one properly. But God knows he has had enough chances to learn. He did not do so badly in the night, though, and he has only cramped once. If he cramps again let the line cut him off.(The treachery of the old man’s hand can be compared with the treachery of body or spirit in the books about bullfighting.)

When he thought that he knew that he was not being clear-headed and he thought he should chew some more of the dolphin. But I can't, he told himself. It is better to be light-headed than to lose your strength from nausea. And I know I cannot keep it if I eat it since my face was in it. I will keep it for an emergency until it goes bad. But it is too late to try for strength now through nourishment.

You're stupid, he told himself. Eat the other flying fish.

It was there, cleaned and ready, and he picked it up with his left hand and ate it chewing the bones carefully and eating all of it down to the tail.

It has more nourishment than almost any fish, he thought. At least the kind of strength that I need. Now I have done what I can, he thought. Let him begin to circle and let the fight come.

The sun was rising for the third time since he had put to sea when the fish started to circle.

He could not see by the slant of the line that the fish was circling. It was too early for that. He just felt a faint slackening of the pressure of the line and he commenced to pull on it gently with his right hand. It tightened, as always, but just when he reached the point where it would break, line began to come in. He slipped his shoulders and head from under the line and began to pull in line steadily and gently. He used both of his hands in a swinging motion and tried to do the pulling as much as he could with his body and his legs. His old legs and shoulders pivoted with the swinging of the pulling.

"It is a very big circle," he said. "But he is circling. "

Then the line would not come in any more and he held it until he saw the drops jumping from it in the sun. Then it started out and the old man knelt down and let it go grudgingly back into the dark water.

"He is making the far part of his circle now," he said. I must hold all I can, he thought. The strain will shorten his circle each time. Perhaps in an hour I will see him. Now I must convince him and then I must kill him.

But the fish kept on circling slowly and the old man was wet with sweat and tired deep into his bones two hours later. But the circles were much shorter now and from the way the line slanted he could tell the fish had risen steadily while he swam.

For an hour the old man had been seeing black spots before his eyes and the sweat salted his eyes and salted the cut over his eye and on his forehead. He was not afraid of the black spots. They were normal at the tension that he was pulling on the line. Twice, though, he had felt faint and dizzy and that had worried him.

"I could not fail myself and die on a fish like this. " he said. "Now that I have him coming so beautifully, God help me endure. I'll say a hundred Our Fathers and a hundred Hail Marys. But I cannot say them now. "

Consider them said, he thought. I'll say them later.

Just then he felt a sudden banging and jerking on the line he held with his two hands. It was sharp and hard-feeling and heavy.

He is hitting the wire leader with his spear, he thought. That was bound to come. He had to do that. It may make him jump though and I would rather he stayed circling now. The jumps were necessary for him to take air. But after that each one can widen the opening of the hook wound and he can throw the hook.

"Don't jump, fish," he said. "Don't jump. "

The fish hit the wire several times more and each time he shook his head the old man gave up a little line.

I must hold his pain where it is, he thought. Mine does not matter. I can control mine. But his pain could drive him mad.

'After a while the fish stopped beating at the wire and started circling slowly again. The old man was gaining line steadily now. But he felt faint again. He lifted some sea water with his left hand and put it on his head. Then he put more on and rubbed the back of his neck.

"I have no cramps. " he said. "He'll be up soon and I can last. You have to last. Don't even speak of it.

He kneeled against the bow and, for a moment, slipped the line over his back again. I'll rest now while he goes out on the circle and then stand up and work on him when he comes in, he decided.

It was a great temptation to rest in the bow and let the fish make one circle by himself without recovering any line. But when the strain showed the fish had turned to come toward the boat, the old man rose to his feet and started the pivoting and the weaving pulling that brought in all the line he gained.

I'm tireder than I have ever been, he thought, and now the trade wind is rising. But that will be good to take him in with. I need that badly.

"I'll rest on the next turn as he goes out," he said. "I feel much better. Then in two or three turns more I will have him. "

His straw hat was far on the back of his head and he sank down into the bow with the pull of the line as he felt the fish turn.

You work now, fish, he thought. I'll take you at the turn.

The sea had risen considerably. But it was a fair-weather breeze and he had to have it to get home.

"I'll just steer south and west,." he said. "A man is never lost at sea and it is a long island. "

It was on the third turn that he saw the fish first.

He saw him first as a dark shadow that took so long to pass under the boat that he could not believe its length.

"No," he said. "He can't be that big. "

But he was that big and at the end of this circle he came to the surface only thirty yards away and the man saw his tail out of water. It was higher than a big scythe blade and a very pale lavender above the dark blue water. It raked back and as the fish swam just below the surface the old man could see his huge bulk and the purple stripes that banded him. His dorsal fin was down and his huge pectorals were spread wide.

On this circle the old man could see the fish's eye and the two gray sucking fish that swam around him. Sometimes they attached themselves to him. Sometimes they darted off. Sometimes they would swim easily in his shadow. They were each over three feet long and when they swam fast they lashed their whole bodies like eels.

The old man was sweating now but from something else besides the sun. On each calm placid turn the fish made he was gaining line and he was sure that in two turns more he would have a chance to get the harpoon in.

But I must get him close, close, close, he thought. I mustn't try for the head. I

must get the heart.

"Be calm and strong, old man," he said.

On the next circle the fish's back was out but he was a little too far from the boat. On the next circle he was still too far away but he was higher out of water and the old man was sure that by gaining some more line he could have him alongside.

He had rigged his harpoon long before and its coil of light rope was in a round basket and the end was made fast to the bitt in the bow.

The fish was coming in on his circle now calm and beautiful looking and only his great tail moving. The old man pulled on him all that he could to bring him closer. For just a moment the fish turned a little on his side. Then he straightened himself and began another circle.

"I moved him," the old man said. "I moved him then. "

He felt faint again now but he held on the great fish all the strain that he could. I moved him, he thought. Maybe this time I can get him over. Pull, hands, he thought. Hold up, legs. Last for me, head. Last for me. You never went. This time I'll pull him over.

But when he put all of his effort on, starting it well out before the fish came alongside and pulling with all his strength, the fish pulled part way over and then righted himself and swam away.

"Fish," the old man said. "Fish, you are going to have to die anyway. Do you have to kill me too?"

That way nothing is accomplished, he thought. His mouth was too dry to speak but he could not reach for the water now. I must get him alongside this time, he thought. I am not good for many more turns. Yes you are, he told himself. You're good for ever.

On the next turn, he nearly had him. But again the fish righted himself and swam slowly away.

You are killing me fish, the old man thought. But you have a right to. Never have I seen a greater, or more beautiful, or a calmer or more noble thing than you, brother. Come on and kill me. I do not care who kills who.

Now you are getting confused in the head, he thought. You must keep your head clear. Keep your head clear and know how to suffer like a man. Or a fish, he thought.

"Clear up, head," he said in a voice he could hardly hear. "Clear up. "

Twice more it was the same on the turns.

I do not know, the old man thought. He had been on the point of feeling himself go each time. I do not know. But I will try it once more.

He tried it once more and he felt himself going when he turned the fish. The fish righted himself and swam off again slowly with the great tail weaving in the air.

I'll try it again, the old man promised, although his hands were mushy now and he could only see well in flashes.

He tried it again and it was the same. So, he thought, and he felt himself going before he started; I will try it once again.

He took all his pain and what was left of his strength and his long gone pride and he put it against the fish's agony and the fish came over onto his side and swam gently

on his side, his bill almost touching the planking of the skiff and started to pass the boat, long, deep, wide, silver and barred with purple and interminable in the water.

The old man dropped the line and put his foot on it and lifted the harpoon as high as he could and drove it down with all his strength, and more strength he had just summoned, into the fish's side just behind the great chest fin that rose high in the air to the altitude of the man's chest. He felt the iron go in and he leaned on it and drove it further and then pushed all his weight after it.

Then the fish came alive, with his death in him, and rose high out of the water showing all his great length and width and all his power and his beauty. He seemed to hang in the air above the old man in the skiff. Then he fell into the water with a crash that sent spray over the old man and over all of the skiff.

The old man felt faint and sick and he could not see well. But he cleared the harpoon line and let it run slowly through his raw hands and, when he could see, he saw the fish was on his back with his silver belly up. The shaft of the harpoon was projecting at an angle from the fish's shoulder and the sea was discoloring with the red of the blood from his heart. First it was dark as a shoal in the blue water that was more than a mile deep. Then it spread like a cloud. The fish was silver and still and floated with the waves.

The old man looked carefully in the glimpse of vision that he had. Then he took two turns of the harpoon line around the bitt in the bow and laid his head on his hands.

"Keep my head clear," he said against the wood of the bow. "I am a tired old man. But I have killed this fish which is my brother and now I must do the slave work. "

Now I must prepare the nooses and the rope to lash him alongside, he thought. Even if we were two and swamped her to load him and bailed her out, this skiff would never hold him. I must prepare everything, then bring him in and lash him well and step the mast and set sail for home.

He started to pull the fish in to have him alongside so that he could pass a line through his gills and out his mouth and make his head fast alongside the bow. I want to see him, he thought, and to touch and to feel him. He is my fortune, he thought. But that is not why I wish to feel him. I think I felt his heart, he thought. When I pushed on the harpoon shaft the second time. Bring him in now and make him fast and get the noose around his tail and another around his middle to bind him to the skiff.

"Get to work, old man," he said. He took a very small drink of the water. "There is very much slave work to be done now that the fight is over. "

He looked up at the sky and then out to his fish. He looked at the sun carefully. It is not much more than noon, he thought. And the trade wind is rising. The lines all mean nothing now. The boy and I will splice them when we are home.

"Come on, fish," he said. But the fish did not come. Instead he lay there wallowing now in the seas and the old man pulled the skiff up onto him.

When he was even with him and had the fish's head against the bow he could not believe his size. But he untied the harpoon rope from the bitt, passed it through the fish's gills and out his jaws, made a turn around his sword then passed the rope through the other gill, made another turn around the bill and knotted the double

rope and made it fast to the bitt in the bow. He cut the rope then and went astern to noose the tail. The fish had turned silver from his original purple and silver, and the stripes showed the same pale violet color as his tail. They were wider than a man's hand with his fingers spread and the fish's eye looked as detached as the mirrors in a periscope or as a saint in a procession.

"It was the only way to kill him," the old man said. He was feeling better since the water and he knew he would not go away and his head was clear. He's over fifteen hundred pounds the way he is, he thought. Maybe much more. If he dresses out two-thirds of that at thirty cents a pound?

"I need a pencil for that," he said. "My head is not that clear. But I think the great DiMaggio would be proud of me today. I had no bone spurs. But the hands and the back hurt truly. " I wonder what a bone spur is, he thought. Maybe we have them without knowing of it.

He made the fish fast to bow and stern and to the middle thwart. He was so big it was like lashing a much bigger skiff alongside. He cut a piece of line and tied the fish's lower jaw against his bill so his mouth would not open and they would sail as cleanly as possible. Then he stepped the mast and, with the stick that was his gaff and with his boom rigged, the patched sail drew, the boat began to move, and half lying in the stern he sailed southwest.(boom: a long spar run out to extend the foot of a sail.)

He did not need a compass to tell him where southwest was. He only needed the feel of the trade wind and the drawing of the sail. I better put a small line out with a spoon on it and try and get something to eat and drink for the moisture. But he could not find a spoon and his sardines were rotten. So he hooked a patch of yellow gulf weed with the gaff as they passed and shook it so that the small shrimps that were in it fell onto the planking of the skiff. There were more than a dozen of them and they jumped and kicked like sand fleas. The old man pinched their heads off with his thumb and forefinger and ate them chewing up the shells and the tails. They were very tiny but he knew they were nourishing and they tasted good.

The old man still had two drinks of water in the bottle and he used half of one after he had eaten the shrimps. The skiff was sailing well considering the handicaps and he steered with the tiller under his arm. He could see the fish and he had only to look at his hands and feel his back against the stern to know that this had truly happened and was not a dream. At one time when he was feeling so badly toward the end, he had thought perhaps it was a dream. Then when he had seen the fish come out of the water and hang motionless in the sky before he fell, he was sure there was some great strangeness and he could not believe it. Then he could not see well, although now he saw as well as ever.(tiller: a bar or lever attached to the head of the rudder, to turn the rudder in steering.)

Now he knew there was the fish and his hands and back were no dream. The hands cure quickly, he thought. I bled them clean and the salt water will heal them. The dark water of the true gulf is the greatest healer that there is. All I must do is keep the head clear. The hands have done their work and we sail well. With his mouth shut

and his tail straight up and down we sail like brothers. Then his head started to become a little unclear and he thought, is he bringing me in or am I bringing him in? If I were towing him behind there would be no question. Nor if the fish were in the skiff, with all dignity gone, there would be no question either. But they were sailing together lashed side by side and the old man thought, let him bring me in if it pleases him. I am only better than him through trickery and he meant me no harm.(The old man’s questioning of himself occurs in the paragraph beginning “Now he knew…”) They sailed well and the old man soaked his hands in the salt water and tried to keep his head clear. There were high cumulus clouds and enough cirrus above them so that the old man knew the breeze would last all night. The old man looked at the fish constantly to make sure it was true. It was an hour before the first shark hit him.

The shark was not an accident. He had come up from deep down in the water as the dark cloud of blood had settled and dispersed in the mile deep sea. He had come up so fast and absolutely without caution that he broke the surface of the blue water and was in the sun. Then he fell back into the sea and picked up the scent and started swimming on the course the skiff and the fish had taken.

Sometimes he lost the scent. But he would pick it up again, or have just a trace of it and he swam fast and hard on the course. He was a very big Mako shark built to swim as fast as the fastest fish in the sea and everything about him was beautiful except his jaws. His back was as blue as a sword fish's and his belly was silver and his hide was smooth and handsome. He was built as a sword fish except for his huge jaws which were tight shut now as he swam fast, just under the surface with his high dorsal fin knifing through the water without wavering. Inside the closed double lip of his jaws all of his eight rows of teeth were slanted inwards. They were not the ordinary pyramid-shaped teeth of most sharks. They were shaped like a man's fingers when they are crisped like claws. They were nearly as long as the fingers of the old man and they had razor-sharp cutting edges on both sides. This was a fish built to feed on all the fishes in the sea, that were so fast and strong and well armed that they had no other enemy. Now he speeded up as he smelled the fresher scent and his blue dorsal fin cut the water.

When the old man saw him coming he knew that this was a shark that had no fear at all and would do exactly what he wished. He prepared the harpoon and made the rope fast while he watched the shark come on. The rope was short as it lacked what he had cut away to lash the fish.

The old man's head was clear and good now and he was full of resolution but he had little hope. It was too good to last, he thought. He took one look at the great fish as he watched the shark close in. It might as well have been a dream, he thought. I cannot keep him from hitting me but maybe I can get him. Dentuso, he thought. Bad luck to your mother.(Dentuso: a term that the old man applies to the Mako shark, referring perhaps to she sharp teeth.)

The shark closed fast astern and when he hit the fish the old man saw his mouth open and his strange eyes and the clicking chop of the teeth as he drove forward in the meat just above the tail. The shark's head was out of water and his back was coming out and the old man could hear the noise of skin and flesh ripping on the big fish

when he rammed the harpoon down onto the shark's head at a spot where the line between his eyes intersected with the line that ran straight back from his nose. There were no such lines. There was only the heavy sharp blue head and the big eyes and the clicking, thrusting all-swallowing jaws. But that was the location of the brain and the old man hit it. He hit it with his blood mushed hands driving a good harpoon with all his strength. He hit it without hope but with resolution and complete malignancy.(The description of the shark should be compared with that of the marlin.)

The shark swung over and the old man saw his eye was not alive and then he swung over once again, wrapping himself in two loops of the rope. The old man knew that he was dead but the shark would not accept it. Then, on his back, with his tail lashing and his jaws clicking, the shark plowed over the water as a speed-boat does. The water was white where his tail beat it and three-quarters of his body was clear above the water when the rope came taut, shivered, and then snapped. The shark lay quietly for a little while on the surface and the old man watched him. Then he went down very slowly.

"He took about forty pounds," the old man said aloud. He took my harpoon too and all the rope, he thought, and now my fish bleeds again and there will be others.

He did not like to look at the fish anymore since he had been mutilated. When the fish had been hit it was as though he himself were hit.

But I killed the shark that hit my fish, he thought. And he was the biggest dentuso that I have ever seen. And God knows that I have seen big ones.

It was too good to last, he thought. I wish it had been a dream now and that I had never hooked the fish and was alone in bed on the newspapers.

"But man is not made for defeat," he said. "A man can be destroyed but not defeated. "I am sorry that I killed the fish though, he thought. Now the bad time is coming and I do not even have the harpoon. The dentuso is cruel and able and strong and intelligent. But I was more intelligent than he was. Perhaps not, he thought. Perhaps I was only better armed.

"Don't think, old man," he said aloud. "Sail on this course and take it when it comes. "

But I must think, he thought. Because it is all I have left. That and baseball. I wonder how the great DiMaggio would have liked the way I hit him in the brain? It was no great thing, he thought. Any man could do it. But do you think my hands were as great a handicap as the bone spurs? I cannot know. I never had anything wrong with my heel except the time the sting ray stung it when I stepped on him when swimming and paralyzed the lower leg and made the unbearable pain.

"Think about something cheerful, old man," he said. "Every minute now you are closer to home. You sail lighter for the loss of forty pounds. " He knew quite well the pattern of what could happen when he reached the inner part of the current. But there was nothing to be done now. "Yes there is," he said aloud. "I can lash my knife to the butt of one of the oars. " So he did that with the tiller under his arm and the sheet of the sail under his

foot.

"Now," he said. "I am still an old man. But I am not unarmed. "

The breeze was fresh now and he sailed on well. He watched only the forward part of the fish and some of his hope returned. It is silly not to hope, he thought. Besides I believe it is a sin. Do not think about sin, he thought. There are enough problems now without sin. Also I have no understanding of it.

I have no understanding of it and I am not sure that I believe in it. Perhaps it was a sin to kill the fish. I suppose it was even though I did it to keep me alive and feed many people. But then everything is a sin. Do not think about sin. It is much too late for that and there are people who are paid to do it. Let them think about it. You were born to be a fisherman as the fish was born to be a fish. San Pedro was a fisherman as was the father of the great DiMaggio.(San Pedro: Saint Peter. It is worth noticing that the old man ’s name, Santiago, means Saint James.)

But he liked to think about all things that he was involved in and since there was nothing to read and he did not have a radio, he thought much and he kept on thinking about sin. You did not kill the fish only to keep alive and to sell for food, he thought. You killed him for pride and because you are a fisherman. You loved him when he was alive and you loved him after. If you love him, it is not a sin to kill him. Or is it more?

"You think too much, old man," he said aloud.

But you enjoyed killing the dentuso, he thought.

He lives on the live fish as you do. He is not a scavenger nor just a moving appetite as some sharks are. He is beautiful and noble and knows no fear of anything.

"I killed him in self-defense," the old man said aloud. "And I killed him well. "

Besides, he thought, everything kills everything else in some way. Fishing kills me exactly as it keeps me alive. The boy keeps me alive, he thought. I must not deceive myself too much.(The cryptic comments on killing are worth discussing.)

He leaned over the side and pulled loose a piece of the meat of the fish where the shark had cut him. He chewed it and noted its quality and its good taste. It was firm and juicy, like meat, but it was not red. There was no springiness in it and he knew that it would bring the highest price in the market. But there was no way to keep its scent out of the water and the old man knew that a very bad time was coming.

The breeze was steady. It had backed a little further into the northeast and he knew that meant that it would not fall off. The old man looked ahead of him but he could see no sails nor could he see the hull nor the smoke of any ship. There were only the flying fish that went up from his bow sailing away to either side and the yellow patches of gulf-weed. He could not even see a bird. He had ailed for two hours, resting in the stern and sometimes chewing a bit of the meat from the marlin, trying to rest and to be strong, when he saw the first of the two sharks.

"Ay," he said aloud. There is no translation for this word and perhaps it is just a noise such as a man might make, involuntarily, feeling the nail go through his hands and into the wood.

" Galanos. " he said aloud. He had seen the second fin now coming up behind the first and had identified them as shovel-nosed sharks by the brown, triangular

fin and the sweeping movements of the tail. They had the scent and were excited and in the stupidity of their great hunger they were losing and finding the scent in their excitement. But they were closing all the time.(Galanos: From the original meaning of fine, gallant, elegant, the word may be used here with the sense of parti-colored. There is a suggestion of deterioration, perhaps of treacherous fineness.)

The old man made the sheet fast and jammed the tiller. Then he took up the oar with the knife lashed to it. He lifted it as lightly as he could because his hands rebelled at the pain. Then he opened and closed them on it lightly to loosen them. He closed them firmly so they would take the pain now and would not flinch and watched the sharks come. He could see their wide, flattened, shovel-pointed heads now and their white-tipped wide pectoral fins. They were hateful sharks, bad smelling, scavengers as well as killers, and when they were hungry they would bite at an oar or the rudder of a boat. It was these sharks that would cut the turtles' legs and flippers off when the turtles were asleep on the surface, and they would hit a man in the water, if they were hungry, even if the man had no smell of fish blood nor of fish slime on him.

"Ay," the old man said. "Galanos. Come on Galanos. "

They came. But they did not come as the Mako had come. One turned and went out of sight under the skiff and the old man could feel the skiff shake as he jerked and pulled on the fish. The other watched the old man with his slitted yellow eyes and then came in fast with his half circle of jaws wide to hit the fish where he had already been bitten. The line showed clearly on the top of his brown head and back where the brain joined the spinal cord and the old man drove the knife on the oar into the juncture, withdrew it, and drove it in again into the shark's yellow cat-like eyes. The shark let go of the fish and slid down, swallowing what he had taken as he died.

The skiff was still shaking with the destruction the other shark was doing to the fish and the old man let go the sheet so that the skiff would swing broadside and bring the shark out from under. When he saw the shark he leaned over the side and punched at him. He hit only meat and the hide was set hard and he barely got the knife in. The blow hurt not only his hands but his shoulder too. But the shark came up fast and his head out and the old man hit him squarely in the center of his flat-topped head as his nose came out of water and lay against the fish. The old man withdrew the blade and punched the shark exactly in the same spot again. He still hung to the fish with his jaws hooked and the old man stabbed him in his left eye. The shark still hung there.

"No?" the old man said and he drove the blade between the vertebrae and the brain. It was an easy shot now and he felt the cartilage sever. The old man reversed the oar and put the blade between the shark's jaws to open them. He twisted the blade and as the shark slid loose he said, "Go on, galano. Slide down a mile deep. Go see your friend, or maybe it's your mother. "

(Notice the old man’s state of mind.)

The old man wiped the blade of his knife and laid down the oar. Then he found the sheet and the sail filled and he brought the skiff onto her course.

"They must have taken a quarter of him and of the best meat," he said aloud. "I wish it were a dream and that I had never hooked him. I'm sorry about it, fish. It makes everything wrong. " He stopped and he did not want to look at the fish now. Drained of blood and awash he looked the color of the silver backing of a mirror and his stripes still showed.

"I shouldn't have gone out so far, fish," he said. "Neither for you nor for me. I'm sorry, fish. "(“I shouldn’t have gone out so far, fish”: This idea is repeated during the rest of the story.)

Now, he said to himself. Look to the lashing on the knife and see if it has been cut. Then get your hand in order because there still is more to come.

"I wish I had a stone for the knife," the old man said after he had checked the lashing on the oar butt. "I should have brought a stone. " You should have brought many things, he thought. But you did not bring them, old man. Now is no time to think of what you do not have. Think of what you can do with what there is.

" You give me much good counsel," he said aloud. "I'm tired of it. "(“You give me much good counsel”: To whom is this remark addressed?)

He held the tiller under his arm and soaked both his hands in the water as the skiff drove forward.

 

"God knows how much that last one took," he said. "But she's much lighter now. " He did not want to think of the mutilated under-side of the fish. He knew that each of the jerking bumps of the shark had been meat torn away and that the fish now made a trail for all sharks as wide as a highway through the sea.

He was a fish to keep a man all winter, he thought. Don't think of that. Just rest and try to get your hands in shape to defend what is left of him. The blood smell from my hands means nothing now with all that scent in the water. Besides they do not bleed much. There is nothing cut that means anything. The bleeding may keep the left from cramping.

What can I think of now? He thought. Nothing. I must think of nothing and wait for the next ones. I wish it had really been a dream, he thought. But who knows? It might have turned out well.

The next shark that came was a single shovel-nose. He came like a pig to the trough if a pig had a mouth so wide that you could put your head in it. The old man let him hit the fish and then drove the knife on the oar down into his brain. But the shark jerked backwards as he rolled and the knife blade snapped.

The old man settled himself to steer. He did not even watch the big shark sinking slowly in the water, showing first life-size, then small, then tiny. That always fascinated the old man. But he did not even watch it now.

"I have the gaff now," he said. "But it will do no good. I have the two oars and the tiller and the short club. "

Now they have beaten me, he thought. I am too old to club sharks to death. But I will try it as long as I have the oars and the short club and the tiller.

He put his hands in the water again to soak them. It was getting late in the afternoon and he saw nothing but the sea and the sky. There was more wind in the sky than there had been, and soon he hoped that he would see land.

"You're tired, old man," he said. "You're tired inside. "

The sharks did not hit him again until just before sunset.

The old man saw the brown fins coming along the wide trail the fish must make in the water. They were not even quartering on the scent. They were headed straight for the skiff swimming side by side.

He jammed the tiller, made the sheet fast and reached under the stern for the club. It was an oar handle from a broken oar sawed off to about two and a half feet in length. He could only use it effectively with one hand because of the grip of the handle and he took good hold of it with his right hand, flexing his hand on it, as he watched the sharks come. They were both galanos.

I must let the first one get a good hold and hit him on the point of the nose or straight across the top of the head, he thought.

The two sharks closed together and as he saw the one nearest him open his jaws and sink them into the silver side of the fish, he raised the club high and brought it down heavy and slamming onto the top of the shark's broad head. He felt the rubbery solidity as the club came down. But he felt the rigidity of bone too and he struck the shark once more hard across the point of the nose as he slid down from the fish.

The other shark had been in and out and now came in again with his jaws wide. The old man could see pieces of the meat of the fish spilling white from the corner of his jaws as he bumped the fish and closed his jaws. He swung at him and hit only the head and the shark looked at him and wrenched the meat loose. The old man swung the club down on him again as he slipped away to swallow and hit only the heavy solid rubberiness.

"Come on, galano. " the old man said. "Come in again. "

The shark came in a rush and the old man hit him as he shut his jaws. He hit him solidly and from as high up as he could raise the club. This time he felt the bone at the base of the brain and he hit him again in the same place while the shark tore the meat loose sluggishly and slid down from the fish.

The old man watched for him to come again but neither shark showed. Then he saw one on the surface swimming in circles. He did not see the fin of the other.

I could not expect to kill them, he thought. I could have in my time. But I have hurt them both badly and neither one can feel very good. If I could have used a bat with two hands I could have killed the first one surely. Even now, he thought.

He did not want to look at the fish. He knew that half of him had been destroyed. The sun had gone down while he had been in the fight with the shark.

"It will be dark soon," he said. "Then I should see the glow of Havana. If I am too far to the eastward I will see the lights of one of the new beaches. "

I cannot be too far out now, he thought. I hope no one has been too worried. There is only the boy to worry, of course. But I am sure he would have confidence. Many of the older fishermen will worry. Many others too, he thought. I live in a good town.

He could not talk to the fish anymore because the fish had been ruined too badly. Then something came into his head.

"Half fish," he said. "Fish that you were. I am sorry that I went too far out. I

ruined us both. But we have killed many sharks, you and I, and ruined many others. How many did you ever kill, old fish? You do not have that spear on your head for nothing. "

He liked to think of the fish and what he could do to a shark if he were swimming free. I should have chopped the bill off to fight them with, he thought. But there was no hatchet and then there was no knife.

But if I had, and could have lashed it to an oar butt, what a weapon. Then we might have fought them together. What will you do now if they come in the night? What can you do?

"Fight them," he said. "I'll fight them until I die. "

But in the dark now and no glow showing and no lights and only the wind and the steady pull of the sail he felt that perhaps he was already dead. He put his two hands together and felt the palms. They were not dead and he could bring the pain of life by simply opening and closing them. He leaned his back against the stern and he knew he was not dead. His shoulders told him.(The ceremonial posture of the old man’s hands here and elsewhere has been interpreted by Carlos Baker as a suggestion of crucifixion---an extremity of suffering.)

I have all those prayers I promised if I caught the fish, he thought. But I am too tired to say them now. I better get the sack and put it over my shoulders.

He lay in the stern and steered and watched for the glow to come in the sky. I have half of him, he thought. Maybe I'll have the luck to bring the forward half in. I should have some luck. No, he said. You violated your luck when you went too far outside.

"Don't be silly," he said aloud. "And keep awake and steer. You may have much luck yet. "

"I'd like to buy some if there's any place they sell it," he said.

What could I buy it with? He asked himself. Could I buy it with a lost harpoon and a broken knife and two bad hands?

"You might," he said. "You tried to buy it with eighty-four days at sea. They nearly sold it to you too.'

I must not think nonsense, he thought. Luck is a thing that comes in many forms and who can recognize her? I would take some though in any form and pay what they asked. I wish I could see the glow from the lights, he thought. I wish too many things. But that is the thing I wish for now. He tried to settle more comfortably to steer and from his pain he knew he was not dead.

He saw the reflected glare of the lights of the city at what must have been around ten o'clock at night. They were only perceptible at first as the light is in the sky before the moon rises. Then they were steady to see across the ocean which was rough now with the increasing breeze. He steered inside of the glow and he thought that now, soon, he must hit the edge of the stream.

Now it is over, he thought. They will probably hit me again. But what can a man do against them in the dark without a weapon?

He was stiff and sore now and his wounds and all of the strained parts of his body hurt with the cold of the night. I hope I do not have to fight again, he thought. I hope so much I do not have to fight again.

But by midnight he fought and this time he knew the fight was useless. They came in a pack and he could only see the lines in the water that their fins made and their phosphorescence as they threw themselves on the fish. He clubbed at heads and heard the jaws chop and the shaking of the skiff as they took hold below. He clubbed desperately at what he could only feel and hear and he felt something seize the club and it was gone.

He jerked the tiller free from the rudder and beat and chopped with it, holding it in both hands and driving it down again and again. But they were up to the bow now and driving in one after the other and together, tearing off the pieces of meat that showed glowing below the sea as they turned to come once more.

One came, finally, against the head itself and he knew that it was over. He swung the tiller across the shark's head where the jaws were caught in the heaviness of the fish's head which would not tear. He swung it once and twice and again. He heard the tiller break and he lunged at the shark with the splintered butt. He felt it go in and knowing it was sharp he drove it in again. The shark let go and rolled away. That was the last shark of the pack that came. There was nothing more for them to eat.

The old man could hardly breathe now and he felt a strange taste in his mouth. It was coppery and sweet and he was afraid of it for a moment. But there was not much of it. He spat into the ocean and said, "Eat that, Galanos. And make a dream you've killed a man. "

He knew he was beaten now finally and without remedy and he went back to the stern and found the jagged end of the tiller would fit in the slot of the rudder well enough for him to steer. He settled the sack around his shoulders and put the skiff on her course. He sailed lightly now and he had no thoughts nor any feelings of any kind. He was past everything now and he sailed the skiff to make his home port as well and as intelligently as he could. In the night sharks hit the carcass as someone might pick up crumbs from the table. The old man paid no attention to them and did not pay any attention to anything except steering. He only noticed how lightly and how well the skiff sailed now there was no great weight beside her.(He knew he was beaten now: The denouncement indicates that this is not true, except in the limited sense of the conflict with the sharks.)

She's good, he thought. She is sound and not harmed in any way except for the tiller. That is easily replaced.

He could feel he was inside the current now and he could see the lights of the beach colonies along the shore. He knew where he was now and it was nothing to get home.

The wind is our friend, anyway, he thought. Then he added, sometimes. And the great sea with our friends and our enemies. And bed, he thought. Bed is my friend. Just bed, he thought. Bed will be a great thing. It is easy when you are beaten, he thought. I never knew how easy it was. And what beat you, he thought.

"Nothing," he said aloud. "I went out too far. "

When he sailed into the little harbor the lights of the Terrace were out and he knew everyone was in bed. The breeze had risen steadily and was blowing strongly now. It was quiet in the harbor though and he sailed up onto the little patch of shingle below the rocks. There was no one to help him so he pulled the boat up as far as he could. Then he stepped out and made her fast to a rock.

He unstepped the mast and furled the sail and tied it. Then he shouldered the mast and started to climb. It was then he knew the depth of his tiredness. He stopped for a moment and looked back and saw in the reflection from the street light the great tail of the fish standing up well behind the skiff's stern. He saw the white naked line of his backbone and the dark mass of the head with the projecting bill and all the nakedness between.

He started to climb again and at the top he fell and lay for some time with the mast across his shoulder. He tried to get up. But it was too difficult and he sat there with the mast on his shoulder and looked at the road. A cat passed on the far side going about its business and the old man watched it. Then he just watched the road.

Finally he put the mast down and stood up. He picked the mast up and put it on his shoulder and started up the road. He had to sit down five times before he reached his shack.

Inside the shack he leaned the mast against the wall. In the dark he found a water bottle and took a drink. Then he lay down on the bed. He pulled the blanket over his shoulders and then over his back and legs and he slept face down on the newspapers with his arms out straight and the palms of his hands up.

He was asleep when the boy looked in the door in the morning. It was blowing so hard that the drifting-boats would not be going out and the boy had slept late and then come to the old man's shack as he had come each morning. The boy saw that the old man was breathing and then he saw the old man's hands and he started to cry. He went out very quietly to go to bring some coffee and all the way down the road he was crying.

Many fishermen were around the skiff looking at what was lashed beside it and one was in the water, his trousers rolled up, measuring the skeleton with a length of line.

The boy did not go down. He had been there before and one of the fishermen was looking after the skiff for him.

"How is he?" one of the fishermen shouted.

"Sleeping," the boy called. He did not care that they saw him crying. "Let no one disturb him. "

"He was eighteen feet from nose to tail," the fisherman who was measuring him called.

"I believe it," the boy said.

He went into the Terrace and asked for a can of coffee.

"Hot and with plenty of milk and sugar in it. "

"Anything more?"

"No. Afterwards I will see what he can eat. "

"What a fish it was," the proprietor said. "There has never been such a fish. Those were two fine fish you took yesterday too. "

"Damn my fish," the boy said and he started to cry again.

"Do you want a drink of any kind?" the proprietor asked.

" No, " the boy said. " Tell them not to bother Santiago. I'll be back. "

"Tell him how sorry I am. "

"Thanks," the boy said.

The boy carried the hot can of coffee up to the old man's shack and sat by him until he woke. Once it looked as though he were waking. But he had gone back into heavy sleep and the boy had gone across the road to borrow some wood to heat the coffee.

Finally the old man woke.

"Don't sit up. " the boy said. "Drink this. " He poured some of the coffee in a glass.

The old man took it and drank it.

"They beat me, Manolin," he said. "They truly beat me. "

"He didn't beat you. Not the fish. "

"No. Truly. It was afterwards. "

"Pedrico is looking after the skiff and the gear. What do you want done with the head?"

"Let Pedrico chop it up to use in fish traps. "

"And the spear?"

"You keep it if you want it. "

"I want it," the boy said. "Now we must make our plans about the other things. "

"Did they search for me?"

"Of course. With coast guard and with planes. "

"The ocean is very big and a skiff is small and hard to see," the old man said. He noticed how pleasant it was to have someone to talk to instead of speaking only to himself and to the sea. "I missed you," he said. "What did you catch?"

"One on the first day. One the second and two the third. "

"Very good. "

"Now we fish together again. "

"No. I am not lucky. I am not lucky anymore. "

"The hell with luck," the boy said. "I'll bring the luck with me. "

"What will your family say?"

"I do not care. I caught two yesterday. But we will fish together now for I still have much to learn. "

"We must get a good killing lance and always have it on board. You can make the blade from a spring leaf from an old Ford. We can grind it in Guanabacoa. It should be sharp and not tempered so it will break. My knife broke. "(Guanabacoa: a city near Havana.)

"I'll get another knife and have the spring ground. How many days of heavy brisa have we?"

"Maybe three. Maybe more. "

"I will have everything in order," the boy said. "You get your hands well old man.

" "I know how to care for them. In the night I spat something strange and felt something in my chest was broken. "

"Get that well too," the boy said. "Lie down, old man, and I will bring you your clean shirt. And something to eat. "

"Bring any of the papers of the time that I was gone," the old man said.

"You must get well fast for there is much that I can learn and you can teach me everything. How much did you suffer?"

"Plenty," the old man said.

"I'll bring the food and the papers," the boy said. "Rest well, old man. I will bring stuff from the drugstore for your hands. "

"Don't forget to tell Pedrico the head is his. "

"No. I will remember. "

As the boy went out the door and down the worn coral rock road he was crying again.

That afternoon there was a party of tourists at the Terrace and looking down in the water among the empty beer cans and dead barracudas a woman saw a great long white spine with a huge tail at the end that lifted and swung with the tide while the east wind blew a heavy steady sea outside the entrance to the harbor.

"What's that?" she asked a waiter and pointed to the long backbone of the great fish that was now just garbage waiting to go out with the tide.

"Tiburon," the waiter said, "Eshark. " He was meaning to explain what had happened.

"I didn't know sharks had such handsome, beautifully formed tails. "

"I didn't either," her male companion said.

Up the road, in his shack, the old man was sleeping again. He was still sleeping on his face and the boy was sitting by him watching him. The old man was dreaming about the lions.

 

 

 

    他是个独自在湾流①中一条小船上钓鱼的老人,至今已去了八十四天,一条鱼也没逮住。头四十天里,有个男孩子跟他在一起。可是,过了四十天还没捉到一条鱼,孩子的父母对他说,老人如今准是十足地"倒了血霉",这就是说,倒霉到了极点,于是孩子听从了他们的吩咐,上了另外一条船,头一个礼拜就捕到了三条好鱼。孩子看见老人每天回来时船总是空的,感到很难受,他总是走下岸去,帮老人拿卷起的钓索,或者鱼钩和鱼叉,还有绕在桅杆上的帆。帆上用面粉袋片打了些补丁,收拢后看来象是一面标志着永远失败的旗子。

    ①指墨西哥湾暖流,向东穿过美国佛罗里达州南端和古巴之间的佛罗里达海峡,沿着北美东海岸向东北流动。这股暖流温度比两旁的海水高至度,最宽处达英里,呈深蓝色,非常壮观,为鱼类群集的地方。本书主人公为古巴首都哈瓦那附近小海港的渔夫,经常驶进湾流捕鱼。

    老人消瘦而憔悴,脖颈上有些很深的皱纹。腮帮上有些褐斑,那是太阳在爇带海面上反射的光线所引起的良性皮肤癌变。褐斑从他脸的两侧一直蔓延下去,他的双手常用绳索拉大鱼,留下了刻得很深的伤疤。但是这些伤疤中没有一块是新的。它们象无鱼可打的沙漠中被侵蚀的地方一般古老。他身上的一切都显得古老,除了那双眼睛,它们象海水一般蓝,是愉快而不肯认输的。

   

    “圣地亚哥,"他们俩从小船停泊的地方爬上岸时,孩子对他说。"我又能陪你出海了。我家挣到了一点儿钱。”

    老人教会了这孩子捕鱼,孩子爱他。

    “不,”老人说。“你遇上了一条交好运的船。跟他们待下去吧。”

    “不过你该记得,你有一回八十七天钓不到一条鱼,跟着有三个礼拜,我们每天都逮住了大鱼。”

    “我记得,”老人说。“我知道你不是因为没把握才离开我的。”

    “是爸爸叫我走的。我是孩子,不能不听从他。”

    “我明白,”老人说。“这是理该如此的。”

    “他没多大的信心。”

    “是啊,”老人说。“可是我们有。可不是吗?”

    “对,"孩子说。"我请你到露台饭店去喝杯啤酒,然后一起把打鱼的家什带回去。”

    “那敢情好,”老人说。“都是打鱼人嘛。”

    他们坐在饭店的露台上,不少渔夫拿老人开玩笑,老人并不生气。另外一些上了些年纪的渔夫望着他,感到难受。不过他们并不流露出来,只是斯文地谈起海流,谈起他们把钓索送到海面下有多深,天气一贯多么好,谈起他们的见闻。当天打鱼得手的渔夫都已回来,把大马林鱼剖开,整片儿排在两块木板上,每块木板的一端由两个人抬着,摇摇晃晃地送到收鱼站,在那里等冷藏车来把它们运往哈瓦那的市场。逮到鲨鱼的人们已把它们送到海湾另一边的鲨鱼加工厂去,吊在复合滑车上,除去肝脏,割掉鱼鳍,剥去外皮,把鱼肉切成一条条,以备腌制。

    刮东风的时候,鲨鱼加工厂隔着海湾送来一股气味;但今天只有淡淡的一丝,因为风转向了北方,后来逐渐平息了,

    饭店露台上可人心意、阳光明媚。

    “圣地亚哥,”孩子说。

    “哦,”老人说。他正握着酒杯,思量好多年前的事儿。

    “要我去弄点沙丁鱼来给你明天用吗?”

    “不。打棒球去吧。我划船还行,罗赫略会给我撒网的。”

    “我很想去。即使不能陪你钓鱼,我也很想给你多少做点事。”

    “你请我喝了杯啤酒,”老人说。“你已经是个大人啦。”

    “你头一回带我上船,我有多大?”

    “五岁,那天我把一条鲜龙活跳的鱼拖上船去,它差一点把船撞得粉碎,你也差一点给送了命。还记得吗?”

    “我记得鱼尾巴砰砰地拍打着,船上的座板给打断了,还有棍子打鱼的声音。我记得你把我朝船头猛推,那儿搁着湿漉漉的钓索卷儿,我感到整条船在颤抖,听到你啪啪地用棍子打鱼的声音,象有砍一棵树,还记得我浑身上下都是甜丝丝的血腥味儿。”

    “你当真记得那回事儿,还是我不久前刚跟你说过?”“打从我们头一回一起出海时起,什么事儿我都记得清清楚楚。”

    老人用他那双常遭日晒而目光坚定的眼睛爱怜地望着他。

    “如果你是我自己的小子,我准会带你出去闯一下,"他说。"可你是你爸爸和你妈妈的小子,你搭的又是一条交上了好运的船。”

    “我去弄沙丁鱼来好吗?我还知道上哪儿去弄四条鱼饵来。”

    “我今天还有自个儿剩下的。我把它们放在匣子里腌了。”

    “让我给你弄四条新鲜的来吧。”

    “一条,”老人说。他的希望和信心从没消失过。现在可又象微风初起时那么清新了。

    “两条,”孩子说。

    “就两条吧,"老人同意了。"你不是去偷的吧?”

    “我愿意去偷,”孩子说。"不过这些是买来的。”

    “谢谢你了,”老人说。他心地单纯,不去捉摸自己什么时候达到这样谦卑的地步。可是他知道这时正达到了这地步,知道这并不丢脸,所以也无损于真正的自尊心。

    “看这海流,明儿会是个好日子,"他说。

    “你打算上哪儿?"孩子问。

    “驶到远方,等转了风才回来。我想天亮前就出发。”

    “我要想法叫船主人也驶到远方,”孩子说。"这样,如果你确实钓到了大鱼,我们可以赶去帮你的忙。”

    “他可不会愿意驶到很远的地方。”

    “是啊,”孩子说。"不过我会看见一些他看不见的东西,比如说有只鸟儿在空中盘旋,我就会叫他赶去追-鳅的。”

    “他眼睛这么不行吗?”

    “简直是个瞎子。”

    “这可怪了,”老人说。“他从没捕过海龟。这玩艺才伤眼睛哪。”

    “你可在莫斯基托海岸①外捕了好多年海龟,你的眼力还是挺好的嘛。”

①位于中美洲尼加拉瓜的东部,是滨墨西哥湾的低洼的海岸地带,长满了灌木林。为印第安人中的莫斯基托族居住的地方,故名。

    “我是个不同寻常的老头儿。”

    “不过你现在还有力气对付一条真正大的鱼吗?”

    “我想还有。再说有不少窍门可用呢。”

    “我们把家什拿回家去吧,”孩子说。"这样我可以拿了鱼网去逮沙丁鱼。”

    他们从船上拿起打鱼的家什。老人把桅杆扛上肩头,孩子拿着内放编得很紧密的褐色钓索卷儿的木箱、鱼钩和带杆子的鱼叉。盛鱼饵的匣子给藏在小船的船梢下面,那儿还有那根在大鱼被拖到船边时用来收服它们的棍子,谁也不会来偷老人的东西,不过还是把桅杆和那些粗钓索带回家去的好,因为露水对这些东西不利,再说,尽管老人深信当地不会有人来偷他的东西,但他认为,把一把鱼钩和一支鱼叉留在船上实在是不必要的引诱。

    他们顺着大路一起走到老人的窝棚,从敞开的门走进去。老人把绕着帆的桅杆靠在墙上,孩子把木箱和其他家什搁在它的旁边。桅杆跟这窝棚内的单间屋子差不多一般长。窝棚用大椰子树的叫做"海鸟粪"的坚韧的苞壳做成,里面有一张床、一张桌子、一把椅子和泥地上一处用木炭烧饭的地方。

   

    在用纤维结实的"海鸟粪"展平了叠盖而成的褐色墙壁上,有一幅彩色的耶稣圣心图①和另一幅科布莱圣母图。这是他②妻子的遗物。墙上一度挂着幅他妻子的着色照,但他把它取下了,因为看了觉得自己太孤单了,它如今在屋角搁板上,在他的一件干净衬衫下面。

  ①法国修女玛格丽特-玛丽-阿拉科克(-)于世纪倡议崇拜耶稣基督的圣心,在信奉天主教的国家中传播甚广。

    ②科布莱为古巴东南部一小镇,镇南小山上有科布莱圣母祠,每年月日为朝圣日。

 

    “有什么吃的东西?”

    “有锅鱼煮黄米饭。要吃点吗?”

    “不。我回家去吃。要我给你生火吗?”

    “不用。过一会儿我自己来生。也许就吃冷饭算了。”

    “我把鱼网拿去好吗?”

    “当然好。”

    实在并没有鱼网,孩子还记得他们是什么时候把它卖掉的。然而他们每天要扯一套这种谎话。也没有什么鱼煮黄米饭,这一点孩子也知道。

    “八十五是个吉利的数目,”老人说。“你可想看到我逮住一条去掉了下脚有一千多磅重的鱼?”

    “我拿鱼网捞沙丁鱼去。你坐在门口晒晒太阳可好?”

    “好吧。我有张昨天的报纸,我来看看棒球消息。”孩子不知道昨天的报纸是不是也是乌有的。但是老人把它从床下取出来了。

 

    “佩里科在杂货铺里给我的,"他解释说。

    “我弄到了沙丁鱼就回来。我要把你的鱼跟我的一起用冰镇着,明儿早上就可以分着用了。等我回来了,你告诉我棒球消息。”

    “扬基队①不会输。”

    “可是我怕克利夫兰印第安人队会赢。”

    “相信扬基队吧,好孩子。别忘了那了不起的迪马吉奥。"

   ①这支纽约市的棒球队是美国职业棒球界的强队。

    ②乔-迪马吉奥(-)于年起进扬基队,以善于击球得分著称。年棒球季后告别球坛。

 

    “我担心底特律老虎队,也担心克利夫兰印第安人队。”

    “当心点,要不然连辛辛那提红队和芝加哥白短袜队,你都要担心啦。”

    “你好好儿看报,等我回来了给我讲讲。”

    “你看我们该去买张末尾是八五的彩票吗?明儿是第八十五天。”

    “这样做行啊,”孩子说。"不过你上次创纪录的是八十七天,这怎么说?”

    “这种事儿不会再发生。你看能弄到一张末尾是八五的吗?”

    “我可以去订一张。”

    “订一张。这要两块半。我们向谁去借这笔钱呢?”

    “这个容易。我总能借到两块半的。” 

    “我看没准儿我也借得到。不过我不想借钱。第一步是借钱。下一步就要讨饭。”

    “穿得暖和点,老大爷,”孩子说。"别忘了,我们这是在九月里。"

    “正是大鱼露面的月份,”老人说。“在五月里,人人都能当个好渔夫的。”

    “我现在去捞沙丁鱼,”孩子说。

    等孩子回来的时候,老人在椅子上熟睡着,太阳已经下去了。孩子从床上捡起一条旧军毯,铺在椅背上,盖住了老人的双肩。这两个肩膀挺怪,人非常老迈了,肩膀却依然很强健,脖子也依然很壮实,而且当老人睡着了,脑袋向前耷拉着的时候,皱纹也不大明显了。他的衬衫上不知打了多少次补丁,弄得象他那张帆一样,这些补丁被阳光晒得褪成了许多深浅不同的颜色。老人的头非常苍老,眼睛闭上了,脸上就一点生气也没有。报纸摊在他膝盖上,在晚风中,靠他一条胳臂压着才没被吹走。他光着脚。

    孩子撇下老人走了,等他回来时,老人还是熟睡着。

    “醒来吧,老大爷,"孩子说,一手搭上老人的膝盖。老人张开眼睛,他的神志一时仿佛正在从老远的地方回来。随后他微笑了。

    “你拿来了什么?"他问。

    “晚饭,”孩子说。"我们就来吃吧。”

    “我肚子不大饿。”

    “得了,吃吧。你不能只打鱼,不吃饭。”

    “我这样干过,"老人说着,站起身来,拿起报纸,把它折好。跟着他动手折叠毯子。

    “把毯子披在身上吧,”孩子说。"只要我活着,你就决不会不吃饭就去打鱼。”

    “这么说,祝你长寿,多保重自己吧,”老人说。“我们吃什么?”

    “黑豆饭、油炸香蕉,还有些纯菜。"

   ①这些是加勒比海地区老百姓的主食。

    孩子是把这些饭菜放在双层饭匣里从露台饭店拿来的。他口袋里有两副刀叉和汤匙,每一副都用纸餐巾包着。

    “这是谁给你的。”

    “马丁。那老板。”

    “我得去谢谢他。”

    “我已经谢过啦,”孩子说。"你用不着去谢他了。”

    “我要给他一块大鱼肚子上的肉,”老人说。“他这样帮助我们不止一次了?”

    “我想是这样吧。”

    “这样的话,我该在鱼肚子肉以外,再送他一些东西。他对我们真关心。”

    “他还送了两瓶啤酒。”

    “我喜欢罐装的啤酒。”

    “我知道。不过这是瓶装的,阿图埃牌啤酒,我还得把瓶子送回去。”

    “你真周到,”老人说。“我们就吃好吗?”

    “我已经问过你啦,"孩子温和地对他说。“不等你准备好,

     我是不愿打开饭匣子的。”

    “我准备好啦,”老人说。“我只消洗洗手脸就行。”你上哪儿去洗呢?孩子想。村里的水龙头在大路上第二条横路的转角上。我该把水带到这儿让他用的,孩子想,还带块肥皂和一条干净毛巾来。我为什么这样粗心大意?我该再弄件衬衫和一件茄克衫来让他过冬,还要一双什么鞋子,并且再给他弄条毯子来。

    “这炖菜呱呱叫,”老人说。

    “给我讲讲棒球赛吧,"孩子请求他说。

    “在美国联赛①中,总是扬基队的天下,我跟你说过啦,”老人兴高采烈地说。

    “他们今儿个输了,"孩子告诉他。

    “这算不上什么,那了不起的迪马吉奥恢复他的本色了。”

    “他们队里还有别的好手哪。”

    “这还用说。不过有了他就不同了。在另一个联赛②中,拿布鲁克林队和费拉德尔菲亚队来说,我相信布鲁克林队。不过话得说回来,我没有忘记迪克-西斯勒和他在那老公园③里打出的那些好球。”

    “这些好球从来没有别人打过。我见过的击球中,数他打得最远。”

    ①美国职业棒球界按水平高低分大联赛及小联赛两种组织,美国联赛是两大联赛之一,扬基队是其中的佼佼者。

    ②指另一大联赛,全国联赛。这两大联赛每年各通过比赛选出一个胜队,于十月上半在双方的场地轮流比赛,一决雌雄,名为"世界大赛"

    ③指费拉德尔菲亚的希贝公园,是该市棒球队比赛的主要场地。迪克-西斯勒于年至年在该地打球。

   

    “你还记得他过去常来露台饭店吗?我想陪他出海钓鱼,可是不敢对他开口。所以我要你去说,可你也不敢。”

    “我记得。我们真大大地失算了。他满可能跟我们一起出海的。这样,我们可以一辈子回味这回事了。”

    “我满想陪那了不起的迪马吉奥去钓鱼,”老人说。“人家说他父亲也是个打鱼的。也许他当初也象我们这样穷,会领会我们的心意的。”

    “那了不起的西斯勒的爸爸可没过过穷日子,他爸爸象我这样年纪的时候就在联赛里打球了。"

    “我象你这样年纪的时候,就在一条去非洲的方帆船上当普通水手了,我还见过狮子在傍晚到海滩上来。”

    “我知道。你跟我谈起过。”

    “我们来谈非洲还是谈棒球?”

    “我看谈棒球吧,”孩子说。"给我谈谈那了不起的约翰--麦格劳②的情况。"他把这个J念成了"何塔"③。

    “在过去的日子里,他有时候也常到露台饭店来。可是他一喝了酒,就态度粗暴,出口伤人,性子别扭。他脑子里想着棒球,也想着赛马。至少他老是口袋里揣着赛马的名单,常常在电话里提到一些马儿的名字。”

    ①指乔治-哈罗德-西斯勒(-),他于年开始参加大联赛,于年第一次荣获该年度的"美国联赛中最宝贵球员"的称号。

    ②麦格劳(-)于年开始当职业棒球运动员,年参加纽约巨人队,担任该队经理,直至年,使该队成为著名的强队。他于年后就不再上场参加比赛。

    ③J为约瑟夫的首字母,在西班牙语中读为"何塔"

   

    “他是个伟大的经理,”孩子说。"我爸爸认为他是顶伟大的。”

    “这是因为他来这儿的次数最多,”老人说。“要是多罗彻①继续每年来这儿,你爸爸就会认为他是顶伟大的经理了。”

    “说真的,谁是顶伟大的经理,卢克②还是迈克-冈萨雷斯?"

 ①列奥-多罗彻(-)为三十年代著名棒球明星,年起任纽约巨人队经理,使之成为第一流的强队。

    ②阿道尔福-卢克于年生于哈瓦那,年前曾先后在波士顿、辛辛那提、布鲁克林及纽约巨人队当球员,后任经理。

    ③四十年代后期曾两度担任圣路易红色棒球队经理。

 

    “我认为他们不相上下。”

    “顶好的渔夫是你。”

    “不。我知道有不少比我强的。”

    “哪里!”孩子说。"好渔夫很多,还有些很了不起的。不过顶呱呱的只有你。”

    “谢谢你。你说得叫我高兴。我希望不要来一条挺大的鱼,叫我对付不了,那样就说明我们讲错啦。”

    “这种鱼是没有的,只要你还是象你说的那样强壮。”

    “我也许不象我自以为的那样强壮了,”老人说。“可是我懂得不少窍门,而且有决心。”

    “你该就去睡觉,这样明儿早上才津神饱满。我要把这些东西送回露台饭店。”

    “那么祝你晚安。早上我去叫醒你。”

    “你是我的闹钟,”孩子说。

    “年纪是我的闹钟,”老人说。“为什么老头儿醒得特别早?难道是要让白天长些吗?”

    “我说不上来,”孩子说。“我只知道少年睡得沉,起得晚。”

    “我记在心上,”老人说。“到时候会去叫醒你的。”

    “我不愿让船主人来叫醒我。这样似乎我比他差劲了。”

    “我懂。”

    “安睡吧,老大爷。”

    孩子走出屋去。他们刚才吃饭的时候,桌子上没点灯,老人就脱了长裤,摸黑上了床。他把长裤卷起来当枕头,把那张报纸塞在里头。他用毯子裹住了身子,在弹簧垫上铺着的其他旧报纸上睡下了。

    他不多久就睡熟了,梦见小时候见到的非洲,长长的金色海滩和白色海滩,白得耀眼,还有高耸的海岬和褐色的大山。他如今每天夜里都回到那道海岸边,在梦中听见拍岸海浪的隆隆声,看见土人驾船穿浪而行。他睡着时闻到甲板上柏油和填絮的气味,还闻到早晨陆地上刮来的风带来的非洲气息。

    通常一闻到陆地上刮来的风,他就醒来,穿上衣裳去叫醒那孩子。然而今夜陆地上刮来的风的气息来得很早,他在梦中知道时间尚早,就继续把梦做下去,看见群岛的白色顶峰从海面上升起,随后梦见了加那利群岛①的各个港湾和锚泊地。

 ①在北大西洋东部的一个火山群岛,位于摩洛哥西南,当时尚未独立,隶属西班牙。

    他不再梦见风暴,不再梦见妇女们,不再梦见伟大的事件,不再梦见大鱼,不再梦见打架,不再梦见角力,不再梦见他的妻子。他如今只梦见一些地方和海滩上的狮子。它们在暮色中象小猫一般嬉耍着,他爱它们,如同爱这孩子一样。他从没梦见过这孩子。他就这么醒过来,望望敞开的门外边的月亮,摊开长裤穿上。他在窝棚外撒了尿,然后顺着大路走去叫醒孩子。他被清晨的寒气弄得直哆嗦。但他知道哆嗦了一阵后会感到暖和,要不了多久他就要去划船了。

    孩子住的那所房子的门没有上铺,他推开了门,光着脚悄悄走进去。孩子在外间的一张帆布床上熟睡着,老人靠着外面射进来的残月的光线,清楚地看见他。他轻轻握住孩子的一只脚,直到孩子给弄醒了,转过脸来对他望着。老人点点头,孩子从床边椅子上拿起他的长裤,坐在床沿上穿裤子。老人走出门去,孩子跟在他背后。他还是昏昏欲睡,老人伸出胳臂搂住他的肩膀说:"对不起。”

    “哪里!”孩子说。"男子汉就该这么干。”

    他们顺着大路朝老人的窝棚走去,一路上,黑暗中有些光着脚的男人在走动,扛着他们船上的桅杆。

    他们走进老人的窝棚,孩子拿起装在篮子里的钓索卷儿,还有鱼叉和鱼钩,老人把绕着帆的桅杆扛在肩上。

    “想喝咖啡吗?"孩子问。

    “我们把家什放在船里,然后喝一点吧。”

    他们在一家供应渔夫的清早就营业的小吃馆里,喝着盛在炼侞听里的咖啡。

    “你睡得怎么样,老大爷?"孩子问。他如今清醒过来了,尽管要他完全摆脱睡魔还不大容易。

    “睡得很好,马诺林,”老人说。“我感到今天挺有把握。”

    “我也这样,”孩子说。"现在我该去拿你我用的沙丁鱼,还有给你的新鲜鱼饵。那条船上的家什总是他自己拿的。他从来不要别人帮他拿东西。”

    “我们可不同,”老人说。“你还只五岁时我就让你帮忙拿东西来着。”

    “我记得,”孩子说。"我马上就回来。再喝杯咖啡吧。我们在这儿可以挂帐。”

    他走了,光着脚在珊瑚石铺的走道上向保藏鱼铒的冷藏库走去。

    老人慢腾腾地喝着咖啡。这是他今儿一整天的饮食,他知道应该把它喝了。好久以来,吃饭使他感到厌烦,因此他从来不带吃食。他在小船的船头上放着一瓶水,一整天只需要这个就够了。

    孩子带着沙丁鱼和两份包在报纸里的鱼饵回来了,他们顺着小径走向小船,感到脚下的沙地里嵌着鹅卵石,他们抬起小船,让它溜进水里。

    “祝你好运,老大爷。”

    “祝你好运,”老人说。他把桨上的绳圈套在桨座的钉子上,身子朝前冲,抵消桨片在水中所遇到的阻力,在黑暗中动手划出港去。其他那些海滩上也有其他船只在出海,老人听到他们的桨落水和划动的声音,尽管此刻月亮已掉到了山背后,他还看不清他们。

    偶尔有条船上有人在说话。但是除了桨声外,大多数船只都寂静无声。它们一出港口就分散开来,每一条驶向指望能找到鱼的那片海面。老人知道自己要驶向远方,所以把陆地的气息抛在后方,划进清晨的海洋的清新气息中。他划过海里的某一片水域,看见果囊马尾藻闪出的磷光,渔夫们管这片水域叫"大井",因为那儿水深突然达到七百英寻,海流冲击在海底深渊的峭壁上,激起了旋涡,种种鱼儿都聚集在那儿。那儿集中着海虾和作鱼饵用的小鱼,在那些深不可测的水底洞袕里,有时还有成群的柔鱼,它们在夜间浮到紧靠海面的地方,所有在那儿转游的鱼类都拿它们当食物。

    老人在黑暗中感觉到早晨在来临,他划着划着,听见飞鱼出水时的颤抖声,还有它们在黑暗中凌空飞翔时挺直的翅膀所发出的咝咝声。他非常喜爱飞鱼,拿它们当作他在海洋上的主要朋友。他替鸟儿伤心,尤其是那些柔弱的黑色小燕鸥,它们始终在飞翔,在找食,但几乎从没找到过,于是他想,乌儿的生活过得比我们的还要艰难,除了那些猛禽和强有力的大鸟。既然海洋这样残暴,为什么象这些海燕那样的鸟儿生来就如此柔弱和纤巧?海洋是仁慈并十分美丽的。然而她能变得这样残暴,又是来得这样突然,而这些飞翔的鸟儿,从空中落下觅食,发出细微的哀鸣,却生来就柔弱得不适宜在海上生活。

    他每想到海洋,老是称她为la mar,这是人们对海洋抱着好感时用西班牙语对她的称呼。有时候,对海洋抱着好感的人们也说她的坏话,不过说起来总是拿她当女性看待的。①有些较年轻的渔夫,用浮标当钓索上的浮子,并且在把鲨鱼肝卖了好多钱后置备了汽艇,都管海洋叫elmar,这是表示男性的说法。他们提起她时,拿她当做一个竞争者或是一个去处,甚至当做一个敌人。可是这老人总是拿海洋当做女性,她给人或者不愿给人莫大的恩惠,如果她干出了任性或缺德的事儿来,那是因为她由不得自己。月亮对她起着影响,如同对一个女人那样,他想。

  ①西班牙语中的"海洋"(mar)可作陰性名词,也可作阳性名词,以前面用的定冠词是陰性(la)还是阳性(el)来区别。

    他从容地划着,对他说来并不吃力,因为他保持在自己的最高速度以内,而且除了偶尔水流打个旋儿以外,海面是平坦无浪的。他正让海流帮他千三分之一的活儿,这时天渐渐亮了,他发现自己已经划到比预期此刻能达到的地方更远了。

    我在这海底的深渊上转游了一个礼拜,可是一无作为,他想。今天,我要找到那些鲣鱼和长鳍金枪鱼群在什么地方,说不定还有条大鱼跟它们在一起呢。

    不等天色大亮,他就放出了一个个鱼饵,让船随着海流漂去。有个鱼饵下沉到四十英寻的深处。第二个在七十五英寻的深处,第三个和第四个分别在蓝色海水中一百英寻和一百二十五英寻的深处。每个由新鲜沙丁鱼做的鱼饵都是头朝下的,钓钩的钩身穿进小鱼的身子,扎好,缝牢,钓钩的所有突出部分,弯钩和尖端,都给包在鱼肉里。每条沙丁鱼都用钓钩穿过双眼,这样鱼的身子在突出的钢钩上构成了半个环形。不管一条大鱼接触到钓钩的哪一部分,都是喷香而美味的。

    孩子给了他两条新鲜的小金枪鱼,或者叫做长鳍金枪鱼,它们正象铅垂般挂在那两根最深的钓索上,在另外两根上,他挂上了一条蓝色大-鱼和一条黄色金银鱼,它们已被使用过,但依然完好,而且还有出色的沙丁鱼给它们添上香味和吸引力。每根钓索都象一支大铅笔那么粗,一端给缠在一根青皮钓竿上,这样,只要鱼在鱼饵上一拉或一碰,就能使钓竿朝下落,而每根钓索有两个四十英寻长的卷儿,它们可以牢系在其他备用的卷儿上,这一来,如果用得着的话,一条鱼可以拉出三百多英寻长的钓索。

    这时老人紧盯着那三根挑出在小船一边的钓竿,看看有没有动静,一边缓缓地划着,使钓索保持上下笔直,停留在适当的水底深处。天相当亮了,太阳随时会升起来。

    淡淡的太阳从海上升起,老人看见其他的船只,低低地挨着水面,离海岸不远,和海流的方向垂直地展开着。跟着太阳越发明亮了,耀眼的阳光射在水面上,随后太阳从地平线上完全升起,平坦的海面把阳光反射到他眼睛里,使眼睛剧烈地刺痛,因此他不朝太阳看,顾自划着。他俯视水中,注视着那几根一直下垂到黑——的深水里的钓索。他把钓索垂得比任何人更直,这样,在黑——的湾流深处的几个不同的深度,都会有一个鱼饵刚好在他所指望的地方等待着在那儿游动的鱼来吃。别的渔夫让钓索随着海流漂去,有时候钓索在六十英寻的深处,他们却自以为在一百英寻的深处呢。

    不过,他想,我总是把它们津确地放在适当的地方的。问题只在于我的运气就此不好了。可是谁说得准呢?说不定今天就转运。每一天都是一个新的日子。走运当然是好。不过我情愿做到分毫不差。这样,运气来的时候,你就有所准备了。

    两小时过去了,太阳如今相应地升得更高了,他朝东望时不再感到那么刺眼了。眼前只看得见三条船,它们显得特别低矮,远在近岸的海面上。

    我这一辈子,初升的太阳老是刺痛我的眼睛,他想。然而眼睛还是好好的。傍晚时分,我可以直望着太阳,不会有眼前发黑的感觉。阳光的力量在傍晚也要强一些。不过在早上它叫人感到眼痛。

    就在这时,他看见一只长翅膀的黑色军舰鸟在他前方的天空中盘旋飞翔。它倏地斜着后掠的双翅俯冲,然后又盘旋起来。

    “它逮住了什么东西啦,"老人说出声来。"它不光是找找罢了。”

    他慢慢划着,直朝鸟儿盘旋的地方划去。他并不匆忙,让那些钓索保持着上下笔直的位置。不过他还是挨近了一点儿海流,这样,他依然在用正确的方式捕鱼,尽管他的速度要比他不打算利用鸟儿来指路时来得快。

    军舰鸟在空中飞得高些了,又盘旋起来,双翅纹丝不动。它随即猛然俯冲下来,老人看见飞鱼从海里跃出,在海面上拚命地掠去。

    -鳅,"老人说出声来。"-鳅。”

    他把双桨从桨架上取下,从船头下面拿出一根细钓丝。钓丝上系着一段铁丝导线和一只中号钓钩,他拿一条沙丁鱼挂在上面。他把钓丝从船舷放下水去,将上端紧系在船梢一只拳头螺栓上。跟着他在另一根钓丝上安上了鱼饵,把它盘绕着搁在船头的陰影里。他又划起船来,注视着那只此刻正在水面上低低地飞掠的长翅膀黑鸟。

    他看着看着,那鸟儿又朝下冲,为了俯冲,把翅膀朝后掠,然后猛地展开,追踪着飞鱼,可是没有成效。老人看见那些大-鳅跟在那脱逃的鱼后面,把海面弄得微微隆起-鳅在飞掠的鱼下面破水而行,只等飞鱼一掉下,就飞快地钻进水里。这群-鳅真大啊,他想。它们分布得很广,飞鱼很少脱逃的机会。那只鸟可没有成功的机会。飞鱼对它来说个头太大了,而且又飞得太快。

    他看着飞鱼一再地从海里冒出来,看着那只鸟儿的一无效果的行动。那群鱼从我附近逃走啦,他想。它们逃得太快,游得太远啦。不过说不定我能逮住一条掉队的,说不定我想望的大鱼就在它们周围转游着。我的大鱼总该在某处地方啊。

    陆地上空的云块这时象山岗般耸立着,海岸只剩下一长条绿色的线,背后是些灰青色的小山。海水此刻呈深蓝色,深得简直发紫了。他仔细俯视着海水,只见深蓝色的水中穿梭地闪出点点红色的浮游生物,阳光这时在水中变幻出奇异的光彩。他注视着那几根钓索,看见它们一直朝下没入水中看不见的地方,他很高兴看到这么多浮游生物,因为这说明有鱼。太阳此刻升得更高了,阳光在水中变幻出奇异的光彩,说明天气晴朗,陆地上空的云块的形状也说明了这一点。可是那只鸟儿这时几乎看不见了,水面上没什么东西,只有几摊被太阳晒得发白的黄色马尾藻和一只紧靠着船舷浮动的僧帽水母,它那胶质的浮囊呈紫色,具有一定的外形,闪现出彩虹般的颜色。它倒向一边,然后又竖直了身子。它象个大气泡般高高兴兴地浮动着,那些厉害的紫色长触须在水中拖在身后,长达一码。

    “Aguamala,”老人说。“你这婊子养的。"①他从坐着轻轻荡桨的地方低头朝水中望去,看见一些颜色跟那些拖在水中的触须一样的小鱼,它们在触须和触须之间以及浮囊在浮动时所投下的一小摊陰影中游着。它们对它的毒素是不受影响的。可是人就不同了,当老人把一条鱼拉回船来时,有些触须会缠在钓丝上,紫色的黏液附在上面,他的胳臂和手上就会出现伤痕和疮肿,就象被毒漆树或栎叶毒漆树感染时一样。但是这水母的毒素发作得更快,痛得象挨鞭子怞一般。

   ①西班牙语,意为"被败坏了的海水",因为水母的触须上有带有毒性的黏液,见下文。

    这些闪着彩虹般颜色的大气泡很美。然而它们正是海里最欺诈成性的生物,所以老人乐意看到大海龟把它们吃掉。海龟发现了它们,就从正面向它们进逼,然后闭上了眼睛,这样,从头到尾完全被龟背所保护着,把它们连同触须一并吃掉。老人喜欢观看海龟把它们吃掉,喜欢在风暴过后在海滩上遇上它们,喜欢听到自己用长着老茧的硬脚掌踩在上面时它们啪地爆裂的声音。

    他喜欢绿色的海龟和玳瑁,它们形态优美,游水迅速,价值很高,他还对那又大又笨的-龟抱着不怀恶意的轻蔑,它们的甲壳是黄色的,作爱的方式是奇特的,高高兴兴地吞食僧帽水母时闭上了眼睛。

    他对海龟并不抱着神秘的看法,尽管他曾多年乘小船去捕海龟。他替所有的海龟伤心,甚至包括那些跟小船一样长、重达一吨的大梭龟。人们大都对海龟残酷无情,因为一只海龟给剖开、杀死之后,它的心脏还要跳动好几个钟点。然而老人想,我也有这样一颗心脏,我的手脚也跟它们的一样。他吃白色的海龟蛋,为了使身子长力气。他在五月份连吃了整整一个月,使自己到九、十月份能身强力壮,去逮地道的人鱼。

    他每天还从不少渔夫存放家什的棚屋中一只大圆桶里舀一杯鲨鱼肝油喝。这桶就放在那儿,想喝的渔夫都可以去。大多数渔夫厌恶这种油的味道。但是也并不比摸黑早起更叫人难受,而且它对防治一切伤风流感都非常有效,对眼睛也有好处。

    老人此刻抬眼望去,看见那只鸟儿又在盘旋了。

    “它找到鱼啦,"他说出声来,这时没有一条飞鱼冲出海面,也没有小鱼纷纷四处逃窜。然而老人望着望着,只见一条小金枪鱼跃到空中,一个转身,头朝下掉进水里。这条金枪鱼在阳光中闪出银白色的光,等它回到了水里,又有些金枪鱼一条接着一条跃出水面,它们是朝四面八方跳的,搅得海水翻腾起来,跳得很远地捕食小鱼。它们正绕着小鱼转,驱赶着小鱼。

    要不是它们游得这么快,我可以赶到它们中间去的,老人想,他注视着这群鱼把水搅得泛出白色的水沫,还注视着那鸟儿这时正俯冲下来,扎进在惊慌中被迫浮上海面的小鱼群中。

    “这只鸟真是个大帮手,”老人说。就在这当儿,船梢的那根细钓丝在他脚下绷紧了,原来他在脚上绕了一圈,于是他放下双桨,紧紧抓住细钓丝,动手往回拉,感到那小金枪鱼在颤巍巍地拉着,有点儿分量。他越往回拉,钓丝就越是颤巍,他看见水里蓝色的鱼背和金色的两侧,然后把钓丝呼的一甩,使鱼越过船舷,掉在船中。鱼躺在船梢的阳光里,身子结实,形状象颗子弹,一双痴呆的大眼睛直瞪着,动作干净利落的尾巴敏捷、发抖地拍打着船板,砰砰有声,逐渐耗尽了力气。老人出于好意,猛击了一下它的头,一脚把它那还在抖动的身子踢到船梢背陰的地方。

    “长鳍金枪鱼,"他说出声来。"拿来钓大鱼倒满好。它有十磅重。”

    他记不起他是什么时候第一次开始在独自待着的当儿自言自语的了。往年他独自待着时曾唱歌来着,有时候在夜里唱,那是在小渔船或捕海龟的小艇上值班掌舵时的事。他大概是在那孩子离开了他、他独自待着时开始自言自语的。不过他记不清了。他跟孩子一块儿捕鱼时,他们一般只在有必要时才说话。他们在夜间说话来着,要不,碰到坏天气,被暴风雨困在海上的时候。没有必要不在海上说话,被认为是种好规矩,老人一向认为的确如此,始终遵守它。可是这会儿他把心里想说的话说出声来有好几次了,因为没有旁人会受到他说话的打扰。

    “要是别人听到我在自言自语,会当我发疯了,"他说出声来。"不过既然我没有发疯,我就不管,还是要说。有钱人在船上有收音机对他们谈话,还把棒球赛的消息告诉他们。”现在可不是思量棒球赛的时刻,他想。现在只应该思量一桩事。就是我生来要干的那桩事。那个鱼群周围很可能有一条大的,他想。我只逮住了正在吃小鱼的金枪鱼群中一条失散的。可是它们正游向远方,游得很快。今天凡是在海面上露面的都游得很快,向着东北方向。难道一天的这个时辰该如此吗?要不,这是什么我不懂得的天气征兆?

    他眼下已看不见海岸的那一道绿色了,只看得见那些青山的仿佛积着白雪的山峰,以及山峰上空象是高耸的雪山般的云块。海水颜色深极了,阳光在海水中幻成彩虹七色。那数不清的斑斑点点的浮游生物,由于此刻太阳升到了头顶上空,都看不见了,眼下老人看得见的仅仅是蓝色海水深处幻成的巨大的七色光带,还有他那几根笔直垂在有一英里深的水中的钓索。

    渔夫们管所有这种鱼都叫金枪鱼,只有等到把它们卖出,或者拿来换鱼饵时,才分别叫它们各自的专用名字。这时它们又沉下海去了。阳光此刻很爇,老人感到脖颈上爇辣辣的,划着划着,觉得汗水一滴滴地从背上往下淌。

    我大可随波逐流,他想,管自睡去,预先把钓索在脚趾上绕上一圈,有动静时可以把我弄醒。不过今天是第八十五天,我该一整天好好钓鱼。就在这时,他凝视着钓索,看见其中有一根挑出在水面上的绿色钓竿猛地往水中一沉。

    “来啦,"他说。"来啦,"说着从桨架上取下双桨,没有让船颠簸一下。他伸手去拉钓索,把它轻轻地夹在右手大拇指和食指之间。他感到钓索并不怞紧,也没什么分量,就轻松地握着。跟着它又动了一下。这回是试探性的一拉,拉得既不紧又不重,他就完全明白这是怎么回事了。在一百英寻的深处有条大马林鱼正在吃包住钓钩尖端和钩身的沙丁鱼,这个手工制的钓钩是从一条小金枪鱼的头部穿出来的。

    老人轻巧地攥着钓索,用左手把它从竿子上轻轻地解下来。他现在可以让它穿过他手指间滑动,不会让鱼感到一点儿牵引力。

    在离岸这么远的地方,它长到本月份,个头一定挺大了,他想。吃鱼饵吧,鱼啊。吃吧。请你吃吧。这些鱼饵多新鲜,而你啊,待在这六百英尺的深处,在这漆黑黑的冷水里。在黑暗里再绕个弯子,拐回来把它们吃了吧。

    他感到微弱而轻巧地一拉,跟着较猛烈地一拉,这时准是有条沙丁鱼的头很难从钓钩上扯下来。然后没有一丝动静了。

    “来吧,"老人说出声来。"再绕个弯子吧。闻闻这些鱼饵。它们不是挺鲜美吗?趁它们还新鲜的时候吃了,回头还有那条金枪鱼。又结实,又凉快,又鲜美。别怕难为情,鱼儿。把它们吃了吧。”

    他把钓索夹在大拇指和食指之间等待着。同时盯着它和其他那几根钓索,因为这鱼可能已游到了高一点的地方或低一点的地方。跟着又是那么轻巧地一拉。

    “它会咬饵的,"老人说出声来。"求天主帮它咬饵吧。”然而它没有咬饵。它游走了,老人没感到有任何动静。

    “它不可能游走的,"他说。"天知道它是不可能游走的。它正在绕弯子呐。也许它以前上过钩,还有点儿记得。”

    跟着他感到钓索轻轻地动了一下,他高兴了。

    “它刚才不过是在转身,"他说。"它会咬饵的。”

    感到这轻微的一拉,他很高兴,接着他感到有些猛拉的感觉,很有份量,叫人难以相信。这是鱼本身的重量造成的,他就松手让钓索朝下溜,一直朝下,朝下溜,从那两卷备用钓索中的一卷上放出钓索。它从老人的指间轻轻地滑下去的时候,他依旧感到很大的分量,尽管他的大拇指和食指施加的压力简直小得觉察不到。

    “多棒的鱼啊,"他说。"它正把鱼饵斜叼在嘴里,带着它在游走呐。”

    它就会掉过头来把饵吞下去的,他想。他没有把这句话说出声来,因为他知道,一桩好事如果说破了,也许就不会发生了。他知道这条鱼有多大,他想象到它嘴里横衔着金枪鱼,在黑暗中游走。这时他觉得它停止不动了,可是分量还是没变。跟着分量越来越重了,他就再放出一点钓索。他一时加强了大拇指和食指上的压力,于是钓索上的分量增加了,一直传到水中深处。

    “它咬饵啦,"他说。"现在我来让它美美地吃一顿。”

    他让钓索在指间朝下溜,同时伸出左手,把两卷备用钓索的一端紧系在旁边那根钓索的两卷备用钓索上。他如今准备好了。他眼下除了正在使用的那钓索卷儿,还有三个四十英寻长的卷儿可供备用。

    “再吃一些吧,"他说。"美美地吃吧。”

    吃了吧,这样可以让钓钩的尖端扎进你的心脏,把你弄死,他想。轻松愉快地浮上来吧,让我把鱼叉刺进你的身子。得了。你准备好了?你进餐得时间够长了吗?

    “着啊!"他说出声来,用双手使劲猛拉钓索,收进了一码,然后连连猛拉,使出胳膊上的全副劲儿,拿身子的重量作为支撑,挥动双臂,轮换地把钓索往回拉。

    什么用也没有。那鱼只顾慢慢地游开去,老人无法把它往上拉一英寸。他这钓索很结实,是制作来钓大鱼的,他把它套在背上猛拉,钓索给绷得太紧,上面竟蹦出水珠来。

    随后它在水里渐渐发出一阵拖长的咝咝声,但他依旧攥着它,在座板上死劲撑住了自己的身子,仰着上半身来抵消鱼的拉力。船儿慢慢地向西北方向驶去。

    大鱼一刻不停地游着,鱼和船在平静的水面上慢慢地行进。另外那几个鱼饵还在水里,没有动静,用不着应付。

    “但愿那孩子在这儿就好了,"老人说出声来,"我正被一条鱼拖着走,成了一根系纤绳的短柱啦。我可以把钓索系在船舷上。不过这一来鱼儿会把它扯断的。我得拚命牵住它,必要的时候给它放出钓索。谢谢老天,它还在朝前游,没有朝下沉。”

    如果它决意朝下沉,我该怎么办?我不知道。如果它潜入海底,死在那儿,我该怎么办?我不知道。可是我必须干些什么。我能做的事情多着呢。

    他攥住了勒在背脊上的钓索,紧盯着它直往水中斜去,小船呢,不停地朝西北方驶去。

    这样能叫它送命,老人想。它不能一直这样干下去。然而过了四个钟点,那鱼照样拖着这条小船,不停地向大海游去,老人呢,依然紧紧攥着勒在背脊上的钓索。"我是中午把它钓上的,"他说。"可我始终还没见过它。”

    他在钓上这鱼以前,把草帽拉下,紧扣在脑瓜上,这时勒得他的脑门好痛。他还觉得口渴,就双膝跪下,小心不让扯动钓索,尽量朝船头爬去,伸手去取水瓶。他打开瓶盖,喝了一点儿,然后靠在船头上休息。他坐在从桅座上拔下的绕着帆的桅杆上,竭力不去想什么,只顾熬下去。

    等他回顾背后时,一看陆地已没有一丝踪影了。这没有关系,他想。我总能靠着哈瓦那的灯火回港的。太阳下去还有两个钟点,也许不到那时鱼就会浮上来。如果它不上来,也许会随着月出浮上来。如果它不这样干,也许会随着日出浮上来。我手脚没有怞筋,我感到身强力壮。是它的嘴给钓住了啊。不过拉力这样大,该是条多大的鱼啊。它的嘴准是死死地咬住了钢丝钓钩。但愿能看到它。但愿能知道我这对手是什么样儿的,哪怕只看一眼也好。

    老人凭着观察天上的星斗,看出那鱼整整一夜始终没有改变它的路线和方向。太阳下去后,天气转凉了,老人的背脊、胳膊和衰老的退上的汗水都干了,感到发冷。白天里,他曾把盖在鱼饵匣上的麻袋取下,摊在阳光里晒干。太阳下去了,他把麻袋系在脖子上,让它披在背上,他并且小心地把它塞在如今正挂在肩上的钓索下面。有麻袋垫着钓索,他就可以弯腰向船头靠去,这样简直可说很舒服了。这姿势实在只能说是多少叫人好受一点儿,可是他自以为简直可说很舒服了。

    我拿它一点没办法,它也拿我一点没办法,他想。只要它老是这样干下去,双方都一点没办法。

    他有一回站起身来,隔着船舷撒尿,然后抬眼望着星斗,核对他的航向。钓索从他肩上一直钻进水里,看来象一道磷光。鱼和船此刻行动放慢了。哈瓦那的灯火也不大辉煌,他于是明白,海流准是在把他们双方带向东方。如果我就此看不见哈瓦那炫目的灯光,我们一定是到了更东的地方,他想。因为,如果这鱼的路线没有变的话,我准会好几个钟点看得见灯光。不知今天的棒球大联赛结果如何,他想。干这行当有台收音机才美哪。接着他想,老是惦记着这玩意儿。想想你正在干的事情吧。你哪能干蠢事啊。

    然后他说出声来:"但愿孩子在就好了。可以帮我一手,让他见识见识这种光景。”

    谁也不该上了年纪独个儿待着,他想。不过这也是避免不了的。为了保养体力,我一定要记住趁金枪鱼没坏时就吃。记住了,哪怕你只想吃一点点,也必须在早上吃。记住了,他对自己说。

    夜间,两条海豚游到小船边来,他听见它们翻腾和喷水的声音。他能辩别出那雄的发出的喧闹的喷水声和那雌的发出的喘息般的喷水声。

    “它们都是好样的,"他说。"它们嬉耍,打闹,相亲相爱。它们是我们的兄弟,就象飞鱼一样。”

    跟着他怜悯起这条被他钓住的大鱼来了。它真出色,真奇特,而且有谁知道它年龄多大呢,他想。我从没钓到过这样强大的鱼,也没见过行动这样奇特的鱼。也许它太机灵,不愿跳出水来。它可以跳出水来,或者来个猛冲,把我搞垮。不过,也许它曾上钩过好多次,所以知道应该如何搏斗。它哪会知道它的对手只有一个人,而且是个老头儿。不过它是条多大的鱼啊,如果鱼肉良好的话,在市场上能卖多大一笔钱啊,它咬起饵来象条雄鱼,拉起钓索来也象雄鱼,搏斗起来一点也不惊慌。不知道它有没有什么打算,还是就跟我一样地不顾死活?

    他想起有一回钓到了一对大马林鱼中的一条。雄鱼总是让雌的先吃,那条上了钩的正是雌鱼,它发了狂,惊慌失措而绝望地挣扎着,不久就筋疲力尽了,那条雄鱼始终待在它身边,在钓索下窜来窜去,陪着它在水面上一起打转。这雄鱼离钓索好近,老人生怕它会用它的尾巴把钓索割断,这尾巴象大镰刀般锋利,大小和形状都和大镰刀差不多。老人用鱼钩把雌鱼钩上来,用棍子揍它,握住了那边缘如沙纸似的轻剑般的长嘴,连连朝它头顶打去,直打得它的颜色变成和镜子背面的红色差不多,然后由孩子帮忙,把它拖上船去,这当儿,雄鱼一直待在船舷边。跟着,当老人忙着解下钓索、拿起鱼叉的时候,雄鱼在船边高高地跳到空中,看看雌鱼在哪里,然后掉下去,钻进深水里,它那淡紫色的翅膀,实在正是它的胸鳍,大大地张开来,于是它身上所有的淡紫色的宽条纹都露出来了。它是美丽的,老人想起,而它始终待在那儿不走。

    它们这情景是我看到的最伤心的了,老人想。孩子也很伤心,因此我们请求这条雌鱼原谅,马上把它宰了。

    “但愿孩子在这儿就好了,"他说出声来,把身子安靠在船头的边缘已被磨圆的木板上,通过勒在肩上的钓索,感到这条大鱼的力量,它正朝着它所选择的方向稳稳地游去。

    由于我干下了欺骗它的勾当,它不得不作出选择了,老人想。

    它选择的是待在黑暗的深水里,远远地避开一切圈套、罗网和诡计。我选择的是赶到谁也没到过的地方去找它。到世界上没人去过的地方。现在我跟它给拴在一起了,从中午起就是如此。而且我和它都没有谁来帮忙。

    也许我不该当渔夫,他想。然而这正是我生来该干的行当。我一定要记住,天亮后就吃那条金枪鱼。

    离天亮还有点时候,有什么东西咬住了他背后的一个鱼饵。他听见钓竿啪的折断了,于是那根钓索越过船舷朝外直溜。他摸黑拔出鞘中的刀子,用左肩承担着大鱼所有的拉力,身子朝后靠,就着木头的船舷,把那根钓索割断了。然后把另一根离他最近的钓索也割断了,摸黑把这两个没有放出去的钓索卷儿的断头系在一起。他用一只手熟练地干着,在牢牢地打结时,一只脚踩住了钓索卷儿,免得移动。他现在有六卷备用钓索了。他刚才割断的那两根有鱼饵的钓索各有两卷备用钓索,加上被大鱼咬住鱼饵的那根上的两卷,它们全都接在一起了。

    等天亮了,他想,我要好歹回到那根把鱼饵放在水下四十英寻深处的钓索边,把它也割断了,连结在那些备用钓索卷儿上。我将丢掉两百英寻出色的卡塔卢尼亚①钓索,还有钓钩和导线。这些都是能再置备的。万一钓上了别的鱼,把这条大鱼倒搞丢了,那再往哪儿去找呢?我不知道刚才咬饵的是什么鱼。很可能是条大马林鱼,或者剑鱼,或者鲨鱼。我根本来不及琢磨。我不得不赶快把它摆脱掉。

 ①西班牙古地区名,包括今东北部四省。

    他说出声来:"但愿那孩子在这里。”

    可是孩子并不在这里,他想。你只有你自己一个人,你还是好歹回到最末的那根钓索边,不管天黑不黑,把它割断了,系上那两卷备用钓索。

    他就这样做了。摸黑干很困难,有一回,那条大鱼掀动了一下,把他拖倒在地,脸朝下,眼睛下划破了一道口子。鲜血从他脸颊上淌下来。但还没流到下巴上就凝固了,干掉了,于是他挪动身子回到船头,靠在木船舷上歇息。他拉好麻袋,把钓索小心地挪到肩上另一个地方,用肩膀把它固定住,握住了小心地试试那鱼拉曳的份量,然后伸手到水里测度小船航行的速度。

    不知道这鱼为什么刚才突然摇晃了一下,他想。敢情是钓索在它高高隆起的背脊上滑动了一下。它的背脊当然痛得及不上我的。然而不管它力气多大,总不能永远拖着这条小船跑吧。眼下凡是会惹出乱子来的东西都除掉了,我却还有好多备用的钓索,一个人还能有什么要求呢。

       "鱼啊,"他轻轻地说出声来,"我跟你奉陪到死。"依我看,它也要跟我奉陪到死的,老人想,他等待着天明。眼下正当破晓前的时分,天气很冷,他把身子紧贴着木船舷来取暖。它能熬多久,我也能熬多久,他想。天色微明中,钓索伸展着,朝下通到水中。小船平稳地移动着,初升的太阳一露边儿,阳光直射在老人的右肩上。

    “它在朝北走啊,”老人说。海流会把我们远远地向东方送去,他想。但愿它会随着海流拐弯。这样可以说明它越来越疲乏了。

    等太阳升得更高了,老人发觉这鱼并不越来越疲乏。只有一个有利的征兆。钓索的斜度说明它正在较浅的地方游着。这不一定表示它会跃出水来。但它也许会这样。

    “天主啊,叫它跳跃吧,”老人说。“我的钓索够长,可以对付它。”

    也许我把钓索稍微拉紧一点儿,让它觉得痛,它就会跳跃了,他想。既然是白天了,就让它跳跃吧,这样它会把沿着背脊的那些液囊装满了空气,它就没法沉到海底去死了。

    他动手拉紧钓索,可是自从他钓上这条鱼以来,钓索已经绷紧到快要迸断的地步,他向后仰着身子来拉,感到它硬邦邦的,就知道没法拉得更紧了。我千万不能猛地一拉,他想。每猛拉一次,会把钓钩划出的口子弄得更宽些,等它当真跳跃起来,它也许会把钓钩甩掉。反正太阳出了,我觉得好过些,这一回我不用盯着太阳看了。

    钓索上粘着黄色的海藻,可是老人知道这只会给鱼增加一些拉力,所以很高兴。正是这种黄色的果囊马尾藻在夜间发出很强的磷光。

    “鱼啊,"他说,"我爱你,非常尊敬你。不过今天无论如何要把你杀死。”

    但愿如此,他想。一只小鸟从北方朝小船飞来。那是只鸣禽,在水面上飞得很低。老人看出它非常疲乏了。

    鸟儿飞到船梢上,在那儿歇一口气。然后它绕着老人的头飞了一圈,落在那根钓索上,在那儿它觉得比较舒服。"你多大了?"老人问鸟儿。"你这是第一次出门吗?”

    他说话的时候,鸟儿望着他。它太疲乏了,竟没有细看这钓索,就用小巧的双脚紧抓住了钓索,在上面摇啊晃的。"这钓索很稳当,"老人对它说。"太稳当啦。夜里风息全无,你怎么会这样疲乏啊。鸟儿都怎么啦?”

    因为有老鹰,他想,飞到海上来追捕它们。但是这话他没跟这鸟儿说,反正它也不懂他的话,而且很快就会知道老鹰的厉害。

    “好好儿歇歇吧,小鸟,"他说。"然后投身进去,碰碰运气,象任何人或者鸟或者鱼那样。”

    他靠说话来鼓劲,因为他的背脊在夜里变得僵直,眼下真痛得厉害。

    “鸟儿,乐意的话就住在我家吧,"他说。"很抱歉,我不能趁眼下刮起小风的当儿,扯起帆来把你带回去。可是我总算有个朋友在一起了。”

    就在这当儿,那鱼陡地一歪,把老人拖倒在船头上,要不是他撑住了身子,放出一段钓索,早把他拖到海里去了。钓索猛地一怞时,鸟儿飞走了,老人竟没有看到它飞走。

    他用右手小心地摸摸钓索,发现手上正在淌血。

    “这么说这鱼给什么东西弄伤了,"他说出声来,把钓索往回拉,看能不能叫鱼转回来。但是拉到快绷断的当儿,他就握稳了钓索,身子朝后倒,来抵消钓索上的那股拉力。

    “你现在觉得痛了吧,鱼,"他说。"老实说,我也是如此啊。”

    他掉头寻找那只小鸟,因为很乐意有它来作伴。鸟儿飞走了。

    你没有待多久,老人想。但是你去的地方风浪较大,要飞到了岸上才平安。我怎么会让那鱼猛地一拉,划破了手?我一定是越来越笨了。要不,也许是因为只顾望着那只小鸟,想着它的事儿。现在我要关心自己的活儿,过后得把那金枪鱼吃下去,这样才不致没力气。

    “但愿那孩子在这儿,并且我手边有点儿盐就好了,"他说出声来。

    他把沉甸甸的钓索挪到左肩上,小心地跪下,在海水里洗手,把手在水里浸了一分多钟,注视着血液在水中漂开去,海水随着船的移动在他手上平稳地拍打着。

    “它游得慢多了,"他说。

    老人巴不得让他的手在这盐水中多浸一会儿,但害怕那鱼又陡地一歪,于是站起身,打叠起津神,举起那只手,朝着太阳。左不过被钓索勒了一下,割破了肉。然而正是手上最得用的地方。他知道需要这双手来干成这桩事,不喜欢还没动手就让手给割破。

    “现在,"等手晒干了,他说,"我该吃小金枪鱼了。我可以用鱼钩把它钓过来,在这儿舒舒服服地吃。”

    他跪下来,用鱼钩在船梢下找到了那条金枪鱼,小心不让它碰着那几卷钓索,把它钩到自己身边来。他又用左肩挎住了钓索,把左手和胳臂撑在座板上,从鱼钩上取下金枪鱼,再把鱼钩放回原处。他把一膝压在鱼身上,从它的脖颈竖割到尾部,割下一条条深红色的鱼肉。这些肉条的断面是楔形的,他从脊骨边开始割,直割到肚子边,他割下了六条,把它们摊在船头的木板上,在裤子上擦擦刀子,拎起鱼尾巴,把骨头扔在海里。

    “我想我是吃不下一整条的,"他说,用刀子把一条鱼肉一切为二。他感到那钓索一直紧拉着,他的左手怞起筋来。这左手紧紧握住了粗钓索,他厌恶地朝它看着。

    “这算什么手啊,"他说。"随你去怞筋吧。变成一只鸟爪吧。对你可不会有好处。”

    快点,他想,望着斜向黑暗的深水里的钓索。快把它吃了,会使手有力气的。不能怪这只手不好,你跟这鱼已经打了好几个钟点的交道啦。不过你是能跟它周旋到底的。马上把金枪鱼吃了。

    他拿起半条鱼肉,放在嘴里,慢慢地咀嚼。倒并不难吃。好好儿咀嚼,他想,把汁水都咽下去。如果加上一点儿酸橙或者柠檬或者盐,味道可不会坏。

    “手啊,你感觉怎么样?"他问那只怞筋的手,它僵直得几乎跟死尸一般。"我为了你再吃一点儿。”他吃着他切成两段的那条鱼肉的另外一半。他细细地咀嚼,然后把鱼皮吐出来。

    “觉得怎么样,手?或者现在还答不上来?”他拿起一整条鱼肉,咀嚼起来。

    “这是条壮实而血气旺盛的鱼。"他想。"我运气好,捉到了它,而不是条--鳅太甜了。这鱼简直一点也不甜,元气还都保存着。”

    然而最有道理的还是讲究实用,他想。但愿我有点儿盐。我还不知道太阳会不会把剩下的鱼肉给晒坏或者晒干,所以最好把它们都吃了,尽管我并不饿。那鱼现在又平静又安稳。我把这些鱼肉统统吃了,就有充足的准备啦。

    “耐心点吧,手,"他说。"我这样吃东西是为了你啊。”我巴望也能喂那条大鱼,他想。它是我的兄弟。可是我不得不把它弄死,我得保持津力来这样做。他认真地慢慢儿把那些楔形的鱼肉条全都吃了。

    他直起腰来,把手在裤子上擦了擦。

    “行了,"他说。"你可以放掉钓索了,手啊,我要单单用右臂来对付它,直到你不再胡闹。"他把左脚踩住刚才用左手攥着的粗钓索,身子朝后倒,用背部来承受那股拉力。"天主帮助我,让这怞筋快好吧,"他说。"因为我不知道这条鱼还要怎么着。”

    不过它似乎很镇静,他想,而且在按着它的计划行动。可是它的计划是什么,他想。我的又是什么?我必须随机应变,拿我的计划来对付它的,因为它个儿这么大。如果它跳出水来,我能弄死它。但是它始终待在下面不上来。那我也就跟它奉陪到底。

    他把那只怞筋的手在裤子上擦擦,想使手指松动松动。可是手张不开来。也许随着太阳出来它能张开,他想。也许等那些养人的生金枪鱼肉消化后,它能张开。如果我非靠这只手不可,我要不惜任何代价把它张开。但是我眼下不愿硬把它张开。让它自行张开,自动恢复过来吧。我毕竟在昨夜把它使用得过度了,那时候不得不把各条钓索解开,系在一起。

    他眺望着海面,发觉他此刻是多么孤单。但是他可以看见漆黑的海水深处的彩虹七色、面前伸展着的钓索和那平静的海面上的微妙的波动。由于贸易风的吹刮,这时云块正在积聚起来,他朝前望去,见到一群野鸭在水面上飞,在天空的衬托下,身影刻划得很清楚,然后模糊起来,然后又清楚地刻划出来,于是他发觉,一个人在海上是永远不会感到孤单的。

    他想到有些人乘小船驶到了望不见陆地的地方,会觉得害怕,他明白在天气会突然变坏的那几月里,他们是有理由害怕的。可是如今正当刮飓风的月份,而在不刮的时候,这些月份正是一年中天气最佳的时候。

    如果将刮飓风,而你正在海上的话,你总能在好几天前就看见天上有种种迹象。人们在岸上可看不见,因为他们不知道该找什么,他想。陆地上一定也看得见异常的现象,那就是云的式样不同。但是眼前不会刮飓风。

    他望望天空,看见一团团白色的积云,形状象一堆堆可人心意的冰淇淋,而在高高的上空,高爽的九月的天空衬托着一团团羽毛般的卷云。

    “轻风,"他说。"这天气对我比对你更有利,鱼啊。”他的左手依然在怞筋,但他正在慢慢地把它张开。

    我恨怞筋,他想。这是对自己身体的背叛行为。由于食物中毒而腹泻或者呕吐,是在别人面前丢脸。但是怞筋,在西班牙语中叫calambre,是丢自己的脸,尤其是一个人独自待着的时候。

    要是那孩子在这儿,他可以给我柔柔胳臂,从前臂一直往下柔,他想。不过这手总会松开的。

    随后,他用右手去摸钓索,感到上面的份量变了,这才看见在水里的斜度也变了。跟着,他俯身朝着钓索,把左手啪地紧按在大退上,看见倾斜的钓索在慢慢地向上升起。"它上来啦,"他说。"手啊,快点。请快一点。”

    钓索慢慢儿稳稳上升,接着小船前面的海面鼓起来了,鱼出水了。它不停地往上冒,水从它身上向两边直泻。它在阳光里亮光光的,脑袋和背部呈深紫色,两侧的条纹在阳光里显得宽阔,带着淡紫色。它的长嘴象棒球棒那样长,逐渐变细,象一把轻剑,它把全身从头到尾都露出水面,然后象潜水员般滑溜地又钻进水去,老人看见它那大镰刀般的尾巴没入水里,钓索开始往外飞速溜去。

    “它比这小船还长两英尺,”老人说。钓索朝水中溜得既快又稳,说明这鱼并没有受惊。老人设法用双手拉住钓索,用的力气刚好不致被鱼扯断。他明白,要是他没法用稳定的劲儿使鱼慢下来,它就会把钓索全部拖走,并且绷断。

    它是条大鱼,我一定要制服它,他想。我一定不能让它明白它有多大的力气,明白如果飞逃的话,它能干出什么来。我要是它,我眼下就要使出浑身的力气,一直飞逃到什么东西绷断为止。但是感谢上帝它们没有我们这些要杀害它们的人聪明,尽管它们比我们高尚,更有能耐。

    老人见过许多大鱼。他见过许多超过一千磅的,前半辈子也曾逮住过两条这么大的,不过从未独自一个人逮住过。现在正是独自一个人,看不见陆地的影子,却在跟一条比他曾见过、曾听说过的更大的鱼紧拴在一起,而他的左手依旧拳曲着,象紧抓着的鹰爪。

    可是它就会复原的,他想。它当然会复原,来帮助我的右手。有三样东西是兄弟:那条鱼和我的两只手。这手一定会复原的。真可耻,它竟会怞筋。鱼又慢下来了,正用它惯常的速度游着。

    弄不懂它为什么跳出水来,老人想。简直象是为了让我看看它个儿有多大才跳的。反正我现在是知道了,他想。但愿我也能让它看看我是个什么样的人。不过这一来它会看到这只怞筋的手了。让它以为我是个比现在的我更富有男子汉气概的人,我就能做到这一点。但愿我就是这条鱼,他想,使出它所有的力量,而要对付的仅仅是我的意志和我的智慧。

    他舒舒服服地靠在木船舷上,忍受着袭来的痛楚感,那鱼稳定地游着,小船穿过深色的海水缓缓前进。随着东方吹来的风,海上起了小浪,到中午时分,老人那怞筋的左手复原了。

    “这对你是坏消息,鱼啊,"他说,把钓索从披在他肩上的麻袋上挪了一下位置。

    他感到舒服,但也很痛苦,然而他根本不承认是痛苦。

    “我并不虔诚,"他说。"但是我愿意念十遍《天主经》和十遍《圣母经》,使我能逮住这条鱼,我还许下心愿,如果逮住了它,一定去朝拜科布莱的圣母。这是我许下的心愿。”他机械地念起祈祷文来。有些时候他太倦了,竟背不出祈祷文,他就念得特别快,使字句能顺口念出来。《圣母经》要比《天主经》容易念,他想。

    “万福玛利亚,满被圣宠者,主与尔偕焉。女中尔为赞美,尔胎子耶稣,并为赞美。天主圣母玛利亚,为我等罪人,今祈天主,及我等死候。阿们。"然后他加上了两句:"万福童贞圣母,请您祈祷叫这鱼死去。虽然它是那么了不起。”

    念完了祈祷文,他觉得舒坦多了,但依旧象刚才一样地痛,也许更厉害一点儿,于是他背靠在船头的木舷上,机械地活动起左手的手指。

    此刻阳光很爇了,尽管微风正在柔和地吹起。

    “我还是把挑出在船梢的细钓丝重新装上钓饵的好,"他说。“如果那鱼打算在这里再过上一夜,我就需要再吃点东西,再说,水瓶里的水也不多了。我看这儿除了-鳅,也逮不到什么别的东西。但是,如果趁它新鲜的时候吃,味道不会差。我希望今夜有条飞鱼跳到船上来。可惜我没有灯光来引诱它。飞鱼生吃味道是呱呱叫的,而且不用把它切成小块。我眼下必须保存所有的津力。天啊,我当初不知道这鱼竟这么大。”"可是我要把它宰了,"他说。"不管它多么了不起,多么神气。”

    然而这是不公平的,他想。不过我要让它知道人有多少能耐,人能忍受多少磨难。

    “我跟那孩子说过来着,我是个不同寻常的老头儿,"他说。"现在是证实这话的时候了。”

    他已经证实过上千回了,这算不上什么。眼下他正要再证实一回。每一回都是重新开始,他这样做的时候,从来不去想过去。

    但愿它睡去,这样我也能睡去,梦见狮子,他想。为什么如今梦中主要只剩下了狮子?别想了,老头儿,他对自己说。眼下且轻轻地靠着木船舷歇息,什么都不要想。它正忙碌着。你越少忙碌越好。

    时间已是下午,船依旧缓慢而稳定地移动着。不过这时东风给船增加了一份阻力,老人随着不大的海浪缓缓漂流,钓索勒在他背上的感觉变得舒适而温和些了。

    下午有一回,钓索又升上来了。可是那鱼不过是在稍微高一点的平面上继续游着。太阳晒在老人的左胳臂和左肩和背脊上。所以他知道这鱼转向东北方了。

    既然这鱼他看见过一回,他就能想象它在水里游的样子,它那翅膀般的胸鳍大张着,直竖的大尾巴划破黝黑的海水。不知道它在那样深的海里能看见多少东西,老人想。它的眼睛真大,马的眼睛要小得多,但在黑暗里看得见东西。从前我在黑暗里能看得很清楚。可不是在乌漆麻黑的地方。不过简直能象猫一样看东西。

    阳光和他手指不断的活动,使他那怞筋的左手这时完全复原了,他就着手让它多负担一点拉力,并且耸耸背上的肌肉,使钓索挪开一点儿,把痛处换个地方。

    “你要是没累乏的话,鱼啊,"他说出声来,"那你真是不可思议啦。”

    他这时感到非常疲乏,他知道夜色就要降临,所以竭力想些别的事儿。他想到棒球的两大联赛,就是他用西班牙语所说的GranLigas,他知道纽约市的扬基队正在迎战底特律的老虎队。

    这是联赛的第二天,可我不知道比赛的结果如何。但是我一定要有信心,一定要对得起那了不起的迪马吉奥,他即使脚后跟长了骨刺,在疼痛,也能把一切做得十全十美。骨刺是什么玩意儿?他问自己。西班牙语叫做unespuela-dehueso。我们没有这玩意儿。它痛起来跟斗鸡脚上装的距铁刺扎进人的脚后跟时一样厉害吗?我想我是忍受不了这种痛苦的,也不能象斗鸡那样,一只眼睛或两只被啄瞎后仍旧战斗下去。人跟伟大的鸟兽相比,真算不上什么。我还是情愿做那只待在黑暗的深水里的动物。

    “除非有鲨鱼来,"他说出声来。"如果有鲨鱼来,愿天主怜悯它和我吧。”

    你以为那了不起的迪马吉奥能守着一条鱼,象我守着这一条一样长久吗?他想。我相信他能,而且更长久,因为他年轻力壮。加上他父亲当过渔夫。不过骨刺会不会使他痛得太厉害?

    “我说不上来,"他说出声来。"我从来没有长过骨刺。”

    太阳落下去的时候,为了给自己增强信心,他回想起那回在卡萨布兰卡的一家酒店里,跟那个码头上力气最大的人,

 

    从西恩富戈斯①来的大个子黑人比手劲的光景。整整一天一夜,他们把手拐儿搁在桌面一道粉笔线上,胳膊朝上伸直,两只手紧握着。双方都竭力将对方的手使劲朝下压到桌面上。好多人在赌谁胜谁负,人们在室内的煤油灯下走出走进,他打量着黑人的胳膊和手,还有这黑人的脸。最初的八小时过后,他们每四小时换一个裁判员,好让裁判员轮流睡觉。他和黑人手上的指甲缝里都渗出血来,他们俩正视着彼此的眼睛,望着手和胳膊,打赌的人在屋里走出走进,坐在靠墙的高椅子上旁观。四壁漆着明亮的蓝色,是木制的板壁,几盏灯把他们的影子投射在墙上。黑人的影子非常大,随着微风吹动挂灯,这影子也在墙上移动着。

 ①位于哈瓦那东南,是古巴中部滨加勒比海的一良港。

    一整夜,赌注的比例来回变换着,人们把朗姆酒送到黑人嘴边,还替他点燃香烟。黑人喝了朗姆酒,就拚命地使出劲儿来,有一回把老人的手(他当时还不是个老人,而是"冠军"圣地亚哥)扳下去将近三英寸。但老人又把手扳回来,恢复势均力敌的局面。他当时确信自己能战胜这黑人,这黑人是个好样的,伟大的运动家。天亮时,打赌的人们要求当和局算了,裁判员摇头不同意,老人却使出浑身的力气来,硬是把黑人的手一点点朝下扳,直到压在桌面上。这场比赛是在一个礼拜天的早上开始的,直到礼拜一早上才结束。好多打赌的人要求算是和局,因为他们得上码头去干活,把麻袋装的糖装上船,或者上哈瓦那煤行去工作。要不然人人都会要求比赛到底的。但是他反正把它结束了,而且赶在任何人上工之前。

    此后好一阵子,人人都管他叫"冠军",第二年春天又举行了一场比赛。不过打赌的数目不大,他很容易就赢了,因为他在第一场比赛中打垮了那个西恩富戈斯来的黑人的自信心。此后,他又比赛过几次,以后就此不比赛了。他认为如果一心想要做到的话,他能够打败任何人,他还认为,这对他要用来钓鱼的右手有害。他曾尝试用左手作了几次练习赛。但是他的左手一向背叛他,不愿听他的吩咐行动,他不信任它。

    这会儿太阳就会把手好好晒干的,他想。它不会再怞筋了,除非夜里太冷。不知道这一夜会发生什么事。

    一架飞机在他头上飞过,正循着航线飞向迈阿密,他看着它的影子惊起成群成群的飞鱼。

    “有这么多的飞鱼,这里该有-鳅,"他说,带着钓索倒身向后靠,看能不能把那鱼拉过来一点儿。但是不行,钓索照样紧绷着,上面抖动着水珠,都快迸断了。船缓缓地前进,他紧盯着飞机,直到看不见为止。

    坐在飞机里一定感觉很怪,他想。不知道从那么高的地方朝下望,海是什么样子?要不是飞得太高,他们一定能清楚地看到这条鱼。我希望在两百英寻的高度飞得极慢极慢,从空中看鱼。在捕海龟的船上,我待在桅顶横桁上,即使从那样的高度也能看到不少东西。从那里朝下望,-鳅的颜色更绿,你能看清它们身上的条纹和紫色斑点,你可以看见它们整整一群在游水。怎么搞的,凡是在深暗的水流中游得很快的鱼都有紫色的背脊,一般还有紫色条纹或斑点?-鳅在水里当然看上去是绿色的,因为它们实在是金黄色的。但是当它们饿得慌,想吃东西的时候,身子两侧就会出现紫色条纹,象大马林鱼那样。是因为愤怒,还是游得太快,才使这些条纹显露出来的呢?

    就在断黑之前,老人和船经过好大一起马尾藻,它在风浪很小的海面上动荡着,仿佛海洋正同什么东西在一条黄色的毯子下作爱,这时候,他那根细钓丝给一条-鳅咬住了。他第一次看见它是在它跃出水面的当儿,在最后一线阳光中确实象金子一般,在空中弯起身子,疯狂地扑打着。它惊慌得一次次跃出水面,象在做杂技表演,他呢,慢慢地挪动身子,回到船梢蹲下,用右手和右胳臂攥住那根粗钓索,用左手把-鳅往回拉,每收回一段钓丝,就用光着的左脚踩住。等到这条带紫色斑点的金光灿烂的鱼给拉到了船梢边,绝望地左右乱窜乱跳时,老人探出身去,把它拎到船梢上。它的嘴被钓钩挂住了,怞搐地动着,急促地连连咬着钓钩,还用它那长而扁的身体、尾巴和脑袋拍打着船底,直到他用木棍打了一下它的金光闪亮的脑袋,它才抖了一下,不动了。

    老人把钓钩从鱼嘴里拔出来,重新安上一条沙丁鱼作饵,把它甩进海里。然后他挪动身子慢慢地回到船头。他洗了左手,在裤退上擦干。然后他把那根粗钓索从右手挪到左手,在海里洗着右手,同时望着太阳沉到海里,还望着那根斜入水中的粗钓索。

    “那鱼还是老样子,一点儿也没变,"他说。但是他注视着海水如何拍打在他手上,发觉船走得显然慢些了。

    “我来把这两支桨交叉绑在船梢,这样在夜里能使它慢下来,"他说。"它能熬夜,我也能。”

    最好稍等一会儿再把这-鳅开肠剖肚,这样可以让鲜血留在鱼肉里,他想。我可以迟一会儿再干,眼下且把桨扎起来,在水里拖着,增加阻力。眼下还是让鱼安静些的好,在日落时分别去过分惊动它。对所有的鱼来说,太阳落下去的时分都是难熬的。

    他把手举起来晾干了,然后攥住钓索,尽量放松身子,听任自己被拖向前去,身子贴在木船舷上,这样船承担的拉力和他自己承担的一样大,或者更大些。

    我渐渐学会该怎么做了,他想。反正至少在这一方面是如此。再说,别忘了它咬饵以来还没吃过东西,而且它身子庞大,需要很多的食物。我已经把这整条金枪鱼吃了。明天我将吃那条-鳅。他管它叫"黄金鱼"。也许我该在把它开膛时吃上一点儿。它比那条金枪鱼要难吃些。不过话得说回来,没有一桩事是容易的。

    “你觉得怎么样,鱼?"他开口问。"我觉得很好过,我左手已经好转了,我有够一夜和一个白天吃的食物。拖着这船吧,鱼。”

    他并不真的觉得好过,因为钓索勒在背上疼痛得几乎超出了能忍痛的极限,进入了一种使他不放心的麻木状态。不过,比这更糟的事儿我也曾碰到过,他想。我一只手仅仅割破了一点儿,另一只手的怞筋已经好了。我的两退都很管用。再说,眼下在食物方面我也比它占优势。

    这时天黑了,因为在九月里,太阳一落,天马上就黑下来。他背靠者船头上给磨损的木板,尽量休息个够。第一批星星露面了,他不知道猎户座左脚那颗星的名字,但是看到了它,就知道其他星星不久都要露面,他又有这些遥远的朋友来做伴了。

    “这条鱼也是我的朋友,"他说出声来。"我从没看见过或听说过这样的鱼。不过我必须把它弄死。我很高兴,我们不必去弄死那些星星。”

    想想看,如果人必须每天去弄死月亮,那该多糟,他想。月亮会逃走的。不过想想看,如果人必须每天去弄死太阳,那又怎么样?我们总算生来是幸运的,他想。

    于是他替这条没东西吃的大鱼感到伤心,但是要杀死它的决心绝对没有因为替它伤心而减弱。它能供多少人吃啊他想。可是他们配吃它吗?不配,当然不配。凭它的举止风度和它的高度的尊严来看,谁也不配吃它。

    我不懂这些事儿,他想。可是我们不必去弄死太阳或月亮或星星,这是好事。在海上过日子,弄死我们自己真正的兄弟,已经够我们受的了。

    现在,他想,我该考虑考虑那在水里拖着的障碍物了。这玩意儿有它的危险,也有它的好处。如果鱼使劲地拉,造成阻力的那两把桨在原处不动,船不象从前那样轻的话,我可能会被鱼拖走好长的钓索,结果会让它跑了。保持船身轻,会延长我们双方的痛苦,但这是我的安全所在,因为这鱼能游得很快,这本领至今尚未使出过。不管出什么事,我必须把这-鳅开膛剖肚,免得坏掉,并且吃一点长长力气。

  

    现在我要再歇一个钟点,等我感到鱼稳定了下来,才回到船梢去干这事,并决定对策。在这段时间里,我可以看它怎样行动,是否有什么变化。把那两把桨放在那儿是个好计策;不过已经到了该安全行事的时候。这鱼依旧很厉害。我看见过钓钩挂在它的嘴角,它把嘴闭得紧紧的。钓钩的折磨算不上什么。饥饿的折磨,加上还得对付它不了解的对手,才是天大的麻烦。歇歇吧,老家伙,让它去干它的事,等轮到该你干的时候再说。

    他认为自己已经歇了两个钟点。月亮要等到很晚才爬上来,他没法判断时间。实在他并没有好好休息,只能说是多少歇了一会儿。他肩上依旧承受着鱼的拉力,不过他把左手按在船头的舷上,把对抗鱼的拉力的任务越来越让小船本身来承担了。

    要是能把钓索栓住,那事情会变得多简单啊,他想。可是只消鱼稍微歪一歪,就能把钓索绷断。我必须用自己的身子来缓冲这钓索的拉力,随时准备用双手放出钓索。

    “不过你还没睡觉呢,老头儿,"他说出声来。"已经熬过了半个白天和一夜,现在又是一个白天,可你一直没睡觉。你必须想个办法,趁鱼安静稳定的时候睡上一会儿。如果你不睡觉,你会搞得脑筋糊涂起来。”

    我脑筋够清醒的,他想。太清醒啦。我跟星星一样清醒,它们是我的兄弟。不过我还是必须睡觉。它们睡觉,月亮和太阳都睡觉,连海洋有时候也睡觉,那是在某些没有激浪,平静无波的日子里。

    可别忘了睡觉,他想。强迫你自己睡觉,想出些简单而稳妥的办法来安排那根钓索。现在回到船梢去处理那条-鳅吧。如果你一定要睡觉的话,把桨绑起来拖在水里可就太危险啦。

    我不睡觉也能行,他对自己说。不过这太危险啦。他用双手双膝爬回船梢,小心避免猛地惊动那条鱼。它也许正半睡半醒的,他想。可是我不想让它休息。必须要它拖曳着一直到死去。

    回到了船梢,他转身让左手攥住紧勒在肩上的钓索,用右手从刀鞘中拔出刀子。星星这时很明亮,他清楚地看见那条-鳅,就把刀刃扎进它的头部,把它从船梢下拉出来。他用一只脚踩在鱼身上,从肛门朝上,倏的一刀直剖到它下颌的尖端。然后他放下刀子,用右手掏出内脏,掏干净了,把鳃也干脆拉下了。他觉得鱼胃在手里重甸甸、滑溜溜的,就把它剖开来。里面有两条小飞鱼。它们还很新鲜、坚实,他把它们并排放下,把内脏和鱼鳃从船梢扔进水中。它们沉下去时,在水中拖着一道磷光-鳅是冰冷的,这时在星光里显得象麻风病患者般灰白,老人用右脚踩住鱼头,剥下鱼身上一边的皮。他然后把鱼翻转过来,剥掉另一边的皮,把鱼身两边的肉从头到尾割下来。

    他把鱼骨悄悄地丢到舷外,注意看它是不是在水里打转。但是只看到它慢慢沉下时的磷光。跟着他转过身来,把两条飞鱼夹在那两爿鱼肉中间,把刀子插进刀鞘,慢慢儿挪动身子,回到船头。他被钓索上的分量拉得弯了腰,右手拿着鱼肉。

    回到船头后,他把两爿鱼肉摊在船板上,旁边搁着飞鱼。然后他把勒在肩上的钓索换一个地方,又用左手攥住了钓索,手搁在船舷上。接着他靠在船舷上,把飞鱼在水里洗洗,留意着水冲击在他手上的速度。他的手因为剥了鱼皮而发出磷光,他仔细察看水流怎样冲击他的手。水流并不那么有力了,当他把手的侧面在小船船板上擦着的时候,星星点点的磷质漂浮开去,慢慢朝船梢漂去。

    “它越来越累了,要不就是在休息,”老人说。“现在我来把这-鳅全吃了,休息一下,睡一会儿吧。”

    在星光下,在越来越冷的夜色里,他把一爿鱼肉吃了一半,还吃了一条已经挖去了内脏、切掉了脑袋的飞鱼。"-鳅煮熟了吃味道多鲜美啊,"他说。“生吃可难吃死了。以后不带盐或酸橙,我绝对不再乘船了。”

    如果我有头脑,我会整天把海水瓶在船头上,等它干了就会有盐了,他想。不过话得说回来,我是直到太阳快落山时才钓到这条-鳅的。但毕竟是准备工作做得不足。然而我把它全细细咀嚼后吃下去了,没有恶心作呕。

    东方天空中云越来越多,他认识的星星一颗颗地不见了。眼下仿佛他正驶进一个云彩的大峡谷,风已经停了。

    “三四天内会有坏天气,"他说。"但是今晚和明天还不要紧。现在来安排一下,老家伙,睡它一会儿,趁这鱼正安静而稳定的时候。”

    他把钓索紧握在右手里,然后拿大退抵住了右手,把全身的重量压在船头的木板上。跟着他把勒在肩上的钓索移下一点儿,用左手撑住了钓索。

    只要钓索给撑紧着,我的右手就能握住它,他想。如果我睡着时它松了,朝外溜去,我的左手会把我弄醒的。这对右手是很吃重的。但是它是吃惯了苦的。哪怕我能睡上二十分钟或者半个钟点,也是好的。他朝前把整个身子夹住钓索,把全身的重量放在右手上,于是他入睡了。

    他没有梦见狮子,却梦见了一大群海豚,伸展八到十英里长,这时正是它们交配的季节,它们会高高地跳到半空中,然后掉回到它们跳跃时在水里形成的水涡里。

    接着他梦见他在村子里,躺在自己的床上,正在刮北风,他感到很冷,他的右臂麻木了,因为他的头枕在它上面,而不是枕头上。

    在这以后,他梦见那道长长的黄色海滩,看见第一头狮子在傍晚时分来到海滩上,接着其他狮子也来了,于是他把下巴搁在船头的木板上,船抛下了锚停泊在那里,晚风吹向海面,他等着看有没有更多的狮子来,感到很快乐。

    月亮升起有好久了,可他只顾睡着,鱼平稳地向前拖着,船驶进云彩的峡谷里。

    他的右拳猛的朝他的脸撞去,钓索火辣辣地从他右手里溜出去,他惊醒过来了。他的左手失去了知觉,他就用右手拚命拉住了钓索,但它还是一个劲儿地朝外溜。他的左手终于抓住了钓索,他仰着身子把钓索朝后拉,这一来钓索火辣辣地勒着他的背脊和左手,这左手承受了全部的拉力,给勒得好痛。他回头望望那些钓索卷儿,它们正在滑溜地放出钓索。正在这当儿,鱼跳起来了,使海面大大地迸裂开来,然后沉重地掉下去。接着它跳了一次又一次,船走得很快,然而钓索依旧飞也似地向外溜,老人把它拉紧到就快绷断的程度,他一次次把它拉紧到就快绷断的程度。他被拉得紧靠在船头上,脸庞贴在那爿切下的-鳅肉上,他没法动弹。我们等着的事儿发生啦,他想。我们来对付它吧。

    让它为了拖钓索付出代价吧,他想。让它为了这个付出代价吧。

    他看不见鱼的跳跃,只听得见海面的迸裂声,和鱼掉下时沉重的水花飞溅声。飞快地朝外溜的钓索把他的手勒得好痛,但是他一直知道这事迟早会发生,就设法让钓索勒在起老茧的部位,不让它滑到掌心或者勒在手指头上。

    如果那孩子在这儿,他会用水打湿这些钓索卷儿,他想。是啊。如果孩子在这儿。如果孩子在这儿。

    钓索朝外溜着,溜着,溜着,不过这时越来越慢了,他正在让鱼每拖走一英寸都得付出代价。现在他从木船板上抬起头来,不再贴在那爿被他脸颊压烂的鱼肉上了。然后他跪着,然后慢慢儿站起身来。他正在放出钓索,然而越来越慢了。他把身子慢慢挪到可以用脚碰到那一卷卷他看不见的钓索的地方。钓索还有很多,现在这鱼不得不在水里拖着这许多摩擦力大的新钓索了。

    是啊,他想。到这时它已经跳了不止十二次,把沿着背脊的那些液囊装满了空气,所以没法沉到深水中,在那儿死去,使我没法把它捞上来。它不久就会转起圈子来,那时我一定想法对付它。不知道它怎么会这么突然地跳起来的。敢情饥饿使它不顾死活了,还是在夜间被什么东西吓着了?也许它突然感到害怕了。不过它是一条那样沉着、健壮的鱼,似乎是毫无畏惧而信心十足的。这很奇怪。

    “你最好自己也毫无畏惧而信心十足,老家伙,"他说。

    “你又把它拖住了,可是你没法收回钓索。不过它马上就得打转了。”

    老人这时用他的左手和肩膀拽住了它,弯下身去,用右手舀水洗掉粘在脸上的压烂的-鳅肉。他怕这肉会使他恶心,弄得他呕吐,丧失力气。擦干净了脸,他把右手在船舷外的水里洗洗,然后让它泡在这盐水里,一面注视着日出前的第一线曙光。它几乎是朝正东方走的,他想。这表明它疲乏了,随着潮流走。它马上就得打转了。那时我们才真正开始干啦。等他觉得把右手在水里泡的时间够长了,他把它拿出水来,朝它瞧着。

    “情况不坏,"他说。“疼痛对一条汉子来说,算不上什么。”

    他小心地攥着钓索,使它不致嵌进新勒破的任何一道伤痕,把身子挪到小船的另一边,这样他能把左手伸进海里。

    “你这没用的东西,总算干得还不坏,"他对他的左手说。

    “可是曾经有一会儿,我得不到你的帮助。”

    为什么我不生下来就有两只好手呢?他想。也许是我自己的过错,没有好好儿训练这只手。可是天知道它曾有过够多的学习机会。然而它今天夜里干得还不错,仅仅怞了一回筋。要是它再怞筋,就让这钓索把它勒断吧。

    他想到这里,明白自己的头脑不怎么清醒了,他想起应该再吃一点-鳅。可是我不能,他对自己说。情愿头昏目眩,也不能因恶心欲吐而丧失力气。我还知道吃了胃里也搁不住,因为我的脸曾经压在它上面。我要把它留下以防万一,直到它腐臭了为止。不过要想靠营养来增强力气,如今已经太晚了。你真蠢,他对自己说。把另外那条飞鱼吃了吧。

    它就在那儿,已经洗干净,就可以吃了,他就用左手把它捡起,吃起来,细细咀嚼着鱼骨,从头到尾全都吃了。

    它几乎比什么鱼都更富有营养,他想。至少能给我所需要的那种力气。我如今已经做到了我能做到的一切,他想。让这鱼打起转来,就来交锋吧。

    自从他出海以来,这是第三次出太阳,这时鱼打起转来了。

    他根据钓索的斜度还看不出鱼在打转。这为时尚早。他仅仅感觉到钓索上的拉力微微减少了一些,就开始用右手轻轻朝里拉。钓索象往常那样绷紧了,可是拉到快迸断的当儿,却渐渐可以回收了。他把钓索从肩膀和头上卸下来,动手平稳而和缓地回收钓索。他用两只手大幅度地一把把拉着,尽量使出全身和双退的力气来拉。他一把把地拉着,两条老迈的退儿和肩膀跟着转动。

    “这圈子可真大,"他说。"它可总算在打转啦。”

    跟着钓索就此收不回来了,他紧紧拉着,竟看见水珠儿在阳光里从钓索上迸出来。随后钓索开始往外溜了,老人跪下了,老大不愿地让它又渐渐回进深暗的水中。

    “它正绕到圈子的对面去了,"他说。我一定要拚命拉紧,他想。拉紧了,它兜的圈子就会一次比一次小。也许一个钟点内我就能见到它。我眼下一定要稳住它,过后我一定要弄死它。

    但是这鱼只顾慢慢地打着转,两小时后,老人浑身汗湿,疲乏得入骨了。不过这时圈子已经小得多了,而且根据钓索的斜度,他能看出鱼一边游一边在不断地上升。

    老人看见眼前有些黑点子,已经有一个钟点了,汗水中的盐份沤着他的眼睛,沤着眼睛上方和脑门上的伤口。他不怕那些黑点子。他这么紧张地拉着钓索,出现黑点子是正常的现象。但是他已有两回感到头昏目眩,这叫他担心。

    “我不能让自己垮下去,就这样死在一条鱼的手里,"他说。"既然我已经叫它这样漂亮地过来了,求天主帮助我熬下去吧。我要念一百遍《天主经》和一百遍《圣母经》。不过眼下还不能念。”

    就算这些已经念过了吧,他想。我过后会念的。

    就在这当儿,他觉得自己双手攥住的钓索突然给撞击、拉扯了一下。来势很猛,有一种强劲的感觉,很是沉重。

    它正用它的长嘴撞击着铁丝导线,他想。这是免不了的。它不能不这样干。然而这一来也许会使它跳起来,我可是情愿它眼下继续打转的。它必须跳出水面来呼吸空气。但是每跳一次,钓钩造成的伤口就会裂得大一些,它可能把钓钩甩掉。“别跳,鱼啊,"他说。"别跳啦。”

    鱼又撞击了铁丝导线好几次,它每次一甩头,老人就放出一些钓索。

    我必须让它的疼痛老是在一处地方,他想。我的疼痛不要紧。我能控制。但是它的疼痛能使它发疯。

    过了片刻,鱼不再撞击铁丝,又慢慢地打起转来。老人这时正不停地收进钓索。可是他又感到头晕了。他用左手舀了些海水,洒在脑袋上。然后他再洒了点,在脖颈上柔擦着。

    “我没怞筋,"他说。"它马上就会冒出水来,我熬得住。你非熬下去不可。连提也别再提了吧。”

    他靠着船头跪下,暂时又把钓索挎在背上。我眼下要趁它朝外兜圈子的时候歇一下,等它兜回来的时候再站起身来对付它,他这样下了决心。

    他巴不得在船头上歇一下,让鱼自顾自兜一个圈子,并不回收一点钓索。但是等到钓索松动了一点,表明鱼已经转身在朝小船游回来,老人就站起身来,开始那种左右转动交替拉曳的动作,他的钓索全是这样收回来的。

    我从来没有这样疲乏过,他想,而现在刮起贸易风来了。但是正好靠它来把这鱼拖回去。我多需要这风啊。

    “等它下一趟朝外兜圈子的时候,我要歇一下,"他说。

    “我觉得好过多了。再兜两三圈,我就能逮住它。”他的草帽被推到后脑勺上去了,他感到鱼在转身,随着钓索一扯,他在船头上一起股坐下了。

    你现在忙你的吧,鱼啊,他想。你转身时我再来对付你。海浪大了不少。不过这是晴天吹的微风,他得靠它才能回去。

    “我只消朝西南航行就成,"他说。"人在海上是决不会迷路的,何况这是个长长的岛屿。"

    鱼兜到第三圈,他才第一次看见它。

    他起先看见的是一个黑乎乎的影子,它需要那么长的时间从船底下经过,他简直不相信它有这么长。

    ①指古巴这个东西向的大岛。

    “不能,"他说。"它哪能这么大啊。”

    但是它当真有这么大,这一圈兜到末了,它冒出水来,只有三十码远,老人看见它的尾巴露出在水面上。这尾巴比一把大镰刀的刀刃更高,是极淡的浅紫色,竖在深蓝色的海面上。它朝后倾斜着,鱼在水面下游的时候,老人看得见它庞大的身躯和周身的紫色条纹。它的脊鳍朝下耷拉着,巨大的胸鳍大张着。

    这回鱼兜圈子回来时,老人看见它的眼睛和绕着它游的两条灰色的侞鱼。它们有时候依附在它身上。有时候倏地游开去。有时候会在它的陰影里自在地游着。它们每条都有三英尺多长,游得快时全身猛烈地甩动着,象鳗鱼一般。

    老人这时在冒汗,但不光是因为晒了太阳,还有别的原因。鱼每回沉着、平静地拐回来时,他总收回一点钓索,所以他确信再兜上两个圈子,就能有机会把鱼叉扎进去了。

    可是我必须把它拉得极近,极近,极近,他想。我千万不能扎它的脑袋。我该扎进它的心脏。

    “要沉着,要有力,老头儿,"他说。

    又兜了一圈,鱼的背脊露出来了,不过它离小船还是太远了一点。再兜了一圈,还是太远,但是它露出在水面上比较高些了,老人深信,再收回一些钓索,就可以把它拉到船边来。

    他早就把鱼叉准备停当,叉上的那卷细绳子给搁在一只圆筐内,一端紧系在船头的系缆柱上。

    这时鱼正兜了一个圈子回来,既沉着又美丽,只有它的大尾巴在动。老人竭尽全力把它拉得近些。有那么一会儿,鱼的身子倾斜了一点儿。然后它竖直了身子,又兜起圈子来。

    “我把它拉动了,”老人说。“我刚才把它拉动了。”

    他又感到头晕,可是他竭尽全力拽住了那条大鱼。我把它拉动了,他想。也许这一回我能把它拉过来。拉呀,手啊,他想。站稳了,退儿。为了我熬下去吧,头。为了我熬下去吧。你从没晕倒过。这一回我要把它拉过来。

    但是,等他把浑身的力气都使出来,趁鱼还没来到船边,还很远时就动手,使出全力拉着,那鱼却侧过一半身子,然后竖直了身子游开去。

    “鱼啊,”老人说。“鱼,你反正是死定了。难道你非得把我也害死吗?”

    照这样下去是会一事无成的,他想。他嘴里干得说不出话来,但是此刻他不能伸手去拿水来喝。我这一回必须把它拉到船边来,他想。它再多兜几圈,我就不行了。不,你是行的,他对自己说。你永远行的。在兜下一圈时,他差一点把它拉了过来。可是这鱼又竖直了身子,慢慢地游走了。

    你要把我害死啦,鱼啊,老人想。不过你有权利这样做。我从没见过比你更庞大、更美丽、更沉着或更崇高的东西,老弟。来,把我害死吧。我不在乎谁害死谁。

    你现在头脑糊涂起来啦,他想。你必须保持头脑清醒。保持头脑清醒,要象个男子汉,懂得怎样忍受痛苦。或者象一条鱼那样,他想。

    “清醒过来吧,头,"他用自己也简直听不见的声音说。"清醒过来吧。”

    鱼又兜了两圈,还是老样子。

    我弄不懂,老人想。每一回他都觉得自己快要垮了。我弄不懂。但我还要试一下。

    他又试了一下,等他把鱼拉得转过来时,他感到自己要垮了。那鱼竖直了身子,又慢慢地游开去,大尾巴在海面上摇摆着。

    我还要试一下,老人对自己许愿,尽管他的双手这时已经软弱无力,眼睛也不好使,只看得见间歇的一起。

    他又试了一下,又是同样情形。原来如此,他想,还没动手就感到要垮下来了,我还要再试一下。

    他忍住了一切痛楚,拿出剩余的力气和丧失已久的自傲,用来对付这鱼的痛苦挣扎,于是它游到了他的身边,在他身边斯文地游着,它的嘴几乎碰着了小船的船壳板,它开始在船边游过去,身子又长,又高,又宽,银色底上有着紫色条纹,在水里看来长得无穷无尽。

    老人放下钓索,一脚踩住了,把鱼叉举得尽可能地高,使出全身的力气,加上他刚才鼓起的力气,把它朝下直扎进鱼身的一边,就在大胸鳍后面一点儿的地方,这胸鳍高高地竖立着,高齐老人的胸膛。他感到那铁叉扎了进去,就把身子倚在上面,把它扎得更深一点,再用全身的重量把它压下去。

    于是那鱼闹腾起来,尽管死到临头了,它仍从水中高高跳起,把它那惊人的长度和宽度,它的力量和美,全都暴露无遗。它仿佛悬在空中,就在小船中老人的头顶上空。然后,它砰的一声掉在水里,浪花溅了老人一身,溅了一船。

    老人感到头晕,恶心,看不大清楚东西。然而他放松了鱼叉上的绳子,让它从他划破了皮的双手之间慢慢地溜出去,等他的眼睛好使了,他看见那鱼仰天躺着,银色的肚皮朝上。鱼叉的柄从鱼的肩部斜截出来,海水被它心脏里流出的鲜血染红了。起先,这摊血黑——的,如同这一英里多深的蓝色海水中的一块礁石。然后它象云彩般扩散开来。那鱼是银色的,一动不动地随着波浪浮动着。

    老人用他偶尔着得清的眼睛仔细望着。接着他把鱼叉上的绳子在船头的系缆柱上绕了两圈,然后把脑袋搁在双手上。

    “让我的头脑保持清醒吧,"他靠在船头的木板上说。"我是个疲乏的老头儿。可是我杀死了这条鱼,它是我的兄弟,现在我得去干辛苦的活儿了。”

    现在我得准备好套索和绳子,把它绑在船边,他想。即使我这里有两个人,把船装满了水来把它拉上船,然后把水舀掉,这条小船也绝对容不下它。我得做好一切准备,然后把拖过来,好好绑住,竖起桅杆,张起帆驶回去。

    他动手把鱼拖到船边,这样可以用一根绳子穿进它的鳃,从嘴里拉出来,把它的脑袋紧绑在船头边。我想看看它,他想,碰碰它,摸摸它。它是我的财产,他想。然而我想摸摸它倒不是为了这个。我以为刚才已经碰到了它的心脏,他想。那是在我第二次握着鱼叉的柄扎进去的时候。现在得把它拖过来,牢牢绑住,用一根套索拴住它的尾巴,另一根拴住它的腰部,把它绑牢在这小船上。

    “动手干活吧,老头儿,"他说。他喝了很少的一口水。

    “战斗既然结束了,就有好多辛苦的活儿要干呢。”

    他抬头望望天空,然后望望船外的鱼。他仔细望望太阳。晌午才过了没多少时候,他想。而贸易风刮起来了。这些钓索现在都用不着了。回家以后,那孩子和我要把它们捻接起来。

    “过来吧,鱼,"他说。可是这鱼不过来。它反而躺在海面上翻滚着,老人只得把小船驶到它的身边。

    等他跟它并拢了,并把鱼的头靠在船头边,他简直无法相信它竟这么大。他从系缆柱上解下鱼叉柄上的绳子,穿进鱼鳃,从嘴里拉出来,在它那剑似的长上颚上绕了一圈,然后穿过另一个鱼鳃,在剑嘴上绕了一圈,把这双股绳子挽了个结,紧系在船头的系缆柱上。然后他割下一截绳子,走到船梢去套住鱼尾巴。鱼已经从原来的紫银两色变成了纯银色,条纹和尾巴显出同样的淡紫色。这些条纹比一个人揸开五指的手更宽,它的眼睛看上去冷漠得象潜望镜中的反射镜,或者迎神行列中的圣徒像。

    “要杀死它只有用这个办法,”老人说。他喝了水,觉得好过些了,知道自己不会垮,头脑很清醒。看样子它不止一千五百磅重,他想。也许还要重得多。如果去掉了头尾和下脚,肉有三分之二的重量,照三角钱一磅计算,该是多少?

    “我需要一支铅笔来计算,"他说。"我的头脑并不清醒到这个程度啊。不过,我想那了不起的迪马吉奥今天会替我感到骄傲。我没有长骨刺。可是双手和背脊实在痛得厉害。"不知道骨刺是什么玩意儿,他想。也许我们都长着它,自己不知道。

    他把鱼紧系在船头、船梢和中央的座板上。它真大,简直象在船边绑上了另一只大得多的船。他割下一段钓索,把鱼的下颌和它的长上颚扎在一起,使它的嘴不能张开,船就可以尽可能干净利落地行驶了。然后他竖起桅杆,装上那根当鱼钩用的棍子和下桁,张起带补丁的帆,船开始移动,他半躺在船梢,向西南方驶去。

    他不需要罗盘来告诉他西南方在哪里。他只消凭贸易风吹在身上的感觉和帆的动向就能知道。我还是放一根系着匙形假饵的细钓丝到水里去,钓些什么东西来吃吃吧,也可以润润嘴。可是他找不到匙形假饵,他的沙丁鱼也都腐臭了。所以他趁船经过的时候用鱼钩钩上了一簇黄色的马尾藻,把它抖抖,使里面的小虾掉在小船船板上。小虾总共有一打以上,蹦跳着,甩着脚,象沙蚤一般。老人用拇指和食指掐去它们的头,连壳带尾巴嚼着吃下去。它们很小,可是他知道它们富有营养,而且味道也好。

    老人瓶中还有两口水,他吃了虾以后,喝了半口。考虑到这小船的不利条件,它行驶得可算好了,他把舵柄挟在胳肢窝里,掌着舵。他看得见鱼,他只消看看自己的双手,感觉到背脊靠在船梢上,就能知道这是确实发生的事儿,不是一场梦。有一个时期,眼看事情要告吹了,他感到非常难受,以为这也许是一场梦。等他后来看到鱼跃出水面,在落下前一动不动地悬在半空中的那一刹那,他确信此中准有什么莫大的奥秘,使他无法相信。当时他看不大清楚,尽管眼下他又象往常那样看得很清楚了。

    现在他知道这鱼就在这里,他的双手和背脊都不是梦中的东西。这双手很快就会痊愈的,他想。它们出血出得很多,海水会把它们治好的。这真正的海湾中的深暗的水是世上最佳的治疗剂。我只消保持头脑清醒就行。这两只手已经尽了自己的本份,我们航行得很好。鱼闭着嘴,尾巴直上直下地竖着,我们象亲兄弟一样航行着。接着他的头脑有点儿不清楚了,他竟然想起,是它在带我回家,还是我在带它回家呢?如果我把它拖在船后,那就毫无疑问了。如果这鱼丢尽了面子,给放在这小船上,那么也不会有什么疑问。可是他们是并排地拴在一起航行的,所以老人想,只要它高兴,让它把我带回家去得了。我不过靠了诡计才比它强的,可它对我并无恶意。

    他们航行得很好,老人把手浸在盐水里,努力保持头脑清醒。积云堆聚得很高,上空还有相当多的卷云,因此老人看出这风将刮上整整一夜。老人时常对鱼望望,好确定真有这么回事。这时候是第一条鲨鱼来袭击它的前一个钟点。

    这条鲨鱼的出现不是偶然的。当那一大片暗红的血朝一英里深的海里下沉并扩散的时候,它从水底深处上来了。它窜上来得那么快,全然不顾一切,竟然冲破了蓝色的水面,来到了阳光里。跟着它又掉回海里,嗅到了血腥气的踪迹,就顺着小船和那鱼所走的路线游去。

    有时候它迷失了那气味。但是它总会重新嗅到,或者就嗅到那么一点儿,它就飞快地使劲跟上。它是条很大的灰鲭鲨,生就一副好体格,能游得跟海里最快的鱼一般快,周身的一切都很美,除了它的上下颚。它的背部和剑鱼的一般蓝,肚子是银色的,鱼皮光滑而漂亮。它长得和剑鱼一般,除了它那张正紧闭着的大嘴,它眼下就在水面下迅速地游着,高耸的脊鳍象刀子般划破水面,一点也不抖动。在这紧闭着的双唇里面,八排牙齿全都朝里倾斜着。它们和大多数鲨鱼的不同,不是一般的金字塔形的。它们象爪子般蜷曲起来的人的手指。它们几乎跟这老人的手指一般长,两边都有刀片般锋利的快口。这种鱼生就拿海里所有的鱼当食料,它们游得那么快,那么壮健,武器齐备,以致所向无敌。它闻到了这新鲜的血腥气,此刻正加快了速度,蓝色的脊鳍划破了水面。老人看见它在游来,看出这是条毫无畏惧而坚决为所欲为的鲨鱼。他准备好了鱼叉,系紧了绳子,一面注视着鲨鱼向前游来。绳子短了,缺了他割下用来绑鱼的那一截。老人此刻头脑清醒,正常,充满了决心,但并不抱着多少希望。光景太好了,不可能持久的,他想。他注视着鲨鱼在逼近,怞空朝那条大鱼望上一眼。这简直等于是一场梦,他想。我没法阻止它来袭击我,但是也许我能弄死它。登多索鲨,他想。你它妈交上坏运啦。①

    ①原文为Dentuso,以西班牙语,意为"牙齿锋利的",这是当地对灰鲭鲨的俗称。

    鲨鱼飞速地逼近船梢,它袭击那鱼的时候,老人看见它张开了嘴,看见它那双奇异的眼睛,它咬住鱼尾巴上面一点儿的地方,牙齿咬得嘎吱嘎吱地响。鲨鱼的头露出在水面上,背部正在出水,老人听见那条大鱼的皮肉被撕裂的声音,这时候,他用鱼叉朝下猛地扎进鲨鱼的脑袋,正扎在它两眼之间的那条线和从鼻子笔直通到脑后的那条线的交叉点上。这两条线实在是并不存在的。只有那沉重、尖锐的蓝色脑袋,两只大眼睛和那嘎吱作响、吞噬一切的突出的两颚。可是那儿正是脑子的所在,老人直朝它扎去。他使出全身的力气,用糊着鲜血的双手,把一支好鱼叉向它扎去。他扎它,并不抱着希望,但是带着决心和十足的恶意。

    鲨鱼翻了个身,老人看出它眼睛里已经没有生气了,跟着它又翻了个身,自行缠上了两道绳子。老人知道这鲨鱼快死了,但它还是不肯认输。它这时肚皮朝上,尾巴扑打着,两颚嘎吱作响,象一条快艇般划奇水面。它的尾巴把水拍打得泛出白色,四分之三的身体露出在水面上,这时绳子给绷紧了,抖了一下,啪地断了。鲨鱼在水面上静静地躺了片刻,老人紧盯着它。然后它慢慢地沉下去了。

    “它吃掉了约莫四十磅肉,"老人说出声来。它把我的鱼叉也带走了,还有那么许多绳子,他想,而且现在我这条鱼又在淌血,其他鲨鱼也会来的。

    他不忍心再朝这死鱼看上一眼,因为它已经被咬得残缺不全了。鱼挨到袭击的时候,他感到就象自己挨到袭击一样。可是我杀死了这条袭击我的鱼的鲨鱼,他想。而它是我见到过的最大的登多索鲨。天知道,我见过一些大的。

    光景太好了,不可能持久的,他想。但愿这是一场梦,我根本没有钓到这条鱼,正独自躺在床上铺的旧报纸上。

    “不过人不是为失败而生的,"他说。“一个人可以被毁灭,但不能给打败。"不过我很痛心,把这鱼给杀了,他想。现在倒霉的时刻要来了,可我连鱼叉也没有。这条登多索鲨是残忍、能干、强壮而聪明的。但是我比它更聪明。也许并不,他想。也许我仅仅是武器比它强。

    “别想啦,老家伙,"他说出声来。"顺着这航线行驶,事到临头再对付吧。”但是我一定要想,他想。因为我只剩下这个了。这个,还有棒球。不知道那了不起的迪马吉奥可会喜欢我那样击中它的脑子?这不是什么了不起的事儿,他想。任何人都做得到。但是,你可以为,我这双受伤的手跟骨刺一样是个很大的不利条件?我没法知道。我的脚后跟从没出过毛病,除了有一次在游水时踩着了一条海鳐鱼,被它扎了一下,小退麻痹了,痛得真受不了。

    “想点开心的事儿吧,老家伙,"他说。"每过一分钟,你就离家近一步。丢了四十磅鱼肉,你航行起来更轻快了。"他很清楚,等他驶进了海流的中部,会发生什么事。可是眼下一点办法也没有。

    “不,有办法,"他说出声来。"我可以把刀子绑在一支桨的把子上。”

    于是他胳肢窝里挟着舵柄,一只脚踩住了帆脚索,就这样办了。

    “行了,"他说。"我照旧是个老头儿。不过我不是没有武器的了。”

    这时风刮得强劲些了,他顺利地航行着。他只顾盯着鱼的上半身,恢复了一点儿希望。

    不抱希望才蠢哪,他想。再说,我认为这是一桩罪过。别想罪过了,他想。麻烦已经够多了,还想什么罪过。何况我根本不懂这个。

    我根本不懂这个,也说不准我是不是相信。也许杀死这条鱼是一桩罪过。我看该是的,尽管我是为了养活自己并且给许多人吃用才这样干的。不过话得说回来,什么事都是罪过啊。别想罪过了吧。现在想它也实在太迟了,而且有些人是拿了钱来干这个的。让他们去考虑吧。你天生是个渔夫,正如那鱼天生就是一条鱼一样。圣彼德罗①是个渔夫,跟那了不起的迪马吉奥的父亲一样。

   ①即耶稣刚开始传道时,在加利利海边所收的最早的四个门徒之一彼得。

    但是他喜欢去想一切他给卷在里头的事,而且因为没有书报可看,又没有收音机,他就想得很多,只顾想着罪过。你不光是为了养活自己、把鱼卖了买食品才杀死它的,他想。你杀死它是为了自尊心,因为你是个渔夫。它活着的时候你爱它,它死了你还是爱它。如果你爱它,杀死它就不是罪过。也许是更大的罪过吧?

    “你想得太多了,老家伙,"他说出声来。但是你很乐意杀死那条登多索鲨,他想。它跟你一样,靠吃活鱼维持生命。它不是食腐动物,也不象有些鲨鱼那样,只知道游来游去满足食欲。它是美丽而崇高的,见什么都不怕。"我杀死它是为了自卫,"老人说出声来。"杀得也很利索。”

    再说,他想,每样东西都杀死别的东西,不过方式不同罢了。捕鱼养活了我,同样也快把我害死了。那孩子使我活得下去,他想。我不能过分地欺骗自己。

    他把身子探出船舷,从鱼身上被鲨鱼咬过的地方撕下一块肉。他咀嚼着,觉得肉质很好,味道鲜美。又坚实又多汁,象牲口的肉,不过不是红色的。一点筋也没有,他知道在市场上能卖最高的价钱。可是没有办法让它的气味不散布到水里去,老人知道糟糕透顶的时刻就快来到了。 

    风持续地吹着。它稍微转向东北方,他明白这表明它不会停息。老人朝前方望去,不见一丝帆影,也看不见任何一只船的船身或冒出来的烟。只有从他船头下跃起的飞鱼,向两边逃去,还有一摊摊黄色的马尾藻。他连一只鸟也看不见。他已经航行了两个钟点,在船梢歇着,有时候从大马林鱼身上撕下一点肉来咀嚼着,努力休息,保持精力,这时他看到了两条鲨鱼中首先露面的那一条。

    “Ay,"他说出声来。这个词儿是没法翻译的,也许不过是一声叫喊,就象一个人觉得钉子穿过他的双手,钉进木头时不由自主地发出的声音。

    “加拉诺鲨,"他说出声来。他看见另一个鳍在第一个的①背后冒出水来,根据这褐色的三角形鳍和甩来甩去的尾巴,认出它们正是铲鼻鲨。它们嗅到了血腥味,很兴奋,因为饿昏了头,它们激动得一会儿迷失了臭迹,一会儿又嗅到了。可是它们始终在逼近。

   ①原文为Galano,西班牙语,意为"豪侠、优雅",在这里又可解作"杂色斑驳的",也是一种鲨鱼的俗称。

    老人系紧帆脚索,卡住了舵柄。然后他拿起上面绑着刀子的桨。他尽量轻地把它举起来,因为他那双手痛得不听使唤了。然后他把手张开,再轻轻捏住了桨,让双手松弛下来。他紧紧地把手合拢,让它们忍受着痛楚而不致缩回去,一面注视着鲨鱼在过来。他这时看得见它们那又宽又扁的铲子形的头,和尖端呈白色的宽阔的胸鳍。它们是可恶的鲨鱼,气味难闻,既杀害其他的鱼,也吃腐烂的死鱼,饥饿的时候,它们会咬船上的一把桨或者舵。就是这些鲨鱼,会趁海龟在水面上睡觉的时候咬掉它们的脚和鳍状肢,如果碰到饥饿的时候,也会在水里袭击人,即使这人身上并没有鱼血或黏液的腥味。

    “Ay,”老人说。“加拉诺鲨。来吧,加拉诺鲨。”

    它们来啦。但是它们来的方式和那条灰鲭鲨的不同。一条鲨鱼转了个身,钻到小船底下不见了,它用嘴拉扯着死鱼,老人觉得小船在晃动。另一条用它一条缝似的黄眼睛注视着老人,然后飞快地游来,半圆形的上下颚大大地张开着,朝鱼身上被咬过的地方咬去。它褐色的头顶以及脑子跟脊髓相连处的背脊上有道清清楚楚的纹路,老人把绑在桨上的刀子朝那交叉点扎进去,拔出来,再扎进这鲨鱼的黄色猫眼。鲨鱼放开了咬住的鱼,身子朝下溜,临死时还把咬下的肉吞了下去。

    另一条鲨鱼正在咬啃那条鱼,弄得小船还在摇晃,老人就放松了帆脚索,让小船横过来,使鲨鱼从船底下暴露出来。?”他一看见鲨鱼,就从船舷上探出身子,一桨朝它戳去。他只戳在肉上,但鲨鱼的皮紧绷着,刀子几乎戳不进去。这一戳不仅震痛了他那双手,也震痛了他的肩膀。但是鲨鱼迅速地浮上来,露出了脑袋,老人趁它的鼻子伸出水面挨上那条鱼的时候,对准它扁平的脑袋正中扎去。老人拔出刀刃,朝同一地方又扎了那鲨鱼一下。它依旧紧锁着上下颚,咬住了鱼不放,老人一刀戳进它的左眼。鲨鱼还是吊在那里。

    “还不够吗?"老人说着,把刀刃戳进它的脊骨和脑子之间。这时扎起来很容易,他感到它的软骨折断了。老人把桨倒过来,把刀刃插进鲨鱼的两颚之间,想把它的嘴撬开。他把刀刃一转,鲨鱼松了嘴溜开了,他说:"走吧,加拉诺鲨,溜到一英里深的水里去吧。去找你的朋友,也许那是你的妈妈吧。”

    老人擦了擦刀刃,把桨放下。然后他摸到了帆脚索,张起帆来,使小船顺着原来的航线走。

    “它们一定把这鱼吃掉了四分之一,而且都是上好的肉,”他说出声来。"但愿这是一场梦,我压根儿没有钓到它。我为这件事感到真抱歉,鱼啊。这把一切都搞糟啦。"他顿住了,此刻不想朝鱼望了。它流尽了血,被海水冲刷着,看上去象镜子背面镀的银色,身上的条纹依旧看得出来。“我原不该出海这么远的,鱼啊,"他说。"对你对我都不好。我很抱歉,鱼啊。”

    得了,他对自己说。去看看绑刀子的绳子,看看有没有断。然后把你的手弄好,因为还有鲨鱼要来。

    “但愿有块石头可以磨磨刀,"老人检查了绑在桨把子上的刀子后说。"我原该带一块磨石来的。"你应该带来的东西多着哪,他想。但是你没有带来,老家伙啊。眼下可不是想你什么东西没有带的时候,想想你用手头现有的东西能做什么事儿吧。

    “你给了我多少忠告啊,"他说出声来。"我听得厌死啦。”他把舵柄夹在胳肢窝里,双手浸在水里,小船朝前驶去。"天知道最后那条就鲨鱼咬掉了多少鱼肉,"他说。"这船现在可轻得多了。"他不愿去想那鱼残缺不全的肚子。他知道鲨鱼每次猛地撞上去,总要撕去一点肉,还知道鱼此刻给所有的鲨鱼留下了一道臭迹,宽得象海面上的一条公路一样。

    它是条大鱼,可以供养一个人整整一冬,他想。别想这个啦。还是休息休息,把你的手弄弄好,保护这剩下的鱼肉吧。水里的血腥气这样浓,我手上的血腥气就算不上什么了。开说,这双手上出的血也不多。给割奇的地方都算不上什么。出血也许能使我的左手不再抽筋。

    我现在还有什么事可想?他想。什么也没有。我必须什么也不想,等待下一条鲨鱼来。但愿这真是一场梦,他想。不过谁说得准呢?也许结果会是好的。

    接着来的鲨鱼是条单独的铲鼻鲨。看它的来势,就象一头猪奔向饲料槽,如果说猪能有这么大的嘴,你可以把脑袋伸进去的话。老人让它咬住了鱼,然后把桨上绑着的刀子扎进它的脑子。但是鲨鱼朝后猛地一扭,打了个滚,刀刃啪地一声断了。

    老人坐定下来掌舵。他都不去看那条大鲨鱼在水里慢慢地下沉,它起先是原来那么大,然后渐渐小了,然后只剩一丁点儿了。这种情景总叫老人看得入迷。可是这会他看也不看一眼。

    “我现在还有那根鱼钩,"他说。"不过它没什么用处。我还有两把桨和那个舵把和那根短棍。”

    它们如今可把我打败了,他想。我太老了,不能用棍子打死鲨鱼了。但是只要我有桨和短棍和舵把,我就要试试。他又把双手浸在水里泡着。下午渐渐过去,快近傍晚了,他除了海洋和天空,什么也看不见。空中的风比刚才大了,他指望不久就能看到陆地。

    “你累乏了,老家伙,"他说。"你骨子里累乏了。”

    直到快日落的时候,鲨鱼才再来袭击它。

    老人看见两片褐色的鳍正顺着那鱼必然在水里留下的很宽的臭迹游来。它们竟然不用到处来回搜索这臭迹。它们笔直地并肩朝小船游来。

    他刹住了舵把,系紧帆脚索,伸手到船梢下去拿棍子。它原是个桨把,是从一支断桨上锯下的,大约两英尺半长。因为它上面有个把手,他只能用一只手有效地使用,于是他就用右手好好儿攥住了它,弯着手按在上面,一面望着鲨鱼在过来。两条都是加拉诺鲨。

    我必须让第一条鲨鱼好好咬住了才打它的鼻尖,或者直朝它头顶正中打去,他想。

    两条鲨鱼一起紧逼过来,他一看到离他较近的那条张开嘴直咬进那鱼的银色胁腹,就高高举起棍子,重重地打下去,砰的一声打在鲨鱼宽阔的头顶上。棍子落下去,他觉得好象打在坚韧的橡胶上。但他也感觉到坚硬的骨头,他就趁鲨鱼从那鱼身上朝下溜的当儿,再重重地朝它鼻尖上打了一下。

    另一条鲨鱼刚才窜来后就走了,这时又张大了嘴扑上来。它直撞在鱼身上,闭上两颚,老人看见一块块白色的鱼肉从它嘴角漏出来。他抡起棍子朝它打去,只打中了头部,鲨鱼朝他看看,把咬在嘴里的肉一口撕下了。老人趁它溜开去把肉咽下时,又抡起棍子朝它打下去,只打中了那厚实而坚韧的橡胶般的地方。

    “来吧,加拉诺鲨,”老人说。“再过来吧。”

    鲨鱼冲上前来,老人趁它合上两颚时给了它一下。他结结实实地打中了它,是把棍子举得尽量高才打下去的。这一回他感到打中了脑子后部的骨头,于是朝同一部位又是一下,鲨鱼呆滞地撕下嘴里咬着的鱼肉,从鱼身边溜下去了。

    老人守望着,等它再来,可是两条鲨鱼都没有露面。接着他看见其中的一条在海面上绕着圈儿游着。他没有看见另外一条的鳍。

    我没法指望打死它们了,他想。我年轻力壮时能行。不过我已经把它们俩都打得受了重伤,它们中哪一条都不会觉得好过。要是我能用双手抡起一根棒球棒,我准能把第一条打死。即使现在也能行,他想。

    他不愿朝那条鱼看。他知道它的半个身子已经被咬烂了。他刚才跟鲨鱼搏斗的时候,太阳已经落下去了。

    “马上就要断黑了,"他说。"那时候我将看见哈瓦那的灯火。如果我往东走得太远了,我会看见一个新开辟的海滩上的灯光。”

    我现在离陆地不会太远,他想。我希望没人为此担心。当然啦,只有那孩子会担心。可是我相信他一定有信心。好多老渔夫也会担心的。还有不少别的人,他想。我住在一个好镇子里啊。

    他不能再跟这鱼说话了,因为它给糟蹋得太厉害了。接着他头脑里想起了一件事。

    “半条鱼,"他说。"你原来是条完整的。我很抱歉,我出海太远了。我把你我都毁了。不过我们杀死了不少鲨鱼,你跟我一起,还打伤了好多条。你杀死过多少啊,好鱼?你头上长着那只长嘴,可不是白长的啊。”

    他喜欢想到这条鱼,想到如果它在自由地游着,会怎样去对付一条鲨鱼。我应该砍下它这长嘴,拿来跟那些鲨鱼斗,他想。但是没有斧头,后来又弄丢了那把刀子。

    但是,如果我把它砍下了,就能把它绑在桨把上,该是多好的武器啊。这样,我们就能一起跟它们斗啦。要是它们夜里来,你该怎么办?你又有什么办法?

    “跟它们斗,"他说。"我要跟它们斗到死。”

    但是,在眼下的黑暗里,看不见天际的反光,也看不见灯火,只有风和那稳定地拉曳着的帆,他感到说不定自己已经死了。他合上双手,摸摸掌心。这双手没有死,他只消把它们开合一下,就能感到生之痛楚。他把背脊靠在船梢上,知道自己没有死。这是他的肩膀告诉他的。

    我许过愿,如果逮住了这条鱼,要念多少遍祈祷文,他不过我现在太累了,没法念。我还是把麻袋拿来披在肩上。

    他躺在船梢掌着舵,注视着天空,等着天际的反光出现。我还有半条鱼,他想。也许我运气好,能把前半条带回去。我总该多少有点运气吧。不,他说。你出海太远了,把好运给冲掉啦。

    “别傻了,"他说出声来。"保持清醒,掌好舵。你也许还有很大的好运呢。”

    “要是有什么地方卖好运,我倒想买一些,"他说。我能拿什么来买呢?他问自己。能用一支弄丢了的鱼叉、一把折断的刀子和两只受了伤的手吗?

    “也许能,"他说。"你曾想拿在海上的八十四天来买它。人家也几乎把它卖给了你。”

    我不能胡思乱想,他想。好运这玩意儿,来的时候有许多不同的方式,谁认得出啊?可是不管什么样的好运,我都要一点儿,要多少钱就给多少。但愿我能看到灯火的反光,他想。我的愿望太多了。但眼下的愿望就只有这个了。他竭力坐得舒服些,好好掌舵,因为感到疼痛,知道自己并没有死。

    大约夜里十点的时候,他看见了城市的灯火映在天际的反光。起初只能依稀看出,就象月亮升起前天上的微光。然后一步步地清楚了,就在此刻正被越来越大的风刮得波涛汹涌的海洋的另一边。他驶进了这反光的圈子,他想,要不了多久就能驶到湾流的边缘了。

    现在事情过去了,他想。它们也许还会再来袭击我。不过,一个人在黑夜里,没有武器,怎样能对付它们呢?他这时身子僵硬、疼痛,在夜晚的寒气里,他的伤口和身上所有用力过度的地方都在发痛。我希望不必再斗了,他想。我真希望不必再斗了。

    但是到了午夜,他又搏斗了,而这一回他明白搏斗也是徒劳。它们是成群袭来的,朝那鱼直扑,他只看见它们的鳍在水面上划出的一道道线,还有它们的磷光。他朝它们的头打去,听到上下颚啪地咬住的声音,还有它们在船底下咬住了鱼使船摇晃的声音。他看不清目标,只能感觉到,听到,就不顾死活地挥棍打去,他感到什么东西攫住了棍子,它就此丢了。

    他把舵把从舵上猛地扭下,用它又打又砍,双手攥住了一次次朝下戳去。可是它们此刻都在前面船头边,一条接一条地窜上来,成群地一起来,咬下一块块鱼肉,当它们转身再来时,这些鱼肉在水面下发亮。

    最后,有条鲨鱼朝鱼头起来,他知道这下子可完了。他把舵把朝鲨鱼的脑袋抡去,打在它咬住厚实的鱼头的两颚上,那儿的肉咬不下来。他抡了一次,两次,又一次。他听见舵把啪的断了,就把断下的把手向鲨鱼扎去。他感到它扎了进去,知道它很尖利,就再把它扎进去。鲨鱼松了嘴,一翻身就走了。这是前来的这群鲨鱼中最末的一条。它们再也没有什么可吃的了。

    老人这时简直喘不过起来,觉得嘴里有股怪味儿。这味儿带着铜腥气,甜滋滋的,他一时害怕起来。但是这味儿并不太浓。

    他朝海里啐了一口说:"把它吃了,加拉诺鲨。做个梦吧,梦见你杀了一个人。”

    他明白他如今终于给打败了,没法补救了,就回到船梢,发现舵把那锯齿形的断头还可以安在舵的狭槽里,让他用来掌舵。他把麻袋在肩头围围好,使小船顺着航线驶去。航行得很轻松,他什么念头都没有,什么感觉也没有。他此刻超脱了这一切,只顾尽可能出色而明智地把小船驶回他家乡的港口。夜里有些鲨鱼来咬这死鱼的残骸,就象人从饭桌上捡面包屑吃一样。老人不去理睬它们,除了掌舵以外他什么都不理睬。他只留意到船舷边没有什么沉重的东西,小船这时驶来多么轻松,多么出色。

    船还是好好的,他想。它是完好的,没受一点儿损伤,除了那个舵把。那是容易更换的。

    他感觉到已经在湾流中行驶,看得见沿岸那些海滨住宅区的灯光了。他知道此刻到了什么地方,回家是不在话下了。不管怎么样,风总是我们的朋友,他想。然后他加上一句:有时候是。还有大海,海里有我们的朋友,也有我们的敌人。还有床,他想。床是我的朋友。光是床,他想。床将是样了不起的东西。吃了败仗,上床是很舒服的,他想。我从来不知道竟然这么舒服。那么是什么把你打败的,他想。"什么也没有,"他说出声来。"只怪我出海太远了。”

    等他驶进小港,露台饭店的灯光全熄灭了,他知道人们都上床了。海风一步步加强,此刻刮得很猛了。然而港湾里静悄悄的,他直驶到岩石下一小片卵石滩前。没人来帮他的忙,他只好尽自己的力量把船划得紧靠岸边。然后他跨出船来,把它系在一块岩石上。

    他拔下桅杆,把帆卷起,系住。然后他打起桅杆往岸上爬。这时候他才明白自己疲乏到什么程度。他停了一会儿,回头一望,在街灯的反光中,看见那鱼的大尾巴直竖在小船船梢后边。他看清它赤露的脊骨象一条白线,看清那带着突出的长嘴的黑糊糊的脑袋,而在这头尾之间却一无所有。

    他再往上爬,到了顶上,摔倒在地,躺了一会儿,桅杆还是横在肩上。他想法爬起身来。可是太困难了,他就扛着桅杆坐在那儿,望着大路。一只猫从路对面走过,去干它自己的事,老人注视着它。然后他只顾望着大路。

    临了,他放下桅杆,站起身来。他举起桅杆,扛在肩上,顺着大路走去。他不得不坐下歇了五次,才走到他的窝棚。

    进了窝棚,他把桅杆靠在墙上。他摸黑找到一只水瓶,喝了一口水。然后他在床上躺下了。他拉起毯子,盖住两肩,然后裹住了背部和双腿,他脸朝下躺在报纸上,两臂伸得笔直,手掌向上。

    早上,孩子朝门内张望,他正熟睡着。风刮得正猛,那些漂网渔船不会出海了,所以孩子睡了个懒觉,跟每天早上一样,起身后就到老人的窝棚来。孩子看见老人在喘气,跟着看见老人的那双手,就哭起来了。他悄没声儿地走出来,去拿点咖啡,一路上边走边哭。

    许多渔夫围着那条小船,看着绑在船旁的东西,有一名渔夫卷起了裤腿站在水里,用一根钓索在量那死鱼的残骸。

    孩子并不走下岸去。他刚才去过了,其中有个渔夫正在替他看管这条小船。

    “他怎么啦?"一名渔夫大声叫道。

    “在睡觉,"孩子喊着说。他不在乎人家看见他在哭。"谁都别去打扰他。”

    “它从鼻子到尾巴有十八英尺长,"那量鱼的渔夫叫道。

    “我相信,”孩子说。

    他走进露台饭店,去要一罐咖啡。

    “要烫,多加些牛奶和糖在里头。”

    “还要什么?”

    “不要了。过后我再看他想吃些什么。”

    “多大的鱼呀,"饭店老板说。"从来没有过这样的鱼。你

    昨天捉到的那两条也满不错。”

    “我的鱼,见鬼去,"孩子说,又哭起来了。

    “你想喝点什么吗?"老板问。

    “不要,”孩子说。“叫他们别去打扰圣地亚哥。我就回来。”

    “跟他说我多么难过。”

    “谢谢,”孩子说。

    孩子拿着那罐热咖啡直走到老人的窝棚,在他身边坐下,等他醒来。有一回眼看他快醒过来了。可是他又沉睡过去,孩子就跨过大路去借些木柴来热咖啡。

    老人终于醒了。

    “别坐起来,”孩子说。"把这个喝了。"他倒了些咖啡在一只玻璃杯里。

    老人把它接过去喝了。

    “它们把我打败了,马诺林,"他说。"它们确实把我打败了。”

    “它没有打败你。那条鱼可没有。”

    “对。真个的。是后来才吃败仗的。”

    “佩德里科在看守小船和打鱼的家什。你打算把那鱼头怎么着?”

    “让佩德里科把它切碎了,放在捕鱼机里使用。”

    “那张长嘴呢?”

    “你要你就拿去。”

    “我要,”孩子说。"现在我们得来商量一下别的事情。”

    “他们来找过我吗?”

    “当然啦。派出了海岸警卫队和飞机。”

    “海洋非常大,小船很小,不容易看见,”老人说。他感到多么愉快,可以对一个人说话,不再只是自言自语,对着海说话了。"我很想念你,"他说。"你们捉到了什么?”

    “头一天一条。第二天一条,第三天两条。”

    “好极了。”

    “现在我们又可以一起钓鱼了。”

    “不。我运气不好。我再不会交好运了。”

    “去它的好运,”孩子说。"我会带来好运的。”

    “你家里人会怎么说呢?”

    “我不在乎。我昨天逮住了两条。不过我们现在要一起钓鱼,因为我还有好多东西需要学。”

    “我们得弄一支能扎死鱼的好长矛,经常放在船上。你可以用一辆旧福特牌汽车上的钢板做矛头。我们可以拿到瓜纳巴科亚①去磨。应该把它磨得很锋利,不要回火锻造,免得它会断裂。我的刀子断了。”

   ①位于哈瓦那东约五英里处,为哈瓦那的郊区,有海滨浴场。

    “我去弄把刀子来,把钢板也磨磨快。这大风要刮多少天?”

    “也许三天。也许还不止。”

    “我要把什么都安排好,”孩子说。"你把你的手养好,老大爷。”

    “我知道怎样保养它们的。夜里,我吐出了一些奇怪的东西,感到胸膛里有什么东西碎了。”

    “把这个也养养好,”孩子说。"躺下吧,老大爷,我去给你拿干净衬衫来。还带点吃的来。”

    “我不在这儿的时候的报纸,你也随便带一份来,"老人说。

     “你得赶快好起来,因为我还有好多东西要学,你可以把什么都教给我。你吃了多少苦?”

    “可不少啊,”老人说。

    “我去把吃的东西和报纸拿来,”孩子说。"好好休息吧,老大爷。我到药房去给你的手弄点药来。”

    “别忘了跟佩德里科说那鱼头给他了。”

    “不会。我记得。”

    孩子出了门,顺着那磨损的珊瑚石路走去,他又在哭了。

    那天下午,露台饭店来了一群旅游者,有个女人朝下面的海水望去,看见在一些空气酒听和死梭子鱼之间,有一条又粗又长的白色脊骨,一端有条巨大的尾巴,当东风在港外不断地掀起大浪的时候,这尾巴随着潮水瓶落、摇摆。

    “那是什么?"她问一名侍者,指着那条大鱼的长长的脊骨,它如今仅仅是垃圾,只等潮水来把它带走了。

    “Tiburon①,"侍者说,"Eshark②。"他打算解释这事情的经过。③

    “我不知道鲨鱼有这样漂亮的尾巴,形状这样美观。”

    “我也不知道,"她的男伴说。

    在大路另一头老人的窝棚里,他又睡着了。他依旧脸朝下躺着,孩子坐在他身边,守着他。老人正梦见狮子。

    ①西班牙语:鲨鱼。

    ②这是侍者用英语讲"鲨鱼"(Shark)时读别的发音,前面多了一个元音。

    ③他想说这是被鲨鱼残杀的大马林鱼的残骸,但说到这里,对方就错以为这是鲨鱼的骨骼了。

 

       



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