A Sailor's Christmas Gift

by William J. Lederer




Good King Wenceslaus

Gut, gut




"I don't have change, monsieur," she said, "I'll get some from the waiter." "No, ma'am," said the sailor, leaning over and kissing the ancient cheek. "This is my Christmas present to you." Straightening up, he came to our table holding the other corsage in front of him. "Sir," he said to me, "may I have permission to present these flowers to your beautiful daughter?" In one quick motion, he gave my wife the corsage, and wished us a Merry Christmas. The piano player began to beat out "Good King Wenceslaus," beating the keys with magic hands, nodding his head in rhythm. My wife waved her corsage in time to the music. She was radiant and appeared 20 years younger. The tears had left her eyes and the corners of her mouth turned up in laughter. She began to sing, and our three sons joined her, bellowing the song with uninhibited enthusiasm. "Gut, gut," shouted the Germans. They jumped on their chairs and began singing the first in German. The waiter embraced the flower woman. Waving their arms, they sang in French. The Frenchman who had slapped the boy beat rhythm with his fork against a bottle. The lad climbed on his lap, singing in a youthful soprano.
"我沒有零錢找您,先生。"她說,"我這就向服務員去借。"    "不用了,夫人。"說著,水手俯身吻了吻老太婆那張皺紋褶褶的老臉,"這是我送給您的圣誕禮物。"    他直起身軀,朝我們的餐桌走來,那另一束鮮花擎在他的胸前。"先生,"他對我說,"我可以將這束花作為禮物送給您漂亮的女兒嗎?"說著,他迅速地將那束鮮花塞到我妻子的手中,道了聲"圣誕快樂",便轉身走出了餐館。    鋼琴師急速地彈起了《好國王溫西斯勞斯》舞曲,魔術般的指頭敲擊著琴鍵,頭部和著樂曲的旅律頻頻點動。  我的妻子也隨著音樂的節奏揮動著那束鮮花。她容光煥發,仿佛一下子年輕了20歲。幸福的淚水奪眶而出,嘴角上綻出青春的笑容。她啟動歌喉,放聲歌唱,我們的三個孩子隨聲和了起來。他們縱情高歌,沒有一絲半縷的拘謹感。  "好!好!"德國人高聲喝彩。他們跳到椅子上,并用德語唱起這支歌。服務員上前擁抱著賣花的老太太,兩人同時揮舞手臂,用法語唱了起來。那個曾打了他的兒子一巴掌的法國男子用餐叉敲擊著酒瓶打起了拍子,那男孩爬上他爸爸的膝蓋,用童聲歌唱起來。