《大学英语精读》第七单元

College English--Intensive Reading  Unit 7
The author finds out that good intentions alone are not enough when his attempt to be kind to an old man leaves them both feeling worse than before.
The Sampler
In a certain store where they sell puddings, a number of these delicious things are laid out in a row during the Christmas season. Here you may select the one which is most to your taste, and you are even allowed to sample them before coming to a decision.
I have often wondered whether some people, who had no intention of making a purchase, would take advantage of this privilege. One day I asked this question of the shop girl, and I learned it was indeed the case.
"Now there's one old gentleman, for instance," she told me, "he comes here almost every weed and samples each one of the puddings, though he never buys anything, and I suspect he never will. I remember him from last year and the year beforethat, too. Well, let him come if he wants it , and welcome to it. And what's more, I hope there are a lot more stores where he can go and get his share. He looks as if he needed it all right, and I suppose they can afford it."
She was still speaking when an elderly gentleman limped up to the counter and began looking closely at the row of puddings with great interest.
"Why, that's the very gentleman I've been telling you about," whispered the shop girl. "Just watch him now." And then turning to him, "Would you like to sample them, sir? Here's a spoon for you to use."
The elderly gentleman, who was poorly but neatly dressed, accepted the spoon and began eagerly to sample one after another of the puddings, only breaking off occasionally to wipe his red eyes with a large torn handkerchief.
"This is quite good."
"This is not bad either, but a little too heavy."
All the time it was quite evident that he sincerely believed that he might eventually buy one of these puddings, and I am positive that he did not for a moment feel that he was in any way cheating the store. Poor old chap! Probably he had come down in the world and this sampling was all that was left him from the time when he could afford to come and select his favorite pudding.
Amidst the crowd of happy, prosperous looking Christmas shoppers, the little black figure of the old man seemed pitiful and out of place, and in a burst of benevolence, I went up to him and said:
"Pardon me, sir, will you do me a favor? Let me purchase you one of these puddings. It would give me such pleasure."
He jumped back as if he had been stung, and the blood rushed into his wrinkled face.
"Excuse me," he said, with more dignity than I would have thought possible considering his appearance, "I do not believe I have the pleasure of knowing you. Undoutedly you have mistaken me for someone else." And with a quick decision he turned to the shop girl and said in a loud voice, "Kindly pack me up this one here. I will take it with me." He pointed at one of the largest and most expensive of the puddings.
The girl took down the pudding from its stand and started to make a parcel of it, while he pulled out a worn little black pocketbook and began counting out shillings and pennies on to the counter. To save his "honour" he had been forced into a purchase which he could not possibly afford. How I longed for the power to unsay my tactless words! It was too late though, and I felt that the kindest thing I could do now would be walk away.
"You pay at the desk," the shop girl was telling him, but he did not seem to understand and kept trying to put the coins into her hand. And that was the last I saw or heard of the old man. Now he can never go there to sample puddings any more.

《大学英语精读》第七单元
   作者想对一位老人表示一番好意,结果却使两个人都很难堪。这时他才认识到,光有善良的意愿是不够的。

品尝家

  有一家出售布丁的商店,每年圣诞节期间都把许多这类美味的食品摆成一排供顾客选购。在这里你可以挑选最合你口味的布丁,甚至商店还允许你先把各色布丁品尝一番,然后再作出决定。
  我常常纳闷,会不会有一些根本无意购买的人利用这一优惠趁机揩油。有一天,我向女店员提出了这一问题,从她那儿得知事情果真如此。
  “比如说吧,有这样一位老先生,”她告诉我。“他差不多每个星期都要到这儿来,每只布丁他都要尝一尝,尽管他从来不买什么东西,而且我猜想他永远也不会买。我从去年,甚至前年就记住他了。唉,要是他想品尝就让他来吧,欢迎他来品尝。而且,我希望有更多的商店可以让他去品尝。他看上去似乎确实有这种需要,我想这点小意思他们是不在乎的。”
  就在她讲这话的时候,一位上了年纪的先生一瘸一拐地走到了柜台前,开始对着那排布丁兴致勃勃地仔细看了起来。
  “喏,这就是我刚刚对你说起的那位先生,”女店员轻声对我说。“现在你就看着他好了。”接着她就转过身去对老人说道:“先生,您想尝尝这些布丁吗?您可以用这把调羹。”
  这位老先生衣着虽然破旧,但却十分整洁。他接过调羹,便开始急切地一只接一只地品尝起来为,只是偶尔停下来,用一方大的破手绢擦擦他的红眼睛。
  “这种很好。”
  “这种也不错,可是稍微腻了一点。”
  有一点自始至终很明显:他真诚地相信自己最终也许会买一只布丁;而我也确信,他一点也不觉得自己是在欺骗商店。可怜的老头儿!很可能他已经家道败落。从前他是有钱来选购他最喜爱的布丁的,而今却只能这样来品尝一下布丁的味道了。
  为圣诞节忙着采购商品的顾客个个喜形于色,看上去都很富裕。老人矮小的黑色身影在这群人中间显得很可怜,很不相称。我突然动了恻隐之心,走到他跟前说:
  “请原谅,先生,能赏我个脸吗?让我为你买一只布丁吧。如果您肯收下,我将不胜欣慰。”他往后一跳,仿佛被什么东西螫了一下追似的,他那张布满皱纹的脸顿时涨得通红。
  “对不起,”他说,其神态之高傲,远非我根据其外表所能想象得出,“我想我跟您并不相识。无疑您是认错人了。”于是他当机立断,转向女店员,大声说道:“劳驾把这只替我包扎一下。我要带走的。”他指了指最大的也是最贵的一只布丁。
  女店员从架子上取下那只布丁,动手包扎。这时,他掏出一只破旧的黑色小皮夹子,开始一个先令一个便士地数着硬币,把它们放在柜台上。为了保住“面子”,他被迫买下了他实在买不起的东西。我多么希望能收回我那些不得体的话啊!然而为时已晚,我感到此时唯有走开才是最积德的事。
  “请您到那边帐台上去付款,”女店员告诉他,但他却好像没有听懂,只管把硬币往她手里塞。打这以后我再也没有看到这位老人,也没有听到过有关他的情况。现在他再也不会到那家商店去品尝布丁了。