英国散文:Rivalry by E. V. Lucas
发布时间:2010-03-26 浏览次数:

 From Mrs. Horace Spong to the Rev. Samson Spong

Dear Samson, ---- I was so glad to hear from Lydia that you are better. We have been rather nervous about you, for a cold at this time of year is often difficult to throw off. Horace is better too, and we are making our plans for Mentone as usual. I don't pretend to care much for this annual exile from home, but Horace counts on it.
                     I am,
                     Your affectionate Sister,
                            Grace Spong
 
The Rev. Samson Spong to Mrs. Horace Spong
Dear Grace, ---- I can't think what Lydia was about, to tell you that I am better. I am not better. If anything I am worse. Indeed it is within the bounds of probability that I shall never be anything but a wreck, for this cold is the most malignant that I've ever had and gives me no peace. I am miserable all day and at night unable to sleep. Either I am coughing or I have the feeling of being smothered.
       Tell Horace that I envy him his recovery: he was always so much stronger than I. In fact, our dead mother often expressed surprise that as an infant I survived at all.
       You are fortunate in being able to get to the south of France and avoid this terrible climate. I should like nothing better, but I dread the journey too much; nor would my straitened means, much deplenished by excessive taxation, permit it. Horace has always been so richly blessed in worldly goods.
       Your affectionate Brother,
              Samson Spong
 
Mrs. Samson Spong to Mrs. Horace Spong
My Dear Grace, ---- Please don't write to Samson again about his condition. He much resented my telling you that he was better, although as a matter of fact he is -- much better. He eats better, is more cheerful, except when he recollects that he is an invalid, and sleeps well. He may not always sleep right through the night, but like all men, if he is awake five minutes he thinks it is two hours.
Yours,
                     Lydia
 
Mr. Horace Spong to the Rev. Samson Spong
Dear Samson, ---- Grace has given me your message about my recovery. I only wish I had earned it; but, alas! I feel anything but a convalescent. In fact, in confidence, for I should not like every one to know, I am conscious of increasing weakness daily, I have even kept it a secret from Grace. There are some colds that seem to strike deeper the more you nurse them, and mine is one of them.
       I am sorry for the pessimistic tone of your letter, but I feel sure that things are not so bad with you as you say. It is possible to take, too gloomy a view of oneself, especially when one is weak, and I have discounted your remarks in consequence. You are a stronger man au fond and you will shake this off very soon. I am convinced.
       We are off to Mentone next week. It is a dreary business, but Grace likes it there, and what she likes is law with me.
                            Yours.
                                   Horace
 
The Rev. Samson Spong to Mr. Horace Spong
Dear Horace, ---- I wish you wouldn't write nonsense about my being strong. I am not strong and never was. I was always delicate, even before cold after cold enfeebled me, and now I am a wreck. Surely I am the best judge as to how ill I am! Now you, I consider, really are stronger, though you may not look it. Only a strong man could undertake a journey to Mentone at this time of year.
       I will say good-bye, my dear brother, as it is exceedingly unlikely that you will find me here when you return in the spring.
                     Yours,
                      Samson
 
Miss Hilda Spong to the Rev. Samson Spong
Dear Uncle Samson, ---- I was very glad to hear the other day from mother that you are better. I send you a little present now as at Christmas I shall be far away in Switzerland and with a Winter Sports Party. We are going to some place thousands of feet up, where skating and skiing and bob-sleighing are a cert. I will send you a card from there.
 
Your affectionate Niece,
Hilda
 
The Rev. Samson Spong to Mrs. Horace Spong
Dear Grace, ---- If you are writing to Hilda you might give her a hint that it would be kinder not to send me a card as she has undertaken to do. I feel sure it would suggest snow and be harmful to me in my present delicate state. She is a dear girl, but her letter about those Alpine heights, although meant, I am sure, in all good faith, gave me a severe shock. I have just now to be very, very careful.
 
Your affectionate Brother,
Samson
 
P.S. ---- Tell Horace that what he wants is more employment. It is when one is idle that one broods on one's health. He should take up some hobby.
 
 
Mr. Horace Spong to the Rev. Samson Spong
My dear Samson, ---- I really must protest against the suggestion in your letter to Grace that I am a malade imaginaire. Fortunately Grace and I understand one another and there is no fear of any mishap; but I can believe that there are households which might be undermined by such insinuations. So far from being idle, as you put it, I am continually busy. There is not a penny spent in this establishment, indoors or out, that I am unaware of; I see all the tradesmen's books; I know exactly how much petrol the car uses from day to day; in fact, I am constantly vigilant and interested. Please do not again refer to the matter.
       While on this subject, let me say that it is increasingly borne in upon me that you made a terrible mistake when you gave up your living. You were far less faddy about yourself when you had your duties to perform. You were also more considerate for others. Your very gloomy reference in your last letter to your imminent decease might have caused me a really serious relapse, had I not just run into Corder in our London hotel and had a talk with him about you. But from what he says you are getting along famously.
       My love to Lydia.
                            Yours,
                             Horace
 
The Rev. Samson Spong to Richard Corder, M.D
Dear Corder, --- I am sorry that after all these years we should have to part, but I must ask you for your account. I cannot continue with a medical man who gossips about his patient. I was much distressed this morning to learn from my brother that you had told him I was better. Apart from the fact that I am not, I hold that a doctor's first duty is not to tell. You have greatly shaken me.
                                                        I am,
                                                               yours sincerely,
                                                               Samson Spong