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.
"我没有零钱找您,先生。"她说,"我这就向服务员去借。"    "不用了,夫人。"说着,水手俯身吻了吻老太婆那张皱纹褶褶的老脸,"这是我送给您的圣诞礼物。"    他直起身躯,朝我们的餐桌走来,那另一束鲜花擎在他的胸前。"先生,"他对我说,"我可以将这束花作为礼物送给您漂亮的女儿吗?"说着,他迅速地将那束鲜花塞到我妻子的手中,道了声"圣诞快乐",便转身走出了餐馆。    钢琴师急速地弹起了《好国王温西斯劳斯》舞曲,魔术般的指头敲击着琴键,头部和着乐曲的旅律频频点动。  我的妻子也随着音乐的节奏挥动着那束鲜花。她容光焕发,仿佛一下子年轻了20岁。幸福的泪水夺眶而出,嘴角上绽出青春的笑容。她启动歌喉,放声歌唱,我们的三个孩子随声和了起来。他们纵情高歌,没有一丝半缕的拘谨感。  "好!好!"德国人高声喝彩。他们跳到椅子上,并用德语唱起这支歌。服务员上前拥抱着卖花的老太太,两人同时挥舞手臂,用法语唱了起来。那个曾打了他的儿子一巴掌的法国男子用餐叉敲击着酒瓶打起了拍子,那男孩爬上他爸爸的膝盖,用童声歌唱起来。