Dear Deuce

Valentine and Third Eileen Chang

February 13, 2018


In the spirit of Valentine’s day, I present you the sweetest piece I have ever beheld, in Eileen Chang’s novels. This is from “Eighteen Springs”, later named “Half a Lifelong Romance”.

“十八春”

“Eighteen Springs”

一面走着一面说着话,世钧忽然站住了,道:“曼桢!”曼桢见他彷佛很为难的样子,便道:“怎么?”世钧却又不作声了,并且又继续往前走。

一连串的各种灾难在她脑子里一闪:他家里出了什么事了──他要辞职不干了──家里给他订了婚了──他爱上了一个什么人了,或者是从前的一个女朋友,这次回去又碰见的。她又问了声”怎么?”他说:“没什么。”她便默然了。

世钧道:“我没带雨衣去,刚巧倒又碰见下雨。”曼桢道:“哦,南京下雨的么?这儿倒没下。”世钧道:“不过还好,只下了一晚上,反正我们出去玩总是在白天。不过我们晚上也出去的,下雨那天也出去的。”他发现自己有点语无伦次,就突然停止了。

曼桢倒真有点着急起来了,望着他笑道:“你怎么了?”世钧道:“没什么。──曼桢,我有话跟你说。”曼桢道:“你说呀。”世钧道:“我有好些话跟你说。”

其实他等于已经说了。她也已经听见了。她脸上完全是静止的,但是他看得出来她是非常快乐。这世界上突然照耀着一种光,一切都可以看得特别清晰,确切。他有生以来从来没有像这样觉得心地清楚。好象考试的时候,坐下来一看题目,答案全是他知道的,心里是那样地兴奋,而又感到一种异样的平静。

As they walked together and talked, he suddenly stopped and cried out her name. She got a sense that he’s baffled with something, and answered, “Yes?” But he fell silent after that, and they walked on.

A series of disturbed imaginations flashed through her mind: something happened to his family — he is going to quit his job — his parents arranged a woman for him — he fell in love with someone, or he ran into an ex-girlfriend when he was back home. She asked again, “What is the matter?” He answered, “Nothing.” She was then mute.

“I didn’t bring a raincoat with me,” He said, “but it happened to rain.”

“Oh, it rained in Nanjing? It didn’t rain here.”

He continued, “But it is quite all right. It only rained for one night. We go out in daytime anyways. But sometimes we go out at nights too. The night that rained we also went out.” He noticed his words coming out in a horrible disarray, and stopped abruptly.

She got a little worried. With a light smile, she asked, “Are you okay?”

“I am okay,” he said, “I have things to say to you.”

“What is it?”

He said, “I have many things to say to you.”

With that it was as good as him saying them all. It was as good as her hearing them all. She looked all serene on the surface, but he could see extreme happiness underneath. There was suddenly a light in the world that makes everything basking in it clear and certain. He never felt such certainty. It is like when you go to an exam, upon sitting down you look at the questions, and find yourself knowing all the answers. You are excited that you do, but also you feel strangely tranquil that you do.