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A young boy faces the impossible task of trying to soften the blow of tragic mews.
You Go Your Way, I'll Go Mine
The messenger got off his bicycle in front of the house of Mrs. Rosa Sandoval. He went to the door and knocked gently. He knew almost immediately that someone was inside the house. He could not hear anything, but he was sure the knock was bringing someone to the door and he was most eager to see who this person would be -- his woman named Rosa Sandoval who was now to heat of murder in the world and to feel it in herself. The door was not a long time opening, but there was no hurry in the way it moved on its hinges. The movement of the door was as if, whoever she was, she and nothing in the world to fear. Then the door was open, and there she was.
To Homer the Mexican woman was beautiful. He could see that she had been patient all her life, so that now, after years of it, her lips were set in a gentle and saintly smile. But like all people who never receive telegrams the appearance of a messenger at the front door is full of terrible implication. Homer knew that Mrs. Rosa Sandoval was shocked to see him. Her first word was the first word of all surprise. She said "Oh," as if instead of a messenger she had thought of opening the door to someone she had know a long time and would be pleased to sit down with. Before she spoke again she studied Homer's eyes and Homer Knew that she knew the message was not a welcome one.
"You have a telegram?" she said.
It wasn't Homer's fault. His work was to deliver telegrams. Even so, it seemed to him that he was part of the whole mistake. He felt awkward and almost as if he alone were responsible for what had happened. At the same time he wanted to come right out and say, "I'm only a messenger, Mrs. Sandoval, I'm very sorry I must bring you a telegram like this, but it is only because it is my work to do so."
"Who is it for?" the Mexican woman said.
"Mrs. Rosa Sandoval, 1129 G Street." Homer said. He extended the telegram to the Mexican woman, but she would not touch it.
"Are you Mrs. Sandoval?" Homer said.
"Please," the woman said. "Please come in. I cannot read English. I am Mexican. I read only La Prensa which comes from Mexico City." She paused a moment and looked at the boy standing awkwardly as near the door as he could be and still be inside the house.
"Please," she said, "what does the telegram say?"
"Mrs. Sandoval," the messenger said, "the telegram says --"
But now the woman interrupted him. "But you must open the telegram and read it to me," she said. "You have not opened it."
"Yes, ma'am," Homer said as if he were speaking to a school teacher who had just corrected him.
He opened the telegram with nervous fingers. The Mexican woman stooped to pick up the torn envelope, and tried to smooth it out. As she did so she said, "Who sent the telegram -- my son Juan Domingo?"
"No, ma'am." Homer said. "The telegram is from the War Department."
"War Department?" the Mexican woman said.
"Mrs. Sandoval," Homer said swiftly, "your son is dead. Maybe it's a mistake, Everybody makes a mistake, Mrs. Sandoval. Maybe it wasn't your son. Maybe it was somebody else. The telegram says it was Juan Domingo. But maybe the telegram is wrong,"
The Mexican woman pretended not to hear.
"Oh, do not be afraid," she said. "Come inside. Come inside. I will bring you candy." She took the boy's arm and brought him to the table at the center of the room and there she made him sit.
"All boys like candy," she said. "I will bring you candy." She went into another room and soon returned with an old chocolate candy box. She opened the box at the table and in it Homer saw a strange kind of candy.
"Here," she said. "Eat this candy. All boys like candy."
Homer took a piece of the candy from the box, put it into his mouth, and tried to chew.
"You would not bring me a bad telegram," she said. "You are a good boy -- like my little Juanito when he was a little boy. Eat another piece." And she made the messenger take another piece of the candy.
Homer sat chewing the dry candy while the Mexican woman talked. "It is our own candy," she said, "from cactus. I made it for my Juanito when he come home, but you eat it. You are my boy, too."
Now suddenly she began to sob, holding herself in as if weeping were a disgrace. Homer wanted to get up and run, but he knew he would stay. He even thought he might stay the rest of his life. He just didn't know what else to do to try to make the woman less unhappy, and if she had asked him to take the place of her son, he would not have been able to refuse, because he would not have known how. He got to his feet, as if by standing he meant to begin correcting what could not be corrected and then he knew the foolishness of this intention and became more awkward than ever. In his heart he was saying over and over again, "What can I do? What the hell can I do? I'm only the messenger."
v. (cause to) become soft(er) or gentle （使）软化；（使）温和
a. very sad, unfortunate; of or related to tragedy 悲惨的；悲剧的
n. a person employed to deliver telegrams, letters or parcels 送信人，电报投递员
ad. softly 轻轻地
a. at once
a. marked by strong interest or impatient desire 热切的，渴望的
pron. no matter who 无论谁，不管谁
a. like a saint; very holy 像圣徒一样的；圣洁的
vt. cause unpleasant or angry surprise to (sb.) 使（某人）震惊
vt. take (sth.) to the place where it esp. sth. bad 交付，递送
a. uncomfortable 尴尬的
a. having done or been the cause of esp. sth. bad（应）负责的
n & a. 墨西哥人；墨西哥（人）的
vt. hold out 伸出
vi. stop for a short time 暂停，中止
vt. stop (sb. speaking) by breaking in 打断（某人讲话）
madam (used in direct address) 夫人，太太，小姐
vt. make smooth or smoother 把...弄平
ad. rapidly, quickly 快速地；敏捷地
vt. crush (food) with the teeth 咀嚼
vi. cry with short, quick breaths 啜泣；呜咽
n. shame 耻辱；丢脸的人（或事）
a. not happy
PHRASES & EXPRESSIONS
have knowledge of or receive information about 听到，听说
be responsible for
be the cause of 应对...负责的
come out (with)
speak out 大声地说，清楚地说
hold oneself in
control one's feelings
take the place of
act or be used instead of, replace 代替，取代
get to one's feel
over and over again
very often, repeatedly 反复地，再三地
the War Department