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集中营记(五)

上主既使野地披上青草…

戴爱美 著
曲拯民 译

 

  自煙台入学直到俘虏的生活晚期,有的学生体高增加了一尺。学校方面怎样应付不断长大中学生们的衣服实在要大费周章。主耶稣岂非有应许,上主既使野地披上青草,怎会使你缺了穿戴的呢?
   大孩子穿过的由年小的穿,鞋,衣都不成问题,破的可补了再补。惟独一般大孩子用的情形卻甚严重。第三个冬季将临,可过冬的厚裤子尚无着落。这时,莱克太太夜梦中向所有的床铺搜索深色可供制作蓬松便裤的毛毯。对了!以前怎沒想到?
   早饭站队时,空腹的烦恼使议论进行得更不愉快。显然莱克太太的主意,为众人所疑。
   “毛毯子怎能当做裤子的材料?”
   “毛毯子不是普通织成品,孩子们坐不久臀部就会破啊!”
   她们怎会知道,上主既示意用毛毯来制裤子,必然使之耐用,不对吗?
   正议论间,一位面目陌生但甚和善的老人插话:“先前我在天津当过裁缝师,今日虽年老,在剪裁工作助你一臂是不成问题的。”
   十二月初,戶外溫度已低到十七度(华氏),全部用手缝制的裤子完成了。隆冬,最冷达零下三度。次年四月末,雪已尽溶,有孩子来问莱克太太:
   “我现在该換卡其短裤穿了。好么?”
   “现在是不是还是冷一点?”她答。
   “裤档已经裂开了。”孩子说时羞得红了脸。
   用毛毯做的裤子果然支持了五个月。
   我们深信最后的胜利必属於我们,因此需要庆祝胜利的乐曲。之后,每屆星期二晚,假修鞋房隔壁的一间陋室里“救世军”秘密地排练新曲,它是所有盟国国歌择句的集成。用军队军官制度的组织法並着制服的救世军为避免日军疑虑计,乃将名称改为“救世教会”。
   救世军的队员是勇气十足的,就在日军天天监视下由队长领导的十五名队员每週集合练习新曲,那是美,英,中,苏四国国歌的择段,混上一些歌颂天国之曲:“基督精兵”,“上主的子民速奋起”,“共和之战曲”。我们盟国甚至说上主必胜,这是无可置疑的。
   1945年五月,战爭达高潮。
   深夜,我突然笔直地坐起来听。远处,第二十三街区营房顶的监视台上的钟声忽然敲响了。接着全营起了大骚动,混成一片。集合点名的操场上,日军官在暗处高喊集合令。日士兵既未敲过钟,究何原由半夜要点名?是因为发现有人越牆而逃,还是战爭胜利的宣告?
   睡得昏沉,朦胧中醒起,仍着睡衣的孩子们踉跄着奔向操场。手枪在手,咆哮中的日本兵令我们在黑暗中列队。他们数了又数,查问何人打了钟,因何打钟。后来我们知道日军官加倍愤怒的原因,原来此乃警钟,惟独紧急关头才可使用,例如有人逃亡,营內发生骚动等等。报数点名午夜一时完毕后全体才得返宿舍就寝。俟此事过,消息始发自营內的主脑人物,德国投降了。我们这“竹制电台(自营外用信号传入的)”报导正确,欧洲方面的战事已经结束了。
   数月前,我们俘虏中有未知名的两人秘密约定,一俟德军放下武器,就在夜间敲钟。
   全营的人在日日狂喜中怀着希望,德国被我们打垮了,日本还能持久吗?一,二或三个月?梦想也好,魔法也好,胜利就在目前。(下期续)

 

A Song of Salvation at Weihsien Prison Camp

Mary Taylor Previte

V

  Some of us children had grown more than a foot since our parents first sent us off to Chefoo School . Providing clothes for a school full of growing children was going to take a giant miracle. But hadn't the Lord promised: “If God so clothe the grass of the field, shall He not much more clothe you?”
  Clothes and shoes for us little ones was easy. We grew into hand-me-downs. We patched and then patched the patches. But clothing the older boys posed a serious problem: They were facing the third winter of the war—with no winter trousers—until Mrs. Lack had her dream. In the dream, she was going from mattress to mattress looking for dark blankets that could be made into winter slacks. Blankets for trousers. Of course! Why hadn't they thought of it before?
  In the dinner queue—where hunger heightened contentiousness—the skeptics started in on Mrs. Lack.
  “Trousers out of blankets?”
  Blankets, my dear, aren't made of woven fabric. The seats will be out the first time the boys sit down.”
  How could they understand that if God had told her to make trousers out of blankets, He would make it His business to keep the seats in?
  But just then, a kindly old stranger interrupted. “I used to be a tailor in Tientsin ,” he told Mrs. Lack. “I'm old and not much good these days, but maybe I could help you cut them out.”
  By early December, when the thermometer dipped to 17 degrees, the trousers—hand-tailored—were ready. Temperatures reached 3 below zero that winter. At the end of April, when the last snows where melting, the first boy came to Mrs. Lack.
  “May I wear my khaki shorts now?” he asked.
  “It's still a bit cold now, isn't it?”
  “But the seat is splitting in my trousers,” he said with an uncomfortable blush.
  After five winter months, the first seat had given way.
  We would win the war, of course, and when we did, we would need a Victory March. So on Tuesday evenings—all so clandestinely, in a small room next to the shoe repair shop—the Salvation Army band practiced a newly created Victory Medley. It was a joyful mix of all the Allied national anthems. Because the Japanese were suspicious of this “army” with its officers, uniforms and military regalia, the Salvation Army in China had changed its Chinese name from “Save the World Army” to “Save the World Church.”
  The Salvation Army had guts. Right under the noses of the Japanese—omitting the melodies so the authorities wouldn't recognize the tunes—Brig. Stranks and his 15 brass instruments practiced their parts of the victory medley each week, sandwiching it between triumphant hymns of the church—“Onward, Christian Soldiers,” “Rise Up, O Man of God” and “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” We would be ready for any victor—American, English, Chinese, Russian—or God. Any victory would surely come.
  In May of 1945 the war was escalating to some kind of climax. In the darkness, I sat bolt upright in my bed. Off in the distance the bell in the bell tower atop Block 23 was ringing. Within moments the camp was in pandemonium. On the roll call field, angry Japanese voices shouted a staccato of commands. It's was clear that they hadn't rung the bell. What could it mean, a bell tolling at midnight ? An escape signal? A victory signal?
Numb with sleep and dressed in pajamas, we stumbled outside to the roll call field where an angry soldier, pistol drawn, barked lineup orders at us in the darkness. The Japanese counted us and counted us again. They demanded explanations. They were particularly angry, we found out later, because the bell was their prearranged alarm to call in the Japanese army in case we prisoners reacted with a disturbance that night. It was 1 o'clock before they finished the head counts and sent us back to bed, but by then, the rumor if what had happened filtered through the ranks. The Germans had surrendered! Our “bamboo radio” had brought the news. The war in Europe was over.
  Months before, on a dare, two of the prisoners had made a pact that when the Allies trounced the Germans, they would ring the tower bell at midnight.
  The camp was delirious with hope, we had licked the Germans, and we were going to lick the Japanese. One month? Two months? Three months more? We dreamed and conjured up visions of The End. (to be continued...)

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2019.12

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