Bugle Music from the Night Barracks by Eileen Chang ~ 张爱玲 《夜营的喇叭》 with English Translations


张爱玲 《夜营的喇叭》








Bugle Music from the Night Barracks
Eileen Chang

Ten o’clock at night, and I am reading a book by lamplight when the bugle in the army barracks near my home starts to play a familiar melody. A few simple musical phrases, slowly rising and then descending, with a purity of heart altogether rare in this vast crucible of a city.

I say, “They’re playing the bugle again, Auntie. Didn’t you hear it?” My aunt says, “I wasn’t paying attention.” I am afraid of hearing that bugle every night, because I am the only one who ever listens to it.

I say, “Oh, they are playing again.” But for some unknown reason, this time the sound is very soft, as slight as a strand of silk, breaking off several times before once again picking up the thread. This time, I don’t even ask my aunt whether she has heard it. I begin to doubt whether there really is a bugle at all or if this is merely a memory of something I’ve heard. Above and beyond my sense of desolation, I feel frightened.

But then I hear someone outside whistling loud and clear, picking up and following the bugle’s melody as he goes along. I jump suddenly to my feet, full of joy and empathy, and rush over to the window. Yet I have no desire to know who it is, whether it’s coming from an apartment upstairs or down below or from a passerby on the street.

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