The Ferry by Gao Xiaosheng ~ 高晓声 《摆渡》 with English Translations


高晓声 《摆渡》



















The Ferry

Gao Xiaosheng

Four men came to the ferry.

Of the four, one was rich, one, burly, one, powerful, and one, a writer. they all wanted to be transported to the other shore of the river.

The ferryman said, “To get you across the river, you’ll have to share your most valuable thing with me first. whoever doesn’t do so will not get on my boat.”

The burly man gave him some money and stepped onto the boat.

The powerful man said: “Once you get me across the river, you can quit this hard work and I’ll find you some clean and easy money.” Delighted, the ferryman helped him onto the boat.

Finally, it was the writer’s turn. He said, “My most valuable thing is writing, but I can’t come up with anything good for the moment. So I’ll sing you a song instead.”

The ferryman said: “I can hum a tune or two, too. Who wants to listen to you sing? Okay, if you really don’t have anything else to offer, s song will do. But it has to be good. Otherwise.”

So the writer sang a song.

The ferryman shook his head: “What kind of singing is that? Not even as good as him (indicating the powerful man) speaking!” With that, he pushed the boat away from the shore with his long pole, leaving the poor writer behind.”

Dusk having thickened, the writer felt cold, hungry, and miserable. His wife and kids were waiting for him to come home and find money to buy things and cook supper, yet he was still stuck on this side of the river. “Oh, Heaven,” he cried out aloud, “I have never done anything horrible my entire life. Why leave me nowhere to go?!”

Upon hearing this, the ferryman turned his boat around and came back. “This cry of yours, it sounded better than your singing. Since you’ve shared with me your most valuable thing—your genuine feelings, please get on the boat!”

So the writer crossed the river, his heart filled with happiness. The ferryman was right, he thought: Absent genuine feelings, a writer would have nowhere to go.

The next day, remembering that the ferryman had gone with the powerful man, the writer decided to go and step in. From that day on, a new from his passengers.

It dawned on the writer, about a year later, that he had never changed his livelihood because writing and ferrying were not that different after all: Both were about carrying people forward to the other shore.

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