Three Peach Stones

Observe a child; any one will do. You will see that not a day passes in which he does not find something or other to make him happy, though he may be in tears the next moment. Then look at a man; any one of us will do. You will notice that weeks and months can pass in which day is greeted with nothing more than resignation, and endure with every polite indifference. Indeed, most men are as miserable as sinners, though they are too bored to sin-perhaps their sin is their indifference. But it is true that they so seldom smile that when they do we do not recognize their face, so distorted is it from the fixed mask we take for granted. And even then a man can not smile like a child, for a child smiles with his eyes, whereas a man smiles with his lips alone. It is not a smile; but a grin; something to do with humor, but little to do with happiness. And then, as anyone can see, there is a point (but who can define that point?) when a man becomes an old man, and then he will smile again.

It would seem that happiness is something to do with simplicity, and that it is the ability to extract pleasure form the simplest things-such as a peach stone, for instance.

It is obvious that it is nothing to do with success. For Sir Henry Stewart was certainly successful. It is twenty years ago since he came down to our village from London , and bought a couple of old cottages, which he had knocked into one. He used his house a s weekend refuge. He was a barrister. And the village followed his brilliant career with something almost amounting to paternal pride.

I remember some ten years ago when he was made a King’s Counsel, Amos and I, seeing him get off the London train, went to congratulate him. We grinned with pleasure; he merely looked as miserable as though he’d received a penal sentence. It was the same when he was knighted; he never smiled a bit, he didn’t even bother to celebrate with a round of drinks at the “Blue Fox”. He took his success as a child does his medicine. And not one of his achievements brought even a ghost of a smile to his tired eyes.

I asked him one day, soon after he’d retired to potter about his garden,8 what is was like to achieve all one’s ambitions. He looked down at his roses and went on watering them. Then he said “The only value in achieving one’s ambition is that you then realize that they are not worth achieving.” Quickly he moved the conversation on to a more practical level, and within a moment we were back to a safe discussion on the weather. That was two years ago.

I recall this incident, for yesterday, I was passing his house, and had drawn up my cart just outside his garden wall. I had pulled in from the road for no other reason than to let a bus pass me. As I set there filling my pipe, I suddenly heard a shout of sheer joy come from the other side of the wall.

I peered over. There stood Sir Henry doing nothing less than a tribal war dance of sheer unashamed ecstasy. Even when he observed my bewildered face staring over the wall he did not seem put out or embarrassed, but shouted for me to climb over.

“Come and see, Jan. Look! I have done it at last! I have done it at last!”

There he was, holding a small box of earth in his had. I observed three tiny shoots out of it.

“And there were only three!” he said, his eyes laughing to heaven.

“Three what?” I asked.

“Peach stones”, he replied. “I’ve always wanted to make peach stones grow, even since I was a child, when I used to take them home after a party, or as a man after a banquet. And I used to plant them, and then forgot where I planted them. But now at last I have done it, and, what’s more, I had only three stones, and there you are, one, two, three shoots,” he counted.

And Sir Henry ran off, calling for his wife to come and see his achievement-his achievement of simplicity.

1. resignation n. 辞职,辞呈,顺从

I’ll accept my fate with resignation.


2. sinner n.罪人

Christ is inviting sinners to repentance.


3. distorted adj. 扭歪的,歪曲的,受到曲解的

Her face was distorted with alarm.


4. simplicity n.简单,简易;朴素

Simplicity is the essence of good taste.


5. grin vi./ n.咧嘴笑

They grinned with pleasure when I gave them the sweets.


6. barrister n. 法庭律师,律师

The majority of judgers are barrister, but they cannot practise as barrister.


7. paternal a.(象)父亲的;父方的

The woman on the photo is my paternal grandmother.


8. knight n. 骑士,爵士,武士 vt. 授以爵位

That knight ran his sword through his opponent.


9. potter vi. 懒散,闲逛(=putter)

He loves to potter in the garden.


10. peer vi. 凝视,窥视

She peers through the mist, trying to find the right path.


11. war dance n. 战阵舞

You quite often see footballers doing a sort of war dance just after they’ve scored a goal these days.


12. unashamed adj. 不害羞的, 不知耻的, 厚脸无耻的, 问心无愧的

They kissed each other with unashamed delight.


13. ecstasy n.狂喜

He listened to the music with ecstasy.


14. bewildered adj. 困惑的 动词bewilder的过去式和过去分词形式

The child was bewildered by the noise and the crowds.


1. in tears 流着泪,含着泪,在哭着

He ran home in tears to his mother.


2. take for granted 认为…是理所当然;对…不予重视

It is taken for granted that everyone is equal before the law.


3. bother to do sth 费心做某事

You need not bother to come here .


4. used to 过去常常…

John used to smoke.




仔细观察一个小孩,随便哪个小孩都行,你会发现,他每天都会发现一两件令他快乐的事情,尽管过一会儿他可能会哭哭啼啼。再看看一个大人,我们中间任何人都行。你会发现,一周复一周,一月又一月,他总是以无可奈何的心情迎接新的一天的到来,以温文尔雅、满不在乎的心情忍受这一天的消逝。确实,大多数人都跟罪人一样苦恼难受,尽管他们太百无聊赖,连罪恶都不犯–也许他们的冷漠就是他们的罪孽。真的, 他们难得一笑。如果他们偶尔笑了,我们会认不出他们的容貌,他们的脸会扭曲走样,不再是我们习以为常的固定不变的面具。即使在笑的时候,大人也不会像小孩儿那样,小孩儿用眼睛表示笑意,大人只用嘴唇。这实际上不是笑,只是咧列嘴;表示一种心情,但跟快乐无关。然而,人人都能发现,人到了一定地步(但又有谁能解释这是什么地步呢?),成了老人,他又会笑了。


















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