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集中營記(五)

上主既使野地披上青草…

戴愛美 著
曲拯民 譯

 

  自煙台入學直到俘虜的生活晚期,有的學生體高增加了一尺。學校方面怎樣應付不斷長大中學生們的衣服實在要大費周章。主耶穌豈非有應許,上主既使野地披上青草,怎會使你缺了穿戴的呢?
   大孩子穿過的由年小的穿,鞋,衣都不成問題,破的可補了再補。惟獨一般大孩子用的情形卻甚嚴重。第三個冬季將臨,可過冬的厚褲子尚無着落。這時,萊克太太夜夢中向所有的床鋪搜索深色可供製作蓬鬆便褲的毛毯。對了!以前怎沒想到?
   早飯站隊時,空腹的煩惱使議論進行得更不愉快。顯然萊克太太的主意,為眾人所疑。
   “毛毯子怎能當做褲子的材料?”
   “毛毯子不是普通織成品,孩子們坐不久臀部就會破啊!”
   她們怎會知道,上主既示意用毛毯來製褲子,必然使之耐用,不對嗎?
   正議論間,一位面目陌生但甚和善的老人插話:“先前我在天津當過裁縫師,今日雖年老,在剪裁工作助你一臂是不成問題的。”
   十二月初,戶外溫度已低到十七度(華氏),全部用手縫製的褲子完成了。隆冬,最冷達零下三度。次年四月末,雪已盡溶,有孩子來問萊克太太:
   “我現在該換卡其短褲穿了。好麼?”
   “現在是不是還是冷一點?”她答。
   “褲檔已經裂開了。”孩子說時羞得紅了臉。
   用毛毯做的褲子果然支持了五個月。
   我們深信最後的勝利必屬於我們,因此需要慶祝勝利的樂曲。之後,每屆星期二晚,假修鞋房隔壁的一間陋室裏“救世軍”秘密地排練新曲,它是所有盟國國歌擇句的集成。用軍隊軍官制度的組織法並着制服的救世軍為避免日軍疑慮計,乃將名稱改為“救世教會”。
   救世軍的隊員是勇氣十足的,就在日軍天天監視下由隊長領導的十五名隊員每週集合練習新曲,那是美,英,中,蘇四國國歌的擇段,混上一些歌頌天國之曲:“基督精兵”,“上主的子民速奮起”,“共和之戰曲”。我們盟國甚至說上主必勝,這是無可置疑的。
   1945年五月,戰爭達高潮。
   深夜,我突然筆直地坐起來聽。遠處,第二十三街區營房頂的監視臺上的鐘聲忽然敲響了。接着全營起了大騷動,混成一片。集合點名的操場上,日軍官在暗處高喊集合令。日士兵既未敲過鐘,究何原由半夜要點名?是因為發現有人越牆而逃,還是戰爭勝利的宣告?
   睡得昏沉,朦朧中醒起,仍着睡衣的孩子們踉蹌着奔向操場。手槍在手,咆哮中的日本兵令我們在黑暗中列隊。他們數了又數,查問何人打了鐘,因何打鐘。後來我們知道日軍官加倍憤怒的原因,原來此乃警鐘,惟獨緊急關頭才可使用,例如有人逃亡,營內發生騷動等等。報數點名午夜一時完畢後全體才得返宿舍就寢。俟此事過,消息始發自營內的主腦人物,德國投降了。我們這“竹製電臺(自營外用信號傳入的)”報導正確,歐洲方面的戰事已經結束了。
   數月前,我們俘虜中有未知名的兩人秘密約定,一俟德軍放下武器,就在夜間敲鐘。
   全營的人在日日狂喜中懷着希望,德國被我們打垮了,日本還能持久嗎?一,二或三個月?夢想也好,魔法也好,勝利就在目前。(下期續)

 

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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