The Brave Boy 勇敢的男孩

 |2021.05.23
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提要

「He ain't heavy, he's my brother」(他不重,他是我兄弟)是廣為周知的故事;這個故事裡的兄弟親情,則是:「無論多困難,我一定要你好起來。」

Kenny, Vitor's little brother lay in their little hut, burning with fever and shooting pain in his stomach that was getting worse by the minute.

Vitor was only about 11 years old but was a happy and cheerful lad. He was a child of the jungle and his brother was about six years younger than him. He had other brothers and sisters, who unfortunately had died due to cholera or malaria.

His mother brought some hot water, dipped some towels inside, and placed it on Kenny's stomach to reduce the pain. Vitor could see that she was in great pain and fear of losing another child, but she was trying hard not to show it.

However, the towels were of no use. Vitor's mother said that he ought to be carried to the nearest hospital. Vitor's mother knew that Kenny was critical, and needed medical attention at the earliest.

The people in the village considered that the hospital was the last resort, and those who were sent there, rarely returned alive.

Vitor told his mother that he would go and call his father, who was out logging for food. His mother asked him to stay back, as it would take days to find him.

Vitor's father was a well-known Lumberjack. He had survived two tiger attacks and saved a comrade from a tiger attack. Whenever there was an expedition in the village, people wanted "The Brave" to be with them. His mere presence gave them a tremendous amount of confidence and courage.

Now, healong with the other strongmen from the village were in an expedition. It was unlikely that Vitor would find someone to help him to take Kenny to the hospital.

Vitor told his mother, "There is no one to turn to, I will take Kenny to the hospital." His mother took a piece of garment and made a sling for Vitor, in which he could carry his brother to the hospital.

His mother said with tears, "You may never get there. Go slowly and be brave." She gave him some food and water to have on the way.

Vitor started his journey. He was unsure, whether he would ever reach the hospital, given Kenny's weight, high temperature, that he could feel the heat through the sling.

The hospital was about 50 miles away, and Vitor hoped to take a shortcut through the forest and wade through two rivers. This might reduce the distance by half. He also hoped that he might get a lift along the way in a bullock cart.

He was afraid to cross the forest. It was dark, and the animals of prey would be searching for food. Night fell and there was a full moon that night. He saw bear and tiger tracks and avoided them, and proceeded carefully. He was afraid and started walking fast.

Finally, he nearly reached the end of the forest, and he just couldn't go further. He put a sling and lied down beneath a tree. His muscles shrank back to his natural position and he felt a piercing pain. He thought he would rest for a few minutes and he lay down. Soon he was fast asleep.

Suddenly he woke up with fright. He looked around to see a herd of elephants at the riverside. Although Vitor was petrified, he knew he could not run with Kenny's weight. All he could do was to keep quiet and pray.

Finally, the elephants left and Vitor quickly crossed the river on a weak bridge built from bamboo poles. He reached the other side and saw there were fresh tiger footprints. Yet, he still plodded. He cried in pain, but he did not stop.

Towards midnight, he reached a place that should be the second bridge. He looked for it, but it had been washed away by a flash flood. He could feel the river's sound and the sound of trees churning. He sat down and wondered about how he would cross this river.

After Vitor brought some cold water for thirsty Kenny, he carried him on his back. With the help of bamboo poles as stilts, he began to cross the river. The deluge deafened and bruised him, yet he kept moving on. He kept Kenny on top of his head, above the water. At the very moment reached the other side, Vitor, entirely exhausted, fell down on the grass.

Vitor was wet and it was icy cold. Yet he kept moving on. When he finally saw people, he passed out.

The next thing he knew was that he was in a bullock-cart, and then a truck.

Finally, they reached the hospital. The hospital staff and the people around could not believe that he had carried the little boy for over 50 miles.

He felt shy when they started calling him Vitor The Brave.

The Doctor came and asked for Vitor The Brave and Vitor replied, "My father is not here."

The Doctor smiled and asked him, "Are you the little boy who carried his brother for over 50 miles?"

Vitor replied, "Yes."

The Doctor then said, "Then you are Vitor The Brave. Come in and see your brother. He will live."

解說

維多的弟弟肯尼躺在他們家的小木屋裡,發著高燒、腹部疼痛,病情正逐漸惡化。

大約只有十一歲的維多,是個快樂開朗的小伙子。他在叢林裡生長,弟弟比他小六歲。他本來還有其他兄弟姐妹,但都不幸死於霍亂或瘧疾。

他的母親端來熱水,用毛巾在裡面蘸了一些放在肯尼的肚子減輕疼痛。維多看出她害怕失去另一個孩子的痛苦表情,但她一直努力把頭轉開、不讓孩子發現。

但是,「毛巾沒有用」,維多的母親說,「他應該被帶到最近的醫院」。維多的母親知道肯尼的病況危急,需要盡早得到醫療服務。

村裡的人認為,去醫院是不得已的手段,被送到那裡的人很少能活著回來。

維多告訴母親,他要去告訴正在外工作賺錢的父親。

母親叫他留下別動,因為要找到他父親,需要花上好幾天。

維多的父親是著名的伐木工人。他有兩次遭遇老虎襲擊倖存,有一次還救了一位夥伴。每當村人必須進入林中探險時,大家都希望與「勇者」同行,他的存在給他們極大的信心和勇氣。

現在「勇者」父親與村裡的其他壯士探險去了。維多不太可能找到人幫他帶肯尼到醫院。

維多對母親說:「沒有人幫忙,我可以帶肯尼去醫院。」母親用衣服拆下來的布料,為維多做了一個背帶,方便他把弟弟帶到醫院。

母親含淚說:「你可能要非常非常久才能到。別心急,勇敢一點。」她給了他一些食物和水,以備不時之需。

維多開始了他的旅程,他不確定自己是否真的到得了醫院,考慮肯尼的體重,還有他可以感受從背後傳來弟弟的高體溫,都是沉重的負擔。

家裡距離醫院約有五十英里(約八十公里),維多想穿過森林走捷徑,越過兩條河。這樣可能減少一半距離,他還希望會遇到牛車搭便車。

天黑後動物會開始捕食,他害怕穿過森林被當成獵物。就著滿月的光線,他看到了熊和老虎的蹤跡,避開了之後、謹慎地前進的維多很害怕,開始愈走愈快。

最後他幾乎到達了森林的盡頭,沒路可走了。他放下背帶,躺在樹下。他被勒出痕跡的肌肉感到刺痛。他本想只躺下休息幾分鐘,但很快就睡著了。

突然他驚醒,環顧四周,看到河邊有一群大象。儘管維多被嚇得目瞪口呆,但他知道背著肯尼無法快跑,唯一能做的,就是保持安靜並祈禱。

大象終於離開後,維多迅速越過竹竿建造的便橋,到達河的另一邊,發現那裡有新的老虎腳印。他忍不住因疼痛哭喊,卻不曾停下腳步。

接近午夜時分,他到了應該是第二座橋的地方,但橋似乎被山洪沖走了。他坐下,感受河流和樹木的攪動聲,思索該如何渡過這條河。

讓口渴的肯尼喝了些冷水後,維多背起他,利用竹竿撐住水底、開始踩高蹺過河。洪水聲震耳欲聾,但他仍繼續前進,他把肯尼頂在頭上,免得他嗆水。到達對岸時,維多筋疲力竭地倒在草地上。

維多渾身又溼又冷,但他繼續前進,就在看到了人們的那一刻,他昏了過去。

他發覺自己坐上一輛牛車上……然後是卡車。

他們終於到達醫院,醫院裡裡外外的人都不敢相信,這個小男孩抱著弟弟跋涉了超過五十英里。

當人們開始稱他為「勇者」維多時,他覺得有些害羞。

當醫師出現,詢問「勇者」維多在哪裡時,維多回答:「我父親不在這裡。」

醫師笑了笑,問他:「你就是那個背著兄弟走過五十英里求醫的孩子嗎?」

維多回答:「是。」

醫師於是說:「那麼你就是『勇者』維多啦,來看看你弟弟,他會活下去的。」

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