夫 が死んで8年。Francescaは67歳の誕生日を迎えました。昔からのド田舎の家に今も1人で住んでいます。毎年の儀式になったRobert Kincaidから来た手紙を読み返したところです。そして彼とのことを思い出しています。

彼との思い出:
彼をこの小説の舞台となった屋根付き橋に案内し到着し、家まで戻ってきました。冷たいお茶を出し、お互いが何をしているのかを語り合い、FrancescaはRobert Kincaidに夕食を食べて行かないかと誘い、Robert Kincaidも同意します。そして、夕食も終わり、2人は散歩に出かけ、戻ってきてブランデイとコーヒーを飲もうとしています。

Ancient Evenings, Distant Music (6)

She wondered in how many kitchens, how many good restaurants, how many living rooms with subdued light he had practiced that small trade. How many sets of long fingernails had he watched delicately pointing toward him from the stems of brandy glasses, how many pairs of blue-round and brown-oval eyes had looked at him through foreign evenings, while anchored sail-boats rocked offshore and water slapped against the quays of ancient ports?
The overhead kitchen light was too bright for coffee and brandy. Francesca Johnson, Richard Johnson’s wife, would leave it on. Francesca Johnson, a woman walking through after-supper grass and leafing through girlhood dreams, would turn it off. A candle was in order, but that would be too much. He might get the wrong idea. She put on the small light over the kitchen sink and turned off the overhead. It was still not perfect, but it was better.
He raised his glass to shoulder level and moved it toward her. “To ancient evenings and distant music.” For some reason those words made her take a short, quick breath. But she touched her glass to his, and even though she wanted to say, “To ancient evenings and distant music,” she only smiled a little.
They both smoked, saying nothing, drinking brandy, drinking coffee. A pheasant called from the fields. Jack, the collie, barked twice out in the yard. Mosquitoes tested the window screen near the table, and a single moth, circuitous of thought yet sure of instinct, was goaded by the sink light’s possibilities.


解説:

She wondered in how many kitchens, how many good restaurants, how many living rooms with subdued(和らげられた) light he had practiced that small trade(手仕事).
■that small trade:彼がブランデイの蓋を空け、2人のグラスに丁度よい量をついだことを指しています。

How many sets of long fingernails had he watched delicately pointing toward him from the stems(脚) of brandy glasses, how many pairs of blue-round and brown-oval(卵形の) eyes had looked at him through foreign(外国の) evenings, while anchored(錨で止められた) sail-boats rocked(揺れ動く) offshore(沖合で) and water slapped(打ちつける) against the quays(埠頭) of ancient ports?

The overhead kitchen light was too bright for coffee and brandy. Francesca Johnson, Richard Johnson’s wife, would leave it on.
■Richard Johnsonの妻としてのFrancesca Johnsonならば台所の明かりはつけたままにしておくだろう。

Francesca Johnson, a woman walking through after-supper grass and leafing(ページをめくる) through girlhood dreams, would turn it off.
■夕食後に牧草地を散歩し、少女時代の夢を思い返したFrancesca Johnsonならば台所の明かりを消すだろう。

A candle was in order, but that would be too much.
■in order:ここでは「(その場に)ふさわしい」

He might get the wrong idea. She put on the small light over the kitchen sink and turned off the overhead. It was still not perfect, but it was better.
He raised his glass to shoulder level and moved it toward her. “To ancient evenings and distant music.” For some reason those words made her take a short, quick breath. But she touched her glass to his, and even though she wanted to say, “To ancient evenings and distant music,” she only smiled a little.
They both smoked, saying nothing, drinking brandy, drinking coffee. A pheasant(キジ) called from the fields. Jack, the collie, barked twice out in the yard.

Mosquitoes tested the window screen near the table, and a single moth(ガ), circuitous(回りくどい) of thought yet sure of instinct, was goaded(駆り立てる) by the sink light’s possibilities.
■蚊が台所に入ってこようとしているが 窓網戸でブロックされ、1匹の餓が台所の明かりを目指して飛んできた様を表現しています。夜活動する虫たちは、月を見ながら、月明かりに対して一定角度で飛ぶことで高さや方向を一定に保つしくみを持っています。月は地球からものすごく遠くにあるために、自分がいくら動いても月のある方角は変わらず、自分の向いている方向を知るいい目印になります)。そういうしくみを持った虫たちが人工の灯りを見て、その光の向きに対して一定の角度で飛ぼうとすると、どうなるでしょうか。月と違って人工の灯りはごく近くにあるから、一定角度を保って飛ぼうとすると結果として、灯りの周りをグルグルとまわりながら近づいてしまいます。つまり、虫たちは、人間がつくった灯りを月と勘違いして方向の目印に使ってしまうために、知らず知らずのうちに灯りに集まってしまうという訳です。