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中英:月亮和六便士(7)

2006-08-22 21:05

    Chapter VII

    The season was drawing to its dusty end, and everyone I knew was arranging to go away. Mrs. Strickland was taking her family to the coast of Norfolk, so that the children might have the sea and her husband golf. We said good-bye to one another, and arranged to meet in the autumn. But on my last day in town, coming out of the Stores, I met her with her son and daughter; like myself, she had been making her final purchases before leaving London, and we were both hot and tired. I proposed that we should all go and eat ices in the park.

    I think Mrs. Strickland was glad to show me her children, and she accepted my invitation with alacrity. They were even more attractive than their photographs had suggested, and she was right to be proud of them. I was young enough for them not to feel shy, and they chattered merrily about one thing and another. They were extraordinarily nice, healthy young children. It was very agreeable under the trees.

    When in an hour they crowded into a cab to go home, I strolled idly to my club. I was perhaps a little lonely, and it was with a touch of envy that I thought of the pleasant family life of which I had had a glimpse. They seemed devoted to one another. They had little private jokes of their own which, unintelligible to the outsider, amused them enormously. Perhaps Charles Strickland was dull judged by a standard that demanded above all things verbal scintillation; but his intelligence was adequate to his surroundings, and that is a passport, not only to reasonable success, but still more to happiness. Mrs. Strickland was a charming woman, and she loved him. I pictured their lives, troubled by no untoward adventure, honest, decent, and, by reason of those two upstanding, pleasant children, so obviously destined to carry on the normal traditions of their race and station, not without significance. They would grow old insensibly; they would see their son and daughter come to years of reason, marry in due course —— the one a pretty girl, future mother of healthy children; the other a handsome, manly fellow, obviously a soldier; and at last, prosperous in their dignified retirement, beloved by their descendants, after a happy, not unuseful life, in the fullness of their age they would sink into the grave.

    That must be the story of innumerable couples, and the pattern of life it offers has a homely grace. It reminds you of a placid rivulet, meandering smoothly through green pastures and shaded by pleasant trees, till at last it falls into the vasty sea; but the sea is so calm, so silent, so indifferent, that you are troubled suddenly by a vague uneasiness. Perhaps it is only by a kink in my nature, strong in me even in those days, that I felt in such an existence, the share of the great majority, something amiss. I recognised its social values, I saw its ordered happiness, but a fever in my blood asked for a wilder course. There seemed to me something alarming in such easy delights. In my heart was a desire to live more dangerously. I was not unprepared for jagged rocks and treacherous shoals if I could only have change —— change and the excitement of the unforeseen.

    喧嚣纷扰的社交季节逐渐接近尾声,我认识的每一个人都忙着准备离开诚里。思特里克兰德太太计划把一家人带到诺佛克海滨去,孩子们可以在那里洗海水浴,丈夫可以打高尔夫球。我们告了别,说好秋天再会面。但是在我留在伦敦的最后一天,刚从陆海军商店里买完东西走出来,却又遇到思特里克兰德太太带着她的一儿一女;同我一样,她也是在离开伦敦之前抓空买最后一批东西。我们都又热又累,我提议一起到公园去吃一点冷食。

    我猜想思特里克兰德太太很高兴让我看到她的两个孩子,她一点儿也没有犹豫就接受了我的邀请。孩子们比照片上看到的更招人喜爱,她为他们感到骄傲是很有道理的。我的年纪也很轻,所以他们在我面前一点也不拘束,只顾高高兴兴地谈他们自己的事。这两个孩子都十分漂亮,健康活泼。歇息在树荫下,大家都感到非常愉快。

    一个钟头以后,这一家挤上一辆马车回家去了,我也一个人懒散地往俱乐部踱去。我也许感到有一点寂寞,回想我刚才瞥见的这种幸福家庭生活,心里不无艳羡之感。这一家人感情似乎非常融洽。他们说一些外人无从理解的小笑话,笑得要命。如果纯粹从善于辞令这一角度衡量一个人的智慧,也许查理斯。思特里克兰德算不得聪明,但是在他自己的那个环境里,他的智慧还是绰绰有余的,这不仅是事业成功的敲门砖,而且是生活幸福的保障。思特里克兰德太太是一个招人喜爱的女人,她很爱她的丈夫。我想象着这一对夫妻的生活,不受任何灾殃祸变的干扰,诚实、体面,两个孩子更是规矩可爱,肯定会继承和发扬这一家人的地位和传统。在不知不觉间,他们俩的年纪越来越老,儿女却逐渐长大成人,到了一定的年龄,就会结婚成家——一个已经出息成美丽的姑娘,将来还会生育活泼健康的孩子;另一个则是仪表堂堂的男子汉,显然会成为一名军人。最后这一对夫妻告老引退,受到子孙敬爱,过着富足、体面的晚年。他们幸福的一生并未虚度,直到年寿已经很高,才告别了人世。

    这一定是世间无数对夫妻的故事。这种生活模式给人以安详亲切之感。它使人想到一条平静的小河,蜿蜒流过绿茸茸的牧场,与郁郁的树荫交相掩映,直到最后泻入烟波浩渺的大海中。但是大海却总是那么平静,总是沉默无言、声色不动,你会突然感到一种莫名的不安。也许这只是我自己的一种怪想法(就是在那些日子这种想法也常在我心头作祟),我总觉得大多数人这样度过一生好象欠缺一点什么。我承认这种生活的社会价值,我也看到了它的井然有序的幸福,但是我的血液里却有一种强烈的愿望,渴望一种更狂放不羁的旅途。这种安详宁静的快乐好象有一种叫我惊惧不安的东西。我的心渴望一种更加惊险的生活。只要在我的生活中能有变迁——变迁和无法预见的刺激,我是准备踏上怪石嶙峋的山崖,奔赴暗礁满布的海滩的。

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