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中英:月亮和六便士(35)

2006-08-22 21:33

    Chapter XXXV

    I scarcely know how we got through that day. Stroeve could not bear to be alone, and I exhausted myself in efforts to distract him. I took him to the Louvre, and he pretended to look at pictures, but I saw that his thoughts were constantly with his wife. I forced him to eat, and after luncheon I induced him to lie down, but he could not sleep. He accepted willingly my invitation to remain for a few days in my apartment. I gave him books to read, but after a page or two he would put the book down and stare miserably into space. During the evening we played innumerable games of piquet, and bravely, not to disappoint my efforts, he tried to appear interested. Finally I gave him a draught, and he sank into uneasy slumber.

    When we went again to the hospital we saw a nursing sister. She told us that Blanche seemed a little better, and she went in to ask if she would see her husband. We heard voices in the room in which she lay, and presently the nurse returned to say that the patient refused to see anyone. We had told her that if she refused to see Dirk the nurse was to ask if she would see me, but this she refused also. Dirk's lips trembled.

    "I dare not insist, " said the nurse. "She is too ill. Perhaps in a day or two she may change her mind. "

    "Is there anyone else she wants to see?" asked Dirk, in a voice so low it was almost a whisper.

    "She says she only wants to be left in peace. "

    Dirk's hands moved strangely, as though they had nothing to do with his body, with a movement of their own.

    "Will you tell her that if there is anyone else she wishes to see I will bring him? I only want her to be happy. "

    The nurse looked at him with her calm, kind eyes, which had seen all the horror and pain of the world, and yet, filled with the vision of a world without sin, remained serene.

    "I will tell her when she is a little calmer. "

    Dirk, filled with compassion, begged her to take the message at once.

    "It may cure her. I beseech you to ask her now. "

    With a faint smile of pity, the nurse went back into the room. We heard her low voice, and then, in a voice I did not recognise the answer:

    "No. No. No. "

    The nurse came out again and shook her head.

    "Was that she who spoke then?" I asked. "Her voice sounded so strange. "

    "It appears that her vocal cords have been burnt by the acid. "

    Dirk gave a low cry of distress. I asked him to go on and wait for me at the entrance, for I wanted to say something to the nurse. He did not ask what it was, but went silently. He seemed to have lost all power of will; he was like an obedient child.

    "Has she told you why she did it?" I asked.

    "No. She won't speak. She lies on her back quite quietly. She doesn't move for hours at a time. But she cries always. Her pillow is all wet. She's too weak to use a handkerchief, and the tears just run down her face. "

    It gave me a sudden wrench of the heart-strings. I could have killed Strickland then, and I knew that my voice was trembling when I bade the nurse goodbye.

    I found Dirk waiting for me on the steps. He seemed to see nothing, and did not notice that I had joined him till I touched him on the arm. We walked along in silence. I tried to imagine what had happened to drive the poor creature to that dreadful step. I presumed that Strickland knew what had happened, for someone must have been to see him from the police, and he must have made his statement. I did not know where he was. I supposed he had gone back to the shabby attic which served him as a studio. It was curious that she should not wish to see him. Perhaps she refused to have him sent for because she knew he would refuse to come. I wondered what an abyss of cruelty she must have looked into that in horror she refused to live.

    我几乎说不清这一天我们是怎么过的了。施特略夫没人陪着根本不成,我想尽办法把他的思想岔开,因而弄得自己也疲劳不堪。我带他到卢佛尔宫去,他假装在欣赏图画,但是我看得出来他的思想一刻也没有离开他的妻子。我硬逼着他吃了一点东西;午饭以后,我又劝他躺下休息,但是他一丝睡意也没有。我留他在我的公寓住几天,他欣然接受了我的邀请。我找了几本书给他看,他只翻看一两页就把书放下,凄凄惨惨地茫然凝视着半空。吃过晚饭以后我们玩了无数局皮克牌,为了不叫我失望,他强自打起精神,装作玩得津津有味的样子。最后我让他喝了一口药水,尽管他睡得并不安宁,总算入了梦乡。

    当我们再次去医院的时候,见到了一个女护士。她告诉我们勃朗什看上去好了一些。她走进病房,问她是否愿意见自己的丈夫。我们听到从勃朗什住的屋子里传出来的话语声,没过多久护士便走出来,告诉我们病人拒绝会见任何来探视她的人。我们事前已经同护士讲过,如果病人不愿见戴尔克,护士还可以问她一下愿意不愿意见我,但是病人也同样回绝了。戴尔克的嘴唇抖动起来。

    “我不敢过分逼她,”护士说,“她病得很厉害。再过一两天也许她会改变主意的。”

    “她想见什么人吗?”戴尔克问,他说话的声音非常低,几乎象是耳语。

    “她说她只求不要有人打搅她。”

    戴尔克做了个很奇怪的手势,好象他的两只手同身体不发生关系,自己在挥动似的。

    “你能不能告诉她,如果她想见什么人的话,我可以把那人带来?我只希望使她快活。”

    护士用她那双宁静、慈祥的眼睛望着戴尔克,这双眼睛曾经看到过人世的一切恐怖和痛苦,但是因为那里面装的是一个没有罪恶的世界的幻景,所以她的目光是清澈的。

    “等她心情平静一些的时候我会告诉她的。”

    戴尔克心头充满了无限悲悯,请求她立刻把这句话说给她听。

    “也许这会治好她的病的。我求求你现在就去问她吧。”

    护士的脸上泛起一丝怜悯的笑容,走进病室。我们听到她低声说了两句什么,接着就是一个我辨认不出的声音在回答:

    “不,不,不。”

    护士走出来,摇了摇头。

    “刚才是她在说话吗?”我问。“她的嗓音全变了。”

    “她的声带似乎被酸液烧坏了。”

    戴尔克发出一声痛苦的低声叫喊。我叫他先到外面去,在进门的地方等着我,因为我要同护士说几句话。他并没有问我要说什么,便闷声不响地走开了。他好象失去了全部意志力,象个听话的小孩似地任凭别人支使。

    “她对你说过没有,为什么她做出这件事来?”我问护士说。

    “没有。她什么话也不说。她安安静静地仰面躺着,有时候一连几个钟头一动也不动。但是她却不停地流眼泪,连枕头都流湿了。她身体非常虚弱,连手帕也不会使用,就让眼泪从脸上往下淌。”

    我突然感到心弦一阵绞痛。要是思特里克兰德在我跟前,我真能当时就把他杀死。当我同护士告别的时候,我知道连自己的声音都颤抖起来了。

    我发现戴尔克正在门口台阶上等着我。他好象什么都没看见,直到我触到他的胳臂时,他才发觉我已经站到他身边。我们两个默默无言地向回走。我拼命地想象,究竟发生了什么事逼得这个可怜的人儿走上这条绝路。我猜想思特里克兰德已经知道发生的这个不幸事件了,因为警察局一定已经派人找过他,听取了他的证词。我不知道思特里克兰德现在在哪里。说不定他已经回到那间他当作画室的简陋的阁楼去了。她不想同他见面倒是有些奇怪。也许她不肯叫人去找他是因为她知道他绝不会来。我很想知道,她看到了一个什么样的悲惨的无底深渊才恐惧绝望、不想再活下去。

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