外语教育网
您的位置:外语教育网 > 英语文化视窗 > 文学与艺术 > 小说 正文
  • 站内搜索:

中英:月亮和六便士(12)

2006-08-22 21:11

    Chapter XII

    The Avenue de Clichy was crowded at that hour, and a lively fancy might see in the passers-by the personages of many a sordid romance. There were clerks and shopgirls; old fellows who might have stepped out of the pages of Honore de Balzac; members, male and female, of the professions which make their profit of the frailties of mankind. There is in the streets of the poorer quarters of Paris a thronging vitality which excites the blood and prepares the soul for the unexpected.

    "Do you know Paris well?" I asked.

    "No. We came on our honeymoon. I haven't been since. "

    "How on earth did you find out your hotel?"

    "It was recommended to me. I wanted something cheap. "

    The absinthe came, and with due solemnity we dropped water over the melting sugar.

    "I thought I'd better tell you at once why I had come to see you, " I said, not without embarrassment.

    His eyes twinkled. "I thought somebody would come along sooner or later. I've had a lot of letters from Amy. "

    "Then you know pretty well what I've got to say. "

    "I've not read them. "

    I lit a cigarette to give myself a moment's time. I did not quite know now how to set about my mission. The eloquent phrases I had arranged, pathetic or indignant, seemed out of place on the Avenue de Clichy. Suddenly he gave a chuckle.

    "Beastly job for you this, isn't it?"

    "Oh, I don't know, " I answered.

    "Well, look here, you get it over, and then we'll have a jolly evening. "

    I hesitated.

    "Has it occurred to you that your wife is frightfully unhappy?"

    "She'll get over it. "

    I cannot describe the extraordinary callousness with which he made this reply. It disconcerted me, but I did my best not to show it. I adopted the tone used by my Uncle Henry, a clergyman, when he was asking one of his relatives for a subscription to the Additional Curates Society.

    "You don't mind my talking to you frankly?"

    He shook his head, smiling.

    "Has she deserved that you should treat her like this?"

    "No. "

    "Have you any complaint to make against her?"

    "None. "

    "Then, isn't it monstrous to leave her in this fashion, after seventeen years of married life, without a fault to find with her?"

    "Monstrous. "

    I glanced at him with surprise. His cordial agreement with all I said cut the ground from under my feet. It made my position complicated, not to say ludicrous. I was prepared to be persuasive, touching, and hortatory, admonitory and expostulating, if need be vituperative even, indignant and sarcastic; but what the devil does a mentor do when the sinner makes no bones about confessing his sin? I had no experience, since my own practice has always been to deny everything.

    "What, then?" asked Strickland.

    I tried to curl my lip.

    "Well, if you acknowledge that, there doesn't seem much more to be said. "

    "I don't think there is. "

    I felt that I was not carrying out my embassy with any great skill. I was distinctly nettled.

    "Hang it all, one can't leave a woman without a bob. "

    "Why not?"

    "How is she going to live?"

    "I've supported her for seventeen years. Why shouldn't she support herself for a change?"

    "She can't. "

    "Let her try. "

    Of course there were many things I might have answered to this. I might have spoken of the economic position of woman, of the contract, tacit and overt, which a man accepts by his marriage, and of much else; but I felt that there was only one point which really signified.

    "Don't you care for her any more?"

    "Not a bit, " he replied.

    The matter was immensely serious for all the parties concerned, but there was in the manner of his answer such a cheerful effrontery that I had to bite my lips in order not to laugh. I reminded myself that his behaviour was abominable. I worked myself up into a state of moral indignation.

    "Damn it all, there are your children to think of. They've never done you any harm. They didn't ask to be brought into the world. If you chuck everything like this, they'll be thrown on the streets.

    "They've had a good many years of comfort. It's much more than the majority of children have. Besides, somebody will look after them. When it comes to the point, the MacAndrews will pay for their schooling. "

    "But aren't you fond of them? They're such awfully nice kids. Do you mean to say you don't want to have anything more to do with them?"

    "I liked them all right when they were kids, but now they're growing up I haven't got any particular feeling for them. "

    "It's just inhuman. "

    "I dare say. "

    "You don't seem in the least ashamed. "

    "I'm not. "

    I tried another tack.

    "Everyone will think you a perfect swine. "

    "Let them. "

    "Won't it mean anything to you to know that people loathe and despise you?"

    "No. "

    His brief answer was so scornful that it made my question, natural though it was, seem absurd. I reflected for a minute or two.

    "I wonder if one can live quite comfortably when one's conscious of the disapproval of one's fellows? Are you sure it won't begin to worry you? Everyone has some sort of a conscience, and sooner or later it will find you out. Supposing your wife died, wouldn't you be tortured by remorse?"

    He did not answer, and I waited for some time for him to speak. At last I had to break the silence myself.

    "What have you to say to that?"

    "Only that you're a damned fool. "

    "At all events, you can be forced to support your wife and children, " I retorted, somewhat piqued. "I suppose the law has some protection to offer them. "

    "Can the law get blood out of a stone? I haven't any money. I've got about a hundred pounds. "

    I began to be more puzzled than before. It was true that his hotel pointed to the most straitened circumstances.

    "What are you going to do when you've spent that?"

    "Earn some. "

    He was perfectly cool, and his eyes kept that mocking smile which made all I said seem rather foolish. I paused for a little while to consider what I had better say next. But it was he who spoke first.

    "Why doesn't Amy marry again? She's comparatively young, and she's not unattractive. I can recommend her as an excellent wife. If she wants to divorce me I don't mind giving her the necessary grounds. "

    Now it was my turn to smile. He was very cunning, but it was evidently this that he was aiming at. He had some reason to conceal the fact that he had run away with a woman, and he was using every precaution to hide her whereabouts. I answered with decision.

    "Your wife says that nothing you can do will ever induce her to divorce you. She's quite made up her mind. You can put any possibility of that definitely out of your head. "

    He looked at me with an astonishment that was certainly not feigned. The smile abandoned his lips, and he spoke quite seriously.

    "But, my dear fellow, I don't care. It doesn't matter a twopenny damn to me one way or the other. "

    I laughed.

    "Oh, come now; you mustn't think us such fools as all that. We happen to know that you came away with a woman. "

    He gave a little start, and then suddenly burst into a shout of laughter. He laughed so uproariously that people sitting near us looked round, and some of them began to laugh too.

    "I don't see anything very amusing in that. "

    "Poor Amy, " he grinned.

    Then his face grew bitterly scornful.

    "What poor minds women have got! Love. It's always love. They think a man leaves only because he wants others. Do you think I should be such a fool as to do what I've done for a woman?"

    "Do you mean to say you didn't leave your wife for another woman?"

    "Of course not. "

    "On your word of honour?"

    I don't know why I asked for that. It was very ingenuous of me.

    "On my word of honour. "

    "Then, what in God's name have you left her for?"

    "I want to paint. "

    I looked at him for quite a long time. I did not understand. I thought he was mad. It must be remembered that I was very young, and I looked upon him as a middle-aged man. I forgot everything but my own amazement.

    "But you're forty. "

    "That's what made me think it was high time to begin. "

    "Have you ever painted?"

    "I rather wanted to be a painter when I was a boy, but my father made me go into business because he said there was no money in art. I began to paint a bit a year ago. For the last year I've been going to some classes at night. "

    "Was that where you went when Mrs. Strickland thought you were playing bridge at your club?"

    "That's it. "

    "Why didn't you tell her?"

    "I preferred to keep it to myself. "

    "Can you paint?"

    "Not yet. But I shall. That's why I've come over here. I couldn't get what I wanted in London. Perhaps I can here. "

    "Do you think it's likely that a man will do any good when he starts at your age? Most men begin painting at eighteen. "

    "I can learn quicker than I could when I was eighteen. "

    "What makes you think you have any talent?"

    He did not answer for a minute. His gaze rested on the passing throng, but I do not think he saw it. His answer was no answer.

    "I've got to paint. "

    "Aren't you taking an awful chance?"

    He looked at me. His eyes had something strange in them, so that I felt rather uncomfortable.

    "How old are you? Twenty-three?"

    It seemed to me that the question was beside the point. It was natural that I should take chances; but he was a man whose youth was past, a stockbroker with a position of respectability, a wife and two children. A course that would have been natural for me was absurd for him. I wished to be quite fair.

    "Of course a miracle may happen, and you may be a great painter, but you must confess the chances are a million to one against it. It'll be an awful sell if at the end you have to acknowledge you've made a hash of it. "

    "I've got to paint, " he repeated.

    "Supposing you're never anything more than third-rate, do you think it will have been worth while to give up everything? After all, in any other walk in life it doesn't matter if you're not very good; you can get along quite comfortably if you're just adequate; but it's different with an artist. "

    "You blasted fool, " he said.

    "I don't see why, unless it's folly to say the obvious. "

    "I tell you I've got to paint. I can't help myself. When a man falls into the water it doesn't matter how he swims, well or badly: he's got to get out or else he'll drown. "

    There was real passion in his voice, and in spite of myself I was impressed. I seemed to feel in him some vehement power that was struggling within him; it gave me the sensation of something very strong, overmastering, that held him, as it were, against his will. I could not understand. He seemed really to be possessed of a devil, and I felt that it might suddenly turn and rend him. Yet he looked ordinary enough. My eyes, resting on him curiously, caused him no embarrassment. I wondered what a stranger would have taken him to be, sitting there in his old Norfolk jacket and his unbrushed bowler; his trousers were baggy, his hands were not clean; and his face, with the red stubble of the unshaved chin, the little eyes, and the large, aggressive nose, was uncouth and coarse. His mouth was large, his lips were heavy and sensual. No; I could not have placed him.

    "You won't go back to your wife?" I said at last.

    "Never. "

    "She's willing to forget everything that's happened and start afresh. She'll never make you a single reproach. "

    "She can go to hell. "

    "You don't care if people think you an utter blackguard? You don't care if she and your children have to beg their bread?"

    "Not a damn. "

    I was silent for a moment in order to give greater force to my next remark. I spoke as deliberately as I could.

    "You are a most unmitigated cad. "

    "Now that you've got that off your chest, let's go and have dinner. "

    这会儿正是克里舍林荫路最热闹的时刻,只需要发挥一点儿想象力,就能够在过往行人中发现不少庸俗罗曼司中的人物。小职员和女售货员,宛如从巴尔扎克的小说中走出来的老古董,靠着人性的弱点赚钱糊口的一些行当的男女成员。在巴黎的一些贫穷地区,街道上总是人群熙攘,充满无限生机,使你血流激动,随时准备为你演一出意想不到的好戏。

    “你对巴黎熟悉不熟悉?”我问。

    “不熟悉。我们度蜜月的时候来过。以后我从来没有再来。”

    “那你怎么会找到这家旅馆的?”

    “别人介绍的。我要找一家便宜的。”

    苦艾酒端上来了,我们一本正经地把水浇在溶化的糖上。

    “我想我还是坦白对你讲我为什么来找你吧,”我有一些困窘地说。

    他的眼睛闪闪发亮。

    “我早就想迟早会有个人来的。阿美已经给我写了一大堆信来了。”

    “那么我要对你讲的,不用我说你也知道得很清楚了。”

    “她那些信我都没有看。”

    我点了一支烟,为了给自己一些思索的时间。我这时候真不知道该怎样办理我承担下的这件差事了。我准备好的一套绝妙词令,哀婉的也罢、愤激的也罢,在克里舍林荫道上以乎都不合拍了。突然,思特里克兰德咯咯地笑起来。

    “交给你办的事很叫你头疼,对不对?”

    “啊,我不知道,”我回答。

    “听我说,你赶快把肚子里的事说出来,以后咱们可以痛快地玩一个晚上。”

    我犹豫不定。

    “你想到过没有,你的妻子痛苦极了?”

    “事情会过去的。”

    他说这句话的那种冷漠无情我简直无法描摹。我被他这种态度搞得心慌意乱,但是我尽量掩盖着自己。我采用了我的一位亨利叔叔说话的语调;亨利叔叔是个牧师,每逢他请求哪位亲戚给候补副牧师协会捐款的时候总是用这种语调。

    “我说话不同你转弯抹角,你不介意吧?”

    他笑着摇了摇头。

    “你这样对待她说得过去吗?”

    “说不过去。”

    “你有什么不满意她的地方吗?”

    “没有。”

    “那么,你们结婚十七年,你又挑不出她任何毛病,你这样离开了她不是太岂有此理了吗?”

    “是太岂有此理了。”

    我感到非常惊奇,看了他一眼。不管我说什么,他都从心眼里赞同,这就把我的口预先箝住了。他使我的处境变得非常复杂,且不说滑稽可笑了。本来我预备说服他、打动他、规劝他、训诫他、同他讲道理,如果需要的话还要斥责他,要发一通脾气,要把他冷嘲热讽个够;但是如果罪人对自己犯的罪直认不讳,规劝的人还有什么事情好做呢?我对他这种人一点也没有经验,因为我自己如果做错了事总是矢口否认。

    “你还要说什么?”思特里克兰德说。

    我对他撇了撇嘴。

    “没什么了,如果你都承认了,好象也没有什么要多说的了。”

    “我想也是。”

    我觉得我这次执行任务手腕太不高明。我显然有些冒火了。

    “别的都不要说了,你总不能一个铜板也不留就把你女人甩了啊!”

    “为什么不能?”

    “她怎么活下去呢?”

    “我已经养活她十七年了。为什么她不能换换样,自己养活自己呢?”

    “她养活不了。”

    “她不妨试一试。”

    我当然有许多话可以答辩。我可以谈妇女的经济地位,谈男人结婚以后公开或默认地承担的义务,还有许许多多别的道理,但是我认为真正重要的只有一点。

    “你还爱她不爱她了?”

    “一点儿也不爱了,”他回答。

    不论对哪方面讲,这都是一件极端严肃的事,可是他的答话却带着那么一种幸灾乐祸、厚颜无耻的劲儿;为了不笑出声来,我拼命咬住嘴唇。我一再提醒自己他的行为是可恶的。我终于激动起自己的义愤来。

    “他妈的,你得想想自己的孩子啊。他们从来没有做过对不起你的事。他们不是自己要求到这个世界上来的。如果你这样把一家人都扔了,他们就只好流浪街头了。”

    “他们已经过了不少年舒服日子了。大多数孩子都没有享过这么大的福。再说,总有人养活他们。必要的时候,麦克安德鲁夫妇可以供他们上学的。”

    “可是,你难道不喜欢他们吗?你的两个孩子多么可爱啊!你的意思是,你不想再同他们有任何关系了吗?”

    “孩子小的时候我确实喜欢他们,可是现在他们都长大了,我对他们没有什么特殊的感情了。”

    “你简直太没有人性了。”

    “我看就是这样的。”

    “你一点儿也不觉得害臊。”

    “我不害臊。”

    我想再变换一个手法。

    “谁都会认为你是个没有人性的坏蛋。”

    “让他们这样想去吧。”

    “所有的人都讨厌你、鄙视你,这对你一点儿都无所谓吗?”

    “无所谓。”

    他那短得不能再短的回答使得我提出的问题(尽管我的问题提得很有道理)显得非常荒谬。我想了一两分钟。

    “我怀疑,如果一个人知道自己的亲戚朋友都责骂自己,他能不能心安理得地活下去。你准知道你就一点儿无动于衷吗?谁都不能没有一点儿良心,早晚你会受到良心谴责的。假如你的妻子死了,你难道一点儿也不悔恨吗?”

    他并没有回答我的问题,我等了一会儿,看他是不是开口。最后我不得不自己打破沉寂。

    “你有什么要说的?”

    “我要说的只有一句:你是个大傻蛋。”

    “不管怎么说,法律可以强迫你扶养你的妻子儿女,”我有些生气地驳斥说,“我想法律会提出对他们的保障的。”

    “法律能够从石头里榨出油来吗?我没有钱,只有百十来镑。”

    我比以前更糊涂了。当然,从他住的旅馆看,他的经济情况是非常窘迫的。

    “把这笔钱花完了你怎么办?”

    “再去挣一点儿。”

    他冷静得要命,眼睛里始终闪露着讪笑,倒仿佛我在说一些愚不可及的蠢话似的。我停了一会儿,考虑下面该怎么说。但是这回他倒先开口了。

    “为什么阿美不重新嫁人呢?她年纪并不老,也还有吸引人的地方。我还可以推荐一下:她是个贤妻。如果她想同我离婚,我完全可以给她制造她需要的借口。”

    现在该轮到我发笑了。他很狡猾,但是他谁也瞒不过,这才是他的真正目的呢。由于某种原因,他必须把自己同另外一个女人私奔的事隐瞒着,他采取了一切预防措施把那个女人的行踪隐藏起来。我斩钉截铁地说:

    “你的妻子说,不论你用什么手段她也不同你离婚。她已经打定主意了。我劝你还是死了这条心吧。”

    他非常惊讶地紧紧盯着我,显然不是在装假。笑容从他嘴角上消失了,他一本正经地说:

    “但是,亲爱的朋友,我才不管她怎么做呢。她同我离婚也好,不离婚也好,我都无所谓。”

    我笑了起来。

    “噢,算了吧!你别把我们当成那样的傻瓜了。我们凑巧知道你是同一个女人一起走的。”

    他愣了一下,但是马上就哈哈大笑起来。他笑得声音那么响,连坐在我们旁边的人都好奇地转过头来,甚至还有几个人也跟着笑起来。

    “我看不出这有什么可笑的。”

    “可怜的阿美,”他笑容未消地说。

    接着,他的面容一变而为鄙夷不屑的样子。

    “女人的脑子太可怜了!爱情。她们就知道爱情。她们认为如果男人离开了她们就是因为又有了新宠。你是不是认为我是这么一个傻瓜,还要再做一遍我已经为一个女人做过了的那些事?”

    “你是说你不是因为另外一个女人才离开你妻子?”

    “当然不是。”

    “你敢发誓?”

    我不知道为什么我这样要求他。我问这句话完全没有动脑子。

    “我发誓。”

    “那么你到底是为什么离开她的?”

    “我要画画儿。”

    我半天半天目不转睛地盯着他。我一点儿也不理解。我想这个人准是疯了。读者应该记住,我那时还很年轻,我把他看做是一个中年人。我除了感到自己的惊诧外什么都不记得了。

    “可是你已经四十了。”

    “正是因为这个我才想,如果现在再不开始就太晚了。”

    “你过去画过画儿吗?”

    “我小的时候很想作个画家,可是我父亲叫我去作生意,因为他认为学艺术赚不了钱。一年以前我开始画了点儿画。去年我一直在夜校上课。”

    “思特里克兰德太太以为你在俱乐部玩桥牌的时间你都是去上课吗?”

    “对了。”

    “你为什么不告诉她?”

    “我觉得还是别让她知道好。”

    “你能够画了吗?”

    “还不成。但是我将来能够学会的。正是为了这个我才到巴黎来。在伦敦我得不到我要求的东西。也许在这里我会得到的。”

    “你认为象你这样年纪的人开始学画还能够学得好吗?大多数人都是十八岁开始学。”

    “如果我十八岁学,会比现在学得快一些。”

    “你怎么会认为自己还有一些绘画的才能?”

    他并没有马上回答我的问题。他的目光停在过往的人群上,但是我认为他什么也没有看见。最后他回答我的话根本算不上是回答。

    “我必须画画儿。”

    “你这样做是不是完全在碰运气?”

    这时他把目光转到我身上。他的眼睛里有一种奇怪的神情,叫我觉得不太舒服。

    “你多大年纪?二十三岁?”

    我觉得他提这个问题与我们谈的事毫不相干。如果我想碰碰运气做一件什么事的话,这是极其自然的事;但是他的青年时代早已过去了,他是一个有身份有地位的证券经纪人,家里有一个老婆、两个孩子。对我说来是自然的道路在他那里就成为荒谬悻理的了。但是我还是想尽量对他公道一些。

    “当然了,也许会发生奇迹,你也许会成为一个大画家。但你必须承认,这种可能性是微乎其微的。假如到头来你不得不承认把事情搞得一塌糊涂,你就后悔莫及了。”

    “我必须画画儿,”他又重复了一句。

    “假如你最多只能成为一个三流画家,你是不是还认为值得把一切都抛弃掉呢?不管怎么说,其他各行各业,假如你才不出众,并没有多大关系;只要还能过得去,你就能够舒舒服服地过日子;但是当一个艺术家完全是另一码事。”

    “你他妈的真是个傻瓜。”他说。

    “我不知道你为什么这么说,除非我这样把最明显的道理说出来是在干傻事。”

    “我告诉你我必须画画儿。我由不了我自己。一个人要是跌进水里,他游泳游得好不好是无关紧要的,反正他得挣扎出去,不然就得淹死。”

    他的语音里流露着一片热诚,我不由自主地被他感动了。我好象感觉到一种猛烈的力量正在他身体里面奋力挣扎;我觉得这种力量非常强大,压倒一切,仿佛违拗着他自己的意志,并把他紧紧抓在手中。我理解不了。他似乎真的让魔鬼附体了,我觉得他可能一下子被那东西撕得粉碎。但是从表面上看,他却平平常常。我的眼睛好奇地盯着他,他却一点也不感到难为情。他坐在那里,穿着一件破旧的诺弗克上衣,戴着顶早就该拂拭的圆顶帽,我真不知道一个陌生人会把他当做什么人。他的裤腿象两只口袋,手并不很干净,下巴上全是红胡子茬,一对小眼睛,撅起的大鼻头,脸相又笨拙又粗野。他的嘴很大,厚厚的嘴唇给人以耽于色欲的感觉。不成,我无法判定他是怎样一类人。

    “你不准备回到你妻子那里去了?”最后我开口说。

    “永远不回去了。”

    “她可是愿意把发生的这些事全都忘掉,一切从头开始。她一句话也不责备你。”

    “让她见鬼去吧!”

    “你不在乎别人把你当做个彻头彻尾的坏蛋吗?你不在乎你的妻子儿女去讨饭吗?”

    “一点也不在乎。”

    我沉默了一会儿,为了使我底下这句话有更大的力量。我故意把一个个的字吐得真真切切。

    “你是个不折不扣的混蛋。”

    “成了,你现在把压在心上的话已经说出来了,咱们可以去吃饭了。”

相关热词:文学 小说 中英
栏目相关课程表
科目名称 主讲老师 课时 免费试听 优惠价 购买课程
英语零起点 郭俊霞 30课时 试听 150元/门 购买
综艺乐园 ------ 15课时 试听 100元/门 购买
边玩边学 ------ 10课时 试听 60元/门 购买
情景喜剧 ------ 15课时 试听 100元/门 购买
欢乐课堂 ------ 35课时 试听 150元/门 购买
趣味英语速成 钟 平 18课时 试听 179元/门 购买
剑桥少儿英语预备级 (Pre-Starters) ------ ------ 试听 200元/门 购买
剑桥少儿英语一级 (Starters) ------ ------ 试听 200元/门 购买
剑桥少儿英语二级 (Movers) ------ ------ 试听 200元/门 购买
剑桥少儿英语三级 (Flyers) ------ ------ 试听 200元/门 购买
初级英语口语 ------ 55课时 ------ 350元/门 购买
中级英语口语 ------ 83课时 ------ 350元/门 购买
高级英语口语 ------ 122课时 ------ 350元/门 购买
基础英语辅导课程
郭俊霞 北京语言大学毕业,国内某知名中学英语教研组长,教学标兵……详情>>
郭俊霞:零基础英语网上辅导名师
钟平 北大才俊,英语辅导专家,累计从事英语教学八年,机械化翻译公式发明人……详情>>
钟平:趣味英语速成网上辅导名师

  1、凡本网注明 “来源:外语教育网”的所有作品,版权均属外语教育网所有,未经本网授权不得转载、链接、转贴或以其他方式使用;已经本网授权的,应在授权范围内使用,且必须注明“来源:外语教育网”。违反上述声明者,本网将追究其法律责任。
  2、本网部分资料为网上搜集转载,均尽力标明作者和出处。对于本网刊载作品涉及版权等问题的,请作者与本网站联系,本网站核实确认后会尽快予以处理。本网转载之作品,并不意味着认同该作品的观点或真实性。如其他媒体、网站或个人转载使用,请与著作权人联系,并自负法律责任。
  3、联系方式
  编辑信箱:for68@chinaacc.com
  电话:010-82319999-2371