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中英:月亮和六便士(36)

2006-08-22 21:34

    Chapter XXXVI

    The next week was dreadful. Stroeve went twice a day to the hospital to enquire after his wife, who still declined to see him; and came away at first relieved and hopeful because he was told that she seemed to be growing better, and then in despair because, the complication which the doctor had feared having ensued, recovery was impossible. The nurse was pitiful to his distress, but she had little to say that could console him. The poor woman lay quite still, refusing to speak, with her eyes intent, as though she watched for the coming of death. It could now be only the question of a day or two; and when, late one evening, Stroeve came to see me I knew it was to tell me she was dead. He was absolutely exhausted. His volubility had left him at last, and he sank down wearily on my sofa. I felt that no words of condolence availed, and I let him lie there quietly. I feared he would think it heartless if I read, so I sat by the window, smoking a pipe, till he felt inclined to speak.

    "You've been very kind to me, " he said at last. "Everyone's been very kind. "

    "Nonsense, " I said, a little embarrassed.

    "At the hospital they told me I might wait. They gave me a chair, and I sat outside the door. When she became unconscious they said I might go in. Her mouth and chin were all burnt by the acid. It was awful to see her lovely skin all wounded. She died very peacefully, so that I didn't know she was dead till the sister told me. "

    He was too tired to weep. He lay on his back limply, as though all the strength had gone out of his limbs, and presently I saw that he had fallen asleep. It was the first natural sleep he had had for a week. Nature, sometimes so cruel, is sometimes merciful. I covered him and turned down the light. In the morning when I awoke he was still asleep. He had not moved. His gold-rimmed spectacles were still on his nose.

    这以后的一个星期简直是一场噩梦。施特略夫每天去医院两次探听妻子的病况,勃朗什始终不肯见他。头几天他从医院回来心情比较宽慰,而且满怀希望,因为医院的人对他讲,勃朗什似乎日趋好转;但是几天以后,施特略夫便陷入痛苦绝望中,医生所担心的并发症果然发生了,病人看来没有希望了。护士对施特略夫非常同情,但是却找不到什么安慰他的言词。病人只是一动不动地躺在床上,一句话也不说,两眼凝视着半空,好象在望着死神的降临。看来这个可怜的女人只有一两天的活头儿了。一天晚上,已经很晚了,施特略夫走来看我。不等他开口,我就知道他是来向我报告病人的死讯的。施特略夫身心交瘁到了极点。往日他总是滔滔不绝地同我讲话,这一天却一语不发,一进屋子就疲劳不堪地躺在我的沙发上。我觉得无论说什么安慰的话也无济于事,便索性让他一声不响地躺在那里。我想看点书,又怕他认为我太无心肝,于是我只好坐在窗户前边默默地抽烟斗,等着他什么时候愿意开口再同他讲话。

    “你对我太好了,”最后他说,“没有一个人不对我好的。”

    “别胡说了,”我有些尴尬地说。

    “刚才在医院里他们对我说我可以等着。他们给我搬来一把椅子,我就在病房外边坐着。等到她已经不省人事的时候他们叫我进去了。她的嘴和下巴都被酸液烧伤了。看到她那可爱的皮肤满是伤痕真叫人心痛极了。她死得非常平静,还是护士告诉了我我才知道她已经死了。”

    他累得连哭的力气都没有了。他浑身瘫软地仰面躺着,好象四肢的力量都已枯竭,没过一会儿便昏昏沉沉地睡着了。这是一个星期以来他第一次不靠吃安眠药自己进入了梦乡。自然对人有时候很残忍,有时候又很仁慈。我给他盖上被,把灯熄掉。第二天早晨我醒来的时候他仍然没有睡醒。他一夜连身都没翻,金边眼镜一直架在鼻梁上。

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