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嘉莉妹妹-物质的引诱:美的魅力

时间:2010-07-16 10:07    来源:    作者: 点击:
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THE LURE OF THE MATERIAL--BEAUTY SPEAKS FOR ITSELF

The true meaning of money yet remains to be popularly explained and comprehended. When each individual realises for himself that this thing primarily stands for and should only be accepted as a moral due--that it should be paid out as honestly stored energy, and not as a usurped privilege--many of our social, religious, and political troubles will have permanently passed. As for Carrie, her understanding of the moral significance of money was the popular understanding, nothing more. The old definition: "Money: something everybody else has and I must get," would have expressed her understanding of it thoroughly. Some of it she now held in her hand--two soft, green ten-dollar bills--and she felt that she was immensely better off for the having of them. It was something that was power in itself. One of her order of mind would have been content to be cast away upon a desert island with a bundle of money, and only the long strain of starvation would have taught her that in some cases it could have no value. Even then she would have had no conception of the relative value of the thing; her one thought would, undoubtedly, have concerned the pity of having so much power and the inability to use it.

The poor girl thrilled as she walked away from Drouet. She felt ashamed in part because she had been weak enough to take it, but her need was so dire, she was still glad. Now she would have a nice new jacket! Now she would buy a nice pair of pretty button shoes. She would get stockings, too, and a skirt, and, and--until already, as in the matter of her prospective salary, she had got beyond, in her desires, twice the purchasing power of her bills.

She conceived a true estimate of Drouet. To her, and indeed to all the world, he was a nice, good-hearted man. There was nothing evil in the fellow. He gave her the money out of a good heart--out of a realisation of her want. He would not have given the same amount to a poor young man, but we must not forget that a poor young man could not, in the nature of things, have appealed to him like a poor young girl. Femininity affected his feelings. He was the creature of an inborn desire. Yet no beggar could have caught his eye and said, "My God, mister, I'm starving," but he would gladly have handed out what was considered the proper portion to give beggars and thought no more about it. There would have been no speculation, no philosophising. He had no mental process in him worthy the dignity of either of those terms. In his good clothes and fine health, he was a merry, unthinking moth of the lamp. Deprived of his position, and struck by a few of the involved and baffling forces which sometimes play upon man, he would have been as helpless as Carrie--as helpless, as non-understanding, as pitiable, if you will, as she.

Now, in regard to his pursuit of women, he meant them no harm, because he did not conceive of the relation which he hoped to hold with them as being harmful. He loved to make advances to women, to have them succumb to his charms, not because he was a cold-blooded, dark, scheming villain, but because his inborn desire urged him to that as a chief delight. He was vain, he was boastful, he was as deluded by fine clothes as any silly-headed girl. A truly deep-dyed villain could have hornswaggled him as readily as he could have flattered a pretty shop-girl. His fine success as a salesman lay in his geniality and the thoroughly reputable standing of his house. He bobbed about among men, a veritable bundle of enthusiasm--no power worthy the name of intellect, no thoughts worthy the adjective noble, no feelings long continued in one strain. A Madame Sappho would have called him a pig; a Shakespeare would have said "my merry child"; old, drinking Caryoe thought him a clever, successful businessman. In short, he was as good as his intellect conceived.

The best proof that there was something open and commendable about the man was the fact that Carrie took the money. No deep, sinister soul with ulterior motives could have given her fifteen cents under the guise of friendship. The unintellectual are not so helpless. Nature has taught the beasts of the field to fly when some unheralded danger threatens. She has put into the small, unwise head of the chipmunk the untutored fear of poisons. "He keepeth His creatures whole," was not written of beasts alone. Carrie was unwise, and, therefore, like the sheep in its unwisdom, strong in feeling. The instinct of self-protection, strong in all such natures, was roused but feebly, if at all, by the overtures of Drouet.

When Carrie had gone, he felicitated himself upon her good opinion. By George, it was a shame young girls had to be knocked around like that. Cold weather coming on and no clothes. Tough. He would go around to Fitzgerald and Moy's and get a cigar. It made him feel light of foot as he thought about her.

Carrie reached home in high good spirits, which she could scarcely conceal. The possession of the money involved a number of points which perplexed her seriously. How should she buy any clothes when Minnie knew that she had no money? She had no sooner entered the flat than this point was settled for her. It could not be done. She could think of no way of explaining.

"How did you come out?" asked Minnie, referring to the day.

Carrie had none of the small deception which could feel one thing and say something directly opposed. She would prevaricate, but it would be in the line of her feelings at least. So instead of complaining when she felt so good, she said:

"I have the promise of something."

"Where?"

"At the Boston Store."

"Is it sure promised?" questioned Minnie.

"Well, I'm to find out to-morrow," returned Carrie disliking to draw out a lie any longer than was necessary.

Minnie felt the atmosphere of good feeling which Carrie brought with her. She felt now was the time to express to Carrie the state of Hanson's feeling about her entire Chicago venture.

"If you shouldn't get it--" she paused, troubled for an easy way.

"If I don't get something pretty soon, I think I'll go home."

Minnie saw her chance.

"Sven thinks it might be best for the winter, anyhow."

The situation flashed on Carrie at once. They were unwilling to keep her any longer, out of work. She did not blame Minnie, she did not blame Hanson very much. Now, as she sat there digesting the remark, she was glad she had Drouet's money.

"Yes," she said after a few moments, "I thought of doing that."

She did not explain that the thought, however, had aroused all the antagonism of her nature. Columbia City, what was there for her? She knew its dull, little round by heart. Here was the great, mysterious city which was still a magnet for her. What she had seen only suggested its possibilities. Now to turn back on it and live the little old life out there--she almost exclaimed against the thought.

She had reached home early and went in the front room to think. What could she do? She could not buy new shoes and wear them here. She would need to save part of the twenty to pay her fare home. She did not want to borrow of Minnie for that. And yet, how could she explain where she even got that money? If she could only get enough to let her out easy.

She went over the tangle again and again. Here, in the morning, Drouet would expect to see her in a new jacket, and that couldn't be. The Hansons expected her to go home, and she wanted to get away, and yet she did not want to go home. In the light of the way they would look on her getting money without work, the taking of it now seemed dreadful. She began to be ashamed. The whole situation depressed her. It was all so clear when she was with Drouet. Now it was all so tangled, so hopeless--much worse than it was before, because she had the semblance of aid in her hand which she could not use.

Her spirits sank so that at supper Minnie felt that she must have had another hard day. Carrie finally decided that she would give the money back. It was wrong to take it. She would go down in the morning and hunt for work. At noon she would meet Drouet as agreed and tell him. At this decision her heart sank, until she was the old Carrie of distress.

Curiously, she could not hold the money in her hand without feeling some relief. Even after all her depressing conclusions, she could sweep away all thought about the matter and then the twenty dollars seemed a wonderful and delightful thing. Ah, money, money, money! What a thing it was to have. How plenty of it would clear away all these troubles.

In the morning she got up and started out a little early. Her decision to hunt for work was moderately strong, but the money in her pocket, after all her troubling over it, made the work question the least shade less terrible. She walked into the wholesale district, but as the thought of applying came with each passing concern, her heart shrank. What a coward she was, she thought to herself. Yet she had applied so often. It would be the same old story. She walked on and on, and finally did go into one place, with the old result. She came out feeling that luck was against her. It was no use.

Without much thinking, she reached Dearborn Street. Here was the great Fair store with its multitude of delivery wagons about its long window display, its crowd of shoppers. It readily changed her thoughts, she who was so weary of them. It was here that she had intended to come and get her new things. Now for relief from distress; she thought she would go in and see. She would look at the jackets.

There is nothing in this world more delightful than that middle state in which we mentally balance at times, possessed of the means, lured by desire, and yet deterred by conscience or want of decision. When Carrie began wandering around the store amid the fine displays she was in this mood. Her original experience in this same place had given her a high opinion of its merits. Now she paused at each individual bit of finery, where before she had hurried on. Her woman's heart was warm with desire for them. How would she look in this, how charming that would make her! She came upon the corset counter and paused in rich reverie as she noted the dainty concoctions of colour and lace there displayed. If she would only make up her mind, she could have one of those now. She lingered in the jewelry department. She saw the earrings, the bracelets, the pins, the chains. What would she not have given if she could have had them all! She would look fine too, if only she had some of these things.

The jackets were the greatest attraction. When she entered the store, she already had her heart fixed upon the peculiar little tan jacket with large mother-of-pearl buttons which was all the rage that fall. Still she delighted to convince herself that there was nothing she would like better. She went about among the glass cases and racks where these things were displayed, and satisfied herself that the one she thought of was the proper one. All the time she wavered in mind, now persuading herself that she could buy it right away if she chose, now recalling to herself the actual condition. At last the noon hour was dangerously near, and she had done nothing. She must go now and return the money.

Drouet was on the corner when she came up.

"Hello," he said, "where is the jacket and"--looking down--"the shoes?"

Carrie had thought to lead up to her decision in some intelligent way, but this swept the whole fore-schemed situation by the board.

"I came to tell you that--that I can't take the money."

"Oh, that's it, is it?" he returned. "Well, you come on with me. Let's go over here to Partridge's."

Carrie walked with him. Behold, the whole fabric of doubt and impossibility had slipped from her mind. She could not get at the points that were so serious, the things she was going to make plain to him.

"Have you had lunch yet? Of course you haven't. Let's go in here," and Drouet turned into one of the very nicely furnished restaurants off State Street, in Monroe.

"I mustn't take the money," said Carrie, after they were settled in a cosey corner, and Drouet had ordered the lunch. "I can't wear those things out there. They--they wouldn't know where I got them."

"What do you want to do," he smiled, "go without them?"

"I think I'll go home," she said, wearily.

"Oh, come," he said, "you've been thinking it over too long. I'll tell you what you do. You say you can't wear them out there. Why don't you rent a furnished room and leave them in that for a week?"

Carrie shook her head. Like all women, she was there to object and be convinced. It was for him to brush the doubts away and clear the path if he could. "Why are you going home?" he asked.

"Oh, I can't get anything here."

They won't keep you?" he remarked, intuitively.

"They can't," said Carrie.

"I'll tell you what you do," he said. "You come with me. I'll take care of you."

Carrie heard this passively. The peculiar state which she was in made it sound like the welcome breath of an open door. Drouet seemed of her own spirit and pleasing. He was clean, handsome, well-dressed, and sympathetic. His voice was the voice of a friend.

"What can you do back at Columbia City?" he went on, rousing by the words in Carrie's mind a picture of the dull world she had left. "There isn't anything down there. Chicago's the place. You can get a nice room here and some clothes, and then you can do something."

Carrie looked out through the window into the busy street. There it was, the admirable, great city, so fine when you are not poor. An elegant coach, with a prancing pair of bays, passed by, carrying in its upholstered depths a young lady.

"What will you have if you go back?" asked Drouet. There was no subtle undercurrent to the question. He imagined that she would have nothing at all of the things he thought worth while.

Carrie sat still, looking out. She was wondering what she could do. They would be expecting her to go home this week.

Drouet turned to the subject of the clothes she was going to buy.

"Why not get yourself a nice little jacket? You've got to have it. I'll loan you the money. You needn't worry about taking it. You can get yourself a nice room by yourself. I won't hurt you."

Carrie saw the drift, but could not express her thoughts. She felt more than ever the helplessness of her case.

"If I could only get something to do," she said.

"Maybe you can," went on Drouet, "if you stay here. You can't if you go away. They won't let you stay out there. Now, why not let me get you a nice room? I won't bother you--you needn't be afraid. Then, when you get fixed up, maybe you could get something."

He looked at her pretty face and it vivified his mental resources. She was a sweet little mortal to him--there was no doubt of that. She seemed to have some power back of her actions. She was not like the common run of store-girls. She wasn't silly.

In reality, Carrie had more imagination than he--more taste. It was a finer mental strain in her that made possible her depression and loneliness. Her poor clothes were neat, and she held her head unconsciously in a dainty way.

"Do you think I could get something?" she asked.

"Sure," he said, reaching over and filling her cup with tea. "I'll help you."

She looked at him, and he laughed reassuringly.

"Now I'll tell you what we'll do. We'll go over here to Partridge's and you pick out what you want. Then we'll look around for a room for you. You can leave the things there. Then we'll go to the show to-night."

Carrie shook her head.

"Well, you can go out to the flat then, that's all right. You don't need to stay in the room. Just take it and leave your things there."

She hung in doubt about this until the dinner was over.

"Let's go over and look at the jackets," he said.

Together they went. In the store they found that shine and rustle of new things which immediately laid hold of Carrie's heart. Under the influence of a good dinner and Drouet's radiating presence, the scheme proposed seemed feasible. She looked about and picked a jacket like the one which she had admired at The Fair. When she got it in her hand it seemed so much nicer. The saleswoman helped her on with it, and, by accident, it fitted perfectly. Drouet's face lightened as he saw the improvement. She looked quite smart.

"That's the thing," he said.

Carrie turned before the glass. She could not help feeling pleased as she looked at herself. A warm glow crept into her cheeks.

"That's the thing," said Drouet. "Now pay for it."

"It's nine dollars," said Carrie.

"That's all right--take it," said Drouet.

She reached in her purse and took out one of the bills. The woman asked if she would wear the coat and went off. In a few minutes she was back and the purchase was closed.

From Partridge's they went to a shoe store, where Carrie was fitted for shoes. Drouet stood by, and when he saw how nice they looked, said, "Wear them." Carrie shook her head, however. She was thinking of returning to the flat. He bought her a purse for one thing, and a pair of gloves for another, and let her buy the stockings.

"To-morrow," he said, "you come down here and buy yourself a skirt."

In all of Carrie's actions there was a touch of misgiving. The deeper she sank into the entanglement, the more she imagined that the thing hung upon the few remaining things she had not done.

Since she had not done these, there was a way out.

Drouet knew a place in Wabash Avenue where there were rooms. He showed Carrie the outside of these, and said: "Now, you're my sister." He carried the arrangement off with an easy hand when it came to the selection, looking around, criticising, opining. "Her trunk will be here in a day or so," he observed to the landlady, who was very pleased.

When they were alone, Drouet did not change in the least. He talked in the same general way as if they were out in the street.

Carrie left her things.

"Now," said Drouet, "why don't you move to-night?"

"Oh, I can't," said Carrie.

"Why not?"

"I don't want to leave them so."

He took that up as they walked along the avenue. It was a warm afternoon. The sun had come out and the wind had died down. As he talked with Carrie, he secured an accurate detail of the atmosphere of the flat.

"Come out of it," he said, "they won't care. I'll help you get along."

She listened until her misgivings vanished. He would show her about a little and then help her get something. He really imagined that he would. He would be out on the road and she could be working.

"Now, I'll tell you what you do," he said, "you go out there and get whatever you want and come away."

She thought a long time about this. Finally she agreed. He would come out as far as Peoria Street and wait for her. She was to meet him at half-past eight. At half-past five she reached home, and at six her determination was hardened.

"So you didn't get it?" said Minnie, referring to Carrie's story of the Boston Store.

Carrie looked at her out of the corner of her eye. "No," she answered.

"I don't think you'd better try any more this fall," said Minnie.

Carrie said nothing.

When Hanson came home he wore the same inscrutable demeanour. He washed in silence and went off to read his paper. At dinner Carrie felt a little nervous. The strain of her own plans were considerable, and the feeling that she was not welcome here was strong.

"Didn't find anything, eh?" said Hanson.

"No."

He turned to his eating again, the thought that it was a burden to have her here dwelling in his mind. She would have to go home, that was all. Once she was away, there would be no more coming back in the spring.

Carrie was afraid of what she was going to do, but she was relieved to know that this condition was ending. They would not care. Hanson particularly would be glad when she went. He would not care what became of her.

After dinner she went into the bathroom, where they could not disturb her, and wrote a little note.

"Good-bye, Minnie," it read. "I'm not going home. I'm going to stay in Chicago a little while and look for work. Don't worry. I'll be all right."

In the front room Hanson was reading his paper. As usual, she helped Minnie clear away the dishes and straighten up. Then she said:

"I guess I'll stand down at the door a little while." She could scarcely prevent her voice from trembling.

Minnie remembered Hanson's remonstrance.

"Sven doesn't think it looks good to stand down there," she said.

"Doesn't he?" said Carrie. "I won't do it any more after this."

She put on her hat and fidgeted around the table in the little bedroom, wondering where to slip the note. Finally she put it under Minnie's hair-brush.

When she had closed the hall-door, she paused a moment and wondered what they would think. Some thought of the queerness of her deed affected her. She went slowly down the stairs. She looked back up the lighted step, and then affected to stroll up the street. When she reached the corner she quickened her pace.

As she was hurrying away, Hanson came back to his wife.

"Is Carrie down at the door again?" he asked.

"Yes," said Minnie; "she said she wasn't going to do it any more."

He went over to the baby where it was playing on the floor and began to poke his finger at it.

Drouet was on the corner waiting, in good spirits.

"Hello, Carrie," he said, as a sprightly figure of a girl drew near him. "Got here safe, did you? Well, we'll take a car."

关于金钱的真正意义,还有待人们的解释和理解。金钱不是代表掠夺来的特权,而只代表一个人应得的报酬,即诚实劳动的回报。只有在这种场合才可以接受金钱。如果人人都能认识到这些,我们许多社会问题,宗教问题和政治问题就会一劳永逸地解决了。至于嘉莉,她对金钱的道德意义的理解和一般人一样肤浅,并没有更高明一点的见解。“金钱是某种别人已经有了我也必须有的东西,”这个古老的定义可以充分表达她对这个问题的全部看法。现在她手里拿着的就是一些金钱--两张软乎乎的10元绿色钞票。这两张票子让她感到自己的境遇好多了,这东西本身就是一种权力。有她这种想法的人,只要能得到一大捆钞票,就是被抛在荒岛也会甘心情愿的。只有长时间的挨饿以后,她才会明白,在某种情况下,金钱可能一点用处也没有。即使在那时候,她也不会明白价值的相对性。毫无疑问,她会感到很遗憾,拥有了巨大的购买能力却用不上。

这可怜的女孩在和杜洛埃分手时非常地激动。她有点羞愧,因为她没有勇气拒绝而接受了他的钱。可是因为她的需要实在太迫切了,所以她又很高兴自己收了钱。现在她可以买一件漂亮的新外套了!她还要买一双漂亮的带暗扣的鞋子,还要买长统袜子,买裙子,买--就像当初核计如何花她没到手的薪水一样,她现在想要的东西超出了这些钱的购买力的2倍还不止。

她对杜洛埃的长处有了充分的评价。像人们普遍的看法一样,她认为他是个热心肠的好人。他没有一点恶意,他给她钱是出于好心,出于理解她急需用钱。当然对一个穷小子,他出手不会这么大方的。但是我们不能忘记,照常理,一个穷小子当然不会像一个穷丫头那样能够打动他的心。女性这个因素影响了他的情感,他的性欲是天生的。然而任何一个叫化子只要让他看见了,只要那人说声:“天哪,先生,我饿坏了。”他一定会很乐意地掏出适当的钱来打发他,然后把这事忘在脑后。他不会再去推论,再去作哲理的探究。他的思维活动也不配用推论和哲理这两个字眼,当他衣冠楚楚,身体壮实时,他是个欢乐的无忧无虑的人。就像飞蛾扑灯一样追逐着声色享乐。但是如果他一旦失去了工作,再受些捉弄人的社会势力和命运的摆布和打击,他会像嘉莉一样束手无策--如果你愿意这么说的话,像她一样孤苦无靠,无可奈何,一样的可怜巴巴。

至于他喜欢追女人这一点,其实他并不想伤害她们,他并不认为他想和她们建立的那种关系会伤害她们。他喜欢追女人,喜欢她们拜倒在他的魅力之下,这并不是因为他是个怜酷无情,心地阴暗,诡计多端的恶棍,而是因为他天生的欲望驱使着他这么做,这是他的主要乐趣。他爱虚荣,爱吹嘘,像个傻丫头一样迷恋漂亮衣服。就像他能轻易讨得一个女店员的欢心一样,一个真正老谋深算的恶棍会同样轻易地把他骗了。作为一个推销员,他的成功要归于他的对人和气恳切以及他服务的那家公司的声誉。他在人群中活跃地走动,像一盆火一样热情,不过他并没有可以称得上智慧的才华,没有一种可以称得上高尚的思想,也没有一种永恒持久的感情。古希腊女诗人萨福夫人会叫他一头猪,莎士比亚则会叫他:“我的贪玩的孩子。”他的酒鬼老板加里欧老爹认为他是个聪明成功的商人。

简言之,他照自己的理解是个好人。

他胸襟坦荡,具有值得称道的优点,这可以从嘉莉拿了他的钱这一点看出。没有一个老奸巨滑,心怀叵测的家伙能够在友谊的幌子下让她收下一毛钱。天生愚笨的人并不像我们想的那样容易上当受骗。造物主赋予野外的走兽以本能,一遇到突如起来的危险威胁就逃之夭夭。花栗鼠愚蠢的小脑袋里却有天生的对于毒药的恐惧。“上帝保全他所创造的万物,”这并不是只就野兽而言。嘉莉不聪明,因此就像一头愚蠢的绵羊一样,情感强烈。自我保护的本能在这种人身上通常是很强烈的。但是杜洛埃的接近如果说激起了一点自卫本能的话,那也是微乎其微的。

嘉莉走后,他庆幸自己获得了她的好感。老天啊,让年纪轻轻的姑娘这样饱受折磨,太不像话了。冬天要来了,还没有御寒的衣服,太惨了。他要到费莫酒家来根雪茄。他想到她,脚步也变得轻漂漂了。

嘉莉兴高采烈地回到家。她几乎无法掩饰自己的高兴。不过这笔钱又带来了一些为难的问题。敏妮既然知道她没有钱,她怎么能去买衣服呢?一回到公寓,这个问题就明朗了。没办法的,她无法向敏妮解释的。

“今天有什么结果?”敏妮问道,她指的是白天找工作的事。

那种嘴上说一套心里想一套的骗人花招,嘉莉一点也不会。所以即使掩饰搪塞,她也得找个和她心情一致的借口。现在她的心情既然那么好,她不能假装抱怨,所以她就说:“有点眉目了。”“在哪里?”“在汉斯顿商店。”“真的有希望吗?”敏妮追问道。

“叫我明天去听消息,”嘉莉说。她不喜欢把谎言拖长到不必要的地步。

敏妮能感觉到嘉莉的欢乐情绪,她想眼下是个适当时机,可以向嘉莉解释汉生关于她的芝加哥之行的看法。

“如果你找不到工作的话--”她停了下来,不知道该怎么开口。

“如果我不能马上找到工作的话,我想得回家了。”敏妮赶快不失时机地说:“史文觉得冬天还是回去的好。”嘉莉立即明白了她的处境。她失了业,他们不愿意再留她住了。她不怪敏妮,也不很怪汉生。现在,当她坐在那里惦量着这些话时,她庆幸自己拿了杜洛埃的钱。

“是的。”过了一会儿她又说,“我早有这个打算了。”不过她没有告诉敏妮,回家这件事引起了她本能的强烈反感。哥伦比亚城,那地方有什么适合她的事呢?那种单调狭隘的生活她早就烂熟了。芝加哥这个伟大神秘的城市仍像磁铁一样吸引着她,她所看到的那一小部分揭示了它的无限机遇和前景。一想到要离开这个大城市,回哥伦比亚过以前那种乏味可怜的生活,她厌恶得几乎要叫了出来。

这天她回来得早,就走到前屋去想心事。她该怎么办呢?

她无法买了新鞋子在这里穿。这20元钱中她还得留下一点当回家的路费,因为她不想问敏妮借路费。但是她怎么向敏妮解释钱是从哪里来的呢?但愿她能挣到足够的钱摆脱这个困境就好了。

她反复想着她的为难的处境。明早,杜洛埃会期望她穿上新外套,可这是做不到的。汉生一家想叫她回老家,她想离开他们,却不想回老家。她没有找到工作却有了钱,他们会如何看她呢?她现在感到拿了杜洛埃的钱好像是件很可怕的事,于是她开始羞愧。她的处境让她沮丧不快。和杜洛埃在一起时,一切都那么简单。而现在一切都纠结在一起,理不出一个头绪--事情比原来还要糟糕,因为她尽管有了一笔可以解决生活问题的钱,却没法用这笔钱。

她的情绪非常低落,所以吃晚饭时敏妮猜想她这一天又是白跑了。嘉莉最后决定要把钱退回去。拿钱是不对的,明早她要去市里找工作。到中午时,她将按他们的约定去见杜洛埃,把一切都告诉他。一想到这个决定,她的心就往下沉,最后她又成了原先那个痛苦忧伤的嘉莉。

说来奇怪,当她把钱握在手里时,却感到一点安慰。虽然她已经做了那个让她伤心的决定,可以不用再去想这件事,这20元钱似乎仍是个奇妙可喜的东西。啊,钱啊钱,有了钱是多么好埃只要有了大把的钱,一切烦恼就会消失了。

第二天清早,她起早出了门。她找工作的决心不算小,但是口袋里这笔伤脑筋的钱并没有使找工作的事情轻松些。她走进批发行商业区,但是每当她走到一个商号,打算进去申请工作时,她的勇气就消失了。她心里骂自己是胆小鬼,不过她已经申请了这么多次,结果还不是一样。所以她继续往前走,走了又走,最后终于走进了一家商号。结果还是老样子。她出来时感到命运在和她作对,因此一切努力都是徒劳的。

没有怎么考虑,她就信步到了第邦街。大商场就在这里,门口散放着运货的小车,还有长长的一列橱窗和成群的顾客。

这些立刻使她改变了思路,她不再去想那些让她厌烦的问题。

她原先就是打算到这里来买新衣服的。现在为了解愁,她决定进去瞧瞧。她很想看看那些外套。

有时一个人手头尽管有钱,又受欲望的驱使想买一样东西,可是他也许受了良心的阻止,或者心里拿不定主意,所以在心里不断掂量权衡,并不急于去买。世界上再没有比这种要买没买的中间状态更令人愉快了。嘉莉在店里那些漂亮的陈列其中间转悠,她的心情就是这样。她上次来这里时,这地方给她留下了很好的印象。现在,她在那些漂亮的东西面前不再匆匆走过。她在每样东西面前停留,女性的心热烈地企盼着得到它们。要是穿上这件的话,她会显得多可爱埃啊,那一件又会使她多迷人啊!她来到女胸衣柜台,看到那些做工精美,颜色缤纷,有花边装饰的胸衣时,停下了脚步,陷入丰富的遐想。只要她能拿定主意,她现在就可以买上一件。在珠宝柜台,她又久久逗留,欣赏着那些耳环,手镯,饰针和金链条。要是能够拥有这一切,又有什么代价她会舍不得付出呢。只要她也戴上几件这类首饰,她同样会看上去雍容华丽。

最吸引她的是那些外套。她刚走进店里,就一眼看中了一件黄褐色的小外套,上面缀着大大的珠母钮扣。这种款式这年秋天很新潮。不过她仍打算多看看,瞧瞧有没有比这件更好的。她在陈列衣服的玻璃橱和货架中间走来走去,满意地认为她看中的那件确实是最合适的。她犹豫不决,拿不定主意,一会儿想使自己相信,只要她愿意,她马上可以把那件衣服买下来,一会儿又想起了自己的实际处境。快到中午了,她还是什么也没买。现在她该去见杜洛埃,把钱还给他。

她到那里时,杜洛埃正站在街上转弯的地方。

“哈啰,”他说,“咦,你买的外套呢?”他又朝下看着她的脚,“还有鞋子呢?”嘉莉本想转弯抹角地将话题引到她的退钱的决定去,可是杜洛埃这么一问,把她原先想好的那一套全打乱了。

“我是来告诉你,我--我不能拿那些钱。”“嗯,是这么回事埃”他回答。“这样吧,你跟我来,我们一起上帕特里奇公司去。”嘉莉和他一起走着,不觉把种种疑虑和无奈都忘得精光。

和他在一起,她就无法去考虑那些严肃问题,那些她想向他解释明白的事情。

“你吃过午饭了吗?肯定没吃过。来,我们进这里面去。”说着杜洛埃转身走进门罗街上靠近斯台特路的一家布置漂亮的餐馆。

“我不能拿这笔钱。”他们在一个舒适的角落坐下来,杜洛埃点了午饭以后,嘉莉说道,“我在我姐姐家没法把那些东西穿出来。他们--我不能让他们知道这些东西是从哪里来的。”“那你打算怎么办?”他微笑了,“不穿衣服过冬吗?”“我想我得回老家去,”她没精打采地说。

“来,别想了,”他说。“这事情你已经想得太多了。我来告诉你怎么办。你说你在那里没法穿这些衣服。你为什么不租一间带家俱的房间,把衣服在那里先放一个星期呢?”嘉莉摇了摇头。嘉莉像别的妇女一样,对这种提议持有异议,所以她还需要有人说服她。而他则必须竭力消除她的疑虑,为她扫清前进的道路。

“你为什么要回去呢?”他问。

“你瞧,我在这里什么活也找不到。”

“他们不肯留你住了吗?”他直觉地问道。

“他们留不起,”嘉莉说道。

“我来告诉你怎么办,”他说,“你跟我来,由我来照顾你。”嘉莉听着他说,没有提出反对。在她目前的特殊境况下,杜洛埃的话像是替她打开了一扇门,因此她觉得很中听。杜洛埃的性情和爱好,看来和她挺投合。他干净、漂亮、衣着考究、富有同情心,对她说话像一个老朋友。

“你回到哥伦比亚城,又能干些什么呢?”他继续说道。他的话使嘉莉脑海里浮现出家乡那小地方枯燥单调的生活场景。“那里什么也没有。芝加哥才是大有可为的地方。你在这里可以找个好房间住下来,买点衣服,然后可以找个事做做。”嘉莉看着窗外繁华的马路。外面就是令人惊叹的大城市,只要你有钱,一切是多么美好。一辆华丽的马车从窗前经过,由两匹精神抖擞的棕红大马欢快地拉着,马车里面的座垫上坐着一位年轻的小姐。

“你回去的话,有什么好处呢?”杜洛埃问道。他的话里并没有什么隐晦的暗示。在他看来,她一旦回去,就没有机会得到那些他认为有价值的东西。

嘉莉一动不动地坐着,看着窗外。她在想她还有没有什么办法。姐姐他们是希望她这星期回去的。

杜洛埃把话题一转,开始谈她想买的衣服。

“为什么不给你自己买一件漂亮的小外套呢?这是少不掉的。钱算是我借给你的,你不用担心拿了我的钱。你可以给自己找间漂亮的房间,我不会伤害你的。“嘉莉明白杜洛埃指的是什么,可是没法表达自己的想法。

她感到再没有比眼下的处境更为难的了。

“要是我能找个什么事做就好了,”她说。

“你如果留下来,”杜洛埃继续说道,“你也许会的。可是你如果走了,那就找不到事了。他们既然不让你再住下去,为什么不让我帮你找个好房间呢?我不会打扰你的--你不用害怕。然后等你安顿下来,你也许会找到个活的。”他看着她秀丽的脸蛋,思路变得活跃敏捷起来。在他看来,她真是一个可爱的小人儿--这一点是不庸置疑的。她的一举一动都透出一种魔力。她和那些普通女工不一样,她没有傻气。

其实,嘉莉的想象力比他更丰富。趣味也更高雅。她情感细腻,所以落落寡欢,感到凄凉孤独。她的衣服虽然普通却很齐整,她的头不自觉地微微扬起,显出天然的风韵。

“你认为我能找到事做吗?”她问。

“当然啰。”他说着伸手给她的杯子倒上茶,“我会帮助你的。”她看着他,他朝她安抚地笑笑。

“现在你听我说怎么办。我们到这里的帕特里奇公司去挑选你要的衣服。然后我们一起去替你找间房子。你可以把你的东西留在那里。今晚我们去看戏。”嘉莉摇了摇头。

“然后你回你姐姐家的公寓去好了。你不用住在租的房间里,只是租着放你的东西。”但她还是犹豫不决,一直到吃完饭。

“现在我们去看看衣服吧,”他说。

他们于是一起前往。店里琳琅满目,沙沙作响的新衣服立即把嘉莉迷住了。吃了一顿丰盛的午饭,又加上杜洛埃兴致勃勃的陪伴,使她开始感到他的提议似乎还可行。她在店里转悠了一圈以后,挑了一件和她在大商场看中的那件很相像的外套。这衣服拿在手上看时,显得更漂亮了。女店员帮她穿上这衣服,恰巧非常合身。杜洛埃看到嘉莉穿上这衣服更增风采,不禁欣然微笑:她看上去真是俏丽。

“就是这件好,”他说。

嘉莉在镜子前转着身子。她看到镜子里的自己,也不禁心喜,一抹喜悦的红晕悄悄爬上两颊。

“就买这件吧,”杜洛埃说,“付钱吧。”

“要9块钱呢,”嘉莉说。

“没关系,买下来吧,”杜洛埃说。

她把手伸进钱包,掏出一张钞票。女店员问她是不是要穿着走,然后就离开了。几分钟以后她又回来:衣服买好了。

从帕特里奇商店出来,他们去了一家鞋店。嘉莉试鞋子时,杜洛埃就站在旁边看。当他看到鞋子穿在嘉莉脚上很漂亮时,就说,“就穿这双吧。”但是嘉莉摇了摇头,她在回想姐姐家的事。他给她买了一个钱包,又买了一双手套,然后让她买长统袜子。

“等明天,”他说,“你到这里来买条裙子。”嘉莉在买这买那的时候,心里总有些惴惴不安。她在这感情的纠葛中陷得越深,越自欺欺人地想象,只要她不做那些她尚未做的事就没有关系。既然她没有做那些事,她还有抽身的机会。

杜洛埃知道华拔士路有个地方出租房间。他领着嘉莉到了那座房子外面就说:“现在你算我的妹妹。”在挑选房间时,他这里看看,那里瞧瞧,嘴里发表着看法,轻松地把租房的事办妥了。“她的箱子一两天就运来,”他这么对房东太太说。房东太太听了很高兴。

他们俩单独在一起时,杜洛埃的态度一点没有变。他像一个普通朋友那样交谈着,仍像在街上众目睽睽之下一样。嘉莉把东西留在了那里。

“听我说,”杜洛埃说,“你今晚就搬来住不好吗?”“嗯,那不行,”嘉莉回答。

“为什么不行?”

“我不愿意这样离开他们。”

他们在林荫大道走时,他又提起了这个话题。那是个温暖的下午,风歇了,太阳出来了。他从嘉莉的谈话中,对她姐姐家的气氛有了一个详细正确的了解。

“搬出来吧,”他说,“他们不会在意的。我来帮你的忙。”她听着听着,渐渐地她的疑虑消失了。他会带着她到处看看,然后帮她找个工作。他确实相信他会这么做的。他出门去推销货物时,她可以去上班。

“来,我来告诉你怎么办,”他说。“你回到那里,拿上你的东西,然后就离开那里。”她对这个提议想了很久,最后同意了。他将走到庇里亚街,在那里等她。他们说好8点半会合。5点半她回到了家。到了6点,她的决心坚定了。

“这么说,你没有得到那份工作?”敏妮说,她指的是嘉莉前一天编造的波斯顿公司的工作。

嘉莉用眼角看了她一眼。“没有,”她回答。

“我看今年秋天你不用再找了,”敏妮说。

嘉莉没有回答。

汉生回到家里,脸上仍是一副莫测高深的表情。他一声不响地洗了澡,就走到一边去看报了。吃晚饭时,嘉莉有些心神不定,出走计划给她带来了沉重的思想压力,同时她深切地感到自己在这里不受欢迎。

“还没找到工作吗?”汉生问。

“没有,”

他转过脸去继续吃饭,脑子里想着留她住在这里是个负担。她得回家去,就是这么回事。这次走了,明年开春她就不会再来了。

对于自己即将做的事,嘉莉心里感到害怕。但是想到这里的生活要结束了,她心里又一阵轻松。他们不会在意她的,尤其汉生对她的离开会感到高兴。他才不会管她发生什么事呢。

吃过晚饭,她走进洗澡间写条子,在那里他们不会打扰她的。

“再见,敏妮。”她在条子里写道,“我不回家。我还要在芝加哥住一段时间找工作。别担心。我会很好的。”在前屋,汉生正在看报。嘉莉像往常一样帮助敏妮洗了碗,收拾了房间。然后她说:“我想到楼下大门口站一会儿。”她说这话时,声音不禁有些颤抖。

敏妮想起了汉生的告诫。

“史文觉得女孩子站在楼下有点不雅观,”她说。

“是吗?”嘉莉说,“以后我不会再去了。”她戴上帽子,在小卧室的桌子旁犹豫了一会儿,不知道把条子塞到哪里合适。最后她把条子放在敏妮的头发刷子底下。

她走出房间,关上了外面门厅的大门,不禁停住脚步,猜想他们会怎么看待这件事。她自己出格的举动也使她情绪波动。慢慢地她走下楼梯。在大门口,她又回身朝上看着灯光下的楼梯。随后她装着在马路上遛达的样子慢慢往前走。到了马路拐弯的地方,她加快了脚步。

在她匆匆离去时,汉生又回到了他妻子身边。

“嘉莉又到楼下大门口去了吗?”他问。

“是啊,”敏妮说,“她答应以后不这样了。”

他走到宝宝跟前,宝宝正在地板上玩。于是他伸出手指去逗宝宝玩。

杜洛埃正在马路转弯处等候,心情很兴奋。

“喂,嘉莉,”看到一个女孩的倩影活泼地向他走来,他喊了起来,“平安无事,对不对?来,我们叫一辆车。”




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