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嘉莉妹妹(Sister Carrie) 第十五章

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Chapter 15

THE IRK OF THE OLD TIES--THE MAGIC OF YOUTH

 

The complete ignoring by Hurstwood of his own home came with the growth of his affection for Carrie. His actions, in all that related to his family, were of the most perfunctory kind. He sat at breakfast with his wife and children, absorbed in his own fancies, which reached far without the realm of their interests. He read his paper, which was heightened in interest by the shallowness of the themes discussed by his son and daughter. Between himself and his wife ran a river of indifference.

Now that Carrie had come, he was in a fair way to be blissful again. There was delight in going down town evenings. When he walked forth in the short days, the street lamps had a merry twinkle. He began to experience the almost forgotten feeling which hastens the lover's feet. When he looked at his fine clothes, he saw them with her eyes--and her eyes were young.

When in the flush of such feelings he heard his wife's voice, when the insistent demands of matrimony recalled him from dreams to a stale practice, how it grated. He then knew that this was a chain which bound his feet.

"George," said Mrs. Hurstwood, in that tone of voice which had long since come to be associated in his mind with demands, "we want you to get us a season ticket to the races."

"Do you want to go to all of them?" he said with a rising inflection.

"Yes," she answered.

The races in question were soon to open at Washington Park, on the South Side, and were considered quite society affairs among those who did not affect religious rectitude and conservatism. Mrs. Hurstwood had never asked for a whole season ticket before, but this year certain considerations decided her to get a box. For one thing, one of her neighbours, a certain Mr. and Mrs. Ramsey, who were possessors of money, made out of the coal business, had done so. In the next place, her favourite physician, Dr. Beale, a gentleman inclined to horses and betting, had talked with her concerning his intention to enter a two-year-old in the Derby. In the third place, she wished to exhibit Jessica, who was gaining in maturity and beauty, and whom she hoped to marry to a man of means. Her own desire to be about in such things and parade among her acquaintances and common throng was as much an incentive as anything.

Hurstwood thought over the proposition a few moments without answering. They were in the sitting room on the second floor, waiting for supper. It was the evening of his engagement with Carrie and Drouet to see "The Covenant," which had brought him home to make some alterations in his dress.

"You're sure separate tickets wouldn't do as well?" he asked, hesitating to say anything more rugged.

"No," she replied impatiently.

"Well," he said, taking offence at her manner, "you needn't get mad about it. I'm just asking you."

"I'm not mad," she snapped. "I'm merely asking you for a season ticket."

"And I'm telling you," he returned, fixing a clear, steady eye on her, "that it's no easy thing to get. I'm not sure whether the manager will give it to me."

He had been thinking all the time of his "pull" with the race-track magnates.

"We can buy it then," she exclaimed sharply.

"You talk easy," he said. "A season family ticket costs one hundred and fifty dollars."

"I'll not argue with you," she replied with determination. "I want the ticket and that's all there is to it."

She had risen, and now walked angrily out of the room.

"Well, you get it then," he said grimly, though in a modified tone of voice.

As usual, the table was one short that evening.

The next morning he had cooled down considerably, and later the ticket was duly secured, though it did not heal matters. He did not mind giving his family a fair share of all that he earned, but he did not like to be forced to provide against his will.

"Did you know, mother," said Jessica another day, "the Spencers are getting ready to go away?"

"No. Where, I wonder?"

"Europe," said Jessica. "I met Georgine yesterday and she told me. She just put on more airs about it."

"Did she say when?"

"Monday, I think. They'll get a notice in the papers again-they always do."

"Never mind," said Mrs. Hurstwood consolingly, "we'll go one of these days."

Hurstwood moved his eyes over the paper slowly, but said nothing.

"'We sail for Liverpool from New York,'" Jessica exclaimed, mocking her acquaintance. "'Expect to spend most of the "summah" in France,'--vain thing. As If it was anything to go to Europe."

"It must be if you envy her so much," put in Hurstwood.

It grated upon him to see the feeling his daughter displayed.

"Don't worry over them, my dear," said Mrs. Hurstwood.

"Did George get off?" asked Jessica of her mother another day, thus revealing something that Hurstwood had heard nothing about.

"Where has he gone?" he asked, looking up. He had never before been kept in ignorance concerning departures.

"He was going to Wheaton," said Jessica, not noticing the slight put upon her father.

"What's out there?" he asked, secretly irritated and chagrined to think that he should be made to pump for information in this manner.

"A tennis match," said Jessica.

"He didn't say anything to me," Hurstwood concluded, finding it difficult to refrain from a bitter tone.

"I guess he must have forgotten," exclaimed his wife blandly. In the past he had always commanded a certain amount of respect, which was a compound of appreciation and awe. The familiarity which in part still existed between himself and his daughter he had courted. As it was, it did not go beyond the light assumption of words. The TONE was always modest. Whatever had been, however, had lacked affection, and now he saw that he was losing track of their doings. His knowledge was no longer intimate. He sometimes saw them at table, and sometimes did not. He heard of their doings occasionally, more often not. Some days he found that he was all at sea as to what they were talking about--things they had arranged to do or that they had done in his absence. More affecting was the feeling that there were little things going on of which he no longer heard. Jessica was beginning to feel that her affairs were her own. George, Jr., flourished about as if he were a man entirely and must needs have private matters. All this Hurstwood could see, and it left a trace of feeling, for he was used to being considered--in his official position, at least--and felt that his importance should not begin to wane here. To darken it all, he saw the same indifference and independence growing in his wife, while he looked on and paid the bills.

He consoled himself with the thought, however, that, after all, he was not without affection. Things might go as they would at his house, but he had Carrie outside of it. With his mind's eye he looked into her comfortable room in Ogden Place, where he had spent several such delightful evenings, and thought how charming it would be when Drouet was disposed of entirely and she was waiting evenings in cosey little quarters for him. That no cause would come up whereby Drouet would be led to inform Carrie concerning his married state, he felt hopeful. Things were going so smoothly that he believed they would not change. Shortly now he would persuade Carrie and all would be satisfactory.

The day after their theatre visit he began writing her regularly--a letter every morning, and begging her to do as much for him. He was not literary by any means, but experience of the world and his growing affection gave him somewhat of a style. This he exercised at his office desk with perfect deliberation. He purchased a box of delicately coloured and scented writing paper in monogram, which he kept locked in one of the drawers. His friends now wondered at the cleric and very official-looking nature of his position. The five bartenders viewed with respect the duties which could call a man to do so much desk-work and penmanship.

Hurstwood surprised himself with his fluency. By the natural law which governs all effort, what he wrote reacted upon him. He began to feel those subtleties which he could find words to express. With every expression came increased conception. Those inmost breathings which there found words took hold upon him. He thought Carrie worthy of all the affection he could there express.

Carrie was indeed worth loving if ever youth and grace are to command that token of acknowledgment from life in their bloom. Experience had not yet taken away that freshness of the spirit which is the charm of the body. Her soft eyes contained in their liquid lustre no suggestion of the knowledge of disappointment. She had been troubled in a way by doubt and longing, but these had made no deeper impression than could be traced in a certain open wistfulness of glance and speech. The mouth had the expression at times, in talking and in repose, of one who might be upon the verge of tears. It was not that grief was thus ever present. The pronunciation of certain syllables gave to her lips this peculiarity of formation--a formation as suggestive and moving as pathos itself.

There was nothing bold in her manner. Life had not taught her domination-- superciliousness of grace, which is the lordly power of some women. Her longing for consideration was not sufficiently powerful to move her to demand it. Even now she lacked self-assurance, but there was that in what she had already experienced which left her a little less than timid. She wanted pleasure, she wanted position, and yet she was confused as to what these things might be. Every hour the kaleidoscope of human affairs threw a new lustre upon something, and therewith it became for her the desired--the all. Another shift of the box, and some other had become the beautiful, the perfect.

On her spiritual side, also, she was rich in feeling, as such a nature well might be. Sorrow in her was aroused by many a spectacle--an uncritical upwelling of grief for the weak and the helpless. She was constantly pained by the sight of the white-faced, ragged men who slopped desperately by her in a sort of wretched mental stupor. The poorly clad girls who went blowing by her window evenings, hurrying home from some of the shops of the West Side, she pitied from the depths of her heart. She would stand and bite her lips as they passed, shaking her little head and wondering. They had so little, she thought. It was so sad to be ragged and poor. The hang of faded clothes pained her eyes.

"And they have to work so hard!" was her only comment.

On the street sometimes she would see men working--Irishmen with picks, coal-heavers with great loads to shovel, Americans busy about some work which was a mere matter of strength--and they touched her fancy. Toil, now that she was free of it, seemed even a more desolate thing than when she was part of it. She saw it through a mist of fancy--a pale, sombre half-light, which was the essence of poetic feeling. Her old father, in his flour-dusted miller's suit, sometimes returned to her in memory, revived by a face in a window. A shoemaker pegging at his last, a blastman seen through a narrow window in some basement where iron was being melted, a bench-worker seen high aloft in some window, his coat off, his sleeves rolled up; these took her back in fancy to the details of the mill. She felt, though she seldom expressed them, sad thoughts upon this score. Her sympathies were ever with that under-world of toil from which she had so recently sprung, and which she best understood.

Though Hurstwood did not know it, he was dealing with one whose feelings were as tender and as delicate as this. He did not know, but it was this in her, after all, which attracted him. He never attempted to analyse the nature of his affection. It was sufficient that there was tenderness in her eye, weakness in her manner, good nature and hope in her thoughts. He drew near this lily, which had sucked its waxen beauty and perfume from below a depth of waters which he had never penetrated, and out of ooze and mould which he could not understand. He drew near because it was waxen and fresh. It lightened his feelings for him. It made the morning worth while.

In a material way, she was considerably improved. Her awkwardness had all but passed, leaving, if anything, a quaint residue which was as pleasing as perfect grace. Her little shoes now fitted her smartly and had high heels. She had learned much about laces and those little neckpieces which add so much to a woman's appearance. Her form had filled out until it was admirably plump and well-rounded.

Hurstwood wrote her one morning, asking her to meet him in Jefferson Park, Monroe Street. He did not consider it policy to call any more, even when Drouet was at home.

The next afternoon he was in the pretty little park by one, and had found a rustic bench beneath the green leaves of a lilac bush which bordered one of the paths. It was at that season of the year when the fulness of spring had not yet worn quite away. At a little pond near by some cleanly dressed children were sailing white canvas boats. In the shade of a green pagoda a bebuttoned officer of the law was resting, his arms folded, his club at rest in his belt. An old gardener was upon the lawn, with a pair of pruning shears, looking after some bushes. High overhead was the clean blue sky of the new summer, and in the thickness of the shiny green leaves of the trees hopped and twittered the busy sparrows.

Hurstwood had come out of his own home that morning feeling much of the same old annoyance. At his store he had idled, there being no need to write. He had come away to this place with the lightness of heart which characterises those who put weariness behind. Now, in the shade of this cool, green bush, he looked about him with the fancy of the lover. He heard the carts go lumbering by upon the neighbouring streets, but they were far off, and only buzzed upon his ear. The hum of the surrounding city was faint, the clang of an occasional bell was as music. He looked and dreamed a new dream of pleasure which concerned his present fixed condition not at all. He got back in fancy to the old Hurstwood, who was neither married nor fixed in a solid position for life. He remembered the light spirit in which he once looked after the girls--how he had danced, escorted them home, hung over their gates. He almost wished he was back there again--here in this pleasant scene he felt as if he were wholly free.

At two Carrie came tripping along the walk toward him, rosy and clean. She had just recently donned a sailor hat for the season with a band of pretty white-dotted blue silk. Her skirt was of a rich blue material, and her shirt waist matched it, with a thin-stripe of blue upon a snow-white ground--stripes that were as fine as hairs. Her brown shoes peeped occasionally from beneath her skirt. She carried her gloves in her hand.

Hurstwood looked up at her with delight.

"You came, dearest," he said eagerly, standing to meet her and taking her hand.

"Of course," she said, smiling; "did you think I wouldn't?"

"I didn't know," he replied.

He looked at her forehead, which was moist from her brisk walk. Then he took out one of his own soft, scented silk handkerchiefs and touched her face here and there.

"Now," he said affectionately, "you're all right."

They were happy in being near one another--in looking into each other's eyes. Finally, when the long flush of delight had sub sided, he said:

"When is Charlie going away again?"

"I don't know," she answered. "He says he has some things to do for the house here now."

Hurstwood grew serious, and he lapsed into quiet thought. He looked up after a time to say:

"Come away and leave him."

He turned his eyes to the boys with the boats, as if the request were of little importance.

"Where would we go?" she asked in much the same manner, rolling her gloves, and looking into a neighbouring tree.

"Where do you want to go?" he enquired.

There was something in the tone in which he said this which made her feel as if she must record her feelings against any local habitation.

"We can't stay in Chicago," she replied.

He had no thought that this was in her mind--that any removal would be suggested.

"Why not?" he asked softly.

"Oh, because," she said, "I wouldn't want to."

He listened to this with but dull perception of what it meant. It had no serious ring to it. The question was not up for immediate decision.

"I would have to give up my position," he said. The tone he used made it seem as if the matter deserved only slight consideration. Carrie thought a little, the while enjoying the pretty scene.

"I wouldn't like to live in Chicago and him here," she said, thinking of Drouet.

"It's a big town, dearest," Hurstwood answered. "It would be as good as moving to another part of the country to move to the South Side."

He had fixed upon that region as an objective point.

"Anyhow," said Carrie, "I shouldn't want to get married as long as he is here. I wouldn't want to run away."

The suggestion of marriage struck Hurstwood forcibly. He saw clearly that this was her idea--he felt that it was not to be gotten over easily. Bigamy lightened the horizon of his shadowy thoughts for a moment. He wondered for the life of him how it would all come out. He could not see that he was making any progress save in her regard. When he looked at her now, he thought her beautiful. What a thing it was to have her love him, even if it be entangling! She increased in value in his eyes because of her objection. She was something to struggle for, and that was everything. How different from the women who yielded willingly! He swept the thought of them from his mind.

"And you don't know when he'll go away?" asked Hurstwood, quietly.

She shook her head.

He sighed.

"You're a determined little miss, aren't you?" he said, after a few moments, looking up into her eyes.

She felt a wave of feeling sweep over her at this. It was pride at what seemed his admiration--affection for the man who could feel this concerning her.

"No," she said coyly, "but what can I do?"

Again he folded his hands and looked away over the lawn into the street.

"I wish," he said pathetically, "you would come to me. I don't like to be away from you this way. What good is there in waiting? You're not any happier, are you?"

"Happier!" she exclaimed softly, "you know better than that."

"Here we are then," he went on in the same tone, "wasting our days. If you are not happy, do you think I am? I sit and write to you the biggest part of the time. I'll tell you what, Carrie," he exclaimed, throwing sudden force of expression into his voice and fixing her with his eyes, "I can't live without you, and that's all there is to it. Now," he concluded, showing the palm of one of his white hands in a sort of at-an-end, helpless expression, "what shall I do?"

This shifting of the burden to her appealed to Carrie. The semblance of the load without the weight touched the woman's heart.

"Can't you wait a little while yet?" she said tenderly. "I'll try and find out when he's going."

"What good will it do?" he asked, holding the same strain of feeling.

"Well, perhaps we can arrange to go somewhere."

She really did not see anything clearer than before, but she was getting into that frame of mind where, out of sympathy, a woman yields.

Hurstwood did not understand. He was wondering how she was to be persuaded--what appeal would move her to forsake Drouet. He began to wonder how far her affection for him would carry her. He was thinking of some question which would make her tell.

Finally he hit upon one of those problematical propositions which often disguise our own desires while leading us to an understanding of the difficulties which others make for us, and so discover for us a way. It had not the slightest connection with anything intended on his part, and was spoken at random before he had given it a moment's serious thought.

"Carrie," he said, looking into her face and assuming a serious look which he did not feel, "suppose I were to come to you next week, or this week for that matter--to-night say--and tell you I had to go away--that I couldn't stay another minute and wasn't coming back any more--would you come with me?" His sweetheart viewed him with the most affectionate glance, her answer ready before the words were out of his mouth.

"Yes," she said.

"You wouldn't stop to argue or arrange?"

"Not if you couldn't wait."

He smiled when he saw that she took him seriously, and he thought what a chance it would afford for a possible junket of a week or two. He had a notion to tell her that he was joking and so brush away her sweet seriousness, but the effect of it was too delightful. He let it stand.

"Suppose we didn't have time to get married here?" he added, an afterthought striking him.

"If we got married as soon as we got to the other end of the journey it would be all right."

"I meant that," he said.

"Yes."

The morning seemed peculiarly bright to him now. He wondered whatever could have put such a thought into his head. Impossible as it was, he could not help smiling at its cleverness. It showed how she loved him. There was no doubt in his mind now, and he would find a way to win her.

"Well," he said, jokingly, "I'll come and get you one of these evenings," and then he laughed.

"I wouldn't stay with you, though, if you didn't marry me," Carrie added reflectively.

"I don't want you to," he said tenderly, taking her hand.

She was extremely happy now that she understood. She loved him the more for thinking that he would rescue her so. As for him, the marriage clause did not dwell in his mind. He was thinking that with such affection there could be no bar to his eventual happiness.

"Let's stroll about," he said gayly, rising and surveying all the lovely park.

"All right," said Carrie.

They passed the young Irishman, who looked after them with envious eyes.

"'Tis a foine couple," he observed to himself. "They must be rich."

第十五章

恼人的旧纽带:青春的魅力

 


由于他对嘉莉感情的加深,赫斯渥现在对自己的家一点也不放在心上了。他为这个家做的一切,全是敷衍应付而已。

他和妻子儿女在一张桌上吃早饭,可是心里想着和他们全不相关的事。他边吃饭边看着报,儿女们浅薄的谈话使他看报的兴趣更浓了。他和妻子之间很冷淡,彼此间就好像隔着一条鸿沟。

现在有了嘉莉,他又有希望重新获得幸福。每天晚上到商业区去现在成了乐事。在昼短夜长的这些日子里,傍晚时分他上街时,路灯已在头顶上方欢快地闪烁。他现在又重新体验了那种使情人加快脚步的心情。这种心情他几乎已经忘记了是什么滋味。他打量自己的漂亮衣服时,心里在想象嘉莉会怎么看--而嘉莉的眼光是青年人的眼光。

当他心里泛滥着这些情感时,他很恼火地听到了他老婆的声音,听到了那些坚持把他从梦想中唤回到乏味的家庭现实的要求。这使他认识到自己的手脚被这个婚姻关系像锁链一样捆住了。

“乔洛,”赫斯渥太太用那种他早就熟悉的提要求的口吻说,“帮我们弄一张看赛马的季度票。”“你们场场赛马都要去看吗?”他说话的调门不觉提高了。

“是的,”她回答。

他们现在谈的赛马即将在南区华盛顿公园举行。在那些对严格的教规和保守的老派思想不以为然的人们中间。这些赛马会是很重要的社交场合。赫斯渥太太以前从来没有要过全赛季的妻子,但是今年出于某些考虑,她想要一个专门包厢。原因之一是,她的邻居兰姆赛夫妇,一家靠煤炭生意发了财的有钱人,已经订了包厢。其次,她喜欢的比尔医生,一个热衷于养马和玩赌马彩票的先生,已经告诉她他打算让他的一匹两岁小马参赛。第三,她想借此机会炫耀一下已经出落得美丽多姿的女儿杰西卡,她希望杰西卡能嫁一个富人。最后,她希望在这种场合出出风头。在熟人和一般观众面前露露脸的想法和别的想法一样也是重要动机。

赫斯渥思忖着他太太的要求,好一会儿没有回答。他们当时正坐在二楼的起居间里等着吃晚饭。那晚他已和嘉莉杜洛埃约好去看《婚约》,他是回来换衣服的。

“你肯定单场票不行吗?”他问道,不敢说出更刺耳的话来。

“不行,”她不耐烦地回答。

“喂,”他对她的态度生气了,“你不用这么发火,我只是问一下而已。”“我没发火,”她厉声说,“我只是要你弄一张全赛季的票。”“那么我要告诉你,”他用清澈坚定的目光注视着她回答道,“全赛季的票不是那么好弄的。我不敢肯定马场经理肯给我一张。”他一直在想着他和赛马场那些巨头们的交情。

“那我们可以化钱买一张,”她尖声地嚷了起来。

“你说得轻巧,”他说,“一张全赛季票要花150元呢。”“我不和你争,”她用不容商量的口气说道,“我就是要一张,就是这么回事。”她已站了起来,怒冲冲地朝门口走。

“好,那你自己去弄票好了,”他冷冷地说,口气已经不那么严厉了。

像往常一样,那天晚上饭桌上又少了一个人。

第二天早上他的态度已经冷静下来,后来他也及时给她弄到了票,不过这并没有弥合他们之间的裂痕。他并不在乎把大部分收入拿出来供家庭开销,但是他不喜欢那种不顾他的反对要这要那的做法。

“妈,你知道吗?”又有一天杰西卡说,“斯宾赛一家正准备出门去度假呢。”“不知道。他们要去哪里?”“去欧洲,”杰西卡说。“我昨天碰到乔金,她亲口告诉我的。这下她更加得意洋洋了。”“她说哪天动身了吗?”“我想是星期一。他们又该在报上登出发启事了。他们每次都是这样的。”“别理它,”赫斯渥太太安慰地说,“哪天我们也去。”赫斯渥的眼光在报上慢慢移动,可是他什么也没有说。

“‘我们将从纽约出发驶向利物品,'”杰西卡嘲笑地模仿着她朋友的口气嚷嚷说,“‘预计在法国度过大部分的酷暑'--虚荣的家伙。好像去欧洲有什么了不起似的。”“如果你这么妒忌,那一定是很了不起的了,”赫斯渥插嘴说。

看到女儿在这件事上的情绪,实在叫他恼火。

“别为这些人生气吧,好孩子,”赫斯渥太太说。

“乔治走了吗?”又有一天杰西卡问她母亲。要不是她问起,赫斯渥一点不知道这件事。

“他去哪里了?”他抬起头问道。在这以前,家里有人出门还没有瞒过他。

“他去费顿了,”杰西卡说,根本没注意这件事实在没有把她父亲放在眼里。

“去那里干什么?”他又问。想到他得一再追问来了解家里的事,心里暗暗地恼火和委屈。

“去参加网球比赛,”杰西卡说。

“他什么也没有对我说。”赫斯渥说到最后忍不住流露出不快的口气。

“我猜他一定是忘了,”他的妻子坦然地说。

以前他在家里总是受到一定的尊敬,那是一种混杂着赞赏和敬畏的尊敬。他和女儿之间现在还残留着的那种随便关系是他自己刻意追求的。但是这种随便只限于说话随便而已,口气总是很尊敬的。不过,不管以往的关系如何,他们之间缺乏一种爱。然而现在,他连他们在干些什么也不知道了。他对他们的事情已经不再熟悉。他有时在饭桌上见到他们,有时见不到。他有时也听到一些他们在干的事情,但大半听不到。有时候他们的谈话让他摸不着头脑,--因为他们谈的是那些他不在时他们打算做或者已经做过的事情。更让他伤心的是,他有一个感觉,家里许多事已经没人告诉他了。杰西卡开始感到她自己的事情不要别人管。小乔治神气活现的,好像他完完全全是男子汉了,因此应该有属于他自己的私事了。这一切赫斯渥都看在眼里,心里不由产生了伤感。因为他习惯了作为一家之主受到尊重--至少在表面上--他感到自己的重要地位不应该在这里开始走下坡路。更糟糕的是,他看到他妻子身上也滋长着这种冷漠和独立不羁的情绪。他被撇在了一边,只有付账单的义务。

不过他又安慰自己,他自己毕竟也不是没有人爱的。家里的事情只好由着他们来了,但是在外面他总算有了嘉莉。他在心里想象着奥登公寓那个舒适的房间,在那里他曾经度过好几个愉快的晚上。他想象着一旦把杜洛埃完全抛在一边,嘉莉在他们的舒适小屋等着他回来的情景。这一切将多么美妙埃他抱着乐观的态度,相信不会出现什么情况会导致杜洛埃把他已婚的事情透露给嘉莉。事情一直进展那么顺利,因此他相信不会有什么变化的。他不久就会说服嘉莉,那时一切都会令人满意的。

从看戏的第二天气,他开始不间断地给她写信--每天早上一封信,又恳求她也这么做。他并没有什么文学修养,但是他的社会阅历加上他对她日益增长的爱使他的信写来很有一点风格。每天他趴在办公室的桌上精心构思他的情书。他买了一盒子颜色雅致,上面有他姓名首字母的香水信纸,他把这些信纸锁在办公室的一个抽屉里。他的朋友们对他这么伏案疾书不胜惊异。那五个酒保怀着敬意看他们的经理有这么多笔头工作要做。

赫斯渥对自己的流畅文笔也不免吃惊。根据主宰一切人类活动的自然规律,他自己所写的东西首先对他自己发生了影响。他开始体会到他笔下表达的那些柔情蜜意。他写得越多,对自己的感情理解越深。他内心的情感经过文字的表达把他自己迷住了。他认为嘉莉配得到他在信里表达的那份情意,对此他深信不疑。

假如青春和美丽在花信时节应该从生活中得到认可,那么嘉莉确实值得人们的爱恋。她的经历还没有使她的心灵失去清新和纯洁,这正是她的胴体的魅力所在。她的水灵灵的大眼睛里满含着温柔,而没有一丝失意的痕迹。一层淡淡的疑虑和渴望困扰着她,但这些只是使她的目光和话语带上了一种企盼的表情。不管是不是在说话,她的嘴有时会露出伤心欲碎的样子。不过她并不经常忧伤,这是因为她的嘴唇在发某些音时口形的样子就好像是哀怨的化身,惹人怜爱。

她的举动怯怯的,没有一丝泼辣。她的生活经历使她和那些威风凛凛的夫人们不同,她身上没有专横和傲气。她渴望人们的眷顾,但没有勇气去要求得到它。即使现在她仍缺乏自信,只不过她已有的那点经历已使她不那么胆怯罢了。她想要欢乐,想要地位,不过这些究竟是些什么东西她还糊里糊涂。

每天,人生的万花筒赋予一些新的事物以光采,于是这个事物就成了她所追求的目标。可是当那万花筒又转动一下时,另外一些别的东西又成了尽善尽美的东西了。

在她的精神世界中,她天生的多愁善感,像她那样性格的人往往是这样的。许多东西会在她心里引起悲哀--那些弱者,那些凄苦无依的人,一概激起她的伤心。每次那些脸色苍白衣衫褴褛的人带着可怜的麻木神情从她身旁绝望地走过,她的心就为他们痛苦。傍晚时分,从她窗口可以看到衣履寒酸的姑娘们气喘吁吁地从西区某个车间急急往家赶,她从心底深处同情她们。她会站在那里,咬看嘴唇,看着她们走过,摇着头沉思着。啊,她们可以说一无所有,她想,缺衣少钱是多么凄惨。褪了色的衣服从她们身上垂下来,令人看了心酸。

“而且他们还要干那么重的活!”这是她唯一的喟叹。

在街上她有时看到男人们在干活--拿着镐头的爱尔兰人,有大堆煤要铲的运煤工人,从事某种重体力活的美国人--这些人令她感慨万分。她现在虽然不用做苦工了,可是苦工比她身历其境时更让她心寒。她透过一层薄雾般的想象看着这些苦工,一种朦胧幽微半明半暗的光线--那正是诗的意境。看到窗口的脸,她有时会想起自己的老父亲在磨坊干活,穿着沾满面粉的工作服。看到鞋匠在往鞋子里打鞋楦,看到地下室的窗子里铁匠正在炼铁,或者看到高处的窗子里木匠脱了外套,袖子卷得高高地在干活,这一切都令她回忆起磨坊的景象,使她伤心不已,虽然她很少说出来。她的同情心始终倾注在做牛做马的下层社会。她自己刚从那个苦海里跳出来,对此当然深有体会。

赫斯渥并不知道他交往的是这么一个感情细腻温柔的姑娘。不过归根结底,正是她身上的这种气质吸引了他。他从来没有企图分析过自己的爱情的性质。对他来说,只要知道她的温柔的眼神,软软的举动和善良乐观的思想就足够了。她像一朵百合花,但他从未探测过这花从多深的水的深处吸取了她那柔和的美丽和芬芳。他也无法懂得这花植根的淤泥和沃土。

他接近这朵百合花,因为这花儿温柔清新。它使他的感情变得活泼,它使清晨那么美好有意义。

从身体上说,她是大大地改善了。举止上的笨拙已经荡然无存,只留下那么一点有趣的痕迹,使她的一举一动就像最完美的风度一样可爱。她的小脚上穿的是漂亮的高跟皮鞋。对于那些花边和能大大增加女性风采的领饰,她现在知道的也不少。她的身段已经发育成熟,显得体态丰腴圆润,令人赞叹。

一天早上赫斯渥写信给她,约她在门罗街的杰佛逊公园见面。他认为他如今去奥登公寓拜访是不明智的,即使杜洛埃在家也是不去为妙。

第二天下午1点他来到了这美丽的小公园。他在公园的小路旁丁香树丛的绿叶下找到了一条简陋的长板凳。这正是一年中夏日前春光明媚的日子。旁边的小池塘边,一些穿得干干净净的小孩子正在放白帆布船。在一座绿塔的凉荫里,一个穿制服的警察正在抱着胳膊休息,他的警棍插在皮带里。在草坪上,一个年老的花匠正用一把园丁大剪子修剪一些灌木丛。

初夏清澄的蓝天下,麻雀在绿叶浓密的树上忙碌,不时在闪亮的绿叶间吱吱喳喳地跳跃。

那天早上像往常一样赫斯渥带着满肚子的不快离开家门。在酒店里他无所事事地打发时间,因为那天他不需要写信了。当他动身来这里时,他像那些把烦恼抛在身后的人们一样,感到浑身轻快。现在,在凉爽的绿树荫里,他用情人的想象力打量着四周。他听见邻近的街上运货马车沉重地驶过,但是听上去相隔很远。传到他的耳朵里只有微弱的嗡嗡声。周围闹市的嘈杂声只能隐约地听到。偶然传来一声钟声,像音乐一样悠远。他看着想着,憧憬着和他目前的呆板生活毫无联系的新的快乐生活。在他的想象中,他又成了以前的赫斯渥,那个既没有结婚也没有固定地位的赫斯渥。他回忆其他如何无牵无挂地追着女孩子们--和她们跳舞,陪她们回家,在她们的门口留连徘徊。他几乎希望重新回到那个时代去--在这惬意的环境中他几乎感到自己是没有家室牵挂的自由人。

两点时,嘉莉脚步轻快地沿着小路朝他走来,脸色像玫瑰花瓣一样娇艳,浑身收拾得利索整齐。她头上戴着顶新买的水手帽子,上面缀着条漂亮的白点子蓝绸带,这帽子正是这个季节戴的。身上穿着条用料考究的蓝色长裙和一件白底蓝条纹衬衫,雪白的底子上有头发丝一样细的条子,和裙子很相配。

长裙下偶而露出棕色的皮鞋。她的手套拿在手上。

赫斯渥高兴地抬头看着她。

“你终于来了,亲爱的,”他热烈地说着,站起身来迎接她的到来,把她的手放在自己的手里。

“是啊,”她嫣然一笑。“你担心我不来吗?”“我不知道,”他回答。

他看着她,她的前额因为走得急已渗出了汗水。于是他掏出自己的喷了香水的软绸手帕,给她的脸上这儿那儿擦着。

“好了,”他深情地说,“这下好了。”

他们在一起,四目交注,感到很幸福。等刚见面的兴奋平静一点时他说:“查理什么时候再出门?”“我不知道,”她回答。“他说公司里有些事要他做。”赫斯渥变得严肃了,他静静地陷入了沉思。

“我想要你离开他。”

他的目光转向玩船的孩子们,好像在提一项小要求。

“那我们到哪里去呢?”她用手卷着手套,眼睛看着附近的一棵树,用同样的口气问道。

“你想去哪里呢?”他问。

他说这话的口气使她觉得,她似乎必须表明她不喜欢住在本地。

“我们不能留在芝加哥,”她回答。

他没料到她会有这个想法,没料到她有迁移外地的要求。

“为什么不能呢?”他轻轻问。

“嗯,因为,”她说,“因为我不喜欢留在这里。”他听着这话,但是并没有深刻理解这话的含意。这些话现在听来并不重要,还没有到马上做决定的时候呢。

“那样的话,我就得放弃我的职位了。”

他说这话的口气轻描淡写,好像这事儿不值得严肃考虑。

嘉莉一边欣赏着周围美丽的景色,一边想了一下。

“有他在这里,我不想住在芝加哥。”她说这话时想到了杜洛埃。

“这是一个大城市,我最亲爱的,”赫斯渥回答。“如果搬到南区去,那就好像搬到了另一个城里。”他已看中那个地方作为建香巢的地点。

“不管怎么样,”嘉莉说,“只要他在这里,我就不想结婚。

我不想私奔。”

结婚这个提议给赫斯渥重重一击。他清楚地看出这就是她的念头--他感到这个障碍很难克服。一时间,在他的思想中模模糊糊闪出了重婚这个念头。他实在想不出这事的后果。

迄今除了赢得了她的感情以外他看不出自己有什么进展。他注视着她,感到她真美。得到她的爱是件多么美妙的事,即使为此陷入纠葛中去也值得!在他眼里,她更可贵了,她是值得拼命追求的,这就是一切。她和那些轻易就能到手的女人多么不同啊!他把那些女人从脑子里驱除了出去。

“你不知道他什么时候出门吗?”赫斯渥轻轻地说。

她摇了摇头。

他叹息了。

“你真是个固执的小姑娘,是不是?”过了一会儿他抬起头来看着她的眼睛,说道。

听了这话,她感到一股柔情流遍全身。他的话在她听来是一种赞叹,她为此感到骄傲,也对这么欣赏自己的男人情意绵绵。

“不是的,”她撒娇地说。“不过我又有什么办法呢?”他又十指交叉地抱着双手,目光投向草坪那边的街道。

“我真希望你能来到我的身边,”他幽幽地说,“我不愿意和你这样分居两地。我们这样等下去有什么好处呢?你不见得更快乐一点,是吗?”“快乐?”她温柔地叫了起来,“你知道这是不可能的。”“那么我们现在是在白白地浪费我们的时间,”他继续幽幽地说。“如果你不快乐,你认为我快乐吗?我每天的大部分时间都是坐在那里给你写信。你听我说,嘉莉,”他的声音突然充满了激情,他凝视着她的眼睛叫了起来,“没有你我活不下去,就是这么回事。那么,”他无奈地把他白净的手心一摊,最后说,“你叫我怎么办呢?”他这样把责任推到她身上,使嘉莉深受感动。像这样有名无实地似乎把一切决定权都交到了女人手中,最能打动女人的心。

“你不能再等一些时候吗?”她柔情脉脉地说,“我会想办法弄清他什么时候走的。”“那又有什么用呢?”他仍是那么绝望无奈。

“那么,也许我们可以安排一起到哪里去。”其实究竟该怎么办,她并不比刚才更清楚。可是现在出于同情,她的心理实已陷入女性屈服和让步的状态。

可是赫斯渥并不理解她这种思想状况。他仍在想怎么能说服她--怎么能感动她,使她放弃杜洛埃。他开始想知道她对他的感情究竟能使她走到哪一步。他要想个问题来试探她。

最后他想到了一个提议。这种提议既能掩饰自己的意愿,又能试探出对方对我们的意愿有多大的阻力,以便寻找出一条出路。他的提议只是信口开河,并没有经过认真思考,和他的真实打算毫无联系。

“嘉莉,”他注视着她的眼睛,装出一副认真的表情,煞有介事地说,“倘若我下星起来找你,或者就是这星期,譬如说就今晚--我来告诉你我必须离开这里--我一分钟也不能再待下去了,我这一去再也不回来了--你会和我一起走吗?"他的爱人深情款款地看着他,他的问题还没说完,她的答案已经准备好了。

“当然,”她说。

“你不会和我争论不肯走,或者需要安排安排再走吗?”“不会,如果你等不及的话。”看到她把他的话当真了,他脸上露出了微笑。他想,这机会倒不错,他可以出去玩个把星期。他真想告诉她,他只是开开玩笑,不过那样会把她脸上那股可爱的严肃劲赶跑了。看到她这么认真太让人高兴了,所以他就不说穿这一点,让她继续当真下去。

“假如我们在这里来不及结婚怎么办呢?”他突然想到这一点,于是又加了一句。

“如果我们到达目的地以后马上结婚,那也行。”“我原来就是这么打算的。”“好的。”现在在他看来这个早晨的阳光似乎特别地明媚灿烂。他真吃惊自己怎么会想到这个好点子。尽管这事情看来不太可能,他禁不住为自己问话的巧妙而喜容满面。这说明她有多么爱他。他现在脑子里一点疑虑也没有了,他会想个法子把她弄到手的。

“好,”他开玩笑地说,“哪天晚上我就要来把你带走了,”他说着笑了起来。

“不过假如你不娶我的话,我不会和你住在一起的,”嘉莉沉思地加了一句。

“我不会要你这么做的,”他温柔地握着她的手说。

她现在明白了他的意思,所以感到无比的幸福。想到他将把她从目前的困境中解救出来,她对他爱得更深了。至于他,并没有把结婚这个条款放在心上。他心里想的是,她既然爱他,那就没有什么东西能妨碍他最后得到幸福了。

“我们走走吧,”他快乐地说,站起身来打量着这个可爱的公园。

“好的,”嘉莉说。

他们走过那个年轻的爱尔兰人,他用妒忌的目光看着他们的背影。

“真是漂亮的一对,”他自忖道,“一定很有钱。”




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