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嘉莉妹妹(Sister Carrie) 第二十四章

时间:2010-07-16 10:07    来源:    作者: 点击:
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Chapter 24

ASHES OF TINDER: A FACE AT THE WINDOW

 

That night Hurstwood remained down town entirely, going to the Palmer House for a bed after his work was through. He was in a fevered state of mind, owing to the blight his wife's action threatened to cast upon his entire future. While he was not sure how much significance might be attached to the threat she had made, he was sure that her attitude, if long continued, would cause him no end of trouble. She was determined, and had worsted him in a very important contest. How would it be from now on? He walked the floor of his little office, and later that of his room, putting one thing and another together to no avail.

Mrs. Hurstwood, on the contrary, had decided not to lose her advantage by inaction. Now that she had practically cowed him, she would follow up her work with demands, the acknowledgment of which would make her word law in the future. He would have to pay her the money which she would now regularly demand or there would be trouble. It did not matter what he did. She really did not care whether he came home any more or not. The household would move along much more pleasantly without him, and she could do as she wished without consulting any one. Now she proposed to consult a lawyer and hire a detective. She would find out at once just what advantages she could gain.

Hurstwood walked the floor, mentally arranging the chief points of his situation. "She has that property in her name," he kept saying to himself. "What a fool trick that was. Curse it! What a fool move that was."

He also thought of his managerial position. "If she raises a row now I'll lose this thing. They won't have me around if my name gets in the papers. My friends, too!" He grew more angry as he thought of the talk any action on her part would create. How would the papers talk about it? Every man he knew would be wondering. He would have to explain and deny and make a general mark of himself. Then Moy would come and confer with him and there would be the devil to pay.

Many little wrinkles gathered between his eyes as he contemplated this, and his brow moistened. He saw no solution of anything -- not a loophole left.

Through all this thoughts of Carrie flashed upon him, and the approaching affair of Saturday. Tangled as all his matters were, he did not worry over that. It was the one pleasing thing in this whole rout of trouble. He could arrange that satisfactorily, for Carrie would be glad to wait, if necessary. He would see how things turned out to-morrow, and then he would talk to her. They were going to meet as usual. He saw only her pretty face and neat figure and wondered why life was not arranged so that such joy as he found with her could be steadily maintained. How much more pleasant it would be. Then he would take up his wife's threat again, and the wrinkles and moisture would return.

In the morning he came over from the hotel and opened his mail, but there was nothing in it outside the ordinary run. For some reason he felt as if something might come that way, and was relieved when all the envelopes had been scanned and nothing suspicious noticed. He began to feel the appetite that had been wanting before he had reached the office, and decided before going out to the park to meet Carrie to drop in at the Grand Pacific and have a pot of coffee and some rolls. While the danger had not lessened, it had not as yet materialised, and with him no news was good news. If he could only get plenty of time to think, perhaps something would turn up. Surely, surely, this thing would not drift along to catastrophe and he not find a way out.

His spirits fell, however, when, upon reaching the park, he waited and waited and Carrie did not come. He held his favourite post for an hour or more, then arose and began to walk about restlessly. Could something have happened out there to keep her away? Could she have been reached by his wife? Surely not. So little did he consider Drouet that it never once occurred to him to worry about his finding out. He grew restless as he ruminated, and then decided that perhaps it was nothing. She had not been able to get away this morning. That was why no letter notifying him had come. He would get one today. It would probably be on his desk when he got back. He would look for it at once.

After a time he gave up waiting and drearily headed for the Madison car. To add to his distress, the bright blue sky became overcast with little fleecy clouds which shut out the sun. The wind veered to the east, and by the time he reached his office it was threatening to drizzle all afternoon.

He went in and examined his letters, but there was nothing from Carrie. Fortunately, there was nothing from his wife either. He thanked his stars that he did not have to confront that proposition just now when he needed to think so much. He walked the floor again, pretending to be in an ordinary mood, but secretly troubled beyond the expression of words.

At one-thirty he went to Rector's for lunch, and when he returned a messenger was waiting for him. He looked at the little chap with a feeling of doubt.

"I'm to bring an answer," said the boy.

Hurstwood recognised his wife's writing. He tore it open and read without a show of feeling. It began in the most formal manner and was sharply and coldly worded throughout.

"I want you to send the money I asked for at once. I need it to carry out my plans. You can stay away if you want to. It doesn't matter in the least. I must have some money. So don't delay, but send it by the boy."

When he had finished it, he stood holding it in his hands. The audacity of the thing took his breath. It roused his ire also -- the deepest element of revolt in him. His first impulse was to write but four words in reply -- "Go to the devil!" -- but he compromised by telling the boy that there would be no reply. Then he sat down in his chair and gazed without seeing, contemplating the result of his work. What would she do about that? The confounded wretch! Was she going to try to bulldoze him into submission? He would go up there and have it out with her, that's what he would do. She was carrying things with too high a hand. These were his first thoughts.

Later, however, his old discretion asserted itself. Something had to be done. A climax was near and she would not sit idle. He knew her well enough to know that when she had decided upon a plan she would follow it up. Possibly matters would go into a lawyer's hands at once.

"Damn her!" he said softly, with his teeth firmly set, "I'll make it hot for her if she causes me trouble. I'll make her change her tone if I have to use force to do it!"

He arose from his chair and went and looked out into the street. The long drizzle had begun. Pedestrians had turned up collars, and trousers at the bottom. Hands were hidden in the pockets of the umbrellaless; umbrellas were up. The street looked like a sea of round black cloth roofs, twisting, bobbing, moving. Trucks and vans were rattling in a noisy line and everywhere men were shielding themselves as best they could. He scarcely noticed the picture. He was forever confronting his wife, demanding of her to change her attitude toward him before he worked her bodily harm.

At four o'clock another note came, which simply said that if the money was not forthcoming that evening the matter would be laid before Fitzgerald and Moy on the morrow, and other steps would be taken to get it.

Hurstwood almost exclaimed out loud at the insistency of this thing. Yes, he would send her the money. He'd take it to her -- he would go up there and have a talk with her, and that at once.

He put on his hat and looked around for his umbrella. He would have some arrangement of this thing.

He called a cab and was driven through the dreary rain to the North Side. On the way his temper cooled as he thought of the details of the case. What did she know? What had she done? Maybe she'd got hold of Carrie, who knows -- or Drouet. Perhaps she really had evidence, and was prepared to fell him as a man does another from secret ambush. She was shrewd. Why should she taunt him this way unless she had good grounds?

He began to wish that he had compromised in some way or other -- that he had sent the money. Perhaps he could do it up here. He would go in and see, anyhow. He would have no row.

By the time he reached his own street he was keenly alive to the difficulties of his situation and wished over and over that some solution would offer itself, that he could see his way out. He alighted and went up the steps to the front door, but it was with a nervous palpitation of the heart. He pulled out his key and tried to insert it, but another key was on the inside. He shook at the knob, but the door was locked. Then he rang the bell. No answer. He rang again -- this time harder. Still no answer. He jangled it fiercely several times in succession, but without avail. Then he went below.

There was a door which opened under the steps into the kitchen, protected by an iron grating, intended as a safeguard against burglars. When he reached this he noticed that it also was bolted and that the kitchen windows were down. What could it mean? He rang the bell and then waited. Finally, seeing that no one was coming, he turned and went back to his cab.

"I guess they've gone out," he said apologetically to the individual who was hiding his red face in a loose tarpaulin rain-coat.

"I saw a young girl up in that winder," returned the cabby.

Hurstwood looked, but there was no face there now. He climbed moodily into the cab, relieved and distressed.

So this was the game, was it? Shut him out and make him pay. Well, by the Lord, that did beat all!

第二十四章

内战的余火:窗边人影

 


那天晚上赫斯渥整晚都留在商业区,没有回家。下班以后他到帕尔默旅馆过夜。他太太的行为对他的未来和前途造成了可怕的威胁,这使他心里火烧火燎的。尽管他还不知道应该如何估量她的威胁,他已肯定她这种态度如果继续下去,会给他带来无穷无尽的麻烦。她已经铁了心,而且在一次重要的交锋中击败了他。从今以后事情会怎么样呢?他在他的小办公室里踱来踱去,后来又在旅馆的房间里踱来踱去,把各种情况都考虑到了,就是一筹莫展。

另一方面,赫斯渥太太下了决心,不肯因为无所作为而失去她业已取得的优势。现在她既已将他吓倒,她要乘胜追击,提出她的种种要求。只要他让步接受了她的条件,那么今后她的话就成了家里的。她要不断地向他要钱,他不给也得给。不然的话,就让他吃不了兜着走。他的任何举动现在都无足轻重。他今后回不回家她才不在乎呢。他不来家,这个家里的一切反而愉快和谐。她可以随心所欲,不用征求任何人的意见。她打算要找律师咨询,还打算雇一个侦探。她要立刻弄明白她从中可以得到什么好处。

赫斯渥在屋里踱步,心里估量着他的处境的主要方面。

“产业在她的名下,”他不断对自己说,“这一招真是愚蠢之极。

该死!这一步走得太蠢了。”

他又想到了他的经理的职位。“如果她现在弄得满城风雨,我的一切就完了。假如我的名字上了报纸,他们会把我解雇了。而且我那些朋友们!”想到她采取的任何步骤都会造成流言蜚语,他心里更气恼了。报纸会怎么说呢?每个熟人都会在心里犯嘀咕。他将不得不向他们解释和否认,使自己成为众人的话柄。接着莫埃就会来和他商量,这一来他的前途就不堪设想了。

想到这一切,他的眉头间聚起了许多细细的皱纹,额头也汗湿了。他想不出有什么出路--连一条缝隙也没有。

这期间,嘉莉和即将来临的星期六的安排不时在他脑海里闪过。尽管他的处境已经一团糟,他并不为他和嘉莉的关系担心。这是他在困境中唯一令人欣慰的事。他可以把这件事安排得称心如意。因为如果有必要的话,嘉莉会乐意等待的。

他要看明天情况而定。然后他会和她谈谈。他们会像往常一样见面。他在脑海里只看见她的美丽的脸和匀称的体态。奇怪,生活为什么不作美,为什么不让他永远享有和她共同生活的欢乐。如果他能如愿的话,生活会比现在美满得多。这又令他想起他太太的威胁,于是皱纹和冷汗又回到了他的脸上。

早上他从旅馆来到了店里,打开他的信件。但是这些都只是通常那类信件。不知为什么,他有个感觉,觉得邮局会送来什么坏消息。因此当他仔细看了信件,没有发现什么令人疑心的信时,心里松了一口气。来办公室的路上他一点胃口也没有。现在他的胃口又恢复了,因此他决定在去小公园和嘉莉见面之前,顺路先拐到太平洋大饭店去喝上一杯咖啡,吃上几个小圆面包。到目前为止,他的危险并没有减少分毫,但是也还没有成为现实。在他目前的思想状态中,没有消息就是好消息了。只要他有足够的时间思考,他也许会想出什么法子来的。

事情不可能演变成一场大灾难。他一定会找到一条出路的。

但是,当他来到公园等嘉莉,一等再等仍不见她的人影时,他的情绪又低落了。他在他心爱的地点等了足足一个多小时,然后他站起来,开始心神不宁地在周围走来走去。会不会那里出了什么事使她来不了?他的妻子会不会去找她?肯定不会。他压根没有把杜洛埃放在心上,所以他一点没往那方面想,没担心他会发现真相。他左思右想,越来越坐立不安。随后他又猜想,也许没有什么大不了的,也许只是她今天临时走不开而已。所以他没有收到信,通知他来不了。今天他会收到一封信的。他回去时,说不定已有信在办公桌上等他了。他必须马上回去看看有没有她的信。

过了一会儿,他放弃了等待,无精打采地到麦迪生大道坐街车。刚才还是灿烂的晴空,现在布满了小片小片的白云,把太阳遮住了,这使得他的情绪更为低落。风向转而朝东,等他回到酒店写字间时,天已经是阴沉沉的,看样子毛毛雨会整个下午淅沥淅沥下个没完。

他走进酒店,查看他的信件,但是没有嘉莉的信。不过他感到庆幸的是,也没有他太太的信。谢天谢地,他还不必去面对那个难题,眼下他有那么多事要考虑。他又踱来踱去,外表装得和平常一样,但是内心的焦虑却难以言传。

一点半的时候,他去雷克脱饭店吃午饭。等他回来时,一个信差正在恭候他。他心怀疑虑地打量了一下送信的小家伙。

“要回条,”小伙子说。

赫斯渥认出是他太太的笔迹。他撕开信,面无表情地看了信。信的格式一本正经,从头到尾的措辞极其尖刻冷淡:我要的钱请即刻送来,我需要这笔钱实施我的计划。

你不回家,由你自便。这无关紧要。但是钱必须给我。不要拖延。让信差把钱带来。

他读完了信,还手里拿着信站在那里。这封信的肆无忌惮的口气让他大吃一惊,也激起了他的怒火--他的最强烈的反抗情绪。他的第一个冲动是写四个字回敬:“见鬼去吧!"但是他克制了这个冲动,告诉信差没有回条,作为一种折衷。然后他在椅子里坐下来,两眼呆视着,思忖着这么做的后果。这样一来,她会采取什么步骤呢?该死的东西!她想把他压服吗?

他要回去和她吵个明白。他就要这么办。她太专横了。这些是他最初的想法。

不过他的一贯的谨慎作风接着又抬了头。必须想个法子才行。危机已经迫在眉睫,她不会善罢甘休的。其他对她的了解,他深知她一旦下了决心,就会一竿子走到底。有可能她会把这件事立刻交到律师手里。

“该死的女人!”他咬牙切齿地骂道。“如果她找我麻烦,我也要给她点颜色看看。我要让她改改说话的腔调,哪怕要动拳头!”他从椅子上站起身来,走到窗边看着外面的街道。绵绵的细雨已经开始下了。行人们竖起了外套衣领,卷起了裤脚边。

没带伞的人把手插在衣服口袋里,带了伞的人高高举着桑街上成了一片圆圆的黑布伞面的海洋,翻滚起伏着,往前移动着。敞篷和有篷的运货马车嘈杂地鱼贯而行,发出嘎拉嘎拉的响声。到处有人在尽量躲雨。可是赫斯渥几乎没有注意到眼前的景象。在他的想象中,他一直在和他妻子正面交锋,强迫她改变态度,免得皮肉吃苦。

4点时,他又收到了一张条子,上面简单地说,如果当晚钱没有送到,明天费茨杰拉德和莫埃先生就会得知此事。还会采取其他的步骤。

赫斯渥看到她这么步步紧逼气得几乎要嚷了出来。是的,他必须把钱给她,他要亲自送去,他要去那里和她谈谈,而且得马上去。

他戴上帽子,四处找桑对这事他要作出安排。

他叫了辆马车。马车载着他穿过阴沉沉的雨幕驶向北区。

在路上,他想到这事情的许多细节,情绪开始冷静下来。她知道些什么?她已经采取了什么步骤?也许她已经找到了嘉莉,谁知道呢--或者找到了杜洛埃。也许她确实掌握了证据,正暗中设下埋伏,准备对他来个突然袭击,像男人之间所做的那样。她是个精明的人。除非她确实有了证据,不然她怎么会对他这样辱骂呢?

他开始懊悔他没有用某种方法和她达成妥协--没有早送钱去。也许他现在去还来得及。无论如何,他要回去看看情况。他不想和她大吵大闹。

等他到了他家所在的那条街时,他充分意识到他的处境的种种为难,一次次盼望某个解决办法从天而降,给他一条出路。他下了车,上了台阶,走到前门,紧张得心砰砰乱跳。他掏出钥匙,想把钥匙插进锁里,但是从里面已经插了一把钥匙。

他摇了摇门把手,但是门锁住了。他去摇门铃,没有人应门。他又摇门铃,这次更用力了。仍然没有反应。他又一连几次使劲地摇门铃,但是一点用处也没有。于是他走下台阶。

台阶下有一扇门通到厨房,门上装着铁栅栏,是用于防盗的。他走到这扇门跟前,发现门上了闩,厨房的窗子也放下了。

这是什么意思?他又摇响了门铃,然后等在那里。最后,看到没人来给他开门,他转身朝马车走去。

“我猜想他们都出门了,”他抱歉地对马车夫说。马车夫正用他宽大的防水雨衣遮着自己的红脸。

“我看见上面窗子里有个年轻的姑娘,”马车夫回答说。

赫斯渥朝上看了看,但是那里已经看不到人影了。他忧郁地上了马车,既松了一口气,又忧心忡忡。

那么,这就是她玩的把戏了,是吗?把他关在门外,却向他要钱。天哪,这一手可真绝。




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