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嘉莉妹妹(Sister Carrie) 第三十六章

时间:2010-07-16 10:07    来源:    作者: 点击:
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Chapter 36

A GRIM RETROGRESSION: THE PHANTOM OF CHANCE

 

The Vances, who had been back in the city ever since Christmas, had not forgotten Carrie; but they, or rather Mrs. Vance, had never called on her, for the very simple reason that Carrie had never sent her address. True to her nature, she corresponded with Mrs. Vance as long as she still lived in Seventy-eighth Street, but when she was compelled to move into Thirteenth, her fear that the latter would take it as an indication of reduced circumstances caused her to study some way of avoiding the necessity of giving her address. Not finding any convenient method, she sorrowfully resigned the privilege of writing to her friend entirely. The latter wondered at this strange silence, thought Carrie must have left the city, and in the end gave her up as lost. So she was thoroughly surprised to encounter her in Fourteenth Street, where she had gone shopping. Carrie was there for the same purpose.

"Why, Mrs. Wheeler," said Mrs. Vance, looking Carrie over in a glance, "where have you been? Why haven't you been to see me? I've been wondering all this time what had become of you. Really, I-"

"I'm so glad to see you," said Carrie, pleased and yet nonplussed. Of all times, this was the worst to encounter Mrs. Vance. "Why, I'm living down town here. I've been intending to come and see you. Where are you living now?"

"In Fifty-eighth Street," said Mrs. Vance, "just off Seventh Avenue -- 218. Why don't you come and see me?"

"I will," said Carrie. "Really, I've been wanting to come. I know I ought to. It's a shame. But you know-"

"What's your number?" said Mrs. Vance.

"Thirteenth Street," said Carrie, reluctantly. "112 West."

"Oh," said Mrs. Vance, "that's right near here, isn't it?"

"Yes," said Carrie. "You must come down and see me some time."

"Well, you're a fine one," said Mrs. Vance, laughing, the while noting that Carrie's appearance had modified somewhat. "The address, too," she added to herself. "They must be hard up."

Still she liked Carrie well enough to take her in tow.

"Come with me in here a minute," she exclaimed, turning into a store.

When Carrie returned home, there was Hurstwood, reading as usual. He seemed to take his condition with the utmost nonchalance. His beard was at least four days old.

"Oh," thought Carrie, "if she were to come here and see him?"

She shook her head in absolute misery. It looked as if her situation was becoming unbearable.

Driven to desperation, she asked at dinner:

"Did you ever hear any more from that wholesale house?"

"No," he said. "They don't want an inexperienced man."

Carrie dropped the subject, feeling unable to say more.

"I met Mrs. Vance this afternoon," she said, after a time.

"Did, eh?" he answered.

"They're back in New York now," Carrie went on. "She did look so nice."

"Well, she can afford it as long as he puts up for it," returned Hurstwood. "He's got a soft job."

Hurstwood was looking into the paper. He could not see the look of infinite weariness and discontent Carrie gave him.

"She said she thought she'd call here some day."

"She's been long getting round to it, hasn't she?" said Hurstwood, with a kind of sarcasm.

The woman didn't appeal to him from her spending side.

"Oh, I don't know," said Carrie, angered by the man's attitude. "Perhaps I didn't want her to come."

"She's too gay," said Hurstwood, significantly. "No one can keep up with her pace unless they've got a lot of money."

"Mr. Vance doesn't seem to find it very hard."

"He may not now," answered Hurstwood, doggedly, well understanding the inference; "but his life isn't done yet. You can't tell what'll happen. He may get down like anybody else."

There was something quite knavish in the man's attitude. His eye seemed to be cocked with a twinkle upon the fortunate, expecting their defeat. His own state seemed a thing apart -- not considered.

This thing was the remains of his old-time cocksureness and independence. Sitting in his flat, and reading of the doings of other people, sometimes this independent, undefeated mood came upon him. Forgetting the weariness of the streets and the degradation of search, he would sometimes prick up his ears. It was as if he said:

"I can do something. I'm not down yet. There's a lot of things coming to me if I want to go after them."

It was in this mood that he would occasionally dress up, go for a shave, and, putting on his gloves, sally forth quite actively. Not with any definite aim. It was more a barometric condition. He felt just right for being outside and doing something.

On such occasions, his money went also. He knew of several poker rooms down town. A few acquaintances he had in downtown resorts and about the City Hall. It was a change to see them and exchange a few friendly commonplaces.

He had once been accustomed to hold a pretty fair hand at poker. Many a friendly game had netted him a hundred dollars or more at the time when that sum was merely sauce to the dish of the game -- not the all in all. Now, he thought of playing.

"I might win a couple of hundred. I'm not out of practice."

It is but fair to say that this thought had occurred to him several times before he acted upon it.

The poker room which he first invaded was over a saloon in West Street, near one of the ferries. He had been there before. Several games were going. These he watched for a time and noticed that the pots were quite large for the ante involved.

"Deal me a hand," he said at the beginning of a new shuffle. He pulled up a chair and studied his cards. Those playing made that quiet study of him which is so unapparent, and yet invariably so searching.

Poor fortune was with him at first. He received a mixed collection without progression or pairs. The pot was opened.

"I pass," he said.

On the strength of this, he was content to lose his ante. The deals did fairly by him in the long run, causing him to come away with a few dollars to the good.

The next afternoon he was back again, seeking amusement and profit. This time he followed up three of a kind to his doom. There was a better hand across the table, held by a pugnacious Irish youth, who was a political hanger-on of the Tammany district in which they were located. Hurstwood was surprised at the persistence of this individual, whose bets came with a sang-froid which, if a bluff, was excellent art. Hurstwood began to doubt, but kept, or thought to keep, at least, the cool demeanour with which, in olden times, he deceived those psychic students of the gaming table, who seem to read thoughts and moods, rather than exterior evidences, however subtle. He could not down the cowardly thought that this man had something better and would stay to the end, drawing his last dollar into the pot, should he choose to go so far. Still, he hoped to win much -- his hand was excellent. Why not raise it five more?

"I raise you three," said the youth.

"Make it five," said Hurstwood, pushing out his chips.

"Come again," said the youth, pushing out a small pile of reds.

"Let me have some more chips," said Hurstwood to the keeper in charge, taking out a bill.

A cynical grin lit up the face of his youthful opponent. When the chips were laid out, Hurstwood met the raise.

"Five again," said the youth.

Hurstwood's brow was wet. He was deep in now -- very deep for him. Sixty dollars of his good money was up. He was ordinarily no coward, but the thought of losing so much weakened him. Finally he gave way. He would not trust to this fine hand any longer.

"I call," he said.

"A full house!" said the youth, spreading out his cards.

Hurstwood's hand dropped.

"I thought I had you," he said, weakly.

The youth raked in his chips, and Hurstwood came away, not without first stopping to count his remaining cash on the stair.

"Three hundred and forty dollars," he said.

With this loss and ordinary expenses, so much had already gone.

Back in the flat, he decided he would play no more.

Remembering Mrs. Vance's promise to call, Carrie made one other mild protest. It was concerning Hurstwood's appearance. This very day, coming home, he changed his clothes to the old togs he sat around in.

"What makes you always put on those old clothes?" asked Carrie.

"What's the use wearing my good ones around here?" he asked.

"Well, I should think you'd feel better." Then she added: "Some one might call."

"Who?" he said.

"Well, Mrs. Vance," said Carrie.

"She needn't see me," he answered, sullenly.

This lack of pride and interest made Carrie almost hate him.

"Oh," she thought, "there he sits. 'She needn't see me.' I should think he would be ashamed of himself."

The real bitterness of this thing was added when Mrs. Vance did call. It was on one of her shopping rounds. Making her way up the commonplace hall, she knocked at Carrie's door. To her subsequent and agonising distress, Carrie was out. Hurstwood opened the door, half-thinking that the knock was Carrie's. For once, he was taken honestly aback. The lost voice of youth and pride spoke in him.

"Why," he said, actually stammering, "how do you do?"

"How do you do?" said Mrs. Vance, who could scarcely believe her eyes. His great confusion she instantly perceived. He did not know whether to invite her in or not.

"Is your wife at home?" she inquired.

"No," he said, "Carrie's out; but won't you step in? She'll be back shortly."

"No-o," said Mrs. Vance, realising the change of it all. "I'm really very much in a hurry. I thought I'd just run up and look in, but I couldn't stay. Just tell your wife she must come and see me."

"I will," said Hurstwood, standing back, and feeling intense relief at her going. He was so ashamed that he folded his hands weakly, as he sat in the chair afterwards, and thought.

Carrie, coming in from another direction, thought she saw Mrs. Vance going away. She strained her eyes, but could not make sure.

"Was anybody here just now?" she asked of Hurstwood.

"Yes," he said guiltily; "Mrs. Vance."

"Did she see you?" she asked, expressing her full despair.

This cut Hurstwood like a whip, and made him sullen.

"If she had eyes, she did. I opened the door."

"Oh," said Carrie, closing one hand tightly out of sheer nervousness. "What did she have to say?"

"Nothing," he answered. "She couldn't stay."

"And you looking like that!" said Carrie, throwing aside a long reserve.

"What of it?" he said, angering. "I didn't know she was coming, did I?"

"You knew she might," said Carrie. "I told you she said she was coming. I've asked you a dozen times to wear your other clothes. Oh, I think this is just terrible."

"Oh, let up," he answered. "What difference does it make? You couldn't associate with her, anyway. They've got too much money."

"Who said I wanted to?" said Carrie, fiercely.

"Well, you act like it, rowing around over my looks. You'd think I'd committed-"

Carrie interrupted:

"It's true," she said. "I couldn't if I wanted to, but whose fault is it? You're very free to sit and talk about who I could associate with. Why don't you get out and look for work?"

This was a thunderbolt in camp.

"What's it to you?" he said, rising, almost fiercely. "I pay the rent, don't I? I furnish the-"

"Yes, you pay the rent," said Carrie. "You talk as if there was nothing else in the world but a flat to sit around in. You haven't done a thing for three months except sit around and interfere here. I'd like to know what you married me for?"

"I didn't marry you," he said, in a snarling tone.

"I'd like to know what you did, then, in Montreal?" she answered.

"Well, I didn't marry you," he answered. "You can get that out of your head. You talk as though you didn't know."

Carrie looked at him a moment, her eyes distending. She had believed it was all legal and binding enough.

"What did you lie to me for, then?" she asked, fiercely. "What did you force me to run away with you for?"

Her voice became almost a sob.

"Force!" he said, with curled lip. "A lot of forcing I did."

"Oh!" said Carrie, breaking under the strain, and turning. "Oh, oh!" and she hurried into the front room.

Hurstwood was now hot and waked up. It was a great shaking up for him, both mental and moral. He wiped his brow as he looked around, and then went for his clothes and dressed. Not a sound came from Carrie; she ceased sobbing when she heard him dressing. She thought, at first, with the faintest alarm, of being left without money -- not of losing him, though he might be going away permanently. She heard him open the top of the wardrobe and take out his hat. Then the dining-room door closed, and she knew he had gone.

After a few moments of silence, she stood up, dry-eyed, and looked out the window. Hurstwood was just strolling up the street, from the flat, toward Sixth Avenue.

The latter made progress along Thirteenth and across Fourteenth Street to Union Square.

"Look for work!" he said to himself. "Look for work! She tells me to get out and look for work."

He tried to shield himself from his own mental accusation, which told him that she was right.

"What a cursed thing that Mrs. Vance's call was, anyhow," he thought. "Stood right there, and looked me over. I know what she was thinking."

He remembered the few times he had seen her in Seventy-eighth Street. She was always a swell-looker, and he had tried to put on the air of being worthy of such as she, in front of her. Now, to think she had caught him looking this way. He wrinkled his forehead in his distress.

"The devil!" he said a dozen times in an hour.

It was a quarter after four when he left the house. Carrie was in tears. There would be no dinner that night.

"What the deuce," he said, swaggering mentally to hide his own shame from himself. "I'm not so bad. I'm not down yet."

He looked around the square, and seeing the several large hotels, decided to go to one for dinner. He would get his papers and make himself comfortable there.

He ascended into the fine parlour of the Morton House, then one of the best New York hotels, and, finding a cushioned seat, read. It did not trouble him much that his decreasing sum of money did not allow of such extravagance. Like the morphine fiend, he was becoming addicted to his ease. Anything to relieve his mental distress, to satisfy his craving for comfort. He must do it. No thoughts for the morrow -- he could not stand to think of it any more than he could of any other calamity. Like the certainty of death, he tried to shut the certainty of soon being without a dollar completely out of his mind, and he came very near doing it.

Well-dressed guests moving to and fro over the thick carpets carried him back to the old days. A young lady, a guest of the house, playing a piano in an alcove pleased him. He sat there reading.

His dinner cost him $1.50. By eight o'clock he was through, and then, seeing guests leaving and the crowd of pleasure-seekers thickening outside, wondered where he should go. Not home. Carrie would be up. No, he would not go back there this evening. He would stay out and knock around as a man who was independent -- not broke -- well might. He bought a cigar, and went outside on the corner where other individuals were lounging -- brokers, racing people, thespians -- his own flesh and blood. As he stood there, he thought of the old evenings in Chicago, and how he used to dispose of them. Many's the game he had had. This took him to poker.

"I didn't do that thing right the other day," he thought, referring to his loss of sixty dollars. "I shouldn't have weakened. I could have bluffed that fellow down. I wasn't in form, that's what ailed me."

Then he studied the possibilities of the game as it had been played, and began to figure how he might have won, in several instances, by bluffing a little harder.

"I'm old enough to play poker and do something with it. I'll try my hand to-night."

Visions of a big stake floated before him. Supposing he did win a couple of hundred, wouldn't he be in it? Lots of sports he knew made their living at this game, and a good living, too.

"They always had as much as I had," he thought.

So off he went to a poker room in the neighbourhood, feeling much as he had in the old days. In this period of self-forgetfulness, aroused first by the shock of argument and perfected by a dinner in the hotel, with cocktails and cigars, he was as nearly like the old Hurstwood as he would ever be again. It was not the old Hurstwood -- only a man arguing with a divided conscience and lured by a phantom.

This poker room was much like the other one, only it was a back room in a better drinking resort. Hurstwood watched a while, and then, seeing an interesting game, joined in. As before, it went easy for a while, he winning a few times and cheering up, losing a few pots and growing more interested and determined on that account. At last the fascinating game took a strong hold on him. He enjoyed its risks and ventured, on a trifling hand, to bluff the company and secure a fair stake. To his self-satisfaction intense and strong, he did it.

In the height of this feeling he began to think his luck was with him. No one else had done so well. Now came another moderate hand, and again he tried to open the jack-pot on it. There were others there who were almost reading his heart, so close was their observation.

"I have three of a kind," said one of the players to himself. "I'll just stay with the fellow to the finish."

The result was that bidding began.

"I raise you ten."

"Good."

"Ten more."

"Good."

"Ten again."

"Right you are."

It got to where Hurstwood had seventy-five dollars up. The other man really became serious. Perhaps this individual (Hurstwood) really did have a stiff hand.

"I call," he said.

Hurstwood showed his hand. He was done. The bitter fact that he had lost seventy-five dollars made him desperate.

"Let's have another pot," he said, grimly.

"All right," said the man.

Some of the other players quit, but observant loungers took their places. Time passed, and it came to twelve o'clock. Hurstwood held on, neither winning nor losing much. Then he grew weary, and on a last hand lost twenty more. He was sick at heart.

At a quarter after one in the morning he came out of the place. The chill, bare streets seemed a mockery of his state. He walked slowly west, little thinking of his row with Carrie. He ascended the stairs and went into his room as if there had been no trouble. It was his loss that occupied his mind. Sitting down on the bedside he counted his money. There was now but a hundred and ninety dollars and some change. He put it up and began to undress.

"I wonder what's getting into me, anyhow?" he said.

In the morning Carrie scarcely spoke, and he felt as if he must go out again. He had treated her badly, but he could not afford to make up. Now desperation seized him, and for a day or two, going out thus, he lived like a gentleman -- or what he conceived to be a gentleman -- which took money. For his escapades he was soon poorer in mind and body, to say nothing of his purse, which had lost thirty by the process. Then he came down to cold, bitter sense again.

"The rent man comes to-day," said Carrie, greeting him thus indifferently three mornings later.

"He does?"

"Yes; this is the second," answered Carrie.

Hurstwood frowned. Then in despair he got out his purse.

"It seems an awful lot to pay for rent," he said.

He was nearing his last hundred dollars.

第三十六章

残酷的衰落:虚幻的机会

 


圣诞节一过,万斯夫妇就回到了纽约,他们没有忘记嘉莉。但是他们,或者更确切地说,万斯太太却从未去拜访过她,原因很简单,嘉莉没有写信告知自己的地址。按她的性格,当她还住在七十八街时,倒是一直和万斯太太通信的。可是当她被迫搬进十三街以后,她害怕万斯太太会认为这意味着他们处境艰难,因而就想方设法不透露她的新住址。由于想不出什么合适的办法,她只好忍痛割爱,干脆就不给她的朋友写信了。万斯太太感到奇怪,怎么会这样音信全无,以为嘉莉一定是离开了这座城市,最后就当她失踪了,不再去想她。因此,当她到十四街去买东西,碰见嘉莉也在那里买东西时,着实吃了一惊。

“哎呀,惠勒太太,”万斯太太说,从头到脚扫了嘉莉一眼,“你去哪里了?为什么你不来看我?我一直在想,不知你的情况怎么样了。真的,我--”“看见你我太高兴了,”嘉莉说,既高兴又为难。什么时候不好,偏偏赶个时候碰到万斯太太,真是再糟不过了。“呃,我就住在这一带。我一直想来看你。你现在住在哪里?”“五十八街,”万斯太太说,“就在第七大道过去--二百一十八号。你为什么不来看我呢?”“我会来的,”嘉莉说道。“真的,我一直想来。我知道我应该来的。真是遗憾。可是,你知道-—”“你的门牌号码是什么?”万斯太太问。

“十三街,”嘉莉很不情愿地说,“西一百一十二号。”“喔,”万斯太太说,”那就在这附近,是不是?”“是的,”嘉莉说,“你什么时候一定要过来看我埃”“好的,你是个好人,”万斯太太笑着说,这时她注意到嘉莉的外表有了一些变化。“这个地址也很说明问题,”她又对自己说,“他们一定是手头拮据了。”不过她还是非常喜欢嘉莉,总想照顾她。

“跟我一起进来一下吧,”她大声说,转身走进一家商店。

当嘉莉回到家时,赫斯渥还是像往常一样,在那里看报纸。他似乎对自己处境完全无动于衷,他至少有四天没刮胡子了。

“唉,”嘉莉想,“要是她来这里看见他这个样子,会怎么想呢?”她摇了摇头,心里难受极了。看来她的处境已经变得无法忍受了。

她被逼急了,吃晚饭的时候问道:

“那家批发行有什么消息给你吗?”

“没有,”他说。“他们不要没有经验的人。”嘉莉不再谈论这个话题,觉得谈不下去了。

“今天下午,我遇见了万斯太太。”过了一会儿,她说。

“喔,是吗?”他回答。

“现在他们已经回到了纽约,”嘉莉继续说道,“她打扮得真是漂亮。”“哦,只要她丈夫肯为此花钱,她就打扮得起,”赫斯渥回答。“他有份轻松的工作。”赫斯渥在盯着报纸看。他看不见嘉莉投向他的无限疲惫和不满的眼神。

“她说她想什么时候来这里看看我们。”

“她过了很久才想起这个,是不是?”赫斯渥带着一种挖苦的口气说。

他不喜欢这个女人,因为她太会花钱。

“哦,这我就不知道了,”嘉莉说,这个人的态度激怒了她。

“也许,我并不想要她来。”

“她太会享受了,”赫斯渥说,意味深长。“除非很有钱,否则谁也伺候不了她。”“万斯先生看来并不觉得这有多难。”“他眼下可能还不难,”赫斯渥固执地答道,十分明白这话的意思。“可是他的日子还早着呢。谁也说不准会发生些什么事情。他也可能会像其他人一样地垮下来。"这个人的态度真有点无赖的味道。他像是用发亮的眼睛斜睨着那些幸运的人,巴望着他们失败。他自己的处境则好像是件无关的事,不在考虑之内。

这是他从前的过于自信和独立精神残留在他身上的东西。他坐在家里,从报上看着别人的活动,有时就会产生这种自以为是、不肯服输的心情。一旦忘记了在街上到处奔波的疲劳感和四处寻找的落魄相时,他有时就会竖起耳朵,仿佛听见自己在说:“我还是有事可做的。我还没有完蛋呢。只要我愿意下劲去找,会找到很多事情做的。”就在这样的心情下,他偶尔会打扮整齐,去修一下面,然后戴上手套,兴冲冲地动身出门。没有任何明确的目标。这更像是晴雨表上的变化。他只是觉得这时想出门去做些什么事情。

这种时候他的钱也要被花去一些。他知道市区的几家赌常他在市区的酒店里和市政厅附近有几个熟人。去看看他们,友好地拉几句家常话,这也是一种调剂。

他曾经打得一手好扑克。有很多次和朋友玩牌,他净赢了100多块钱,当时这笔钱只不过是为玩牌助助兴,没什么大不了的。现在,他又想玩牌了。

“我也许会赢它个200块钱。我还没有荒疏。”公道一些说,他是在有过好几次这样的想法之后才付诸行动的。

他第一次去的那家赌场是在西街一家酒店的楼上,靠近一个渡口。他以前去过那里。同时有几桌牌在打。他观察了一会儿,就每次发牌前下的底注来看,牌局的输赢数目是很可观的。

“给我发一副牌,”在新的一局开始时,他说,他拉过来一把椅子,研究着手上的牌。那些玩牌的人默默地打量着他,虽然很不明显,但却十分仔细。

开始时,他的手气不好。他拿到了一副杂牌,既没有顺子,也没有对子。开局了。

“我不跟,”他说。

照他手上的这副牌,他宁愿输掉他所下的底注。打到后来,他的手气还不错,最终他赢了几块钱离开了。

次日下午,他又来了,想找点乐趣并赢些钱。这一次,他拿到一副三条的牌,坚持打了下去,结果输得很惨。和他对桌的是一个好斗的爱尔兰青年。此人是当地坦慕尼派控制的选区的一个政治食客,他手里有一副更好的牌。这个家伙打牌时咬住对方不放,这使赫斯渥吃了一惊。他连连下注而且不动声色,如果他是要诱使对方摊牌,这种手段也是很高明的。赫斯渥开始拿不准了,但是还保持着至少是想要保持着镇定的神态,从前他就是凭这个来骗过那些工于心计的赌徒的。这些赌徒似乎是在琢磨对方的思想和心情,而不是在观察对方外表的迹象,不管这些迹象有多微妙。他克服不了内心的胆怯,想着这人是有着一副更好的牌,会坚持到底,倘若他愿意的话,会把最后的一块钱也放入赌注的。可是,他还是希望能多赢点钱--他手上的牌好极了。为什么不再加5块钱的注呢?

“我加你3块钱,”那个青年说。

“我加5块,”赫斯渥说,推出他的筹码。

“照样加倍,”那个青年说,推出一小摞红色筹码。

“给我再来些筹码,”赫斯渥拿出一张钞票,对负责的管理员说。

他那个年轻的对手的脸上露出了讥讽的冷笑。等筹码摆到面前,赫斯渥照加了赌注。

“再加5块,”那个青年说。

赫斯渥的额头开始冒汗了。这时他已经深深地陷了进去--对他来说,陷得非常深了。他那点宝贵的钱已经放上了整整60块。他平常并不胆小,但是想到可能输掉这么多钱,他变得懦弱了。终于,他放弃了。他不再相信手里的这副好牌了。

“摊牌吧,”他说。

“三条对子,”那个青年说,摊出手上的牌。

赫斯渥的牌落了下来。

“我还以为我赢了你呢,”他有气无力地说。

那个青年收进了他的筹码,赫斯渥便离开了,没忘记先在楼梯上停下来数了数剩下的现钞。

“340块钱,”他说。

这次输的钱,加上平常的开支,已经花去了很多。

回到公寓后,他下定决心不再玩牌。

嘉莉还记着万斯太太说的要来拜访的话,又温和地提了一次抗议,是有关赫斯渥的外表的。就在这一天,回到家后,他又换上了闲坐在家时穿的旧衣服。

“你为什么总是穿着这些旧衣服呢?”嘉莉问道。

“在家里穿那些好衣服有什么用呢?”他反问。

“喔,我以为那样你会感觉好一些的。”然后她又加了一句。“可能会有人来看我们。”“谁?”他说。

“噢,万斯太太,”嘉莉说。

“她用不着来看我,”他绷着脸说道。

他如此缺乏自尊和热情,弄得嘉莉几乎要恨他了。

本文 内_容摘自WWW.EDuZhai.NET中国 ̄教育文!摘

“嗬,”她想,“他就那么坐着,说什么‘她用不着来看我。'我看他是羞于见人。“当万斯太太真的来拜访时,事情可就更糟了。她是有一次出来买东西的时候来的。她一路穿过简陋的过道,在嘉莉家的房门上敲了敲。嘉莉出去了,为此她事后感到十分悲伤。赫斯渥开了门,还以为是嘉莉回来了。这一次,他可是真正地大吃了一惊。他心里听到的是那已经失去青春和自尊的声音。

“哎呀,”他说,真的有些结结巴巴,“你好啊?”“你好,”万斯太太说,几乎不相信自己的眼睛。她马上就看出他十分慌乱。他不知道是否要请她进来。

“你太太在家吗?”她问。

“不在,”他说,“嘉莉出去了,不过请进来好吗?她很快就会回来的。”“不,不啦,”万斯太太说,意识到一切都变了。“我真的很忙。我只是想跑上来看一眼,不能耽搁的。请告诉你太太,叫她一定来看我。”“好的,”赫斯渥说着,朝后站了站,听见她说要走,心里不知有多轻松。他太羞愧了。事后他就无精打采地坐在椅子里,两手交叉,沉思着。

嘉莉从另一个方向回来,好像看见万斯太太正在朝外走。

她就瞪大两眼看着,但还是拿不准。

“刚才有人来过吗?”她问赫斯渥。

“是的,”他内疚地说,“万斯太太来过。”“她看见你了吗?”她问,流露出彻底的绝望。

这话像鞭子一样抽痛了赫斯渥,他不高兴了。

“如果她长了眼睛,她会看见的。是我开的门。”“啊,”嘉莉说,因为过分紧张而握紧了一只拳头。“她说了些什么?”“没说什么,”他回答。“她说她不能耽搁。”“而你就是这么一副模样?”嘉莉说,一反长期的克制。

“这副模样怎么啦?”他说着,动怒了。“我不知道她要来,是不是?”“可你知道她可能会来的,”嘉莉说,“我告诉过你她说她要来的。我请你穿上别的衣服已经不下十几次了。哦,我看这事太可怕了。”“唉,别说了吧,”他答道,“这又有什么关系呢?反正你也不能再和她交往了。他们太有钱了。”“谁说我要和她交往来着?”嘉莉恶狠狠地说。

“可是,你做得像是要和她来往,为我的这副模样大吵大闹。人家都要以为我犯了--”嘉莉打断了他的话。

“的确如此,”她说,“即便我想要和她交往,我也不可能做到,可这是谁的错呢?你倒是闲得很,坐在这里谈论我能和谁交往。你为什么不出去找工作呢?”这真是晴天霹雳。

“这和你有什么关系?”他说着,气势汹汹地站起身来。“我付了房租,不是吗?我提供了--”“是呀,你付了房租,”嘉莉说,“照你这么说来,好像这个世界上除了有一套公寓可以在里面闲坐之外,再没有其它任何东西了。三个月来,你除了闲坐在家里碍手碍脚之外,一事无成。我倒要问问你,你为什么要娶我?”“我没有娶你,”他咆哮着说。

“那么,我问你,你在蒙特利尔干的什么事?”她说。

“好啦,我没有娶你,”他回答。“你可以把这事忘了。听你的口气,好像你不知道似的。”嘉莉瞪大两眼,看了他一会儿。她一直以为他们的婚姻是完全合法和有约束力的。

“那么,你为什么要骗我?”她气愤地问,“你为什么要强迫我和你私奔?”她几乎在啜泣了。

“强迫?”他翘起嘴唇说。“我才没有强迫你呢!”“啊!”嘉莉说着,转过身去,压抑了这么久终于发作了。

“啊,啊!”她跑进了前房间。

这时的赫斯渥又气恼又激动。这在精神上和道德上对他都是一个极大的震动。他四下看看,擦擦额头的汗,然后去找来衣服穿上了。嘉莉那边一点声音也没有,当她听到他在穿衣服时就停止了啜泣。开始,她感到一丝惊恐,想到自己会身无分文地被抛弃--而不是想到会失去他,尽管他可能会一去不复返。她听到他打开衣柜盖,取出帽子。然后,餐室的门关上了,她知道他走了。

寂静了一会儿之后,她站起身来,已经没有了眼泪,她朝窗外看去。赫斯渥正在沿街溜达,从公寓朝第六大道走去。

赫斯渥沿着十三街朝前走,穿过十四街来到联合广常“找工作!”他自言自语,“找工作!她叫我出去找工作!”他想逃避自己内心的谴责,他内心清楚她是对的。

“不管怎么说,万斯太太这次来访真是件该死的事,”他想,“就那么站着,上下打量着我,我知道她在想些什么。”他回想起在七十八街见过她的那几次。她总是打扮得十分漂亮,在她面前,他还曾努力摆出和她不相上下的神气。而现在,竟让她撞见自己这副模样,真是无法想象。他难过地皱起了眉头。

“活见鬼!”一个钟头里,他这样说了十几次。

他离开家时是4点1刻。嘉莉还在哭泣。今天不会有晚饭吃了。

“真见鬼,”他说,心里在说着大话以掩饰自己的羞愧。“我还没那么糟。我还没完蛋呢。”他望望广场四周,看见了那几家大旅馆,决定去其中的一家吃晚饭。他要买好报纸,去那里享受一下。

他走进莫顿饭店豪华的休息室,当时这是纽约最好的旅馆之一,找到一把铺着座垫的椅子,坐下来看报纸。这般奢侈不是他那越来越少的钱所能允许的,但这并不怎么使他感到不安。就像吗啡鬼一样,他对贪图安乐上了瘾。只要能解除他精神上的痛苦,满足他对舒适的渴求,什么事他都做得出。他必须这样做。他才不去想什么明天--他一想到明天就受不了,正如他不愿去想别的灾难一样。就像对待死亡的必将到来一样,他要彻底忘掉身无分文的日子马上就要到来,而且还几乎做到了这一点。

那些在厚厚的地毯上来回走动的衣冠楚楚的客人们,把他带回到过去的日子。一位年轻太太,这家饭店的一个客人,正在一间凹室里弹钢琴,使他感到很愉快。他坐在那里看着报纸。

他的这顿饭花了他1块5毛钱。到了8点钟,他吃完了饭。然后,看着客人们陆续离去,外面寻欢作乐的人渐渐增多,他不知自己该去哪里。不能回家,嘉莉可能还没睡。不,今晚他是不会回到那里去的。他要呆在外面,四处游荡,就像一个无牵无挂的--当然不是破产的--人很可能做的那样。他买了一支雪茄,走了出来,来到拐角处。有一些人在那里闲荡,掮客、赛马迷、演员,都是些和他同类的人。他站在那里,想起过去在芝加哥的那些夜晚。想起了自己是怎么度过那些夜晚的。他赌博的次数真多。这使他想到了扑克。

“那天我打得不对,”他想,指他那次输了60块钱。“我不应该软的。我本可以继续下注唬倒那个家伙。我的竞技状态不佳,我输就输在这一点上。”于是,他照着上次的打法,研究起那局牌的种种可能性,开始算计着如何在吓唬对方时再狠一点,那样的话,有好几次,他都可能会赢的。

“我打扑克是老手了,可以玩些花样。今夜我要再去试试手气。”一大堆赌注的幻象浮现在他的眼前。假如他真的能赢它个200块钱,他岂能不去玩玩?他认识的很多赌徒就是以此为生的,而且还过得很不错呢。

“他们手头的钱总是和我现在的钱差不多的,”他想。

于是,他朝附近的一家赌场走去,感觉和从前一样好。这段时间里他忘掉了自我,起初是由于受到争吵的震动,后来在旅馆里喝着鸡尾酒,抽着雪茄烟,吃了顿晚饭,使他更加忘乎所以。他差不多就像那个他总想恢复的昔日的赫斯渥一样了。

但是这不是昔日的赫斯渥,只是一个内心矛盾不安,受到幻象诱惑的人而已。

这家赌场和那一家差不多,只是它设在一家高级一些的酒店的密室里。赫斯渥先旁观了一会儿,然后看见了一局有趣的牌,就加入了。就像上次一样,开始一阵子打得很顺手,他赢了几次,兴奋起来,又输了几次,兴趣更大了,因此决心玩下去。最终,这个迷人的赌博把他牢牢地拴住了。他喜欢其中的风险,手上拿着一副小牌,也敢吓唬对方,想赢一笔可观的赌注。使他深感满意的是,他还真的赢了。

在这个情绪高涨的时候,他开始以为自己时来运转了。谁也没有他打得好。这时又拿到了一副很普通的牌,他又想靠这副牌开叫大注。那里有些人像是看出了他的心思,他们观察得非常仔细。

“我有个三条,”其中的一个赌徒在心里说。“我就要和那个家伙斗到底。”结果是开始加注了。

“我加你10块。”

“好的。”

“再加10块。”

“好的。”

“再加10块。”

“很好。”

这样一加下来,赫斯渥已经放上了75块钱。这时,那个人变得严肃起来。他想也许这个人(赫斯渥)真有一副硬牌呢。

“摊牌吧,”他说。

赫斯渥亮出了牌。他完蛋了。他输了75块钱,这个惨痛的事实弄得他要拼命了。

“我们再来一局,”他冷冷地说。

“行啊,”那人说。

有些赌徒退出了,但是旁观的一些游手好闲的人又顶了上来,时间在消逝,到12点了。赫斯渥坚持了下来,赢得不多,输得也不多。然后他感到疲倦了。在最后的一副牌上,又输了20块钱。他很伤心。

第二天凌晨1点1刻时,他走出了这家赌常冷嗖嗖、空荡荡的街道仿佛在讥笑他的处境。他向西慢慢地走着,没怎么去想和嘉莉的争吵。他上了楼梯,走进自己的房间,好像什么事情也没有发生过。他心里想的只是他那输掉的钱。在床边坐下来,他数了数钱。现在只有190块和一些零钱了。他把钱收好后,开始脱衣服。

“我不知道我这究竟是怎么啦?”他说。

早晨,嘉莉几乎一声不吭,他觉得似乎又必须出去了。他待她不好,但他又不愿意主动赔不是。现在他感到绝望了。于是,有一两天这样出去后,他过得像个绅士--或者说他以为自己像个绅士--又花了钱。由于这些越轨的行动,他很快感到身心交困,更不用说他的钱包了,那里面的钱也随之又少了30块。然后,他又恢复了冷静、痛苦的感觉。

“收房租的人今天要来,”三天早晨以后,嘉莉这样冷淡地迎着他说。

“是吗?”

“是的,今天是2号。”嘉莉回答。

赫斯渥邹起了眉头。然后,他无可奈何地拿出了钱包。

“付房租看来要花很多的钱,”他说。

他差不多只剩下最后的100块钱了。




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