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嘉莉妹妹(Sister Carrie) 第四十章

时间:2010-07-16 10:07    来源:    作者: 点击:
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Chapter 40

A PUBLIC DISSENSION: A FINAL APPEAL

 

There was no after-theatre lark, however, so far as Carrie was concerned. She made her way homeward, thinking about her absence. Hurstwood was asleep, but roused up to look as she passed through to her own bed.

"Is that you?" he said.

"Yes," she answered.

The next morning at breakfast she felt like apologising.

"I couldn't get home last evening," she said.

"Ah, Carrie," he answered, "what's the use saying that? I don't care. You needn't tell me that, though."

"I couldn't," said Carrie, her colour rising. Then, seeing that he looked as if he said "I know," she exclaimed: "Oh, all right. I don't care."

From now on, her indifference to the flat was even greater. There seemed no common ground on which they could talk to one another. She let herself be asked for expenses. It became so with him that he hated to do it. He preferred standing off the butcher and baker. He ran up a grocery bill of sixteen dollars with Oeslogge, laying in a supply of staple articles, so that they would not have to buy any of those things for some time to come. Then he changed his grocery. It was the same with the butcher and several others. Carrie never heard anything of this directly from him. He asked for such as he could expect, drifting farther and farther into a situation which could have but one ending.

In this fashion, September went by.

"Isn't Mr. Drake going to open his hotel?" Carrie asked several times.

"Yes. He won't do it before October, though, now."

Carrie became disgusted. "Such a man," she said to herself frequently. More and more she visited. She put most of her spare money in clothes, which, after all, was not an astonishing amount. At last the opera she was with announced its departure within four weeks. "Last two weeks of the Great Comic Opera success -- The-," etc., was upon all billboards and in the newspapers, before she acted.

"I'm not going out on the road," said Miss Osborne.

Carrie went with her to apply to another manager.

"Ever had any experience?" was one of his questions.

"I'm with the company at the Casino now."

"Oh, you are?" he said.

The end of this was another engagement at twenty per week.

Carrie was delighted. She began to feel that she had a place in the world. People recognised ability.

So changed was her state that the home atmosphere became intolerable. It was all poverty and trouble there, or seemed to be, because it was a load to bear. It became a place to keep away from. Still she slept there, and did a fair amount of work, keeping it in order. It was a sitting place for Hurstwood. He sat and rocked, rocked and read, enveloped in the gloom of his own fate. October went by, and November. It was the dead of winter almost before he knew it, and there he sat.

Carrie was doing better, that he knew. Her clothes were improved now, even fine. He saw her coming and going, sometimes picturing to himself her rise. Little eating had thinned him somewhat. He had no appetite. His clothes, too, were a poor man's clothes. Talk about getting something had become even too threadbare and ridiculous for him. So he folded his hands and waited -- for what, he could not anticipate.

At last, however, troubles became too thick. The hounding of creditors, the indifference of Carrie, the silence of the flat, and presence of winter, all joined to produce a climax. It was effected by the arrival of Oeslogge, personally, when Carrie was there.

"I call about my bill," said Mr. Oeslogge.

Carrie was only faintly surprised.

"How much is it?" she asked.

"Sixteen dollars," he replied.

"Oh, that much?" said Carrie. "Is this right?" she asked, turning to Hurstwood.

"Yes," he said.

"Well, I never heard anything about it."

She looked as if she thought he had been contracting some needless expense.

"Well, we had it all right," he answered. Then he went to the door. "I can't pay you anything on that to-day," he said, mildly.

"Well, when can you?" said the grocer.

"Not before Saturday, anyhow," said Hurstwood.

"Huh!" returned the grocer. "This is fine. I must have that. I need the money."

Carrie was standing farther back in the room, hearing it all. She was greatly distressed. It was so bad and commonplace. Hurstwood was annoyed also.

"Well," he said, "there's no use talking about it now. If you'll come in Saturday, I'll pay you something on it."

The grocery man went away.

"How are we going to pay it?" asked Carrie, astonished by the bill. "I can't do it."

"Well, you don't have to," he said. "He can't get what he can't get. He'll have to wait."

"I don't see how we ran up such a bill as that," said Carrie.

"Well, we ate it," said Hurstwood.

"It's funny," she replied, still doubting.

"What's the use of your standing there and talking like that, now?" he asked. "Do you think I've had it alone? You talk as if I'd taken something."

"Well, it's too much, anyhow," said Carrie. "I oughtn't to be made to pay for it. I've got more than I can pay for now."

"All right," replied Hurstwood, sitting down in silence. He was sick of the grind of this thing.

Carrie went out, and there he sat, determining to do something.

There had been appearing in the papers about this time rumours and notices of an approaching strike on the trolley lines in Brooklyn. There was general dissatisfaction as to the hours of labour required and the wages paid. As usual -- and for some inexplicable reason -- the men chose the winter for the forcing of the hand of their employers and the settlement of their difficulties.

Hurstwood had been reading of this thing, and wondering concerning the huge tie-up which would follow. A day or two before this trouble with Carrie, it came. On a cold afternoon, when everything was grey and it threatened to snow, the papers announced that the men had been called out on all the lines.

Being so utterly idle, and his mind filled with the numerous predictions which had been made concerning the scarcity of labour this winter and the panicky state of the financial market, Hurstwood read this with interest. He noted the claims of the striking motormen and conductors, who said that they had been wont to receive two dollars a day in times past, but that for a year or more "trippers" had been introduced, which cut down their chance of livelihood one-half, and increased their hours of servitude from ten to twelve, and even fourteen. These "trippers" were men put on during the busy and rush hours, to take a car out for one trip. The compensation paid for such a trip was only twenty-five cents. When the rush or busy hours were over, they were laid off. Worst of all, no man might know when he was going to get a car. He must come to the barns in the morning and wait around in fair and foul weather until such time as he was needed. Two trips were an average reward for so much waiting -- a little over three hours' work for fifty cents. The work of waiting was not counted.

The men complained that this system was extending, and that the time was not far off when but a few out of 7,000 employees would have regular two-dollar-a-day work at all. They demanded that the system be abolished, and that ten hours be considered a day's work, barring unavoidable delays, with $2.25 pay. They demanded immediate acceptance of these terms, which the various trolley companies refused.

Hurstwood at first sympathised with the demands of these men -- indeed, it is a question whether he did not always sympathise with them to the end, belie him as his actions might. Reading nearly all the news, he was attracted first by the scare-heads with which the trouble was noted in the "World." He read it fully -- the names of the seven companies involved, the number of men.

"They're foolish to strike in this sort of weather," he thought to himself. "Let 'em win if they can, though."

The next day there was even a larger notice of it. "Brooklynites Walk," said the "World." "Knights of Labour Tie up the Trolley Lines Across the Bridge." "About Seven Thousand Men Out."

Hurstwood read this, formulating to himself his own idea of what would be the outcome. He was a great believer in the strength of corporations.

"They can't win," he said, concerning the men. "They haven't any money. The police will protect the companies. They've got to. The public has to have its cars."

He didn't sympathise with the corporations, but strength was with them. So was property and public utility.

"Those fellows can't win," he thought.

Among other things, he noticed a circular issued by one of the companies, which read:

ATLANTIC AVENUE RAILROAD

SPECIAL NOTICE

The motormen and conductors and other employees of this company having abruptly left its service, an opportunity is now given to all loyal men who have struck against their will to be reinstated, providing they will make their applications by twelve o'clock noon on Wednesday, January 16th. Such men will be given employment (with guaranteed protection) in the order in which such applications are received, and runs and positions assigned them accordingly. Otherwise, they will be considered discharged, and every vacancy will be filled by a new man as soon as his services can be secured. (Signed) Benjamin Norton PRESIDENT He also noted among the want ads. one which read:

WANTED -- 50 skilled motormen, accustomed to Westinghouse system, to run U.S. mail cars only, in the City of Brooklyn; protection guaranteed.

He noted particularly in each the "protection guaranteed." It signified to him the unassailable power of the companies.

"They've got the militia on their side," he thought. "There isn't anything those men can do."

While this was still in his mind, the incident with Oeslogge and Carrie occurred. There had been a good deal to irritate him, but this seemed much the worst. Never before had she accused him of stealing -- or very near that. She doubted the naturalness of so large a bill. And he had worked so hard to make expenses seem light. He had been "doing" butcher and baker in order not to call on her. He had eaten very little -- almost nothing.

"Damn it all!" he said. "I can get something. I'm not down yet."

He thought that he really must do something now. It was too cheap to sit around after such an insinuation as this. Why, after a little, he would be standing anything.

He got up and looked out the window into the chilly street. It came gradually into his mind, as he stood there, to go to Brooklyn.

"Why not?" his mind said. "Any one can get work over there. You'll get two a day."

"How about accidents?" said a voice. "You might get hurt."

"Oh, there won't be much of that," he answered. "They've called out the police. Any one who wants to run a car will be protected all right."

"You don't know how to run a car," rejoined the voice.

"I won't apply as a motorman," he answered. "I can ring up fares all right."

"They'll want motormen mostly."

"They'll take anybody; that I know."

For several hours he argued pro and con with this mental counsellor, feeling no need to act at once in a matter so sure of profit.

In the morning he put on his best clothes, which were poor enough, and began stirring about, putting some bread and meat into a page of a newspaper. Carrie watched him, interested in this new move.

"Where are you going?" she asked.

"Over to Brooklyn," he answered. Then, seeing her still inquisitive, he added: "I think I can get on over there."

"On the trolley lines?" said Carrie, astonished.

"Yes," he rejoined.

"Aren't you afraid?" she asked.

"What of?" he answered. "The police are protecting them."

"The paper said four men were hurt yesterday."

"Yes," he returned; "but you can't go by what the papers say. They'll run the cars all right."

He looked rather determined now, in a desolate sort of way, and Carrie felt very sorry. Something of the old Hurstwood was here -- the least shadow of what was once shrewd and pleasant strength. Outside, it was cloudy and blowing a few flakes of snow.

"What a day to go over there," thought Carrie.

Now he left before she did, which was a remarkable thing, and tramped eastward to Fourteenth Street and Sixth Avenue, where he took the car. He had read that scores of applicants were applying at the office of the Brooklyn City Railroad building and were being received. He made his way there by horse-car and ferry -- a dark, silent man -- to the offices in question. It was a long way, for no cars were running, and the day was cold; but he trudged along grimly. Once in Brooklyn, he could clearly see and feel that a strike was on. People showed it in their manner. Along the routes of certain tracks not a car was running. About certain corners and nearby saloons small groups of men were lounging. Several spring wagons passed him, equipped with plain wooden chairs, and labelled "Flatbush" or "Prospect Park. Fare, Ten Cents." He noticed cold and even gloomy faces. Labour was having its little war.

When he came near the office in question, he saw a few men standing about, and some policemen. On the far corners were other men -- whom he took to be strikers -- watching. All the houses were small and wooden, the streets poorly paved. After New York, Brooklyn looked actually poor and hard-up.

He made his way into the heart of the small group, eyed by policemen and the men already there. One of the officers addressed him.

"What are you looking for?"

"I want to see if I can get a place."

"The offices are up those steps," said the bluecoat. His face was a very neutral thing to contemplate. In his heart of hearts, he sympathised with the strikers and hated this "scab." In his heart of hearts, also, he felt the dignity and use of the police force, which commanded order. Of its true social significance, he never once dreamed. His was not the mind for that. The two feelings blended in him -- neutralised one another and him. He would have fought for this man as determinedly as for himself, and yet only so far as commanded. Strip him of his uniform, and he would have soon picked his side.

Hurstwood ascended a dusty flight of steps and entered a small, dust-coloured office, in which were a railing, a long desk, and several clerks.

"Well, sir?" said a middle-aged man, looking up at him from the long desk.

"Do you want to hire any men?" inquired Hurstwood.

"What are you -- a motorman?"

"No; I'm not anything," said Hurstwood.

He was not at all abashed by his position. He knew these people needed men. If one didn't take him, another would. This man could take him or leave him, just as he chose.

"Well, we prefer experienced men, of course," said the man. He paused, while Hurstwood smiled indifferently. Then he added: "Still, I guess you can learn. What is your name?"

"Wheeler," said Hurstwood.

The man wrote an order on a small card. "Take that to our barns," he said, "and give it to the foreman. He'll show you what to do."

Hurstwood went down and out. He walked straight away in the direction indicated, while the policemen looked after.

"There's another wants to try it," said Officer Kiely to Officer Macey.

"I have my mind he'll get his fill," returned the latter, quietly.

They had been in strikes before.

第四十章

公开的分岐:最后的求职

 


然而,就嘉莉而言,不存在什么散场后的玩乐。她径直回家去了,还在想着自己没有回家吃饭的事。赫斯渥已经睡着了,但是当她穿过房间朝自己的床走去时,他醒来看了看。

“是你吗?”他说。

“是的,”她回答。

第二天早饭时,她想要道个歉。

“昨天晚上我没办法回家吃饭,”她说。

“啊,嘉莉,”他回答,“说这话有什么用呢?我不在乎的。不过,你大可不必告诉我这个。”“我没办法,”嘉莉说,脸色更红了。然后,发现他看上去像是在说“我知道的,”她叫了起来:“哦,好哇。我也不在乎。”从这以后,她对这个家更加漠不关心了。他们之间似乎已经没有了任何相互交谈的共同基矗她总是等着他来开口问她要开支的钱。这使他十分难堪,因此他极不情愿这样做。他宁愿躲着肉铺老板和面包房老板。他向奥斯拉格赊了16块钱的食品帐,贮存了一批主要食品,这样他们在一段时间之内就不用买这些东西了。然后,他换了一家食品店。对于肉铺老板和其他几家老板,他也采用了同样的办法。这一切,嘉莉从未直接听他谈起过。他只开口要他能指望得到的东西,越来越深地陷入了只可能有一种结局的处境。

就这样,9月份过去了。

“德雷克先生不打算开旅馆了吗?”嘉莉问了几次。

“要开的,不过现在他要到10月份才能开。”嘉莉开始感到厌恶了。“这种人哪,”她常常自言自语。她的出门访友越来越多。她把自己多余的钱大部分用来买衣服,这笔钱毕竟也不是什么惊人的数目嘛,她参加演出的歌剧四星期内要去外地演出的消息终于宣布了。在她采取行动之前,所有的广告栏和报纸上都登着:“伟大的喜歌剧之杰作上演最后两周--”云去。

“我不打算去巡回演出,”奥斯本小姐说。

嘉莉跟着她一起去向另一个经理求职。

“有什么经验吗?”是他的问题之一。

“现在,我是在卡西诺戏院演出的剧团的演员。”“哦,是吗?”他说。

谈的结果是又签了一份周薪20块钱的合同。

嘉莉很高兴。她开始觉得自己在这个世界上已经有了一席之地。人们还是赏识才能的。

她的处境发生了如此巨大的变化,使得家里的气氛变得无法忍受了。家里有的只是贫困和烦恼,或者看上去是这样,因为它是一个负担。它变成了一个避之唯恐不及的地方。可是,她却还在那里睡觉,干相当多的家务活,保持家里的整洁。

对于赫斯渥,这里则是他可以坐的地方。他坐着摇啊,摇啊,看看报纸,沉没在自己悲惨的命运之中。10月份过去了,接着是11月份。他几乎没有觉察,就已经到了严冬,而他还是坐在那里。

嘉莉干得越来越好,这一点他很清楚。现在,她的衣服漂亮多了,甚至可以说得上是华丽了。他看着她进进出出,有时候自己想象她飞黄腾达的情景。他吃得很少,有些消瘦了。他没有食欲。他的衣服也已经破旧。关于要找事做的那套话,连他自己都觉得乏味可笑。因此,他就十指交叉地等待着--等待什么呢,他也无法预料。

可是,最终麻烦事积得太多了。债主的追逼、嘉莉的冷漠、家里的寂静,还有冬天的来临,这一切加在一起使麻烦达到了顶点。这是由奥斯拉格亲自上门讨债而引发的,当时嘉莉也在家中。

“我来收欠帐,”奥斯拉格先生说。

嘉莉只是微微有点吃惊。

“有多少欠帐?”她问。

“16块钱,”他回答。

“哦,有那么多吗?”嘉莉说,“这数目对吗?”她转向赫斯渥问道。

“对的,”他说。

“可是,我从没听说过这笔帐呀。”

她看上去像是以为他负的债是些不必要的开支。

“噢,我们是欠了这笔帐,”他回答。然后,他走到门口。

“可今天我付不了你一分钱,”他温和地说。

“那么,你什么时候能付呢?”食品店老板说。

“不管怎么样,星期六之前是不行的,”赫斯渥说。

“嘿!”食品店老板回答。“这话说得真好。但是我必须拿到这笔钱。我要钱用。”嘉莉正站在房间里离门远些的地方,听到了这一切。她很苦恼。这事太糟糕、太无聊了。赫斯渥也恼火了。

“喂,”他说,“现在说什么也没用的。如果你星期六来的话,我会付你一些的。”食品店老板走掉了。

“我们怎么来付这笔账呢?”嘉莉问,对这笔帐很吃惊。“我可付不起。”“哦,你不必付的,”他说,“他收不到的帐就是收不到的。

他只得等着。”

“我不明白我们怎么会欠这么一大笔帐呢?”嘉莉说。

“哦,我们吃掉的,”赫斯渥说。

“真奇怪,”她回答,还是有些怀疑。

“现在你站在那里,说这些话有什么用呢?”他问,“你以为是我一个人吃的吗?听你的口气,像是我偷了什么似的。”“可是,不管怎么说,这数目太大了,”嘉莉说,“不该要我付这笔帐的。现在我已经是入不敷出了。”“好吧,”赫斯渥回答,默默地坐了下来。这事真折磨人,他已经受够了。

嘉莉出去了,而他还坐在那里,下定决心要做些事情。

大约就在这段时间里,报上不断出现有关布鲁克林有轨电车工人即将罢工的传闻和通告。工人们对工作时间和工资待遇普遍感到不满。像往常一样--并且为了某种无法解释的缘故--工人们选择冬天来逼资方表态,解决他们的困难。

赫斯渥早已从报上知道了这件事情,一直在想着罢工之后将会出现的大规模的交通瘫痪。在这次和嘉莉争吵的前一两天,罢工开始了。一个寒冷的下午,天色阴暗,眼看就要下雪了,报上宣布有轨电车工人全线罢工了。

赫斯渥闲得无聊,头脑里装满了人们关于今年冬天将缺少劳动力和金融市场将出现恐慌局面的多种预测,很有兴趣地看着罢工的新闻。他注意到了罢工的司机和售票员提出的要求。他们说,过去他们一直拿着2块钱一天的工资,但是最近一年多来,出现了“临时工”,他们谋生的机会就随之减少了一半,而劳作的时间却由十个小时增加到了十二个小时,甚至是十四个小时。这些“临时工”是在繁忙和高峰的时候临时来开一次电车的工人。这样开一次车的报酬只有2毛5分钱。等高峰或繁忙时刻一过,他们就被解雇了。最糟糕的是,谁也不知道自己什么时候有车可开。他必须一早就去车场,不管好天歹天都得等在那里,直到用得着他的时候。等候这么久,平均只有开两次车的机会--三小时多一点的工作,拿5毛钱的报酬。等候的时间是不计酬的。

工人们抱怨说,这种制度正在扩展,用不了多久,7000名雇工中只会有少数人能真正保持住2块钱一天的固定工作了。他们要求废除这种制度,并且除了无法避免的耽搁之外,每天只工作十个小时,工资为2块2毛5分。他们要求资方立即接受这些条件,但是遭到了各家电车公司的拒绝。

赫斯渥开始是同情这些工人的要求的,当然,也很难说他不是自始至终都在同情他们,尽管他的行动与此矛盾。他几乎所有的新闻都看,起初吸引他的是《世界报》上报道罢工消息的耸人听闻的大标题。他接着往下看了全文,包括罢工所涉及的七家公司的名称和罢工的人数。

“他们在这样的天气里罢工真傻,”他心里想,“不过,只要他们能赢,但愿他们会赢。”第二天,对这事的报道更多了。“布鲁克林区的居民徒步上街,”《世界报》说。“劳动骑士会中断了所有过桥的有轨电车线路。”“大约七千人在罢工。”赫斯渥看了这些新闻,在心里对这事的结果如何形成了自己的看法。他这个人十分相信公司的力量。

“他们是赢不了的,”他说,指的是工人。“他们分文没有。

警察会保护公司的,他们必须这样做。大众得有电车乘坐才行。”他并不同情公司,但是力量属于他们。产业和公用事业也属于他们。

“那些工人赢不了的,”他想。

在别的新闻中,他注意到了其中一家公司发布的通告,通告说:“大西洋道电车公司特别通告鉴于本公司司机、售票员以及其他雇员突然擅离职守,今对所有被迫罢工的忠实员工予以一个申请复职的机会。凡于1月16日星期三正午12时之前提出申请者,将按申请收到的时间顺序,予以重新雇用(并确保安全),相应分派车次和职位,否则作解雇论。即将招募新人,增补每一空缺。此布。

总经理

本杰明·诺顿(签名)

他还在招聘广告中看到这样一则广告:

“招聘--五十名熟练司机,擅长驾驶威斯汀豪斯机车,在布鲁克林市区内。专开邮车,确保安全。"他特别注意到了两处的“确保安全”这几个字。这向他表明了公司那不容置疑的威力。

“他们有国民警卫队站在他们一边,”他想,“那些工人是毫无办法的。”当他脑子里还在想着这些事情时,发生了他和奥斯拉格以及嘉莉的冲突事件。以前也曾有过许多令他恼火的事,但是这次事件似乎是最糟糕不过的。在此之前,她还从没有指责过他偷钱--或者很接近这个意思。她怀疑这么一大笔欠帐是否正常。而他却千辛万苦地使得开支看上去还很少。他一直在欺骗肉铺老板和面包房老板,只是为了不向她要钱。他吃得很少--几乎什么都不吃。

“该死的!”他说,“我能找到事做的。我还没有完蛋呢。”他想现在他真得做些事了。受了这样一顿含沙射影的指责之后还闲坐在家里,这也太不自重了。哼,照这样再过一段时间,他就什么都得忍受了。

他站起身来,看着窗外寒冷的街道。他站在那里,慢慢想到了一个念头,去布鲁克林。

“为什么不去呢?”他心里说,“谁都可以在那里找到工作。

一天能挣两块钱呢。”

“可是出了事故怎么办?”一个声音说,“你可能会受伤的。”“哦,这类事不会多的,”他回答,“他们出动了警察。谁去开车都会受到很好的保护的。”“可你不会开车呀,”那声音又说。

“我不申请当司机,”他回答。“我去卖票还是行的。”“他们最需要的是司机。”“他们什么人都会要的,这点我清楚。”他和心里的这位顾问翻来覆去辩论了几个钟头,对这样一件十拿九稳能赚钱的事,他并不急于立即采取行动。

次日早晨,他穿上自己最好的衣服--其实已经够寒酸的了,就四处忙开了,把一些面包和肉用一张报纸包起来。嘉莉注视着他,对他的这一新的举动产生了兴趣。

“你要去哪里?”她问。

“去布鲁克林,”他回答。然后,见她还想问的样子,便补充说:“我想我可以上那里找到事做。”“在有轨电车线路上吗?”嘉莉说,吃了一惊。

“是的,”他回答。

“你不害怕吗?”她问。

“有什么可怕的呢?”他回答,“有警察保护着。”“报上说昨天有四个人受了伤。”“是的。”他回答,“但是你不能听信报上说的事。他们会安全行车的。”这时,他表情很坚决,只是有几分凄凉,嘉莉感到很难过。

这里再现了昔日的赫斯渥身上的某种气质,依稀能看见一点点过去那种精明而且令人愉快的力量的影子。外面是满天阴云,飘着几片雪花。

“偏偏挑这么糟的天气去那里,”嘉莉想。

这一次他走在她之前,这可真是一件不同寻常的事。他向东步行到十四街和第六大道的拐角处,在那里乘上了公共马车。他从报上得知有几十个人正在布鲁克林市立电车公司大楼的办公室里申请工作并受到雇用。他,一个阴郁、沉默的人,一路上又乘公共马车又搭渡船到达了前面提到过的办公室。

这段路程很长,因为电车不开,天气又冷,但他还是顽强地、艰难地赶着路。一到布鲁克林,他就明显地看到和感到罢工正在进行。这一点从人们的态度上就看得出来。有些电车轨道上,沿线没有车辆在行驶。有些街角上和附近的酒店周围,小群的工人在闲荡。几辆敞篷货车从他身边驶过,车上安着普通的木椅,标有“平坦的灌木丛”或“展望公园,车费一毛”的字样。他注意到了那些冰冷甚至阴郁的面孔。工人们正在进行一场小小的战争。

当他走近前面提到的办公室时,他看见周围站着几个人,还有几个警察。在远处的街角上还有些别的人在观望着--他猜想那些人是罢工者。

这里所有的房屋都很矮小,而且都是木结构的,街道的铺设也很简陋。和纽约相比。布鲁克林真显得寒酸而贫穷。

他走到一小群人的中间,警察和先到的人都注视着他。起中的一个警察叫住了他。

“你在找什么?”

“我想看看能否找到工作。”

“上了那些台阶就是办公室,”这警察说。从他的脸上看,他是毫无偏袒的。但在他的内心深处,他是同情罢工并且憎恨这个“工贼”的。然而,同样在他的内心深处,他也感受到警察的尊严和作用,警察就是要维持秩序。至于警察的真正的社会意义,他从未想过。他那种头脑是不会想到这些的。这两种感觉在他心里混为一体,相互抵消,使他采取了中立的态度。他会像为自己一样为这个人去坚决地战斗,但也只是奉命而行。

一旦脱下制服,他就会立即站到自己同情的那一边去。

赫斯渥上了一段布满灰尘的台阶,走进一间灰色的办公室,里面有一道栏杆、一张长写字台和几个职员。

“喂,先生,”一个中年人从长写字台边抬头看着他说。

“你们要雇人吗?”赫斯渥问道。

“你是干什么的--司机吗?”

“不,我什么也不是,”赫斯渥说。

他一点儿也不为自己的处境感到窘迫。他知道这些人需要人手。如果一个不雇他,另一个会雇的。至于这个人雇不雇他,可以随他的便。

“哦,我们当然宁愿要有经验的人,”这个人说。他停顿了一下,这时赫斯渥则满不在乎地笑了笑。然后,他又说:“不过,我想你是可以学的。你叫什么?”“惠勒,”赫斯渥说。

这个人在一张小卡片上写了一条指令。“拿这个去我们的车场,”他说,“把它交给工头。他会告诉你做什么的。”赫斯渥下了台阶,走了出去。他立即按所指的方向走去,警察从后面看着他。

“又来了一个想尝试一下的。”警察基利对警察梅西说。

“我想他准会吃尽苦头,”后者平静地轻声回答。

他们以前经历过罢工。




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