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嘉莉妹妹(Sister Carrie) 第四十一章

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Chapter 41

THE STRIKE

 

The barn at which Hurstwood applied was exceedingly short-handed, and was being operated practically by three men as directors. There were a lot of green hands around -- queer, hungry-looking men, who looked as if want had driven them to desperate means. They tried to be lively and willing, but there was an air of hang-dog diffidence about the place.

Hurstwood went back through the barns and out into a large, enclosed lot, where were a series of tracks and loops. A half-dozen cars were there, manned by instructors, each with a pupil at the lever. More pupils were waiting at one of the rear doors of the barn.

In silence Hurstwood viewed this scene, and waited. His companions took his eye for a while, though they did not interest him much more than the cars. They were an uncomfortable-looking gang, however. One or two were very thin and lean. Several were quite stout. Several others were rawboned and sallow, as if they had been beaten upon by all sorts of rough weather.

"Did you see by the paper they are going to call out the militia?" Hurstwood heard one of them remark.

"Oh, they'll do that," returned the other. "They always do."

"Think we're liable to have much trouble?" said another, whom Hurstwood did not see.

"Not very."

"That Scotchman that went out on the last car," put in a voice, "told me that they hit him in the car with a cinder."

A small, nervous laugh accompanied this.

"One of those fellows on the Fifth Avenue line must have had a hell of a time, according to the papers," drawled another. "They broke his car windows and pulled him off into the street 'fore the police could stop 'em."

"Yes; but there are more police around to-day," was added by another.

Hurstwood hearkened without much mental comment. These talkers seemed scared to him. Their gabbling was feverish -- things said to quiet their own minds. He looked out into the yard and waited.

Two of the men got around quite near him, but behind his back. They were rather social, and he listened to what they said.

"Are you a railroad man?" said one.

"Me? No. I've always worked in a paper factory."

"I had a job in Newark until last October," returned the other, with reciprocal feeling.

There were some words which passed too low to hear. Then the conversation became strong again.

"I don't blame these fellers for striking," said one. "They've got the right of it, all right, but I had to get something to do."

"Same here," said the other. "If I had any job in Newark I wouldn't be over here takin' chances like these."

"It's hell these days, ain't it?" said the man. "A poor man ain't nowhere. You could starve, by God, right in the streets, and there ain't most no one would help you."

"Right you are," said the other. "The job I had I lost 'cause they shut down. They run all summer and lay up a big stock, and then shut down."

Hurstwood paid some little attention to this. Somehow, he felt a little superior to these two -- a little better off. To him these were ignorant and commonplace, poor sheep in a driver's hand.

"Poor devils," he thought, speaking out of the thoughts and feelings of a bygone period of success.

"Next," said one of the instructors.

"You're next," said a neighbour, touching him.

He went out and climbed on the platform. The instructor took it for granted that no preliminaries were needed.

"You see this handle," he said, reaching up to an electric cut-off, which was fastened to the roof. "This throws the current off or on. If you want to reverse the car you turn it over here. If you want to send it forward, you put it over here. If you want to cut off the power, you keep it in the middle."

Hurstwood smiled at the simple information.

"Now, this handle here regulates your speed. To here," he said, pointing with his finger, "gives you about four miles an hour. This is eight. When it's full on, you make about fourteen miles an hour."

Hurstwood watched him calmly. He had seen motormen work before. He knew just about how they did it, and was sure he could do as well, with a very little practice.

The instructor explained a few more details, and then said:

"Now, we'll back her up."

Hurstwood stood placidly by, while the car rolled back into the yard.

"One thing you want to be careful about, and that is to start easy. Give one degree time to act before you start another. The one fault of most men is that they always want to throw her wide open. That's bad. It's dangerous, too. Wears out the motor. You don't want to do that."

"I see," said Hurstwood.

He waited and waited, while the man talked on.

"Now you take it," he said, finally.

The ex-manager laid hand to the lever and pushed it gently, as he thought. It worked much easier than he imagined, however, with the result that the car jerked quickly forward, throwing him back against the door. He straightened up sheepishly, while the instructor stopped the car with the brake.

"You want to be careful about that," was all he said.

Hurstwood found, however, that handling a brake and regulating speed were not so instantly mastered as he had imagined. Once or twice he would have ploughed through the rear fence if it had not been for the hand and word of his companion. The latter was rather patient with him, but he never smiled.

"You've got to get the knack of working both arms at once," he said. "It takes a little practice."

One o'clock came while he was still on the car practising, and he began to feel hungry. The day set in snowing, and he was cold. He grew weary of running to and fro on the short track.

They ran the car to the end and both got off. Hurstwood went into the barn and sought a car step, pulling out his paper-wrapped lunch from his pocket. There was no water and the bread was dry, but he enjoyed it. There was no ceremony about dining. He swallowed and looked about, contemplating the dull, homely labour of the thing. It was disagreeable -- miserably disagreeable -- in all its phases. Not because it was bitter, but because it was hard. It would be hard to any one, he thought.

After eating, he stood about as before, waiting until his turn came.

The intention was to give him an afternoon of practice, but the greater part of the time was spent in waiting about.

At last evening came, and with it hunger and a debate with himself as to how he should spend the night. It was half-past five. He must soon eat. If he tried to go home, it would take him two hours and a half of cold walking and riding. Besides, he had orders to report at seven the next morning, and going home would necessitate his rising at an unholy and disagreeable hour. He had only something like a dollar and fifteen cents of Carrie's money, with which he had intended to pay the two weeks' coal bill before the present idea struck him.

"They must have some place around here," he thought. "Where does that fellow from Newark stay?"

Finally he decided to ask. There was a young fellow standing near one of the doors in the cold, waiting a last turn. He was a mere boy in years -- twenty-one about -- but with a body lank and long, because of privation. A little good living would have made this youth plump and swaggering.

"How do they arrange this, if a man hasn't any money?" inquired Hurstwood, discreetly.

The fellow turned a keen, watchful face on the inquirer.

"You mean eat?" he replied.

"Yes, and sleep. I can't go back to New York tonight."

"The foreman'll fix that if you ask him, I guess. He did me."

"That so?"

"Yes. I just told him I didn't have anything. Gee, I couldn't go home. I live way over in Hoboken."

Hurstwood only cleared his throat by way of acknowledgment.

"They've got a place upstairs here, I understand. I don't know what sort of a thing it is. Purty tough, I guess. He gave me a meal ticket this noon. I know that wasn't much."

Hurstwood smiled grimly, and the boy laughed.

"It ain't no fun, is it?" he inquired, wishing vainly for a cheery reply.

"Not much," answered Hurstwood.

"I'd tackle him now," volunteered the youth. "He may go 'way."

Hurstwood did so.

"Isn't there some place I can stay around here tonight?" he inquired. "If I have to go back to New York, I'm afraid I won't-"

"There're some cots upstairs," interrupted the man, "if you want one of them."

"That'll do," he assented.

He meant to ask for a meal ticket, but the seemingly proper moment never came, and he decided to pay himself that night.

"I'll ask him in the morning."

He ate in a cheap restaurant in the vicinity, and, being cold and lonely, went straight off to seek the loft in question. The company was not attempting to run cars after nightfall. It was so advised by the police.

The room seemed to have been a lounging place for night workers. There were some nine cots in the place, two or three wooden chairs, a soap box, and a small, round-bellied stove, in which a fire was blazing. Early as he was, another man was there before him. The latter was sitting beside the stove warming his hands.

Hurstwood approached and held out his own toward the fire. He was sick of the bareness and privation of all things connected with his venture, but was steeling himself to hold out. He fancied he could for a while.

"Cold, isn't it?" said the early guest.

"Rather."

A long silence.

"Not much of a place to sleep in, is it?" said the man.

"Better than nothing," replied Hurstwood.

Another silence.

"I believe I'll turn in," said the man.

Rising, he went to one of the cots and stretched himself, removing only his shoes, and pulling the one blanket and dirty old comforter over him in a sort of bundle. The sight disgusted Hurstwood, but he did not dwell on it, choosing to gaze into the stove and think of something else. Presently he decided to retire, and picked a cot, also removing his shoes.

While he was doing so, the youth who had advised him to come here entered, and, seeing Hurstwood, tried to be genial.

"Better'n nothin'," he observed, looking around.

Hurstwood did not take this to himself. He thought it to be an expression of individual satisfaction, and so did not answer. The youth imagined he was out of sorts, and set to whistling softly. Seeing another man asleep, he quit that and lapsed into silence.

Hurstwood made the best of a bad lot by keeping on his clothes and pushing away the dirty covering from his head, but at last he dozed in sheer weariness. The covering became more and more comfortable, its character was forgotten, and he pulled it about his neck and slept.

In the morning he was aroused out of a pleasant dream by several men stirring about in the cold, cheerless room. He had been back in Chicago in fancy, in his own comfortable home. Jessica had been arranging to go somewhere, and he had been talking with her about it. This was so clear in his mind, that he was startled now by the contrast of this room. He raised his head, and the cold, bitter reality jarred him into wakefulness.

"Guess I'd better get up," he said.

There was no water on this floor. He put on his shoes in the cold and stood up, shaking himself in his stiffness. His clothes felt disagreeable, his hair bad.

"Hell!" he muttered, as he put on his hat.

Downstairs things were stirring again.

He found a hydrant, with a trough which had once been used for horses, but there was no towel here, and his handkerchief was soiled from yesterday. He contented himself with wetting his eyes with the ice-cold water. Then he sought the foreman, who was already on the ground.

"Had your breakfast yet?" inquired that worthy.

"No," said Hurstwood.

"Better get it, then; your car won't be ready for a little while."

Hurstwood hesitated.

"Could you let me have a meal ticket?" he asked, with an effort.

"Here you are," said the man, handing him one.

He breakfasted as poorly as the night before on some fried steak and bad coffee. Then he went back.

"Here," said the foreman, motioning him, when he came in. "You take this car out in a few minutes."

Hurstwood climbed up on the platform in the gloomy barn and waited for a signal. He was nervous, and yet the thing was a relief. Anything was better than the barn.

On this the fourth day of the strike, the situation had taken a turn for the worse. The strikers, following the counsel of their leaders and the newspapers, had struggled peaceably enough. There had been no great violence done. Cars had been stopped, it is true, and the men argued with. Some crews had been won over and led away, some windows broken, some jeering and yelling done; but in no more than five or six instances had men been seriously injured. These by crowds whose acts the leaders disclaimed.

Idleness, however, and the sight of the company, backed by the police, triumphing, angered the men. They saw that each day more cars were going on, each day more declarations were being made by the company officials that the effective opposition of the strikers was broken. This put desperate thoughts in the minds of the men. Peaceful methods meant, they saw, that the companies would soon run all their cars and those who had complained would be forgotten. There was nothing so helpful to the companies as peaceful methods.

All at once they blazed forth, and for a week there was storm and stress. Cars were assailed, men attacked, policemen struggled with, tracks torn up, and shots fired, until at last street fights and mob movements became frequent, and the city was invested with militia.

Hurstwood knew nothing of the change of temper.

"Run your car out," called the foreman, waving a vigorous hand at him. A green conductor jumped up behind and rang the bell twice as a signal to start. Hurstwood turned the lever and ran the car out through the door into the street in front of the barn. Here two brawny policemen got up beside him on the platform -- one on either hand.

At the sound of a gong near the barn door, two bells were given by the conductor and Hurstwood opened his lever.

The two policemen looked about them calmly.

"'Tis cold, all right, this morning," said the one on the left, who possessed a rich brogue.

"I had enough of it yesterday," said the other. "I wouldn't want a steady job of this."

"Nor I."

Neither paid the slightest attention to Hurstwood, who stood facing the cold wind, which was chilling him completely, and thinking of his orders.

"Keep a steady gait," the foreman had said. "Don't stop for anyone who doesn't look like a real passenger. Whatever you do, don't stop for a crowd."

The two officers kept silent for a few moments.

"The last man must have gone through all right," said the officer on the left. "I don't see his car anywhere."

"Who's on there?" asked the second officer, referring, of course, to its complement of policemen.

"Schaeffer and Ryan."

There was another silence, in which the car ran smoothly along. There were not so many houses along this part of the way. Hurstwood did not see many people either. The situation was not wholly disagreeable to him. he would do well enough.

He was brought out of this feeling by the sudden appearance of a curve ahead, which he had not expected. He shut off the current and did an energetic turn at the brake, but not in time to avoid an unnaturally quick turn. It shook him up and made him feel like making apologetic remarks, but he refrained.

"You want to look out for them things," said the officer on the left, condescendingly.

"That's right," agreed Hurstwood, shamefacedly.

"There's lots of them on this line," said the officer on the right.

Around the corner a more populated way appeared. One or two pedestrians were in view ahead. A boy coming out of a gate with a tin milk bucket gave Hurstwood his first objectionable greeting.

"Scab!" he yelled. "Scab!"

Hurstwood heard it, but tried to make no comment, even to himself. He knew he would get that, and much more of the same sort, probably.

At a corner farther up a man stood by the track and signalled the car to stop.

"Never mind him," said one of the officers. "He's up to some game."

Hurstwood obeyed. At the corner he saw the wisdom of it. No sooner did the man perceive the intention to ignore him, than he shook his fist.

"Ah, you bloody coward!" he yelled.

Some half dozen men, standing on the corner, flung taunts and jeers after the speeding car.

Hurstwood winced the least bit. The real thing was slightly worse than the thoughts of it had been.

Now came in sight, three or four blocks farther on, a heap of something on the track.

"They've been at work, here, all right," said one of the policemen.

"We'll have an argument, maybe," said the other.

Hurstwood ran the car close and stopped. He had not done so wholly, however, before a crowd gathered about. It was composed of ex-motormen and conductors in part, with a sprinkling of friends and sympathisers.

"Come off the car, pardner," said one of the men in a voice meant to be conciliatory. "You don't want to take the bread out of another man's mouth, do you?"

Hurstwood held to his brake and lever, pale and very uncertain what to do.

"Stand back," yelled one of the officers, leaning over the platform railing. "Clear out of this, now. Give the man a chance to do his work."

"Listen, pardner," said the leader, ignoring the policeman and addressing Hurstwood. "We're all working men, like yourself. If you were a regular motorman, and had been treated as we've been, you wouldn't want any one to come in and take your place, would you? You wouldn't want any one to do you out of your chance to get your rights, would you?"

"Shut her off! shut her off!" urged the other of the policemen, roughly. "Get out of this, now," and he jumped the railing and landed before the crowd and began shoving. Instantly the other officer was down beside him.

"Stand back, now," they yelled. "Get out of this. What the hell do you mean? Out, now."

It was like a small swarm of bees.

"Don't shove me," said one of the strikers, determinedly. "I'm not doing anything."

"Get out of this!" cried the officer, swinging his club. "I'll give ye a bat on the sconce. Back, now."

"What the hell!" cried another of the strikers, pushing the other way, adding at the same time some lusty oaths.

Crack came an officer's club on his forehead. He blinked his eyes blindly a few times, wabbled on his legs, threw up his hands, and staggered back. In return, a swift fist landed on the officer's neck.

Infuriated by this, the latter plunged left and right, laying about madly with his club. He was ably assisted by his brother of the blue, who poured ponderous oaths upon the troubled waters. No severe damage was done, owing to the agility of the strikers in keeping out of reach. They stood about the sidewalk now and jeered.

"Where is the conductor?" yelled one of the officers, getting his eye on that individual, who had come nervously forward to stand by Hurstwood. The latter had stood gazing upon the scene with more astonishment than fear.

"Why don't you come down here and get these stones off the track?" inquired the officer. "What you standing there for? Do you want to stay here all day? Get down."

Hurstwood breathed heavily in excitement and jumped down with the nervous conductor as if he had been called.

"Hurry up, now," said the other policeman.

Cold as it was, these officers were hot and mad. Hurstwood worked with the conductor, lifting stone after stone and warming himself by the work.

"Ah, you scab, you!" yelled the crowd. "You coward! Steal a man's job, will you? Rob the poor, will you, you thief? We'll get you yet, now. Wait."

Not all of this was delivered by one man. It came from here and there, incorporated with much more of the same sort and curses.

"Work, you blackguards," yelled a voice. "Do the dirty work. You're the suckers that keep the poor people down!"

"May God starve ye yet," yelled an old Irish woman, who now threw open a nearby window and stuck out her head.

"Yes, and you," she added, catching the eye of one of the policemen. "You bloody, murtherin' thafe! Crack my son over the head, will you, you hard-hearted, murtherin' divil? Ah, ye-"

But the officer turned a deaf ear.

"Go to the devil, you old hag," he half muttered as he stared round upon the scattered company.

Now the stones were off, and Hurstwood took his place again amid a continued chorus of epithets. Both officers got up beside him and the conductor rang the bell, when, bang! bang! through window and door came rocks and stones. One narrowly grazed Hurstwood's head. Another shattered the window behind.

"Throw open your lever," yelled one of the officers, grabbing at the handle himself.

Hurstwood complied and the car shot away, followed by a rattle of stones and a rain of curses.

"That -- -- -- -- hit me in the neck," said one of the officers. "I gave him a good crack for it, though."

"I think I must have left spots on some of them," said the other.

"I know that big guy that called us a -- -- -- -," said the first. "I'll get him yet for that."

"I thought we were in for it sure, once there," said the second.

Hurstwood, warmed and excited, gazed steadily ahead. It was an astonishing experience for him. He had read of these things, but the reality seemed something altogether new. He was no coward in spirit. The fact that he had suffered this much now rather operated to arouse a stolid determination to stick it out. He did not recur in thought to New York or the flat. This one trip seemed a consuming thing.

They now ran into the business heart of Brooklyn uninterrupted. People gazed at the broken windows of the car and at Hurstwood in his plain clothes. Voices called "scab" now and then, as well as other epithets, but no crowd attacked the car. At the downtown end of the line, one of the officers went to call up his station and report the trouble.

"There's a gang out there," he said, "laying for us yet. Better send some one over there and clean them out."

The car ran back more quietly -- hooted, watched, flung at, but not attacked. Hurstwood breathed freely when he saw the barns.

"Well," he observed to himself, "I came out of that all right."

The car was turned in and he was allowed to loaf a while, but later he was again called. This time a new team of officers was aboard. Slightly more confident, he sped the car along the commonplace streets and felt somewhat less fearful. On one side, however, he suffered intensely. The day was raw, with a sprinkling of snow and a gusty wind, made all the more intolerable by the speed of the car. His clothing was not intended for this sort of work. He shivered, stamped his feet, and beat his arms as he had seen other motormen do in the past, but said nothing. The novelty and danger of the situation modified in a way his disgust and distress at being compelled to be here, but not enough to prevent him from feeling grim and sour. This was a dog's life, he thought. It was a tough thing to have to come to.

The one thought that strengthened him was the insult offered by Carrie. He was not down so low as to take all that, he thought. He could do something -- this, even -- for a while. It would get better. He would save a little.

A boy threw a clod of mud while he was thus reflecting and hit him upon the arm. It hurt sharply and angered him more than he had been any time since morning.

"The little cur!" he muttered.

"Hurt you?" asked one of the policemen.

"No," he answered.

At one of the corners, where the car slowed up because of a turn, an ex-motorman, standing on the sidewalk, called to him:

"Won't you come out, pardner, and be a man? Remember we're fighting for decent day's wages, that's all. We've got families to support." The man seemed most peaceably inclined.

Hurstwood pretended not to see him. He kept his eyes straight on before and opened the lever wide. The voice had something appealing in it.

All morning this went on and long into the afternoon. He made three such trips. The dinner he had was no stay for such work and the cold was telling on him. At each end of the line he stopped to thaw out, but he could have groaned at the anguish of it. One of the barnmen, out of pity, loaned him a heavy cap and a pair of sheepskin gloves, and for once he was extremely thankful.

On the second trip of the afternoon he ran into a crowd about half way along the line, that had blocked the car's progress with an old telegraph pole.

"Get that thing off the track," shouted the two policemen.

"Yah, yah, yah!" yelled the crowd. "Get it off yourself."

The two policemen got down and Hurstwood started to follow.

"You stay there," one called. "Some one will run away with your car."

Amid the babel of voices, Hurstwood heard one close beside him.

"Come down, pardner, and be a man. Don't fight the poor. Leave that to the corporations."

He saw the same fellow who had called to him from the corner. Now, as before, he pretended not to hear him.

"Come down," the man repeated gently. "You don't want to fight poor men. Don't fight at all." It was a most philosophic and jesuitical motorman.

A third policeman joined the other two from somewhere and some one ran to telephone for more officers. Hurstwood gazed about, determined but fearful.

A man grabbed him by the coat.

"Come off of that," he exclaimed, jerking at him and trying to pull him over the railing.

"Let go," said Hurstwood, savagely.

"I'll show you -- you scab!" cried a young Irishman, jumping up on the car and aiming a blow at Hurstwood. The latter ducked and caught it on the shoulder instead of the jaw.

"Away from here," shouted an officer, hastening to the rescue, and adding, of course, the usual oaths.

Hurstwood recovered himself, pale and trembling. It was becoming serious with him now. People were looking up and jeering at him. One girl was making faces.

He began to waver in his resolution, when a patrol wagon rolled up and more officers dismounted. Now the track was quickly cleared and the release effected.

"Let her go now, quick," said the officer, and again he was off.

The end came with a real mob, which met the car on its return trip a mile or two from the barns. It was an exceedingly poor-looking neighbourhood. He wanted to run fast through it, but again the track was blocked. He saw men carrying something out to it when he was yet a half-dozen blocks away.

"There they are again!" exclaimed one policeman.

"I'll give them something this time," said the second officer, whose patience was becoming worn. Hurstwood suffered a qualm of body as the car rolled up. As before, the crowd began hooting, but now, rather than come near, they threw things. One or two windows were smashed and Hurstwood dodged a stone.

Both policemen ran out toward the crowd, but the latter replied by running toward the car. A woman -- a mere girl in appearance -- was among these, bearing a rough stick. She was exceedingly wrathful and struck at Hurstwood, who dodged. Thereupon, her companions, duly encouraged, jumped on the car and pulled Hurstwood over. He had hardly time to speak or shout before he fell.

"Let go of me," he said, falling on his side.

"Ah, you sucker," he heard some one say. Kicks and blows rained on him. He seemed to be suffocating. Then two men seemed to be dragging him off and he wrestled for freedom.

"Let up," said a voice, "you're all right. Stand up."

He was let loose and recovered himself. Now he recognised two officers. He felt as if he would faint from exhaustion. Something was wet on his chin. He put up his hand and felt, then looked. It was red.

"They cut me," he said, foolishly, fishing for his handkerchief.

"Now, now," said one of the officers. "It's only a scratch."

His senses became cleared now and he looked around. He was standing in a little store, where they left him for the moment. Outside, he could see, as he stood wiping his chin, the car and the excited crowd. A patrol wagon was there, and another.

He walked over and looked out. It was an ambulance, backing in.

He saw some energetic charging by the police and arrests being made.

"Come on, now, if you want to take your car," said an officer, opening the door and looking in.

He walked out, feeling rather uncertain of himself. He was very cold and frightened.

"Where's the conductor?" he asked.

"Oh, he's not here now," said the policeman.

Hurstwood went toward the car and stepped nervously on. As he did so there was a pistol shot. Something stung his shoulder.

"Who fired that?" he heard an officer exclaim. "By God! who did that?" Both left him, running toward a certain building. He paused a moment and then got down.

"George!" exclaimed Hurstwood, weakly, "this is too much for me."

He walked nervously to the corner and hurried down a side street.

"Whew!" he said, drawing in his breath.

A half block away, a small girl gazed at him.

"You'd better sneak," she called.

He walked homeward in a blinding snowstorm, reaching the ferry by dusk. The cabins were filled with comfortable souls, who studied him curiously. His head was still in such a whirl that he felt confused. All the wonder of the twinkling lights of the river in a white storm passed for nothing. He trudged doggedly on until he reached the flat. There he entered and found the room warm. Carrie was gone. A couple of evening papers were lying on the table where she left them. He lit the gas and sat down. Then he got up and stripped to examine his shoulder. It was a mere scratch. He washed his hands and face, still in a brown study, apparently, and combed his hair. Then he looked for something to eat, and finally, his hunger gone, sat down in his comfortable rocking-chair. It was a wonderful relief.

He put his hand to his chin, forgetting, for the moment, the papers.

"Well," he said, after a time, his nature recovering itself, "That's a pretty tough game over there."

Then he turned and saw the papers. With half a sigh he picked up the "World."

"Strike Spreading in Brooklyn," he read. "Rioting Breaks Out in all Parts of the City."

He adjusted his paper very comfortably and continued. It was the one thing he read with absorbing interest.

第四十一章

罢工

 


赫斯渥申请求职的车场极缺人手,实际上是靠三个人在那里指挥才得以运行。车场里有很多新手,都是些面带饥色的怪人,看上去像是贫困把他们逼上了绝路。他们想提起精神,做出乐观的样子。但是这个地方有着一种使人内心自惭而羞于抬头的气氛。

赫斯渥往后走去,穿过车棚,来到外面一块有围墙的大场地。场地上有一连串的轨道和环道。这里有六辆电车,由教练员驾驶,每辆车的操纵杆旁边都有一名学徒。还有一些学徒等候在车场的一个后门口。

赫斯渥默默地看着这个情景,等候着。有一小会儿,他的同伴们引起了他的注意,尽管他们并不比那些电车更使他感兴趣。不过,这帮人的神色令人不快。有一两个人非常瘦。有几个人相当结实。还有几个人骨瘦如柴,面色蜡黄,像是遭受过各种逆境的打击。

“你看到报上说他们要出动国民警卫队了吗?”赫斯渥听到其中的一个人说。

“哦,他们会这样做的,”另外一个人回答,“他们总是这样做的。”“你看我们会遇到很多麻烦吗?”又有一个人说,赫斯渥没看见是谁。

“不会很多。”

“那个开上一辆车出去的苏格兰人,”一个声音插进来说,“告诉我他们用一块煤渣打中了他的耳朵。”伴随着这句话的是一阵轻轻的、神经质的笑声。

“按报上说的,第五大道电车线路上的那些家伙中的一个肯定吃尽了苦头,”又一个声音慢吞吞地说,“他们打破了他的车窗玻璃,把他拖到街上,直到警察来阻止了他们。”“是的,但是今天增加了警察,”另一个补充说。

赫斯渥仔细地听着,心里不置可否。在他看来,这些说话的人是给吓坏了。他们狂热地喋喋不休--说的话是为了使自己的头脑安静下来。他看着场地里面,等候着。

有两个人走到离他很近的地方,但是在他的背后。他们很喜欢交谈,他便听着他们的谈话。

“你是个电车工人吗?”一个说。

“我吗?不是。我一直在造纸厂工作。”

“我在纽瓦克有一份工作,直到去年的10月份,”另一个回答,觉得应该有来有往。

有几句话的声音太小,他没有听见。随后,谈话的声音又大了起来。

“我不怪这些家伙罢工,”一个说,“他们完全有权利这样做,可是我得找些事做。”“我也是这样,”另一个说,“要是我在纽瓦克有工作的话,我是不会来这里冒这种险的。”“这些日子可真是糟透了,你说是吧?”那个人说,“穷人无处可去。老天在上,你就是饿死在街头,也不会有人来帮助你。”“你说得对,”另一个说,“我是因为他们停产才丢掉了我原来的工作。他们开工了一整个夏天,积了一大批货,然后就停产了。”这番话只是稍稍引起了赫斯渥的注意。不知怎么地,他觉得自己比这两个人要优越一点--处境要好一点。在他看来,他们无知、平庸,像是牧羊人手里的可怜的羊。

“这些可怜虫,”他想,流露出昔日得意时的思想和情感。

“下一个,”其中的一个教练员说。

“下一个是你,”旁边的一个人说,碰了碰他。

他走了出去,爬上驾驶台。教练员当然地认为不需要任何开场白。

“你看这个把手,”他说着,伸手去拉一个固定在车顶上的电闸。“这东西可以截断或者接通电流。如果你要倒车,就转到这里,如果你要车子前进,就转到这里。如果你要切断电源,就转到中间。”听到介绍这么简单的知识,赫斯渥笑了笑。

“看着,这个把手是控制速度的。转到这里,”他边说边用手指指点着,“大约是每小时四英里。这里是八英里。开足了大约是每小时十四英里。”赫斯渥镇静地看着他。他以前看过司机开车。他差不多知道他们怎么开的车,确信只要稍微操练一下,他也会开的。

教练员又讲解了几个细节,然后说:

“现在,我们把车倒回去。”

当车子开回场地时,赫斯渥沉着地站在一边。

“有一件事你要当心,那就是起动时要平稳。开了一档速度之后,要等它走稳了,再换档加速。大多数人的一个通病就是总想一下子就把它开足全速。那不好,也很危险。会损坏马达的。你可不要那样做。”“我明白了,”赫斯渥说。

那个人不断地讲着,他在一边等了又等。

“现在你来开吧,”他终于说道。

这位从前的经理用手握住操纵杆,自以为轻轻地推了一下。可是,这东西起动起来比他想象的要容易得多,结果车猛地一下迅速朝前冲去,把他向后甩得靠在了车门上。他难为情地直起身来,这时教练员用刹车把车停了下来。

“你要小心才是,”他只说了这么一句。

可是,赫斯渥发现使用刹车和控制速度并不像他以为的那样立刻就能掌握。有一两次,要不是教练员在一旁提醒和伸手帮他的话,他就会从后面的栅栏上犁过去了。这位教练员对他颇为耐心,但他从未笑过。

“你得掌握同时使用双臂的诀窍,”他说,“这需要练习一下。”1点钟到了,这时他还在车上练习,他开始感到饿了。天下起雪来,他觉得很冷。他开始对在这节短轨道上开来开去有些厌倦了。

他们把电车开到轨道的末端,两人一起下了车。赫斯渥走进车场,找到一辆电车的踏板坐下,从口袋里拿出报纸包的午饭。没有水,面包又很干,但是他吃得有滋有味。在这里吃饭可以不拘礼节。他一边吞咽,一边打量着四周,心想这份工作真是又乏味又平淡。无论从哪方面说,这活儿都是令人讨厌的,十分令人讨厌的。不是因为它苦,而是因为它难。他想谁都会觉得它难的。

吃完饭后,他又像先前一样站在一边,等着轮到他。

本来是想叫他练习一下午的,可是大部分时间却花在等候上了。

终于到了晚上,随之而来的是饥饿和如何过夜的问题,他在心里盘算着。现在是5点半,他必须马上吃饭。倘若他要回家去,就得又走路又搭车地冻上两个半钟头。此外,按照吩咐,他第二天早晨7点钟就得来报到,而回家就意味着他必须在不该起来且不想起来的时候起床。他身上只有嘉莉给的大约1元1角5分钱,在他想到来这里之前,他原打算用这笔钱来付两个星期的煤帐的。

“他们在这附近肯定有个什么地方可以过夜的,”他想,“那个从纽瓦克来的家伙住在哪里呢?”最后,他决定去问一下。有一个小伙子冒着寒冷站在车场的一个门口边,等着最后一次轮到他。论年龄他还只是个孩子--大约21岁--但是由于贫困,身材却长得又瘦又长。稍微好一点的生活就能使这个小伙子变得丰满并神气起来。

“要是有人身无分文,他们怎么安排他?”赫斯渥小心翼翼地问。

这个小伙子把脸转向问话的人,表情敏锐而机警。

“你指的是吃饭吗?”他回答。

“是的。还有睡觉。我今天晚上无法回纽约了。”“我想你要是去问工头的话,他会安排的。他已经给我安排了。”“是这样吗?”“是的。我只是告诉他我一分钱也没有。哎呀,我回不了家了。我家还远在霍博肯。”赫斯渥只是清了一下嗓子,算是表示感谢。

“我知道他们在楼上有一个地方可以过夜。但是我不清楚是个什么样的地方。我想肯定糟糕得很。今天中午他给了我一张餐券。我知道饭可是不怎么样的。”赫斯渥惨然一笑,这个小伙子则大笑起来。

“这不好玩,是吗?”他问,希望听到一声愉快的回答,但是没有听到。

“不怎么好玩,”赫斯渥回答。

“要是我的话,现在就去找他,”小伙子主动说,“他可能会走开的。”赫斯渥去找了。

“这附近有什么地方可以让我过夜吗?”他问。“要是我非回纽约不可,我恐怕不能--”“如果你愿意睡,”这人打断了他,说道,“楼上有几张帆布床。”“这就行了,”他表示同意。

他本想要一张餐券,但是好像一直都没有合适的机会,他就决定这一晚上自己付了。

“我明天早上再向他要。”

他在附近一家便宜的餐馆吃了饭,因为又冷又寂寞,就直接去找前面提到的阁楼了。公司天黑之后就不再出车。这是警察的劝告。

这个房间看上去像是夜班工人休息的地方。里面放着大约九张帆布床,两三把木椅,一个肥皂箱,一个圆肚小炉子,炉子里升着火。他虽然来得很早,但已经有人在他之前就来了。

这个人正坐在炉子边烤着双手。

赫斯渥走近炉子,也把手伸出来烤火。他这次出来找事做所遇到的一切都显得穷愁潦倒,这使他有些心烦,但他还是硬着头皮坚持下去。他自以为还能坚持一阵子。

“天气很冷,是吧?”先来的人说。

“相当冷。”

一段长时间的沉默。

“这里可不大像个睡觉的地方,是吧?”这人说。

“总比没有强,”赫斯渥回答。

又是一阵沉默。

“我想上床睡觉了,”这人说。

他起身走到一张帆布床边,只脱了鞋子,就平躺了下来,拉过床上那条毯子和又脏又旧的盖被,裹在身上。看到这个情景,赫斯渥感到恶心,但他不去想它,而是盯着炉子,想着别的事情。不一会儿,他决定去睡觉,就挑了一张床,也把鞋子脱了。

他正准备上床睡觉,那个建议他来这里的小伙子走了进来,看见赫斯渥,想表示一下友好。

“总比没有强,”他说,看了看四周。

赫斯渥没把这话当作是对他说的。他以为这只是那个人自己在表示满意,因此没有回答。小伙子以为他情绪不好,就轻轻吹起了口哨。当他看见还有一个人睡着了时,就不再吹口哨,默不作声了。

赫斯渥尽量在这恶劣的环境下把自己弄得舒服一些。他和衣躺下来,推开脏盖被,不让它挨着头。但是,他终于因疲劳过度而瞌睡了。他开始感到盖被越来越舒服,忘记了它很脏,把它拉上来盖住脖子,睡着了。

早晨,他还在做着一个愉快的梦,几个人在这寒冷而凄凉的房间里走动,把他弄醒了。他在梦中回到了芝加哥,回到了他自己那舒适的家中。杰西卡正在准备去什么地方,他一直在和她谈论着这件事。他脑子里的这个情景如此清晰,和现在这个房间一对比,使他大吃了一惊。他抬起头来,这个冷酷、痛苦的现实,使他猛地清醒了。

“我看我还是起床吧,”他说。

这层楼上没有水。他在寒冷中穿上鞋了,站起身来,抖了抖自己僵硬的身子。他觉得自己衣衫不整,头发凌乱。

“见鬼!”他在戴帽子时,嘴里嘀咕道。

楼下又热闹起来。

他找到一个水龙头,下面有一个原来用来饮马的水槽。可是没有毛巾,他的手帕昨天也弄脏了。他将就着用冰冷的水擦擦眼睛就算洗好了。然后,他找到已经在场上的工头。

“你吃过早饭了吗?”那个大人物问。

“没有,”赫斯渥说。

“那就去吃吧,你的车要等一会儿才能准备好。”赫斯渥犹豫起来。

“你能给我一张餐券吗?”他吃力地问。

“给你,”那人说,递给他一张餐券。

他的这顿早餐和头一天的晚餐一样差,就吃了些炸牛排和劣质咖啡。然后他又回来了。

“喂,”当他进来时,工头指着他招呼说,“过一会儿,你开这辆车出去。”他在阴暗的车棚里爬上驾驶台,等候发车的信号。他很紧张,不过开车出去倒是一件令人欣慰的事。无论干什么事都比呆在车棚里强。

这是罢工的第四天,形势恶化了。罢工工人听从他们的领袖以及报纸的劝告,一直在和平地进行斗争。没有什么大的暴力行动。电车遭到阻拦,这是事实,并且和开车的人展开了辩论。有些司机和售票员被争取过去带走了,有些车窗玻璃被砸碎,也有嘲笑和叫骂的,但是至多只有五六起冲突中有人受了重伤。这些行动是围观群众所为,罢工领袖否认对此负责。

可是,罢工工人无事可干,又看到公司在警察的支持下,显得神气活现,他们被惹恼了。他们眼看着每天有更多的车辆在运行,每天有更多的公司当局的布告,说罢工工人的有效反抗已经被粉碎。这迫使罢工工人产生了铤而走险的想法。他们看到,和平的方式意味着公司很快就会全线通车,而那些抱怨的罢工工人就会被遗忘。没有什么比和平的方式对公司更有利了。

突然,他们狂怒起来,于是暴风骤雨持续了一个星期。袭击电车,殴打司乘人员,和警察发生冲突,掀翻轨道,还有开枪的,最后弄得常常发生街头斗殴和聚众闹事,国民警卫队密布全城。

赫斯渥对形势的这些变化一无所知。

“把你的车子开出去,”工头叫道,使劲地向他挥动着一只手。一个新手售票员从后面跳上车来,打了两遍铃,作为开车的信号。赫斯渥转动操纵杆,开车从大门出来,上了车场前面的街道。这时,上来两个身强力壮的警察,一边一个,站在驾驶台上他的身边。

听得车场门口一声锣响,售票员打了两遍铃,赫斯渥起动了电车。

两个警察冷静地观察着四周。

“今天早晨天气真冷,”左边的一个说,口音带着浓重的爱尔兰土腔。

“昨天我可是受够了,”另一个说,“我可不想一直干这种活。”“我也一样。”两个人都毫不在意赫斯渥,他冒着寒风站在那里,被吹得浑身冰冷,心里还在想着给他的指令。

“保持平稳的速度,”工头说过,“遇到任何看上去不像是真正的乘客的人,都不要停车。遇到人群你也无论如何不要停车。”两个警察沉默了一会儿。

“开前一辆车的人肯定是安全通过了,”左边的警察说,“到处都没看到他的车。”“谁在那辆车上?”第二个警察问,当然是指护车的警察。

“谢弗和瑞安。”

又是一阵沉默,在这段时间内,电车平稳地向前行驶。沿着这段路没有多少房屋。赫斯渥也没看见多少人。在他看来,情况并不太糟。倘若他不是这么冷的话,他觉得自己是可以开得很好的。

突然,出乎他的预料,前面出现了一段弯路,打消了他的这种感觉。他切断电源,使劲地一转刹车,但是已经来不及避免一次不自然的急转弯了。这把他吓了一跳,他想要说些抱歉的话,但又忍住了没说。

“你要当心这些转弯的地方,”左边的警察屈尊地说。

“你说得很对,”赫斯渥惭愧地表示同意。

“这条线上有很多这种转弯的地方,”右边的警察说。

转弯之后,出现了一条居民较多的街道。看得见前面有一两个行人。有一个男孩拎着一只铁皮牛奶桶,从一家大门里出来,从他的嘴里,赫斯渥第一次尝到了不受欢迎的滋味。

“工贼!”他大声骂道,“工贼!”

赫斯渥听见了骂声,但是努力不置可否,甚至连心里也一声不吭。他知道他会挨骂的,而且可能会听到更多类似的骂声。

在前面的拐角处,一个人站在轨道旁,示意车子停下。

“别理他,”一个警察说,“他要搞鬼的。”赫斯渥遵命而行。到了拐角处,他看出这样做是明智的。

这个人一发觉他们不打算理他,就挥了挥拳头。

“啊,你这该死的胆小鬼!”他大声叫道。

站在拐角处的五六个人,冲着疾驶而过的电车,发出一阵辱骂和嘲笑声。

赫斯渥稍稍有一点畏缩。实际情况比他原来想象的还要糟一些。

这时,看得见前面过去三四条横马路的地方,轨道上有一堆东西。

“好哇,他们在这里捣过鬼,”一个警察说。

“也许我们要来一场争论了,”另一个说。

赫斯渥把车开到附近停了下来。可是,还没等他把车完全停稳,就围上来一群人。这些人有一部分是原来的司机和售票员,还有一些是他们的朋友和同情者。

“下车吧,伙计,”其中一个人用一种息事宁人的口气说。

“你并不想从别人的嘴里抢饭吃,是吧?”赫斯渥握着刹车和操纵杆不松手,面色苍白,实在不知如何是好。

“靠后站,”一个警察大声叫道,从驾驶台的栏杆上探出身来。“马上把这些东西搬开。给人家一个机会干他的工作。”“听着,伙计,”这位领头的人不理睬警察,对赫斯渥说。

“我们都是工人,像你一样。倘若你是个正式的司机,受到了我们所受的待遇,你不会愿意有人插进来抢你的饭碗的,是吧?

你不会愿意有人来剥夺你争取自己应有的权利的机会的,是吧?”“关掉发动机!关掉发动机!”另一个警察粗声粗气地催促着。“快滚开。”他说着,跃过栏杆,跳下车站在人群的面前,开始把人群往回推。另一个警察也立即下车站到他的身边。

“赶快靠后站,”他们大叫道,“滚开。你们到底要干什么?

走开,赶快。”

人群就像是一群蜜蜂。

“别推我,”其中的一个罢工工人坚决地说,“我可没干什么。”“滚开!”警察喊道,挥舞着警棍。“我要给你脑门上来一棍子。快后退。”“真是见鬼了!”另一个罢工工人一边喊着,一边倒推起来,同时还加上了几句狠狠的咒骂声。

啪地一声,他的前额挨了一警棍。他的两眼昏花地眨了几下,两腿发抖,举起双手,摇摇晃晃地朝后退去。作为回敬,这位警察的脖子上挨了飞快的一拳。

这个警察被这一拳激怒了,他左冲右撞,发疯似地挥舞着警棍四处打人。他得到了他的穿蓝制服的同行的有力支援,这位同行还火上浇油地大声咒骂着愤怒的人群。由于罢工工人躲闪得快,深有造成严重的伤害。现在,他们站在人行道上嘲笑着。

“售票员在哪里?”一个警察大声叫着,目光落在那个人身上,这时他已经紧张不安地走上前来,站到赫斯渥身边。赫斯渥一直站在那里呆呆地看着这场纠纷,与其说是害怕,不如说是吃惊。

“你为什么不下车到这里来,把轨道上的这些石头搬开?”警察问。“你站在那里干什么?你想整天待在这里吗?下来!”赫斯渥激动地喘着粗气,和那个紧张的售票员一起跳下车来,好像叫的是他一样。

“喂,赶快,“另一个警察说。

虽然天气很冷,这两个警察却又热又狂。赫斯渥和售票员一起干活,把石头一块一块地搬走。他自己也干得发热了。

“啊,你们这些工贼,你们!”人群叫了起来,“你们这些胆小鬼!要抢别人的工作,是吗?要抢穷人的饭碗,是吗?你们这些贼。喂,我们会抓住你们的。你们就等着吧。”这些话并不是出自一个人之口。到处都有人在说,许多类似的话混合在一起,还夹杂着咒骂声。

“干活吧,你们这些恶棍!”一个声音叫道,“干你们卑鄙的活吧。你们是压贫穷人的吸血鬼!”“愿上帝饿死你们,”一个爱尔兰老太婆喊道,这时她打开附近的一扇窗户,伸出头来。

“是的,还有你,”她和一个警察的目光相遇,又补充道。

“你这个残忍的强盗!你打我儿子的脑袋,是吧?你这个冷酷的杀人魔鬼。啊,你--”但是警察却置若罔闻。

“见你的鬼去吧,你这个老母夜叉,”他盯着四周分散的人群,低声咕哝着。

这时石头都已搬开了,赫斯渥在一起连续不断的谩骂声中又爬上了驾驶台。就在两个警察也上车站到他的身旁,售票员打铃时,砰!砰!从车窗和车门扔进大大小小的石头来。有一块差点擦伤了赫斯渥的脑袋。又一块打碎了后窗的玻璃。

“拉足操纵杆。”一个警察大声嚷道,自己伸手去抓把手。

赫斯渥照办了,电车飞奔起来,后面跟着一阵石头的碰撞声和一连串咒骂声。

“那个王八蛋打中了我的脖子,”一个警察说,“不过,我也好好回敬了他一棍子。”“我看我肯定把几个人打出了血,”另一个说。

“我认识那个骂我们是×××的那个大块头家伙,”第一个说,“为此,我不会放过他的。”“一到那里,我就知道我们准会有麻烦的,”第二个说。

赫斯渥又热又激动,两眼紧盯着前方。对他来说,这是一段惊人的经历。他曾经从报纸上看到过这种事情,但是身临起境时却觉得完全是一件新鲜事。精神上他倒并非胆小怕事。刚刚经历的这一切,现在反倒激发他下定决心,要顽强地坚持到底。他再也没去想纽约或者他的公寓。这次出车似乎要他全力以赴,无暇顾及其它了。

现在他们畅通无阻地驶进了布鲁克林的商业中心。人们注视着打碎的车窗和穿便服的赫斯渥。不时地有声音叫着“工贼”,还听到其它的辱骂声,但是没有人群袭击电车。到了商业区的电车终点站,一个警察去打电话给他所在的警察分局,报告路上遇到的麻烦。

“那里有一帮家伙,”他说,“还在埋伏着等待我们。最好派人去那里把他们赶走。”电车往回开时,一路上平静多了--有人谩骂,有人观望,有人扔石头,但是没有人袭击电车。当赫斯渥看见车场时,轻松地出了一口气。

“好啦,”他对自己说。“我总算平安地过来了。”电车驶进了车场,他得到允许可以休息一下,但是后来他又被叫去出车。这一次,新上来了一对警察。他稍微多了一点自信,把车开得飞快,驶过那些寻常的街道,觉得不怎么害怕了。可是另一方面,他却吃尽了苦头。那天又湿又冷,天上飘着零星的雪花,寒风阵阵,因为电车速度飞快,更加冷得无法忍受。他的衣服不是穿着来干这种活的。他冻得直抖,于是像他以前看到别的司机所做的那样,跺着双脚,拍着两臂,但是一声不吭。他现在的处境既新鲜又危险,这在某种程度上减轻了他对被起来这里感到的厌恶和痛苦,但是还不足以使他不感到闷闷不乐。他想,这简直是狗过的日子。被起来干这种活真是命苦哇。

支撑着他的唯一念头,就是嘉莉对他的侮辱。他想,他还没有堕落到要受她的侮辱的地步。他是能够干些事的--甚至是这种事--是能够干一阵子的。情况会好起来的。他会攒一些钱的。

正当他想着这些时,一个男孩扔过来一团泥块,打中了他的手臂。这一下打得很疼,他被激怒了,比今天早晨以来的任何时候都要愤怒。

“小杂种!”他咕哝道。

“伤着你了吗?”一个警察问道。

“没有,”他回答。

在一个拐角上,电车因为拐弯而放慢了速度。一个罢工的司机站在人行道上,向他喊道:“伙计,你为什么不下车来,做个真正的男子汉呢?请记住,我们的斗争只是为了争取像样的工资,仅此而已。我们得养家糊口埃"这个人看来很倾向于采取和平的方式。

赫斯渥假装没有看见他。他两眼直瞪着前方,拉足了操纵杆。那声音带着一些恳求的味道。

整个上午情况都是这样,一直持续到下午。他这样出了三次车。他吃的饭顶不住这样的工作,而且寒冷也影响了他。每次到了终点站,他都要停车暖和一下,但他还是难过得想要呻吟了。有一个车场的工作人员看他可怜,借给他一顶厚实的帽子和一副羊皮手套。这一次,他可真是感激极了。

他下午第二次出车时,开到半路遇到了一群人,他们用一根旧电线杆挡住了电车的去路。

“把那东西从轨道上搬开,”两个警察大声叫道。

“唷,唷,唷!”人群喊着,“你们自己搬吧。”两个警察下了车,赫斯渥也准备跟着下去。

“你留在那里,”一个警察叫道,“会有人把你的车开走的。”在一片混乱声中,赫斯渥听到一个声音就在他身边说话。

“下来吧,伙计,做一个真正的男子汉。不要和穷人斗。那让公司去干吧。”他认出就是在拐角处对他喊话的那个人。这次他也像前面一样。假装没听见。

“下来吧,”那个人温和地重复道。“你不想和穷人斗的。一点也不想的。”这是个十分善辩且狡猾的司机。

从什么地方又来了一个警察,和那两个警察联合起来,还有人去打电话要求增派警察。赫斯渥注视着四周,态度坚决但内心害怕。

一个人揪住了他的外套。

“你给我下车吧,”那个人嚷着,用力拉他,想把他从栏杆上拖下来。

“放手,”赫斯渥凶狠地说。

“我要给你点厉害瞧瞧--你这个工贼!”一个爱尔兰小伙子喊着跳上车来,对准赫斯渥就是一拳。赫斯渥急忙躲闪,结果这一拳打在肩膀上而不是下颚上。

“滚开,”一个警察大叫着,赶快过来援救,当然照例加上一阵咒骂。

赫斯渥恢复了镇静,面色苍白,浑身发抖。现在,他面临的情况变得严重了。人们抬头看着他,嘲笑着他。一个女孩在做着鬼脸。

他的决心开始动摇了。这时开来一辆巡逻车,从车上下来更多的警察。这样一来,轨道迅速得到清理,路障排除了。

“马上开车,赶快,”警察说,于是他又开着车走了。

最后他们碰到了一群真正的暴徒。这群暴徒在电车返回行驶到离车场一两英里的地方时,截住了电车。这一带看起来非常贫困。他想赶快开过去,可是轨道又被阻塞了。他还在五六条横马路之外,就看见这里有人在往轨道上搬着什么东西。

“他们又来了!”一个警察叫了起来。

“这一次我要给他们一些厉害,”第二个警察说,他快要忍耐不住了。当电车开上前时,赫斯渥浑身感到一阵不安。像先前一样,人群开始叫骂起来。但是,这回他们不走过来,而是投掷着东西。有一两块车窗玻璃被打碎了,赫斯渥躲过了一块石头。

两个警察一起冲向人群,但是人们反而朝电车奔来。其中有一个女人--看模样只是个小姑娘--拿着一根粗棍子。

她愤怒至极,对着赫斯渥就是一棍子,赫斯渥躲开了。这一下,她的同伴们大受鼓舞,跳上车来,把赫斯渥拖下了车。他还没有来得及说话或者叫喊,就已经跌倒了。

“放开我,”他说,朝一边倒下去。

“啊,你这个吸血鬼,”他听到有人说。拳打脚踢像雨点般落到他的身上。他仿佛快要窒息了。然后,有两个人像是在把他拖开,他挣扎着想脱身。

“别动了,”一个声音说,“你没事了。站起来吧。”他被放开后,清醒了过来。这时,他认出是那两个警察。他感到精疲力尽得快要晕过去了。他觉得下巴上有什么湿的东西。他抬起手去摸摸,然后一看,是血。

“他们把我打伤了,”他呆头呆脑地说,伸手去摸手帕。

“好啦,好啦,”一个警察说,“只是擦破了点皮。”现在,他的神志清醒了,他看了看四周。他正站在一家小店里,他们暂时把他留在那里。当他站在那里揩着下巴时,他看见外面的电车和骚动的人群。那里有一辆巡逻车,还有另外一辆车。

他走到门口,向外看了看。那是一辆救护车,正在倒车。

他看见警察使劲朝人群冲了几次,逮捕了一些人。

“倘若你想把车开回去的话,现在就来吧,”一个警察打开小店的门,向里看了看说。

他走了出来,实在不知道自己该怎么办才好。他感到很冷,很害怕。

“售票员在哪里?”他问。

“哦,他现在不在这里,”警察说。

赫斯渥朝电车走去,紧张地爬上了车。就在他上车时,响了一声手枪声,他觉得有什么东西刺痛了他的肩膀。

“谁开的枪?”他听到一个警察叫起来,“天哪!谁开的枪?”两人甩下他,朝一幢大楼跑去。他停了一会儿,然后下了车。

“天哪!”赫斯渥喊道,声音微弱。“这个我可受不了啦。”他紧张地走到拐角处,弯进一条小街,匆匆走去。

“哎唷!”他呻吟着,吸了一口气。

离这里不远,有一个小女孩在盯着他看

“你最好还是赶快溜吧,”她叫道。

他冒着暴风雪上了回家的路,暴风雪刮得人睁不开眼睛。

等他到达渡口时,已经是黄昏了。船舱里坐满了生活舒适的人,他们好奇地打量着他。他的头还在打着转转,弄得他糊里糊涂。河上的灯火在白茫茫的漫天大雪中闪烁着,如此壮观的景色,却没有引其他的注意。他顽强地、步履艰难地走着,一直走回了公寓。他进了公寓,觉得屋里很暖。嘉莉已经出去了。

桌上放着两份她留在那里的晚报。他点上了煤气灯,坐了下来。接着又站了起来,脱去衣服看看肩膀。只是擦伤了一小点。

他洗了手和脸,明显地还在发愣,又把头发梳好。然后,他找了些东西来吃,终于,他不再感到饿了,就在他那舒服的摇椅里坐了下来。这一下可是轻松极了。

他用手托住下巴,暂时忘记了报纸。

“嘿,”过了一会儿,他回过神来说,“那里的活儿可真难干呀。”然后他回头看见了报纸。他轻轻叹了一口气。拾起了《世界报》。

“罢工正在布鲁克林蔓延,”他念道,“城里到处都有暴乱发生。”他把报纸拿好些,舒舒服服地往下看。这是他最感兴趣的新闻。




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