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茶花女8 [复制链接]

Rank: 8Rank: 8

发表于 2013-5-31 11:28:23 |显示全部楼层
HOWEVER (Armand went on after a pause), though I realized full well that I was still in love, I felt stronger than I had before and, in my desire to be with Marguerite again, there was also a determination to make her see that I now had the upper hand.
Many are the paths the heart will tread, and many the excuses its finds, that it may reach what it desires!
I could not therefore remain in the corridors any longer, and went back to my seat in the pit, quickly glancing around the auditorium as I did so to see in which box she was sitting.
She was in the stage-box in the stalls, and quite alone. She looked much altered, as I have told you, and I could not detect on her lips her old unconcerned smile. She had been ill; she still was.
Although it was already April, she was still dressed for winter and wore velvet.
I looked at her so insistently that my eye caught hers.
She considered me for a moment or two, reached for her opera-glasses to get a better look, and clearly thought she recognized me, though without being able to say positively who I was. For when she lowered her opera- glasses, a smile ?that captivating greeting of women ? strayed across her lips in reply to the acknowledgement the seemed to expect from me. But I made no response, as a way of asserting an advantage over her and of appearing to have forgotten while she remembered.
Believing that she was mistaken, she turned her head away.
The curtain went up.
I have seen Marguerite many times in the theatre. I never once saw her pay the slightest attention to what was happening on stage.
For me too, the play was of very little interest, and I had eyes only for her while doing my utmost to ensure that she did not notice.
It was thus that I observed her exchanging looks with the person who occupied the box opposite hers; I raised my eyes to this other box, and in it recognized a woman with whom I was reasonably familiar.
She had once been a kept woman, had tried the stage, had not succeeded and, counting on her contacts among the fashionable women of Paris, had gone into business and opened a milliner's shop.
In her, I saw a way of contriving a meeting with Marguerite, and I took advantage of a moment when she was looking in my direction to wish her a pleasant evening with hands and eyes.
What I had foreseen happened: she summoned me to her box.
Prudence Duvernoy ?such was the apt name of the milliner ?was one of those ample women of forty with whom no great diplomatic subtleties are required to get them to say what you wish to know, especially when what you wish to know is as simple as what I had to ask.
Seizing a moment when she was inaugurating a new round of signals with Marguerite, I asked her:
'Who's that you're watching?'
'Marguerite Gautier.'
'Do you know her?'
'Yes, I'm her milliner, and she's a neighbour of mine.'
'So you live in the rue d'Antin.'
'In number 7. The window of her dressing-room looks on to the window of mine.'
'They say she's a charming girl.'
'Don't you know her?'
'No, but I'd very much like to.'
'Do you want me to tell her to come across to our box?'
'No, I'd prefer you to introduce me to her.'
'At her place?'
'Yes.'
'That's more difficult.'
'Why?'
'Because she's under the protection of an old Duke who is very jealous.'
' "Protection", how charming.'
'Yes, protection, ' Prudence went on. 'Poor old thing. He'd be hard put to it to be her lover.'
Prudence then related how Marguerite had become acquainted with the Duke at Bagneres.
'And that is why, ' I continued, 'she's here on her own?'
'That's right.'
'But who'll drive her home?'
'He will.'
'So he'll come and fetch her?'
'Any minute now.'
'And who's taking you home?'
'Nobody.'
'Allow me.'
'But you're with a friend, I believe.'
'Allow us, then.'
'What's this friend of yours?'
'He's a charming fellow, very witty. He'll be delighted to meet you.'
'Very well, then, it's agreed, all four of us will leave after this play is finished, for I've seen the last one before.'
'Splendid. I'll go and tell my friend.'
'Off you go.'
I was on the point of leaving when Prudence said: 'Ah! there's the Duke just coming into Marguerite's box.'
I looked.
And indeed, a man of seventy had just sat down behind the young woman and was giving her a bag of sweets which, with a smile, she began to eat at once, and then she pushed them across the front ledge of her box with a sign to Prudence which could be translated as:
'Do you want some?'
'No, ' was Prudence's reply.
Marguerite retrieved the bag and, turning round, began chatting to the Duke.
So exact an account of all these detailed happenings must seem very childish, but anything connected with that girl is so present in my recollection that I cannot help but remember it all now.
I went down to let Gaston know what I had just arranged for him and me.
He was game.
We left our seats in the stalls and made for Madame Duvernoy's box.
We had barely opened the door leading out of the orchestra stalls when we were forced to stop and make way for Marguerite and the Duke who were leaving.
I would have given ten years of my life to have been in that old man's shoes.
When he reached the boulevard, he handed her up into a phaeton, which he drove himself, and they disappeared, borne away at a trot by two superb horses.
We entered Prudence's box.
When the play was over, we went down and got an ordinary cab which took us to 7 rue d'Antin. When we reached her door, Prudence invited us up to view her business premises, which we had never seen before, and of which she seemed very proud. You can imagine how eagerly I
accepted.
I felt that I was imperceptibly drawing closer to Marguerite. It was not long before I had turned the conversation round to her.
'Is the old Duke with your neighbour?' I asked Prudence.
'No, no; she's most likely on her own.'
'But she'll be terribly bored, ' said Gaston.
'We usually spend our evenings together or, when she gets home, she calls down to me. She never goes to bed before two in the morning. She can't get to sleep before then.'
'Why not?'
'Because she's got consumption, and she's almost always feverish.'
'Doesn't she have any lovers?' I asked.
'I never see anybody staying behind when I leave, but I don't say there's nobody comes after I've gone. When I'm there of an evening, I often come across a certain Count de N who thinks he can get somewhere with her by paying calls at eleven o'clock and sending her all the jewels she could possibly want; but she can't stand the sight of him. She's wrong, he's a very rich young man. I tell her from time to time, not that it does a bit of good: "My dear child, he's just the man for you!" She listens to me well enough ordinarily, but then she turns her back on me and answers that he is too stupid. He may be stupid, I grant you, but he'd set her up on a good footing, whereas that old Duke could die from one day to the next. Old men are selfish; his family are always on at him about his affection for Marguerite: that makes two reasons why he'll not leave her a penny. I'm forever going on at her about it, but she says that there'll still be time enough to say yes to the Count when the Duke's dead.
'It's not always much fun, ' Prudence continued, 'living the way she does. I can tell you it wouldn't do for me. I'd send the old relic packing. He's a dull old thing: he calls her his daughter, looks after her like a little child, and is forever hovering round her. I'm pretty sure that even at this time of night one of his servants is hanging about in the street to see who comes out and especially who goes in.'
'Oh, poor Marguerite!' said Gaston, sitting down at the piano and playing a waltz, 'I had no idea. Still, I have noticed that she hasn't seemed as jolly for some time now.'
'Hush!' said Prudence, pricking up her ears.
Gaston stopped.
'She's calling me, I think.'
We listened.
And indeed, a voice was calling Prudence.
'Come along, gentlemen, off with you, ' Madame Duvernoy told us.
'So that's what you mean by hospitality, ' Gaston said laughingly, 'we'll be off when it suits us.'
'Why should we go?'
'I'm going to Marguerite's.'
'We'll wait here.'
'I won't have it.'
'In that case, we'll come with you.'
'That's even more out of the question.'
'I know Marguerite, 'said Gaston, ' it's perfectly all right for me to drop in to pay my respects.'
'But Armand doesn't know her.'
'I shall introduce him.'
'Impossible.'
Once more we heard Marguerite's voice still calling Prudence.
Prudence ran into her dressing- room. I followed with Gaston. She opened the window.
We hid ourselves so that we could not be seen from outside.
'I've been calling you for ten minutes, 'said Marguerite from her window in a tone that verged on the peremptory.
'What do you want with me?'
'I want you to come at once.'
'Why?'
'Because Count de N is still here, and he's boring me to death.'
'I can't just now.'
'What's stopping you?'
'I've got two young men here who won't go away.'
'Tell them you've got to go out.'
'I have told them.'
'Well, they can stay there; when they see you've gone, they'll leave.'
'After turning the place upside down?'
'But what do they want?'
'They want to see you.'
'What are their names?'
'You know one of them, Monsieur Gaston R.'
'Ah, yes, I know him; and the other?'
'Monsieur Armand Duval. Don't you know him?'
'No; but bring them all the same. Anything would be better than the Count. I shall be waiting for you, so hurry.'
Marguerite shut her window, and Prudence shut hers.
Marguerite, who had for an instant recalled my face, did not remember my name. I would have been better pleased to be remembered in an unflattering light than forgotten altogether like this.
'I knew it, ' said Gaston, 'I knew she'd be delighted to see us.'
'Delighted isn't the word, ' answered Prudence, putting on her hat and shawl, 'she'll see you to make the Count go away. Try to be more agreeable than him, or otherwise ?I know Marguerite ?she'll take it out on me.'
We followed Prudence down the stairs.
I was shaking; I had a feeling that this visit would have a great influence on my life.
I was even more apprehensive than the evening I had been introduced in the box at the Opera-Comique.
When we arrived at the door of the apartment with which you are acquainted, my heart was beating so loud that I could not think.
A few chords from a piano reached our ears.
Prudence rang the bell.
The piano stopped.
A woman, who looked rather more like a lady's companion than a maid, opened the door to us.
We passed through the drawing- room, and from the drawing-room into the parlour, which was at that time exactly as you have seen it since.
A young man was leaning against the mantelpiece.
Marguerite, seated at the piano, was letting her fingers run over the keys, starting more pieces than she finished.
Everything about the scene exuded boredom which stemmed, on the man's side, from an embarrassing awareness of his own dullness and, on the woman's, from the visit of this lugubrious personage.
Hearing Prudence's voice, Marguerite rose to her feet and, coming up to us after first exchanging a look of gratitude with Madame Duvernoy, she said to us:
'Do come in, gentlemen, you are most welcome.'
可是,阿尔芒歇了一会儿又接着说,一方面我明白我仍然爱着玛格丽特,一方面又觉得我比以前要坚强些了,我希望再次跟玛格丽特见面,还想让她看看我现在比她优越得多。
为了要实现心中的愿望该想出多少办法,编出多少理由啊!
因此,我在走廊里再也待不下去了,我回到正厅就坐,一面飞快地朝大厅里扫了一眼,想看看她坐在哪个包厢里。
她独自一人坐在底层台前包厢里。我刚才已经跟您说过,她变了,嘴上已不再带有那种满不在乎的微笑。她生过一场病,而且病还没有完全好。
尽管已经是四月份的天气了,她穿得还是像在冬天里一样,全身衣裳都是天鹅绒的。
我目不转睛地瞅着她,终于把她的眼光给吸引过来了。
她对我端详了一会儿,又拿起望远镜想仔细瞧瞧我,她肯定觉得我面熟,但一下子又想不起我是谁。因为当她放下望远镜的时候,嘴角上浮现出一丝微笑,这是女人用来致意的一种非常妩媚的笑容,显然她在准备回答我即将向她表示的敬意。但是我对她的致意一点反应也没有,似乎故意要显得比她高贵,我装出一副她记起了我,我倒已经把她忘掉了的神气。
她以为认错了人,把头掉了过去。
启幕了。
在演戏的时候,我向玛格丽特看了好几次,可是我从未见到她认认真真地在看戏。
就我来说,对演出同样也是心不在焉的,我光关心着她,但又尽量不让她觉察到。
我看到她在和她对面包厢里的人交换眼色,便向那个包厢望去,我认出了坐在里面的是一个跟我相当熟悉的女人。
这个女人过去也做过妓女,曾经打算进戏班子,但是没有成功。后来靠了她和巴黎那些时髦女子的关系,做起生意来了,开了一家妇女时装铺子。
我从她身上找到了一个跟玛格丽特会面的办法,趁她往我这边瞧的时候,我用手势和眼色向她问了好。
果然不出我所料,她招呼我到她包厢里去。
那位妇女时装铺老板娘的芳名叫普律当丝迪韦尔诺瓦,是一个四十来岁的胖女人,要从她们这样的人那里打听些什么事是用不到多费周折的,何况我要向她打听的事又是那么平常。
我趁她又要跟玛格丽特打招呼的时候问她说:
“您是在看谁啊?”
“玛格丽特戈蒂埃。”
“您认识她吗?”
“认识,她是我铺子里的主顾,而且也是我的邻居。”
“那么您也住在昂坦街?”
“七号,她梳妆间的窗户和我梳妆间的窗正好对着。”
“据说她是一个很迷人的姑娘。”
“您不认识她吗?”
“不认识,但是我很想认识她。”
“您要我叫她到我们的包厢里来吗?”
“不要,最好还是您把我介绍给她。”
“到她家里去吗?”
“是的。”
“这不太好办。”
“为什么?”
“因为有一个嫉妒心很重的老公爵监护着她。”
“监护,那真太妙了!”
“是啊,她是受到监护的,”普律当丝接着说,“可怜的老头儿,做她的情夫真够麻烦的呢。”
于是普律当丝对我讲了玛格丽特在巴涅尔认识公爵的经过。
“就是因为这个缘故,”我继续说,“她才一个人上这儿来的吗?”
“完全正确。”
“但是谁来陪她回去呢?”
“就是他。”
“那么他是要来陪她回去的罗,是吗?”
“过一会儿他就会来的。”
“那么您呢,谁来陪您回去呢?”
“没有人。”
“我来陪您回去吧!”
“可是我想您还有一位朋友吧。”
“那么我们一起陪您回去好啦。”
“您那位朋友是个什么样的人?”
“一个非常漂亮和聪明的小伙子,他认识您一定会感到很高兴。”
“那么,就这样吧,等这幕戏完了以后我们三人①一起走,最后一幕我已经看过了。”
①原文为四人,似误,现改为三人。译者
“好吧,我去通知我的朋友。”
“您去吧。”
“喂!”我正要出去的时候,普律当丝对我说,“您看,走进玛格丽特包厢的就是那位公爵。”
我朝那边望去。
果然,一个七十来岁的老头儿刚刚在这个年轻女人的身后坐下来,还递给她一袋蜜饯,她赶紧笑眯眯地从纸袋里掏出蜜饯,然后又把那袋蜜饯递送到包厢前面,向普律当丝扬了扬,意思是说:
“您要来一点吗?”
“不要,”普律当丝说。
玛格丽特拿起那袋蜜饯,转过身去,开始和公爵聊天。
把这些琐事都讲出来似乎有些孩子气,但是与这个姑娘有关的一切事情我都记得清清楚楚,因此,今天我还是禁不住一一地想起来了。
我下楼告诉加斯东我刚才为我们两人所作的安排。
他同意了。
我们离开座位想到楼上迪韦尔诺瓦夫人的包厢里去。
刚一打开正厅的门,我们就不得不站住,让玛格丽特和公爵走出去。
我真情愿少活十年来换得这个老头儿的位置。
到了街上,公爵扶玛格丽特坐上一辆四轮敞篷马车,自己驾着那辆车子,两匹骏马拉着他们得得地远去了。
我们走进了普律当丝的包厢。
这一出戏结束后,我们下楼走出剧院,雇了一辆普通的出租马车,车子把我们送到了昂坦街七号。到了普律当丝家门口,她邀请我们上楼到她家里去参观她引以自豪的那些商品,让我们开开眼界。可想而知我是多么心急地接受了她的邀请。
我仿佛觉得自己正在一步步地向玛格丽特靠拢,不多会儿,我就把话题转到玛格丽特身上。
“那个老公爵这会儿在您女邻居家里吗?”我对普律当丝说。
“不在,她肯定一个人在家。”
“那她一定会感到非常寂寞的,”加斯东说。
“我们每天晚上几乎都是在一起消磨时间的,不然就是她从外面回来以后再叫我过去。她在夜里两点以前是从不睡觉的,早了她睡不着。”
“为什么?”
“因为她有肺病,她差不多一直在发烧。”
“她没有情人吗?”我问。
“每次我去她家的时候,从未看见有人留在她那儿,但是我不能担保就没有人等我走了以后再回去。晚上我在她家里经常遇到一位N伯爵,这位伯爵自以为只要经常在晚上十一时去拜访她,她要多少首饰就给她多少首饰,这样就能渐渐地得到她的好感。但是她看见他就讨厌。她错了,他是一个阔少爷。我经常对她说:‘亲爱的孩子,他是您需要的男人!’但是毫无用处。她平时很听我的话,但一听到我讲这句话时就转过脸去,回答我说这个人太蠢了。说他蠢,我也承认,但是对她来说,总算是有了一个着落吧,那个老公爵说不定哪一天就要归天的。老公爵什么也不会留给玛格丽特的,这有两个原因:这些老头子个个都是自私的,再加他家里人一直反对他对玛格丽特的钟爱。我和她讲道理,想说服她,她总是回答我说,等公爵死了,再跟伯爵好也来得及。”
普律当丝继续说:“像她这样的生活并不总是很有趣的,这我是很清楚的。这种生活我就受不了,我会很快把这个老家伙撵跑的。这个老头儿简直叫人腻烦死了;他把玛格丽特称作他的女儿,把她当成孩子似的照顾她,他一直在监视她,我可以肯定眼下就有他的一个仆人在街上走来走去,看看有谁从她屋里出来,尤其是看看有谁走进她的家里。”“啊,可怜的玛格丽特!”加斯东说,一面在钢琴前坐下,弹起了一首圆舞曲,“这些事我不知道,不过最近我发现这一阵她不如以前那么快乐了。”
“嘘,别作声!”普律当丝侧着耳朵听着。
加斯东停下不弹了。
“好像她在叫我。”
我们一起侧耳静听。
果然,有一个声音在呼唤普律当丝。
“那么,先生们,你们走吧,”迪韦尔诺瓦夫人对我们说。
“啊!您是这样款待客人的吗?”加斯东笑着说,“我们要到想走的时候才走呢。”
“为什么我们要走?”
“我要到玛格丽特家里去。”
“我们在这儿等吧。”
“那不行。”
“那我们跟您一起去。”
“那更不行。”
“我认识玛格丽特,”加斯东说,“我当然可以去拜访她。”
“但是阿尔芒不认识她呀!”
“我替他介绍。”
“那怎么行呢?”
我们又听到玛格丽特的叫声,她一直在叫普律当丝。
普律当丝跑进她的梳妆间,我和加斯东也跟了进去,她打开了窗户。
我们两人躲了起来,不让外面的人看见。
“我叫了您有十分钟了,”玛格丽特在窗口说,口气几乎有些生硬。
“您叫我干吗?”
“我要您马上就来。”
“为什么?”
“因为N伯爵还赖在这儿,我简直被他烦死了。”
“我现在走不开。”
“有谁拦着您啦?”
“我家里有两个年轻人,他们不肯走。”
“对他们讲您非出去不可。”
“我已经跟他们讲过了。”
“那么,就让他们留在您家里好啦;他们看见您出去以后,就会走的。”
“他们会把我家里搞翻天的!”
“那么他们想干什么?”
“他们想来看您。”
“他们叫什么名字?”
“有一位是您认识的,他叫R加斯东先生。”
“啊!是的,我认识他;另一位呢?”
“阿尔芒迪瓦尔先生。您不认识他吗?”
“不认识;不过您带他们一起来吧,他们总比伯爵好些。
我等着您,快来吧。”
玛格丽特又关上窗户,普律当丝也把窗户闭上了。
玛格丽特刚才曾一度记起了我的面貌,但这会儿却记不起我的名字。我倒宁愿她还记得我,哪怕对我印象不好也没有关系,但不愿意她就这样把我忘了。
加斯东说:“我早知道她会高兴见到我们的。”
“高兴?恐怕未必。”普律当丝一面披上披肩,戴上帽子,一面回答说,“她接待你们两位是为了赶走伯爵,你们要尽量比伯爵知趣一些,否则的话,我是知道玛格丽特这个人的,她会跟我闹别扭的。”
我们跟着普律当丝一起下了楼。
我浑身哆嗦,仿佛预感到这次拜访会在我的一生中产生巨大的影响。
我很激动,比那次在喜剧歌剧院包厢里被介绍给她的时候还要激动。
当走到您已认得的那座房子门前时,我的心怦怦直跳,脑子里已经糊里糊涂了。
我们听到传来几下钢琴和音的声音。
普律当丝伸手去拉门铃。
琴声顿时停了下来。
一个女人出来开门,这个女人看上去与其说像一个女用人,倒不如说更像一个雇来的女伴。
我们穿过大客厅,来到小客厅,就是您后来看到的那间小客厅。
一个年轻人靠着壁炉站在那里。
玛格丽特坐在钢琴前面,懒洋洋地在琴键上一遍又一遍地弹着她那弹不下去的曲子。
房间里的气氛很沉闷,男的是因为自己一筹莫展而局促不安,女的是因为这个讨厌的家伙的来访而心情烦躁。
一听到普律当丝的声音,玛格丽特站起身来,向她投去一个表示感谢的眼色,她向我们迎上前来,对我们说:
“请进,先生们,欢迎光临。”
       

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