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茶花女6 [复制链接]

Rank: 8Rank: 8

发表于 2013-5-31 11:29:45 |显示全部楼层
I FOUND Armand in bed.
When he saw me, he held out his hand. It was hot.
'You have a temperature, ' I said.
'It won't come to anything? the fatigue of a hurried journey, nothing more.'
'Have you come from Marguerite's sister's?'
'Yes, who told you?'
'I just know. And did you get what you wanted?'
'Yes, again. But who told you about my journey and my reasons for making it?'
'The gardener at the cemetery.'
'You saw the grave?'
I scarcely dared answer, for the tone of these words convinced me that the person who had said them was still in the grip of the same distress I had already witnessed, and that every time his thoughts or something that someone said brought him back to this painful subject, then for a long time to come, his emotions would go on getting the better of his will.
I settled therefore for answering with a nod.
'Has he taken good care of it?' continued Armand.
Two large tears rolled down the sick man's cheeks, and he turned his head away to hide them from me. I pretended not to notice and tried to change the subject.
'You've been away three weeks, ' I said.
Armand passed his hand over his eyes and answered:
'Three weeks exactly.'
'It was a long journey, then.'
'Oh! I wasn't travelling all the time. I was ill for a fortnight. Otherwise I would have been back long ago; but I'd only just arrived when a bout of fever got me and I was forced to keep to my room.
'And you set off again without being fully fit.'
'If I'd stayed another week in that place, I would have died there.'
'But now you're back, you must look after yourself. Your friends will call to see you. And I shall be the first among them, if you'll allow me.'
'In two hours I shall get up.'
'This is most unwise!'
'I must.'
'What have you to do that's so urgent?'
'I have a call to pay on the superintendent of police.'
'Why not let someone else see to a matter that may well make you more ill than you are now?'
'It's the only thing that can make me well. I must see her. Ever since I've known she was dead, and especially since seeing her grave, I haven't been able to sleep. I cannot conceive that the woman I left so young and beautiful can really be dead. I must check for myself. I have to see what God has done with a being I loved so very much, and then perhaps the loathesomeness of the sight will chase away the despair of my memories; you will come with me, won't you...unless you'd find it too tiresome?'
'What did her sister tell you?'
'Nothing. She seemed very surprised that a stranger should wish to buy a burial plot and have a headstone put up to Marguerite, and she signed the authorization I asked her for at once.'
'Take my advice: wait until you are properly fit before having the body transferred.'
'Oh! Don't worry: I shall be strong. Anyway I should go mad if I didn't get what I've decided over and done with as quickly as possible: the need to see it through has become part of my grief. I swear to you that I shall not rest easy until I've seen Marguerite. It may be a craving of the fever which burns in me, a dream born of sleepless nights, an effect of my ravings; but even if I have to become a Trappist monk first to manage it, then like Monsieur de Rance, once I have seen, I shall see.'
'I can understand that, ' I told Armand, 'and you have my complete support. Did you see Julie Duprat?'
'Yes. Oh, I saw her the day I got back, the first time I returned.'
'Did she hand over the papers which Marguerite had left for you?'
'They're here.'
Armand pulled a roll of papers from beneath his pillow, then put it back immediately.
'I know what these papers contain by heart, ' he said. 'These last three weeks, I have re-read them ten times each day. You shall read them too, but later, when I'm calmer and can make you understand how much feeling and love this confession reveals. For the moment, I have a favour to ask you.'
'What is it?'
'You have a carriage downstairs?'
'Yes.'
'Well, would you be so good as to take my passport, call at the bureau and ask if they are holding any letters for me poste restante? My father and my sister must have written to me here in Paris, and I left in such a hurry that I didn't take time to see before I set off. When you get back, we'll go together to inform the police superintendent of tomorrow's ceremony.'
Armand handed me his passport and I went round to the rue Jean- Jacques-Roussear.
There were two letters in the name of Duval. I picked them up and returned.
When I reappeared, Armand was fully dressed and ready to go out.
'Thank you, 'he said, taking the letters. 'Yes, ' he added, after glancing at the addresses, 'yes, they are from my father and my sister. They must have been totally mystified by my silence.'
He opened the letters and guessed at, rather than read their contents, for each was four pages long, and after a moment he folded them up again.
'Let's be off, ' he said, 'I'll reply tomorrow.'
We went to see the superintendent of police, and Armand handed over Marguerite's sister's letter of attorney.
In return, the superintendent gave him an advice note for the cemetery keeper; it was agreed that the transfer of the remains should take place the following day at ten in the morning, that I should come and collect him an hour beforehand and that we would drive to the cemetery together.
I too was curious to be present at the spectacle, and I confess I did not sleep that night.
Judging by the thoughts which assailed me, it must have been a long night for Armand.
When I entered his apartment at nine the following morning, he was horribly pale, but appeared calm.
He smiled at me and held out his hand.
His candles had burned right down and, before leaving, Armand picked up a very thick letter, addressed to his father, which had doubtless been the confidant of the night's reflections.
Half an hour later, we were at Montmartre.
The superintendent was already waiting for us.
We made our way slowly in the direction of Marguerite's grave. The superintendent led the way, Armand and I following a few paces behind.
From time to time, I felt my companion's arm tremble convulsively, as though a series of shudders had suddenly coursed through him. When this happened, I would look at him; he understood my look and smiled at me, but from the time we left his apartment we had not exchanged a single word.
Armand stopped just short of the grave to wipe his face which was streaming with large drops of perspiration.
I took advantage of the halt to catch my breath, for I myself felt as though my heart was being squeezed in a vice.
Why is it that we should find a mixture of pain and pleasure in sights of this kind? By the time we reached the grave, the gardener had taken the pots of flowers away, the iron railings had been removed and two men were digging with picks.
Armand leaned against a tree and watched.
The whole of his life seemed to be concentrated in those eyes of his.
Suddenly, one of the picks grated on a stone.
At the sound, Armand recoiled as though from an electric shock, and he grasped my hand with such strength that he hurt me.
One grave-digger took a wide shovel and little by little emptied the grave; when there remained only the stones which are always used to cover the coffin, he threw them out one by one.
I kept an eye on Armand, for I was afraid that his sensations, which he was visibly repressing, might get the better of him at any moment; but he went on watching, his eyes fixed and staring like a madman's, and a slight twitching of the cheeks and lips was the only indication of a violent nervous crisis.
For my own part, I can say only one thing: that I regretted having come.
When the coffin was completely exposed, the superintendent said to the grave-Diggers:
'Open it up.'
The men obeyed, as though it were the most ordinary thing in the world.
The coffin was made of oak, and they set about unscrewing the upper panel which served as a lid. The dampness of the earth had rusted the screws, and it was not without considerable effort that the coffin was opened. A foul odour emerged, despite the aromatic herbs with which it had been strewn.
'Dear God! Dear God!' Armand murmured, and he grew paler than ever.
The grave-diggers themselves stepped back a pace.
A large white winding-sheet covered the corpse and partly outlined its misshapen contours. This shroud had been completely eaten away at one end, and allowed one of the dead woman's feet to protrude.
I was very near to feeling sick, and even now as I write these lines, the memory of this scene comes back to me in all its solemn reality.
'Let's get on with it, ' said the superintendent.
At this, one of the men reached out his hand, began unstitching the shroud and, seizing it by one end suddenly uncovered Marguerite's face.
It was terrible to behold and it is horrible to relate.
The eyes were simply two holes, the lips had gone, and the white teeth were clenched. The long, dry, black hair was stuck over the temples and partly veiled the green hollows of the cheeks, and yet in this face I recognized the pink and white, vivacious face which I had seen so often.
Armand, helpless to avert his eyes from her countenance, had put his handkerchief to his mouth and was biting on it.
As for me, I felt as though my head was being constricted by an iron band: a mist settled over my eyes, my ears were filled with buzzing noises, and it was as much as I could manage to open a small bottle I had brought with me just in case, and take deep breaths of the salts which it contained.
At the height of my dizziness, I heard the superintendent say to Monsieur Duval:
'Do you identify the body?'
'Yes, ' the young man answered dully.
'All right, close it up and take it away, ' the superintendent said.
The grave-diggers pulled the shroud back over the dead woman's face, closed up the coffin, took one end each and headed for the spot which had been pointed out to them.
Armand did not move. His eyes were riveted on the empty grave: he was as pale as the corpse which we had just seen...He might have been turned to stone.
I saw what would happen when, away from this scene, his grief subsided and would consequently be no longer able to sustain him.
I went up to the superintendent.
'Is the presence of this gentleman, ' I said, gesturing towards Armand, 'required for anything else?'
'No, ' he said, ' and I would strongly advise you to take him away, for he seems to be unwell.'
'Come, ' I said to Armand, taking him by the arm.
'What? ' he said, looking at me as though he did not recognize me.
'It's over, ' I added, ' you must come away, my friend. You look pale, you're cold, you'll kill yourself with such emotions.'
'You're right, let's go, ' he replied mechanically, but without moving one step.
So I took him by the arm and dragged him away.
He allowed himself to be led off like a little child, merely muttering from time to time:
'Did you see the eyes?'
And he turned round as though the sight of them had called him back.
But his stride became jerky; he no longer seemed capable of walking without staggering; his teeth chattered, his hands were cold, violent nervous convulsions took possession of his entire body.
I spoke to him; he did not reply.
It was as he could do to allow himself to be led.
At the gate, we found a cab. And none too soon.
He had scarcely sat down inside, when the trembling grew stronger, and he had a severe nervous seizure. Through it, his fears of alarming me made him murmur as he pressed my hand:
'It's nothing, nothing, I simply want to weep.'
And I heard him take deep breaths, and the blood rushed to his eyes, but the tears would not come.
I made him inhale from the smelling bottle which had helped me and, by the time we reached his apartment, only the trembling was still in evidence.
I put him to bed with the help of his servant, ordered a large fire to be lit in his bedroom, and hurried off to fetch my own doctor to whom I explained what had just happened.
He came at once.
Armand was blue in the face. He was raving and stammering disconnected words through which only the name of Marguerite could be distinctly heard.
'How is he?' I asked the doctor when he had examined the patient.
'Well now, he has brain fever, no more and no less, and it's as well for him. For I do believe that otherwise, God forgive me, he would have gone mad. Fortunately, his physical sickness will drive out his mental sickness, and most likely in a month he will be out of danger from both of them.'
我去看阿尔芒的时候,他正躺在床上。
他一看见我,就向我伸出滚烫的手。
“您在发烧,”我对他说。
“没事,只是路上赶得太急,感到疲劳罢了。”
“您从玛格丽特姐姐家里回来吗?”
“是啊,谁告诉您的?”
“我已经知道了,您想办的事谈成了吗?”
“谈成了,但是,谁告诉您我出门了?谁告诉您我出门去干什么的?”
“公墓的园丁。”
“您看到那座坟墓了吗?”
我简直不敢回答,因为他讲这句话的声调说明他的心情还是非常痛苦,就像我上次看到他的时候一样。每当他自己的思想或者别人的谈话触及这个使他伤心的话题时,他那激动的心情会有很长一段时间不能自持。
因此我只是点点头,表示我已去过。
“坟墓照管得很好吧?”阿尔芒接着说。
两大滴泪珠顺着病人的脸颊滚落下来,他转过头去避开我,我装着没有看见,试着把话岔开,换一件别的事情谈谈。
“您出门已经有三个星期了吧,”我对他说。
阿尔芒用手擦擦眼睛,回答我说:“整整三个星期。”
“您的旅程很长哪。”
“啊,我并不是一直在路上,我病了两个星期,否则我早就回来了,可是我一到那里就发起烧来,只好呆在房间里。”
“您病还没有完全好就回来啦。”
“如果再在那儿多待上一个星期,没准我就要死在那儿了。”
“不过现在您已经回来了,那就应该好好保重身体,您的朋友们会来看望您的。如果您同意的话,我就算是第一个来看您的朋友吧。”
“再过两小时,我就要起床。”
“那您太冒失啦!”
“我一定得起来。”
“您有什么急事要办?”
“我必须到警长那儿去一次。”
“为什么您不委托别人去办这件事呢?您亲自去办会加重您的病的。”
“只有办了这件事才能治好我的病,我非要见她一面不可。从我知道她死了以后,尤其是看到她的坟墓以后,我再也睡不着了。我不能想象在我们分离的时候还那么年轻、那么漂亮的姑娘竟然已经不在人世。我一定要亲眼看见才能相信。我一定要看看天主把我这么心爱的人弄成了什么样子,也许这个使人恐惧的景象会治愈我那悲痛的思念之情。您陪我一起去,好不好?……如果您不太讨厌这类事的话。”
“她姐姐对您说了些什么?”
“什么也没有说,她听到有一个陌生人要买一块地替玛格丽特造一座坟墓,感到非常惊奇,她马上就同意了我的要求,在授权书上签了名。”
“听我的话,等您病完全好了以后再去办这件迁葬的事吧。”
“唉,请放心吧,我会好起来的。再说,如果我不趁现在有决心的时候,赶紧把这件事情办了,我可能会发疯的,办了这件事才能治愈我的痛苦。我向您发誓,只有在看一眼玛格丽特以后,我才会平静下来。这可能是发高烧时的渴念,不眠之夜的幻梦,谵妄发作时的反应;至于在看到她之后,我是不是会像朗塞①先生那样成为一个苦修士,那要等到以后再说了。”
①朗塞(16261700):年轻时生活放荡,在他的情妇蒙巴宗夫人死后,他就笃信宗教,成了一个苦修士。
“这我懂得,”我对阿尔芒说,“愿为您效劳;您看到朱利迪普拉没有?”
“看见了。啊!就在我上次回来的那一天看见她的。”
“她把玛格丽特留在她那儿的日记交给您了吗?”
“这就是。”
阿尔芒从枕头下面取出一卷纸,但立刻又把它放了回去。“这些日记里写的东西我都能背下来了,”他对我说,“三个星期以来,我每天都要把这些日记念上十来遍。您以后也可以看看,但要再过几天,等我稍微平静一些,等我能够把这些日记里面写的有关爱情和内心的表白都解释给您听时,您再看吧。
“现在,我要请您办一件事。”
“什么事?”
“您有一辆车子停在下面吧?”
“是啊。”
“那么,能不能请您拿了我的护照到邮局去一次,问问有没有寄给我的留局待领的信件?我的父亲和妹妹给我的信一定都寄到巴黎来了,上次我离开巴黎的时候那么仓促,抽不出空在动身之前去打听一下。等您去邮局回来以后,我们再一起去把明天迁葬的事通知警长。”
阿尔芒把护照交给我,我就到让-雅克-卢梭大街去了。
那里有两封给迪瓦尔先生的信,我拿了就回来了。
我回到他家里的时候,阿尔芒已经穿着整齐,准备出门了。
“谢谢,”他接过信对我说,“是啊,”他看了看信封上的地址又接着说,“是啊,这是我父亲和我妹妹寄给我的。他们一定弄不懂我为什么没有回信。”
他打开了信,几乎没有看,只是匆匆扫了一眼,每封信都有四页,一会儿他就把信折了起来。
“我们走吧,”他对我说,“我明天再写回信。”
我们到了警长那儿,阿尔芒把玛格丽特姐姐的委托书交给了他。
警长收下委托书,换了一张给公墓看守人的通知书交给他;约定次日上午十点迁葬。我在事前一个小时去找阿尔芒,然后一起去公墓。
我对参加这样一次迁葬也很感兴趣,老实说,我一夜都没睡好。
连我的脑子里都是乱糟糟的,可想而知这一夜对阿尔芒来说是多么漫长啊!
第二天早晨九点钟,我到了他的家里,他脸色苍白得吓人,但神态还算安详。
他对我笑了笑,伸过手来。
几支蜡烛都点完了,在出门之前,阿尔芒拿了一封写给他父亲的厚厚的信,他一定在信里倾诉了他夜里的感想。
半个小时以后,我们到达蒙马特公墓。
警长已经在等我们了。
大家慢慢地向玛格丽特的坟墓走去,警长走在前面,阿尔芒和我在后面几步远的地方跟着。
我觉得我同伴的胳膊在不停地抽搐,像是有一股寒流突然穿过他的全身。因此,我瞧瞧他,他也懂得了我目光的含义,对我微笑了一下。可是从他家里出来后,我们连一句话也不曾交谈过。
快要走到坟前时,阿尔芒停了下来,抹了抹脸上豆大的汗珠。
我也利用这个机会舒了一口气,因为我自己的心也好像给虎钳紧紧地钳住了似的。
在这样痛苦的场合,难道还会有什么乐趣可言!我们来到坟前的时候,园丁已经把所有的花盆移开了,铁栅栏也搬开了,有两个人正在挖土。
阿尔芒靠在一棵树上望着。
仿佛他全部的生命都集中在他那两只眼睛里了。
突然,一把鹤嘴锄触到了石头,发出了刺耳的声音。
一听到这个声音,阿尔芒像遭到电击似的往后一缩,并使劲握住我的手,握得我手也痛了。
一个掘墓人拿起一把巨大的铁铲,一点一点地清除墓穴里的积土;后来,墓穴里只剩下盖在棺材上面的石块,他就一块一块地往外扔。
我一直在观察阿尔芒,时刻担心他那明显克制着的感情会把他压垮;但是他一直在望着,两眼发直,瞪得大大的,像疯子一样,只有从他微微颤抖的脸颊和双唇上才看得出他的神经正处在极度紧张的状态之中。
至于我呢,我能说的只有一件事,那就是我很后悔到这里来。
棺材全部露出来以后,警长对掘墓的工人们说:
“打开!”
这些人就照办了,仿佛这是世界上最简单的一件事。
棺材是橡木制的,他们开始旋取棺材盖上的螺钉,这些螺钉受了地下的潮气都锈住了。好不容易才把棺材打了开来,一股恶臭迎面扑来,尽管棺材四周都是芳香扑鼻的花草。
“啊,天哪!天哪!”阿尔芒喃喃地说,脸色雪白。
连掘墓人也向后退了。
一块巨大的白色裹尸布裹着尸体,从外面可以看出尸体的轮廓。尸布的一端几乎完全烂掉了,露出了死者的一只脚。
我差不多要晕过去了,就在我现在写到这几行的时候,这一幕景象似乎仍在眼前。
“我们快一点吧。”警长说。
两个工人中的一个动手拆开尸布,他抓住一头把尸布掀开,一下子露出了玛格丽特的脸庞。
那模样看着实在怕人,说起来也使人不寒而栗。
一对眼睛只剩下了两个窟窿,嘴唇烂掉了,雪白的牙齿咬得紧紧的,干枯而黑乎乎的长发贴在太阳穴上,稀稀拉拉地掩盖着深深凹陷下去的青灰色的面颊。不过,我还是能从这一张脸庞上认出我以前经常见到的那张白里透红、喜气洋洋的脸蛋。
阿尔芒死死地盯着这张脸,嘴里咬着他掏出来的手帕。
我仿佛有一只铁环紧箍在头上,眼前一片模糊,耳朵里嗡嗡作响,我只能把我带在身边以防万一的一只嗅盐瓶打开,拼命地嗅着。
正在我头晕目眩的时候,听到警长在跟迪瓦尔先生说:
“认出来了吗?”
“认出来了。”年轻人声音喑哑地回答说。
“那就把棺材盖上搬走。”警长说。
掘墓工人把裹尸布扔在死人的脸上,盖上棺盖,一人一头把棺材抬起,向指定的那个方向走去。
阿尔芒木然不动,两眼凝视着这个已出空的墓穴;脸色就像刚才我们看见的死尸那样惨白……他似乎变成一块石头了。
我知道在这个场面过去,支持着他的那种痛苦缓解以后,将会发生些什么事情。
我走近警长。
“这位先生,”我指着阿尔芒对他说,“是不是还有必要留在这儿?”
“不用了,”他对我说,“而且我还劝您把他带走,他好像不太舒服。”
“走吧!”于是我挽着阿尔芒的胳膊,对他说。
“什么?”他瞧着我说,好像不认识我似的。
“事情办完了,”我接着又说,“您现在该走了,我的朋友,您脸色发白,浑身冰凉,您这样激动是会送命的。”
“您说得对,我们走吧,”他下意识地回答,但是一步也没有挪动。
我只好抓住他的胳膊拉着他走。
他像个孩子似的跟着走,嘴里不时地咕噜着:
“您看到那双眼睛吗?”
说着,他回过头去,好像那个幻觉在召唤他。
他步履蹒跚,踉踉跄跄地向前移动着。他的牙齿格格作响,双手冰凉,全身的神经都在剧烈地颤动。
我跟他讲话,他一句也没有回答。
他唯一能做的,就是让我带着走。
我们在门口找到了车子,正是时候。
他刚在车子里坐下,便抽搐得更厉害了,这是一次真正的全身痉挛。他怕我被吓着,就紧紧地握住我的手,喃喃地说:
“没什么,没什么,我只是想哭。”
我听到他在喘粗气,他的眼睛充血,眼泪却流不出来。
我让他闻了闻我刚才用过的嗅盐瓶。我们回到他家里时,看得出他还在哆嗦。
仆人帮助我把他扶到床上躺下,我把房里的炉火生得旺旺的,又连忙去找我的医生,把刚才的经过告诉了他。
他立刻就来了。
阿尔芒脸色绯红,神志昏迷,结结巴巴地说着一些胡话,这些话里只有玛格丽特的名字才叫人听得清楚。
医生检查过病人以后,我问医生说:“怎么样?”“是这样,算他运气,他得的是脑膜炎,不是什么别的病,天主饶恕我,我还以为他疯了呢!幸而他肉体上的病将压倒他精神上的病。一个月以后,兴许他两种病都能治好。”
 
       

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