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当前位置:主页 > 英国小说 > 德伯家的苔丝 > 第2章 失贞 Maiden no More
第3节 第十四章 【
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那是八月里的一个雾气朦胧的黎明。夜间产生的浓厚的雾气,在温暖阳光的照射下,正在分散开来,缩小成一堆一簇的雾团,掩藏在洼地里,树林中,它们就聚集在那儿,直到最后消失得一干二净。
由于雾气的缘故,太阳也变得奇怪起来,有了人的面孔,有了人的感觉,要想把它准确地表达清楚,得使用阳性代词才行。他现在的面目,再加上景物中看不见一个人影,这立刻就对古代的太阳崇拜作出了解释。你能够感觉到,普天之下还没有一种宗教比他更合乎情理的了。这个发光的物体就是一个生灵,长着金色的头发,目光柔和,神采飞扬,好像上帝一样,身上充满了青春的活力,正目不转睛地注视着大地,仿佛大地上满是他感到有趣的事物。
过了一会儿,他的光线穿过农家小屋百叶窗的缝隙,好像一根根烧红了的通条,照射在屋内的碗橱、五斗橱和其它的家具上;唤醒了还处在睡梦中的收获庄稼的农工们。
不过那天早晨,在所有的红色物体中,最红的物体要算两根被漆成红色的宽木头支架,它们都被竖在紧靠着马洛特村的一块金黄色麦地边上。加上下面的两根木头支架,它们就构成了收割机上可以转动的马尔他十字架①,收割机是在昨天被搬运到地头上的,准备在今天使用。十字架上漆的红色油漆,让太阳的光线一照,它的色彩就显得更加艳丽,让人看上去觉得十字架好像是被浸泡在红色的液体火焰里一样。
①马尔他十字架(Maltese cros),十字架的样式多种多样,主要的有拉丁式、希腊式、马尔他式。马尔他式十字架外部较宽,根部较窄。

那片麦地已经被“割过了”;也就是说,在这块麦地的四周,已经有人用手工把麦子割去了一圈,开辟出了一条几尺宽的小路,好让开始割麦时马匹和机器能够通过。
麦地里被割出来的小路上已经来了两拨人,一拨人是男子和男孩子,另一拨人是妇女,他们来的时候,东边树篱顶端的影子正好投射到西边树篱的腰部,所以两拨割麦人的脑袋沐浴着朝霞的时候,他们的脚却还处在黎明里。在附近麦地的栅栏门两边,有两根石头柱子,割麦子的人就从它们中间走进去不见了。
不久,麦地里传来一种“嚓嚓”声,好像是蚂蚱情说爱的声音。机器开始割麦了,从栅栏门这边看过去,只见三匹马并排拉着前面说过的摇摇晃晃的长方形机器向前走着,有一匹拉机器的马上骑着一个赶马的,机器的座位上坐着一个看机器的。机器战车沿着麦地的一边向前开动,机器割麦子的手臂慢慢转动着,一直开过了山坡,完全从眼前消失了。过了一会儿,它又以同样均匀的速度出现在麦地的另一边;割麦子的机器在麦茬地上出现时,最先看见的是前面那匹马额上闪闪发光的铜星,然后看见的是机器割麦子的鲜红色手臂,最后看见的才是整部机器。
割麦子的机器每走一圈,麦地周围狭长的麦茬长带就加宽一层,随着早晨的时光慢慢过去,还长有麦子的麦地就只剩下不大的一块了。大野兔、小野兔、长虫、大老鼠、小耗子,都一起向麦田的内地退去,好像要躲进堡垒里,却没有意识到它们避难的地方也只能是暂时的,没有意识到它们毁灭的命运正在后面等着它们,当今天它们躲避的地方越缩越小,最后变成可怕的一小块时,它们无论是朋友还是仇敌,都要拥挤着躲藏在一块儿了,等到收割机把地上最后剩下的几百码麦子割倒后,收庄稼的人就会拿起棍子和石头,把它们一个个打死。
割麦子的机器割倒麦子,一小堆一小堆地留在机器后面,每一堆刚好可以捆作一捆;捆麦子的人在有麦堆的地方忙着,正在用手把麦子捆起来——捆麦子的人主要是妇女,但也有些人是男人,他们上穿印花布衬衣,下穿长裤,长裤用皮带系在腰间,这样后面的两颗扣子也就失去了用处,他们每动一下,扣子就在阳光下一闪,仿佛是他们后腰上长的一双眼睛。
但是在这一群捆麦子的人中间,还是那些女子们最能引起人的兴致,因为女人一旦在户外变成了大自然的一部分,不再和平时那样,仅仅只是摆放在那儿的一件物品,那时候她们就特别具有魅力。一个男人在地里只是地里的一个人;一个女人在地里却是田地的组成部分;她在某些方面同田地失去了界限,吸收了周围环境的精华,使自己同周围的环境融成了一体。
妇女们——不如说是女孩子们,因为她们大多青春年少——都戴着打着皱折的女帽,帽子上宽大的帽檐可以遮挡太阳,她们的手上戴的手套可以保护双手不被麦茬划伤。在她们中间,有一个人穿着粉红色上衣,有一个人穿着奶油色的窄袖长衫,还有一个人穿着短裙,短裙的颜色红得就像收割机的十字架一样;其他的妇女们年纪都要大些,都穿着棕色的粗布罩衫或者外套——那是妇女在地里劳动穿的最合适的老式样的服装,年轻的女孩子们都已经不再穿它们了。这天早晨,大家的目光都被吸引到那个穿粉红色棉布上衣的姑娘身上,在所有的女孩子中间,她的身材最苗条和最富有弹性。但是她的帽子拉得低低的,盖住了她的额头,所以在她捆麦子的时候,一点儿也看不见她的脸,不过从她的帽檐下面散落出来的一两绺深褐色头发上,大致可以猜测出她的皮肤的颜色来,她不能躲避别人的偶尔注意,也许有一个原因就是她不想别人注意她,而其他的妇女们的眼睛总是流波四顾的。
她不断地捆着麦子,单调得就像时钟一样。她从刚捆好的麦捆里抽出一把麦穗来,用左手掌拍着麦头儿,把它们弄整齐。然后,她向前把腰弯下去,一双手把麦堆拢到膝盖跟前,戴着手套的左手从麦堆下面伸过去,同另一边的右手会合了,就像拥抱一个情人一样把麦子抱在怀里。她把捆扎麦子的那束麦子的两头收拢来,跪在麦捆上把它捆紧,微风把她的裙子吹了起来,她也不断地把它扯回去。在她衣服的袖子和暗黄色软皮手套之间,看得见有一截裸露的胳膊露在外面;这一天慢慢过去了,女孩儿圆润的胳膊也被麦茬刺破了,流出了鲜血。
她时而站起来休息一会儿,把弄乱了的围裙重新系好,或者把头上戴的帽子拉拉整齐。这时候,你就可以看见一个年轻漂亮的女孩子了,她长着一张鸭蛋形的脸,深色的眼睛,又长又厚的头发平平整整的,好像它无论披散在什么上面,都会被紧紧地粘住。同一个寻常的乡村女孩子相比,她的脸颊更洁白,牙齿更整齐,红色的嘴唇更薄。
她就是苔丝·德北菲尔德,或者叫德贝维尔,多少有了一些变化——还是原来的她,又不是原来的她;在她目前生存的这个阶段,她的生活就像是一个陌生人,或者是这儿的一个异邦人,其实她生活的地方对她一点儿也不陌生。她在家里躲了很长一段时间,后来才下定决心走出门外,在村子里找点儿活于,因为那时候农村里一年中最忙的季节到了,她在屋里做的任何事情,都比不上当时在地里收庄稼赚的钱多。
其他的妇女捆麦子的动作大体上同苔丝差不多,她们每个人捆好一捆,就像跳四对方舞的人一样,从四面聚拢来,把各自的麦捆靠着别人的竖在一起,最后形成了十捆或十二捆的一堆,或者按当地人说的那样,形成一垛。
她们去吃了早饭,回到地里,又继续照常工作起来。接近十一点钟的时候,要是有人观察她,就会注意到苔丝脸上带着忧愁,不时地望着山顶,不过她手里捆麦子的动作并没有停下来。快到十一点的时候,一群年龄从六岁到十四岁的小孩子,从山坡上一块满是残茬的高地上露了出来。
苔丝的脸稍微一红,但是仍然捆着麦捆。

那群孩子中年龄最大的一个是个姑娘,她披一块三角形披肩,披肩的一角拖在麦茬上,她的胳膊里抱着什么,最初看上去好像是一个洋娃娃,后来才证明是一个穿着衣服的婴儿。另一个手里拿着午饭。割麦子的人都停止了工作,拿出各自的食物,靠着麦堆坐了下来。他们就在这里开始吃饭,男人们还随意地从一个石头罐子里倒酒喝,把一个杯子轮流传着。
苔丝·德北菲尔德是最后一个停下手中活儿的人。她在麦堆的另一头坐下来,把脸扭到一边,躲开她的伙伴。当她在地上坐好了,有一个头上戴着兔皮帽子、腰里皮带上塞了一块红手巾的男人拿着酒杯,从麦堆顶上递给她,请她喝酒。不过她没有接受他献的殷勤。她刚一把午饭摆好,就把那个大孩子、她的妹妹叫过来,从她的手中接过婴儿,她的妹妹正乐得轻松,就跑到另外一个麦堆那儿,和别的小孩一起玩了起来。苔丝脸上的红晕越来越红,她用悄悄的但是大胆的动作解开上衣的扣子,开始喂孩子吃奶。
坐在那儿离她最近的几个男人体谅她,把脸转到了地的另一头,他们中间还有几个人开始抽烟;还有一个健忘的人十分遗憾地用手摸着酒罐子,酒罐子再也倒不出一滴滴来了。除了苔丝而外,所有的妇女都开始热烈地说起话来,一边把头发上弄乱了的发结整理好。
等到婴儿吃饱了,那位年轻的母亲就把他放在自己的膝头上,让他坐正了,用膝头颠着他玩,眼睛却望着远方,脸色既忧郁又冷淡,差不多是憎恶的样子;然后,她把脸伏下去,在婴儿的脸上猛烈地亲了几十次,仿佛永远也亲不够,在她这阵猛烈的亲吻里,疼爱里面奇怪地混合着鄙夷,孩子也被亲得大声哭了起来。
“其实她心里才喜欢那孩子,别看她嘴里说什么但愿那孩子和她自己都死了才好,”一个穿红裙子的妇女说。
“过不了多久她就不会说那些话了,”一个穿黄颜色衣服的人回答说。“主啊,真是想不到,时间久了一个人就能习惯那种事!”
“我想,当初那件事并不是哄哄就成的。去年有一天晚上,有人听见猎苑里有人哭;要是那时候有人进去了,他们也许就不好办了。”
“唉,不管怎么说,这种事别的人都没有碰上,恰巧让她碰上了,真是万分可怜。不过,这种事总是最漂亮的人才碰得上!丑姑娘包管一点事儿都没有——喂,你说是不是,珍妮?”那个说话的人扭头对人群里一个姑娘说,要是说她长得丑,那是一点儿也没有说错。
的确是万分的可怜;那时候苔丝坐在那儿,就是她的敌人见了,也不会不觉得她可怜,她的嘴唇宛如一朵鲜花,眼睛大而柔和,既不是黑色的,也不是蓝色的,既不是灰色的,也不是紫色的;所有这次颜色都调和在一起,还加上了一百种其它的颜色,你只要看看她一双眼睛的虹彩,就能看出那些颜色来——一层颜色后面还有一层颜色——一道色彩里面又透出一道色彩——在她的瞳仁的四周,深不见底;她几乎是一个标准的女人,不过在她的性格里有一点从她的家族承袭来的轻率的毛病。
她一连在家里躲了好几个月,这个礼拜第一次到地里干活,这种勇气连她自己都感到吃惊。她不谙世事,只好独自呆在家军,采用种种悔恨的方法,折磨和消耗她那颗不断跳动着的心,后来,常识又让她明白过来。她觉得她还可以再作点儿什么事情,可以使自己变得有用处——为了尝一尝新的独立的甜蜜滋味,她不惜付出任何代价。过去的毕竟过去了;无论事情过去怎样,眼前已经不存在了。无论过去带来什么样的后果,时间总会把它们掩盖起来;几年之后,它们就会好像什么事都没有发生一样,她自己也会叫青草掩盖,被人忘记了。这时,树木还是像往常一样地绿,鸟儿还是像往常一样地唱,太阳还是像往常一样地亮。周围她所熟悉的环境,不会因为她的悲伤就为她忧郁,也不会因为她的痛苦就为她悲伤。
她也许看清了是什么使她完全抬不起头来——是她心里以为人世间老在关心她的境遇——这种想法完全是建立在幻觉之上的。除了她自己而外,没有人关心她的存在、遭遇、感情以及复杂的感觉。对苔丝身边所有的人来说,他们只是偶尔想起她来。即使是她的朋友,他们也只不过经常想到她而已。如果她不分日夜地离群索后,折磨自己,对他们来说也不过如此——“唉,她这是自寻烦恼。”如果她努力快乐起来,打消一切忧虑,从阳光、鲜花和婴儿中获取快乐,他们就又会这样来看待她了——“唉,她真能够忍耐。”而且,如果她独自一人住在一个荒岛上,她会为自己发生的字情折磨自己吗?不大可能。如果她刚刚被上帝创造出来,一出世就发现自己是一个没有配偶而生了孩子的母亲,除了知道自己是一个还没有名字的婴儿的母亲而外,对其它的事一无所知,难道她还会对自己的境遇感到绝望吗?不会,她只会泰然处之,而且还要从中找到乐趣。她的大部分痛苦,都是因为她的世俗谬见引起的,并不是因为她的固有感觉引起的。
无论苔丝如何推理,总之有某种精神敦促着她,使她像从前一样穿戴整齐,走出门外,来到地里,因为那个时候正好大量需要收割庄稼的人手。就是因为这样,她才建立起自己的尊严,即使怀里抱着孩子,偶尔她也敢抬起头来看人,不感到害怕了。
收庄稼的男工们从麦垛旁边站起来,伸了伸四肢,把烟斗里的烟火熄灭了。先前卸下来的马吃饱了,又被套到了红色的收割机上,苔丝赶紧把她的饭吃完,招手把她的大妹妹叫过来,让她把孩子抱走了,她也就扣上衣服的扣子,戴上黄色软皮手套,走到最后捆好的一捆麦子跟前,弯下腰去,从中抽出一束麦子来,去捆另一堆麦子。
在下午和晚上,上午的工作不断继续着,苔丝也就和收麦子的人一起呆到天黑的时候。收工后,他们都坐上最大的一辆马车,黯淡的圆月刚从东边地平线上升起,他们就在月亮的伴随下动身回家,月亮的脸就如同被虫蛀过的托斯卡纳圣像头上用晦暗的金叶贴成的光环一样。苔丝的女伴们唱着歌,对苔丝重新出门工作表示她们的同情和高兴,尽管她们又忍不住淘气要唱上几句民谣,民谣里说有个姑娘走进了绿色的快活林里,回来时人却变了样儿。人生里总是存在着平衡和补偿;使苔丝成为社会警戒的同一件事情,同时也使苔丝在村子中许多人眼里成了最引人注目的人物。她们的友好态度使她离过去的自己便远了,她们的活泼精神富有感染力,因此她差不多也变得快活起来。
现在她道德上的悲伤慢慢消失了,可是从她的天性方面又生出来一种新的悲伤,而这种悲伤是不懂得什么叫自然法律的。她回到家里,听说她的孩子在下午突然病倒了,心里十分难过。那孩子的体格瘦弱娇嫩,生病本来就是意料中的事,但是这件事还是让她吓了一跳。
孩子降生到世上,本来就是一件触犯社会的罪恶,可是这个少女妈妈已经把这桩罪恶忘了;她心中的愿望就是要保全这个孩子的生命,让这桩罪恶继续下去。但是事情很快就清楚了,那个肉体的小小囚徒解脱的时间就要到了,她想到了这种最坏的结果,但没有想到来得这样早。她看出了这一点,也就陷入了悲痛之中,甚至比孩子单纯死去的悲痛还要大。她的孩子还没有受过洗礼①。
①洗礼(Bapitism),根据基督教观念,洗礼有两层意义,一为洗去身上所带的原罪,二为准许进入天堂。孩子不受洗礼而死的,不能进入天堂,只能在地狱受苦。

苔丝已经进入了一种心态,被动地接受了一种补救的办法,她如果因为自己的行为应该被烧死,就把她烧死好了,这也是一种了结。同村子里所有的女孩子一样,一切都以《圣经》为根据,曾经细心地学习过阿荷拉和阿荷利巴②的历史,知道可
②阿荷拉和阿荷利巴(Aholah and Aholibah),见《圣经·以西结书》第二十三章。有两个女子在埃及行淫,姐姐名叫阿荷拉,妹妹名叫阿荷利巴。耶和华说:“必有义人审判她们,因为她们是淫妇。我必使多人来攻击她们,使她们抛来抛去,被人抢夺;这些人必用石头打死她们,用刀剑杀害她们,又杀戮她们的儿女,用火焚烧她们的房屋,好叫一切妇人都受警戒。”coc2以从中推理出来的结论。不过出现的同样问题与她的孩子有关的时候,就有了不同的色彩。她的宝贝就快要死了,灵魂还没有得救就快要死了。

那时快到睡觉的时候了,但是她却急忙跑到楼下,问要不要去请牧师。就在那个时候,她的父亲刚刚从每星期一次的罗利弗酒店酗酒回来,恰巧正是他对自己家是古老贵族这件事感觉最强烈的时候,也是他对苔丝给这个贵族之家染上的被宣扬得沸沸扬扬的污点感到最敏感的时候。他宣布绝不允许牧师进他的家门,探听他的隐私,因为那个时候,她的耻辱比过去更有必要掩盖起来。他就锁上门,把钥匙装进了自己的口袋里。
一家人都上床睡觉了,苔丝痛苦得无以复加,也只好上床睡了。她躺在床上,老是不断醒来,到了半夜,她发现孩子的病情更重了。很明显,孩子快要死了——安安静静地,也没有痛苦,但是确实快要死了。
她在痛苦中翻来覆去。时钟敲响了庄严的凌晨一点,就在那个时候,幻想才得以超脱理智,恐怖的可能才成为牢不可破的事实。在她的想象里,因为孩子没有受洗和是私生的这两重大罪,所以被打进了地狱中最深的一个角落里;她看见那个魔鬼头子手里拿起一把三刃的钢叉,把她的孩子又来叉去,那根钢叉和在烤面包时用来烧炉子的钢叉一样;在这幅图画里,她又添加了许多其它稀奇古怪的孩子遭受折磨的细节,那都是在这个基督教国家里给年轻人讲过的。睡觉的屋子里一片寂静,恐怖的场面太强烈了,因而她的想象也就更逼真,吓出了一身冷汗,把睡衣都湿透了,她的心猛烈地跳动着,每跳动一次,床也就震动一下。
婴儿的呼吸变得越来越困难了,母亲心里的紧张也跟着增加了。她无论怎样去吻那个孩子都无济于事;她在床上再也躺不住了,就焦急地在房间里走来走去。
“啊,慈悲的上帝啊,你发发慈悲吧;可怜可怜我这个苦命的孩子吧!”她大声喊着。“把你的愤怒尽管加在我的身上吧,我是心甘情愿的;但是你要可怜我的孩子呀!”
她倚靠在五斗橱上,断断续续地低声作了半天祈祷,后来突然跳起来。
“啊!也许这孩子还可以得救!也许那样办完全是一样的!”
她说话的时候,脸上也变得十分开朗了,仿佛掩藏在阴暗中的脸也发出了亮光。
她点燃一根蜡烛,走到墙边第二张和第三张床的跟前,弟弟和妹妹都同她睡在一个房间里,她就把他们都给叫了起来。她又把洗脸架拉了出来,自己站到洗脸架的后面,从水罐里倒出一些水,让弟弟和妹妹跪在自己周围,把双手伸出来,五指伸直合拢在一起。那时候孩子们还没有完全清醒过来,见了她那个样子,直觉得庄严可怕,就保持着那种姿势,眼睛越睁越大。她从床上抱起婴儿——她是一个孩子的孩子——她还没有完全成熟起来,简直似乎没有资格享有那个孩子的母亲的称号。苔丝怀里抱着那个婴儿,笔直地站在脸盆的旁边,她的大妹妹站在她的面前,手里拿着已经翻开的祈祷书,就好像教堂的牧师助手拿着打开的祈祷书站在牧师面前一样;那个女孩子就这样开始为她的孩子洗礼。
她穿着白色的长睡衣站在那儿,个子显得特别高大,神情显得特别威严,头上一条粗大的黑色辫子,从脑后一直垂到了腰下。蜡烛微弱而温和的亮光,掩盖了她身上和脸上的小毛病——麦茬在手腕上留下的划痕,眼睛里流露出的倦容,这些毛病在日光下也许就会暴露出来。她的那张脸曾经害了她,现在她的高度热情在她的脸上产生了美化的效果,表现出一种冰清玉洁的美,带有一种近似王后的庄严。那群小孩子跪在她的周围,睡意朦胧的眼睛红红的,一眨一眨的,等着她做好准备。他们心里充满好奇,不过他们身上的睡意太浓太重,不能够把心中的好奇弄明白。
他们中间有一个感受最深,就说:
“你真的要给他行洗礼吗,苔丝?”
那个少女母亲用庄重的态度作了肯定的回答。
“你给他取个什么名字呢?”
她没有想到要取名字的事,不过在她继续进行洗礼仪式的时候,突然想到了《创世纪》里的一句话,那句话里提到一个名字,就随口念了出来:
“苦楚,我现在以圣父、圣灵、圣子的名义为你行洗礼。”①
①《圣经·创世纪》第三章第十六节说:“我必多多增加你怀胎的苦楚,你生产儿女必多受苦楚。”

她把水洒到孩子身上,一时静悄悄的。
“孩子们,念‘阿门’。”
听了她的话,细小的声音跟着念“阿门”。
苔丝继续说:
“我们接受这孩子,”——等等——“用十字架的符号为他画十字吧。”
念到这儿,她把手伸进脸盆里,用她的食指热烈地在孩子身上画了一个大十字,接着又继续念那些例行公事式的句子,比如要勇敢地同罪恶、世俗和魔鬼作战,一直到生命结束都要做一个忠实的战士和仆人。她按照规矩继续念主祷文,孩子们的声音小得像蚊子叫,跟着她一起念,念到结束的时候,他们都把声音提高到了牧师助手念的高度,又一起念了一声“阿门”,然后就没有一点儿声音了。
后来,他们的姐姐对这次洗礼的效力所抱的信心大大增加了,从她的内心深处念开了感谢上帝的祷文,她用风琴和声一样的音调念祷文,念得大胆,带着胜利的口吻,那声音是认识她的人永远也忘不了的。她对信念的狂喜使她变得神圣起来;脸上容光焕发,两边脸颊的中间现出来一块红晕;在她眼睛的瞳仁里,投射进去的烛光的影子闪闪发亮,就好像是两颗钻石。孩子们抬起头望着她,越来越敬畏,再也没有心思提问了。在孩子们面前,她现在不再是他们的姐姐了,而是一位伟大、威严和令人崇敬的人物——一位同他们毫无相同之处的女神。
可怜的苦楚同罪恶、世俗和魔鬼作斗争,命中注定只能得到有限的光荣——要是考虑到他是如何降世为人的,这对他自己也许还是幸运的。在早晨的阴郁中,那个脆弱的士兵呼完了最后一口气,孩子们一明白过来,都放声痛哭,并且求着姐姐再生一个漂亮的小孩子。
苔丝自从行完洗礼以后,内心里就很平静,孩子死了,她的平静还在。天亮以后,她的确感到自己对孩子灵魂的恐惧是有些被夸大了;无论她的恐惧有没有根据,现在她心里是不担心了,她想到的理由是,假如上帝不肯承认这种大体上差不多的做法,因为不规范的洗礼不准孩子进天堂,那么无论是为了自己还是为了孩子,她也就不再看重这种天堂了。
不受欢迎的苦楚就这样死掉了——他是一个不请自来的人,一件不尊重社会礼法的耻屏的自然礼物和一个私生子;他只是一个弃儿,对一年一世纪这种概念一无所知,永恒的时间对于他只是几天的事情;对他来说,茅屋的空间就是整个宇宙,一周的大气就是一年的气候,初生的时期就是人类的存在,吃奶的本能就是人类的知识。
苔丝在心里对洗礼的事思考了很久,想着要是给孩子举行一个基督教的葬礼,足不是有足够的道理。除了这个教区的牧师之外,没有人能够告诉她,牧师是新来的,还不认识她。到了傍晚,她来到牧师的住处,站在门边,但还是没有足够的勇气走进屋去。她转身离开的时候,正巧碰上了外出回家的牧师,要不是这样,她的计划就被她放弃了。在朦胧的夜色里,她不在乎明明白白地把事情说出来。
“我想问你一件事情,先生。”
他表示愿意听一听她问的事情,而她也就给他讲了孩子生病的事,以及她给孩子临时行洗礼的事。
“先生,现在我要问,”她认真地补充说,“你能不能告诉我,这件事同你给他行的洗礼是不是一样的?”
他有一种生意人的自然感情,发现本应该把他叫去做的一件事情,却叫主顾们笨手笨脚地替他做了,心里想回答她说不一样。可是他一看到那个女孩子的庄重神情,一听到她说话中的奇特的柔和,他心中的高贵感情就被激发出来,或者说在他为了把机械的信仰嫁接到实际的怀疑主义之上而进行了数十年努力以后,他身上残留的一点儿感情又被激发出来了。人和教士在他的心里交战,结果人取得了胜利。
“我亲爱的姑娘,”他说,“这完全是一样的。”
“那么你就会给他一个基督教的葬礼了吧?”她急忙问。
牧师感到自已被难住了。听说孩子病了,他曾经良心发现,天黑后去为孩子行洗礼,但是他不知道不许他进门的是苔丝的父亲,而不是苔丝自己,因此,他不能接受苔丝必须行这种非正规洗礼的申辩。
“啊——那又是另外一回事了,”他说。
“又是另外一回事了——为什么呀?”苔丝问,神色十分激动。
“唉——要是只是我们两个人的事,我就会情愿为你办了。可是,由于某些别的原因,我不能办。”
“就办这一次好啦,先生!”
“我真的不能办。”
“啊,先生!”她抓着牧师的手说。
牧师缩回手,摇了摇头。
“那么我是不喜欢你了!”她发作起来,“而且我永远也不再上你的教堂了。”
“不要把话说得这样轻率。”
“要是你不给他行洗礼,对他是不是完全一样?……是不是完全一样?看在上帝的份上,请你不要像圣徒对罪人那样对我说话,而是要像你这个人对我这个人说话一样——我好可怜呀!”
牧师对这些问题自有严格的观念,但是他怎样使它们同他的回答调和起来,就完全超出了我们凡夫俗子的理解了。牧师受到感动,就这样回答说:
“是完全一样的。”
于是在那天晚上,婴儿被放进一个小枞木匣子里,上面盖了一块女人用旧的披肩,花了一个先令和一品特啤酒,雇了教堂的执事,在风灯的照明下,把他埋葬在上帝分配的那个破乱的角落里。那儿长着荨麻,所有没有受洗的婴儿、臭名昭著的酒鬼、自杀的懦夫和一些其它要下地狱的人,都被胡乱地埋在一起。但是,尽管周围的环境不好,苔丝仍然勇敢地用两根木头和一条绳子,扎成一个十字架,在上面绑上鲜花,趁一个晚上没有人注意的时候,跑进教堂的墓地里,把十字架竖在坟头上,还在一个小瓶子里插上同样的鲜花。瓶子装有水,不会让鲜花枯萎。在瓶子外面,一眼就能看出上面写着“吉韦尔果酱公司”的字样,但是那又有什么关系呢?胸怀母爱的眼睛是看不见这些字的,看见的只是更加崇高的东西。
 

It was a hazy sunrise in August. The denser nocturnal vapours, attacked by the warm beams, were dividing and shrinking into isolated fleeces within hollows and coverts, where they waited till they should be dried away to nothing.

The sun, on account of the mist, had a curious sentient, personal look, demanding the masculine pronoun for its adequate expression. His present aspect, coupled with the lack of all human forms in the scene, explained the old-time heliolatries in a moment. One could feel that a saner religion had never prevailed under the sky. The luminary was a golden-haired, beaming, mild-eyed, God-like creature, gazing down in the vigour and intentness of youth upon an earth that was brimming with interest for him.

His light, a little later, broke through chinks of cottage shutters, throwing stripes like red-hot pokers upon cupboards, chests of drawers, and other furniture within; and awakening harvesters who were not already astir.

But of all ruddy things that morning the brightest were two broad arms of painted wood, which rose from the margin of a yellow cornfield hard by Marlott village. They, with two others below, formed the revolving Maltese cross of the reaping-machine, which had been brought to the field on the previous evening to be ready for operations this day. The paint with which they were smeared, intensified in hue by the sunlight, imparted to them a look of having been dipped in liquid fire.

The field had already been `opened'; that is to say, a lane a few feet wide had been hand-cut through the wheat along the whole circumference of the field, for the first passage of the horses and machine.

Two groups, one of men and lads, the other of women, had come down the lane just at the hour when the shadows of the eastern hedge-top struck the west hedge midway, so that the heads of the groups were enjoying sunrise while their feet were still in the dawn. They disappeared from the lane between the two stone posts which flanked the nearest field-gate.

Presently there arose from within a ticking like the love-making of the grasshopper. The machine had begun, and a moving concatenation of three horses and the aforesaid long rickety machine was visible over the gate, a driver sitting upon one of the hauling horses, and an attendant on the seat of the implement. Along one side of the field the whole wain went, the arms of the mechanical reaper revolving slowly, till it passed down the hill quite out of sight. In a minute it came up on the other side of the field at the same equable pace; the glistening brass star in the forehead of the fore horse first catching the eye as it rose into view over the stubble, then the bright arms, and then the whole machine.

The narrow lane of stubble encompassing the field grew wider with each circuit, and the standing corn was reduced to smaller area as the morning wore on. Rabbits, hares, snakes, rats, mice, retreated inwards as into a fastness, unaware of the ephemeral nature of their refuge, and of the doom that awaited them later in the day when, their covert shrinking to a more and more horrible narrowness, they were huddled together, friends and foes, till the last few yards of upright wheat fell also under the teeth of the unerring reaper, and they were every one put to death by the sticks and stones of the harvesters.

The reaping-machine left the fallen corn behind it in little heaps, each heap being of the quantity for a sheaf; and upon these the active binders in the rear laid their hands - mainly women, but some of them men in print shirts, and trousers supported round their waists by leather straps, rendering useless the two buttons behind, which twinkled and bristled with sunbeams at every movement of each wearer, as if they were a pair of eyes in the small of his back.

But those of the other sex were the most interesting of this company of binders, by reason of the charm which is acquired by woman when she becomes part and parcel of outdoor nature, and is not merely an object set down therein as at ordinary times. A field-man is a personality afield; a field-woman is a portion of the field; she has somehow lost her own margin, imbibed the essence of her surrounding, and assimilated herself with it.

The women - or rather girls, for they were mostly young - wore drawn cotton bonnets with great flapping curtains to keep off the sun, and gloves to prevent their hands being wounded by the stubble. There was one wearing a pale pink jacket, another in a cream-coloured tight-sleeved gown, another in a petticoat as red as the arms of the reaping-machine; and others, older, in the brown-rough `wropper' or over-all-the old-established and most appropriate dress of the field-woman, which the young ones were abandoning. This morning the eye returns involuntarily to the girl in the pink cotton jacket, she being the most flexuous and finely-drawn figure of them all. But her bonnet is pulled so far over her brow that none of her face is disclosed while she binds, though her complexion may be guessed from a stray twine or two of dark brown hair which extends below the curtain of her bonnet. Perhaps one reason why she seduces casual attention is that she never courts it, though the other women often gaze around them.

Her binding proceeds with clock-like monotony. From the sheaf last finished she draws a handful of ears, patting their tips with her left palm to bring them even. Then stooping low she moves forward, gathering the corn with both hands against her knees, and pushing her left gloved hand under the bundle to meet the right on the other side, holding the corn in an embrace like that of a lover. She brings the ends of the bond together, and kneels on the sheaf while she ties it, beating back her skirts now and then when lifted by the breeze. A bit of her naked arm is visible between the buff leather of the gauntlet and the sleeve of her gown; and as the day wears on its feminine smoothness becomes scarified by the stubble, and bleeds.

At intervals she stands up to rest, and to retie her disarranged apron, or to pull her bonnet straight. Then one can see the oval face of a handsome young woman with deep dark eyes and long heavy clinging tresses, which seem to clasp in a beseeching way anything they fall against. The cheeks are paler, the teeth more regular, the red lips thinner than is usual in a country-bred girl.

It is Tess Durbeyfield, otherwise d'Urberville, somewhat changed - the same, but not the same; at the present stage of her existence living as a stranger and an alien here, though it was no strange land that she was in. After a long seclusion she had come to a resolve to undertake outdoor work in her native village, the busiest season of the year in the agricultural world having arrived, and nothing that she could do within the house being so remunerative for the time as harvesting in the fields.

The movements of the other women were more or less similar to Tess's, the whole bevy of them drawing together like dancers in a quadrille at the completion of a sheaf by each, every one placing her sheaf on end against those of the rest, till a shock, or `stitch' as it was here called, of ten or a dozen was formed.

They went to breakfast, and came again, and the work proceeded as before. As the hour of eleven drew near a person watching her might have noticed that every now and then Tess's glance flitted wistfully to the brow of the hill, though she did not pause in her sheafing. On the verge of the hour the heads of a group of children, of ages ranging from six to fourteen, rose above the stubbly convexity of the hill.

The face of Tess flushed slightly, but still she did not pause.

The eldest of the comers, a girl who wore a triangular shawl, its corner draggling on the stubble, carried in her arms what at first sight seemed to be a doll, but proved to be an infant in long clothes. Another brought some lunch. The harvesters ceased working, took their provisions, and sat down against one of the shocks. Here they fell to, the men plying a stone jar freely, and passing round a cup.

Tess Durbeyfield had been one of the last to suspend her labours. She sat down at the end of the shock, her face turned somewhat away from her companions. When she had deposited herself a man in a rabbit-skin cap and with a red handkerchief tucked into his belt, held the cup of ale over the top of the shock for her to drink. But she did not accept his offer. As soon as her lunch was spread she called up the big girl her sister, and took the baby of her, who, glad to be relieved of the burden, went away to the next shock and joined the other children playing there. Tess, with a curiously stealthy yet courageous movement, and with a still rising colour, unfastened her frock and began suckling the child.

The men who sat nearest considerately turned their faces towards the other end of the field, some of them beginning to smoke; one, with absent-minded fondness, regretfully stroking the jar that would no longer yield a stream. All the women but Tess fell into animated talk, and adjusted the disarranged knots of their hair.

When the infant had taken its fill the young mother sat it upright in her lap, and looking into the far distance dandled it with a gloomy indifference that was almost dislike; then all of a sudden she fell to violently kissing it some dozens of times, as if she could never leave off, the child crying at the vehemence of an onset which strangely combined passionateness with contempt.

`She's fond of that there child, though she mid pretend to hate en, and say she wishes the baby and her too were in the church-yard,' observed the woman in the red petticoat.

`She'll soon leave off saying that,' replied the one in buff. `Lord, 'tis wonderful what a body can get used to o' that sort in time!'

`A little more than persuading had to do wi' the coming o't, I reckon. There were they that heard a sobbing one night last year in The Chase; and it mid ha' gone hard wi' a certain party if folks had come along.'

`Well, a little more or a little less, 'twas a thousand pities that it should have happened to she, of all others. But 'tis always the comeliest! The plain ones be as safe as churches - hey, Jenny?' The speaker turned to one of the group who certainly was not ill-defined as plain.

It was a thousand pities, indeed; it was impossible for even an enemy to feel otherwise on looking at Tess as she sat there, with her flower-like mouth and large tender eyes, neither black nor blue nor gray nor violet; rather all those shades together, and a hundred others, which could be seen if one looked into their irises - shade behind shade - tint beyond tint - around pupils that had no bottom; an almost standard woman, but for the slight incautiousness of character inherited from her race.

A resolution which had surprised herself had brought her into the fields this week for the first time during many months. After wearing and wasting her palpitating heart with every engine of regret that lonely inexperience could devise, common-sense had illumined her. She felt that she would do well to be useful again - to taste anew sweet independence at any price. The past was past; whatever it had been it was no more at hand. Whatever its consequences, time would close over them; they would all in a few years be as if they had never been, and she herself grassed down and forgotten. Meanwhile the trees were just as green as before; the birds sang and the sun shone as clearly now as ever. The familiar surroundings had not darkened because of her grief, nor sickened because of her pain.

She might have seen that what had bowed her head so profoundly - the thought of the world's concern at her situation was founded on an illusion. She was not an existence, an experience, a passion, a structure of sensations, to anybody but herself. To all humankind besides Tess was only a passing thought. Even to friends she was no more than a frequently passing thought. If she made herself miserable the livelong night and day it was only this much to them--'Ah, she makes herself unhappy.' If she tried to be cheerful, to dismiss all care, to take pleasure in the daylight, the flowers, the baby, she could only be this idea to them - `Ah, she bears it very well.' Moreover, alone in a desert island would she have been wretched at what had happened to her? Not greatly. If she could have been but just created to discover herself as a spouseless mother, with no experience of life except as the parent of a nameless child, would the position have caused her to despair? No, she would have taken it calmly, and found pleasures therein. Most of the misery had been generated by her conventional aspect, and not by her innate sensations.

Whatever Tess's reasoning, some spirit had induced her to dress herself up neatly as she had formerly done, and come out into the fields, harvest-hands being greatly in demand just then. This was why she had borne herself with dignity, and had looked people calmly in the face at times, even when holding the baby in her arms.

The harvest-men rose from the shock of corn, and stretched their limbs, and extinguished their pipes. The horses, which had been unharnessed and fed, were again attached to the scarlet machine. Tess, having quickly eaten her own meal, beckoned to her eldest sister to come and take away the baby, fastened her dress, put on the buff gloves again, and stooped anew to draw a bond from the last completed sheaf for the tying of the next.

In the afternoon and evening the proceedings of the morning were continued, Tess staying on till dusk with the body of harvesters. Then they all rode home in one of the largest waggons, in the company of a broad tarnished moon that had risen from the ground to the eastwards, its face resembling the outworn goldleaf halo of some worm-eaten Tuscan saint. Tess's female companions sang songs, and showed themselves very sympathetic and glad at her reappearance out of doors, though they could not refrain from mischievously throwing in a few verses of the ballad about the maid who went to the merry green wood and came back a changed state. There are counterpoises and compensations in life; and the event which had made of her a social warning had also for the moment made her the most interesting personage in the village to many. Their friendliness won her still farther away from herself, their lively spirits were contagious, and she became almost gay.

But now that her moral sorrows were passing away a fresh one arose on the natural side of her which knew no social law. When she reached home it was to learn to her grief that the baby had been suddenly taken ill since the afternoon. Some such collapse had been probable, so tender and puny was its frame; but the event came as a shock nevertheless.

The baby's offence against society in coming into the world was forgotten by the girl-mother; her soul's desire was to continue that offence by preserving the life of the child. However, it soon grew clear that the hour of emancipation for that little prisoner of the flesh was to arrive earlier than her worst misgivings had conjectured. And when she had discovered this she was plunged into a misery which transcended that of the child's simple loss. Her baby had not been baptized.

Tess had drifted into a frame of mind which accepted passively the consideration that if she should have to burn for what she had done, burn she must, and there was an end of it. Like all village girls she was well grounded in the Holy Scriptures, and had dutifully studied the histories of Aholah and Aholibah, and knew the inferences to be drawn therefrom. But when the same question arose with regard to the baby, it had a very different colour. Her darling was about to die, and no salvation.

It was nearly bedtime, but she rushed downstairs and asked if she might send for the parson. The moment happened to be one at which her father's sense of the antique nobility of his family was highest, and his sensitiveness to the smudge which Tess had set upon that nobility most pronounced, for he had just returned from his weekly booze at Rolliver's Inn. No parson should come inside his door, he declared, prying into his affairs, just then, when, by her shame, it had become more necessary than ever to hide them. He locked the door and put the key in his pocket.

The household went to bed, and, distressed beyond measure, Tess retired also. She was continually waking as she lay, and in the middle of the night found that the baby was still worse. It was obviously dying - quietly and painlessly, but none the less surely.

In her misery she rocked herself upon the bed. The clock struck the solemn hour of one, that hour when fancy stalks outside reason, and malignant possibilities stand rock-firm as facts. She thought of the child consigned to the nethermost corner of hell, as its double doom for lack of baptism and lack of legitimacy; saw the arch-fiend tossing it with his three-pronged fork, like the one they used for heating the oven on baking days; to which picture she added many other quaint and curious details of torment sometimes taught the young in this Christian country. The lurid presentment so powerfully affected her imagination in the silence of the sleeping house that her nightgown became damp with perspiration, and the bedstead shook with each throb of her heart.

The infant's breathing grew more difficult, and the mother's mental tension increased. It was useless to devour the little thing with kisses; she could stay in bed no longer, and walked feverishly about the room.

`O merciful God, have pity; have pity upon my poor baby!' she cried. `Heap as much anger as you want to upon me, and welcome; but pity the child!'

She leant against the chest of drawers, and murmured incoherent supplications for a long while, till she suddenly started up.

`Ah! perhaps baby can be saved! Perhaps it will be just the same!'

She spoke so brightly that it seemed as though her face might have shone in the gloom surrounding her.

She lit a candle, and went to a second and a third bed under the wall, where she awoke her young sisters and brothers, all of whom occupied the same room. Pulling out the washing-stand so that she could get behind it, she poured some water from a jug, and made them kneel around, putting their hands together with fingers exactly vertical. While the children, scarcely awake, awe-stricken at her manner, their eyes growing larger and larger, remained in this position, she took the baby from her bed - a child's child - so immature as scarce to seem a sufficient personality to endow its producer with the maternal title. Tess then stood erect with the infant on her arm beside the basin, the next sister held the Prayer Book open before her, as the clerk at church held it before the parson; and thus the girl set about baptizing her child.

Her figure looked singularly tall and imposing as she stood in her long white nightgown, a thick cable of twisted dark hair hanging straight down her back to her waist. The kindly dimness of the weak candle abstracted from her form and features the little blemishes which sunlight might have revealed - the stubble scratches upon her wrists, and the weariness of her eyes - her high enthusiasm having a transfiguring effect upon the fact which had been her undoing, showing it as a thing of immaculate beauty, with a touch of dignity which was almost regal. The little ones kneeling round, their sleepy eyes blinking and red, awaited her preparations full of a suspended wonder which their physical heaviness at that hour would not allow to become active.

The most impressed of them said:

`Be you really going to christen him, Tess?'

The girl-mother replied in a grave affirmative.

`What's his name going to be?'

She had not thought of that, but a name suggested by a phrase in the book of Genesis came into her head as she proceeded with the baptismal service, and now she pronounced it:

`SORROW, I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.'

She sprinkled the water, and there was silence.

`Say "Amen", children.'

The tiny voices piped in obedient response `Amen!'

Tess went on:

`We receive this child - and so forth--'and do sign him with the sign of the Cross.'

Here she dipped her hand into the basin, and fervently drew an immense cross upon the baby with her forefinger, continuing with the customary sentences as to his manfully fighting against sin, the world, and the devil, and being a faithful soldier and servant unto his life's end. She duly went on with the Lord's Prayer, the children lisping it after her in a thin gnatlike wail, till, at the conclusion, raising their voices to clerk's pitch, they again piped into the silence, `Amen!'

Then their sister, with much augmented confidence in the efficacy of this sacrament, poured forth from the bottom of her heart the thanksgiving that follows, uttering it boldly and triumphantly in the stopt-diapason note which her voice acquired when her heart was in her speech, and which will never be forgotten by those who knew her. The ecstasy of faith almost apotheosized her; it set upon her face a glowing irradiation, and brought a red spot into the middle of each cheek; while the miniature candle-flame inverted in her eye-pupils shone like a diamond. The children gazed up at her with more and more reverence, and no longer had a will for questioning. She did not look like Sissy to them now, but as a being large, towering, and awful - a divine personage with whom they had nothing in common.

Poor Sorrow's campaign against sin, the world, and the devil was doomed to be of limited brilliancy - luckily perhaps for himself, considering his beginnings. In the blue of the morning that fragile soldier and servant breathed his last, and when the other children awoke they cried bitterly, and begged Sissy to have another pretty baby.

The calmness which had possessed Tess since the christening remained with her in the infant's loss. In the daylight, indeed, she felt her terrors about his soul to have been somewhat exaggerated; whether well founded or not she had no uneasiness now, reasoning that if Providence would not ratify such an act of approximation she, for one, did not value the kind of heaven lost by the irregularity - either for herself or for her child.

So passed away Sorrow the Undesired - that intrusive creature, that bastard gift of shameless Nature who respects not the social law; a waif to whom eternal Time had been a matter of days merely, who knew not that such things as years and centuries ever were; to whom the cottage interior was the universe, the week's weather climate, new-born babyhood human existence, and the instinct to suck human knowledge.

Tess, who mused on the christening a good deal, wondered if it were doctrinally sufficient to secure a Christian burial for the child. Nobody could tell this but the parson of the parish, and he was a new-comer, and did not know her. She went to his house after dusk, and stood by the gate, but could not summon courage to go in. The enterprise would have been abandoned if she had not by accident met him coming homeward as she turned away. In the gloom she did not mind speaking freely.

`I should like to ask you something, sir.'

He expressed his willingness to listen, and she told the story of the baby's illness and the extemporized ordinance.

`And now, sir,' she added earnestly, `can you tell me this - will it be just the same for him as if you had baptized him?'

Having the natural feelings of a tradesman at finding that a job he should have been called in for had been unskilfully botched by his customers among themselves, he was disposed to say no. Yet the dignity of the girl, the strange tenderness in her voice, combined to affect his nobler impulses - or rather those that he had left in him after ten years of endeavour to graft technical belief on actual scepticism. The man and the ecclesiastic fought within him, and the victory fell to the man.

`My dear girl,' he said, `it will be just the same.'

`Then will you give him a Christian burial?' she asked quickly.

The Vicar felt himself cornered. Hearing of the baby's illness, he had conscientiously gone to the house after nightfall to perform the rite, and, unaware that the refusal to admit him had come from Tess's father and not from Tess, he could not allow the plea of necessity for its irregular administration.

`Ah - that's another matter,' he said.

`Another matter - why?' asked Tess, rather warmly.

`Well - I would willingly do so if only we two were concerned.'

`But I must not - for certain reasons.'

`Just for once, sir!'

`Really I must not.'

`O sir!' She seized his hand as she spoke.

He withdrew it, shaking his head.

`Then I don't like you!' she burst out, `and I'll never come to your church no more!'

`Don't talk so rashly.'

`Perhaps it will be just the same to him if you don't? - Will it be just the same? Don't for God's sake speak as saint to sinner, but as you yourself to me myself - poor me!'

How the Vicar reconciled his answer with the strict notions he supposed himself to hold on these subjects it is beyond a layman's power to tell, though not to excuse. Somewhat moved, he said in this case also--

`It will be just the same.'

So the baby was carried in a small deal box, under an ancient woman's shawl, to the churchyard that night, and buried by lantern-light, at the cost of a shilling and a pint of beer to the sexton, in that shabby corner of God's allotment where He lets the nettles grow, and where all unbaptized infants, notorious drunkards, suicides, and others of the conjecturally damned are laid. In spite of the untoward surroundings, however, Tess bravely made a little cross of two laths and a piece of string, and having bound it with flowers, she stuck it up at the head of the grave one evening when she could enter the churchyard without being seen, putting at the foot also a bunch of the same flowers in a little jar of water to keep them alive. What matter was it that on the outside of the jar the eye of mere observation noted the words `Keelwell's Marmalade'? The eye of maternal affection did not see them in its vision of higher things.