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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4节 第十五章 【
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“依靠经验,”罗杰·阿斯坎说,“我们要经过漫长的游荡才能找到一条捷径。”①漫长的游荡不适合我们继续往前走,这并不少见,那么我们这种经验对我们又有什么用处呢?苔丝·德北菲尔德的经验就是毫无用处的那一种。后来她学会了去作什么,可是现在又会有谁接受呢?要是苔丝还没有去德贝维尔家以前,就努力按照她自己和一般人所知道的各种各样的警句格言前进的话,她肯定是不会上当受骗的。可是,对于这些金玉良言,在它们大有益处的时候,苔丝没有能力、其他的人也没有能力领会其中的全部道理。苔丝,还有许许多多别的人,可能会用圣奥古斯丁的话讥讽上帝:“你提出的是一条很好的路,但不是一条让人走的路。”②
①罗杰·阿斯坎(Roger Ascham,1515-1568),英国散文家,曾做过英女王伊丽莎白的老师,上文引自所着《论教师》(The Scholermaster,1570)。
②圣奥古斯丁(Saint Augustine,354-430),曾为希波主教,主要作品为《上帝城》和《忏悔录》,是马丁·路德和喀尔文教的思想先驱。

在冬季的几个月里,她一直留在父亲的家里,或者拔鸡毛,或者给火鸡和鹅的肚子里装填料,或者把以前鄙夷地扔在一边的德贝维尔送给她的一些漂亮服装拿出来,改成她的弟弟妹妹们穿的衣服。她不会写信给他,要他帮助。但是,在别人以为她用劲干活的时候,她却经常把两手抱在脑后,在那儿想心思。
她用一个哲学家的思想去回忆一年中从头到尾的日子;她回想起在特兰里奇的猎苑的黑暗背景中,毁了她的那个不幸的夜晚;回想起她的孩子出生和死去的日子;也回想起自己降生为人的那一天;还回想起那些因为与她有关的事件而变得特别的日子。有一天下午,她在对着镜子观看自己的美貌的时候,突然想到还有另外一个日子,对她来说比其它的日子更为重要;那就是她自己死去的日子,那个时候,她所有的美貌就要化为乌有了;这一天悄悄地躲在一年的所有日子里,谁也看不见它,她每一年都要遇见它一次,但它却不露痕迹,一声不响;但是这一天又肯定不会不在这一年里。这个日子是哪一天呢?为什么她每一年都要遇到的与她相关的那个冷酷日子,她却没有感觉到它的冷意呢?她的思想和杰里米·泰勒的思想是一样的,就是认识她的人在将来某个时候会说:“就是在——在今天,可怜的苔丝死了。”他们在说这话的时候,心里也不会想到有什么特别之处。但是在岁月的长河中要注定成为她的人生终点的那一天,她却不知道它究竟在哪一个月,在哪一个星期,在哪一个季节,在哪一年。
苔丝的思想几乎是发生了一次飞跃,从一个单纯的姑娘变成了一个复杂的女人。她的脸上融入了沉思的象征,她说话的声音里偶尔也流露出悲剧的音调。她的眼睛越长越大,也越来越富有表情。她长成了一个可以被称作美人的人了;她的面容妩媚,引人注目;她的灵魂是这样一个妇人的灵魂,有了近来一两年的纷乱经验但是没有因此堕落。要不是世俗的偏见,这些经验简直就是一种扩展心智的教育了。
她近来离群索居,所以她的本来就不为人所知的苦恼,现在在马洛特村也差点被人忘记了。但是她现在已经看得明白,在马洛特村她的心情是永远也不会真正变得开朗了,因为她们家企图去认本家所遭到的失败是路人皆知的——而且她们的家其至还有通过她去同富有的德贝维尔家联姻的企图。至少在漫长的岁月抹去她对这件事的敏感意识之前,她是不会在马洛特村感到心情开朗的。不过就是现在,她仍然感觉到希望,生命的力量仍在她的身上热烈地搏动;也许在一个不知道她的历史的地方,她还会愉快起来。逃避过去和逃避跟过去有关的一切,就是要把过去和过去的一切消除掉,要做到这一点,她就一定得离开这里。
她向自己发问,贞洁这个东西,一旦失去了就永远失去了吗?如果她能够把过去掩盖起来,她也许就可以证明这句话是错误的了。有机的自然都有使自己得以恢复的能力,为什么唯独处女的贞洁就没有呢?
她等待了很久,始终没有找到重新离开这儿的机会。一个特别明媚的春天来到了,几乎听得见苞芽里生命的萌动;春天就像激励野外的动物一样激励了她,使她要急切离开这里。后来在五月初的一天,她收到了一封信,那是她母亲从前的一个朋友写给她的,很久以前,她曾经写信给她探问过。信中告诉她的南边若干英里的地方有一个奶牛场,需要一个熟练的女工,奶牛场的场主愿意在她工作一个夏天。
这个地方还不是她所希望的那样远;但是也许足够远了,因为她活动的范围和她的名声,一直就小得很。对于一个活动范围有限的人来说,英里就是地球上的经纬度,教区就是郡,郡就是省和王国。
有一点她是打定了主意的:在她新生活的梦想和活动中,不应该再有德贝维尔的空中楼阁了。她只是一个挤牛奶的女工苔丝,此外不是别的什么。对于这一点,尽管她和母亲之间从来没有就这个问题谈过一句话,她的母亲也很能够理解苔丝的感情了,所以现在也就不丙提什么武士的祖先了。
可是人类就是如此地自相矛盾,苔丝对要去的那个新的地方发生兴趣,其中一个原因就是那个地方恰巧靠近她的祖先的故土(因为他们都不是布莱克莫尔人,虽然她的母亲是一个土生土长的布莱克莫尔人)。她要去的那个奶牛场的名字叫泰波塞斯,离德贝维尔家过去的几处田产不远,附近就是她的祖宗奶奶和她们显赫丈夫的家族大墓室。她要去那儿看看他们,不仅会想想德贝维尔家像巴比伦一样衰败了,也会想想一个卑微后裔的清白能够无声无息地消失。她一直在想,在她祖先的土地上会不会有什么奇异的好事出现;在她的身上,有某种精神就像树枝的汁水一样,自动地涌现出来。那就是还没有耗尽的青春活力,在受到短暂的压制之后又重新高涨起来,给青春带来了希望,也唤醒了不可压制的追求快乐的本能。
 

`By experience,' says Roger Ascham, `we find out a short way by a long wandering.' Not seldom that long wandering unfits us for further travel, and of what use is our experience to us then? Tess Durbeyfield's experience was of this incapacitating kind. At last she had learned what to do; but who would now accept her doing?

If before going to the d'Urbervilles' she had vigorously moved under the guidance of sundry gnomic texts and phrases known to her and to the world in general, no doubt she would never have been imposed on. But it had not been in Tess's power - nor is it in anybody's power - to feel the whole truth of golden opinions while it is possible to profit by them. She - and how many more - might have ironically said to God with Saint Augustine: `Thou hast counselled a better course than Thou hast permitted.'

She remained in her father's house during the winter months, plucking fowls, or cramming turkeys and geese, or making clothes for her sisters and brothers out of some finery which d'Urberville had given her, and she had put by with contempt. Apply to him she would not. But she would often clasp her hands behind her head and muse when she was supposed to be working hard.

She philosophically noted dates as they came past in the revolution of the year; the disastrous night of her undoing at Trantridge with its dark background of The Chase; also the dates of the baby's birth and death; also her own birthday; and every other day individualized by incidents in which she had taken some share. She suddenly thought one afternoon, when looking in the glass at her fairness, that there was yet another date, of greater importance to her than those; that of her own death, when all these charms would have disappeared; a day which lay sly and unseen among all the other days of the year, giving no sign or sound when she annually passed over it; but not the less surely there. When was it? Why did she not feel the chill of each yearly encounter with such a cold relation? She had Jeremy Taylor's thought that some time in the future those who had known her would say: `It is the - th, the day that poor Tess Durbeyfield died'; and there would be nothing singular to their minds in the statement. Of that day, doomed to be her terminus in time through all the ages, she did not know the place in month, week, season, or year.

Almost at a leap Tess thus changed from simple girl to complex woman. Symbols of reflectiveness passed into her face, and a note of tragedy at times into her voice. Her eyes grew larger and more eloquent. She became what would have been called a fine creature; her aspect was fair and arresting; her soul that of a woman whom the turbulent experiences of the last year or two had quite failed to demoralize. But for the world's opinion those experiences would have been simply a liberal education.

She had held so aloof of late that her trouble, never generally known, was nearly forgotten in Marlott. But it became evident to her that she could never be really comfortable again in a place which had seen the collapse of her family's attempt to claim kin' - and, through her, even closer union - with the rich d'Urbervilles. At least she could not be comfortable there till long years should have obliterated her keen consciousness of it. Yet even now Tess felt the pulse of hopeful life still warm within her; she might be happy in some nook which had no memories. To escape the past and all that appertained thereto was to annihilate it, and to do that she would have to get away.

Was once lost always lost really true of chastity? she would ask herself. She might prove it false if she could veil bygones. The recuperative power which pervaded organic nature was surely not denied to maidenhood alone.

She waited a long time without finding opportunity for a new departure. A particularly fine spring came round, and the stir of germination was almost audible in the buds; it moved her, as it moved the wild animals, and made her passionate to go. At last, one day in early May, a letter reached her from a former friend of her mother's, to whom she had addressed inquiries long before - a person whom she had never seen - that a skilful milkmaid was required at a dairy-house many miles to the southward, and that the dairyman would be glad to have her for the summer months.

It was not quite so far off as could have been wished; but it was probably far enough, her radius of movement and repute having been so small. To persons of limited spheres, miles are as geographical degrees, parishes as counties, counties as provinces and kingdoms.

On one point she was resolved: there should be no more d'Urberville air-castles in the dreams and deeds of her new life. She would be the dairymaid Tess, and nothing more. Her mother knew Tess's feeling on this point so well, though no words had passed between them on the subject, that she never alluded to the knightly ancestry now.

Yet such is human inconsistency that one of the interests of the new place to her was the accidental virtue of its lying near her forefathers' country (for they were not Blakemore men, though her mother was Blakemore to the bone). The dairy called Talbothays, for which she was bound, stood not remotely from some of the former estates of the d'Urbervilles, near the great family vaults of her granddames and their powerful husbands. She would be able to look at them, and think not only that d'Urberville, like Babylon, had fallen, but that the individual innocence of a humble descendant could lapse as silently. All the while she wondered if any strange good thing might come of her being in her ancestral land and some spirit within her rose automatically as the sap in the twigs. It was unexpended youth, surging up anew after its temporary check, and bringing with it hope, and the invincible instinct towards self-delight.