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第10节 第二十一章 【
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刚吃过早饭,牛奶房里就一番混乱。搅黄油的机器照常运转着,但是黄油就是搅不出来。只要出现了这种事,奶牛场就瘫痪了。装在大圆桶里的牛奶不停地稀里哗啦地响着,但就是听不到他们盼望听到的出黄油的声音。
奶牛场老板克里克和他的太太,住在场内的挤奶姑娘苔丝、玛丽安、莱蒂·普里德尔、伊茨·体特,住在场外茅屋里的结了婚的女工,还有克莱尔先生、约纳森·凯尔、老德波娜以及其他的人,都站在那儿瞪着搅黄油的机器,谁也没有办法;在外面赶马使机器转动的小伙子眼睛瞪得大大的,对这件事情表现得很关心。就是那匹忧伤的马,每走一圈也似乎要用绝望的神气向窗户里看上一眼。
“我没有见到爱敦荒原上的魔术师特伦德尔的儿子,已经有好多年啦!”奶牛场老板痛苦地说。“他同他的父亲比起来,可是差远了。我曾经说过我不相信他,这个话我已经说过五十次了;不过他从人拉的尿中可以预言出一些名堂来倒是真的。但是这次我非得去找他不可了,就是不知道他还活着没有。唉,不错,如果黄油还是搅不出来,我一定得去找他了!”
看见奶牛场老板绝望的样子,就连克莱尔先生也开始感到悲哀起来。
“在我小的时候,卡斯特桥那边住着个魔术师,名叫福尔①,大家习惯叫他‘大圆圈’,他倒是一个道行高的人,”约纳森·凯尔说。“不过他现在老得不中用了。”
 
①魔术师福尔(Conjuror Fall),哈代的长篇小说《卡斯特桥市长》中的人物,亨查德曾前往魔术师福尔处询问天气并因判断天气失误而导致在生意竞争中失败。

“我的爷爷曾经找过魔术师米顿恩,他住在猫头鹰岗,我听我的爷爷说,他是一个很厉害的人。”克里克先生接着说。“不过眼下找不到他这样有真本事的人了!”
克里克太太心里想的只是眼前的事。
“也许我们屋子里有人在恋爱吧,”她猜测。“我年轻的时候听人说过,有人恋爱就搅不出黄油来。喂,克里克——你还记得几年前我们雇的那个姑娘吧,那时候黄油怎么也出不来——”
“啊,记得,记得!——不过你说得不对。那同恋爱没有关系。那件事我记得清清楚楚——那次是搅黄油的机器坏了。”
他转身朝向克莱尔。
“先生,你不知道,从前我们场里雇了一个搅黄油的工人,名字叫杰克·多洛普,那个婊子养的和梅尔斯托克的一个姑娘搞上了,他以前骗过许多姑娘,后来又把她给骗了。不过他这次遇上了不好对付的一种女人,我不是说的那个姑娘。那一天是耶稣升天节,我们都在这儿,就像现在一样,只是没有搅黄油,我们看见那个姑娘的妈向门口走过来,手里拿着一把包了铜皮的大雨伞,那把雨伞大得打得死一头牛。她嘴里说:‘杰克·多洛普在这儿干活儿吗?——我要找他!我找他算帐来了,这笔帐一定要算!’在母亲后面不远,跟着那个上当的姑娘,手里拿着手绢捂着脸,哭得好不伤心。‘哎呀,我的老天,这可糟了!’杰克从窗户里看见了她们,嘴里说。‘她会杀了我的!我躲到哪儿呢——躲到哪儿呢——?千万不要告诉她们我在这儿呀!’他说着话就打开搅黄油的机器的盖子,一头钻了进去,在里面把盖子盖上了,正在这时候,姑娘的妈也冲进了奶房。‘流氓——他躲到哪儿去了?’她说,‘只要我抓住了他,我非要把他的脸抓个稀烂!’她把里里外外都搜遍了,一边把杰克骂了个狗血淋头,而杰克躲在搅黄油的机器里,差一点没给闷死。那个可怜的姑娘——不如说是年轻的妇人——站在门边,把眼睛哭得又红又肿。那可怜的样子我一辈子也忘不了,一辈子也忘不了。就是一块大理石,看见了也会被融化的!不过她无论如何也没有找着他。”
奶牛场老板停了嘴,听故事的人说了一两句话加以评论。
克里克老板说故事,常常是似乎说完了,其实并没有真正说完,不知道的人往往上当,以为故事真的说完了,于是感叹起来;但是熟悉他的人都了解他这一点。讲故事的人又继续讲开了——
“唉,我真不知道那老太太怎么那样精,会猜到他就躲在搅黄油的机器里,总之她发现了他躲在机器里面。她一声不吭地抓住了机器的摇把(那时候的机器是用手来摇动的),把机器转动起来,杰克也就开始在里面翻来滚去了。‘哎呀,找的老天呀!把机器停下来吧!让我出来吧!’他从圆桶里伸出头来说,‘你再摇我就要被搅成苹果酱了!’(他是一个胆小的家伙,像他那种人大多都是胆小鬼)。‘你糟蹋了我女儿的清白,除非你答应娶了她,我是不会放你出来的!’老太太说。‘还不停下来,你这个老巫婆!’杰克尖声叫起来。‘你骂我老巫婆,你敢骂我,你这个骗子,’她悦,‘这五个月来,你该叫我丈母娘才对!’接着她又摇了起来,杰克的骨头把圆桶碰得哐当直响。嘿,我们中间没有一个人敢去管这件闲事;直到后来他答应娶那姑娘才算完。‘是,是——我一定说话算数!’他说,这样,那一天的事情才算完了。”
听故事的人笑着,评论着,这时候,突然一阵急促的脚步声从他们的身后传来,他们回头看去,只见苔丝脸色灰白,已经走到门口了。
“今天天气真热呀!”苔丝说,声音小得像蚊子叫似的。
那天的天气暖和,所以他们谁也没有想到,她的离去会同奶牛场老板讲的故事联系在一起。老板走到她的前面,为她打开门,善意地嘲讽说——
“哟,我的大小姐”(他经常这样亲切地称呼她,却不知道对她正是一种讽刺),“你是我们奶牛场最漂亮的挤奶姑娘了;夏天的天气才刚刚开始,你就困乏成这个样子,要是到了三伏天,你就不能在这儿住了,那时候我们就遭殃了。是不是这样的,克莱尔先生?”
“我有点头晕——嗯——我想我到外面来会好些,”她呆板地说,说完就出去了。
幸运的是,旋转着的搅拌桶里的牛奶突然变了调子,这时候从稀里哗啦的声音变成了咕唧咕唧的声音。
“黄油出来了,”克里克太太叫喊起来,于是大家对苔丝的注意就转移开了。
心中痛苦的那个女孩子,表面上看不久也恢复过来了;不过整个下午她都闷闷不乐。傍晚的牛奶挤完以后,她不愿意和其他的人呆在一起,就走出门外,独自闲走着,就是连自己也不知道走到哪儿去。她很痛苦——啊,她是这样地痛苦——因为她发现,奶牛场老板的故事在她的伙伴们听来,只不过是一件幽默的笑料,此外再没有别的;除了她自己而外,谁也没有看出故事中的悲伤来;肯定没有人知道,这个故事多么残酷地触及了她经历中最敏感的地方。西下的夕阳此刻在她看来也变得丑恶了,好像是空中出现的一道巨大的红色伤口。只有一只声音嘶哑的芦雀,在河边的树丛中用悲伤机械的音调向她打招呼,就像一个已经没有了友谊的从前的朋友向她打招呼的声音一样。
在六月份白天很长的天气里,挤牛奶的女工们,实际上她们是奶牛里的大多数,在太阳刚落或在比这更早的时候就上床睡觉了,因为这是牛奶丰产的季节,所以早上挤奶前的工作又早又累。平常苔丝总是陪着她的伙伴们一起上楼。但是今天晚上,苔丝最先回到了她们的公共寝室;等到其他的女工们回到寝室的时候,她已经朦朦胧胧地睡去了。她被吵醒了,看见她们在夕阳的橘黄色光照里脱掉衣服,身上也染上了夕阳的橘黄颜色;她又在朦胧中睡过去了,不过也给她们的说话声吵醒了,就悄悄地转过头看着她们。
她的三个伙伴一个也没有上床睡觉。她们穿着睡衣,光着脚,一起站在窗前,夕阳最后的红色残照,仍然在温暖着她们的面颊、脖子和身后的墙壁。她们三个人把脸挤在一起,饶有兴趣地注视着花园里某个人;在她们中间,一个是一张快活的圆脸,一个是长着黑头发的灰白脸,还有一个是长着红褐色鬈发的白净脸。
“不要挤!你和我一样看得见,”那个长着红褐色鬈发的姑娘最年轻,名叫莱蒂,嘴里说着话,眼睛并没有离开窗户。
“你跟我一样,爱他是没有用的,莱蒂·普里德尔,”说话的人名叫玛丽安,年纪最大,长着一张快活脸。她调侃地说:“在他的心里头,想的可不是你的脸,而是别人的脸!”
莱蒂·普里德尔还在看,另外两个又挤过来一起看。
“他又出来了!”伊茨·休特叫喊起来,她是一个灰白皮肤的姑娘,长着黑色的滋润的秀发,嘴唇也长得很精巧。
“你用不着多说了,伊茨,”莱蒂回答说。“我还看见你吻过他的影子呢。”
“你说她吻什么来着?”玛丽安问。
“我是说——他站在装奶清的桶的旁边撇奶清,他的脸的影子落在身后的墙壁上,正好在伊茨的旁边。当时伊茨正站在那儿往桶里装水,看见了影子,就把嘴放到墙壁上,去吻那影子中的嘴;被吻的人没有看见,我是看见了的。”
“啊,伊茨·休特!”玛丽安说。
伊茨·体特听了,脸颊的中间出现了一块玫瑰色的红晕。
“算了吧,这又有什么不对,”她装出满不在乎的样子说。“要是说我爱上了他,那么莱蒂也爱上他了;你也爱上他了,玛丽安,你老实承认吧。”
玛丽安的圆脸本来就是粉红色的,红色的羞晕在上面显现不出来。
“我爱他吗?”她说。“多美的故事啊!啊,他又出来了!亲爱的眼睛——亲爱的脸——亲爱的克莱尔先生!”
“怎么样——你已经承认了呀!”
“你也承认了——我们所有的人都承认了,”玛丽安坦率地说,一点也不在乎别人说长道短。“虽然我们用不着向别人承认这件事,但是在我们自己中间装假就犯傻了。我愿意明天就嫁给他。”
“我也这样想——也许比你更迫切呢,”伊茨·休特低声说。
“我也想嫁给他呢。”腼腆的莱蒂悄声说。
那位在听他们说话的人,脸上发起烧来。
“我们不能都嫁给他呀。”伊茨说。
“我们谁也不能嫁给他;这可是更糟糕的事儿,”年纪最大的玛丽安说。“他又出来了!”
她们三个人都向他飞了一个吻。
“为什么?”莱蒂急忙问。
“因为他最喜欢苔丝·德北菲尔德,”玛丽安放低了声音说。“我每天都在观察他的举动,所以就发现了这件事。”
大家都思索起来,不做声了。
“可是苔丝对他没有一点儿意思呀?”莱蒂终于忍不住说了。
“唉——有时候我也是那样想的。”
“不过这一切都是多么傻呀!”伊茨·休特不耐烦地说。“他当然不会娶我们中间任何一个人,也不会娶苔丝——他是一个绅士的儿子,将来他要到国外去做大地主和农场主的呀!要说请我们去当帮工,出多少钱干一年,倒还差不多。”
这个在叹气,那个也在叹气,其中叹气最厉害的是那个身体健壮的玛丽安。另外还有一个人躺在床上,也在那儿叹气。莱蒂·普里德尔的眼睛里充满了泪水,她长着一头红头发,是她们中间最年轻的,她也是普里德尔家族最后的一个花苞,在当地的谱系上占据着十分重要的地位。她们悄悄地又观察了一会儿,三张脸像先前一样挤在一起,三种不同颜色的头发也混合在一起。一无所知的克莱尔先生进屋去了,再也看不见他了;天色渐渐暗下来,她们也就上床睡觉了。不一会儿,她们就听见他走上了楼梯,进了自己的房问。不久,玛丽安的鼾声响了起来,但是伊茨过了好久才入睡,才忘记刚才的一切。莱蒂·普里德尔是哭着入睡的。
苔丝用情更深,即便到了那个时候,苔丝竟是毫无睡意。这场谈话是她那天不得不咽下去的第二枚苦果。在她的心里,一丝妒忌的感情也没有。在她们说到的那件事上,她知道自己的优势。因为她的身材更美,受过更好的教育,除了莱蒂就数她最年轻,所以她觉得,只要她稍微用一点儿心思,她就准能抓住安琪尔·克莱尔的心,战胜她那些心地坦诚的朋友们。但是有一个严肃的问题存在,就是她应不应该去用心思?但是严格说来,她们三个人肯定谁也没有机会,连幻想的机会也没有;但是有一个机会,这机会已经存在,可以让他对她产生转瞬即逝的情意,只要他住在这儿,就可以享受他的殷勤。这种奇特的恋爱关系最后导致结婚的事也是有过的;她曾经听克里克太太说,克莱尔先生曾以开玩笑的方式对她说,将来他在殖民地拥有上万亩牧场,有牛群要照料,有庄稼要收割,那么娶一个上流社会的太太有什么用处呢?娶一个出身农家的姑娘做妻子,这才是明智的。不过无论克莱尔先生真的说过还是没有说过,她从来就没有想到过让哪个男人现在就娶了她,她曾在教堂里发过誓,决心毫不动摇,永远不嫁人结婚,她不能把克莱尔先生的用情从别的女人身上吸引到自己的身上,趁他还在泰波塞斯的时候,自己能够在他双眼的注视中享受到短暂的幸福。
 

There was a great stir in the milk-house just after breakfast. The churn revolved as usual, but the butter would not come. Whenever this happened the dairy was paralyzed. Squish, squash, echoed the milk in the great cylinder, but never arose the sound they waited for.

Dairyman Crick and his wife, the milkmaids Tess, Marian, Retty Priddle, Izz Huett, and the married ones from the cottages; also Mr Clare, Jonathan Kail, old Deborah, and the rest, stood gazing hopelessly at the churn; and the boy who kept the horse going outside put on moon-like eyes to show his sense of the situation. Even the melancholy horse himself seemed to look in at the window in inquiring despair at each walk round.

`'Tis years since I went to Conjuror Trendle's son in Egdon - years!' said the dairyman bitterly. `And he was nothing to what his father had been. I have said fifty times, if I have said once, that I don't believe in en; though a' do cast folks' waters very true. But I shall have to go to 'n if he's alive. O yes, I shall have to go to 'n, if this sort of thing continnys!'

Even Mr Clare began to feel tragical at the dairyman's desperation.

`Conjuror Fall, t'other side of Casterbridge that they used to call "Wide-O", was a very good man when I was a boy,' said Jonathan Kail. `But he's rotten as touchwood by now.'

`My grandfather used to go to Conjuror Mynterne, out at Owlscombe, and a clever man a' were, so I've heard grandf'er say, continued Mr Crick. `But there's no such genuine folk about nowadays!'

Mrs Crick's mind kept nearer to the matter in hand.

`Perhaps somebody in the house is in love,' she said tentatively. `I've heard tell in my younger days that that will cause it. Why, Crick - that maid we had years ago, do ye mind, and how the butter didn't come then--'

`Ah yes, yes! - but that isn't the rights o't. It had nothing to do with the love-making. I can mind all about it--'twas the damage to the churn.'

He turned to Clare.

`Jack Dollop, a 'hore's-bird of a fellow we had here as milker at one time, sir, courted a young woman over at Mellstock, and deceived her as he had deceived many afore. But he had another sort o' woman to reckon wi' this time, and it was not the girl herself. One Holy Thursday, of all days in the almanack, we was where as we mid be now, only there was no churning in hand, when we zid the girl's mother coming up to the door, wi' a great brass-mounted umbrella in her hand that would ha' felled an ox, and saying "Do Jack Dollop work here? - because I want him! I have a big bone to pick with he, I can assure 'n!" And some way behind her mother walked Jack's young woman, crying bitterly into her handkercher. "O Lard, here's a time!" said jack, looking out o' winder at 'em. "She'll murder me! Where shall I get-where shall I - ? Don't tell her where I be!" And with that he scrambled into the churn through the trap-door, and shut himself inside, just as the young woman's mother busted into the milk-house. "The villain - where is he?" says she, "I'll claw his face for'n, let me only catch him!" Well, she hunted about everywhere, ballyragging Jack by side and by seam, Jack lying a'most stifled inside the churn, and the poor maid - or young woman rather - standing at the door crying her eyes out. I shall never forget it, never! 'Twould have melted a marble stone! But she couldn't find him nowhere at all.'

The dairyman paused, and one or two words of comment came from the listeners.

Dairyman Crick's stories often seemed to be ended when they were not really so, and strangers were betrayed into premature interjections of finality; though old friends knew better. The narrator went on--

`Well, how the old woman should have had the wit to guess it I could never tell, but she found out that he was inside that there churn. Without saying a word she took hold of the winch (it was turned by handpower then), and round she swung him, and jack began to flop about inside. "O Lard! stop the churn! let me out!" says he, popping out his head, "I shall be churned into a pummy!" (he was a cowardly chap in his heart, as such men mostly be). "Not till ye make amends for ravaging her virgin innocence!" says the old woman. "Stop the churn, you old witch!" screams he. "You call me old witch, do ye, you deceiver!" says she, "when ye ought to ha' been calling me mother-law these last five months!" And on went the churn, and Jack's bones rattled round again. Well, none of us ventured to interfere; and at last 'a promised to make it right wi' her. "Yes - I'll be as good as my word!" he said. And so it ended that day.'

While the listeners were smiling their comments there was a quick movement behind their backs, and they looked round. Tess, pale-faced, had gone to the door.

`How warm 'tis to-day!' she said, almost inaudibly.

It was warm, and none of them connected her withdrawal with the reminiscences of the dairyman. He went forward, and opened the door for her, saying with tender raillery--

`Why, maidy' (he frequently, with unconscious irony, gave her this pet name), `the prettiest milker I've got in my dairy; you mustn't get so fagged as this at the first breath of summer weather, or we shall be finely put to for want of 'ee by dog-days, shan't we, Mr Clare?'

`I was faint - and - I think I am better out o' doors,' she said mechanically; and disappeared outside.

Fortunately for her the milk in the revolving churn at that moment changed its squashing for a decided flick-flack.

`'Tis coming!' cried Mrs Crick, and the attention of all was called off from Tess.

That fair sufferer soon recovered herself externally, but she remained much depressed all the afternoon. When the evening milking was done she did not care to be with the rest of them, and went out of doors wandering along she knew not whither. She was wretched - O so wretched - at the perception that to her companions the dairyman's story had been rather a humorous narration than otherwise; none of them but herself seemed to see the sorrow of it; to a certainty, not one knew how cruelly it touched the tender place in her experience. The evening sun was now ugly to her, like a great inflamed wound in the sky. Only a solitary cracked-voiced reed-sparrow greeted her from the bushes by the river, in a sad, machine-made tone, resembling that of a past friend whose friendship she had outworn.

In these long June days the milkmaids, and, indeed, most of the household, went to bed at sunset or sooner, the morning work before milking being so early and heavy at a time of full pails. Tess usually accompanied her fellows upstairs. To-night, however, she was the first to go to their common chamber; and she had dozed when the other girls came in. She saw them undressing in the orange light of the vanished sun, which flushed their forms with its colour; she dozed again, but she was reawakened by their voices, and quietly turned her eyes towards them.

Neither of her three chamber-companions had got into bed. They were standing in a group, in their nightgowns, barefooted, at the window, the last red rays of the west still warming their faces and necks, and the walls around them. All were watching somebody in the garden with deep interest, their three faces close together: a jovial and round one, a pale one with dark hair and a fair one whose tresses were auburn.

`Don't push! You can see as well as I,' said Retty, the auburn-haired and youngest girl, without removing her eyes from the window.

`'Tis no use for you to be in love with him any more than me, Retty Priddle,' said jolly-faced Marian, the eldest, silly. `His thoughts be of other cheeks than thine!'

Retty Priddle still looked, and the others looked again.

`There he is again!' cried Izz Huett, the pale girl with dark damp hair and keenly cut lips.

`You needn't say anything, Izz,' answered Retty. `For I zid you kissing his shade.'

`What did you see her doing?' asked Marian.

`Why - he was standing over the whey-tub to let off the whey, and the shade of his face came upon the wall behind, close to Izz, who was standing there filling a vat. She put her mouth against the wall and kissed the shade of his mouth; I zid her, though he didn't.'

`O Izz Huett!' said Marian.

A rosy spot came into the middle of Izz Huett's cheek.

`Well, there was no harm in it,' she declared, with attempted coolness. `And if I be in love wi'en, so is Retty, too; and so be you, Marian, come to that.'

Marian's full face could not blush past its chronic pinkness.

`I!' she said. `What a tale! Ah, there he is again! Dear eyes - dear face - dear Mr Clare!'

`There - you've owned it!'

`So have you - so have we all,' said Marian, with the dry frankness of complete indifference to opinion. `It is silly to pretend otherwise amongst ourselves, though we need not own it to other folks. I would just marry 'n to-morrow!'

`So would I - and more,' murmured Izz Huett.

`And I too,' whispered the more timid Retty.

The listener grew warm.

`We can't all marry him,' said Izz.

`We shan't, either of us; which is worse still,' said the eldest. `There he is again!'

They all three blew him a silent kiss.

`Why?' asked Retty quickly.

`Because he likes Tess Durbeyfield best,' said Marian, lowering her voice. `I have watched him every day, and have found it out.'

There was a reflective silence.

`But she don't care anything for 'n?' at length breathed Retty.

`Well - I sometimes think that too.'

`But how silly all this is!' said Izz Huett impatiently. `Of course he won't marry any one of us, or Tess either - a gentleman's son, who's going to be a great landowner and farmer abroad! More likely to ask us to come wi'en as farm-hands at so much a year!'

One sighed, and another sighed, and Marian's plump figure sighed biggest of all. Somebody in bed hard by sighed too. Tears came into the eyes of Retty Priddle, the pretty red-haired youngest - the last bud of the Paridelles, so important in the county annals. They watched silently a little longer, their three faces still close together as before, and the triple hues of their hair mingling. But the unconscious Mr Clare had gone indoors, and they saw him no more; and, the shades beginning to deepen, they crept into their beds. In a few minutes they heard him ascend the ladder to his own room. Marian was soon snoring, but Izz did not drop into forgetfulness for a long time. Retty Priddle cried herself to sleep.

The deeper-passioned Tess was very far from sleeping even then. This conversation was another of the bitter pills she had been obliged to swallow that day. Scarce the least feeling of jealousy arose in her breast. For that matter she knew herself to have the preference. Being more finely formed, better educated, and, though the youngest except Retty, more woman than either, she perceived that only the slightest ordinary care was necessary for holding her own in Angel Clare's heart against these her candid friends. But the grave question was, ought she to do this? There was, to be sure, hardly a ghost of a chance for either of them, in a serious sense; but there was, or had been, a chance of one or the other inspiring him with a passing fancy for her, and enjoying the pleasure of his attentions while he stayed here. Such unequal attachments had led to marriage; and she had heard from Mrs Crick that Mr Clare had one day asked, in a laughing way, what would be the use of his marrying a fine lady, and all the while ten thousand acres of Colonial pasture to feed, and cattle to rear, and corn to reap. A farm-woman would be the only sensible kind of wife for him. But whether Mr Clare had spoken seriously or not, why should she, who could never conscientiously allow any man to marry her now, and who had religiously determined that she never would be tempted to do so, draw off Mr Clare's attention from other women, for the brief happiness of sunning herself in his eyes while he remained at Talbothays?