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当前位置:主页 > 英国小说 > 德伯家的苔丝 > 第4章 The Consequence后果
第17节 第二十九章 【
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“喂,你们猜猜今天早晨我听见谁的消息了?”第二天克里克老板坐下来吃早饭时间,一边用打哑谜的眼光看着大吃大嚼的男女工人。“喂,你们猜猜是谁?”
有一个人猜了一遍,又有一个人猜了一遍。克里克太太因为早已经知道了,所以没有猜。
“好啦,”奶牛场老板说,“就是那个松松垮垮的浑蛋杰克·多洛普。最近他同一个寡妇结了婚。”
“真的是杰克·多洛普吗?一个坏蛋——你想想那件事吧!”一个挤牛奶的工人说。
苔丝·德北菲尔德很快就想起了这个名字,因为就是叫这个名字的那个人,曾经欺骗了他的情人,后来又被那个年轻姑娘的母亲在黄油搅拌器里胡乱搅了一通。
“他按照他答应的那样娶了那个勇敢母亲的姑娘吗?”安琪尔·克莱尔心不在焉地问。他坐在一张小桌上翻阅报纸,克里克太太认为他是一个体面人,所以老是把他安排在那张小桌上。
“没有,先生。他从来就没有打算那样做,”奶牛场老板回答说。“我说过是一个寡居的女人,但是她很有钱,似乎是——一年五十镑左右吧;他娶她以后,以为那笔钱就是他的了。他们是匆匆忙忙结婚的;结婚后她告诉他说,她结了婚,那笔一年五十镑的钱就没有了。想想吧,我们那位先生听了这个消息,心里头该是一种什么样的滋味啊!从此以后,他们就要永远过一种吵架的生活了!他完全是罪有应得。不过那个可怜的女人更要遭罪了。”
“啊,那个傻女人,她早就该告诉他,她第一个丈夫的鬼魂会找他算帐的,”克里克太太说。
“唉,唉,”奶牛场老板犹豫不决地回答说。“你们还得把本来的情形给弄清楚了。她是想有个家啊,所以不愿意冒险,害怕他跑掉了。姑娘们,你们想是不是这么一回事呀?”
他打量了一眼那一排女孩子。
“他们在去教堂结婚时,她就应该告诉他的,这时候他已经跑不掉了,”玛丽安大声说。
“是的,她应该那样做,”伊茨同意说。
“他是个什么样的东西,她一定早就看清了,她不应该嫁给他的,”莱蒂激动地说。
“你说呢,亲爱的?”奶牛场老板问苔丝。
“我觉得她应该——把真实的情形告诉他——要不然就不要答应嫁给她——不过我也说不清楚,”苔丝回答说,一块黄油面包噎了她一下。
“我才不会那样干呢,”贝克·尼布斯说,她是一个结过婚的女人,到这儿当帮手,住在外面的茅屋里。“情场如战场,任何手段都是正当的。我也会像她那样嫁给他的,至于我第一个丈夫的事,我不想告诉他,我就不告诉他,要是他对我不告诉他的事吭一声,我不用擀面杖把他打倒在地才怪呢——他那样一个瘦小个男人,任何女人都能把他揍扒下。”
这段俏皮话引起了一阵哄然大笑,为了表示和大家一样,苔丝也跟着苦笑了一下。在他们眼中是一出喜剧,然而在她眼里却是一出悲剧;对于他们的欢乐,她简直受不了。她很快就从桌边站起身来,她有一种感觉,克莱尔会跟着她一起走的,她沿着一条弯弯曲曲的小道走着,有时候她走在灌溉渠的这一边,有时候走在灌溉渠的那一边,一直走到瓦尔河主流的附近才停下来。工人们已经开始在河流的上游割水草了,一堆一堆的水草从她面前漂过去——就像是绿色的毛茛小岛在移动,她差不多就可以站在上面了;河里栽有一排一排木桩,是为了防止奶牛跑过河去,这时挡住了流下来的水草。
不错,痛苦就在这里。一个女人讲述自己的历史的问题——这是她背负的最沉重的十字架——但在别人看来只不过是一种笑料。这简直就像嘲笑圣徒殉教一样。
“苔丝!”一声叫声从她的背后传来,克莱尔从小沟那边跳过来,站在她的身边。“我的妻子——不久就是我的妻子了。”
“不,不;我不能做你的妻子。这是为你着想啊,克莱尔先生;为你着想,我应该说不!”
“苔丝!”
“我还是要说不!”她重复说。
他没有想到她会说不。他把话说完就伸出胳膊紧紧地搂住了她的腰,搂在她披散的头发下面。(年轻的挤奶女工,包括苔丝,星期天吃早饭时都披散着头发,在去教堂的时候她们才把头发高高地挽起来,她们在挤牛奶的时候要用头靠着奶牛,所以不能那样梳法。)要是她说的是肯定而不是否定,他就一定吻过她了;这显然是他的意图;可是她坚决的否定阻止了他的顾虑重重的渴望。他们同住在一幢屋子里,不能不相互来往,这样她作为一个女人就被置于一种不利的地位。他觉得,要是他向她施加压力,步步紧逼,这对她就是不公平的,假如她能够避开他,他反倒可以诚实地采用这些手段了。他把围在她腰上的手松开了,也没有去吻她。
他一松手,情势就发生了变化。这一次她之所以有力量拒绝他,完全是由于她刚才听了奶牛场老板讲的那个寡妇的故事;要是再过一会儿,那点儿力量也就要化为乌有了。不过安琪尔没有再说话;他脸上的表情是困惑的;他只好走开了。
他们还是天天见面——和过去相比,他们见面的次数有些减少了;两三个星期就这样过去了。九月末来到了,她从他的眼睛中可以看出,他也许还要向她求婚。
他进行求婚的计划和过去不同了——仿佛他一心认为,她的拒绝只不过是被她没有经历过的求婚吓着了,不过因为年轻羞怯而已。每次讨论这个问题,她总是闪烁其辞,这使他越发相信自己的看法不错。因此他就采取哄和劝的方法;他从来都不超越使用语言的界限,也没有再想到拥抱抚摸,他只是想尽量用言辞去打动她。
克莱尔仍然坚持不懈地向她求婚,他低声求婚的声音就像是牛奶汩汩流动的声音——在奶牛旁边,在撇奶油的时候,在制作黄油的时候,在制作奶酪的时候,在孵蛋的母鸡中间,在生产的母猪中间——过去从来没有一个挤奶姑娘被这样一个男子求过婚。
苔丝也知道她必定要抵抗不住了。无论是认为她从前那次结合具有某种道德的效力的宗教观点,还是她想坦白过去的诚心愿望,都再也抵挡不住了。她爱他爱得这样热烈,在她的眼里,他就像天上的神一样;她虽然没有经过教育培养,但是她却天性敏慧,从本能上渴望得到他的呵护和指导。虽然她心里不断重复着说,“我决不能做他的妻子,”但是这也都成了毫无用处的话。她这种内心的说话,正好证明她冷静的决心已经遇到了问题,不能继续坚持了。每当她听到克莱尔开始提到从前提到的话题,心里头不免又惊又喜,渴望自己改口答应,又害怕自己改口答应。
他的态度——只要是男人,谁的态度不是那样呢?——那完全是一种无论在任何情况下,无论发生了什么变化,无论遭受到什么指责,无论在她身上发现了什么,他都要爱她、疼她、呵护她的态度,于是她的忧郁减少了。时令正在接近秋分,尽管天气依然晴朗,但是白天的时间变得更短了。在奶牛场里,早晨点上蜡烛工作已经有了好些日子;有一天早晨三四点钟的时候,克莱尔又一次向她求婚。
那天早晨,她穿着睡衣,像往常一样来到他的门口把他叫醒了;然后再回去穿好衣服,把其他的人也叫醒了;过了十分钟,她就拿着蜡烛向楼梯口走去。同时,克莱尔也穿着短袖衬衫从楼上下来,在楼梯口伸着胳膊把她拦住了。
“喂,我的娇小姐,在你下楼之前,我要和你说句话,”他。不容分辩地说。“上次我跟你谈过以后,已经过去两个星期了;这件事不能再拖延下去了。你一定得告诉我你究竟是怎样想的,不然的话,我就不得不离开这幢屋子了。我的房门刚才半开着,我看见你了。为了你的安全,我必须要离开这儿才行。你是不明白的,怎么样?你是不是最终答应我了?”
“我才刚刚起来,克莱尔先生,你让我谈这个问题是不是太早了点儿?”她赌气说。“你不应该叫我娇小姐的。这既残酷又不真实。你再等一等吧,请你再等一等吧。我一定会在这段时间里认真地想一想的。让我下楼去吧!”
从她的脸上看,她倒真的有点儿像他说的那样在撒娇了,她努力想微笑起来,免得她说的话太严肃。
“那么叫我安琪尔吧,不要叫我克莱尔先生了。”
“安琪尔。”
“亲爱的安琪尔——为什么不这样叫呢?”
“那样叫不就是说我答应你了吗,是不是?”
“不,那只是说你爱我,即使你不能嫁给我;你不是早就承认你爱我吗?”
“那好吧,‘最亲爱的安琪尔’,要是我非叫不可的话,”她低声说,一面看着蜡烛,尽管心里犹豫不定,但还是撅着嘴巴,做出调皮的样子。
克莱尔下了决心,除非她答应嫁给他,他是不再吻她了;但是看见苔丝站在那儿,身上穿着漂亮的挤奶长裙,下摆扎在腰里,头发随便地盘在头上,等奶油撤完了,牛奶也挤完了再梳理它们,这时候他的决心瓦解了,就用他的嘴唇在她的面颊上轻轻地吻了一下。她赶忙下了楼,再也没有看他一眼,也没有再说一句话。其他的挤奶女工已经下楼了,所以这个话题他们,就谁也不再提了。除了玛丽安外,所有的人都用沉思和怀疑的目光看着他们两个,在破晓的第一道清冷的晨光的映衬下,早晨的蜡烛散发着忧伤昏黄的光。
撇奶油很快就结束了——秋天来了,奶牛的出奶量减少了,所以撇奶油的时间也就越来越短了——莱蒂和其他的挤奶女工走了。这一对情人也跟在她们的后面走了。
“我们小心谨慎地过日子,和她们多么不同呀,是不是?”天色渐渐泛白了,他一面注视着在清冷的白光中走着的三个人影,一面幽默地对苔丝说。
“我觉得并没有什么多大的不同,”她说。
“你为什么要那样认为呢?”
“很少有女人不小心谨慎的,”苔丝回答说,说到这个新词的时候犹豫了一下,仿佛对这个词印象很深刻。“在她们三个人身上,优点比你想的还要多。”
“有什么优点?”
“几乎她们每一个人,”她开始说,“也许她们比我更适合做你的妻子。也许她们和我一样地爱你——几乎是一样。”
“啊,苔丝!”
苔丝虽然鼓足勇气要牺牲自己成全别人,但是当她听见他的不耐烦的喊声,脸上也不禁露出一种欢畅的表情来。她既然已经表现过要成全别人的意思,那么现在她就没有力量第二次作出自我牺牲了。这时从小屋里走出来一个挤奶工人,和他们在一块儿了,因此他们共同关心的问题就没有再谈。但是苔丝知道,这件事在今天就要决定了。
下午,奶牛场的几个工人加上几个帮工,像往常一样一起来到老远的草场上,有许多奶牛没有被赶回家去,就在那儿挤奶。随着母牛腹中的牛犊的长大,牛奶也就出得越来越少了,在草场旺季时雇佣的过多的工人也就被辞退了。
工作在从容不迫地进行着。有一辆大车赶到了草场上,上面装着许多高大的铁罐,木桶里挤满了牛奶,就一桶桶倒进车上的大铁罐里;奶牛挤过奶以后,也就自个儿走掉了。
奶牛场的克里克老板和其他的人呆在一起,在铅灰色的暮色的映衬下,他身上的围裙闪着白色的光,突然,他掏出他那块沉甸甸的怀表看了看。
“唉呀,没有想到这样晚了,”他说。“糟啦!再不赶快就来不及送到车站了。今天送走牛奶的时间是不多了,也不能把牛奶拉回家和其它的牛奶混在一起了。牛奶只有从这儿直接送到车站啦。谁把牛奶送去呢?”
送牛奶虽然不是克莱尔先生份内的事,但是他自愿去送牛奶,还请苔丝陪他一块儿去。傍晚虽然没有太阳,但是天气既闷热又潮湿,苔丝出门时只穿着挤奶的裙子,没有穿外套,露着胳膊,这身穿着的确不是为了赶大车而穿上的。因此,她打量了一眼身上的穿着,算是回答;不过克莱尔用温柔的目光鼓励她。她把牛奶桶和凳子交给奶牛场老板带回家去,算是答应了去送牛奶;然后她就上了大车,坐在克莱尔的身边。
 

`Now, who mid ye think I've heard news o' this morning?' said Dairyman Crick, as he sat down to breakfast next day, with a riddling gaze round upon the munching men and maids. `Now, just who mid ye think?'

One guessed, and another guessed. Mrs Crick did not guess, because she knew already.

`Well,' said the dairyman, `'tis that slack-twisted 'hore's-bird of a feller, Jack Dollop. He's lately got married to a widow-woman.'

`Not Jack Dollop? A villain - to think o' that!' said a milker.

The name entered quickly into Tess Durbeyfield's consciousness, for it was the name of the lover who had wronged his sweetheart, and had afterwards been so roughly used by the young woman's mother in the butter-churn.

`And has he married the valiant matron's daughter, as he promised?' asked Angel Clare absently, as he turned over the newspaper he was reading at the little table to which he was always banished by Mrs Crick, in her sense of his gentility.

`Not he, sir. Never meant to,' replied the dairyman. `As I say, 'tis a widow-woman, and she had money, it seems - fifty poun' a year or so; and that was all he was after. They were married in a great hurry; and then she told him that by marrying she had lost her fifty poun' a year. Just fancy the state o' my gentleman's mind at that news! Never such a cat-and-dog life as they've been leading ever since! Serves him well beright. But onluckily the poor woman gets the worst o't.'

`Well, the silly body should have told en sooner that the ghost of her first man would trouble him,' said Mrs Crick.

`Ay; ay,' responded the dairyman indecisively. `Still, you can see exactly how 'twas. She wanted a home, and didn't like to run the risk of losing him. Don't ye think that was something like it, maidens?'

He glanced towards the row of girls.

`She ought to ha' told him just before they went to church, when he could hardly have backed out,' exclaimed Marian.

`Yes, she ought,' agreed Izz.

`She must have seen what he was after, and should ha' refused him,' cried Retty spasmodically.

`And what do you say, my dear?' asked the dairyman of Tess.

`I think she ought - to have told him the true state of things - or else refused him - I don't know,' replied Tess, the bread-and-butter choking her.

`Be cust if I'd have done either o't,' said Beck Knibbs, a married helper from one of the cottages. `All's fair in love and war. I'd ha' married en 'ust as she did, and if he'd said two words to me about not telling him beforehand anything whatsomdever about my first chap that I hadn't chose to tell, I'd ha' knocked him down wi' the rolling-pin - a scram little feller like he! Any woman could do it.'

The laughter which followed this sally was supplemented only by a sorry smile, for form's sake, from Tess. What was comedy to them was tragedy to her; and she could hardly bear their mirth. She soon rose from table, and, with an impression that Clare would follow her, went along a little wriggling path, now stepping to one side of the irrigating channels, and now to the other, till she stood by the main stream of the Var. Men had been cutting the water-weeds higher up the river, and masses of them were floating past her - moving islands of green crowfoot, whereon she might almost have ridden; long locks of which weed had lodged against the piles driven to keep the cows from crossing.

Yes, there was the pain of it. This question of a woman telling her story - the heaviest of crosses to herself - seemed but amusement to others. It was as if people should laugh at martyrdom.

`Tessy!' came from behind her, and Clare sprang across the gully, alighting beside her feet. `My wife - soon!'

`No, no; I cannot. For your sake, O Mr Clare; for your sake, I say no!'

`Tess!'

`Still I say no!' she repeated.

Not expecting this he had put his arm lightly round her waist the moment after speaking, beneath her hanging tall of hair. (The younger dairymaids, including Tess, breakfasted with their hair loose on Sunday mornings before building it up extra high for attending church, a style they could not adopt when milking with their heads against the cows.) If she had said `Yes' instead of `No' he would have kissed her; it had evidently been his intention; but her determined negative deterred his scrupulous heart. Their condition of domiciliary comradeship put her, as the woman, to such disadvantage by its enforced intercourse, that he felt it unfair to her to exercise any pressure of brandishment which he might have honestly employed had she been better able to avoid him. He released her momentarily-imprisoned waist, and withheld the kiss.

It all turned on that release. What had given her strength to refuse him this time was solely the tale of the widow told by the dairyman; and that would have been overcome in another moment. But Angel said no more; his face was perplexed; he went away.

Day after day they met - somewhat less constantly than before; and thus two or three weeks went by. The end of September drew near, and she could see in his eye that he might ask her again.

His plan of procedure was different now - as though he had made up his mind that her negatives were, after all, only coyness and youth startled by the novelty of the proposal. The fitful evasiveness of her manner when the subject was under discussion countenanced the idea. So he played a more coaxing game; and while never going beyond words, or attempting the renewal of caresses, he did his utmost orally.

In this way Clare persistently wooed her in undertones like that of the purling milk - at the cow's side, at skimmings, at butter-makings, at cheese-makings, among broody poultry, and among farrowing pigs - as no milkmaid was ever wooed before by such a man.

Tess knew that she must break down. Neither a religious sense of a certain moral validity in the previous union nor a conscientious wish for candour could hold out against it much longer. She loved him so passionately, and he was so godlike in her eyes; and being, though untrained, instinctively refined, her nature cried for his tutelary guidance. And thus, though Tess kept repeating to herself, `I can never be his wife,' the words were vain. A proof of her weakness lay in the very utterance of what calm strength would not have taken the trouble to formulate. Every sound of his voice beginning on the old subject stirred her with a terrifying bliss, and she coveted the recantation she feared.

His manner was - what man's is not? - so much that of one who would love and cherish and defend her under any conditions, changes, charges, or revelations, that her gloom lessened as she basked in it. The season meanwhile was drawing onward to the equinox, and though it was still fine, the days were much shorter. The dairy had again worked by morning candle-light for a long time; and a fresh renewal of Clare's pleading occurred one morning between three and four.

She had run up in her bedgown to his door to call him as usual; then had gone back to dress and call the others; and in ten minutes was walking to the head of the stairs with the candle in her hand. At the same moment he came down his steps from above in his shirt-sleeves and put his arm across the stairway.

`Now, Miss Flirt, before you go down,' he said peremptorily. `It is a fortnight since I spoke, and this won't do any longer. You must tell me what you mean, or I shall have to leave this house. My door was ajar just now, and I saw you. For your own safety I must go. You don't know. Well? Is it to be yes at last?'

`I am only just up, Mr Clare, and it is too early to take me to task!' she pouted. `You need not call me Flirt. 'Tis cruel and untrue. Walt till by and by. Please wait till by and by! I will really think seriously about it between now and then. Let me go downstairs!'

She looked a little like what he said she was as, holding the candle sideways, she tried to smile away the seriousness of her words.

`Call me Angel, then, and not Mr Clare.'

`Angel.'

`Angel dearest - why not?'

`'Twould mean that I agree, wouldn't it?'

`It would only mean that you love me, even if you cannot marry me; and you were so good as to own that long ago.'

`Very well, then, "Angel dearest", if I must,' she murmured, looking at her candle, a roguish curl coming upon her mouth, notwithstanding her suspense.

Clare had resolved never to kiss her until he had obtained her promise; but somehow, as Tess stood there in her prettily tucked-up milking gown, her hair carelessly heaped upon her head till there should be leisure to arrange it when skimming and milking were done, he broke his resolve, and brought his lips to her cheek for one moment. She passed downstairs very quickly, never looking back at him or saying another word. The other maids were already down, and the subject was not pursued. Except Marian they all looked wistfully and suspiciously at the pair, in the sad yellow rays which the morning candles emitted in contrast with the first cold signals of the dawn without.

When skimming was done - which, as the milk diminished with the approach of autumn, was a lessening process day by day. Retty and the rest went out. The lovers followed them.

`Our tremulous lives are so different from theirs, are they not?' he musingly observed to her, as he regarded the three figures tripping before him through the frigid pallor of opening day.

`Not so very different, I think,' she said.

`Why do you think that?'

`There are very few women's lives that are not tremulous,' Tess replied, pausing over the new word as if it impressed her. `There's more in those three than you think.'

`What is in them?'

`Almost either of 'em,' she began, `would make - perhaps would make - a properer wife than I. And perhaps they love you as well as I - almost.'

`O, Tessy!'

There were signs that it was an exquisite relief to her to hear the impatient exclamation, though she had resolved so intrepidly to let generosity make one bid against herself. That was now done, and she had not the power to attempt self-immolation a second time then. They were joined by a milker from one of the cottages, and no more was said on that which concerned them so deeply. But Tess knew that this day would decide it.

In the afternoon several of the dairyman's household and assistants went down to the meads as usual, a long way from the dairy, where many of the cows were milked without being driven home. The supply was getting less as the animals advanced in calf, and the supernumerary milkers of the lush green season had been dismissed.

The work progressed leisurely. Each pailful was poured into tall cans that stood in a large spring-waggon which had been brought upon the scene; and when they were milked the cows trailed away.

Dairyman Crick, who was there with the rest, his wrapper gleaming miraculously white against a leaden evening sky, suddenly looked at his heavy watch.

`Why, 'tis later than I thought,' he said. `Begad! We shan't be soon enough with this milk at the station, if we don't mind. There's no time to-day to take it home and mix it with the bulk afore sending off. It must go to station straight from here. Who'll drive it across?'

Mr Clare volunteered to do so, though it was none of his business, asking Tess to accompany him. The evening, though sunless, had been warm and muggy for the season, and Tess had come out with her milkinghood only, naked-armed and jacketless; certainly not dressed for a drive. She therefore replied by glancing over her scant habiliments; but Clare gently urged her. She assented by relinquishing her pall and stool to the dairyman to take home; and mounted the spring-waggon beside Clare.