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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20节 第三十二章 【
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苔丝这种悔恨的心情,妨碍她迟迟不能把婚期确定下来。到了十一月初,尽管克莱尔曾经多次抓住良机问她,但是结婚的日子仍然遥遥无期。苔丝的愿望似乎是要永远保持一种订婚的状态,要让一切都和现在一样维持不动。
草场现在正发生着变化;不过太阳仍然很暖和,在下午之前还可以出去散一会儿步,在一年中的这个时候,奶牛场的活儿不紧,还有空余的时间出去散步。朝太阳方向的湿润的草地上望去,只见游丝一样的蛛网在太阳下起伏,形成闪亮的细小波浪,好像洒落在海浪中的天上月光。蚊虫似乎对自己的短暂光荣一无所知,它们从小路上的亮光中飞过去,闪耀着光芒,仿佛身上带有火焰,它们一飞出了亮光,就完全消失不见了。在这样的情景里,克莱尔就会提醒苔丝,他们的婚期仍然还没有定下来。
有时候克里克太太想法给他在晚上派一些差事,让他有机会和苔丝在一起,他也会在这种时候问她。这种差事,大多是到谷外山坡上的农舍里去,打听饲养在干草场里快要生产的母牛情况。因为在一年中的这个季节,正是母牛群发生巨大变化的时候。每天都有一批批母牛被送进这所产科医院,它们要在医院里喂养起来,一直到小牛出生了,然后才被送回到奶牛场里去。在奶牛被卖掉的这一段时间里,自然没有什么牛奶可挤,但是小牛一旦被卖掉以后,挤奶姑娘们就又要像往常一样工作了。
他们有一天晚上散步回来,走到耸立在平原上一个高大的沙石峭壁跟前,他们就静静地站在那儿听着。溪流中的水涨高了,在沟渠里哗哗地流着,在暗沟里叮咚叮咚地响着;最小的沟渠里的水也涨得满满的;无论到哪儿去都没有近路,步行的人不得不从铁路上走。从整个黑沉沉的谷区里,传来各种各样的嘈杂声;这不禁使他们想到,在他们的下面是一座巨大的城市,那些嘈杂声就是城市居民的喧闹声。
“好像有成千上万的人,”苔丝说:“正在市场上开公民大会呢,他们正在那儿辩论、讲道、争吵、呻吟、祈祷、谩骂。”
克莱尔并没有怎样留神去听。
“亲爱的,克里克在整个冬季不想雇佣许多人,他今天给你谈过这件事吗?”
“没有。”
“奶牛很快就要挤不出奶了。”
“不错。昨天已经有六七头牛被送到干草院里去了,前天被送进去三头。整整二十头牛快要生小牛犊了。啊……是不是老板不想要我照顾小牛犊了?啊,我也不想继续在这儿干了!我一直干得这样卖劲,我……”
“克里克并没有肯定说不需要你。可是,由于他知道我们是一种什么样的关系,所以他说话的时候非常和气、非常客气,他说,他认为我在圣诞节离开这儿时应该把你带上的,我说,她离开了你不会有问题吧,他只是说,说实话,一年中这个季节里,只要一两个女工帮忙就行了。我听出他想这样逼着你和我结婚,真有点儿高兴,恐怕这样的感觉要算是一种罪过吧。”
“我觉得你不应该感到高兴,安琪尔。因为没有人要你,总是叫人伤心的,即使对我们来说是一种方便。”
“好啦,是一种方便……你已经承认了。”他伸出手指头羞她的脸。“啊!”他说。
“什么呀?”
“我觉得有个人的心事让人猜着了,所以脸也就变红了!可是为什么我要这样说笑呢!我们不要说笑了……生活是严肃的。”
“是的。也许在你认识到以前,我已经认识到了。”
后来她逐渐认识到这一点。要是她听从了自己昨天晚上的感情,拒绝和他结婚……她就得离开奶牛场,也就是说,她得到一个陌生的地方去,而不是一个奶牛场。正在来临的生小牛犊的季节是不需要多少挤奶女工的;所以她去的地方就会是一个从事耕种的农场,在那儿没有安琪尔·克莱尔这种天神一样的人物。她恨这种想法,她尤其恨回家的想法。
“所以,最亲爱的苔丝,”他接着说,“由于你可能不得不在圣诞节离开,所以最好的和最方便的办法就是在我走的时候把你作为我的妻子带走。除此而外,如果你不是世界上最缺少心眼儿的女孩子,你就应该知道我们是不能永远这样继续下去的。”
“我希望我们能永远这样继续下去。但愿永远是夏天和秋天,你永远向我求爱,你永远想着我,就像今年夏天你想着我那样。”
“我会永远这样的。”
“啊,我知道你会的!”她大声说,心里突然产生了一种信赖他的强烈感情。“安琪尔,我要定一个日子,永远做你的人!”
当天往家里走的时候,在周围流水的絮絮细语里,他们终于就这样把结婚的日子定了下来。
他们一回到奶牛场,就立即把结婚的日于告诉了克里克老板和克里克太太——同时又叮嘱他们保守秘密——因为这一对恋人谁都不愿意把他们的婚事张扬出去。奶牛场老板本来打算不久辞退苔丝的,现在又对她的离开表示了巨大的关心。撇奶油怎么办呢?谁还会做一些花样翻新的奶油卖给安格堡和桑德波恩的小姐们呢?克里克太太为苔丝祝贺,说她结婚的日子定了下来,也不用再着急了。她还说打第一眼看见苔丝起,她就认为娶苔丝的人决不是一个普通的庄稼人;那天苔丝回来时,她走过场院的神情让人看上去就是一个贵人的样子,她敢发誓苔丝是一个大户人家的女儿。实在说来,克里克太太的确记得苔丝刚来时人长得漂亮,气质高贵,至于说她的高贵,那完全是出于后来对她的了解而想象出来的。
苔丝现在已经由不得自己了,只好随着时光的流逝得过且过。她答应嫁给他了;婚期也定了下来。她天生头脑敏锐,现在也开始接受宿命论的观点了,变得同种地的人一样了,同那些与自然现象联系多而与人类联系少的人一样了。她的情人说什么,她就被动地回答什么,这就是苔丝现在心情的特点。
但是她又重新给她的母亲写了一封信,表面上是通知她结婚的日期,实际上是想再请她的母亲帮她拿主意。娶她的是一个上等人,这一点她的母亲也许还没有充分考虑到。要是婚后再给以解释,这对于一个不太在乎的人来说也许就用轻松的心情接受了,但是对他来说也许就不能用同样的心情接受了。不过她写出去的信却没有收到德北菲尔德太太的回信。
尽管安棋尔·克莱尔对自己、对苔丝都说他们立即结婚是一种实际需要,也说得似乎有道理,但是实际上他这样做总是有点儿轻率的,因为这一点在后来是十分明显的。他很爱苔丝,但是同苔丝对他的爱比起来,他的爱是偏于理想的爱,耽于想象的爱,而苔丝的爱却是一种热烈的爱,一种情深意浓的爱。在他注定要过他从前想过的那种无需动脑力的田园生活的时候,他没有想到在这种场景后面会发现一个美妙的姑娘,也没有想到这个姑娘竟是这样的迷人。天真朴素本来只是在嘴上说说而已,但是等他到了这里,才发现自己真正被天真朴素打动了。不过他对自己未来要走的路并没有看得十分清楚,也许还要一两年他才能考虑真正开创自己的生活。他知道,由于家庭的偏见,他被迫放弃了自己真正的事业,秘密就在于他的事业和性格都带上了不顾一切的色彩。
“要是我们等到完全在你中部的农场安顿下来以后再结婚,你不认为更好些吗?”有一次她胆怯地问。(那时候中部的农场还只是一个理想。)
“老实告诉你吧,我的苔丝,我不会把你留在任何地方,让我不能保护你,同情你。”
到目前为止,这是最好的一个理由。他对她的影响是如此明显,以至于她都学会了他的神态、习惯、话语、词汇、爱好、憎恶。要是把她留在农场上,她就会倒退回去,不会同他融洽了。他希望把她留在自己的身边还有另外一个原因,那就是在他把她带到远方如英国的某地或殖民地安家立业以前,他的父母自然希望至少见她一面。因为他不会让父母的意见影响自己的意图,所以他认为在他寻找开创事业的有利机会期间,带上她在寓所里住上一两个月,这就会在社会习俗方面给她提供帮助,然后再带她到牧师住宅会见他母亲,她就不会有一种被审判的痛苦的感觉了。
其次,他还希望见习一下面粉厂的工作情形,他一直有一种想法,就是把面粉厂同种麦子结合起来。井桥有一处古老的很大的磨坊产业……过去曾经是寺院的产业……磨坊主已经答应了他,让他去参观磨坊古老的生产模式,或者去帮忙操作几天,什么时间去都行。那个磨坊离这儿有几英里远,有一天克莱尔到那儿去过一次,打听过详细情况,到晚上才返回泰波塞斯。苔丝发现,他已经决定到井桥的面粉厂去住一段时间。是什么让他作出这个决定的?这倒不是有机会去考察磨面筛面的事,而是出于一个偶然的事实:刚好在那座农屋里有住处出租,而那座农屋在独立出来之前,曾经是德贝维尔家族的一个支系的宅邸。克莱尔一直是这样来解决实际问题的;全凭一时的兴趣,而不管与实际问题是否有关。他们决定婚礼一结束就立即到那儿去,在那儿住两个星期,而不到城里去住旅馆。
“我听说伦敦的那边有一些农场,以后我们到那儿去看看,”他说,“在三月份或四月份我们再去看望我的父亲和母亲。”
诸如此类的问题提了出来也就过去了,那一天,简直是叫人不敢相信的一天,在那一天,她就要变成他的人,那一天很快就要来到了。那个日子就是十二月三十一日,那一天也是除夕。她就要成为他的妻子了,她自言自语地说。真的会有这样的事吗?他们两个人就要结合在一起了,什么也不能把他们分开了,他们要共同分担一切事情;为什么不那样呢?又为什么要那样呢?
有一个星期天的早上,伊茨·休特等苔丝回来后悄悄地对苔丝说——
“今天早上没有宣布你的结婚通告呢。”
“什么?”
“应该今天第一次宣布啊,”她回答说,冷静地看着苔丝。“你们不是说在新年的除夕结婚吗,亲爱的?”
苔丝急忙作了肯定的回答。
“总共要宣布三次啊。从现在到新年除夕只有两个星期了呀。”
苔丝觉得自己的脸变白了;伊茨说得对;当然必须宣布三次。也许他把这件事忘了!如果是他忘了,那就得把婚期向后推迟一个礼拜了,那可不是吉利的事。她怎样才能提醒她的爱人呢?她一直是退缩不前的,现在却突然变得心急火燎的,心里慌张起来,她害怕失去了她心爱的珍宝。
后来一件自然的事解除了苔丝的焦急。伊茨把没有宣布结婚通告的事对克里克太太说了,于是克里克太太就利用女主人的便利向安琪尔提到了这件事。
“你把那件事忘了吧,克莱尔先生?我是指结婚通告。”
“没有,我没有忘记,”克莱尔说。
后来他单独看见苔丝就安慰她说——
“不要让他们拿结婚通告的事取笑你。结婚许可证对我们更加隐秘些。我已经决定用结婚许可证了,不过没有同你商量。所以你如果在礼拜天早晨上教堂去,如果你想去的话,你是听不到你的名字的。”
“我不想听到宣布我的名字,最亲爱的,”她骄傲地说。
既然知道一切已准备就绪,苔丝也就完全放下心来了,本来她就有些害怕有人在教堂里站起来,揭露她过去的历史,反对结婚通告。一切事情多么地顺心如意呀!
“我并不完全放心,”她对自己说。“所有这些好运也许会叫恶运给毁了。天意往往就是如此。我倒希望还是用结婚通告的好!”
但是一切都进行得很顺利。她心里想,在他们结婚的时候,他是喜欢她穿现在穿的这件最好的白色长袍呢,还是她应该再去买一件新的。这个问题他早就想到了,解决了。有一天,邮局给她送来了一个寄给她的大包裹,她打开一看,发现里面是全套的衣服,从帽子到鞋子,还包括早上穿的服装,样样都有,像他们计划中的简单婚礼,那些服装是再合适不过了。在她收到包裹后不久,克莱尔进了屋子,听见了她在楼上打开包裹的声音。
不一会儿她就下了楼,脸上带着红晕,眼里含着泪花。
“你为我想得多么周到呀!”她把脸靠在他的肩上,嘟哝着说。“甚至连手套和手绢都想到了!我的爱人呀,你多么好呀,多么周到呀!”
“不,不,苔丝;这只不过写信到伦敦的女商人那儿订购一套就是了,这算什么呀!”
为了不让她老是不停地赞扬自己,他让她上楼去,仔细地试试衣服,看衣服合不合身;要是不合身的话,就请村里的女裁缝做一些改动。
她没有回到楼上去,而是把长袍穿上了。她站在镜子跟前把自己端详了一会儿,看看自己穿上丝绸衣服的效果;这时候,她又想起了母亲为她唱的一首关于一件神秘长袍的民谣——
曾经做过错事的妻子
永远穿不了这件衣服。①
 
①引自F.J.Child编选的五卷本《英格兰与苏格兰流行歌谣集》中的《小孩和长袍》一诗,大意说一小孩献给亚瑟王一件长袍,可以试妻子是否忠于丈夫。王后因不忠心,穿袍后袍变色。

在她还是一个孩子时,德北菲尔德太太就给她唱过这首民谣,她用脚踩着摇篮,和着摇篮摇动的节拍,唱得那样欢畅,那样淘气。想想吧,要是穿上这件长袍,长袍的颜色变了,就像昆尼费尔王后穿上那件长袍一样,泄露了自己的秘密,那该怎么办呢?自从她来到奶牛场以来,她一次也没有想到过这首民谣的句子。
 

This penitential mood kept her from naming the wedding-day. The beginning of November found its date still in abeyance, though he asked her at the most tempting times. But Tess's desire seemed to be for a perpetual betrothal in which everything should remain as it was then.

The meads were changing now; but it was still warm enough in early afternoons before milking to idle there awhile, and the state of dairy-work at this time of year allowed a spare hour for idling. Looking over the damp sod in the direction of the sun, a glistening ripple of gossamer webs was visible to their eyes under the luminary, like the track of moonlight on the sea. Gnats, knowing nothing of their brief glorification, wandered across the shimmer of this pathway, irradiated as if they bore fire within them, then passed out of its line, and were quite extinct. In the presence of these things he would remind her that the date was still the question.

Or he would ask her at night, when he accompanied her on some mission invented by Mrs Crick to give him the opportunity. This was mostly a journey to the farmhouse on the slopes above the vale, to inquire how the advanced cows were getting on in the straw-barton to which they were relegated. For it was a time of the year that brought great changes to the world of kine. Batches of the animals were sent away daily to this lying-in hospital, where they lived on straw till their calves were born, after which event, and as soon as the calf could walk, mother and offspring were driven back to the dairy. In the interval which elapsed before the calves were sold there was, of course, little milking to be done, but as soon as the calf had been taken away the milkmaids would have to set to work as usual.

Returning from one of these dark walks they reached a great gravel-cliff immediately over the levels, where they stood still and listened. The water was now high in the streams, squirting through the weirs, and tinkling under culverts; the smallest gullies were all full; there was no taking short cuts anywhere, and foot-passengers were compelled to follow the permanent ways. From the whole extent of the invisible vale came a multitudinous intonation; it forced upon their fancy that a great city lay below them, and that the murmur was the vociferation of its populace.

`It seems like tens of thousands of them,' said Tess; `holding public-meetings in their market-places, arguing, preaching, quarrelling, sobbing, groaning, praying, and cursing.'

Clare was not particularly heeding.

`Did Crick speak to you to-day, dear, about his not wanting much assistance during the winter months?'

`No.'

`The cows are going dry rapidly.'

`Yes. Six or seven went to the straw-barton yesterday, and three the day before, making nearly twenty in the straw already. Ah - is it that the farmer don't want my help for the calving? O, I am not wanted here any more! And I have tried so hard to--'

`Crick didn't exactly say that he would no longer require you. But, knowing what our relations were, he said in the most good-natured and respectful manner possible that he supposed on my leaving at Christmas I should take you with me, and on my asking what he would do without you he merely observed that, as a matter of fact, it was a time of year when he could do with a very little female help. I am afraid I was sinner enough to feel rather glad that he was in this way forcing your hand.'

`I don't think you ought to have felt glad, Angel. Because 'tis always mournful not to be wanted, even if at the same time 'tis convenient.'

`Well, it is convenient - you have admitted that.' He put his finger upon her cheek. `Ah!' he said.

`What?'

`I feel the red rising up at her having been caught! But why should I trifle so! We will not trifle - life is too serious.'

`It is. Perhaps I saw that before you did.'

She was seeing it then. To decline to marry him after all - in obedience to her emotion of last night - and leave the dairy, meant to go to some strange place, not a dairy; for milkmaids were not in request now calving-time was coming on; to go to some arable farm where no divine being like Angel Clare was. She hated the thought, and she hated more the thought of going home.

`So that, seriously, dearest Tess,' he continued, `since you will probably have to leave at Christmas, it is in every way desirable and convenient that I should carry you off then as my property. Besides, if you were not the most uncalculating girl in the world you would know that we could not go on like this for ever.'

`I wish we could. That it would always be summer and autumn, and you always courting me, and always thinking as much of me as you have done through the past summer-time!'

`I always shall.'

`O, I know you will!' she cried, with a sudden fervour of faith in him. `Angel, I will fix the day when I will become yours for always!'

Thus at last it was arranged between them, during that dark walk home, amid the myriads of liquid voices on the right and left.

When they reached the dairy Mr and Mrs Crick were promptly told - with injunctions to secrecy; for each of the lovers was desirous that the marriage should be kept as private as possible. The dairyman, though he had thought of dismissing her soon, now made a great concern about losing her. What should he do about his skimming? Who would make the ornamental butterpats for the Anglebury and Sandbourne ladies? Mrs Crick congratulated Tess on the shilly-shallying having at last come to an end, and said that directly she set eyes on Tess she divined that she was to be the chosen one of somebody who was no common outdoor man; Tess had looked so superior as she walked across the barton on that afternoon of her arrival; that she was of a good family she could have sworn. In point of fact Mrs Crick did remember thinking that Tess was graceful and good-looking as she approached; but the superiority might have been a growth of the imagination aided by subsequent knowledge.

Tess was now carried along upon the wings of the hours, without the sense of a will. The word had been given; the number of the day written down. Her naturally bright intelligence had begun to admit the fatalistic convictions common to field-folk and those who associate more extensively with natural phenomena than with their fellow-creatures; and she accordingly drifted into that passive responsiveness to all things her lover suggested, characteristic of the frame of mind.

But she wrote anew to her mother, ostensibly to notify the wedding-day; really to again implore her advice. It was a gentleman who had chosen her, which perhaps her mother had not sufficiently considered. A post-nuptial explanation, which might be accepted with a light heart by a rougher man, might not be received with the same feeling by him. But this communication brought no reply from Mrs Durbeyfield.

Despite Angel Clare's plausible representations to himself and to Tess of the practical need for their immediate marriage, there was in truth an element of precipitancy in the step, as became apparent at a later date. He loved her dearly, though perhaps rather ideally and fancifully than with the impassioned thoroughness of her feeling for him. He had entertained no notion, when doomed as he had thought to an unintellectual bucolic life, that such charms as he beheld in this idyllic creature would be found behind the scenes. Unsophistication was a thing to talk of; but he had not known how it really struck one until he came here. Yet he was very far from seeing his future track clearly, and it might be a year or two before he would be able to consider himself fairly started in life. The secret lay in the tinge of recklessness imparted to his career and character by the sense that he had been made to miss his true destiny through the prejudices of his family.

`Don't you think 'twould have been better for us to wait till you were quite settled in your midland farm?' she once asked timidly. (A midland farm was the idea just then.)

`To tell the truth, my Tess, I don't like you to be left anywhere away from my protection and sympathy.'

The reason was a good one, so far as it went. His influence over her had been so marked that she had caught his manner and habits, his speech and phrases, his likings and his aversions. And to leave her in farmland would be to let her slip back again out of accord with him. He wished to have her under his charge for another reason. His parents had naturally desired to see her once at least before he carried her off to a distant settlement, English or colonial; and as no opinion of theirs was to be allowed to change his intention, he judged that a couple of months' life with him in lodgings whilst seeking for an advantageous opening would be of some social assistance to her at what she might feel to be a trying ordeal - her presentation to his mother at the Vicarage.

Next, he wished to see a little of the working of a flour-mill, having an idea that he might combine the use of one with corn-growing. The proprietor of a large old water-mill at Wellbridge - once the mill of an Abbey - had offered him the inspection of his time-honoured mode of procedure, and a hand in the operations for a few days, whenever he should choose to come. Clare paid a visit to the place, some few miles distant, one day at this time, to inquire particulars, and returned to Talbothays in the evening. She found him determined to spend a short time at the Wellbridge flour-mills. And what had determined him? Less the opportunity of an insight into grinding and bolting than the casual fact that lodgings were to be obtained in that very farmhouse which, before its mutilation, had been the mansion of a branch of the d'Urberville family. This was always how Clare settled practical questions; by a sentiment which had nothing to do with them. They decided to go immediately after the wedding, and remain for a fortnight, instead of journeying to towns and inns.

`Then we will start off to examine some farms on the other side of London that I have heard of,' he said, `and by March or April we will pay a visit to my father and mother.'

Questions of procedure such as these arose and passed, and the day, the incredible day, on which she was to become his, loomed large in the near future. The thirty-first of December, New Year's Eve, was the date. His wife, she said to herself. Could it ever be? Their two selves together, nothing to divide them, every incident shared by them; why not? And yet why?

One Sunday morning Izz Huett returned from church, and spoke privately to Tess.

`You was not called home this morning.'

`What?'

`It should ha' been the first time of asking to-day,' she answered, looking quietly at Tess. `You meant to be married New Year's Eve, deary?'

The other returned a quick affirmative.

`And there must be three times of asking. And now there be only two Sundays left between.'

Tess felt her cheek paling; Izz was right; of course there must be three. Perhaps he had forgotten! If so, there must be a week's postponement, and that was unlucky. How could she remind her lover? She who had been so backward was suddenly fired with impatience and alarm lest she should lose her dear prize.

A natural incident relieved her anxiety. Izz mentioned the omission of the banns to Mrs Crick, and Mrs Crick assumed a matron's privilege of speaking to Angel on the point.

`Have ye forgot 'em, Mr Clare? The banns, I mean.'

`No, I have not forgot 'em,' says Clare.

As soon as he caught Tess alone he assured her:

`Don't let them tease you about the banns. A licence will be quieter for us, and I have decided on a licence without consulting you. So if you go to church on Sunday morning you will not hear your own name, if you wished to.'

`I didn't wish to hear it, dearest,' she said proudly.

But to know that things were in train was an immense relief to Tess notwithstanding, who had well-nigh feared that somebody would stand up and forbid the banns on the ground of her history. How events were favouring her!

`I don't quite feel easy,' she said to herself. `All this good fortune may be scourged out of me afterwards by a lot of ill. That's how Heaven mostly does. I wish I could have had common banns!'

But everything went smoothly. She wondered whether he would like her to be married in her present best white frock, or if she ought to buy a new one. The question was set at rest by his forethought, disclosed by the arrival of some large packages addressed to her. Inside them she found a whole stock of clothing, from bonnet to shoes, including a perfect morning costume, such as would well suit the simple wedding they planned. He entered the house shortly after the arrival of the packages, and heard her upstairs undoing them.

A minute later she came down with a flush on her face and tears in her eyes.

`How thoughtful you've been!' she murmured, her cheek upon his shoulder. `Even to the gloves and handkerchief! My own love - how good, how kind!'

`No, no, Tess; just an order to a tradeswoman in London - nothing more.'

And to divert her from thinking too highly of him he told her to go upstairs, and take her time, and see if it all fitted; and, if not, to get the village sempstress to make a few alterations.

She did return upstairs, and put on the gown. Alone, she stood for a moment before the glass looking at the effect of her silk attire; and then there came into her head her mother's ballad of the mystic robe--

That never would become that wife That had once done amiss,
which Mrs Durbeyfield had used to sing to her as a child, so blithely and so archly, her foot on the cradle, which she rocked to the tune. Suppose this robe should betray her by changing colour, as her robe had betrayed Queen Guénever. Since she had been at the dairy she had not once thought of the lines till now.