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第27节 第三十九章 【
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克莱尔结婚三个礼拜以后,从一座小山的路上往下走,那条山路通向那幢他熟悉的他父亲的牧师住宅。在下山的路上,教堂的楼塔显露在傍晚的暮色中,好像在问他为什么这时候回来了;在暮色苍茫的市镇里,似乎没有一个人注意到他,更不会有人盼望他了。他像孤魂野鬼一样来到市镇上,甚至连自己的脚步声都成了他想摆脱的累赘。
在他看来,生活的图景已经变了。在此之前,他知道的生活只是一种思辨的推理;现在他认为自己像一个实际的人认识了生活;其实就是到了现在,也许他还不是真正认识了生活。总而言之,人生在他的面前不再是意大利绘画中描写的那种深思的甜蜜,而是韦尔茨博物馆①里的绘画描写的那种瞪眼睛的骇人神态了,带有万·比尔斯②绘画中的险诈。
 
①韦尔茨博物馆(Wiertz Muesum),该博物馆的前身是比利时画家韦尔茨(Antoine Joseph Wietz,1806-1865)的住房,韦尔茨的作品大多描写心智不健全的主题。
②万·比尔斯(Van Beers,1852-1927),比利时画家,以描写历史和风俗为主要特征。

在这两三个礼拜里,他的行动杂乱无章,简直无法形容。他曾经勉强地尝试去进行他的农业计划,打算采取古往今来的仁人智士推荐的态度,只当什么事情也没有发生一样,但是他后来得出结论,在那些仁人智士当中,人慨极少有人曾经试验过他们的办法是否管用。有一位异教徒道德家①说过:“关键在于遇事不慌。”这也正是克莱尔的观点。但是他却慌张了。拿撒勒人②说:“你们心里不要忧愁,也不要胆怯。”克莱尔由衷地同意这句话,但是他心里还是照样地忧愁。他多想当面见见那两位伟大的思想家啊,和朋友对朋友一样地向他们恳求,请他们把他们的方法告诉他。
 
①指罗马皇帝马尔卡斯·奥里略·安东尼乌斯,他是个斯多噶哲学家,曾着《深思录》十二卷。
②拿撒勒人(Nazarene),指基督。这句话见《圣经·约翰福音》第十四章二十七节。

他的心境转化成了一种顽固的冷漠情绪,到了后来,在他的想象里,他都成了一个旁观者,用漠不关心的态度来看待他自己的存在了。
他相信,所有这些烦恼都是由一个偶然因素引起的,就是她是德贝维尔家族的后人,因此他更加难过了。在他发现苔丝是出自那个衰败的古老世家的时候,在他发现她不是出自他所梦想的新兴门户的时候,他为什么没有坚守住自己的原则,忍痛将她放弃了呢?现在正是他违背了他的原则的结果,是他应受的惩罚。
于是他变得心灰意懒,焦灼不安了,他的焦灼不安变得越来越严重了。他也在心里想过,他这样对她是不是有些不公正。他吃饭的时候不知道他吃的是什么,喝东西也不知道喝的味道。时光一天天地过去,他回想起已经过去了的那一长串日子中每一个行为的动机,这时候他才看清了他要把苔丝作为自己宝贵财富的想法是同他的所有计划、语言和行为融合在一起的。
他在各地来往的时候,在一个小市镇的外面看见了一则红蓝两色的广告,上面细述了想到国外种庄稼的人去巴西帝国的种种好处。那儿的土地是以意想不到的优越条件提供的。到巴西去,这就成了吸引他的新想法。将来苔丝也可以到巴西去和他生活在一起,也许在那个国家里,风气、习惯、人情、礼俗,和这儿的截然相反,传统习俗在这儿使他不能和苔丝一起生活,到了那儿,他和苔丝一起生活就不会有太大的问题。简而言之,他非常想到巴西去试试,尤其眼下正是去巴西的季节。
他就是带着这种想法回爱敏寺的,他要把自己的计划告诉他的父母,还要尽量解释为什么他不能同苔丝一起去,同时对他们实际上分离了的事也一字不提。他走到门口的时候,一轮新月照在他的脸上,在他新婚那天午夜过后的晚上,他抱着新娘子过河来到寺庙的墓地,月亮也是这样照着他的脸;不过他的脸现在消瘦了。
克莱尔这次回家事先并没有通知他的父母,所以他的回家在牧师住宅里引起的震动,就像翠鸟钻进平静的池塘引起的震动一样。他的父亲和母亲都在客厅里,不过他的哥哥一个也不在家。克莱尔走进客厅,轻轻地把身后的门关上。
“可是——你的妻子在哪儿呢,亲爱的安琪尔?”他的母亲大声问。“你真是让我们感到惊喜呀!”
“她在她母亲家里——暂时在她母亲家里。我这次急急忙忙地回家,是因为我决定到巴西去。”
“去巴西!巴西可都是信的罗马天主教呀!”
“他们都信罗马天主教?我可没有想到那些。”
不过即使儿子要去一个信奉教皇的地方,他们感到新奇,感到难过,但是他们很快就忘了,因为他们真正关心的还是儿子的婚事。
“三个星期前我们收到你写来的一封短信,信中说你已经结婚了,”克莱尔太太说,“你的父亲派人把你教母的礼物给你送去了,这你是知道的。当然,我们觉得最好还是不要去参加你的婚礼,尤其是你宁肯在奶牛场里和她结婚,而不是在她的家里,无论你们在哪儿结婚,我们都没有去。那样会使你感到为难,我们也不会感到痛快。你的两个哥哥尤其觉得这样。现在既然结了婚,我们也不埋怨了,特别是你选择了种庄稼,而不是做牧师,如果她适合你所选择的事业,我们也不能反对了……不过我们希望先见见她,安琪尔,我们想对她的情况知道得多一些。我们还没有给她送去我们自己的礼物,也不知道送她什么她才高兴,你不要以为我们不送她礼物了,不过推迟一些日子罢了。安琪尔,你要明白,我和你的父亲在心里并没有因为这场婚事生你的气;但是我们想,最好在见到她之前,我们还是把对她的爱保留着。你这次怎么没有把她带来。这不是有点儿奇怪吗?发生什么事了?”
他回答说,他们觉得在他回家的时候,她最好还是先回娘家去。
“我不妨告诉你,亲爱的妈妈,”他说,“我一直在想,她先不要回这个家,直到我觉得你可以接纳她了,我才带她回来。不过我到巴西去的想法,是最近才有的。如果我真的去巴西,第一次出远门就把她带上,我想这是不可取的。她要留在她娘家,直到我回来。”
“那么在你动身以前,我是见不着她了?”
他说他们恐怕见不着了。他已经说过,他以前的计划也没有想到把她带到自己家里来,怕的是他们有偏见,伤害了他们的感情。另外,现在有了新的原因,他就更不能带她到这儿来了。要是他立刻就走的话,在一年内他就会回家来看望他们;在他动身第二次出去时,也就是带着她一块儿出去时,他就能带她回家见他们了。
晚饭急急忙忙地准备好了,送进了房内。克莱尔进一步讲述了自己的计划。他的母亲因为没有见到新娘,直到现在她心里还感到失望。近来克莱尔对苔丝的热情影响了她,在她心里对这桩婚事产生了种种同情,在她的想象里,差不多都要认为拿撒勒也能出好人了——泰波塞斯奶牛场也能出一个美貌的姑娘。在儿子吃饭的时候,她就用眼睛看着他。
“你不能把她的样子描绘一下吗?我敢肯定她一定是很漂亮的,安琪尔。”
“她长得漂亮那是没有问题的!”他说的时候,热情的态度掩盖了他的悲伤情绪。
“还有,她的品行贞清也是没有问题吧?”
“当然,她的品行和贞洁也是没有问题的。”
“我现在能够清楚地想象出她来了。有一天你说她的身材很苗条;长得也很丰满;像丘比特的弓一样弯弯的嘴唇红红的;眼睫毛和眉毛是黑色的,一头乌发就像一堆锚绳一样;一双大眼睛既有点儿紫,又有点儿蓝,还带点儿黑。”
“我是那样说过的,妈妈。”
“我能够更加清楚地想象出她的样子了。她生活在这样一个偏僻的地方,自然在遇见你以前,她是很少遇见从外面的世界来的别的青年人了。”
“很少见到。”
“你是她的第一个情人吗?”
“当然。”
“有许多妻子可比不上农村这种单纯、健壮的漂亮姑娘呢。自然我也想过——唉,既然我的儿子一定要做一个农业家,那么他娶一个适应户外生活的妻子也许更合适些。”
他的父亲倒是很少过问这件事;不过在晚上祈祷以前,他们常常要从《圣经》里选择一章来读,于是当父亲的牧师对克莱尔说——
“我想既然安琪尔回来了,我们就不读我们应该经常读的那一章了,读《箴言》第三十一章是不是更合适些呢?”
“不错,当然不错,”克莱尔夫人说。“读利慕伊勒的话吧”(她也和她的丈夫一样,能够背诵那一章那一节)。“我亲爱的儿子,你的父亲决定读《箴言》里赞扬有德行妻子的那一章。我们不必提醒,这些话是可以用在那位不在这儿的人身上的。愿上帝保佑她的一切!”
听了这话,克莱尔觉得好像有一块东西堵在喉咙里。两个年老的仆人走进来,把轻便的读经台从墙角搬出来,摆在壁炉的正中间,克莱尔的父亲就读前面提到的那一章的第十节……
“才德的妇人谁能得着呢?她的价值远胜过珍珠。她丈夫心里倚靠她,必不缺少利益。未到黎明她就起来,把食物分给家中的人。她以能力束腰,使膀臂有力。她觉得所经营的有利,她的灯终夜不灭。……她观察家务,并不吃闲饭。她的儿女起来称她有福。她的丈夫也称赞她,说:‘才德的女子很多,惟独你超过一切!’”
在晚祷结束的时候,他的母亲说——
“我不禁想到,你父亲刚才读的那一段,在某些具体的地方,运用到你选择的那个女人身上真是太合适了。你应该懂得,一个完美的女人,应该是一个勤劳的女人;不是一个懒惰的女人;也不是一个娇气的小姐;而是一个用自己的双手、用自己的头脑、用自己的心血为别人谋福利的人。‘她的儿女起来称她有福。她的丈夫也称赞她,说:才德的女子很多,惟独你超过一切。’唉,我真希望我能够见到她,安琪尔。既然她纯洁贤淑,我也就不会嫌她教养不足了。”
听了这些话,克莱尔再也忍受不了啦。他的眼睛里充满了泪水,就像一滴滴熔化了的铅液。于是他急急忙忙地向这一对老人道了声晚安,回自己房间里去了。这一对老人真诚质朴,得到他的挚爱;在这两位老人的心里,既无世故,又无人欲,也无魔鬼;对于他们,这一切都是虚无的身外之物。
他的母亲也跟着他走了,去敲他的房门。克莱尔把房门打开,看见母亲站在那儿,满脸的焦虑神色。
“安琪尔,”她问,“你这样快就离开了,出了什么事是吗?我敢肯定你不大自然。”
“没有,完全没有,妈妈!”他说。
“是因为她吗?唉,我的儿子,我知道一定是的——我知道一定是为了她!这三个礼拜里你们吵架了吗?”
“我们确实没有吵架,”他说。“但是我们有点儿不同的——”
“安琪尔——她是不是在做姑娘的时候有什么事需要追究?”
凭着母亲的直觉,她一下子就找到了令她的儿子激动不安的根源。
“她是清白无瑕的啊!”他回答说。同时他也感到,即使他要下万劫不覆的地狱,他也得说这句谎话。
“既是这样,其它的也就无关紧要了。说到究竟,世上能比一个贞洁的农村姑娘更纯洁的人是很少的。她的粗俗的行为举止,起初你也许感到缺少了教养,但是我敢肯定,在和你朝夕相处的影响下,再加上你的教导,她都会改变的。”
家里这种盲目的宽大,叫克莱尔听了,感到真是可怕的讽刺,这又使他认识到,这次婚姻是完全把他的事业毁了,而在当初她自白的时候,他已经想到了。不错,就他对自己说,他并不在乎自己的事业怎样;但是为了他的父母和他的哥哥,他希望至少要有一个体面的事业。此时他看着面前的蜡烛,蜡焰似乎在向他默默地表示,烛光本来是要照耀那些明智的人的,它讨厌照在上当受骗的傻瓜身上。
当他的那一阵激动冷静下来以后,他又对他那位可怜的妻子生起气来,是因为她才造成了这种情势,逼得他不得不对他的父母撒谎。他几乎是在生着气和她说话,仿佛她就在他的房间里。接着,他似乎感觉到了她的温柔亲切的细语,忧郁悲苦的怨恨,暗夜里的烦恼不安,感觉到了她那天鹅绒般的嘴唇吻遍了他的前额,他甚至能够在空气中分辨出她呼吸的温暖气息。
那天夜里,被他蔑视和贬低的那个女人,却正在那儿想,她的丈夫有多伟大,有多善良。但是在他们两个人的头上,却笼罩着一片阴影,比克莱尔认识到的还要阴暗,那就是他自己的局限性。这个具有先进思想和善良用心的青年,一直想把自己从偏见中解脱出来,是最近二十五年里产生出来的一个典型,但是当他遭到意外事故打击的时候,就又退回去接受了自幼以来所接受的教训,做了传统和习俗的奴隶。没有一个先知告诉过他,他自己也不是先知,因此也不能告诉自己,其实他的这位年轻的妻子,对于利慕伊勒王赞扬所有那些爱憎分明的女人的话,她都当之无愧,因为对于她的道德价值的判断,应该根据她的倾向,而不应该根据她做过的事。还有,在这种情形下,近在眼前的人物就要吃亏,因为阴影遮不住他们的悲哀,容易显露出来;而在那种情形里,远处的模糊人物却受到尊重,他们的缺点变成了艺术上的优点。他考虑的是苔丝缺少的一面,忽视了她身上的优点,从而忘记了有缺陷的是可以胜过完美的了。
 

It was three weeks after the marriage that Clare found himself descending the hill which led to the well-known parsonage of his father. With his downward course the tower of the church rose into the evening sky in a manner of inquiry as to why he had come; and no living person in the twilighted town seemed to notice him, still less expect him. He was arriving like a ghost, and the sound of his own footsteps was almost an encumbrance to be got rid of.

The picture of life had changed for him. Before this time he had known it but speculatively; now he thought he knew it as a practical man; though perhaps he did not, even yet. Nevertheless humanity stood before him no longer in the pensive sweetness of Italian art, but in the staring and ghastly attitudes of a Wiertz Museum, and with the leer of a study by Van Beers.

His conduct during these first weeks had been desultory beyond description. After mechanically attempting to pursue his agricultural plans as though nothing unusual had happened, in the manner recommended by the great and wise men of all ages, he concluded that very few of those great and wise men had ever gone so far outside themselves as to test the feasibility of their counsel. `This is the chief thing: be not perturbed,' said the Pagan moralist. That was just Clare's own opinion. But he was perturbed. `Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid,' sad the Nazarene. Clare chimed in cordially; but his heart was troubled all the same. How he would have liked to confront those two great thinkers, and earnestly appeal to them as fellow-man to fellow-men, and ask them to tell him their method!

His mood transmuted itself into a dogged indifference till at length he fancied he was looking on his own existence with the passive interest of an outsider.

He was embittered by the conviction that all this desolation had been brought about by the accident of her being a d'Urberville. When he found that Tess came of that exhausted ancient line, and was not of the new tribes from below, as he had fondly dreamed, why had he not stoically abandoned her, in fidelity to his principles? This was what he had got by apostasy, and his punishment was deserved.

Then he became weary and anxious, and his anxiety increased. He wondered if he had treated her unfairly. He ate without knowing that he ate, and drank without tasting. As the hours dropped past, as the motive of each act in the long series of bygone days presented itself to his view, he perceived how intimately the notion of having Tess as a dear possession was mixed up with all his schemes and words and ways.

In going hither and thither he observed in the outskirts of a small town a red-and-blue placard setting forth the great advantages of the Empire of Brazil as a field for the emigrating agriculturist. Land was offered there on exceptionally advantageous terms. Brazil somewhat attracted him as a new idea. Tess could eventually loin him there, and perhaps in that country of contrasting scenes and notions and habits the conventions would not be so operative which made life with her seem impracticable to him here. In brief he was strongly inclined to try Brazil, especially as the season for going thither was just at hand.

With this view he was returning to Emminster to disclose his plan to his parents, and to make the best explanation he could make of arriving without Tess, short of revealing what had actually separated them. As he reached the door the new moon shone upon his face, just as the old one had done in the small hours of that morning when he had carried his wife in his arms across the river to the graveyard of the monks; but his face was thinner now.

Clare had given his parents no warning of his visit, and his arrival stirred the atmosphere of the Vicarage as the dive of the kingfisher stirs a quiet pool. His father and mother were both in the drawing-room, but neither of his brothers was now at home. Angel entered, and closed the door quietly behind him.

`But - where's your wife, dear Angel?' cried his mother. `How you surprise us!'

`She is at her mother's - temporarily. I have come home rather in a hurry because I've decided to go to Brazil.'

`Brazil! Why they are all Roman Catholics there surely!'

`Are they? I hadn't thought of that.'

But even the novelty and painfulness of his going to a Papistical land could not displace for long Mr and Mrs Clare's natural interest in their son's marriage.

`We had your brief note three weeks ago announcing that it had taken place,' said Mrs Clare, `and your father sent your god-mother's gift to her, as you know. Of course it was best that none of us should be present, especially as you preferred to marry her from the dairy, and not at her home, wherever that may be. It would have embarrassed you, and given us no pleasure. Your brothers felt that very strongly. Now it is done we do not complain, particularly if she suits you for the business you have chosen to follow instead of the ministry of the Gospel... . Yet I wish I could have seen her first, Angel, or have known a little more about her. We sent her no present of our own, not knowing what would best give her pleasure, but you must suppose it only delayed. Angel, there is no irritation in my mind or your father's against you for this marriage; but we have thought it much better to reserve our liking for your wife till we could see her. And now you have not brought her. It seems strange. What has happened?'

He replied that it had been thought best by them that she should go to her parents' home for the present, whilst he came there.

`I don't mind telling you, dear mother,' he said, `that I always meant to keep her away from this house till I should feel she could come with credit to you. But this idea of Brazil is quite a recent one. If I do go it will be unadvisable for me to take her on this my first journey. She will remain at her mother's till I come back.'

`And I shall not see her before you start?'

He was afraid they would not. His original plan had been, as he had said, to refrain from bringing her there for some little while not to wound their prejudices - feelings - in any way; and for other reasons he had adhered to it. He would have to visit home in the course of a year, if he went out at once; and it would be possible for them to see her before he started a second time with her.

A hastily prepared supper was brought in, and Clare made further exposition of his plans. His mother's disappointment at not seeing the bride still remained with her. Clare's late enthusiasm for Tess had infected her through her maternal sympathies, till she had almost fancied that a good thing could come out of Nazareth - a charming woman out of Talbothays Dairy. She watched her son as he ate.

`Cannot you describe her? I am sure she is very pretty, Angel.'

`Of that there can be no question!' he said, with a zest which covered its bitterness.

`And that she is pure and virtuous goes without question?'

`Pure and virtuous, of course, she is.'

`I can see her quite distinctly. You said the other day that she was fine in figure; roundly built; had deep red lips like Cupid's bow; dark eyelashes and brows, an immense rope of hair like a ship's cable; and large eyes violety-bluey-blackish.'

`I did, mother.'

`I quite see her. And living in such seclusion she naturally had scarce ever seen any young man from the world without till she saw you.

`Scarcely.'

`You were her first love?'

`Of course.'

`There are worse wives than these simple, rosy-mouthed, robust girls of the farm. Certainly I could have wished - well, since my son is to be an agriculturist, it is perhaps but proper that his wife should have been accustomed to an outdoor life.'

His father was less inquisitive; but when the time came for the chapter from the Bible which was always read before evening prayers, the Vicar observed to Mrs Clare--

`I think, since Angel has come, that it will be more appropriate to read the thirty-first of Proverbs than the chapter which we should have had in the usual course of our reading?'

`Yes, certainly,' said Mrs Clare. `The words of King Lemuel' (she could cite chapter and verse as well as her husband).'My dear son, your father has decided to read us the chapter in Proverbs in praise of a virtuous wife. We shall not need to be reminded to apply the words to the absent one. May Heaven shield her in all her ways!'

A lump rose in Clare's throat. The portable lectern was taken out from the corner and set in the middle of the fireplace, the two old servants came in, and Angel's father began to read at the tenth verse of the aforesaid chapter--

"`Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. She riseth while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household. She girdeth her loins with strength and strengtheneth her arms. She perceiveth that her merchandise is good; her candle goeth not out by night. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children arise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all."'

When prayers were over, his mother said--

`I could not help thinking how very aptly that chapter your dear father read applied, in some of its particulars, to the woman you have chosen. The perfect woman, you see, was a working woman; not an idler; not a fine lady; but one who used her hands and her head and her heart for the good of others. "Her children arise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but she excelleth them all." Well, I wish I could have seen her, Angel. Since she is pure and chaste she would have been refined enough for me.'

Clare could bear this no longer. His eyes were full of tears, which seemed like drops of molten lead. He bade a quick goodnight to these sincere and simple souls whom he loved so well; who knew neither the world, the flesh, nor the devil in their own hearts; only as something vague and external to themselves. He went to his own chamber.

His mother followed him, and tapped at his door. Clare opened it to discover her standing without, with anxious eyes.

`Angel,' she asked, `is there something wrong that you go away so soon? I am quite sure you are not yourself.'

`I am not, quite, mother,' said he.

`About her? Now, my son, I know it is that - I know it is about her! Have you quarrelled in these three weeks?'

`We have not exactly quarrelled,' he said. `But we have had a difference------'

`Angel - is she a young woman whose history will bear investigation?'

With a mother's instinct Mrs Clare had put her finger on the kind of trouble that would cause such a disquiet as seemed to agitate her son.

`She is spotless!' he replied; and felt that if it had sent him to eternal hell there and then he would have told that lie.

`Then never mind the rest. After all, there are few purer things in nature than an unsullied country maid. Any crudeness of which may offend your more educated sense at first, will, I am sure, disappear under the influence of your companionship and tuition.'

Such terrible sarcasm of blind magnanimity brought home to Clare the secondary perception that he had utterly wrecked his career by this marriage, which had not been among his early thoughts after the disclosure. True, on his own account he cared very little about his career; but he had wished to make it at least a respectable one on account of his parents and brothers. And now as he looked into the candle its flame dumbly expressed to him that it was made to shine on sensible people, and that it abhorred lighting the face of a dupe and a failure.

When his agitation had cooled he would be at moments incensed with his poor wife for causing a situation in which he was obliged to practise deception on his parents. He almost talked to her in his anger, as if she had been in the room. And then her cooing voice, plaintive in expostulation, disturbed the darkness, the velvet touch of her lips passed over his brow, and he could distinguish in the air the warmth of her breath.

This night the woman of his belittling deprecations was thinking how great and good her husband was. But over them both there hung a deeper shade than the shade which Angel Clare perceived, namely, the shade of his own limitations. With all his attempted independence of judgment this advanced and well meaning young man, a sample product of the last five-and-twenty years, was yet the slave to custom and conventionality when surprised back into his early teachings. No prophet had told him, and he was not prophet enough to tell himself, that essentially this young wife of his was as deserving of the praise of King Lemuel as any other woman endowed with the same dislike of evil, her moral value having to be reckoned not by achievement but by tendency. Moreover, the figure near at hand suffers on such occasions, because it shows up its sorriness without shade; while vague figures afar off are honoured, in that their distance makes artistic virtues of their stains. In considering what Tess was not, he overlooked what she was, and forgot that the defective can be more than the entire.