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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28节 第四十章 【
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第二天吃早饭的时候,大家谈的话题都是巴西,既然克莱尔提出来要到巴西的土地上去试试,于是大家就尽力用充满希望的眼光去看待这件事,尽管听说有些农业工人去了那儿还不到十二个月就回来了,带回来令人失望的消息。早饭过后,克莱尔就到一个小镇上去,处理与他有关的一些琐事,从本地银行里把他所有的钱都取了出来。回家的路上他在教堂旁边遇见了梅茜·羌特小姐,她似乎就是从教堂的墙壁中生长出来的一样。她为她的学生抱了一大堆《圣经》出来,她的人生观是这样的,别人感到头疼的事情,她也能在脸上带着有福的微笑——这当然是一种令人羡慕的成就,不过在克莱尔看来,这是极不自然地牺牲人生而相信神秘主义的结果。
她听说了他要离开英格兰,就对他说,这看来似乎是一个非常好的和大有希望的计划。
“不错;从商业的意义上看,这是一个很不错的计划,这是没有疑问的,”他回答说。“但是,我亲爱的梅茜,这却要打断我生活的连续性了。也许还不如进修道院好呢!”
“修道院!啊,安琪尔·克莱尔!”
“什么呀?”
“唉,你是一个邪恶的人了,进修道院就是当修士,当修士。就是信罗马天主教呀。”
“信了岁马天主教就是犯罪,犯罪就意味着下地狱。安琪尔·克莱尔,你现在可处在危险的状态中呀。”
“我还是觉得信新教光彩!”她严肃地说。
这时候克莱尔苦闷到了极点,产生出来一种着魔似的情绪,在这种情绪里,一个人就不再顾及他的真实原则了。他把梅茜小姐叫到跟前,在她的耳边恶魔似地低声说了一通他所能想到的离经叛道的话。他看见她的脸吓得苍白,露出了恐怖,就哈哈大笑起来,但看到为了他的幸福她脸上的痛苦又带上了焦急的神情的时候,他就不再笑了。
“亲爱的梅茜,”他说,“你一定要原谅我。我想我是发疯了!”
她也以为他发疯了;谈话就这样结束了,克莱尔又回到牧师住宅。他已经把珠宝存到了银行,等到以后幸福的日子来到时再取出来。他又付给银行三十镑钱——让银行过几个月寄给苔丝,也许她需要钱用;他还给住在黑荒原谷父母家里的苔丝写了一封信,把自己的事情告诉她。这笔钱加上他以前已经给她的一笔钱——大约五十镑——他相信这笔钱在目前足够她用的了,他特别告诉过她,如有急需她可以去找他的父亲,请求他父亲的帮助。
他觉得最好不要让他的父母和她通信,因此就没有把她的地址告诉他们;由于不知道他们两个人究竟发生了什么事才分开的,所以他的父母也没有问她的地址。就在那一天,他离开了牧师住宅,因为必须实现的事情,他就希望快点儿去实现。
在他离开英格兰之前,他必须做的最后一件事就是去拜访井桥的农舍,在那座农舍里,他们举行婚礼后最初的三天是在那儿度过的,他要去那儿把不多的房租付给房主,还有他们住过的房门的钥匙也得还回去,另外,他还有离开时留在那儿的两三件小物品要取回来。正是在这座农舍里,最暗的阴影出现在他的生活里,阴影的忧郁笼罩着他。他打开起居室的房门向里面看去,首先出现在心里的记忆就是在一个相同的下午他们婚后来到这儿的幸福光景,就是他们同屋而居的新鲜感觉,就是他们一起吃饭和握着手在炉边细语的情形。
他去拜访的时候,房主和他的妻子正在地里,克莱尔独自一人在房间里呆了一会儿。一时间百感丛生,心乱如麻,这是他完全没有预想到的,就上楼进了她那间他从来没有用过的房问。床铺整整齐齐的,这是那天早上他们离开时她用自己的双手整理的;槲寄生还是照样挂在帐子的顶上,那是他挂上去的。槲寄生在那儿挂了三四个星期了,现在已经变了颜色,叶子和浆果都枯萎了。安琪尔把它取下来,塞到了壁炉里。他站在那儿,第一次怀疑起自己在这个时候到这儿来是不是明智,更不用说怀疑他是否宽厚了。但是,他不是也被残酷地欺骗了吗?他怀着各种混杂的感情,含着眼泪在床边跪下来。“啊,苔丝!要是你早一点告诉我,我也许就宽恕你了啊!”他痛苦地说。
他听见楼下传来了脚步声,就站起身来,走到了楼梯口。在楼下的亮光里,他看见有一个女人站在那儿,在她转过脸去的时候,他认出那是白脸黑眼的伊茨·休特。
“安琪尔先生,”她说,“我来这儿看你和安琪尔太太,来向你们问好。我想你们很快就要回这儿的。”
这个姑娘到这儿来的秘密他已经猜着了,不过她没有猜着他的秘密;爱着他的一个痴情的姑娘——这个姑娘也可以做一个和苔丝一样好,或者差不多一样好的讲究实际的农家妻子。
“我一个人在这儿,”他说;“你从哪条路回家去,伊茨?”
“我的家现在不在泰波塞斯奶牛场了,先生。”她说。
“为什么不在那儿了呢?”
伊茨低头看着地上。
“我在那儿感到太忧郁了!我现在住到那边去了。”他用手指着相反的方向,那个方向正好是他要走的路。
“哦——你现在回那儿去吗?如果你愿意搭便车,我可以载你走。”
她那橄榄色的脸上添了一层红晕。
“谢谢你,克莱尔先生!”她说。
他很快就找到了房主,和他算清了房租和其它几项因为突然离开而应该考虑在内的账目。他们走到克莱尔的马车跟前,伊茨就跳上车坐在他的身边。
“我要离开英格兰了,伊茨,”他说,一边赶着车往前走。“我要到巴西去了。”
“克莱尔太太喜欢到那个地方去吗?”她问。
“现在她还不去——就是说一年左右时间吧。我自己先到那儿去看看——看看那儿的生活怎么样。”
他们打着马向东边跑了老远一段路,伊茨什么话也没有说。
“其他几个人怎么样啊?”他问。“莱蒂怎么样?”
“我上次看见她的时候,她还有点儿疯疯癫癫的;人也瘦弱不堪了,腮帮子也塌下去了,好像是病倒了。再也不会有人爱她了。”伊茨心不在焉地说。
“玛丽安呢?”
伊茨放低了她的声音说。
“玛丽安开始酗酒了。”
“真的吗?”
“真的。奶牛场老板已经不要她了。”
“你呢?”
“我不喝酒,也没有生病。可是——现在早饭前我是没有再唱歌了!”
“为什么呢?在早上挤牛奶的时候,你总是唱《在爱神的花园里》和《裁缝的裤子》,唱得多好听呀,你还记得吗?”
“啊,记得!那是你刚来的那几天我唱的歌。你到这儿来了,我就一句也不唱了。”
“为什么不唱了呢?”
她有一会儿看着他的脸,眼睛里放出亮光来,算是作了回答。
“伊茨!——你多么软弱啊——就像我一样!”他说,说完就陷入了深思。“那么我问你——假如我当初向你求婚,你答应我吗?”
“如果你向我求婚,我会答应你的,你自然要娶一个爱你的女人呀!”
“真的吗?”
“一点儿也不假!”她满怀激情地悄悄说。“啊,我的天呐!你以前从来就没有想到过啊!”
走着走着,他们走到了通向一个村子的岔路口。
“我必须下车了。我就住在那边,”伊茨突然说,自从她承认她爱他以来,再也没有开口说话。
克莱尔放慢了马。他一时对自己的命运生起气来,对社会礼法也痛恨不已;因为它们已经把他挤到了一个角落里,再也找不到出路了。为什么将来不去过一种自由放荡的家庭生活向社会报复呢?为什么偏要去作茧自缚,去亲吻那根教训人的大棒呢?
“我是一个人去巴西的,伊获,”他说。“因为个人的原因,并不是她不愿意漂洋过海,我同我的妻子已经分居了。我再也不会和她生活在一起了。我也不能够再爱她了;可是——你愿意取代她和我一起生活吗?”
“你真的希望我和你一起去?”
“真的希望。我已经受够了,真希望解脱出来。你至少是毫无私心地爱我。”
“不错——我愿意和你一起去,”伊茨停了一会儿后说。
“你愿意吗?你知道那意味着什么吗,伊茨?”
“那就是说你在巴西期间我要和你住在一起——那我也觉得挺好啊。”
“记住,你现在在道德上不要相信我了。可是我应该提醒你,在文明的眼睛看来——我是说西方的文明,你这样就做错了。”
“我不在乎那个;一个女人,走到了痛昔的顶点,又无路可走,才不会在乎那个呢!”
“那么你就不要下车了,坐在你坐的那儿好了。”
他赶着车走过了十字路口,一英里,两英里,一点儿也没有爱的表示。
“你非常非常爱我吗,伊茨?”他突然问。
“我非常爱你——我已经说过我非常爱你!当我们一块儿在奶牛场里的时候,我就一直爱着你呀!”
“比苔丝更爱我吗?”
她摇了摇头。
“不,”她嘟哝着说,“我的爱比不过苔丝。”
“为什么?”
“因为不可能有人比苔丝更爱你的!……她是可以为你去死的呀。但是我做不到。”
伊茨·休特就像毗珥山上的先知,在这种时候本来想说一些违心的话,但是好像苔丝单纯淳朴的天性使她的人格生出了魔力,使她不得不赞扬苔丝。
克莱尔沉默了;他从这个意外的无可怀疑的来源听了这番坦白直率的话,他的心立刻被感动了。他的耳边重复着一句话:“她是可以为你去死的呀。但是我做不到。”
“把我们瞎说的话忘了吧,伊茨,”他说,突然勒转了马头。“我真不知道我说了些什么!我现在就送你回去,送你到那条路去。”
“我对你一片真心你就这样对我呀!啊——这我怎么受得了呢—一我怎么—一怎么——”
伊茨·休特嚎啕大哭起来,明白了她刚才的事,用手直打自己的脑袋。
“你为那个不在这儿的人做了一件正当的事,是不是后悔了?啊,伊茨,别后悔,一后悔就不好了啊!”
她慢慢地镇静下来。
“好吧,先生。哦——也许当我同意和你一起走的时候,我也不知道自己说了些什么啊!我希望和你一起走——那是一件不可能的事!”
“因为我已经有一个爱我的妻子了。”
“是的,是的!你已经有一个爱你的妻子了。”
他们走到了半个小时前他们经过的那条篱路的岔路口,伊茨跳下车。
“伊茨——请原谅我一时的轻浮吧!”他喊道。“我说的话太欠考虑了,太随便了!”
“把它忘掉吗?永远永远也忘不掉!啊,对我那不是轻浮!”
他感到他完全应该受到那个受到他伤害的人的谴责了,他内心里感到一种难以形容的悲伤,跳下车来,握住她的手。
“啊,可是,伊获,无论如何,我们还是像朋友一样分手好吗?你不知道我忍受了多大的痛苦啊!”
她真是一个宽宏大量的姑娘,后来再也没有露出更多的怨恨来。
“我原谅你了,先生!”她说。
“现在,伊茨,”他勉强自己做一个他远没有感觉到的导师的角色,对站在他身边的伊茨说:“我想请你在见到玛丽安的时候告诉她,她是一个好女孩子,不要自暴自弃。答应我吧,告诉莱蒂,世界上比我好的人多的是,请你告诉她,为了我的缘故,请她好自为之——请你记住我的话——好自为之——为了我的缘故。请你把我这个话带给她们,就算是一个要死的人对别的要死的人说的话;因为我再也见不着她们了。还有你,伊茨,你对我说了对我妻子真实的话,因而把我从一阵冲动中产生出来的令人难以置信的愚蠢中拯救出来。女人也许有坏的,但是她们不会比世界上的坏男人更坏啊!正是因为这个缘故,我才永远不会忘记你。你以前就是一个诚实的好姑娘,就要永远做一个诚实的好姑娘;你要把我看成一个一无所值的情人,同时也要看成一个忠实的朋友。答应我吧。”
她答应他。
“上帝保佑你,赐福于你。先生,再见吧!”
他赶车走了;不久伊茨也走上了那条篱路,克莱尔走得看不见了,她就痛苦不堪地倒在路边的土坡上了。等到深夜,她才满脸不自然地走进她母亲的那间小屋。在安琪尔·克莱尔离开她以后和她回家之前这段时间里,没有人知道这段黑暗的时间伊茨是怎样度过的。
克莱尔在同伊茨告别以后,也是伤心痛苦,嘴唇发抖。不过他的伤心不是为了伊茨。那天的晚上,他几乎都要放弃到附近的车站去,而要勒转马头,转身穿过南威塞克斯那道把他和苔丝的家分开的高高的山脊。但是阻止他没有去的不是他看不起苔丝的天性,也不是他的可能发生变化的心境。
都不是;他是这样想的,固然不错,像伊茨说的那样,她很爱他,但是事实并没有改变。当初如果他是对的,那么现在他依然是对的。他已经走上了这条路,惯性的力量还要推着他继续往前走,除非有一股比今天下午使他走上这条路的更强大、更持久的力量,才能把他扭转过来。他不久也许会回到她的身边。当天晚上他就上了去伦敦的火车,五天以后,他就在上船的港口同他的哥哥握手告别走了。

At breakfast Brazil was the topic, and all endeavoured to take a hopeful view of Clare's proposed experiment with that country's soil, notwithstanding the discouraging reports of some farm labourers who had emigrated thither and returned home within the twelve months. After breakfast Clare went into the little town to wind up such trifling matters as he was concerned with there, and to get from the local bank all the money he possessed. On his way back he encountered Miss Mercy Chant by the church, from whose walls she seemed to be a sort of emanation. She was carrying an armful of Bibles for her class, and such was her view of life that events which produced heartache in others wrought beatific smiles upon her - an enviable result, although, in the opinion of Angel, it was obtained by a curiously unnatural sacrifice of humanity to mysticism.

She had learnt that he was about to leave England, and observed what an excellent and promising scheme it seemed to be.

`Yes; it is a likely scheme enough in a commercial sense, no doubt,' he replied. `But, my dear Mercy, it snaps the continuity of existence. Perhaps a cloister would be preferable.'

`A cloister! O, Angel Clare!'

`Well?'

`Why, you wicked man, a cloister implies a monk, and a monk Roman Catholicism.'

`And Roman Catholicism sin, and sin damnation. Thou art in a parlous state, Angel Clare.'

`I glory in my Protestantism!' she said severely.

Then Clare, thrown by sheer misery into one of the demoniacal moods in which a man does despite to his true principles, called her close to him, and fiendishly whispered in her ear the most heterodox ideas he could think of. His momentary laughter at the horror which appeared on her fair face ceased when it merged in pain and anxiety for his welfare.

`Dear Mercy,'he said, `you must forgive me. I think I am going crazy!'

She thought that he was; and thus the interview ended, and Clare re-entered the Vicarage. With the local banker he deposited the jewels till happier days should arise. He also paid into the bank thirty pounds - to be sent to Tess in a few months, as she might require; and wrote to her at her parents' home in Blackmoor Vale to inform her of what he had done. This amount, with the sum he had already placed in her hands - about fifty pounds - he hoped would be amply sufficient for her wants just at present, particularly as in an emergency she had been directed to apply to his father.

He deemed it best not to put his parents into communication with her by informing them of her address; and, being unaware of what had really happened to estrange the two, neither his father nor his mother suggested that he should do so. During the day he left the parsonage, for what he had to complete he wished to get done quickly.

As the last duty before leaving this part of England it was necessary for him to call at the Wellbridge farmhouse, in which he had spent with Tess the first three days of their marriage, the trifle of rent having to be paid, the key given up of the rooms they had occupied, and two or three small articles fetched away that they had left behind. It was under this roof that the deepest shadow ever thrown upon his life had stretched its gloom over him. Yet when he had unlocked the door of the sitting-room and looked into it, the memory which returned first upon him was that of their happy arrival on a similar afternoon, the first fresh sense of sharing a habitation conjointly, the first meal together, the chatting by the fire with joined hands.

The farmer and his wife were in the fields at the moment of his visit, and Clare was in the rooms alone for some time. Inwardly swollen with a renewal of sentiments that he had not quite reckoned with, he went upstairs to her chamber, which had never been his. The bed was smooth as she had made it with her own hands on the morning of leaving. The mistletoe hung under the tester just as he had placed it. Having been there three or four weeks it was turning colour, and the leaves and berries were wrinkled. Angel took it down and crushed it into the grate. Standing there he for the first time doubted whether his course in this conjuncture had been a wise, much less a generous, one. But had he not been cruelly blinded? In the incoherent multitude of his emotions he knelt down at the bedside wet-eyed. `O Tess! If you had only told me sooner, I would have forgiven you! `he mourned.

Hearing a footstep below he rose and went to the top of the stairs. At the bottom of the flight he saw a woman standing, and on her turning up her face recognized the pale, dark-eyed Izz Huett.

`Mr Clare,' she said, `I've called to see you and Mrs Clare, and to inquire if ye be well. I thought you might be back here again.'

This was a girl whose secret he had guessed, but who had not yet guessed his; an honest girl who loved him - one who would have made as good, or nearly as good, a practical farmer's wife as Tess.

`I am here alone,'he said; `we are not living here now.' Explaining why he had come, he asked, `which way are you going home, Izz?'

`I have no home at Talbothays Dairy now, sir,' she said.

`Why is that?'

Izz looked down.

`It was so dismal there that I left! I am staying out this way.' She pointed in a contrary direction, the direction in which he was journeying.

`Well - are you going there now? I can take you if you wish for a lift.'

Her olive complexion grew richer in hue.

`Thank 'ee, Mr Clare,' she said.

He soon found the farmer, and settled the account for his rent and the few other items which had to be considered by reason of the sudden abandonment of the lodgings. On Clare's return to his horse and gig Izz jumped up beside him.

`I am going to leave England, Izz,' he said, as they drove on.

`Going to Brazil.'

`And do Mrs Clare like the notion of such a journey?' she asked.

`She is not going at present - say for a year or so. I am going out to reconnoitre - to see what life there is like.'

They sped along eastward for some considerable distance, Izz making no observation.

`How are the others?' he inquired. `How is Retty?'

`She was in a sort of nervous state when I zid her last; and so thin and hollow-cheeked that 'a do seem in a decline. Nobody will ever fall in love wi' her any more,' said Izz absently.

`And Marian?'

Izz lowered her voice.

`Marian drinks.'

`Indeed!'

`Yes. The dairyman has got rid of her.'

`And you!'

`I don't drink, and I ain't in a decline. But - I am no great things at singing afore breakfast now!'

`How is that? Do you remember how neatly you used to turn 'twas down in Cupid's Gardens and "The Tailor's Breeches" at morning milking?'

`Ah, yes! When you first came, sir, that was. Not when you had been there a bit.'

`Why was that falling-off?'

Her black eyes flashed up to his face for one moment by way of answer.

`Izz! - how weak of you - for such as I!' he said, and fell into reverie. `Then - suppose I had asked you to marry me?'

`If you had I should have said "Yes", and you would have married a woman who loved 'ee!'

`Really!'

`Down to the ground!' she whispered vehemently. `O my God! did you never guess it till now!'

By-and-by they reached a branch road to a village.

`I must get down. I live out there,' said Izz abruptly, never having spoken since her avowal.

Clare slowed the horse. He was incensed against his fate, bitterly disposed towards social ordinances; for they had cooped him up in a corner, out of which there was no legitimate pathway. Why not be revenged on society by shaping his future domesticities loosely, instead of kissing the pedagogic rod of convention in this ensnaring manner.

`I am going to Brazil alone, Izz,' said he. `I have separated from my wife for personal, not voyaging, reasons. I may never live with her again. I may not be able to love you; but - will you go with me instead of her?'

`You truly wish me to go?'

`I do. I have been badly used enough to wish for relief. And you at least love me disinterestedly.'

`Yes - I will go,' said Izz, after a pause.

`You will? You know what it means, Izz?'

`It means that I shall live with you for the time you are over there - that's good enough for me.'

`Remember, you are not to trust me in morals now. But I ought to remind you that it will be wrong-doing in the eyes of civilization - Western civilization, that is to say.'

`I don't mind that; no woman do when it comes to agony-point, and there's no other way!'

`Then don't get down, but sit where you are.'

He drove past the cross-roads, one mile, two miles, without showing any signs of affection.

`You love me very, very much, Izz?' he suddenly asked.

`I do - I have said I do! I loved you all the time we was at the dairy together!'

`More than Tess?'

She shook her head.

`No,' she murmured, `not more than she.'

`How's that?'

`Because nobody could love 'ee more than Tess did!... . She would have laid down her life for 'ee. I could do no more.'

Like the prophet on the top of Poor Izz Huett would fain have spoken perversely at such a moment, but the fascination exercised over her rougher nature by Tess's character compelled her to grace.

Clare was silent; his heart had risen at these straightforward words from such an unexpected unimpeachable quarter. In his throat was something as if a sob had solidified there. His ears repeated, `She would have laid down her life for 'ee. I could do no more!'

`Forget our idle talk, Izz,' he said, turning the horse's head suddenly. `I don't know what I've been saying! I will now drive you back to where your lane branches off.'

`So much for honesty towards 'ee! O - how can I bear it - how can I - how can I!'

Izz Huett burst into wild tears, and beat her forehead as she saw what she had done.

`Do you regret that poor little act of justice to an absent one? O, Izz, don't spoil it by regret!'

She stilled herself by degrees.

`Very well, sir. Perhaps I didn't know what I was saying, either, wh - when I agreed to go! I wish - what cannot be!'

`Because I have a loving wife already.'

`Yes, yes! You have.'

They reached the corner of the lane which they had passed half an hour earlier, and she hopped down.

`Izz - please, please forget my momentary levity!' he cried. `It was so ill-considered, so ill-advised!'

`Forget it? Never, never! O, it was no levity to me!'

He felt how richly he deserved the reproach that the wounded cry conveyed, and, in a sorrow that was inexpressible, leapt down and took her hand.

`Well, but, Izz, we'll part friends, anyhow? You don't know what I've had to bear!'

She was a really generous girl, and allowed no further bitterness to mar their adieux.

`I forgive 'ee, sir!' she said.

`Now Izz,' he said, while she stood beside him there, forcing himself to the mentor's part he was far from feeling; `I want you to tell Marian when you see her that she is to be a good woman, and not to give way to folly. Promise that, and tell Retty that there are more worthy men than I in the world, that for my sake she is to act wisely and well - remember the words - wisely and well - for my sake. I send this message to them as a dying man to the dying; for I shall never see them again. And you, Izzy, you have saved me by your honest words about my wife from an incredible impulse towards folly and treachery. Women may be bad, but they are not so bad as men in these things! On that one account I can never forget you. Be always the good and sincere girl you have hitherto been; and think of me as a worthless lover, but a faithful friend. Promise.'

She gave the promise.

`Heaven bless and keep you, sir. Good-bye!'

He drove on; but no sooner had Izz turned into the lane, and Clare was out of sight, than she flung herself down on the bank in a fit of racking anguish; and it was with a strained unnatural face that she entered her mother's cottage late that night. Nobody ever was told how Izz spent the dark hours that intervened between Angel Clare's parting from her and her arrival home.

Clare, too, after bidding the girl farewell, was wrought to aching thoughts and quivering lips. But his sorrow was not for Izz. That evening he was within a feather-weight's turn of abandoning his road to the nearest station, and driving across that elevated dorsal line of South Wessex which divided him from his Tess's home. It was neither a contempt for her nature, nor the probable state of her heart, which deterred him.

No; it was a sense that, despite her love, as corroborated by Izz's admission, the facts had not changed. If he was right at first, he was right now. And the momentum of the course on which he had embarked tended to keep him going in it, unless diverted by a stronger, more sustained force than had played upon him this afternoon. He could soon come back to her. He took the train that night for London, and five days after shook hands in farewell of his brothers at the port of embarkation.