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当前位置:主页 > 英国小说 > 德伯家的苔丝 > 第7章 团圆 The Fulfilment
第4节 第五十六章 【
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布鲁克斯太太,这个苍鹭的房主和主妇,全部豪华家具的主人,并不是一个特别好管闲事的人。这个可怜的女人,长期以来一直把自己束缚在赚钱或赔钱这些数字魔鬼的身上,以至于被物质化了,除了怎样从她的房客口袋里掏出钱来而外,对其它的事情已经没有多大兴趣了。尽管如此,安琪尔·克莱尔对她的两个阔绰的房客德贝维尔先生和夫人——她是这样认为的——的拜访,从时间上和态度上看都很不寻常,这就引发了她的女人的好奇心,本来她一直抑制着这种女人的好奇心,因为她认为这种好奇心除了对出租业务发挥作用而外,是没有用处的。
苔丝是站在门口和她的丈夫说话的,没有走到饭厅里去,布鲁克斯太太站在她自己的起居室里,起居室的门半开着,因此她能够听见两个悲伤灵魂之间谈话的一句半句——也不知道那场谈话是不是可以称作谈话。她听见苔丝从楼梯上回到了楼上,也听见克莱尔起身出了门,听见他出门时把前门关上了。接着,她听见楼上的房门关了,知道那是苔丝走进了自己的房问。因为这个年轻的夫人还没有完全把衣服穿好,因此布鲁克斯太太知道,苔丝一时半刻不会下楼。
因此她轻轻地走到楼上,站在前面那个房间的门口,前面的房间是作客厅用的,在它的后面按通常的方法安置了折门,和另外一个房间(这个房间是作卧室用的)连接在一起。布鲁克斯太太最好的套间就在楼上,现在被德贝维尔接礼拜租住。现在后屋静悄悄的,不过前屋有声音传来。
她最初能够分辨出来的只是一个音节,用一种低声呻吟的调子不断重复着,仿佛是绑在伊克西翁火轮①上的灵魂发出的声音——
 
①伊克西翁火轮(Ixionian wheel),希腊神话中说,拉庇泰人的国王伊克西翁,自称曾与天后赫拉私通,因此被罚下地狱受苦,被绑在一个火轮上永转不停。

“哦——哦——哦!”
接着停了一会儿,然后又听到一声沉重的叹息,跟着又是——
“哦——哦——哦!”
房东从钥匙孔中看进去。她只能看见室内很小一部分,但是在看见的那一小部分里,早餐桌的一角露了出来,桌子上的早餐已经摆好了,旁边摆着两把椅子。从苔丝的姿势看她正跪在椅子前面,头伏在椅子座上;她的两只手抱着头,身上穿的晨衣的下摆和睡衣的花边拖在身后的地板上,两只脚伸在地毯上,上面没有穿补袜子,拖鞋也脱掉了。那种无法说出来的绝望的嘟哝声就是从她的嘴里发出来的。
接着紧邻的卧室里有一个男人的声音传出来——
“你怎么啦?”
她没有回答,只是继续呻吟着,呻吟的腔调与其说是解释,不如说是自言自语。与其说是自言自语,不如说是衷鸣。布鲁克斯太太只能听出一部分:
“现在我那亲爱的亲爱的丈夫回来找我了……我却一点也不知道呐!……都是你残酷地欺骗了我……你欺骗我的话从来都没有停止过——没有——你没有停止过欺骗我!我的弟弟妹妹,还有我的母亲,他们需要帮助——你就靠这些来打动我……你说我的丈夫永远也不会回来的——永远不会的;你还嘲笑我,说我多么傻,老等着他!……后来我相信你了,听了你的啦!……可是刚才他回来了!现在他又走了,第二次走了,现在我是永远失去他了……从现在起,他是一丝一毫也不会再爱我了——只会恨我了!啊,是啊,我现在又失去他了,就是因为——你!”她在椅子上痛苦地扭动着,把头朝向了门口,布鲁克斯太太看见了她脸上的痛苦表情;她的嘴唇已经被牙咬出了血,看见她闭着眼睛,长长的睫毛被泪水打湿了,沾在脸上。她又继续说:“他快要死了——他看起来快要死了!……我的罪孽没有要了我的命,却要了他的命了!……啊,你把我的生命彻底毁了……我哀求过你,要你可怜我,不要毁了我,可你还是把我毁了!……我真正的丈夫永远永远也不会——啊,上帝啊——我受不了啦——我受不了啦!”
卧室里的男人说了许多难听的话;接着就是一阵衣裙的响声;苔丝跳了起来。布鲁克斯太太以为苔丝要冲出门来,就急忙回到楼下去了。
但是苔丝没有冲出门来,因为起居室的门没有打开。不过布鲁克斯太太觉得再到楼梯口去偷看不保险,就回到楼下自己的起居室去了。
虽然她在楼下注意听着,但是她什么也听不见,因此她就进厨房去把刚才没有吃完的早餐吃完。不久她又出了厨房,来到一楼前面的房间做一些针线活,一边等着房客打铃让她去收拾桌子,因为她想自己去,看看究竟发生了什么事。她坐在那儿,听见头顶的楼板有轻微的吱吱响声,仿佛有人在上面走动,不久,楼上的动静有了解释,因为她听见了一阵衣裙擦在楼梯栏杆上的声音,听见了前门打开又关上的声音,接着就看见苔丝走出了栅栏门,朝街上走去。她现在的穿戴和来的时候一样,完全是富家小姐出门时的一身穿戴,仅有的不同只是她的帽子和黑色羽毛上的面纱拉下来罩住了脸。
布鲁克斯太太也没有听见她的两个房客在门口说什么告别的话,无论是暂别还是久别的话都没有说。他们可能吵架了,或者德贝维尔先生还在睡觉,因为他不是一个早起的人。
她又走回了后面的那个房间,坐在自己的那个房间里继续做针线活。那个女房客没有回来,那个男房客也没有打铃。布鲁克斯太太想着他还没有起床的原因,想着今天一大早来这儿的那个人同楼上的那一对儿是什么关系。她想着想着,就向后靠在椅子上。
在她向后靠去的时候,她的眼睛不经意地往天花板上看去,被白色天花板中间一个她以前没有看到过的小点吸引住了。她刚看见那个小点的时候,它还只有一块饼干大小,但是它迅速扩大了,变得有她的手掌那么大了,接着她还看出它是红色的。在长方形的白色天花板中间,有一个红色的小点出现在上面,看上去就像一张巨大的红桃A。
布鲁克斯太太感到奇怪,心里怀疑起来。她站到桌子上,用她的手指头摸了摸天花板上的那个红点。那个红点是湿的,她的感觉像是血迹。
她下了桌子,走出起居室,上了楼,想进入客厅后面那间用作卧室的房间里去看看。但是,她现在已经变成了一个胆怯的女人,怎么也不敢去转动门上的把手。她又听了听,房间里只有一种有规律的滴答声,除此而外一点儿动静也没有。
滴答,滴答,滴答。
布鲁克斯太太急忙下了楼,打开前门,跑到街上。这时有一个男人路过,这个男人在邻近的别墅里干过活,所以她认识这个人。她请求那个男人进屋去,和她一块儿上楼。因为她担心在她的房客中,有一个发生了什么事。那个工人就跟着她上了楼梯口。
她把客厅的门打开,站在一边,让那个工人进去了,她才跟在他的后面走进去。客厅里是空的,早餐还摆在桌子上,有咖啡、鸡蛋、冷火腿,但是早餐一动也没有动,和她刚摆上去时一样,只是那把切肉的餐刀不见了。于是她请那个工人从折门进入紧邻的卧室去看看。
他把折门打开,走了一两步,立刻就神色紧张地退了回来。“我的天啊,睡在床上的那个人已经死了!我想他是被人用餐刀杀死的——血在地板上流得到处都是。”
他们立刻报了警,于是近来一直非常宁静的这座别墅,里面响起了嘈杂的脚步声,在那一群人前面,有一个外科医生。伤口虽然不大,但是刀尖已经刺着了死者的心脏,死者仰面躺在床上,脸色苍白,身体僵硬,已经死了,仿佛他在被刺了一刀以后几乎就没有动过。一刻钟以后,一个暂时到这个城市来玩的人在床上被人杀死的消息,就传遍了这个时髦城市的所有街道和别墅了。
 

Mrs Brooks, the lady who was the householder at The Herons, and owner of all the handsome furniture, was not a person of an unusually curious turn of mind. She was too deeply materialized, poor woman, by her long and enforced bondage to that arithmetical demon Profit-and-Loss, to retain much curiosity for its own sake, and apart from possible lodgers' pockets. Nevertheless, the visit of Angel Clare to her well-paying tenants, Mr and Mrs d'Urberville, as she deemed them, was sufficiently exceptional in point of time and manner to reinvigorate the feminine proclivity which had been stifled down as useless save in its bearings on the letting trade.

Tess had spoken to her husband from the doorway, without entering the dining-room, and Mrs Brooks, who stood within the partly-closed door of her own sitting-room at the back of the passage, could hear fragments of the conversation - if conversation it could be called - between those two wretched souls. She heard Tess re-ascend the stairs to the first floor, and the departure of Clare, and the closing of the front door behind him. Then the door of the room above was shut, and Mrs Brooks knew that Tess had re-entered her apartment. As the young lady was not fully dressed Mrs Brooks knew that she would not emerge again for some time.

She accordingly ascended the stairs softly, and stood at the door of the front room - a drawing-room, connected with the room immediately behind it (which was a bedroom) by folding-doors in the common manner. This first floor, containing Mrs Brooks's best apartments, had been taken by the week by the d'Urbervilles. The back room was now in silence; but from the drawing-room there came sounds.

All that she could at first distinguish of them was one syllable, continually repeated in a low note of moaning, as if it came from a soul bound to some Ixionian wheel--

`O - O - O!'

Then a silence, then a heavy sigh, and again--

`O - O - O!'

The landlady looked through the keyhole. Only a small space of the room inside was visible, but within that space came a corner of the breakfast table, which was already spread for the meal, and also a chair beside. Over the seat of the chair Tess's face was bowed, her posture being a kneeling one in front of it; her hands were clasped over her head, the skirts of her dressing-gown and the embroidery of her night-gown flowed upon the floor behind her, and her stockingless feet, from which the slippers had fallen, protruded upon the carpet. It was from her lips that came the murmur of unspeakable despair.

Then a man's voice from the adjoining bedroom `What's the matter?'

She did not answer, but went on, in a tone which was a soliloquy rather than an exclamation, and a dirge rather than a soliloquy. Mrs Brooks could only catch a portion:

`And then my dear, dear husband came home to me... and I did not know it!... And you had used your cruel persuasion upon me... you did not stop using it - no - you did not stop! My little sisters and brothers and my mother's needs - they were the things you moved me by... and you said my husband would never come back - never; and you taunted me, and said what a simpleton I was to expect him!... And at last I believed you and gave way!... And then he came back! Now he is gone. Gone a second time, and I have lost him now for ever... and he will not love me the littlest bit ever any more - only hate me!... O yes, I have lost him now - again because of - you!' In writhing, with her head on the chair, she turned her face towards the door, and Mrs Brooks could see the pain upon it; and that her lips were bleeding from the clench of her teeth upon them, and that the long lashes of her closed eyes stuck in wet tags to her cheeks. She continued: `And he is dying - he looks as if he is dying!... And my sin will kill him and not kill me!... O, you have torn my life all to pieces... made me be what I prayed you in pity not to make me be again!... My own true husband will never, never - O God - I can't bear this! - I cannot!'

There were more and sharper words from the man; then a sudden rustle; she had sprung to her feet. Mrs Brooks, thinking that the speaker was coming to rush out of the door, hastily retreated down the stairs.

She need not have done so, however, for the door of the sitting-room was not opened. But Mrs Brooks felt it unsafe to watch on the landing again, and entered her own parlour below.

She could hear nothing through the floor, although she listened intently, and thereupon went to the kitchen to finish her interrupted breakfast. Coming up presently to the front room on the ground floor she took up some sewing, waiting for her lodgers to ring that she might take away the breakfast, which she meant to do herself, to discover what was the matter if possible. Overhead, as she sat, she could now hear the floorboards slightly creak, as if some one were walking about, and presently the movement was explained by the rustle of garments against the banisters, the opening and the closing of the front door, and the form of Tess passing to the gate on her way into the street. She was fully dressed now in the walking costume of a well-to-do young lady in which she had arrived, with the sole addition that over her hat and black feathers a veil was drawn.

Mrs Brooks had not been able to catch any word of farewell, temporary or otherwise, between her tenants at the door above. They might have quarrelled, or Mr d'Urberville might still be asleep, for he was not an early riser.

She went into the back room which was more especially her own apartment, and continued her sewing there. The lady lodger did not return, nor did the gentleman ring his bell. Mrs Brooks pondered on the delay, and on what probable relation the visitor who had called so early bore to the couple upstairs. In reflecting she leant back in her chair.

As she did so her eyes glanced casually over the ceiling till they were arrested by a spot in the middle of its white surface which she had never noticed there before. It was about the size of a wafer when she first observed it, but it speedily grew as large as the palm of her hand, and then she could perceive that it was red. The oblong white ceiling, with this scarlet blot in the midst, had the appearance of a gigantic ace of hearts.

Mrs Brooks had strange qualms of misgiving. She got upon the table, and touched the spot in the ceiling with her fingers. It was damp, and she fancied that it was a blood stain.

Descending from the table, she left the parlour, and went upstairs, intending to enter the room overhead, which was the bedchamber at the back of the drawing-room. But, nerveless woman as she had now become, she could not bring herself to attempt the handle. She listened. The dead silence within was broken only by a regular beat.

Drip, drip, drip.

Mrs Brooks hastened downstairs, opened the front door, and ran into the street. A man she knew, one of the workmen employed at an adjoining villa, was passing by, and she begged him to come in and go upstairs with her; she feared something had happened to one of her lodgers. The workman assented, and followed her to the landing.

She opened the door of the drawing-room, and stood back for him to pass in, entering herself behind him. The room was empty; the breakfast - a substantial repast of coffee, eggs, and a cold ham - lay spread upon the table untouched, as when she had taken it up, excepting that the carving knife was missing. She asked the man to go through the folding-doors into the adjoining room.

He opened the doors, entered a step or two, and came back almost instantly with a rigid face. `My good God, the gentleman in bed is dead! I think he has been hurt with a knife - a lot of blood has run down upon the floor!'

The alarm was soon given, and the house which had lately been so quiet resounded with the tramp of many footsteps, a surgeon among the rest. The wound was small, but the point of the blade had touched the heart of the victim, who lay on his back, pale, fixed, dead, as if he had scarcely moved after the infliction of the blow. In a quarter of an hour the news that a gentleman who was a temporary visitor to the town had been stabbed in his bed, spread through every street and villa of the popular watering-place.