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第一卷一个正直的人 第09章阿妹谈阿哥

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CHAPTER IX THE BROTHER AS DEPICTED BY THE SISTER


In order to furnish an idea of the private establishment of the Bishop of D----, and of the manner in which those two sainted women subordinated their actions, their thoughts, their feminine instincts even, which are easily alarmed, to the habits and purposes of the Bishop, without his even taking the trouble of speaking in order to explain them, we cannot do better than transcribe in this place a letter from Mademoiselle Baptistine to Madame the Vicomtess de Boischevron, the friend of her childhood. This letter is in our possession.

D----, Dec. 16, 18--.

MY GOOD MADAM: Not a day passes without our speaking of you. It is our established custom; but there is another reason besides. Just imagine, while washing and dusting the ceilings and walls, Madam Magloire has made some discoveries; now our two chambers hung with antique paper whitewashed over, would not discredit a chateau in the style of yours. Madam Magloire has pulled off all the paper. There were things beneath. My drawing-room, which contains no furniture, and which we use for spreading out the linen after washing, is fifteen feet in height, eighteen square, with a ceiling which was formerly painted and gilded, and with beams, as in yours. This was covered with a cloth while this was the hospital. And the woodwork was of the era of our grandmothers. But my room is the one you ought to see. Madam Magloire has discovered, under at least ten thicknesses of paper pasted on top, some paintings, which without being good are very tolerable. The subject is Telemachus being knighted by Minerva in some gardens, the name of which escapes me. In short, where the Roman ladies repaired on one single night. What shall I say to you? I have Romans, and Roman ladies [here occurs an illegible word], and the whole train. Madam Magloire has cleaned it all off; this summer she is going to have some small injuries repaired, and the whole revarnished, and my chamber will be a regular museum. She has also found in a corner of the attic two wooden pier-tables of ancient fashion. They asked us two crowns of six francs each to regild them, but it is much better to give the money to the poor; and they are very ugly besides, and I should much prefer a round table of mahogany.

I am always very happy. My brother is so good. He gives all he has to the poor and sick. We are very much cramped. The country is trying in the winter, and we really must do something for those who are in need. We are almost comfortably lighted and warmed. You see that these are great treats.

My brother has ways of his own. When he talks, he says that a bishop ought to be so. Just imagine! the door of our house is never fastened. Whoever chooses to enter finds himself at once in my brother's room. He fears nothing, even at night. That is his sort of bravery, he says.

He does not wish me or Madame Magloire feel any fear for him. He exposes himself to all sorts of dangers, and he does not like to have us even seem to notice it. One must know how to understand him.

He goes out in the rain, he walks in the water, he travels in winter. He fears neither suspicious roads nor dangerous encounters, nor night.

Last year he went quite alone into a country of robbers. He would not take us. He was absent for a fortnight. On his return nothing had happened to him; he was thought to be dead, but was perfectly well, and said, "This is the way I have been robbed!" And then he opened a trunk full of jewels, all the jewels of the cathedral of Embrun, which the thieves had given him.

When he returned on that occasion, I could not refrain from scolding him a little, taking care, however, not to speak except when the carriage was making a noise, so that no one might hear me.

At first I used to say to myself, "There are no dangers which will stop him; he is terrible." Now I have ended by getting used to it. I make a sign to Madam Magloire that she is not to oppose him. He risks himself as he sees fit. I carry off Madam Magloire, I enter my chamber, I pray for him and fall asleep. I am at ease, because I know that if anything were to happen to him, it would be the end of me. I should go to the good God with my brother and my bishop. It has cost Madam Magloire more trouble than it did me to accustom herself to what she terms his imprudences. But now the habit has been acquired. We pray together, we tremble together, and we fall asleep. If the devil were to enter this house, he would be allowed to do so. After all, what is there for us to fear in this house? There is always some one with us who is stronger than we. The devil may pass through it, but the good God dwells here.

This suffices me. My brother has no longer any need of saying a word to me. I understand him without his speaking, and we abandon ourselves to the care of Providence. That is the way one has to do with a man who possesses grandeur of soul.

I have interrogated my brother with regard to the information which you desire on the subject of the Faux family. You are aware that he knows everything, and that he has memories, because he is still a very good royalist. They really are a very ancient Norman family of the generalship of Caen. Five hundred years ago there was a Raoul de Faux, a Jean de Faux, and a Thomas de Faux, who were gentlemen, and one of whom was a seigneur de Rochefort. The last was Guy-Etienne-Alexandre, and was commander of a regiment, and something in the light horse of Bretagne. His daughter, Marie-Louise, married Adrien-Charles de Gramont, son of the Duke Louis de Gramont, peer of France, colonel of the French guards, and lieutenant-general of the army. It is written Faux, Fauq, and Faoucq.

Good Madame, recommend us to the prayers of your sainted relative, Monsieur the Cardinal. As for your dear Sylvanie, she has done well in not wasting the few moments which she passes with you in writing to me. She is well, works as you would wish, and loves me.

That is all that I desire. The souvenir which she sent through you reached me safely, and it makes me very happy. My health is not so very bad, and yet I grow thinner every day. Farewell; my paper is at an end, and this forces me to leave you. A thousand good wishes. BAPTISTINE.

P.S. Your grand nephew is charming. Do you know that he will soon be five years old? Yesterday he saw some one riding by on horseback who had on knee-caps, and he said, "What has he got on his knees?" He is a charming child! His little brother is dragging an old broom about the room, like a carriage, and saying, "Hu!"

As will be perceived from this letter, these two women understood how to mould themselves to the Bishop's ways with that special feminine genius which comprehends the man better than he comprehends himself. The Bishop of D----, in spite of the gentle and candid air which never deserted him, sometimes did things that were grand, bold, and magnificent, without seeming to have even a suspicion of the fact. They trembled, but they let him alone. Sometimes Madame Magloire essayed a remonstrance in advance, but never at the time, nor afterwards. They never interfered with him by so much as a word or sign,in any action once entered upon. At certain moments, without his having occasion to mention it, when he was not even conscious of it himself in all probability, so perfect was his simplicity, they vaguely felt that he was acting as a bishop; then they were nothing more than two shadows in the house. They served him passively; and if obedience consisted in disappearing, they disappeared. They understood, with an admirable delicacy of instinct, that certain cares may be put under constraint. Thus, even when believing him to be in peril, they understood, I will not say his thought, but his nature, to such a degree that they no longer watched over him. They confided him to God.

Moreover, Baptistine said, as we have just read, that her brother's end would prove her own. Madame Magloire did not say this, but she knew it.


九 阿妹谈阿哥



为了说明迪涅主教先生的家庭概况,为了说明那两位圣女怎样用她们的行动、思想、甚至女性的那种易受惊恐的本能去屈从主教的习惯和意愿,使他连开口吩咐的麻烦都没有,我们最好是在此地把巴狄斯丁姑娘写给她幼年时的朋友,波瓦舍佛隆子爵夫人的一封信转录下来。那封信在我们的手里。

我仁慈的夫人,我们没有一天不谈到您。那固然是我们的习惯,也还有另外一个理由。您没有想到,马格洛大娘居然在洗刷天花板和墙壁时,发现了许多东西。现在我们这两间原来裱着旧纸、刷过灰浆的房间,和您那子爵府第相比,也不至于再有逊色。马格洛大娘撕去了全部的纸。那下面有些东西。我们用来晾衣服,没有家具的那间客厅,有十五尺高,十八尺见方,天花板和梁上都画了仿古金花,正和府上一样。从前当作医院时,它是用块布遮住了的。还有我们祖母时代的板壁。不过应当看看的是我的房间。马格洛大娘在那至少有十层的裱墙纸下发现了一些油画,虽然不好,却还过得去。画的是密涅瓦①封忒勒玛科斯②为骑士。另一幅园景里也有他。那花园的名字我一时想不起了。总之是罗马贵妇们在某一夜到过的地方。我还要说什么?那上面有罗马(这儿有个字,字迹不明)男子和妇女以及他们的全部侍从。马格洛大娘把一切都擦拭干净,今年夏天,她还要修整几处小小的破损,全部重行油漆,我的屋子就会变成一间真正的油画陈列馆了。她还在顶楼角落里找出两只古式壁儿。可是重上一次金漆就得花去两枚值六利弗的银币,还不如留给穷人们使用好些;并且式样也相当丑陋,我觉得如果能有一张紫檀木圆桌,我还更合意些。

①密涅瓦(Minerva),艺术和智慧之神。

②忒勒玛科斯(Télémaque),智勇之神。

我总是过得很快乐。我哥是那么仁厚,他把他所有的一切都施给穷人和病人。我们手边非常拮据。到了冬天这地方就很苦。帮助穷人总是应当的。我们还算有火有灯。您瞧,这样已经很温暖了。

我哥有他独特的习惯。他在聊天时,老说一个主教应当这样。您想想,我们家里的大门总是不关的。任何人都可以闯进来,并且开了门就是我哥的屋子。他什么都不怕,连黑夜也不怕。照他说来,那是他特有的果敢。

他不要我替他担忧,也不要马格洛大娘替他担忧。他冒着各种危险,还不许我们有感到危险的神情。我们应当知道怎样去领会他。

他常在下雨时出门,在水里行走,在严冬旅行。他不怕黑夜,不怕可疑的道路和遭遇。

去年,他独自一人走到匪窟里去了。他不肯带我们去。他去了两星期。一直到回来,他什么危险也没碰着。我们以为他死了,而他却健康得很。他还说你们看我被劫了没有。他打开一只大箱子,里面装满了昂布伦天主堂的珍宝,是那些土匪送给他的。那一次,在他回来时,我和他的几位朋友,到两里路远的地方去迎接他。我实在不得不稍微责备他几句,但是我很小心,只在车轮响时才说话,免得旁人听见。

起初,我常对自己说:“没有什么危险能阻拦他,他真够叫人焦急的了。”到现在,我也习惯了。我常向马格洛大娘使眼色叫她不要惹他。他要冒险,让他去。我引着马格洛大娘回我的房间。我为他祷告。我睡我的觉。我安心,因为我知道,万一他遇到不幸,我也决不再活了。我要随着我的哥兼我的主教一同归天。马格洛大娘对她所谓的“他的粗心大意”却看不惯,但是到现在,习惯已成自然。我们俩一同害怕,一同祈祷,也就一同睡去了。魔鬼可以走进那些可以让它放肆的人家,但在我们家里,有什么可怕的呢?最强的那位时常是和我们同在一道的,魔鬼可以经过此地,但是慈悲的上帝常住在我们家里。

这样我已经满足了。我的哥,现在用不着再吩咐我什么,他不开口,我也能领会他的意思。我们把自己交给了天主。

这就是我们和一个胸襟开阔的人相处之道。

您问我关于傅家的历史,这事我已向我哥问明了。您知道,他知道得多么清楚,记得多么详细呵。因为他始终是一个非常忠实的保王党。那的确是卡昂税区一家很老的诺曼底世家。五百年来,有一个拉乌尔·德·傅,一个让·德·傅和一个托马·德·傅,都是贵人,其中一个是罗什福尔采地的领主。最末的一个是居伊·艾蒂安·亚历山大,·路易丝嫁给了法兰西世卿,法兰西警卫军大佐和陆军中将路易·德·格勒蒙的儿子阿德利安·查理·德·格勒蒙。他们的姓,傅,有三种写法:Faux,Fauq,Faoucq。仁慈的夫人,请您代求贵戚红衣主教先生为我们祷告。至于您亲爱的西尔华尼,她没有浪费她亲近您的短暂时间来和我写信,那是对的。她既然身体好,也能依照尊意工作,并且仍旧爱我,那已是我所希望的一切了。我从尊处得到她的问候,我感到幸福。我的身体并不太坏,可是一天比一天消瘦下去了。再谈,纸已写满了,我只得停笔。一切安好。


巴狄斯丁

一八……年,十二月十六日,于迪涅。

再者:令嫂仍和她令郎的家眷住在此地。您的侄孙真可爱。您知道,他快五岁了!昨天他看见一匹马走过,腿上裹了护膝,他说:“它膝头上是什么?”那孩子,他是那样惹人爱。他的小兄弟在屋子里拖着一把破扫帚当车子,嘴里还喊着:“走!”

从这封信里我们可以看出,那两位妇人知道用女性所特有的那种比男子更了解男子的天才,去曲承主教的生活方式。迪涅那位主教有着那种始终不渝、温和敦厚的神情风度,有时作出一些伟大、果敢、辉煌的行动,仿佛连他自己也不觉得。她们为那些事提心吊胆,但是让他去做。马格洛大娘有时试着在事先劝劝,但从不在事情进行时或事后多话。当行动已经开始,她们就从不阻拦他,连一点颜色也不表露。某些时候,她们只似懂非懂地觉得他是在尽主教的职责;他自己并不说出,甚至连他自己也不一定有那种感觉,因为他的那种赤子之心是那样淳朴,因此,她们在家里只是两个黑影。她们被动地服侍着他,如果为了服从,应当退避,她们便退避。由于一种可喜的、体贴入微的本能,她们知道,某种关切反而会使他为难。我不说她们能了解他的思想,但是她们了解他的性格,因而即使知道他是在危险中,也只好不过问。她们把他托付给了上帝。

而且巴狄斯丁还常说,正如我们刚才念过的,她哥的不幸也就是她自己的末日。马格洛大娘没有那样说,但是她心里有数。
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