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第二卷沉沦 第02章对智慧提出的谨慎

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CHAPTER II PRUDENCE COUNSELLED TO WISDOM.



That evening, the Bishop of D----, after his promenade through the town, remained shut up rather late in his room. He was busy over a great work on Duties, which was never completed, unfortunately. He was carefully compiling everything that the Fathers and the doctors have said on this important subject. His book was divided into two parts: firstly, the duties of all; secondly, the duties of each individual, according to the class to which he belongs. The duties of all are the great duties. There are four of these. Saint Matthew points them out: duties towards God (Matt. vi.); duties towards one's self (Matt. v. 29, 30); duties towards one's neighbor (Matt. vii. 12); duties towards animals (Matt. vi. 20, 25). As for the other duties the Bishop found them pointed out and prescribed elsewhere: to sovereigns and subjects, in the Epistle to the Romans; to magistrates, to wives, to mothers, to young men, by Saint Peter; to husbands, fathers, children and servants, in the Epistle to the Ephesians; to the faithful, in the Epistle to the Hebrews; to virgins, in the Epistle to the Corinthians. Out of these precepts he was laboriously constructing a harmonious whole, which he desired to present to souls.

At eight o'clock he was still at work, writing with a good deal of inconvenience upon little squares of paper, with a big book open on his knees, when Madame Magloire entered, according to her wont, to get the silver-ware from the cupboard near his bed. A moment later, the Bishop, knowing that the table was set, and that his sister was probably waiting for him, shut his book, rose from his table, and entered the dining-room.

The dining-room was an oblong apartment, with a fireplace, which had a door opening on the street (as we have said), and a window opening on the garden.

Madame Magloire was, in fact, just putting the last touches to the table.

As she performed this service, she was conversing with Mademoiselle Baptistine.

A lamp stood on the table; the table was near the fireplace. A wood fire was burning there.

One can easily picture to one's self these two women, both of whom were over sixty years of age. Madame Magloire small, plump, vivacious; Mademoiselle Baptistine gentle, slender, frail, somewhat taller than her brother, dressed in a gown of puce-colored silk, of the fashion of 1806, which she had purchased at that date in Paris, and which had lasted ever since. To borrow vulgar phrases, which possess the merit of giving utterance in a single word to an idea which a whole page would hardly suffice to express, Madame Magloire had the air of a peasant, and Mademoiselle Baptistine that of a lady. Madame Magloire wore a white quilted cap, a gold Jeannette cross on a velvet ribbon upon her neck, the only bit of feminine jewelry that there was in the house, a very white fichu puffing out from a gown of coarse black woollen stuff, with large, short sleeves, an apron of cotton cloth in red and green checks, knotted round the waist with a green ribbon, with a stomacher of the same attached by two pins at the upper corners, coarse shoes on her feet, and yellow stockings, like the women of Marseilles. Mademoiselle Baptistine's gown was cut on the patterns of 1806, with a short waist, a narrow, sheath-like skirt, puffed sleeves, with flaps and buttons. She concealed her gray hair under a frizzed wig known as the baby wig. Madame Magloire had an intelligent, vivacious, and kindly air; the two corners of her mouth unequally raised, and her upper lip, which was larger than the lower, imparted to her a rather crabbed and imperious look. So long as Monseigneur held his peace, she talked to him resolutely with a mixture of respect and freedom; but as soon as Monseigneur began to speak, as we have seen, she obeyed passively like her mistress. Mademoiselle Baptistine did not even speak. She confined herself to obeying and pleasing him. She had never been pretty, even when she was young; she had large, blue, prominent eyes, and a long arched nose; but her whole visage, her whole person, breathed forth an ineffable goodness, as we stated in the beginning. She had always been predestined to gentleness; but faith, charity, hope, those three virtues which mildly warm the soul, had gradually elevated that gentleness to sanctity. Nature had made her a lamb, religion had made her an angel. Poor sainted virgin! Sweet memory which has vanished!

Mademoiselle Baptistine has so often narrated what passed at the episcopal residence that evening, that there are many people now living who still recall the most minute details.

At the moment when the Bishop entered, Madame Magloire was talking with considerable vivacity. She was haranguing Mademoiselle Baptistine on a subject which was familiar to her and to which the Bishop was also accustomed. The question concerned the lock upon the entrance door.

It appears that while procuring some provisions for supper, Madame Magloire had heard things in divers places. People had spoken of a prowler of evil appearance; a suspicious vagabond had arrived who must be somewhere about the town, and those who should take it into their heads to return home late that night might be subjected to unpleasant encounters. The police was very badly organized, moreover, because there was no love lost between the Prefect and the Mayor, who sought to injure each other by making things happen. It behooved wise people to play the part of their own police, and to guard themselves well, and care must be taken to duly close, bar and barricade their houses, and to fasten the doors well.

Madame Magloire emphasized these last words; but the Bishop had just come from his room, where it was rather cold. He seated himself in front of the fire, and warmed himself, and then fell to thinking of other things. He did not take up the remark dropped with design by Madame Magloire. She repeated it. Then Mademoiselle Baptistine, desirous of satisfying Madame Magloire without displeasing her brother, ventured to say timidly:--

"Did you hear what Madame Magloire is saying, brother?"

"I have heard something of it in a vague way," replied the Bishop. Then half-turning in his chair, placing his hands on his knees, and raising towards the old servant woman his cordial face, which so easily grew joyous, and which was illuminated from below by the firelight,--"Come, what is the matter? What is the matter? Are we in any great danger?"

Then Madame Magloire began the whole story afresh, exaggerating it a little without being aware of the fact. It appeared that a Bohemian, a bare-footed vagabond, a sort of dangerous mendicant, was at that moment in the town. He had presented himself at Jacquin Labarre's to obtain lodgings, but the latter had not been willing to take him in. He had been seen to arrive by the way of the boulevard Gassendi and roam about the streets in the gloaming. A gallows-bird with a terrible face.

"Really!" said the Bishop.

This willingness to interrogate encouraged Madame Magloire; it seemed to her to indicate that the Bishop was on the point of becoming alarmed; she pursued triumphantly:--

"Yes, Monseigneur. That is how it is. There will be some sort of catastrophe in this town to-night. Every one says so. And withal, the police is so badly regulated" (a useful repetition). "The idea of living in a mountainous country, and not even having lights in the streets at night! One goes out. Black as ovens, indeed! And I say, Monseigneur, and Mademoiselle there says with me--"

"I," interrupted his sister, "say nothing. What my brother does is well done."

Madame Magloire continued as though there had been no protest:--

"We say that this house is not safe at all; that if Monseigneur will permit, I will go and tell Paulin Musebois, the locksmith, to come and replace the ancient locks on the doors; we have them, and it is only the work of a moment; for I say that nothing is more terrible than a door which can be opened from the outside with a latch by the first passer-by; and I say that we need bolts, Monseigneur, if only for this night; moreover, Monseigneur has the habit of always saying `come in'; and besides, even in the middle of the night, O mon Dieu! there is no need to ask permission."

At that moment there came a tolerably violent knock on the door.

"Come in," said the Bishop.



二 对智慧提出的谨慎




那天晚上,迪涅的主教先生从城里散步回来,便关上房门,在自己屋子里一径待到相当晚的时候。当时他正对“义务”问题进行一种巨大的著述工作,可惜没有完成。他起初要把从前那些神甫和博士们就这一严重问题发表过的言论细心清理出来。他的著作分两部分;第一部分是大众的义务,第二部分是各个阶层中个人的义务。大众的义务是重要义务。共分四种。根据圣马太的指示,分作对天主的义务(《马太福音》第六章),对自己的义务(《马太福音》第五章第二十九、三十节),对他人的义务(《马太福音》第七章第十二节),对众生的义务(《马太福音》第六章第二十、二十五节),关于其他各种义务,主教又在旁的地方搜集了一些关于其他各种义务的指示和规定,人主和臣民的义务,在《罗马人书》里;官吏、妻子、母亲、青年男子的义务,是圣保罗明定了的;丈夫、父亲、孩童、仆婢的义务,在《以弗所书》里;信徒的义务,在《希伯来书》里;闺女的义务,在《哥林多书》里。他正苦心孤诣地着手把所有这些条规编成一个协调的整体,供世人阅读。

八点钟他还在工作,当马格洛大娘按平日习惯到他床边壁柜里去取银器时,他正在一张小方纸上勉强写着字,因为他膝头上正摊着一本碍手碍脚的厚书。过了一会,主教觉得餐具已经摆好,他的妹子也许在等待,他才阖上书本,起身走进餐室。

那餐室是一间长方形的屋子,有个壁炉,门对着街(我们已经说过),窗子对着花园。

马格洛大娘刚刚把餐具摆好。

她尽管忙于工作,却仍和巴狄斯丁姑娘聊天。

桌子靠近壁炉,桌上放了一盏灯。炉里正燃着相当大的火。

我们不难想见那两个都已年逾六十的妇人:马格洛大娘矮小、肥胖、活跃,巴狄斯丁姑娘温和、瘦削、脆弱,比她哥稍高一点,穿件蚤色绸袍,那是一八○六年流行的颜色,是她那年在巴黎买的,一径保存到现在。如果我们用粗俗的字眼来说(有些思想往往写上一页还说不清楚,可是单用一个俗字便可表达出来),马格洛大娘的神气象个“村婆”,巴狄斯丁姑娘却象“夫人”。马格洛大娘戴顶白楞边帽,颈上挂个小金十字,算是这家里独一无二的首饰了。她身穿玄青粗呢袍,袖子宽而短,领口里露出一条雪白的围脖,一根绿带子拦腰束住一条红绿方块花纹的棉布围裙,外加一块同样布料的胸巾,用别针扣住上面的两只角,脚上穿双马赛妇女穿的那种大鞋和黄袜。巴狄斯丁姑娘的袍子是照一八○六年的式样裁剪的,上身短,腰围紧,双肩高耸,盘花扣绊。她用一顶幼童式的波状假发遮着自己的斑白头发。马格洛大娘的神气是伶俐、活泼、善良的,她的两只嘴角,一高一低,上唇厚,下唇薄,使她显得怫郁和躁急。只要主教不说话,她总用一种恭敬而又不拘形迹的态度和他谈个不休;主教一开口,她又和那位姑娘一样,服服帖帖唯命是从了,这是大家都见过的。巴狄斯丁姑娘连话也不说。她谨守在听命与承欢的范围以内。即使是少年时期她也并不漂亮,她的蓝眼睛鼓齐面部,鼻子长而曲;但是她的整个面庞和整个人都含有一种说不出的贤淑气度,那是我们在开始时谈过的,她生性仁厚,而信仰、慈悲、愿望,这三种使心灵温暖的美德又渐渐把那种仁厚升为圣德了。她天生就是一头驯羊,宗教却已使她成为天使。可怜的圣女!不可复得的甘美的回忆!

巴狄斯丁姑娘曾把当天晚上发生在主教院里的那些事对人传述过无数次,以致几个现在还活着的人都还记得极其详尽。

主教先生走进来时,马格洛大娘正在兴高采烈地说着话。她正和“姑娘”谈着一个她所熟悉而主教也听惯了的问题,那就是关于大门的门闩问题。

好象是马格洛大娘在买晚餐食料时,在好几处听见了许多话。大家说来了一个奇形怪状的宵小,一个形迹可疑的恶棍,他大约已到了城里的某个地方,今晚打算深夜回家的人也许会遭殃,而且警务又办得很坏,省长和市长又互不相容,彼此都想惹出一些事故,好嫁祸于人。所以聪明人只有自己负起警察的责任,好好地保护自己,并且应当小心,把各人的房子好好地关起,闩起,堵塞起来,尤其要好好地把各人的房门关上。

马格洛大娘把最后那句话说得格外响些,但是主教从他那间冷冰冰的屋子里走进来坐在壁炉面前烤着火,又想着旁的事了。他没有让马格洛大娘刚才说的话产生影响。她只得再说一遍,于是巴狄斯丁姑娘为了想救马格洛大娘的面子而又不触犯阿哥,便冒着险,轻轻说道:

“哥,您听见马格洛大娘说的话没有?”

“我多少听见了一点。”主教回答说。

随后,他把椅子转过一半,两手放在膝上,炉火也正从下面照着他那副笑容可掬的诚恳面孔,他抬起头对着那年老的女仆说:

“好好的。有什么事?有什么事?难道我们有什么大不了的危险?”

于是马格洛大娘又把整个故事从头说起,无意中也不免稍稍说得过火一些。据说有一个游民,一个赤脚大汉,一个恶叫化子这时已到了城里。他到过雅甘·拉巴尔家里去求宿,拉巴尔不肯收留他,有人看见他沿着加桑第大路走来,在街上迷雾里荡来荡去。他是一个有袋子、有绳子、面孔凶恶的人。

“真的吗?”主教说。

他既肯向她探问,马格洛大娘自然更起劲了,在她看来,这好象表明主教已有意戒备了,她洋洋得意地追着说:“是呀,主教。是这样的。今天晚上城里一定要出乱子。大家都这样说。加以警务又办得那样坏(这是值得再提到的)。住在山区里,到了夜里,衔上连路灯也没有!出了门就是一个黑洞。我说过,主教,那边的姑娘也这样说……”

“我,”妹子岔着说,“我没有意见。我哥做的事总是好的。”

马格洛大娘仍继续说下去,好象没有人反对过她似的:

“我们说这房子一点也不安全,如果主教准许,我就去找普兰·缪斯博瓦铜匠,要他来把从前那些铁门闩重新装上去,那些东西都在,不过是一分钟的事,我还要说,主教,就是为了今天这一夜也应当有铁门闩,因为,我说,一扇只有活闩的门,随便什么人都可以从外面开进来,再没有比这更可怕的事了,加以主教平素总是让人随意进出,况且,就是在夜半,呵,我的天主!也不用先得许可……”

这时,有人在门上敲了一下,并且敲得相当凶。

“请进来。”主教说。
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