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第五卷下坡路 第05章天边隐约的闪电

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CHAPTER V VAGUE FLASHES ON THE HORIZON



Little by little, and in the course of time, all this opposition subsided. There had at first been exercised against M. Madeleine, in virtue of a sort of law which all those who rise must submit to, blackening and calumnies; then they grew to be nothing more than ill-nature, then merely malicious remarks, then even this entirely disappeared; respect became complete, unanimous, cordial, and towards 1821 the moment arrived when the word "Monsieur le Maire" was pronounced at M. sur M. with almost the same accent as "Monseigneur the Bishop" had been pronounced in D---- in 1815. People came from a distance of ten leagues around to consult M. Madeleine. He put an end to differences, he prevented lawsuits, he reconciled enemies. Every one took him for the judge, and with good reason. It seemed as though he had for a soul the book of the natural law. It was like an epidemic of veneration, which in the course of six or seven years gradually took possession of the whole district.

One single man in the town, in the arrondissement, absolutely escaped this contagion, and, whatever Father Madeleine did, remained his opponent as though a sort of incorruptible and imperturbable instinct kept him on the alert and uneasy. It seems, in fact, as though there existed in certain men a veritable bestial instinct, though pure and upright, like all instincts, which creates antipathies and sympathies, which fatally separates one nature from another nature, which does not hesitate, which feels no disquiet, which does not hold its peace, and which never belies itself, clear in its obscurity, infallible, imperious, intractable, stubborn to all counsels of the intelligence and to all the dissolvents of reason, and which, in whatever manner destinies are arranged, secretly warns the man-dog of the presence of the man-cat, and the man-fox of the presence of the man-lion.

It frequently happened that when M. Madeleine was passing along a street, calm, affectionate, surrounded by the blessings of all, a man of lofty stature, clad in an iron-gray frock-coat, armed with a heavy cane, and wearing a battered hat, turned round abruptly behind him, and followed him with his eyes until he disappeared, with folded arms and a slow shake of the head, and his upper lip raised in company with his lower to his nose, a sort of significant grimace which might be translated by: "What is that man, after all? I certainly have seen him somewhere. In any case, I am not his dupe."

This person, grave with a gravity which was almost menacing, was one of those men who, even when only seen by a rapid glimpse, arrest the spectator's attention.

His name was Javert, and he belonged to the police.

At M. sur M. he exercised the unpleasant but useful functions of an inspector. He had not seen Madeleine's beginnings. Javert owed the post which he occupied to the protection of M. Chabouillet, the secretary of the Minister of State, Comte Angeles, then prefect of police at Paris. When Javert arrived at M. sur M. the fortune of the great manufacturer was already made, and Father Madeleine had become Monsieur Madeleine.

Certain police officers have a peculiar physiognomy, which is complicated with an air of baseness mingled with an air of authority. Javert possessed this physiognomy minus the baseness.

It is our conviction that if souls were visible to the eyes, we should be able to see distinctly that strange thing that each one individual of the human race corresponds to some one of the species of the animal creation; and we could easily recognize this truth, hardly perceived by the thinker, that from the oyster to the eagle, from the pig to the tiger, all animals exist in man, and that each one of them is in a man. Sometimes even several of them at a time.

Animals are nothing else than the figures of our virtues and our vices, straying before our eyes, the visible phantoms of our souls. God shows them to us in order to induce us to reflect. Only since animals are mere shadows, God has not made them capable of education in the full sense of the word; what is the use? On the contrary, our souls being realities and having a goal which is appropriate to them, God has bestowed on them intelligence; that is to say, the possibility of education. Social education, when well done, can always draw from a soul, of whatever sort it may be, the utility which it contains.

This, be it said, is of course from the restricted point of view of the terrestrial life which is apparent, and without prejudging the profound question of the anterior or ulterior personality of the beings which are not man. The visible _I_ in nowise authorizes the thinker to deny the latent _I_. Having made this reservation, let us pass on.

Now, if the reader will admit, for a moment, with us, that in every man there is one of the animal species of creation, it will be easy for us to say what there was in Police Officer Javert.

The peasants of Asturias are convinced that in every litter of wolves there is one dog, which is killed by the mother because, otherwise, as he grew up, he would devour the other little ones.

Give to this dog-son of a wolf a human face, and the result will be Javert.

Javert had been born in prison, of a fortune-teller, whose husband was in the galleys. As he grew up, he thought that he was outside the pale of society, and he despaired of ever re-entering it. He observed that society unpardoningly excludes two classes of men,-- those who attack it and those who guard it; he had no choice except between these two classes; at the same time, he was conscious of an indescribable foundation of rigidity, regularity, and probity, complicated with an inexpressible hatred for the race of bohemians whence he was sprung. He entered the police; he succeeded there. At forty years of age he was an inspector.

During his youth he had been employed in the convict establishments of the South.

Before proceeding further, let us come to an understanding as to the words, "human face," which we have just applied to Javert.

The human face of Javert consisted of a flat nose, with two deep nostrils, towards which enormous whiskers ascended on his cheeks. One felt ill at ease when he saw these two forests and these two caverns for the first time. When Javert laughed,--and his laugh was rare and terrible,--his thin lips parted and revealed to view not only his teeth, but his gums, and around his nose there formed a flattened and savage fold, as on the muzzle of a wild beast. Javert, serious, was a watchdog; when he laughed, he was a tiger. As for the rest, he had very little skull and a great deal of jaw; his hair concealed his forehead and fell over his eyebrows; between his eyes there was a permanent, central frown, like an imprint of wrath; his gaze was obscure; his mouth pursed up and terrible; his air that of ferocious command.

This man was composed of two very simple and two very good sentiments, comparatively; but he rendered them almost bad, by dint of exaggerating them,--respect for authority, hatred of rebellion; and in his eyes, murder, robbery, all crimes, are only forms of rebellion. He enveloped in a blind and profound faith every one who had a function in the state, from the prime minister to the rural policeman. He covered with scorn, aversion, and disgust every one who had once crossed the legal threshold of evil. He was absolute, and admitted no exceptions. On the one hand, he said, "The functionary can make no mistake; the magistrate is never the wrong." On the other hand, he said, "These men are irremediably lost. Nothing good can come from them." He fully shared the opinion of those extreme minds which attribute to human law I know not what power of making, or, if the reader will have it so, of authenticating, demons, and who place a Styx at the base of society. He was stoical, serious, austere; a melancholy dreamer, humble and haughty, like fanatics. His glance was like a gimlet, cold and piercing. His whole life hung on these two words: watchfulness and supervision. He had introduced a straight line into what is the most crooked thing in the world; he possessed the conscience of his usefulness, the religion of his functions, and he was a spy as other men are priests. Woe to the man who fell into his hands! He would have arrested his own father, if the latter had escaped from the galleys, and would have denounced his mother, if she had broken her ban. And he would have done it with that sort of inward satisfaction which is conferred by virtue. And, withal, a life of privation, isolation, abnegation, chastity, with never a diversion. It was implacable duty; the police understood, as the Spartans understood Sparta, a pitiless lying in wait, a ferocious honesty, a marble informer, Brutus in Vidocq.

Javert's whole person was expressive of the man who spies and who withdraws himself from observation. The mystical school of Joseph de Maistre, which at that epoch seasoned with lofty cosmogony those things which were called the ultra newspapers, would not have failed to declare that Javert was a symbol. His brow was not visible; it disappeared beneath his hat: his eyes were not visible, since they were lost under his eyebrows: his chin was not visible, for it was plunged in his cravat: his hands were not visible; they were drawn up in his sleeves: and his cane was not visible; he carried it under his coat. But when the occasion presented itself, there was suddenly seen to emerge from all this shadow, as from an ambuscade, a narrow and angular forehead, a baleful glance, a threatening chin, enormous hands, and a monstrous cudgel.

In his leisure moments, which were far from frequent, he read, although he hated books; this caused him to be not wholly illiterate. This could be recognized by some emphasis in his speech.

As we have said, he had no vices. When he was pleased with himself, he permitted himself a pinch of snuff. Therein lay his connection with humanity.

The reader will have no difficulty in understanding that Javert was the terror of that whole class which the annual statistics of the Ministry of Justice designates under the rubric, Vagrants. The name of Javert routed them by its mere utterance; the face of Javert petrified them at sight.

Such was this formidable man.

Javert was like an eye constantly fixed on M. Madeleine. An eye full of suspicion and conjecture. M. Madeleine had finally perceived the fact; but it seemed to be of no importance to him. He did not even put a question to Javert; he neither sought nor avoided him; he bore that embarrassing and almost oppressive gaze without appearing to notice it. He treated Javert with ease and courtesy, as he did all the rest of the world.

It was divined, from some words which escaped Javert, that he had secretly investigated, with that curiosity which belongs to the race, and into which there enters as much instinct as will, all the anterior traces which Father Madeleine might have left elsewhere. He seemed to know, and he sometimes said in covert words, that some one had gleaned certain information in a certain district about a family which had disappeared. Once he chanced to say, as he was talking to himself, "I think I have him!" Then he remained pensive for three days, and uttered not a word. It seemed that the thread which he thought he held had broken.

Moreover, and this furnishes the necessary corrective for the too absolute sense which certain words might present, there can be nothing really infallible in a human creature, and the peculiarity of instinct is that it can become confused, thrown off the track, and defeated. Otherwise, it would be superior to intelligence, and the beast would be found to be provided with a better light than man.

Javert was evidently somewhat disconcerted by the perfect naturalness and tranquillity of M. Madeleine.

One day, nevertheless, his strange manner appeared to produce an impression on M. Madeleine. It was on the following occasion.




五 天边隐约的闪电




渐渐地,各种敌意都和岁月一同消逝了。起初有一种势力和马德兰先生对抗,那种势力,凡是地位日益增高的人都会遇到的,那便是人心的险狠和谣言的中伤;过后,就只有一些恶意了;再过后,又不过是一些戏弄了;到后来,全都消灭;恭敬的心才转为完整、一致和真挚了;有一个时期,一八二一年前后,滨海蒙特勒伊人民口中的“市长先生”这几个字几乎和一八一五年迪涅人民口中的“主教先生”那几个字同一声调了。周围十法里以内的人都来向马德兰先生求教。他排解纠纷,阻止诉讼,和解敌对双方,每个人都认他为自己正当权利的仲裁人。仿佛他在灵魂方面有一部自然的法典。那好象是一种传染性的尊崇,经过六七年的时间,已经遍及全乡了。

在那个城和那个县里,只有一个人绝对不受传染,无论马德兰伯伯做什么,他总是桀骜不驯的,仿佛有一种无可软化、无可撼动的本能使他警惕,使他不安似的。在某些人心里,好象确有一种和其他本能同样纯洁坚贞的真正的兽性本能,具有这种本能的人会制造同情和恶感,会离间人与人的关系,使他们永难复合;他不迟疑,不慌乱,有言必发,永不认过;他卖弄糊涂的聪明’他坚定、果敢,他对智慧的一切箴言和理智的一切批判无不顽强抗拒,并且无论命运怎样安排,他的那种兽性本能发作时,总要向狗密告猫的来到,向狐狸密告狮子的来到。

常常,马德兰先生恬静和蔼地在街上走过,在受到大家赞叹时,就有一个身材高大,穿一件铁灰色礼服,拿条粗棍,戴顶平边帽的人迎面走来,到了他背后,又忽然转回头,用眼睛盯着他,直到望不见为止;这人还交叉着两条胳膊,缓缓地摇着头,用下嘴唇把上嘴唇直送到鼻端,做出一种别有用意的丑态,意思就是说:“这个人究竟是什么东西呢?……我一定在什么地方见过他。……总而言之,我还没有上他的当。”

这个神色严厉到几乎令人恐怖的人物,便是那一种使人一见心悸的人物。

他叫沙威,是个公安部门的人员。

他在滨海蒙特勒伊担任那些困难而有用的侦察职务。他不认识马德兰的开始阶段的情形。沙威取得这个职位是夏布耶先生保荐的,夏布耶先生是昂格勒斯伯爵任内阁大臣期间的秘书,当时任巴黎警署署长。沙威来到滨海蒙特勒伊是在那位大厂主发财之后,马德兰伯伯已经变成马德兰先生之后。

某些警官有一种与众不同的面目,一种由卑鄙的神情和权威的神情组合起来的面目,沙威便有那样一副面孔,但是没有那种卑鄙的神情。

在我们的信念里,假使认为灵魂是肉眼可以看见的东西,那么,我们便可以清晰地看见一种怪现象,那就是人类中的每个人,都和禽兽中的某一种相类似;我们还很容易发现那种不曾被思想家完全弄清楚的真理,那就是从牡蛎到鹰隼,从猪到虎,一切禽兽的性格也在人的性格里都具备,并且每个人都具有某种动物的性格。有时一个人还可以具有几种动物的性格。

禽兽并非旁的东西,只不过是我们的好品质和坏品质的形象化而已,它们在我们眼前游荡,有如我们灵魂所显出的鬼影。上帝把它们指出来给我们看,要我们自己反省。不过,既然禽兽只是一种暗示,上帝就没有要改造它们的意思;再说,改造禽兽又有什么用呢?我们的灵魂,恰恰相反,那是实际,并且每个灵魂都有它自己的目的,因此上帝才赋予智慧,这就是说,赋予可教育性。社会的良好教育可以从任何类型的灵魂中发展它固有的优点。

这当然只是从狭义的角度、只是就我们这尘世间的现象来谈的,不应当牵涉到那些前生和来生的灵性问题。那些深奥问题不属于人的范畴。有形的我绝不允许思想家否认无形的我。保留了这一点,我们再来谈旁的。

现在,假使大家都和我们一样,暂时承认在任何人身上都有一种禽或兽的本性,我们就易于说明那个保安人员沙威究竟是什么东西了。

阿斯图里亚斯①地方的农民都深信在每一胎小狼里必定有一只狗,可是那只狗一定被母狼害死,否则它长大以后会吃掉其余的小狼。

①阿斯图里亚斯(Asturias),西班牙古行省。

你把一副人脸加在那狼生的狗头上,那便是沙威。

沙威是在监狱里出世的,他的母亲是一个抽纸牌算命的人,他的父亲是个苦役犯。他成长以后,认为自己是社会以外的人,永远没有进入社会的希望。他看见社会毫不留情地把两种人摆在社会之外:攻击社会的人和保卫社会的人。他只能在这两种人中选择一种,同时他觉得自己有一种不可解的刚毅、规矩、严谨的本质,面对他自身所属的游民阶层,却杂有一种说不出的仇恨。他便当了警察。

他一帆风顺,四十岁上当上了侦察员。

在他青年时代,他在南方的监狱里服务过。

在谈下去之前,让我们先弄清楚刚才我们加在沙威身上的“人脸”这个词。

沙威的人脸上有一个塌鼻子、两个深鼻孔,两大片络腮胡子一直生到鼻孔边,初次看见那两片森林和那两个深窟的人都会感到不愉快。沙威不常笑,但笑时的形状是狰狞可怕的,两片薄嘴唇张开,不但露出他的牙,还露出他的牙床肉,在他鼻子四周也会起一种象猛兽的嘴一样的扁圆粗野的皱纹。郑重时的沙威是猎犬,笑时的沙威是老虎。此外他的头盖骨小,牙床大,头发遮着前额,垂到眉边,两眼间有一条固定的中央皱痕,好象一颗怒星,目光深沉,嘴唇紧合,令人生畏,总之,一副凶恶的凌人气概。

这个人是由两种感情构成的:尊敬官府,仇视反叛。这两种感情本来很简单,也可以说还相当的好,但是他执行过度便难免作恶。在他看来,偷盗、杀人,一切罪行都是反叛的不同形式。凡是在政府有一官半职的人,上自内阁大臣,下至乡村民警,对这些人他都有一种盲目的深厚信仰。对曾经一度触犯法律的人,他一概加以鄙视、疾恨和厌恶。他是走极端的,不承认有例外,一方面他常说:“公务人员不会错,官员永远不会有过失。”另一方面他又说:“这些人都是不可救药的。他们决做不出什么好事来。”有些人思想过激,他们认为人的法律有权随意指定某人为罪犯,在必要时也有权坐实某人的罪状,并且不容社会下层的人申辩,沙威完全同意这种见解。他是坚决、严肃、铁面无私的,他是沉郁的梦想者,他能屈能伸,有如盲从的信徒。他的目光是一把钢锥,寒光刺人心脾。他一生只在“警惕”“侦察”方面下功夫。他用直线式的眼光去理解人世间最曲折的事物;他深信自己的作用,热爱自己的职务;他做暗探,如同别人做神甫一样。落在他手中的人必无幸免!自己的父亲越狱,他也会逮捕;自己的母亲潜逃,他也会告发。他那样做了,还会自鸣得意,如同行了善事一般。同时,他一生刻苦、独居、克己、制欲,从来不曾娱乐过。他对职务是绝对公而忘私的,他理解警察,正如斯巴达人理解斯巴达一样;他是一个无情的侦察者,一个凶顽的诚实人,一个铁石心肠的包探,一个具有布鲁图斯①性格的维多克②。

①布鲁图斯(Brutus),公元前六世纪罗马帝国执政官,是个公而忘私的典型人物。

②维多克(Vidocq),当时法国的一个著名侦探。

  沙威的全部气质说明他是一个藏头露尾、贼眼觑人的人。当时以高深的宇宙演化论点缀各种所谓极端派报刊的梅斯特尔玄学派,一定会说沙威是一个象征性的人物。别人看不见他那埋在帽子下的额头,别人看不见他那压在眉毛下的眼睛,别人看不见他那沉在领带里的下颏,别人看不见他那缩在衣袖里的手,别人看不见他那藏在礼服里的拐杖。但在时机到了的时候,他那筋骨暴露的扁额,阴气扑人的眼睛,骇人的下巴,粗大的手,怪模怪样的短棍,都突然从黑影里象伏兵那样全部出现了。

他尽管厌恶书籍,但在偶然得到一点闲空时也常读书,因此他并不完全不通文墨,这是可以从他谈话中喜欢咬文嚼字这一点上看出来。

他一点也没有不良的嗜好,我们已经说过。得意的时候他只闻一点鼻烟。在这一点上,他还带点人性。

有一个阶级,在司法部的统计年表上是被称为“游民”的,我们不难理解为什么沙威是那个阶级的阎王。一提沙威的名字可使他们退避三舍,沙威一露面,可使他们惊愕失色。

以上就是这个恶魔的形象。

沙威好象是一只永远盯在马德兰先生身上的眼睛,一只充满疑惑和猜忌的眼睛。到后来,马德兰先生也看出来了,不过对他来说,这仿佛是件无足轻重的事。他一句话也没有问过沙威,他既不找他,也不避他,他泰然自若地承受那种恼人的、几乎是逼人的目光。他对待沙威,正如对待旁人一样轻松和蔼。

从沙威的口气,我们可以猜出他已暗中调查过马德兰伯伯从前可能在别处留下的一些踪迹。那种好奇心原是他那种族的特性,一半由于本能,一半由于志愿。他仿佛已经知道底蕴,有时他还遮遮掩掩地说,已有人在某地调查过某个消失了的人家的某些情况。一次,他在和自己说话时说过一句这样的话:“我相信,我已经抓着他的把柄了。”那次以后,他一连想了三天,不曾说一句话。好象他以为自己握着的那根线索又中断了。

并且,下面的这点修正也是必要的,因为某些词句的含义往往显得过于绝对,其实人类的想象,也不能真的一无差错,并且本能的特性也正在于它有时也会被外界所扰乱、困惑和击退。否则本能将比智慧优越,禽兽也比人类聪明了。

沙威明明有点被马德兰先生的那种恬静、安闲、行若无事的态度窘困了。

可是,有一天,他那种奇特的行为好象刺激了马德兰先生。这件事的经过是这样的。
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