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第五卷下坡路 第10章大功告成的后果

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CHAPTER X RESULT OF THE SUCCESS



She had been dismissed towards the end of the winter; the summer passed, but winter came again. Short days, less work. Winter: no warmth, no light, no noonday, the evening joining on to the morning, fogs, twilight; the window is gray; it is impossible to see clearly at it. The sky is but a vent-hole. The whole day is a cavern. The sun has the air of a beggar. A frightful season! Winter changes the water of heaven and the heart of man into a stone. Her creditors harrassed her.

Fantine earned too little. Her debts had increased. The Thenardiers, who were not promptly paid, wrote to her constantly letters whose contents drove her to despair, and whose carriage ruined her. One day they wrote to her that her little Cosette was entirely naked in that cold weather, that she needed a woollen skirt, and that her mother must send at least ten francs for this. She received the letter, and crushed it in her hands all day long. That evening she went into a barber's shop at the corner of the street, and pulled out her comb. Her admirable golden hair fell to her knees.

"What splendid hair!" exclaimed the barber.

"How much will you give me for it?" said she.

"Ten francs."

"Cut it off."

She purchased a knitted petticoat and sent it to the Thenardiers. This petticoat made the Thenardiers furious. It was the money that they wanted. They gave the petticoat to Eponine. The poor Lark continued to shiver.

Fantine thought: "My child is no longer cold. I have clothed her with my hair." She put on little round caps which concealed her shorn head, and in which she was still pretty.

Dark thoughts held possession of Fantine's heart.

When she saw that she could no longer dress her hair, she began to hate every one about her. She had long shared the universal veneration for Father Madeleine; yet, by dint of repeating to herself that it was he who had discharged her, that he was the cause of her unhappiness, she came to hate him also, and most of all. When she passed the factory in working hours, when the workpeople were at the door, she affected to laugh and sing.

An old workwoman who once saw her laughing and singing in this fashion said, "There's a girl who will come to a bad end.

She took a lover, the first who offered, a man whom she did not love, out of bravado and with rage in her heart. He was a miserable scamp, a sort of mendicant musician, a lazy beggar, who beat her, and who abandoned her as she had taken him, in disgust.

She adored her child.

The lower she descended, the darker everything grew about her, the more radiant shone that little angel at the bottom of her heart. She said, "When I get rich, I will have my Cosette with me;" and she laughed. Her cough did not leave her, and she had sweats on her back.

One day she received from the Thenardiers a letter couched in the following terms: "Cosette is ill with a malady which is going the rounds of the neighborhood. A miliary fever, they call it. Expensive drugs are required. This is ruining us, and we can no longer pay for them. If you do not send us forty francs before the week is out, the little one will be dead."

She burst out laughing, and said to her old neighbor: "Ah! They are good! Forty francs! the idea! That makes two napoleons! Where do they think I am to get them? These peasants are stupid, truly."

Nevertheless she went to a dormer window in the staircase and read the letter once more. Then she descended the stairs and emerged, running and leaping and still laughing.

Some one met her and said to her, "What makes you so gay?"

She replied: "A fine piece of stupidity that some country people have written to me. They demand forty francs of me. So much for you, you peasants!"

As she crossed the square, she saw a great many people collected around a carriage of eccentric shape, upon the top of which stood a man dressed in red, who was holding forth. He was a quack dentist on his rounds, who was offering to the public full sets of teeth, opiates, powders and elixirs.

Fantine mingled in the group, and began to laugh with the rest at the harangue, which contained slang for the populace and jargon for respectable people. The tooth-puller espied the lovely, laughing girl, and suddenly exclaimed: "You have beautiful teeth, you girl there, who are laughing; if you want to sell me your palettes, I will give you a gold napoleon apiece for them."

"What are my palettes?" asked Fantine.

"The palettes," replied the dental professor, "are the front teeth, the two upper ones."

"How horrible!" exclaimed Fantine.

"Two napoleons!" grumbled a toothless old woman who was present. "Here's a lucky girl!"

Fantine fled and stopped her ears that she might not hear the hoarse voice of the man shouting to her: "Reflect, my beauty! two napoleons; they may prove of service. If your heart bids you, come this evening to the inn of the Tillac d'Argent; you will find me there."

Fantine returned home. She was furious, and related the occurrence to her good neighbor Marguerite: "Can you understand such a thing? Is he not an abominable man? How can they allow such people to go about the country! Pull out my two front teeth! Why, I should be horrible! My hair will grow again, but my teeth! Ah! what a monster of a man! I should prefer to throw myself head first on the pavement from the fifth story! He told me that he should be at the Tillac d'Argent this evening."

"And what did he offer?" asked Marguerite.

"Two napoleons."

"That makes forty francs."

"Yes," said Fantine; "that makes forty francs."

She remained thoughtful, and began her work. At the expiration of a quarter of an hour she left her sewing and went to read the Thenardiers' letter once more on the staircase.

On her return, she said to Marguerite, who was at work beside her:--

"What is a miliary fever? Do you know?"

"Yes," answered the old spinster; "it is a disease."

"Does it require many drugs?"

"Oh! terrible drugs."

"How does one get it?"

"It is a malady that one gets without knowing how."

"Then it attacks children?"

"Children in particular."

"Do people die of it?"

"They may," said Marguerite.

Fantine left the room and went to read her letter once more on the staircase.

That evening she went out, and was seen to turn her steps in the direction of the Rue de Paris, where the inns are situated.

The next morning, when Marguerite entered Fantine's room before daylight,--for they always worked together, and in this manner used only one candle for the two,--she found Fantine seated on her bed, pale and frozen. She had not lain down. Her cap had fallen on her knees. Her candle had burned all night, and was almost entirely consumed. Marguerite halted on the threshold, petrified at this tremendous wastefulness, and exclaimed:--

"Lord! the candle is all burned out! Something has happened."

Then she looked at Fantine, who turned toward her her head bereft of its hair.

Fantine had grown ten years older since the preceding night.

"Jesus!" said Marguerite, "what is the matter with you, Fantine?"

"Nothing," replied Fantine. "Quite the contrary. My child will not die of that frightful malady, for lack of succor. I am content."

So saying, she pointed out to the spinster two napoleons which were glittering on the table.

"Ah! Jesus God!" cried Marguerite. "Why, it is a fortune! Where did you get those louis d'or?"

"I got them," replied Fantine.

At the same time she smiled. The candle illuminated her countenance. It was a bloody smile. A reddish saliva soiled the corners of her lips, and she had a black hole in her mouth.

The two teeth had been extracted.

She sent the forty francs to Montfermeil.

After all it was a ruse of the Thenardiers to obtain money. Cosette was not ill.

Fantine threw her mirror out of the window. She had long since quitted her cell on the second floor for an attic with only a latch to fasten it, next the roof; one of those attics whose extremity forms an angle with the floor, and knocks you on the head every instant. The poor occupant can reach the end of his chamber as he can the end of his destiny, only by bending over more and more.

She had no longer a bed; a rag which she called her coverlet, a mattress on the floor, and a seatless chair still remained. A little rosebush which she had, had dried up, forgotten, in one corner. In the other corner was a butter-pot to hold water, which froze in winter, and in which the various levels of the water remained long marked by these circles of ice. She had lost her shame; she lost her coquetry. A final sign. She went out, with dirty caps. Whether from lack of time or from indifference, she no longer mended her linen. As the heels wore out, she dragged her stockings down into her shoes. This was evident from the perpendicular wrinkles. She patched her bodice, which was old and worn out, with scraps of calico which tore at the slightest movement. The people to whom she was indebted made "scenes" and gave her no peace. She found them in the street, she found them again on her staircase. She passed many a night weeping and thinking. Her eyes were very bright, and she felt a steady pain in her shoulder towards the top of the left shoulder-blade. She coughed a great deal. She deeply hated Father Madeleine, but made no complaint. She sewed seventeen hours a day; but a contractor for the work of prisons, who made the prisoners work at a discount, suddenly made prices fall, which reduced the daily earnings of working-women to nine sous. Seventeen hours of toil, and nine sous a day! Her creditors were more pitiless than ever. The second-hand dealer, who had taken back nearly all his furniture, said to her incessantly, "When will you pay me, you hussy?" What did they want of her, good God! She felt that she was being hunted, and something of the wild beast developed in her. About the same time, Thenardier wrote to her that he had waited with decidedly too much amiability and that he must have a hundred francs at once; otherwise he would turn little Cosette out of doors, convalescent as she was from her heavy illness, into the cold and the streets, and that she might do what she liked with herself, and die if she chose. "A hundred francs," thought Fantine. "But in what trade can one earn a hundred sous a day?"

"Come!" said she, "let us sell what is left."

The unfortunate girl became a woman of the town.



十 大功告成的后果




她是在冬季将完时被撵走的。夏季过了,冬季又来。日子短,工作也少些。冬季完全没有热,完全没有光,完全没有中午,紧接着早晨的是夜晚、迷雾、黄昏,窗棂冥黯,什物不辨。天好象是暗室中的透光眼,整日如坐地窖中。太阳也好象是个穷人。愁惨的季节!冬季把天上的水和人的心都变成了冰。她的债主们紧紧催逼她。

芳汀所赚的钱太少了。她的债越背越重。德纳第夫妇没有按时收着钱,便时常写信给她,信的内容使她悲哀,信的要求使她破产。有一天,他们写了一封信给她,说她的小珂赛特在那样冷的天气,还没有一点衣服,她需要一条羊毛裙,母亲应当寄去十个法郎,才能买到。她收到那封信,捏在手里搓了一整天。到了晚上,她走到街角上的一个理发店,取下她的梳子。她那一头令人叹赏的金丝发一直垂到她的腰际。

“好漂亮的头发!”那理发师喊着说。

“您肯出多少钱呢?”她说。

“十法郎。”

“剪吧。”

她买一条绒线编织的裙,寄给了德纳第。

那条裙子把德纳第夫妇弄到怒气冲天。他们要的原是钱。

他们便把裙子给爱潘妮穿。可怜的百灵鸟仍旧临风战栗。

芳汀想道:“我的孩子不会再冷了,我已拿我的头发做她的衣裳。”她自己戴一顶小扁帽,遮住她的光头,她仍旧是美丽的。

芳汀的心里起了一种黯淡的心思。当她看见自己已不能再梳头时,她开始怨恨她四周的一切。她素来是和旁人一样,尊敬马德兰伯伯的,但是,屡次想到撵她走的是他,使她受尽痛苦的也是他,她便连他也恨起来了。并且特别恨他。当工人们立在工厂门口她从那儿经过时,便故意嬉皮笑脸地唱起来。有个年老的女工,一次,看见她那样边唱边笑,说道:“这姑娘不会有好结果的。”

她姘识了一个汉子,一个不相干、她不爱的人,那完全是出自心中的愤懑和存心要胡作非为。那人是一个穷汉,一个流浪音乐师,一个好吃懒做的无赖,他打她,春宵既度,便起了厌恶的心,把她丢了。

她一心钟爱她的孩子。

她越堕落,她四周的一切便越黑暗,那甜美的安琪儿在她心灵深处也就越显得可爱。她常说:“等我发了财,我就可以有我的珂赛特在我身边了。”接着又一阵笑。咳嗽病没有离开她,并且她还盗汗。

一天,她接到德纳第夫妇写来的一封信,信里说:“珂赛特害了一种地方病,叫做猩红热。非有价贵的药不行。这场病把我们的钱都花光了,我们再没有能力付药费了。假使您不在这八天内寄四十法郎来,孩子可完了。”

她放声大笑,向着她的老邻妇说:

“哈!他们真是好人!四十法郎!只要四十法郎!就是两个拿破仑!他们要我到什么地方去找呢?这些乡下人多么蠢!”

但当她走到楼梯上时又拿出那封信,凑近天窗,又念了一遍。

随后,她从楼梯上走下来,向大门外跑,一面跑,一面跳,笑个不停。

有个人碰见她,问她说:

“您有什么事快乐到这种样子?”

她回答说:

“两个乡下佬刚写了一封信给我,和我开玩笑,他们问我要四十法郎。这些乡下佬真行!”

她走过广场,看见许多人围着一辆怪车,车顶上立着一个穿红衣服的人,张牙舞爪,正对着观众们演说。那人是一个兜卖整套牙齿、牙膏、牙粉和药酒的走江湖的牙科医生。

芳汀钻到那堆人里去听演讲,也跟着其余的人笑,他说的话里有江湖话,是说给那些流氓听的,也有俗话,是说给正经人听的。那拔牙的走方郎中见了这个美丽的姑娘张着嘴笑,突然叫起来:

“喂,那位笑嘻嘻的姑娘,您的牙齿真漂亮呀!假使您肯把您的瓷牌卖给我,我每一个出价一个金拿破仑。”

“我的瓷牌?瓷牌是什么?”芳汀问。

“瓷牌,”那位牙科医生回答说,“就是门牙,上排的两个门牙。”

“好吓人!”芳汀大声说。

“两个拿破仑!”旁边的一个没有牙齿的老婆子瘪着嘴说:

“这娘子多大的福气呀!”

芳汀逃走了,扪着自己的耳朵,免得听见那个人的哑嗓子。但是那人仍喊道:“您想想吧,美人!两个拿破仑大有用处呢。假使您愿意,今天晚上,你到银甲板客栈里来,您可以在那里找着我。”

芳汀回到家里,怒不可遏,把经过说给她那好邻居玛格丽特听:“您懂得这种道理吗?那不是个糟糕透顶的人吗?怎么可以让那种人四处走呢?拔掉我的两个门牙!我将变成什么怪样子!头发可以生出来,但是牙齿,呀,那个人妖!我宁肯从六层楼上倒栽葱跳下去!他告诉我说今天晚上,他在银甲板客栈。”

“他出什么价?”玛格丽特问。

“两个拿破仑。”

“就是四十法郎呵。”

“是呀,”芳汀说,“就是四十法郎。”

她出了一会神,跑去工作去了。一刻钟过后,她丢下她的工作,跑到楼梯上又去读德纳第夫妇的那封信。

她转来,向那在她身旁工作的玛格丽特说:

“猩红热是什么东西?您知道吗?”

“我知道,”那个老姑娘回答说,“那是一种病。”

“难道那种病需要很多药吗?”

“呵!需要许多古怪的药。”

“怎么会害那种病的?”

“就这样害的,那种病。”

“孩子也会害那种病吗?”

“孩子最容易害。”

“害了这种病会死吗?”

“很容易。”玛格丽特说。

芳汀走出去,又回到楼梯上,把那封信重念了一遍。

到晚上,她下楼,有人看见她朝着巴黎街走去,那正是有许多客栈的地方。

第二天早晨,天还没亮,玛格丽特走进芳汀的房间(她们每天都这样一同工作,两个人共点一支烛),她看见芳汀坐在床上,面色惨白,冻僵了似的。她还没有睡。她的小圆帽落在膝头上。那支烛点了一整夜,几乎点完了。

玛格丽特停在门边。她见了那种乱七八糟的样子,大惊失色,喊道:

“救主!这支烛点完了!一定出了大事情!”

随后她看见芳汀把她的光头转过来向着她。

芳汀一夜工夫老了十岁。

“耶稣!”玛格丽特说,“您出了什么事,芳汀?”

“没有什么,”芳汀回答说。“这样正好。我的孩子不会死了,那种病,吓坏我了,现在她有救了。我也放了心。”

她一面说,一面指着桌子,把那两个发亮的拿破仑指给那老姑娘看。

“呀,耶稣上帝!”玛格丽特说,“这是一笔横财呵!您从什么地方找到这些金路易的?”

“我弄到手了。”芳汀回答。

同时她微笑着。那支烛正照着她的面孔。那是一种血迹模糊的笑容。一条红口涎挂在她的嘴角上,嘴里一个黑窟窿。

那两颗牙被拔掉了。

她把那四十法郎寄到孟费?去了。

那却是德纳第夫妇谋财的骗局,珂赛特并没有害病。

芳汀把她的镜子丢到窗子外面。她早已放弃了二楼上的那间小屋子,搬到房顶下的一间用木闩拴着的破楼里去了;有许多房顶下的屋子,顶和地板相交成斜角,并且时时会撞你的头,她的房间便是那样的一间。贫苦人要走到他屋子的尽头,正如他要走到生命的尽头,都非逐渐弯腰不可。她没有床了,只留下一块破布,那便是她的被,地上一条草荐,一把破麦秸椅。她从前养的那棵小玫瑰花,已在屋角里枯萎了,没有人再想到它。在另一屋角里,有个用来盛水的奶油钵,冬天水结了冰,层层冰圈标志着高低的水面,放在那里已经很久了。她早已不怕人耻笑,现在连修饰的心思也没有了。最后的表现,是她常戴着肮脏的小帽上街。也许是没有时间,也许是不经意,她不再缝补她的衣衫了。袜跟破了便拉到鞋子里去,越破便越拉。这可以从那些垂直的折皱上看出来。她用许多一触即裂的零碎竹布拼在她那件破旧的汗衫上。她的债主们和她吵闹不休,使她没有片刻的休息。她在街上时常碰见他们,在她的楼梯上又会时常碰见他们。她常常整夜哭,整夜地想,她的眼睛亮得出奇。并且觉得在左肩胛骨上方的肩膀时常作痛。她时时咳嗽。她恨透了马德兰伯伯,但是不出怨言。她每天缝十七个钟头,但是一个以贱值包揽女囚工作的包工,忽然压低了工资,于是工作不固定女工的每日工资也减到了九个苏。十七个钟头的工作每天九个苏!她的债主们的狠心更是变本加厉。那个几乎把全部家具拿走了的旧货商人不停地向她说:“几时付我钱,贱货?”人家究竟要她怎么样,慈悲的上帝?她觉得自己已无路可走,于是在她心里便起了一种困兽的心情。正当这时,德纳第又有信给她,说他等了许久,已是仁至义尽了,他立刻要一百法郎,否则他就把那小珂赛特撵出去,她大病以后,刚刚复原,他们管不了天有多冷,路有多远,也只好让她去,假使她愿意,死在路边就是了。“一百法郎!”芳汀想道,“但是哪里有每天赚五个法郎的机会呢?”

“管他妈的!”她说,“全卖了吧。”

那苦命人作了公娼。
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