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第四卷戈尔博老屋 第05章一个五法郎银币丁零落地

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CHAPTER V A FIVE-FRANC PIECE FALLS ON THE GROUND AND PRODUCES A TUMULT



Near Saint-Medard's church there was a poor man who was in the habit of crouching on the brink of a public well which had been condemned, and on whom Jean Valjean was fond of bestowing charity. He never passed this man without giving him a few sous. Sometimes he spoke to him. Those who envied this mendicant said that he belonged to the police. He was an ex-beadle of seventy-five, who was constantly mumbling his prayers.

One evening, as Jean Valjean was passing by, when he had not Cosette with him, he saw the beggar in his usual place, beneath the lantern which had just been lighted. The man seemed engaged in prayer, according to his custom, and was much bent over. Jean Valjean stepped up to him and placed his customary alms in his hand. The mendicant raised his eyes suddenly, stared intently at Jean Valjean, then dropped his head quickly. This movement was like a flash of lightning. Jean Valjean was seized with a shudder. It seemed to him that he had just caught sight, by the light of the street lantern, not of the placid and beaming visage of the old beadle, but of a well-known and startling face. He experienced the same impression that one would have on finding one's self, all of a sudden, face to face, in the dark, with a tiger. He recoiled, terrified, petrified, daring neither to breathe, to speak, to remain, nor to flee, staring at the beggar who had dropped his head, which was enveloped in a rag, and no longer appeared to know that he was there. At this strange moment, an instinct-- possibly the mysterious instinct of self-preservation,--restrained Jean Valjean from uttering a word. The beggar had the same figure, the same rags, the same appearance as he had every day. "Bah!" said Jean Valjean, "I am mad! I am dreaming! Impossible!" And he returned profoundly troubled.

He hardly dared to confess, even to himself, that the face which he thought he had seen was the face of Javert.

That night, on thinking the matter over, he regretted not having questioned the man, in order to force him to raise his head a second time.

On the following day, at nightfall, he went back. The beggar was at his post. "Good day, my good man," said Jean Valjean, resolutely, handing him a sou. The beggar raised his head, and replied in a whining voice, "Thanks, my good sir." It was unmistakably the ex-beadle.

Jean Valjean felt completely reassured. He began to laugh. "How the deuce could I have thought that I saw Javert there?" he thought. "Am I going to lose my eyesight now?" And he thought no more about it.

A few days afterwards,--it might have been at eight o'clock in the evening,--he was in his room, and engaged in making Cosette spell aloud, when he heard the house door open and then shut again. This struck him as singular. The old woman, who was the only inhabitant of the house except himself, always went to bed at nightfall, so that she might not burn out her candles. Jean Valjean made a sign to Cosette to be quiet. He heard some one ascending the stairs. It might possibly be the old woman, who might have fallen ill and have been out to the apothecary's. Jean Valjean listened.

The step was heavy, and sounded like that of a man; but the old woman wore stout shoes, and there is nothing which so strongly resembles the step of a man as that of an old woman. Nevertheless, Jean Valjean blew out his candle.

He had sent Cosette to bed, saying to her in a low voice, "Get into bed very softly"; and as he kissed her brow, the steps paused.

Jean Valjean remained silent, motionless, with his back towards the door, seated on the chair from which he had not stirred, and holding his breath in the dark.

After the expiration of a rather long interval, he turned round, as he heard nothing more, and, as he raised his eyes towards the door of his chamber, he saw a light through the keyhole. This light formed a sort of sinister star in the blackness of the door and the wall. There was evidently some one there, who was holding a candle in his hand and listening.

Several minutes elapsed thus, and the light retreated. But he heard no sound of footsteps, which seemed to indicate that the person who had been listening at the door had removed his shoes.

Jean Valjean threw himself, all dressed as he was, on his bed, and could not close his eyes all night.

At daybreak, just as he was falling into a doze through fatigue, he was awakened by the creaking of a door which opened on some attic at the end of the corridor, then he heard the same masculine footstep which had ascended the stairs on the preceding evening. The step was approaching. He sprang off the bed and applied his eye to the keyhole, which was tolerably large, hoping to see the person who had made his way by night into the house and had listened at his door, as he passed. It was a man, in fact, who passed, this time without pausing, in front of Jean Valjean's chamber. The corridor was too dark to allow of the person's face being distinguished; but when the man reached the staircase, a ray of light from without made it stand out like a silhouette, and Jean Valjean had a complete view of his back. The man was of lofty stature, clad in a long frock-coat, with a cudgel under his arm. The formidable neck and shoulders belonged to Javert.

Jean Valjean might have attempted to catch another glimpse of him through his window opening on the boulevard, but he would have been obliged to open the window: he dared not.

It was evident that this man had entered with a key, and like himself. Who had given him that key? What was the meaning of this?

When the old woman came to do the work, at seven o'clock in the morning, Jean Valjean cast a penetrating glance on her, but he did not question her. The good woman appeared as usual.

As she swept up she remarked to him:--

"Possibly Monsieur may have heard some one come in last night?"

At that age, and on that boulevard, eight o'clock in the evening was the dead of the night.

"That is true, by the way," he replied, in the most natural tone possible. "Who was it?"

"It was a new lodger who has come into the house," said the old woman.

"And what is his name?"

"I don't know exactly; Dumont, or Daumont, or some name of that sort."

"And who is this Monsieur Dumont?"

The old woman gazed at him with her little polecat eyes, and answered:--

"A gentleman of property, like yourself."

Perhaps she had no ulterior meaning. Jean Valjean thought he perceived one.

When the old woman had taken her departure, he did up a hundred francs which he had in a cupboard, into a roll, and put it in his pocket. In spite of all the precautions which he took in this operation so that he might not be heard rattling silver, a hundred-sou piece escaped from his hands and rolled noisily on the floor.

When darkness came on, he descended and carefully scrutinized both sides of the boulevard. He saw no one. The boulevard appeared to be absolutely deserted. It is true that a person can conceal himself behind trees.

He went up stairs again.

"Come." he said to Cosette.

He took her by the hand, and they both went out.





五 一个五法郎银币丁零落地




在圣美达礼拜堂附近,有一个穷人时常蹲在一口填塞了的公井的井栏上,冉阿让老爱给他钱。他从那人面前走过,总免不了要给他几个苏。他有时还和他谈话。忌妒那乞丐的人都说他是警察的眼线。那是一个七十五岁在礼拜堂里当过杂务的老头儿,他嘴里的祈祷文是从来不断的。

有一天傍晚,冉阿让打那地方走过,他这回没有带珂赛特,路旁的回光灯刚点上,他望见那乞丐蹲在灯光下面,在他的老地方。那人,和平时一样,好象是在祈祷,腰弯得很低。冉阿让走到他面前,把布施照常送到他手里。乞丐突然抬起了眼睛,狠狠地盯了冉阿让一眼,随即又低下了头。这一动作快到和闪光一样,冉阿让为之一惊。他仿佛觉得刚才在路灯的微光下见到的不是那老杂务的平静愚戆的脸,而是一副见过的吓人的面孔。给他的印象好象是在黑暗中撞见了猛虎。他吓得倒退一步,不敢呼吸,不敢说话,不敢停留,也不敢逃走,呆呆地望着那个低着头、头上盖块破布、仿佛早已忘了他还站在面前的乞丐。在这种奇特的时刻,有一种本能,也许就是神秘的自卫的本能使冉阿让说不出话来。那乞丐的身材,那身破烂衣服,他的外貌,都和平时一样。“活见鬼!……”冉阿让说,“我疯了!我做梦!不可能!”他心里乱作一团,回到家里去了。

他几乎不敢对自己说他以为看见的那张面孔是沙威的。

晚上他独自捉摸时,后悔不该不问那人一句话,迫使他再抬起头来。

第二天夜晚时,他又去到那里。那乞丐又在原处。“您好,老头儿。”冉阿让大着胆说,同时给了他一个苏。乞丐抬起头来,带着悲伤的声音说:“谢谢,我的好先生。”这确是那个老杂务。

冉阿让感到自己的心完全安定下来了。他笑了出来。“活见鬼!我几时看见了沙威?”他心里想。“真笑话,难道我现在已老胡涂了?”他不再去想那件事了。

几天过后,大致是在晚上八点钟,他正在自己的屋子里高声教珂赛特拼字时,忽然听见有人推开破屋的大门,继又关上。他觉得奇怪。和他同屋住的那个孤独的老奶奶,为了不耗费蜡烛,素来是天黑便上床的。冉阿让立即向珂赛特示意,要她不要作声。他听见有人上搂梯。充其量,也许只是老奶奶害着病,到药房里去一起回来了。冉阿让仔细听。脚步很沉,听起来象是一个男人的脚步声,不过老奶奶一向穿的是大鞋,再没有比老妇人的脚步更象男人脚步的了。可是冉阿让吹灭了烛。

他打发珂赛特去睡,低声向她说“轻轻地去睡吧”,正当他吻着她额头时,脚步声停下了。冉阿让不吭声,也不动,背朝着门,仍旧照原样坐在他的椅子上,在黑暗中控制住呼吸。过了一段相当长的时间,他听到没声了,才悄悄地转过身子,朝着房门望去,看见锁眼里有光。那一点光,出现在黑暗的墙壁和房门上,正象一颗灾星。显然有人拿着烛在外面偷听。

几分钟过后,烛光远去,不过他没有再听见脚步声,这也许可以说明来到房门口窃听的人已脱去了鞋子。

冉阿让和衣倒在床上,整夜合不上眼。

天快亮时,他正因疲惫而朦胧睡去,忽然又被叫门的声音惊醒过来,这声音是从过道底里的一间破屋子里传来的,接着他又听见有人走路的声音,正和昨夜上楼的那人的脚步声一样。脚步声越走越近。他连忙跳下床,把眼睛凑在锁眼上,锁眼相当大,他希望能趁那人走过时,看看昨夜上楼来到他门口偷听的人究竞是谁。从冉阿让房门口走过的确是个男人,他一径走过没有停。当时过道里的光线还太暗,看不清他的脸。但当这人走近楼梯口时,从外面射进来的一道阳光把他的身体,象个剪影似的突现出来了,冉阿让看见了他的整个背影。这人身材高大,穿一件长大衣,胳膊底下夹着一条短棍。那正是沙威的那副吓坏人的形象。

冉阿让原可设法到临街的窗口去再看他一眼。不过非先开窗不可,他不敢。

很明显,那人是带着一把钥匙进来的,正象回到自己家里一样。不过,钥匙是谁给他的呢?这究竟是怎么回事?

早晨七点,老奶奶进来打扫屋子,冉阿让睁着一双刺人的眼睛望着她,但是没有问她话。老奶奶的神气还是和平日一样。

她一面扫地,一面对他说:

“昨天晚上先生也许听见有人进来吧?”

在那种年头,在那条路上,晚上八点,已是夜深人静的时候了。

“对,听到的,”他用最自然的声音回答说,“是谁?”

“是个新来的房客,”老奶奶说,“我们这里又多一个人了。”

“叫什么名字?”

“我闹不大清楚。都孟或是多孟先生,象是这样一个名字。”

“干什么事的,这位都孟先生?”

老奶奶睁着一双鼠眼,盯着他,回答说:

“吃息钱的,和您一样。”

她也许并没有言外之意,冉阿让听了却不免多心。

老奶奶走开以后,他把放在壁橱里的百来个法郎卷成一卷,收在衣袋里。他做这事时非常小心,恐怕人家听见银钱响,但是,他尽管小心,仍旧有一枚值五法郎的银币脱了手,在方砖地上滚得一片响。

太阳落山时,他跑下楼,到大路上向四周仔细看了一遍。没有人。路上好象是绝对的清静。也很可能有人躲在树后面。

他又回到楼上。

“来。”他向珂赛特说。

他牵着她的手,两个人一道出门走了。
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