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第六卷小比克布斯 第04章愉快

本文属阅读资料
CHAPTER IV GAYETIES



None the less, these young girls filled this grave house with charming souvenirs.

At certain hours childhood sparkled in that cloister. The recreation hour struck. A door swung on its hinges. The birds said, "Good; here come the children!" An irruption of youth inundated that garden intersected with a cross like a shroud. Radiant faces, white foreheads, innocent eyes, full of merry light, all sorts of auroras, were scattered about amid these shadows. After the psalmodies, the bells, the peals, and knells and offices, the sound of these little girls burst forth on a sudden more sweetly than the noise of bees. The hive of joy was opened, and each one brought her honey. They played, they called to each other, they formed into groups, they ran about; pretty little white teeth chattered in the corners; the veils superintended the laughs from a distance, shades kept watch of the sunbeams, but what mattered it? Still they beamed and laughed. Those four lugubrious walls had their moment of dazzling brilliancy. They looked on, vaguely blanched with the reflection of so much joy at this sweet swarming of the hives. It was like a shower of roses falling athwart this house of mourning. The young girls frolicked beneath the eyes of the nuns; the gaze of impeccability does not embarrass innocence. Thanks to these children, there was, among so many austere hours, one hour of ingenuousness. The little ones skipped about; the elder ones danced. In this cloister play was mingled with heaven. Nothing is so delightful and so august as all these fresh, expanding young souls. Homer would have come thither to laugh with Perrault; and there was in that black garden, youth, health, noise, cries, giddiness, pleasure, happiness enough to smooth out the wrinkles of all their ancestresses, those of the epic as well as those of the fairy-tale, those of the throne as well as those of the thatched cottage from Hecuba to la Mere-Grand.

In that house more than anywhere else, perhaps, arise those children's sayings which are so graceful and which evoke a smile that is full of thoughtfulness. It was between those four gloomy walls that a child of five years exclaimed one day: "Mother! one of the big girls has just told me that I have only nine years and ten months longer to remain here. What happiness!"

It was here, too, that this memorable dialogue took place:--

A Vocal Mother. Why are you weeping, my child?

The child (aged six). I told Alix that I knew my French history. She says that I do not know it, but I do.

Alix, the big girl (aged nine). No; she does not know it.

The Mother. How is that, my child?

Alix. She told me to open the book at random and to ask her any question in the book, and she would answer it.

"Well?"

"She did not answer it."

"Let us see about it. What did you ask her?"

"I opened the book at random, as she proposed, and I put the first question that I came across."

"And what was the question?"

"It was, `What happened after that?'"

It was there that that profound remark was made anent a rather greedy paroquet which belonged to a lady boarder:--

"How well bred! it eats the top of the slice of bread and butter just like a person!"

It was on one of the flagstones of this cloister that there was once picked up a confession which had been written out in advance, in order that she might not forget it, by a sinner of seven years:--

"Father, I accuse myself of having been avaricious.

"Father, I accuse myself of having been an adulteress.

"Father, I accuse myself of having raised my eyes to the gentlemen."

It was on one of the turf benches of this garden that a rosy mouth six years of age improvised the following tale, which was listened to by blue eyes aged four and five years:--

"There were three little cocks who owned a country where there were a great many flowers. They plucked the flowers and put them in their pockets. After that they plucked the leaves and put them in their playthings. There was a wolf in that country; there was a great deal of forest; and the wolf was in the forest; and he ate the little cocks."

And this other poem:--

"There came a blow with a stick.

"It was Punchinello who bestowed it on the cat.

"It was not good for her; it hurt her.

"Then a lady put Punchinello in prison."

It was there that a little abandoned child, a foundling whom the convent was bringing up out of charity, uttered this sweet and heart-breaking saying. She heard the others talking of their mothers, and she murmured in her corner:--

"As for me, my mother was not there when I was born!"

There was a stout portress who could always be seen hurrying through the corridors with her bunch of keys, and whose name was Sister Agatha. The big big girls--those over ten years of age-- called her Agathocles.

The refectory, a large apartment of an oblong square form, which received no light except through a vaulted cloister on a level with the garden, was dark and damp, and, as the children say, full of beasts. All the places round about furnished their contingent of insects.

Each of its four corners had received, in the language of the pupils, a special and expressive name. There was Spider corner, Caterpillar corner, Wood-louse corner, and Cricket corner.

Cricket corner was near the kitchen and was highly esteemed. It was not so cold there as elsewhere. From the refectory the names had passed to the boarding-school, and there served as in the old College Mazarin to distinguish four nations. Every pupil belonged to one of these four nations according to the corner of the refectory in which she sat at meals. One day Monseigneur the Archbishop while making his pastoral visit saw a pretty little rosy girl with beautiful golden hair enter the class-room through which he was passing.

He inquired of another pupil, a charming brunette with rosy cheeks, who stood near him:--

"Who is that?"

"She is a spider, Monseigneur."

"Bah! And that one yonder?"

"She is a cricket."

"And that one?"

"She is a caterpillar."

"Really! and yourself?"

"I am a wood-louse, Monseigneur."

Every house of this sort has its own peculiarities. At the beginning of this century Ecouen was one of those strict and graceful places where young girls pass their childhood in a shadow that is almost august. At Ecouen, in order to take rank in the procession of the Holy Sacrament, a distinction was made between virgins and florists. There were also the "dais" and the "censors,"--the first who held the cords of the dais, and the others who carried incense before the Holy Sacrament. The flowers belonged by right to the florists. Four "virgins" walked in advance. On the morning of that great day it was no rare thing to hear the question put in the dormitory, "Who is a virgin?"

Madame Campan used to quote this saying of a "little one" of seven years, to a "big girl" of sixteen, who took the head of the procession, while she, the little one, remained at the rear, "You are a virgin, but I am not."



四 愉 快




那些年轻的姑娘在这严肃的院子里并不是没有留下一些动人事迹的。

某些时候,那修院里也会洋溢着天真的气氛。休息的钟声响了,园门豁然洞开。小鸟们说:“好啊!孩子们快出来了!”随即涌出一群娃娃,在那片象殓巾一样被一个十字架划分的园地上散开来。无数光艳的面容、白皙的头额、晶莹巧笑的眼睛和种种曙光晓色都在那阴惨的园里缤纷飞舞。在颂歌、钟声、铃声、报丧钟、日课之后,突然出现了小女孩的声音,比蜂群的声音更为悦耳。欢乐的蜂窝开放了,并且每一个都带来了蜜汁。大家一同游戏,彼此招唤,三五成群地互相奔逐;在角落里娇小的皓齿在喃喃私语,而那些面罩则隐在远处在窃听她们的笑声黑暗窥伺光明,但是没有关系!大家照样乐,照样笑。那四道死气沉沉的墙也有了它们片时的欢畅。它们处在蜂群的嬉戏纷扰中,面对那么多的欢笑,也多少受到一些春光的反映。那好象是阵荡涤悲哀的玫瑰雨。小姑娘们在那些修女的眼前尽情戏谑,吹毛求疵的眼光并不能影响活泼天真的性格。幸而有这些孩子,这才在那么多的清规戒律中见到一点天真之乐。小的跳,大的舞。在那修院里,游戏的欢乐,乐如上青天。没有什么能比所有这些欢腾皎洁的灵魂更为窈窕庄严的了。荷马有知,也当来此与贝洛①同乐,在这凄惨的园子里有青春,有健康,有人声,有叫嚷,有稚气,有乐趣,有幸福,这能使所有的老妈妈喜笑颜开,无论是史诗里的或是童话里的,宫廷中的或是茅舍中的,从赫卡伯②直到老大妈。

①贝洛(Perrault),十七世纪法国诗人和童话作家。

②赫卡伯(Hécube),特洛伊最后一个国王普里阿摩之妻,赫克托尔之母。

“孩儿话”总是饶有风趣的,能令人发笑,发人深省,任何其他地方说的孩儿话也许都不及那修院里的多。下面这句是个五岁的孩子一天在那四道惨不忍睹的墙里说出来的:“妈!一个大姐姐刚才告我说,我只需在这里再待上九年十个月就够了。多好的运气啊!”这一段难忘的对话也是发生在那里的:

一个参议嬷嬷:“你为什么哭,我的孩子?”

孩子(六岁)痛哭着说:“我对阿利克斯说,我读熟了法国史。她说我没有读熟,我读熟了。”

阿利克斯(大姑娘,九岁):“不对。她没有读熟。”

嬷嬷:“怎么会呢,我的孩子?”

阿利克斯:“她要我随便打开书本,把书里的问题提出一个来问她,她说她都能答。”

“后来呢?”

“她没有答出来。”

“你说。你向她提了什么问题?”

“我照她的话随便翻开书,把我最先见到的一个问题提出来问她。”

“那问题是怎样的?”

“那问题是:后来发生了什么事?”

也是在那里,有位太太带着孩子在那里奇读,那小丫头有些嘴馋,有人对她作了这样一种深刻的观察:

“这孩子多乖!她只吃面包上的那层果酱,简直就象个大人!”

下面这张忏悔词是在那修院里石板地上拾到的,这是一个七岁的犯罪姑娘事先写好以免忘记的:

“父啊,我控告自己吝啬。

“父啊,我控告自己淫乱。

“父啊,我控告自己曾抬起眼睛望男人。”

下面这篇童话是一张六岁的粉红嘴在那园里草地上临时编出来给四五岁的蓝眼睛听的:

“从前有三只小公鸡,它们有一块地,那里有许多花。它们采了花,放在它们的口袋里。后来,它们采了叶子,放在它们的小玩具里。在那地方有只狼,也有许多树林,狼在树林里,吃了那些小公鸡。”

还有这样一首诗:

来了一棍。

那是波里希内儿①给猫的一棍。

那对猫没有好处,只有痛苦。

于是有位太太就把波里希内儿监禁。

有一个被遗弃的私生女,是由修院作为行善收来抚养的,她在那里说过这样一句天真恼人的话。她听到别人在谈她们的母亲,她便在自己的角落里悄悄地说:

“我嘛,我生出来的时候,我母亲不在旁边!”

那里有个跑街的肥胖女用人,经常带着一大串钥匙,匆匆忙忙地在那些过道里跑来跑去,她的名字叫阿加特嬷嬷。那些“大大姑娘”??十岁以上的??称她为阿加多克莱②。

①波里希内儿(Polichinelle),法国木偶剧中的小丑,鸡胸龟背,大长鼻子,声音尖哑,爱吵闹。

②阿加多克莱(Agathoclès)是公元前三世纪西西里锡腊库扎城的暴君,读音又和Agatheauxclés(带着许多钥匙的阿加特)相同。

食堂是一间长方形的大厅,阳光从和花园处于同一水平面的圆拱回廊那里照进去,厅里黑暗潮湿,按照孩子们的说法,满是虫子。周围四处都替它供给昆虫。于是四个角落的每个角,用那些寄读生的话来说,都得到了一个形象化的专用名词。有蜘蛛角、毛虫角、草鞋虫角和蛐蛐角。蛐蛐角靠着厨房,是很受重视的。那里比别处暖。食堂里的这些名称继又转用到寄读学校,用来区别四个区,正如从前的马萨林①学院那样。每个学生都按她吃饭时在食堂里所坐的地方而属于某一个区。一天,大主教来巡视,正穿过课室,看见一个金发朱唇的美丽小姑娘走进来,便问他身边的另一个桃腮褐发的漂亮姑娘:

“那个小姑娘叫什么?”

“大人,这是个蜘蛛。”

“哟!那一个呢?”

“那是个蛐蛐。”

“还有那一个呢?”

“那是条毛虫。”

“真是怪事,那么你自己呢?”

“大人,我是个草鞋虫。”

①马萨林(Mazarin),红衣主教,路易十三和路易十四的首相。他创立了一个马萨林学院,招收新占领地区的学生并将学院按照新占领地区分为四区。 

凡是这类性质的团体都各有各的特点。在本世纪初,艾古安也是一处教小姑娘们在阴沉环境中成长的那种庄严有致的地方。在艾古安参加圣体游行的行列里,有所谓童贞女和献花女。也还有幔亭队和香炉队,前者牵幔亭的挽带,后者持香炉熏圣体。鲜花当然由献花女捧着。四个“童贞女”走在前面。在那隆重节日的早晨,寝室里常会听到这样的问话:

“谁是童贞女?”

康邦夫人曾谈过一个七岁小姑娘对一个在游行行列前面领头的十六岁大姑娘说的一句话,当时那小姑娘走在行列的最后:“你是童贞女,你;我,我不是童贞女。”
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