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第八卷公墓接受人们给它的一切 第08章答问成功

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CHAPTER VIII A SUCCESSFUL INTERROGATORY


An hour later, in the darkness of night, two men and a child presented themselves at No. 62 Rue Petit-Picpus. The elder of the men lifted the knocker and rapped.

They were Fauchelevent, Jean Valjean, and Cosette.

The two old men had gone to fetch Cosette from the fruiterer's in the Rue du Chemin-Vert, where Fauchelevent had deposited her on the preceding day. Cosette had passed these twenty-four hours trembling silently and understanding nothing. She trembled to such a degree that she wept. She had neither eaten nor slept. The worthy fruit-seller had plied her with a hundred questions, without obtaining any other reply than a melancholy and unvarying gaze. Cosette had betrayed nothing of what she had seen and heard during the last two days. She divined that they were passing through a crisis. She was deeply conscious that it was necessary to "be good." Who has not experienced the sovereign power of those two words, pronounced with a certain accent in the ear of a terrified little being: Say nothing! Fear is mute. Moreover, no one guards a secret like a child.

But when, at the expiration of these lugubrious twenty-four hours, she beheld Jean Valjean again, she gave vent to such a cry of joy, that any thoughtful person who had chanced to hear that cry, would have guessed that it issued from an abyss.

Fauchelevent belonged to the convent and knew the pass-words. All the doors opened.

Thus was solved the double and alarming problem of how to get out and how to get in.

The porter, who had received his instructions, opened the little servant's door which connected the courtyard with the garden, and which could still be seen from the street twenty years ago, in the wall at the bottom of the court, which faced the carriage entrance.

The porter admitted all three of them through this door, and from that point they reached the inner, reserved parlor where Fauchelevent, on the preceding day, had received his orders from the prioress.

The prioress, rosary in hand, was waiting for them. A vocal mother, with her veil lowered, stood beside her.

A discreet candle lighted, one might almost say, made a show of lighting the parlor.

The prioress passed Jean Valjean in review. There is nothing which examines like a downcast eye.

Then she questioned him:--

"You are the brother?"

"Yes, reverend Mother," replied Fauchelevent.

"What is your name?"

Fauchelevent replied:--

"Ultime Fauchelevent."

He really had had a brother named Ultime, who was dead.

"Where do you come from?"

Fauchelevent replied:--

"From Picquigny, near Amiens."

"What is your age?"

Fauchelevent replied:--

"Fifty."

"What is your profession?"

Fauchelevent replied:--

"Gardener."

"Are you a good Christian?"

Fauchelevent replied:--

"Every one is in the family."

"Is this your little girl?"

Fauchelevent replied:--

"Yes, reverend Mother."

"You are her father?"

Fauchelevent replied:--

"Her grandfather."

The vocal mother said to the prioress in a low voice

"He answers well."

Jean Valjean had not uttered a single word.

The prioress looked attentively at Cosette, and said half aloud to the vocal mother:--

"She will grow up ugly."

The two mothers consulted for a few moments in very low tones in the corner of the parlor, then the prioress turned round and said:--

"Father Fauvent, you will get another knee-cap with a bell. Two will be required now."

On the following day, therefore, two bells were audible in the garden, and the nuns could not resist the temptation to raise the corner of their veils. At the extreme end of the garden, under the trees, two men, Fauvent and another man, were visible as they dug side by side. An enormous event. Their silence was broken to the extent of saying to each other: "He is an assistant gardener."

The vocal mothers added: "He is a brother of Father Fauvent."

Jean Valjean was, in fact, regularly installed; he had his belled knee-cap; henceforth he was official. His name was Ultime Fauchelevent.

The most powerful determining cause of his admission had been the prioress's observation upon Cosette: "She will grow up ugly."

The prioress, that pronounced prognosticator, immediately took a fancy to Cosette and gave her a place in the school as a charity pupil.

There is nothing that is not strictly logical about this.

It is in vain that mirrors are banished from the convent, women are conscious of their faces; now, girls who are conscious of their beauty do not easily become nuns; the vocation being voluntary in inverse proportion to their good looks, more is to be hoped from the ugly than from the pretty. Hence a lively taste for plain girls.

The whole of this adventure increased the importance of good, old Fauchelevent; he won a triple success; in the eyes of Jean Valjean, whom he had saved and sheltered; in those of grave-digger Gribier, who said to himself: "He spared me that fine"; with the convent, which, being enabled, thanks to him, to retain the coffin of Mother Crucifixion under the altar, eluded Caesar and satisfied God. There was a coffin containing a body in the Petit-Picpus, and a coffin without a body in the Vaugirard cemetery, public order had no doubt been deeply disturbed thereby, but no one was aware of it.

As for the convent, its gratitude to Fauchelevent was very great. Fauchelevent became the best of servitors and the most precious of gardeners. Upon the occasion of the archbishop's next visit, the prioress recounted the affair to his Grace, making something of a confession at the same time, and yet boasting of her deed. On leaving the convent, the archbishop mentioned it with approval, and in a whisper to M. de Latil, Monsieur's confessor, afterwards Archbishop of Reims and Cardinal. This admiration for Fauchelevent became widespread, for it made its way to Rome. We have seen a note addressed by the then reigning Pope, Leo XII., to one of his relatives, a Monsignor in the Nuncio's establishment in Paris, and bearing, like himself, the name of Della Genga; it contained these lines: "It appears that there is in a convent in Paris an excellent gardener, who is also a holy man, named Fauvent." Nothing of this triumph reached Fauchelevent in his hut; he went on grafting, weeding, and covering up his melon beds, without in the least suspecting his excellences and his sanctity. Neither did he suspect his glory, any more than a Durham or Surrey bull whose portrait is published in the London Illustrated News, with this inscription: "Bull which carried off the prize at the Cattle Show."




八 答问成功

一个钟头过后,在黑夜里,有两个男人和一个孩子走到比克布斯小街六十二号的大门口。年纪较老的那个男人提起门锤来敲了几下。

那就是割风,冉阿让和珂赛特。

两个老人已去过绿径街,到了昨天割风托付珂赛特的那个水果店老板娘家里,把她领来了。珂赛特度过了那二十四个小时,什么也没有懂,只是一声不响地发着抖。她抖到连哭也没有哭一下。她没有吃东西,也没有睡。那位老板娘真是名不虚传,问了她百十来个问题,所得的回答只是一双毫无神采的眼睛,始终是那个样子。珂赛特对两天以来的所见所闻全没有丝毫泄露。她领会到他们正在过一个难关。她深深感到她“应当听话”。谁没有感受过人对着一个饱受惊吓的幼童的耳朵,用某种声调说出“什么都不能讲啊!”这样一句话时的无比威力,恐怖是个哑子。况且,任何人也不能象孩子那样能保守秘密。

不过,当她经历了那悲惨的二十四个小时又会见冉阿让时,所发出的那样一种欢乐的呼声,善于思考的人听了,会深深感到那种呼声所表达的对脱离苦境的惊喜。

割风原是修院里的人,他知道那里的各种口语暗号。所有的门全开了。

于是那个令人心悸的双重困难问题:出去和进来的问题,得到了解决。

门房,早已有了指示,他开了那道由院子通往园里去的便门,那道门是开在院子底里的墙上的,正对着大车门,二十年前,人们还可以从街上望见。门房领着他们三人一同由那道门进去,从那里,他们便到了院内那间特备接待室,也就是割风在前一天接受院长命令的那间屋子。

院长,手里拿着念珠,正在等候他们。一个参议嬷嬷,放下了面罩,立在她的旁边。一支惨淡的细白烛照着,几乎可以说,仿佛照的是那接待室。

院长审视了冉阿让。再没有什么比低垂着的眼睛更看得清楚的了。

接着她问道:

“您就是那兄弟吗?”

“是的,崇高的嬷嬷。”割风回答。

“您叫什么名字?”

割风回答说:

“于尔迪姆·割风。”

他确有一个死了的兄弟叫于尔迪姆。

“您是什么地方人?”

割风回答说:

“原籍比奇尼,靠近亚眠。”

“多大年纪了?”

割风回答说:

“五十岁。”

“您是哪个行业的?”

割风回答说:

“园艺工人。”

“您是好基督徒吗?”

割风回答说:

“一家全是。”

“这小姑娘是您的吗?”

割风回答说:

“是的,崇高的嬷嬷。”

“您是她的父亲吗?”

割风回答说:

“是她的祖父。”

那参议嬷嬷对院长低声说:

“他回答倒不坏。”

冉阿让根本没有说一个字。

院长仔细望了望珂赛特,又低声对那参议嬷嬷说:

“她会长得丑。”

那两个嬷嬷在接待室的角落里极轻声地商量了几分钟,接着院长又走回来,说:

“割爷,您再准备一副有铃铛的膝带。现在需要两副了。”

第二天,的确,大家都听到园里有两个铃铛的声音,修女们按捺不住,都要掀起一角面罩来看看。她们看见在园子底里的树下,有两个男人在一起翻地,割风和另外一个。那是一件大事。从来不开口的人也不免要互相告诉:“那是一个助理园丁。”

参议嬷嬷们补充说:“那是割爷的兄弟。”

冉阿让算是安插妥当了,他有了那副结在膝上的革带和一个铃铛,他从此是有正式职务的人了。他叫于尔迪姆·割风。

让他们入院的最大决定因素,还是院长对珂赛特所作的那句评语:“她会长得丑。”

院长作了那样的预测以后,立即对珂赛特起了好感,让她在寄读学校里占了一个免费生名额。

这样做,一点也没有不合逻辑的地方。修院里不许用镜子,那完全是枉费心机,女人对自己的容貌都有自知之明,因此,知道自己生得漂亮的姑娘都不轻易让人说服发愿出家;宏愿和美貌既然经常处在互相消长的地位,人们的希望便多半寄托在丑妇的一面,而不是在美人的一面。这就产生了对丑孩子的强烈兴趣。

这次意外事件大大提高了割风那好老头的身分,他得到三方面的胜利,在冉阿让方面,他救了他并且保卫了他;在埋葬工人格利比埃方面,他得到他的感激,认为割风帮他免去罚金;在修院方面,由于他肯卖力,把受难嬷嬷的灵柩留在祭台下面,修院才能瞒过凯撒,满足天主。在小比克布斯有个有尸的棺材,在伏吉拉尔坟场有个无尸的棺材,社会秩序固然受到了深重的搅乱,却并没有觉察到。至于修院对割风的感激确实很大。割风成了最出色的用人和最宝贵的园丁。不久以后,大主教来修院视察时,院长把这一经过告诉了他,一面为她自己忏悔了一下,同时也为把自己夸耀一番。大主教,在走出修院时,又带着夸奖的语气偷偷把这经过告诉了德·拉迪先生,御弟的忏悔神甫,也就是未来的兰斯大主教和红衣主教。对割风的好评确是传得相当远,因为它传到了罗马。在我们的手边有封由莱翁七世写给他的族人的信,莱翁七世是当时在位的教皇,他的那位族人便是教廷驻巴黎使馆的大臣,和他一样,也叫做德拉·让加,信里有这样几行字:“据说在巴黎的一个修院里有个非常出色的园丁,是个圣人,姓弗旺①。”这种光荣一点也没有传到割风的破房里去,他继续接枝,薅草,盖瓜田,完全不知道他自己有什么出色和超凡入圣的地方。《伦敦新闻画报》刊载了达勒姆种牛和萨里种牛的照片,并且标明了“获得有角动物展览会奖状的牛”,可是牛并不知它获得的光荣,割风对自己的光荣的认识,也不见得会比那些牛多些。

①教皇误把“割风”写成“弗旺”,所以割风本人不知道有这一光荣。
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