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poltroon/[pɔl'tru:n]/ n. 懦夫, 胆小鬼 a. 胆怯的...

第四卷ABC的朋友们 第04章缪尚咖啡馆的后厅

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CHAPTER IV THE BACK ROOM OF THE CAFE MUSAIN


One of the conversations among the young men, at which Marius was present and in which he sometimes joined, was a veritable shock to his mind.

This took place in the back room of the Cafe Musain. Nearly all the Friends of the A B C had convened that evening. The argand lamp was solemnly lighted. They talked of one thing and another, without passion and with noise. With the exception of Enjolras and Marius, who held their peace, all were haranguing rather at hap-hazard. Conversations between comrades sometimes are subject to these peaceable tumults. It was a game and an uproar as much as a conversation. They tossed words to each other and caught them up in turn. They were chattering in all quarters.

No woman was admitted to this back room, except Louison, the dish-washer of the cafe, who passed through it from time to time, to go to her washing in the "lavatory."

Grantaire, thoroughly drunk, was deafening the corner of which he had taken possession, reasoning and contradicting at the top of his lungs, and shouting:--

"I am thirsty. Mortals, I am dreaming: that the tun of Heidelberg has an attack of apoplexy, and that I am one of the dozen leeches which will be applied to it. I want a drink. I desire to forget life. Life is a hideous invention of I know not whom. It lasts no time at all, and is worth nothing. One breaks one's neck in living. Life is a theatre set in which there are but few practicable entrances. Happiness is an antique reliquary painted on one side only. Ecclesiastes says: `All is vanity.' I agree with that good man, who never existed, perhaps. Zero not wishing to go stark naked, clothed himself in vanity. O vanity! The patching up of everything with big words! a kitchen is a laboratory, a dancer is a professor, an acrobat is a gymnast, a boxer is a pugilist, an apothecary is a chemist, a wigmaker is an artist, a hodman is an architect, a jockey is a sportsman, a wood-louse is a pterigybranche. Vanity has a right and a wrong side; the right side is stupid, it is the negro with his glass beads; the wrong side is foolish, it is the philosopher with his rags. I weep over the one and I laugh over the other. What are called honors and dignities, and even dignity and honor, are generally of pinchbeck. Kings make playthings of human pride. Caligula made a horse a consul; Charles II. made a knight of a sirloin. Wrap yourself up now, then, between Consul Incitatus and Baronet Roastbeef. As for the intrinsic value of people, it is no longer respectable in the least. Listen to the panegyric which neighbor makes of neighbor. White on white is ferocious; if the lily could speak, what a setting down it would give the dove! A bigoted woman prating of a devout woman is more venomous than the asp and the cobra. It is a shame that I am ignorant, otherwise I would quote to you a mass of things; but I know nothing. For instance, I have always been witty; when I was a pupil of Gros, instead of daubing wretched little pictures, I passed my time in pilfering apples; rapin[24] is the masculine of rapine. So much for myself; as for the rest of you, you are worth no more than I am. I scoff at your perfections, excellencies, and qualities. Every good quality tends towards a defect; economy borders on avarice, the generous man is next door to the prodigal, the brave man rubs elbows with the braggart; he who says very pious says a trifle bigoted; there are just as many vices in virtue as there are holes in Diogenes' cloak. Whom do you admire, the slain or the slayer, Caesar or Brutus? Generally men are in favor of the slayer. Long live Brutus, he has slain! There lies the virtue. Virtue, granted, but madness also. There are queer spots on those great men. The Brutus who killed Caesar was in love with the statue of a little boy. This statue was from the hand of the Greek sculptor Strongylion, who also carved that figure of an Amazon known as the Beautiful Leg, Eucnemos, which Nero carried with him in his travels. This Strongylion left but two statues which placed Nero and Brutus in accord. Brutus was in love with the one, Nero with the other. All history is nothing but wearisome repetition. One century is the plagiarist of the other. The battle of Marengo copies the battle of Pydna; the Tolbiac of Clovis and the Austerlitz of Napoleon are as like each other as two drops of water. I don't attach much importance to victory. Nothing is so stupid as to conquer; true glory lies in convincing. But try to prove something! If you are content with success, what mediocrity, and with conquering, what wretchedness! Alas, vanity and cowardice everywhere. Everything obeys success, even grammar. Si volet usus, says Horace. Therefore I disdain the human race. Shall we descend to the party at all? Do you wish me to begin admiring the peoples? What people, if you please? Shall it be Greece? The Athenians, those Parisians of days gone by, slew Phocion, as we might say Coligny, and fawned upon tyrants to such an extent that Anacephorus said of Pisistratus: "His urine attracts the bees." The most prominent man in Greece for fifty years was that grammarian Philetas, who was so small and so thin that he was obliged to load his shoes with lead in order not to be blown away by the wind. There stood on the great square in Corinth a statue carved by Silanion and catalogued by Pliny; this statue represented Episthates. What did Episthates do? He invented a trip. That sums up Greece and glory. Let us pass on to others. Shall I admire England? Shall I admire France? France? Why? Because of Paris? I have just told you my opinion of Athens. England? Why? Because of London? I hate Carthage. And then, London, the metropolis of luxury, is the headquarters of wretchedness. There are a hundred deaths a year of hunger in the parish of Charing-Cross alone. Such is Albion. I add, as the climax, that I have seen an Englishwoman dancing in a wreath of roses and blue spectacles. A fig then for England! If I do not admire John Bull, shall I admire Brother Jonathan? I have but little taste for that slave-holding brother. Take away Time is money, what remains of England? Take away Cotton is king, what remains of America? Germany is the lymph, Italy is the bile. Shall we go into ecstasies over Russia? Voltaire admired it. He also admired China. I admit that Russia has its beauties, among others, a stout despotism; but I pity the despots. Their health is delicate. A decapitated Alexis, a poignarded Peter, a strangled Paul, another Paul crushed flat with kicks, divers Ivans strangled, with their throats cut, numerous Nicholases and Basils poisoned, all this indicates that the palace of the Emperors of Russia is in a condition of flagrant insalubrity. All civilized peoples offer this detail to the admiration of the thinker; war; now, war, civilized war, exhausts and sums up all the forms of ruffianism, from the brigandage of the Trabuceros in the gorges of Mont Jaxa to the marauding of the Comanche Indians in the Doubtful Pass. `Bah!' you will say to me, `but Europe is certainly better than Asia?' I admit that Asia is a farce; but I do not precisely see what you find to laugh at in the Grand Lama, you peoples of the west, who have mingled with your fashions and your elegances all the complicated filth of majesty, from the dirty chemise of Queen Isabella to the chamber-chair of the Dauphin. Gentlemen of the human race, I tell you, not a bit of it! It is at Brussels that the most beer is consumed, at Stockholm the most brandy, at Madrid the most chocolate, at Amsterdam the most gin, at London the most wine, at Constantinople the most coffee, at Paris the most absinthe; there are all the useful notions. Paris carries the day, in short. In Paris, even the rag-pickers are sybarites; Diogenes would have loved to be a rag-picker of the Place Maubert better than to be a philosopher at the Piraeus. Learn this in addition; the wineshops of the ragpickers are called bibines; the most celebrated are the Saucepan and The Slaughter-House. Hence, tea-gardens, goguettes, caboulots, bouibuis, mastroquets, bastringues, manezingues, bibines of the rag-pickers, caravanseries of the caliphs, I certify to you, I am a voluptuary, I eat at Richard's at forty sous a head, I must have Persian carpets to roll naked Cleopatra in! Where is Cleopatra? Ah! So it is you, Louison. Good day."

[24] The slang term for a painter's assistant.

Thus did Grantaire, more than intoxicated, launch into speech, catching at the dish-washer in her passage, from his corner in the back room of the Cafe Musain.

Bossuet, extending his hand towards him, tried to impose silence on him, and Grantaire began again worse than ever:--

"Aigle de Meaux, down with your paws. You produce on me no effect with your gesture of Hippocrates refusing Artaxerxes' bric-a-brac. I excuse you from the task of soothing me. Moreover, I am sad. What do you wish me to say to you? Man is evil, man is deformed; the butterfly is a success, man is a failure. God made a mistake with that animal. A crowd offers a choice of ugliness. The first comer is a wretch, Femme--woman--rhymes with infame,-- infamous. Yes, I have the spleen, complicated with melancholy, with homesickness, plus hypochondria, and I am vexed and I rage, and I yawn, and I am bored, and I am tired to death, and I am stupid! Let God go to the devil!"

"Silence then, capital R!" resumed Bossuet, who was discussing a point of law behind the scenes, and who was plunged more than waist high in a phrase of judicial slang, of which this is the conclusion:--

"--And as for me, although I am hardly a legist, and at the most, an amateur attorney, I maintain this: that, in accordance with the terms of the customs of Normandy, at Saint-Michel, and for each year, an equivalent must be paid to the profit of the lord of the manor, saving the rights of others, and by all and several, the proprietors as well as those seized with inheritance, and that, for all emphyteuses, leases, freeholds, contracts of domain, mortgages--"

"Echo, plaintive nymph," hummed Grantaire.

Near Grantaire, an almost silent table, a sheet of paper, an inkstand and a pen between two glasses of brandy, announced that a vaudeville was being sketched out.

This great affair was being discussed in a low voice, and the two heads at work touched each other: "Let us begin by finding names. When one has the names, one finds the subject."

"That is true. Dictate. I will write."

"Monsieur Dorimon."

"An independent gentleman?"

"Of course."

"His daughter, Celestine."

"--tine. What next?"

"Colonel Sainval."

"Sainval is stale. I should say Valsin."

Beside the vaudeville aspirants, another group, which was also taking advantage of the uproar to talk low, was discussing a duel. An old fellow of thirty was counselling a young one of eighteen, and explaining to him what sort of an adversary he had to deal with.

"The deuce! Look out for yourself. He is a fine swordsman. His play is neat. He has the attack, no wasted feints, wrist, dash, lightning, a just parade, mathematical parries, bigre! and he is left-handed."

In the angle opposite Grantaire, Joly and Bahorel were playing dominoes, and talking of love.

"You are in luck, that you are," Joly was saying. "You have a mistress who is always laughing."

"That is a fault of hers," returned Bahorel. "One's mistress does wrong to laugh. That encourages one to deceive her. To see her gay removes your remorse; if you see her sad, your conscience pricks you."

"Ingrate! a woman who laughs is such a good thing! And you never quarrel!"

"That is because of the treaty which we have made. On forming our little Holy Alliance we assigned ourselves each our frontier, which we never cross. What is situated on the side of winter belongs to Vaud, on the side of the wind to Gex. Hence the peace."

"Peace is happiness digesting."

"And you, Jolllly, where do you stand in your entanglement with Mamselle-- you know whom I mean?"

"She sulks at me with cruel patience."

"Yet you are a lover to soften the heart with gauntness."

"Alas!"

"In your place, I would let her alone."

"That is easy enough to say."

"And to do. Is not her name Musichetta?"

"Yes. Ah! my poor Bahorel, she is a superb girl, very literary, with tiny feet, little hands, she dresses well, and is white and dimpled, with the eyes of a fortune-teller. I am wild over her."

"My dear fellow, then in order to please her, you must be elegant, and produce effects with your knees. Buy a good pair of trousers of double-milled cloth at Staub's. That will assist."

"At what price?" shouted Grantaire.

The third corner was delivered up to a poetical discussion. Pagan mythology was giving battle to Christian mythology. The question was about Olympus, whose part was taken by Jean Prouvaire, out of pure romanticism.

Jean Prouvaire was timid only in repose. Once excited, he burst forth, a sort of mirth accentuated his enthusiasm, and he was at once both laughing and lyric.

"Let us not insult the gods," said he. "The gods may not have taken their departure. Jupiter does not impress me as dead. The gods are dreams, you say. Well, even in nature, such as it is to-day, after the flight of these dreams, we still find all the grand old pagan myths. Such and such a mountain with the profile of a citadel, like the Vignemale, for example, is still to me the headdress of Cybele; it has not been proved to me that Pan does not come at night to breathe into the hollow trunks of the willows, stopping up the holes in turn with his fingers, and I have always believed that Io had something to do with the cascade of Pissevache."

In the last corner, they were talking politics. The Charter which had been granted was getting roughly handled. Combeferre was upholding it weakly. Courfeyrac was energetically making a breach in it. On the table lay an unfortunate copy of the famous Touquet Charter. Courfeyrac had seized it, and was brandishing it, mingling with his arguments the rattling of this sheet of paper.

"In the first place, I won't have any kings; if it were only from an economical point of view, I don't want any; a king is a parasite. One does not have kings gratis. Listen to this: the dearness of kings. At the death of Francois I., the national debt of France amounted to an income of thirty thousand livres; at the death of Louis XIV. it was two milliards, six hundred millions, at twenty-eight livres the mark, which was equivalent in 1760, according to Desmarets, to four milliards, five hundred millions, which would to-day be equivalent to twelve milliards. In the second place, and no offence to Combeferre, a charter granted is but a poor expedient of civilization. To save the transition, to soften the passage, to deaden the shock, to cause the nation to pass insensibly from the monarchy to democracy by the practice of constitutional fictions,--what detestable reasons all those are! No! no! let us never enlighten the people with false daylight. Principles dwindle and pale in your constitutional cellar. No illegitimacy, no compromise, no grant from the king to the people. In all such grants there is an Article 14. By the side of the hand which gives there is the claw which snatches back. I refuse your charter point-blank. A charter is a mask; the lie lurks beneath it. A people which accepts a charter abdicates. The law is only the law when entire. No! no charter!"

It was winter; a couple of fagots were crackling in the fireplace. This was tempting, and Courfeyrac could not resist. He crumpled the poor Touquet Charter in his fist, and flung it in the fire. The paper flashed up. Combeferre watched the masterpiece of Louis XVIII. burn philosophically, and contented himself with saying:--

"The charter metamorphosed into flame."

And sarcasms, sallies, jests, that French thing which is called entrain, and that English thing which is called humor, good and bad taste, good and bad reasons, all the wild pyrotechnics of dialogue, mounting together and crossing from all points of the room, produced a sort of merry bombardment over their heads.


四 缪尚咖啡馆的后厅

马吕斯时常参加那些青年人的交谈,有时也谈上几句,有一次的交谈在他的精神上引起了真正的震动。

那是在缪尚咖啡馆的后厅里发生的。“ABC的朋友们”的人那晚几乎都到齐了。大家谈这谈那,兴致不高,声音可大。除了安灼拉和马吕斯没开口,其余每个人都多少说了几句。同学们之间的谈话有时是会有这种平静的喧嚷的。那是一种游戏,一种胡扯,也是一种交谈。大家把一些词句抛来抛去。他们在四个角上交谈着。

任何女人都是不许进入那后厅的,除了那个洗杯盘的女工路易松,她不时从洗碗间穿过厅堂走向“实验室”。

格朗泰尔,已经醉到昏天黑地,在他占领的那个角落里闹得人们耳朵发聋。他胡言乱语地大叫大嚷。他吼道:“我口渴。臭皮囊们,我正做梦呢,梦见海德堡的大酒桶突然害着脑溢血,人们在它上面放十二条蚂蝗,我就是其中的一条。我要喝。我要忘记人生。人生,我不知道是谁搞出来的一种极为恶劣的发明。一下子就完了,一文也不值。为了生活,把个人弄到腰酸背痛。人生是一种没有多大用处的装饰品。幸福是个只有一面上了漆的旧木头框框。《传道书》说:‘一切全是虚荣’,我同意这位仁兄的话,他也许从来就没有存在过。零,它不愿赤身露体地走路,便穿上虚荣外衣。呵虚荣!你用美丽的字眼替一切装金!厨房叫做实验室,跳舞的叫做教授,卖技的叫做体育家,打拳的叫做武士,卖药的叫做化学家,理发的叫做艺术家,刷墙的叫做建筑师,赛马的叫做运动员,土鳖叫做鼠妇。虚荣有一个反面和一个正面,正面傻,是满身烧料的黑人,反面蠢,是衣服破烂的哲人。我为一个哭,也为另一个笑。人们所谓的荣誉和尊贵,即使是荣誉和尊贵吧,也普遍是假金的。帝王们拿人类的自尊心当作玩具。卡利古拉①把他的坐骑封为执政官,查理二世把一块牛腰肉封为骑士。你们现在到英西塔土斯执政官和牛排小男爵中去夸耀你们自己吧。至于人的本身价值,那也不见得就比较可敬些,相差有限。

①卡利古拉(Caligula,12-41),罗马帝国皇帝,以专横出名,曾封他的坐骑英西塔土斯(Incitatus)为执政官。

听听邻居是怎样恭维邻居的吧。白对白是残酷无情的。假使百合花能说话,不知道它会怎样糟蹋白鸽呢。虔诚婆子议论一个笃信宗教的妇人来比蛇口蝎尾还恶毒。可惜我是个无知的人,否则我会为你们叙述一大堆这类的事,但是我什么也不知道。说也奇怪,我素来有点小聪明,我在格罗画室里当学生时,就不大喜欢拿起笔来东涂西抹,而是把我的时间消磨在偷苹果上。艺术家,骗术家,不过一字之差。我是这个样子,至于你们这些人,也不见得高明。我根本瞧不上你们的什么完美,高妙,优点。任何优点都倾向一种缺点,节俭近于吝啬,慷慨有如挥霍,勇敢不离粗暴,十分虔敬恭顺也就有点类似伪君子,美德的里面满是丑行,正如第欧根尼的宽袍上满是窟窿。你们佩服谁,被杀的人还是杀人的人,恺撒还是布鲁图斯?一般说来,人们总是站在杀人者一边的。布鲁图斯万岁!他杀成了。这便是美德。美德么?就算是吧,可也是疯狂。这些伟大人物都有些奇怪的污点。杀了恺撒的那个布鲁图斯爱过一个小男孩的塑像。这个塑像是希腊雕塑家斯特隆奇里翁的作品,他还雕塑过一个骑马女子厄克纳木斯,又叫美腿妇人,这塑像是尼禄旅行时经常带在身边的。这位斯特隆奇里翁只留下两个塑像,把布鲁图斯和尼禄结成同道,布鲁图斯爱一个,尼禄爱另一个。整个历史是一种没完没了的反复。一个世纪是另一世纪的再版。马伦哥战役是比德纳①战役的复制,克洛维一世的托尔比亚克②和拿破仑的奥斯特里茨如同两滴血那样相象。对胜利我是不大感兴趣的。再没有什么比征服更愚蠢的事了,真正的光荣在于说服。你们拿点事实出来证明吧。你们满足于成功,好不庸俗!还满足于征服,真是可怜!唉,到处是虚荣和下流。一切服从于成功,连语言学也不例外。

①比德纳(Pydna),马其顿城市,公元前二世纪,罗马军队在这里消灭了马其顿军队。

②克洛维一世(Clovis I,465-511),墨洛温王朝的法兰克国王(481-511),公元四九六年击败日耳曼族于莱茵河中游的托尔比亚克(Tolbiac)。

贺拉斯说过:‘假使他重习俗。’因此我鄙视人类。我们是不是也降下来谈谈国家呢?你们要我敬佩某些民族么?请问是哪一种民族呀?希腊吗?雅典人,这古代的巴黎人,杀了伏西翁①,正如巴黎人杀了科里尼②,并且向暴君献媚到了这样程度,安纳赛弗尔居然说庇西特拉图③的尿招引蜜蜂。五十年间希腊最重要的人物只是那位语法学家费勒塔斯,可他是那么矮,那么小,以致他必须在鞋上加铅才不致被风刮跑。在科林斯最大的广场上有一座西拉尼翁雕的塑像,曾被普林尼编入目录,这座像塑的是埃庇斯塔特。埃庇斯塔特干过些什么呢?他创造过一种旋风脚。这些已够概括希腊的荣誉了。让我们来谈谈旁的。我钦佩英国吗?我钦佩法国吗?法国?为什么?为了巴黎么?我刚才已和你们谈过我对雅典的看法了。英国么?为什么?为了伦敦么?我恨迦太基。并且,伦敦,这奢侈的大都市,是贫穷的总部。仅仅在查林-克洛斯这一教区,每年就要饿死一百人。阿尔比昂④便是这样。为了充分说明,我补充这一点:我见过一个英国女子戴着玫瑰花冠和蓝眼镜跳舞。因此,英国,去它的。如果我不钦佩约翰牛,我会钦佩约纳森吗?⑤这位买卖奴隶的兄弟不怎么合我胃口。去掉‘时间即金钱’,英国还能剩下什么?去掉‘棉花是王’,美国又还剩下什么?德国,是淋巴液,意大利,是胆汁。我们要不要为俄罗斯来陶醉一下呢?伏尔泰钦佩它。他也钦佩中国。我同意俄罗斯有它的美,特别是它那一套结实的专制制度,但是我可怜那些专制君主。他们的健康是娇弱的,一个阿列克赛丢了脑袋,一个彼得被小刀戳死,一个保罗被扼杀,另一个保罗被靴子的后跟踩得塌扁,好几个伊凡被掐死,好几个尼古拉和瓦西里被毒死,这一切都说明俄罗斯皇宫是处在一种有目共睹的不卫生状况中。每个文明的民族都让思想家欣赏这一细节:战争,或者战争,文明的战争,竭尽并汇总了土匪行为的一切方式,从喇叭枪队伍在雅克沙峡谷的掠夺直到印第安可曼什人在可疑隘道对生活物品的抢劫。呸!你们也许会对我说:‘欧洲总比亚洲好些吧?’我承认亚洲是笑话,但是我看不出你们这些西方人,把和王公贵族混在一起的各种秽物,从伊莎贝尔王后的脏衬衫直到储君的恭桶都拿来和自己的时装艳服揉在一起的人’又怎能笑那位大喇嘛。说人话的先生们,我告诉你们,事情并不那么简单。人们在布鲁塞尔消耗的啤酒最多,在斯德哥尔摩消耗的酒精最多,在阿姆斯特丹消耗的杜松子酒最多,在伦敦消耗的葡萄酒最多,在君士坦丁堡消耗的咖啡最多,在巴黎消耗的苦艾酒最多;全部有用的知识都在这里了。归根到底,巴黎首屈一指。在巴黎,连卖破衣烂衫的人也是花天酒地的。在比雷埃夫斯当哲人的第欧根尼也许同样愿意在莫贝尔广场卖破衣烂衫。你们还应当学学这些:卖破衣烂衫的人喝酒的地方叫做酒缸,最著名的是‘铫子’和‘屠宰场’。因此,呵,郊外酒楼、狂欢酒家、绿叶酒肆、小醉酒铺、清唱酒馆、零售酒店、酒桶、酒户、酒缸、骆驼帮的酒棚,我向你们证明那儿全是好地方,我是个爱及时行乐的人,我经常在理查饭店吃四十个苏一顿的饭,我要一条波斯地毯来裹一丝不挂的克娄巴特拉!克娄巴特拉在哪里?

啊!就是你,路易松。你好。”

①伏西翁(Phocion,约前400-317),雅典将军,演说家。

②科里尼(Coligny,1519-1572),法国海军大将,因信新教,被谋害。

③庇西特拉图(Pisistrate,前600-527),雅典僭主。

④阿尔比昂(Albion),英格兰的古称。

⑤约翰牛(John Bull),指英国人。约纳森(Jonathan),美国人的别名。

昏天黑地的格朗泰尔便是这样在缪尚后厅的角落里缠住那洗杯盏的女工胡言乱语的。

博须埃向他伸着手,想使他安静下来,格朗泰尔却嚷得更厉害了:

“莫城的鹰,收起你的爪子。你那种希波克拉底①拒绝阿尔塔薛西斯②的破钢烂铁的姿势对我一丁点作用也不起。请不用费心想使我安静下来。况且我正在愁眉不展,你们要我谈些什么呢?人是坏种,人是畸形的,蝴蝶成了功,人却失败了。上帝没有把这动物造好。人群是丑态的集成。任挑一个也是无赖。女人是祸水。是呵,我害着抑郁病,加上忧伤,还带思乡症,更兼肝火旺,于是我发愁,于是我发狂,于是我打呵欠,于是我憋闷,于是我发怒,于是我百无聊赖!上帝找他的魔鬼去吧!”

①希波克拉底(Hippocrate,前460-377),古希腊著名的医生。

②阿尔塔薛西斯(Artaxerce,前465-425在位),古波斯阿契美尼德王朝国王。

“不许闹了,大写的R!”博须埃又说,他正在和一伙不大多话的人讨论一个法律上的问题,一句用法学界行话来说的话正说了大半,后半句是这样的:

“……至于我,虽然还不怎么够得上称为法学家,至多也还只是个业余的检察官,可我支持这一点:按照诺曼底习惯法的规定,每年到了圣米歇节,所有的人和每个人,无论是业主或继承权的取得者,除了其他义务以外都得向领主缴纳一种等值税,这一规定并适用于一切长期租约、地产租约、免赋地权、教产契约、典押契约……”

“回音,多愁多怨的仙女们。”格朗泰尔在低声吟哦。

紧靠着格朗泰尔的,是一张几乎冷冷清清的桌子、一张纸、一瓶墨水和一支笔,放在两个小酒杯中间,宣告着一个闹剧剧本正在酝酿。这一件大事是在低微的对话中进行的,两个从事工作的脑袋碰在一起。

“让我们先把角色的名字定下来。有了名字,主题也就有了。”

“对。你说,我写。”

“多利蒙先生?”

“财主?”

“当然。”

“他的女儿,赛莱斯丁。”

“……丁。还有呢?”

“中校塞瓦尔。”

“塞瓦尔太陈旧了,叫瓦尔塞吧。”

在这两位新进闹剧作家的旁边,另外一伙人也正利用喧杂的声音在谈论一场决斗。一个三十岁的老手正在点拨一个十八岁的少年,向他讲解他要对付的是一个什么样的对手:

“见鬼!您得仔细哟。那是一个出色的剑手。他的手法一点不含糊。他攻得猛,没有不必要的虚招,腕力灵活,火力足,动作快,招架稳当,反击准确,了不起!并且用左手。”

在格朗泰尔对面的角落里,若李和巴阿雷一面玩骨牌,一面谈爱情问题。

“你多幸福,你,”若李说,“你有一个爱笑的情妇。”

“这正是她的缺点,”巴阿雷回答,“当情妇的人总以少笑为妙。多笑,便容易使人家想到要抛弃她。看见她高兴,你就不会受到内心的谴责,看见她闷闷不乐,你才会良心不安。”

“你真不识好歹!一个老笑着的女人有多好!并且你们从来不吵嘴!”

“这是因为我们有这样一条规定,在组织我们这个小小神圣同盟时,我们便划定了边界,互不侵犯。河水不犯井水,井水也不犯河水。这才能和睦相处。”

“和睦相处,这幸福多美满。”

“你呢,若李,你和那姑娘的争吵,你知道我指的是谁,现在怎样了?”

“她耐着性子,狠着心在和我赌气。”

“你也算得上是个肯为爱情憔悴的小伙子了。”

“可不是!”

“要是我处在你的地位,我早把她甩了。”

“说说容易。”

“做也不难。她不是叫做米西什塔吗?”

“是的。唉!我可怜的巴阿雷,这姑娘可真棒,很有文学味,一双小脚,一双小手,会打扮,生得白净、丰满,一双抽牌算命的女人的那种眼睛。我要为她发疯了。”

“亲爱的,既是这样,你便应当去讨她好,穿得漂漂亮亮,常到她那里去走走。到施托伯店里去买一条高级麂皮裤吧。有出租的。”

“多少钱一条?”格朗泰尔大声问。

在第三个角落里,大家正谈着诗的问题。世俗的神话和基督教的神话在纠缠不清。话题涉及奥林匹斯山,出自浪漫主义让·勃鲁维尔在支持它。让·勃鲁维尔只是在休息时才胆小。一旦受到刺激,他便会爆发,从热情中迸发出豪兴,他是既诙谐又抒情的。

“不要亵渎众神吧,”他说,“众神也许并没有离开呢。朱庇特,在我看来,并没有死。按照你们的说法众神只是一些幻象。可是,即使是在自然界里,在现实的自然界里,在众神消逝以后我们也还能找到所有那些伟大古老的世俗的神。那些轮廓象城堡的山,如维尼玛尔峰,对我来说仍是库柏勒①的发髻;也没有什么能向我证明潘②不会在夜晚来吹柳树的空干,用他的手指轮换着按树干上的孔;我还始终认为伊娥③和牛溺瀑布多少有些关系。”

①库柏勒(Cybèle),希腊神话中众神之母。

②潘(Pan),希腊神话中山林畜牧之神,头生羊角,脚如羊蹄,爱吹箫,为山林女神伴舞。

③伊娥(Io),希腊神话中伊那科斯的女儿,为宙斯所爱,被赫拉变为小母牛。

在最后一个角落里,人们在谈论政治。大家正在抨击那恩赐的宪章。公白飞有气无力地支持它。古费拉克却对它大肆攻击。桌子上不巧正摆着一份著名的杜凯宪章。古费拉克把它捏在手里,一面议论,一面把那张纸抖得瑟瑟响。

“首先,我不要国王。哪怕只从经济观点出发,我也不要,国王是种寄生虫。世上没有免费的国王。请你们听听这个:国王的代价。弗朗索瓦一世死后,法兰西的公债是年息三万利弗;路易十四死后,是二十六亿,二十八个利弗合一马克,这就是说,在一七六○年,根据德马雷的计算,合四十五亿,到今天,便等于一百二十亿。其次,公白飞听了不要不高兴,所谓恩赐宪章,那只是一种恶劣的文明手法。什么避免变革,缓和过度,消除震荡,利用立宪的虚文来使这个君主制的国家在不知不觉中转为民主制,所有这一切,全是些可鄙的论点!不要!不要!永远不要用这种虚伪的光去欺骗人民。主义将枯萎在你们那种立宪的黑地窨子里。不要变种。不要冒牌货。不要国王向人民恩赐什么。在所有这些恩赐的条文里,就有个第十四条。在给东西的那只手旁边,便有一只收回东西的爪子。我干脆拒绝你们的那个宪章。宪章是个假面具,盖在那下面的是谎话。人民接受宪章便是退位。只有完整的人权才是人权。不!

不要宪章!”

那时正是冬季,两根木柴在壁炉里烧得劈啪作响。这是具有吸引力的,古费拉克毫不迟疑。他把那倒霉的杜凯宪章捏在掌心里揉作一团,扔了在火里。那张纸立即着起来了。公白飞呆呆地望着路易十八的那张杰作燃烧,只说了一句:

“宪章化成了一缕青烟。”

辛辣的讥刺,解颐的妙语,尖刻的笑谑,法国人特有的那种所谓活力,英国人特有的那种所谓幽默,好和坏的趣味,好和坏的论点,种种纵情肆意的谈锋,在那间厅里同时齐发,从各方面交织在一起,在人们的头顶上形成一种欢快的轰击。
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