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第五卷苦难的妙用 第05章穷是苦的好邻居

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CHAPTER V POVERTY A GOOD NEIGHBOR FOR MISERY


Marius liked this candid old man who saw himself gradually falling into the clutches of indigence, and who came to feel astonishment, little by little, without, however, being made melancholy by it. Marius met Courfeyrac and sought out M. Mabeuf. Very rarely, however; twice a month at most.

Marius' pleasure consisted in taking long walks alone on the outer boulevards, or in the Champs-de-Mars, or in the least frequented alleys of the Luxembourg. He often spent half a day in gazing at a market garden, the beds of lettuce, the chickens on the dung-heap, the horse turning the water-wheel. The passers-by stared at him in surprise, and some of them thought his attire suspicious and his mien sinister.

He was only a poor young man dreaming in an objectless way.

It was during one of his strolls that he had hit upon the Gorbeau house, and, tempted by its isolation and its cheapness, had taken up his abode there. He was known there only under the name of M. Marius.

Some of his father's old generals or old comrades had invited him to go and see them, when they learned about him. Marius had not refused their invitations. They afforded opportunities of talking about his father. Thus he went from time to time, to Comte Pajol, to General Bellavesne, to General Fririon, to the Invalides. There was music and dancing there. On such evenings, Marius put on his new coat. But he never went to these evening parties or balls except on days when it was freezing cold, because he could not afford a carriage, and he did not wish to arrive with boots

otherwise than like mirrors.

He said sometimes, but without bitterness: "Men are so made that in a drawing-room you may be soiled everywhere except on your shoes. In order to insure a good reception there, only one irreproachable thing is asked of you; your conscience? No, your boots."

All passions except those of the heart are dissipated by revery. Marius' political fevers vanished thus. The Revolution of 1830 assisted in the process, by satisfying and calming him. He remained the same, setting aside his fits of wrath. He still held the same opinions. Only, they had been tempered. To speak accurately, he had no longer any opinions, he had sympathies. To what party did he belong? To the party of humanity. Out of humanity he chose France; out of the Nation he chose the people; out of the people he chose the woman. It was to that point above all,that his pity was directed. Now he preferred an idea to a deed,a poet to a hero, and he admired a book like Job more than an event like Marengo. And then, when, after a day spent in meditation, he returned in the evening through the boulevards, and caught a glimpse through the branches of the trees of the fathomless space beyond, the nameless gleams, the abyss, the shadow, the mystery, all that which is only human seemed very pretty indeed to him.

He thought that he had, and he really had, in fact, arrived at the truth of life and of human philosophy, and he had ended by gazing at nothing but heaven, the only thing which Truth can perceive from the bottom of her well.

This did not prevent him from multiplying his plans, his combinations,his scaffoldings, his projects for the future. In this state of revery, an eye which could have cast a glance into Marius'interior would have been dazzled with the purity of that soul. In fact, had it been given to our eyes of the flesh to gaze into the consciences of others, we should be able to judge a man much more surely according to what he dreams, than according to what he thinks. There is will in thought, there is none in dreams. Revery, which is utterly spontaneous, takes and keeps, even in the gigantic and the ideal, the form of our spirit. Nothing proceeds more directly and more sincerely from the very depth of our soul, than our unpremeditated and boundless aspirations towards the splendors of destiny. In these aspirations, much more than in deliberate, rational coordinated ideas, is the real character of a man to be found. Our chimeras are the things which the most resemble us. Each one of us dreams of the unknown and the impossible in accordance with his nature.

Towards the middle of this year 1831, the old woman who waited on Marius told him that his neighbors, the wretched Jondrette family, had been turned out of doors. Marius, who passed nearly the whole of his days out of the house, hardly knew that he had any neighbors.

"Why are they turned out?" he asked.

"Because they do not pay their rent; they owe for two quarters."

"How much is it?"

"Twenty francs," said the old woman.

Marius had thirty francs saved up in a drawer.

"Here," he said to the old woman, "take these twenty-five francs. Pay for the poor people and give them five francs, and do not tell them that it was I."



五 穷是苦的好邻居


马吕斯喜欢这个憨厚的老人,老人已看到自己慢慢为贫寒所困,逐渐惊惶起来了,却还没有感到愁苦。马吕斯常遇见古费拉克,也常去找马白夫先生,可是次数很少,每月至多一两次。

马吕斯的兴趣是独自一人到郊外的大路上、或马尔斯广场或卢森堡公园中人迹罕到的小路上去作长时间的散步。他有时花上半天时间去看蔬菜种植场的园地、生菜畦、粪草堆里的鸡群和拉水车轮子的马。过路的人都带着惊奇的眼光打量他,有些人还觉得他服装可疑,面目可憎。这只是个毫无意图站着做梦的穷少年罢了。

他正是在这样闲逛时发现那戈尔博老屋的,这地方偏僻,租价低廉,中了他的意,他便在那里住下来了。大家只知道他叫马吕斯先生。

有几个引退的将军或是他父亲的老同事认识了他,曾邀请他去看看他们。马吕斯没有拒绝。这是些谈他父亲的机会。因此他不时去巴若尔伯爵家、培拉韦斯纳将军家、弗里利翁将军家和残废军人院。那些人家有音乐,也跳舞。马吕斯在这样的晚上便穿上他的新衣。但是他一定要到天气冻得石头发裂时才去参加这些晚会或舞会,因为他没有钱雇车,而又要在走进人家大门时脚上的靴子能和镜子一般亮。

他有时说(丝毫没有抱怨的意思):“人是这样一种东西,在客厅里,全身都可以脏,鞋子却不能。那些地方的人为了要好好接待你,只要求你一件东西必须是无可指摘的,良心吗?

不,是靴子。”

任何热情,除非出自内心,全会在幻想中消失。马吕斯的政治狂热症已成过去。一八三○年的革命①在满足他安慰他的同时,也在这方面起了帮助作用。他还和从前一样,除了那种愤激心情,他对事物还抱着原来的见解,不过变得温和一些了。严格地说,他并没有什么见解,只有同情心。他偏爱什么呢?偏爱人类。在人类中,他选择了法兰西;在国家中,他选择了人民;在人民中,他选择了妇女。这便是他的怜悯心所倾注的地方。现在他重视理想胜于事实,重视诗人胜于英雄,他欣赏《约伯记》②这类书胜过马伦哥的事迹。并且,当他在遐想中度过了一天,傍晚沿着大路回来时,从树枝间窥见了无限广阔的天空,无名的微光、深远的空间、黑暗、神秘后,凡属人类的事物他都感到多么渺小。

①一八三○年革命推翻了波旁王朝。

②《约伯记》,《圣经·旧约》中的一篇。

他觉得他已见到了,也许真正见到了生命的真谛和人生的哲理,到后来,除了天以外的一切他全不大注意了,天,是真理唯一能从它的井底见到的东西。

这并不阻止他增多计划、办法、空中楼阁和长远规划。在这种梦境中,如果有人细察马吕斯的内心,他的眼睛将被这人心灵的纯洁所炫惑。的确,如果我们的肉眼能看见别人的心,我们便能根据一个人的梦想去判断他的为人,这比从他的思想去判断会更可靠些。思想有意愿,梦想却没有。梦想完全是自发的,它能反映并保持我们精神的原有面貌,即使是在宏伟和理想的想象跟前,只有我们对命运的光辉所发的未经思考和不切实际的向往才是出自我们灵魂深处的最直接和最真诚的思想。正是在这些向往中,而不是在那些经过综合、分析、组织的思想中,我们能找出每个人的真实性格。我们的幻想是我们最逼真的写照。每个人都随着自己的性格在梦想着未知的和不可能的事物。

在一八三一这年的夏秋之间,那个服侍马吕斯的老妇人告诉他说,他的邻居,一个叫容德雷特的穷苦人家,将要被撵走。马吕斯几乎整天在外面,不大知道他还有邻居。

“为什么要撵走他们?”他说。

“因为他们不付房租。他们已经欠了两个季度的租金了。”

“那是多少钱呢?”

“二十法郎。”老妇人说。

马吕斯有三十法郎的机动款在一只抽屉里。

“拿着吧,”他向那老妇人说,“这儿是二十五法郎。您就替这些穷人付了房租吧,另外五个法郎也给他们,可不要说是我给的。”
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