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第六卷小伽弗洛什 第01章风的恶作剧

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BOOK SIXTH.--LITTLE GAVROCHE

CHAPTER I THE MALICIOUS PLAYFULNESS OF THE WIND

Since 1823, when the tavern of Montfermeil was on the way to shipwreck and was being gradually engulfed, not in the abyss of a bankruptcy, but in the cesspool of petty debts, the Thenardier pair had had two other children; both males. That made five; two girls and three boys.

Madame Thenardier had got rid of the last two, while they were still young and very small, with remarkable luck.

Got rid of is the word. There was but a mere fragment of nature in that woman. A phenomenon, by the way, of which there is more than one example extant. Like the Marechale de La Mothe-Houdancourt, the Thenardier was a mother to her daughters only. There her maternity ended. Her hatred of the human race began with her own sons. In the direction of her sons her evil disposition was uncompromising, and her heart had a lugubrious wall in that quarter. As the reader has seen, she detested the eldest; she cursed the other two. Why? Because.The most terrible of motives, the most unanswerable of retorts--Because. "I have no need of a litter of squalling brats," said this mother.

Let us explain how the Thenardiers had succeeded in getting rid of their last two children; and even in drawing profit from the operation.

The woman Magnon, who was mentioned a few pages further back, was the same one who had succeeded in making old Gillenormand support the two children which she had had. She lived on the Quai des Celestins, at the corner of this ancient street of the Petit-Musc which afforded her the opportunity of changing her evil repute into good odor. The reader will remember the great epidemic of croup which ravaged the river districts of the Seine in Paris thirty-five years ago, and of which science took advantage to make experiments on a grand scale as to the efficacy of inhalations of alum, so beneficially replaced at the present day by the external tincture of iodine. During this epidemic, the Magnon lost both her boys, who were still very young, one in the morning, the other in the evening of the same day. This was a blow. These children were precious to their mother; they represented eighty francs a month. These eighty francs were punctually paid in the name of M. Gillenormand, by collector of his rents, M. Barge, a retired tip-staff, in the Rue du Roi-de-Sicile. The children dead, the income was at an end. The Magnon sought an expedient. In that dark free-masonry of evil of which she formed a part, everything is known, all secrets are kept, and all lend mutual aid. Magnon needed two children; the Thenardiers had two.The same sex, the same age. A good arrangement for the one, a good investment for the other. The little Thenardiers became little Magnons. Magnon quitted the Quai des Celestins and went to live in the Rue Clocheperce. In Paris, the identity which binds an individual to himself is broken between one street and another.

The registry office being in no way warned, raised no objections,and the substitution was effected in the most simple manner in the world. Only, the Thenardier exacted for this loan of her children, ten francs a month, which Magnon promised to pay, and which she actually did pay. It is unnecessary to add that M. Gillenormand continued to perform his compact. He came to see the children every six months. He did not perceive the change. "Monsieur," Magnon said to him, "how much they resemble you!"

Thenardier, to whom avatars were easy, seized this occasion to become Jondrette. His two daughters and Gavroche had hardly had time to discover that they had two little brothers. When a certain degree of misery is reached, one is overpowered with a sort of spectral indifference, and one regards human beings as though they were spectres. Your nearest relations are often no more for you than vague shadowy forms, barely outlined against a nebulous background of life and easily confounded again with the invisible.

On the evening of the day when she had handed over her two little ones to Magnon, with express intention of renouncing them forever, the Thenardier had felt, or had appeared to feel, a scruple. She said to her husband: "But this is abandoning our children!" Thenardier, masterful and phlegmatic, cauterized the scruple with this saying: "Jean Jacques Rousseau did even better!" From scruples, the mother proceeded to uneasiness: "But what if the police were to annoy us? Tell me, Monsieur Thenardier, is what we have done permissible?" Thenardier replied: "Everything is permissible. No one will see anything but true blue in it. Besides, no one has any interest in looking closely after children who have not a sou."

Magnon was a sort of fashionable woman in the sphere of crime. She was careful about her toilet. She shared her lodgings, which were furnished in an affected and wretched style, with a clever gallicized English thief. This English woman, who had become a naturalized Parisienne, recommended by very wealthy relations, intimately connected with the medals in the Library and Mademoiselle Mar's diamonds, became celebrated later on in judicial accounts. She was called Mamselle Miss.

The two little creatures who had fallen to Magnon had no reason to complain of their lot. Recommended by the eighty francs, they were well cared for, as is everything from which profit is derived; they were neither badly clothed, nor badly fed; they were treated almost like "little gentlemen,"--better by their false mother than by their real one. Magnon played the lady, and talked no thieves' slang in their presence.

Thus passed several years. Thenardier augured well from the fact. One day, he chanced to say to Magnon as she handed him his monthly stipend of ten francs: "The father must give them some education."

All at once, these two poor children, who had up to that time been protected tolerably well, even by their evil fate, were abruptly hurled into life and forced to begin it for themselves.

A wholesale arrest of malefactors, like that in the Jondrette garret, necessarily complicated by investigations and subsequent incarcerations, is a veritable disaster for that hideous and occult counter-society which pursues its existence beneath public society; an adventure of this description entails all sorts of catastrophes in that sombre world. The Thenardier catastrophe involved the catastrophe of Magnon.

One day, a short time after Magnon had handed to Eponine the note relating to the Rue Plumet, a sudden raid was made by the police in the Rue Clocheperce; Magnon was seized, as was also Mamselle Miss; and all the inhabitants of the house, which was of a suspicious character, were gathered into the net. While this was going on, the two little boys were playing in the back yard, and saw nothing of the raid. When they tried to enter the house again, they found the door fastened and the house empty. A cobbler opposite called them to him, and delivered to them a paper which "their mother" had left for them. On this paper there was an address: M. Barge, collector of rents, Rue du Roi-de-Sicile, No. 8. The proprietor of the stall said to them: "You cannot live here any longer. Go there. It is near by. The first street on the left. Ask your way from this paper."

The children set out, the elder leading the younger, and holding in his hand the paper which was to guide them. It was cold, and his benumbed little fingers could not close very firmly,and they did not keep a very good hold on the paper. At the corner of the Rue Clocheperce, a gust of wind tore it from him,and as night was falling, the child was not able to find it again.

They began to wander aimlessly through the streets.



一 风的恶作剧


从一八二三年起,当孟费?的那个客店渐渐衰败,逐步向……不是向破产的深渊,而是向零星债务丛集的泥潭沉陷下去时,德纳第夫妇又添了两个孩子,全是雄的。这样便成了五个,两个姑娘,三个男孩。够多的了。

最小的两个年纪还很小时,德纳第大娘便把他们打发掉了,她心里还怪高兴的。

说“打发掉”,是对的。这个妇人原只有天性的一个碎片。这种现象的例子不止一个。和拉莫特·乌丹古尔元帅夫人一样,德纳第大娘做母亲只做到她的两个女儿身上为止。她的母爱到此便完了。她对人类的憎恨从她的几个儿子身上开始。在她儿子那边,她的凶狠劲便陡然高耸,在这里她的心有一道阴森的陡壁。我们已经见过她怎样厌恶她的大儿子,对另外两个儿子,她更是恨透了。为什么?因为。这是最可怕的原因和最无可争辩的回答:因为。

“我不想养一大群牛崽。”那个做母亲的常这样说。

我们来谈谈德纳第两口子是怎样摆脱他们对两个小儿子的责任,甚至从中找些好处的。

在前面几页里,我们谈到过一个叫马侬的姑娘,曾取得吉诺曼这个老好人的津贴来抚养她的两个儿子,现在涉及到的便是这个妇人。她当时住在则肋斯定河沿,在那条古老的小麝香街转角的地方,那条街已力所能及地把它的臭名声变为香气。我们还记得三十五年前那次白喉流行症曾广泛侵袭塞纳沿河岸一带的地区,当时的科学还利用了这一机会来大规模试验明矾喷雾疗法的效果,这种疗法幸而今天已被外用碘酒所替代。在那次白喉流行期间,马侬姑娘在一天里,早上一个,傍晚一个,接连失掉了两个儿子,两个年龄都还很小。这是一个打击。那两个孩子对他们的母亲来说是宝贵的,他们代表每月八十法郎的收入。这八十法郎一向是由吉诺曼先生的年息代理人巴什先生??退职公证人,住在西西里王街??准时如数代付的。两个孩子一死,津贴便没有着落了。马侬姑娘便得想办法。她原是那种罪恶的黑社会里的一分子,大家知道一切,并且相互保密,相互支援。马侬姑娘急需两个孩子,德纳第妈妈恰有两个。同一性别,同一年龄。对一方来说,是一笔好交易,对另一方来说,是一笔好投资。两个小德纳第便成了两个小马侬。马侬姑娘离开了则肋斯定河沿,迁到钟锥街去住了。在巴黎,一个人的出身可以由住处换一条街而断绝。

民政机关一点没有发觉,也就无所谓异议,这一偷换行为便毫不费劲地成功了。不过德纳第在出借那两个孩子时,要求每月非分给他十个法郎不可,马侬姑娘表示同意,甚至每月到期照付。吉诺曼先生当然继续承担义务。他每六个月来看一次那两个小孩。他没有看出破绽。马侬姑娘每次都对他说:

“先生,他们长得多么象您!”

德纳第不难改名换姓,他趁这机会变成了容德雷特。他的两个女儿和伽弗洛什几乎没有时间来注意他们还有两个小弟弟。贫苦到了某种程度,人会变成孤魂野鬼,彼此漠不关心,把生人也当成游魂。你的最亲的骨肉也会被你看作是些憧憧往来的黑影,几乎成了人生的穷途末路中一些若有若无的形象,很容易和无形的鬼魂混淆在一起。

德纳第大娘对她的两个小儿子,原已下定决定永远抛弃不要了的,可是在把他们交付给马侬姑娘的那天晚上,她忽然感到心虚,或是故意装作心虚。她对她的丈夫说:“这可是遗弃孩子哟,这种作法!”德纳第见她心虚,便威严地冷冰冰地安慰她说:“让·雅克·卢梭比我们干得更高明呢!”可是大娘由心虚转到了心慌,她说:“万一警察来找我们的麻烦呢?我们干的这种事,德纳第先生,你说说,是允许的吗?”德纳第回答说:“全是允许的。谁也会认为这是通明透亮的。并且,对这种没有一文钱的孩子,谁也不会感兴趣,要跑来看个清楚。”

马侬姑娘是一种作恶的漂亮人物。她爱装饰。她家里的陈设既穷酸又考究,和她同住的是一个有本领的女贼,入了法国籍的英国姑娘。这个取得巴黎户籍的英国姑娘受到人们尊敬,是因为她和一些富人有交往,她同图书馆里的勋章和马尔斯小姐的金刚钻都有密切的关系,日后在一些刑事案件中还很有名。人们称她为“密斯姑娘”。

那两个孩子,归了马侬姑娘以后,没有什么可抱怨的。在那八十法郎的栽培下,他们和任何有油水可榨的东西一样,是受到照顾的,穿得一点也不坏,吃得一点也不坏,被看待得几乎象两个“小先生”,和假母亲相处得比真母亲还好。马侬姑娘装出一副贵妇人的样子,不在他们面前说行话。

他们便这样过了几年。德纳第确有先见之明。一天,马侬姑娘来付她那十个法郎的月费,他对她说:“应当由‘父亲’来给他们受点教育了。”

那两个可怜的孩子,虽然命薄,总算一向受到相当好的保护,没想到他们忽然一下被抛入了人生,非开始自谋生路不可。

象在德纳第贼窝里进行的那种大规模逮捕,必然还惹出一连串的搜查和拘禁,这对生活在公开社会下的那种丑恶的秘密社会来说,确是一种真正的灾难,这样的风浪常在黑暗世界里造成各式各样的崩塌。德纳第的灾难引起了马侬姑娘的灾难。

一天,在马侬姑娘把那张关于卜吕梅街的纸条交给了爱潘妮后不久,忽然有一批警察来到钟锥街,马侬姑娘被捕了,密斯姑娘也被捕了,并且那整栋房子里的人,因形迹可疑,都被一网打尽。两个小男孩这时正在一个后院里玩,一点没有看见当时的那种突袭情形。到了他们要回家时,他们发现家里的门已经封了,整栋房子都是空的。对面棚子里的一个补鞋匠把他们找去,把“他们的母亲”留下来的一张纸交给了他们。纸上写的是一个地址:“西西里王街,八号,年息代理人,巴什先生”。棚子里的那个人还对他们说:“你们不再住这儿了。去找这个地方,很近。左边第一条街便是。拿好这张纸,问路去。”

两个孩子走了,大的牵着小的,手里捏着那张引路的纸。当时天气正冷,他的小指头僵了,抓不大稳,没有把那张纸拿好。走到钟锥街转角的地方,一阵风把他手里的纸吹走了,天已经黑下来,孩子没法把它找回来。

他们只好在街上随便流浪。
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