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nickel/['nikəl]/ n. 镍, 镍币, 五分镍币 vt. 镀镍于 ...

马丁·伊登(MARTIN EDEN)第三十五章

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Brissenden gave no explanation of his long absence, nor did Martin pry into it. He was content to see his friend's cadaverous face opposite him through the steam rising from a tumbler of toddy.

"I, too, have not been idle," Brissenden proclaimed, after hearing Martin's account of the work he had accomplished.

He pulled a manuscript from his inside coat pocket and passed it to Martin, who looked at the title and glanced up curiously.

"Yes, that's it," Brissenden laughed. "Pretty good title, eh? 'Ephemera' - it is the one word. And you're responsible for it, what of your MAN, who is always the erected, the vitalized inorganic, the latest of the ephemera, the creature of temperature strutting his little space on the thermometer. It got into my head and I had to write it to get rid of it. Tell me what you think of it."

Martin's face, flushed at first, paled as he read on. It was perfect art. Form triumphed over substance, if triumph it could be called where the last conceivable atom of substance had found expression in so perfect construction as to make Martin's head swim with delight, to put passionate tears into his eyes, and to send chills creeping up and down his back. It was a long poem of six or seven hundred lines, and it was a fantastic, amazing, unearthly thing. It was terrific, impossible; and yet there it was, scrawled in black ink across the sheets of paper. It dealt with man and his soul-gropings in their ultimate terms, plumbing the abysses of space for the testimony of remotest suns and rainbow spectrums. It was a mad orgy of imagination, wassailing in the skull of a dying man who half sobbed under his breath and was quick with the wild flutter of fading heart-beats. The poem swung in majestic rhythm to the cool tumult of interstellar conflict, to the onset of starry hosts, to the impact of cold suns and the flaming up of nebular in the darkened void; and through it all, unceasing and faint, like a silver shuttle, ran the frail, piping voice of man, a querulous chirp amid the screaming of planets and the crash of systems.

"There is nothing like it in literature," Martin said, when at last he was able to speak. "It's wonderful! - wonderful! It has gone to my head. I am drunken with it. That great, infinitesimal question - I can't shake it out of my thoughts. That questing, eternal, ever recurring, thin little wailing voice of man is still ringing in my ears. It is like the dead-march of a gnat amid the trumpeting of elephants and the roaring of lions. It is insatiable with microscopic desire. I now I'm making a fool of myself, but the thing has obsessed me. You are - I don't know what you are - you are wonderful, that's all. But how do you do it? How do you do it?"

Martin paused from his rhapsody, only to break out afresh.

"I shall never write again. I am a dauber in clay. You have shown me the work of the real artificer-artisan. Genius! This is something more than genius. It transcends genius. It is truth gone mad. It is true, man, every line of it. I wonder if you realize that, you dogmatist. Science cannot give you the lie. It is the truth of the sneer, stamped out from the black iron of the Cosmos and interwoven with mighty rhythms of sound into a fabric of splendor and beauty. And now I won't say another word. I am overwhelmed, crushed. Yes, I will, too. Let me market it for you."

Brissenden grinned. "There's not a magazine in Christendom that would dare to publish it - you know that."

"I know nothing of the sort. I know there's not a magazine in Christendom that wouldn't jump at it. They don't get things like that every day. That's no mere poem of the year. It's the poem of the century."

"I'd like to take you up on the proposition."

"Now don't get cynical," Martin exhorted. "The magazine editors are not wholly fatuous. I know that. And I'll close with you on the bet. I'll wager anything you want that 'Ephemera' is accepted either on the first or second offering."

"There's just one thing that prevents me from taking you." Brissenden waited a moment. "The thing is big - the biggest I've ever done. I know that. It's my swan song. I am almighty proud of it. I worship it. It's better than whiskey. It is what I dreamed of - the great and perfect thing - when I was a simple young man, with sweet illusions and clean ideals. And I've got it, now, in my last grasp, and I'll not have it pawed over and soiled by a lot of swine. No, I won't take the bet. It's mine. I made it, and I've shared it with you."

"But think of the rest of the world," Martin protested. "The function of beauty is joy-making."

"It's my beauty."

"Don't be selfish."

"I'm not selfish." Brissenden grinned soberly in the way he had when pleased by the thing his thin lips were about to shape. "I'm as unselfish as a famished hog."

In vain Martin strove to shake him from his decision. Martin told him that his hatred of the magazines was rabid, fanatical, and that his conduct was a thousand times more despicable than that of the youth who burned the temple of Diana at Ephesus. Under the storm of denunciation Brissenden complacently sipped his toddy and affirmed that everything the other said was quite true, with the exception of the magazine editors. His hatred of them knew no bounds, and he excelled Martin in denunciation when he turned upon them.

"I wish you'd type it for me," he said. "You know how a thousand times better than any stenographer. And now I want to give you some advice." He drew a bulky manuscript from his outside coat pocket. "Here's your 'Shame of the Sun.' I've read it not once, but twice and three times - the highest compliment I can pay you. After what you've said about 'Ephemera' I must be silent. But this I will say: when 'The Shame of the Sun' is published, it will make a hit. It will start a controversy that will be worth thousands to you just in advertising."

Martin laughed. "I suppose your next advice will be to submit it to the magazines."

"By all means no - that is, if you want to see it in print. Offer it to the first-class houses. Some publisher's reader may be mad enough or drunk enough to report favorably on it. You've read the books. The meat of them has been transmuted in the alembic of Martin Eden's mind and poured into 'The Shame of the Sun,' and one day Martin Eden will be famous, and not the least of his fame will rest upon that work. So you must get a publisher for it - the sooner the better."

Brissenden went home late that night; and just as he mounted the first step of the car, he swung suddenly back on Martin and thrust into his hand a small, tightly crumpled wad of paper.

"Here, take this," he said. "I was out to the races to-day, and I had the right dope."

The bell clanged and the car pulled out, leaving Martin wondering as to the nature of the crinkly, greasy wad he clutched in his hand. Back in his room he unrolled it and found a hundred-dollar bill.

He did not scruple to use it. He knew his friend had always plenty of money, and he knew also, with profound certitude, that his success would enable him to repay it. In the morning he paid every bill, gave Maria three months' advance on the room, and redeemed every pledge at the pawnshop. Next he bought Marian's wedding present, and simpler presents, suitable to Christmas, for Ruth and Gertrude. And finally, on the balance remaining to him, he herded the whole Silva tribe down into Oakland. He was a winter late in redeeming his promise, but redeemed it was, for the last, least Silva got a pair of shoes, as well as Maria herself. Also, there were horns, and dolls, and toys of various sorts, and parcels and bundles of candies and nuts that filled the arms of all the Silvas to overflowing.

It was with this extraordinary procession trooping at his and Maria's heels into a confectioner's in quest if the biggest candy- cane ever made, that he encountered Ruth and her mother. Mrs. Morse was shocked. Even Ruth was hurt, for she had some regard for appearances, and her lover, cheek by jowl with Maria, at the head of that army of Portuguese ragamuffins, was not a pretty sight. But it was not that which hurt so much as what she took to be his lack of pride and self-respect. Further, and keenest of all, she read into the incident the impossibility of his living down his working-class origin. There was stigma enough in the fact of it, but shamelessly to flaunt it in the face of the world - her world - was going too far. Though her engagement to Martin had been kept secret, their long intimacy had not been unproductive of gossip; and in the shop, glancing covertly at her lover and his following, had been several of her acquaintances. She lacked the easy largeness of Martin and could not rise superior to her environment. She had been hurt to the quick, and her sensitive nature was quivering with the shame of it. So it was, when Martin arrived later in the day, that he kept her present in his breast-pocket, deferring the giving of it to a more propitious occasion. Ruth in tears - passionate, angry tears - was a revelation to him. The spectacle of her suffering convinced him that he had been a brute, yet in the soul of him he could not see how nor why. It never entered his head to be ashamed of those he knew, and to take the Silvas out to a Christmas treat could in no way, so it seemed to him, show lack of consideration for Ruth. On the other hand, he did see Ruth's point of view, after she had explained it; and he looked upon it as a feminine weakness, such as afflicted all women and the best of women.

布里森登没有解释他长期失踪的原因。马丁也没有问。他能透过从一大杯柠檬威士忌甜酒升起的水雾望见地朋友那瘦削凹陷的脸,已经心满意足了。

“我也没有闲着,”布里森登听马)讲过他已完成的工作之后宣布。

他从内面一件短衫的口袋里掏出了一份手稿给了马丁。马丁看了看标题,好奇地瞥了他一眼。

“对,就是它,”布里森登哈哈大笑。“挺漂亮的标题,是么?‘蜉蝣’,就是这个词。是从你那里来的,就从你的那个‘人’来的,那个永远直立的、被激活了的无机物,蜉蝣的最新形式,在温度计那小小的天地望高视阔步的有体温的生物。那东西钻进了我的脑子,为了把它打发掉我只好写了出来。告诉我你对它的看法。”

开始时马丁的股发红,但一读下去,便苍白了。那是十全十美的艺术。形式战胜了内容,如果还能叫做战胜的话。在那里凡能设想出的内容的每一个细节都获得了最完美的表现形式。马丁高兴得如醉如痴,热泪盈眶,却又感到一阵阵阴寒在背上起伏。那是一首六七百行的长诗,一部奇思逸想、令人震惊、不属于人世的诗作。它精彩之至,难以设想,可又分明存在,用黑色的墨水写在一张张纸上。那诗写的是人和他的灵魂在终极意义上的探索,他探索着宇宙空间的一个个深渊,寻求着最辽远处的一个个太阳和一道道霓虹光谱。那是想像力的疯狂的盛筵,在一个垂死的人的头脑里祝酒,垂死者气息奄奄地哭泣着,衰微不去的心脏却仍然狂跳。那诗以庄重的节奏振荡起伏,伴随着星际冲突的清冷的波涛、万千星宿的前进步伐、和无数冷冰冰的太阳的冲击,伴随着最黑暗的空虚望的星云的燃烧;而在这一切之间,却传来了入类微弱细小的声音,有如一支银梭,不断地、无力地呐喊着,在星球的呼啸和天体的撞击声中只不过是几声哀怨悲嗟的唧唧啾鸣。

“文学里还从没有过这样的作品!”马丁在终于能说话时说道,“惊人之作!——惊人!它钻进了我的脑袋,叫我沉醉。那伟大的浩瀚无涯的问题我是无法赶出脑袋了。人类那永远反复的追求的细弱的呐喊还在我的耳用震响,有如狮吼象吗之间的纹钢的丧葬进行曲。它怀着千百倍夸大的欲望,无从满足,我知道我是在把自己变成个傻瓜。但这个问题却叫我神魂颠四。你,你——我不知道怎么说你才好,可是你真了不起。可你是怎么写出来的?怎么写的?”

马丁暂停了他的狂欢颂,只是为了重新说下去。

“我再也不写东西了。我是个在泥涂里乱画的家伙。你已经让我看见了真正的艺术大师的作品。天才!比天才还高越,超过了天才。是疯魔的真理。是的,老兄,每一行都是的。我不知道你是否意识到这一点,你这个教条主义者。科学是不会骗人的。这是冷言冷语叙述的真理,是用宇宙的黑色铁玺印就的,是把声音的强大节奏织人光辉和美的织品里造成的。现在我再也没有话说了。我被征服了,粉碎了。不,我还有话说!让我给你找销路吧。”

布里森登满面笑容:“基督教世界纪还没有一份杂志敢于发表这诗呢——这你是知道的。”

‘哪类的事我不懂,但我知道基督教世界还没有一份杂志不会抢着要它。他们并不是每天都能得到这样的东西的。这不是这一年之冠,而是本世纪之冠。”

“我愿意拿你这说法和你打赌。”

“好了,可别那么愤世嫉俗,”马丁提出要求,“杂志编辑并非都那么昏庸,这我是知道的。我可以跟你用你想要的任何东西打赌,《蜉蝣》头一次或第二次投出去就会被采用的。”

“只有一个东西不让我跟你打赌,”布里森登想了一会儿,说:“我这诗很有分量——是我的作品里最有分量的,这我知道。它是我的天鹅之歌,我为它骄傲。我崇拜它甚于威士忌,它是我少年时梦寐以求的东西——完美元缺的伟大作品。那时我怀着甜蜜的幻想和纯洁的理想。现在我用我这最后的一把力气抓住了它。我可不愿意把它送出去让那些猪移胡乱蹂躏和玷污。不,我不打赌。它是我的。我创作了它,而且已经跟你分享了。”

“可你得想想世界上其他的人,”马丁抗议道,“美的功能原本就是给人享受。”

“可那美属于我。”

“别自私。”

“我并不自私,”布里森登冷静地笑了。他那薄薄的嘴唇有好笑的事想说就那么笑。“我可是跟一头俄急了的野猪一样大公无私呢。”

马丁想动摇他的决心,却没有如愿。马丁告诉他地对编辑们的仇恨太过激,太狂热,他的行为比烧掉了以弗所的狄安娜神庙的那个青年还要讨厌一千倍。布里森登心满意足地啜着他的柠檬威十忌甜酒,面对着谴责的风暴。他承认对方的活每一句都对,只是关于杂志编辑的活不对。他对他们怀着无穷的仇恨。一提起他们他的谴责的风暴便超过了马丁。

“我希望你为我把它打出来,”他说,“你打得比任何速记员都好一千倍。现在我要给你一个忠告。”他从外衣口袋掏出了一大摞稿子。“这是你的《太阳的耻辱》,我读过不是一次,而是两次三次——这可是我对你的最高赞美。在你说了关于蜉蝣的那些话之后我只好闭嘴了。可我还要说一句:《太阳的耻辱》发表之后一定会引起轰动。它一定会引起争论,光在宣传上那对你也要值千千万呢。”

马丁哈哈大笑:“我估计你下面就会要我把它寄给杂志了。”

“绝对不可以——就是说如果你想见它发表的话。把它寄给第一流的出版社。某个审稿人可能为它颠倒或是沉醉,做出有利的审稿报告。你读过了该读的书。那些书的精华已经被马丁·伊登提炼吸收,注入了《太阳的耻辱》。有一天马丁·伊甸会成名,而那部著作对他的名气的作用决不会小。因此你得为它找一个出版家——越早越好。”

那天晚上布望森登很晚才回家,他刚踏上车便转过身来塞在马丁手里一个捏得很紧的小纸团。

“喏,拿着,”他说,“我今天去赛了马,我有关于马的可靠内部情报。”

马车叮叮当当走掉了,让马丁留在那里猜想着他手里摸着的这个皱巴巴的纸团是什么意思。他回到屋里打开一看,原来是一张一百元的钞票。

他满不在乎地打算用这笔钱。他知道他的朋友一向有许多钱,也深信自己的成功能让他偿还这笔债。早上他还清了一切欠债;预付给了玛利亚三个月房租地赎回了当铺里的一切。然后他为茉莉安买了结婚礼物,为露丝和格特霞也买了适合圣诞节的较简单的礼物。最后他用剩下的钱把西尔伐一家请到奥克夫兰去,从西尔伐家最小的孩子到玛利亚各自都得到了一双鞋。他随行诺言晚了一冬,但他毕竟履行了。此外还买了喇叭、布娃娃、各种各样的玩具。还有大包小包的糖果,叫西尔伐全家的手臂几乎抱不住。

这一支与众不同的队伍跟在他和玛利亚身后浩浩荡荡地进了一家糖果店,要想寻找最大的手杖糖。正在此时他却碰见了露丝和她的妈妈。莫尔斯太太非常愤慨。就连露丝也受到了伤害,因为她有些顾脸面,而她的爱人却跟玛利亚那么亲亲热热,带了那么一帮衣衫褴褛的葡萄牙小叫花子,那样子真不体面,而最叫她难受的却是他在她眼里那种没有自尊和自爱的样子。还有,最叫她伤己的是她从这件事看到了他那工人阶级生活之叫人难堪。事实本身已经够丢人的了,他却还要不知羞耻地招摇过市——到她的世界里来。这未免太过分。她跟马丁的婚约虽然保了密,两人之间长期亲密的过从并非不会引起流言蜚语的。在那家铺子里已有好几个她的熟人悄悄地打量着她的情人和跟着他的那帮人。她缺少马丁那样广阔的心胸,不能超越自己环境。她受到了严重的伤害,他那敏感的天性因为那耻辱而颤抖。马丁当天晚些时候到了她家时,情况就像这样。马丁把礼物留在胸前口袋里,原想找一个较为有利的时机再拿出来。是露丝流起了眼泪,激动的愤怒的眼泪,才给了他启示的。她那泪眼婆娑的痛苦样子让他觉得自己是个野兽,可他从灵魂里却并不懂得问题词在,为了什么。他从来不会想到为自己的朋友感到害羞。他好像觉得圣诞节请西尔伐一家去挥霍一番不可能对露丝表现什么不体贴。反过来,就在露丝已经解释她的观点之后他也还莫名其妙,只把它看作是一种女性的弱点——一种一切妇女都有的毛病,包括最优秀的妇女在内。
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