第四卷寄托有时便是断送 第01章一个母亲遇见另一个母亲
大耳朵英语  http://www.bigear.cn  2007-07-05 23:58:11  【打印
BOOK FOURTH.--TO CONFIDE IS SOMETIMES TO DELIVER INTO A PERSON'S POWER



CHAPTER I ONE MOTHER MEETS ANOTHER MOTHER







There was, at Montfermeil, near Paris, during the first quarter of this century, a sort of cook-shop which no longer exists. This cook-shop was kept by some people named Thenardier, husband and wife. It was situated in Boulanger Lane. Over the door there was a board nailed flat against the wall. Upon this board was painted something which resembled a man carrying another man on his back, the latter wearing the big gilt epaulettes of a general, with large silver stars; red spots represented blood; the rest of the picture consisted of smoke, and probably represented a battle. Below ran this inscription: AT THE SIGN OF SERGEANT OF WATERLOO (Au Sargent de Waterloo).



Nothing is more common than a cart or a truck at the door of a hostelry. Nevertheless, the vehicle, or, to speak more accurately, the fragment of a vehicle, which encumbered the street in front of the cook-shop of the Sergeant of Waterloo, one evening in the spring of 1818, would certainly have attracted, by its mass, the attention of any painter who had passed that way.



It was the fore-carriage of one of those trucks which are used in wooded tracts of country, and which serve to transport thick planks and the trunks of trees. This fore-carriage was composed of a massive iron axle-tree with a pivot, into which was fitted a heavy shaft, and which was supported by two huge wheels. The whole thing was compact, overwhelming, and misshapen. It seemed like the gun-carriage of an enormous cannon. The ruts of the road had bestowed on the wheels, the fellies, the hub, the axle, and the shaft, a layer of mud, a hideous yellowish daubing hue, tolerably like that with which people are fond of ornamenting cathedrals. The wood was disappearing under mud, and the iron beneath rust. Under the axle-tree hung, like drapery, a huge chain, worthy of some Goliath of a convict. This chain suggested, not the beams, which it was its office to transport, but the mastodons and mammoths which it might have served to harness; it had the air of the galleys, but of cyclopean and superhuman galleys, and it seemed to have been detached from some monster. Homer would have bound Polyphemus with it, and Shakespeare, Caliban.



Why was that fore-carriage of a truck in that place in the street? In the first place, to encumber the street; next, in order that it might finish the process of rusting. There is a throng of institutions in the old social order, which one comes across in this fashion as one walks about outdoors, and which have no other reasons for existence than the above.



The centre of the chain swung very near the ground in the middle, and in the loop, as in the rope of a swing, there were seated and grouped, on that particular evening, in exquisite interlacement, two little girls; one about two years and a half old, the other, eighteen months; the younger in the arms of the other. A handkerchief, cleverly knotted about them, prevented their falling out. A mother had caught sight of that frightful chain, and had said, "Come! there's a plaything for my children."



The two children, who were dressed prettily and with some elegance, were radiant with pleasure; one would have said that they were two roses amid old iron; their eyes were a triumph; their fresh cheeks were full of laughter. One had chestnut hair; the other, brown. Their innocent faces were two delighted surprises; a blossoming shrub which grew near wafted to the passers-by perfumes which seemed to emanate from them; the child of eighteen months displayed her pretty little bare stomach with the chaste indecency of childhood. Above and around these two delicate heads, all made of happiness and steeped in light, the gigantic fore-carriage, black with rust, almost terrible, all entangled in curves and wild angles, rose in a vault, like the entrance of a cavern. A few paces apart, crouching down upon the threshold of the hostelry, the mother, not a very prepossessing woman, by the way, though touching at that moment, was swinging the two children by means of a long cord, watching them carefully, for fear of accidents, with that animal and celestial expression which is peculiar to maternity. At every backward and forward swing the hideous links emitted a strident sound, which resembled a cry of rage; the little girls were in ecstasies; the setting sun mingled in this joy, and nothing could be more charming than this caprice of chance which had made of a chain of Titans the swing of cherubim.



As she rocked her little ones, the mother hummed in a discordant voice a romance then celebrated:--



"It must be, said a warrior."



Her song, and the contemplation of her daughters, prevented her hearing and seeing what was going on in the street.



In the meantime, some one had approached her, as she was beginning the first couplet of the romance, and suddenly she heard a voice saying very near her ear:--



"You have two beautiful children there, Madame."



"To the fair and tender Imogene--"



replied the mother, continuing her romance; then she turned her head.



A woman stood before her, a few paces distant. This woman also had a child, which she carried in her arms.



She was carrying, in addition, a large carpet-bag, which seemed very heavy.



This woman's child was one of the most divine creatures that it is possible to behold. lt was a girl, two or three years of age. She could have entered into competition with the two other little ones, so far as the coquetry of her dress was concerned; she wore a cap of fine linen, ribbons on her bodice, and Valenciennes lace on her cap. The folds of her skirt were raised so as to permit a view of her white, firm, and dimpled leg. She was admirably rosy and healthy. The little beauty inspired a desire to take a bite from the apples of her cheeks. Of her eyes nothing could be known, except that they must be very large, and that they had magnificent lashes. She was asleep.



She slept with that slumber of absolute confidence peculiar to her age. The arms of mothers are made of tenderness; in them children sleep profoundly.



As for the mother, her appearance was sad and poverty-stricken. She was dressed like a working-woman who is inclined to turn into a peasant again. She was young. Was she handsome? Perhaps; but in that attire it was not apparent. Her hair, a golden lock of which had escaped, seemed very thick, but was severely concealed beneath an ugly, tight, close, nun-like cap, tied under the chin. A smile displays beautiful teeth when one has them; but she did not smile. Her eyes did not seem to have been dry for a very long time. She was pale; she had a very weary and rather sickly appearance. She gazed upon her daughter asleep in her arms with the air peculiar to a mother who has nursed her own child. A large blue handkerchief, such as the Invalides use, was folded into a fichu, and concealed her figure clumsily. Her hands were sunburnt and all dotted with freckles, her forefinger was hardened and lacerated with the needle; she wore a cloak of coarse brown woollen stuff, a linen gown, and coarse shoes. It was Fantine.



It was Fantine, but difficult to recognize. Nevertheless, on scrutinizing her attentively, it was evident that she still retained her beauty. A melancholy fold, which resembled the beginning of irony, wrinkled her right cheek. As for her toilette, that aerial toilette of muslin and ribbons, which seemed made of mirth, of folly, and of music, full of bells, and perfumed with lilacs had vanished like that beautiful and dazzling hoar-frost which is mistaken for diamonds in the sunlight; it melts and leaves the branch quite black. Ten months had elapsed since the "pretty farce."



What had taken place during those ten months? It can be divined.



After abandonment, straightened circumstances. Fantine had immediately lost sight of Favourite, Zephine and Dahlia; the bond once broken on the side of the men, it was loosed between the women; they would have been greatly astonished had any one told them a fortnight later, that they had been friends; there no longer existed any reason for such a thing. Fantine had remained alone. The father of her child gone,--alas! such ruptures are irrevocable,-- she found herself absolutely isolated, minus the habit of work and plus the taste for pleasure. Drawn away by her liaison with Tholomyes to disdain the pretty trade which she knew, she had neglected to keep her market open; it was now closed to her. She had no resource. Fantine barely knew how to read, and did not know how to write; in her childhood she had only been taught to sign her name; she had a public letter-writer indite an epistle to Tholomyes, then a second, then a third. Tholomyes replied to none of them. Fantine heard the gossips say, as they looked at her child: "Who takes those children seriously! One only shrugs one's shoulders over such children!" Then she thought of Tholomyes, who had shrugged his shoulders over his child, and who did not take that innocent being seriously; and her heart grew gloomy toward that man. But what was she to do? She no longer knew to whom to apply. She had committed a fault, but the foundation of her nature, as will be remembered, was modesty and virtue. She was vaguely conscious that she was on the verge of falling into distress, and of gliding into a worse state. Courage was necessary; she possessed it, and held herself firm. The idea of returning to her native town of M. sur M. occurred to her. There, some one might possibly know her and give her work; yes, but it would be necessary to conceal her fault. In a confused way she perceived the necessity of a separation which would be more painful than the first one. Her heart contracted, but she took her resolution. Fantine, as we shall see, had the fierce bravery of life. She had already valiantly renounced finery, had dressed herself in linen, and had put all her silks, all her ornaments, all her ribbons, and all her laces on her daughter, the only vanity which was left to her, and a holy one it was. She sold all that she had, which produced for her two hundred francs; her little debts paid, she had only about eighty francs left. At the age of twenty-two, on a beautiful spring morning, she quitted Paris, bearing her child on her back. Any one who had seen these two pass would have had pity on them. This woman had, in all the world, nothing but her child, and the child had, in all the world, no one but this woman. Fantine had nursed her child, and this had tired her chest, and she coughed a little.



We shall have no further occasion to speak of M. Felix Tholomyes. Let us confine ourselves to saying, that, twenty years later, under King Louis Philippe, he was a great provincial lawyer, wealthy and influential, a wise elector, and a very severe juryman; he was still a man of pleasure.



Towards the middle of the day, after having, from time to time, for the sake of resting herself, travelled, for three or four sous a league, in what was then known as the Petites Voitures des Environs de Paris, the "little suburban coach service," Fantine found herself at Montfermeil, in the alley Boulanger.



As she passed the Thenardier hostelry, the two little girls, blissful in the monster swing, had dazzled her in a manner, and she had halted in front of that vision of joy.



Charms exist. These two little girls were a charm to this mother.



She gazed at them in much emotion. The presence of angels is an announcement of Paradise. She thought that, above this inn, she beheld the mysterious HERE of Providence. These two little creatures were evidently happy. She gazed at them, she admired them, in such emotion that at the moment when their mother was recovering her breath between two couplets of her song, she could not refrain from addressing to her the remark which we have just read:--



"You have two pretty children, Madame."



The most ferocious creatures are disarmed by caresses bestowed on their young.



The mother raised her head and thanked her, and bade the wayfarer sit down on the bench at the door, she herself being seated on the threshold. The two women began to chat.



"My name is Madame Thenardier," said the mother of the two little girls. "We keep this inn."



Then, her mind still running on her romance, she resumed humming between her teeth:--



"It must be so; I am a knight, And I am off to Palestine."



This Madame Thenardier was a sandy-complexioned woman, thin and angular-- the type of the soldier's wife in all its unpleasantness; and what was odd, with a languishing air, which she owed to her perusal of romances. She was a simpering, but masculine creature. Old romances produce that effect when rubbed against the imagination of cook-shop woman. She was still young; she was barely thirty. If this crouching woman had stood upright, her lofty stature and her frame of a perambulating colossus suitable for fairs, might have frightened the traveller at the outset, troubled her confidence, and disturbed what caused what we have to relate to vanish. A person who is seated instead of standing erect--destinies hang upon such a thing as that.



The traveller told her story, with slight modifications.



That she was a working-woman; that her husband was dead; that her work in Paris had failed her, and that she was on her way to seek it elsewhere, in her own native parts; that she had left Paris that morning on foot; that, as she was carrying her child, and felt fatigued, she had got into the Villemomble coach when she met it; that from Villemomble she had come to Montfermeil on foot; that the little one had walked a little, but not much, because she was so young, and that she had been obliged to take her up, and the jewel had fallen asleep.



At this word she bestowed on her daughter a passionate kiss, which woke her. The child opened her eyes, great blue eyes like her mother's, and looked at--what? Nothing; with that serious and sometimes severe air of little children, which is a mystery of their luminous innocence in the presence of our twilight of virtue. One would say that they feel themselves to be angels, and that they know us to be men. Then the child began to laugh; and although the mother held fast to her, she slipped to the ground with the unconquerable energy of a little being which wished to run. All at once she caught sight of the two others in the swing, stopped short, and put out her tongue, in sign of admiration.



Mother Thenardier released her daughters, made them descend from the swing, and said:--



"Now amuse yourselves, all three of you."



Children become acquainted quickly at that age, and at the expiration of a minute the little Thenardiers were playing with the new-comer at making holes in the ground, which was an immense pleasure.



The new-comer was very gay; the goodness of the mother is written in the gayety of the child; she had seized a scrap of wood which served her for a shovel, and energetically dug a cavity big enough for a fly. The grave-digger's business becomes a subject for laughter when performed by a child.



The two women pursued their chat.



"What is your little one's name?"



"Cosette."



For Cosette, read Euphrasie. The child's name was Euphrasie. But out of Euphrasie the mother had made Cosette by that sweet and graceful instinct of mothers and of the populace which changes Josepha into Pepita, and Francoise into Sillette. It is a sort of derivative which disarranges and disconcerts the whole science of etymologists. We have known a grandmother who succeeded in turning Theodore into Gnon.



"How old is she?"



"She is going on three."



"That is the age of my eldest."



In the meantime, the three little girls were grouped in an attitude of profound anxiety and blissfulness; an event had happened; a big worm had emerged from the ground, and they were afraid; and they were in ecstasies over it.



Their radiant brows touched each other; one would have said that there were three heads in one aureole.



"How easily children get acquainted at once!" exclaimed Mother Thenardier; "one would swear that they were three sisters!"



This remark was probably the spark which the other mother had been waiting for. She seized the Thenardier's hand, looked at her fixedly, and said:--



"Will you keep my child for me?"



The Thenardier made one of those movements of surprise which signify neither assent nor refusal.



Cosette's mother continued:--



"You see, I cannot take my daughter to the country. My work will not permit it. With a child one can find no situation. People are ridiculous in the country. It was the good God who caused me to pass your inn. When I caught sight of your little ones, so pretty, so clean, and so happy, it overwhelmed me. I said: `Here is a good mother. That is just the thing; that will make three sisters.' And then, it will not be long before I return. Will you keep my child for me?"



"I must see about it," replied the Thenardier.



"I will give you six francs a month."



Here a man's voice called from the depths of the cook-shop:--



"Not for less than seven francs. And six months paid in advance."



"Six times seven makes forty-two," said the Thenardier.



"I will give it," said the mother.



"And fifteen francs in addition for preliminary expenses," added the man's voice.



"Total, fifty-seven francs," said Madame Thenardier. And she hummed vaguely, with these figures:--



"It must be, said a warrior."



"I will pay it," said the mother. "I have eighty francs. I shall have enough left to reach the country, by travelling on foot. I shall earn money there, and as soon as I have a little I will return for my darling."



The man's voice resumed:--



"The little one has an outfit?"



"That is my husband," said the Thenardier.



"Of course she has an outfit, the poor treasure.--I understood perfectly that it was your husband.--And a beautiful outfit, too! a senseless outfit, everything by the dozen, and silk gowns like a lady. It is here, in my carpet-bag."



"You must hand it over," struck in the man's voice again.



"Of course I shall give it to you," said the mother. "It would be very queer if I were to leave my daughter quite naked!"



The master's face appeared.



"That's good," said he.



The bargain was concluded. The mother passed the night at the inn, gave up her money and left her child, fastened her carpet-bag once more, now reduced in volume by the removal of the outfit, and light henceforth and set out on the following morning, intending to return soon. People arrange such departures tranquilly; but they are despairs!



A neighbor of the Thenardiers met this mother as she was setting out, and came back with the remark:--



"I have just seen a woman crying in the street so that it was enough to rend your heart."



When Cosette's mother had taken her departure, the man said to the woman:--



"That will serve to pay my note for one hundred and ten francs which falls due to-morrow; I lacked fifty francs. Do you know that I should have had a bailiff and a protest after me? You played the mouse-trap nicely with your young ones."



"Without suspecting it," said the woman.







一 一个母亲遇见另一个母亲









本世纪的最初二十五年中,在巴黎附近的孟费?地方有一家大致象饭店那样的客店,现在已经不在了。这客店是名叫德纳第的夫妇俩开的。开在面包师巷。店门头上有块木板,平钉在墙上。板上画了些东西,仿佛是个人,那人背上背着另一个带有将军级的金色大肩章、章上还有几颗大银星的人;画上还有一些红斑纹,代表血;其余部分全是烟尘,大致是要描绘战场上的情景。木板的下端有这样几个字:滑铁卢中士客寓。



一个客店门前停辆榻车或小车原是件最平常的事。但在一八一八年春季的一天傍晚,在那滑铁卢中士客寓门前停着的那辆阻塞街道的大车(不如说一辆车子的残骸),却足以吸引过路画家的注意。



那是一辆在森林地区用来装运厚木板和树身的重型货车的前半部。它的组成部分是一条装在两个巨轮上的粗笨铁轴和一条嵌在轴上的粗笨辕木。整体是庞大、笨重、奇形怪状的,就象一架大炮的座子。车轮、轮边、轮心、轮轴和辕木上面都被沿路的泥坑涂上了一层黄污泥浆,颇象一般人喜欢用来修饰天主堂的那种灰浆。木质隐在泥浆里,铁质隐在铁锈里,车轴下面,横挂着一条适合苦役犯歌利亚①的粗链。那条链子不会使人想到它所捆载的巨材,却使人想到它所能驾驭的乳齿象和猛犸;它那模样,好象是从监狱(巨魔和超人的监狱)里出来的,也好象是从一个奴怪身上解下来的。荷马一定会用它来缚住波吕菲摩斯,莎士沈亚用来缚住凯列班。



①歌利亚(Goliath),《圣经》中所载为大卫王所杀之非利士巨人。



为什么那辆重型货车的前都会停在那街心呢?首先,为了阻塞道路;其次,为了让它锈完。在旧社会组织中,就有许许多多这类机构,也同样明目张胆地堵在路上,并没有其他存在的理由。



那??下的链条,中段离地颇近,黄昏时有两个小女孩,一个大致两岁半,一个十八个月,并排坐在那链条的弯处,如同坐在秋千索上,小的那个躺在大的怀中,亲亲热热地相互拥抱着。一条手帕巧妙地系住她们,免得她们摔下。有个母亲最初看见那条丑链条时,她说:“嘿!这家伙可以做我孩子们的玩意儿。”



那两个欢欢喜喜的孩子,确也打扮得惹人爱,是有人细心照顾的,就象废铁中的两朵蔷薇;她们的眼睛,神气十足,鲜润的脸蛋儿笑嘻嘻的。一个的头发是栗色,另一个是棕色。她们天真的面庞露着又惊又喜的神气。附近有一丛野花对着行人频送香味,人家总以为那香味是从她们那里来的。十八个月的那个,天真烂漫,露出她那赤裸裸、怪可爱的小肚皮。在这两个幸福无边、娇艳夺目的小宝贝的顶上,立着那个高阔的车架,黑锈满身,形相丑陋,满是纵横交错、张牙舞爪的曲线和棱角,好比野人洞口的门拱。几步以外,有一个面目并不可爱但此刻却很令人感动的大娘,那就是她们的母亲;她正蹲在那客店门口,用一根长绳拉荡着那两个孩子,眼睛紧紧盯着她们,唯恐发生意外。她那神气,既象猛兽又象天神,除了母亲,别人不会那样。那些怪难看的链环,每荡一次,都象发脾气似的发出一种锐利的叫声。那两个小女孩乐得出神,斜阳也正从旁助兴。天意的诡谲使一条巨魔的铁链成了小天使们的秋千,世间没有比这更有趣的事了。



母亲,一面荡着她的两个孩子,一面用一种不准确的音调哼着一首当时流行的情歌:



必须如此,一个战士……



她的歌声和她对那两个女儿的注意,使她听不见、也看不见街上发生的事。



正当她开始唱那首情歌的第一节,就已有人走近她身边,她忽然听见有人在她耳边说:



“大嫂,您的两个小宝宝真可爱。”



对美丽温柔的伊默琴说,



那母亲唱着情歌来表示回答,随又转过头来。



原来是个妇人站在她面前,隔开她只几步远。那妇人也有个孩子抱在怀里。



此外,她还挽着一个好象很重的随身大衣包。



那妇人的孩子是个小仙女似的孩子。是一个两三岁的女孩。她衣服装饰的艳丽很可以和那两个孩子赛一下。她戴一顶细绸小帽,帽上有瓦朗斯①花边,披一件有飘带的斗篷。掀起裙子就看见她那雪白、肥嫩、坚实的大腿。她面色红润,身体健康,着实可爱。两颊鲜艳得象苹果,教人见了恨不得咬它一口。她的眼睛一定是很大的,一定还有非常秀丽的睫毛,我们不能再说什么,因为她正睡着。



①瓦朗斯(Valence),法国城市,以产花边著名。



她睡得多甜呀!只有在她那种小小年纪才能那样绝无顾虑地睡着。慈母的胳膊是慈爱构成的,孩子们睡在里面怎能不甜?



至于那母亲却是种贫苦忧郁的模样,她的装束象个女工,却又露出一些想要重做农妇的迹象,她还年轻。她美吗?也许,但由于那种装束,她并不显得美。她头发里的一绺金发露了出来,显出她头发的丰厚,但是她用一条丑而窄的巫婆用的头巾紧紧结在颏下,把头发全遮住了。人可以在笑时露出美丽的牙齿,但是她一点也不笑。她的眼睛仿佛还没有干多久。她脸上没有血色,显得非常疲乏,象有病似的。她瞧着睡在她怀里的女儿的那种神情只有亲自哺乳的母亲才会有。一条对角折的粗蓝布大手巾,就是伤兵们用来擤鼻涕的那种大手巾,遮去了她的腰。她的手,枯而黑,生满了斑点,食指上的粗皮满是针痕,肩上披一件蓝色的粗羊毛氅,布裙袍,大鞋。她就是芳汀。



她就是芳汀。已经很难认了。但是仔细看去,她的美不减当年。一条含愁的皱痕横在她的右脸上,仿佛是冷笑的起始。至于装束,她从前那种镶缀丝带、散发丁香味儿、狂态十足的轻罗华服,好象是愉快、狂欢和音乐构成的装饰,早已象日光下和金刚钻一样耀眼的树上霜花那样消失殆尽了,霜花融化以后,留下的只是深黑的树枝。



那次的“妙玩笑”开过以后,已经过了十个月了。



在这十个月中发生了什么事呢?那是可以想见的。



遗弃之后,便是艰苦。芳汀完全见不着宠儿、瑟芬和大丽了;从男子方面断绝了的关系,在女子方面也拆散了;假使有人在十五天过后说她们从前是朋友,她们一定会感到奇怪,现在已没有再做朋友的理由了。芳汀只是孤零零的一个人。她孩子的父亲走了,真惨!这种绝交是无可挽回的,她孑然一身,无亲无故,加以劳动的习惯减少了,娱乐的嗜好加多了,自从和多罗米埃发生关系以后,她便轻视她从前学得的那些小手艺,她忽视了自己的出路,现在已是无路可通了。毫无救星。芳汀稍稍认识几个字,但不知道写,在她年幼时,人家只教过她签自己的名字。她曾请一个摆写字摊的先生写了一封信给多罗米埃,随后又写了第二封,随后又写了第三封。多罗米埃一封也没有答复。一天,芳汀听见一些贫嘴薄舌的女人望着她的孩子说:“谁会认这种孩子?对这种孩子,大家耸耸肩就完了!”于是她想到多罗米埃一定也对她的孩子耸肩,不会认这无辜的小人儿的,想到那男人,她的心灰了。但是作什么打算呢?她已不知道应当向谁求教。她犯了错误,但是我们记得,她的本质是贞洁贤淑的。她隐隐地感到,她不久就会堕入苦难,沉溺在更加不堪的境地里。她非得有毅力不行;她有毅力,于是她站稳脚跟。她忽然想到要回到她家乡滨海蒙特勒伊去,在那里也许会有人认识她,给她工作。这打算不错,不过得先隐瞒她的错误。于是她隐隐看出,可能又要面临生离的苦痛了,而这次的生离的苦痛是会比上一次更甚的。她的心扭作一团,但是她下定决心。芳汀,我们将来可以知道,是敢于大胆正视人生的。



她已毅然决然摈弃了修饰,自己穿着布衣,把她所有的丝织品、碎料子、飘带、花边,都用在她女儿身上,这女儿是她仅有的虚荣。她变卖了所有的东西,得到二百法郎,还清各处的零星债务后她只有八十来个法郎了。在二十二岁的芳龄,一个晴朗的春天的早晨,她背着她的孩子,离开了巴黎。如果有人看见她们母女俩走过,谁也会心酸。那妇人在世上只有这个孩子,那孩子在世上也只有这个妇人。芳汀喂过她女儿的奶,她的胸脯亏累了,因而有点咳嗽。



我们以后不会再有机会谈到斐利克斯·多罗米埃先生了。我们只说,二十年后,在路易·菲力浦王朝时代①,他是外省一个满脸横肉、有钱有势的公家律师,一个乖巧的选民,一个很严厉的审判官,一个一贯寻芳猎艳的登徒子。



①即一八三○年至一八四八年。



芳汀坐上当时称为巴黎郊区小车的那种车子,花上每法里三四个苏的车费,白天就到了孟费?的面包师巷。



她从德纳第客店门前走过,看见那两个小女孩在那怪形秋千架上玩得怪起劲的,不禁心花怒放,只望着那幅欢乐的景象出神。



诱惑人的魑魅是有的。那两个女孩对这个做母亲的来说,便是这种魑魅。



她望着她们,大为感动。看见天使便如身历天堂,她仿佛看见在那客店上面有“上帝在此”的神秘字样。那两个女孩明明是那样快活!她望着她们,羡慕她们,异常感动,以至当那母亲在她两句歌词间换气时,她不能不对她说出我们刚才读到的那句话:



“大嫂,您的两个小宝宝真可爱。”



最凶猛的禽兽,见人家抚摸它的幼雏也会驯服起来的。母亲抬起头,道了谢,又请这位过路的女客坐在门边条凳上,她自己仍蹲在门槛上。两个妇人便攀谈起来了。



“我叫德纳第妈妈,”两个女孩的母亲说,“这客店是我们开的。”



随后,又回到她的情歌,合着牙哼起来:



必须这样,我是骑士,



我正要到巴勒斯坦去。



这位德纳第妈妈是个赤发、多肉、呼吸滞塞的妇人,是个典型的装妖作怪的母老虎。并且说也奇怪,她老象有满腔心事似的,那是由于她多读了几回香艳小说。她是那么一个扭扭捏捏、男不男女不女的家伙,那些已经破烂的旧小说,对一个客店老板娘的想象力来说,往往会产生这样的影响。她还年轻,不到三十岁。假使这个蹲着的妇人当时直立起来,她那魁梧奇伟、游艺场中活菩萨似的身材也许会立刻吓退那位女客,扰乱她的信心,而我们要叙述的事也就不会发生了。一个人的一起一坐竟会牵涉到许多人的命运。



远来的女客开始谈她的身世,不过谈得稍微与实际情况有些出入。



她说她是一个女工,丈夫死了,巴黎缺少工作,她要到别处去找工作,她要回到她的家乡去。当天早晨,她徒步离开了巴黎,因为她带着孩子,觉得疲倦了,恰巧遇着到蒙白耳城去的车子,她便坐了上去;从蒙白耳城到孟费?,她是走来的;小的也走了一点路,但是不多,她太幼小,只得抱着她,她的宝贝睡着了。



说到此地,她热烈地吻了一下她的女儿,把她弄醒了。那个孩子睁开她的眼睛,大的蓝眼睛,和她母亲的一样,望着,望什么呢?什么也不望,什么也在望,用孩子们那副一本正经并且有时严肃的神气望着,那种神气正是他们光明的天真面对我们日益衰败的道德的一种神秘的表示。仿佛他们觉得自己是天使,又知道我们是凡人。随后那个孩子笑起来了,母亲虽然抱住她,但她用小生命跃跃欲试的那种无可约束的毅力滑到地上去了,忽然她看见了秋千上面的那两个孩子,立刻停止不动,伸出舌头,表示羡慕。



德纳第妈妈把她两个女儿解下了,叫她们从秋千上下来,说道:



“你们三个人一道玩吧。”



在那种年纪,大家很快就玩熟了,一分钟过后,那两个小德纳第姑娘便和这个新来的伴侣一道在地上掘洞了,其乐无穷。



这个新来的伴侣是很活泼有趣的,母亲的好心肠已在这个娃娃的快乐里表现出来了,她拿了一小块木片做铲子,用力掘了一个能容一只苍蝇的洞。掘墓穴工人的工作出自一个孩子的手,便有趣了。



两个妇人继续谈话。



“您的宝宝叫什么?”



“珂赛特。”



珂赛特应当是欧福拉吉。那孩子本来叫欧福拉吉。但是她母亲把欧福拉吉改成了珂赛特,这是母亲和平民常有的一种娴雅的本能,比方说,约瑟华往往变成贝比达,佛朗索瓦斯往往变成西莱特。这种字的转借法,绝不是字源学家的学问所能解释的。我们认得一个人的祖母,她居然把泰奥多尔变成了格农。



“她几岁了?”



“快三岁了。”



“正和我的大孩子一样。”



那时,那三个女孩聚在一堆,神气显得极其快乐,但又显得非常焦急,因为那时发生了一件大事:一条肥大的蚯蚓刚从地里钻出来,他们正看得出神。



她们的喜气洋洋的额头一个挨着一个,仿佛三个头同在一圈圆光里一样。



“这些孩子们,”德纳第妈妈大声说,“一下子就混熟了!别人一定认为她们是三个亲妹妹呢!”



那句话大致就是这个母亲所等待的火星吧。她握住德纳第妈妈的手,眼睛盯着她,向她说:



“您肯替我照顾我的孩子吗?”



德纳第妈妈一惊,那是一种既不表示同意,也不表示拒绝的动作。



珂赛特的母亲紧接着说:



“您明白吗,我不能把我的孩子领到家乡去。工作不允许那样做。带着孩子不会有安身的地方。在那地方,他们本是那样古怪的。慈悲的上帝教我从您客店门前走过,当我看见您的孩子那样好看、那样干净、那样高兴时,我的心早被打动了。我说过:‘这才真是个好母亲呵。’哟,她们真会成三个亲姊妹。并且,我不久就要回来的。您肯替我照顾我的孩子吗?”



“我得先想想。”德纳第妈妈说。



“我可以每月付六个法郎。”



说到这里,一个男子的声音从那客店的底里叫出来:



“非得七个法郎不成。并且要先付六个月。”



“六七四十二。”德纳第妈妈说。



“我照付就是。”那母亲说。



“并且另外要十五法郎,做刚接过手时的一切费用。”男子的声音又说。



“总共五十七法郎。”德纳第妈妈说。



提到这些数目时,她又很随便地哼起来:



必须这样,一个战士说。



“我照付就是,”那母亲说,“我有八十法郎。剩下的钱,尽够我盘缠,如果走去的话。到了那里,我就赚得到钱,等我有点钱的时候,我就回头来找我的心肝。”



男子的声音又说:



“那孩子有包袱吗?”



“那是我的丈夫。”德纳第妈妈说。



“当然她有一个包袱,这个可怜的宝贝。我早知道他是您的丈夫。并且还是一个装得满满的包袱!不过有点满得不近人情。里面的东西全是成打的,还有一些和贵妇人衣料一样的绸缎衣服。它就在我的随身衣包里。”



“您得把它交出来。”男子的声音又说。



“我当然要把它交出来!”母亲说,“我让我的女儿赤身露体,那才笑话呢!”



德纳第把主人的面孔摆出来了。



“很好。”他说。



这件买卖成交了。母亲在那客店里住了一夜,交出了她的钱,留下了她的孩子,重新结上她那只由于取出了孩子衣服而缩小、从此永远轻便的随身衣包,在第二天早晨走了,一心打算早早回来。人们对骨肉的离合总爱打如意算盘,但是往往落一场空。



德纳第夫妇的一个女邻居碰到了这位离去的母亲,她回来说:



“我刚才看见一个妇人在街上哭得好惨!”



珂赛特的母亲走了以后,那汉子对他婆娘说:



“这样我可以付我那张明天到期的一百一十法郎的期票了。先头我还缺五十法郎。你可知道?法院的执达吏快要把人家告发我的拒绝付款状给我送来了。这一下,你靠了你的两个孩子做了个财神娘娘。”



“我没有想到。”那婆娘说。

文章来源:大耳朵英语--免费实用 http://www.bigear.cn