第14章 海丝特和医生
大耳朵英语  http://www.bigear.cn  2007-07-26 19:52:49  【打印
Chapter 14 HESTER AND THE PHYSICIAN









HESTER bade little Pearl run down to the margin of the water, and play with the shells and tangled seaweed, until she should have talked awhile with yonder gatherer of herbs. So the child flew away like a bird, and, making bare her small white feet, went pattering along the moist margin of the sea. Here and there she came to a full stop, and peeped curiously into a pool, left by the retiring tide as a mirror for Pearl to see her face in. Forth peeped at her, out of the pool, with dark, glistening curls around her head, and an elf-smile in her eyes, the image of a little maid, whom Pearl, having no other playmate, invited to take her hand, and run a race with her. But the visionary little maid, on her part, beckoned likewise, as if to say, "This is a better place! Come thou into the pool!" And Pearl, stepping in, mid-leg deep, beheld her own white feet at the bottom; while, out of a still lower depth, came the gleam of a kind of fragmentary smile, floating to and fro in the agitated water.



Meanwhile, her mother had accosted the physician.



"I would speak a word with you," said she- "a word that concerns us much."



"Aha! and is it Mistress Hester that has a word for old Roger Chillingworth?" answered he, raising himself from his stooping posture. "With all my heart! Why, mistress, I hear good tidings of you, on all hands! No longer ago than yester-eve, a magistrate, a wise and godly man, was discoursing of your affairs, Mistress Hester, and whispered me that there had been question concerning you in the council. It was debated whether or no, with safety to the common weal, yonder scarlet letter might be taken off your bosom. On my life, Hester, I made my entreaty to the worshipful magistrate that it might be done forthwith!"



"It lies not in the pleasure of the magistrates to take off this badge." calmly replied Hester. "Were I worthy to be quit of it, it would fall away of its own nature, or be transformed into something that should speak a different purport."



"Nay, then, wear it, if it suit you better," rejoined he. "A woman must needs follow her own fancy touching the adornment of her person. The letter is gaily embroidered, and shows right bravely on your bosom!"



All this while, Hester had been looking steadily at the old man, and was shocked, as well as wonder-smitten, to discern what a change had been wrought upon him within the past seven years. It was not so much that he had grown older; for though the traces of advancing life were visible, he bore his age well, and seemed to retain a wiry vigour and alertness. But the former aspect of an intellectual and studious man, calm and quiet, which was what she best remembered in him, had altogether vanished, and been succeeded by an eager, searching, almost fierce, yet carefully guarded look. It seemed to be his wish and purpose to mask this expression with a smile; but the latter played him false, and flickered over his visage so derisively, that the spectator could see his blackness all the better for it. Ever and anon, too, there came a glare of red light out of his eyes; as if the old man's soul were on fire, and kept on smouldering duskily within his breast, until, by some casual puff of passion, it was blown into a momentary flame. This he repressed, as speedily as possible, and strove to look as if nothing of the kind had happened.



In a word, old Roger Chillingworth was a striking evidence of man's faculty of transforming himself into a devil, if he will only, for a reasonable space of time, undertake a devil's office. This unhappy person had effected such a transformation, by devoting himself, for seven years, to the constant analysis of a heart full of torture, and deriving his enjoyment thence, and adding fuel to those fiery tortures which he analysed and gloated over.



The scarlet letter burned on Hester Prynne's bosom. Here was another ruin, the responsibility of which came partly home to her.



"What see you in my face," asked the physician, "that you look at it so earnestly?"



"Something that would make me weep, if there were any tears bitter enough for it," answered she. "But let it pass! It is of yonder miserable man that I would speak."



"And what of him?" cried Roger Chillingworth eagerly, as if he loved the topic, and were glad of an pportunity to discuss it with the only person of whom he could make a confidant. "Not to hide the truth, Mistress Hester, my thoughts happen just now to be busy with the gentleman. So speak freely; and I will make answer."



"When we last spake together," said Hester, "now seven years ago, it was your pleasure to extort a promise of secrecy, as touching the former relation betwixt yourself and me. As the life and good fame of yonder man were in your hands, there seemed no choice to me, save to be silent, in accordance with your behest. Yet it was not without heavy misgivings that I thus bound myself; for, having cast off all duty towards other human beings, there remained a duty towards him; and something whispered me that I was betraying it, in pledging myself to keep your counsel. Since that day, no man is so near to him as you. You tread behind his every footstep. You are beside him, sleeping and waking. You search his thoughts. You burrow and rankle in his heart! Your clutch is on his life, and you cause him to die daily a living death; and still he knows you not. In permitting this, I have surely acted a false part by the only man to whom the power was left me to be true!"



"What choice had you?" asked Roger Chillingworth. "My finger, pointed at this man, would have hurled him from his pulpit into a dungeon- thence, peradventure, to the gallows!"



"It had been better so!" said Hester Prynne.



"What evil have I done the man?" asked Roger Chillingworth again. "I tell thee, Hester Prynne, the richest fee that ever physician earned from monarch could not have bought such care as I have wasted on this miserable priest! But for my aid, his life would have burned away in torments, within the first two years after the perpetration of his crime and thine. For, Hester, his spirit lacked the strength that could have borne up, as thine has, beneath a burden like thy scarlet letter. Oh, I could reveal a goodly secret! But enough! What art can do, I have exhausted on him. That he now breathes, and creeps upon earth, is owing all to me!"



"Better he had died at once!" said Hester Prynne.



"Yea, woman, thou sayest truly!" cried old Roger Chillingworth, letting the lurid fire of his heart blaze out before her eyes. "Better had he died at once! Never did mortal suffer what this man has suffered. And all, all, in the sight of his worst enemy! He has been conscious of me. He has felt an influence dwelling always upon him like a curse. He knew, by some spiritual sense- for the Creator never made another being so sensitive as this- he knew that no friendly hand was pulling at his heart-strings, and that an eye was looking curiously into him, which sought only evil, and found it. But he knew not that the eye and hand were mine! With the superstition common to his brotherhood, he fancied himself given over to a fiend, to be tortured with frightful dreams, and desperate thoughts, the sting of remorse, and despair of pardon; as a foretaste of what awaits him beyond the grave. But it was the constant shadow of my presence!- the closest propinquity of the man whom he had most vilely wronged!- and who had grown to exist only by this perpetual poison of the direst revenge! Yea, indeed!- he did not err!- there was a fiend at his elbow! A mortal man, with once a human heart, has become a fiend for his especial torment!"



The unfortunate physician, while uttering these words, lifted his hands with a look of horror, as if he had beheld some frightful shape, which he could not recognise, usurping the place of his own image in a glass. It was one of those moments- which sometimes occur only at the interval of years- when a man's moral aspect is faithfully revealed to his mind's eye. Not improbably, he had never before viewed himself as he did now.



"Hast thou not tortured him enough?" said Hester, noticing the old man's look. "Has he not paid thee all?"



"No!- no!- he has but increased the debt!" answered the physician; and as he proceeded, his manner lost its fiercer characteristics, and subsided into gloom. "Dost thou remember me, Hester, as I was nine years agone? Even then, I was in the autumn of my days, nor was it the early autumn. But all my life had been made up of earnest, studious, thoughtful, quiet years, bestowed faithfully for the increase of mine own knowledge, and faithfully, too, though this latter object was but casual to the other- faithfully for the advancement of human welfare. No life had been more peaceful and innocent than mine; few lives so rich with benefits conferred. Dost thou remember me? Was I not, though you might deem me cold, nevertheless a man thoughtful for others, craving little for himself- kind, true, just, and of constant, if not warm affections? Was I not all this?"



"All this, and more," said Hester.



"And what am I now?" demanded he, looking into her face, and permitting the whole evil within him to be written on his features. "I have already told thee what I am! A fiend! Who made me so?"



"It was myself!" cried Hester, shuddering. "It was I, not less than he. Why hast thou not avenged thyself on me?"



"I have left thee to the scarlet letter," replied Roger Chillingworth. "If that have not avenged me, I can do no more!"



He laid his finger on it, with a smile.



"It has avenged thee!" answered Hester Prynne.



"I judged no less," said the physician. "And now, what wouldst thou with me touching this man?"



"I must reveal the secret," answered Hester firmly. "He must discern thee in thy true character. What may be the result, I know not. But this long debt of confidence, due from me to him, whose bane and ruin I have been, shall at length be paid. So far as concerns the overthrow or preservation of his fair fame and his earthly state, and perchance his life, he is in thy hands. Nor do I- whom the scarlet letter has disciplined to truth, though it be the truth of red-hot iron, entering into the soul- nor do I perceive such advantage in his living any longer a life of ghastly emptiness, that I shall stoop to implore thy mercy. Do with him as thou wilt! There is no good for him- no good for me- no good for thee! There is no good for little Pearl! There is no path to guide us out of this dismal maze."



"Woman, I could well-nigh pity thee!" said Roger Chillingworth, unable to restrain a thrill of admiration too; for there was a quality almost majestic in the despair which she expressed. "Thou hadst great elements. Peradventure, hadst thou met earlier with a better love than mine, this evil had not been. I pity thee, for the good that has been wasted in thy nature!"



"And I thee," answered Hester Prynne, "for the hatred that has transformed a wise and just man to a fiend! Wilt thou yet purge it out of thee, and be once more human? If not for his sake, then doubly for thine own! Forgive, and leave his further retribution to the Power that claims it! I said, but now, that there could be no good event for him, or thee, or me, who are here wandering together in this gloomy maze of evil, and stumbling, at every step, over the guilt wherewith we have strewn our path. It is not so! There might be good for thee, and thee alone, since thou hast been deeply wronged, and hast it at thy will to pardon. Wilt thou give up that only privilege? Wilt thou reject that priceless benefit?"



"Peace, Hester, peace!" replied the old man, with gloomy sternness. "It is not granted me to pardon. I have no such power as thou tellest me of. My old faith, long forgotten, comes back to me, and explains all that we do, and all we suffer. By thy first step awry, thou didst plant the germ of evil; but since that moment, it has all been a dark necessity. Ye that have wronged me are not sinful, save in a kind of typical illusion; neither am I fiend-like, who have snatched a fiend's office from his hands. It is our fate. Let the black flower blossom as it may! Now go thy ways, and deal as thou wilt with yonder man."



He waved his hand and betook himself again to his employment of gathering herbs.











第十四章 海丝特和医生









海丝特打发小珠儿跑到水边去玩贝壳和缠结的海藻,好让她同那边那采药人谈一会儿话。那孩子便象鸟儿般地飞了开去,她那双赤裸着的白白的小脚丫,一路拍着水在潮湿的海边跑着。她不时停下身来,把退潮留下的水洼当作镜子,好奇地朝里面照着她自己的面孔。水洼里,一个满头长着乌黑闪亮的鬃发、眼中露着小精灵般微笑的小姑娘,在朝她窥视,珠儿由于没有别的玩伴,便伸手邀她同自己进行一场赛跑。但那映象的小鼓娘,也同样和她伸手招呼,仿佛在说:“这地方更好些!你到水洼里来吧!”珠儿一脚踏进去,水没到了膝盖,她看见的只是水底的自己的白脚丫;同时,从更深的一层水下,映出了一种支离破碎的微笑,在动荡的水中上下漂浮闪动。与此同时,她母亲已和那医生搭话了。



“我想跟你谈一谈,”她说,“谈谈同我们至关紧要的事。”



“啊哈!原来是海丝特太太有话要和老罗杰·齐灵渥斯说么?”他直起腰来回答说。“高兴之极!噢,太太,我从各处都听到有关你的好消息!就在昨天晚上,一位长官,一位圣明的人,还谈起了你的事,海丝特太太,他悄悄告诉我,在议会中曾经提及有关你的问题:大家议论起,要是把你胸前的红字取下来,会不会对公众的好运有妨碍。我敢发誓,海丝特,我当即恳求那可敬的长官,这事应予立即施行!”



“那些长官们可不乐于取下这徽记,”海丝特平静地应道。



“要是我有资格把这玩艺儿取下来,它就会自然而然地落下去,或是变成表示别的意思的东西了。”



“那就别取下来啦,既然你觉得合适,就继续戴下去吧,”他接着说。“触及女人的装饰一事,那可得随着她自己的心气儿。那字母绣得那么鲜艳,戴在你胸前,恰到好处地显示了你的勇敢!”



在他俩谈话的这段时间里,海丝特一直不错眼珠地盯着那老人,她惊奇地注意到,在这七年之间,他发生了多么明显的变化。那倒不是说他又老了许多;因为虽然可以看出他年事益高的痕迹,但就他的年纪而论,仍有坚韧的精力和机敏,然而,她原来印象最深的他先前那种聪慧好学的品格,那种平和安详的风度,如今已经踪影皆无,取而代之的是一种急切窥测的神色,近乎疯狂而又竭力掩饰。他似乎有意用微笑来遮掩,但那种微笑却暴露出他的虚伪,在他脸上时隐时现,似是在捉弄他,使旁人益发清楚地看出他的阴险。他的眼睛中还不时闪出阵阵红光;象是那老人的灵魂正在燃烧,却憋在胸中装着,只是偶尔不小心受到激情的鼓吹,才喷出瞬间的火焰。而他则尽快地将这火焰压下去,竭力装出一副没发生过这种事的样子。



总之,老罗杰·齐灵渥斯是一个显而易见的实例,证明人只要甘心从事魔鬼的勾当,经过相当一段时间,就可以靠他本人的智能将良身变成魔鬼。这个闷闷不乐的人之所以发生了这一变化,就是由于他在七年的时间里全力以赴地剖析一颗充满痛苦的心灵并从中取乐,甚至还要对他正剖析并观察着的剧烈痛苦幸灾乐祸地火上浇油。



红字在海丝特·白兰的胸上燃烧。因为这里又多了一个被毁灭的人,其责任,部分要归咎于她。



“你在我脸上看到了什么,”医生问道,“让你盯得这么紧?”



“要是我还有多余的心酸的泪的话,我会为一件事而哭泣的,”她回答说。“不过,算了吧!我还是来谈谈那个不幸的人吧。”



“谈他的什么事呢?”罗杰·齐灵渥斯迫不及待地叫着,仿佛他喜爱这个话题,巴不得有个机会能同这个唯一可以谈谈悄悄话的人讨论一番。“咱们不说假话,海丝特太太,这会儿我刚好正忙着在那位先生身上转着念头。你就随便说吧,我会作出答复的。”



“我们上次在一起交谈的时候,”海丝特说,“是在七年以前,当时你迫使我答应为你我之间原先的关系保密。由于那个人的生命和名声全都在你的把握之中,我除去遵从你的意志保持沉默之外,似乎已别无出路。’然而我受到这一承诺的约束,不能不疑虑重重;因为我虽然抛弃了对其他人的一切责任,却还保有对他的责任;而有一个声音在悄悄对我说,在我发誓为你保密之时,就背叛了这一职责。从那一天起,谁都没有象你这么接近他。你跟踪着他的沉重的脚步。你无论睡着醒着都守在他的身旁。你搜寻着他的思想。你挖掘并折磨他的心灵!你玩弄他于你的股掌之上,让他镇日里备受死去活来之苦;然而他对你竟依旧毫不了解。他是上天留给我保持忠诚的唯一的一个人,我却允许你对他这般肆虐,我确实扮演了一个虚伪的角色!”“难道你还有别的出路吗?”罗杰·齐灵渥斯问道。“我的手指指着他,只消一动,就可以把他从布道坛上抛到牢狱中去——甚至还会把他抛到绞刑架上!”



“那样也许倒好些!”海丝特·白兰说。



“我对那人作了什么坏事呢?”罗杰·齐灵渥斯又问道。“我跟你说,海丝特·白兰,自古以来,就连帝王付给医生的最大报酬,也无法买到我在这不幸的牧师身上所花费的心血!要不是我假以援手,他和你犯下罪孽之后的头两年里,他的生命便会在备受折磨之中烧光了。海丝特,因为他的精神缺乏你那种力量,挺不住你所受的红宇的那种重压。嗅,我完全可以揭发一项天大的秘密!只要一说出口就足够了!可是我在他身上尽了最大努力,凡医术能做到的,无不设法。如今他得以在这个世界上苟延残喘,全靠我的努力呢!”



“他还不如马上死掉呢!”海丝特·白兰说。



“是啊,妇人,你算说对了!”老罗杰·齐灵渥斯叫着,内心的火焰在她眼前烧得一片血红。“他不如马上死掉!他遭的那份罪还没有一个活人受过呢。而且这一切的一切全都让他最恶毒的政手看在眼里!他已经意识到我这个人了。’他已经感觉到有个象是诅咒的势力始终在他身边徘徊。他通过某种精神的感觉——造物主从来没有造过象他这样敏感的人——得知,拉扯他心弦的并不是什么友谊之手,而且还知道,有一双好奇的眼睛正在窥视他的内心,一心要寻找邪恶,并且已经找到了。不过他并不清楚,那双眼和那只手就是我的!他也有他的牧师兄弟们所共有的那种迷信,幻想着自己已被交给一个恶魔,受尽骇人的梦幻、绝望的念头、悔恨的螫刺和无望的宽怨的折磨;象是让他预先尝试一下等待着他的进入坟墓之后的是什么滋味。然而这恰恰是我的无所不在的暗影!——一个受到他最卑劣的委屈的人的最紧密的接触!——那个人已经变得只是出于极端的复仇的毒剂的永恒的驱使才活着了!是啊,他是对的!他没有弄错!他肘腋边确有一个恶魔!一个曾经有过人心的活人已经变成专门折磨他的恶魔了!”



那不幸的医生,一边说着这番话,一边神色恐怖地举起双手,仿佛他看到了某个不认识的怪影在镜中侵夺了他的映象。这属于那种多少年才出现一次的时刻:此时,一个人的精神风貌一丝不苟地显示在他心灵的眼前。他恐怕从来没有象此时这样看清他自己——这样说大概没有什么不要。



“难道你还没有把他折磨够吗?”海丝特注意到了那老人的神色,就这么问他,“难道他还没有偿还你的一切吗?”“没有!——没有!他只不过增加了他的负债!”那医生回答说;在他接下去说着的时候,他的神情不再是恶狠狠的,而变得阴郁了。“你还记得我九年前的样子吗,海丝特?即使在那时;我也到了垂暮之秋,而且还不是初秋。但我的全部生活都是由真诚、勤学、沉思和宁静的岁月所构成的,我忠实地将其奉献给为自己增加知识,也同样忠实地将其奉献给为人类造福——虽说这后一个目标与前一个相比只是附带的。谁也比不上我生活得那样平和,那样纯真;很少有人象我那样生活得富于裨益。你还记得那时的我吗?虽说你可能认为我冷酷无情,难道我不是为他人着想,很少替自己打算吗?——就算我不是温情脉脉,难道我不是善良、真诚、正直,对爱情始终不渝的人吗?过去的我难道不就是这样子吗?”



“是这样子的,而且还不只这些,”海丝特说。



“可我现在成了什么样子呢?”他紧盯着她的面孔,逼问着,同时让他内心的全部邪恶都无保留地表露在他的外貌上。“我已经告诉过你我是什么了!一个恶魔!是谁把我弄成这样子的?”“就是我!”海丝特周身战抖着说。“是我!我的责任并不比他小。可你为什么不对我报复呢?”



“我把你留给了红宇,”罗杰·齐灵渥斯回答说。“如果红字还不能为我出气,我也别无它法了!”



他面带微笑,把一个指头放在红字上面。



“它已经替你报复了!”海丝特·白兰说。



“我正是这么看的,”那医生说。“那么,如今你要我对那个人怎么办呢?”



“我要揭露这一秘密,”海丝特坚定地回答说。“他应该辨清你的真实面目。其结果会如何,我并不知道。但我长期以来向他隐瞒真相的这笔债,现在总该偿还了——正是因为我才毁掉他的啊。至于他的良好的名声和他在世间的地位,或许还有他的生命,予取予夺都在你的掌握之中。我的情况就不一样了——红字已经使我皈依了真理,尽管那真理如熨铁一般火热,深源地烙进了我的灵魂,——而他那鬼一般空虚的生活再延迟下去,我也看不出还有什么好处,因此我也不会卑躬屈膝地乞求你的慈悲。你对他尽管随心所欲好了!对他不会有什么好处,一一对我不会有什么好处,——对你也没什么好处!对小珠儿不会有什么好处!没有任何指引我们跳出这阴惨的迷津的道路!”“女人,我满可以可怜你的!”罗杰·齐灵渥斯说,由于她表现出的绝望中有一种近乎庄严的气质,连他也不由得不肃然起敬了。“你具有了不起的天赋。如果你早些得到强过于我的爱,这件邪恶就不会发生了。我可怜你,因为你美好的天性横遭荒废!”



“我也同样地可怜你,”海丝特·白兰回答说,“因为仇恨已经把一个聪明而正直的人变成了恶魔!你还愿意把仇恨从心中排挤出去,再恢复成人吗?即使不是为了他的缘故,那么总是加倍地为了你自己嘛!你放宽容些,把对他来世的报应交给有极处理此事的神灵吧!我刚才说过了,象目前这样,无论对他,对你,或者对我,都不会有任何好处,我们是在这片阴惨的邪恶迷律中一起徘徊,在我们铺撤在路上的罪孽上每走一步都要跌跌撞撞。事情本不该这样的!由于你一直深深受到委屈,你就拥有一切极力来宽怨,你可以因此从中获益,而且只有你一人单独获益。你难道要放弃那唯一的特权吗?你难道要反对这没本钱的利益吗?”



“安静点,海丝特,安静点!”那老人阴沉而严厉地回答说。



“上天没有赐给我宽恕的品德,我也没有你所说的那种权力。我那早已忘掉的老信仰,如今又回到了我身上,要对我们所做出和所遭受的一切给予解释。由于第一步走歪了,你就种下了邪恶的胚胎;但自从那时起,它也就成了一种阴暗的必然。不过,使我受到伤害的,除非处于一种典型的错觉之中,倒不是罪过;而我呢,虽然从魔鬼的手中夺得了他的职责,但我跟恶魔毕竟不一样。这是我们的命运。让那黑色之花随它去开吧!如今,你去走你的路,随你自己的意愿去处理同那人的关系吧。”他挥了挥手,又继续采集药草了。

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