第三卷外祖和外孙 第07章短布裙
大耳朵英语  http://www.bigear.cn  2007-09-21 00:19:08  【打印
CHAPTER VII SOME PETTICOAT







We have mentioned a lancer.



He was a great-grand-nephew of M. Gillenormand, on the paternal side, who led a garrison life, outside the family and far from the domestic hearth. Lieutenant Theodule Gillenormand fulfilled all the conditions required to make what is called a fine officer. He had "a lady's waist," a victorious manner of trailing his sword and of twirling his mustache in a hook. He visited Paris very rarely, and so rarely that Marius had never seen him. The cousins knew each other only by name. We think we have said that Theodule was the favorite of Aunt Gillenormand, who preferred him because she did not see him. Not seeing people permits one to attribute to them all possible perfections.



One morning, Mademoiselle Gillenormand the elder returned to her apartment as much disturbed as her placidity was capable of allowing. Marius had just asked his grandfather's permission to take a little trip, adding that he meant to set out that very evening. "Go!" had been his grandfather's reply, and M. Gillenormand had added in an aside, as he raised his eyebrows to the top of his forehead: "Here he is passing the night out again." Mademoiselle Gillenormand had ascended to her chamber greatly puzzled, and on the staircase had dropped this exclamation: "This is too much!"--and this interrogation: "But where is it that he goes?" She espied some adventure of the heart, more or less illicit, a woman in the shadow, a rendezvous, a mystery, and she would not have been sorry to thrust her spectacles into the affair. Tasting a mystery resembles getting the first flavor of a scandal; sainted souls do not detest this. There is some curiosity about scandal in the secret compartments of bigotry.



So she was the prey of a vague appetite for learning a history.



In order to get rid of this curiosity which agitated her a little beyond her wont, she took refuge in her talents, and set about scalloping, with one layer of cotton after another, one of those embroideries of the Empire and the Restoration, in which there are numerous cart-wheels. The work was clumsy, the worker cross. She had been seated at this for several hours when the door opened. Mademoiselle Gillenormand raised her nose. Lieutenant Theodule stood before her, making the regulation salute. She uttered a cry of delight. One may be old, one may be a prude, one may be pious, one may be an aunt, but it is always agreeable to see a lancer enter one's chamber.



"You here, Theodule!" she exclaimed.



"On my way through town, aunt."



"Embrace me."



"Here goes!" said Theodule.



And he kissed her. Aunt Gillenormand went to her writing-desk and opened it.



"You will remain with us a week at least?"



"I leave this very evening, aunt."



"It is not possible!"



"Mathematically!"



"Remain, my little Theodule, I beseech you."



"My heart says `yes,' but my orders say `no.' The matter is simple. They are changing our garrison; we have been at Melun, we are being transferred to Gaillon. It is necessary to pass through Paris in order to get from the old post to the new one. I said: `I am going to see my aunt.'"



"Here is something for your trouble."



And she put ten louis into his hand.



"For my pleasure, you mean to say, my dear aunt."



Theodule kissed her again, and she experienced the joy of having some of the skin scratched from her neck by the braidings on his uniform.



"Are you making the journey on horseback, with your regiment?" she asked him.



"No, aunt. I wanted to see you. I have special permission. My servant is taking my horse; I am travelling by diligence. And, by the way, I want to ask you something."



"What is it?"



"Is my cousin Marius Pontmercy travelling so, too?"



"How do you know that?" said his aunt, suddenly pricked to the quick with a lively curiosity.



"On my arrival, I went to the diligence to engage my seat in the coupe."



"Well?"



"A traveller had already come to engage a seat in the imperial. I saw his name on the card."



"What name?"



"Marius Pontmercy."



"The wicked fellow!" exclaimed his aunt. "Ah! your cousin is not a steady lad like yourself. To think that he is to pass the night in a diligence!"



"Just as I am going to do."



"But you--it is your duty; in his case, it is wildness."



"Bosh!" said Theodule.



Here an event occurred to Mademoiselle Gillenormand the elder,-- an idea struck her. If she had been a man, she would have slapped her brow. She apostrophized Theodule:--



"Are you aware whether your cousin knows you?"



"No. I have seen him; but he has never deigned to notice me."



"So you are going to travel together?"



"He in the imperial, I in the coupe."



"Where does this diligence run?"



"To Andelys."



"Then that is where Marius is going?"



"Unless, like myself, he should stop on the way. I get down at Vernon, in order to take the branch coach for Gaillon. I know nothing of Marius' plan of travel."



"Marius! what an ugly name! what possessed them to name him Marius? While you, at least, are called Theodule."



"I would rather be called Alfred," said the officer.



"Listen, Theodule."



"I am listening, aunt."



"Pay attention."



"I am paying attention."



"You understand?"



"Yes."



"Well, Marius absents himself!"



"Eh! eh!"



"He travels."



"Ah! ah!"



"He spends the night out."



"Oh! oh!"



"We should like to know what there is behind all this."



Theodule replied with the composure of a man of bronze:--



"Some petticoat or other."



And with that inward laugh which denotes certainty, he added:--



"A lass."



"That is evident," exclaimed his aunt, who thought she heard M. Gillenormand speaking, and who felt her conviction become irresistible at that word fillette, accentuated in almost the very same fashion by the granduncle and the grandnephew. She resumed:--



"Do us a favor. Follow Marius a little. He does not know you, it will be easy. Since a lass there is, try to get a sight of her. You must write us the tale. It will amuse his grandfather."



Theodule had no excessive taste for this sort of spying; but he was much touched by the ten louis, and he thought he saw a chance for a possible sequel. He accepted the commission and said: "As you please, aunt."



And he added in an aside, to himself: "Here I am a duenna."



Mademoiselle Gillenormand embraced him.



"You are not the man to play such pranks, Theodule. You obey discipline, you are the slave of orders, you are a man of scruples and duty, and you would not quit your family to go and see a creature."



The lancer made the pleased grimace of Cartouche when praised for his probity.



Marius, on the evening following this dialogue, mounted the diligence without suspecting that he was watched. As for the watcher, the first thing he did was to fall asleep. His slumber was complete and conscientious. Argus snored all night long.



At daybreak, the conductor of the diligence shouted: "Vernon! Relay of Vernon! Travellers for Vernon!" And Lieutenant Theodule woke.



"Good," he growled, still half asleep, "this is where I get out."



Then, as his memory cleared by degrees, the effect of waking, he recalled his aunt, the ten louis, and the account which he had undertaken to render of the deeds and proceedings of Marius. This set him to laughing.



"Perhaps he is no longer in the coach," he thought, as he rebuttoned the waistcoat of his undress uniform. "He may have stopped at Poissy; he may have stopped at Triel; if he did not get out at Meulan, he may have got out at Mantes, unless he got out at Rolleboise, or if he did not go on as far as Pacy, with the choice of turning to the left at Evreus, or to the right at Laroche-Guyon. Run after him, aunty. What the devil am I to write to that good old soul?"



At that moment a pair of black trousers descending from the imperial, made its appearance at the window of the coupe.



"Can that be Marius?" said the lieutenant.



It was Marius.



A little peasant girl, all entangled with the horses and the postilions at the end of the vehicle, was offering flowers to the travellers. "Give your ladies flowers!" she cried.



Marius approached her and purchased the finest flowers in her flat basket.



"Come now," said Theodule, leaping down from the coupe, "this piques my curiosity. Who the deuce is he going to carry those flowers to? She must be a splendidly handsome woman for so fine a bouquet. I want to see her."



And no longer in pursuance of orders, but from personal curiosity, like dogs who hunt on their own account, he set out to follow Marius. Marius paid no attention to Theodule. Elegant women descended from the diligence; he did not glance at them. He seemed to see nothing around him.



"He is pretty deeply in love!" thought Theodule.



Marius directed his steps towards the church.



"Capital," said Theodule to himself. "Rendezvous seasoned with a bit of mass are the best sort. Nothing is so exquisite as an ogle which passes over the good God's head."



On arriving at the church, Marius did not enter it, but skirted the apse. He disappeared behind one of the angles of the apse.



"The rendezvous is appointed outside," said Theodule. "Let's have a look at the lass."



And he advanced on the tips of his boots towards the corner which Marius had turned.



On arriving there, he halted in amazement.



Marius, with his forehead clasped in his hands, was kneeling upon the grass on a grave. He had strewn his bouquet there. At the extremity of the grave, on a little swelling which marked the head, there stood a cross of black wood with this name in white letters: COLONEL BARON PONTMERCY. Marius' sobs were audible.



The "lass" was a grave.







七 短布裙①









①短布裙,指贫寒人家的年轻姑娘。



我们曾提到过一个长矛兵。



那是吉诺曼先生的一个侄孙,他一向远离家庭,在外地过着军营生活。这位忒阿杜勒·吉诺曼中尉具有人们所谓漂亮军官的全部条件。他有“闺秀的腰身”,一种拖曳指挥刀的潇洒风度,两头翘的胡子。他很少来巴黎,马吕斯从来不曾会过他。这两个表兄弟只是彼此知道名字而已。我们好象曾提起过,忒阿杜勒是吉诺曼姑奶奶心疼的人,她疼他,是因为她瞧不见他。眼睛瞧不见,心里便会对那人想象出无数的优点。



一天早晨,吉诺曼姑奶奶力持镇静才捺住了心头的激动,回到自己屋里。马吕斯刚才又要求他外祖父让他去作一次短期旅行,并说当天傍晚便打算动身。外祖父回答说:“去吧!”随后,吉诺曼先生转过背,把两条眉毛在额头上耸得高高的,接着说:“他外宿,屡犯不改。”吉诺曼姑娘回到自己的屋里,着实安不下心来,又走到楼梯上,她狠狠地说了这么一句:“未免太过火了。”继又问这么一句:“究竟他要去什么地方呢?”她仿佛窥到了他心中某种不大说得出口的隐秘活动,一个若隐若现的妇女,一次幽会,一种密约,如果能拿着眼镜凑近去看个清楚,那倒也不坏。刺探隐情,有如初尝异味。圣洁的灵魂是绝不厌恶这种滋味的。在虔诚笃敬的心曲深处也常有窥人隐私的好奇心。



因此她被一种要摸清底细的轻微饥渴所俘虏了。



这种好奇心所引起的激动有点超出她的惯例。为了使自己得到消遣,她便专心于自己的手艺,她开始剪裁层层棉布,拼绣那种在帝国时期和王朝复辟时期盛行的许多车轮形的饰物。工作烦闷,工作者烦躁。她在她的椅子上一直坐了好几个钟头,房门忽然开了。吉诺曼姑娘抬起她的鼻子,那位忒阿杜勒中尉立在她面前,正向她行军礼。她发出一声幸福的叫喊。人老了,又素来腼腆虔诚,并且又是姑妈,见到一个龙骑兵走进她的绣房,那总是乐意的。



“你在这里!”她喊着说。



“我路过这儿,我的姑姑。”



“快拥抱我吧。”



“遵命!”忒阿杜勒说。



他上前拥抱了她。吉诺曼姑奶奶走到她的书桌边,开了抽屉。



“你至少得在我们这儿待上整整一星期吧?”



“姑姑,我今晚就得走。”



“瞎说!”



“一点也没说错。”



“留下来,我的小忒阿杜勒,我求你。”



“我的心想留下,但是命令不许可。事情很简单,我们换防,我们原来驻扎在默伦,现在调到加容,从老防地到新防地,我们得经过巴黎。我说了,我要去看看我的姑姑。”



“这一小点是补偿你的损失的。”



她放了十个路易在他手心里。



“您的意思是说这是为了使我高兴吧,亲爱的姑姑。”



忒阿杜勒再次拥抱她,她因为自己的脖子被他军服上的金线边微微刮痛了一点而起了一阵快感。



“你是不是骑着马带着队伍出发呢?”她问他。



“不,我的姑姑,我打定主意要来看看您。我得到了特殊照顾。我的勤务兵带着我的马走了,我乘公共马车去。说到这儿,我想起要问您一桩事。”



“什么事?”



“我那表弟马吕斯·彭眉胥,他也要去旅行吗?”



“你怎么知道的?”他姑姑说,这时她那好奇心陡然被搔着最痒处了。



“来这儿时,我到公共马车站去订了一个前厢座位。”



“后来呢?”



‘有个旅客已在车顶上订了个座位。我在旅客单上见到了他的名字。”



“什么名字?”



“马吕斯·彭眉胥。”



“那坏蛋!”姑姑喊着说。“哈!你那表弟可不象你这样是个有条理的孩子。到公共马车里去过夜,这成什么话!”



“跟我一样。”



“你,那是为了任务,而他呢,只是为了胡闹。”



“没有想到!”忒阿杜勒说。



到此,吉诺曼大姑娘感到有事可做了,她有了个想法。假如她是个男子,她一定会猛拍一下自己的额头。她急忙问忒阿杜勒:



“你知道你表弟不认识你吗?”



“不知道,我见过他,我,但是他从来不曾注意过我。”



“你们不是要同车赶路吗?”



“他坐在车顶上,我坐在前厢里。”



“这公共马车去什么地方?”



“去莱桑德利。”



“马吕斯是去那地方吗?”



“除非他和我一样半路下车。我要在韦尔农转车去加容。



马吕斯的路线,我可一点也不知道。”



“马吕斯!这名字多难听!怎么会有人想到要叫他马吕斯!



而你,至少,你叫忒阿杜勒!”



“我觉得还不如阿尔弗雷德好听。”那位军官说。



“听我说,忒阿杜勒。”



“我在听,我的姑姑。”



“注意了。”



“我注意了。”



“准备好了?”



“准备好了。”



“好吧,马吕斯时常不回家。”



“嗨嗨!”



“他时常旅行。”



“啊啊!”



“他时常在外面过夜。”



“呵呵!”



“我们很想知道这里面是些啥玩意儿。”



忒阿杜勒带着一个富有阅历的人的那种镇静态度回答说:



“无非是一两条短布裙吧。”



随即又带着那种表示自信的含蓄的笑声说道:



“个把小姑娘罢了。”



“显然是这样。”姑奶奶兴奋地说,她以为听到了吉诺曼先生在谈话,无论是那叔祖或侄孙在谈到小姑娘这几个字时,那语调几乎是一模一样的,于是她的看法也就不容抗拒地就此形成了。她接着又说:



“你得替我们做件开心事儿。你跟着马吕斯。他不认识你,你不会有什么困难。既然这里有个小姑娘,你想方设法去看看她,回头写封信把这小小故事告诉我们,让他外公开开心。”



忒阿杜勒对这种性质的侦察工作并没有太大的兴趣,但是那十个路易却使他很感动,而且觉得这种好处今后还可能会有。他便接受了任务,说道:“您喜欢怎样就怎样吧,我的姑姑。”跟着,他又对自己说:“这下我变成老保姆了。”



吉诺曼姑娘吻了他一下,说道:



“忒阿杜勒,你是决不会搞这些的,你是遵守纪律的,你是门禁制度的奴隶,你是一个安分尽职的人,你决不会离开你的家去找那样一个货色的。”



那龙骑兵做了个得意的丑脸,正如卡图什听到别人称赞他克己守法。



在这次对话的当天晚上,马吕斯坐上公共马车,绝没有想到有人监视他。至于那位监视者,他所做的第一桩事便是睡大觉。这是场地地道道的酣睡。阿耳戈斯①打了一整夜的鼾。天刚蒙蒙亮时,公共马车上的管理人喊道:“韦尔农!韦尔农车站到了!到韦尔农的旅客们下车了!”忒阿杜勒中尉这才醒过来。



①阿耳戈斯(Argus),希腊神话中之百眼神,他无论昼夜总有五十只眼睛不闭。



“好,”他喃喃地说,人还在半睡状态,“我得在此地下车。”



随后,他的记忆力一步一步地清楚起来了,这是醒来的效果,他想到了他的姑姑,还有那十个路易,以及要就马吕斯的所作所为作出报告的诺言。这都使他感到可笑。



“他也许早已不在这车上了,”他一面想,一面扣上他那身小军服上的纽扣。“他可能留在普瓦西了,也可能留在特利埃尔,他如果没有在默朗下车,也可能在芒特下车,除非他已在罗尔波阿斯下车,或是一直到帕西,从那儿向左可以去到埃夫勒,向右可以去拉罗什-盖荣。你去追吧,我的姑姑。我得对她写些什么鬼话呢,对那个好老太婆?”



正在这时,一条黑裤子从车顶上下来,出现在前车厢的玻璃窗上。



“这也许是马吕斯吧?”中尉说。



那正是马吕斯。



一个乡村小姑娘,站在车子下面,混在一群马和马夫当中对着旅客叫卖鲜花:“带点鲜花送给太太小姐们吧。”



马吕斯走到她跟前,买了她托盘中最美丽的一束鲜花。



“这下子,”忒阿杜勒一面跳下前车厢,一面说,“我可来劲了。这些花,他要拿去送给什么鬼女人呢?除非是个顶顶漂亮的女人才配得上一簇这么出色的花。我一定要去看她一眼。”



现在已不是受人之托,而是出自本人的好奇心,正如那些为自身利益追踪的狗一样,他开始跟在马吕斯后面。



马吕斯一点没有注意到忒阿杜勒。一些衣饰华丽的妇女从公共马车上走下来,他一眼也不望,仿佛周围的任何东西全不在他眼里。



“他真够钟情的了!”忒阿杜勒想。



马吕斯朝着礼拜堂走去。



“妙极,”忒阿杜勒对自己说。“礼拜堂!对呀。情人的约会,配上点宗教色彩,那真够味儿。通过慈悲天主来送秋波,没有比这更美妙的了。”



马吕斯到了礼拜堂前不往里走,却朝后堂绕了过去,绕到堂后墙垛的角上不见了。



“约会地点在外边,”忒阿杜勒说,“可以看到那小姑娘了。”



他踮起长统靴的脚尖朝着马吕斯拐弯的那个墙角走去。



到了那里,他大吃一惊,停着不动了。



马吕斯,两手捂着额头,跪在一个坟前的草丛里。他已把那簇鲜花的花瓣撒在坟前。在那坟隆起的一端,也就是死者头部所在处,有个木十字架,上面写着一行白字:“上校男爵彭眉胥”。马吕斯正在失声痛哭。



那“小姑娘”只是一座坟。

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