第五卷苦难的妙用 第02章马吕斯生活清苦
大耳朵英语  http://www.bigear.cn  2007-09-23 00:23:32  【打印
CHAPTER II MARIUS POOR





It is the same with wretchedness as with everything else. It ends by becoming bearable. It finally assumes a form, and adjusts itself. One vegetates, that is to say, one develops in a certain meagre fashion, which is, however, sufficient for life. This is the mode in which the existence of Marius Pontmercy was arranged:



He had passed the worst straits; the narrow pass was opening out a little in front of him. By dint of toil, perseverance, courage, and will, he had managed to draw from his work about seven hundred francs a year. He had learned German and English; thanks to Courfeyrac, who had put him in communication with his friend the publisher, Marius filled the modest post of utility man in the literature of the publishing house. He drew up prospectuses, translated newspapers, annotated editions, compiled biographies, etc.; net product, year in and year out, seven hundred francs. He lived on it. How? Not so badly. We will explain.



Marius occupied in the Gorbeau house, for an annual sum of thirty francs, a den minus a fireplace, called a cabinet, which contained only the most indispensable articles of furniture. This furniture belonged to him. He gave three francs a month to the old principal tenant to come and sweep his hole, and to bring him a little hot water every morning, a fresh egg, and a penny roll. He breakfasted on this egg and roll. His breakfast varied in cost from two to four sous, according as eggs were dear or cheap. At six o'clock in the evening he descended the Rue Saint-Jacques to dine at Rousseau's, opposite Basset's, the stamp-dealer's, on the corner of the Rue des Mathurins. He ate no soup. He took a six-sou plate of meat, a half-portion of vegetables for three sous, and a three-sou dessert. For three sous he got as much bread as he wished. As for wine, he drank water. When he paid at the desk where Madam Rousseau, at that period still plump and rosy majestically presided, he gave a sou to the waiter, and Madam Rousseau gave him a smile. Then he went away. For sixteen sous he had a smile and a dinner.



This Restaurant Rousseau, where so few bottles and so many water carafes were emptied, was a calming potion rather than a restaurant. It no longer exists. The proprietor had a fine nickname: he was called Rousseau the Aquatic.



Thus, breakfast four sous, dinner sixteen sous; his food cost him twenty sous a day; which made three hundred and sixty-five francs a year. Add the thirty francs for rent, and the thirty-six francs to the old woman, plus a few trifling expenses; for four hundred and fifty francs, Marius was fed, lodged, and waited on. His clothing cost him a hundred francs, his linen fifty francs, his washing fifty francs; the whole did not exceed six hundred and fifty francs. He was rich. He sometimes lent ten francs to a friend. Courfeyrac had once been able to borrow sixty francs of him. As far as fire was concerned, as Marius had no fireplace, he had "simplified matters."



Marius always had two complete suits of clothes, the one old, "for every day"; the other, brand new for special occasions. Both were black. He had but three shirts, one on his person, the second in the commode, and the third in the washerwoman's hands. He renewed them as they wore out. They were always ragged, which caused him to button his coat to the chin.



It had required years for Marius to attain to this flourishing condition. Hard years; difficult, some of them, to traverse, others to climb. Marius had not failed for a single day. He had endured everything in the way of destitution; he had done everything except contract debts. He did himself the justice to say that he had never owed any one a sou. A debt was, to him, the beginning of slavery. He even said to himself, that a creditor is worse than a master; for the master possesses only your person, a creditor possesses your dignity and can administer to it a box on the ear. Rather than borrow, he went without food. He had passed many a day fasting. Feeling that all extremes meet, and that, if one is not on one's guard, lowered fortunes may lead to baseness of soul, he kept a jealous watch on his pride. Such and such a formality or action, which, in any other situation would have appeared merely a deference to him, now seemed insipidity, and he nerved himself against it. His face wore a sort of severe flush. He was timid even to rudeness.



During all these trials he had felt himself encouraged and even uplifted, at times, by a secret force that he possessed within himself. The soul aids the body, and at certain moments, raises it. It is the only bird which bears up its own cage.



Besides his father's name, another name was graven in Marius' heart, the name of Thenardier. Marius, with his grave and enthusiastic nature, surrounded with a sort of aureole the man to whom, in his thoughts, he owed his father's life,--that intrepid sergeant who had saved the colonel amid the bullets and the cannon-balls of Waterloo. He never separated the memory of this man from the memory of his father, and he associated them in his veneration. It was a sort of worship in two steps, with the grand altar for the colonel and the lesser one for Thenardier. What redoubled the tenderness of his gratitude towards Thenardier, was the idea of the distress into which he knew that Thenardier had fallen, and which had engulfed the latter. Marius had learned at Montfermeil of the ruin and bankruptcy of the unfortunate inn-keeper. Since that time, he had made unheard-of efforts to find traces of him and to reach him in that dark abyss of misery in which Thenardier had disappeared. Marius had beaten the whole country; he had gone to Chelles, to Bondy, to Gourney, to Nogent, to Lagny. He had persisted for three years, expending in these explorations the little money which he had laid by. No one had been able to give him any news of Thenardier: he was supposed to have gone abroad. His creditors had also sought him, with less love than Marius, but with as much assiduity, and had not been able to lay their hands on him. Marius blamed himself, and was almost angry with himself for his lack of success in his researches. It was the only debt left him by the colonel, and Marius made it a matter of honor to pay it. "What," he thought, "when my father lay dying on the field of battle, did Thenardier contrive to find him amid the smoke and the grape-shot, and bear him off on his shoulders, and yet he owed him nothing, and I, who owe so much to Thenardier, cannot join him in this shadow where he is lying in the pangs of death, and in my turn bring him back from death to life! Oh! I will find him!" To find Thenardier, in fact, Marius would have given one of his arms, to rescue him from his misery, he would have sacrificed all his blood. To see Thenardier, to render Thenardier some service, to say to him: "You do not know me; well, I do know you! Here I am. Dispose of me!" This was Marius' sweetest and most magnificent dream.







二 马吕斯生活清苦





穷困和其他事物是一样的。它可以由习惯成自然。久而久之,它能定形,并且稳定下来。人们节衣缩食,也就是以一种仅足维持生命的清苦方式成长着。我们来看看马吕斯·彭眉胥的生活是怎样安排的:



他从最窄的路上走出来,眼见那狭路逐渐开阔了。由于勤劳,振作,有恒心和志气,每年他终于能从工作中获得大概七百法郎。他学会了德文和英文,古费拉克把他介绍给他那个开书店的朋友,马吕斯便成了那书店文学部门里一个低微而有用的人。他写书评,译报刊资料,作注解,编纂一些人的生平事迹,等等。无论旺年淡年,净得七百法郎。他以此维持生活。怎样过的呢?过得不坏。我们就来谈谈。



马吕斯在那戈尔博老屋里每年花上三十法郎的租金,占了一间名为办公室而没有壁炉的破烂屋子,至于里面的家具只是些必不可少的而已。家具是他自己的。他每月付三个法郎给那当二房东的老妇人,让她来打扫屋子,每天早晨送他一点热水,一个新鲜蛋和一个苏的面包。这面包和蛋便是他的午餐。午餐得花二至四个苏,随着蛋价的涨落而不同。傍晚六点,他沿着圣雅克街走下去,到马蒂兰街转角处巴赛图片制版印刷铺对面的卢梭餐馆去吃晚饭。他不喝汤。他吃一盘六个苏的肉,半盘三个苏的蔬菜和一份三个苏的甜品。另添三个苏的面包。至于酒,他代以白开水。柜台上,端坐着当时仍然肥硕鲜润的卢梭大娘,付帐时,他给堂倌一个苏,卢梭大娘则对他报以微笑。接着,他便走了。花上十六个苏,他能得到一掬笑容和一顿晚饭。



在卢梭餐馆里,酌空的酒瓶非常少,倒空的水瓶却非常多,那好象是一种安神的地方,而不是果腹之处。今天它已不存在了。那老板有个漂亮的绰号,人们称他为“水旅卢梭”。



因此,午餐四个苏,晚餐十六个苏,他在每天伙食上得花二十个苏;每年便是三百六十五法郎。加上三十法郎房租,三十六法郎给那老妇人,再加上一点零用,一共四百五十法郎,马吕斯便有吃有住有人服侍了。外面衣服得花费他一百法郎,换洗衣服五十法郎,洗衣费五十法郎。总共不超过六百五十法郎。还能剩余五十法郎。他宽裕起来了。他有时还能借十个法郎给朋友,有一次,古费拉克竟向他借了六十法郎。至于取暖,由于没有壁炉,马吕斯也就把这一项“简化”了。



马吕斯经常有两套外面的衣服,一套旧的,供平时穿着,一套全新的,供特殊用途。两套全是黑的。他只有三件衬衫,一件穿在身上,一件放在抽斗里,一件在洗衣妇人那里。磨损了,他便补充。那些衬衫经常是撕破了的,因此他总把短外衣一直扣到下巴。



马吕斯经过了好几年才能达到这种富裕的境地。这些年是艰苦的、困难的,有些是度过去的,有些是熬过去的。马吕斯一天也不曾灰心丧气。任何窘困,他全经历过了,什么他都干过,除了借债。他扪心自问,不曾欠过任何人一个苏。他感到借债便是奴役的开始。他甚至认为债主比奴隶主更可怕,因为奴隶主只能占有你的肉体,而债主却占有你的尊严,并且能伤害你的尊严。他宁肯不吃,也不愿借债。他曾多次整天不吃东西。他感到人间事物是一一相承,物质的缺乏可以导致灵魂的堕落,于是便疾恶如仇捍卫着自己的自尊心。在其他不同的情况下,当某种习俗或某种举动使他感到低贱或使他觉得卑劣时,他便振作起来。凡事他都不图侥幸,因为他不愿走回头路。在他的脸上常有一种不可辱的羞涩神情。他腼腆到了鲁莽的程度。



在他所受到的各种考验中,他感到他心里有种秘密的力量在鼓励他,有时甚至在推动他。灵魂扶助肉体,某些时刻甚至还能提挈它。这是唯一能忍受鸟笼的鸟。



在马吕斯心里,在他父亲的名字旁边还铭刻着另一个名字:德纳第。马吕斯天性诚挚严肃,在他思想里这勇敢的中士曾在滑铁卢把上校从炮弹和枪弹中救出来,是他父亲的恩人,因而他常在想象中把一圈光轮绕在这人的头顶上。他从不把对这人的追念和对他父亲的追念分开来,他把他俩合并在他崇敬的心中。这好象是一种两级的崇拜,大龛供上校,小龛供德纳第。他知道德纳第已陷入逆境,每次想到,他那感戴不尽的心情便变得格外凄惘。马吕斯曾在孟费?听人谈到过这位不幸的客店老板亏本和破产的情况。从那时起,他便作了空前的努力去寻访他的踪迹,想在那淹没德纳第的黑暗深渊里到达他的跟前。马吕斯走遍了那一带,他到过谢尔,到过邦迪,到过古尔内,到过诺让,到过拉尼。三年当中他顽强地东寻西访,把他积蓄的一点钱全花在这上面了。谁也不能为他提供德纳第的消息,人们认为他已到国外去了。他的债主们也在寻他,爱慕的心不及马吕斯,而顽强却不在马吕斯之下,也都没能抓到他。马吕斯探寻不出,便责怪自己,几乎怨恨自己。这是上校留给他唯一的一件未了的事,如果不办妥,他将愧为人子。



“怎么!”他想道,“当我的父亲奄奄一息躺在战场上时,他,德纳第,知道从硝烟弹雨中去找到他,把他扛在肩上救走,当时他并不欠他一点什么,而我,有这么大的恩德要向德纳第报答,我却不能在他呻吟待毙的困境中和他相见,让我同样去把他从死亡中救活!啊!我一定能找到他!”为了找到德纳第,马吕斯确实愿牺牲一条胳膊,为了把他从困苦中救出来,他也确实愿流尽他的血。和德纳第相见,为德纳第出任何一点力并对他说:“您不认识我,没有关系,而我,却认识您!我在这里!请吩咐我应当怎么办吧!”这便是马吕斯最甜、最灿烂的梦想了。

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