第三卷陷入泥泞,心却坚贞 第05章流沙象女人,狡猾又奸诈
大耳朵英语  http://www.bigear.cn  2007-10-17 23:45:12  【打印
CHAPTER V IN THE CASE OF SAND AS IN THAT OF WOMAN, THERE IS A FINENESS WHICH IS TREACHEROUS





He felt that he was entering the water, and that he no longer had a pavement under his feet, but only mud.



It sometimes happens, that on certain shores of Bretagne or Scotland a man, either a traveller or a fisherman, while walking at low tide on the beach far from shore, suddenly notices that for several minutes past, he has been walking with some difficulty. The beach under foot is like pitch; his soles stick fast to it; it is no longer sand, it is bird-lime. The strand is perfectly dry, but at every step that he takes, as soon as the foot is raised, the print is filled with water. The eye, however, has perceived no change; the immense beach is smooth and tranquil, all the sand has the same aspect, nothing distinguishes the soil that is solid from that which is not solid; the joyous little cloud of sand-lice continues to leap tumultuously under the feet of the passer-by.



The man pursues his way, he walks on, turns towards the land, endeavors to approach the shore. He is not uneasy. Uneasy about what? Only he is conscious that the heaviness of his feet seems to be increasing at every step that he takes. All at once he sinks in. He sinks in two or three inches. Decidedly, he is not on the right road; he halts to get his bearings. Suddenly he glances at his feet; his feet have disappeared. The sand has covered them. He draws his feet out of the sand, he tries to retrace his steps, he turns back, he sinks in more deeply than before. The sand is up to his ankles, he tears himself free from it and flings himself to the left, the sand reaches to mid-leg, he flings himself to the right, the sand comes up to his knees. Then, with indescribable terror, he recognizes the fact that he is caught in a quicksand, and that he has beneath him that frightful medium in which neither man can walk nor fish can swim. He flings away his burden, if he have one, he lightens himself, like a ship in distress; it is too late, the sand is above his knees.



He shouts, he waves his hat, or his handkerchief, the sand continually gains on him; if the beach is deserted, if the land is too far away, if the bank of sand is too ill-famed, there is no hero in the neighborhood, all is over, he is condemned to be engulfed. He is condemned to that terrible interment, long, infallible, implacable, which it is impossible to either retard or hasten, which lasts for hours, which will not come to an end, which seizes you erect, free, in the flush of health, which drags you down by the feet, which, at every effort that you attempt, at every shout that you utter, draws you a little lower, which has the air of punishing you for your resistance by a redoubled grasp, which forces a man to return slowly to earth, while leaving him time to survey the horizon, the trees, the verdant country, the smoke of the villages on the plain, the sails of the ships on the sea, the birds which fly and sing, the sun and the sky. This engulfment is the sepulchre which assumes a tide, and which mounts from the depths of the earth towards a living man. Each minute is an inexorable layer-out of the dead. The wretched man tries to sit down, to lie down, to climb; every movement that he makes buries him deeper; he straightens himself up, he sinks; he feels that he is being swallowed up; he shrieks, implores, cries to the clouds, wrings his hands, grows desperate. Behold him in the sand up to his belly, he sand reaches to his breast, he is only a bust now. He uplifts his hands, utters furious groans, clenches his nails on the beach, tries to cling fast to that ashes, supports himself on his elbows in order to raise himself from that soft sheath, and sobs frantically; the sand mounts higher. The sand has reached his shoulders, the sand reaches to his throat; only his face is visible now. His mouth cries aloud, the sand fills it; silence. His eyes still gaze forth, the sand closes them, night. Then his brow decreases, a little hair quivers above the sand; a hand projects, pierces the surface of the beach, waves and disappears. Sinister obliteration of a man.



Sometimes a rider is engulfed with his horse; sometimes the carter is swallowed up with his cart; all founders in that strand. It is shipwreck elsewhere than in the water. It is the earth drowning a man. The earth, permeated with the ocean, becomes a pitfall. It presents itself in the guise of a plain, and it yawns like a wave. The abyss is subject to these treacheries.



This melancholy fate, always possible on certain sea beaches, was also possible, thirty years ago, in the sewers of Paris.



Before the important works, undertaken in 1833, the subterranean drain of Paris was subject to these sudden slides.



The water filtered into certain subjacent strata, which were particularly friable; the foot-way, which was of flag-stones, as in the ancient sewers, or of cement on concrete, as in the new galleries, having no longer an underpinning, gave way. A fold in a flooring of this sort means a crack, means crumbling. The framework crumbled away for a certain length. This crevice, the hiatus of a gulf of mire, was called a fontis, in the special tongue. What is a fontis? It is the quicksands of the seashore suddenly encountered under the surface of the earth; it is the beach of Mont Saint-Michel in a sewer. The soaked soil is in a state of fusion, as it were; all its molecules are in suspension in soft medium; it is not earth and it is not water. The depth is sometimes very great. Nothing can be more formidable than such an encounter. If the water predominates, death is prompt, the man is swallowed up; if earth predominates, death is slow.



Can any one picture to himself such a death? If being swallowed by the earth is terrible on the seashore, what is it in a cess-pool? Instead of the open air, the broad daylight, the clear horizon, those vast sounds, those free clouds whence rains life, instead of those barks descried in the distance, of that hope under all sorts of forms, of probable passers-by, of succor possible up to the very last moment,--instead of all this, deafness, blindness, a black vault, the inside of a tomb already prepared, death in the mire beneath a cover! slow suffocation by filth, a stone box where asphyxia opens its claw in the mire and clutches you by the throat; fetidness mingled with the death-rattle; slime instead of the strand, sulfuretted hydrogen in place of the hurricane, dung in place of the ocean! And to shout, to gnash one's teeth, and to writhe, and to struggle, and to agonize, with that enormous city which knows nothing of it all, over one's head!



Inexpressible is the horror of dying thus! Death sometimes redeems his atrocity by a certain terrible dignity. On the funeral pile, in shipwreck, one can be great; in the flames as in the foam, a superb attitude is possible; one there becomes transfigured as one perishes. But not here. Death is filthy. It is humiliating to expire. The supreme floating visions are abject. Mud is synonymous with shame. It is petty, ugly, infamous. To die in a butt of Malvoisie, like Clarence, is permissible; in the ditch of a scavenger, like Escoubleau, is horrible. To struggle therein is hideous; at the same time that one is going through the death agony, one is floundering about. There are shadows enough for hell, and mire enough to render it nothing but a slough, and the dying man knows not whether he is on the point of becoming a spectre or a frog.



Everywhere else the sepulchre is sinister; here it is deformed.



The depth of the fontis varied, as well as their length and their density, according to the more or less bad quality of the sub-soil. Sometimes a fontis was three or four feet deep, sometimes eight or ten;sometimes the bottom was unfathomable. Here the mire was almost solid, there almost liquid. In the Luniere fontis, it would have taken a man a day to disappear, while he would have been devoured in five minutes by the Philippeaux slough. The mire bears up more or less, according to its density. A child can escape where a man will perish. The first law of safety is to get rid of every sort of load. Every sewerman who felt the ground giving way beneath him began by flinging away his sack of tools, or his back-basket, or his hod.



The fontis were due to different causes: the friability of the soil; some landslip at a depth beyond the reach of man; the violent summer rains; the incessant flooding of winter; long, drizzling showers. Sometimes the weight of the surrounding houses on a marly or sandy soil forced out the vaults of the subterranean galleries and caused them to bend aside, or it chanced that a flooring vault burst and split under this crushing thrust. In this manner, the heaping up of the Parthenon, obliterated, a century ago, a portion of the vaults of Saint-Genevieve hill. When a sewer was broken in under the pressure of the houses, the mischief was sometimes betrayed in the street above by a sort of space, like the teeth of a saw, between the paving-stones; this crevice was developed in an undulating line throughout the entire length of the cracked vault, and then, the evil being visible, the remedy could be promptly applied. It also frequently happened, that the interior ravages were not revealed by any external scar, and in that case, woe to the sewermen. When they entered without precaution into the sewer, they were liable to be lost. Ancient registers make mention of several scavengers who were buried in fontis in this manner. They give many names; among others, that of the sewerman who was swallowed up in a quagmire under the man-hole of the Rue Careme-Prenant, a certain Blaise Poutrain; this Blaise Poutrain was the brother of Nicholas Poutrain, who was the last grave-digger of the cemetery called the Charnier des Innocents, in 1785, the epoch when that cemetery expired.



There was also that young and charming Vicomte d'Escoubleau, of whom we have just spoken, one of the heroes of the siege of Lerida, where they delivered the assault in silk stockings, with violins at their head. D'Escoubleau, surprised one night at his cousin's, the Duchess de Sourdis', was drowned in a quagmire of the Beautreillis sewer, in which he had taken refuge in order to escape from the Duke. Madame de Sourdis, when informed of his death, demanded her smelling-bottle, and forgot to weep, through sniffling at her salts. In such cases, there is no love which holds fast; the sewer extinguishes it. Hero refuses to wash the body of Leander. Thisbe stops her nose in the presence of Pyramus and says: "Phew!"





五 流沙象女人,狡猾又奸诈





他感到他进入水中,在他脚下不再是石块路而是淤泥了。



有时在布列塔尼或苏格兰的某些海滨,一个人,一个旅行者或一个渔民,退潮后在沙滩上走,远离海岸,他忽然发觉几分钟以来他的行走有点困难了。海滩在他脚下就象沥青一样,鞋底粘在上面,这已不是沙粒,而是粘胶了。沙滩完全是干的,但每走一步,当提起双脚时,留下的脚印就灌满了水,尽管如此眼睛却见不到一点变化,辽阔的海滨匀净而安宁,看起来沙滩到处都一个样,无法辨别坚实的和下陷的土地。成群欢乐的海蚜虫继续在行人脚上乱蹦。人继续向前,朝陆地走去,尽力走近海岸。他没有什么不安,有什么可担心呢?不过他已感到,似乎每走一步脚上都增加了重负。忽然他陷了下去。陷下二三寸。他走的路显然不对,于是他停下来另找方向。突然间他朝脚上一看,脚已看不见了。原来沙已把脚埋上。他把脚从沙里拔出,想往回走,他向后转,但陷得更深。沙到了踝骨,他拔出来朝左蹦,沙到了小腿,他朝右蹦,沙到了膝下。于是他变得无可名状地惊恐起来,意识到他已被围困在流沙之中,在他下面是人不能走、鱼不能游的恐怖地带。他如有重负则需扔掉,就象遇难的船卸去一切一样,但也已经太迟了,沙已过了他的膝盖。



他叫喊着,摇着他的帽子或手帕,他越陷越深;如果海滩上没有人,如果离陆地太远,如果这个流沙层是出名的险恶,如果近处没有勇敢的人,那就完了,他就一定陷入流沙之中,一定遭到这种惊心动魄的埋葬,这是漫长的、必然的、毫不容情的,得历时数小时,没完没了,无法延迟也无法加速,当你自由自在地站着十分健康时,它就把你逮住了,它拖着你的脚,你每次试图用力挣扎,每次出声喊叫,就使你更陷落一点,好象在用加倍的搂抱来惩罚你的抗拒,就这样,一个人慢慢地沉入地下,还让他有充分的时间望着天边、树木、葱翠的田野、平原上村庄里冒着的烟、海上的船帆、又飞又唱的鸟儿、太阳和碧空。陷入流沙,也就是坟墓变成海潮,并从地下升到一个活人跟前。每分钟都在进行毫不容情的埋葬。这个可怜人试图坐着、躺下、爬行,一切动作都在埋葬他;他又竖起身来,又沉下去。他感到在被淹没;他吼叫、哀告、向行云呼喊,扭着双臂,他绝望了。此刻流沙已到腹部,流沙又到了胸部,他只剩下上半身了。他伸出双手,狂怒地呻吟,手指痉挛地捏住沙,企图抓住这沙土不往下沉,用手肘撑住,想摆脱这软套子,疯狂地呜咽着;沙在上升。沙到了肩部,到了颈部,现在只看见面部了。嘴在叫喊,沙把它填满,没声了。眼睛还注视着,沙使它们闭上,黑夜。然后额部在下沉,一束头发在沙上颤抖,一只手伸出来,穿过沙面,摇摆,挥动,接着见不到了。一个人凄惨地消失了。



有时骑士和马一同陷下去,有时赶大车的人和车子一同陷下去,全部沉没在沙滩下。这是在别处而不是在水中翻了船,这是土地淹没了人。这种土地,被海洋浸透了,成为陷阱,它象原野一样呈现着,象波涛一样伸展着。这深渊具有这一类的欺诈。



这种阴郁的意外之灾,可能常常发生在这一带或那一带海滨,也可能发生在三十年前巴黎的阴渠中。



在一八三三年动工的重要工程以前,巴黎的地下沟道时常会突然塌陷。



水渗入某些特别容易碎的地下层,无论是老沟中那种铺了底的,或象新沟中那样浇上水硬石灰的混凝土,它一旦失去支撑就弯曲了。在这种地上,一条折就是一道裂缝,一道裂缝就能引起崩塌。沟道可以下陷一长段。这种裂缝,深渊中污泥的龟裂,专门名词称之为地陷。地陷是什么?是海滨流沙突然进入地下,是一条阴沟里的圣米歇尔山的沙滩。土地浸湿以后象已溶解,它的所有分子都处于稀软的状态中,它已不是土地,但也不是水,有时还很深。人遇此情况遭遇极其凶险。如果水占优势,将出现淹没现象,人便迅速死亡,如泥占优势,死亡便缓慢,这就是下陷。



我们能去想象这种死亡吗?如果说海滩上的沉陷是可怕的,那在沟渠中又将如何呢?这和在旷野里不能比,在光天化日之下,丽日当空,碧空万里,众多的音响,行云下满是生命,远处的小船,各种希望,可能会有的过路人,直至最后一刻还可能有得救的希望;但在这里则远远不是这样,这里有的是耳聋眼瞎,有黑色的拱顶和已完工的墓穴,去死在有覆盖的泥沼中,被污秽慢慢地窒息,在石椁中污泥伸爪扼颈,临终时含着恶臭咽气,污泥替代沙粒,硫化氢替代飓风,垃圾替代海洋!呼叫,咬牙,扭捩肢体,挣扎,临终喘息,而在你头上的大城市却一无所闻!



这样死去是种无法形容的恐怖!死亡有时由于有着一定程度的可怕的崇高,因而弥补了它残酷的一面,在遭难的船中,人可能有伟大的表现;在火里也象在水里一样,非常好的表现也可能出现;人在殉难时变了样。但这儿就不行。这种死是不清洁的。这样断气是耻辱的,最后飘浮着的幻影是卑贱的。污泥是耻辱的同义词。这是渺小的,丑陋的,可耻的。死在芳香甘美的葡萄酒大木桶中,象克拉朗斯①那样,这还可以;如果死在清道夫的垃圾坑中,如艾斯古勃洛,那就太可怕了,在里面挣扎是极丑的,临终时还在粘泥中打滚。这里已暗如地狱,污泥成塘,垂死者不知他将变成鬼还是变成癞蛤蟆。



①克拉朗斯(Clarence),公爵,英王爱德华四世之弟,由于背叛被处死刑,他要求淹死在葡萄酒桶中。



在别的地方坟墓是阴惨的,而这里它是畸形的。



地陷的深度、长度和密度随着地下层的土质的好坏而变化不一,有时塌下三四尺,有时八尺或十尺;有时深不见底。淤泥在这儿差不多已变硬了,而在那儿则又几乎还是液体状态,在吕尼埃地陷消灭一个人要一整天,而在菲利波泥坑,五分钟就可吞没一个人。淤泥的负重程度因它的密度而变。一个孩子可以逃脱的地方,成人就要丧生。人要得救,第一个条件就是扔掉一切负荷。丢掉工具袋,或是背筐或提篮,这就是任何一个通阴渠的工人,当他感到脚下的地下陷时第一件要做的事。



地陷有各种原因:土壤的易碎性;在人力所不能及的地下出现的崩塌;夏季的暴雨;冬季连绵不断的雨水;长期的毛毛雨。有时一块泥灰地或沙土地周围的房屋的重量压在地下沟廊的拱顶上,使它变形,或者沟底在这一重压下折裂。一世纪以前先贤祠的下陷,就这样堵塞了圣热纳维埃夫山上一部分的沟管。当一条阴沟在房屋的压力下坍塌时,在某些情况下这类混乱的情况在上面的反映就是街心出现一条锯齿形裂缝,这条裂缝出现在整段开裂的沟顶上面,此时情况显然不妙,所以抢修还能及时。但有时内部的毁坏在外面没有显露痕迹,在这种情况下,阴渠的清道夫就要遭灾。他们毫无提防地进入通了底的沟,就可能在那里送命。据旧时档案记载,好几个挖井工人就这样埋在陷下去的地里。他们提到了好几个名字,其中一个名叫勃雷士·布脱兰的阴沟清道夫陷入了卡莱姆-卜勒纳街下面崩塌的沟渠中。这个勃雷士·布脱兰就是一七八五年取消的圣婴公墓最后一个埋葬工人尼古拉·布脱兰的兄弟。



还有一个是我们已谈到过的年轻俊美的艾斯古勃洛子爵,莱里达围城战时的英雄之一,他们攻城时,穿着丝袜,用小提琴开路。艾斯古勃洛有一天晚上正在他的表妹苏蒂公爵夫人处,忽然有人来了,为了避开公爵,他隐藏在博特莱伊阴沟的洼地里面被淹死了。苏蒂夫人听到别人向她叙述这一死亡时,便要她的香水瓶来尽量闻醒盐,以致连哭泣都忘了。在这种情况下,不存在经得起考验的爱情,污泥已把它扑灭了。海洛拒绝擦洗利安得①的尸体,蒂丝白在比拉姆②前面捏着鼻孔还说:“呸!”



①利安得(Léandre),希腊青年,与美神阿佛洛狄忒的女祭司海洛(Héro)相爱,后淹死在赫来斯篷(今达达尼尔海峡)附近。



②比拉姆(Pyrame),巴比伦青年,与蒂丝白(Thisbe)相爱。一日蒂丝白被狮追逐,慌忙中掉下丝巾逃脱。比拉姆见纱巾,疑蒂丝白已死,遂自杀。蒂丝白知比拉姆为己而死,也自杀殉情。

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