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THERE was once a sculptor, named Alfred. He had won the large gold medal and obtained a travelling scholarship. Therefore he went to Italy, and then came back to his native land. He was young at that time.?

Indeed, he is young still, although he is ten years older than he was then.

On his return, he went to visit one of the little towns in the island of Zealand. The whole town knew who the stranger was; and one of the richest men in the place gave a party in his honor, and all who were of any consequence, or who possessed some property, were invited. It was quite an event, and all the town knew of it, so that it was not necessary to announce it by beat of drum. Apprentice-boys, children of the poor, and even the poor people themselves, stood before the house, watching the lighted windows; and the watchman might easily fancy he was giving a party also, there were so many people in the streets. There was quite an air of festivity about it, and the house was full of it; for Mr. Alfred, the sculptor, was there. He talked and told anecdotes, and every one listened to him with pleasure, not unmingled with awe; but none felt so much respect for him as did the elderly widow of a naval officer. She seemed, so far as Mr. Alfred was concerned, to be like a piece of fresh blotting-paper that absorbed all he said and asked for more. She was very appreciative, and incredibly ignorant- a kind of female Gaspar Hauser.

"I should like to see Rome," she said; "it must be a lovely city, or so many foreigners would not be constantly arriving there. Now, do give me a description of Rome. How does the city look when you enter in at the gate?"

"I cannot very well describe it," said the sculptor; "but you enter on a large open space, in the center of which stands an obelisk, which is a thousand years old."

"An organist!" exclaimed the lady, who had never heard the word 'obelisk.' Several of the guests could scarcely forbear laughing, and the sculptor would have had some difficulty in keeping his countenance, but the smile on his lips faded away; for he caught sight of a pair of dark-blue eyes close by the side of the inquisitive lady. They belonged to her daughter; and surely no one who had such a daughter could be silly. The mother was like a fountain of questions; and the daughter, who listened but never spoke, might have passed for the beautiful maid of the fountain. How charming she was! She was a study for the sculptor to contemplate, but not to converse with; for she did not speak, or, at least, very seldom.

"Has the pope a great family?" inquired the lady.

The young man answered considerately, as if the question had been a different one,

"No; he does not come from a great family."

"That is not what I asked," persisted the widow; "I mean, has he a wife and children?"

"The pope is not allowed to marry," replied the gentleman.

"I don't like that," was the lady's remark.

She certainly might have asked more sensible questions; but if she had not been allowed to say just what she liked, would her daughter have been there, leaning so gracefully on her shoulder, and looking straight before her, with a smile that was almost mournful on her face?

Mr. Alfred again spoke of Italy, and of the glorious colors in Italian scenery; the purple hills, the deep blue of the Mediterranean, the azure of southern skies, whose brightness and glory could only be surpassed in the north by the deep-blue eyes of a maiden; and he said this with a peculiar intonation; but she who should have understood his meaning looked quite unconscious of it, which also was charming.

"Beautiful Italy!" sighed some of the guests.

"Oh, to travel there!" exclaimed others.

"Charming! Charming!" echoed from every voice.

"I may perhaps win a hundred thousand dollars in the lottery," said the naval officer's widow; "and if I do, we will travel- I and my daughter; and you, Mr. Alfred, must be our guide. We can all three travel together, with one or two more of our good friends." And she nodded in such a friendly way at the company, that each imagined himself to be the favored person who was to accompany them to Italy. "Yes, we must go," she continued; "but not to those parts where there are robbers. We will keep to Rome. Inthe public roads one is always safe."

The daughter sighed very gently; and how much there may be in a sigh, or attributed to it! The young man attributed a great deal of meaning to this sigh. Those deep-blue eyes, which had been lit up this evening in honor of him, must conceal treasures, treasures of heart and mind, richer than all the glories of Rome; and so when he left the party that night, he had lost it completely to the young lady. The house of the naval officer's widow was the one most constantly visited by Mr. Alfred, the sculptor. It was soon understood that his visits were not intended for that lady, though they were the persons who kept up the conversation. He came for the sake of the daughter. They called her Kaela. Her name was really Karen Malena, and these two names had been contracted into the one name Kaela. She was really beautiful; but some said she was rather dull, and slept late of a morning.

"She has been accustomed to that," her mother said. "She is a beauty, and they are always easily tired. She does sleep rather late; but that makes her eyes so clear."

What power seemed to lie in the depths of those dark eyes! The young man felt the truth of the proverb, "Still waters run deep:" and his heart had sunk into their depths. He often talked of his adventures, and the mamma was as simple and eager in her questions as on the first evening they met. It was a pleasure to hear Alfred describe anything. He showed them colored plates of Naples, and spoke of excursions to Mount Vesuvius, and the eruptions of fire from it. The naval officer's widow had never heard of them before.

"Good heavens!" she exclaimed. "So that is a burning mountain; but is it not very dangerous to the people who live near it?"

"Whole cities have been destroyed," he replied; "for instance, Herculaneum and Pompeii."

"Oh, the poor people! And you saw all that with your own eyes?"

"No; I did not see any of the eruptions which are represented in those pictures; but I will show you a sketch of my own, which represents an eruption I once saw."

He placed a pencil sketch on the table; and mamma, who had been over-powered with the appearance of the colored plates, threw a glance at the pale drawing and cried in astonishment, "What, did you see it throw up white fire?"

For a moment, Alfred's respect for Kaela's mamma underwent a sudden shock, and lessened considerably; but, dazzled by the light which surrounded Kaela, he soon found it quite natural that the old lady should have no eye for color. After all, it was of very little consequence; for Kaela's mamma had the best of all possessions; namely, Kaela herself.

Alfred and Kaela were betrothed, which was a very natural result; and the betrothal was announced in the newspaper of the little town. Mama purchased thirty copies of the paper, that she might cut out the paragraph and send it to friends and acquaintances. The betrothed pair were very happy, and the mother was happy too. She said it seemed like connecting herself with Thorwalsden.

"You are a true successor of Thorwalsden," she said to Alfred; and it seemed to him as if, in this instance, mamma had said a clever thing. Kaela was silent; but her eyes shone, her lips smiled, every movement was graceful,- in fact, she was beautiful; that cannot be repeated too often. Alfred decided to take a bust of Kaela as well as of her mother. They sat to him accordingly, and saw how he molded and formed the soft clay with his fingers.

"I suppose it is only on our account that you perform this common-place work yourself, instead of leaving it to your servant to do all that sticking together."

"It is really necessary that I should mould the clay myself," he replied.

"Ah, yes, you are always so polite," said mamma, with a smile; and Kaela silently pressed his hand, all soiled as it was with the clay.

Then he unfolded to them both the beauties of Nature, in all her works; he pointed out to them how, in the scale of creation, inanimate matter was inferior to animate nature; the plant above the mineral, the animal above the plant, and man above them all. He strove to show them how the beauty of the mind could be displayed in the outward form, and that it was the sculptor's task to seize upon that beauty of expression, and produce it in his works. Kaela stood silent, but nodded in approbation of what he said, while mamma-in-law made the following confession:-

"It is difficult to follow you; but I go hobbling along after you with my thoughts, though what you say makes my head whirl round and round. Still I contrive to lay hold on some of it."

Kaela's beauty had a firm hold on Alfred; it filled his soul, and held a mastery over him. Beauty beamed from Kaela's every feature, glittered in her eyes, lurked in the corners of her mouth, and pervaded every movement of her agile fingers. Alfred, the sculptor, saw this. He spoke only to her, thought only of her, and the two became one; and so it may be said she spoke much, for he was always talking to her; and he and she were one. Such was the betrothal, and then came the wedding, with bride's-maids and wedding presents, all duly mentioned in the wedding speech. Mamma-in-law had set up Thorwalsden's bust at the end of the table, attired in a dressing-gown; it was her fancy that he should be a guest. Songs were sung, and cheers given; for it was a gay wedding, and they were a handsome pair. "Pygmalion loved his Galatea," said one of the songs.

"Ah, that is some of your mythologies," said mamma-in-law.

Next day the youthful pair started for Copenhagen, where they were to live; mamma-in-law accompanied them, to attend to the "coarse work," as she always called the domestic arrangements. Kaela looked like a doll in a doll's house, for everything was bright and new, and so fine. There they sat, all three; and as for Alfred, a proverb may describe his position- he looked like a swan amongst the geese. The magic of form had enchanted him; he had looked at the casket without caring to inquire what it contained, and that omission often brings the greatest unhappiness into married life. The casket may be injured, the gilding may fall off, and then the purchaser regrets his bargain.

In a large party it is very disagreeable to find a button giving way, with no studs at hand to fall back upon; but it is worse still in a large company to be conscious that your wife and mother-in-law are talking nonsense, and that you cannot depend upon yourself to produce a little ready wit to carry off the stupidity of the whole affair.

The young married pair often sat together hand in hand; he would talk, but she could only now and then let fall a word in the same melodious voice, the same bell-like tones. It was a mental relief when Sophy, one of her friends, came to pay them a visit. Sophy was not, pretty. She was, however, quite free from any physical deformity, although Kaela used to say she was a little crooked; but no eye, save an intimate acquaintance, would have noticed it. She was a very sensible girl, yet it never occurred to her that she might be a dangerous person in such a house. Her appearance created a new atmosphere in the doll's house, and air was really required, they all owned that. They felt the want of a change of air, and consequently the young couple and their mother traveled to Italy.

"Thank heaven we are at home again within our own four walls," said mamma-in-law and daughter both, on their return after a year's absence.

"There is no real pleasure in travelling," said mamma; "to tell the truth, it's very wearisome; I beg pardon for saying so. I was soon very tired of it, although I had my children with me; and, besides, it's very expensive work travelling, very expensive. And all those galleries one is expected to see, and the quantity of things you are obliged to run after! It must be done, for very shame; you are sure to be asked when you come back if you have seen everything, and will most likely be told that you've omitted to see what was best worth seeing of all. I got tired at last of those endless Madonnas; I began to think I was turning into a Madonna myself."

“美”

雕刻家阿尔夫勒得——是的,你认识他吧?我们都认识他。他获得了金质奖章,到意大利去旅行过,然后又回到家里来。那时他很年轻。事实上,他现在仍然很年轻,虽然已经大了10岁了。

他回家以后,又到瑟蓝岛上的一个小市镇上去游览过。镇上所有的人都知道这位来客,知道他是谁。一个非常富有的家庭甚至还为他开过一次宴会。一切有地位和有财产的人都被请来作陪。这真是一件大事情,全镇的人不须打鼓通知就都知道。学徒和穷人的孩子,还有他们几个人的爸爸和妈妈,都跑到门外来,望着那些拉下的、映着灯光的窗帘子。守夜人可以认为这个宴会是他举办的,因为他管辖的这条街上的居民来得特别多。处处是一片欢乐的景象。当然屋子里也是欢乐的,因为雕刻家阿尔夫勒得就在里面。

他谈话,讲故事。大家满怀热忱、高高兴兴地听他讲,但是谁的热忱也比不上一位官员的寡妇。就阿尔夫勒得先生说来,她简直像一张灰色的空白吸墨纸。所有的话她立刻就吸进去了,而且要求多吸一些。她是高度地敏感,出乎意外地无知——她是一种女性的加斯伯·好塞尔①。

“我真想去看看罗马!”她说。“它经常有那么多的游客,一定是一个了不起的城市。请讲点罗马的事情给我们听听吧!当您从城门走进去的时候,这个城市究竟是个什么样子?”

“要描写出来可不太容易!”年轻的雕刻家说。“那里有一个很大的广场。广场中央有一个方尖石塔。这塔有四千年的历史。”

“一位风琴师!”这位太太大叫一声,因为她从来没有听到过“方尖石塔”②这个字。

有些客人几乎要笑起来。雕刻家也是一样,但是他的笑一来到嘴唇边就消逝了,因为他看到有一对深蓝色大眼睛紧挨着这位好奇的太太。这双眼睛属于刚才讲话的太太的女儿。一个人有这样的女儿决不会是一个糊涂虫。妈妈很像一个专门冒出问话的喷泉,但女儿则是静静地听着,类似一个美丽的、泉水之女神。她是多么可爱啊!她是一个雕刻家应该静看、但是不应该与之交谈的人。事实上她很沉默,话讲得非常少。

“教皇的家庭很大吗?”太太问。

年轻人仿佛觉得这句话的提法不妥当。他说:“他不是一个有大家庭的人!”

“我并不是这个意思!”太太说。“我的意思是说:他有太太和孩子吗?”

“教皇是不能结婚的呀!”他回答说。

“这个我不赞成!”太太说。

她可能作出比这还要聪明的发问和谈话。但是如果她没有像刚才那样,发出这样的问题和讲出这样的话,也许就是因为她的女儿在靠着她的肩,发出那样略带忧郁的微笑吧?

阿尔夫勒得先生谈论起来。他谈论着:意大利的色彩是多么美,山是多么紫,地中海是多么绿,南方的天是多么蓝——这种明媚和灿烂只有北国的姑娘的蓝眼珠可以超过。他的这句话是有所为而发的,但是应该懂得这话的她却一点也没有现出懂的样子。这也可以算是“美”吧!

“意大利!”有几个人叹了一口气。

“旅行!”另外几个人也叹了一口气。“美!美!”

“嗯,如果我中了五万块钱的彩,”寡妇说,“那么我们就可以去旅行了!我和我的女儿。还有你,阿尔夫勒得先生,你可以当我们的向导!我们三个人一块儿去旅行!我们还可以带一两个好朋友同去!”于是她对所有在场的人和和气气地点了点头,弄得每个人都胡思乱想,以为自己会被请去旅行。“我们都到意大利去!但是有强盗的地方可不能去。我们将待在罗马,只是到安全的公路上去看一看。”

女儿轻微地叹了一口气。一声轻微的叹息可能包含着许多意义。或被解释出许多意义!这位年轻人发现它里面的意义特别深长。她的这双蓝眼睛今晚特别为他而发亮;这双眼睛里一定蕴藏着比豪华的罗马更宝贵的内心和灵魂的美。当他离开宴会的时候,他完全被迷住了——被这个年轻的姑娘迷住了。

寡妇的住所现在成了雕刻家阿尔夫勒得先生最常去的地方。人们可以看得出来,他并不是专诚去拜访妈妈的,虽然他谈起话来总是和妈妈在一起。他是为了那个小姐才去的。大家把她叫做珈拉。她的真名字叫做珈伦·玛丽妮。这两个字省写起来就成了珈拉。她非常美丽,但是有人说她很迟钝。她喜欢在早晨睡睡懒觉。

“这是她在小时候养成的习惯!”妈妈说,“她是像维纳斯一样美丽的;一个美人是容易疲倦的。她喜欢多睡一会儿,正因为如此,她的眼睛才显得那么亮。”

这对清亮的眼睛——这像海一样蓝的水!这深不见底的静静的水!——该是有多大的魔力啊!年轻人现在感觉到了这一点:他已经深深地坠人水底。他在不停地谈;妈妈在不停地问一些天真的、索然无味的问题——像那天晚上他们初次见面时一样。

听阿尔夫勒得先生谈话是一桩愉快的事情。他谈起那不勒斯,谈起在维苏威火山上的漫游。他还拿出几张描绘火山爆发的彩色画片。寡妇从来没有听到过这样的事情,连想都没有想到过。

“上天保佑!”她说,“那原来是一座喷火的山!住在那儿的人不会受伤么?”

“整个城市都被毁灭了呢!”他回答说。“庞贝和赫库兰尼姆③就是这样!”

“那些人真是不幸!你亲眼看见过那些事情吗?”

“没有。这些画片上画的火山爆发,我一次也没有看见过;不过我可以亲自画一张爆发的情景给您看——这是我亲眼看到的。”

他拿出一张铅笔画的速写。妈妈一直在坐着细看那几张鲜艳的彩色画。但她一看到铅笔素描就惊奇地大叫一声:

“你居然看到它喷出白火!”

有一会儿工夫,阿尔夫勒得先生对妈妈的尊敬似乎消逝了;不过他马上从珈拉的闪光中理解到,她的妈妈没有色彩的感觉。这也没有什么关系。她有最好和最美的东西;她有珈拉。

阿尔夫勒得终于和珈拉订婚了,这是很自然的。订婚的消息在镇上的报纸上登出来了。妈妈把报纸买了30份,因为她要把这消息剪下来,送给她的朋友和熟人。这对订婚的恋人是非常幸福的,未来的丈母娘也是如此——她觉得好像是跟多瓦尔生有了亲戚关系似的。

“无论如何,你将是他的继承人!”她说。

阿尔夫勒得觉得她这次倒说了一句聪明话。珈拉什么也没有说,不过她的眼睛在闪着光,她的嘴角上飘着一个微笑——她的每一个动作都是可爱的。是的,她是美丽的,但是这句话不能老是重复着说。

阿尔夫勒得开始为珈拉和丈母娘塑造一个半身像。她们坐着让他观察,同时望着他怎样用手指塑造和修整柔软的泥土。

“我想这次你是因为我们才做这种琐细的工作,”丈母娘说,“才不让你的佣人插手的。”

“我必须亲自使用泥土才能造像!”他说。

“是的,你的礼貌永远是非常周到!”妈妈说。这时珈拉把他有泥巴的手紧握了一下。

于是他在这件创作中把大自然的美揭露给她们两人看,同时解释着活的东西是怎样高于死的东西,植物是怎样高于矿物;动物是怎样高于植物,人是怎样高于禽兽,精神和美是怎样由形式所表达,一个雕刻师的任务是怎样用具体的形象把这种美表现出来。

珈拉坐着一句话也不讲,只对他的这种思想点头。丈母娘很坦白地说:

“这一套理论很不容易懂!不过我是在跟着你的思想摸索前进。你的思想在打旋转,但是我要紧钉着它不放。”

同时“美”却钉着他不放,充满了他的整个精神世界,征服了他,控制住了他的全身。“美”从珈拉的眼角眉梢、一举一动放射出来,从她的眼神里,从她的嘴角旁,甚至从她的手指的动作中放射出来。雕刻家阿尔夫勒得坦白地把这话讲出来了,而且他,作为一个雕刻家,也能体会这话的意义。他只是谈论着她,想着她,一直到他的思想和言论完全统一起来。因为他总是经常谈论着她,所以她也经常谈论着他。

这是订婚期间的事情。现在结婚的日子到了、伴娘和礼物都齐全——这在结婚的演讲辞中已提到了。

在新娘的屋子里,丈母娘在桌子的一端放了一尊半身像。这是多瓦尔生穿着便服的半身像。他应该也是一个客人——这是她的意思。大家唱歌,大家干杯,因为这是一个愉快的婚礼,而新婚夫妇也是一对美丽的人儿。有一支歌唱着:“皮格马利翁得到了珈拉苔娅④”。

“这是神话里的一个故事!”丈母娘说。

第二天,这对年轻夫妇搬到哥本哈根去,因为他们将要在那儿住下来。丈母娘也跟着同去,为的是要照顾他们——这也就是说:为他们管家。珈拉将要过着少奶奶的日子⑤。一切是新鲜、美好和幸福的!他们三个人住在一所房子里。至于阿尔夫勒得,我们可以引用一句成语来描写他的处境:他像坐在鹅窝里的一位主教。

形态的魔力把他迷惑住了。他看到了一只箱子,但是却没有看到箱子里到底装的是什么东西。这是一件不幸,而在婚姻的生活中这要算是一件绝大的不幸。如果箱子一旦裂开了,它上面的金褪掉了,买它的人一定要后悔不该做这桩交易的。在一个大宴会中,如果一个人发现自己吊带上的扣子落掉了、却没有裤带可以应急,他一定会感到狼狈不堪的。不过更糟糕的是:你在一个大宴会中发现你的妻子和丈母娘专门讲些无聊的傻话,而你一时又找不出聪明的办法把这些假话遮掩过去。

这对年轻夫妇常常手握着手坐着。他谈论着,她偶尔之间吐出个把字眼——老是那么一个同样的声调,老是像钟一样敲两三下。只有当他们的一个朋友苏菲来拜访的时候,他的精神才算是得到一点解放。

苏菲不是太漂亮。她的身体当然也没有什么缺陷。珈拉说她的背有点驼,但是这只有女朋友才看得出来。她是一个头脑冷静的女子,她一点也没有想到自己在这家里可能是一个危险人物。她在这个玩偶之家里等于一股新鲜的空气,而新鲜的空气大家都认为是必需的。他们需要更多的新鲜空气,因此就走到新鲜空气中去。丈母娘和这新婚的一对到意大利去旅行。

“感谢上帝,我们又回到自己的家里来了!”一年以后妈妈和女儿跟阿尔夫勒得回到家里来时说。

“旅行一点意思也没有!”丈母娘说。“旅行真叫人感到腻味!请原谅我说这样的话。虽然我带着我的孩子在一起,我还是感到腻味。而且旅行费钱,太费了!你得去参观所有的画室,你得去看一切的东西!当你回到家来,别人问起你的时候,你简直没有别的办法回答!别人会告诉你,哪些是最美的东西,哪些东西你忘记看了。那些千篇一律的圣母像我真看厌了,我差不多自己都要变成圣母了。”