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XIII. AT THE MILL

"What strange creatures human beings are," said the parlor-cat to the kitchen-cat; "Babette and Rudy have fallen out with each other. She sits and cries, and he thinks no more about her."

"That does not please me to hear," said the kitchen-cat.

"Nor me either," replied the parlor-cat; "but I do not take it to heart. Babette may fall in love with the red whiskers, if she likes, but he has not been here since he tried to get on the roof."

The powers of evil carry on their game both around us and within us. Rudy knew this, and thought a great deal about it. What was it that had happened to him on the mountain? Was it really a ghostly apparition, or a fever dream? Rudy knew nothing of fever, or any other ailment. But, while he judged Babette, he began to examine his own conduct. He had allowed wild thoughts to chase each other in his heart, and a fierce tornado to break loose. Could he confess to Babette, indeed, every thought which in the hour of temptation might have led him to wrong doing? He had lost her ring, and that very loss had won him back to her. Could she expect him to confess? He felt as if his heart would break while he thought of it, and while so many memories lingered on his mind. He saw her again, as she once stood before him, a laughing, spirited child; many loving words, which she had spoken to him out of the fulness of her love, came like a ray of sunshine into his heart, and soon it was all sunshine as he thought of Babette. But she must also confess she was wrong; that she should do.

He went to the mill- he went to confession. It began with a kiss, and ended with Rudy being considered the offender. It was such a great fault to doubt Babette's truth- it was most abominable of him. Such mistrust, such violence, would cause them both great unhappiness. This certainly was very true, she knew that; and therefore Babette preached him a little sermon, with which she was herself much amused, and during the preaching of which she looked quite lovely. She acknowledged, however, that on one point Rudy was right. Her godmother's nephew was a fop: she intended to burn the book which he had given her, so that not the slightest thing should remain to remind her of him.

"Well, that quarrel is all over," said the kitchen-cat. "Rudy is come back, and they are friends again, which they say is the greatest of all pleasures."

"I heard the rats say one night," said the kitchen-cat, "that the greatest pleasure in the world was to eat tallow candles and to feast on rancid bacon. Which are we to believe, the rats or the lovers?"

"Neither of them," said the parlor-cat; "it is always the safest plan to believe nothing you hear."

The greatest happiness was coming for Rudy and Babette. The happy day, as it is called, that is, their wedding-day, was near at hand. They were not to be married at the church at Bex, nor at the miller's house; Babette's godmother wished the nuptials to be solemnized at Montreux, in the pretty little church in that town. The miller was very anxious that this arrangement should be agreed to. He alone knew what the newly-married couple would receive from Babette's godmother, and he knew also that it was a wedding present well worth a concession. The day was fixed, and they were to travel as far as Villeneuve the evening before, to be in time for the steamer which sailed in the morning for Montreux, and the godmother's daughters were to dress and adorn the bride.

"Here in this house there ought to be a wedding-day kept," said the parlor-cat, "or else I would not give a mew for the whole affair."

"There is going to be great feasting," replied the kitchen-cat. "Ducks and pigeons have been killed, and a whole roebuck hangs on the wall. It makes me lick my lips when I think of it."

"To-morrow morning they will begin the journey."

Yes, to-morrow! And this evening, for the last time, Rudy and Babette sat in the miller's house as an engaged couple. Outside, the Alps glowed in the evening sunset, the evening bells chimed, and the children of the sunbeam sang, "Whatever happens is best."

 

13.在磨坊主的家里

“那些人也真够胡闹!”客厅的猫对厨房的猫说。“巴贝德和洛狄又分开了。她在哭,但他一点也不想她。”

“我不喜欢这种态度。”厨房的猫说。

“我也不喜欢这种态度,”客厅的猫说。“但是我也并不为这件事难过。巴贝德可以找那个络腮胡子做爱人呀。这人自从那次想爬上屋顶以后,再也没有到这儿来过。”

妖魔鬼气在我们的身里身外耍他们的诡计。洛狄知道这一点,而且还在这事情上动过脑筋。他在山顶上所遇见的和经历的是什么呢?是妖精吗,是发热时所看见的幻象吗?他以前从来没有发过热,害过病。他埋怨巴贝德的时候,也同时问了一下他自己的良心。他回忆了一下那次野猎,那次狂暴的“浮恩”。他敢把自己的思想——那些一受到诱惑就可以变成行动的思想——向巴贝德坦白出来吗?他把她的戒指丢掉了;当然,她正因为他丢掉了戒指才重新得到了他。她也能对他坦白吗?他一想到她,就觉得自己的心要爆炸。他记起许多事情。他记起她是一个快乐、欢笑、活泼的孩子;他记起她对他所讲的那些甜蜜的话。她的那些知心话现在像阳光一样射进他的心坎。于是巴贝德使他心中充满了阳光。

她得对他坦白;她应该这样做。

因此他到磨坊去。她坦白了。坦白是以一个吻开始,以洛狄承认错误结束的。洛狄的错误是:他居然怀疑起巴贝德的忠诚来——他实在太坏了!他的不信任和鲁莽的行动,可能会同时引起两个人的痛苦。的确,结果一定会是这样!巴贝德教训了他一顿——她愿意这样做,也只有她做才恰当。但是洛狄有一点是对的:干妈的侄子是一个牛皮大王。她要把他送给她的书全都烧掉。她不愿保留任何可以使她记起他的纪念品。

“他们现在又和好了,”客厅的猫说。“洛狄又到这儿来了。

他们彼此了解。他们把这叫做最大的幸福。”

“昨天晚上,”厨房的猫说,“我听到耗子说,最大的幸福是蜡烛油,是饱吃一顿臭腊肉。现在我们信谁的话好呢——耗子还是这对恋人?”

“谁的话也不要相信!”客厅的猫说。“这是最安全的办法。”

洛狄和巴贝德的最大的幸福——大家所谓的最快乐的一天——举行婚礼的一天,快要来临了。

但是婚礼却不在贝克斯的教堂里或磨坊里举行。巴贝德的干妈希望干女儿到她的家里去结婚;婚礼将在蒙特鲁的一个美丽的小教堂里举行。磨坊主也坚持要这样办,因为他知道干妈会送些什么东西给这对新婚夫妇。为了那件她要送的结婚礼物,他们应该表示某种的迁就。日期已经定了。在结婚前夜,他们得到维也奴乌去,然后在第二天大清晨再乘船赴蒙特鲁。这样,干妈的几个女儿可以有时间把新娘打扮一番。

“我想改天他们会在家里再补行一次婚礼吧?”客厅的猫说。如果不这样办的话,我可要对这整个的事儿喵几声啦。”

“这里将有一个宴会!”厨房的猫说。“鸭子也杀了,鸽子也扼死了,墙上还挂着一只整鹿。我一看到这些东西,口里就不禁流出涎水来。他们明天就要动身了。”

的确,明天就要动身!这一天晚上,洛狄和巴贝德作为一对订了婚的情人,最后一次坐在磨坊主的家里。

在外面,阿尔卑斯山上现出一片红霞。暮钟敲起来了。太阳的女儿们唱着:“但愿一切都好!”