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XV. THE CONCLUSION

It was early in the afternoon, and just at dinner-time, when the three joyous travellers reached Villeneuve. After dinner, the miller placed himself in the arm-chair, smoked his pipe, and had a little nap. The bridal pair went arm-in-arm out through the town and along the high road, at the foot of the wood-covered rocks, and by the deep, blue lake.

The gray walls, and the heavy clumsy-looking towers of the gloomy castle of Chillon, were reflected in the clear flood. The little island, on which grew the three acacias, lay at a short distance, looking like a bouquet rising from the lake. "How delightful it must be to live there," said Babette, who again felt the greatest wish to visit the island; and an opportunity offered to gratify her wish at once, for on the shore lay a boat, and the rope by which it was moored could be very easily loosened. They saw no one near, so they took possession of it without asking permission of any one, and Rudy could row very well. The oars divided the pliant water like the fins of a fish- that water which, with all its yielding softness, is so strong to bear and to carry, so mild and smiling when at rest, and yet so terrible in its destroying power. A white streak of foam followed in the wake of the boat, which, in a few minutes, carried them both to the little island, where they went on shore; but there was only just room enough for two to dance. Rudy swung Babette round two or three times; and then, hand-in-hand, they sat down on a little bench under the drooping acacia-tree, and looked into each other's eyes, while everything around them glowed in the rays of the setting sun.

The fir-tree forests on the mountains were covered with a purple hue like the heather bloom; and where the woods terminated, and the rocks became prominent, they looked almost transparent in the rich crimson glow of the evening sky. The surface of the lake was like a bed of pink rose-leaves.

As the evening advanced, the shadows fell upon the snow-capped mountains of Savoy painting them in colors of deep blue, while their topmost peaks glowed like red lava; and for a moment this light was reflected on the cultivated parts of the mountains, making them appear as if newly risen from the lap of earth, and giving to the snow-crested peak of the Dent du Midi the appearance of the full moon as it rises above the horizon.

Rudy and Babette felt that they had never seen the Alpine glow in such perfection before. "How very beautiful it is, and what happiness to be here!" exclaimed Babette.

"Earth has nothing more to bestow upon me," said Rudy; "an evening like this is worth a whole life. Often have I realized my good fortune, but never more than in this moment. I feel that if my existence were to end now, I should still have lived a happy life. What a glorious world this is; one day ends, and another begins even more beautiful than the last. How infinitely good God is, Babette!"

"I have such complete happiness in my heart," said she.

"Earth has no more to bestow," answered Rudy. And then came the sound of the evening bells, borne upon the breeze over the mountains of Switzerland and Savoy, while still, in the golden splendor of the west, stood the dark blue mountains of Jura.

"God grant you all that is brightest and best!" exclaimed Babette.

"He will," said Rudy. "He will to-morrow. To-morrow you will be wholly mine, my own sweet wife."

"The boat!" cried Babette, suddenly. The boat in which they were to return had broken loose, and was floating away from the island.

"I will fetch it back," said Rudy; throwing off his coat and boots, he sprang into the lake, and swam with strong efforts towards it.

The dark-blue water, from the glaciers of the mountains, was icy cold and very deep. Rudy gave but one glance into the water beneath; but in that one glance he saw a gold ring rolling, glittering, and sparkling before him. His engaged ring came into his mind; but this was larger, and spread into a glittering circle, in which appeared a clear glacier. Deep chasms yawned around it, the water-drops glittered as if lighted with blue flame, and tinkled like the chiming of church bells. In one moment he saw what would require many words to describe. Young hunters, and young maidens- men and women who had sunk in the deep chasms of the glaciers- stood before him here in lifelike forms, with eyes open and smiles on their lips; and far beneath them could be heard the chiming of the church bells of buried villages, where the villagers knelt beneath the vaulted arches of churches in which ice-blocks formed the organ pipes, and the mountain stream the music.

On the clear, transparent ground sat the Ice Maiden. She raised herself towards Rudy, and kissed his feet; and instantly a cold, deathly chill, like an electric shock, passed through his limbs. Ice or fire! It was impossible to tell, the shock was so instantaneous.

"Mine! mine!" sounded around him, and within him; "I kissed thee when thou wert a little child. I once kissed thee on the mouth, and now I have kissed thee from heel to toe; thou art wholly mine." And then he disappeared in the clear, blue water.

All was still. The church bells were silent; the last tone floated away with the last red glimmer on the evening clouds. "Thou art mine," sounded from the depths below: but from the heights above, from the eternal world, also sounded the words, "Thou art mine!" Happy was he thus to pass from life to life, from earth to heaven. A chord was loosened, and tones of sorrow burst forth. The icy kiss of death had overcome the perishable body; it was but the prelude before life's real drama could begin, the discord which was quickly lost in harmony. Do you think this a sad story? Poor Babette! for her it was unspeakable anguish.

The boat drifted farther and farther away. No one on the opposite shore knew that the betrothed pair had gone over to the little island. The clouds sunk as the evening drew on, and it became dark. Alone, in despair, she waited and trembled. The weather became fearful; flash after flash lighted up the mountains of Jura, Savoy, and Switzerland, while peals of thunder, that lasted for many minutes, rolled over her head. The lightning was so vivid that every single vine stem could be seen for a moment as distinctly as in the sunlight at noon-day; and then all was veiled in darkness. It flashed across the lake in winding, zigzag lines, lighting it up on all sides; while the echoes of the thunder grew louder and stronger. On land, the boats were all carefully drawn up on the beach, every living thing sought shelter, and at length the rain poured down in torrents.

"Where can Rudy and Babette be in this awful weather?" said the miller.

Poor Babette sat with her hands clasped, and her head bowed down, dumb with grief; she had ceased to weep and cry for help.

"In the deep water!" she said to herself; "far down he lies, as if beneath a glacier."

Deep in her heart rested the memory of what Rudy had told her of the death of his mother, and of his own recovery, even after he had been taken up as dead from the cleft in the glacier.

"Ah," she thought, "the Ice Maiden has him at last."

Suddenly there came a flash of lightning, as dazzling as the rays of the sun on the white snow. The lake rose for a moment like a shining glacier; and before Babette stood the pallid, glittering, majestic form of the Ice Maiden, and at her feet lay Rudy's corpse.

"Mine!" she cried, and again all was darkness around the heaving water.

"How cruel," murmured Babette; "why should he die just as the day of happiness drew near? Merciful God, enlighten my understanding, shed light upon my heart; for I cannot comprehend the arrangements of Thy providence, even while I bow to the decree of Thy almighty wisdom and power." And God did enlighten her heart.

A sudden flash of thought, like a ray of mercy, recalled her dream of the preceding night; all was vividly represented before her. She remembered the words and wishes she had then expressed, that what was best for her and for Rudy she might piously submit to.

"Woe is me," she said; "was the germ of sin really in my heart? was my dream a glimpse into the course of my future life, whose thread must be violently broken to rescue me from sin? Oh, miserable creature that I am!"

Thus she sat lamenting in the dark night, while through the deep stillness the last words of Rudy seemed to ring in her ears. "This earth has nothing more to bestow." Words, uttered in the fulness of joy, were again heard amid the depths of sorrow.

Years have passed since this sad event happened. The shores of the peaceful lake still smile in beauty. The vines are full of luscious grapes. Steamboats, with waving flags, pass swiftly by. Pleasure-boats, with their swelling sails, skim lightly over the watery mirror, like white butterflies. The railway is opened beyond Chillon, and goes far into the deep valley of the Rhone. At every station strangers alight with red-bound guide-books in their hands, in which they read of every place worth seeing. They visit Chillon, and observe on the lake the little island with the three acacias, and then read in their guide-book the story of the bridal pair who, in the year 1856, rowed over to it. They read that the two were missing till the next morning, when some people on the shore heard the despairing cries of the bride, and went to her assistance, and by her were told of the bridegroom's fate.

But the guide-book does not speak of Babette's quiet life afterwards with her father, not at the mill- strangers dwell there now- but in a pretty house in a row near the station. On many an evening she sits at her window, and looks out over the chestnut-trees to the snow-capped mountains on which Rudy once roamed. She looks at the Alpine glow in the evening sky, which is caused by the children of the sun retiring to rest on the mountain-tops; and again they breathe their song of the traveller whom the whirlwind could deprive of his cloak but not of his life. There is a rosy tint on the mountain snow, and there are rosy gleams in each heart in which dwells the thought, "God permits nothing to happen, which is not the best for us." But this is not often revealed to all, as it was revealed to Babette in her wonderful dream.

 

15.结尾

这三个快乐的人来到维也奴乌的时候,天还没有黑。他们随即坐下来吃晚饭。磨坊主衔着烟斗坐在靠椅上打起盹来。

这对订了婚的情人手挽着手走出城,沿着公路,在深绿的湖边,在长着绿色灌木林的石崖下漫步。清亮的湖水映着阴森的锡雍石牢的灰墙和高塔。那个长着三棵槐树的小岛就在近旁;它看起来像浮在湖上的花束。

“那上面一定是非常美丽的!”巴贝德说。

她怀着渴望的心情想到岛上去看一下。她的这个要求马上就实现了,因为岸旁泊着一条小船。把系着它的绳子解开并不是一件难事。他们不须向任何人请求许可,因为旁边并没有什么人。他们直截了当地跳上船,因为洛狄本人就是一个划船的能手。

船桨像鱼鳍似的分开柔顺的水——那么柔顺,但同时又那么坚韧。这水有一个能负得起重担的背,同时也有一张能吞没一切的嘴——一张温柔、微笑、安静但同时又非常可怕、凶残的嘴。船走过后留下一条满是泡沫的水痕。他们不一会儿就来到了小岛,接着他们就走上去。岛上恰恰只有够他们两人跳舞的空间。

洛狄和巴贝德跳了两三次旋舞,然后就在低垂的槐树下的一个凳子上坐下来。他们手挽着手,彼此情意绵绵地望着。

落日的晚霞照在他们身上。山上的松林,像盛开的石楠一样,染上了一层紫丁香的色彩。树林的尽头冒出一堆巨石。石头射出亮光,好像石山是一个透明的整体。天上的云块像燃烧着的火,整个的湖像一片羞红的玫瑰花瓣。当黄昏的阴影慢慢垂下来的时候,沙伏依州的那些雪山就显出深蓝的颜色。不过最高的峰顶仍然像红色的火山熔岩那样发亮,并且这一瞬间,还似乎反映出那山峰当初由熔岩形成、还未冷却时的那种景象。洛狄和巴贝德都承认他们以前在阿尔卑斯山上从来没有看到过这样的落日。那座积雪的当·丢·密底山射出光辉,像刚升到地平线上的满月。

“这样美的景致!这样多的幸福!”他们两人齐声说。

“这个世界再也贡献不出比这更好的东西了,”洛狄说。

“这样的一晚简直比得上整个的一生!我有多少次像现在一样,深深地感到幸福。我曾经想过:即使我现在失去了一切,我仍然可以说是幸福地过了一生!这是一个多么快乐的世界啊!这一天过去,另外一天又到来,而这新的一天似乎比过去的一天还要美丽!巴贝德,我们的上帝真太好了!”

“我从心的深处感到幸福!”她说。

“这个世界再也不能给我比这更好的东西了!”洛狄大声说。

暮钟从沙伏依州的山上,从瑞士的山上飘来。深蓝色的尤拉山罩着金色的光圈,耸立在西边的地平线上。

“愿上帝赐给你一切最光明、最美好的东西!”巴贝德低声说。

“上帝会的!”洛狄说。“明天我就会得到这些东西了。明天你就完全是我的——我的美丽的、可爱的妻子!”

“船!”巴贝德忽然叫起来。

他们要划回去的那条小船已经松开,从这小岛上飘走了。

“我要去把它弄回来!”洛狄说。

他把上衣扔到一边,脱下靴子,然后跳进湖中,使劲地向船游去。

山上冰河流出清亮的、深绿色的水,这水又深又冷。洛狄向水底望去。他只望了一眼,但是他似乎已经看到了一个闪光的金戒指。这使他记起了他失去的那个订婚戒指。现在这个戒指越变越大,成了一个亮晶晶的圆圈。圆圈里现出一条明亮的冰河,河的两边全是一些张着大口的深渊,水滴进去时像钟声一样地发响,同时射出一种淡蓝色的火焰。在一瞬间的工夫,他看到了我们需用许多话才能说清楚的东西。

深渊里有许多死去的年轻猎人、年轻女子、男人和女人;他们像活人似的站着;他们都是在各种不同的时候坠落下去的。他们睁着眼睛,他们的嘴唇发出微笑。在他们下面,响起了一片从沉沦了的城市的教堂里所发出的钟声,教堂屋顶下跪着做礼拜的人。冰柱成了风琴的管子,激流变成了音乐。冰姑娘就坐在这一切下面的清亮而透明的地上。她向洛狄伸出手来,在他的脚上吻了一下。于是一种死的冷气像电流似的透过他的全身——这是冰,也是火:当一个人突然接触到这两种东西的时候,他很难辨别出到底是哪一种。

“你是我的!我的!”他的身里身外都有这个声音。“当你还是一个孩子的时候,我吻过你,在你的嘴上吻过你。现在我又在你的脚趾和脚跟上吻你!你完全是属于我的!

于是他在这清亮的蓝水底下不见了。

四周是一片沉寂。教堂的钟声没有了。它最后的回音也跟暮云的影子一齐消逝了。

“你是属于我的!”冰底下的一个声音说。“你是属于我的!”高处的一个声音说,太空的一个声音说。

从这个爱情飞到那个爱情,从人间飞到天上——多么美啊!

一根生命的线断了;周围发出一片哀悼的声音。死神的一个冰吻夺去了凡人的生命。人生的前奏曲,在人生的戏剧还没有开演以前,就已经结束了。噪音在大自然的和谐音乐中被融化了。

你能把这叫做一个悲哀的故事吗?

可怜的巴贝德!这对她说来真是一个悲恸的时刻!那条船越浮越远。陆地上谁也不知道这对快要结婚的恋人到这小岛上来了。黄昏在逼近,云块在凝集,夜幕在下垂。孤零零的她,在失望中哭起来了。暴风雨在酝酿。闪电在不停地掣动,把尤拉群山,把整个的瑞士,把沙伏依州都照亮了。闪电在各方面掣动,每隔几分钟就引起一次霹雳声。闪电的强光有时像正午的太阳一样明亮,把每根葡萄梗都照耀出来;但是不一会儿,一切又变得漆黑一团。闪电以叉子、指环和波浪的形状向湖里射来,把周围照得透明。轰轰的雷声同时在四周的山上引起一片回音。岸上的人早已把船只拖到岸边泊好。一切有生命的东西都急忙去寻找栖身的地方。雨开始倾盆地下降。

“在这阵暴风雨中,洛狄和巴贝德在什么地方呢?”磨坊主问。

巴贝德正合着手坐着,把头搁在膝上。经过一阵痛苦、呼号和流泪后,她再也没有气力了。

“他躺在深沉的水里,”她对自己说,“他像躺在冰河底下似的躺在水里。”

这时她想起了洛狄说过的话:他的母亲怎样死去,他自己怎样得救,他怎样像一具死尸似的被人从冰河的深渊里抱起来。

“冰姑娘又把他捉去了!”

一阵闪电像阳光似的照在白雪上。巴贝德跳起来。整个的湖这时就像一条明亮的冰河。冰姑娘站在那上面,样子很庄严,身上射出一股淡蓝色的光。洛狄就躺在她的脚下。

“他是我的!”她说。接着周围又是漆黑一团和倾盆大雨。

“多残酷啊!”巴贝德呻吟着说。“他为什么刚刚在我们的幸福快要到来的时刻死去呢?啊,上帝啊,请您解释一下吧!

请您开导我的心吧!我不懂得您的用意,我在您的威力和智慧之中找不出线索!”

于是上帝指点了她。一个记忆,一线慈悲的光,她头天晚上所做的梦——这一切全都在她的心里闪过去了。她记起了她自己所讲的话,她自己和洛狄所希望得到的最好的东西。

“我真可怜!难道这是因为我心中有罪恶的种子吗?难道我的梦就是我的未来生活的缩影吗?难道未来生活的线索必须折断,我才能消罪吗?我是多么可怜啊!”

她坐在这漆黑的夜里,呜咽起来。在深沉的静寂中,她似乎听到了洛狄的话语——他在这世界上最后所说的话语:“这世界不能再给我比这更好的东西了!”这话是在最快乐的时候讲的;现在它在悲哀的心里发出了回音。

好几年过去了。这湖在微笑;湖岸也在微笑。葡萄树结着累累的果实。挂着双帆的游艇像蝴蝶似的在平静如镜的水上行驶;锡雍石牢后面已经开出一条铁路,深深地伸进伦河两岸。每到一站,就有许多陌生人下来。他们带着精装的红色《游览指南》,研究着哪些风景区他们可以去看看。他们参观锡雍狱,同时看到了那个长着三棵槐树的小岛。他们在《游览指南》中读到关于那对新婚夫妇的故事:这对年轻人怎样在1856年的一个晚上划过去,新郎怎样失踪,岸上的人怎样在第二天早晨才听到新娘的失望的呼声。

不过这些《游览指南》没有谈到巴贝德在父亲家里所过的安静生活——这当然不是指磨坊,因为那里面已经住着别的人了。她是住在车站附近的一座美丽的房子里。她有许多晚上常常在窗前向栗树后边的雪山凝望。洛狄常常就喜欢在这些山上走来走去。在黄昏的时候,她可以看到阿尔卑斯山的晚霞。太阳的女儿们就住在那里。她们还在唱着关于旅人的歌:旋风怎样吹掉他们的外衣,怎样把这衣服抢走,但是却抢走不了穿这衣服的人。

山中的雪地上闪着一丝淡红的光。深藏着思想的每一颗心中也闪着一丝淡红的光:“上帝对我们的安排总是最好的!”

不过上帝从来不像在梦中告诉巴贝德那样把理由告诉我们。