字体设置:

The court was paved, from floor to roof, with human faces. Inquisitive and eager eyes peered from every inch of space. From the rail before the dock, away into the sharpest angle of the smallest corner in the galleries, all looks were fixed upon one man--Fagin.

Before him and behind:

above, below, on the right and on the left:

he seemed to stand surrounded by a firmament, all bright with gleaming eyes. He stood there, in all this glare of living light, with one hand resting on the wooden slab before him, the other held to his ear, and his head thrust forward to enable him to catch with greater distinctness every word that fell from the presiding judge, who was delivering his charge to the jury.

At times, he turned his eyes sharply upon them to observe the effect of the slightest featherweight in his favour; and when the points against him were stated with terrible distinctness, looked towards his counsel, in mute appeal that he would, even then, urge something in his behalf.

Beyond these manifestations of anxiety, he stirred not hand or foot.

He had scarcely moved since the trial began; and now that the judge ceased to speak, he still remained in the same strained attitude of close attention, with his gaze bent on him, as though he listened still. A slight bustle in the court, recalled him to himself.

Looking round, he saw that the juryman had turned together, to consider their verdict.

As his eyes wandered to the gallery, he could see the people rising above each other to see his face:

some hastily applying their glasses to their eyes:

and others whispering their neighbours with looks expressive of abhorrence.

A few there were, who seemed unmindful of him, and looked only to the jury, in impatient wonder how they could delay.

But in no one face--not even among the women, of whom there were many there--could he read the faintest sympathy with himself, or any feeling but one of all-absorbing interest that he should be condemned. As he saw all this in one bewildered glance, the deathlike stillness came again, and looking back he saw that the jurymen had turned towards the judge.

Hush! They only sought permission to retire. He looked, wistfully, into their faces, one by one when they passed out, as though to see which way the greater number leant; but that was fruitless.

The jailer touched him on the shoulder. He followed mechanically to the end of the dock, and sat down on a chair.

The man pointed it out, or he would not have seen it. He looked up into the gallery again.

Some of the people were eating, and some fanning themselves with handkerchiefs; for the crowded place was very hot.

There was one young man sketching his face in a little note-book.

He wondered whether it was like, and looked on when the artist broke his pencil-point, and made another with his knife, as any idle spectator might have done. In the same way, when he turned his eyes towards the judge, his mind began to busy itself with the fashion of his dress, and what it cost, and how he put it on.

There was an old fat gentleman on the bench, too, who had gone out, some half an hour before, and now come back.

He wondered within himself whether this man had been to get his dinner, what he had had, and where he had had it; and pursued this train of careless thought until some new object caught his eye and roused another. Not that, all this time, his mind was, for an instant, free from one oppressive overwhelming sense of the grave that opened at his feet; it was ever present to him, but in a vague and general way, and he could not fix his thoughts upon it.

Thus, even while he trembled, and turned burning hot at the idea of speedy death, he fell to counting the iron spikes before him, and wondering how the head of one had been broken off, and whether they would mend it, or leave it as it was.

Then, he thought of all the horrors of the gallows and the scaffold--and stopped to watch a man sprinkling the floor to cool it--and then went on to think again. At length there was a cry of silence, and a breathless look from all towards the door.

The jury returned, and passed him close. He could glean nothing from their faces; they might as well have been of stone.

Perfect stillness ensued--not a rustle--not a breath--Guilty. The building rang with a tremendous shout, and another, and another, and then it echoed loud groans, that gathered strength as they swelled out, like angry thunder.

It was a peal of joy from the populace outside, greeting the news that he would die on Monday. The noise subsided, and he was asked if he had anything to say why sentence of death should not be passed upon him. He had resumed his listening attitude, and looked intently at his questioner while the demand was made; but it was twice repeated before he seemed to hear it, and then he only muttered that he was an old man--an old man--and so, dropping into a whisper, was silent again. The judge assumed the black cap, and the prisoner still stood with the same air and gesture.

A woman in the gallery, uttered some exclamation, called forth by this dread solemnity; he looked hastily up as if angry at the interruption, and bent forward yet more attentively.

The address was solemn and impressive; the sentence fearful to hear.

But he stood, like a marble figure, without the motion of a nerve.

His haggard face was still thrust forward, his under-jaw hanging down, and his eyes staring out before him, when the jailer put his hand upon his arm, and beckoned him away.

He gazed stupidly about him for an instant, and obeyed. They led him through a paved room under the court, where some prisoners were waiting till their turns came, and others were talking to their friends, who crowded round a grate which looked into the open yard.

There was nobody there to speak to _him_; but, as he passed, the prisoners fell back to render him more visible to the people who were clinging to the bars:

and they assailed him with opprobrious names, and screeched and hissed.

He shook his fist, and would have spat upon them; but his conductors hurried him on, through a gloomy passage lighted by a few dim lamps, into the interior of the prison. Here, he was searched, that he might not have about him the means of anticipating the law; this ceremony performed, they led him to one of the condemned cells, and left him there--alone. He sat down on a stone bench opposite the door, which served for seat and bedstead; and casting his blood-shot eyes upon the ground, tried to collect his thoughts. After awhile, he began to remember a few disjointed fragments of what the judge had said: though it had seemed to him, at the time, that he could not hear a word.

These gradually fell into their proper places, and by degrees suggested more:

so that in a little time he had the whole, almost as it was delivered.

To be hanged by the neck, till he was dead--that was the end.

To be hanged by the neck till he was dead. As it came on very dark, he began to think of all the men he had known who had died upon the scaffold; some of them through his means.

They rose up, in such quick succession, that he could hardly count them.

He had seen some of them die,--and had joked too, because they died with prayers upon their lips.

With what a rattling noise the drop went down; and how suddenly they changed, from strong and vigorous men to dangling heaps of clothes! Some of them might have inhabited that very cell--sat upon that very spot.

It was very dark; why didn't they bring a light?

The cell had been built for many years.

Scores of men must have passed their last hours there.

It was like sitting in a vault strewn with dead bodies--the cap, the noose, the pinioned arms, the faces that he knew, even beneath that hideous veil.--Light, light! At length, when his hands were raw with beating against the heavy door and walls, two men appeared:

one bearing a candle, which he thrust into an iron candlestick fixed against the wall:

the other dragging in a mattress on which to pass the night; for the prisoner was to be left alone no more. Then came the night--dark, dismal, silent night.

Other watchers are glad to hear this church-clock strike, for they tell of life and coming day.

To him they brought despair.

The boom of every iron bell came laden with the one, deep, hollow sound--Death. What availed the noise and bustle of cheerful morning, which penetrated even there, to him?

It was another form of knell, with mockery added to the warning. The day passed off.

Day?

There was no day; it was gone as soon as come--and night came on again; night so long, and yet so short; long in its dreadful silence, and short in its fleeting hours.

At one time he raved and blasphemed; and at another howled and tore his hair.

Venerable men of his own persuasion had come to pray beside him, but he had driven them away with curses.

They renewed their charitable efforts, and he beat them off. Saturday night.

He had only one night more to live.

And as he thought of this, the day broke--Sunday. It was not until the night of this last awful day, that a withering sense of his helpless, desperate state came in its full intensity upon his blighted soul; not that he had ever held any defined or positive hope of mercy, but that he had never been able to consider more than the dim probability of dying so soon. He had spoken little to either of the two men, who relieved each other in their attendance upon him; and they, for their parts, made no effort to rouse his attention.

He had sat there, awake, but dreaming.

Now, he started up, every minute, and with gasping mouth and burning skin, hurried to and fro, in such a paroxysm of fear and wrath that even they--used to such sights--recoiled from him with horror.

He grew so terrible, at last, in all the tortures of his evil conscience, that one man could not bear to sit there, eyeing him alone; and so the two kept watch together. He cowered down upon his stone bed, and thought of the past. He had been wounded with some missiles from the crowd on the day of his capture, and his head was bandaged with a linen cloth.

His red hair hung down upon his bloodless face; his beard was torn, and twisted into knots; his eyes shone with a terrible light; his unwashed flesh crackled with the fever that burnt him up. Eight--nine--then.

If it was not a trick to frighten him, and those were the real hours treading on each other's heels, where would he be, when they came round again!

Eleven!

Another struck, before the voice of the previous hour had ceased to vibrate.

At eight, he would be the only mourner in his own funeral train; at eleven-- Those dreadful walls of Newgate, which have hidden so much misery and such unspeakable anguish, not only from the eyes, but, too often, and too long, from the thoughts, of men, never held so dread a spectacle as that.

The few who lingered as they passed, and wondered what the man was doing who was to be hanged to-morrow, would have slept but ill that night, if they could have seen him. From early in the evening until nearly midnight, little groups of two and three presented themselves at the lodge-gate, and inquired, with anxious faces, whether any reprieve had been received.

These being answered in the negative, communicated the welcome intelligence to clusters in the street, who pointed out to one another the door from which he must come out, and showed where the scaffold would be built, and, walking with unwilling steps away, turned back to conjure up the scene.

By degrees they fell off, one by one; and, for an hour, in the dead of night, the street was left to solitude and darkness. The space before the prison was cleared, and a few strong barriers, painted black, had been already thrown across the road to break the pressure of the expected crowd, when Mr. Brownlow and Oliver appeared at the wicket, and presented an order of admission to the prisoner, signed by one of the sheriffs.

They were immediately admitted into the lodge. 'Is the young gentleman to come too, sir?' said the man whose duty it was to conduct them.

'It's not a sight for children, sir.' 'It is not indeed, my friend,' rejoined Mr. Brownlow; 'but my business with this man is intimately connected with him; and as this child has seen him in the full career of his success and villainy, I think it as well--even at the cost of some pain and fear--that he should see him now.' These few words had been said apart, so as to be inaudible to Oliver.

The man touched his hat; and glancing at Oliver with some curiousity, opened another gate, opposite to that by which they had entered, and led them on, through dark and winding ways, towards the cells. 'This,' said the man, stopping in a gloomy passage where a couple of workmen were making some preparations in profound silence--'this is the place he passes through.

If you step this way, you can see the door he goes out at.' He led them into a stone kitchen, fitted with coppers for dressing the prison food, and pointed to a door.

There was an open grating above it, through which came the sound of men's voices, mingled with the noise of hammering, and the throwing down of boards.

There were putting up the scaffold. From this place, they passed through several strong gates, opened by other turnkeys from the inner side; and, having entered an open yard, ascended a flight of narrow steps, and came into a passage with a row of strong doors on the left hand.

Motioning them to remain where they were, the turnkey knocked at one of these with his bunch of keys. The two attendants, after a little whispering, came out into the passage, stretching themselves as if glad of the temporary relief, and motioned the visitors to follow the jailer into the cell.

They did so. The condemned criminal was seated on his bed, rocking himself from side to side, with a countenance more like that of a snared beast than the face of a man.

His mind was evidently wandering to his old life, for he continued to mutter, without appearing conscious of their presence otherwise than as a part of his vision. 'Good boy, Charley--well done--' he mumbled.

'Oliver, too, ha! ha! ha!

Oliver too--quite the gentleman now--quite the--take that boy away to bed!' The jailer took the disengaged hand of Oliver; and, whispering him not to be alarmed, looked on without speaking. 'Take him away to bed!' cried Fagin.

'Do you hear me, some of you?

He has been the--the--somehow the cause of all this.

It's worth the money to bring him up to it--Bolter's throat, Bill; never mind the girl--Bolter's throat as deep as you can cut.

Saw his head off!' 'Fagin,' said the jailer. 'That's me!' cried the Jew, falling instantly, into the attitude of listening he had assumed upon his trial.

'An old man, my Lord; a very old, old man!' 'Here,' said the turnkey, laying his hand upon his breast to keep him down.

'Here's somebody wants to see you, to ask you some questions, I suppose.

Fagin, Fagin!

Are you a man?' 'I shan't be one long,' he replied, looking up with a face retaining no human expression but rage and terror.

'Strike them all dead!

What right have they to butcher me?' As he spoke he caught sight of Oliver and Mr. Brownlow. Shrinking to the furthest corner of the seat, he demanded to know what they wanted there. 'Steady,' said the turnkey, still holding him down.

'Now, sir, tell him what you want.

Quick, if you please, for he grows worse as the time gets on.' 'You have some papers,' said Mr. Brownlow advancing, 'which were placed in your hands, for better security, by a man called Monks.' 'It's all a lie together,' replied Fagin.

'I haven't one--not one.' 'For the love of God,' said Mr. Brownlow solemnly, 'do not say that now, upon the very verge of death; but tell me where they are.

You know that Sikes is dead; that Monks has confessed; that there is no hope of any further gain.

Where are those papers?' 'Oliver,' cried Fagin, beckoning to him.

'Here, here! Let me whisper to you.' 'I am not afraid,' said Oliver in a low voice, as he relinquished Mr. Brownlow's hand. 'The papers,' said Fagin, drawing Oliver towards him, 'are in a canvas bag, in a hole a little way up the chimney in the top front-room.

I want to talk to you, my dear.

I want to talk to you.' 'Yes, yes,' returned Oliver.

'Let me say a prayer.

Do!

Let me say one prayer.

Say only one, upon your knees, with me, and we will talk till morning.' 'Outside, outside,' replied Fagin, pushing the boy before him towards the door, and looking vacantly over his head. 'Say I've gone to sleep--they'll believe you.

You can get me out, if you take me so.

Now then, now then!' 'Oh!

God forgive this wretched man!' cried the boy with a burst of tears. 'That's right, that's right,' said Fagin.

'That'll help us on. This door first.

If I shake and tremble, as we pass the gallows, don't you mind, but hurry on.

Now, now, now!' 'Have you nothing else to ask him, sir?' inquired the turnkey. 'No other question,' replied Mr. Brownlow.

'If I hoped we could recall him to a sense of his position--' 'Nothing will do that, sir,' replied the man, shaking his head. 'You had better leave him.' The door of the cell opened, and the attendants returned. 'Press on, press on,' cried Fagin.

'Softly, but not so slow. Faster, faster!' The men laid hands upon him, and disengaging Oliver from his grasp, held him back.

He struggled with the power of desperation, for an instant; and then sent up cry upon cry that penetrated even those massive walls, and rang in their ears until they reached the open yard. It was some time before they left the prison.

Oliver nearly swooned after this frightful scene, and was so weak that for an hour or more, he had not the strength to walk. Day was dawning when they again emerged.

A great multitude had already assembled; the windows were filled with people, smoking and playing cards to beguile the time; the crowd were pushing, quarrelling, joking.

Everything told of life and animation, but one dark cluster of objects in the centre of all--the black stage, the cross-beam, the rope, and all the hideous apparatus of death.

(费金在人世的最后一夜。)

法庭,从地板到天花板,砌满了人的面孔。每一寸空间都射出好奇而又急切的目光。从被告席前边的横栏,到旁听席最靠边的狭小角落,所有的目光都倾注在一个人身上——费金。他身前身后——上上下下,左边右边,仿佛天地之间布满闪闪发光的眼睛,将他整个包围起来。

在这一片有生命的亮光照射下,他站在那里,一只手搭在面前的木板上,另一只手罩着耳朵,脑袋朝前伸出,以便把主审法官说出的每一个字都听得更清楚一些,主审法官正在向陪审团陈述对他的指控。他不时将眼光骤然转向陪审团,看看他们对一些有利于自己的细枝末节有何反应。听到主审法官用清晰得可怕的声音历数对自己不利的那些事实,他又转向自己的诉讼代理人,默默地哀求他无论如何也要替自己辩护几句。除了这些焦急的表示之外,他的手脚一动不动。开庭以来,他就几乎没有动一下。现在法官的话说完了,他却依旧保持先前那种全神贯注的紧张样子,眼睛盯着主审法官,好像还在听。

法庭上响起一阵轻微的喧闹,让他回过神来。他掉过头,看见陪审团凑到一块儿,正在斟酌他们的裁决。当他的目光不知不觉中落到旁听席上的时候,他看得出,人们为了看清他的相貌正争先恐后地站起来,有的匆匆戴上眼镜,有的在和旁边的人低声交谈,明摆着一副厌恶的脸色。有几个人似乎没注意他,只是一个劲儿地望着陪审团,很不耐烦,对于他们怎么这样拖拖拉拉感到不解。然而,他看不出哪一张面孔带有一丝一毫对自己的同情——甚至包括在场的许多女人——看到的只有一个共同心愿,那就是对他绳之以法。

就在他目光惶惑地将这一切看在眼里的当儿,死一般的寂静又一次降临,他扭头一看,只见陪审员们都朝主审法官转过身来。别吱声。

他们只是在请求准予退庭罢了。

陪审团成员出去了,他眼巴巴地挨个看着他们的脸色,似乎想看出大部分人的倾向,但毫无结果。看守碰了碰他的胳膊。他机械地走到被告席的尽头,在一把椅子上坐下来。看守刚才指了指这把椅子,要不他准还没看见。

他又一次抬起头,朝旁听席望去。有些人在吃东西,还有一些在用手绢扇风,那个地方人头攒动,真够热的。有个小伙子正在一个小笔记本上替他画速写。他很想知道究竟像不像,就一直看着,和哪位闲着没事的观众一样。这时,艺术家把铅笔尖折断了,开始用小刀重新削铅笔。

当他以相同的方式将眼睛转向法官时,他的心思又管自忙开了,法官的衣着式样如何,花费多少,是怎么穿上去的。审判席上还有一位胖胖的老先生,约莫半个小时以前出去了,这功夫才回来。他一心想知道那人是不是吃晚饭去了,吃的什么,在哪儿吃的。他漫不经心地想着这一连串的念头,直到某一个新的物体映入他的眼帘,就又顺着另一条思路胡思乱想。

在这段时间里,他的心一刻也没摆脱过一种沉重的压抑感,坟墓已经在他的脚下张开大口,这种感觉一直扭住他不放,但有些模糊、笼统,他没法定下心来想想。就这样,当他哆哆嗦嗦,因想到即将死去而浑身火辣辣的时候,他开始数面前有几根尖头朝上的铁栏杆,寻思着其中一根的尖头是怎么折断的,他们是要修好它呢,还是让它就这么着。接着,他想起了绞刑架和断头台的种种可怕之处——想着想着又停下来,细心观察一个男人往地板上泼水降温——随后又开始胡思乱想了。

终于有人叫了一声“肃静”。人们屏住呼吸,不约而同地朝门口望去。陪审团回来了,紧挨着他走过去。他们脸上什么也看不出来,一张张脸都像是石雕。紧接着是一片静默——没有一点儿沙沙的声响——连呼吸声也听不见——被告罪名成立!

一阵可怕的吼声响遍了这所大楼,又一阵吼声,又是一阵吼声。接着,一片喧闹的叫骂随之而起,愤怒的喊声如同雷鸣一般,越来越近,越来越响。法庭外边的民众发出一片欢呼,迎来了他将于星期一处决的新闻。

喧闹声平息下来了,有人问他对宣判死刑有什么要说的没有。他又摆出了那副凝神谛听的姿势,专注地看着问话的人提出这个问题。然而,直到问题重复了两遍,他才似乎听明白了,接着只是咕哝着自己上了年纪——一个老头——一个老头——声音越来越小,再次沉默下来。

法官戴上黑色的帽子,犯人依然无动于衷地站着。旁听席里有个女人看到这可怕的肃穆情景,不禁发出一声惊叫,他慌忙抬头望去,仿佛对这种干扰大为恼火一般,然后更加专注地伸长了脖子。法官的讲话庄重严肃,扣人心弦,判决听上去令人毛骨悚然。他纹丝不动,站在那里,像是一座大理石雕像。看守将一只手按在他的胳臂上,吩咐他退席,这时,他那张憔悴枯槁的面孔仍旧朝前伸着,下颚垂了下来,两眼直瞪瞪地望着前边。他昏昏沉沉地往四周看了一眼,便服从了。

他被押送到法庭下边一间石板房间,有几名犯人正在那里等候提审,另外几个犯人围在栅栏前跟亲友谈话,栅栏外边就是院子了。没有人和他搭话。当他经过时,犯人纷纷后退,让那班挤在栅栏前边的人将他看得更清楚一些。众人以种种不堪入耳的谩骂、尖叫和嘘声轰他。他挥了挥拳头,很想给他们一巴掌。然而,几名带路的看守催着他走开了。他们穿过一段灯光昏暗的甬道,到了监狱里边。

在这里,看守在他身上搜查了一通,他身边不能带有足以抢在法律前边的工具。这一道仪式进行之后,他被领进一间关押死刑犯的牢房,独自一人留在那儿。

他在牢门对面的一张石凳上坐下来,这东西既当椅子又当床凳。他睁着一双充血的眼睛,盯着地面,试图整理一下思绪。过了一会儿,他回忆起了法官说的那一席话里的几个支离破碎的片段,尽管当时他似乎连一句话也没听清。这些只言片语渐渐散落到各自的位置上,一点一点地说出了更多的东西,功夫不大他便全都明白了,几乎和正在宣判一样。判处绞刑,就地正法——这就是结局。判处绞刑,就地正法。

大黑下来了,他开始回想所有那些死在绞刑架上的熟人,其中有些人是死在他的手中。他们接二连三地出现,他简直数不过来。他曾目睹有些人死去——还打趣过他们,因为他们死的时候还在念祷告。记得那块踏板咔哒一声掉落下来,人们顷刻之间就从身强体壮的汉子变成了在半空中晃荡的衣架。

他们中兴许有人在这间牢房里呆过——就坐在这个地方。四周二片漆黑,人们干吗不点个亮呢?这间牢房已经建成多年,肯定有许多人的最后时光是在这儿打发的。呆在此地,像是坐在一个遍布死尸的墓穴里——套在头上的帽子,绞索,捆绑起来的胳臂,他所熟悉的面孔,哪怕蒙着那个可怕的罩子,他也能认出来——点个亮,点个亮。

他双手捶打着结实的牢门和四壁,直到砸得皮开肉绽,这时,有两个人走进来,一个将手里举着的蜡烛插进固定在墙上的铁烛台里,另一个拖进来一床褥子,准备在这里过夜。犯人再也不是孤身一人了。

夜晚来临了——漆黑、凄凉、死寂的夜晚。其他的守夜人听见教堂的钟声报时一般都很高兴,因为钟声预告的是生命与来日。对他来说,钟声带来的却是绝望。铁钟轰鸣,每一下都送来那个声音,那个低沉、空洞的声音——死亡。清晨的喧闹与繁忙居然钻进了牢房,这对他又有什么好处?这不过是另一种丧钟,警告之中又添上了嘲弄。

白天过去了——白天?这叫什么白天:刚一到来就匆匆离去——黑夜重又降临。夜是那样漫长,又是那样短促。漫长是因为它那死一般的寂静,短促是因为一个小时接一个小时飞逝而去。一时间,他狂暴不已,骂骂咧咧,一时间哭哭嚷嚷,揪扯头发。与他同一教派的几位长老曾来到他的身边做祷告,叫他用咒骂轰了出去。他们又一次走进来,打算奉献一番善举,他干脆把众人打跑了。

礼拜六夜里。他只能再活一夜了。当他意识到这一点时,天已经破晓——礼拜天到了。

直到这可怕的最后一夜,一种意识到自己已经濒临绝境的幻灭感向他那晦暗的灵魂全力袭来。他倒也不是抱有什么明确的或者说很大的希望,以为自己能够得到宽恕,而是他认为死亡近在眼前的可能性仍然很模糊,根本无法细想下去。他同那两个轮流看守他的男子很少谈话,两人也没打算引起他的注意。他醒着坐在那里,却又在做梦。他时时惊跳而起,嘴里喘着大气,浑身皮肤滚烫,慌乱地跑来跑去,恐惧与愤怒骤然发作,连那两名看守——他们对这类场面早已屡见不鲜——也胆战心惊地躲着他。末了,在歹心邪念的折磨下,他变得十分可怕,看守吓得不敢单独和他面对面坐在那里;只得两个人一块儿看着他。

他蜷缩在石床上,回想着往事。被捕那天,他被人群中飞来的什么东西打伤,脑袋上还扎着一块亚麻布。红头发技散在毫无血色的脸上,胡须给扯掉了不少,这时成了一绺一绺的。双眼放射出可怕的光泽。好久没有洗澡,皮肤给体内的高烧烤得起了折皱。八点——九点——十点。如果这不是吓唬他的恶作剧,而是果真这样接踵而至的一个又一个小时,到它们转回来的时候,他又在什么地方。十一点。前一个小时的钟声刚刚停止轰鸣,钟又敲响了。到八点钟,他将成为自己的葬礼行列里唯一的送丧人。现在是十一点——

新门监狱那些可怕的墙壁把那么多的不幸和无法用言语形容的痛苦隐藏起来,不单单瞒过了人们的眼睛,而且更多更长久的是瞒过了人们的思考——那些墙壁也从未见过如此可怕的惨状。几个从门外路过的人放慢脚步,很想知道明天就要上绞刑架的那个人在干什么,人们要是看得见他,那天夜里可就别想安然入睡了。

从黄昏直到差不多午夜,人们三两成群来到接待室门口,神色焦虑地打听有没有接到什么缓期执行的命令。得到的回答是否定的,他们又将这个大快人心的消息传给了大街上一簇簇的人群,大家比比划划,相互议论,说他肯定会从那道门里出来,绞刑台会搭在那里,然后恋恋不舍地走开,还不断回头,想像着那个场面。人们渐渐散去。在深夜的一个小时里,街道留给了幽静与黑暗。

监狱前边的空场已经清理出来,几道结实的黑漆栅栏横架在马路上,用来抵挡预期的人群的挤压。这时,布朗罗先生和奥立弗出现在木栅入口,他们出示了由一位司法长官签署的准予探访犯人的指令,便立刻被让进了接待室。

“这位小绅士也一块儿去吗,先生?”负责替他们引路的警察说道。“这种情形不适合小孩子看,先生。”

“的确不适合,朋友,”布朗罗先生回答,“但我与这个人的事情同他密切相关。并且,在这个人得意忘形、为非作歹达到顶峰的时候,这孩子见过他,所以我认为不妨——即使需要忍受一定程度的痛苦和惧怕也是值得的——眼下他应该去见见他。”

这番话是在旁边说的,为的是不让奥立弗听见。警察举手敬了一个礼,又颇为好奇地看了奥立弗一眼,打开与他们进来的那道门相对的另一道门,带着他们穿过阴暗曲折的通道,往牢房走去。

“这儿,”狱警在一个黑洞洞的走廊里停下来,有两名工人正一声不吭地在走廊里做某些准备工作。警察说道——“这就是他上路的地方,如果您走这一边,还可以看见他出去经过的门。”

狱警领着他俩来到一间石板铺地的厨房,里边安放着好几口为犯人做饭的铜锅,他朝一道门指了指。门的上方有一个敞开的格子窗,窗外传来七嘴八舌的说话声,其中还混杂着榔头起落和木板掉在地上的响声。人们正在搭绞刑架。

他们朝前走去,穿过一道道由别的狱警从里边打开的坚固的牢门,走进一个大院,登上狭窄的阶梯,进入走廊,走廊左侧又是一排坚固的牢门。狱警示意他们在原地等一等,自己用一串钥匙敲了敲其中的一道门。两名看守小声嘀咕了几句,才来到门外走廊里,他们伸伸懒腰,似乎对这一轮临时的换班感到很高兴,然后示意两位探视人跟着那名警察进牢房里去。布朗罗先生和奥立弗走了进去。

死刑犯坐在床上,身子晃来晃去,脸上的表情不大像人,倒像是一头落入陷阱的野兽。他的心思显然正在昔时的生活中游荡,嘴里不停地喃喃自语,除了把他们的到来当作幻觉的一部分而外,什么也没有意识到。

“好小子,查理——干得漂亮,”他嘴里咕噜着,“还有奥立弗,哈哈哈!还有奥立弗——整个是一位上等人了——整个是——把那小子带去睡觉。”

狱警拉起奥立弗空着的那只手,低声嘱咐他不要惊慌,自己一言不发地在一旁静观。

“带他睡觉去!”费金高声嚷道,“你们听见没有,你们几个?他就是——就是——所有这些事情的起因。花钱把他养大还真值得——割断波尔特的喉咙,比尔。别理那丫头——波尔特的脖子你尽量往深里割。干脆把他脑袋锯下来。”

“费金。”狱警开口了。

“在!”顷刻间,老犹太又恢复了受审时那副凝神谛听的姿势,大声说道,“我年纪大了,大人,一个很老的老头儿。”

“喂,”狱警把手搁在费金胸口上,要他坐着别动,说道,“有人来看你,恐怕要问你几个问题。费金,费金。你是人不是?”

“我就要永世不作人了,”他抬起头来回答,脸上看不到一点人类的表情,唯有愤怒和恐惧,“把他们全都揍死。他们有什么权利宰我?”

说话间,他一眼看见了奥立弗与布朗罗先生。他退缩到石凳上最远的角落,一边问他们上这儿来想要知道什么。

“别着急,”狱警仍旧按住他说道,“请吧,先生,你想说什么就告诉他好了。请快一点,时间越往后拖,他情况越糟糕。”

“你手头有几份文件,”布朗罗先生上前说道,“是一个叫孟可司的人为了保险交给你的。”

“这完全是胡说八道,”费金回答,“我没有文件——一份也没有。”

“看在上帝的分上,”布朗罗先生严肃地说,“眼下就别说那个了,死亡正在步步迈逼,还是告诉我文件在什么地方。你知道赛克斯已经送了命,孟可司也招认了,别指望再捞到点什么,那些文件在哪儿?”

“奥立弗,”费金挥了挥手,嚷嚷着,“过来,这儿来。让我小声告诉你。”

“我不怕。”奥立弗松开布朗罗先生的手,低声说了一句。

“文件,”费金将奥立弗拉到身边,说道,“放在一个帆布包里,在烟囱上边一点点,那儿有个窟窿,就是最前边那间屋子。我想和你聊聊,亲爱的。我想和你聊聊。”

“好的,好的,”奥立弗答道,“我来念一段祷告。来吧。我念一段祷告。只念一段,你跪在我身边,我们可以一直聊到早晨。”

“我们到外头去,到外头去,”费金推着孩子往门口走去,眼睛越过他的头顶视而不见地张望着,答道,“就说我已经睡觉了——他们会相信你的。只要你答应我,准能把我弄出去。快呀,快!”

“噢!上帝保佑这个不幸的人吧!”奥立弗放声大哭起来。

“好咧,好咧,”费金说道,“这样对我们有好处。这道门顶要紧。经过绞刑架的时候,我要是摇摇晃晃,浑身哆嗦,你别介意,赶紧走就是了。快,快,快!”

“先生,您没别的事情问他了吧?”狱警问道。

“没有别的问题了,”布朗罗先生回答,“我本来以为能够促使他看清自己的处境——”

“事情无可挽回了,先生,”狱警摇摇头,口答,“您最好别管他。”

牢门开了,两名看守回来了。

“快啊,快啊,”费金嚷嚷着,“轻轻地,也别那么慢啊。快一点,快一点!”

几个人伸手按住他,帮助奥立弗挣脱了他的手,将他拉回去。费金拼命挣扎了一下,随即便一声接一声地嚎叫起来,叫声甚而透过了那些厚厚实实的牢门,直至他们来到大院里,仍在他们的耳边鸣响。

他们还要过一会儿才离开监狱。目睹了这样一个可怕的场面,奥立弗险些晕过去。他是如此衰弱,足有一个小时连步子都迈不开。

当他们走出来的时候,天已经快亮了。一大群人早已聚集起来。一家家户户的窗日上挤满了人,抽烟的抽烟,玩牌的玩牌,消磨着时间;人们推来拥去,争吵说笑。一切都显得生气勃勃,唯有在这一切中间的一堆黑黝黝的东西除外——黑色的台子,十字横木,绞索,以及所有那些可怕的死刑器具。