字体设置:

TO tell you of our new life in any detail would be no easy matter. It was made up of a series of frivolous diversions which, though delightful to us, would be quite meaningless to anyone who heard me recount them. You know what it is to love a woman. You know how short the days seem and how loving the ease with which you let yourself drift towards the morrow. You are acquainted with that general neglect of things which is bred of violent, trusting, requited love. Any mortal being who is not the woman you love seems superfluous to creation. You regret having tossed pieces of your heart to other women, and you cannot imagine the prospect of ever holding a hand which is not the hand that you now hold clasped in yours. Your brain will entertain neither work nor memories, nor anything which might divert it from the one thought with which it is endlessly regaled. Each day you discover some new attraction in your mistress, some unknown sensual delight.

Life is no more than the repeated fulfilling of a permanent desire. The soul is merely the vestal handmaid whose task is to keep the sacred flame of love burning.

Often, after dark, we would go and sit in the little wood which overlooked the house. There we listened to the happy song of evening as we both thought of the approaching moment which would leave us in each other's arms till morning. At other times, we would stay in bed all day and not let even the sun into our bedroom. The curtains would be tightly drawn, and for us the world outside momentarily stopped turning. Nanine alone was authorized to open our door, but only to bring us our meals? and even so we ate them without getting up, and interrupted them constantly with laughter and all kinds of foolishness. And then would follow a few moments of sleep, for, retreating completely into our love, we were like two persistent divers who return to the surface only to take breath.

However, I would catch Marguerite looking sad, and sometimes there were tears in her eyes. I would ask what was the reason for her sudden dejection and she would answer:

'This love of ours, my dearest Armand, is no ordinary love. You love me as though I'd never belonged to anyone else, and I tremble for fear that with time, regretting that you ever loved me and turning my past into a crime to hold against me, you might force me to resume the life from which you took me. Remember this: now that I've tasted a new kind of life, I should die if I had to take up the old one. So tell me you'll never leave me.'

'I swear it!'

At this, she would stare at me, as though she could read in my eyes whether my oath was sincere. Then she would throw herself into my arms and, burying her head in my chest, say:

'It's just that you have no idea how much I love you!'

One evening, we were leaning over the balcony outside our window. We gazed at the moon struggling to rise from its bed of clouds. We listened to the noise of the wind as it shook the trees. We held hands, and had not spoken for a good quarter of an hour when Marguerite said:

'Winter's coming. Would you like us to go away?'

'Where would we go?'

'Italy.'

'Are you bored here?'

'I'm afraid of winter. And I'm even more afraid of our going back to Paris.'

'Why?'

'Lots of reasons.'

And she went on quickly, without explaining the reasons for her fears:

'Do you want to leave this place? I'll sell everything I have. We'll go and live far away. There'll be nothing left of the person I used to be. No one will know who I am. Would you like that?'

'We'll go, if that's what you want, Let's travel, 'I said, 'but why the need to sell things you'll be glad to have when we get back? I haven't got enough money to accept a sacrifice like that, but I do have enough for us to travel in style for five or six months, if you fancy the idea at all. '

'If that's the way of it, no, ' she continued, leaving the window and moving to the sofa in the dark shadow of the bedroom. 'What's the point of going all that way to spend money? I cost you enough here as it is.'

'That sounds like a reproach, Marguerite. You're being ungracious.'

'Forgive me, my dear, ' she said, holding out her hand to me, 'this stormy weather makes me irritable. I'm not saying what I mean. '

And, after kissing me, she sat for a long time, lost in thought.

Scenes like this occurred on several occasions and, though I remained ignorant as to their cause, I nevertheless sensed in Marguerite a feeling of anxiety for the future. It was not that she could have any doubts about my love for her, for it grew deeper with each passing day. And yet I often saw that she was sad, though she never explained why she was sad other than by alleging some physical reason.

Fearing that she would weary of too monotonous a life, I suggested that we might return to Paris, but she invariably rejected the suggestion, and assured me that she could not be as happy anywhere as she was in the country.

Prudence made only rare visits now. On the other hand, she wrote a number of letters which I never asked to see, although each one left Marguerite deeply preoccupied. I did not know what to make of it.

One day, Marguerite remained in her room. I entered. She was writing.

'Who are you writing to?' I asked her.

'Prudence. Do you want me to read out what I've written?'

I had a profound distaste for anything that could seem like suspiciousness. So I answered Marguerite saying that there was no need for me to know what she was writing. And yet, I was sure of it, that letter would have acquainted me with the real reason for her fits of sadness.

The next day, the weather was superb. Marguerite suggested that we might take a boat out on the river and visit the lle de Croissy. She seemed in the best of spirits. It was five o'clock by the time we got back.

'Madame Duvernoy came, ' said Nanine as soon as she saw us come in.

'Did she go away again?' asked Marguerite.

'Yes, in Madame's carriage. She said it was all right to take it.'

'Very good, ' said Marguerite quickly. 'Let dinner be served at once.'

Two days later, there was a letter from Prudence, and for the next fortnight Marguerite seemed to have done with her mysterious sad moods, for which she never stopped asking me to forgive her now that they had ceased.

However, the carriage did not come back.

'How is it that Prudence hasn't returned your brougham?' I asked one day.

'One of the horses is sick, and the carriage needs some repairs. It's better for all that to be done while we are still here where we don't need a carriage, than to wait until we get back to Paris.'

Prudence came down to see us a few days after this and confirmed what Marguerite had told me.

The two women went for a stroll by themselves in the garden, and when I joined them they changed the subject they had been discussing.

That evening, as she was going, Prudence complained of the cold and asked Marguerite to lend her an Indian shawl.

And so a month went by during which Marguerite was gayer and more loving than she had ever been.

However, the carriage had not come back, and the Indian shawl had not been returned. All this puzzled me in spite of myself and, since I knew in which drawer Marguerite kept Prudence's letters, I took advantage of a moment when she was at the bottom of the garden, hurried to the drawer and tried to open it. But it was no use: it was double-locked.

I then searched through the drawers where her trinkets and diamonds were normally kept. They opened without difficulty, but the jewel-cases had disappeared ?along with their contents, naturally.

A pang of fear shot through my heart.

I was about to go and ask Marguerite to tell me exactly why these items were missing. But I knew for certain that she would not admit the truth.

So I said: 'My dear Marguerite, I want to ask if it's all right for me to go up to town. No one where I live knows where I am, and there must have been letters from my father. I expect he's worried. I must write to him.'

'Go, my dear, ' she said. 'But be back soon.'

I left.

I hurried round to Prudence's at once.

'Look here, ' I said, without preamble of any sort, 'answer me frankly: where are Marguerite's horses?'

'Sold.'

'Her shawl?'

'Sold.'

'The diamonds?'

'Pawned.'

'And who did the selling and the pawning?'

'I did.'

'Why didn't you tell me about all this?'

'Because Marguerite ordered me not to.'

'And why didn't you ask me for money?'

'Because she wouldn't let me.'

'And what's the money been spent on?'

'Paying debts.'

'So she owes great deal?'

'There's thirty thousand francs or so outstanding. I told you, dear, didn't I? You just wouldn't believe me. Well then, are you convinced now? The upholsterer, who had the Duke as her guarantor, was shown the door when he went to see the Duke who wrote him a letter the next day saying that he wouldn't lift a finger for Mademoiselle Gautier. The man wanted money. He was given something on account? the few thousand francs I asked you for. Then some kind souls let him know that his non-paying customer had been dropped by the Duke and was living with some young man who had no money. The other creditors were likewise told. They demanded money, and repossessed some of their goods.

Marguerite wanted to sell everything, but it was too late and, besides, I should have been against it. She had to pay of course, and to avoid asking you for money, she sold her horses and her Indian shawls and pawned her jewels. Do you want the buyers' receipts and the pawn tickets?'

And, pulling out a drawer, Prudence showed me the papers.

'Do you imagine, ' she continued, as persistent as any woman who is entitled to say: 'I was right!' 'do you imagine that it's enough to love each other and go off to the country and live some dreamy, rustic life? Oh no, my dear. Alongside the ideal life, there's the necessities to think of, and the purest designs are earthbound, secured by threads which, ludicrous though they may be, are made of steel and cannot be easily snapped. If Marguerite hasn't deceived you twenty times and more it's because she has an exceptional nature. It's not her fault if I advised her to do so, because it grieved me to see the poor girl strip herself of everything. And she wouldn't have anything to do with it! She told me she loved you and wouldn't deceive you for anything. All that's very nice, very poetic, but it's not coin you can pay off criditors with. And now she's reached the stage where she won't get away with it unless she comes up with, let me say it again, thirty thousand francs.'

'It's all right. I'll find the money.'

'You'll borrow it?'

'But of course.'

'Now that would be really clever. You'll fall out with your father, tie up your allowance and, anyway, you can't just come up with thirty thousand francs from one day to the next. Take it from me, my dear Armand, I know women better than you do. Don't do it: it would be sheer folly and you'd regret it some day. Be reasonable. I don't say you should leave Marguerite; just live with her on the same footing as at the start of the summer. Let her find ways out of this mess. The Duke will come round gradually. Count de N, if she takes him on, he was telling me just yesterday, will pay all her debts and give her four or five thousand francs a month. He's got two hundred thousand livres a year. She'll be set up, whereas you're going to have to leave her in any case: don't wait until you're ruined, especially since this Count de N is a fool and there'll be nothing to stop you being Marguerite's lover. She'll cry a little to start with, but she'll get used to it in the end, and she'll thank you one day for what you did. Tell yourself that Marguerite's married, and then deceive her husband. That's all there's to it.

'I've already told you all this once. But then I was just giving you advice. Today, you've got very little option.'

Prudence was right, cruelly right.

'That's how it is, ' she continued, shutting away the papers she had just shown me. 'Kept women always expect that there'll be men around who'll love them, but they never imagine that they themselves will fall in love. Otherwise, they'd put a bit to one side and, by the time they're thirty, they'd be able to afford the luxury of taking a lover who pays nothing. If only I'd known once what I know once what I know now! But that's by the by. Don't say anything to Marguerite; just bring her back to Paris. You've had four or five months alone with her, which isn't bad. Turn a blind eye, that's all you're asked to do. Within a fortnight, she'll take on Count de N, she'll put some money by this winter, and then next summer you can pick up where you left off. That's how it's done, my dear!'

Prudence seemed delighted with her advice, which I rejected indignantly.

Not only did love and self-respect make it impossible for me to act along these lines, but I was further convinced that, having got to the stage she had now reached, Marguerite would rather die than accept such an arrangement.

'Enough of this nonsense, ' I told Prudence. 'How much exactly does Marguerite need?'

'I told you. Around thirty thousand francs.'

'And when must she have it?'

'Within two months.'

'She'll have it.'

Prudence shrugged her shoulders.

'I'll get it to you, ' I continued. 'But you must swear you'll never tell Marguerite that I gave it to you.'

'Don't worry, I won't.'

'And if she sends you anything else to sell or pawn, let me know.'

'There's no danger of that. She's got nothing left.'

From there, I went to my apartment to see if there were any letters from my father.

There were four.

要把我们新生活中的琐事详详细细地告诉您是不容易的。这种生活对我们来说是一些孩子般的嬉戏,我们觉得十分有趣,但是对听我讲这个故事的人来说,却是不值一提的。您知道爱一个女人是怎么一回事,您知道白天是怎么匆匆而过,晚上又是怎样地相亲相爱,难舍难分。您不会不知道共同分享和相互信赖的热烈爱情,可以把一切事物搁置脑后;在这个世界上,除了这个自己爱恋着的女人,其他似乎全属多余。我在后悔过去曾经在别的女人身上用过一番心思;我看不到除了自己手里捏着的手以外,还有什么可能去握别人的手。我的头脑里既不思索,也不回忆,心里唯有一个念头,凡是可能影响这个念头的思想都不能接受。每天我都会在自己情妇身上发现一种新的魅力和一种前所未有的快感。

 

人生只不过是为了满足不断的欲望,灵魂只不过是维持爱情圣火的守灶女神。①

①罗马灶神庙中拿着圣火日夜守伺的童贞女。

到了晚上,我们经常坐在可以俯视我们房子的小树林里,倾听着夜晚和谐悦耳的天籁,同时两人都在想着不久又可相互拥抱直到明天。有时我们整天睡在床上,甚至连阳光都不让透进房来。窗帘紧闭着,外界对于我们来说,暂时停止了活动。只有纳尼娜才有权打开我们的房门,但也只是为了送东西给我们吃;我们就在床上吃,还不停地痴笑和嬉闹。接着又再打一会儿瞌睡。我们就像沉没在爱河之中的两个顽强的潜水员,只是在换气的时候才浮出水面。

但是,有时候玛格丽特显得很忧愁,有几次甚至还流着眼泪,这使我感到奇怪。我问她为什么忽然这么悲伤,她回答我说:

“我们的爱情不是普通的爱情,我亲爱的阿尔芒。你就像我从来没有失身于别人似的爱我,但是我非常害怕你不久就会对你的爱情感到后悔,把我的过去当作罪恶。我怕你强迫我去重操你曾让我脱离的旧业。想想现在我尝到的新生活的滋味,要我再去过从前的生活,我会死的。告诉我你永远不再离开我了。”

“我向你发誓!”

听到这句话,她仔细地端详着我,似乎要从我眼睛里看出我的誓言是不是真诚,随后她扑在我的怀里,把头埋在我的心窝里,对我说:

“你真不知道我是多么爱你啊!”

一天傍晚,我们靠在窗台的栏杆上,凝望着浮云掩映着的月亮,倾听着被阵风摇曳着的树木的沙沙声,我们手握着手,沉默了好一阵子,突然玛格丽特对我说:

“冬天快到了,我们离开这儿吧,你说好吗?”

“到哪里去?”

“到意大利去。”

“那么你觉得在这儿呆腻了?”

“我怕冬天,我更怕回到巴黎去。”

“为什么呢?”

“原因很多。”

她没有告诉我她惧怕的原因,却突然接下去说:

“你愿意离开这里吗?我把我所有的东西统统卖掉,一起到那里去生活,丝毫不留下我过去的痕迹。谁也不会知道我是谁。你愿意吗?”

“玛格丽特,如果你喜欢的话,我们走吧,我们去作一次旅行。”我对她说,“但是有什么必要变卖东西呢?你回来时看到这些东西不是很高兴吗?我没有足够的财产来接受你这种牺牲,但是像像样样地作一次五、六个月的旅行,我的钱还是绰绰有余的,只要能讨你哪怕是一丁点儿喜欢的话。”

“还是不去的好,”她离开窗子继续说,一面走过去坐在房间阴暗处的长沙发椅上,“到那里去花钱有什么意思?我在这儿已经花了你不少钱了。”

“你是在埋怨我,玛格丽特,这可不公道啊!”

“请原谅,朋友,”她伸手给我说,“这种暴风雨天气使我精神不愉快;我讲的并不是我心里想的话。”

说着她吻了我一下,随后又陷入沉思。

类似这样的情景发生过好几次,虽然我不知道她产生这些想法的原因是什么,但是我很清楚玛格丽特是在担忧未来。她是不会怀疑我的爱情的,因为我越来越爱她了。但是我经常看到她忧心忡忡,她除了推诿说身体不佳之外,从来不告诉我她忧愁的原因。

我怕她对这种过于单调的生活感到厌倦,就建议她回到巴黎去,但她总是一口拒绝,并一再对我说没有地方能比乡下使她感到更加快乐。

普律当丝现在不常来了,但是她经常来信,虽然玛格丽特一收到信就心事重重,我也从来没有要求看看这些信,我猜不出这些信的内容。

一天,玛格丽特在她房间里,我走了进去,她正在写信。

“你写信给谁?”我问她。

“写给普律当丝,要不要我把信念给你听听?”

一切看来像是猜疑的事情我都很憎恶,因此我回答玛格丽特说,我不需要知道她写些什么,但是我可以断定这封信能告诉我她忧愁的真正原因。

第二天,天气非常好,玛格丽特提出要乘船去克罗瓦西岛玩,她似乎非常高兴。我们回家时已经五点钟了。

“迪韦尔诺瓦太太来过了,”纳尼娜看见我们进门就说。

“她走了吗?”玛格丽特问道。

“走了,坐夫人的车子走的,她说这是讲好了的。”

“很好,”玛格丽特急切地说,“吩咐下去给我们开饭。”

两天以后,普律当丝来了一封信,以后的两周里,玛格丽特已经不再那么莫名其妙地发愁了,而且还不断地要求我为这件事原谅她。

但是马车没有回来。

“普律当丝怎么不把你的马车送回来?”有一天我问。

“那两匹马里有一匹病了,车子还要修理。反正这里用不着坐车子,趁我们还没有回巴黎之前把它修修好不是很好吗?”

几天以后,普律当丝来看望我们,她向我证实了玛格丽特对我讲的话。

两个女人在花园里散步,当我向她们走去的时候,她们就把话题扯开去了。

晚上普律当丝告辞的时候,抱怨天气太冷,要求玛格丽特把开司米披肩借给她。

一个月就这样过去了,在这一个月里玛格丽特比过去任何时候都要快乐,也更加爱我了。

但是马车没再回来,披肩也没有送回来。凡此种种不由得使我起了疑心。我知道玛格丽特存放普律当丝来信的抽屉,趁她在花园里的时候,我跑到这个抽屉跟前。我想打开看看,但是打不开,抽屉锁得紧紧的。

接着我开始搜寻那些她平时盛放首饰和钻石的抽屉,这些抽屉一下就打开了,但是首饰盒不见了,盒子里面的东西不用说也没有了。

一阵恐惧猛地袭上了我的心头。

我想去问玛格丽特这些东西究竟到哪儿去了,但是她肯定不会对我说实话的。

“我的好玛格丽特,”于是我这样对她说,“我来请求你允许我到巴黎去一次。我家里的人还不知道我在哪里,我父亲也该来信了,他一定在挂念我,我一定要给他写封回信。”

“去吧,我的朋友,”她对我说,“但是要早点回来。”

我走了。

我立即跑到普律当丝的家里。

“啊,”我开门见山地跟她说,“您老实告诉我,玛格丽特的马车到哪儿去了?”

“卖掉了。”

“披肩呢?”

“卖掉了。”

“钻石呢?”

“当掉了。”

“是谁去替她卖的?是谁去替她当的?”

“是我。”

“为什么不告诉我。”

“因为玛格丽特不准我告诉您。”

“那您为什么不向我要钱呢?”

“因为她不愿意。”

“那么这些钱派了什么用场呢?”

“还账。”

“她还欠人家很多钱吗?”

“还欠三万法郎左右。啊!我亲爱的,我不是早就跟您讲过了吗?您不肯相信我的话,那么现在总该相信了吧。原来由公爵作保的地毯商去找公爵的时候吃了闭门羹,第二天公爵写信告诉他说他不管戈蒂埃小姐的事了。这个商人来要钱,只好分期付给他,我向您要的那几千法郎就是付给他的。后来一些好心人提醒他说,他的债务人已经被公爵抛弃了,她正在跟一个没有财产的青年过日子;别的债权人也接到了同样的通知,他们也来讨债,来查封玛格丽特的财产。玛格丽特本来想把什么都卖掉,但是时间来不及,何况我也反对她这样做。帐是一定得还的,为了不向您要钱,她卖掉了马匹和开司米披肩,当掉了首饰。您要不要看看买主的收据和当铺的当票?”

于是普律当丝打开一只抽屉给我看了这些票据。

“啊!您相信了吧!”她用有权利说“我是有理的”那种女人的洋洋自得的口气接着说,“啊!您以为只要相亲相爱就够了吗?您以为只要一起到乡下去过那种梦一般的田园生活就行了吗?不行的,我的朋友,不行的。除了这种理想生活,还有物质生活,最纯洁的决心都会有一些庸俗可笑、但又是铁铸成的链索把它拴在这个地上,这些链索是不容易挣断的。如果说玛格丽特从来不骗您,那是因为她的性格与众不同。我劝她并没有劝错,因为我不忍心看到一个可怜的姑娘吃尽当光。她不听我的话!她回答我说她爱您,绝不欺骗您。这真是太美了,太富有诗意了,但这些都不能当作钱来还给债主的呀。我再跟您说一遍,眼下她没有三万法郎是没法过门的。”

“好吧,这笔钱我来付。”

“您去借吗?”

“是啊,老天。”

“您可要干出好事来了,您要跟您父亲闹翻的,他会断绝您的生活来源,再说三万法郎也不是一两天内筹划得到的。相信我吧,亲爱的阿尔芒,我对女人可比您了解得多。别干这种傻事,总有一天您会后悔的。您要理智一些,我不是叫您跟玛格丽特分手,不过您要像夏天开始时那样跟她生活。让她自己去设法摆脱困境。公爵慢慢地会来找她的。N伯爵昨天还在对我说,如果玛格丽特肯接待他的话,他要替她还清所有的债务,每月再给她四五千法郎。他有二十万利弗尔的年金。这对她来说可算是一个依靠,而您呢,您迟早要离开她的;您不要等到破了产再这样做,何况这位N伯爵是个笨蛋,您完全可以继续做玛格丽特的情人。开始时她会伤心一阵子的,但最后还是会习惯的,您这样做了,她总有一天会感谢您的。您就把玛格丽特当作是有夫之妇,您欺骗的是她的丈夫,就是这么回事。

“这些话我已经跟您讲过一遍了,那时候还不过是一个忠告,而现在已几乎非这样做不行了。”

普律当丝讲的话虽然难听,但非常有道理。

“就是这么回事,”她一面收起刚才给我看的票据,一面继续对我说,“做妓女的专等人家来爱她们,而她们永远也不会去爱人;要不然,她们就要攒钱,以便到了三十岁的时候,她们就可以为一个一无所有的情人这么个奢侈品而自己掏腰包。如果我早知今日有多好啊,我!总之,您什么也别跟玛格丽特说,把她带回巴黎来。您和她已经一起过了四五个月了,这已经够好的了;眼开眼闭,这就是对您的要求。半个月以后她就会接待N伯爵。今年冬天她节约一些,明年夏天你们就可以再过这种生活。事情就是这么干的,我亲爱的。”

普律当丝似乎对她自己的一番劝告很得意,我却恼怒地拒绝了。

不单是我的爱情和我的尊严不允许我这样做,而且我深信玛格丽特是宁死也不肯再过以前那种人尽可夫的生活了。

“别开玩笑了,”我对普律当丝说,“玛格丽特到底需要多少钱?”

“我跟您讲过了,三万法郎左右。”

“这笔款子什么时候要呢?”

“两个月以内。”

“她会有的。”

普律当丝耸了耸肩膀。

“我会交给您的,”我继续说,“但是您要发誓不告诉玛格丽特是我给您的。”

“放心好了。”

“如果她再托您卖掉或者当掉什么东西,您就来告诉我。”

“不用操心,她已什么也没有了。”

我先回到家里看看有没有我父亲的来信。

有四封。