字体设置:

WHAT ensued after that fatal night, you know as well as I do. But what you do not know, what you cannot suspect, is what I went through after the moment we parted.

I had heard that your father had taken you away, but felt sure that you would not be able to go on keeping your distance for long, and the day I ran into you on the Champs-Elysees, I was stunned but not really surprised.

And so began the sequence of days, each with some new insult from you which I suffered almost gladly. For not only was each indignity proof that you still loved me: I also felt that the more you persecuted me, the nobler I should appear in your eyes on the day you finally learned the truth.

Do not be surprised that I should have borne my cross gladly, Armand, for the love you felt for me had aroused noble inclinations in my heart.

But I did not have such strength of purpose at the outset.

Between the consummation of the sacrifice I had made for you and your return, a fairly long time went by when I needed to fall back on physical means as a way of preserving my sanity and of drowning my unhappiness in the life to which I had reverted. I believe Prudence told you how I never missed a party or a ball or an orgy.

My hope was that I should kill myself quickly with my excesses, and I think that this hope will not now be long in being realized. Of necessity, my health deteriorated steadily, and the day I sent Madame Duvernoy to beg for your mercy, I was close to collapse in both body and soul.

I will not remind you, Armand, of the way you repaid me the last time I proved my love to you, nor of the indignity by which you made Paris unbearable for a woman who, near to dying, could not resist your voice when you asked her for one night of love, and who, taking leave of her senses, believed for an instant that she could build a bridge between what had been and what was now. It was your privilege, Armand, to act as you did: the rate for one of my nights was not always so high!

So I left it all behind me! Olympe replaced me as Monsieur N's mistress and took it on herself, so I hear, to explain my reasons for leaving him. Count de G was in London. He is one of those men who attach just enough importance to running after girls of my sort for it to be a pleasant diversion, and thus remain on friendly terms with the women they have had: they never hate them, because they have never been jealous. He is one of those noble Lords who show us one side of their feelings but both ends of their wallets. My first thought was of him. I travelled over to join him. He gave me a marvellous welcome, but he was the lover of a society lady there, and was afraid of compromising himself by being seen with me. He introduced me to his friends, who organized a supper party for me, after which one of them took me home with him.

What did you expect me to do, my dear? Kill myself? To do so would have meant burdening your life, which must be a happy one, with pointless self-recriminations. And in any case, what is the sense of killing yourself when you are already so close to dying?

I turned into a body without a soul, a thing without thought. I continued in this mechanical way for some time, then came back to Paris and made enquiries about you. It was at this point that I learned that you had gone away on a long journey. There was nothing now to save me. My life once more became what it used to be two years before I met you. I tried to get back on terms with the Duke, but I had wounded him too deeply, and old men are short on patience, no doubt because they are aware that they are not going to live forever. My illness grew on me day by day. I had no colour, I felt desolate, I became thinner all the time. Men who buy love always inspect the goods before taking delivery of them. In Paris, there were many women whose health was better, and who had better figures than mine. I began to be overlooked. So much for the past, up to yesterday.

I am now very ill. I have written to the Duke asking for money, for I have none, and my creditors have returned brandishing their accounts with merciless persistence. Will the Duke give me an answer? Armand, why are you not here in Paris? You would come to see me and your visits would be a comfort.

20 December

The weather is dreadful: it's snowing and I am here alone. For the last three days, a fever has laid me so low that I have been unable to write to you. Nothing has changed, my dear. Each day I have vague hopes of a letter from you, but it does not come and probably never will. Only men are strong enough to be unforgiving. The Duke has not replied.

Prudence has started up her visits to the pawn-shops again.

I cough blood all the time. Oh! how you would grieve if you could see me now! You are so lucky to be where the sun is warm and not to have to face, as I do, an icy winter which lies heavy on your chest. Today, I got up for a while and, from behind the curtains at my window, I watched the bustle of life in Paris which I do believe I have put behind me once and for all. A few faces I knew appeared in the street: they passed quickly, cheerfully, without a care. Not one looked up at my window. However, a few young men have called and left their names. I was ill once before and you, who did not know me and had got nothing from me except a pert answer the day I first set eyes on you, you came to ask for news of me every morning. And now I am ill again. We spent six months together. I felt as much love for you as a woman's heart can contain and give, and now you are far away, you curse me and there is no word of comfort from you. But it was chance alone that made you desert me, I am sure, for if you were here in Paris, you would not leave my bedside nor my room.

25 December

My doctor has forbidden me to write every day. He is right, for remembering only makes the fever worse. But yesterday I received a letter which did me good ?more for the sentiments behind it than for any material help it brought me. So I am able to write to you today. The letter was from your father and this is what it said:

"Madame, I have this moment learned that you are ill. If I were in Paris, I should call myself to ask after you, and if my son were here with me, I should send him to find out how you are. But I cannot leave C, and Armand is six or seven hundred leagues away. Allow me therefore simply to say, Madame, how grieved I am by your illness, and please believe that I hope most sincerely for your prompt recovery.

One of my closest friends, Monsieur H, will call on you. He has been entrusted by me with an errand the result of which I await with impatience. Please receive him, and oblige

Your humble servant?

This is the letter I have received. Your father is a man of noble heart: love him well, my dear, for there are few men in the world who deserve as much to be loved. This note, signed by him in full, has done me more good than all the prescriptions dispensed by my learned doctor.

Monsieur H came this morning. He seemed terribly embarrassed by the delicate mission which Monsieur Duval had entrusted to him. He simply came to hand over a thousand ecus from your father. At first, I would not take the money, but Monsieur H said that by refusing I should offend Monsieur Duval, who had authorized him to give me this sum in the first instance and to supplement it with anything further I might need. I accepted his good offices which, coming from your father, cannot be regarded as charity. If I am dead when you return, show your father what I have just written about him, and tell him that as she penned these lines, the poor creature to whom he was kind enough to write this comforting letter, wept tears of gratitude and said a prayer for him.

4 January

I have just come through a succession of racking days. I never knew how much pain our bodies can give us. Oh! my past life! I am now paying for it twice over!

I have had someone sitting with me each night. I could not breathe. A wandering mind and bouts of coughing share what remains of my sorry existence.

My dining-room is crammed full of sweets and presents of all kinds which friends have brought me. Among these people, there are no doubt some who hope that I shall be their mistress later on. If they could only see what illness has reduced me to, they would run away in horror.

Prudence is using the presents I have been getting as New Year gifts to tradesmen.

It has turned frosty, and the doctor has said that I can go out in a few days if the fine weather continues.

8 January

Yesterday, I went out for a drive in my carriage. The weather was splendid. There were crowds of people out on the Champs-Elysees. It seemed like the first smile of spring. Everywhere around me there was a carnival atmosphere. I had never before suspected that the sun's rays could contain all the joy, sweetness and consolation that I found in them yesterday.

I ran into almost all the people I know. They were as high-spirited as ever, and just as busily going about their pleasures. So many happy people, and so unaware that they are happy! Olympe drove by in an elegant carriage which Monsieur de N has given her. She tried to cut me with a look. She has no idea how far removed I have grown from such futilities. A nice boy I have known for ages asked me if I would have supper with him and a friend of his who, he said, wanted to meet me.

I gave him a sad smile and held out my hand, which was burning with fever.

I have never seen such surprise on a human face.

I got back at four o'clock and sat down to dinner with fairly good appetite.

The drive out has done me good.

What if I were to get well again!

How strongly the sight of the lives and happiness of others renews the will to live of those who, only the day before, alone with their souls in the darkness of the sickroom, wanted nothing better than to die soon!

10 January

My hopes of recovery were an illusion. Here I am once more confined to my bed, my body swathed in burning poultices. Go out now and try hawking this body of yours which used to fetch such a pretty price, and see what you would get for it today!

We must have committed very wiched deeds before we were born, or else we are to enjoy very great felicity after we are dead, for God to allow us to know in this life all the agony of atonement and all the pain of our time of trial.

12 January

I am still ill.

Count de N sent me money yesterday, but I did not take it. I want nothing from that man. He is the reason why you are not with me now.

Oh! happy days at Bougival! where are you now?

If I get out of this bedroom alive, it will be to go on a pilgrimage to the house where we lived together. But the next time I leave here, I shall be
dead.

Who knows if I shall write to you tomorrow?

25 January

For eleven nights now, I have not slept, I have not been able to breathe, and I have thought that I was about to die at any moment. The doctor has left instructions that I was not to be permitted to touch a pen. Still, Julie Duprat who sits up with me, has allowed me to write you these few lines. Will you not return, then, before I die? Is everything between us finished forever? I have a feeling that if you did come back, I should get better. But what would be the point of getting better?

28 January

This morning, I was awakened by a loud commotion. Julie, who was sleeping in my room, rushed into the dining room. I heard men's voices, and hers battling vainly against them. She came back in tears.

They had come to repossess their goods. I told her to let what they call justice be done. The bailiff came into my room, and he kept his hat on his head the whole time. He opened the drawers, made a note of everything he saw, and did not appear to notice that there was a woman dying in the bed which the charity of the law fortunately lets me keep.

As he was going he at least agreed to inform me that I had nine days in which to appeal, but he has left a watchman here! God, what is to become of me? This scene has made me more ill than ever. Prudence wanted to ask your father's friend for money, but I said no.

I received your letter this morning. Oh, how I needed it to come! Will my reply reach you in time? Will you ever see me again? This is a happy day which has helped me forget the days which I have spent these last six weeks. It seems to me that I am a little better, in spite of the miserable feeling which was my mood when I wrote you my reply.

After all, we cannot be unhappy all the time.

And then I fall to thinking that perhaps I won't die, that you will come back, that I shall see the spring once more, that you love me still, and that we shall begin the life we had last year all over again?

But this is madness! It is as much as I can do to hold the pen which writes to you of these wild longings of my heart.

Whatever the outcome, I loved you very much, Armand, and I should have already been dead a long time if I had not had the memory of my love to sustain me, and a kind of vague hope of seeing you by my side once more.

4 February

Count de G is back. His mistress has been unfaithful to him. His spirits are very low, for he loved her very much. He came and told me the whole story. The poor man's affairs are in a bad way, though this did not prevent him from paying off my bailiff and dismissing the watchman.

I talked to him about you, and he has promised to talk to you about me. It's strange but, as I spoke, I completely forgot that I used to be his mistress once and, no less strangely, he tried to make me forget too! He is a decent sort.

Yesterday, the Duke sent round to enquire after me, and he came himself this morning. I cannot think what can keep the old man going. He sat with me for three hours, and did not say much above a score of words. Two great tears came to his eyes when he saw how pale I was. No doubt the memory of his daughter's death made him cry so.

He will have seen her die twice. His back is bent, his head is thrust forward and downward, his mouth is slack and his eyes are dull. The double weight of age and grief bears down upon his tired body. He did not say one word of reproach. It was as though he found some secret satisfaction in observing what ravages disease has produced in me. He seemed proud to be still standing, whereas I, who am still young, have been laid low by my sufferings.

The bad weather has returned. No one comes to see me now. Julie sits up with me as often as she can. I cannot give Prudence as much money as I used to, and she has begun saying that she has business to attend to as an excuse for staying away.

Now that I am near to death ?in spite of what the doctors say, for I have several, which only shows how the disease is gaining on me ?I am almost sorry I listened to your father. If I had known that I would have taken just one year out of your future, I would not have resisted my longing to spend that year with you, and then, at least, I should have died holding the hand of a friend. Yet it is clear that had we spent that year together, I should not have died so soon.

Let Thy will be done!

5 February

Oh, come to me, Armand, for I suffer torments! God, I am about to die! Yesterday, I was so low that I felt I wanted to be somewhere other than here for the evening, which promised to be as long as the one before, The Duke had been in the morning. I have a feeling that the sight of this old man, whom death has overlooked, brings my own death that much nearer.

Although I was burning with fever, I was dressed and taken to the Vaudeville. Julie had rouged my cheeks, for otherwise I should have looked like a corpse. I took my place in the box where I gave you our first rendezvous. I kept my eyes fixed the whole time on the seat in the stalls where you sat that day: yesterday, it was occupied by some boorish man who laughed loudly at all the stupid things the actors said. I was brought home half dead and spat blood all night. Today I cannot speak and can hardly move my arms. God! God! I am going to die! I was expecting it, but I cannot reconcile myself to the thought that my greatest sufferings are still to come, and if?

After this word, the few letters which Marguerite had tried to form were illegible, and the story had been taken up by Julie Duprat.

18 February

Monsieur Armand,

Since the day Marguerite insisted on going to the theatre, she has grown steadily worse. Her voice went completely, and then she lost the use of her limbs. What our poor friend has to bear is impossible to describe. I am not used to coping with such suffering, and I go in constant fear.

Oh, how I wish you were here with us! She is delirious for most of the time, but whether her mind is wandering or lucid, your name is the one which she says when she manages to say anything at all.

The doctor has told me that she does not have much longer to live. Since she has been so desperately ill, the old Duke has not been back.

He told the doctor that seeing her like this was too much for him.

Madame Duvernoy has not behaved very well. She thought she would still be able to go on getting money out of Marguerite, at whose expense she has been living on a more or less permanent basis, and she took on obligations which she cannot meet. Seeing that her neighbour is no further use to her, she does not even come to see her any more. Everyone has deserted her. Monsieur de G, harried by his debts, has been forced to return to London. Before going, he sent us money. He has done all he could, but the men have been back with repossession orders, and the creditors are only waiting for her to die before selling her up.

I wanted to use the last of my own money to stop her things being taken back, but the bailiff told me there was no point, for he had other orders to serve on her. Since she is going to die, it is better to let everything go than to try and save it for her family, given that she does not want to see any of them and, in any case, they never cared for her. You can have no idea of the gilded poverty in which the poor girl lies dying. Yesterday, we had no money at all. Plate, jewels, Indian shawls-everything has been pawned and the rest has been sold or seized. Marguerite is still aware of what is happening around her, and she suffers in body, mind and heart. Great tears run down her cheeks which are now so thin and pale that, if you saw her now, you would not recognize the face of the woman you once loved so much. She made me promise to write to you when she was no longer able to do so herself, and she is watching as I write this. She turns her eyes in my direction, but she cannot see me, for her sight is already dimmed by approaching death. And yet she smiles, and all her thoughts, all her soul, are for you, I am sure.

Each time the door opens, her eyes light up, for each time she believes that you will walk in. Then, when she sees that it is not you, her face reverts to its expression of suffering, breaks into a cold sweat and her cheeks turn crimson.

19 February, midnight

Oh, poor Monsieur Armand! What a sad day today has been! This morning, Marguerite could not get her breath. The doctor bled her, and her voice came back a little. The doctor advised her to see a priest. She said she would, and he himself went off to find one at the Church of Saint Roch.

Meanwhile, Marguerite called me close to her bedside, asked me to open her wardrobe, pointed out a lace cap and a long shift, also richly decked with lace, and then said in a weakened voice:

"I shall die after I have made my confession. When it's over, you are to dress me in these things. It is the whim of a dying woman."

Then, weeping, she kissed me and added:

"I can speak, but I can't get my breath when I do. I can't breathe! Give me air!"

I burst into tears and opened the window. A few moments later, the priest walked in.

I went to greet him.

When he realized in whose apartment he was, he seemed afraid of the reception he might get.

"Come in, father, there's nothing to fear," I said.

He stayed no time in the room where Marguerite lay so ill, and when he emerged, he said:

"She has lived a sinful life, but she will die a Christian death."

A few moments later, he returned with an altar-boy carrying a crucifix, and a sacristan who walked before them ringing a bell to announce that the Lord was coming to the house of the dying woman.

All three entered the bedroom which, in times gone by, had echoed with so many extravagant voices, and was now nothing less than a holy tabernacle.

I fell to my knees. I cannot say how long the effect of these proceedings on me will last, but I do not believe that any human thing will ever produce such an effect on me again until I myself reach the same pass.

The priest took the holy oils, anointed the dying woman's feet, hands and brow, read a short prayer, and Marguerite was ready for heaven, where she is surely bound if God has looked down on the tribulations of her life and the saintly character of her death.

Since that moment, she has not spoken or stirred. There were a score of times when I would have thought she was dead, had I not heard her laboured breathing.

20 February, 5 o'clock in the afternoon

It is all over.

Marguerite began her mortal agony last night, around two o'clock. No martyr ever suffered such torment, to judge by the screams she uttered. Two or three times, she sat bolt upright in her bed, as though she would snatch at the life which was winging its way back to God.

And two or three times she said your name. Then everything went quiet, and she slumped back on the bed exhausted. Silent tears welled up in her eyes, and she died.

I went close to her, called her name and, when she did not answer, I closed her eyes and kissed her on the forehead.

Poor, dear Marguerite! How I wished I had been a holy woman so that my kiss might commend your soul to God!

Then I dressed her as she had asked. I went to fetch a priest at Saint-Roch. I lit two candies for her, and stayed in the church for an hour to pray.

I gave money of hers to some poor people there.

I am not well versed in religion, but I believe that the good Lord will acknowledge that my tears were genuine, my prayers fervent and my charity sincere, and He will have pity on one who died young and beautiful, yet had only me to close her eyes and lay her in her grave.

22 February

The funeral was today. Many of Marguerite's women friends came to the church. A few wept honest tears. When the cortege set off for Montmartre, only two men followed the hearse: Count de G, who had returned specially from London, and the Duke, who walked with the aid of two of his footmen.

I am writing to tell you of these happenings from Marguerite's apartment, with tears in my eyes, by the light of the lamp which burns mournfully and with my dinner untouched, as you might imagine, though Nanine had it sent up for me, for I have not eaten in more than twenty-four hours.

Life moves on and will not allow me to keep these distressing pictures clear in my mind for long, for my life is no more mine than Marguerite's was hers. Which is why I am writing down all these things here in the place where they happened, for I fear that if any length of time were to elapse between what has occurred and your return, I should not be able to give you an account of it in all its sorry detail.'

在那决定命运的一夜以后所发生的事情,您跟我一样清楚,但是在我们分离以后我所受的痛苦您却是不知道,也是您想象不到的。

 

我知道您父亲已把您带走,但是我不太相信您能离开我而长期这样生活下去,那天我在香榭丽舍大街遇到您时我很激动,但是我并不感到意外。

然后就开始了那一连串的日子,在那些日子里您每天都要想出点新花样来侮辱我,这些侮辱可以说我都愉快地接受了,因为除了这种侮辱是您始终爱我的证据以外,我似乎觉得您越是折磨我,等到您知道真相的那一天,我在您眼里也就会显得越加崇高。

不要为我这种愉快的牺牲精神感到惊奇,阿尔芒,您以前对我的爱情已经把我的心灵向着崇高的激情打开了。

但是我不是一下子就这样坚强的。

在我为您作出牺牲和您回来之间有一段很长的时间,在这段时间里为了不让自己发疯,为了在我投入的那种生活中去自我麻醉,我需要求助于肉体上的疲劳。普律当丝已经对您讲了,是不是?我一直像在过节一样,我参加所有的舞会和宴饮。

在这样过度的纵情欢乐之后,我多么希望自己快些死去;而且,我相信这个愿望不久就会实现的,我的健康无疑是越来越糟了。在我请迪韦尔诺瓦太太来向您求饶的时候,我在肉体上和灵魂上都已极度衰竭。

阿尔芒,我不想向您提起,在我最后一次向您证明我对您的爱情时,您是怎样报答我的,您又是用什么样的凌辱来把这个女人赶出巴黎的。这个垂死的女人在听到您向她要求一夜恩爱的声音时感到无法拒绝,她像一个失去理智的人,曾一时以为这个夜晚可以把过去和现在重新连接起来。阿尔芒,您有权做您做过的事,别人在我那里过夜,出的价钱并不总是那么高的!

于是我抛弃了一切,奥林普在N先生身边代替了我,有人对我说,她已经告诉了他我离开巴黎的原因。G伯爵在伦敦,他这种人对于跟像我这样的姑娘的爱情关系只不过看作一种愉快的消遣。他和跟他相好过的女人总是保持着朋友关系,既不怀恨在心,也不争风吃醋,总之他是一位阔老爷,他只向我们打开他心灵的一角,但是他的钱包倒是向我们敞开的。我立即想到了他,就去找了他,他非常殷勤地接待了我,但是他在那边已经有了一个情妇,是一个上流社会的女人。他怕与我之间的事情张扬出去对他不利,便把我介绍给了他的朋友们。他们请我吃夜宵,吃过夜宵,其中有一个人就把我带走了。

您要我怎么办呢,我的朋友?

自杀吗?这可能给您应该是幸福的一生带来不必要的内疚;再说,一个快要死的人为什么还要自杀呢?

我成了没有灵魂的躯壳,没有思想的东西,我行尸走肉般地过了一段时期这样的生活,随后我又回到巴黎,打听您的消息,这我才知道您已经出远门去了。我得不到任何支持,我的生活又恢复到两年前我认识您时一样了,我想再把公爵找回来,但是我过分地伤了这个人的心,而老年人都是没有耐心的,大概因为他们觉得自己不是长生不老的。我的病况日益严重,我脸色苍白,我心情悲痛,我越来越瘦,购买爱情的男人在取货以前是要先看看货色的。巴黎有的是比我健康、比我丰满的女人,大家有点把我忘记了,这些就是今天以前发生的事情。

现在我已经完全病倒了。我已写信给公爵问他要钱,因为我已经没有钱了,而债主们都来了,他们一点同情心也没有,带着借据逼我还帐。公爵会给我回信吗?阿尔芒,您为什么不在巴黎啊!如果您在的话,您会来看我的,您来了会使我得到安慰。

十二月二十日

天气很可怕,又下着雪,我孤零零地一个人在家里,三天来我一直在发高烧,没有跟您写过一个字。没有什么新情况,我的朋友,每天我总是痴心妄想能收到您一封信,但是信没有来,而且肯定是永远不会来的了。只有男人才硬得起心肠不给人宽恕。公爵没有给我回信。

普律当丝又开始上当铺了。

我不停地咳血。啊!如果您看见我,一定会难受的。您在一个阳光明媚,气候温和的环境中是很幸福的,不像我这样,冰雪的严冬整个压在我胸口上。今天我起来了一会儿,隔着窗帘,我看到了窗外的巴黎生活,这种生活我已经跟它绝缘了。有几张熟脸快步穿过大街,他们欢乐愉快,无忧无虑,没有一个人抬起头来望望我的窗口。但是也有几个年轻人来过,留下了姓名。过去曾有过一次,在我生病的时候,您每天早晨都来打听我的病况,而那时候您还不认识我,您只是在我第一次认识您的时候从我那里得到过一次无礼的接待。我现在又病了,我们曾在一起过了六个月,凡是一个女人的心里能够容纳得下和能够给人的爱情,我都拿出来给了您。您在远方,您在咒骂我,我得不到您一句安慰的话。但这是命运促成您这样遗弃我的,这我是深信不疑的,因为如果您在巴黎,您是不会离开我的床头和我的房间的。

十二月二十五日

我的医生不准我天天写信。的确,回首往事只能使我的热度升高。但是昨天我收到了一封信,这封信使我感到舒服了些,这封信所表达的感情要比它给我带来的物质援助更让我高兴。因此我今天可以给您写信了。这封信是您父亲寄来的。下面就是这封信的内容。

夫人:

我刚刚知道您病了,如果我在巴黎的话,我会亲自来探问您的病情,如果我儿子在身旁的话,我会叫他去打听您的消息的;但是我不能离开C城,阿尔芒又远在六七百法里之外。请允许我跟您写封简单的信吧。夫人,对您的病我感到非常难过,请相信我,我诚挚地祝愿您早日痊愈。

我一位好朋友H先生要到您家里去,请接待他。我请他代我办一件事,我正焦急地等待着这件事的结果。

致以最亲切的问候。

这就是我接到的那封信,您父亲有一颗高贵的心,您要好好爱他,我的朋友,因为世界上值得爱的人不多,这张签着他姓名的信纸比我们最著名的医生开出的所有的药方要有效得多。

今天早晨,H先生来了,他对迪瓦尔先生托付给他的微妙的任务似乎显得很为难,他是专门来代您父亲带一千埃居给我的。起先我是不想要的,但是 H先生对我说,如果我不收下的话会使迪瓦尔先生不高兴,迪瓦尔先生授权他先把这笔钱给我,随后再满足我其他的需要。我接受了这个帮助,这个来自您父亲的帮助不能算是施舍。如果您回来的时候我已经死了,请把我刚才写的关于他的那一段话给他看,并告诉他,他好心给她写慰问信的那个可怜的姑娘在写这几行字的时候流下了感激的眼泪,并为他向天主祈祷。

一月四日

我刚捱过了一些非常痛苦的日子。我从来没想到肉体会使人这样痛苦。呵!我过去的生活啊!今天我加倍偿还了。

每天夜里都有人照料我,我喘不过气来。我可怜的一生剩下来的日子就这样在说胡话和咳嗽中度过。

餐室里放满了朋友们送来的糖果和各式各样的礼物。在这些人中间,肯定有些人希望我以后能做他们的情妇。如果他们看到病魔已经把我折磨成了什么样子,我想他们一定会吓得逃跑的。

普律当丝用我收到的新年礼物来送礼。

天气冷得都结冰了,医生对我说如果天气一直晴朗下去的话,过几天我可以出去走走。

一月八日

昨天我坐着我的车子出门,天气很好。香榭丽舍大街人头攒动,真是一个明媚的早春。四周一片欢乐的气象。我从来也没有想到过,我还能在阳光下找到昨天那些使人感到喜悦、温暖和安慰的东西。

所有的熟人我几乎全碰到了,他们一直是那么笑逐颜开,忙于寻乐。身在福中不知福的人有那么多啊!奥林普坐在一辆N先生送给她的漂亮的马车里经过,她想用眼光来侮辱我。她不知道我现在根本没有什么虚荣心了。一个好心的青年,我的老相识,问我是不是愿意去跟他一起吃夜宵,他说他有一个朋友非常希望认识我。

我苦笑了笑,把我烧得滚烫的手伸给他。

我从未见过谁的脸色有他那么惊惶的。

我四点钟回到家里,吃晚饭时胃口还相当好。

这次出门对我是有好处的。

一旦我病好起来的话,那该有多好啊!

有一些人在前一天还灵魂空虚,在阴沉沉的病房里祈求早离人世,但是在看到了别人的幸福生活以后居然也产生了一种想继续活下去的希望。

一月十日

希望病愈只不过是一个梦想。我又躺倒了,身上涂满了灼得我发痛的药膏。过去千金难买的身躯今天恐怕是一钱不值了!

我们一定是前世作孽过多,再不就是来生将享尽荣华,所以天主才会使我们这一生历尽赎罪和磨炼的煎熬。

一月二十日

我一直很难受。

N伯爵昨天送钱给我,我没有接受。这个人的东西我都不要,就是为了他才害得您不在我身边。

哦!我们在布吉瓦尔的日子有多美啊!此刻您在哪里啊?

如果我能活着走出这个房间,我一定要去朝拜那座我们一起住过的房子,但看来我只能被抬着出去了。

谁知道我明天还能不能写信给您?

一月二十五日

已经有十一个夜晚我没法安睡了,我闷得透不过气来,每时每刻我都以为我要死了。医生嘱咐不能再让我动笔。朱利·迪普拉陪着我,她倒允许我跟您写上几行。难道在我死以前您就不会回来了吗?我们之间的关系就此永远完了吗?我似乎觉得只要您来了,我的病就会好的。可是病好了又有什么用呢?

一月二十八日

今天早晨我被一阵很大的声音惊醒了。睡在我房里的朱利马上跑到餐室里去。我听到朱利在跟一些男人争吵,但没有用处,她哭着回来了。

他们是来查封的。我对朱利说让他们去干他们称之为司法的事吧。执达吏戴着帽子走进了我的房间。他打开所有的抽屉,把他看见的东西都登记下来,他仿佛没有看见床上有一个垂死的女人,幸而法律仁慈,这张床总算设给查封掉。

他走的时候总算对我说了一句话,我可以在九天之内提出反对意见,但是他留下了一个看守!我的天啊,我将变成什么啦!这场风波使我的病加重了。普律当丝想去向您父亲的朋友要些钱,我反对她这样做。

一月三十日

今天早晨我收到了您的来信,这是我渴望已久的,您是不是能及时收到我的回信?您还能见到我吗?这是一个幸福的日子,它使我忘记了六个星期以来我所经受的一切,尽管我写回信的时候心情悒郁,我还是觉得好受一些了。

总之,人总不会永远不幸的吧。

我还想到也许我不会死,也许您能回来,也许我将再一次看到春天,也许您还是爱我的,也许我们将重新开始我们去年的生活!

我真是疯了!我几乎拿不住笔了,我正用这支笔把我心里的胡思乱想写给您。

不管发生什么事,我总是非常爱您,阿尔芒,如果我没有这种爱情的回忆和重新看到您在我身旁的渺茫的希望支持我的话,我可能早已离开人世了。

二月四日

G伯爵回来了。他的情妇欺骗了他,他很难过,他是很爱她的。他把一切都告诉了我。这个可怜的年轻人的事业不太妙,尽管这样,他还是付了一笔钱给我的执达吏,并遣走了看守。

我向他讲起了您,他答应我向您谈谈我的情况。在这个时候我竟然忘记了我曾经做过他的情妇,而他也想让我把这件事忘掉!他的心肠真好!

昨天公爵派人来探问我的病情,今天早上他自己来了。我不知道这个老头儿是怎么活下来的。他在我身边呆了三个小时,没有跟我讲几句话。当他看到我苍白得这般模样的时候,两大颗泪珠从他的眼睛里滴落下来。他一定是想到了他女儿的死才哭的。他就要看到她死第二次了,他伛偻着背,脑袋聋拉着,嘴唇下垂,目光黯淡。他衰朽的身体背负着年老和痛苦这两个重负,他没有讲一句责备我的话。别人甚至会说他在暗暗地庆幸疾病对我的摧残呢。他似乎为他能够站着觉得骄傲,而我还年纪轻轻,却已经被病痛压垮了。

天气又变坏了,没有人来探望我,朱利尽可能地照料着我。普律当丝因为我已经不能像以前那样给她那么多钱,就开始借口有事不肯到我这里来了。

不管医生们怎么说,现在我快死了。我有好几个医生,这证明了我的病情在恶化。我几乎在后悔当初听了您父亲的话,如果我早知道在您未来的生活中我只要占您一年的时间,我可能不会放弃跟您一起度过这一年的愿望,至少我可以握着我朋友的手死去。不过如果我们在一起度过这一年,我也肯定不会死得这么快的。

天主的意志是不可违逆的!

二月五日

喔!来啊,来啊,阿尔芒,我难受死了。我要死了,我的天。昨天我是多么悲伤,我竟不想待在家里,而宁愿到别处去度过夜晚了,这个夜晚会像前天夜晚一样漫长。早晨公爵来了,这个被死神遗忘了的老头子一出现就仿佛在催我快点儿死。

尽管我发着高烧,我还是叫人替我穿好了衣服,乘车到歌舞剧院去。朱利替我抹了脂粉,否则我真有点儿像一具尸体了。我到了那个我第一次跟您约会的包厢;我一直把眼睛盯在您那天坐的位置上,而昨天那里坐着的却是一个乡下佬,一听到演员的插科打诨,他就粗野地哄笑着。人们把我送回家时,我已经半死不活。整个晚上我都在咳嗽吐血。今天我话也说不出,我的胳膊几乎都抬不起来了。我的天!我的天!我就要死了。我本来就在等死,但是我没有想到会受到这样的简直无法忍受的痛苦,如果……

从这个字开始,玛格丽特勉强写下的几个字母已看不清楚了。是朱利·迪普拉接着写下去的。

二月十八日

阿尔芒先生:

自从玛格丽特坚持要去看戏的那天起,她的病势日渐加重,嗓子完全失音,接着四肢也不能动弹了。我们那可怜的朋友所忍受的痛苦是无法描述的。我可没经受过这样的刺激,我一直感到害怕。

我多么希望您能在我们身边,她几乎一直在说胡话,但不论是在昏迷还是在清醒的时候,只要她能讲出几个字来,那就是您的名字。

医生对我说她已经没有多少时间了,自从她病危以来,老公爵没有再来过。

他对医生说过,这种景象使他太痛苦了。

迪韦尔诺瓦太太的为人真不怎么样。这个女人一向几乎完全是靠着玛格丽特生活的,她以为在玛格丽特那里还可以搞到更多的钱,曾欠下了一些她无力偿还的债。当她看到她的邻居对她已毫无用处的时候,她甚至连看也不来看她了。所有的人都把她抛弃了。G先生被债务逼得又动身到伦敦去了。临走的时候他又给我们送了些钱来;他已经尽力而为了。可是又有人来查封了,债主们就等着她死,以便拍卖她的东西。

我原来想用我仅剩的一些钱来阻止他们查封,但是执达吏对我说这没有用,而且他还要执行别的判决。既然她就要死了,那还是把一切都放弃了的好,又何必去为那些她不愿意看见,而且从来也没有爱过她的家属保留下什么东西呢。您根本想象不出可怜的姑娘是怎样在外表富丽、实际穷困的境况中死去的。昨天我们已经一文不名了。餐具,首饰,披肩全都当掉了,其余的不是卖掉了就是被查封了。玛格丽特对她周围发生的事还很清楚。她肉体上、精神上和心灵上都觉得非常痛苦,豆大的泪珠滚下她的两颊,她的脸那么苍白又那么瘦削,即使您能见到的话,您也认不出这就是您过去多么喜爱的人的脸庞。她要我答应在她不能再写字的时候写信给您,现在我就在她面前写信。她的眼睛望着我,但是她看不见我,她的目光被行将来临的死亡遮住了,可她还在微笑,我可以断定她的全部思想、整个灵魂都在您身上。

每次有人开门,她的眼睛就闪出光来,总以为您要进来了,随后当她看清来人不是您,她的脸上又露出了痛苦的神色,并渗出一阵阵的冷汗,两颊涨得血红。

二月十九日午夜

今天这个日子是多么凄惨啊,可怜的阿尔芒先生!早上玛格丽特窒息了,医生替她放了血,她稍许又能发出些声音。医生劝她请一个神父,她同意了,医生就亲自到圣罗克教堂去请神父。

这时,玛格丽特把我叫到她床边,请求我打开她的衣橱;她指着一顶便帽,一件镶满了花边的长衬衣,声音微弱地对我说:

“我做了忏悔以后就要死了,那时候你就用这些东西替我穿戴上:这是一个垂死女人的化妆打扮。”

随后她又哭着拥抱我,她还说:

“我能讲话了,但是我讲话的时候憋得慌,我闷死了!空气啊!”

我泪如雨下,我打开窗子,过不多久神父进来了。

我向神父走去。

当他知道他是在谁的家里时,他似乎很怕受到冷待。

“大胆进来吧,神父,”我对他说。

他在病人的房间里没有待多久,他出来的时候对我说:

“她活着的时候是一个罪人,但她将像一个基督徒那样死去。”

过不多久他又回来了,陪他一起来的是一个唱诗班的孩子,手里擎着一个耶稣受难十字架,在他们前面还走着一个教堂侍役,摇着铃,表示天主来到了临终者的家里。

他们三个一起走进了卧室,过去在这个房间里听到的都是些奇怪的语言,如今这个房间却成了一个圣洁的神坛。

我跪了下来,我不知道这一幕景象给我的印象能保持多久;但是我相信,在那以前,人世间还没有发生过使我留下这么深刻印象的事情。

神父在临终者的脚上、手上和前额涂抹圣油,背诵了一段短短的经文,玛格丽特就此准备上天了,如果天主看到了她生时的苦难和死时的圣洁,她无疑是可以进天堂的。

从那以后她没有讲过一句话,也没有做过一个动作,如果我没有听到她的喘气声,我有好多次都以为她已经死了。

二月二十日下午五时

一切都结束了。

玛格丽特半夜两点钟光景进入弥留状态。从来也没有一个殉难者受过这样的折磨,这可以从她的呻吟声里得到证实。有两三次她从床上笔直地坐起来,仿佛想抓住她正在上升到天堂里去的生命。

也有这么两三次,她叫着您的名字,随后一切都寂静无声,她精疲力竭地又摔倒在床上,眼泪默默地从她的眼里流出来,她死了。

于是我向她走去,喊着她的名字,她没有回音,我就合上了她的眼皮,吻了吻她的额头。

可怜的、亲爱的玛格丽特啊,我但愿是一个女圣徒,好使这个吻把你奉献给天主。

随后,我就按照她生前求我做的那样,给她穿戴好,我到圣罗克教堂去找了一个神父,我为她点了两支蜡烛,我在教堂里为她祈祷了一个小时。

我把她剩下的一点钱施舍给了穷人。

我是不大懂得宗教的,但是我相信善良的天主会承认我的眼泪是真挚的,我的祈祷是虔诚的,我的施舍是诚心的,天主将怜悯她,她这么年轻这么美丽就死了,只有我一个人来为她合上眼睛,为她入殓。

二月二十二日

今天举行安葬。玛格丽特的很多女朋友都到教堂里来了,有几个还真诚地哭了,当送葬的队伍向蒙马特公墓走去的时候,只有两个男人跟在后面:G伯爵,他是专门从伦敦赶来的;

还有公爵,两个仆人搀扶着他。

我是在她家里含着眼泪,在灯光下把全部详细经过写下来告诉您的。在那点燃着惨淡的灯火旁边放着一份晚餐,您想象得到我是一口也吃不下的,这是纳尼娜吩咐为我做的,因为我已经有二十四个小时没有吃东西了。

这些惨象是不会长期留在我记忆中的,因为我的生命并不是属于我的,就像玛格丽特的生命不属于她的一样,因此我就在发生这些事情的地方把这些事情告诉您,生怕时间一长,我就不能在您回来的时候把这些惨象确切地讲给您听。