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嘉莉妹妹(Sister Carrie) 第四十七章(完)

双击单词可弹出解释框  时间:2010-07-16 21:14  作者:

Chapter 47

THE WAY OF THE BEATEN: A HARP IN THE WIND

 

 

In the city, at that time, there were a number of charities similar in nature to that of the captain's, which Hurstwood now patronised in a like unfortunate way. One was a convent mission-house of the Sisters of Mercy in Fifteenth Street -- a row of red brick family dwellings, before the door of which hung a plain wooden contribution box, on which was painted the statement that every noon a meal was given free to all those who might apply and ask for aid. This simple announcement was modest in the extreme, covering, as it did, charity so broad. Institutions and charities are so large and so numerous in New York that such things as this are not often noticed by the more comfortably situated. But to one whose mind is upon the matter, they grow exceedingly under inspection. Unless one were looking up this matter in particular, he could have stood at Sixth Avenue and Fifteenth Street for days around the noon hour and never have noticed that out of the vast crowd that surged along that busy thoroughfare there turned out, every few seconds, some weather-beaten, heavy-footed specimen of humanity, gaunt in countenance and dilapidated in the matter of clothes. The fact is none the less true, however, and the colder the day the more apparent it became. Space and a lack of culinary room in the mission-house, compelled an arrangement which permitted of only twenty-five or thirty eating at one time, so that a line had to be formed outside and an orderly entrance effected. This caused a daily spectacle which, however, had become so common by repetition during a number of years that now nothing was thought of it. The men waited patiently, like cattle, in the coldest weather -- waited for several hours before they could be admitted. No questions were asked and no service rendered. They ate and went away again, some of them returning regularly day after day the winter through.

A big, motherly looking woman invariably stood guard at the door during the entire operation and counted the admissible number. The men moved up in solemn order. There was no haste and no eagerness displayed. It was almost a dumb procession. In the bitterest weather this line was to be found here. Under an icy wind there was a prodigious slapping of hands and a dancing of feet. Fingers and the features of the face looked as if severely nipped by the cold. A study of these men in broad light proved them to be nearly all of a type. They belonged to the class that sit on the park benches during the endurable days and sleep upon them during the summer nights. They frequent the Bowery and those down-at-the-heels East Side streets where poor clothes and shrunken features are not singled out as curious. They are the men who are in the lodging-house sitting-rooms during bleak and bitter weather and who swarm about the cheaper shelters which only open at six in a number of the lower East Side streets. Miserable food, ill-timed and greedily eaten, had played havoc with bone and muscle. They were all pale, flabby, sunken-eyed, hollow-chested, with eyes that glinted and shone and lips that were a sickly red by contrast. Their hair was but half attended to, their ears anaemic in hue, and their shoes broken in leather and run down at heel and toe. They were of the class which simply floats and drifts, every wave of people washing up one, as breakers do driftwood upon a stormy shore.

For nearly a quarter of a century, in another section of the city, Fleischmann, the baker, had given a loaf of bread to any one who would come for it to the side door of his restaurant at the corner of Broadway and Tenth Street, at midnight. Every night during twenty years about three hundred men had formed in line and at the appointed time marched past the doorway, picked their loaf from a great box placed just outside, and vanished again into the night. From the beginning to the present time there had been little change in the character or number of these men. There were two or three figures that had grown familiar to those who had seen this little procession pass year after year. Two of them had missed scarcely a night in fifteen years. There were about forty, more or less, regular callers. The remainder of the line was formed of strangers. In times of panic and unusual hardships there were seldom more than three hundred. In times of prosperity, when little is heard of the unemployed, there were seldom less. The same number, winter and summer, in storm or calm, in good times and bad, held this melancholy midnight rendezvous at Fleischmann's bread box.

At both of these two charities, during the severe winter which was now on, Hurstwood was a frequent visitor. On one occasion it was peculiarly cold, and finding no comfort in begging about the streets, he waited until noon before seeking this free offering to the poor. Already, at eleven o'clock of this morning, several such as he had shambled forward out of Sixth Avenue, their thin clothes flapping and fluttering in the wind. They leaned against the iron railing which protects the walls of the Ninth Regiment Armory, which fronts upon that section of Fifteenth Street, having come early in order to be first in. Having an hour to wait, they at first lingered at a respectful distance; but others coming up, they moved closer in order to protect their right of precedence. To this collection Hurstwood came up from the west out of Seventh Avenue and stopped close to the door, nearer than all the others. Those who had been waiting before him, but farther away, now drew near, and by a certain stolidity of demeanour, no words being spoken, indicated that they were first.

Seeing the opposition to his action, he looked sullenly along the line, then moved out, taking his place at the foot. When order had been restored, the animal feeling of opposition relaxed.

"Must be pretty near noon," ventured one.

"It is," said another. "I've been waiting nearly an hour."

"Gee, but it's cold!"

They peered eagerly at the door, where all must enter. A grocery man drove up and carried in several baskets of eatables. This started some words upon grocery men and the cost of food in general.

"I see meat's gone up," said one.

"If there wuz war, it would help this country a lot."

The line was growing rapidly. Already there were fifty or more, and those at the head, by their demeanour, evidently congratulated themselves upon not having so long to wait as those at the foot. There was much jerking of heads, and looking down the line.

"It don't matter how near you get to the front, so long as you're in the first twenty-five," commented one of the first twenty-five. "You all go in together."

"Humph!" ejaculated Hurstwood, who bad been so sturdily displaced.

"This here Single Tax is the thing," said another. "There ain't going to be no order till it comes."

For the most part there was silence; gaunt men shuffling, glancing, and beating their arms.

At last the door opened and the motherly-looking sister appeared. She only looked an order. Slowly the line moved up and, one by one, passed in, until twenty-five were counted. Then she interposed a stout arm, and the line halted, with six men on the steps. Of these the ex-manager was one. Waiting thus, some talked, some ejaculated concerning the misery of it; some brooded, as did Hurstwood. At last he was admitted, and, having eaten, came away, almost angered because of his pains in getting it.

At eleven o'clock of another evening, perhaps two weeks later, he was at the midnight offering of a loaf -- waiting patiently. It had been an unfortunate day with him, but now he took his fate with a touch of philosophy. If he could secure no supper, or was hungry late in the evening, here was a place he could come. A few minutes before twelve, a great box of bread was pushed out, and exactly on the hour a portly, round-faced German took position by it, calling "Ready." The whole line at once moved forward, each taking his loaf in turn and going his separate way. On this occasion, the ex-manager ate his as he went, plodding the dark streets in silence to his bed.

By January he had about concluded that the game was up with him. Life had always seemed a precious thing, but now constant want and weakened vitality had made the charms of earth rather dull and inconspicuous. Several times, when fortune pressed most harshly, he thought he would end his troubles; but with a change of weather, or the arrival of a quarter or a dime, his mood would change, and he would wait. Each day he would find some old paper lying about and look into it, to see if there was any trace of Carrie, but all summer and fall he had looked in vain. Then he noticed that his eyes were beginning to hurt him, and this ailment rapidly increased until, in the dark chambers of the lodgings he frequented, he did not attempt to read. Bad and irregular eating was weakening every function of his body. The one recourse left him was to doze when a place offered and he could get the money to occupy it.

He was beginning to find, in his wretched clothing and meagre state of body, that people took him for a chronic type of bum and beggar. Police bustled him along, restaurant and lodging-house keepers turned him out promptly the moment he had his due; pedestrians waved him off. He found it more and more difficult to get anything from anybody.

At last he admitted to himself that the game was up. It was after a long series of appeals to pedestrians, in which he had been refused and refused -- every one hastening from contact.

"Give me a little something, will you, mister?" he said to the last one. "For God's sake, do; I'm starving."

"Aw, get out," said the man, who happened to be a common type himself. "You're no good. I'll give you nawthin'."

Hurstwood put his hands, red from cold, down in his pockets. Tears came into his eyes.

"That's right," he said; "I'm no good now. I was all right. I had money. I'm going to quit this," and, with death in his heart, he started down toward the Bowery. People had turned on the gas before and died; why shouldn't he? He remembered a lodging-house where there were little, close rooms, with gas-jets in them, almost pre-arranged, he thought, for what he wanted to do, which rented for fifteen cents. Then he remembered that he had no fifteen cents.

On the way he met a comfortable-looking gentleman, coming, clean-shaven, out of a fine barber shop.

"Would you mind giving me a little something?" he asked this man boldly.

The gentleman looked him over and fished for a dime. Nothing but quarters were in his pocket.

"Here," he said, handing him one, to be rid of him. "Be off, now."

Hurstwood moved on, wondering. The sight of the large, bright coin pleased him a little. He remembered that he was hungry and that he could get a bed for ten cents. With this, the idea of death passed, for the time being, out of his mind. It was only when he could get nothing but insults that death seemed worth while.

One day, in the middle of the winter, the sharpest spell of the season set in. It broke grey and cold in the first day, and on the second snowed. Poor luck pursuing him, he had secured but ten cents by nightfall, and this he bad spent for food. At evening he found himself at the Boulevard and Sixty-seventh Street, where he finally turned his face Bowery-ward. Especially fatigued because of the wandering propensity which had seized him in the morning, he now half dragged his wet feet, shuffling the soles upon the sidewalk. An old, thin coat was turned up about his red ears-his cracked derby hat was pulled down until it turned them outward. His hands were in his pockets.

"I'll just go down Broadway," he said to himself.

When he reached Forty-second Street, the fire signs were already blazing brightly. Crowds were hastening to dine. Through bright windows, at every corner, might be seen gay companies in luxuriant restaurants. There were coaches and crowded cable cars.

In his weary and hungry state, he should never have come here. The contrast was too sharp. Even he was recalled keenly to better things.

"What's the use?" he thought. "It's all up with me. I'll quit this."

People turned to look after him, so uncouth was his shambling figure. Several officers followed him with their eyes, to see that he did not beg of anybody.

Once he paused in an aimless, incoherent sort of way and looked through the windows of an imposing restaurant, before which blazed a fire sign, and through the large, plate windows of which could be seen the red and gold decorations, the palms, the white napery, and shining glassware, and, above all, the comfortable crowd. Weak as his mind had become, his hunger was sharp enough to show the importance of this. He stopped stock still, his frayed trousers soaking in the slush, and peered foolishly in.

"Eat," he mumbled. "That's right, eat. Nobody else wants any."

Then his voice dropped even lower, and his mind half lost the fancy it had.

"It's mighty cold," he said. "Awful cold."

At Broadway and Thirty-ninth Street was blazing, in incandescent fire, Carrie's name. "Carrie Madenda," it read, "and the Casino Company." All the wet, snowy sidewalk was bright with this radiated fire. It was so bright that it attracted Hurstwood's gaze. He looked up, and then at a large, gilt-framed poster-board, on which was a fine lithograph of Carrie, life-size.

Hurstwood gazed at it a moment, snuffling and hunching one shoulder, as if something were scratching him. He was so run down, however, that his mind was not exactly clear.

"That's you," he said at last, addressing her. "Wasn't good enough for you, was I? Huh!"

He lingered, trying to think logically. This was no longer possible with him.

"She's got it," he said, incoherently, thinking of money. "Let her give me some."

He started around to the side door. Then he forgot what he was going for and paused, pushing his hands deeper to warm the wrists. Suddenly it returned. The stage door! That was it.

He approached that entrance and went in.

"Well?" said the attendant, staring at him. Seeing him pause, he went over and shoved him. "Get out of here," he said.

"I want to see Miss Madenda," he said.

"You do, eh?" the other said, almost tickled at the spectacle. "Get out of here," and he shoved him again. Hurstwood had no strength to resist.

"I want to see Miss Madenda," he tried to explain, even as he was being hustled away. "I'm all right. I-"

The man gave him a last push and closed the door. As he did so, Hurstwood slipped and fell in the snow. It hurt him, and some vague sense of shame returned. He began to cry and swear foolishly.

"God damned dog!" he said. "Damned old cur," wiping the slush from his worthless coat. "I -- I hired such people as you once."

Now a fierce feeling against Carrie welled up -- just one fierce, angry thought before the whole thing slipped out of his mind.

"She owes me something to eat," he said. "She owes it to me."

Hopelessly he turned back into Broadway again and slopped onward and away, begging, crying, losing track of his thoughts, one after another, as a mind decayed and disjointed is wont to do.

It was truly a wintry evening, a few days later, when his one distinct mental decision was reached. Already, at four o'clock, the sombre hue of night was thickening the air. A heavy snow was falling -- a fine picking, whipping snow, borne forward by a swift wind in long, thin lines. The streets were bedded with it -- six inches of cold, soft carpet, churned to a dirty brown by the crush of teams and the feet of men. Along Broadway men picked their way in ulsters and umbrellas. Along the Bowery, men slouched through it with collars and hats pulled over their ears. In the former thoroughfare business men and travellers were making for comfortable hotels. In the latter, crowds on cold errands shifted past dingy stores, in the deep recesses of which lights were already gleaming. There were early lights in the cable cars, whose usual clatter was reduced by the mantle about the wheels. The whole city was muffled by this fast-thickening mantle.

In her comfortable chambers at the Waldorf, Carrie was reading at this time "Pere Goriot," which Ames had recommended to her. It was so strong, and Ames's mere recommendation had so aroused her interest, that she caught nearly the full sympathetic significance of it. For the first time, it was being borne in upon her how silly and worthless had been her earlier reading, as a whole. Becoming wearied, however, she yawned and came to the window, looking out upon the old winding procession of carriages rolling up Fifth Avenue.

"Isn't it bad?" she observed to Lola.

"Terrible!" said that little lady, joining her. "I hope it snows enough to go sleigh riding."

"Oh, dear," said Carrie, with whom the sufferings of Father Goriot were still keen. "That's all you think of. Aren't you sorry for the people who haven't anything to-night?"

"Of course I am," said Lola; "but what can I do? I haven't anything."

Carrie smiled.

"You wouldn't care, if you had," she returned.

"I would, too," said Lola. "But people never gave me anything when I was hard up."

"Isn't it just awful?" said Carrie, studying the winter's storm.

"Look at that man over there," laughed Lola, who had caught sight of some one falling down. "How sheepish men look when they fall, don't they?"

"We'll have to take a coach to-night," answered Carrie, absently.

In the lobby of the Imperial, Mr. Charles Drouet was just arriving, shaking the snow from a very handsome ulster. Bad weather had driven him home early and stirred his desire for those pleasures which shut out the snow and gloom of life. A good dinner, the company of a young woman, and an evening at the theatre were the chief things for him.

"Why, hello, Harry!" he said, addressing a lounger in one of the comfortable lobby chairs. "How are you?"

"Oh, about six and six," said the other.

"Rotten weather, isn't it?"

"Well, I should say," said the other. "I've been just sitting here thinking where I'd go to-night."

"Come along with me," said Drouet. "I can introduce you to something dead swell."

"Who is it?" said the other.

"Oh, a couple of girls over here in Fortieth Street. We could have a dandy time. I was just looking for you."

"Supposing we get 'em and take 'em out to dinner?"

"Sure," said Drouet. "Wait'll I go upstairs and change my clothes."

"Well, I'll be in the barber shop," said the other. "I want to get a shave."

"All right," said Drouet, creaking off in his good shoes toward the elevator. The old butterfly was as light on the wing as ever.

On an incoming vestibuled Pullman, speeding at forty miles an hour through the snow of the evening, were three others, all related.

"First call for dinner in the dining-car," a Pullman servitor was announcing, as he hastened through the aisle in snow-white apron and jacket.

"I don't believe I want to play any more," said the youngest, a black-haired beauty, turned supercilious by fortune, as she pushed a euchre hand away from her.

"Shall we go into dinner?" inquired her husband, who was all that fine raiment can make.

"Oh, not yet," she answered. "I don't want to play any more, though."

"Jessica," said her mother, who was also a study in what good clothing can do for age, "push that pin down in your tie -- it's coming up."

Jessica obeyed, incidentally touching at her lovely hair and looking at a little jewel-faced watch. Her husband studied her, for beauty, even cold, is fascinating from one point of view.

"Well, we won't have much more of this weather," he said. "It only takes two weeks to get to Rome."

Mrs. Hurstwood nestled comfortably in her corner and smiled. It was so nice to be the mother-in-law of a rich young man -- one whose financial state had borne her personal inspection.

"Do you suppose the boat will sail promptly?" asked Jessica, "if it keeps up like this?"

"Oh, yes," answered her husband. "This won't make any difference."

Passing down the aisle came a very fair-haired banker's son, also of Chicago, who had long eyed this supercilious beauty. Even now he did not hesitate to glance at her, and she was conscious of it. With a specially conjured show of indifference, she turned her pretty face wholly away. It was not wifely modesty at all. By so much was her pride satisfied.

At this moment Hurstwood stood before a dirty four-story building in a side street quite near the Bowery, whose one-time coat of buff had been changed by soot and rain. He mingled with a crowd of men -- a crowd which had been, and was still, gathering by degrees.

It began with the approach of two or three, who hung about the closed wooden doors and beat their feet to keep them warm. They had on faded derby hats with dents in them. Their misfit coats were heavy with melted snow and turned up at the collars. Their trousers were mere bags, frayed at the bottom and wobbling over big, soppy shoes, torn at the sides and worn almost to shreds. They made no effort to go in, but shifted ruefully about, digging their hands deep in their pockets and leering at the crowd and the increasing lamps. With the minutes, increased the number. Three were old men with grizzled beards and sunken eyes, men who were comparatively young but shrunken by diseases, men who were middle-aged. None were fat. There was a face in the thick of the collection which was as white as drained veal. There was another red as brick. Some came with thin, rounded shoulders, others with wooden legs, still others with frames so lean that clothes only flapped about them. There were great ears, swollen noses, thick lips, and, above all, red, blood-shot eyes. Not a normal, healthy face in the whole mass; not a straight figure; not a straightforward, steady glance.

In the drive of the wind and sleet they pushed in on one another. There were wrists, unprotected by coat or pocket, which were red with cold. There were ears, half covered by every conceivable semblance of a hat, which still looked stiff and bitten. In the snow they shifted, now one foot, now another, almost rocking in unison.

With the growth of the crowd about the door came a murmur. It was not conversation, but a running comment directed at any one in general. It contained oaths and slang phrases.

"By damn, I wish they'd hurry up."

"Look at the copper watchin'."

"Maybe it ain't winter, nuther!"

"I wisht I was in Sing Sing."

Now a sharper lash of wind cut down and they huddled closer. It was an edging, shifting, pushing throng. There was no anger, no pleading, no threatening words. It was all sullen endurance, unlightened by either wit or good fellowship.

A carriage went jingling by with some reclining figure in it. One of the men nearest the door saw it.

"Look at the bloke ridin'."

"He ain't so cold."

"Eh, eh, eh!" yelled another, the carriage having long since passed out of hearing.

Little by little the night crept on. Along the walk a crowd turned out on its way home. Men and shop-girls went by with quick steps. The cross-town cars began to be crowded. The gas lamps were blazing, and every window bloomed ruddy with a steady flame. Still the crowd hung about the door, unwavering.

"Ain't they ever goin' to open up?" queried a hoarse voice, suggestively.

This seemed to renew the general interest in the closed door, and many gazed in that direction. They looked at it as dumb brutes look, as dogs paw and whine and study the knob. They shifted and blinked and muttered, now a curse, now a comment. Still they waited and still the snow whirled and cut them with biting flakes. On the old hats and peaked shoulders it was piling. It gathered in little heaps and curves and no one brushed it off. In the centre of the crowd the warmth and steam melted it, and water trickled off hat rims and down noses, which the owners could not reach to scratch. On the outer rim the piles remained unmelted. Hurstwood, who could not get in the centre, stood with head lowered to the weather and bent his form.

A light appeared through the transom overhead. It sent a thrill of possibility through the watchers. There was a murmur of recognition. At last the bars grated inside and the crowd pricked up its ears. Footsteps shuffled within and it murmured again. Some one called: "Slow up there, now," and then the door opened. It was push and jam for a minute, with grim, beast silence to prove its quality, and then it melted inward, like logs floating, and disappeared. There were wet hats and wet shoulders, a cold, shrunken, disgruntled mass, pouring in between bleak walls. It was just six o'clock and there was supper in every hurrying pedestrian's face. And yet no supper was provided here -- nothing but beds.

Hurstwood laid down his fifteen cents and crept off with weary steps to his allotted room. It was a dingy affair -- wooden, dusty, hard. A small gas-jet furnished sufficient light for so rueful a corner.

"Hm!" he said, clearing his throat and locking the door.

Now he began leisurely to take off his clothes, but stopped first with his coat, and tucked it along the crack under the door. His vest he arranged in the same place. His old wet, cracked hat he laid softly upon the table. Then he pulled off his shoes and lay down.

It seemed as if he thought a while, for now he arose and turned the gas out, standing calmly in the blackness, hidden from view. After a few moments, in which he reviewed nothing, but merely hesitated, he turned the gas on again, but applied no match. Even then he stood there, hidden wholly in that kindness which is night, while the uprising fumes filled the room. When the odour reached his nostrils, he quit his attitude and fumbled for the bed.

"What's the use?" he said weakly, as he stretched himself to rest.

And now Carrie had attained that which in the beginning seemed life's object, or at least, such fraction of it as human beings ever attain of their original desires. She could look about on her gowns and carriage, her furniture and bank account. Friends there were, as the world takes it -- those who would bow and smile in acknowledgment of her success. For these she had once craved. Applause there was, and publicity -- once far off, essential things, but now grown trivial and indifferent. Beauty also -- her type of loveliness -- and yet she was lonely. In her rocking-chair she sat, when not otherwise engaged -- singing and dreaming.

Thus in life there is ever the intellectual and the emotional nature -- the mind that reasons, and the mind that feels. Of one come the men of action -- generals and statesmen; of the other, the poets and dreamers -- artists all.

As harps in the wind, the latter respond to every breath of fancy, voicing in their moods all the ebb and flow of the ideal.

Man has not yet comprehended the dreamer any more than he has the ideal. For him the laws and morals of the world are unduly severe. Ever hearkening to the sound of beauty, straining for the flash of its distant wings, he watches to follow, wearying his feet in travelling. So watched Carrie, so followed, rocking and singing.

And it must be remembered that reason had little part in this. Chicago dawning, she saw the city offering more of loveliness than she had ever known, and instinctively, by force of her moods alone, clung to it. In fine raiment and elegant surroundings, men seemed to be contented. Hence, she drew near these things. Chicago, New York; Drouet, Hurstwood; the world of fashion and the world of stage -- these were but incidents. Not them, but that which they represented, she longed for. Time proved the representation false.

Oh, the tangle of human life! How dimly as yet we see. Here was Carrie, in the beginning poor, unsophisticated, emotional; responding with desire to everything most lovely in life, yet finding herself turned as by a wall. Laws to say: "Be allured, if you will, by everything lovely, but draw not nigh unless by righteousness." Convention to say: "You shall not better your situation save by honest labour." If honest labour be unremunerative and difficult to endure; if it be the long, long road which never reaches beauty, but wearies the feet and the heart; if the drag to follow beauty be such that one abandons the admired way, taking rather the despised path leading to her dreams quickly, who shall cast the first stone? Not evil, but longing for that which is better, more often directs the steps of the erring. Not evil, but goodness more often allures the feeling mind unused to reason.

Amid the tinsel and shine of her state walked Carrie, unhappy. As when Drouet took her, she had thought: "Now am I lifted into that which is best"; as when Hurstwood seemingly offered her the better way: "Now am I happy." But since the world goes its way past all who will not partake of its folly, she now found herself alone. Her purse was open to him whose need was greatest. In her walks on Broadway, she no longer thought of the elegance of the creatures who passed her. Had they more of that peace and beauty which glimmered afar off, then were they to be envied.

Drouet abandoned his claim and was seen no more. Of Hurstwood's death she was not even aware. A slow, black boat setting out from the pier at Twenty-seventh Street upon its weekly errand bore, with many others, his nameless body to the Potter's Field.

Thus passed all that was of interest concerning these twain in their relation to her. Their influence upon her life is explicable alone by the nature of her longings. Time was when both represented for her all that was most potent in earthly success. They were the personal representatives of a state most blessed to attain -- the titled ambassadors of comfort and peace, aglow with their credentials. It is but natural that when the world which they represented no longer allured her, its ambassadors should be discredited. Even had Hurstwood returned in his original beauty and glory, he could not now have allured her. She had learned that in his world, as in her own present state, was not happiness.

Sitting alone, she was now an illustration of the devious ways by which one who feels, rather than reasons, may be led in the pursuit of beauty. Though often disillusioned, she was still waiting for that halcyon day when she should be led forth among dreams become real. Ames had pointed out a farther step, but on and on beyond that, if accomplished, would lie others for her. It was forever to be the pursuit of that radiance of delight which tints the distant hilltops of the world.

Oh, Carrie, Carrie! Oh, blind strivings of the human heart! Onward, onward, it saith, and where beauty leads, there it follows. Whether it be the tinkle of a lone sheep bell o'er some quiet landscape, or the glimmer of beauty in sylvan places, or the show of soul in some passing eye, the heart knows and makes answer, following. It is when the feet weary and hope seems vain that the heartaches and the longings arise. Know, then, that for you is neither surfeit nor content. In your rocking-chair, by your window dreaming, shall you long, alone. In your rocking-chair, by your window, shall you dream such happiness as you may never feel.

第四十七章

穷途末路:风中竖琴

 

 


当时在纽约城里有不少慈善事业,性质上和那位上尉搞的差不多,赫斯渥现在就以同样不幸的方式经常光顾这些慈善机构。其中有一个是在十五街上的天主教慈惠会修道院的慈善所。这是一排红砖的家庭住宅,门前挂着一只普通木制捐款箱,箱上贴着对每天中午前来求助的所有人免费供应午餐的布告。这个简单的布告写得极不起眼,但实际上却包含着一个范围极广的慈善事业。类似这样的事业,在纽约这个有着那么大、那么多的慈善机构和事业的地方,是不大会引起那些境况比较舒适的人的注意的。但是对于一个有心于这种事情的人,这样的事业却越来越显得非常重要,值得细细观察。除非是特别留意这种事情,否则一个人可以在中午时分,在第六大道和十五街的拐角处站上好几天,也不会注意到,在这繁忙的大街上蜂拥的人群中,每隔几秒钟就会出现一个饱经风霜、步履沉重、形容憔悴、衣衫褴褛的人。然而,这却是个千真万确的事实,而且天气越冷越明显。慈善所因地方狭窄,厨房也不够用,不得不安排分批吃饭,每次只能容许二十五至三十人就餐,所以就得在外面排队并按顺序进去,这就使得每天都出现这么一个奇观,但几年来日复一日,人们对此已司空见惯,如今也就不以为奇了。这些人在严寒的天气里耐心地等待着,像牲口一样,要等几个钟头才能进去。没有人向他们提问,也没有人为他们服务。他们吃完就走,其中有些人整个冬天每天都按时来这里。

在整个布施期间,一个身材高大、慈眉善目的女人总是守在门口,清点可以进去的人数。这些人秩序井然地向前移动。

他们并不争先,也不焦急。几乎像是一队哑巴。在最冷的天气里,也能在这里看见这支队伍。在刺骨的寒风中,他们使劲地拍手跺脚。他们的手指和脸部各处看上去似乎都有严重的冻伤。在光天花日之下仔细地看一下这些人,就可以发现他们差不多都是同一类型的人。他们属于那种在天气还可以忍受的白天坐在公园的长椅上,而在夏天的夜晚就睡在上面的人。他们常去波威里街和那些破烂不堪的东区街道,在那里褴褛的衣衫和枯槁的形容是不足为奇的。他们是在阴冷的天气里蜷缩在寄宿处的起居室里的那种人;他们是蜂拥在一些东区南部街道上更为便宜的可以过夜的地方的那种人,这些地方要到6点钟才开门。粗劣的食物,吃得不定时,而且吃起来又是狼吞虎咽,严重地损害了他们骨骼和肌肉。他们全都面色苍白、皮肉松弛,眼眶凹陷、胸脯扁平,但眼睛却闪闪发亮,而且相形之下,嘴唇红得像是在发烧。他们的头发不大梳理,耳朵缺少血色,皮鞋已经穿破,前露脚趾,后露脚跟。他们属于漂泊无助的那种人,每涌起一次人潮就冲上来一个,就像海浪把浮木冲上风暴袭击的海滩一般。

差不多1A4个世纪以来,在纽约的另一个地方,面包铺老板弗莱施曼,对凡是在半夜里到百老汇大街和十街的拐角上他的那家饭店的门口要求救济的人,都施舍一只面包。二十年中,每天夜里都有大约三百人排好队,在指定的时间走过门口,从门外的一只大箱子里拿取面包。然后又消失在夜色之中。从开始直到现在,这些人的性质或数量都没怎么变化。那些年年在这里看到这支小队伍的人,对其中的两三个人都已经看熟了。其中有两个人十五年来几乎没有错过一次。有四十个左右是这里的常客。队伍中其余的人则是陌生人。在经济恐慌和特别困难的时期,也难得超过三百人。在很少听说有人失业的经济繁荣时期,也不大会有什么减少。不论是严冬还是酷夏,不论是狂风暴雨还是风和日丽,也不论是太平盛世还是艰难岁月,这个数量不变的人群都会在半夜里凄惨地聚集在弗莱施曼的面包箱前。

眼下正值严冬,赫斯渥就成为上述两个慈善机构的常客。

有一天特别寒冷,沿街乞讨实在不是滋味,于是他等到中午才去寻找给穷人的这种布施。这天上午11点钟时,就已经有几个像他一样的人蹒跚地从第六大道走过去,他们单薄的衣衫随风飘动。他们早早就来了,想先进去。这时他们都靠在第九团军械库围墙外的铁栏杆上,这地方面对着十五街的那一段。

因为还要等一个钟头,他们起初拘束地在距离远些的地方徘徊,但又来了其他的人,他们就走近一些,以保持他们先到的优先权。赫斯渥从西面第七大道走过来加入这支队伍,在离门很近的地方停了下来,比其他的人都更接近门口。那些先来的但是等在远处的人,这时都走拢来,而且,虽然一声不吭,但却用一种坚决的态度表明他们来得比他早。

他发现自己的行动遭到了反对,便不快地看了看队伍,然后走出来,排到队伍的最后。等到恢复了秩序,兽性的反感也就缓和了。

“快到中午了吧,”一个人壮起胆子说。

“是快到了,”另一个说,“我已经等了差不多一个钟头了。”“哎呀,可是这天真冷啊!”他们焦急地盯着门看,他们全都得从那里进去。一个食品店的伙计用车拉来几篮子食物送了进去,这引起了一阵有关食品商和食评价格的议论。

“我看到肉价涨了,”一个人说,“如果爆发战争的话,对这个国家会大有好处。”队伍在迅速扩大,已经有了五十多人。排在头上的人,他们的行动明显地表示出他们在庆幸自己可以比排在后面的人少等一些时间。常常有人伸出头来,望望后面的队伍。

“能排多前无关紧要,只要是在最前面的二十五个人里就行,”在最前面的二十五个人里的一个说道。“大家都是一起进去的。”“哼!”赫斯渥忍不住喊了一声,他是被他们硬挤出来的。

“这个单一税是个好办法,”另一个说,“没有它之前根本就无章可循。”大部分时间都没人说话,形容憔悴的人们挪动着双脚,张望着,拍打着自己的手臂。

门终于打开了,出来了那位慈眉善目的修女。她只是用眼色来示意。队伍慢慢地向前移动,一个接着一个地走了进去,直到数到了二十五个。然后,她伸出一只粗壮的手臂拦住后面的人,队伍停了下来。这时台阶上还站着六个人,其中有一个就是这位前经理。他们就这样等待着,有的在谈话,有的忍不住叫苦不迭,有的则和赫斯渥一样在沉思。最后他被放了进去。因为等吃这顿饭等得太苦,吃完要走的时候,他都几乎被惹火了。

大约两个星期之后,有一天晚上11点钟,他在等待那半夜布施的面包,等得很耐心。这一天他很不幸,但是现在他已经能够比较达观地看待自己的命运了。即使他弄不到晚饭吃,或者深夜感到饿了,他还可以来这个地方。12点差几分时,推出来一大箱子面包。一到12点整,一个大腹便便的圆脸德国人就站到箱子的旁边,叫了一声“准备好”。整个队伍立刻向前移动,每个人依次拿上面包,就各走各的路了。这一次,这位前经理边走边吃,默默地拖着沉重的脚步走过夜色中的街道,回去睡觉。

到了1月,他差不多已经断定自己这一生的游戏已经结束了。生命本来一直像是一种珍贵的东西,但是现在总是挨饿,体力衰弱,就使得人世间的可爱之处大为减少,难以察觉。

有几次,当命运逼得他走投无路的时候,他想他要了此残生了。但是,只要天气一变,或者讨到2角5分或1角钱,他的心情就会改变,于是他又继续等待。每天他都要找些扔在地上的旧报纸,看看有没有嘉莉的什么消息。但是整个夏季和秋季都没有看到。然后,他发觉眼睛开始疼了起来,而且迅速加剧,后来他已经不敢在他常去的寄宿处的昏暗的卧室里看报了。吃得又差又没有规律,使他身体的每一个官能都在衰退。他唯一的指望就是能讨到钱去要一个铺位,好在上面打打瞌睡。

他开始发现,由于他衣衫褴褛、身体瘦弱,人们把他当作老牌游民和乞丐看待了。警察见他就赶。饭店和寄宿处的老板一等他吃过饭、住过宿,就会立即撵他出门。行人也挥手要他走开。他发觉越来越难从任何人那里讨到任何东西。

最后,他承认这场游戏该收场了。这是在他无数次地向行人求乞,一再遭到拒绝之后--人人都匆匆避开他。

“求求你给我一点施舍好吗,先生?”他对最后一个人说,“看在上帝的面上给一点吧,我快要饿死了。”“哼,滚开,”这个人说,碰巧他自己也是个平民百姓。“你这家伙真没用。我什么都不会给你的。”赫斯渥把冻红的手插进衣袋里。眼睛里涌出了泪水。

“这话不错,”他说,“我现在是没用了。我过去可是很好的。我也有过钱。我要摆脱这一切。”于是,心里想着死,他朝波威里街走去。以前曾有人开煤气自杀的,他为什么不这样做呢?他想起了一家寄宿处,那里有装着煤气喷嘴的不通风的小房间,他觉得像是为了他想做的事而预先安排好的,房钱是一天1毛5分钱。接着他想起自己连1毛5分钱也没有。

在路上,他遇到一个神态悠闲的绅士,刚从一家上等理发店修了面出来。

“求求你给我一点施舍好吗?”他大胆地向这个人乞讨。

这个绅士打量了他一下,伸手想摸块1角的银币。但是他衣袋里只有2角5分的硬币。

“给,”他说,递给赫斯渥一枚2角5分的硬币,想打发他走开。“你现在走吧。”赫斯渥继续走着,心里疑惑不定。看到这么一大个闪闪发亮的硬币,他觉得有些高兴。他想起自己肚子饿了,想起自己花上1毛5分钱就可以得个铺位。这么一想,他就暂时打消了寻死的念头。只有当他除了遭受侮辱,什么都讨不到的时候,好像才值得去死。

仲冬的一天,最严寒的季节来临了。第一天天气阴暗,第二天就下起雪来。他一直不走运,到天黑时才讨到了1毛钱,他用这钱填了肚子。晚上他发现自己来到了主大道和六十七街的路口,在那里转了一会儿,最后转身朝着波威里街走去。

因为上午他心血来潮地游荡了一番,所以这时感到特别疲乏。

他拖着湿透的双脚,鞋底蹭着人行道,慢慢地走着。一件单薄的旧上衣直拉到他冻得发红的耳朵边,破烂的圆顶礼帽拉得低低的,把耳朵都给压翻了过来。他的双手插在衣袋里。

“我这就去百老汇大街,”他对自己说。

当他走到四十二街时,灯光招牌已经大放光彩了。许多人匆匆地赶去进餐。在每一个街角上,透过灯火通明的窗户,都可以看见豪华餐厅里那些寻欢作乐的男男女女。街上满是马车和拥挤的电车。

他这么疲惫和饥饿,本来是不应该来这里的,对比太鲜明了。连他也不禁触景生情,深深地回想起过去的好光景来。

“有什么用呢?”他想,“我已经全完了。我要摆脱这一切了。”人们回头目送着他,他那蹒跚的身影是如此的古怪。有几个警察一直用眼睛盯住他,以便阻止他向人乞讨。

有一次,他漫无目的、稀里糊涂地停了下来,朝一家富丽堂皇的餐厅的窗户里看去,窗前闪耀着一块灯光招牌。透过餐厅的大玻璃窗,可以看见红色和金色的装璜、棕榈树、白餐巾以及闪光的玻璃餐具,特别还有那些悠闲的吃客。虽然他心神衰竭,但是强烈的饥饿感,使他意识到这一切的重要性。他一动不动地站住了,磨破的裤脚浸在雪水里,呆头呆脑地望着里面。

“吃,”他咕哝着,“不错,要吃,别人都有吃的。”然后,他的声音越来越低,心里的幻想也消失了一些。

“天真冷啊,”他说,“冷极了。”

在百老汇大街和三十九街的拐角上,白炽灯光照耀着嘉莉的名字,显示着“嘉莉·麦登达和卡西诺剧团”的字样。整个泥泞积雪的人行道都被这片灯光照亮了。灯光很亮,因此引起赫斯渥的注意。他抬头看去,看见一块金边的大布告牌,上面有一幅嘉莉的优美画像,和真人一般大校赫斯渥盯着画像看了一会儿,吸着鼻子,耸起一只肩膀,像是有什么东西在抓他。可是,他已经精疲力尽,连脑子也不大清楚了。

“是你呀,”他最后对着画里的她说。“我配不上你,是吗?”

“嘿!”

他徘徊着,想清楚地想一想。但是他已经想不清楚了。

“她已经得到了,”他语无伦次地说,心里想着金钱。“叫她给我一些。”他向边门走去。随后,他忘了去做什么,就停了下来,把手朝口袋里插得更深一些,想暖和一下手腕。突然又想起来去做什么了。后台门!就是这儿。

他来到这个门口,走了进去。

“干什么的?”看门人说,瞪眼看着他。见他停住了,就走过去推他。“滚出去。”他说。

“我要见麦登达小姐,”他说。

“你要见她,是吗?”对方说。差点被这事逗乐了。“滚出去吧,”说着又去推他。赫斯渥没有力气抵抗。

“我要见麦登达小姐,”就在他被赶走的时候,他还想解释。“我是好人。我——”这个人又推了他最后一把,关上了门。他这么一推,赫斯渥脚下一滑,跌倒在雪地上。这使他很伤心,又恢复了一些模糊的羞耻感。他开始叫喊起来,呆头呆脑地咒骂着。

“该死的狗!”他说,“这该死的老狗,”一边拂去他那不值钱的上衣上的雪水。“我——我曾经使唤过像你这样的人。”这时,一阵对嘉莉的强烈憎恶之感涌上他的心头——只是一阵狂怒的感觉,之后就把这事忘得一干二净。

“她应该给我吃的,”他说,“她应该给我的。”他绝望地转身又回到百老汇大街上,踩着雪水朝前走去,一路乞讨、叫喊,迷失了思路,想起了这个就忘记了那个。就像一个脑力衰退、思想不连贯的人常有的那样。

几天之后,那是一个严寒的傍晚,他在心里作出了自己唯一明确的决定。4点钟时,空中已是一片夜色朦胧。大雪纷飞,寒冷刺骨的雪花被疾风吹成了长长的细线。街上铺满了雪,像是铺上了六英寸厚的冰冷、柔软的地毯,它被车碾、人踩,弄成了褐色的泥浆。在百老汇大街上,人们都身穿长外套,手擎雨伞,小心翼翼地走路。在波威里街上,人们都把衣领和帽子拉到耳朵边,没精打采地从街上走过。在百老汇大街上,商人和旅客都朝舒适的旅馆赶去。在波威里街上,冒着寒冷出来办事的人,转过一家又一家幽暗的店铺,店堂的深处已经亮起了灯光。电车也早早就开了灯,车轮上的积雪降低了平常的轧轧车声。整个城市都被这场迅速加厚的大雪包裹了起来。

这个时候,嘉莉正在沃尔多夫旅馆自己舒适的房间里,读着《高老头》,这是艾姆斯推荐给她看的。故事很动人,一经艾姆斯推荐,更引起了她的强烈兴趣,因此她几乎领会了故事全部的感人意义。她第一次意识到自己过去所读的东西,总的来说都是那么无聊而且毫无价值。可是,她看得疲倦了,就打了一个呵欠,走到窗边,看着窗外不断驶过第五大道的蜿蜒的马车队伍。

“天气真糟,是吧?”她对萝拉说。

“糟透了!”那个小女人说,走到她旁边。“我希望雪再下大一些,可以去坐雪橇。”“哎呀,”嘉莉说,高老头的痛苦还感染着她。“你就只想着这些。你就不可怜那些今天晚上无家可归的人吗?”“我当然可怜的,”萝拉说,“但是我能做些什么呢?我也是一无所有。”嘉莉笑了。

“即使你有,你也不会关心的,”她说。

“我也会关心的,”萝拉说,“可在我受穷的时候,从来没有人帮助过我。”“这不是很可怕吗?”嘉莉说,注视着漫天的风雪。

“看那边的那个男人,”萝拉笑着说,她看见一个人跌倒了。“男人在跌倒的时候看上去多么胆怯啊,是不?”“今天晚上,我们得坐马车了。”嘉莉心不在焉地回答。

查尔斯·杜洛埃先生刚刚走进帝国饭店的门厅,正在抖掉漂亮的长外套上面的雪。恶劣的天气把他早早地赶回了旅馆,而且激起了他的欲望,想要寻找那些能把大雪和人生的忧愁关在门外的乐趣。他主要想干的事情就是吃顿好晚饭,找个年轻女人作伴,去戏院度个良宵。

“喂,你好,哈里!”他对一个闲坐在门厅里舒适的椅子上的人说。“你怎么样啊?”“哦,马马虎虎,”另一个说。

“天气真糟,是不?”

“哦,可以这么说,”另一个说,“我正坐在这里考虑今晚去哪里玩呢。”“跟我去吧,”杜洛埃说,“我可以给你介绍漂亮极了的小妾。”“是谁?”另一个问。

“哦,这边四十街上的两个姑娘。我们可以好好乐一下。我正在找你呢。”“我们去找她们,带她们出来吃饭怎么样?”“当然可以,”杜洛埃说。“等我上楼去换一下衣服。”“那好,我就在理发室,”另一个说。“我要修个面。”“好的,”杜洛埃说,穿着双高级皮鞋。嘎吱嘎吱地朝电梯走去。这只老花蝴蝶飞起来仍旧轻盈不减当年。

冒着这天晚上的风雪,以1小时40英里的速度,向纽约开来的一列普尔门式卧铺客车上,还有三个相关的人物。

“餐车第一次叫吃晚饭,”车上的一个侍者穿着雪白的围裙和短上衣,一边喊一边匆匆地穿过车厢的走道。

“我不想打下去了。”三人中最年轻的那个黑发丽人说,她因为好运当头而显得十分傲慢,这时正把一手纸牌从面前推开。

“我们去吃饭好吗?”她丈夫问,华丽的衣着能把人打扮得有多潇洒,他就有多潇洒。

“哦,还早,”她回答,“不过,我不想再打牌了。”“杰西卡,”她母亲说,她的穿着也可以帮助人们研究漂亮的服装能怎样美化上了年纪的人。“把领带夹别牢——快脱出来了。”杰西卡遵命别好领带夹,顺手摸了摸她那可爱的头发,又看了一下宝石镶面的小表。她的丈夫则仔细地打量着她,因为从某观点来看,漂亮的女人即使冷淡也是迷人的。

“好啦,我们很快就不用再忍受这种天气了,”他说,“只要两个星期就可以到达罗马。”赫斯渥太太舒适地坐在角落里,微笑着。做一个有钱的年轻人的丈母娘真是好福气--她亲自调查过他的经济状况。

“你看船能准时开吗?”杰西卡问。“如果天气老是这样的话,行吗?”“哦,能准时开的,”她丈夫回答。“天气无关紧要。”沿着走道,走过来一个金发的银行家之子。他也是芝加哥人,他对这个傲慢的美人已经注意很久了。就是现在,他还在毫不犹豫地不时看看她,她也觉察到了。于是,她特意摆出一副无动于衷的样子,把美丽的脸庞完全转开。这根本不是出于妇道人家的稳重,这样做只是满足了她的虚荣心。

这时候,赫斯渥正站在离波威里街很近的一条小街上一幢肮脏的四层楼房前。那最初的淡黄色的粉刷,已经被烟熏和雨淋弄得面目全非。他混在一群人中间--早已是一大群,而且还在逐渐增多。

开始只来了两三个人,他们在关着的木门附近溜达,一边跺着脚取暖。他们戴着皱巴巴褪了色的圆顶礼帽。不合身的上衣,被融雪湿透,变得沉甸甸的,衣领都朝上翻起。裤子简直就像布袋子,裤脚已经磨破,在湿透的大鞋子上面甩来甩去。

鞋帮已经穿坏,几乎是破烂不堪了。他们并不想就进去,只是懊丧地在旁边转悠,把两手深深地插在口袋里,斜眼看着人群和逐渐亮起的一盏盏路灯。随着时间一分一分地过去,人数也在增加。其中既有胡子灰白、眼睛凹陷的老头,也有年纪较轻但病得瘦巴巴的人,还有一些中年人。个个都是骨瘦如柴。在这厚厚的人堆里,有一张脸苍白得像是流干了血的小牛肉。另一张脸红得如同红砖。有几个曲背的,瘦削的肩膀弯成了圆形。有几个装着假腿。还有几个身材单薄得衣服直在身上晃荡。这里看到的是大耳朵、肿鼻子、厚嘴唇,特别是充血的红眼睛。在这整个人群中,就没有一张正常、健康的面孔,没有一个直立、挺拔的身躯,没有一道坦率、坚定的目光。

风雪交加之下,他们相互挤在一起。那些露在上衣或衣袋外面的手腕都冻得发红。那些被各种像是帽子一样的东西半掩住的耳朵,看上去还是被冻僵和冻伤了。他们在雪中不停地换着脚支撑着身体的重量,一会儿这只脚,一会儿那只脚,几乎是在一起摇摆着。

随着门口人群的扩大,传来一阵喃喃的话语声。这不是谈话,而是你一句我一句,泛泛地对任何人发表连续的评论。起中有咒骂,也有黑话。

“真见鬼,但愿他们能快一些。”

“看那个警察在望着这里。”

“也许天还不够冷吧!”

“我真希望我现在是在新新监狱里。”

这时,刮起了一阵更刺骨的寒风,他们靠得更拢了。这是一个慢慢挨近、换脚站立、你推我挤的人群。没有人发怒,没有人哀求,也没有人说恫吓的话。大家都沉闷地忍受着,没有打趣的话或者友谊的交流来减轻这种苦难。

一辆马车叮当驶过,车上斜倚着一个人。最靠近门口的人中有一个看见了。

“看那个坐车的家伙。”

“他可不觉得这么冷。”

“唷,唷,唷!”另一个大声喊着,马车早已走远,听不见了。

夜色渐浓。人行道上出现了一些下班赶回家去的人。工人和女店员快步走过。横穿市区的电车开始拥挤起来。煤气路灯闪着光,每一扇窗户都被灯光照得通红。这一群人还在门口徘徊不散,毫不动遥“他们难道永远都不开门了吗?”一个嘶哑的声音问,提醒了大家。

这一问似乎又引起了大家对那关着的门的注意,于是很多人朝门的方向望去。他们像不会说话的野兽般望着门,像狗那样守在门口,发出哀鸣,紧盯着门上的把手。他们倒换着双脚,眨着眼睛,嘀咕着,有时咒骂,有时议论。可是,他们还在等待,雪花还在飞舞,刺骨的雪片还在抽打着他们。雪花在他们的旧帽子和高耸的肩膀上堆积起来。积成小堆和弓形的条条,但谁都不把它拂去。挤在人群正中间的一些人,体温和呼气把雪融化了,雪水顺着帽沿滴下来,落在鼻子上,也无法伸手去擦擦。站在外围的人身上的积雪都不融化。赫斯渥挤不进中间去,就在雪中低头站着,身子蜷成一团。

一束灯光从门头上的气窗里透了出来。这使得观望的人群一阵激动,觉得有了希望。随之而来的是一片喃喃的反应声。终于里面响起了吱吱的门闩声,大家都竖起了耳朵。里面还传出了杂乱的脚步声,大家又低语起来。有人喊了一声:“喂,后面的慢一点,”接着门就打开了。人群一阵你推我攘,像野兽般的冷酷、沉默,这正表明他们就像野兽一样。然后他们进到里面,如同漂浮的木头一样分散而去,消失得无影无踪。

只看见那些湿帽子和湿肩膀,一群冰冷、萎缩、不满的家伙,涌进凄凉的墙壁之间。这时才6点钟,从每个匆忙的行人脸上都可以看出他们正在赶去吃晚饭。可是这里并不供应晚饭--除了床铺,一无所有。

赫斯渥放下1毛5分钱,拖着疲惫的脚步,慢慢地走到指定给他的房间里去。

这是一间阴暗的房间--木地板,满屋灰尘,床铺很硬。

一只小小的煤气喷嘴就照亮了如此可怜的一个角落。

“哼!”他说,清了一下喉咙,把门锁上了。

现在他开始不慌不忙地脱衣服,但是他先只脱了上衣,用它塞住门下的缝隙。他把背心也塞在那里。他那顶又湿又破的旧帽子被轻轻地放在桌上。然后,他脱掉鞋子,躺了下去。

看样子他好像思考了一会儿,因为这时他又爬了起来,关掉了煤气灯,镇静地站在黑暗之中,谁也看不见他。过了几分钟--期间他并没有回想什么事,只是迟疑不决而已--他又打开了煤气,但是没用火柴去点。就在这个时候,他还站在那里,完全躲在仁慈的夜色之中,而此刻整个房间都已充满了放出来的煤气。当他嗅到煤气味时,又改变了主意,摸到了床边。

“有什么用呢?”当他伸直身子躺下去安歇时,轻轻地说道。

这时嘉莉已经达到了那初看上去像是人生的目的,或者至少是部分地达到了,如人们所能获取的最初欲望的满足。她可以四处炫耀她的服饰、马车、家具和银行存款。她也有世俗所谓的朋友--那些含笑拜倒在她的功名之下的人们。这些都是她过去曾经梦寐以求的东西。有掌声,也有名声。这些在过去遥不可及、至关重要的东西,现在却变得微不足道、无足轻重了。她还有她那种类型的美貌,可她却感到寂寞。没有事做的时候,她就坐在摇椅里低吟着,梦想着。

世上本来就有着富于理智和富于感情的两种人--善于推理的头脑和善于感受的心灵。前者造就了活动家--将军和政治家;后者造就了诗人和梦想家-—所有的艺术家。

就像风中的竖琴,后一类人对幻想的一呼一吸都会作出反应,用自己的喜怒哀乐表达着在追求理想中的失败与成功。

人们还不理解梦想家,正如他们不理解理想一样。在梦想家看来,世上的法律和伦理都过于苛刻。他总是倾听着美的声音,努力要捕捉它那在远方一闪而过的翅膀。他注视着,想追上去,奔走得累坏了双脚。嘉莉就是这样注视着,追求着,一边摇着摇椅、哼着曲子。

必须记住,这里没有理智的作用。当她第一次看见芝加哥时,她发觉这个城市有着她平生所见过的最多的可爱之处,于是,只因为受到感情的驱使,她就本能地投向它的怀抱。衣着华丽、环境优雅,人们似乎都很心满意足。因此,她就向这些东西靠近。芝加哥和纽约;杜洛埃和赫斯渥;服装世界和舞台世界--这些只是偶然的巧合而已。她所渴望的并不是它们,而是它们所代表的东西。可时间证明它们并没有真正代表她想要的东西。

啊,这人生的纠葛!我们至今还是那么地看不清楚。这里有一个嘉莉,起初是贫穷的、单纯的、多情的。她对人生每一种最可爱的东西都会产生欲望,可是却发现自己像是被摈在了墙外。法律说:“你可以向往任何可爱的东西,但是不以正道便不得接近。”习俗说:“不凭着诚实的工作,就不能改善你的处境。”倘若诚实的工作无利可图而且难以忍受;倘若这是只会使人心灰,却永远达不到美的漫长路程;倘若追求美的努力使人疲倦得放弃了受人称赞的道路,而采取能够迅速实现梦想的但遭人鄙视的途径时,谁还会责怪她呢?往往不是恶,而是向善的愿望,引导人们误入岐途。往往不是恶,而是善,迷惑那些缺少理智、多愁善感的人。

嘉莉身居荣华富贵之中,但并不幸福。正如在杜洛埃照顾她的时候她所想的那样,她曾经以为:“现在我已经跻身于最好的环境里了”;又正如在赫斯渥似乎给她提供了更好的前途的时候她所想的那样,她曾经以为:“现在我可是幸福了。“但是,不管你愿不愿意同流合污,世人都我行我素,因此,她现在觉得自己寂寞孤单。她对贫困无告的人总是慷慨解囊。

她在百老汇大街上散步时,已不再留意从她身边走过的人物的翩翩风度。假如他们更多地具有在远处闪光的那份宁静和美好,那样才值得羡慕。

杜洛埃放弃了自己的要求,不再露面了。赫斯渥的死,她根本就不知道。一只每星期从二十七街码头慢慢驶出的黑船,把他的和许多其他的无名尸体一起载到了保得坟常这两个家伙和她之间的有趣故事,就这样结束了。他们对她的生活的影响,单就她的欲望性质而言,是显而易见的。一度她曾认为他们两个都代表着人世最大的成功。他们是最美好的境界的代表人物--有头衔的幸福和宁静的使者,手里的证书闪闪发亮。一旦他们所代表的世界不能再诱惑她,迫使者的名誉扫地也是理所当然的事。即使赫斯渥以其原有的潇洒容貌和辉煌事业再次出现的话,现在他也不能令她着迷了。

她已经知道,在他的世界里,就像在她自己眼前的处境里一样,没有幸福可言。

她现在独自坐在那里,从她身上可以看到一个只善于感受而不善于推理的人在追求美的过程中,是怎样误入岐途的。

虽然她的幻想常常破灭,但她还在期待着那美好的日子,到那时她的梦想就会变成现实。艾姆斯给她指出了前进的一步,但是在此基础上还要步步前进。若是要实现梦想,她还要迈出更多的步子。这将永远是对那愉快的光辉的追求,追求那照亮了世上远处山峰的光辉。

啊,嘉莉呀,嘉莉!啊,人心盲目的追求!向前,向前,它催促着,美走到哪里,它就追到哪里。无论是静悄悄的原野上寂寞的羊铃声,还是田园乡村中美的闪耀,还是过路人眼中的灵光一现,人心都会明白,并且作出反应,追上前去。只有等到走酸了双脚,仿佛没有了希望,才会产生心痛和焦虑。那么要知道,你既不会嫌多,也不会知足的。坐在你的摇椅里,靠在你的窗户边梦想,你将独自渴望着。坐在你的摇椅里,靠在你的窗户边,你将梦想着你永远不会感受到幸福。


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