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简爱CHAPTER XXXVI

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Jane Eyre
 

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CHAPTER XXXVI  Chinese
 

THE daylight came. I rose at dawn. I busied myself for an hour or two with arranging my things in my chamber, drawers, and wardrobe, in the order wherein I should wish to leave them during a brief absence. Meantime, I heard St. John quit his room. He stopped at my door: I feared he would knock- no, but a slip of paper was passed under the door. I took it up. It bore these words-
'You left me too suddenly last night. Had you stayed but a little longer, you would have laid your hand on the Christian's cross and the angel's crown. I shall expect your clear decision when I return this day fortnight. Meantime, watch and pray that you enter not into temptation: the spirit, I trust, is willing, but the flesh, I see, is weak. I shall pray for you hourly.- Yours, ST. JOHN.'

'My spirit,' I answered mentally, 'is willing to do what is right; and my flesh, I hope, is strong enough to accomplish the will of Heaven, when once that will is distinctly known to me. At any rate, it shall be strong enough to search- inquire- to grope an outlet from this cloud of doubt, and find the open day of certainty.'

It was the first of June; yet the morning was overcast and chilly: rain beat fast on my casement. I heard the front-door open, and St. John pass out. Looking through the window, I saw him traverse the garden. He took the way over the misty moors in the direction of Whitcross- there he would meet the coach.

'In a few more hours I shall succeed you in that track, cousin,' thought I: 'I too have a coach to meet at Whitcross. I too have some to see and ask after in England, before I depart for ever.'

It wanted yet two hours of breakfast-time. I filled the interval in walking softly about my room, and pondering the visitation which had given my plans their present bent. I recalled that inward sensation I had experienced: for I could recall it, with all its unspeakable strangeness. I recalled the voice I had heard; again I questioned whence it came, as vainly as before: it seemed in me- not in the external world. I asked was it a mere nervous impression- a delusion? I could not conceive or believe: it was more like an inspiration. The wondrous shock of feeling had come like the earthquake which shook the foundations of Paul and Silas's prison;  it had opened the doors of the soul's cell and loosed its bands- it had wakened it out of its sleep, whence it sprang trembling, listening, aghast; then vibrated thrice a cry on my startled ear, and in my quaking heart and through my spirit, which neither feared nor shook but exulted as if in joy over the success of one effort it had been privileged to make, independent of the cumbrous body.

'Ere many days,' I said, as I terminated my musings, 'I will know something of him whose voice seemed last night to summon me. Letters have proved of no avail- personal inquiry shall replace them.'

At breakfast I announced to Diana and Mary that I was going a journey, and should be absent at least four days.

'Alone, Jane?' they asked.

'Yes; it was to see or hear news of a friend about whom I had for some time been uneasy.'

They might have said, as I have no doubt they thought, that they had believed me to be without any friends save them: for, indeed, I had often said so; but, with their true natural delicacy, they abstained from comment, except that Diana asked me if I was sure I was well enough to travel. I looked very pale, she observed. I replied, that nothing ailed me save anxiety of mind, which I hoped soon to alleviate.

It was easy to make my further arrangements; for I was troubled with no inquiries- no surmises. Having once explained to them that I could not now be explicit about my plans, they kindly and wisely acquiesced in the silence with which I pursued them, according to me the privilege of free action I should under similar circumstances have accorded them.

I left Moor House at three o'clock P.M., and soon after four I stood at the foot of the sign-post of Whitcross, waiting the arrival of the coach which was to take me to distant Thornfield. Amidst the silence of those solitary roads and desert hills, I heard it approach from a great distance. It was the same vehicle whence, a year ago, I had alighted one summer evening on this very spot- how desolate, and hopeless, and objectless! It stopped as I beckoned. I entered- not now obliged to part with my whole fortune as the price of its accommodation. Once more on the road to Thornfield, I felt like the messenger-pigeon flying home.

It was a journey of six-and-thirty hours. I had set out from Whitcross on a Tuesday afternoon, and early on the succeeding Thursday morning the coach stopped to water the horses at a wayside inn, situated in the midst of scenery whose green hedges and large fields and low pastoral hills (how mild of feature and verdant of hue compared with the stern North-Midland moors of Morton!) met my eye like the lineaments of a once familiar face. Yes, I knew the character of this landscape: I was sure we were near my bourne.

'How far is Thornfield Hall from here?' I asked of the ostler.

'Just two miles, ma'am, across the fields.'

'My journey is closed,' I thought to myself. I got out of the coach, gave a box I had into the ostler's charge, to be kept till I called for it; paid my fare; satisfied the coachman, and was going: the brightening day gleamed on the sign of the inn, and I read in gilt letters, 'The Rochester Arms.' My heart leapt up: I was already on my master's very lands. It fell again: the thought struck it:-

'Your master himself may be beyond the British Channel, for aught you know: and then, if he is at Thornfield Hall, towards which you hasten, who besides him is there? His lunatic wife: and you have nothing to do with him: you dare not speak to him or seek his presence. You have lost your labour- you had better go no farther,' urged the monitor. 'Ask information of the people at the inn; they can give you all you seek: they can solve your doubts at once. Go up to that man, and inquire if Mr. Rochester be at home.'

The suggestion was sensible, and yet I could not force self to act on it. I so dreaded a reply that would crush me with despair. To prolong doubt was to prolong hope. I might yet once more see the Hall under the ray of her star. There was the stile before me- the very fields through which I had hurried, blind, deaf, distracted with a revengeful fury tracking and scourging me, on the morning I fled from Thornfield: ere I well knew what course I had resolved to take, I was in the midst of them. How fast I walked! How I ran sometimes? How I looked forward to catch the first view of the well-known woods! With what feelings I welcomed single trees I knew, and familiar glimpses of meadow and hill between them!

At last the woods rose; the rookery clustered dark; a loud cawing broke the morning stillness. Strange delight inspired me: on I hastened. Another field crossed- a lane threaded- and there were the courtyard walls- the back offices: the house itself, the rookery still hid. 'My first view of it shall be in front,' I determined, 'where its bold battlements will strike the eye nobly at once, and where I can single out my master's very window: perhaps he will be standing at it- he rises early: perhaps he is now walking in the orchard, or on the pavement in front. Could I but see him!- but a moment? Surely, in that case, I should not be so mad as to run to him? I cannot tell- I am not certain. And if I did- what then? God bless him! What then? Who would be hurt by my once more tasting the life his glance can give me?

I rave: perhaps at this moment he is watching the sun rise over the Pyrenees, or on the tideless sea of the south.'

I had coasted along the lower wall of the orchard- turned its angle: there was a gate just there, opening into the meadow, between two stone pillars crowned by stone balls. From behind one pillar I could peep round quietly at the full front of the mansion. I advanced my head with precaution, desirous to ascertain if any bedroom window-blinds were yet drawn up: battlements, windows, long front- all from this sheltered station were at my command.

The crows sailing overhead perhaps watched me while I took this survey. I wonder what they thought. They must have considered I was very careful and timid at first, and that gradually I grew very bold and reckless. A peep, and then a long stare; and then a departure from my niche and a straying out into the meadow; and a sudden stop full in front of the great mansion, and a protracted, hardy gaze towards it.

'What affectation of diffidence was this at first?' they might have demanded; 'what stupid regardlessness now?'

Hear an illustration, reader.

A lover finds his mistress asleep on a mossy bank; he wishes to catch a glimpse of her fair face without waking her. He steals softly over the grass, careful to make no sound; he pauses- fancying she has stirred: he withdraws; not for worlds would he be seen. All is still: he again advances: he bends above her; a light veil rests on her features: he lifts it, bends lower; now his eyes anticipate the vision of beauty- warm, and blooming, and lovely, in rest. How hurried was their first glance! But how they fix! How he starts! How he suddenly and vehemently clasps in both arms the form he dared not, a moment since, touch with his finger! How he calls aloud a name, and drops his burden, and gazes on it wildly! He thus grasps and cries, and gazes, because he no longer fears to waken by any sound he can utter- by any movement he can make. He thought his love slept sweetly: he finds she is stone dead.

I looked with timorous joy towards a stately house: I saw a blackened ruin.

No need to cower behind a gate-post, indeed!- to peep up at chamber lattices, fearing life was astir behind them! No need to listen for doors opening- to fancy steps on the pavement or the gravel-walk!

The lawn, the grounds were trodden and waste: the portal yawned void. The front was, as I had once seen it in a dream, but a shell-like wall, very high and very fragile-looking, perforated with paneless windows: no roof, no battlements, no chimneys- all had crashed in.

And there was the silence of death about it: the solitude of a lonesome wild. No wonder that letters addressed to people here had never received an answer: as well despatch epistles to a vault in a church aisle. The grim blackness of the stones told by what fate the Hall had fallen- by conflagration: but how kindled? What story belonged to this disaster? What loss, besides mortar and marble and woodwork had followed upon it? Had life been wrecked as well as property? If so, whose? Dreadful question: there was no one here to answer it- not even dumb sign, mute token.

In wandering round the shattered walls and through the devastated interior, I gathered evidence that the calamity was not of late occurrence. Winter snows, I thought, had drifted through that void arch, winter rains beaten in at those hollow casements; for, amidst the drenched piles of rubbish, spring had cherished vegetation: grass and weed grew here and there between the stones and fallen rafters. And oh! where meantime was the hapless owner of this wreck?

In what land? Under what auspices? My eye involuntarily wandered to the grey church tower near the gates, and I asked, 'Is he with Damer de Rochester, sharing the shelter of his narrow marble house?'

Some answer must be had to these questions. I could find it nowhere but at the inn, and thither, ere long, I returned. The host himself brought my breakfast into the parlour. I requested him to shut the door and sit down: I had some questions to ask him. But when he complied, I scarcely knew how to begin; such horror had I of the possible answers. And yet the spectacle of desolation I had just left prepared me in a measure for a tale of misery. The host was a respectable-looking, middle-aged man.

'You know Thornfield Hall, of course?' I managed to say at last.

'Yes, ma'am; I lived there once.'

'Did you?' Not in my time, I thought: you are a stranger to me.

'I was the late Mr. Rochester's butler,' he added.

The late! I seem to have received, with full force, the blow I had been trying to evade.

'The late!' I gasped. 'Is he dead?'

'I mean the present gentleman, Mr. Edward's father,' he explained. I breathed again: my blood resumed its flow. Fully assured by these words that Mr. Edward- my Mr. Rochester (God bless him, wherever he was!)- was at least alive: was, in short, 'the present gentleman.' Gladdening words! It seemed I could hear all that was to come- whatever the disclosures might be- with comparative tranquillity. Since he was not in the grave, I could bear, I thought, to learn that he was at the Antipodes.

'Is Mr. Rochester living at Thornfield Hall now?' I asked, knowing, of course, what the answer would be, but yet desirous of deferring the direct question as to where he really was.

'No, ma'am- oh, no! No one is living there. I suppose you are a stranger in these parts, or you would have heard what happened last autumn,- Thornfield Hall is quite a ruin: it was burnt down just about harvest-time. A dreadful calamity! such an immense quantity of valuable property destroyed: hardly any of the furniture could be saved. The fire broke out at dead of night, and before the engines arrived from Millcote, the building was one mass of flame. It was a terrible spectacle: I witnessed it myself.'

'At dead of night!' I muttered. Yes, that was ever the hour of fatality at Thornfield. 'Was it known how it originated?' I demanded.

'They guessed, ma'am: they guessed. Indeed, I should say it was ascertained beyond a doubt. You are not perhaps aware,' he continued, edging his chair a little nearer the table, and speaking low, 'that there was a lady- a- a lunatic, kept in the house?'

'I have heard something of it.'

'She was kept in very close confinement, ma'am; people even for some years was not absolutely certain of her existence. No one saw her: they only knew by rumour that such a person was at the Hall;

and who or what she was it was difficult to conjecture. They said Mr. Edward had brought her from abroad, and some believed she had been his mistress. But a queer thing happened a year since- a very queer thing.'

I feared now to hear my own story. I endeavoured to recall him to the main fact.

'And this lady?'

'This lady, ma'am,' he answered, 'turned out to be Mr. Rochester's wife! The discovery was brought about in the strangest way. There was a young lady, a governess at the Hall, that Mr. Rochester fell in-'

'But the fire,' I suggested.

'I'm coming to that, ma'am- that Mr. Edward fell in love with. The servants say they never saw anybody so much in love as he was: he was after her continually. They used to watch him- servants will, you know, ma'am- and he set store on her past everything: for all, nobody but him thought her so very handsome. She was a little small thing, they say, almost like a child. I never saw her myself; but I've heard Leah, the housemaid, tell of her. Leah liked her well enough.

Mr. Rochester was about forty, and this governess not twenty; and you see, when gentlemen of his age fall in love with girls, they are often like as if they were bewitched. Well, he would marry her.'

'You shall tell me this part of the story another time,' I said; 'but now I have a particular reason for wishing to hear all about the fire. Was it suspected that this lunatic, Mrs. Rochester, had any hand in it?'

'You've hit it, ma'am: it's quite certain that it was her, and nobody but her, that set it going. She had a woman to take care of her called Mrs. Poole- an able woman in her line, and very trustworthy, but for one fault- a fault common to a deal of them nurses and matrons- she kept a private bottle of gin by her, and now and then took a drop over-much. It is excusable, for she had a hard life of it: but still it was dangerous; for when Mrs. Poole was fast asleep after the gin and water, the mad lady, who was as cunning as a witch, would take the keys out of her pocket, let herself out of her chamber, and go roaming about the house, doing any wild mischief that came into her head. They say she had nearly burnt her husband in his bed once: but I don't know about that. However, on this night, she set fire first to the hangings of the room next her own, and then she got down to a lower Storey, and made her way to the chamber that had been the governess's- (she was like as if she knew somehow how matters had gone on, and had a spite at her)- and she kindled the bed there; but there was nobody sleeping in it, fortunately. The governess had run away two months before; and for all Mr. Rochester sought her as if she had been the most precious thing he had in the world, he never could hear a word of her; and he grew savage- quite savage on his disappointment: he never was a wild man, but he got dangerous after he lost her. He would be alone, too. He sent Mrs. Fairfax, the housekeeper, away to her friends at a distance; but he did it handsomely, for he settled an annuity on her for life: and she deserved it- she was a very good woman. Miss Adele, a ward he had, was put to school. He broke off acquaintance with all the gentry, and shut himself up like a hermit at the Hall.'

'What! did he not leave England?'

'Leave England? Bless you, no! He would not cross the door-stones of the house, except at night, when he walked just like a ghost about the grounds and in the orchard as if he had lost his senses- which it is my opinion he had; for a more spirited, bolder, keener gentleman than he was before that midge of a governess crossed him, you never saw, ma'am. He was not a man given to wine, or cards, or racing, as some are, and he was not so very handsome; but he had a courage and a will of his own, if ever man had. I knew him from a boy, you see: and for my part, I have often wished that Miss Eyre had been sunk in the sea before she came to Thornfield Hall.'

'Then Mr. Rochester was at home when the fire broke out?'

'Yes, indeed was he; and he went up to the attics when all was burning above and below, and got the servants out of their beds and helped them down himself, and went back to get his mad wife out of her cell. And then they called out to him that she was on the roof, where she was standing, waving her arms, above the battlements, and shouting out till they could hear her a mile off: I saw her and heard her with my own eyes. She was a big woman, and had long black hair: we could see it streaming against the flames as she stood. I witnessed, and several more witnessed, Mr. Rochester ascend through the skylight on to the roof; we heard him call "Bertha!" We saw him approach her; and then, ma'am, she yelled and gave a spring, and the next minute she lay smashed on the pavement.'

'Dead?'

'Dead! Ay, dead as the stones on which her brains and blood were scattered.'

'Good God!'

'You may well say so, ma'am: it was frightful!'

He shuddered.

'And afterwards?' I urged.

'Well, ma'am, afterwards the house was burnt to the ground: there are only some bits of walls standing now.'

'Were any other lives lost?'

'No- perhaps it would have been better if there had.'

'What do you mean?'

'Poor Mr. Edward!' he ejaculated, 'I little thought ever to have seen it? Some say it was a just judgment on him for keeping his first marriage secret, and wanting to take another wife while he had one living: but I pity him, for my part.'

'You said he was alive?' I exclaimed.

'Yes, yes: he is alive; but many think he had better be dead.'

'Why? How?' My blood was again running cold. 'Where is he?' I demanded. 'Is he in England?'

'Ay- ay- he's in England; he can't get out of England, I fancy- he's a fixture now.'

What agony was this! And the man seemed resolved to protract it.

'He is stone-blind,' he said at last. 'Yes, he is stone-blind, is Mr. Edward.'

I had dreaded worse. I had dreaded he was mad. I summoned strength to ask what had caused this calamity.

'It was all his own courage, and a body may say, his kindness, in a way, ma'am: he wouldn't leave the house till every one else was out before him. As he came down the great staircase at last, after Mrs.

Rochester had flung herself from the battlements, there was a great crash- all fell. He was taken out from under the ruins, alive, but sadly hurt: a beam had fallen in such a way as to protect him partly; but one eye was knocked out, and one hand so crushed that Mr. Carter, the surgeon, had to amputate it directly. The other eye inflamed: he lost the sight of that also. He is now helpless, indeed- blind and a cripple.'

'Where is he? Where does he now live?'

'At Ferndean, a manor-house on a farm he has, about thirty miles off: quite a desolate spot.'

'Who is with him?'

'Old John and his wife: he would have none else. He is quite broken down, they say.'

'Have you any sort of conveyance?'

'We have a chaise, ma'am, a very handsome chaise.'

'Let it be got ready instantly; and if your post-boy can drive me to Ferndean before dark this day, I'll pay both you and him twice the hire you usually demand.'
 

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简 爱

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第三十六章
 
英文
 
 
白昼来临,拂晓时我便起身了。我忙了一两个小时,根据短期外出的需要,把房间、抽屉和衣橱里的东西作了安排。与此同时,我听到圣.约翰离开了房间,在我房门外停了一下,我担心他会敲门——不,他没有敲,却从门底下塞进来一个纸条,我拿起来一看,只见上面写着:

“咋晚你离开我太突然了。要是你再呆一会儿,你就会把手放在基督的十字架和天使的皇冠上了。二周后的今天我回来时盼你已作出明确的决定。同时,你要留心并祈祷,愿自己不受诱惑。我相信,灵是愿意的;但我也看到,肉是软弱的。我会时时为你祈祷——你的,
圣.约翰。”

“我的灵,”我心里回答,“乐意做一切对的事情,我希望我的肉也很坚强,一旦明确上帝的意志、便有力量去实现它。无论如何,我的肉体是够坚强的,让我可以去探求——询问——摸索出路,驱散疑云,找到确然无疑的晴空。”

这是六月一日。早晨,满天阴云,凉气袭人,骤雨敲窗。我听见前门开了,圣.约翰走了出去。透过窗子,我看到他走过花园,踏上雾蒙蒙的荒原,朝惠特克劳斯方向走去,——那儿他将搭上马车。

“几小时之后我会循着你的足迹,表兄,”我想:“我也要去惠特克劳斯搭乘马车。在永远告别英国之前,我也有人要探望和问候。”

离早餐还有两个小时。这段时间我在房间里轻轻地走来走去,思忖着促成我眼前这番计划的奇事。我回忆着我所经历的内在感觉,我能回想起那种难以言说的怪异。我回想着我听到的声音,再次像以前那样徒劳地问,它究竟从何而来。这声音似乎来自我内心——而不是外部世界。我问道,难道这不过是一种神经质的印象——一种幻觉?我既无法想象,也并不相信。它更像是神灵的启示。这惊人的震感来势猛似地震,摇撼了保尔和西拉所在的监狱的地基,它打开了心灵的牢门,松开了锁链,——把心灵从沉睡中唤醒,它呆呆地颤栗着,倾听着。随后一声尖叫震动了三次,冲击着我受惊的耳朵,沉入我震颤的心田,穿透了我心灵。心灵既不害怕,也没有震惊,而是欢喜雀跃,仿佛因为有幸不受沉重的躯体支配,作了一次成功的努力而十分高兴似的。

“不要很多天,”我从沉思中回过神来后说。“我会了解到他的一些情况,昨晚他的声音已经召唤过我。信函问询已证明毫无结果——我要代之以亲自探访。”

早餐时,我向黛安娜和玛丽宣布,我要出门去,至少离开四天。

“一个人去吗,简?”她们问。

“是的,去看看,或者打听一下一个朋友的消息,我已为他担心了好久了。”

正如我明白她们在想的那样,她们本可以说,一直以为除了她们,我没有别的朋友,其实我也总是这么讲的。但出于天生真诚的体贴,她们没有发表任何议论,除了黛安娜问我身体是否确实不错,是否适宜旅行。她说我脸色苍白。我回答说没有什么不适,只不过内心有些不安,但相信不久就会好的。

于是接下来的安排就容易了,因为我不必为刨根究底和东猜西想而烦恼。我一向她们解释,现在还不能明确宣布我的计划,她们便聪明而善解人意地默许我悄然进行,给了我在同样情况下也会给予她们的自由行动的特权。

下午三点我离开了沼泽居,四点后不久,我便已站在惠特克劳斯的路牌下,等待着马车把我带到遥远的桑菲尔德去。在荒山野路的寂静之中,我很远就听到了马车靠近了。一年前的一个夏夜,我就是从这辆马车上走下来,就在这个地方——那么凄凉,那么无望,那么毫无目的!我一招手马车便停了下来。我上了车——现在已不必为一个座位而倾囊所有了。我再次踏上去桑菲尔德的路途,真有信鸽飞回家园之感。

这是一段三十六小时的旅程。星期二下午从惠特克劳斯出发,星期四一早,马车在路边的一家旅店停下,让马饮水。旅店座落在绿色的树篱、宽阔的田野和低矮的放牧小山之中(与中北部莫尔顿严峻的荒原相比,这里的地形多么柔和,颜色何等苍翠?。?,这番景色映入我眼帘,犹如一位一度熟悉的人的面容。不错,我了解这里景物的特点,我确信已接近目的地了。

“桑菲尔德离这儿有多远?”我问旅店侍马人。

“穿过田野走两英里就到了,小姐。”

“我的旅程结束了,”我暗自思忖。我跳下马车,把身边的一个盒子交给侍马人保管,回头再来提取,付了车钱,给足了马夫,便启程上路了。黎明的曙光照在旅店的招牌上,我看到了镀金的字母“罗切斯特纹章”,心便砰砰乱跳,原来我已来到我主人的地界。但转念一想,又心如止水了。

“也许你的主人在英吉利海峡彼岸??銮?,就是他在你匆匆前往的桑菲尔德府,除了他还有谁也在那里呢?还有他发了疯的妻子,而你与他毫不相干。你不敢同他说话,或者前去找他。你劳而无功——你还是别再往前走吧,”冥冥中的监视者敦促道。“从旅店里的人那里探听一下消息吧,他们会提供你寻觅的一切情况,立刻解开你的疑团,走到那个人跟前去,问问罗切斯特先生在不在家。”

这个建议很明智,但我无法迫使自己去实施。我害怕得到一个让我绝望的回答。延长疑虑就是延长希望。我也许能再见一见星光照耀下的府第。我面前还是那道踏阶——还是那片田野,那天早晨我逃离桑菲尔德,急急忙忙穿过这片田野,不顾一切,漫无目的,心烦意乱,被一种复仇的愤怒跟踪着,痛苦地折磨着。呵,我还没决定走哪条路,就己置身于这片田野之中了。我走得好快呀!有时候我那么奔跑着!我多么希望一眼就看到熟悉的林子呵,我是带着怎样的感情来欢迎我所熟悉的一棵棵树木,以及树与树之间的草地和小山呵!

树林终于出现在眼前,白嘴鸦黑压压一片,呱呱的响亮叫声打破了清晨的寂静。一种奇怪的喜悦激励着我,使我急煎煎往前赶路,穿过另一片田野——走过一条小径——看到了院墙——但后屋的下房、府搂本身、以及白嘴鸦的巢穴,依然隐而不见。“我第一眼看到的应是府第的正面,”我心里很有把握,“那里雄伟醒目的城垛会立刻扑入眼帘;那里我能认出我主人的那扇窗子,也许他会伫立窗前——他起得很早。也许他这会儿正漫步在果园里,或音前面铺筑过的路上。要是我能见见他该多好!——就是一会儿也好!当然要是那样,我总不该发狂到向他直冲过去吧?我说不上来——我不敢肯定。要是我冲上去了——那又怎么样?上帝祝福他!那又怎么样?让我回味一下他的目光所给予我的生命,又会伤害了谁呢?——我在呓语。也许此刻他在比利牛斯山或者南部风平浪的的海面上规赏着日出呢。”

我信步朝果园的矮墙走去,在拐角处转了弯,这里有一扇门,开向草地,门两边有两根石柱,顶上有两个石球。从一根石柱后面我可以悄然四顾,看到府宅的全部正面。我小心地探出头去,很希望看个明白,是不是有的窗帘已经卷起。从这个隐蔽的地方望去,城垛、窗子和府楼长长的正面,尽收眼底。

我这么观察着的时候,在头顶滑翔的乌鸦们也许正俯视着我。我不知道它们在想什么,它们一定以为起初我十分小心和胆怯,但渐渐地我变得大胆而鲁莽了。我先是窥视一下,随后久久盯着,再后是离开我躲藏的角落,不经意走进了草地,突然在府宅正面停下脚步,久久地死盯着它。“起初为什么装模做样羞羞答答?”乌鸦们也许会问,“而这会儿又为什么傻里傻气,不顾一切了?”

读者呀,且听我解释。

一位情人发现他的爱人睡在长满青苔的河岸上,他希望看一眼她漂亮的面孔而不惊醒她。他悄悄地踏上草地,注意不发出一点声响,他停下脚步——想象她翻了个身。他往后退去,千方百计要不让她看到。四周万籁俱寂。他再次往前走去,向她低下头去。她的脸上盖着一块轻纱。他揭开面纱,身子弯得更低了。这会儿他的眼睛期待着看到这个美人儿——安睡中显得热情、年青和可爱。他的第一眼多么急不可耐!但他两眼发呆了:他多么吃惊!他又何等突然,何等激烈地紧紧抱住不久之前连碰都不敢碰的这个躯体,用手指去碰它!他大声呼叫着一个名字,放下了抱着的身躯,狂乱地直愣愣瞧着它。他于是紧抱着,呼叫着,凝视着,因为他不再担心他发出的任何声音,所做的任何动作会把她惊醒。他以为他的爱人睡得很甜。但此发现她早己死去了。

我带着怯生生的喜悦朝堂皇的府第看去,我看到了一片焦黑的废墟。

没有必要躲在门柱后面畏缩不前了,真的!——没有必要偷偷地眺望房间的格子窗,而担心窗后已有动静!没有必要倾听打开房门的声音——没有必要想象铺筑过的路和砂石小径上的脚步声了,草地,庭院已踏得稀烂,一片荒芜。入口的门空张着。府第的正门象我一次梦中所见的那样,剩下了贝壳似的一堵墙,高高耸立,却岌岌可危,布满了没有玻璃的窗孔。没有屋顶,没有城垛,没有烟囱——全都倒塌了。

这里笼罩着死一般的沉寂和旷野的凄凉。怪不得给这儿的人写信,仿佛是送信给教堂过道上的墓穴,从来得不到答复。黑森森的石头诉说着府宅遭了什么厄运,一火灾。但又是怎么烧起来的呢?这场灾难的经过加何?除了灰浆、大理石和木制品,还有什么其他损失呢,生命是不是象财产一样遭到了毁灭?如果是,谁丧失了生命?这个可怕的问题,眼前没有谁来回答——甚至连默默的迹象、无言的标记都无法回答。

我徘徊在断垣颓壁之间,穿行于残破的府宅内层之中,获得了迹象,表明这场灾难不是最近发生的。我想,冬雪曾经飘入空空的拱门,冬雨打在没有玻璃的窗户上。在一堆堆湿透了的垃圾中,春意催发了草木,乱石堆中和断梁之间,处处长出了野草。呵!这片废墟的主人又在哪里?他在哪个国度?在谁的?;ぶ??我的目光不由自主地飘向了大门边灰色的教堂塔楼,我问道,“难道他已随戴默尔.德.罗切斯特而去,共住在狭窄的大理石房子里?”

这些问题都得找到答案。而除了旅店,别处是找不到的。于是不久我便返回那里。老板亲自把早餐端到客厅里来,我请他关了门,坐下来。我有些问题要问他,但待他答应之后,我却不知道从何开始了。我对可能得到的回答怀着一种恐俱感,然而刚才看到的那番荒凉景象,为一个悲惨的故事作好了一定的准备。老板看上去是位体面的中年人。

“你当然知道桑菲尔德府了?”我终于启齿了。

“是的,小姐,我以前在那里住过。”

“是吗?”不是我在的时候,我想。我觉得他很陌生。

“我是已故的罗切斯特先生的管家,”他补充道。

已故的!我觉得我避之不迭的打击重重地落到我头上了。

“已故的!”我透不过气来了。“他死了?”

“我说的是现在的老爷,爱德华先生的父亲,”他解释说。我又喘过气来了,我的血液也继续流动。他的这番话使我确信,爱德华先生——我的罗切斯特先生(无论他在何方,愿上帝祝福他?。┲辽倩够钭?,总之还是“现在的老爷”,(多让人高兴的话?。┪宜坪蹙醯?,不管他会透露什么消息,我会比较平静地去倾听。我想,就是知道他在新西兰和澳大利亚,我都能忍受。

“罗切斯特先生如今还住在桑菲尔德府吗?”我问,当然知道他会怎样回答,但并不想马上就直截了当地问起他的确实住处。

“不,小姐——呵,不!那儿已没有人住了,我想你对附近地方很陌生,不然你会听到过去年秋天发生的事情。桑菲尔德府已经全毁了。大约秋收的时候烧掉的——一场可怕的灾难!那么多值钱的财产都毁掉了,几乎没有一件家具幸免?;鹪质巧钜狗⑸?,从米尔科特来的救火车还没有开到,府宅已经是一片熊熊大火。这景象真可怕,我是亲眼见到的。”

“深夜!”我咕哝着。是呀,在桑菲尔德府那是致命的时刻。“知道是怎么引起的吗?”我问。

“他们猜想,小姐,他们是这么猜想的,其实,我该说那是确然无疑的。你也许不知道吧,”他往下说,把椅子往桌子稍稍挪了挪,声音放得很低,“有一位夫人——一个——一个疯子,关在屋子里?”

“我隐隐约约听到过。”

“她被严加看管着,小姐。好几年了,外人都不能完全确定有她这么个人在。没有人见过她。他们只不过凭谣传知道,府里有这样一个人。她究竟是谁,干什么的,却很难想象。他们说是爱德华先生从国外把她带回来的。有人相信,是他的情妇。但一年前发生了一件奇怪的事情——一件非常奇怪的事情。”

我担心这会儿要听我自己的故事了。我竭力把他拉回到正题上。

“这位太太呢?”

“这位太太,小姐,”他回答,“原来就是罗切斯特先生的妻子!发现的方式也是再奇怪不过的。府上有一位年青小姐,是位家庭教师,罗切斯特先生与她相爱了——”

“可是火灾呢?”我提醒。

“我就要谈到了,小姐——爱德华先生爱上了。佣人们说,他们从来没有见到有谁像他那么倾心过。他死死追求她。他们总是注意着他——你知道佣人们会这样的,小姐——他倾慕她,胜过了一切。所有的人,除了他,没有人认为她很漂亮。他们说,她是个小不点儿,几乎象个孩子。我从来没有见过她,不过听女仆莉娅说起过。莉娅也是够喜欢她的。罗切斯特先生四十岁左右,这个家庭女教师还不到二十岁。你瞧,他这种年纪的男人爱上了姑娘们,往往象是神魂颠倒似的。是呀,他要娶她。”

“这部份故事改日再谈吧,”我说,“而现在我特别想要听听你说说大火的事儿。是不是怀疑这个疯子,罗切斯特太太参与其中?”

“你说对了,小姐??隙ㄊ撬?,除了她,没有谁会放火的。她有一个女人照应,名叫普尔太太——干那一行是很能干的,也很可靠。但有一个毛病——那些看护和主妇的通病——她私自留着—瓶杜松子酒,而且常常多喝那么一口。那也是可以原谅的,因为她活得太辛苦了,不过那很危险,酒和水一下肚,普尔太太睡得烂熟,那位像巫婆一般狡猾的疯女人,便会从她口袋里掏出钥匙,开了门溜出房间,在府宅游荡,心血来潮便什么荒唐的事都干得出来。他们说,有一回差一点把她的丈夫烧死在床上。不过我不知道那回事。但是,那天晚上,她先是放火点燃了隔壁房间的帷幔,随后下了一层楼,走到原来那位家庭女教师的房间(不知怎么搞的,她似乎知道事情的进展,而且对她怀恨在心)——给她的床放了把火,幸亏没有人睡在里面。两个月前,那个家庭女教师就出走了。尽管罗切斯特先生拼命找她,仿佛她是稀世珍宝,但她还是杳无音讯。他变得越来越粗暴了——因为失望而非常粗暴。他从来就不是一个性性情温和的人,而失去她以后,简直就危险了。他还喜欢孤身独处,把管家费尔法克斯太太送到她远方的朋友那儿去了。不过他做得很慷慨,付给她一笔终身年金,而她也是受之无愧的——她是一个很好的女人。他把他监护的阿黛勒小姐,送进了学校。与所有的绅士们断绝了往来,自己像隐士那样住在府上,闭门不出。”

“什么!他没有离开英国?”

“离开英国?哎哟,没有!他连门槛都不跨出去。除了夜里,他会像一个幽灵那样在庭院和果园里游荡——仿佛神经错乱似的——依我看是这么回事。他败在那位小个子女教师手里之前,小姐,你从来没见过哪位先生像他那么活跃,那么大胆、那么勇敢。他不是像有些人那样热衷于饮酒、玩牌和赛马,他也不怎么漂亮,但他有着男人特有的勇气和意志力。你瞧,他还是一个孩子的时候我就认识他了,至于我,但愿那位爱小姐,还没到桑菲尔德府就
给沉到海底去了。”

“那么起火时罗切斯特先生是在家里了?”

“不错,他确实在家。上上下下都烧起来的时候,他上了阁楼,把仆人们从床上叫醒,亲自帮他们下楼来——随后又返回去,要把发疯的妻子弄出房间。那时他们喊他,说她在屋顶。她站在城垛上、挥动着胳膊,大喊大叫,一英里外都听得见。我亲眼见了她,亲耳听到了她的声音。她个儿很大,头发又长又黑,站着时我们看到她的头发映着火光在飘动。我亲眼看到,还有好几个人也看到了罗切斯特先生穿过天窗爬上了屋顶。我们听他叫了声“佩莎!”我们见他朝她走去,随后,小姐,她大叫一声,纵身跳了下去,刹那之间,她已躺在路上,粉身碎骨了。”

“死了?”

“死了!呵,完全断气了,在石头上脑浆迸裂,鲜血四溅。”

“天哪!”

“你完全可以这么说,小姐,真吓人哪!”他打了个寒颤。

“那么后来呢?”我催促着,

“唉呀,小姐,后来整座房子都夷为平地了,眼下只有几截子墙还立着。”

“还死了其他人吗?”

“没有——要是有倒也许还好些?”

“你这话是什么意思?”

“可怜的爱德华,”他失声叫道,“我从来没有想到会见到这样的事情!有人说那不过是对他瞒了第一次婚姻,妻子活着还想再娶的报应。但拿我来讲,我是怜悯他的。”

“你说了他还活着?”我叫道。

“是呀,是呀,他还活着。但很多人认为他还是死了的好。”

“为什么?怎么会呢?”我的血又冰冷了。“他在哪儿?”我问。“在英国吗?”

“呵——呵——他是在英国,他没有办法走出英国,我想——现在他是寸步难行了。”那是什么病痛呀?这人似乎决意吞吞吐吐。

“他全瞎了,”他终于说。“是呀,他全瞎了——爱德华先生。”

我担心更坏的结局,担心他疯了。我鼓足勇气问他造成灾难的原因。

“全是因为他的胆量,你也可以说,因为他的善良,小姐。他要等所有的人在他之前逃出来了才肯离开房子。罗切斯特夫人跳下城垛后,他终于走下了那个大楼梯,就在这时,轰隆一声,全都塌了下来。他从废墟底下被拖了出来,虽然还活着,但伤势严重。一根大梁掉了下来,正好护住了他一些。不过他的一只眼睛被砸了出来,一只手被压烂了,因此医生卡特不得不将它立刻截了下来。另一只眼睛发炎了,也失去了视力。如今他又瞎又残,实在是束手无策了。”

“他在哪儿?他现在住在什么地方?”

“在芬丁,他的一个庄园里,离这里三十英里,是个很荒凉的地方。”

“谁跟他在一起?”

“老约翰和他的妻子。别人他都不要。他们说,他身体全垮了。”

“你有什么车辆吗?”

“我们有一辆轻便马车,小姐,很好看的一辆车。”

“马上把车准备好。要是你那位驿车送信人肯在天黑前把我送到芬丁,我会付给你和他双倍的价钱。”
 

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