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马丁・伊登(MARTIN EDEN)第七章

发表时间:2022-07-06  

A week of heavy reading had passed since the evening he first met Ruth Morse, and still he dared not call. Time and again he nerved himself up to call, but under the doubts that assailed him his determination died away. He did not know the proper time to call, nor was there any one to tell him, and he was afraid of committing himself to an irretrievable blunder. Having shaken himself free from his old companions and old ways of life, and having no new companions, nothing remained for him but to read, and the long hours he devoted to it would have ruined a dozen pairs of ordinary eyes. But his eyes were strong, and they were backed by a body superbly strong. Furthermore, his mind was fallow. It had lain fallow all his life so far as the abstract thought of the books was concerned, and it was ripe for the sowing. It had never been jaded by study, and it bit hold of the knowledge in the books with sharp teeth that would not let go.

It seemed to him, by the end of the week, that he had lived centuries, so far behind were the old life and outlook. But he was baffled by lack of preparation. He attempted to read books that required years of preliminary specialization. One day he would read a book of antiquated philosophy, and the next day one that was ultra-modern, so that his head would be whirling with the conflict and contradiction of ideas. It was the same with the economists. On the one shelf at the library he found Karl Marx, Ricardo, Adam Smith, and Mill, and the abstruse formulas of the one gave no clew that the ideas of another were obsolete. He was bewildered, and yet he wanted to know. He had become interested, in a day, in economics, industry, and politics. Passing through the City Hall Park, he had noticed a group of men, in the centre of which were half a dozen, with flushed faces and raised voices, earnestly carrying on a discussion. He joined the listeners, and heard a new, alien tongue in the mouths of the philosophers of the people. One was a tramp, another was a labor agitator, a third was a law- school student, and the remainder was composed of wordy workingmen. For the first time he heard of socialism, anarchism, and single tax, and learned that there were warring social philosophies. He heard hundreds of technical words that were new to him, belonging to fields of thought that his meagre reading had never touched upon. Because of this he could not follow the arguments closely, and he could only guess at and surmise the ideas wrapped up in such strange expressions. Then there was a black-eyed restaurant waiter who was a theosophist, a union baker who was an agnostic, an old man who baffled all of them with the strange philosophy that WHAT IS IS RIGHT, and another old man who discoursed interminably about the cosmos and the father-atom and the mother-atom.

Martin Eden's head was in a state of addlement when he went away after several hours, and he hurried to the library to look up the definitions of a dozen unusual words. And when he left the library, he carried under his arm four volumes: Madam Blavatsky's "Secret Doctrine," "Progress and Poverty," "The Quintessence of Socialism," and, "Warfare of Religion and Science." Unfortunately, he began on the "Secret Doctrine." Every line bristled with many- syllabled words he did not understand. He sat up in bed, and the dictionary was in front of him more often than the book. He looked up so many new words that when they recurred, he had forgotten their meaning and had to look them up again. He devised the plan of writing the definitions in a note-book, and filled page after page with them. And still he could not understand. He read until three in the morning, and his brain was in a turmoil, but not one essential thought in the text had he grasped. He looked up, and it seemed that the room was lifting, heeling, and plunging like a ship upon the sea. Then he hurled the "Secret Doctrine" and many curses across the room, turned off the gas, and composed himself to sleep. Nor did he have much better luck with the other three books. It was not that his brain was weak or incapable; it could think these thoughts were it not for lack of training in thinking and lack of the thought-tools with which to think. He guessed this, and for a while entertained the idea of reading nothing but the dictionary until he had mastered every word in it.

Poetry, however, was his solace, and he read much of it, finding his greatest joy in the simpler poets, who were more understandable. He loved beauty, and there he found beauty. Poetry, like music, stirred him profoundly, and, though he did not know it, he was preparing his mind for the heavier work that was to come. The pages of his mind were blank, and, without effort, much he read and liked, stanza by stanza, was impressed upon those pages, so that he was soon able to extract great joy from chanting aloud or under his breath the music and the beauty of the printed words he had read. Then he stumbled upon Gayley's "Classic Myths" and Bulfinch's "Age of Fable," side by side on a library shelf. It was illumination, a great light in the darkness of his ignorance, and he read poetry more avidly than ever.

The man at the desk in the library had seen Martin there so often that he had become quite cordial, always greeting him with a smile and a nod when he entered. It was because of this that Martin did a daring thing. Drawing out some books at the desk, and while the man was stamping the cards, Martin blurted out:-

"Say, there's something I'd like to ask you."

The man smiled and paid attention.

"When you meet a young lady an' she asks you to call, how soon can you call?"

Martin felt his shirt press and cling to his shoulders, what of the sweat of the effort.

"Why I'd say any time," the man answered.

"Yes, but this is different," Martin objected. "She - I - well, you see, it's this way: maybe she won't be there. She goes to the university."

"Then call again."

"What I said ain't what I meant," Martin confessed falteringly, while he made up his mind to throw himself wholly upon the other's mercy. "I'm just a rough sort of a fellow, an' I ain't never seen anything of society. This girl is all that I ain't, an' I ain't anything that she is. You don't think I'm playin' the fool, do you?" he demanded abruptly.

"No, no; not at all, I assure you," the other protested. "Your request is not exactly in the scope of the reference department, but I shall be only too pleased to assist you."

Martin looked at him admiringly.

"If I could tear it off that way, I'd be all right," he said.

"I beg pardon?"

"I mean if I could talk easy that way, an' polite, an' all the rest."

"Oh," said the other, with comprehension.

"What is the best time to call? The afternoon? - not too close to meal-time? Or the evening? Or Sunday?"

"I'll tell you," the librarian said with a brightening face. "You call her up on the telephone and find out."

"I'll do it," he said, picking up his books and starting away.

He turned back and asked:-

"When you're speakin' to a young lady - say, for instance, Miss Lizzie Smith - do you say 'Miss Lizzie'? or 'Miss Smith'?"

"Say 'Miss Smith,'" the librarian stated authoritatively. "Say 'Miss Smith' always - until you come to know her better."

So it was that Martin Eden solved the problem.

"Come down any time; I'll be at home all afternoon," was Ruth's reply over the telephone to his stammered request as to when he could return the borrowed books.

She met him at the door herself, and her woman's eyes took in immediately the creased trousers and the certain slight but indefinable change in him for the better. Also, she was struck by his face. It was almost violent, this health of his, and it seemed to rush out of him and at her in waves of force. She felt the urge again of the desire to lean toward him for warmth, and marvelled again at the effect his presence produced upon her. And he, in turn, knew again the swimming sensation of bliss when he felt the contact of her hand in greeting. The difference between them lay in that she was cool and self-possessed while his face flushed to the roots of the hair. He stumbled with his old awkwardness after her, and his shoulders swung and lurched perilously.

Once they were seated in the living-room, he began to get on easily - more easily by far than he had expected. She made it easy for him; and the gracious spirit with which she did it made him love her more madly than ever. They talked first of the borrowed books, of the Swinburne he was devoted to, and of the Browning he did not understand; and she led the conversation on from subject to subject, while she pondered the problem of how she could be of help to him. She had thought of this often since their first meeting. She wanted to help him. He made a call upon her pity and tenderness that no one had ever made before, and the pity was not so much derogatory of him as maternal in her. Her pity could not be of the common sort, when the man who drew it was so much man as to shock her with maidenly fears and set her mind and pulse thrilling with strange thoughts and feelings. The old fascination of his neck was there, and there was sweetness in the thought of laying her hands upon it. It seemed still a wanton impulse, but she had grown more used to it. She did not dream that in such guise new-born love would epitomize itself. Nor did she dream that the feeling he excited in her was love. She thought she was merely interested in him as an unusual type possessing various potential excellencies, and she even felt philanthropic about it.

She did not know she desired him; but with him it was different. He knew that he loved her, and he desired her as he had never before desired anything in his life. He had loved poetry for beauty's sake; but since he met her the gates to the vast field of love-poetry had been opened wide. She had given him understanding even more than Bulfinch and Gayley. There was a line that a week before he would not have favored with a second thought - "God's own mad lover dying on a kiss"; but now it was ever insistent in his mind. He marvelled at the wonder of it and the truth; and as he gazed upon her he knew that he could die gladly upon a kiss. He felt himself God's own mad lover, and no accolade of knighthood could have given him greater pride. And at last he knew the meaning of life and why he had been born.

As he gazed at her and listened, his thoughts grew daring. He reviewed all the wild delight of the pressure of her hand in his at the door, and longed for it again. His gaze wandered often toward her lips, and he yearned for them hungrily. But there was nothing gross or earthly about this yearning. It gave him exquisite delight to watch every movement and play of those lips as they enunciated the words she spoke; yet they were not ordinary lips such as all men and women had. Their substance was not mere human clay. They were lips of pure spirit, and his desire for them seemed absolutely different from the desire that had led him to other women's lips. He could kiss her lips, rest his own physical lips upon them, but it would be with the lofty and awful fervor with which one would kiss the robe of God. He was not conscious of this transvaluation of values that had taken place in him, and was unaware that the light that shone in his eyes when he looked at her was quite the same light that shines in all men's eyes when the desire of love is upon them. He did not dream how ardent and masculine his gaze was, nor that the warm flame of it was affecting the alchemy of her spirit. Her penetrative virginity exalted and disguised his own emotions, elevating his thoughts to a star-cool chastity, and he would have been startled to learn that there was that shining out of his eyes, like warm waves, that flowed through her and kindled a kindred warmth. She was subtly perturbed by it, and more than once, though she knew not why, it disrupted her train of thought with its delicious intrusion and compelled her to grope for the remainder of ideas partly uttered. Speech was always easy with her, and these interruptions would have puzzled her had she not decided that it was because he was a remarkable type. She was very sensitive to impressions, and it was not strange, after all, that this aura of a traveller from another world should so affect her.

The problem in the background of her consciousness was how to help him, and she turned the conversation in that direction; but it was Martin who came to the point first.

"I wonder if I can get some advice from you," he began, and received an acquiescence of willingness that made his heart bound. "You remember the other time I was here I said I couldn't talk about books an' things because I didn't know how? Well, I've ben doin' a lot of thinkin' ever since. I've ben to the library a whole lot, but most of the books I've tackled have ben over my head. Mebbe I'd better begin at the beginnin'. I ain't never had no advantages. I've worked pretty hard ever since I was a kid, an' since I've ben to the library, lookin' with new eyes at books - an' lookin' at new books, too - I've just about concluded that I ain't ben reading the right kind. You know the books you find in cattle- camps an' fo'c's'ls ain't the same you've got in this house, for instance. Well, that's the sort of readin' matter I've ben accustomed to. And yet - an' I ain't just makin' a brag of it - I've ben different from the people I've herded with. Not that I'm any better than the sailors an' cow-punchers I travelled with, - I was cow-punchin' for a short time, you know, - but I always liked books, read everything I could lay hands on, an' - well, I guess I think differently from most of 'em.

"Now, to come to what I'm drivin' at. I was never inside a house like this. When I come a week ago, an' saw all this, an' you, an' your mother, an' brothers, an' everything - well, I liked it. I'd heard about such things an' read about such things in some of the books, an' when I looked around at your house, why, the books come true. But the thing I'm after is I liked it. I wanted it. I want it now. I want to breathe air like you get in this house - air that is filled with books, and pictures, and beautiful things, where people talk in low voices an' are clean, an' their thoughts are clean. The air I always breathed was mixed up with grub an' house-rent an' scrappin' an booze an' that's all they talked about, too. Why, when you was crossin' the room to kiss your mother, I thought it was the most beautiful thing I ever seen. I've seen a whole lot of life, an' somehow I've seen a whole lot more of it than most of them that was with me. I like to see, an' I want to see more, an' I want to see it different.

"But I ain't got to the point yet. Here it is. I want to make my way to the kind of life you have in this house. There's more in life than booze, an' hard work, an' knockin' about. Now, how am I goin' to get it? Where do I take hold an' begin? I'm willin' to work my passage, you know, an' I can make most men sick when it comes to hard work. Once I get started, I'll work night an' day. Mebbe you think it's funny, me askin' you about all this. I know you're the last person in the world I ought to ask, but I don't know anybody else I could ask - unless it's Arthur. Mebbe I ought to ask him. If I was - "

His voice died away. His firmly planned intention had come to a halt on the verge of the horrible probability that he should have asked Arthur and that he had made a fool of himself. Ruth did not speak immediately. She was too absorbed in striving to reconcile the stumbling, uncouth speech and its simplicity of thought with what she saw in his face. She had never looked in eyes that expressed greater power. Here was a man who could do anything, was the message she read there, and it accorded ill with the weakness of his spoken thought. And for that matter so complex and quick was her own mind that she did not have a just appreciation of simplicity. And yet she had caught an impression of power in the very groping of this mind. It had seemed to her like a giant writhing and straining at the bonds that held him down. Her face was all sympathy when she did speak.

"What you need, you realize yourself, and it is education. You should go back and finish grammar school, and then go through to high school and university."

"But that takes money," he interrupted.

"Oh!" she cried. "I had not thought of that. But then you have relatives, somebody who could assist you?"

He shook his head.

"My father and mother are dead. I've two sisters, one married, an' the other'll get married soon, I suppose. Then I've a string of brothers, - I'm the youngest, - but they never helped nobody. They've just knocked around over the world, lookin' out for number one. The oldest died in India. Two are in South Africa now, an' another's on a whaling voyage, an' one's travellin' with a circus - he does trapeze work. An' I guess I'm just like them. I've taken care of myself since I was eleven - that's when my mother died. I've got to study by myself, I guess, an' what I want to know is where to begin."

"I should say the first thing of all would be to get a grammar. Your grammar is - " She had intended saying "awful," but she amended it to "is not particularly good."

He flushed and sweated.

"I know I must talk a lot of slang an' words you don't understand. But then they're the only words I know - how to speak. I've got other words in my mind, picked 'em up from books, but I can't pronounce 'em, so I don't use 'em."

"It isn't what you say, so much as how you say it. You don't mind my being frank, do you? I don't want to hurt you."

"No, no," he cried, while he secretly blessed her for her kindness. "Fire away. I've got to know, an' I'd sooner know from you than anybody else."

"Well, then, you say, 'You was'; it should be, 'You were.' You say 'I seen' for 'I saw.' You use the double negative - "

"What's the double negative?" he demanded; then added humbly, "You see, I don't even understand your explanations."

"I'm afraid I didn't explain that," she smiled. "A double negative is - let me see - well, you say, 'never helped nobody.' 'Never' is a negative. 'Nobody' is another negative. It is a rule that two negatives make a positive. 'Never helped nobody' means that, not helping nobody, they must have helped somebody."

"That's pretty clear," he said. "I never thought of it before. But it don't mean they MUST have helped somebody, does it? Seems to me that 'never helped nobody' just naturally fails to say whether or not they helped somebody. I never thought of it before, and I'll never say it again."

She was pleased and surprised with the quickness and surety of his mind. As soon as he had got the clew he not only understood but corrected her error.

"You'll find it all in the grammar," she went on. "There's something else I noticed in your speech. You say 'don't' when you shouldn't. 'Don't' is a contraction and stands for two words. Do you know them?"

He thought a moment, then answered, "'Do not.'"

She nodded her head, and said, "And you use 'don't' when you mean 'does not.'"

He was puzzled over this, and did not get it so quickly.

"Give me an illustration," he asked.

"Well - " She puckered her brows and pursed up her mouth as she thought, while he looked on and decided that her expression was most adorable. "'It don't do to be hasty.' Change 'don't' to 'do not,' and it reads, 'It do not do to be hasty,' which is perfectly absurd."

He turned it over in his mind and considered.

"Doesn't it jar on your ear?" she suggested.

"Can't say that it does," he replied judicially.

"Why didn't you say, 'Can't say that it do'?" she queried.

"That sounds wrong," he said slowly. "As for the other I can't make up my mind. I guess my ear ain't had the trainin' yours has."

"There is no such word as 'ain't,'" she said, prettily emphatic.

Martin flushed again.

"And you say 'ben' for 'been,'" she continued; "'come' for 'came'; and the way you chop your endings is something dreadful."

"How do you mean?" He leaned forward, feeling that he ought to get down on his knees before so marvellous a mind. "How do I chop?"

"You don't complete the endings. 'A-n-d' spells 'and.' You pronounce it 'an'.' 'I-n-g' spells 'ing.' Sometimes you pronounce it 'ing' and sometimes you leave off the 'g.' And then you slur by dropping initial letters and diphthongs. 'T-h-e-m' spells 'them.' You pronounce it - oh, well, it is not necessary to go over all of them. What you need is the grammar. I'll get one and show you how to begin."

As she arose, there shot through his mind something that he had read in the etiquette books, and he stood up awkwardly, worrying as to whether he was doing the right thing, and fearing that she might take it as a sign that he was about to go.

"By the way, Mr. Eden," she called back, as she was leaving the room. "What is BOOZE? You used it several times, you know."

"Oh, booze," he laughed. "It's slang. It means whiskey an' beer - anything that will make you drunk."

"And another thing," she laughed back. "Don't use 'you' when you are impersonal. 'You' is very personal, and your use of it just now was not precisely what you meant."

"I don't just see that."

"Why, you said just now, to me, 'whiskey and beer - anything that will make you drunk' - make me drunk, don't you see?"

"Well, it would, wouldn't it?"

"Yes, of course," she smiled. "But it would be nicer not to bring me into it. Substitute 'one' for 'you' and see how much better it sounds."

When she returned with the grammar, she drew a chair near his - he wondered if he should have helped her with the chair - and sat down beside him. She turned the pages of the grammar, and their heads were inclined toward each other. He could hardly follow her outlining of the work he must do, so amazed was he by her delightful propinquity. But when she began to lay down the importance of conjugation, he forgot all about her. He had never heard of conjugation, and was fascinated by the glimpse he was catching into the tie-ribs of language. He leaned closer to the page, and her hair touched his cheek. He had fainted but once in his life, and he thought he was going to faint again. He could scarcely breathe, and his heart was pounding the blood up into his throat and suffocating him. Never had she seemed so accessible as now. For the moment the great gulf that separated them was bridged. But there was no diminution in the loftiness of his feeling for her. She had not descended to him. It was he who had been caught up into the clouds and carried to her. His reverence for her, in that moment, was of the same order as religious awe and fervor. It seemed to him that he had intruded upon the holy of holies, and slowly and carefully he moved his head aside from the contact which thrilled him like an electric shock and of which she had not been aware.

从那天晚上第一次遇见露丝·莫尔斯起他已刻苦攻读了一周,却仍不敢去看他。他曾多次鼓起勇气要去,却总团顾虑重重而取消了决心。他不知道该什么时候去看她。没有人告诉他,他又害怕冒险,铸成难以补救的大错。他已摆脱了原来的朋友和生活方式,却又还没有新的朋友。除了读书再也无事可做。他读书时间极长,若是普通眼睛即使十双也已受不了,可他的眼睛很好,又有极健壮的身体作后盾。而且他的心灵已长期休耕,就书本上的抽象思维而;二,已经休耕了一辈子,最宜于播种。他的心灵还没有厌倦书本,总用它尖利的牙齿紧紧咬住书本上的知识不肯放松。

一周过去,他似乎已过了好几个世纪。旧的生活旧的观点被远远抛到了身后。他啃了些需要作多年准备才能阅读的书。今天读过时无用的哲学,明天读超前时髦的哲学,脑子里的概念矛盾抵触,弄得他晕头转向。读经济学家也一样。在图书馆的一个书架上他发现了卡尔·马克思、李嘉图、亚当·斯密和米尔,这一家的深奥公式无法证明另一家的思想已经过时。他弄得糊里糊涂,却仍然想弄个明白。他在一天之内对经济学、工业和政治都发生了兴趣。他从市政大楼公园经过,发现一大群人,中心有五六个人在使劲大声地辩论;争得面红耳赤。他上前去听,从这些人民哲学家们嘴里又听见了一套陌生的新语言。辩论者有一个是流浪汉,有一个是劳工煽动家,还有一个是法学院的学生,其他的入则是爱说话的劳动者。他第一次听见了社会主义、无政府主义、单一税制,也听说了种种论战不休的社会哲学。他听见了数以百计的新术语,它们所使用的领域是他那可怜的一点阅读所不曾涉猎到的。他无法紧跟讨论,只能猜测和估计包裹在这些陌生词语中的意思。还有个黑眼珠的旅馆服务员,是个通神论者,有个面包师联合会会员是个不可知论者。一个老先生大谈其“存在便是正确”的奇怪哲学,谈得大家目瞪口呆。另一个老先生则滔滔不绝地讲着宇宙和父原子与母原子。

马丁·伊登几小时后离开那里时脑子已是一片混乱。他匆匆忙忙赶到图书馆查了十多个不常见的词语的定义,离开图书馆时又在腋下突了四本书:布拉伐茨基夫人的《秘密学说》、《进步与贫困》、《社会主义精义》和《宗教对科学之战》。倒霉的是他竟从《秘密学说》读起。那书每一行都有些威风凛凛的多音节词,他不认识。他坐在床上熬夜读着,查字典比看书的时候还多。查过的生词太多,第二次见面又想不起来了,还得再查。他想了个办法。用笔记本把定义抄下来,抄了一页又一页,可仍然读不懂,一直读到凌晨三点,读得头昏脑涨,却没抓住书上一个根本思想。他抬起头来,屋子仿佛像海上的船在起伏颠簸,于是他咒骂了几声,把《秘密学说》往屋里一丢,关掉煤气灯,安下心来睡觉。读另外三本书时他也未必更走运。并不是因为他脑子笨,不管用,他的脑子是能思考这类问题的,只是缺乏思想训练和思考工具罢了。他也估计到了这一点,曾经考虑过别的不读,先记住同典上每个词再说。

不过诗歌倒给了他安慰。他读了许多诗,比较朴实平易的诗人给了他最大的乐趣。他爱美,在他们的诗平找到了美。诗歌像音乐一样打动着他。实际上读诗正为他即将承担的更沉重的工作作者准备,虽然他此刻并没有意识到。他的头脑是一页页的白纸,他读到而且喜欢的许多诗便大段大段地轻轻松松地印了上去。他立即在朗诵或是默读时体会到那些印刷出的诗章的音乐与美,从中获得巨大的快乐。然后他在图书馆一个书架上并排发现了盖利的《希腊罗马神话》和布尔芬奇的格言时代人那是一种启发,是射入地蒙昧的黑暗中的巨大光明。地读起诗来更津津有味了。

借书处的人因常在那儿见到马丁,便对他十分热情,他一进门总对他点头、微笑打招呼,因此马丁便做了一件大胆的事。他借了几本书,趁那人在卡片上盖章时急忙说道:

“啊——我有件事想请教你。”

那人微笑了一下,听他说。

‘你要是认识了一位小姐,而她又叫你去看她,你该多久以后再去?”

又是紧张,又是流汗,马丁觉得衬衫紧贴到了他肩上,粘住了。

“我看,什么时候都可以去,”那人回答。

“不错,可这事不同,”马丁反驳,“她……我……你看,是这么回事:没准儿她不在家。她在上大学呢。”

“那就再去第二回呀。”

“我没说清楚,”马丁迟疑地承认,然后下定决心把自己交给他摆布。“我算是个粗人,没见过什么世面,而这个姑娘所具有的我完全没有;我所具有的她又完全没有。你不会认为我在胡扯吧?”他突然问道。

“不,不,一点也不,你放心。”那人回答,“你的要求超出了询问台业务范围,不过我们非常愿意为你效劳。”

马丁望着他,感到佩服。

“我若是能侃得那么顺当就好了,”他说。

“你说什么?”

“我说如果我说话能够那样轻松、有礼貌等等就好了。”

“啊,”对方明白了。

“那么,什么时候去最好呢?下午——午饭后多过一会儿?或是晚上?星期天?”

“我给你出个主意,”图书管理员脸上一亮说,“你不妨先打个电话问她。”

“好的,”他说,抓起书想走。

却又转身问道:

“你跟一位小姐说话——比如说,丽齐·史密斯小姐——你是叫她‘丽齐小姐’,还是‘史密斯小姐’?”

“叫她史密斯小姐,”图书管理员权威地说,“总是叫史密斯小姐——在感情更深以前都这么叫。”

马丁·伊登的问题就像这样解决了。

“什么时候都可以来,我整个下午都在家,”他结结巴巴问她什么时候可以去还书时,露丝在电话里回答。

她亲自到门口来迎接他。她那双女性的眼睛一眼就发觉了褶痕笔挺的裤子和他身上那难以说清的微妙变化。他那脸也引起了她的注意。精力充沛,近于专横,身上似乎有精力流溢,像浪潮一样向她扑来。她再一次感到了那种欲望,想偎依过去寻找温暖,她的心区不摩纳闷:他的出现为什么会对她产生这样的作用!他在服地招呼和握手刚出再次感到了那种荡漾的幸福之感。两人的差异是:她冷静而有节制;而他却满脸通红,红到发狠。他又是那样笨拙蹒跚地走在她的后面.甩着肩膀危险地晃动着身子。在大家坐下之后他才轻松下来——比他估计的轻松多了。是她故意让他轻松的。她为此所表现的亲切体贴炒地越发疯狂地爱上了她。两人先谈读过的书,谈他崇拜的史文用和他{理解的勃朗于;然后她便一个话题一个话题引他谈下去,同时思考着怎样才能对他有所帮助。打从第一次见面之后她就常常考虑这个问题;她想帮助他。他来看她,希望得到她的同情与关怀,从前可没人这样做过。她的同情出于母性,并不伤害他的自尊她的同情也不可能寻常,因为引起她同情的人是个十足的男子汉,一个能使她同处女的畏惧则震动的男子汉,一个能用陌生的念头和感情使她欢欣震颤的团于仅他那脖子原来的诱惑依然存在_一想到用手搂住它地使陶醉;这山似乎是一种放纵的冲动,但她已差不多习以为常;她做梦也不普恩到一场新的恋爱会以这样的方式出现,也没意识到地所引起的这种情扈竟会是爱情。她只觉得不过是对他发生了兴趣,认为他具有许多港注的优秀素质,不是等闲之辈而已。她计至有些行善济人之感。

她并没有意识到自己在爱他;他却不同,他明白自己在爱她,想念她。他一辈子从没有过这样的刻骨相思。他爱过许,是因为美;但在遇见她之后爱情诗的广阔天地便对他敞开了大门。她所给他的喀尔比《寓言世界》和《希腊罗马神话》要深沉得多。有一句诗在一周前他是不屑再想的——“上帝的情人发了狂,但求一吻便死去。”可现在那句诗却在他心头缠绕不去。他愕然于这话的奇妙与失实。他凝望着她,知道自己是可以在亲吻她之后就欢乐地死去的。他觉得自己便是上帝那发了狂的情人,即使封他做骑士也不会让他更为骄矜得意。他终于明白了生命的意义,明白了自己来到世上的原因。

他凝望着她,听着她讲述,思想越来越大胆。他回味着自己的手在门口握着她的手时的狂欢极乐,渴望再握一次。他的目光有时落到她的唇上,便如饥似渴地想亲吻她。但那渴望全无粗野、世俗的成分〔那两瓣嘴唇阐述她所使用的词语时的每一动作都带给他难以描述的欢乐。她那嘴唇绝非普通男女的嘴唇,绝非人问材料制成,而是纯粹性灵的结晶。他对那嘴唇的要求跟催他亲吻其他嘴唇时的要求似乎绝对不同。他也可能亲吻她的嘴唇,把自己血肉之后印上去,但必带有亲吻上帝的圣袍的惶惊与狂热。他并未意识到自己内心这种价值观的变化,也不曾意识到自己望着她时眼里所闪动的光跟一切男性爱欲冲动时的目光其实没有两样。他做梦也没想到自己的目光会那么炽烈、强悍,它那温暖的火苗会搅乱她的方寸。她那沦肌使髓的处女之美使他的感情崇高,也掩饰了它,使他的思想达到清冷贞纯如星星的高度。他待知道自己眼里放射的光芒是会大吃一惊的。那光芒橡暖流一样浸润了露丝全身,唤起了她同样的热情,使她感到一种微妙的烦乱。那美妙的闯入干扰了她的思想,逼得她不时地重寻中断的思绪,却不明白干扰从何而至。她一向善于言谈,若不是她确信此人出类拔草,这种干扰的出现是会使她困惑的。她非常敏感,认为这个从另一世界来的旅人既具有这样独特的气质,他能令她如此激动也就不足为奇。

既然她意识背后的问题是怎样帮助他,她便把谈话往那个方向引,但终于挑明了问题的却是马丁。

“我不知道你是否可以告诉我,”他开始了,对方的默许使他的心怦怦地跳,“你还记得吧?上次我在这儿说过我不能谈论书本上的问题是因为不知道怎样谈。是的,从那以后我想过许多。我曾多次去图书馆,但是读到的书大都超过了我的能力。也许我还是从头学起的好。我没有多少有利条件。我从小就努力读书,但是去图书馆用新的眼光看了看书,也看了看新书,便差不多得到了结论:我读的书都不合适。你知道牧人帐篷里和水手舱里的书跟你们家的书是很不一样的。我读惯了那种书。不过,不是自夸,我跟我的伙伴们还是不同。不是说我比跟我一起流浪的水手或牛仔高明——我做过短时间牛仔,你知道——但我总喜欢书,能到手什么就读什么,所以,我认为我跟他们的思想不一样。

“现在来说我想说的问题吧!我从来没走进过像你们家这样的房子。一个礼拜前我来这儿看到了这儿的一切就很喜欢。你、你母亲、弟弟,和一切。这些我以前听人说过,在有些书里也读到过,等到一看你们家,呀,书本全变成了现实。我要说的是:我喜欢这个,需要这个,现在就需要。我想呼吸跟你这屋里同样的空气——充满书籍、绘画、美丽的事物的空气。这儿的人说话轻言细语,身上干净,思想也干净。可我呼吸的空气里却一向离不开吃饭、房租、打架、‘马尿’,谈的也尽是这些。你走过房间去吻你母亲的时候,我认为那是我所见过的最美好的东西。我见过各式各样的生活,却没想到现在见到的会比我周围的人见到的高出不知多少倍。我喜欢看,还想看得更多,看到不同寻常的东西。

“不过我还没说到本题。本题是:我也要过你们家的这种生活。生活里除了灌‘马尿’、做苦工和流派还有许多内容。那么,我要怎么才能做到呢?我该从抓什么入手呢?你知道,我是乐意靠双手打天下的。要说刻苦我能刻苦得大多数人吃不消。只要开了头,我就可以没日没夜地干。我向你提这个问题你也许会觉得滑稽。我知道在这个世界上我最不该问的人就是你。可我又不认识别的可以问的人——除了亚瑟以外。也许我应该去问他。如果我——”

他住了嘴。他精心设计的计划只好在一个和伯的可能性问前打住了。他原该问亚瑟的,他这是在出自己的洋相。露丝并没有立即开口。她一心只想把他这结巴笨拙的话语所表示的质朴甲纯的意思跟她在他脸上看到的东西统一起来。她从来没见过一双眼睛表现过这样巨大的力量。她从中读到的信息是:这人什么事都办得到。这信息跟他口齿的迟钝很不相称。而在这个问题上她的思维却迅速而复杂,对他的纯朴没给予应有的评价。不过她在探索对方心理时也感到了一种强对,仿佛见到一个巨人在锁链下扭来扭去地挣扎。她终于说话时脸上满是同情。

“你自己也明白,你需要的是教育。你应该回头去读完小学课程,再读中学和大学。”

“可那得花钱呀,”他插嘴道。

“呀!”她叫道,“这我可没想过。你总有亲戚可以帮助你吧?”

他摇摇头。

“我爸爸妈妈都死了。我有一个姐姐一个妹妹,姐姐已经结丁婚,妹妹我猜不久也要结婚。还有好几个哥哥——我最小,——他们非不肯帮助人。他们一直就在外面闯世界,找钱。大哥死在印度,两个哥哥目前在南非,还有一个在海上捕鲸,一个跟着马戏团旅行——玩空中飞人。我估计我也跟他们一样。我从十一岁起就靠自己过日子——那年我妈妈死了。看来我只好自修了,我想要知道的是从什么地方开始。”

“应该说首先要学会语法。你的语法——”她原打算说“一塌糊涂”,却改成了“不特别好”。

他脸红了,冒汗了。

“我知道我上话多,用的词你许多都听不懂。可我只会用这些词说话。我也记得许多书上捡来的词,可不会发音,因此不敢用。”

“问题不在你用什么同,而在你怎么说。我实话实说你不会生气吧!我没有叫你难堪的意思。”

“不会的,”他叫道,心里暗暗感谢她的好意,“你就直说吧,我得要知道。我觉得听你说比听别人说好。”

“那么,你刚才说,‘You was’to就不对,应该说‘You were ;你说‘I'm’也不对,应该是说‘I saw’。你还用双重否定来表示否定——”

“什么叫‘双重否定’?”他问,然后可怜巴巴地说,“你看,你讲了我都还没懂。”

“我看是我还没向你解释,”她笑了,“双重否定就是——我看——比如你刚才说‘非不肯帮助人’,‘非’是一个否定,‘不肯’又是一个否定,两个否定变成肯定,这是规律。‘非不肯帮助人’的意思不是不肯形助人,而是肯帮助人。”

“这很清楚,”他说,“我以前没想过。这话并没有‘不肯帮助人’的意思,对不对?我好像觉得‘非不肯帮助人’不自然,没说明他们是否肯帮助人。我以前从没想过,以后不用非字就行了。”

他那迅速准确的反应叫她吃了一惊。一听见提示他就明白过来,而且纠正了她的缠失之处。

“这些东西你在语法书上都可以学到,”她说下去,“我还注意到你话里一些其他的问题。在不该说‘don’t’的时候你也用‘don’t’。‘don’t’是个压缩词,实际是两个词。你知道不?”

他想了想,回答说:“是‘do not’。”

她点点头,说:“可你在该用‘dose not’的时候也用‘don’t’。”

这可把他难住了,一时没明白过来。

“给我举个例子吧,”他说。

“好的——”她皱起眉头嘟起嘴唇想着。他看着她,认为她那表情非常可爱。“It don't do to be hasty'。把‘dont’分为‘do not’,这句话就成了‘It do not do to be hasty’,当然是大错特错的。”

他在心里翻来覆去地琢磨。

“你觉得这话顺耳么?”她提示。

“不觉得不顺耳呀,”他想了想,说。

“你说‘不觉得不顺耳’为什么不用‘do ’而用‘does’呢?”她追问。

“用‘ do’听起来不对呀,”他慢吞吞地说,“可刚才那句话我却无法判断。我看我这耳朵没受过你那种训练。”

“你用的‘ ain't’这词也是没有的,”她着重说,那样子很美。

马丁又脸红了。

“你还把‘been’说成‘ben’,”她说下去,“该用过去时‘I came’时,你却用现在时‘I come’。你吞起尾音来也厉害。”

“你指的是什么?”他的身子弯了过来,觉得应当在这样杰出的心灵面前跪下。“我吞了什么?”

“你的尾音不全。‘and’这个字读作‘ a-n-d’,可你却读了‘an’,没有‘d’。‘ing’拼作‘in-g’,你有时读作‘ing’,有时却读掉了‘g’。有时你又把单词开头的辅音和双元音含糊掉。‘them’拼作‘t-h-e-m’,可你拼成‘em’——啊,算了,用不着一个个讲了。你需要的是语法。我给你找一本语法书来告诉你怎样开始吧!”

她站起身时他心里突然闪过社交礼仪书上的一句什么话,急忙笨拙地站了起来,却担心做得不对,又害怕她误会,以为她要走了。

“顺带问一问,伊登先生,”她要离开房间时回头叫道,“马尿是什么?你用了好几回,你知道。”

“啊,马尿,”她笑了起来,“是土话,意思是威士忌。啤酒什么的,总之能喝醉你的东西。”

“还有,”她也笑了,“话若没有说到对方就不要用‘你’。‘你’踢入是分不开的。你刚才用的‘你’并不全是你的本意。”

“我没懂。”

“可不,你刚才对我说‘威士忌、啤酒什么的,总之能喝醉你的东西’——喝醉我,懂了没有?”

“啊,有那个意思么?”

“当然有,”她微笑,“要是不把我也扯进去不是更好么?用“人’代替‘你’试试看,不是好多了么?”

她拿了语法书回来后,搬了把椅子到他身边坐下了——他拿不定主意是否该去帮她搬。她翻着语法书,两人的头靠到了一起。她在提纲契领告诉他他该做什么功课时,他几乎没听过去——她在他身边时带来的陶醉令他惊讶、但是在她强调“动词变化”的重要性时他便把她全忘了、他从没听说过“动同变化”,原来它是语言的“龙骨骨架”,能窥见这一点叫他很着迷地往书本靠了靠,露丝的头发便轻拂着他的面颊。他一生只昏倒过一次,此刻似乎又要昏倒,连呼吸都困难了。心脏把血直往喉咙四泵,弄得他几乎窒息。她跟他似乎前所未有地亲近,两人之间的巨大鸿沟之上一时似乎架起了桥梁。但是他对她的崇高感情并未因此而变化。她并没有向他降低,是地被带到了云雾之中她的身边.在那一刻地对她的崇拜还应算作宗教的敬畏和狂热,他似乎已闯进了最最神圣的领域。他小心地缓缓地侧开了头,中断了接触。那接触像电流一样令他震颤,而她却浑然不觉。


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