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马丁・伊登(MARTIN EDEN)第二章

发表时间:2022-07-06  

The process of getting into the dining room was a nightmare to him. Between halts and stumbles, jerks and lurches, locomotion had at times seemed impossible. But at last he had made it, and was seated alongside of Her. The array of knives and forks frightened him. They bristled with unknown perils, and he gazed at them, fascinated, till their dazzle became a background across which moved a succession of forecastle pictures, wherein he and his mates sat eating salt beef with sheath-knives and fingers, or scooping thick pea-soup out of pannikins by means of battered iron spoons. The stench of bad beef was in his nostrils, while in his ears, to the accompaniment of creaking timbers and groaning bulkheads, echoed the loud mouth-noises of the eaters. He watched them eating, and decided that they ate like pigs. Well, he would be careful here. He would make no noise. He would keep his mind upon it all the time.

He glanced around the table. Opposite him was Arthur, and Arthur's brother, Norman. They were her brothers, he reminded himself, and his heart warmed toward them. How they loved each other, the members of this family! There flashed into his mind the picture of her mother, of the kiss of greeting, and of the pair of them walking toward him with arms entwined. Not in his world were such displays of affection between parents and children made. It was a revelation of the heights of existence that were attained in the world above. It was the finest thing yet that he had seen in this small glimpse of that world. He was moved deeply by appreciation of it, and his heart was melting with sympathetic tenderness. He had starved for love all his life. His nature craved love. It was an organic demand of his being. Yet he had gone without, and hardened himself in the process. He had not known that he needed love. Nor did he know it now. He merely saw it in operation, and thrilled to it, and thought it fine, and high, and splendid.

He was glad that Mr. Morse was not there. It was difficult enough getting acquainted with her, and her mother, and her brother, Norman. Arthur he already knew somewhat. The father would have been too much for him, he felt sure. It seemed to him that he had never worked so hard in his life. The severest toil was child's play compared with this. Tiny nodules of moisture stood out on his forehead, and his shirt was wet with sweat from the exertion of doing so many unaccustomed things at once. He had to eat as he had never eaten before, to handle strange tools, to glance surreptitiously about and learn how to accomplish each new thing, to receive the flood of impressions that was pouring in upon him and being mentally annotated and classified; to be conscious of a yearning for her that perturbed him in the form of a dull, aching restlessness; to feel the prod of desire to win to the walk in life whereon she trod, and to have his mind ever and again straying off in speculation and vague plans of how to reach to her. Also, when his secret glance went across to Norman opposite him, or to any one else, to ascertain just what knife or fork was to be used in any particular occasion, that person's features were seized upon by his mind, which automatically strove to appraise them and to divine what they were - all in relation to her. Then he had to talk, to hear what was said to him and what was said back and forth, and to answer, when it was necessary, with a tongue prone to looseness of speech that required a constant curb. And to add confusion to confusion, there was the servant, an unceasing menace, that appeared noiselessly at his shoulder, a dire Sphinx that propounded puzzles and conundrums demanding instantaneous solution. He was oppressed throughout the meal by the thought of finger-bowls. Irrelevantly, insistently, scores of times, he wondered when they would come on and what they looked like. He had heard of such things, and now, sooner or later, somewhere in the next few minutes, he would see them, sit at table with exalted beings who used them - ay, and he would use them himself. And most important of all, far down and yet always at the surface of his thought, was the problem of how he should comport himself toward these persons. What should his attitude be? He wrestled continually and anxiously with the problem. There were cowardly suggestions that he should make believe, assume a part; and there were still more cowardly suggestions that warned him he would fail in such course, that his nature was not fitted to live up to it, and that he would make a fool of himself.

It was during the first part of the dinner, struggling to decide upon his attitude, that he was very quiet. He did not know that his quietness was giving the lie to Arthur's words of the day before, when that brother of hers had announced that he was going to bring a wild man home to dinner and for them not to be alarmed, because they would find him an interesting wild man. Martin Eden could not have found it in him, just then, to believe that her brother could be guilty of such treachery - especially when he had been the means of getting this particular brother out of an unpleasant row. So he sat at table, perturbed by his own unfitness and at the same time charmed by all that went on about him. For the first time he realized that eating was something more than a utilitarian function. He was unaware of what he ate. It was merely food. He was feasting his love of beauty at this table where eating was an aesthetic function. It was an intellectual function, too. His mind was stirred. He heard words spoken that were meaningless to him, and other words that he had seen only in books and that no man or woman he had known was of large enough mental caliber to pronounce. When he heard such words dropping carelessly from the lips of the members of this marvellous family, her family, he thrilled with delight. The romance, and beauty, and high vigor of the books were coming true. He was in that rare and blissful state wherein a man sees his dreams stalk out from the crannies of fantasy and become fact.

Never had he been at such an altitude of living, and he kept himself in the background, listening, observing, and pleasuring, replying in reticent monosyllables, saying, "Yes, miss," and "No, miss," to her, and "Yes, ma'am," and "No, ma'am," to her mother. He curbed the impulse, arising out of his sea-training, to say "Yes, sir," and "No, sir," to her brothers. He felt that it would be inappropriate and a confession of inferiority on his part - which would never do if he was to win to her. Also, it was a dictate of his pride. "By God!" he cried to himself, once; "I'm just as good as them, and if they do know lots that I don't, I could learn 'm a few myself, all the same!" And the next moment, when she or her mother addressed him as "Mr. Eden," his aggressive pride was forgotten, and he was glowing and warm with delight. He was a civilized man, that was what he was, shoulder to shoulder, at dinner, with people he had read about in books. He was in the books himself, adventuring through the printed pages of bound volumes.

But while he belied Arthur's description, and appeared a gentle lamb rather than a wild man, he was racking his brains for a course of action. He was no gentle lamb, and the part of second fiddle would never do for the high-pitched dominance of his nature. He talked only when he had to, and then his speech was like his walk to the table, filled with jerks and halts as he groped in his polyglot vocabulary for words, debating over words he knew were fit but which he feared he could not pronounce, rejecting other words he knew would not be understood or would be raw and harsh. But all the time he was oppressed by the consciousness that this carefulness of diction was making a booby of him, preventing him from expressing what he had in him. Also, his love of freedom chafed against the restriction in much the same way his neck chafed against the starched fetter of a collar. Besides, he was confident that he could not keep it up. He was by nature powerful of thought and sensibility, and the creative spirit was restive and urgent. He was swiftly mastered by the concept or sensation in him that struggled in birth-throes to receive expression and form, and then he forgot himself and where he was, and the old words - the tools of speech he knew - slipped out.

Once, he declined something from the servant who interrupted and pestered at his shoulder, and he said, shortly and emphatically, "Pew!"

On the instant those at the table were keyed up and expectant, the servant was smugly pleased, and he was wallowing in mortification. But he recovered himself quickly.

"It's the Kanaka for 'finish,'" he explained, "and it just come out naturally. It's spelt p-a-u."

He caught her curious and speculative eyes fixed on his hands, and, being in explanatory mood, he said:-

"I just come down the Coast on one of the Pacific mail steamers. She was behind time, an' around the Puget Sound ports we worked like niggers, storing cargo-mixed freight, if you know what that means. That's how the skin got knocked off."

"Oh, it wasn't that," she hastened to explain, in turn. "Your hands seemed too small for your body."

His cheeks were hot. He took it as an exposure of another of his deficiencies.

"Yes," he said depreciatingly. "They ain't big enough to stand the strain. I can hit like a mule with my arms and shoulders. They are too strong, an' when I smash a man on the jaw the hands get smashed, too."

He was not happy at what he had said. He was filled with disgust at himself. He had loosed the guard upon his tongue and talked about things that were not nice.

"It was brave of you to help Arthur the way you did - and you a stranger," she said tactfully, aware of his discomfiture though not of the reason for it.

He, in turn, realized what she had done, and in the consequent warm surge of gratefulness that overwhelmed him forgot his loose-worded tongue.

"It wasn't nothin' at all," he said. "Any guy 'ud do it for another. That bunch of hoodlums was lookin' for trouble, an' Arthur wasn't botherin' 'em none. They butted in on 'm, an' then I butted in on them an' poked a few. That's where some of the skin off my hands went, along with some of the teeth of the gang. I wouldn't 'a' missed it for anything. When I seen - "

He paused, open-mouthed, on the verge of the pit of his own depravity and utter worthlessness to breathe the same air she did. And while Arthur took up the tale, for the twentieth time, of his adventure with the drunken hoodlums on the ferry-boat and of how Martin Eden had rushed in and rescued him, that individual, with frowning brows, meditated upon the fool he had made of himself, and wrestled more determinedly with the problem of how he should conduct himself toward these people. He certainly had not succeeded so far. He wasn't of their tribe, and he couldn't talk their lingo, was the way he put it to himself. He couldn't fake being their kind. The masquerade would fail, and besides, masquerade was foreign to his nature. There was no room in him for sham or artifice. Whatever happened, he must be real. He couldn't talk their talk just yet, though in time he would. Upon that he was resolved. But in the meantime, talk he must, and it must be his own talk, toned down, of course, so as to be comprehensible to them and so as not to shook them too much. And furthermore, he wouldn't claim, not even by tacit acceptance, to be familiar with anything that was unfamiliar. In pursuance of this decision, when the two brothers, talking university shop, had used "trig" several times, Martin Eden demanded:-

"What is TRIG?"

"Trignometry," Norman said; "a higher form of math."

"And what is math?" was the next question, which, somehow, brought the laugh on Norman.

"Mathematics, arithmetic," was the answer.

Martin Eden nodded. He had caught a glimpse of the apparently illimitable vistas of knowledge. What he saw took on tangibility. His abnormal power of vision made abstractions take on concrete form. In the alchemy of his brain, trigonometry and mathematics and the whole field of knowledge which they betokened were transmuted into so much landscape. The vistas he saw were vistas of green foliage and forest glades, all softly luminous or shot through with flashing lights. In the distance, detail was veiled and blurred by a purple haze, but behind this purple haze, he knew, was the glamour of the unknown, the lure of romance. It was like wine to him. Here was adventure, something to do with head and hand, a world to conquer - and straightway from the back of his consciousness rushed the thought, CONQUERING, TO WIN TO HER, THAT LILY-PALE SPIRIT SITTING BESIDE HIM.

The glimmering vision was rent asunder and dissipated by Arthur, who, all evening, had been trying to draw his wild man out. Martin Eden remembered his decision. For the first time he became himself, consciously and deliberately at first, but soon lost in the joy of creating in making life as he knew it appear before his listeners' eyes. He had been a member of the crew of the smuggling schooner Halcyon when she was captured by a revenue cutter. He saw with wide eyes, and he could tell what he saw. He brought the pulsing sea before them, and the men and the ships upon the sea. He communicated his power of vision, till they saw with his eyes what he had seen. He selected from the vast mass of detail with an artist's touch, drawing pictures of life that glowed and burned with light and color, injecting movement so that his listeners surged along with him on the flood of rough eloquence, enthusiasm, and power. At times he shocked them with the vividness of the narrative and his terms of speech, but beauty always followed fast upon the heels of violence, and tragedy was relieved by humor, by interpretations of the strange twists and quirks of sailors' minds.

And while he talked, the girl looked at him with startled eyes. His fire warmed her. She wondered if she had been cold all her days. She wanted to lean toward this burning, blazing man that was like a volcano spouting forth strength, robustness, and health. She felt that she must lean toward him, and resisted by an effort. Then, too, there was the counter impulse to shrink away from him. She was repelled by those lacerated hands, grimed by toil so that the very dirt of life was ingrained in the flesh itself, by that red chafe of the collar and those bulging muscles. His roughness frightened her; each roughness of speech was an insult to her ear, each rough phase of his life an insult to her soul. And ever and again would come the draw of him, till she thought he must be evil to have such power over her. All that was most firmly established in her mind was rocking. His romance and adventure were battering at the conventions. Before his facile perils and ready laugh, life was no longer an affair of serious effort and restraint, but a toy, to be played with and turned topsy-turvy, carelessly to be lived and pleasured in, and carelessly to be flung aside. "Therefore, play!" was the cry that rang through her. "Lean toward him, if so you will, and place your two hands upon his neck!" She wanted to cry out at the recklessness of the thought, and in vain she appraised her own cleanness and culture and balanced all that she was against what he was not. She glanced about her and saw the others gazing at him with rapt attention; and she would have despaired had not she seen horror in her mother's eyes - fascinated horror, it was true, but none the less horror. This man from outer darkness was evil. Her mother saw it, and her mother was right. She would trust her mother's judgment in this as she had always trusted it in all things. The fire of him was no longer warm, and the fear of him was no longer poignant.

Later, at the piano, she played for him, and at him, aggressively, with the vague intent of emphasizing the impassableness of the gulf that separated them. Her music was a club that she swung brutally upon his head; and though it stunned him and crushed him down, it incited him. He gazed upon her in awe. In his mind, as in her own, the gulf widened; but faster than it widened, towered his ambition to win across it. But he was too complicated a plexus of sensibilities to sit staring at a gulf a whole evening, especially when there was music. He was remarkably susceptible to music. It was like strong drink, firing him to audacities of feeling, - a drug that laid hold of his imagination and went cloud-soaring through the sky. It banished sordid fact, flooded his mind with beauty, loosed romance and to its heels added wings. He did not understand the music she played. It was different from the dance- hall piano-banging and blatant brass bands he had heard. But he had caught hints of such music from the books, and he accepted her playing largely on faith, patiently waiting, at first, for the lifting measures of pronounced and simple rhythm, puzzled because those measures were not long continued. Just as he caught the swing of them and started, his imagination attuned in flight, always they vanished away in a chaotic scramble of sounds that was meaningless to him, and that dropped his imagination, an inert weight, back to earth.

Once, it entered his mind that there was a deliberate rebuff in all this. He caught her spirit of antagonism and strove to divine the message that her hands pronounced upon the keys. Then he dismissed the thought as unworthy and impossible, and yielded himself more freely to the music. The old delightful condition began to be induced. His feet were no longer clay, and his flesh became spirit; before his eyes and behind his eyes shone a great glory; and then the scene before him vanished and he was away, rocking over the world that was to him a very dear world. The known and the unknown were commingled in the dream-pageant that thronged his vision. He entered strange ports of sun-washed lands, and trod market-places among barbaric peoples that no man had ever seen. The scent of the spice islands was in his nostrils as he had known it on warm, breathless nights at sea, or he beat up against the southeast trades through long tropic days, sinking palm-tufted coral islets in the turquoise sea behind and lifting palm-tufted coral islets in the turquoise sea ahead. Swift as thought the pictures came and went. One instant he was astride a broncho and flying through the fairy-colored Painted Desert country; the next instant he was gazing down through shimmering heat into the whited sepulchre of Death Valley, or pulling an oar on a freezing ocean where great ice islands towered and glistened in the sun. He lay on a coral beach where the cocoanuts grew down to the mellow- sounding surf. The hulk of an ancient wreck burned with blue fires, in the light of which danced the HULA dancers to the barbaric love-calls of the singers, who chanted to tinkling UKULELES and rumbling tom-toms. It was a sensuous, tropic night. In the background a volcano crater was silhouetted against the stars. Overhead drifted a pale crescent moon, and the Southern Cross burned low in the sky.

He was a harp; all life that he had known and that was his consciousness was the strings; and the flood of music was a wind that poured against those strings and set them vibrating with memories and dreams. He did not merely feel. Sensation invested itself in form and color and radiance, and what his imagination dared, it objectified in some sublimated and magic way. Past, present, and future mingled; and he went on oscillating across the broad, warm world, through high adventure and noble deeds to Her - ay, and with her, winning her, his arm about her, and carrying her on in flight through the empery of his mind.

And she, glancing at him across her shoulder, saw something of all this in his face. It was a transfigured face, with great shining eyes that gazed beyond the veil of sound and saw behind it the leap and pulse of life and the gigantic phantoms of the spirit. She was startled. The raw, stumbling lout was gone. The ill-fitting clothes, battered hands, and sunburned face remained; but these seemed the prison-bars through which she saw a great soul looking forth, inarticulate and dumb because of those feeble lips that would not give it speech. Only for a flashing moment did she see this, then she saw the lout returned, and she laughed at the whim of her fancy. But the impression of that fleeting glimpse lingered, and when the time came for him to beat a stumbling retreat and go, she lent him the volume of Swinburne, and another of Browning - she was studying Browning in one of her English courses. He seemed such a boy, as he stood blushing and stammering his thanks, that a wave of pity, maternal in its prompting, welled up in her. She did not remember the lout, nor the imprisoned soul, nor the man who had stared at her in all masculineness and delighted and frightened her. She saw before her only a boy, who was shaking her hand with a hand so calloused that it felt like a nutmeg-grater and rasped her skin, and who was saying jerkily:-

"The greatest time of my life. You see, I ain't used to things. . . " He looked about him helplessly. "To people and houses like this. It's all new to me, and I like it."

"I hope you'll call again," she said, as he was saying good night to her brothers.

He pulled on his cap, lurched desperately through the doorway, and was gone.

"Well, what do you think of him?" Arthur demanded.

"He is most interesting, a whiff of ozone," she answered. "How old is he?"

"Twenty - almost twenty-one. I asked him this afternoon. I didn't think he was that young."

And I am three years older, was the thought in her mind as she kissed her brothers goodnight.

进入饭厅对他是一场噩梦。他停顿、碰撞、闪避、退让,有时几乎无法前进,最后总算走到了,而且坐在了她的身边。那刀叉的阵容叫他心惊胆战。它们带着未知的危险耸起了鬃毛。他出神地凝视着它们,直望到它们的光芒形成了一个背景,在这背景上出现了一系列前甲板的场景:他和伙伴们用刀子和手指吃着咸牛肉,拿用瘪了的匙子从盘里舀着浓酽的豌豆汤。他的鼻孔里冒出了变质牛肉的臭味,耳朵里听到了同伴的吧唧吧唧的咀嚼声,伴以木料的吱嘎和船身的呻吟。他望着伙伴们吃着,认为吃得像猪移。那么,他在这儿可得小心,不能吃出声来。千万要时刻注意。

他往桌上瞥了一眼。他对面是亚瑟和他的哥哥诺尔曼。他提醒自己他们都是她的弟兄,于是对他们油然产生了暖意。这家人彼此是多么相亲相爱呀!露丝的母亲的形象闪入了他的心里:见面时的亲吻,两人手挽手向他走来的情景。在他的世界里父母和子女之间可没有这样的感情流露。这表现了她们的社会所达到的高雅程度。那是地在对那个世界短短的一瞥中所见到的最美好的事物。他欣赏,也感动,他的心因那共鸣的柔情而融化了。他终身为爱而饥渴,他天性渴求爱;爱是他生命的有机的要求,可他从不曾获得过爱,而且逐渐习以为常,僵硬了。他从不知道自己需要爱,至今如此。他只不过看见爱的行为而深受感动,认为它美好、高雅、光彩夺目而已。

莫尔斯先生不在场,他感到高兴。跟那姑娘、她的母亲和哥哥诺尔曼结识已经够他受的了——对亚瑟他倒知道一些。那爸爸准会叫他吃不消的,他肯定。他仿佛觉得一辈子也没有这样累过。跟这一比,最沉重的苦役也好像小孩子的游戏。突然之间要他做那么多不习惯的事,使他感到吃力。他额头上沁出了大颗大颗的汗珠,衬衫也叫汗湿透了。他得用从没用过的方法进餐,要使用陌生的餐具,要偷偷地左顾右盼,看每件新事怎么做;要接受潮水般涌来的印象,在心里品评和分类。对她的渴望在他心里升起,那感觉以一种隐约而痛苦的不安困扰着他。他感到欲望催逼他前进,要他跻身于她的生活圈子,逼得他不断胡思乱想,不断朦胧地思考着如何接近她。而巨,在他偷偷窥视对面的诺尔曼和其他人,要想知道什么时候用什么刀叉时,心中也在研究那人的特点,同时不自觉地衡量着、鉴定着——一切都是因为她。同时他还要谈话,听别人谈话,听别人之间的谈话,必要时作回答,而他的舌头又习惯于信马由疆,常常需要勒住。还有仆人也来给他添乱。仆人是一种永无休止的威胁,总悄悄出现在他肩头旁。全是些可怕的狮身人面兽,老提出些难题、哑谜,要他立即作答。在整个用餐期间一个疑问总压在他心头:洗指钵。他毫无来由地、持续不断地、数十次地想起那东西,猜想着它是什么样子、会在什么时候出现。他听人说过这类东西,而现在他随时都可能看见它。也许马上就能看见。他正跟使用它的高雅人士坐在一起用餐呢——是的,他自己也要用它了。而最重要的是,在他意识的底层,也在他思想的表面存在着一个问题:他在这些人面前应当如何自处,抱什么态度?他不断匆忙地思考着这个问题。他有过怯懦的念头:打算不懂装懂,逢场作戏。还有更怯懦的念头在警告他:这事他准失败,他的天性使他不够资格,只会让自己出洋相。

在晚餐的前半他为确定自己的态度而斗争着,一直沉默无语,却没想到他的沉默却让亚瑟前一天的话落了空。亚瑟前一天曾宣布他要带个野蛮人回家吃饭,叫大家别大惊小怪,因为他们会发现那是个很有趣的野蛮人。马丁·伊登此刻不可能知道她的这位弟弟竟会那样说他的坏话——尤其是他曾帮助他摆脱了那场很不愉快的斗殴。此刻他就这样坐在桌边,一方面为自己的不合时宜而烦恼,一方面又迷恋着周围进行的一切。他第一次意识到吃饭原来还不仅具有实利的功能。他进着餐,却不知道吃的是什么。在这张桌子旁边进餐是一场审美活动,也是一种智力活动。在这里他尽情地满足着对美的爱。他的心灵震动了。他听见了许多他不懂得的词语,听见了许多他只在书本上见过、而他的熟人谁也没有水平读得准的词。在他听见这类词句从露丝那了不起的家庭的成员们嘴边漫不经心地流出时他禁不住欢喜得浑身颤栗。书本上的浪漫故事、美和高智力变成了现实。他进入了一种罕见的幸福境界。在这里,美梦从幻想的角落里堂而皇之地走了出来,变成了现实。

他从不曾过过这样高雅的生活。他在角落里默默地听着,观察着,快活着,只用简短的话回答她,“是,小姐”,“不,小姐”;回答她母亲,“是,夫人”,“不,夫人”;对她的两个哥哥则抑制了海上训练出来的冲动,没有回答“是,长官”,“不,长官”。他觉得那样回答不妥,承认了自己低人一等——他既然要接近露丝,就决不能那样说。他的尊严也这样要求。“天呐!”有一回他对自己说,“我并不比他们差,他们知道讲多我所不知道的东西,可我照样可以学会!”然后,在她或是她母亲称呼他“伊登先生”的时候,他便忘掉了自己傲慢的自尊,高兴得脸上放光,心里发热。他现在是个文明人了,一点不错,跟他在书本上读到的人并肩坐在一起用餐,自己也成了书本上的人,在一卷卷的精装本里过关斩将。

但是,在他使亚瑟的话落空,以温驯的羔羊而不是野蛮人的形象出现时,他却在绞尽脑汁思考着行动的办法。他并非温驯的羔羊,第二提琴手的地位跟他那力求出人头他的天性格格不久。他只在非说话不可时说话,说起话来又像他到餐桌来时那样磕磕绊绊,犹豫停顿。他在他那多国混合词汇中斟酌选择,有的词他知道合运却怕发错了音;有的词又怕别人听不懂,或是太粗野刺耳,只好放弃。他一直感到压力。他明白这样地字斟句酌是在让自己出洋相,难以畅所欲言。何况他那爱自由的天性也受不了这种压抑,跟他那脖子受不了浆硬了的枷锁十分相像。何况他也相信他不能老这样下去。他天生思维犀利,感觉敏锐,创作感强烈得难以驾驭。一种想法或感受从胸中涌出控制了他,经历着产前的阵痛,要找到表现和形式。接着他便忘记了自己,忘记了环境,他的老一套词语——他所熟悉的言语工具——不知不觉地溜了出来。

有一次,他拒绝了一个仆人给他的东西,可那人仍在打岔,纠缠,他便简短地强调说:“爬啊!”

桌边的人立即来了劲,等着听下文,那仆人也得意扬扬,而他却悔恨得无以复加。不过他立即镇定了下来。

“‘爬啊’是夏威夷的卡那加话,是‘行了’的意思,”他解释道,“刚才我是说漏了嘴。这词拼写作p-a-u。”

他看见她盯住他的手,露出好奇与猜测的目光,很愿意作解释,便说——

“我刚从一艘太平洋邮轮来到海湾,那船已经误了期,因此在穿过布格特湾时,我们都像黑鬼一样干着活,堆放着货载——你大约知道,那是混合运载。我手上的皮就是那时刮掉的。”

“啊,我不是那个意思,”这回轮到她忙不迭地作解释了,“你的手跟身子比起来似乎太小。”

他的脸发起烧来,觉得又叫人揭出了一个短处。

“不错,”他不高兴地说,“我的手不够大,受不起折磨。我的胳臂和肩头却又力气太大,打起人来像骡子踢一样。可我揍破别人的下巴骨时,自己的手也被碰破。”

他不满自己说出的话,很厌弃自己。他又没管住自己的舌头,提起了不高雅的话题。

“你那天那样帮助亚瑟真是见义勇为——你跟他并不认识呀,”她策略地说,意识到了他的不满,却不明白原因何在。

他反倒明白了她的意图,不禁心潮乍涌,感激莫名,又管不住他那信口开河的舌头了。

“那算不了什么,”他说,“谁也会打抱不平的。那帮无赖是在找碴儿闹事,亚瑟可没有惹他们。他们找上他,我就找上他们,抡了几拳头。那帮家伙掉了几颗牙,我手上也破了一层皮。我并不在乎,我见到——”

他张着嘴,打住了,在快要落入堕落的深渊时打住了。他完全不配跟她呼吸同一种空气!这时亚瑟第二十次谈起了他在渡船上跟那帮醉醺醺的流氓之间的纠纷;他谈到马丁·伊登如何冲入重围解救了他。这时马丁·伊登却皱紧了眉头在想着自己那副傻相,更坚决地思考着该对他们采取什么态度。到目前为止他肯定并没有成功。他的感觉是:他毕竟是局外人,不会说圈内话,不能冒充圈内人。若是跳假面舞准得露馅。何况跳假面舞也跟他的天性不合,他心里容不下装腔作势。他无论如何也得老实。他目前虽不会说他们那种话,以后还是可以会的。对此他已下了决心。可现在他还得说话,说自己的话。当然,调子要降低,让他们听得懂,也不能叫他们太震惊。还有,对于不熟悉的东西不能假装熟悉,别人误以为他熟悉,也不能默认。为了实行这个决定,在两位弟兄谈起大学行话,几次提到“三角”时,马丁·伊登便问:

“‘三角’是啥?”

“三角课”诺尔曼说,“一种高级数学。”

“什么是‘数学’?”他又提出一个问题。诺尔曼不禁笑了。

“数学,算术,”他回答。

马丁·伊登点了点头。那仿佛无穷无尽的知识远景在他眼前闪现了一下。他见到的东西具体化了——他那异于常人的想像力能使抽象变得具体。这家人所象征的三角、数学和整个知识领域经过他头脑的炼金术一冶炼便变成了美妙的景物。他眼中的远景是绿色的叶丛和林中的空地,或是闪着柔和的光,或为闪亮的光穿透。远处的细节则为一片红通通的雾寓所笼罩,模糊不清。他知道在那红雾的背后是未知事物的魅力和浪漫故事的诱惑。对他,那颇像是美酒。这里有险可探,要用脑子,要用手,这是一个等着被征服的世界——一个念头立即从他的意识背后闪出:征服,博得她的欢心,博得他身边这个百合花一样苍白的仙灵的欢心。

他心中这熠熠闪耀的幻影却被亚瑟撕破了,驱散了。亚瑟整个晚上都在诱导这个野蛮人露出本相。马丁·伊登想起了自己的决定,第一次还原到了自我。起初是自觉的、故意的,但立即沉浸于创造的欢乐之中。他把他所知道的生活呈现到了听众的眼前。走私船翠鸟号被缉私船查获时他是船上的水手。那过程他亲眼目睹,大有可讲的。他把汹涌的大海和海上的船与人呈现到了听众面前。他把他的印象传达给了他们,让他们看到了他所看到的一切。他以艺术家的才能从无数的细节中进行选择,描绘出了五光十色闪亮燃烧的生活场景,并赋予了官行动。他以粗护的雄辩、激清和强力的浪涛席卷了听众,让他们随着他前进。他常以叙述的生动和用词的泼辣使他们震惊。但他在暴力之后总紧跟上一段优美的叙述,在悲剧之后又常用幽默去缓解,用对水手内心的乖戾和怪僻的诠释去缓解。

他讲述时那姑娘望着他,眼里闪烁着惊讶的光。他的火焰温暖着她,使她怀疑自己这一辈子都似乎太冷,因而想向这个熊熊燃烧的人靠近,向这座喷发着精力、雄浑和刚强的火山靠近。她感到必须向他靠近,却也遭到抵抗,有一种反冲动逼使她退缩开去。那双伤破的手今她反感,它们叫劳动弄得很脏,肌理里已嵌满了生活的污秽。他那脖子上的红印和鼓突的肌肉叫她反感。他的粗鲁也叫她害怕;他的每一句粗话都是对她耳朵的侮辱;他生活中的每个粗野的侧面都是对她灵魂的亵读。可他仍不断地吸引着她。她认为他之所以能对她在这种力量是因为他的邪恶。她心中最牢固树立的一切都动摇了。他的传奇和冒险故事粉碎着传统。生命在他那些唾手而得的胜利和随时爆发的哈哈大笑面前再也不是严肃的进取和克制,而成了供他随意摆弄颠倒的玩具,任随他满不在乎地度过、嬉戏,满不在乎地抛弃。‘那就玩下去吧!”这话响彻了她的心里,“既然你想,就偎过去,用双手按住他的脖子吧!”这种想法之鲁莽放肆吓得她几乎叫出声来。她估计着自己的纯洁和教养,用自己所有的一切跟他所缺少的一切作对比,却都没有用。她望望周围,别的人都听得津津有味;若不是见她的母亲眼里有骇异的表情,她几乎要绝望了。不错,母亲的骇异是如醉如痴的骇异,但毕竟是骇异。这个从外界的黑暗中来的人是邪恶的,她母亲看出来了,而母亲是对的。她在一切问题上都相信她母亲,这次也一样。他的火焰再也不温暖了,对他的畏惧再也不痛苦了。

后来她为他弹钢琴,声势煊赫地向他隐约地强调出两人之间那不可逾越的鸿沟。她的音乐是条大棒,狠狠地击在他的头顶,打晕了他,打倒了他,却也激励了他。他肃然竦然地望着她。鸿沟在他心里加宽了,跟在她心里一样。可是他跨越鸿沟的雄心却比鸿沟的加定增长得更快。他这推敏感的神经丛太复杂,不可能整个晚上默视着一条鸿沟无所作为,特别是在听着音乐的时候,他对音乐敏感得出奇。音乐像烈酒一样燃起他大胆的激情。音乐是麻醉剂,抓住他的想像力,把他送到了九霄云外。音乐驱散了肮脏的现实,以美感满溢了他的心灵,解放了他的浪漫精神,给它的脚跟装上了翅膀。他并不懂她弹的是什么。那音乐跟他所听过的砰砰敲打的舞厅钢琴曲和吵闹喧嚣的铜管乐是两回事,可是他从书本上读到过对这类音乐的提示。他主要依靠信心去欣赏她的音乐。起初他耐心地等待着节奏分明的轻快旋律出现,却又因它不久便消失而迷惘。他刚抓住节奏,配合好想像,打算随它翱翔,那轻快的节奏却在一片对他毫无意义的混乱的喧嚣中消失了。于是他的想像便化作惰性物体,摔到了地上。

有一回他忽然感到这一切都含有蓄意拒绝的意思,他把捉住了她的对抗情绪,力图弄明白她击打着琴键所传达给他的信息,却又否定了这种想法,认为她用不着,也不可能那么做,便又更加自由地沉浸于旋律之中。原有的欢乐情绪也随之诱发。他的脚再也不是泥脚,他的肉体变得轻灵飘逸;眼前和内心出现了一片灿烂的光明。随即,他眼前的景象消失了,他自己也悄然远行,到世界各地浪游击了。那世界对他非常可爱。已知的和未知的一切融会为一个辉煌的梦,挤满了他的幻想。他进入了一个阳光普照的国度的陌生的海港,在从没人见过的野蛮民族的市场上漫步。他曾在海上温暖得透不过气来的夜里闻到过的香料岛上的馨香又进入了他的鼻孔。在迎着西南贸易风行驶在赤道上的漫长的日子里,他望着棕相摇曳的珊瑚岛逐渐在身后的碧海里沉没,再望着棕相摇曳的珊瑚岛逐渐从前面的碧海里升起。场景如思想一样倏忽来去。他一时骑着野牛在色彩绚丽、宛如仙境的彩绘沙漠上飞驰;一时又穿过闪着微光的热气俯瞰着死亡谷的晒白了的墓窟。他在快要冻结的海洋上划着桨,海面上巍然高耸的庞大冰山熠耀在阳光里。他躺在珊瑚礁的海滩上,那儿的椰树低垂到涛声轻柔的海面,一艘古船的残骸燃烧着,闪出蓝色的火苗。火光里人们跳着呼啦舞。为他们奏乐的歌手们弹奏着叮叮当当的尤克里里琴,擂着轰隆作响的大鼓,高唱着野蛮的爱情歌曲。那是纵情于声色之乐的赤道之夜。背景是衬着一天星星的火山口轮廓,头顶是一弯苍白的漂浮的月牙儿。天穹的低处燃烧着南十字座的四颗星星。

他是一架竖琴,一生的经历和意识是他的琴弦,音乐之潮是吹拂琴弦使之带着回忆和梦想颤抖的风。他不光是感受。他的感知以形象、颜色和光彩的形式积聚,并以某种升华的神奇的方式实现他大胆的想像。过去。现在和将来交汇融合。他在辽阔而温暖的世界上踟蹰,并通过高尚的冒险和高贵的业绩向她奔去,他要跟她在一起,赢得她、搂着她、带着她飞翔,穿过他心灵的王国。

这一切的迹象她在转过头去时都在他脸上看到了。那是一张起了变化的面孔。他用闪亮的大眼睛穿透了音乐的帷幕看到了生命的跳跃、律动,和精神的巨大幻影。她吃了一惊。那结结巴巴的粗鲁汉子不见了,尽管那不称身的衣服、伤痕累累的手和晒黑了的面孔依然如故。但这只不过宛如监牢的栅门,她通过栅门看到的是一个怀着希望的伟大灵魂。只因他那在弱的嘴唇不善表达,他只能词不达意地说话,或是哑口无言。这一点她只在瞬间看到,转瞬间那粗鲁汉子又回来了。她因自己离奇的幻觉感到好笑。可那瞬息的印象却萦绕在她心里不去。夜深了,他结结巴巴地告了别,打算离开。她把那卷史文朋和一本勃朗于借给了他——她在英文课里就修勃朗宁。他涨红了脸结结巴巴地表示感谢时很像个孩子。一阵母性的怜爱之情从她心里油然涌起。她忘记了那莽汉、那被囚禁的灵魂;忘记了那带着满身阳刚之气盯着她、看得她快乐也害怕的人。她在自己面前只看见一个大孩子在跟自己握手,那手满是老茧,像把豆蔻挫子,挫得她的皮肤生疼。这时那大孩子正在结巴地说:

“这是找平生最美好的一夜。你看,这里的东西我不习惯……”他无可奈何地望望四周,“这样的人,这样的房子,我全都觉得陌生,可我都喜欢。”

“希望你再来看我们,”她趁他跟她的哥哥告别时说。

他拉紧帽子,突然一歪身子死命地跑出门去,不见了。

“喂,你们觉得他怎么样?”亚瑟问。

“非常有趣,是一阵清新的臭氧,”她回答,“他有多大?”

“二十岁——差点二十一。我今天下午问过地。没想到他会那么年青。”

我比他还大三岁呢,她和哥哥们吻别时心还想。


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