A Gentle Spirit  性格温柔的女人

This old widow brought a medallion - a present from her dead husband, a souvenir, of course. I lent her thirty roubles on it. She fell to complaining, begged me to keep the thing for her - of course we do keep things. Well, in short, she came again to exchange it for a bracelet that was not worth eight roubles; I, of course, refused. She must have guessed something from my wife's eyes,
anyway she came again when I was not there and my wife changed it for the medallion.

上尉太太是个老太婆,她带来了一个颈饰,是她已故丈夫送的礼物,显然是一个纪念品。我给了她三十卢布。她开始悲悲切切地抱怨,请求保留她的东西,当然我们答应保存下来。好啦,五天之后她来了,要用一个手镯子把颈饰换回去,可那只镯子最多不过值八个卢布,我理所当然地加以拒绝。一定是她从我妻子的眼神中,看出了点什么,于是乘我不在场的时候,妻子让她把颈饰换走了。

Discovering it the same day, I spoke mildly but firmly and reasonably. She was sitting on the bed, looking at the ground and tapping with her right foot on the carpet (her characteristic movement); there was an ugly smile on her lips. Then, without raising my voice in the least, I explained calmly that the money was mine, that I had a right to look at life with my own eyes and - and that when I had offered to take her into my house, I had hidden nothing from her.

知道此事以后,我当天就同她谈了,态度温和,但口气很坚决,而且合情合理。她坐在床上,望着地面,用右脚尖在地毯上弄出响声(这是她的姿态),嘴唇上挂着难看的微笑。我当时根本没有提高声音,而是心平气和地说,钱是我的,我有权用我的眼睛来看待生活。还说了,当初我请她进我家来的时候,我对她什么也没有隐瞒。

She suddenly leapt up, suddenly began shaking all over and - what do you think - she suddenly stamped her foot at me; it was a wild animal, it was a frenzy, it was the frenzy of a wild animal. I was petrified with astonishment; I had never expected such an outburst. But I did not lose my head. I made no movement even, and again, in the same calm voice, I announced plainly that from that time forth I should deprive her of the part she took in my work.. She laughed in my face, and walked out of the house.

她突然一跃而起,突然全身颤抖,(您想怎么样?)她突然对着我跺起脚来。那是一头野兽,那是兽性大发作,那是一头兽性大发作的野兽。我吓得目瞪口呆;这样的举动,我从来没有料到。但我并没有仓皇失措,甚至没有采取任何行动,仍然像以前一样,用平静的声音,直截了当地向她宣布,从今以后我不许她参加我的买卖活动。她当着我的面哈哈大笑,然后就从屋里走了出去。

The fact is, she had not the right to walk out of the house. Nowhere without me, such was the agreement before she was married. In the evening she returned; I did not utter a word.

问题是她没有权利走出这栋房子。没有我的许可,她哪里也不能去,这还是在她当我的未婚妻时就说好了的。傍晚前,她回来了,我一句话也没说。

The next day, too, she went out in the morning, and the day after again. I shut the shop and went off to her aunts. I had cut off all relations with them from the time of the wedding - I would not have them to see me, and I would not go to see them. But it turned out that she had not been with them. They listened to me with curiosity and laughed in my face: "It serves you right," they said.

第二天一大早,她又出去了,第三天也是如此。我把当铺一锁,便去找她的两个姑妈。结婚以后,我同她们就断了联系:既没邀她们来我家,我也没去找过她们。到了那里一打听,原来她不在她们那里。她们怀着好奇心理听完我的话后,当着我的面就嘲笑开了,她们说:“您活该!”

But I expected their laughter. At that point, then I bought over the younger aunt, the unmarried one, for a hundred roubles, giving her twenty-five in advance. Two days later she came to me: "There's an officer called Efimovitch mixed up in this," she said; "a lieutenant who was a comrade of yours in the regiment." I was greatly amazed. That Efimovitch had done me more harm than any one in the regiment, and about a month ago, being a shameless fellow, he once or twice came into the shop with a pretence of pawning something, and I remember, began laughing with my wife. I went up at the time and told him not to dare to come to me, recalling our relations; but there was no thought of anything in my head, I simply thought that he was insolent. Now the aunt suddenly informed me that she had already appointed to see him and that the whole business had been arranged by a former friend of the aunt's, the widow of a colonel, called Yulia Samsonovna. "It's to her," she said, "your wife goes now."

不过,我是料到她们会笑的。我马上把那个年纪轻一点的老处女,用一百卢布收买了,答应先给她二十五个卢布。过了两天她来到我家,说:“这里有一个叫叶菲莫维奇的中尉军官牵扯在里边,他以前是您同一个步兵团的同事。”我听后大吃一惊。这个叶菲莫维奇在团里给我吃的苦头最多,一个月以前,这个不知羞耻的家伙,装做要当东西,到当铺里来过两次,我清楚记得,他当时就同我妻子开始有说有笑。我当即就走过去,告诉他,鉴于我们以往的关系不和,叫他不要冒昧地到我这儿来。可是我脑子里根本就没想过这种事,我只是简单地想过,他是个无耻的家伙。现在这位姑妈突然告诉我,他们已经有了约会,而且整个事情是由两位姑妈以前的一位老相识尤里亚·萨姆索诺娃搓合而成的。这女人是个寡妇,而且还是个上校太太。那位姑妈说:“您太太现在经常去她家。”

I will cut the story short. The business cost me three hundred roubles, but in a couple of days it had been arranged that I should stand in an adjoining room, behind closed doors, and listen to the first rendezvous between my wife and Efimovitch, tete-a-tete. Meanwhile, the evening before, a scene, brief but very memorable for me, took place between us.

这事的详情我就从略了。为这事我总共花费了将近三百卢布,在两天两夜中我作好了这样的安排:我将站在隔壁房里,站在虚掩的房门后面,倾听我妻子和叶菲莫维奇第一次rendes—vous①的情况。就在等待的前一天晚上,我和妻子发生了一场短暂的争吵,但这次争吵对我来说,却是太重要了。-------- ①法语:幽会。

She returned towards evening, sat down on the bed, looked at me sarcastically, and tapped on the carpet with her foot. Looking at her, the idea suddenly came into my mind that for the whole of the last month, or rather, the last fortnight, her character had not been her own; one might even say that it had been the opposite of her own; she had suddenly shown herself a mutinous, aggressive creature; I cannot say shameless, but regardless of decorum and eager for trouble. She went out of her way to stir up trouble. Her gentleness hindered her, though. When a girl like that rebels, however outrageously she may behave, one can always see that she is forcing herself to do it, that she is driving herself to do it, and that it is impossible for her to master and overcome her own modesty and shamefacedness. That is why such people go such lengths at times, so that one can hardly believe one's eyes. One who is accustomed to depravity, on the contrary, always softens things, acts more disgustingly, but with a show of decorum and seemliness by which she claims to be superior to you.
 

傍晚前她回来了,坐在床上,望着我嘲笑,同时用一只小脚敲击地毯。我望着她,脑子里突然出现一个想法:这最近一个月,或者最好说是最近两个星期,她的性格完全变了,甚至可以说变得绝然不同了,变成了一个蛮横、好斗的人,我不能说她无耻,但是一个不讲规矩,寻衅闹事的人。正在寻衅闹事的时候,温和的性格却对她起了抑制的作用。当她蛮横无礼的时候,虽然出了格,仍然可以看到她是强迫自己这么干的,而且首先她怎么也无法抑制自己的纯洁和羞耻感。正是因为这个原因,这种人有时甚至做出非常过分的事来,叫你无法相信自己的眼睛和头脑。惯于淫荡的人则恰恰相反,总是斯斯文文,干的却是更加卑鄙的坏事,不过表面上却装出一副循规蹈矩、彬彬有礼的样子,自以为比你们高明得多。

"Is it true that you were turned out of the regiment because you were afraid to fight a duel?" she asked suddenly, apropos of nothing - and her eyes flashed.

“您是因为贪生怕死,害怕决斗,被人从步兵团赶出来的,是真的吗?”她突然吹毛求疵地问道,两只眼睛闪闪发亮。

"It is true that by the sentence of the officers I was asked to give up my commission, though, as a fact, I had sent in my papers before that."

“是真的,是根据军官们的裁决,要求我离开步兵团的,虽然我自己在此以前,递交了申请退伍的报告。”

"You were turned out as a coward?"

“是把您当胆小鬼赶出来的吗?”

"Yes, they sentenced me as a coward. But I refused to fight a duel, not from cowardice, but because I would not submit to their tyrannical decision and send a challenge when I did not consider myself insulted. You know," I could not refrain from adding, "that to resist such tyranny and to accept the consequences meant showing far more manliness than fighting any kind of duel."

“对,他们判定我是胆小鬼。但是我拒绝决斗,不是因为我胆小怕死,而是因为我不愿意服从他们横蛮无理的判决,在我自己并不认为受到侮辱的时候,去答应决斗。您知道,”这时我实在忍不住了,“用行动起来反抗这样蛮横的做法并承担其一切后果,这比参加任何决斗,都要有大得多的勇气。”

I could not resist it. I dropped the phrase, as it were, in self-defence, and that was all she wanted, this fresh humiliation for me. She laughed maliciously.

我没能克制住自己,似乎用这句话去为自己进行辩护;而她需要的也恰恰就是这个,使我受到一次新的屈辱而已,她幸灾乐祸地哈哈大笑。

"And is it true that for three years afterwards you wandered about the streets of Petersburg like a tramp, begging for coppers and spending your nights in billiard-rooms?"

“在以后的三年中,您在彼得堡流落街头,像流浪汉一样,要求别人施舍半个戈比,并且在台球桌子底下过夜,是真的吗?”

"I even spent the night in Vyazemsky's House in the Haymarket. Yes, it is true; there was much disgrace and degradation in my life after I left the regiment, but not moral degradation, because even at the time I hated what I did more than any one. It was only the degradation of my will and my mind, and it was only caused by the desperateness of my position. But that is over. . . ."

“我还在干草广场维亚泽姆斯基大院①过过夜。是的,这是真的。离开步兵团以后的生活中,我有过许多可耻和堕落的行为,但不是精神上的堕落,因为即便是在当时,我也是第一个憎恨我的行为的。这仅仅是我意志和智慧方面的堕落,而且只是由于我处境的绝望所造成的。但是,这些已经过去了。……” --------①这是彼得堡一个著名的低层人民寻欢作乐的地方,那里有许多低级的酒馆、饭店,是一栋很大的四层楼房。

"Oh, now you are a personage - a financier!"

“啊,现在您成了大人物,成了有钱的富翁了!”

A hint at the pawnbroker's shop. But by then I had succeeded in recovering my mastery of myself. I saw that she was thirsting for explanations that be humiliating to me and - I did not give them. A customer rang the bell very opportunely, and I went out into the shop. An hour later, when she was dressed to go out, she stood still, facing me, and said –

这是暗示我开了个当铺。但是我已控制住自己。我发现她渴望我作出一些屈辱性的解释,但是我没有这么做。恰好这时有个当东西的人,按了按门铃,于是我便到外面厅里去接待他了。过了一个小时以后,她突然打扮好,准备外出的时候,站在我面前,说:

"You didn't tell me anything about that, though, before our marriage?"

“但是结婚以前,这事您一点也没对我说过,是吗?”

I made no answer and she went away.

我没有回答,接着她就走了。

And so next day I was standing in that room, the other side of the door, listening to hear how my fate was being decided, and in my pocket I had a revolver. She was dressed better than usual and sitting at a the table, and Efimovitch was showing off before her. And after all, it turned out exactly (I say it to my credit) as I had foreseen and had assumed it would, though I was not conscious of having foreseen and assumed it. I do not know whether I express myself intelligibly.

就这样到了第二天,我站在这间房里的房门后边听着,看我的命运如何解决,口袋里则藏着一支手枪。她穿戴得整整齐齐,坐在桌旁,叶菲莫维奇则在她面前扭扭捏捏,装腔作势。结果呢(我说这话是给自己点面子),与我预感和设想的一模一样,虽然我没有意识到我对此有所预感和设想。我不知道我是否已把这点表达清楚。

This is what happened. I listened for a whole hour. For a whole hour I was present at a duel between a noble, lofty woman and a worldly, corrupt, dense man with a crawling soul. And how, I wondered in amazement, how could that naive, gentle, silent girl have come to know all that? The wittiest author of a society comedy could not have created such a scene of mockery, of naive laughter, and of the holy contempt of virtue for vice. And how brilliant her sayings, her little phrases were: what wit there was in her rapid answers, what truths in her condemnation. And, at
the same time, what almost girlish simplicity. She laughed in his face at his declarations of love, at his gestures, at his proposals. Coming coarsely to the point at once, and not expecting to meet with opposition, he was utterly nonplussed. At first I might have imagined that it was simply coquetry on her part - "the coquetry of a witty, though depraved creature to enhance her own value." But no, the truth shone out like the sun, and to doubt was impossible.

结果是这样的:我听了整整一个小时,在这整整一个小时中,我亲耳听到了一个心地高尚、光明磊落的女人同上流社会的一个腐化堕落、头脑迟钝、灵魂卑鄙的家伙进行较量的情况。我感到吃惊的是;这个天真幼稚、性格温和、寡言少语的女人从哪里知道这一切的呢?即便是上流社会最俏皮的喜剧作家也写不出一场这样的戏来:它充满了冷嘲热讽、天真的哈哈大笑和德行对罪恶神圣的蔑视。她的话里,她三言两语为数很少的话语里有着多少闪光的东西啊!她迅速敏捷的回答多么尖锐,她的斥责里包含着多少真理啊!同时包含着同样多的少女的纯真。她当面嘲笑他对爱情的解释,嘲笑他的手势,嘲笑他的求婚表示。他仓促行事,来得鲁莽,没想到会遭到反抗,所以突然就垮了。我起初以为她不过是卖弄风情罢了——“一个水性扬花然而俏皮的女人卖弄风骚,无非是抬高自己的身价而已。”但是,不,真理像太阳一样,光芒四射,使你无法予以怀疑。

It was only an exaggerated and impulsive hatred for me that had led her, in her inexperience, to arrange this interview, but, when it came off - her eyes were opened at once. She was simply in desperate haste to mortify me, come what might, but though she had brought herself to do something so low she could not endure unseemliness. And could she, so pure and sinless, with an ideal in her heart, have been seduced by Efimovitch or any worthless snob? On the contrary, she was only moved to laughter by him. All her goodness rose up from her soul and her indignation roused her to sarcasm. I repeat, the buffoon was completely nonplussed at last and sat frowning, scarcely answering, so much so that I began to be afraid that he might insult her, from a mean desire for revenge.

她,毫无经验,仅仅是出于对我的仇恨,假装的、一阵一阵的仇恨,才下定决心搞这次幽会的,但是,一谈到正题,她的眼睛马上就睁开了。这丫头不过是想伤一下我的面子,不管采用什么手段都行,但等到她下定决心干这种肮脏事时,她终于受不住了那种非礼。叶菲莫维奇或者上流社会里其他什么坏蛋难道能够勾引她这个有理想的纯洁、无罪的女人吗?恰恰相反,他激起的,只是一片笑声。全部真理从她的心灵中升了起来,愤怒激起她胸中的讥讽。我再说一遍,这个小丑终于完全心灰意懒,垂头丧气,皱着眉头坐着,几乎说不出话来回答,我甚至认为他会出于卑鄙的报复心理,冒险伤害她。

And I repeat again: to my credit, I listened to that scene almost without surprise. I met, as it were, nothing but what I knew well. I had gone, as it were, on purpose to meet it, believing not a word of it, not a word said against her, though I did take the revolver in my pocket - that is the truth. And could I have imagined her different? For what did I love her, for what did I prize her, for what had I married her? Oh, of course, I was quite convinced of her hate for me, but at the same time I was quite convinced of her sinlessness. I suddenly cut short the scene by opening the door. Efimovitch leapt up. I took her by the hand and suggested she should go home with me. Efimovitch recovered himself and suddenly burst into loud peals of laughter.

我又要重说一遍:使我感到荣幸的是,这场戏我全看在眼里,而且几乎没有表示惊讶。我好像遇见了一个熟悉的面孔,我似乎是专门去迎接这个面孔的。我去的时候,虽然口袋里藏着手枪,却什么也不相信,任何控诉也不相信,这是实情!难道我能把她想象成另一个样子吗?为什么我爱她,为什么我尊重她,为什么我娶她为妻呢?啊,当然,我过分地相信她当时对我的仇恨程度,但是,我是相信她无罪的。我突然打开房门,结束这场戏。叶菲莫维奇跳起身来,我拉起她的手,请她同我一起走了出去。叶菲莫维奇定了定神,突然哈哈大笑,那声音响亮,像隆隆的雷声。

"Oh, to sacred conjugal rights I offer no opposition; take her away, take her away! And you know," he shouted after me, "though no decent man could fight you, yet from respect to your lady I am at your service . . . If you are ready to risk yourself."

“啊,神圣的夫妻权利,我不反对,快带走吧,快带走吧!您要知道,”他在我背后大声叫道,“虽然体面人是不会同您打架的,不过,出于对您太太的尊重,如果您敢于冒险…… 我甘愿听从您的吩咐……”

"Do you hear?" I said, stopping her for a second in the doorway.

“您听见了吧!”我让她在路上停了秒把钟。

After which not a word was said all the way home. I led her by the arm and she did not resist. On the contrary, she was greatly impressed, and this lasted after she got home. On reaching home she sat down in a chair and fixed her eyes upon me. She was extremely pale; though her lips were compressed ironically yet she looked at me with solemn nd austere defiance and seemed convinced in earnest, for the minute, that I should kill her with the revolver. But I took the revolver from my pocket without a word and laid it on the table! She looked at me and at the revolver (note that the revolver was already an object familiar to her. I had kept one loaded ever since I opened the shop. I made up my mind when I set up the shop that I would not keep a huge dog or a strong manservant, as Mozer does, for instance. My cook opens the doors to my visitors. But in our trade it is impossible to be without means of self-defence in case of emergency, and I kept a loaded revolver. In early days, when first she was living in my house, she took great interest in that revolver, and asked questions about it, and I even explained its construction and working; I even persuaded her once to fire at a target. Note all that).

以后在回家的路上,一句话也没说。我拉着她的手,她也没有反抗。相反的,她显得非常惊讶,不过,只是在到家以前如此。一到家,她就坐在椅子上,目光直盯着我。她的脸色极其苍白,嘴巴虽然马上作出嘲笑的样子,但两只眼睛却露出庄严的挑战神态,在最初的几分钟里,她显然深信我会用手枪把她打死。但是我一声不响地把手枪从口袋里掏出来,放在桌子上。她望望我,也看了看手枪。(请您注意:这支手枪她是熟悉的,从开当铺开始,我就买来了这支手枪,而且经常装上子弹的。我开当铺的时候,就决定不像莫泽尔那样,既不养大狗,也不雇佣身强力壮的仆人。我家里给顾客开门的是一个厨娘。但是,干我们这一行的人是不可能不防备万一的,必须具备自我保卫的能力,所以我买下了这把可以装子弹的手枪。她来我家的头几天对这枝枪很感兴趣,问长问短,我甚至给她讲了枪的构造,有一次我还说服她对着目标放了一枪呢。这一切都请您注意。)

Taking no notice of her frightened eyes, I lay down on the bed, half-undressed. I felt very much exhausted; it was by then about eleven o'clock.. She went on sitting in the same place, not stirring, for another hour. Then she put out the candle and she, too, without undressing, lay down on the sofa near the wall. For the first time she did not sleep with me -note that too. . . .

我对她惊恐的目光,没有加以注意。脱去外衣,躺在床上。我已经感到非常软弱无力,而且时间已经将近深夜十一点。她继续坐在原来的地方,一动不动地又坐了将近一个钟头。后来她熄灭了烛光,也没脱衣服,就躺在墙边的沙发上。这是她第一次没同我睡在一起,这一点,也请您加以注意……