A Gentle Spirit  性格温柔的女人

. . . For the six weeks of her illness we were lookingafter her day and night - Lukerya and I together with a trained nurse whom I had engaged from the hospital. I spared no expense - in fact, I was eager to spend my money for her. I called in Dr. Shreder and paid him ten roubles a visit. When she began to get better I did not show myself so much. But why am I describing it? Then
she got up again, she sat quietly and silently in my room at a special table, which I had bought for her, too, about that time. . . . Yes, that's the truth, we were absolutely silent; that is, we began talking afterwards, but only of the daily routine. I purposely avoided expressing myself, but I noticed that she, too, was glad not to have to say a word more than was necessary. It seemed to me that this was perfectly normal on her part: "She is too much shattered, too completely conquered," I thought, "and I must let her forget and grow used to it." In this way we were silent, but every minute I was preparing myself for the future. I thought that she was too, and it was fearfully interesting to me to guess what she was thinking about to herself then.

在她患病的六个星期中,我们——我、卢凯里娅以及我从医院里雇来的一位受过训练的助理护士,日夜守护着她。钱嘛,我并不吝惜,我甚至很想为她花钱。我请来了医生什列德尔,每次出诊付给他十个卢布。在她恢复知觉以后,我就不大露面了。不过,我干吗要说这些呢?她能够下床以后,就经常不言不语、不声不响地坐在我房里的一张特别的桌子旁,这张桌子也是我那个时候为她买下的……是的,我们完全不言不语,这是事实;也就是说我们后来开始说话了,但说的都是日常琐事。当然,我是故意不说的,但是我清楚地发现,她似乎很高兴不说一句多余的话。我觉得这从她那一方面来说,是非常自然的:“她受到了太大的震动,失败得太惨了,”我心中暗想,“一切都已完结,应该让她忘记、习惯下来。”所以我们沉默不语,但是我每时每刻都在暗暗地为未来作准备,我认为她也是如此。对于我来说,最有兴趣的是进行猜测:她现在关于她自己到底是怎么想的?

I will say more: oh! of course, no one knows what I went through, moaning over her in her illness. But I stifled my moans in my own heart, even from Lukerya. I could not imagine, could not even conceive of her dying without knowing the whole truth. When she was out of danger and began to regain her health, I very quickly and completely, I remember, recovered my tranquillity. What is more, I made up my mind to defer out future as long as possible, and meanwhile to leave things just as they were. Yes, something strange and peculiar happened to me then, I cannot call it anything else: I had triumphed, and the mere consciousness of that was enough for me. So the whole winter passes. Oh! I was satisfied as I had never been before, and it lasted the whole winter.

我还要说:啊,当然谁也不知道,在她害病期间,我承受了多大的痛苦,为她呻吟叹息。但是我是为自己呻吟叹息的,甚至把痛苦压在心底,瞒着卢凯里娅。我无法想象,无法设想她不知道这一切就死去。我记得,当她脱离危险、健康得到恢复的时候,我很快就放下心来了。除此之外,我决定将·我·们·的·未·来尽量往久远的时间推移,而暂时则维持现状。是的,我当时有过一种特殊的奇怪感觉,我实在无法给它另外取个名字:我觉得取得了胜利,而对我来说仅仅意识到这一点就足够了。就这样过了整整一个冬天。啊,我感到非常满足,这整个冬天,我感到从未有过的满足。

You see, there had been a terrible external circumstance in my life which, up till then - that is, up to the catastrophe with my wife - had weighed upon me every day and every hour. I mean the loss of my reputation and my leaving the regiment. In two words, I was treated with tyrannical injustice. It is true my comrades did not love me because of my difficult character, and perhaps because of my absurd character, though it often happens that what is exalted, precious and of value to one, for some reason amuses the herd of one's companions. Oh, I was never liked, not even at school! I was always and everywhere disliked. Even Lukerya cannot like me. What happened in the regiment, though it was the result of their dislike to me, was in a sense accidental. I mention this because nothing is more mortifying and insufferable than to be ruined by an accident, which might have happened or not have happened, from an unfortunate accumulation of circumstances which might have passed over like a cloud. For an intelligent being it is humiliating. This is what happened.

您会发现:在我的一生中,有一个可怕的外部情况,迄今为止,也就是直到我妻子发生惨祸为止,无时无刻不在压迫着我。那就是我丧失面子、被赶出步兵团那件事。三言两语说吧:那是我遭到的一次横蛮无理的不公正的对待。的确,由于我生性不好与人相处,同事们都不喜欢我,也许大家觉得我的性格十分可笑。虽然往往有这样的情况:您认为崇高的东西、隐秘的、值得您纪念的东西,不知为什么却使您的一伙同事觉得可笑。啊,对了,甚至在学校里,我也从来不受喜爱。不论何时、何地,人们都不喜欢我。步兵团里发生的事件,虽然是人们不喜欢我的结果,但无疑地带有偶然的性质。我之所以提起这件事,是因为它比任何事都更加使人感到委曲,感到难以忍受,因为这种可能发生,也可能不发生的事件,居然毁了一个人的前程,其实这种不幸的情况,完全可以像过眼烟云一样,一掠而过的。对于一个有知有识的人来说,这是一种人格侮辱。情况是这样的:

In an interval, at a theatre, I went out to the refreshment bar. A hussar called A------ came in and began, before all the officers present and the public, loudly talking to two other hussars, telling them that Captain Bezumtsev, of our regiment, was making a disgraceful scene in the passage and was, "he believed, drunk." The conversation did not go further and, indeed, it was a mistake, for Captain Bezumtsev was not drunk and the "disgraceful scene" was not really disgraceful. The hussars began talking of something else, and the matter ended there, but the next
day the story reached our regiment, and then they began saying at once that I was the only officer of our regiment in the refreshment bar at the time, and that when A----- the hussar, had spoken insolently of Captain Bezumtsev, I had not gone up to A----- and stopped him by remonstrating. But on what grounds could I have done so? If he had a grudge against Bezumtsev, it was their personal affair and why should I interfere? Meanwhile, the officers began to declare that it was not a personal affair, but that it concerned the regiment, and as I was the only officer of the regiment present I had thereby shown all the officers and other people in the refreshment bar that there could be officers in our regiment who were not over-sensitive on the score of their own honour and the honour of their regiment. I could not agree with this view. They let me know that I could set everything right if I were willing, even now, late as it was, to demand a formal explanation from A-----.

有一次在剧院看戏,幕间休息时,我去小卖部。骠骑兵阿——夫突然走进来,当着所有在场的军官和公众的面,高声地和另外两名骠骑兵说话,说我们团的上尉别祖姆采夫刚才在走廊里胡闹,而且“好像是喝醉了”。谈话没有继续下去,而且说法是错误的,因为别祖姆采夫上尉根本没有喝醉,所谓胡闹其实是子虚乌有。骠骑兵们开始谈别的事情,此事到此应该算是了结了。但到了第二天,这则笑话就传进了我们步兵团,于是我们团的人就说开了:当时我们团的人只有我一个人在小卖部,而且在骠骑兵阿——夫大胆议论别祖姆采夫上尉的时候,我没有走过去,加以批评、制止,但是,我为什么要这样做呢?如果他对别祖姆采夫有仇,那么这是他们之间的私事,我又为什么要牵扯进去呢?但军官们却开始认为,这不是他们两人的私事,而是与整个步兵团有关,又因为我们团的军官当中,只有我一个人在场,这就向在小卖部的所有军官和公众表明,我们团里,有的军官对于自己和团队的名誉问题,并不关心。我不同意这样的说法。有人给我指出:即便是现在仍然有办法弥补,虽然为时晚了点,只要我形式上找阿——夫说明一下就行。

I was not willing to do this, and as I was irritated I refused with pride. And thereupon I forthwith resigned my commission - that is the whole story. I left the regiment, proud but crushed in spirit. I was depressed in will and mind. Just then it was that my sister's husband in Moscow squandered all our little property and my portion of it, which was tiny enough, but the loss of it left me homeless, without a farthing. I might have taken a job in a private business, but I did not. After wearing a distinguished uniform I could not take work in a railway office. And so - if it must be shame, let it be shame; if it must be disgrace, let it be disgrace; if it must be degradation, let it be degradation - (the worse it is, the better) that was my choice. Then followed three years of gloomy memories, and even Vyazemsky's House.

我不愿这样做,一气之下,高傲地拒绝了,并且立即就递交了退伍报告,这就是事情的全部经过。我是高傲地离开的,然而精神上受到了挫伤。我的意志力和智慧都受到了打击。恰巧就在这时我得知姐夫在莫斯科把我们小小的家产挥霍光了,其中包括我可怜的一部分,极小的一部分,于是我被弄得一文莫名,流落街头。我本可以从私人企业中找一份工作,但我没有这样做:穿过金光闪闪的军官制服以后,我是不能到铁路上随便找个什么工作的。于是,羞愧就羞愧,可耻就可耻,堕落就堕落吧,而且越坏越好,这就是我的选择。这样过去了不堪回首的三年,甚至在维亚泽姆斯基大院里也呆过。

A year and a half ago my godmother, a wealthy old lady, died in Moscow, and to my surprise left me three thousand in her will. I thought a little and immediately decided on my course of action. I determined on setting up as a pawnbroker, without apologizing to any one: money, then a home, as far as possible from memories of the past, that was my plan. Nevertheless, the gloomy past and my ruined reputation fretted me every day, every hour. But then I married. Whether it was by chance or not I don't know. But when I brought her into my home I thought I was bringing a friend, and I needed a friend so much. But I saw clearly that the friend must be trained, schooled, even conquered. Could I have explained myself straight off to a girl of sixteen with her prejudices? How, for instance, could I, without the chance help of the horrible incident with the revolver, have made her believe I was not a coward, and that I had been unjustly accused of cowardice in the regiment? But that terrible incident came just in the nick of time. Standing the test of the revolver, I scored off all my gloomy past.

一年半以前,我的教母,一个有钱的老太婆突然在莫斯科去世,她在遗嘱中给我留下三千卢布。我考虑以后,马上决定我的命运。我决心开办当铺,不再向人请求施舍:先搞点钱,然后找个落脚的地方,远远地离开过去的回忆,开始新生活。这就是我的计划。然而,黑暗的过去,我的名誉永远遭到的损害,无时无刻不在折磨着我。但这时我结了婚。这到底是不是偶然,我不知道。但是我带她进我的家门时就想,我带回来的是一个朋友,我觉得我是太需要朋友了。同时,我清楚地看到,朋友是需要加以训练、培养的,甚至需要战而胜之。我能不能一下子向这个年仅十六岁但成见很深的姑娘说清楚什么事情呢?比如,不借助那次偶然发生的可怕的手枪事件,我能不能说服她相信,我不是胆小鬼,步兵团对我的指控是不正确的呢?不过,手枪事件来得正是时候。经受了手枪事件的考验之后,我说清了我全部阴暗的过去。

And though no one knew about it, she knew, and for me that was everything, because she was everything for me, all the hope of the future that I cherished in my dreams! She was the one person I had prepared for myself, and I needed no one else - and here she knew everything; she knew, at any rate, that she had been in haste to join my enemies against me unjustly. That thought enchanted me. In her eyes I could not be a scoundrel now, but at most a strange person, and that thought after all that had happened was by no means displeasing to me; strangeness is not a vice - on the contrary, it sometimes attracts the feminine heart. In fact, I purposely deferred the climax: what had happened was meanwhile, enough for my peace of mind and provided a great number of pictures and materials for my dreams. That is what is wrong, that I am a dreamer: I had enough material for my dreams, and about her, I thought she could wait.

虽然没有任何人知道这件事,但她知道了,而这对我来说就是一切,因为对我来说,她就是一切,就是我理想中我未来的全部希望所在!她是我为自己准备的唯一的人,别的人是不必要的——现在她全知道了;她至少知道了匆匆忙忙站到我的敌人方面是不公正的。这个想法使我感到非常高兴。在她的心目中,我已经不是卑劣的小人,最多不过是个怪人罢了。但是现在,在发生了这一切之后,我完全不喜欢这个想法了,因为怪并不是缺点,恰恰相反,有时它还能赢得女人的青睐。总而言之,我故意把问题的解决推迟:已经发生的事情足以使我平静下来,而且里面包含着太多的情景和材料供我幻想了。我是一个幻想者,我的缺点也正在这里:我的材料已经足够多了,至于她呢,我想还是让她等一等好。

So the whole winter passed in a sort of expectation. I liked looking at her on the sly, when she was sitting at her little table. She was busy at her needlework, and sometimes in the evening she read books taken from my bookcase. The choice of books in the bookcase must have had an influence in my favour too. She hardly ever went out. Just before dusk, after dinner, I used to take her out every day for a walk. We took a constitutional, but we were not absolutely silent, as we used to be. I tried, in fact, to make a show of our not being silent, but talking harmoniously, but as I have said already, we both avoided letting ourselves go. I did it purposely, I thought it was essential to "give her time." Of course, it was strange that almost till the end of the winter it did not once strike me that, though I love to watch her stealthily, I had never once, all the winter, caught her glancing at me! I thought it was timidity in her. Besides, she had an air of such timid gentleness, such weakness after her illness. Yes, better to wait and - "she will come to you all at once of herself. . . ."

整个冬天就是这样在某种期待中过去的。她经常坐在自己的桌旁,这时我就喜欢偷偷地看她。她干活、缝衣服,每到晚上,也从我书柜里拿书看。从我书柜里找书读,也证明对我有利。她几乎哪儿也不去。黄昏前,中饭后,我每天都带她出去散步,做户外活动。但已不像以前那样,完全保持沉默了。我正是竭力装出一副我们不仅不沉默不语,而且谈得很融洽的样子,但是,正如我刚才所说的,我们并没有深谈。我是故意做的,她呢,我想是,必须“打发时间”吧。当然很令人感到奇怪的是,几乎直到冬天结束,我一次也没有想过:我这么喜欢偷偷地看她,可整个冬天我一次也没有发现她瞧过我一眼!我以为这是她羞怯的缘故。再说她病后,样子确实是这么羞怯、温和,这么无力。不,最好是等一等看,“说不定她会突然走到你身边来呢……”

That thought fascinated me beyond all words. I will add one thing; sometimes, as it were purposely, I worked myself up and brought my mind and spirit to the point of believing she had injured me. And so it went on for some time. But my anger could never be very real or violent. And I felt myself as though it were only acting. And though I had broken off out marriage by buying that bedstead and screen, I could never, never look upon her as a criminal. And not that I took a frivolous view of her crime, but because I had the sense to forgive her completely, from the very first day, even before I bought the bedstead. In fact, it is strange on my part, for I am strict in moral questions. On the contrary, in my eyes, she was so conquered, so humiliated, so crushed, that sometimes I felt agonies of pity for her, though sometimes the thought of her humiliation was actually pleasing to me. The thought of our inequality pleased me. . . .

这个想法,使我感到不可名状地高兴。我再补充一点,有时候我好像故意激励自己,真的把自己的精神和头脑都振奋起来,似乎我受到了她的欺侮。这种状态持续了一些时间。但是我的仇恨任何时间也成熟不起来,无法在我的心中扎根。再说我自己也觉得好像这不过是玩的一场游戏。即便是解除了婚姻,买来了床和屏风,我也从来没有把她看成是罪犯,的确从来没有过。这并不是因为我判定她有罪是轻率的,而是因为从第一天起,我就有意完全原谅她,甚至早在买床以前,就是如此。总而言之,这从我这方面来说,是怪事一桩,因为我在道德方面,一向要求严格。恰恰相反,她在我的眼中是被战败了的,是受到屈辱、受到压制的,因此我有时痛苦地觉得她很可怜,虽然尽管如此,我有时又对她受到屈辱的想法,感到非常高兴。我们处境不一样的想法,很合我的心意……

I intentionally performed several acts of kindness that winter. I excused two debts, I have one poor woman money without any pledge. And I said nothing to my wife about it, and I didn't do it in order that she should know; but the woman came to thank me, almost on her knees. And in that way it became public property; it seemed to me that she heard about the woman with pleasure.

这年冬天,我故意做了几件好事。我勾销了别人欠我的两笔债款,我给了一个穷苦女人一笔钱,没要她用任何东西作抵押。这事我对妻子也没说过,其所以这样做,完全不是为了让她知道。但是那女人却亲自走来道谢,而且差点下跪。事情就这样张扬出去了。我觉得,她得知这女人的事,是会真正感到满意的。

But spring was coming, it was mid-April, we took out the double windows and the sun began lighting up our silent room with its bright beams. But there was, as it were, a veil before my eyes and a blindness over my mind. A fatal, terrible veil! How did it happen that the scales suddenly fell from my eyes, and I suddenly saw and understood? Was it a chance, or had the hour come, or did the ray of sunshine kindle a thought, a conjecture, in my dull mind? No, it was not a thought, not a conjecture. But a chord suddenly vibrated, a feeling that had long been dead was stirred and came to life, flooding all my darkened soul and devilish pride with light. It was as though I had suddenly leaped up from my place. And, indeed, it happened suddenly and abruptly. It happened towards evening, at five o'clock, after dinner. . . .

但是,春天逼近了,时间已是四月中旬,我们取下了双层窗户,于是明亮的阳光,照亮了我们沉默的房间。但是我面前挂着一块遮眼布,遮住了我的头脑。致命的、可怕的遮布!忽然间,遮布从我的眼前掉下来了,于是我突然得到光明,什么都看清了,理解了!这是偶然发生的事件,还是那个期限已经到来,阳光把我麻木脑袋中的思想和猜测照亮了呢?不,这不是什么思想,也不是什么猜测,这是一根脉搏在突然跳动。那是一根僵化了的脉搏,它开始抖动,复活过来了,它照亮了我昏迷的灵魂和我邪恶的骄傲。我当时真的从原地跳了起来。而且这事来得突然,毫无准备。它是在傍晚前,中饭以后五点钟的时候发生的。