Of Human Bondage  人性的枷锁

‘Oh, the time has seemed long since you’ve been away, Philip,’ she cried.

"哦!菲利普,你走后,我们可是度日如年呀,"她抽搭着说。

She stroked his hands and looked into his face with glad eyes.

她抚摩着他的双手,用喜滋滋的目光端详着他的脸庞。

‘You’ve grown. You’re quite a man now.’

"你长大了,简直是个大人啦。"

There was a very small moustache on his upper lip. He had bought a razor and now and then with infinite care shaved the down off his smooth chin.

他上唇边上已长出薄薄一层软髭。他特地买了把剃刀,不时小心翼翼地将光滑的下巴颏上的柔毛剃掉。

‘We’ve been so lonely without you.’ And then shyly, with a little break in her voice, she asked: ‘You are glad to come back to your home, aren’t you?’

"你不在家,我们好冷清啊。"接着,她又用微带颤抖的声音腼腆地问:"回到自己家里很高兴吧?"

‘Yes, rather.’

"那还用说!"

She was so thin that she seemed almost transparent, the arms she put round his neck were frail bones that reminded you of chicken bones, and her faded face was oh! so wrinkled. The gray curls which she still wore in the fashion of her youth gave her a queer, pathetic look; and her little withered body was like an autumn leaf, you felt it might be blown away by the first sharp wind. Philip realised that they had done with life, these two quiet little people: they belonged to a past generation, and they were waiting there patiently, rather stupidly, for death; and he, in his vigour and his youth, thirsting for excitement and adventure, was appalled at the waste. They had done nothing, and when they went it would be just as if they had never been. He felt a great pity for Aunt Louisa, and he loved her suddenly because she loved him.

她又瘦削又单薄,仿佛目光也能将她的身子穿透似的。那两条勾住菲利普颈脖的胳膊,瘦骨嶙峋,不禁让人联想起鸡骨头来;那张凋枯的脸哦,皱纹竟是这般密密层层!一头斑斑白发,仍梳理成她年轻时流行的鬈发式样,模样儿既古怪,又叫人觉得可怜。那于瘪瘦小的身躯,好似秋大的一片枯叶,你觉得只要寒风一起,就会将它吹得无影无踪。菲利普意识到,他们这两个默默无闻的小人物,已经走完人生的历程:他们属于过去的一代,现在正在那儿耐心而又相当麻木地等待着死神的来临。而他呢,却是朝气蓬勃,年富力强,渴望着刺激与冒险,看到如此浑浑噩噩地虚度年华,自然不胜惊骇。他们一生碌碌无为,一旦辞世之后,也就如同未曾到过人世一般。他对路易莎伯母倍感怜悯,突然疼爱起她来,因为她也疼爱自己呢。

Then Miss Wilkinson, who had kept discreetly out of the way till the Careys had had a chance of welcoming their nephew, came into the room.

这时,威尔金森小姐走进屋来。刚才她十分知趣地回避开,好让凯里夫妇有机会同侄儿亲热一会儿。

‘This is Miss Wilkinson, Philip,’ said Mrs. Carey.

"这是威尔金森小姐,菲利普,"凯里太太说。

‘The prodigal has returned,’ she said, holding out her hand. ‘I have brought a rose for the prodigal’s buttonhole.’

"浪子回家啦,"她边说边伸出手来,"我给浪子带来了一朵玫瑰花,把它别在衣扣上吧。"

With a gay smile she pinned to Philip’s coat the flower she had just picked in the garden. He blushed and felt foolish. He knew that Miss Wilkinson was the daughter of his Uncle William’s last rector, and he had a wide acquaintance with the daughters of clergymen. They wore ill-cut clothes and stout boots. They were generally dressed in black, for in Philip’s early years at Blackstable homespuns had not reached East Anglia, and the ladies of the clergy did not favour colours. Their hair was done very untidily, and they smelt aggressively of starched linen. They considered the feminine graces unbecoming and looked the same whether they were old or young. They bore their religion arrogantly. The closeness of their connection with the church made them adopt a slightly dictatorial attitude to the rest of mankind.

她笑吟吟地把那朵刚从花园里摘来的玫瑰花别在菲利普上衣的钮扣眼里。菲利普脸涨得通红,觉得自己傻乎乎的。他知道威尔金森小姐是威廉大伯从前的教区长的女儿;自己也认识许多牧师的女儿。这些小姐衣着很差,脚上的靴子也过于肥大。她们通常穿一身黑衣服。菲利普早先呆在布莱克斯泰勃的那几年,手织衣还没传到东英吉利来,而且牧师家的太太小姐们也不喜欢穿红戴绿。她们的头发蓬蓬松松,梳得很马虎,上过浆的内衣发出一股刺鼻的怪味。她们认为女性健力的外露,有失体统,因而无论老妇少女全是千篇一律的打扮。她们把自己的宗教当作借以目空一切的金字招牌。她们自恃与教会血缘相联,在对待同类的态度上,免不了带有几分专横之气。

Miss Wilkinson was very different. She wore a white muslin gown stamped with gay little bunches of flowers, and pointed, high-heeled shoes, with open-work stockings. To Philip’s inexperience it seemed that she was wonderfully dressed; he did not see that her frock was cheap and showy. Her hair was elaborately dressed, with a neat curl in the middle of the forehead: it was very black, shiny and hard, and it looked as though it could never be in the least disarranged. She had large black eyes and her nose was slightly aquiline; in profile she had somewhat the look of a bird of prey, but full face she was prepossessing. She smiled a great deal, but her mouth was large and when she smiled she tried to hide her teeth, which were big and rather yellow. But what embarrassed Philip most was that she was heavily powdered: he had very strict views on feminine behaviour and did not think a lady ever powdered; but of course Miss Wilkinson was a lady because she was a clergyman’s daughter, and a clergyman was a gentleman.

威尔金森小姐可不同凡响。她身穿一袭白纱长服,上面印有鲜艳的小花束图案,脚蹬一双尖头高跟鞋,再配上一双网眼长袜。在不见世面的菲利普眼里,她的穿戴似乎极为阔气,岂知她的外衣乃是一件华而不实的便宜货。她头发做得十分考究,故意将一络光滑的发鬈耷拉在前额中央,发丝乌黑发亮,很有骨干,看上去似乎永远不会蓬松散乱。一双眼睛又黑又大,鼻梁略呈钩形,她的侧影略带几分猛禽的凶相,而从正面看上去,却很逗人喜欢。她总是笑容可掬,但因为嘴大,笑的时候,得留神不让自己那口又大又黄的板牙露出来。最使菲利普不好受的,是她脸上抹的那厚厚一层脂粉。他对女性的风度举止向来很挑剔,认为一个有教养的上流女子万万不可涂脂抹粉;不过话得说回来,威尔金森小姐当然是位有教养的小姐罗,因为她是牧师的千金,而牧师则是属于有教养的上流人士。

Philip made up his mind to dislike her thoroughly. She spoke with a slight French accent; and he did not know why she should, since she had been born and bred in the heart of England. He thought her smile affected, and the coy sprightliness of her manner irritated him. For two or three days he remained silent and hostile, but Miss Wilkinson apparently did not notice it. She was very affable. She addressed her conversation almost exclusively to him, and there was something flattering in the way she appealed constantly to his sane judgment. She made him laugh too, and Philip could never resist people who amused him: he had a gift now and then of saying neat things; and it was pleasant to have an appreciative listener. Neither the Vicar nor Mrs. Carey had a sense of humour, and they never laughed at anything he said. As he grew used to Miss Wilkinson, and his shyness left him, he began to like her better; he found the French accent picturesque; and at a garden party which the doctor gave she was very much better dressed than anyone else. She wore a blue foulard with large white spots, and Philip was tickled at the sensation it caused.

菲利普打定主意不对她产生半点好感。她说话时带点法国腔,他不明白她为什么要这样,她明明是在英格兰内地土生土长的嘛。他觉得她笑起来流于矫揉造作,还有那股故作羞态的轻浮劲儿,也使他感到恼火。头两三天里,他心怀敌意,不和她多罗唆,而威尔金森小姐显然没有注意到他的态度,在他面前显得特别和蔼可亲。她几乎只跟他一个人交谈,并且不断就某些问题征求菲利普的意见,这种做法自有讨人喜欢的地方。她还故意逗他发笑,而菲利普对那些使自己感到有趣的人,一向无法拒之于门外:他颇有几分口才,能时而说几句高雅风趣的妙语,现在碰上了一位知音者,怎么能不叫他喜上心头呢。牧师和凯里太太都没一点幽默感,无论他说什么都不能引他们开颜展笑。菲利普渐渐同威尔金森小姐厮混熟了,他不再感到拘泥羞涩,而且渐渐喜欢起她来了:他发觉她的法国腔别有风味;在医生家的游园会上,她打扮得比谁都漂亮,穿一身蓝底大白点子的印花绸裙衫,单凭这一点,就足已使菲利普心荡神移。

‘I’m certain they think you’re no better than you should be,’ he told her, laughing.

"我敢肯定,他们准会认为你有失身分,"他笑着对她说。

‘It’s the dream of my life to be taken for an abandoned hussy,’ she answered.

"让人们看作放荡的野女人,本是我平生夙愿,"她回答说。

One day when Miss Wilkinson was in her room he asked Aunt Louisa how old she was.

有一天,菲利普趁威尔金森小姐呆在自己房里的当儿,问路易莎伯母她有多大了。

‘Oh, my dear, you should never ask a lady’s age; but she’s certainly too old for you to marry.’

"哎哟,亲爱的,你万万不可打听一位姑娘的年龄。不过一点是肯定的,你要和她结婚,那她年纪可嫌太大啦。"

The Vicar gave his slow, obese smile.

牧师肥胖的脸膛上,慢慢漾起一丝笑意。

‘She’s no chicken, Louisa,’ he said. ‘She was nearly grown up when we were in Lincolnshire, and that was twenty years ago. She wore a pigtail hanging down her back.’

"她可不是个黄毛丫头吧,路易莎,"他说。"我们在林肯郡的那阵儿,她就差不多已是个大姑娘了。那还是二十年前的事儿了。那会儿,她背后还拖着根大辫子呢。"

‘She may not have been more than ten,’ said Philip.

"那时她也许还不满十岁吧,"菲利普说。

‘She was older than that,’ said Aunt Louisa.

"不止十岁了,"路易莎伯母说。

‘I think she was near twenty,’ said the Vicar.

"我想那时候她快二十了吧,"牧师说。

‘Oh no, William. Sixteen or seventeen at the outside.’

"哦,不,威廉,至多不过十六七岁。"

‘That would make her well over thirty,’ said Philip.

"那她早已三十出头罗,"菲利普说。

At that moment Miss Wilkinson tripped downstairs, singing a song by Benjamin Goddard. She had put her hat on, for she and Philip were going for a walk, and she held out her hand for him to button her glove. He did it awkwardly. He felt embarrassed but gallant. Conversation went easily between them now, and as they strolled along they talked of all manner of things. She told Philip about Berlin, and he told her of his year in Heidelberg. As he spoke, things which had appeared of no importance gained a new interest: he described the people at Frau Erlin’s house; and to the conversations between Hayward and Weeks, which at the time seemed so significant, he gave a little twist, so that they looked absurd. He was flattered at Miss Wilkinson’s laughter.

就在这时候,威尔金森小姐步履轻盈地走下楼来,嘴里还哼着支本杰明·戈达德的曲子。她戴着帽子,因为已经约好菲利普一块儿去散步;她伸出手来,让菲利普给她扣好手套的钮扣。他并不精于此道,动作笨拙。他虽有几分尴尬,却自觉显示了骑士风度。他们俩现在交谈起来,无拘无束,十分投机;这会儿他们信步闲逛,一边天南海北地聊着。她给他讲在柏林的所见所闻,而他则告诉她这一年在海德堡的生活情形。过去似乎是无足轻重的琐事,现在谈起来却增添了新的趣味。他描述了欧林太太寓所内的房客以及海沃德和维克斯之间的那几次谈话。当时似乎对他影响至深,此刻他却略加歪曲,使两位当事人显得荒唐可笑。听到威尔金森小姐的笑声,菲利普颇感得意。

‘I’m quite frightened of you,’ she said. ‘You’re so sarcastic.’

"你真让人害怕,"她说,"你的舌头好厉害。"

Then she asked him playfully whether he had not had any love affairs at Heidelberg. Without thinking, he frankly answered that he had not; but she refused to believe him.

接着,她又打趣地问他在海德堡时可有过什么艳遇。菲利普不假思索直言相告:福分太浅,一事无成。但威尔金森小姐就是不相信。

‘How secretive you are!’ she said. ‘At your age is it likely?’

"你嘴巴真紧!"她又说,"在你这种年纪,怎么可能呢?一

He blushed and laughed.

菲利普双颊刷地红了,哈哈一笑。

‘You want to know too much,’ he said.

"啊,你打听的事未免多了点,"他说。

‘Ah, I thought so,’ she laughed triumphantly. ‘Look at him blushing.’

"哈哈,我说嘛,"威尔金森小姐得意洋洋地笑了起来,"瞧你脸都红啦。"

He was pleased that she should think he had been a sad dog, and he changed the conversation so as to make her believe he had all sorts of romantic things to conceal. He was angry with himself that he had not. There had been no opportunity.

说来好不叫人得意,她竟会认为自己是风月场中的老手。为了让她相信自已确实有种种风流事儿要隐瞒,他赶忙变换话题。他只怨自己从来没谈过情,说过爱。实在没有机缘哪。

Miss Wilkinson was dissatisfied with her lot. She resented having to earn her living and told Philip a long story of an uncle of her mother’s, who had been expected to leave her a fortune but had married his cook and changed his will. She hinted at the luxury of her home and compared her life in Lincolnshire, with horses to ride and carriages to drive in, with the mean dependence of her present state. Philip was a little puzzled when he mentioned this afterwards to Aunt Louisa, and she told him that when she knew the Wilkinsons they had never had anything more than a pony and a dog-cart; Aunt Louisa had heard of the rich uncle, but as he was married and had children before Emily was born she could never have had much hope of inheriting his fortune. Miss Wilkinson had little good to say of Berlin, where she was now in a situation. She complained of the vulgarity of German life, and compared it bitterly with the brilliance of Paris, where she had spent a number of years. She did not say how many. She had been governess in the family of a fashionable portrait-painter, who had married a Jewish wife of means, and in their house she had met many distinguished people. She dazzled Philip with their names. Actors from the Comedie Francaise had come to the house frequently, and Coquelin, sitting next her at dinner, had told her he had never met a foreigner who spoke such perfect French. Alphonse Daudet had come also, and he had given her a copy of Sappho: he had promised to write her name in it, but she had forgotten to remind him. She treasured the volume none the less and she would lend it to Philip. Then there was Maupassant. Miss Wilkinson with a rippling laugh looked at Philip knowingly. What a man, but what a writer! Hayward had talked of Maupassant, and his reputation was not unknown to Philip.

威尔金森小姐时乖命蹇,怨天尤人。她怨恨自己不得不自谋生计糊口,她在菲利普面前絮絮叨叨地讲述自己的身世;她原可以从她母亲的一个叔父那儿继承到一笔财产,哪知这个叔父意跟他的厨娘结了婚,把遗嘱改了。言谈之中,她暗暗示自己家境曾相当阔绰,她将当年在林肯郡野游有马可策、出门有车代步的宽裕生活,同目前寄人篱下的潦倒处境作了对比。事后菲利普对路易莎伯母提起此事时,路易莎伯母的话却使他有点迷惑不解。她告诉菲利普,当年她认识威尔金森一家的时候,他们家充其量也只有一匹小驹和一辆寒伧单马马车;至于那个阔叔父,路易莎伯母倒确实听人说起过,但他不仅结过婚,而且在埃米莉出世前就有了孩子,所以埃米莉压根儿没希望得到他的遗产。威尔金森小姐眼下在柏林工作,她把那儿说得一无是处。她抱怨德国的生活粗俗不堪,不无痛苦地将它同巴黎的五光十色作了对比。她在巴黎呆过好几年,但没说清究竟呆了几年。她在一个时髦的肖像画师家里当家庭教师,女主人是个有钱的犹太人。在那儿,她有幸遇到许多知名人士,她一口气说了一大串名流的名字,听得菲利普晕头转向。法兰西喜剧院的几位演员是她主人家的常客。吃饭时,科克兰就坐在她身边,他对她说,他还从未遇到过哪个外国人能说这么一口纯粹、流利的法国话。阿尔方斯·都德也来过,曾给她一本《萨福诗选》。他原答应把她的芳名写在书上,可她后来忘记提醒他了。不管怎么说,她现在仍把这本书当宝贝似地保存在手边,她愿意借给菲利普一阅。还有那位莫泊桑。威尔金森小姐提到他时格格一笑,意味深长地瞅着菲利普。了不起的人物!了不起的作家!海沃德曾讲到过莫泊桑,因而此人的名声菲利普也略有所闻。

‘Did he make love to you?’ he asked.

"他向你求爱了吗?"他问道。

The words seemed to stick funnily in his throat, but he asked them nevertheless. He liked Miss Wilkinson very much now, and was thrilled by her conversation, but he could not imagine anyone making love to her.

说来也奇怪,这句话冒到喉咙口时似乎在那儿哽住了,可毕竟还是吐了出来。现在他挺喜欢威尔金森小姐,同她闲聊时,心里止不住阵阵激动,可他很难想象会有人向她求爱。

‘What a question!’ she cried. ‘Poor Guy, he made love to every woman he met. It was a habit that he could not break himself of.’

"瞧你问的!一她叫了起来。"可怜的居伊,他不论遇到什么样的女人都会向她求爱的。他这个脾气怎么也改变不了。"

She sighed a little, and seemed to look back tenderly on the past.

她轻轻地叹了口气,似乎是满怀柔情地回忆着往事。

‘He was a charming man,’ she murmured.

"他可是个迷人的男子啊,"她低声嘟哝。

A greater experience than Philip’s would have guessed from these words the probabilities of the encounter: the distinguished writer invited to luncheon en famille, the governess coming in sedately with the two tall girls she was teaching; the introduction:

只有阅历比菲利普深些的人,才能从她的话里猜测出那种可能有的邂道场面:那位著名作家应邀前来赴家庭便宴,女教师带着两个身材修长的女学生,彬彬有礼地走了进来:主人向客人介绍:

‘Notre Miss Anglaise.’

"Notre Melle Anglaise."

‘Mademoiselle.’

"Mademoiselle."

And the luncheon during which the Miss Anglaise sat silent while the distinguished writer talked to his host and hostess.

席间,名作家同男女主人谈大说地,那位Melle Anglaise默默地坐在一旁。

But to Philip her words called up much more romantic fancies.

可是她的那番话,却在菲利普的头脑里唤起远为罗曼蒂克的奇思遐想。

‘Do tell me all about him,’ he said excitedly.

"快跟我讲讲他的事情吧,"他激动地说。

‘There’s nothing to tell,’ she said truthfully, but in such a manner as to convey that three volumes would scarcely have contained the lurid facts. ‘You mustn’t be curious.’

"也没什么好讲的,"她这句说的倒是实话,可眉宇间的那副神气却似乎在说:哪怕写上三厚本也写不尽其中的艳史佳话呢。"你可不该这么刨根问底呀。"

She began to talk of Paris. She loved the boulevards and the Bois. There was grace in every street, and the trees in the Champs Elysees had a distinction which trees had not elsewhere. They were sitting on a stile now by the high-road, and Miss Wilkinson looked with disdain upon the stately elms in front of them. And the theatres: the plays were brilliant, and the acting was incomparable. She often went with Madame Foyot, the mother of the girls she was educating, when she was trying on clothes.

她开始议论起巴黎来。她喜欢那儿的林荫大道和奇花异木。条条马路都优美雅致,而爱丽舍田园大街上的树丛林苑,更是别具一格。他们俩这会儿坐在公路边的栅栏梯瞪上,威尔金森小姐望着面前那几棵挺拔的榆树,目光里流露出鄙夷的神情。还有那儿的剧院,其节目之瑰丽多彩,演技之精湛高超,均是无与伦比的。她学生的母亲,福约太太,要去成衣铺试衣时,常由她陪同前往。

‘Oh, what a misery to be poor!’ she cried. ‘These beautiful things, it’s only in Paris they know how to dress, and not to be able to afford them! Poor Madame Foyot, she had no figure. Sometimes the dressmaker used to whisper to me: ‘Ah, Mademoiselle, if she only had your figure.’ ‘

"哦,做人没钱花,真是活受罪!"她大声嚷嚷。"那些个漂亮时装!只有巴黎人才懂得穿衣打扮,而我呢,却买不起!可怜的福约太太,身段太差劲了。有时候成衣匠在我耳边轻声嘀咕:"唉,小姐,要是她能有您这样的身段就好啦!"

Philip noticed then that Miss Wilkinson had a robust form and was proud of it.

菲利普这时才注意到威尔金森小姐体态丰满,而且她本人也颇为之自豪。

‘Men are so stupid in England. They only think of the face. The French, who are a nation of lovers, know how much more important the figure is.’

"英国的男人够蠢的,只看重脸蛋长相。法国人才是个懂得爱情的民族,他们知道身段远比相貌重要。"

Philip had never thought of such things before, but he observed now that Miss Wilkinson’s ankles were thick and ungainly. He withdrew his eyes quickly.

菲利普以前从不留神这种事儿,现在可注意到了威尔金森小姐脚脖子又粗又难看。他赶紧把目光移开。

‘You should go to France. Why don’t you go to Paris for a year? You would learn French, and it would—deniaiser you.’

"你应该去法国。你干吗不去巴黎住上一年。你可以把法语学到手,这样会使你变得deniaiser"

‘What is that?’ asked Philip.

"那是什么意思?"他问道。

She laughed slyly.

她狡黠地抿嘴一笑。

‘You must look it out in the dictionary. Englishmen do not know how to treat women. They are so shy. Shyness is ridiculous in a man. They don’t know how to make love. They can’t even tell a woman she is charming without looking foolish.’

"这你可得去查查词典罗。英国男人不懂如何对待女人,他们羞羞答答的。男子汉还羞羞答答,多可笑。他们不懂得如何向女人求爱,甚至在恭维女人的漂亮迷人时,也免不了显出一副傻相。"

Philip felt himself absurd. Miss Wilkinson evidently expected him to behave very differently; and he would have been delighted to say gallant and witty things, but they never occurred to him; and when they did he was too much afraid of making a fool of himself to say them.

菲利普感到自己愚蠢可笑。显然,威尔金森小姐希望自己别这么拘谨。说真的,这时要是能说几句妙趣横生的俏皮话,献一点儿殷勤,那该多快人心意。可惜他搜索枯肠,就是掏不出半句来;等到他真的想到了,却又怕说出口会出洋相。

‘Oh, I love Paris,’ sighed Miss Wilkinson. ‘But I had to go to Berlin. I was with the Foyots till the girls married, and then I could get nothing to do, and I had the chance of this post in Berlin. They’re relations of Madame Foyot, and I accepted. I had a tiny apartment in the Rue Breda, on the cinquieme: it wasn’t at all respectable. You know about the Rue Breda—ces dames, you know.’

一哦,那时我爱上了巴黎,"威尔金森小姐感叹地说,"却不得不去柏林。福约家的女儿后来相继出嫁,我没法再在他们家待下去,一时又找不到事干,而柏林倒有个位置,就是我眼下干的这个差使。他们是福约太太的亲戚,我答应了下来。我在布里达街有个小套间,是在cinouieme那儿实在毫无体面可言。布里达街的情形你县知道的--cesdames,是吧。"

Philip nodded, not knowing at all what she meant, but vaguely suspecting, and anxious she should not think him too ignorant.

菲利普点点头,其实根本不明白她说的是什么,只是模模糊糊猜到了一点。他生怕她会笑向己少不更事。

‘But I didn’t care. Je suis libre, n’est-ce pas?’ She was very fond of speaking French, which indeed she spoke well. ‘Once I had such a curious adventure there.’

不过我也不在乎。je suis libre. n'est-ce-pas"她很喜欢插句把法语,而她法语也确实说得不错。"我在那儿还有过一段奇遇呢。"

She paused a little and Philip pressed her to tell it.

她蓦地收住话头,菲利普催她往下说。

‘You wouldn’t tell me yours in Heidelberg,’ she said.

"你也不肯把自己在海德堡的奇遇讲给我听嘛,"她说。

‘They were so unadventurous,’ he retorted.

"实在太平淡无奇啦,"菲利普辩解说。

‘I don’t know what Mrs. Carey would say if she knew the sort of things we talk about together.’

"假如凯里太太知道我们在一起谈这种事儿,真不知道她会怎么说呢。"

‘You don’t imagine I shall tell her.’

"你想我怎么会去告诉她呢?"

‘Will you promise?’

"你能保证不说?"

When he had done this, she told him how an art-student who had a room on the floor above her—but she interrupted herself.

他作了保证之后,她就开始说:她接上房间里住了个学美术的学生,他--但她又突然改变话题。

‘Why don’t you go in for art? You paint so prettily.’

"你干吗不去学美术?你画得挺不错呢。"

‘Not well enough for that.’

"差得远呐。"

‘That is for others to judge. Je m’y connais, and I believe you have the making of a great artist.’

"这得由别人来评判。Je m'y connais,我相信你具有大画家的气质。"

‘Can’t you see Uncle William’s face if I suddenly told him I wanted to go to Paris and study art?’

"要是我突然跑去对威廉大伯说我要去巴黎学美术,他的那副嘴脸够你瞧的!"

‘You’re your own master, aren’t you?’

"你总不见得现在还是任人牵着鼻子走的吧。"

‘You’re trying to put me off. Please go on with the story.’ Miss Wilkinson, with a little laugh, went on. The art-student had passed her several times on the stairs, and she had paid no particular attention. She saw that he had fine eyes, and he took off his hat very politely. And one day she found a letter slipped under her door. It was from him. He told her that he had adored her for months, and that he waited about the stairs for her to pass. Oh, it was a charming letter! Of course she did not reply, but what woman could help being flattered? And next day there was another letter! It was wonderful, passionate, and touching. When next she met him on the stairs she did not know which way to look. And every day the letters came, and now he begged her to see him. He said he would come in the evening, vers neuf heures, and she did not know what to do. Of course it was impossible, and he might ring and ring, but she would never open the door; and then while she was waiting for the tinkling of the bell, all nerves, suddenly he stood before her. She had forgotten to shut the door when she came in.

"你存心在卖关子哪,还是请你把刚才的事说下去吧。"

‘C’etait une fatalite.’

威尔金森小姐莞尔一笑,继续说她的故事。有几次,她在楼梯上同那个学美术的学生交臂而过,而她并没怎么特别去留意他,只看到他有一对漂亮的眼睛,他还彬彬有礼地脱帽致意。有一天,她发现从门缝里塞进来一封信。是他写的。信上说他几个月来一直对她暗中敬慕,他故意站在楼梯旁等她走过。哦,信写得委婉动人!她当然没回信罗。不过,天底下有哪个女人不喜欢受人奉承?第二天,又送来了一封信!这封信写得妙极了,热情洋溢,感人至深。后来,她在楼梯上同他再次相遇时,简直不知道眼睛该往哪儿看才好。每天都有信来,信中恳求与她相会。他说他晚上来,vers neuf heures,她不知如何是好。这当然是万万不可的,他或许会不断拉铃,而她决不会去开门;然而就在她等待铃声了当作响时,他却出其不意地出现在她面前。原来她自己进屋时忘了把门关上。

‘And what happened then?’ asked Philip.

"C'etait une fatslite."

‘That is the end of the story,’ she replied, with a ripple of laughter.

"后来呢?"菲利普追问道。

Philip was silent for a moment. His heart beat quickly, and strange emotions seemed to be hustling one another in his heart. He saw the dark staircase and the chance meetings, and he admired the boldness of the letters—oh, he would never have dared to do that—and then the silent, almost mysterious entrance. It seemed to him the very soul of romance.

"故事到此结束啦,"她回答说,同时伴随着一串格格的笑声。

‘What was he like?’

菲利普半晌没言语。他心儿突突直跳,心田里似乎涌起一阵阵莫名其妙的感情的波澜。他眼前浮现出那条黑洞洞的楼梯,还有那一幕又一幕邂逅相遇的情景。他钦佩写信人的胆量--哦,他可永远不敢那么胆大妄为--还佩服他竟那么悄没声儿,几乎是神不知鬼不觉地进了她的房间。在他看来,这才是风流韵事的精华所在。

‘Oh, he was handsome. Charmant garcon.’

"他长得怎么样?"

‘Do you know him still?’

"哦,长得挺帅。Charmant garcon。"

Philip felt a slight feeling of irritation as he asked this.

"你现在还同他往来吗?"

‘He treated me abominably. Men are always the same. You’re heartless, all of you.’

菲利普问这句话的时候,心中隐隐感到一股酸溜溜的滋味。

‘I don’t know about that,’ said Philip, not without embarrassment.

"他待我讲透了,男人嘛,全是一丘之貉。你们全是没良心的,没一个好货。"

‘Let us go home,’ said Miss Wilkinson.

"这一点我可没有体会,"菲利普不无困窘地说。

"让我们回家去吧,"威尔金森小姐说。