The Age of Innocence  纯真年代

The day, according to any current valuation, hadbeen a rather ridiculous failure; he had not so much astouched Madame Olenska's hand with his lips, orextracted one word from her that gave promise of fartheropportunities. Nevertheless, for a man sick withunsatisfied love, and parting for an indefinite period fromthe object of his passion, he felt himself almosthumiliatingly calm and comforted. It was the perfect balanceshe had held between their loyalty to others and theirhonesty to themselves that had so stirred and yettranquillized him; a balance not artfully calculated, as hertears and her falterings showed, but resulting naturallyfrom her unabashed sincerity. It filled him with a tenderawe, now the danger was over, and made himthank the fates that no personal vanity, no sense ofplaying a part before sophisticated witnesses, hadtempted him to tempt her. Even after they had claspedhands for good-bye at the Fall River station, and hehad turned away alone, the conviction remained withhim of having saved out of their meeting much morethan he had sacrificed.

根据任何现行的价值标准,这一天也得算是十分可笑的失败。他甚至都没有亲吻奥兰斯卡夫人的手,也没从她口中掏出一句话,允诺另外的机会。然而对于一个因爱情不美满而苦恼、并且与热恋的对象分开了如此之久的男人来说,他觉得自己近乎屈辱地获得了平静与安慰。他们必须对他人忠诚又对自己忠诚,她在两者之间求得的绝对平衡令他既十分激动又十分平静。她的眼泪与她的踌躇可以作证,这种平衡并不是巧妙筹划出来的,而是她问心无愧的真诚所导致的必然结果。这使他心中充满一种温馨的敬畏;现在危险已经过去,他更是谢天谢地:自己没有受个人虚荣心与游戏人生的意念的诱惑而去诱惑她。他们在福尔里弗车站握手告别。他独自转过身去之后,甚至还依然确信,他们的会见所挽救的要比他牺牲的东西多得多。

He wandered back to the club, and went and satalone in the deserted library, turning and turning overin his thoughts every separate second of their hourstogether. It was clear to him, and it grew more clearunder closer scrutiny, that if she should finally decideon returning to Europe--returning to her husband--itwould not be because her old life tempted her, even onthe new terms offered. No: she would go only if shefelt herself becoming a temptation to Archer, atemptation to fall away from the standard they had both setup. Her choice would be to stay near him as long as hedid not ask her to come nearer; and it depended onhimself to keep her just there, safe but secluded.

他漫步回到俱乐部,又走进空无一人的图书室坐了下来,心中再三回忆他们厮守的那几个小时的每一时刻。他很清楚,而且经过仔细分析越来越清楚,假如她最终决定回欧洲,回到她丈夫身边,那也不会是因为过去生活的诱惑,即使算上对她提出的新条件。不,只有当她感觉自己成了对阿切尔的诱惑,成了背离他们共同确立的准则的诱惑时,她才会走。她的选择是留在他的近处,条件是只要他不要求她更近。能否把她安全而又隐蔽地留在那儿——这完全取决于他自己。

In the train these thoughts were still with him. Theyenclosed him in a kind of golden haze, through whichthe faces about him looked remote and indistinct: hehad a feeling that if he spoke to his fellow-travellersthey would not understand what he was saying. In thisstate of abstraction he found himself, the followingmorning, waking to the reality of a stifling Septemberday in New York. The heat-withered faces in the longtrain streamed past him, and he continued to stare atthem through the same golden blur; but suddenly, ashe left the station, one of the faces detached itself, camecloser and forced itself upon his consciousness. It was,as he instantly recalled, the face of the young man hehad seen, the day before, passing out of the ParkerHouse, and had noted as not conforming to type, asnot having an American hotel face.

到了火车上,这些思绪依然伴随着他。它们就像金色的雾霭包围着他,透过这层雾霭,他周围那些面孔都显得遥远、模糊。他有一种感觉:假如他和旅伴们谈话,他们很可能听不懂他说的是什么。在这种神不守舍的状态中,第二天早晨醒来,他才发现自己面前的现实是纽约9月份沉闷的白天。长长的列车上那些热蔫了的面孔从他跟前川流而过,他仍然透过那片金色的朦胧呆看着他们。但他正要离开车站的时候,猛然有一张脸从那群面孔中分离出来,越来越近,强加于他的知觉。他即刻便想起来:这是他前一天曾见过的那个年轻人的脸,在帕克旅馆外面注意到的那张难以归类的脸,它不像是美国旅馆里常见的面孔。

The same thing struck him now; and again he becameaware of a dim stir of former associations. Theyoung man stood looking about him with the dazed airof the foreigner flung upon the harsh mercies of Americantravel; then he advanced toward Archer, lifted hishat, and said in English: "Surely, Monsieur, we met inLondon?"

此刻他又产生了同样的感觉,又是心中一动,产生一种对过去的模糊联想。那年轻人站在那里,带着一副外国人饱尝美国旅行苦头的困惑四下打量,接着他朝阿切尔走过来,举起帽子用英语说:“先生,我们一定是在伦敦见过面吧?”

"Ah, to be sure: in London!" Archer grasped hishand with curiosity and sympathy. "So you DID gethere, after all?" he exclaimed, casting a wondering eyeon the astute and haggard little countenance of youngCarfry's French tutor.

“啊,不错,是在伦敦!”阿切尔好奇又同情地握住他的手说。“这么说,你到底还是到这儿来了?”他大声问,一面向小卡弗利的法语教师那张机敏而憔悴的脸投去惊异的目光。

"Oh, I got here--yes," M. Riviere smiled with drawnlips. "But not for long; I return the day after tomorrow."He stood grasping his light valise in one neatlygloved hand, and gazing anxiously, perplexedly, almostappealingly, into Archer's face.

“啊,我到这儿来了——不错,”里维埃先生嘴一撇露出笑容说:“不过呆不长,后天我就回去。”他站在那儿,用戴着平整手套的手抓着他的小旅行箱,焦急、困惑,几乎是求助地盯着阿切尔的脸。

"I wonder, Monsieur, since I've had the good luck torun across you, if I might--"

“先生,既然幸运地遇见了你,不知可不可以——”

"I was just going to suggest it: come to luncheon,won't you? Down town, I mean: if you'll look me up inmy office I'll take you to a very decent restaurant inthat quarter."

“我正要提议呢:过来吃午饭,好吗?进城去,我是说:如果你肯到我的事务所找我,我会带你去那一带一家很体面的饭店。”

里维埃先生显然很受感动,并且颇感意外。“你太客气了。我只不过想问一下,你能否告诉我怎样找到运输工具。这儿没有搬行李的,好像也没人听——”

“我知道:我们美国的车站一定让你大吃一惊。你要找搬运工,他们却给你口香糖。不过你若是跟我来,我会拉你一把的。同时,真的,你一定要跟我一起吃午饭。”

Riviere was visibly touched and surprised. "You're too kind. But I was only going to ask if you would tell me how to reach some sort of conveyance. There are no porters, and no one here seems to listen--"
"I know: our American stations must surprise you.When you ask for a porter they give you chewing-gum.But if you'll come along I'll extricate you; and youmust really lunch with me, you know."

经过一阵明显的犹豫,那年轻人再三道谢,用一种不完全令人信服的口气说他已有约在先。不过当他们到了街上,心绪比较安定之后,他问他是否可在下午造访。

The young man, after a just perceptible hesitation,replied, with profuse thanks, and in a tone that did notcarry complete conviction, that he was already engaged;but when they had reached the comparativereassurance of the street he asked if he might call thatafternoon.

阿切尔正处于盛夏公事清闲的时期,他确定了钟点,草写了他的地址,法国人连声道谢地装进口袋,并使劲挥动礼帽。一辆马车接他上去,阿切尔走开了。

Archer, at ease in the midsummer leisure of theoffice, fixed an hour and scribbled his address, which theFrenchman pocketed with reiterated thanks and a wideflourish of his hat. A horse-car received him, and Archerwalked away.

里维埃先生准时到达,他刮了脸,熨了衣服,但明显还很憔。淬。严肃。阿切尔一个人在办公室,那位年轻人没等接受他的让坐,便突然开口说:“先生,我想昨天在波士顿我见到过你。”

Punctually at the hour M. Riviere appeared, shaved,smoothed-out, but still unmistakably drawn and serious.Archer was alone in his office, and the young man,before accepting the seat he proffered, began abruptly:"I believe I saw you, sir, yesterday in Boston."

这项声明实在无足轻重,阿切尔正准备表示认同,他的话却被客人逼人的目光中一种诡秘的、启发性的神情给卡住了。

The statement was insignificant enough, and Archerwas about to frame an assent when his words werechecked by something mysterious yet illuminating inhis visitor's insistent gaze.

“事情很意外,太意外了,”里维埃先生接着说。“我们竟会在我卷人的事情中相遇。”

"It is extraordinary, very extraordinary," M. Rivierecontinued, "that we should have met in the circumstancesin which I find myself."

“是什么样的事情?”阿切尔问道,他有些粗鲁地怀疑他是不是需要钱。

"What circumstances?" Archer asked, wondering alittle crudely if he needed money.

里维埃先生继续用踌躇的目光审视着他说:“我来这儿不是为了找工作,像上次见面时我说的那样,而是负有特殊的使命——”

“啊——!”阿切尔喊了一声。一瞬间,两次的相遇在他脑海里联系了起来。他停顿一下,考虑他豁然明白了的情况,里维埃先生也保持沉默,仿佛意识到他讲的已经足够了。

“特殊使命,”阿切尔终于重复了一句。

Riviere continued to study him with tentative eyes. "I have come, not to look for employment, as I spoke of doing when we last met, but on a special mission--"
"Ah--!" Archer exclaimed. In a flash the twomeetings had connected themselves in his mind. He pausedto take in the situation thus suddenly lighted up forhim, and M. Riviere also remained silent, as if awarethat what he had said was enough.

年轻的法国人伸开两只手掌,轻轻往上举了一下。两个人继续隔着办公桌你看着我,我看着你,直到阿切尔想起来说:“请坐下吧。”里维埃先生点了点头,在远处一把椅子上坐下,又等了起来。

"A special mission," Archer at length repeated.

“你是想同我谈谈这项使命的问题吗?”阿切尔终于问道。

The young Frenchman, opening his palms, raisedthem slightly, and the two men continued to look ateach other across the office-desk till Archer rousedhimself to say: "Do sit down"; whereupon M. Rivierebowed, took a distant chair, and again waited.

里维埃低下头说:“不是为了我自己:那方面我已经办妥了。我想——如果可以——对你谈一谈奥兰斯卡伯爵夫人的事。”

"It was about this mission that you wanted toconsult me?" Archer finally asked.

阿切尔几分钟前就明白了他会说这些话,但等他真的讲开了,他仍然觉得一股热血冲上了太阳穴,仿佛被灌木丛中的一根弯校给绊住了似的。

“那么,你为了谁的利益对我谈?”他说。

里维埃先生十分坚定地回答了这个问题。“唔——恕我冒昧,是为了她的利益。或者换句话说,是为了抽象的正义。”

Riviere bent his head. "Not in my own behalf: on that score I--I have fully dealt with myself. I should like--if I may--to speak to you about the Countess Olenska."
Archer had known for the last few minutes that thewords were coming; but when they came they sent theblood rushing to his temples as if he had been caughtby a bent-back branch in a thicket.

阿切尔讥讽地打量着他说:“换句话说:你是奥兰斯基伯爵的使者吧?”

"And on whose behalf," he said, "do you wish to dothis?"

他发现自己脸上的红晕更深地反映到里维埃先生那灰黄的脸上去了。“他没有派我来找你,先生。我来找你,是出于完全不同的理由。”

“在这种情况下,你还有什么权力考虑其他理由呢?”阿切尔反驳说。“使者就是使者嘛。”

那年轻人沉思了一会儿说:“我的使命已经完成。就奥兰斯卡夫人的情况而言,我的使命已经失败了。”

Riviere met the question sturdily. "Well--I might say HERS, if it did not sound like a liberty. Shall I say instead: on behalf of abstract justice?"
Archer considered him ironically. "In other words:you are Count Olenski's messenger?"

“这我可帮不了你的忙,”阿切尔仍然以讽刺的口吻说。

He saw his blush more darkly reflected in M. Riviere'ssallow countenance. "Not to YOU, Monsieur. If I cometo you, it is on quite other grounds."

“对,但是你有办法——”里维埃先生停住口,用那双仍然细心戴了手套的手把他的帽子翻转过来,盯着看它的衬里,然后目光又回到阿切尔脸上。“你有办法的,先生,我确信你能帮助我,让我的使命在她家人面前同样归于失败。”

"What right have you, in the circumstances, to BE onany other ground?" Archer retorted. "If you're anemissary you're an emissary."

阿切尔向后推了一下椅子,站了起来。“啊——老天爷,我才不干呢!”他大声喊道。他双手插在口袋里,站在那儿怒气冲冲地低头瞪着那个小法国人;尽管他也站了起来,但他的脸仍然低于阿切尔的眼睛一两英寸。

The young man considered. "My mission is over: asfar as the Countess Olenska goes, it has failed."

里维埃先生脸色苍白得恢复了本色:白得几乎超过了他肤色的变化限度。

"I can't help that," Archer rejoined on the same noteof irony.

“究竟为什么,”阿切尔咆哮般地接着说,“你竟认为——我料想你来求我是因为我与奥兰斯卡夫人的亲缘关系——我会采取与其他家庭成员相反的态度呢?”

"No: but you can help--" M. Riviere paused, turnedhis hat about in his still carefully gloved hands, lookedinto its lining and then back at Archer's face. "You canhelp, Monsieur, I am convinced, to make it equally afailure with her family."

在一段时间内,里维埃先生脸上表情的变化成了他惟一的回答。他的神色由胆怯渐渐变成纯粹的痛苦;对于他这样一个平时颇为机敏的年轻人来说,其孤立无助、束手无策的样子简直已到了无以复加的地步。“哎呀,先生——”

Archer pushed back his chair and stood up. "Well--and by God I will!" he exclaimed. He stood with hishands in his pockets, staring down wrathfully at thelittle Frenchman, whose face, though he too had risen,was still an inch or two below the line of Archer's eyes.

“我想象不出,”阿切尔继续说,“在还有很多人与伯爵夫人关系更密切的情况下,你为什么会来找我;更不明白你为什么以为我更容易接受你奉命带来的那些观点。”

里维埃先生窘迫、谦恭地忍受了这种攻击。“先生,我想向你提出的观点是属于我自己的,而不是奉命带来的。”

“那我就更没有理由要洗耳恭听了。”

Riviere paled to his normal hue: paler than that his complexion could hardly turn.
"Why the devil," Archer explosively continued,"should you have thought--since I suppose you'reappealing to me on the ground of my relationship toMadame Olenska--that I should take a view contraryto the rest of her family?"

里维埃注视的目光又一次落到帽子上,他仿佛在考虑最后这句话是否是明显提醒他该戴上帽子走人了。后来,他突然下定了决心说:“先生——我只问你一件事好吗?你想知道我来这儿的原因吗?要么,你大概以为事情已经全部结束了吧?”

The change of expression in M. Riviere's face wasfor a time his only answer. His look passed from timidityto absolute distress: for a young man of his usuallyresourceful mien it would have been difficult to appearmore disarmed and defenceless. "Oh, Monsieur--"

他沉静坚定的态度反使阿切尔觉得自己的咆哮有些笨拙,里维埃的软磨硬缠成功了。阿切尔有点脸红,又坐回自己的椅子里,同时示意那年轻人也坐下。

"I can't imagine," Archer continued, "why you shouldhave come to me when there are others so much nearerto the Countess; still less why you thought I should bemore accessible to the arguments I suppose you weresent over with."

“请你再讲一遍:为什么事情还没结束呢?”

里维埃又痛苦地凝视着他。“这么说,你也同意其他家庭成员的意见,认为面对我带来的这些新提议,奥兰斯卡大人不回到她丈夫身边几乎是不可能的了?”

“我的上帝!”阿切尔大声喊道,他的客人也认同地低声哼了一声。

Riviere took this onslaught with a disconcerting humility. "The arguments I want to present to you, Monsieur, are my own and not those I was sent over with."
"Then I see still less reason for listening to them."

“在见她之前,我按奥兰斯基伯爵的要求,先会见了洛弗尔·明戈特先生。去波士顿之前我与他交谈过好几次。据我所知,他代表他母亲的意见,而曼森·明戈特太太对整个家庭的影响很大。”

阿切尔坐着一言不发,他觉得仿佛是攀在一块滑动的悬崖边上似的。发现自己被排除在这些谈判之外,甚至谈判的事都没让他知道,这使他大为惊讶,以致对刚刚听到的消息都有点儿见怪不怪了。刹那间他意识到,如果这个家的人已不再同他商量,那是因为某种深层的家族本能告诫他们,他已经不站在他们一边了。他猛然会意地想起梅的一句话——射箭比赛那大他们从曼森·明戈特家坐车回家时她曾说:“也许,埃伦还是同她丈夫在一起更幸福。”

即使因为这些新发现而心烦意乱,阿切尔也还记得他那声愤慨的喊叫,以及自那以后他妻子再也没对他提过奥兰斯卡夫人的事实。她那样漫不经心地提及她,无疑是想拿根草试试风向;试探的结果报告给了全家人,此后阿切尔便从他们的协商中被悄悄地排除了。他对计梅服从这一决定的家族纪律深感赞赏,他知道,假如受到良心责备,她是不会那样做的。不过很可能她与家族的观点一致,认为奥兰斯卡夫人做个不幸的妻子要比分居好,并认为与纽兰讨论这事毫无用处,他有时桀骛不驯,无视常规,让人挺为难。

Riviere again looked into his hat, as if considering whether these last words were not a sufficiently broad hint to put it on and be gone. Then he spoke with sudden decision. "Monsieur--will you tell me one thing? Is it my right to be here that you question? Or do you perhaps believe the whole matter to be already closed?"
His quiet insistence made Archer feel the clumsinessof his own bluster. M. Riviere had succeeded in imposinghimself: Archer, reddening slightly, dropped intohis chair again, and signed to the young man to beseated.

阿切尔抬头一望,遇到了客人忧虑的目光。“先生,难道你不知道——你可能不知道吧——她的家人开始怀疑,他们是否有权劝说怕爵夫人拒绝她丈夫的提议。”

"I beg your pardon: but why isn't the matter closed?"

“你带来的提议?”

“是我带来的提议。”

阿切尔真想对里维埃大叫大喊:不管他知道什么还是不知道什么,都与他里维埃毫不相干;但里维埃目光中谦恭而又顽强的神情使他放弃了自己的决定。他用另一个问题回答了那位年轻人的提问:“你对我讲这件事的目的是什么呢?”

Riviere gazed back at him with anguish. "You do, then, agree with the rest of the family that, in face of the new proposals I have brought, it is hardly possible for Madame Olenska not to return to her husband?"
"Good God!" Archer exclaimed; and his visitor gaveout a low murmur of confirmation.

他立即听到了回答:“请求你,先生——用我的全部力量请求你——别让她回去——啊,别让她回去!”里维埃大声喊道。

"Before seeing her, I saw--at Count Olenski'srequest--Mr. Lovell Mingott, with whom I had severaltalks before going to Boston. I understand that herepresents his mother's view; and that Mrs. MansonMingott's influence is great throughout her family."

阿切尔越发震惊地看着他。毫无疑问,他的痛苦是真诚的,他的决心是坚定的:他显然已打定主意,要不顾一切地申明自己的观点。阿切尔沉思着。

Archer sat silent, with the sense of clinging to theedge of a sliding precipice. The discovery that he hadbeen excluded from a share in these negotiations, andeven from the knowledge that they were on foot, causedhim a surprise hardly dulled by the acuter wonder ofwhat he was learning. He saw in a flash that if thefamily had ceased to consult him it was because somedeep tribal instinct warned them that he was no longeron their side; and he recalled, with a start of comprehension,a remark of May's during their drive homefrom Mrs. Manson Mingott's on the day of the ArcheryMeeting: "Perhaps, after all, Ellen would be happierwith her husband."

“我可否问一下,”他终于说,“你是不是本来就站在奥兰斯卡夫人一边?”

Even in the tumult of new discoveries Archer rememberedhis indignant exclamation, and the fact that sincethen his wife had never named Madame Olenska tohim. Her careless allusion had no doubt been the strawheld up to see which way the wind blew; the result hadbeen reported to the family, and thereafter Archer hadbeen tacitly omitted from their counsels. He admiredthe tribal discipline which made May bow to this decision.She would not have done so, he knew, had herconscience protested; but she probably shared the familyview that Madame Olenska would be better off asan unhappy wife than as a separated one, and thatthere was no use in discussing the case with Newland,who had an awkward way of suddenly not seeming totake the most fundamental things for granted.

里维埃先生脸红了,但目光却没有动摇。“不,先生:我忠实地接受了任务。由于不必烦扰你的理由,我当时真地相信,对奥兰斯卡夫人来说,恢复她的地位、财产以及她丈夫的地位给她带来的社会尊重,会是一件好事。”

Archer looked up and met his visitor's anxious gaze."Don't you know, Monsieur--is it possible you don'tknow--that the family begin to doubt if they have theright to advise the Countess to refuse her husband'slast proposals?"

“因此我想:否则的话,你是很难接受这一任务的。”

"The proposals you brought?"

“否则我是不会接受的。”

"The proposals I brought."

“唔,后来呢——?”阿切尔又停住口,两双眼睛又一次久久地互相打量着。

It was on Archer's lips to exclaim that whatever heknew or did not know was no concern of M. Riviere's;but something in the humble and yet courageous tenacityof M. Riviere's gaze made him reject this conclusion,and he met the young man's question with another."What is your object in speaking to me of this?"

“哦,先生,在我见过她之后,听她讲过之后,我明白了:她还是在这儿更好。”

He had not to wait a moment for the answer. "Tobeg you, Monsieur--to beg you with all the force I'mcapable of--not to let her go back.--Oh, don't lether!" M. Riviere exclaimed.

“你明白了——?”

Archer looked at him with increasing astonishment.There was no mistaking the sincerity of his distress orthe strength of his determination: he had evidentlyresolved to let everything go by the board but thesupreme need of thus putting himself on record. Archerconsidered.

“先生,我忠实地履行了我的使命:我陈述了伯爵的观点,说明了他的提议,丝毫没有附加我个人的评论。伯爵夫人十分善意地耐心听了;她真是太好了,竟然接见了我两次。她不带偏见地认真考虑了我讲的全部内容。正是在这两次交谈的过程中我改变了想法,对事情产生了不同的看法。”

"May I ask," he said at length, "if this is the line youtook with the Countess Olenska?"

“可否问一下,是什么原因导致了这一变化吗?”

“只因为看到了她的变化,”里维埃回答说。

“她的变化?这么说你以前就认识她?”

Riviere reddened, but his eyes did not falter. "No, Monsieur: I accepted my mission in good faith. I really believed--for reasons I need not trouble you with--that it would be better for Madame Olenska to recover her situation, her fortune, the social consideration that her husband's standing gives her."
"So I supposed: you could hardly have accepted sucha mission otherwise."

年轻人的脸又红了。“过去在她丈夫家我经常见她。我和奥兰斯基伯爵相识已经多年了。你可以设想,他不会把这样的使命派给一位陌生人吧。”

"I should not have accepted it."

阿切尔凝视的目光不觉转向办公室空荡荡的墙壁,停在一本挂历上面。挂历顶上是粗眉大眼的美国总统的尊容。这样一场谈话居然发生在他统治下的几百万平方英里的版图之内,真是令人难以想象的怪事。

"Well, then--?" Archer paused again, and their eyesmet in another protracted scrutiny.

“你说改变——是什么样的改变?”

"Ah, Monsieur, after I had seen her, after I hadlistened to her, I knew she was better off here."

“啊,先生,要是我能向你说明就好了!”里维埃停顿了一下又说:“我想,是我以前从未想到过的发现:她是个美国人。而且,假如你是一个她那样的—— 你们那样的——美国人,那么,在另外某些社会里被认可的东西,或者至少是在一般公平交换中可以容忍的东西,在这里就变得不可思议了,完全不可思议了。假如奥兰斯卡夫人的亲属了解这些事情,那么,他们无疑就会跟她的意见一样,绝对不会同意她回去了;但是,他们好像认为她丈夫既然希望她回去,就说明他强烈地渴望过家庭生活。”里维埃停了停又继续说:“而事情并非这么简单。”

"You knew--?"

阿切尔又回头看了看那位美国总统,然后低头看着他的办公桌,以及桌上散乱的文件。有一会儿功夫,他觉得自己说不出话来了。这当儿他听见里维埃坐的椅子被推到后面,感觉到那年轻人已经站了起来。他又抬头一望,只见他的客人跟他一样地激动。

"Monsieur, I discharged my mission faithfully: I putthe Count's arguments, I stated his offers, without addingany comment of my own. The Countess was goodenough to listen patiently; she carried her goodness sofar as to see me twice; she considered impartially all Ihad come to say. And it was in the course of these twotalks that I changed my mind, that I came to see thingsdifferently."

“谢谢你,”阿切尔仅仅说。

"May I ask what led to this change?"

“我没什么可谢的,先生。倒是我,更应——”里维埃突然住了口,好像讲话也变得困难了。“不过我还想——补充一件事,”随后他以镇定下来的声音说: “你刚才问我是否受雇于奥兰斯基伯爵。眼下我是受雇于他。几个月前,由于个人需要的原因——那种任何一个要供养家中病人和老人的人都会有的原因——我回到了他的身边。不过从我决定到这儿来给你说这些事的那一刻起,我认为自己已经被解雇了。我回去之后就这样告诉他,并向他说明理由。就这样吧,先生。”

"Simply seeing the change in HER," M. Riviere replied.

里维埃先生鞠了个躬,向后退了一步。

"The change in her? Then you knew her before?"

“谢谢你,”阿切尔又说了一遍,这时,他们的手握在了一起。

The young man's colour again rose. "I used to seeher in her husband's house. I have known Count Olenskifor many years. You can imagine that he would nothave sent a stranger on such a mission."

Archer's gaze, wandering away to the blank walls ofthe office, rested on a hanging calendar surmounted bythe rugged features of the President of the United States.That such a conversation should be going on anywherewithin the millions of square miles subject to his ruleseemed as strange as anything that the imaginationcould invent.

"The change--what sort of a change?"

"Ah, Monsieur, if I could tell you!" M. Riviere paused."Tenez--the discovery, I suppose, of what I'd neverthought of before: that she's an American. And that ifyou're an American of HER kind--of your kind--thingsthat are accepted in certain other societies, or at leastput up with as part of a general convenient give-and-take--become unthinkable, simply unthinkable. IfMadame Olenska's relations understood what these thingswere, their opposition to her returning would no doubtbe as unconditional as her own; but they seem toregard her husband's wish to have her back as proof ofan irresistible longing for domestic life." M. Rivierepaused, and then added: "Whereas it's far from beingas simple as that."

Archer looked back to the President of the UnitedStates, and then down at his desk and at the papersscattered on it. For a second or two he could not trusthimself to speak. During this interval he heard M.Riviere's chair pushed back, and was aware that theyoung man had risen. When he glanced up again hesaw that his visitor was as moved as himself.

"Thank you," Archer said simply.

"There's nothing to thank me for, Monsieur: it is I,rather--" M. Riviere broke off, as if speech for himtoo were difficult. "I should like, though," he continuedin a firmer voice, "to add one thing. You asked meif I was in Count Olenski's employ. I am at this moment:I returned to him, a few months ago, for reasonsof private necessity such as may happen to any onewho has persons, ill and older persons, dependent onhim. But from the moment that I have taken the step ofcoming here to say these things to you I consider myselfdischarged, and I shall tell him so on my return,and give him the reasons. That's all, Monsieur."

Riviere bowed and drew back a step.
"Thank you," Archer said again, as their hands met.