The Age of Innocence  纯真年代

He and May were dining alone, all the familyengagements having been postponed since Mrs. MansonMingott's illness; and as May was the more punctualof the two he was surprised that she had not precededhim. He knew that she was at home, for while hedressed he had heard her moving about in her room;and he wondered what had delayed her.

只有他和梅单独用餐,自曼森·明戈特太太生了病,所有的家庭约会都推迟了。由于梅比他严守时刻,她没有先他来到,使他有些意外。他知道她在家里,他穿衣服的时候听见了她在自己房间里走动的声音;他心里纳闷,不知什么事情耽搁了她。

He had fallen into the way of dwelling on suchconjectures as a means of tying his thoughts fast toreality. Sometimes he felt as if he had found the clue tohis father-in-law's absorption in trifles; perhaps evenMr. Welland, long ago, had had escapes and visions,and had conjured up all the hosts of domesticity todefend himself against them.

他已渐渐养成细心推测这些琐事的习惯,作为一种手段来约束自己的思绪,从而面对现实。有时候他觉得仿佛发现了他岳父关注琐事的奥秘,也许就连韦兰先生很久以前也有过消遣与幻想,因而构想出一大堆家务事以抵御其诱惑。

When May appeared he thought she looked tired.She had put on the low-necked and tightly-laced dinner-dress which the Mingott ceremonial exacted on themost informal occasions, and had built her fair hairinto its usual accumulated coils; and her face, incontrast, was wan and almost faded. But she shone on himwith her usual tenderness, and her eyes had kept theblue dazzle of the day before.

梅露面的时候他觉得她好像很疲惫。她穿上了那件低领、紧腰的餐服,按明戈特家的礼数,这是在最不拘礼节的场合的着装。她还把金色的头发做成平时那种层层盘卷的样式,她的脸色显得很苍白,几乎没有了光泽。然而她依然对他流露着平日的温存,她的蓝眼睛依然像前一天那样闪耀着光彩。

"What became of you, dear?" she asked. "I waswaiting at Granny's, and Ellen came alone, and saidshe had dropped you on the way because you had torush off on business. There's nothing wrong?"

“你怎么啦,亲爱的?”她问。“我在外婆家等你,可只有埃伦一个人到了。她说让你在路上下了车,因为你急着要去办公事。没出什么事吧?”

"Only some letters I'd forgotten, and wanted to getoff before dinner."

“只是有几封信我原先忘记了,想在晚饭前发出去。”

"Ah--" she said; and a moment afterward: "I'msorry you didn't come to Granny's--unless the letterswere urgent."

“噢——”停了一会儿她又说,“我很遗憾你没去外婆家——除非那几封信很紧急。”

"They were," he rejoined, surprised at her insistence."Besides, I don't see why I should have gone to yourgrandmother's. I didn't know you were there."

“是很紧急,”他回答说,对她的寻根刨底有些意外。“另外,我不明白干吗非得到你外祖母家去,我又不知道你在那儿。”

She turned and moved to the looking-glass above themantel-piece. As she stood there, lifting her long arm tofasten a puff that had slipped from its place in herintricate hair, Archer was struck by something languidand inelastic in her attitude, and wondered if the deadlymonotony of their lives had laid its weight on her also.Then he remembered that, as he had left the house thatmorning, she had called over the stairs that she wouldmeet him at her grandmother's so that they might drivehome together. He had called back a cheery "Yes!"and then, absorbed in other visions, had forgotten hispromise. Now he was smitten with compunction, yetirritated that so trifling an omission should be storedup against him after nearly two years of marriage. Hewas weary of living in a perpetual tepid honeymoon,without the temperature of passion yet with all itsexactions. If May had spoken out her grievances (hesuspected her of many) he might have laughed themaway; but she was trained to conceal imaginary woundsunder a Spartan smile.

她转过身,走到壁炉上方那面镜子跟前,站在那里,举起长长的手臂紧一紧从她缠结的头发中滑落下来的一缕鬈发。阿切尔觉得她神态有点呆滞倦怠,他心中纳闷,他们单调至极的生活是否也对她造成了压力。这时,他想起早上他离家时,她在楼上大声对他说要在外婆家等他,这样他们可以一起坐车回家,他高高兴兴地喊了声“好的”。可是后来,由于关注其他事情,他却忘掉了自己的允诺。此刻他深感内疚,同时也有些光火:为了这样一点疏忽也记恨他,而他们结婚已经快两年了。他讨厌永远生活在那种不冷不热的蜜月之中——感情的热度已经消退,却依然维持那些苛刻要求。假如梅公开说出她的伤心事(他猜她有许多),他本来可以用笑声将其驱散的,然而她却养成了习惯,将假想的痛苦掩藏在斯巴达式的微笑背后。

To disguise his own annoyance he asked how hergrandmother was, and she answered that Mrs. Mingottwas still improving, but had been rather disturbed bythe last news about the Beauforts.

为了掩饰个人的烦恼,他询问她外婆的病情如何,她回答说明戈特太太仍然在慢慢好转,不过有关博福特夫妇的最新消息却令她十分不安。

"What news?"

“什么消息?”

"It seems they're going to stay in New York. I believehe's going into an insurance business, or something.They're looking about for a small house."

“好像他们还要留在纽约,我想他是打算从事保险业还是什么的。他们在寻找一座小住宅。”

The preposterousness of the case was beyond discussion,and they went in to dinner. During dinner theirtalk moved in its usual limited circle; but Archernoticed that his wife made no allusion to Madame Olenska,nor to old Catherine's reception of her. He was thankfulfor the fact, yet felt it to be vaguely ominous.

这事无疑是十分荒谬的。他们进餐厅吃饭,饭问他们的交谈转入平时那种有限的范围,不过阿切尔注意到妻子压根儿没提奥兰斯卡夫人的事,也不提老凯瑟琳对她的接待。他为此谢天谢地,但却朦胧感到有点不祥之兆。

They went up to the library for coffee, and Archerlit a cigar and took down a volume of Michelet. Hehad taken to history in the evenings since May hadshown a tendency to ask him to read aloud whenevershe saw him with a volume of poetry: not that hedisliked the sound of his own voice, but because hecould always foresee her comments on what he read. Inthe days of their engagement she had simply (as he nowperceived) echoed what he told her; but since he hadceased to provide her with opinions she had begun tohazard her own, with results destructive to his enjoymentof the works commented on.

他们上楼到图书室喝咖啡。阿切尔点上一支雪茄,取下一卷米歇勒的书。过去,梅一见他拿起诗集就让他大声朗读,自她表现出这一爱好之后,他晚上便开始读历史书了。不是他不喜欢自己的嗓音,而是因为他老是能够预见到她发表的评论。在他们订婚后的那些日子,她(像他现在认识到的)仅仅重复他对她讲过的东西,可自从他停止向她提供意见之后,她便试着提出自己的看法,其结果使他对所评作品的欣赏遭到破坏。

Seeing that he had chosen history she fetched herworkbasket, drew up an arm-chair to the green-shadedstudent lamp, and uncovered a cushion she wasembroidering for his sofa. She was not a clever needle-woman; her large capable hands were made for riding,rowing and open-air activities; but since other wivesembroidered cushions for their husbands she did notwish to omit this last link in her devotion.

她见他选了本历史书,便拿起她的针线筐,把扶手椅拉到那盏罩着绿色灯罩的台灯跟前,打开了她正在为他的沙发刺绣的靠垫。她并非巧手针黹的女子,她那双能干的大手天生是从事骑马、划船等户外活动的;不过,既然别人的妻子都为丈夫绣靠垫,她也不想忽略表现她忠诚的这一枝节。

She was so placed that Archer, by merely raising hiseyes, could see her bent above her work-frame, herruffled elbow-sleeves slipping back from her firm roundarms, the betrothal sapphire shining on her left handabove her broad gold wedding-ring, and the right handslowly and laboriously stabbing the canvas. As she satthus, the lamplight full on her clear brow, he said tohimself with a secret dismay that he would alwaysknow the thoughts behind it, that never, in all the yearsto come, would she surprise him by an unexpectedmood, by a new idea, a weakness, a cruelty or anemotion. She had spent her poetry and romance ontheir short courting: the function was exhaustedbecause the need was past. Now she was simply ripeninginto a copy of her mother, and mysteriously, by thevery process, trying to turn him into a Mr. Welland.He laid down his book and stood up impatiently; andat once she raised her head.

她选的位置使阿切尔一抬眼睛就能看见她俯身在绣花架上,看见她挽到胳膊肘的衣袖顺着结实滚圆的前臂溜了下来。她左手上那颗订婚蓝宝石在那枚阔面结婚金戒指上方熠熠生辉,她的右手则迟缓费力地刺着绣花布。她这样子坐着,灯光直射她那明净的额头。他暗自沮丧地想,藏在它里面的想法他永远都会一清二楚,在未来的全部岁月中,她决不会有意想不到的情绪——新奇的想法。感情的脆弱、冷酷或激动——让他感到意外。她的诗意与浪漫已经在他们短暂的求爱过程中消耗殆尽—— 机能因需求的消逝而枯竭。如今她不过是在逐渐成熟,渐渐变成她母亲的翻版而已,而且还神秘兮兮地企图通过这一过程,也把他变成一位韦兰先生。他放下书本,烦躁地站了起来。她立即抬起头。

"What's the matter?"

“怎么啦?”

"The room is stifling: I want a little air."

“这屋子很闷,我需要点空气。”

He had insisted that the library curtains should drawbackward and forward on a rod, so that they might beclosed in the evening, instead of remaining nailed to agilt cornice, and immovably looped up over layers oflace, as in the drawing-room; and he pulled them backand pushed up the sash, leaning out into the icy night.The mere fact of not looking at May, seated beside histable, under his lamp, the fact of seeing other houses,roofs, chimneys, of getting the sense of other livesoutside his own, other cities beyond New York, and awhole world beyond his world, cleared his brain andmade it easier to breathe.

他曾经坚持图书室的窗帘应装在竿上来回地拉,便于在晚上拉上,而不是钉在镀金檐板上,用环箍住不能动,像客厅里那样。他把窗帘拖过来,推起吊窗,探身到冰冷的黑夜中。仅仅是不看着坐在他桌旁灯下的梅,看一看别的住宅、屋顶、烟囱,感受到除了自己还有另外的生命,除了纽约还有另外的城市,除了自己的天地还有整整一个世界——仅此一点就使他头脑清醒,呼吸舒畅起来。

After he had leaned out into the darkness for a fewminutes he heard her say: "Newland! Do shut thewindow. You'll catch your death."

他把头伸到黑暗中呆了几分钟后,只听她说:“纽兰!快关上窗子。你要找死呀。”

He pulled the sash down and turned back. "Catchmy death!" he echoed; and he felt like adding: "ButI've caught it already. I AM dead--I've been dead formonths and months."

他拉下吊窗,转过身来。“找死!”他重复道,心里仿佛在说:“可我已经找到了,我现在就是死人——已经死了好几个月好几个月了。”

And suddenly the play of the word flashed up a wildsuggestion. What if it were SHE who was dead! If shewere going to die--to die soon--and leave him free!The sensation of standing there, in that warm familiarroom, and looking at her, and wishing her dead, wasso strange, so fascinating and overmastering, that itsenormity did not immediately strike him. He simplyfelt that chance had given him a new possibility towhich his sick soul might cling. Yes, May might die--people did: young people, healthy people like herself:she might die, and set him suddenly free.

猛然间,对这个词的玩味使他产生了一个疯狂的念头:假若是她死了又会怎样?假若她快要死了——不久就死——从而使他获得自由!站在这间熟悉的、暖融融的屋子里看着她,盼望她死,这种感觉是那样地奇怪、诱人,那样不可抗拒,以致使他没有立刻想到它的凶残。他仅仅觉得那种侥幸可以给他病态的灵魂以新的依托。是的,梅有可能死——好多人死了:好多像她一样年轻、健康的人。她有可能死去,从而突然使他获得自由。

She glanced up, and he saw by her widening eyesthat there must be something strange in his own.

她抬头瞥了他一眼,从她睁大的眼睛里他看出自己的目光一定有点奇怪。

"Newland! Are you ill?"

“纽兰!你病了吗?”

He shook his head and turned toward his arm-chair.She bent over her work-frame, and as he passed he laidhis hand on her hair. "Poor May!" he said.

他摇摇头,朝他的扶手椅走去。她又俯身她的刺绣,他路过她身边时,一只手放在她头上。“可怜的梅!”他说。

"Poor? Why poor?" she echoed with a strained laugh.

“可怜?可怜什么!”她勉强笑了笑重复说。

"Because I shall never be able to open a windowwithout worrying you," he rejoined, laughing also.

“因为只要我开窗子就会让你担心啊,”他回答道,也笑了起来。

For a moment she was silent; then she said very low,her head bowed over her work: "I shall never worry ifyou're happy."

她一时没有作声,过了一会儿,她头也不抬,十分缓慢地说:“只要你高兴,我就决不会担心。”

"Ah, my dear; and I shall never be happy unless Ican open the windows!"

“啊,亲爱的;除非我把窗子全打开,否则我永远不会高兴的。”

"In THIS weather?" she remonstrated; and with a sighhe buried his head in his book.

“在这样的天气里?”她争辩道。他叹了口气,埋头去读他的书。

Six or seven days passed. Archer heard nothing fromMadame Olenska, and became aware that her namewould not be mentioned in his presence by any memberof the family. He did not try to see her; to do sowhile she was at old Catherine's guarded bedside wouldhave been almost impossible. In the uncertainty of thesituation he let himself drift, conscious, somewherebelow the surface of his thoughts, of a resolve whichhad come to him when he had leaned out from hislibrary window into the icy night. The strength of thatresolve made it easy to wait and make no sign.

六七天过去了,阿切尔压根没听到奥兰斯卡夫人的消息。他渐渐明白,家里任何人都不会当着他的面提她的名字。他也不想见她,当她在老凯瑟琳置于保护之下的床前时,去见她几乎是不可能的。由于情况不明,阿切尔只好听天由命,在思想深处的某个地方,怀着当他从图书室的窗口探身到冰冷的黑暗时所产生的那个主意。靠这股力量的支持,他不动声色地安心等待着。

Then one day May told him that Mrs. MansonMingott had asked to see him. There was nothingsurprising in the request, for the old lady was steadilyrecovering, and she had always openly declared thatshe preferred Archer to any of her other grandsons-in-law. May gave the message with evident pleasure: shewas proud of old Catherine's appreciation of herhusband.

后来,有一天梅告诉他,曼森·明戈特太太要见他。这个要求丝毫不令人意外,因为老夫人身体不断好转,而且她一向公开承认,孙女婿中她最喜欢的就是阿切尔。梅传达这一消息时显然很高兴:她为丈夫得到老凯瑟琳的赏识而感到自豪。

There was a moment's pause, and then Archer felt itincumbent on him to say: "All right. Shall we gotogether this afternoon?"

片刻踌躇之后,阿切尔义不容辞地说:“好吧。下午我们一起去好吗?”

His wife's face brightened, but she instantly answered:"Oh, you'd much better go alone. It bores Granny tosee the same people too often."

妻子面露喜色,不过她马上又回答说:“唔,最好还是你一个人去,外婆不高兴老见到同一些人。”

Archer's heart was beating violently when he rangold Mrs. Mingott's bell. He had wanted above allthings to go alone, for he felt sure the visit would givehim the chance of saying a word in private to theCountess Olenska. He had determined to wait till thechance presented itself naturally; and here it was, andhere he was on the doorstep. Behind the door, behindthe curtains of the yellow damask room next to thehall, she was surely awaiting him; in another momenthe should see her, and be able to speak to her beforeshe led him to the sick-room.

拉响明戈特老太太的门铃时,阿切尔的心剧烈地跳动起来。他巴不得一个人来,因为他肯定这次拜访会为他提供机会,私下跟奥兰斯卡夫人说句话。他早就下定决心等待这一机会自然而然地出现。现在,它来了。他站到了门阶上,在门的后面,在紧挨门厅那间挂着黄锦缎的屋子的门帘后面,她肯定正等着他。片刻之间他就会见到她,并且能够在她领他去病人房间之前跟她说上几句话。

He wanted only to put one question: after that hiscourse would be clear. What he wished to ask wassimply the date of her return to Washington; and thatquestion she could hardly refuse to answer.

他只想问一个问题,问清之后,他的行动方针也就明确了。他想问的仅仅是她回华盛顿的日期,而这个问题她几乎不可能拒绝回答。

But in the yellow sitting-room it was the mulattomaid who waited. Her white teeth shining like akeyboard, she pushed back the sliding doors and usheredhim into old Catherine's presence.

然而,在那间黄色起居室里等着的却是那位混血女佣,她那洁白发亮的牙齿像钢琴键盘。她推开拉门,把他引到老凯瑟琳面前。

The old woman sat in a vast throne-like arm-chairnear her bed. Beside her was a mahogany stand bearinga cast bronze lamp with an engraved globe, over whicha green paper shade had been balanced. There was nota book or a newspaper in reach, nor any evidence offeminine employment: conversation had always beenMrs. Mingott's sole pursuit, and she would have scornedto feign an interest in fancywork.

老太太坐在床边一张像王座似的硕大的扶手椅里。她身旁有一张红木茶几,上面摆着一盏铸铜台灯,雕花的球形灯泡上面罩一顶纸制的绿色灯罩以求和谐。附近没有一本书或一张报纸,也没有任何女性消遣物的形迹:交谈一向是明戈特太太惟一的追求,她根本不屑假装对刺绣有什么兴趣。

Archer saw no trace of the slight distortion left byher stroke. She merely looked paler, with darker shadowsin the folds and recesses of her obesity; and, in thefluted mob-cap tied by a starched bow between herfirst two chins, and the muslin kerchief crossed overher billowing purple dressing-gown, she seemed likesome shrewd and kindly ancestress of her own whomight have yielded too freely to the pleasures of thetable.

阿切尔发现中风没有在她脸上留下些微扭曲的痕迹。她仅仅面色苍白了些,脂肪褶皱的颜色深了些。她戴着一顶带回槽的头巾帽,由位于双下巴中间的一个硬蝶结系住,一块细布手帕横搭在她那波浪滚滚的紫睡袍上,那神态很像她自己的一位精明善良的老祖宗。她面对餐桌上的美味可能太没节制了。

She held out one of the little hands that nestled in ahollow of her huge lap like pet animals, and called tothe maid: "Don't let in any one else. If my daughterscall, say I'm asleep."

她那双小手像宠物般依偎在大腿的凹陷里,她伸出来一只,对女佣喊道:“别人谁也不让进来。要是我的女儿们来了,就说我在睡觉。”

The maid disappeared, and the old lady turned toher grandson.

女佣下去了,老夫人朝外孙女婿转过脸来。

"My dear, am I perfectly hideous?" she asked gaily,launching out one hand in search of the folds of muslinon her inaccessible bosom. "My daughters tell me itdoesn't matter at my age--as if hideousness didn't matterall the more the harder it gets to conceal!"

“亲爱的,我是不是非常难看?”她快活地问,一面伸手去摸遥不可及的胸膛上的布褶。“女儿们对我说,我这把年纪已经无所谓了——好像越难掩盖反倒越不怕丑了!”

"My dear, you're handsomer than ever!" Archerrejoined in the same tone; and she threw back her headand laughed.

“亲爱的,你比任何时候都更漂亮了!”阿切尔以同样的口吻说。她把头一仰,大笑起来。

"Ah, but not as handsome as Ellen!" she jerked out,twinkling at him maliciously; and before he could answershe added: "Was she so awfully handsome theday you drove her up from the ferry?"

“哎,不过还是赶不上埃伦漂亮啊!”她冷不了地脱口说,一面对他敌意地眨着眼睛。没等他回话,她又补充说:“那天你坐车从码头送她来的时候,她是不是漂亮极了?”

He laughed, and she continued: "Was it because youtold her so that she had to put you out on the way? Inmy youth young men didn't desert pretty women unlessthey were made to!" She gave another chuckle, andinterrupted it to say almost querulously: "It's a pity shedidn't marry you; I always told her so. It would havespared me all this worry. But who ever thought ofsparing their grandmother worry?"

他放声笑了起来。她接着说:“是不是因为你这样对她讲了,所以她才一定要在路上把你赶下去?在我年轻的时候,小伙子是从不丢下漂亮女子的,除非迫不得已!”她又是一阵咯咯的笑声,接着又停住,几乎是抱怨地说:“她没嫁给你,真是太可惜了,我一直这样对她说。若是那样,也免得我眼下这样牵肠挂肚了。可是,有谁想过不让祖母挂心呢?”

Archer wondered if her illness had blurred her faculties;but suddenly she broke out: "Well, it's settled,anyhow: she's going to stay with me, whatever the restof the family say! She hadn't been here five minutesbefore I'd have gone down on my knees to keep her--ifonly, for the last twenty years, I'd been able to seewhere the floor was!"

阿切尔心中纳闷,她是不是因为生病脑子糊涂了。但她突然大声地说:“咳,不管怎样,事情总算解决了:她将跟我呆在一起,家里人说什么我才不管呢!那天她到这里还不到5分钟,我就想跪下求她留下来了。在过去的20年中,我一直没弄清问题的症结呀!”

Archer listened in silence, and she went on: "They'dtalked me over, as no doubt you know: persuaded me,Lovell, and Letterblair, and Augusta Welland, and allthe rest of them, that I must hold out and cut off herallowance, till she was made to see that it was her dutyto go back to Olenski. They thought they'd convincedme when the secretary, or whatever he was, came outwith the last proposals: handsome proposals I confessthey were. After all, marriage is marriage, and money'smoney--both useful things in their way . . . and I didn'tknow what to answer--" She broke off and drew along breath, as if speaking had become an effort. "Butthe minute I laid eyes on her, I said: `You sweet bird,you! Shut you up in that cage again? Never!' And nowit's settled that she's to stay here and nurse her Grannyas long as there's a Granny to nurse. It's not a gayprospect, but she doesn't mind; and of course I've toldLetterblair that she's to be given her proper allowance."

阿切尔默不作声地听着,她接着说:“你肯定知道,他们一直在劝我:洛弗尔,还有莱特布赖,奥古斯塔·韦兰,以及其他所有的人,都一直在劝我不要让步,要断绝对她的贴补,直到让她认识到,回到奥兰斯基身边是她的职责。那个秘书还是什么人来的时候,他们以为已经说服了我。他带来了最新的提议,我承认那些条件很慷慨。可归根到底,婚姻是婚姻,钱财是钱财——各有各的用途……我当时不知怎么回答才好——”她突然停下来,深深吸了口气,仿佛说话变得很吃力。 “可当时我把眼睛对着她说:‘你这只可爱的小鸟!再把你关到那个笼子里去吗?绝对不行!’现在定下来了。她将呆在这儿,侍候她的祖母——只要她还有个祖母可侍候。这算不上愉快的前景,但她不在乎。当然,我已经嘱咐莱特布赖,她要得到一份适当的补贴。”

The young man heard her with veins aglow; but inhis confusion of mind he hardly knew whether hernews brought joy or pain. He had so definitely decidedon the course he meant to pursue that for the momenthe could not readjust his thoughts. But gradually therestole over him the delicious sense of difficultiesdeferred and opportunities miraculously provided. IfEllen had consented to come and live with her grandmotherit must surely be because she had recognised theimpossibility of giving him up. This was her answer to hisfinal appeal of the other day: if she would not take theextreme step he had urged, she had at last yielded tohalf-measures. He sank back into the thought with theinvoluntary relief of a man who has been ready to riskeverything, and suddenly tastes the dangerous sweetnessof security.

年轻人异常兴奋地听着她讲,但脑子里却一片混乱,说不清这个消息带给自己的是喜还是忧。他已经毅然决然地确定了自己的行动方针,一时竟无法调整他的思路。然而渐渐地,他意识到他的困难将会推延,机会却会奇迹般地出现,心头不觉美滋滋的。如果埃伦已经同意过来跟祖母一起生活,那必然是因为她认识到放弃他是根本不可能的。这就是她对那天他最后请求的回答:如果她不肯采取他迫切要求的极端步骤,那么,她终于屈从了折衷的办法。他又陷入那种不期而至的欣慰之中:一位准备孤注一掷的男人却突然尝到了化险为夷的甜头。

"She couldn't have gone back--it was impossible!"he exclaimed.

“她不回去了——根本不可能回去了!”他大声说。

"Ah, my dear, I always knew you were on her side;and that's why I sent for you today, and why I said toyour pretty wife, when she proposed to come with you:`No, my dear, I'm pining to see Newland, and I don'twant anybody to share our transports.' For you see, mydear--" she drew her head back as far as its tetheringchins permitted, and looked him full in the eyes--"yousee, we shall have a fight yet. The family don't wanther here, and they'll say it's because I've been ill,because I'm a weak old woman, that she's persuaded me.I'm not well enough yet to fight them one by one, andyou've got to do it for me."

“啊,亲爱的,我一直就知道你是站在她一边的,正因为如此,我今天才把你叫来;也正是为此,当你那位美丽的妻子提出跟你一起来时,我才对她说: ‘不,亲爱的,我极想见见纽兰,我不想让任何人分享我们的快活。’因为,听我说,亲爱的——”她把头尽量往后仰,达到下颏所能支撑的最大限度,然后直视着他的眼睛说:“你瞧,我们还要进行战斗呢。家里人不想让她留在这儿,他们会说是因为我生病了,因为我是个病弱的老妇人,她才说服了我。我还没有完全康复,还不能一个接一个地跟他们斗,你必须替我干。”

"I?" he stammered.

“我?”他张口结舌地说。

"You. Why not?" she jerked back at him, her roundeyes suddenly as sharp as pen-knives. Her hand flutteredfrom its chair-arm and lit on his with a clutch oflittle pale nails like bird-claws. "Why not?" shesearchingly repeated.

“是你。有何不可?”她突然反问道,两只圆瞪的眼睛忽然变得像小刀子一样锋利。她的一只手从椅子扶手上滑落下来,一把像鸟爪般苍白的小指甲落在他手上。“有何不可呢?”她重复地追问道。

Archer, under the exposure of her gaze, had recoveredhis self-possession.

阿切尔在她注视之下恢复了自制。

"Oh, I don't count--I'm too insignificant."

“咳,我不顶用——我太无足轻重了。”

"Well, you're Letterblair's partner, ain't you? You'vegot to get at them through Letterblair. Unless you'vegot a reason," she insisted.

“可你是莱特布赖的合伙人,对不对?你必须借助莱特布赖对他们施加影响,除非你有别的理由,”她坚持说。

"Oh, my dear, I back you to hold your own againstthem all without my help; but you shall have it if youneed it," he reassured her.

“哎,亲爱的,我支持你的主张,你不用我帮忙就能对付他们。不过,只要你需要,就能得到我的帮助,”他安慰她说。

"Then we're safe!" she sighed; and smiling on himwith all her ancient cunning she added, as she settledher head among the cushions: "I always knew you'dback us up, because they never quote you when theytalk about its being her duty to go home."

“这样一来,我们就安全了!”她叹口气说。她一面把头倚在靠垫中间,一面露出老谋深算的笑容补充说:“我早就知道你会支持我们的,因为他们说起回到丈夫身边是她的本分时,从来没引述过你的话。”

He winced a little at her terrifying perspicacity, andlonged to ask: "And May--do they quote her?" But hejudged it safer to turn the question.

面对她吓人的锐利眼光,他不免有点畏惧,他很想问一句:“梅呢——他们引述她的话了吗?”但他以为还是转换一下话题更保险。

"And Madame Olenska? When am I to see her?" hesaid.

“奥兰斯卡夫人呢?我什么时候去见她?”他说。

The old lady chuckled, crumpled her lids, and wentthrough the pantomime of archness. "Not today. Oneat a time, please. Madame Olenska's gone out."

老夫人又咯咯笑了一阵,揉了揉眼皮,诡秘地打了一番手势。“今天不行,一次只见一人。奥兰斯卡夫人出去了。”

He flushed with disappointment, and she went on:"She's gone out, my child: gone in my carriage to seeRegina Beaufort."

他一阵脸红,感到有些失望。她接着说:“她出去了,孩子。坐我的马车去看里吉纳·博福特了。”

She paused for this announcement to produce itseffect. "That's what she's reduced me to already. Theday after she got here she put on her best bonnet, andtold me, as cool as a cucumber, that she was going tocall on Regina Beaufort. `I don't know her; who isshe?' says I. `She's your grand-niece, and a mostunhappy woman,' she says. `She's the wife of a scoundrel,'I answered. `Well,' she says, `and so am I, and yetall my family want me to go back to him.' Well, thatfloored me, and I let her go; and finally one day shesaid it was raining too hard to go out on foot, and shewanted me to lend her my carriage. `What for?' I askedher; and she said: `To go and see cousin Regina--COUSIN!Now, my dear, I looked out of the window, and saw itwasn't raining a drop; but I understood her, and I lether have the carriage. . . . After all, Regina's a bravewoman, and so is she; and I've always liked courageabove everything."

她停了一会儿,等待这一消息产生效果。“她已经把我征服到这种地步了。她到这儿第二天,就戴上最好的帽子,十分冷静地对我说要去看里吉纳·博福特。 ‘我不认识她,她是什么人?’我说。‘她是你的侄孙女,一位很不幸的女人,’她说。‘她是坏蛋的妻子,’我说。‘噢,’她说,‘那我也是,可我的家人都想让我回到他身边去。’咳,这下把我击败了,于是我让她去了。终于有一天,她说雨下得很大,没法步行出门,要我借给她马车。我问她干什么去,她说,去看里吉纳堂姐 ——还堂姐呢!哎,亲爱的,我朝窗外望了望,一滴雨都没下;不过我理解她,让她用了马车……毕竟,里吉纳得算个勇敢的女人,她也是。而我一贯最最喜欢勇气。”

Archer bent down and pressed his lips on the littlehand that still lay on his.

阿切尔弯下腰,紧紧用唇吻了吻仍然搁在他手上的那只小手。

"Eh--eh--eh! Whose hand did you think you werekissing, young man--your wife's, I hope?" the old ladysnapped out with her mocking cackle; and as he rose togo she called out after him: "Give her her Granny'slove; but you'd better not say anything about our talk."

“嗯——嗯!你当是在吻谁的手呢,年轻人?是你妻子的吧,我希望?”老夫人立即装着发出尖叫声。当他起身告辞的时候,她在他身后喊道:“向她转达外婆的爱;可最好一点也别讲我们谈的事。”