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Masterpiece 名著閱讀

The Lady of the camellias 茶花女

Author:ALEXANDRE DUMAS 作者:亞歷山大 仲馬 也稱小仲馬

Chapter 2

THE sale was due to be held on the 16th.

 

An interval of one day had been left between the viewing and the sale in order to give the upholsterers enough time to take down the hangings, curtains and so forth.

I was at that time recently returned from my travels. It was quite natural that no one had told me about Marguerite's death, for it was hardly one of those

 

momentous news-items which friends always rush to tell anybody who has just got back to the capital city of News. Marguerite had been pretty, but the greater the commotion that attends the sensational lives of these women, the smaller the stir once they are dead. They are like those dull suns which set as they have risen: they are unremarkable. News of their death, when they die young, reaches all their lovers at the same instant, for in Paris the lovers of any celebrated courtesan see each other every day. A few reminiscences are exchanged about her, and the lives of all and sundry continue as before without so much as a tear.

 

For a young man of twenty-five nowadays, tears have become so rare a thing that they are not to be wasted on the first girl who comes along. The most that may be expected is that the parents and relatives who pay for the privilege of being wept for are indeed mourned to the extent of their investment.

 

For my own part, though my monogram figured on none of Marguerite's dressing-cases, the instinctive forbearance and natural pity to which I have just admitted led me to dwell on her death for much longer than it perhaps warranted.

 

I recalled having come across Marguerite very frequently on the Champs-Elysees, where she appeared assiduously each day in a small blue brougham drawn by two magnificent bays, and I remembered having also remarked in her at that time an air of distinction rare in women of her kind and which was further enhanced by her truly exceptional beauty.

 

When these unfortunate creatures appear in public, they are invariably escorted by some companion or other.

 

Since no man would ever consent to flaunt by day the predilection he has for them by night, and because they abhor solitude, they are usually attended either by less fortunate associates who have no carriages of their own, or else by elderly ladies of refinement who are not the least refined and to whom an interested party may apply without fear, should any information be required concerning the woman they are escorting.

 

It was not so with Marguerite. She always appeared alone on the Champs- Elysees, riding in her own carriage where she sat as unobtrusively as possible, enveloped on winter days in a large Indian shawl and, in summer, wearing the simplest dresses. And though there were many she knew along her favourite route, when she chanced to smile at them, her smile was visible to them alone. A Duchess could have smiled no differently.

 

She did not ride from the Rond- Point down to the entrance, to the Champs-Elysees as do ?and did ?all her sort. Her two horses whisked her off smartly to the Bois de Boulogne. There she alighted, walked for an hour, rejoined her brougham and returned home at a fast trot.

 

These circumstances, which I had occasionally observed for myself, now came back to me and I sorrowed for this girl's death much as one might regret the total destruction of a beautiful work of art.

 

For it was impossible to behold beauty more captivating than Marguerite's.

Tall and slender almost to a fault, she possessed in the highest degree the art of concealing this oversight of nature simply by the way she arranged the clothes she wore. Her Indian shawl, with its point reaching down to the ground, gave free movement on either side to the flounced panels of her silk dress, while the thick muff, which hid her hands and which she kept pressed to her bosom, was encompassed by folds so skillfully managed that even the most demanding eye would have found nothing wanting in the lines of her figure.

 

Her face, a marvel, was the object of her most fastidious attentions. It was quite small and, as Musset might have said, her mother had surely made it so to ensure it was fashioned with care.

 

Upon an oval of indescribable loveliness, place two dark eyes beneath brows so cleanly arched that they might have been painted on; veil those eyes with lashes so long that, when lowered, they cast shadows over the pink flush of the cheeks; sketch a delicate, straight, spirited nose and nostrils slightly flared in a passionate aspiration towards sensuality; draw a regular mouth with lips parting gracefully over teeth as white as milk; tint the skin with the bloom of peaches which no hand has touched ?and you will have a comprehensive picture of her entrancing face.

Her jet-black hair, naturally or artfully waved, was parted over her forehead in two thick coils which vanished behind her head, just exposing the lobes of her ears from which hung two diamonds each worth four or five thousand francs.

 

Exactly how the torrid life she led could possibly have left on Marguerite's face the virginal, even childlike expression which made it distinctive, is something which we are forced to record as a fact which we cannot comprehend.

 

Marguerite possessed a marvelous portrait of herself by Vidal, the only man whose pencil strokes could capture her to the life. After her death, this portrait came into my keeping for a few days and the likeness was so striking that it has helped me to furnish details for which memory alone might not have sufficed.

 

Some of the particulars contained in the present chapter did not become known to me until some time later, but I set them down here so as not to have to return to them once the narrative account of this woman's life has begun.

 

Marguerite was present at all first nights and spent each evening in the theatre or at the ball. Whenever a new play was performed, you could be sure of seeing her there with three things which she always had with her and which always occupied the ledge of her box in the stalls: her opera- glasses, a box of sweets and a bunch of camellias.

 

For twenty-five days in every month the camellias were white, and for five they were red. No one ever knew the reason for this variation in colour which I mention but cannot explain, and which those who frequented the theatres where she was seen most often, and her friends too, had noticed as I had.

 

Marguerite had never been seen with any flowers but camellias. Because of this, her florist, Madame Barjon, had finally taken to calling her the Lady of the Camellias, and the name had remained with her.

 

Like all who move in certain social circles in Paris, I knew further that Marguerite had been the mistress of the most fashionable young men, that she admitted the fact openly, and that they themselves boasted of it. Which only went to show that loves and mistress were well pleased with each other.

 

However, for some three years previously, ever since a visit she had made to Bagneres, she was said to be living with just one man, an elderly foreign duke who was fabulously wealthy and had attempted to detach her as far as possible form her old life. This she seems to have been happy enough to go along with.

Here is what I have been told of the matter.

 

In the spring of 1842, Marguerite was so weak, so altered in her looks, that the doctors had ordered her to take the waters. She accordingly set out for Bagneres.

Among the other sufferers there, was the Duke's daughter who not only had the same complaint but a face so like Marguerite's that they could have been taken for sisters. The fact was that the young Duchess was in the tertiary stage of consumption and, only days after Marguerite's arrival, she succumbed.

One morning the Duke, who had remained at Bagneres just as people will remain on ground where a piece of their heart lies buried, caught sight of Marguerite as she turned a corner of a gravel walk.

 

It seemed as though he was seeing the spirit of his dead child and, going up to her, he took both her hands, embraced her tearfully and, without asking who she was, begged leave to call on her and to love in her person the living image of his dead daughter.

 

Marguerite, alone at Bagneres with her maid, and in any case having nothing to lose by compromising herself, granted the Duke what he asked.

 

Now there were a number of people at Bagneres who knew her, and they made a point of calling on the Duke to inform him of Mademoiselle Gautier's true situation. It was a terrible blow for the old man, for any resemblance with his daughter stopped there. But it was too late. The young woman had become an emotional necessity, his only pretext and his sole reason for living.

 

He did not reproach her, he had no right to, but he did ask her if she felt that she could change her way of life, and, in exchange for this sacrifice, offered all the compensations she could want. She agreed.

 

It should be said that at this juncture Marguerite, who was by nature somewhat highly strung, was seriously ill. Her past appeared to her to be one of the major causes of her illness, and a kind of superstition led her to hope that God would allow her to keep her beauty and her health in exchange for her repentance and conversion.

 

And indeed the waters, the walks, healthy fatigue and sleep had almost restored her fully by the end of that summer.

 

The Duke accompanied Marguerite to Paris, where he continued to call on her as at Bagneres.

 

This liaison, of which the true origin and true motive were known to no one, gave rise here to a great deal of talk, since the Duke, known hitherto as an enormously wealthy man, now began to acquire a name for the prodigality.

 

The relationship between the old Duke and the young woman was put down to the salacity which is frequently found in rich old men. People imagined all manner of things, except the truth.

 

The truth was that the affection of this father for Marguerite was a feeling so chaste, that anything more than a closeness of hearts would have seemed incestuous in his eyes. Never once had he said a single word to her that his daughter could not have heard.

 

The last thing we wish is to make our heroine seem anything other than what she was. We shall say therefore that, as long as she remained at Bagneres, the promise given to the Duke had not been difficult to keep, and she had kept it. But once she was back in Paris, it seemed to her, accustomed as she was to a life of dissipation, balls and even orgies, that her new-found solitude, broken only by the periodic visits of the Duke, would make her die of boredom, and the scorching winds of her former life blew hot on both her head and her heart.

 

Add to this that Marguerite had returned from her travels more beautiful than she had ever been, that she was twenty years old and that her illness, subdued but far from conquered, continued to stir in her those feverish desires which are almost invariably a result of consumptive disorders.

 

The Duke was therefore sadly grieved the day his friends, constantly on the watch for scandalous indiscretions on the part of the young woman with whom he was, they said, compromising himself, called to inform him, indeed to prove to him that at those times when she could count on his not appearing, she was in the habit of receiving other visitors, and that these visitors often stayed until the following morning.

 

When the Duke questioned her, Marguerite admitted everything, and, without a second thought, advised him not to concern himself with her any more, saying she did not have the strength to keep faith with the pledges she had given, and adding that she had no wish to go on receiving the liberalities of a man whom she was deceiving.

 

The Duke stayed away for a week, but this was as long as he could manage. One week later to the day, he came and implored Marguerite to take him back, promising to accept her as she was, provided that he could see her, and swearing that he would die before he uttered a single word of reproach.

 

This was how things stood three months after Marguerite's return, that is, in November or December 1842.

第二章

拍卖定于十六日举行。

 

在参观和拍卖之间有一天空隙时间,这是留给地毯商拆卸帷幔、壁毯等墙上饰物用的。

 

那时候,我正好从外地旅游归来。当一个人回到消息灵通的首都时,别人总是要告诉他一些重要新闻的。但是没有人把玛格丽特的去世当作什么大事情来对我讲,这也是很自然的。玛格丽特长得很漂亮,但是,这些女人生前考究的生活越是闹得满城风雨,她们死后也就越是无声无息。她们就像某些星辰,陨落时和初升时一样黯淡无光。如果她们年纪轻轻就死了,那么她们所有的情人都会同时得到消息;因为在巴黎,一位名妓的所有情人彼此几乎都是密友。大家会相互回忆几件有关她过去的逸事,然后各人将依然故我,丝毫不受这事的影响,甚至谁也不会因此而掉一滴眼泪。

 

如今,人们到了二十五岁这年纪,眼泪就变得非常珍贵,决不能轻易乱流,充其量只对为他们花费过金钱的双亲才哭上几声,作为对过去为他们破费的报答。

 

而我呢,虽然玛格丽特任何一件用品上都没有我姓名的开头字母,可是我刚才承认过的那种出于本能的宽容和那种天生的怜悯,使我对她的死久久不能忘怀,虽说她也许并不值得我如此想念。

记得我过去经常在香榭丽舍大街遇到玛格丽特,她坐着一辆由两匹栗色骏马驾着的蓝色四轮轿式小马车,每天一准来到那儿。她身上有一种不同于她那一类人的气质,而她那风致韵绝的姿色,又更衬托出了这种气质的与众不同。

 

这些不幸的人儿出门的时候,身边总是有个什么人陪着的。

 

因为没有一个男人愿意把他们和这种女人的暧昧关系公开化,而她们又不堪寂寞,因此总是随身带着女伴。这些陪客有些是因为境况不如她们,自己没有车子;有些是怎么打扮也好看不了的老妇人。如果有人要想知道她们陪同的那位马车女主人的任何私情秘事,那么尽可以放心大胆地向她们去请教。

 

玛格丽特却不落窠臼,她总是独个儿坐车到香榭丽舍大街去,尽量不招人注意。她冬天裹着一条开司米大披肩,夏天穿着十分淡雅的长裙。在这条她喜欢散步的大道上尽管有很多熟人,她偶尔也对他们微微一笑,但这是一种只有公爵夫人才有的微笑,而且也唯有他们自己才能觉察。

她也不像她所有那些同行一样,习惯在圆形广场和香榭丽舍大街街口之间散步,她的两匹马飞快地把她拉到郊外的布洛涅树林①,她在那里下车,漫步一个小时,然后重新登上马车,疾驰回家。

①布洛涅树林:在巴黎近郊,是当时上流社会人物的游乐胜地。

 

所有这些我亲眼目睹的情景至今还历历在目,我很惋惜这位姑娘的早逝,就像人们惋惜一件精美的艺术品被毁掉了一样。

 

的确,玛格丽特可真是个绝色女子。

 

她身材颀长苗条稍许过了点分,可她有一种非凡的才能,只要在穿着上稍稍花些功夫,就把这种造化的疏忽给掩饰过去了。她披着长可及地的开司米大披肩,两边露出绸子长裙的宽阔的镶边,她那紧贴在胸前藏手用的厚厚的暖手笼四周的褶裥都做得十分精巧,因此无论用什么挑剔的眼光来看,线条都是无可指摘的。

 

她的头样很美,是一件绝妙的珍品,它长得小巧玲珑,就像缪塞①所说的那样,她母亲好像是有意让它生得这么小巧,以便把它精心雕琢一番。

 

①缪塞(1810—1857):法国浪漫主义诗人和戏剧家。

 

在一张流露着难以描绘其风韵的鹅蛋脸上,嵌着两只乌黑的大眼睛,上面两道弯弯细长的眉毛,纯净得犹如人工画就的一般,眼睛上盖着浓密的睫毛,当眼帘低垂时,给玫瑰色的脸颊投去一抹淡淡的阴影;细巧而挺直的鼻子透出股灵气,鼻翼微鼓,像是对情欲生活的强烈渴望;一张端正的小嘴轮廓分明,柔唇微启,露出一口洁白如奶的牙齿;皮肤颜色就像未经人手触摸过的蜜桃上的绒衣:这些就是这张美丽的脸蛋给您的大致印象。

 

黑玉色的头发,不知是天然的还是梳理成的,像波浪一样地鬈曲着,在额前分梳成两大绺,一直拖到脑后,露出两个耳垂,耳垂上闪烁着两颗各值四五千法郎的钻石耳环。

 

玛格丽特过着热情纵欲的生活,但是她的脸上却呈现出处女般的神态,甚至还带着稚气的特征,这真使我们百思而不得其解。

 

玛格丽特有一幅她自己的画像,是维达尔①的杰作,也唯有他的画笔才能把玛格丽特画得如此惟妙惟肖。在她去世以后,有几天,这幅画在我手里。这幅画画得跟真人一样,它弥补了我记忆力的不足。

①维达尔(1811—1887):法国著名肖像画家,是法国名画家保罗·德拉罗什的学生;善绘当时巴黎上流社会的人士。

 

这一章里叙述的情节,有些是我后来才知道的,不过我现在就写下来,免得以后开始讲述这个女人的故事时再去重新提起。

 

每逢首场演出,玛格丽特必定光临。每天晚上,她都在剧场里或舞会上度过。只要有新剧本上演,准可以在剧场里看到她。她随身总带着三件东西:一副望远镜、一袋蜜饯和一束茶花,而且总是放在底层包厢的前栏上。

 

一个月里有二十五天玛格丽特带的茶花是白的,而另外五天她带的茶花却是红的,谁也摸不透茶花颜色变化的原因是什么,而我也无法解释其中的道理。在她常去的那几个剧院里,那些老观众和她的朋友们都像我一样注意到了这一现象。

 

除了茶花以外,从来没有人看见过她还带过别的花。因此,在她常去买花的巴尔戎夫人的花店里,有人替她取了一个外号,称她为茶花女,这个外号后来就这样给叫开了。

 

此外,就像所有生活在巴黎某一个圈子里的人一样,我知道玛格丽特曾经做过一些翩翩少年的情妇,她对此毫不隐讳,那些青年也以此为荣,说明情夫和情妇他们彼此都很满意。

 

然而,据说有一次从巴涅尔①旅行回来以后,有几乎三年时间她就只跟一个外国老公爵一起过日子了。这位老公爵是个百万富翁,他想尽方法要玛格丽特跟过去的生活一刀两断。而且,看来她也甘心情愿地顺从了。

①巴涅尔:法国有名的温泉疗养地区。到这里来治病的大多是贫血症患者。

 

关于这件事别人是这样告诉我的:

一八四二年春天,玛格丽特身体非常虚弱,气色越来越不好,医生嘱咐她到温泉去疗养,她便到巴涅尔去了。

 

在巴涅尔的病人中间,有一位公爵的女儿,她不仅害着跟玛格丽特同样的病,而且长得跟玛格丽特一模一样,别人甚至会把她们看作是姐妹俩。不过公爵小姐的肺病已经到了第三期,玛格丽特来巴涅尔没几天,公爵小姐便离开了人间。

 

就像有些人不愿意离开埋葬着亲人的地方一样,公爵在女儿去世后仍旧留在巴涅尔。一天早上,公爵在一条小路的拐角处遇见了玛格丽特。

 

他仿佛看到他女儿的影子在眼前掠过,便上前拉住了她的手,老泪纵横地搂着她,甚至也不问问清楚她究竟是谁,就恳求她允许他去探望她,允许他像爱自己去世的女儿的替身那样爱她。

和玛格丽特一起到巴涅尔去的只有她的侍女,再说她也不怕名声会受到什么损害,就同意了公爵的请求。

 

在巴涅尔也有一些人认识玛格丽特,他们专诚拜访公爵,将戈蒂埃小姐的社会地位据实相告。这对这个老年人来说,是一个沉重的打击,因为这一下就再也谈不上他女儿与玛格丽特还有什么相似之处了,但为时已晚,这个少妇已经成了他精神上的安慰,简直成了他赖以生存下去的唯一的借口和托词。

 

他丝毫没有责备玛格丽特,他也没有权利责备她,但是他对玛格丽特说,如果她觉得可以改变一下她那种生活方式的话,那么作为她的这种牺牲的交换条件,他愿意提供她所需要的全部补偿。玛格丽特答应了。

 

必须说明的是,生性热情的玛格丽特当时正在病中,她认为过去的生活似乎是她害病的一个主要原因。出于一种迷信的想法,她希望天主会因为她的改悔和皈依而把美貌和健康留给她。

果然,到夏末秋初的时候,由于洗温泉澡、散步、自然的体力消耗和正常的睡眠,她几乎已恢复了健康。

 

公爵陪同玛格丽特回到了巴黎,他还是像在巴涅尔一样,经常来探望她。

 

他们这种关系,别人既不知道真正的缘由,也不知道确切的动机,所以在巴黎引起了很大的轰动。因为公爵曾以他的万贯家财而著称,现在又以挥霍无度而闻名了。

 

大家把老公爵和玛格丽特的亲密关系归之于老年人贪淫好色,这是有钱的老头儿常犯的毛病,人们对他们的关系有各种各样的猜测,就是未猜到真情。

 

其实这位父亲对玛格丽特产生这样的感情,原因十分纯洁,除了跟她有心灵上的交往之外,任何其他关系在公爵看来都意味着乱伦。他始终没有对她讲过一句不适宜给女儿听的话。

 

我们对我们的女主人公除了如实描写,根本没想要把她写成别的样子。我们只是说,当玛格丽特待在巴涅尔的时候,她还是能够遵守对公爵许下的诺言的,她也是遵守了的;但是一旦返回巴黎,这个惯于挥霍享乐、喝酒跳舞的姑娘似乎就耐不住了,这种唯有老公爵定期来访才可以解解闷的孤寂生活使她觉得百无聊赖,无以排遣,过去生活的热辣辣的气息一下子涌上了她的脑海和心头。

 

而且玛格丽特从这次旅行回来以后显得从未有过的妩媚娇艳,她正当二十妙龄,她的病看起来已大有起色,但实际上并未根除,因此激起了她狂热的情欲,这种情欲往往也就是肺病的症状。

公爵的朋友们总是说公爵和玛格丽特在一起有损公爵的名誉,他们不断地监视她的行动,想抓住她行为不端的证据。一天,他们来告诉公爵,并向他证实,玛格丽特在拿准公爵不会去看她的时候,接待了别人,而且这种接待往往一直要延续到第二天。公爵知道后心里非常痛苦。

 

玛格丽特在受到公爵盘问的时候承认了一切,还坦率地劝告他以后不要再关心她了,因为她觉得自己已没有力量信守诺言,她也不愿意再接受一个被她欺骗的男人的好意了。

 

公爵有一个星期没有露面,他也只能做到这个地步。到了第八天,他就来恳求玛格丽特还是像过去一样跟他来往,只要能够见到玛格丽特,公爵同意完全让她自由行动,还向她发誓说,即使要了他的命,他也决不再说一句责备她的话。

 

这就是玛格丽特回到巴黎三个月以后,也就是一八四二年十一月或者十二月里的情况。