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解密文本:     《双城记》   [英] 查尔斯·狄更斯  著         
 

A TALE OF TWO CITIES
by   Charles Dickens


      第1部(Book 1)  |    第2部(Book 2)   |    第3部(Book 3)

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Book 1.   Recalled to Life

I. The Period

It was the best of times,
it was the worst of times,
it was the age of wisdom,
it was the age of foolishness,
it was the epoch of belief,
it was the epoch of incredulity,
it was the season of Light,
it was the season of Darkness,
it was the spring of hope,
it was the winter of despair,

we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way— in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

There were a king with a large jaw and a queen with a plain face, on the throne of England; there were a king with a large jaw and a queen with a fair face, on the throne of France. In both countries it was clearer than crystal to the lords of the State preserves of loaves and fishes, that things in general were settled for ever.

It was the year of Our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five. Spiritual revelations were conceded to England at that favoured period, as at this. Mrs. Southcott had recently attained her five-and-twentieth blessed birthday, of whom a prophetic private in the Life Guards had heralded the sublime appearance by announcing that arrangements were made for the swallowing up of London and Westminster. Even the Cock-lane ghost had been laid only a round dozen of years, after rapping out its messages, as the spirits of this very year last past (supernaturally deficient in originality) rapped out theirs. Mere messages in the earthly order of events had lately come to the English Crown and People, from a congress of British subjects in America: which, strange to relate, have proved more important to the human race than any communications yet received through any of the chickens of the Cock-lane brood.

France, less favoured on the whole as to matters spiritual than her sister of the shield and trident, rolled with exceeding smoothness down hill, making paper money and spending it. Under the guidance of her Christian pastors, she entertained herself, besides, with such humane achievements as sentencing a youth to have his hands cut off, his tongue torn out with pincers, and his body burned alive, because he had not kneeled down in the rain to do honour to a dirty procession of monks which passed within his view, at a distance of some fifty or sixty yards. It is likely enough that, rooted in the woods of France and Norway, there were growing trees, when that sufferer was put to death, already marked by the Woodman, Fate, to come down and be sawn into boards, to make a certain movable framework with a sack and a knife in it, terrible in history. It is likely enough that in the rough outhouses of some tillers of the heavy lands adjacent to Paris, there were sheltered from the weather that very day, rude carts, bespattered with rustic mire, snuffed about by pigs, and roosted in by poultry, which the Farmer, Death, had already set apart to be his tumbrils of the Revolution. But that Woodman and that Farmer, though they work unceasingly, work silently, and no one heard them as they went about with muffled tread: the rather, forasmuch as to entertain any suspicion that they were awake, was to be atheistical and traitorous.

In England, there was scarcely an amount of order and protection to justify much national boasting. Daring burglaries by armed men, and highway robberies, took place in the capital itself every night; families were publicly cautioned not to go out of town without removing their furniture to upholsterers' warehouses for security; the highwayman in the dark was a City tradesman in the light, and, being recognised and challenged by his fellow-tradesman whom he stopped in his character of "the Captain," gallantly shot him through the head and rode away; the mail was waylaid by seven robbers, and the guard shot three dead, and then got shot dead himself by the other four, "in consequence of the failure of his ammunition:" after which the mail was robbed in peace; that magnificent potentate, the Lord Mayor of London, was made to stand and deliver on Turnham Green, by one highwayman, who despoiled the illustrious creature in sight of all his retinue; prisoners in London gaols fought battles with their turnkeys, and the majesty of the law fired blunderbusses in among them, loaded with rounds of shot and ball; thieves snipped off diamond crosses from the necks of noble lords at Court drawing-rooms; musketeers went into St. Giles's, to search for contraband goods, and the mob fired on the musketeers, and the musketeers fired on the mob, and nobody thought any of these occurrences much out of the common way. In the midst of them, the hangman, ever busy and ever worse than useless, was in constant requisition; now, stringing up long rows of miscellaneous criminals; now, hanging a housebreaker on Saturday who had been taken on Tuesday; now, burning people in the hand at Newgate by the dozen, and now burning pamphlets at the door of Westminster Hall; to-day, taking the life of an atrocious murderer, and to-morrow of a wretched pilferer who had robbed a farmer's boy of sixpence.

All these things, and a thousand like them, came to pass in and close upon the dear old year one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five. Environed by them, while the Woodman and the Farmer worked unheeded, those two of the large jaws, and those other two of the plain and the fair faces, trod with stir enough, and carried their divine rights with a high hand. Thus did the year one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five conduct their Greatnesses, and myriads of small creatures—the creatures of this chronicle among the rest—along the roads that lay before them.





II. The Mail

It was the Dover road that lay, on a Friday night late in November, before the first of the persons with whom this history has business. The Dover road lay, as to him, beyond the Dover mail, as it lumbered up Shooter's Hill. He walked up hill in the mire by the side of the mail, as the rest of the passengers did; not because they had the least relish for walking exercise, under the circumstances, but because the hill, and the harness, and the mud, and the mail, were all so heavy, that the horses had three times already come to a stop, besides once drawing the coach across the road, with the mutinous intent of taking it back to Blackheath. Reins and whip and coachman and guard, however, in combination, had read that article of war which forbade a purpose otherwise strongly in favour of the argument, that some brute animals are endued with Reason; and the team had capitulated and returned to their duty.

With drooping heads and tremulous tails, they mashed their way through the thick mud, floundering and stumbling between whiles, as if they were falling to pieces at the larger joints. As often as the driver rested them and brought them to a stand, with a wary "Wo-ho! so-ho-then!" the near leader violently shook his head and everything upon it—like an unusually emphatic horse, denying that the coach could be got up the hill. Whenever the leader made this rattle, the passenger started, as a nervous passenger might, and was disturbed in mind.

There was a steaming mist in all the hollows, and it had roamed in its forlornness up the hill, like an evil spirit, seeking rest and finding none. A clammy and intensely cold mist, it made its slow way through the air in ripples that visibly followed and overspread one another, as the waves of an unwholesome sea might do. It was dense enough to shut out everything from the light of the coach-lamps but these its own workings, and a few yards of road; and the reek of the labouring horses steamed into it, as if they had made it all.

Two other passengers, besides the one, were plodding up the hill by the side of the mail. All three were wrapped to the cheekbones and over the ears, and wore jack-boots. Not one of the three could have said, from anything he saw, what either of the other two was like; and each was hidden under almost as many wrappers from the eyes of the mind, as from the eyes of the body, of his two companions. In those days, travellers were very shy of being confidential on a short notice, for anybody on the road might be a robber or in league with robbers. As to the latter, when every posting-house and ale-house could produce somebody in "the Captain's" pay, ranging from the landlord to the lowest stable non-descript, it was the likeliest thing upon the cards. So the guard of the Dover mail thought to himself, that Friday night in November, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five, lumbering up Shooter's Hill, as he stood on his own particular perch behind the mail, beating his feet, and keeping an eye and a hand on the arm-chest before him, where a loaded blunderbuss lay at the top of six or eight loaded horse-pistols, deposited on a substratum of cutlass.

The Dover mail was in its usual genial position that the guard suspected the passengers, the passengers suspected one another and the guard, they all suspected everybody else, and the coachman was sure of nothing but the horses; as to which cattle he could with a clear conscience have taken his oath on the two Testaments that they were not fit for the journey.

"Wo-ho!" said the coachman. "So, then! One more pull and you're at the top and be damned to you, for I have had trouble enough to get you to it!—Joe!"

"Halloa!" the guard replied.

"What o'clock do you make it, Joe?"

"Ten minutes, good, past eleven."

"My blood!" ejaculated the vexed coachman, "and not atop of Shooter's yet! Tst! Yah! Get on with you!"

The emphatic horse, cut short by the whip in a most decided negative, made a decided scramble for it, and the three other horses followed suit. Once more, the Dover mail struggled on, with the jack-boots of its passengers squashing along by its side. They had stopped when the coach stopped, and they kept close company with it. If any one of the three had had the hardihood to propose to another to walk on a little ahead into the mist and darkness, he would have put himself in a fair way of getting shot instantly as a highwayman.

The last burst carried the mail to the summit of the hill. The horses stopped to breathe again, and the guard got down to skid the wheel for the descent, and open the coach-door to let the passengers in.

"Tst! Joe!" cried the coachman in a warning voice, looking down from his box.

"What do you say, Tom?"

They both listened.

"I say a horse at a canter coming up, Joe."

"I say a horse at a gallop, Tom," returned the guard, leaving his hold of the door, and mounting nimbly to his place. "Gentlemen! In the king's name, all of you!"

With this hurried adjuration, he cocked his blunderbuss, and stood on the offensive.

The passenger booked by this history, was on the coach-step, getting in; the two other passengers were close behind him, and about to follow. He remained on the step, half in the coach and half out of; they remained in the road below him. They all looked from the coachman to the guard, and from the guard to the coachman, and listened. The coachman looked back and the guard looked back, and even the emphatic leader pricked up his ears and looked back, without contradicting.

The stillness consequent on the cessation of the rumbling and labouring of the coach, added to the stillness of the night, made it very quiet indeed. The panting of the horses communicated a tremulous motion to the coach, as if it were in a state of agitation. The hearts of the passengers beat loud enough perhaps to be heard; but at any rate, the quiet pause was audibly expressive of people out of breath, and holding the breath, and having the pulses quickened by expectation.

The sound of a horse at a gallop came fast and furiously up the hill.

"So-ho!" the guard sang out, as loud as he could roar. "Yo there! Stand! I shall fire!"

The pace was suddenly checked, and, with much splashing and floundering, a man's voice called from the mist, "Is that the Dover mail?"

"Never you mind what it is!" the guard retorted. "What are you?"

"Is that the Dover mail?"

"Why do you want to know?"

"I want a passenger, if it is."

"What passenger?"

"Mr. Jarvis Lorry."

Our booked passenger showed in a moment that it was his name. The guard, the coachman, and the two other passengers eyed him distrustfully.

"Keep where you are," the guard called to the voice in the mist, "because, if I should make a mistake, it could never be set right in your lifetime. Gentleman of the name of Lorry answer straight."

"What is the matter?" asked the passenger, then, with mildly quavering speech. "Who wants me? Is it Jerry?"

("I don't like Jerry's voice, if it is Jerry," growled the guard to himself. "He's hoarser than suits me, is Jerry.")

"Yes, Mr. Lorry."

"What is the matter?"

"A despatch sent after you from over yonder. T. and Co."

"I know this messenger, guard," said Mr. Lorry, getting down into the road—assisted from behind more swiftly than politely by the other two passengers, who immediately scrambled into the coach, shut the door, and pulled up the window. "He may come close; there's nothing wrong."

"I hope there ain't, but I can't make so 'Nation sure of that," said the guard, in gruff soliloquy. "Hallo you!"

"Well! And hallo you!" said Jerry, more hoarsely than before.

"Come on at a footpace! d'ye mind me? And if you've got holsters to that saddle o' yourn, don't let me see your hand go nigh 'em. For I'm a devil at a quick mistake, and when I make one it takes the form of Lead. So now let's look at you."

The figures of a horse and rider came slowly through the eddying mist, and came to the side of the mail, where the passenger stood. The rider stooped, and, casting up his eyes at the guard, handed the passenger a small folded paper. The rider's horse was blown, and both horse and rider were covered with mud, from the hoofs of the horse to the hat of the man.

"Guard!" said the passenger, in a tone of quiet business confidence.

The watchful guard, with his right hand at the stock of his raised blunderbuss, his left at the barrel, and his eye on the horseman, answered curtly, "Sir."

"There is nothing to apprehend. I belong to Tellson's Bank. You must know Tellson's Bank in London. I am going to Paris on business. A crown to drink. I may read this?"

"If so be as you're quick, sir."

He opened it in the light of the coach-lamp on that side, and read—first to himself and then aloud: "'Wait at Dover for Mam'selle.' It's not long, you see, guard. Jerry, say that my answer was, RECALLED TO LIFE."

Jerry started in his saddle. "That's a Blazing strange answer, too," said he, at his hoarsest.

"Take that message back, and they will know that I received this, as well as if I wrote. Make the best of your way. Good night."

With those words the passenger opened the coach-door and got in; not at all assisted by his fellow-passengers, who had expeditiously secreted their watches and purses in their boots, and were now making a general pretence of being asleep. With no more definite purpose than to escape the hazard of originating any other kind of action.

The coach lumbered on again, with heavier wreaths of mist closing round it as it began the descent. The guard soon replaced his blunderbuss in his arm-chest, and, having looked to the rest of its contents, and having looked to the supplementary pistols that he wore in his belt, looked to a smaller chest beneath his seat, in which there were a few smith's tools, a couple of torches, and a tinder-box. For he was furnished with that completeness that if the coach-lamps had been blown and stormed out, which did occasionally happen, he had only to shut himself up inside, keep the flint and steel sparks well off the straw, and get a light with tolerable safety and ease (if he were lucky) in five minutes.

"Tom!" softly over the coach roof.

"Hallo, Joe."

"Did you hear the message?"

"I did, Joe."

"What did you make of it, Tom?"

"Nothing at all, Joe."

"That's a coincidence, too," the guard mused, "for I made the same of it myself."

Jerry, left alone in the mist and darkness, dismounted meanwhile, not only to ease his spent horse, but to wipe the mud from his face, and shake the wet out of his hat-brim, which might be capable of holding about half a gallon. After standing with the bridle over his heavily-splashed arm, until the wheels of the mail were no longer within hearing and the night was quite still again, he turned to walk down the hill.

"After that there gallop from Temple Bar, old lady, I won't trust your fore-legs till I get you on the level," said this hoarse messenger, glancing at his mare. "'Recalled to life.' That's a Blazing strange message. Much of that wouldn't do for you, Jerry! I say, Jerry! You'd be in a Blazing bad way, if recalling to life was to come into fashion, Jerry!"





III. The Night Shadows

A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other. A solemn consideration, when I enter a great city by night, that every one of those darkly clustered houses encloses its own secret; that every room in every one of them encloses its own secret; that every beating heart in the hundreds of thousands of breasts there, is, in some of its imaginings, a secret to the heart nearest it! Something of the awfulness, even of Death itself, is referable to this. No more can I turn the leaves of this dear book that I loved, and vainly hope in time to read it all. No more can I look into the depths of this unfathomable water, wherein, as momentary lights glanced into it, I have had glimpses of buried treasure and other things submerged. It was appointed that the book should shut with a spring, for ever and for ever, when I had read but a page. It was appointed that the water should be locked in an eternal frost, when the light was playing on its surface, and I stood in ignorance on the shore. My friend is dead, my neighbour is dead, my love, the darling of my soul, is dead; it is the inexorable consolidation and perpetuation of the secret that was always in that individuality, and which I shall carry in mine to my life's end. In any of the burial-places of this city through which I pass, is there a sleeper more inscrutable than its busy inhabitants are, in their innermost personality, to me, or than I am to them?

As to this, his natural and not to be alienated inheritance, the messenger on horseback had exactly the same possessions as the King, the first Minister of State, or the richest merchant in London. So with the three passengers shut up in the narrow compass of one lumbering old mail coach; they were mysteries to one another, as complete as if each had been in his own coach and six, or his own coach and sixty, with the breadth of a county between him and the next.

The messenger rode back at an easy trot, stopping pretty often at ale-houses by the way to drink, but evincing a tendency to keep his own counsel, and to keep his hat cocked over his eyes. He had eyes that assorted very well with that decoration, being of a surface black, with no depth in the colour or form, and much too near together—as if they were afraid of being found out in something, singly, if they kept too far apart. They had a sinister expression, under an old cocked-hat like a three-cornered spittoon, and over a great muffler for the chin and throat, which descended nearly to the wearer's knees. When he stopped for drink, he moved this muffler with his left hand, only while he poured his liquor in with his right; as soon as that was done, he muffled again.

"No, Jerry, no!" said the messenger, harping on one theme as he rode. "It wouldn't do for you, Jerry. Jerry, you honest tradesman, it wouldn't suit your line of business! Recalled—! Bust me if I don't think he'd been a drinking!"

His message perplexed his mind to that degree that he was fain, several times, to take off his hat to scratch his head. Except on the crown, which was raggedly bald, he had stiff, black hair, standing jaggedly all over it, and growing down hill almost to his broad, blunt nose. It was so like Smith's work, so much more like the top of a strongly spiked wall than a head of hair, that the best of players at leap-frog might have declined him, as the most dangerous man in the world to go over.

While he trotted back with the message he was to deliver to the night watchman in his box at the door of Tellson's Bank, by Temple Bar, who was to deliver it to greater authorities within, the shadows of the night took such shapes to him as arose out of the message, and took such shapes to the mare as arose out of her private topics of uneasiness. They seemed to be numerous, for she shied at every shadow on the road.

What time, the mail-coach lumbered, jolted, rattled, and bumped upon its tedious way, with its three fellow-inscrutables inside. To whom, likewise, the shadows of the night revealed themselves, in the forms their dozing eyes and wandering thoughts suggested.

Tellson's Bank had a run upon it in the mail. As the bank passenger—with an arm drawn through the leathern strap, which did what lay in it to keep him from pounding against the next passenger, and driving him into his corner, whenever the coach got a special jolt—nodded in his place, with half-shut eyes, the little coach-windows, and the coach-lamp dimly gleaming through them, and the bulky bundle of opposite passenger, became the bank, and did a great stroke of business. The rattle of the harness was the chink of money, and more drafts were honoured in five minutes than even Tellson's, with all its foreign and home connection, ever paid in thrice the time. Then the strong-rooms underground, at Tellson's, with such of their valuable stores and secrets as were known to the passenger (and it was not a little that he knew about them), opened before him, and he went in among them with the great keys and the feebly-burning candle, and found them safe, and strong, and sound, and still, just as he had last seen them.

But, though the bank was almost always with him, and though the coach (in a confused way, like the presence of pain under an opiate) was always with him, there was another current of impression that never ceased to run, all through the night. He was on his way to dig some one out of a grave.

Now, which of the multitude of faces that showed themselves before him was the true face of the buried person, the shadows of the night did not indicate; but they were all the faces of a man of five-and-forty by years, and they differed principally in the passions they expressed, and in the ghastliness of their worn and wasted state. Pride, contempt, defiance, stubbornness, submission, lamentation, succeeded one another; so did varieties of sunken cheek, cadaverous colour, emaciated hands and figures. But the face was in the main one face, and every head was prematurely white. A hundred times the dozing passenger inquired of this spectre:

"Buried how long?"

The answer was always the same: "Almost eighteen years."

"You had abandoned all hope of being dug out?"

"Long ago."

"You know that you are recalled to life?"

"They tell me so."

"I hope you care to live?"

"I can't say."

"Shall I show her to you? Will you come and see her?"

The answers to this question were various and contradictory. Sometimes the broken reply was, "Wait! It would kill me if I saw her too soon." Sometimes, it was given in a tender rain of tears, and then it was, "Take me to her." Sometimes it was staring and bewildered, and then it was, "I don't know her. I don't understand."

After such imaginary discourse, the passenger in his fancy would dig, and dig, dig—now with a spade, now with a great key, now with his hands—to dig this wretched creature out. Got out at last, with earth hanging about his face and hair, he would suddenly fan away to dust. The passenger would then start to himself, and lower the window, to get the reality of mist and rain on his cheek.

Yet even when his eyes were opened on the mist and rain, on the moving patch of light from the lamps, and the hedge at the roadside retreating by jerks, the night shadows outside the coach would fall into the train of the night shadows within. The real Banking-house by Temple Bar, the real business of the past day, the real strong rooms, the real express sent after him, and the real message returned, would all be there. Out of the midst of them, the ghostly face would rise, and he would accost it again.

"Buried how long?"

"Almost eighteen years."

"I hope you care to live?"

"I can't say."

Dig—dig—dig—until an impatient movement from one of the two passengers would admonish him to pull up the window, draw his arm securely through the leathern strap, and speculate upon the two slumbering forms, until his mind lost its hold of them, and they again slid away into the bank and the grave.

"Buried how long?"

"Almost eighteen years."

"You had abandoned all hope of being dug out?"

"Long ago."

The words were still in his hearing as just spoken—distinctly in his hearing as ever spoken words had been in his life—when the weary passenger started to the consciousness of daylight, and found that the shadows of the night were gone.

He lowered the window, and looked out at the rising sun. There was a ridge of ploughed land, with a plough upon it where it had been left last night when the horses were unyoked; beyond, a quiet coppice-wood, in which many leaves of burning red and golden yellow still remained upon the trees. Though the earth was cold and wet, the sky was clear, and the sun rose bright, placid, and beautiful.

"Eighteen years!" said the passenger, looking at the sun. "Gracious Creator of day! To be buried alive for eighteen years!"





IV. The Preparation

When the mail got successfully to Dover, in the course of the forenoon, the head drawer at the Royal George Hotel opened the coach-door as his custom was. He did it with some flourish of ceremony, for a mail journey from London in winter was an achievement to congratulate an adventurous traveller upon.

By that time, there was only one adventurous traveller left be congratulated: for the two others had been set down at their respective roadside destinations. The mildewy inside of the coach, with its damp and dirty straw, its disagreeable smell, and its obscurity, was rather like a larger dog-kennel. Mr. Lorry, the passenger, shaking himself out of it in chains of straw, a tangle of shaggy wrapper, flapping hat, and muddy legs, was rather like a larger sort of dog.

"There will be a packet to Calais, tomorrow, drawer?"

"Yes, sir, if the weather holds and the wind sets tolerable fair. The tide will serve pretty nicely at about two in the afternoon, sir. Bed, sir?"

"I shall not go to bed till night; but I want a bedroom, and a barber."

"And then breakfast, sir? Yes, sir. That way, sir, if you please. Show Concord! Gentleman's valise and hot water to Concord. Pull off gentleman's boots in Concord. (You will find a fine sea-coal fire, sir.) Fetch barber to Concord. Stir about there, now, for Concord!"

The Concord bed-chamber being always assigned to a passenger by the mail, and passengers by the mail being always heavily wrapped up from head to foot, the room had the odd interest for the establishment of the Royal George, that although but one kind of man was seen to go into it, all kinds and varieties of men came out of it. Consequently, another drawer, and two porters, and several maids and the landlady, were all loitering by accident at various points of the road between the Concord and the coffee-room, when a gentleman of sixty, formally dressed in a brown suit of clothes, pretty well worn, but very well kept, with large square cuffs and large flaps to the pockets, passed along on his way to his breakfast.

The coffee-room had no other occupant, that forenoon, than the gentleman in brown. His breakfast-table was drawn before the fire, and as he sat, with its light shining on him, waiting for the meal, he sat so still, that he might have been sitting for his portrait.

Very orderly and methodical he looked, with a hand on each knee, and a loud watch ticking a sonorous sermon under his flapped waist-coat, as though it pitted its gravity and longevity against the levity and evanescence of the brisk fire. He had a good leg, and was a little vain of it, for his brown stockings fitted sleek and close, and were of a fine texture; his shoes and buckles, too, though plain, were trim. He wore an odd little sleek crisp flaxen wig, setting very close to his head: which wig, it is to be presumed, was made of hair, but which looked far more as though it were spun from filaments of silk or glass. His linen, though not of a fineness in accordance with his stockings, was as white as the tops of the waves that broke upon the neighbouring beach, or the specks of sail that glinted in the sunlight far at sea. A face habitually suppressed and quieted, was still lighted up under the quaint wig by a pair of moist bright eyes that it must have cost their owner, in years gone by, some pains to drill to the composed and reserved expression of Tellson's Bank. He had a healthy colour in his cheeks, and his face, though lined, bore few traces of anxiety. But, perhaps the confidential bachelor clerks in Tellson's Bank were principally occupied with the cares of other people; and perhaps second-hand cares, like second-hand clothes, come easily off and on.

Completing his resemblance to a man who was sitting for his portrait, Mr. Lorry dropped off to sleep. The arrival of his breakfast roused him, and he said to the drawer, as he moved his chair to it:

"I wish accommodation prepared for a young lady who may come here at any time to-day. She may ask for Mr. Jarvis Lorry, or she may only ask for a gentleman from Tellson's Bank. Please to let me know."

"Yes, sir. Tellson's Bank in London, sir?"

"Yes."

"Yes, sir. We have oftentimes the honour to entertain your gentlemen in their travelling backwards and forwards betwixt London and Paris, sir. A vast deal of travelling, sir, in Tellson and Company's House."

"Yes. We are quite a French House, as well as an English one."

"Yes, sir. Not much in the habit of such travelling yourself, I think, sir?"

"Not of late years. It is fifteen years since we—since I—came last from France."

"Indeed, sir? That was before my time here, sir. Before our people's time here, sir. The George was in other hands at that time, sir."

"I believe so."

"But I would hold a pretty wager, sir, that a House like Tellson and Company was flourishing, a matter of fifty, not to speak of fifteen years ago?"

"You might treble that, and say a hundred and fifty, yet not be far from the truth."

"Indeed, sir!"

Rounding his mouth and both his eyes, as he stepped backward from the table, the waiter shifted his napkin from his right arm to his left, dropped into a comfortable attitude, and stood surveying the guest while he ate and drank, as from an observatory or watchtower. According to the immemorial usage of waiters in all ages.

When Mr. Lorry had finished his breakfast, he went out for a stroll on the beach. The little narrow, crooked town of Dover hid itself away from the beach, and ran its head into the chalk cliffs, like a marine ostrich. The beach was a desert of heaps of sea and stones tumbling wildly about, and the sea did what it liked, and what it liked was destruction. It thundered at the town, and thundered at the cliffs, and brought the coast down, madly. The air among the houses was of so strong a piscatory flavour that one might have supposed sick fish went up to be dipped in it, as sick people went down to be dipped in the sea. A little fishing was done in the port, and a quantity of strolling about by night, and looking seaward: particularly at those times when the tide made, and was near flood. Small tradesmen, who did no business whatever, sometimes unaccountably realised large fortunes, and it was remarkable that nobody in the neighbourhood could endure a lamplighter.

As the day declined into the afternoon, and the air, which had been at intervals clear enough to allow the French coast to be seen, became again charged with mist and vapour, Mr. Lorry's thoughts seemed to cloud too. When it was dark, and he sat before the coffee-room fire, awaiting his dinner as he had awaited his breakfast, his mind was busily digging, digging, digging, in the live red coals.

A bottle of good claret after dinner does a digger in the red coals no harm, otherwise than as it has a tendency to throw him out of work. Mr. Lorry had been idle a long time, and had just poured out his last glassful of wine with as complete an appearance of satisfaction as is ever to be found in an elderly gentleman of a fresh complexion who has got to the end of a bottle, when a rattling of wheels came up the narrow street, and rumbled into the inn-yard.

He set down his glass untouched. "This is Mam'selle!" said he.

In a very few minutes the waiter came in to announce that Miss Manette had arrived from London, and would be happy to see the gentleman from Tellson's.

"So soon?"

Miss Manette had taken some refreshment on the road, and required none then, and was extremely anxious to see the gentleman from Tellson's immediately, if it suited his pleasure and convenience.

The gentleman from Tellson's had nothing left for it but to empty his glass with an air of stolid desperation, settle his odd little flaxen wig at the ears, and follow the waiter to Miss Manette's apartment. It was a large, dark room, furnished in a funereal manner with black horsehair, and loaded with heavy dark tables. These had been oiled and oiled, until the two tall candles on the table in the middle of the room were gloomily reflected on every leaf; as if they were buried, in deep graves of black mahogany, and no light to speak of could be expected from them until they were dug out.

The obscurity was so difficult to penetrate that Mr. Lorry, picking his way over the well-worn Turkey carpet, supposed Miss Manette to be, for the moment, in some adjacent room, until, having got past the two tall candles, he saw standing to receive him by the table between them and the fire, a young lady of not more than seventeen, in a riding-cloak, and still holding her straw travelling-hat by its ribbon in her hand. As his eyes rested on a short, slight, pretty figure, a quantity of golden hair, a pair of blue eyes that met his own with an inquiring look, and a forehead with a singular capacity (remembering how young and smooth it was), of rifting and knitting itself into an expression that was not quite one of perplexity, or wonder, or alarm, or merely of a bright fixed attention, though it included all the four expressions—as his eyes rested on these things, a sudden vivid likeness passed before him, of a child whom he had held in his arms on the passage across that very Channel, one cold time, when the hail drifted heavily and the sea ran high. The likeness passed away, like a breath along the surface of the gaunt pier-glass behind her, on the frame of which, a hospital procession of negro cupids, several headless and all cripples, were offering black baskets of Dead Sea fruit to black divinities of the feminine gender—and he made his formal bow to Miss Manette.

"Pray take a seat, sir." In a very clear and pleasant young voice; a little foreign in its accent, but a very little indeed.

"I kiss your hand, miss," said Mr. Lorry, with the manners of an earlier date, as he made his formal bow again, and took his seat.

"I received a letter from the Bank, sir, yesterday, informing me that some intelligence—or discovery—"

"The word is not material, miss; either word will do."

"—respecting the small property of my poor father, whom I never saw—so long dead—"

Mr. Lorry moved in his chair, and cast a troubled look towards the hospital procession of negro cupids. As if they had any help for anybody in their absurd baskets!

"—rendered it necessary that I should go to Paris, there to communicate with a gentleman of the Bank, so good as to be despatched to Paris for the purpose."

"Myself."

"As I was prepared to hear, sir."

She curtseyed to him (young ladies made curtseys in those days), with a pretty desire to convey to him that she felt how much older and wiser he was than she. He made her another bow.

"I replied to the Bank, sir, that as it was considered necessary, by those who know, and who are so kind as to advise me, that I should go to France, and that as I am an orphan and have no friend who could go with me, I should esteem it highly if I might be permitted to place myself, during the journey, under that worthy gentleman's protection. The gentleman had left London, but I think a messenger was sent after him to beg the favour of his waiting for me here."

"I was happy," said Mr. Lorry, "to be entrusted with the charge. I shall be more happy to execute it."

"Sir, I thank you indeed. I thank you very gratefully. It was told me by the Bank that the gentleman would explain to me the details of the business, and that I must prepare myself to find them of a surprising nature. I have done my best to prepare myself, and I naturally have a strong and eager interest to know what they are."

"Naturally," said Mr. Lorry. "Yes—I—"

After a pause, he added, again settling the crisp flaxen wig at the ears, "It is very difficult to begin."

He did not begin, but, in his indecision, met her glance. The young forehead lifted itself into that singular expression—but it was pretty and characteristic, besides being singular—and she raised her hand, as if with an involuntary action she caught at, or stayed some passing shadow.

"Are you quite a stranger to me, sir?"

"Am I not?" Mr. Lorry opened his hands, and extended them outwards with an argumentative smile.

Between the eyebrows and just over the little feminine nose, the line of which was as delicate and fine as it was possible to be, the expression deepened itself as she took her seat thoughtfully in the chair by which she had hitherto remained standing. He watched her as she mused, and the moment she raised her eyes again, went on:

"In your adopted country, I presume, I cannot do better than address you as a young English lady, Miss Manette?"

"If you please, sir."

"Miss Manette, I am a man of business. I have a business charge to acquit myself of. In your reception of it, don't heed me any more than if I was a speaking machine—truly, I am not much else. I will, with your leave, relate to you, miss, the story of one of our customers."

"Story!"

He seemed wilfully to mistake the word she had repeated, when he added, in a hurry, "Yes, customers; in the banking business we usually call our connection our customers. He was a French gentleman; a scientific gentleman; a man of great acquirements—a Doctor."

"Not of Beauvais?"

"Why, yes, of Beauvais. Like Monsieur Manette, your father, the gentleman was of Beauvais. Like Monsieur Manette, your father, the gentleman was of repute in Paris. I had the honour of knowing him there. Our relations were business relations, but confidential. I was at that time in our French House, and had been—oh! twenty years."

"At that time—I may ask, at what time, sir?"

"I speak, miss, of twenty years ago. He married—an English lady—and I was one of the trustees. His affairs, like the affairs of many other French gentlemen and French families, were entirely in Tellson's hands. In a similar way I am, or I have been, trustee of one kind or other for scores of our customers. These are mere business relations, miss; there is no friendship in them, no particular interest, nothing like sentiment. I have passed from one to another, in the course of my business life, just as I pass from one of our customers to another in the course of my business day; in short, I have no feelings; I am a mere machine. To go on—"

"But this is my father's story, sir; and I begin to think"—the curiously roughened forehead was very intent upon him—"that when I was left an orphan through my mother's surviving my father only two years, it was you who brought me to England. I am almost sure it was you."

Mr. Lorry took the hesitating little hand that confidingly advanced to take his, and he put it with some ceremony to his lips. He then conducted the young lady straightway to her chair again, and, holding the chair-back with his left hand, and using his right by turns to rub his chin, pull his wig at the ears, or point what he said, stood looking down into her face while she sat looking up into his.

"Miss Manette, it was I. And you will see how truly I spoke of myself just now, in saying I had no feelings, and that all the relations I hold with my fellow-creatures are mere business relations, when you reflect that I have never seen you since. No; you have been the ward of Tellson's House since, and I have been busy with the other business of Tellson's House since. Feelings! I have no time for them, no chance of them. I pass my whole life, miss, in turning an immense pecuniary Mangle."

After this odd description of his daily routine of employment, Mr. Lorry flattened his flaxen wig upon his head with both hands (which was most unnecessary, for nothing could be flatter than its shining surface was before), and resumed his former attitude.

"So far, miss (as you have remarked), this is the story of your regretted father. Now comes the difference. If your father had not died when he did—Don't be frightened! How you start!"

She did, indeed, start. And she caught his wrist with both her hands.

"Pray," said Mr. Lorry, in a soothing tone, bringing his left hand from the back of the chair to lay it on the supplicatory fingers that clasped him in so violent a tremble: "pray control your agitation—a matter of business. As I was saying—"

Her look so discomposed him that he stopped, wandered, and began anew:

"As I was saying; if Monsieur Manette had not died; if he had suddenly and silently disappeared; if he had been spirited away; if it had not been difficult to guess to what dreadful place, though no art could trace him; if he had an enemy in some compatriot who could exercise a privilege that I in my own time have known the boldest people afraid to speak of in a whisper, across the water there; for instance, the privilege of filling up blank forms for the consignment of any one to the oblivion of a prison for any length of time; if his wife had implored the king, the queen, the court, the clergy, for any tidings of him, and all quite in vain;—then the history of your father would have been the history of this unfortunate gentleman, the Doctor of Beauvais."

"I entreat you to tell me more, sir."

"I will. I am going to. You can bear it?"

"I can bear anything but the uncertainty you leave me in at this moment."

"You speak collectedly, and you—are collected. That's good!" (Though his manner was less satisfied than his words.) "A matter of business. Regard it as a matter of business—business that must be done. Now if this doctor's wife, though a lady of great courage and spirit, had suffered so intensely from this cause before her little child was born—"

"The little child was a daughter, sir."

"A daughter. A-a-matter of business—don't be distressed. Miss, if the poor lady had suffered so intensely before her little child was born, that she came to the determination of sparing the poor child the inheritance of any part of the agony she had known the pains of, by rearing her in the belief that her father was dead—No, don't kneel! In Heaven's name why should you kneel to me!"

"For the truth. O dear, good, compassionate sir, for the truth!"

"A—a matter of business. You confuse me, and how can I transact business if I am confused? Let us be clear-headed. If you could kindly mention now, for instance, what nine times ninepence are, or how many shillings in twenty guineas, it would be so encouraging. I should be so much more at my ease about your state of mind."

Without directly answering to this appeal, she sat so still when he had very gently raised her, and the hands that had not ceased to clasp his wrists were so much more steady than they had been, that she communicated some reassurance to Mr. Jarvis Lorry.

"That's right, that's right. Courage! Business! You have business before you; useful business. Miss Manette, your mother took this course with you. And when she died—I believe broken-hearted—having never slackened her unavailing search for your father, she left you, at two years old, to grow to be blooming, beautiful, and happy, without the dark cloud upon you of living in uncertainty whether your father soon wore his heart out in prison, or wasted there through many lingering years."

As he said the words he looked down, with an admiring pity, on the flowing golden hair; as if he pictured to himself that it might have been already tinged with grey.

"You know that your parents had no great possession, and that what they had was secured to your mother and to you. There has been no new discovery, of money, or of any other property; but—"

He felt his wrist held closer, and he stopped. The expression in the forehead, which had so particularly attracted his notice, and which was now immovable, had deepened into one of pain and horror.

"But he has been—been found. He is alive. Greatly changed, it is too probable; almost a wreck, it is possible; though we will hope the best. Still, alive. Your father has been taken to the house of an old servant in Paris, and we are going there: I, to identify him if I can: you, to restore him to life, love, duty, rest, comfort."

A shiver ran through her frame, and from it through his. She said, in a low, distinct, awe-stricken voice, as if she were saying it in a dream,

"I am going to see his Ghost! It will be his Ghost—not him!"

Mr. Lorry quietly chafed the hands that held his arm. "There, there, there! See now, see now! The best and the worst are known to you, now. You are well on your way to the poor wronged gentleman, and, with a fair sea voyage, and a fair land journey, you will be soon at his dear side."

She repeated in the same tone, sunk to a whisper, "I have been free, I have been happy, yet his Ghost has never haunted me!"

"Only one thing more," said Mr. Lorry, laying stress upon it as a wholesome means of enforcing her attention: "he has been found under another name; his own, long forgotten or long concealed. It would be worse than useless now to inquire which; worse than useless to seek to know whether he has been for years overlooked, or always designedly held prisoner. It would be worse than useless now to make any inquiries, because it would be dangerous. Better not to mention the subject, anywhere or in any way, and to remove him—for a while at all events—out of France. Even I, safe as an Englishman, and even Tellson's, important as they are to French credit, avoid all naming of the matter. I carry about me, not a scrap of writing openly referring to it. This is a secret service altogether. My credentials, entries, and memoranda, are all comprehended in the one line, 'Recalled to Life;' which may mean anything. But what is the matter! She doesn't notice a word! Miss Manette!"

Perfectly still and silent, and not even fallen back in her chair, she sat under his hand, utterly insensible; with her eyes open and fixed upon him, and with that last expression looking as if it were carved or branded into her forehead. So close was her hold upon his arm, that he feared to detach himself lest he should hurt her; therefore he called out loudly for assistance without moving.

A wild-looking woman, whom even in his agitation, Mr. Lorry observed to be all of a red colour, and to have red hair, and to be dressed in some extraordinary tight-fitting fashion, and to have on her head a most wonderful bonnet like a Grenadier wooden measure, and good measure too, or a great Stilton cheese, came running into the room in advance of the inn servants, and soon settled the question of his detachment from the poor young lady, by laying a brawny hand upon his chest, and sending him flying back against the nearest wall.

("I really think this must be a man!" was Mr. Lorry's breathless reflection, simultaneously with his coming against the wall.)

"Why, look at you all!" bawled this figure, addressing the inn servants. "Why don't you go and fetch things, instead of standing there staring at me? I am not so much to look at, am I? Why don't you go and fetch things? I'll let you know, if you don't bring smelling-salts, cold water, and vinegar, quick, I will."

There was an immediate dispersal for these restoratives, and she softly laid the patient on a sofa, and tended her with great skill and gentleness: calling her "my precious!" and "my bird!" and spreading her golden hair aside over her shoulders with great pride and care.

"And you in brown!" she said, indignantly turning to Mr. Lorry; "couldn't you tell her what you had to tell her, without frightening her to death? Look at her, with her pretty pale face and her cold hands. Do you call that being a Banker?"

Mr. Lorry was so exceedingly disconcerted by a question so hard to answer, that he could only look on, at a distance, with much feebler sympathy and humility, while the strong woman, having banished the inn servants under the mysterious penalty of "letting them know" something not mentioned if they stayed there, staring, recovered her charge by a regular series of gradations, and coaxed her to lay her drooping head upon her shoulder.

"I hope she will do well now," said Mr. Lorry.

"No thanks to you in brown, if she does. My darling pretty!"

"I hope," said Mr. Lorry, after another pause of feeble sympathy and humility, "that you accompany Miss Manette to France?"

"A likely thing, too!" replied the strong woman. "If it was ever intended that I should go across salt water, do you suppose Providence would have cast my lot in an island?"

This being another question hard to answer, Mr. Jarvis Lorry withdrew to consider it.





V. The Wine-shop

A large cask of wine had been dropped and broken, in the street. The accident had happened in getting it out of a cart; the cask had tumbled out with a run, the hoops had burst, and it lay on the stones just outside the door of the wine-shop, shattered like a walnut-shell.

All the people within reach had suspended their business, or their idleness, to run to the spot and drink the wine. The rough, irregular stones of the street, pointing every way, and designed, one might have thought, expressly to lame all living creatures that approached them, had dammed it into little pools; these were surrounded, each by its own jostling group or crowd, according to its size. Some men kneeled down, made scoops of their two hands joined, and sipped, or tried to help women, who bent over their shoulders, to sip, before the wine had all run out between their fingers. Others, men and women, dipped in the puddles with little mugs of mutilated earthenware, or even with handkerchiefs from women's heads, which were squeezed dry into infants' mouths; others made small mud-embankments, to stem the wine as it ran; others, directed by lookers-on up at high windows, darted here and there, to cut off little streams of wine that started away in new directions; others devoted themselves to the sodden and lee-dyed pieces of the cask, licking, and even champing the moister wine-rotted fragments with eager relish. There was no drainage to carry off the wine, and not only did it all get taken up, but so much mud got taken up along with it, that there might have been a scavenger in the street, if anybody acquainted with it could have believed in such a miraculous presence.

A shrill sound of laughter and of amused voices—voices of men, women, and children—resounded in the street while this wine game lasted. There was little roughness in the sport, and much playfulness. There was a special companionship in it, an observable inclination on the part of every one to join some other one, which led, especially among the luckier or lighter-hearted, to frolicsome embraces, drinking of healths, shaking of hands, and even joining of hands and dancing, a dozen together. When the wine was gone, and the places where it had been most abundant were raked into a gridiron-pattern by fingers, these demonstrations ceased, as suddenly as they had broken out. The man who had left his saw sticking in the firewood he was cutting, set it in motion again; the women who had left on a door-step the little pot of hot ashes, at which she had been trying to soften the pain in her own starved fingers and toes, or in those of her child, returned to it; men with bare arms, matted locks, and cadaverous faces, who had emerged into the winter light from cellars, moved away, to descend again; and a gloom gathered on the scene that appeared more natural to it than sunshine.

The wine was red wine, and had stained the ground of the narrow street in the suburb of Saint Antoine, in Paris, where it was spilled. It had stained many hands, too, and many faces, and many naked feet, and many wooden shoes. The hands of the man who sawed the wood, left red marks on the billets; and the forehead of the woman who nursed her baby, was stained with the stain of the old rag she wound about her head again. Those who had been greedy with the staves of the cask, had acquired a tigerish smear about the mouth; and one tall joker so besmirched, his head more out of a long squalid bag of a nightcap than in it, scrawled upon a wall with his finger dipped in muddy wine-lees—BLOOD.

The time was to come, when that wine too would be spilled on the street-stones, and when the stain of it would be red upon many there.

And now that the cloud settled on Saint Antoine, which a momentary gleam had driven from his sacred countenance, the darkness of it was heavy—cold, dirt, sickness, ignorance, and want, were the lords in waiting on the saintly presence—nobles of great power all of them; but, most especially the last. Samples of a people that had undergone a terrible grinding and regrinding in the mill, and certainly not in the fabulous mill which ground old people young, shivered at every corner, passed in and out at every doorway, looked from every window, fluttered in every vestige of a garment that the wind shook. The mill which had worked them down, was the mill that grinds young people old; the children had ancient faces and grave voices; and upon them, and upon the grown faces, and ploughed into every furrow of age and coming up afresh, was the sigh, Hunger. It was prevalent everywhere. Hunger was pushed out of the tall houses, in the wretched clothing that hung upon poles and lines; Hunger was patched into them with straw and rag and wood and paper; Hunger was repeated in every fragment of the small modicum of firewood that the man sawed off; Hunger stared down from the smokeless chimneys, and started up from the filthy street that had no offal, among its refuse, of anything to eat. Hunger was the inscription on the baker's shelves, written in every small loaf of his scanty stock of bad bread; at the sausage-shop, in every dead-dog preparation that was offered for sale. Hunger rattled its dry bones among the roasting chestnuts in the turned cylinder; Hunger was shred into atomics in every farthing porringer of husky chips of potato, fried with some reluctant drops of oil.

Its abiding place was in all things fitted to it. A narrow winding street, full of offence and stench, with other narrow winding streets diverging, all peopled by rags and nightcaps, and all smelling of rags and nightcaps, and all visible things with a brooding look upon them that looked ill. In the hunted air of the people there was yet some wild-beast thought of the possibility of turning at bay. Depressed and slinking though they were, eyes of fire were not wanting among them; nor compressed lips, white with what they suppressed; nor foreheads knitted into the likeness of the gallows-rope they mused about enduring, or inflicting. The trade signs (and they were almost as many as the shops) were, all, grim illustrations of Want. The butcher and the porkman painted up, only the leanest scrags of meat; the baker, the coarsest of meagre loaves. The people rudely pictured as drinking in the wine-shops, croaked over their scanty measures of thin wine and beer, and were gloweringly confidential together. Nothing was represented in a flourishing condition, save tools and weapons; but, the cutler's knives and axes were sharp and bright, the smith's hammers were heavy, and the gunmaker's stock was murderous. The crippling stones of the pavement, with their many little reservoirs of mud and water, had no footways, but broke off abruptly at the doors. The kennel, to make amends, ran down the middle of the street—when it ran at all: which was only after heavy rains, and then it ran, by many eccentric fits, into the houses. Across the streets, at wide intervals, one clumsy lamp was slung by a rope and pulley; at night, when the lamplighter had let these down, and lighted, and hoisted them again, a feeble grove of dim wicks swung in a sickly manner overhead, as if they were at sea. Indeed they were at sea, and the ship and crew were in peril of tempest.

For, the time was to come, when the gaunt scarecrows of that region should have watched the lamplighter, in their idleness and hunger, so long, as to conceive the idea of improving on his method, and hauling up men by those ropes and pulleys, to flare upon the darkness of their condition. But, the time was not come yet; and every wind that blew over France shook the rags of the scarecrows in vain, for the birds, fine of song and feather, took no warning.

The wine-shop was a corner shop, better than most others in its appearance and degree, and the master of the wine-shop had stood outside it, in a yellow waistcoat and green breeches, looking on at the struggle for the lost wine. "It's not my affair," said he, with a final shrug of the shoulders. "The people from the market did it. Let them bring another."

There, his eyes happening to catch the tall joker writing up his joke, he called to him across the way:

"Say, then, my Gaspard, what do you do there?"

The fellow pointed to his joke with immense significance, as is often the way with his tribe. It missed its mark, and completely failed, as is often the way with his tribe too.

"What now? Are you a subject for the mad hospital?" said the wine-shop keeper, crossing the road, and obliterating the jest with a handful of mud, picked up for the purpose, and smeared over it. "Why do you write in the public streets? Is there—tell me thou—is there no other place to write such words in?"

In his expostulation he dropped his cleaner hand (perhaps accidentally, perhaps not) upon the joker's heart. The joker rapped it with his own, took a nimble spring upward, and came down in a fantastic dancing attitude, with one of his stained shoes jerked off his foot into his hand, and held out. A joker of an extremely, not to say wolfishly practical character, he looked, under those circumstances.

"Put it on, put it on," said the other. "Call wine, wine; and finish there." With that advice, he wiped his soiled hand upon the joker's dress, such as it was—quite deliberately, as having dirtied the hand on his account; and then recrossed the road and entered the wine-shop.

This wine-shop keeper was a bull-necked, martial-looking man of thirty, and he should have been of a hot temperament, for, although it was a bitter day, he wore no coat, but carried one slung over his shoulder. His shirt-sleeves were rolled up, too, and his brown arms were bare to the elbows. Neither did he wear anything more on his head than his own crisply-curling short dark hair. He was a dark man altogether, with good eyes and a good bold breadth between them. Good-humoured looking on the whole, but implacable-looking, too; evidently a man of a strong resolution and a set purpose; a man not desirable to be met, rushing down a narrow pass with a gulf on either side, for nothing would turn the man.

Madame Defarge, his wife, sat in the shop behind the counter as he came in. Madame Defarge was a stout woman of about his own age, with a watchful eye that seldom seemed to look at anything, a large hand heavily ringed, a steady face, strong features, and great composure of manner. There was a character about Madame Defarge, from which one might have predicated that she did not often make mistakes against herself in any of the reckonings over which she presided. Madame Defarge being sensitive to cold, was wrapped in fur, and had a quantity of bright shawl twined about her head, though not to the concealment of her large earrings. Her knitting was before her, but she had laid it down to pick her teeth with a toothpick. Thus engaged, with her right elbow supported by her left hand, Madame Defarge said nothing when her lord came in, but coughed just one grain of cough. This, in combination with the lifting of her darkly defined eyebrows over her toothpick by the breadth of a line, suggested to her husband that he would do well to look round the shop among the customers, for any new customer who had dropped in while he stepped over the way.

The wine-shop keeper accordingly rolled his eyes about, until they rested upon an elderly gentleman and a young lady, who were seated in a corner. Other company were there: two playing cards, two playing dominoes, three standing by the counter lengthening out a short supply of wine. As he passed behind the counter, he took notice that the elderly gentleman said in a look to the young lady, "This is our man."

"What the devil do you do in that galley there?" said Monsieur Defarge to himself; "I don't know you."

But, he feigned not to notice the two strangers, and fell into discourse with the triumvirate of customers who were drinking at the counter.

"How goes it, Jacques?" said one of these three to Monsieur Defarge. "Is all the spilt wine swallowed?"

"Every drop, Jacques," answered Monsieur Defarge.

When this interchange of Christian name was effected, Madame Defarge, picking her teeth with her toothpick, coughed another grain of cough, and raised her eyebrows by the breadth of another line.

"It is not often," said the second of the three, addressing Monsieur Defarge, "that many of these miserable beasts know the taste of wine, or of anything but black bread and death. Is it not so, Jacques?"

"It is so, Jacques," Monsieur Defarge returned.

At this second interchange of the Christian name, Madame Defarge, still using her toothpick with profound composure, coughed another grain of cough, and raised her eyebrows by the breadth of another line.

The last of the three now said his say, as he put down his empty drinking vessel and smacked his lips.

"Ah! So much the worse! A bitter taste it is that such poor cattle always have in their mouths, and hard lives they live, Jacques. Am I right, Jacques?"

"You are right, Jacques," was the response of Monsieur Defarge.

This third interchange of the Christian name was completed at the moment when Madame Defarge put her toothpick by, kept her eyebrows up, and slightly rustled in her seat.

"Hold then! True!" muttered her husband. "Gentlemen—my wife!"

The three customers pulled off their hats to Madame Defarge, with three flourishes. She acknowledged their homage by bending her head, and giving them a quick look. Then she glanced in a casual manner round the wine-shop, took up her knitting with great apparent calmness and repose of spirit, and became absorbed in it.

"Gentlemen," said her husband, who had kept his bright eye observantly upon her, "good day. The chamber, furnished bachelor-fashion, that you wished to see, and were inquiring for when I stepped out, is on the fifth floor. The doorway of the staircase gives on the little courtyard close to the left here," pointing with his hand, "near to the window of my establishment. But, now that I remember, one of you has already been there, and can show the way. Gentlemen, adieu!"

They paid for their wine, and left the place. The eyes of Monsieur Defarge were studying his wife at her knitting when the elderly gentleman advanced from his corner, and begged the favour of a word.

"Willingly, sir," said Monsieur Defarge, and quietly stepped with him to the door.

Their conference was very short, but very decided. Almost at the first word, Monsieur Defarge started and became deeply attentive. It had not lasted a minute, when he nodded and went out. The gentleman then beckoned to the young lady, and they, too, went out. Madame Defarge knitted with nimble fingers and steady eyebrows, and saw nothing.

Mr. Jarvis Lorry and Miss Manette, emerging from the wine-shop thus, joined Monsieur Defarge in the doorway to which he had directed his own company just before. It opened from a stinking little black courtyard, and was the general public entrance to a great pile of houses, inhabited by a great number of people. In the gloomy tile-paved entry to the gloomy tile-paved staircase, Monsieur Defarge bent down on one knee to the child of his old master, and put her hand to his lips. It was a gentle action, but not at all gently done; a very remarkable transformation had come over him in a few seconds. He had no good-humour in his face, nor any openness of aspect left, but had become a secret, angry, dangerous man.

"It is very high; it is a little difficult. Better to begin slowly." Thus, Monsieur Defarge, in a stern voice, to Mr. Lorry, as they began ascending the stairs.

"Is he alone?" the latter whispered.

"Alone! God help him, who should be with him!" said the other, in the same low voice.

"Is he always alone, then?"

"Yes."

"Of his own desire?"

"Of his own necessity. As he was, when I first saw him after they found me and demanded to know if I would take him, and, at my peril be discreet—as he was then, so he is now."

"He is greatly changed?"

"Changed!"

The keeper of the wine-shop stopped to strike the wall with his hand, and mutter a tremendous curse. No direct answer could have been half so forcible. Mr. Lorry's spirits grew heavier and heavier, as he and his two companions ascended higher and higher.

Such a staircase, with its accessories, in the older and more crowded parts of Paris, would be bad enough now; but, at that time, it was vile indeed to unaccustomed and unhardened senses. Every little habitation within the great foul nest of one high building—that is to say, the room or rooms within every door that opened on the general staircase—left its own heap of refuse on its own landing, besides flinging other refuse from its own windows. The uncontrollable and hopeless mass of decomposition so engendered, would have polluted the air, even if poverty and deprivation had not loaded it with their intangible impurities; the two bad sources combined made it almost insupportable. Through such an atmosphere, by a steep dark shaft of dirt and poison, the way lay. Yielding to his own disturbance of mind, and to his young companion's agitation, which became greater every instant, Mr. Jarvis Lorry twice stopped to rest. Each of these stoppages was made at a doleful grating, by which any languishing good airs that were left uncorrupted, seemed to escape, and all spoilt and sickly vapours seemed to crawl in. Through the rusted bars, tastes, rather than glimpses, were caught of the jumbled neighbourhood; and nothing within range, nearer or lower than the summits of the two great towers of Notre-Dame, had any promise on it of healthy life or wholesome aspirations.

At last, the top of the staircase was gained, and they stopped for the third time. There was yet an upper staircase, of a steeper inclination and of contracted dimensions, to be ascended, before the garret story was reached. The keeper of the wine-shop, always going a little in advance, and always going on the side which Mr. Lorry took, as though he dreaded to be asked any question by the young lady, turned himself about here, and, carefully feeling in the pockets of the coat he carried over his shoulder, took out a key.

"The door is locked then, my friend?" said Mr. Lorry, surprised.

"Ay. Yes," was the grim reply of Monsieur Defarge.

"You think it necessary to keep the unfortunate gentleman so retired?"

"I think it necessary to turn the key." Monsieur Defarge whispered it closer in his ear, and frowned heavily.

"Why?"

"Why! Because he has lived so long, locked up, that he would be frightened—rave—tear himself to pieces—die—come to I know not what harm—if his door was left open."

"Is it possible!" exclaimed Mr. Lorry.

"Is it possible!" repeated Defarge, bitterly. "Yes. And a beautiful world we live in, when it is possible, and when many other such things are possible, and not only possible, but done—done, see you!—under that sky there, every day. Long live the Devil. Let us go on."

This dialogue had been held in so very low a whisper, that not a word of it had reached the young lady's ears. But, by this time she trembled under such strong emotion, and her face expressed such deep anxiety, and, above all, such dread and terror, that Mr. Lorry felt it incumbent on him to speak a word or two of reassurance.

"Courage, dear miss! Courage! Business! The worst will be over in a moment; it is but passing the room-door, and the worst is over. Then, all the good you bring to him, all the relief, all the happiness you bring to him, begin. Let our good friend here, assist you on that side. That's well, friend Defarge. Come, now. Business, business!"

They went up slowly and softly. The staircase was short, and they were soon at the top. There, as it had an abrupt turn in it, they came all at once in sight of three men, whose heads were bent down close together at the side of a door, and who were intently looking into the room to which the door belonged, through some chinks or holes in the wall. On hearing footsteps close at hand, these three turned, and rose, and showed themselves to be the three of one name who had been drinking in the wine-shop.

"I forgot them in the surprise of your visit," explained Monsieur Defarge. "Leave us, good boys; we have business here."

The three glided by, and went silently down.

There appearing to be no other door on that floor, and the keeper of the wine-shop going straight to this one when they were left alone, Mr. Lorry asked him in a whisper, with a little anger:

"Do you make a show of Monsieur Manette?"

"I show him, in the way you have seen, to a chosen few."

"Is that well?"

"I think it is well."

"Who are the few? How do you choose them?"

"I choose them as real men, of my name—Jacques is my name—to whom the sight is likely to do good. Enough; you are English; that is another thing. Stay there, if you please, a little moment."

With an admonitory gesture to keep them back, he stooped, and looked in through the crevice in the wall. Soon raising his head again, he struck twice or thrice upon the door—evidently with no other object than to make a noise there. With the same intention, he drew the key across it, three or four times, before he put it clumsily into the lock, and turned it as heavily as he could.

The door slowly opened inward under his hand, and he looked into the room and said something. A faint voice answered something. Little more than a single syllable could have been spoken on either side.

He looked back over his shoulder, and beckoned them to enter. Mr. Lorry got his arm securely round the daughter's waist, and held her; for he felt that she was sinking.

"A-a-a-business, business!" he urged, with a moisture that was not of business shining on his cheek. "Come in, come in!"

"I am afraid of it," she answered, shuddering.

"Of it? What?"

"I mean of him. Of my father."

Rendered in a manner desperate, by her state and by the beckoning of their conductor, he drew over his neck the arm that shook upon his shoulder, lifted her a little, and hurried her into the room. He sat her down just within the door, and held her, clinging to him.

Defarge drew out the key, closed the door, locked it on the inside, took out the key again, and held it in his hand. All this he did, methodically, and with as loud and harsh an accompaniment of noise as he could make. Finally, he walked across the room with a measured tread to where the window was. He stopped there, and faced round.

The garret, built to be a depository for firewood and the like, was dim and dark: for, the window of dormer shape, was in truth a door in the roof, with a little crane over it for the hoisting up of stores from the street: unglazed, and closing up the middle in two pieces, like any other door of French construction. To exclude the cold, one half of this door was fast closed, and the other was opened but a very little way. Such a scanty portion of light was admitted through these means, that it was difficult, on first coming in, to see anything; and long habit alone could have slowly formed in any one, the ability to do any work requiring nicety in such obscurity. Yet, work of that kind was being done in the garret; for, with his back towards the door, and his face towards the window where the keeper of the wine-shop stood looking at him, a white-haired man sat on a low bench, stooping forward and very busy, making shoes.





VI. The Shoemaker

"Good day!" said Monsieur Defarge, looking down at the white head that bent low over the shoemaking.

It was raised for a moment, and a very faint voice responded to the salutation, as if it were at a distance:

"Good day!"

"You are still hard at work, I see?"

After a long silence, the head was lifted for another moment, and the voice replied, "Yes—I am working." This time, a pair of haggard eyes had looked at the questioner, before the face had dropped again.

The faintness of the voice was pitiable and dreadful. It was not the faintness of physical weakness, though confinement and hard fare no doubt had their part in it. Its deplorable peculiarity was, that it was the faintness of solitude and disuse. It was like the last feeble echo of a sound made long and long ago. So entirely had it lost the life and resonance of the human voice, that it affected the senses like a once beautiful colour faded away into a poor weak stain. So sunken and suppressed it was, that it was like a voice underground. So expressive it was, of a hopeless and lost creature, that a famished traveller, wearied out by lonely wandering in a wilderness, would have remembered home and friends in such a tone before lying down to die.

Some minutes of silent work had passed: and the haggard eyes had looked up again: not with any interest or curiosity, but with a dull mechanical perception, beforehand, that the spot where the only visitor they were aware of had stood, was not yet empty.

"I want," said Defarge, who had not removed his gaze from the shoemaker, "to let in a little more light here. You can bear a little more?"

The shoemaker stopped his work; looked with a vacant air of listening, at the floor on one side of him; then similarly, at the floor on the other side of him; then, upward at the speaker.

"What did you say?"

"You can bear a little more light?"

"I must bear it, if you let it in." (Laying the palest shadow of a stress upon the second word.)

The opened half-door was opened a little further, and secured at that angle for the time. A broad ray of light fell into the garret, and showed the workman with an unfinished shoe upon his lap, pausing in his labour. His few common tools and various scraps of leather were at his feet and on his bench. He had a white beard, raggedly cut, but not very long, a hollow face, and exceedingly bright eyes. The hollowness and thinness of his face would have caused them to look large, under his yet dark eyebrows and his confused white hair, though they had been really otherwise; but, they were naturally large, and looked unnaturally so. His yellow rags of shirt lay open at the throat, and showed his body to be withered and worn. He, and his old canvas frock, and his loose stockings, and all his poor tatters of clothes, had, in a long seclusion from direct light and air, faded down to such a dull uniformity of parchment-yellow, that it would have been hard to say which was which.

He had put up a hand between his eyes and the light, and the very bones of it seemed transparent. So he sat, with a steadfastly vacant gaze, pausing in his work. He never looked at the figure before him, without first looking down on this side of himself, then on that, as if he had lost the habit of associating place with sound; he never spoke, without first wandering in this manner, and forgetting to speak.

"Are you going to finish that pair of shoes to-day?" asked Defarge, motioning to Mr. Lorry to come forward.

"What did you say?"

"Do you mean to finish that pair of shoes to-day?"

"I can't say that I mean to. I suppose so. I don't know."

But, the question reminded him of his work, and he bent over it again.

Mr. Lorry came silently forward, leaving the daughter by the door. When he had stood, for a minute or two, by the side of Defarge, the shoemaker looked up. He showed no surprise at seeing another figure, but the unsteady fingers of one of his hands strayed to his lips as he looked at it (his lips and his nails were of the same pale lead-colour), and then the hand dropped to his work, and he once more bent over the shoe. The look and the action had occupied but an instant.

"You have a visitor, you see," said Monsieur Defarge.

"What did you say?"

"Here is a visitor."

The shoemaker looked up as before, but without removing a hand from his work.

"Come!" said Defarge. "Here is monsieur, who knows a well-made shoe when he sees one. Show him that shoe you are working at. Take it, monsieur."

Mr. Lorry took it in his hand.

"Tell monsieur what kind of shoe it is, and the maker's name."

There was a longer pause than usual, before the shoemaker replied:

"I forget what it was you asked me. What did you say?"

"I said, couldn't you describe the kind of shoe, for monsieur's information?"

"It is a lady's shoe. It is a young lady's walking-shoe. It is in the present mode. I never saw the mode. I have had a pattern in my hand." He glanced at the shoe with some little passing touch of pride.

"And the maker's name?" said Defarge.

Now that he had no work to hold, he laid the knuckles of the right hand in the hollow of the left, and then the knuckles of the left hand in the hollow of the right, and then passed a hand across his bearded chin, and so on in regular changes, without a moment's intermission. The task of recalling him from the vagrancy into which he always sank when he had spoken, was like recalling some very weak person from a swoon, or endeavouring, in the hope of some disclosure, to stay the spirit of a fast-dying man.

"Did you ask me for my name?"

"Assuredly I did."

"One Hundred and Five, North Tower."

"Is that all?"

"One Hundred and Five, North Tower."

With a weary sound that was not a sigh, nor a groan, he bent to work again, until the silence was again broken.

"You are not a shoemaker by trade?" said Mr. Lorry, looking steadfastly at him.

His haggard eyes turned to Defarge as if he would have transferred the question to him: but as no help came from that quarter, they turned back on the questioner when they had sought the ground.

"I am not a shoemaker by trade? No, I was not a shoemaker by trade. I-I learnt it here. I taught myself. I asked leave to—"

He lapsed away, even for minutes, ringing those measured changes on his hands the whole time. His eyes came slowly back, at last, to the face from which they had wandered; when they rested on it, he started, and resumed, in the manner of a sleeper that moment awake, reverting to a subject of last night.

"I asked leave to teach myself, and I got it with much difficulty after a long while, and I have made shoes ever since."

As he held out his hand for the shoe that had been taken from him, Mr. Lorry said, still looking steadfastly in his face:

"Monsieur Manette, do you remember nothing of me?"

The shoe dropped to the ground, and he sat looking fixedly at the questioner.

"Monsieur Manette"; Mr. Lorry laid his hand upon Defarge's arm; "do you remember nothing of this man? Look at him. Look at me. Is there no old banker, no old business, no old servant, no old time, rising in your mind, Monsieur Manette?"

As the captive of many years sat looking fixedly, by turns, at Mr. Lorry and at Defarge, some long obliterated marks of an actively intent intelligence in the middle of the forehead, gradually forced themselves through the black mist that had fallen on him. They were overclouded again, they were fainter, they were gone; but they had been there. And so exactly was the expression repeated on the fair young face of her who had crept along the wall to a point where she could see him, and where she now stood looking at him, with hands which at first had been only raised in frightened compassion, if not even to keep him off and shut out the sight of him, but which were now extending towards him, trembling with eagerness to lay the spectral face upon her warm young breast, and love it back to life and hope—so exactly was the expression repeated (though in stronger characters) on her fair young face, that it looked as though it had passed like a moving light, from him to her.

Darkness had fallen on him in its place. He looked at the two, less and less attentively, and his eyes in gloomy abstraction sought the ground and looked about him in the old way. Finally, with a deep long sigh, he took the shoe up, and resumed his work.

"Have you recognised him, monsieur?" asked Defarge in a whisper.

"Yes; for a moment. At first I thought it quite hopeless, but I have unquestionably seen, for a single moment, the face that I once knew so well. Hush! Let us draw further back. Hush!"

She had moved from the wall of the garret, very near to the bench on which he sat. There was something awful in his unconsciousness of the figure that could have put out its hand and touched him as he stooped over his labour.

Not a word was spoken, not a sound was made. She stood, like a spirit, beside him, and he bent over his work.

It happened, at length, that he had occasion to change the instrument in his hand, for his shoemaker's knife. It lay on that side of him which was not the side on which she stood. He had taken it up, and was stooping to work again, when his eyes caught the skirt of her dress. He raised them, and saw her face. The two spectators started forward, but she stayed them with a motion of her hand. She had no fear of his striking at her with the knife, though they had.

He stared at her with a fearful look, and after a while his lips began to form some words, though no sound proceeded from them. By degrees, in the pauses of his quick and laboured breathing, he was heard to say:

"What is this?"

With the tears streaming down her face, she put her two hands to her lips, and kissed them to him; then clasped them on her breast, as if she laid his ruined head there.

"You are not the gaoler's daughter?"

She sighed "No."

"Who are you?"

Not yet trusting the tones of her voice, she sat down on the bench beside him. He recoiled, but she laid her hand upon his arm. A strange thrill struck him when she did so, and visibly passed over his frame; he laid the knife down softly, as he sat staring at her.

Her golden hair, which she wore in long curls, had been hurriedly pushed aside, and fell down over her neck. Advancing his hand by little and little, he took it up and looked at it. In the midst of the action he went astray, and, with another deep sigh, fell to work at his shoemaking.

But not for long. Releasing his arm, she laid her hand upon his shoulder. After looking doubtfully at it, two or three times, as if to be sure that it was really there, he laid down his work, put his hand to his neck, and took off a blackened string with a scrap of folded rag attached to it. He opened this, carefully, on his knee, and it contained a very little quantity of hair: not more than one or two long golden hairs, which he had, in some old day, wound off upon his finger.

He took her hair into his hand again, and looked closely at it. "It is the same. How can it be! When was it! How was it!"

As the concentrated expression returned to his forehead, he seemed to become conscious that it was in hers too. He turned her full to the light, and looked at her.

"She had laid her head upon my shoulder, that night when I was summoned out—she had a fear of my going, though I had none—and when I was brought to the North Tower they found these upon my sleeve. 'You will leave me them? They can never help me to escape in the body, though they may in the spirit.' Those were the words I said. I remember them very well."

He formed this speech with his lips many times before he could utter it. But when he did find spoken words for it, they came to him coherently, though slowly.

"How was this?—Was it you?"

Once more, the two spectators started, as he turned upon her with a frightful suddenness. But she sat perfectly still in his grasp, and only said, in a low voice, "I entreat you, good gentlemen, do not come near us, do not speak, do not move!"

"Hark!" he exclaimed. "Whose voice was that?"

His hands released her as he uttered this cry, and went up to his white hair, which they tore in a frenzy. It died out, as everything but his shoemaking did die out of him, and he refolded his little packet and tried to secure it in his breast; but he still looked at her, and gloomily shook his head.

"No, no, no; you are too young, too blooming. It can't be. See what the prisoner is. These are not the hands she knew, this is not the face she knew, this is not a voice she ever heard. No, no. She was—and He was—before the slow years of the North Tower—ages ago. What is your name, my gentle angel?"

Hailing his softened tone and manner, his daughter fell upon her knees before him, with her appealing hands upon his breast.

"O, sir, at another time you shall know my name, and who my mother was, and who my father, and how I never knew their hard, hard history. But I cannot tell you at this time, and I cannot tell you here. All that I may tell you, here and now, is, that I pray to you to touch me and to bless me. Kiss me, kiss me! O my dear, my dear!"

His cold white head mingled with her radiant hair, which warmed and lighted it as though it were the light of Freedom shining on him.

"If you hear in my voice—I don't know that it is so, but I hope it is—if you hear in my voice any resemblance to a voice that once was sweet music in your ears, weep for it, weep for it! If you touch, in touching my hair, anything that recalls a beloved head that lay on your breast when you were young and free, weep for it, weep for it! If, when I hint to you of a Home that is before us, where I will be true to you with all my duty and with all my faithful service, I bring back the remembrance of a Home long desolate, while your poor heart pined away, weep for it, weep for it!"

She held him closer round the neck, and rocked him on her breast like a child.

"If, when I tell you, dearest dear, that your agony is over, and that I have come here to take you from it, and that we go to England to be at peace and at rest, I cause you to think of your useful life laid waste, and of our native France so wicked to you, weep for it, weep for it! And if, when I shall tell you of my name, and of my father who is living, and of my mother who is dead, you learn that I have to kneel to my honoured father, and implore his pardon for having never for his sake striven all day and lain awake and wept all night, because the love of my poor mother hid his torture from me, weep for it, weep for it! Weep for her, then, and for me! Good gentlemen, thank God! I feel his sacred tears upon my face, and his sobs strike against my heart. O, see! Thank God for us, thank God!"

He had sunk in her arms, and his face dropped on her breast: a sight so touching, yet so terrible in the tremendous wrong and suffering which had gone before it, that the two beholders covered their faces.

When the quiet of the garret had been long undisturbed, and his heaving breast and shaken form had long yielded to the calm that must follow all storms—emblem to humanity, of the rest and silence into which the storm called Life must hush at last—they came forward to raise the father and daughter from the ground. He had gradually dropped to the floor, and lay there in a lethargy, worn out. She had nestled down with him, that his head might lie upon her arm; and her hair drooping over him curtained him from the light.

"If, without disturbing him," she said, raising her hand to Mr. Lorry as he stooped over them, after repeated blowings of his nose, "all could be arranged for our leaving Paris at once, so that, from the very door, he could be taken away—"

"But, consider. Is he fit for the journey?" asked Mr. Lorry.

"More fit for that, I think, than to remain in this city, so dreadful to him."

"It is true," said Defarge, who was kneeling to look on and hear. "More than that; Monsieur Manette is, for all reasons, best out of France. Say, shall I hire a carriage and post-horses?"

"That's business," said Mr. Lorry, resuming on the shortest notice his methodical manners; "and if business is to be done, I had better do it."

"Then be so kind," urged Miss Manette, "as to leave us here. You see how composed he has become, and you cannot be afraid to leave him with me now. Why should you be? If you will lock the door to secure us from interruption, I do not doubt that you will find him, when you come back, as quiet as you leave him. In any case, I will take care of him until you return, and then we will remove him straight."

Both Mr. Lorry and Defarge were rather disinclined to this course, and in favour of one of them remaining. But, as there were not only carriage and horses to be seen to, but travelling papers; and as time pressed, for the day was drawing to an end, it came at last to their hastily dividing the business that was necessary to be done, and hurrying away to do it.

Then, as the darkness closed in, the daughter laid her head down on the hard ground close at the father's side, and watched him. The darkness deepened and deepened, and they both lay quiet, until a light gleamed through the chinks in the wall.

Mr. Lorry and Monsieur Defarge had made all ready for the journey, and had brought with them, besides travelling cloaks and wrappers, bread and meat, wine, and hot coffee. Monsieur Defarge put this provender, and the lamp he carried, on the shoemaker's bench (there was nothing else in the garret but a pallet bed), and he and Mr. Lorry roused the captive, and assisted him to his feet.

No human intelligence could have read the mysteries of his mind, in the scared blank wonder of his face. Whether he knew what had happened, whether he recollected what they had said to him, whether he knew that he was free, were questions which no sagacity could have solved. They tried speaking to him; but, he was so confused, and so very slow to answer, that they took fright at his bewilderment, and agreed for the time to tamper with him no more. He had a wild, lost manner of occasionally clasping his head in his hands, that had not been seen in him before; yet, he had some pleasure in the mere sound of his daughter's voice, and invariably turned to it when she spoke.

In the submissive way of one long accustomed to obey under coercion, he ate and drank what they gave him to eat and drink, and put on the cloak and other wrappings, that they gave him to wear. He readily responded to his daughter's drawing her arm through his, and took—and kept—her hand in both his own.

They began to descend; Monsieur Defarge going first with the lamp, Mr. Lorry closing the little procession. They had not traversed many steps of the long main staircase when he stopped, and stared at the roof and round at the walls.

"You remember the place, my father? You remember coming up here?"

"What did you say?"

But, before she could repeat the question, he murmured an answer as if she had repeated it.

"Remember? No, I don't remember. It was so very long ago."

That he had no recollection whatever of his having been brought from his prison to that house, was apparent to them. They heard him mutter, "One Hundred and Five, North Tower;" and when he looked about him, it evidently was for the strong fortress-walls which had long encompassed him. On their reaching the courtyard he instinctively altered his tread, as being in expectation of a drawbridge; and when there was no drawbridge, and he saw the carriage waiting in the open street, he dropped his daughter's hand and clasped his head again.

No crowd was about the door; no people were discernible at any of the many windows; not even a chance passerby was in the street. An unnatural silence and desertion reigned there. Only one soul was to be seen, and that was Madame Defarge—who leaned against the door-post, knitting, and saw nothing.

The prisoner had got into a coach, and his daughter had followed him, when Mr. Lorry's feet were arrested on the step by his asking, miserably, for his shoemaking tools and the unfinished shoes. Madame Defarge immediately called to her husband that she would get them, and went, knitting, out of the lamplight, through the courtyard. She quickly brought them down and handed them in;—and immediately afterwards leaned against the door-post, knitting, and saw nothing.

Defarge got upon the box, and gave the word "To the Barrier!" The postilion cracked his whip, and they clattered away under the feeble over-swinging lamps.

Under the over-swinging lamps—swinging ever brighter in the better streets, and ever dimmer in the worse—and by lighted shops, gay crowds, illuminated coffee-houses, and theatre-doors, to one of the city gates. Soldiers with lanterns, at the guard-house there. "Your papers, travellers!" "See here then, Monsieur the Officer," said Defarge, getting down, and taking him gravely apart, "these are the papers of monsieur inside, with the white head. They were consigned to me, with him, at the—" He dropped his voice, there was a flutter among the military lanterns, and one of them being handed into the coach by an arm in uniform, the eyes connected with the arm looked, not an every day or an every night look, at monsieur with the white head. "It is well. Forward!" from the uniform. "Adieu!" from Defarge. And so, under a short grove of feebler and feebler over-swinging lamps, out under the great grove of stars.

Beneath that arch of unmoved and eternal lights; some, so remote from this little earth that the learned tell us it is doubtful whether their rays have even yet discovered it, as a point in space where anything is suffered or done: the shadows of the night were broad and black. All through the cold and restless interval, until dawn, they once more whispered in the ears of Mr. Jarvis Lorry—sitting opposite the buried man who had been dug out, and wondering what subtle powers were for ever lost to him, and what were capable of restoration—the old inquiry:

"I hope you care to be recalled to life?"

And the old answer:

"I can't say."

 

 

 

第一部 死人复活

第一章 时代

那是最美好的时代,
那是最糟糕的时代;
那是智慧的年头,
那是愚昧的年头;
那是信仰的时期,
那是怀疑的时期;
那是光明的季节,
那是黑暗的季节;
那是希望的春天,
那是失望的冬天;

我们全都在直奔天堂,我们全都在直奔相反的方向——简而言之,那时跟现在非常相象,某些最喧嚣的权威坚持要用形容词的最高级来形容它。说它好,是最高级的;说它不好,也是最高级的。

英格兰宝座上有一个大下巴的国王和一个面貌平庸的王后;法兰西宝座上有一个大下巴的国王和一个面貌姣好的王后。对两国支配着国家全部财富的老爷来说,国家大局足以万岁千秋乃是比水晶还清楚的事。

那是耶稣纪元一干七百七十五年。灵魂启示在那个受到欢迎的时期跟现在一样在英格兰风行一时。骚斯柯特太太刚满了她幸福的二十五岁,王室卫队一个先知的士兵已宣布这位太太早已作好安排,要使伦敦城和西敏寺陆沉,从而为她崇高形象的出现开辟道路。即使雄鸡巷的幽灵在咄咄逼人地发出它的预言之后销声匿迹整整十二年,去年的精灵们咄咄逼人发出的预言仍跟她差不多,只是少了几分超自然的独创性而已。前不久英国国王和英国百姓才得到一些人世间的消息。那是从远在美洲的英国臣民的国会传来的。说来奇怪,这些信息对于人类的影响竟然比雄鸡巷魔鬼的子孙们的预言还要巨大。

法兰西的灵异事物大体不如她那以盾和三叉戟为标志的姐妹那么受宠。法兰西正在一个劲儿地往坡下滑,印制着钞票,使用着钞票。除此之外她也在教士们的指引下建立些仁慈的功勋,寻求点乐趣。比如判决一个青年斩去双手,用钳子拔掉舌头,然后活活烧死,因为他在一群和尚的肮脏仪仗队从五六十码之外他看得见的地方经过时,竟然没有跪倒在雨地里向它致敬。而在那人被处死时,生长在法兰西和挪威森林里的某些树木很可能已被“命运”这个樵夫看中,要砍倒它们,锯成木板,做成一种在历史上以恐怖著名的可以移动的架子,其中包含了一个口袋和一把铡刀。而在同一天,巴黎近郊板结的土地上某些农户的简陋的小披屋里也很可能有一些大车在那儿躲避风雨。那些车很粗糙,溅满了郊野的泥浆,猪群在它旁边嗅着,家禽在它上面栖息。这东西也极有可能已被“死亡”这个农民看中,要在革命时给它派上死囚囚车的用场。可是那“樵夫”和“农民”尽管忙个不停,却总是默不作声,蹑手蹑脚,不让人听见。因此若是有人猜想到他们已在行动,反倒会被看作是无神论和大逆不道。

英格兰几乎没有秩序和保障,难以为民族自夸提供佐证。武装歹徒胆大包天的破门抢劫和拦路翦径在京畿重地每天晚上出现。有公开的警告发表:各家各户,凡要离城外出,务须把家具什物存入家具店的仓库,以保安全。黑暗中的强盗却是大白天的城市商人。他若是被他以“老大”的身份抢劫的同行认了出来,遭到挑战,便潇洒地射穿对方的脑袋,然后扬长而去。七个强盗抢劫邮车,被押车卫士击毙了三个,卫士自己也不免“因为弹尽援绝”被那四个强盗杀死,然后邮件便被从从容容地弄走。伦敦市的市长大人,一个神气十足的大员,在特恩安森林被一个翦径的强徒喝住,只好乖乖地站住不动。那强盗竟当着众随员的面把那个显赫人物掳了个精光。伦敦监狱的囚犯跟监狱看守大打出手;法律的最高权威对着囚犯开枪,大口径短枪枪膛里填进了一排又一排的子弹和铁砂。小偷在法庭的客厅里扯下了贵族大人脖子上的钻石十字架。火枪手闯进圣·嘉尔斯教堂去检查私货,暴民们却对火枪手开枪。火枪手也对暴民还击。此类事件大家早已习以为常,见惯不惊。在这样的情况之下刽子手不免手忙脚乱。这种人无用胜于有用,却总是应接不暇。他们有时把各色各样的罪犯一大排一大排地挂起来。有时星期二抓住的强盗,星期六就绞死;有时就在新门监狱把囚犯成打成打地用火刑烧死;有时又在西敏寺大厅门前焚烧小册子。今天处决一个穷凶极恶的杀人犯,明天杀死一个只抢了农家孩子六便士的可怜的小偷。

诸如此类的现象,还加上一千桩类似的事件,就像这样在可爱的古老的一千七百七十五年相继发生,层出不穷。在这些事件包围之中,“樵夫”和“农民”仍然悄悄地干着活,而那两位大下巴和另外两张平常的和姣好的面孔却都威风凛凛,专横地运用着他们神授的君权。一干七百七十五年就是像这样表现出了它的伟大,也把成干上万的小人物带上了他们前面的路——我们这部历史中的几位也在其中。

  

 

第二章 邮车

 十一月下旬的一个星期五晚上,多佛大道伸展在跟这段历史有关的几个人之中的第一个人前面。多佛大道对此人说来就在多佛邮车的另一面。这时那邮车隆隆响着往射手山苦苦爬去。这人正随着邮车跟其他乘客一起踏着泥泞步行上山。倒不是因为乘客们对步行锻炼有什么偏爱,而是因为那山坡、那马具、那泥泞和邮件都太叫马匹吃力,它们已经三次站立不动,有一次还拉着邮车横过大路,要想叛变,把车拖回黑荒原去。好在缰绳、鞭子、车夫和卫士的联合行动有如宣读了一份战争文件的道理。那文件禁止擅自行动,因为它可以大大助长野蛮动物也有思想的理论。于是这套马便俯首投降,回头执行起任务来。

几匹马低着头、摇着尾,踩着深深的泥泞前进着,时而歪斜,时而趔趄,仿佛要从大骨节处散了开来。车夫每次让几匹马停下步子休息休息并发出警告,“哇嗬!嗦嗬,走!”他身边的头马便都要猛烈地摇晃它的头和头上的一切。那马仿佛特别认真,根本不相信邮车能够爬上坡去。每当头马这样叮叮当当一摇晃,那旅客便要吓一跳,正如一切神经紧张的旅人一样,总有些心惊胆战。

四面的山洼雾气氤氲,凄凉地往山顶涌动,仿佛是个邪恶的精灵,在寻找歇脚之地,却没有找到。那雾粘乎乎的,冰寒彻骨,缓缓地在空中波浪式地翻滚,一浪一浪,清晰可见,然后宛如污浊的海涛,彼此渗诱,融合成了一片。雾很浓,车灯只照得见翻卷的雾和几码之内的路,此外什么也照不出。劳作着的马匹发出的臭气也蒸腾进雾里,仿佛所有的雾都是从它们身上散发出来的。

除了刚才那人之外,还有两个人也在邮车旁艰难地行进。三个人都一直裹到颧骨和耳朵,都穿着长过膝盖的高统靴,彼此都无法根据对方的外表辨明他们的容貌。三个人都用尽多的障碍包裹住自己,不让同路人心灵的眼睛和肉体的眼睛看出自己的形迹。那时的旅客都很警惕,从不轻易对人推心置腹,因为路上的人谁都可能是强盗或者跟强盗有勾结。后者的出现是非常可能的,因为当时每一个邮车站,每一家麦酒店都可能有人“拿了老大的钱”,这些人从老板到最糟糕的马厩里的莫名其妙的人都有,这类花样非常可能出现。一千七百七十五年十一月底的那个星期五晚上,多佛邮车的押车卫士心里就是这么想的。那时他正随着隆隆响着的邮车往射手山上爬。他站在邮件车厢后面自己的专用踏板上,跺着脚,眼睛不时瞧着面前的武器箱,手也搁在那箱上。箱里有一把子弹上膛的大口径短抢,下面是六或八支上好子弹的马枪,底层还有一把短剑。

多佛邮车像平时一样“愉快和睦”:押车的对旅客不放心,旅客彼此不放心,对押车的也不放心,他们对任何人都不放心,车夫也是对谁都不放心,他放心的只有马。他可以问心无愧地把手放在《圣经》上发誓,他相信这套马并不适合拉这趟车。

“喔嗬!”赶车的说。“加劲!再有一段就到顶了,你们就可以他妈的下地狱了!赶你们上山可真叫我受够了罪!乔!”

“啊!”卫兵回答。

“儿点钟了,你估计,乔?”

“十一点过十分,没错。”

“操!”赶车的心烦意乱,叫道,“还没爬上射手山!啐!哟,拉呀!”

那认真的头马到做出个动作表示坚决反对,就被一鞭子抽了回去,只好苦挨苦挣着往上拉,另外三匹马也跟着学样。多佛邮车再度向上挣扎。旅客的长统靴在邮车旁踩着烂泥叭卿叭哪地响。刚才邮车停下时他们也停下了,他们总跟它形影不离。如果三人之中有人胆大包天敢向另一个人建议往前赶几步走进雾气和黑暗中去,他就大有可能立即被人当作强盗枪杀。

最后的一番苦挣扎终于把邮车拉上了坡顶。马匹停下脚步喘了喘气,押车卫士下来给车轮拉紧了刹车,然后打开车门让旅客上去。

“你听,乔!”赶车的从座位上往下望着,用警惕的口吻叫道。

“你说什么,汤姆?”

两人都听。

“我看是有匹马小跑过来了。”

“我可说是有匹马快跑过来了,汤姆,”卫士回答。他放掉车门,敏捷地跳上踏板。“先生们:以国王的名义,大家注意!”

他仓促地叫了一声,便扳开几支大口径短抢的机头,作好防守准备。

本故事记述的那位旅客已踩在邮车踏板上,正要上车,另外两位乘客也已紧随在后,准备跟着进去。这时那人却踩着踏板不动了——他半边身子进了邮车,半边却留在外面,那两人停在他身后的路上。三个人都从车夫望向卫士,又从卫士望向车夫,也都在听。车夫回头望着,卫兵回头望着,连那认真的头马也两耳一竖,回头看了看,并没有表示抗议。

邮车的挣扎和隆隆声停止了,随之而来的沉寂使夜显得分外安谧平静,寂无声息。马匹喘着气,传给邮车一份轻微的震颤,使邮车也仿佛激动起来,连旅客的心跳都似乎可以听见。不过说到底,从那寂静的小憩中也还听得出人们守候着什么东西出现时的喘气、屏息、紧张,还有加速了的心跳。

一片快速激烈的马蹄声来到坡上。

“嗦嗬!”卫兵竭尽全力大喊大叫。“那边的人,站住!否则我开枪了!”

马蹄声戛然而止,一阵泼刺吧唧的声音之后,雾里传来一个男入的声音,“前面是多佛邮车么?”

“别管它是什么!”卫兵反驳道,“你是什么人?”

“你们是多佛邮车么?”

“你为什么要打听?”

“若是邮车,我要找一个旅客。”

“什么旅客?”

“贾维斯·罗瑞先生。”

我们提到过的那位旅客马上表示那就是他的名字。押车的、赶车的和两位坐车的都不信任地打量着他。

“站在那儿别动,”卫兵对雾里的声音说,“我若是一失手,你可就一辈子也无法改正了。谁叫罗瑞,请马上回答。”

“什么事?”那旅客问,然后略带几分颤抖问道,“是谁找我?是杰瑞么?”

(“我可不喜欢杰瑞那声音,如果那就是杰瑞的话,”卫兵对自己咕噜道,“嘶哑到这种程度。我可不喜欢这个杰瑞。”)

“是的,罗瑞先生。”

“什么事?”

“那边给你送来了急件。T公司。”

“这个送信的我认识,卫兵,”罗瑞先生下到路上——那两个旅客忙不迭地从后面帮助他下了车,却未必出于礼貌,然后立即钻进车去,关上车门,拉上车窗。“你可以让他过来,不会有问题的。”

“我倒也希望没有问题,可我他妈的放心不下,”那卫兵粗声粗气地自言自语。“哈罗,那位!”

“嗯,哈罗!”杰瑞说,嗓子比刚才更沙哑。

“慢慢地走过来,你可别介意。你那马鞍上若是有枪套,可别让我看见你的手靠近它。我这个人失起手来快得要命,一失手飞出的就是子弹。现在让我们来看看你。“

一个骑马人的身影从盘旋的雾气中慢慢露出,走到邮车旁那旅客站着的地方。骑马人弯下身子,却抬起眼睛瞄着卫士,交给旅客一张折好的小纸片。他的马呼呼地喘着气,连人带马,从马蹄到头上的帽子都溅满了泥。

“卫兵!”旅客平静地用一种公事公办而又推心置腹的口气说。

充满警惕的押车卫士右手抓住抬起的大口径短枪,左手扶住枪管,眼睛盯住骑马人,简短地回答道,“先生。”

“没有什么好害怕的。我是台尔森银行的——伦敦的台尔森银行,你一定知道的。我要到巴黎出差去。这个克朗请你喝酒。我可以读这封信么?”

“可以,不过要快一点,先生。”

他拆开信,就着马车这一侧的灯光读了起来-一他先自己看完,然后读出了声音:“‘在多佛等候小姐。’并不长,你看,卫士。杰瑞,把我的回答告诉他们:死人复活了。”

杰瑞在马鞍上愣了一下。“回答也怪透了”,他说,嗓子沙哑到了极点。

“你把这话带回去,他们就知道我已经收到信,跟写了回信一样。路上多加小心,晚安。”

说完这几句话,旅客便打开邮车的门,钻了进去。这回旅伴们谁也没帮助他。他们早匆匆把手表和钱包塞进了靴子,现在已假装睡着了。他们再也没有什么明确的打算,只想回避一切能引起其他活动的危险。

邮车又隆隆地前进,下坡时被更浓的雾像花环似地围住。卫士立即把大口径短抢放回了武器箱,然后看了看箱里的其它枪支,看了看皮带上挂的备用手枪,再看了看座位下的一个小箱子,那箱里有几把铁匠工具、两三个火炬和一个取火盒。他配备齐全,若是邮车的灯被风或风暴刮灭(那是常有的事),他只须钻进车厢,不让燧石砸出的火星落到铺草上,便能在五分钟之内轻轻松松点燃车灯,而且相当安全。

“汤姆!”马车顶上有轻柔的声音传来。

“哈罗,乔。”

“你听见那消息了么?”

“听见了,乔。”

“你对它怎么看,汤姆?”

“什么看法都没有,乔。”

“那也是巧合,”卫士沉思着说,“因为我也什么看法都没有。”

杰瑞一个人留在了黑暗里的雾中。此刻他下了马,让他那疲惫不堪的马轻松轻松,也擦擦自己脸上的泥水,再把帽檐上的水分甩掉——帽檐里可能装上了半加仑水。他让马缰搭在他那溅满了泥浆的手臂上,站了一会儿,直到那车轮声再也听不见,夜已十分寂静,才转身往山下走去。

“从法学会到这儿这一趟跑完,我的老太太,我对你那前腿就不大放心了。我得先让你平静下来,”这沙喉咙的信使瞥了他的母马一眼,说。“死人复活了!”这消息真是奇怪透顶,它对你可太不利了,杰瑞!我说杰瑞!你怕要大倒其霉,若是死人复活的事流行起来的话,杰瑞!

 

 

 

 

第三章 夜间黑影

 

每个人对别的人都是个天生的奥秘和奇迹——此事细想起来确实有些玄妙。晚上在大城市里我总要郑重其事地沉思,那些挤成一片一片的黑洞洞的房屋,每一幢都包含着它自己的秘密,每一幢的每一间也包含着它自己的秘密;那数以十万计的胸膛中每一颗跳动的心所想象的即使对最靠近它的心也都是秘密!从此我们可以领悟到一些令人肃然竦然的东西,甚至死亡本身。我再也不可能翻开这本我所钟爱的宝贵的书,而妄想有时间把它读完了。我再也无法窥测这渊深莫测的水域的奥秘了。我曾趁短暂的光投射到水上时瞥见过埋藏在水下的珍宝和其它东西。可这本书我才读了一页,它却已注定要咔哒一声亿万斯年地关闭起来。那水域已命定要在光线只在它表面掠过、而我也只能站在岸上对它一无所知的时候用永恒的冰霜冻结起来。我的朋友已经死了,我的邻居已经死了,我所爱的人,我灵魂的亲爱者已经死了;在那人心中永远有一种无法遏制的欲望,要把这个奥秘记录下来,传之后世。现在我已接过这个遗愿,要在我有生之年把它实现。在我所经过的这座城市的墓地里,哪里有一个长眠者的内心世界对于我能比那些忙忙碌碌的居民更为深奥难测呢?或者,比我对他们更为深奥难测呢?

在这个问题上,即在这种天然的无法剥夺的遗传素质上,这位马背上的信使跟国王、首相或伦敦城最富有的商人毫无二致。因此关在那颠簸的老邮车的狭小天地里的三个乘客彼此都是奥秘,跟各自坐在自己的六马大车或是六十马大车里的大员一样,彼此总是咫尺天涯,奥妙莫测。

那位信使步态悠闲地往回走着,常在路旁的麦酒店停下马喝上一盅。他总想保持清醒的神态,让帽檐翘起,不致遮住视线。他那眼睛跟帽子很般配,表面是黑色的,色彩和形状都缺乏深度。他的双眼靠得太近,仿佛若是分得太开便会各行其是。他眼里有一种阴险的表情,露出在翘起的三角痰盂样的帽檐之下。眼睛下面是一条大围巾,裹住了下巴和喉咙,差不多一直垂到膝盖。他停下马喝酒时,只用左手拉开围巾,右手往嘴里灌,喝完又用围巾围了起来。

“不,杰瑞,不!”信使说。他骑马走着思考着一个问题。“这对你可不利,杰瑞。杰瑞,你是个诚实的生意人,这对你的业务可是不利!死人复——他要不是喝醉了酒你就揍我!”

他带回的信息使他很为迷惘,好几次都想脱下帽子搔一搔头皮。他的头顶已秃,只剩下几根乱发。秃得乱七八糟的头顶周围的头发却长得又黑又硬,向四面支棱开,又顺着前额往下长,几乎到了那宽阔扁平的鼻子面前。那与其说是头发,倒不如说像是某个铁匠的杰作,更像是竖满了铁蒺藜的墙顶,即使是跳田鸡的能手见了也只好看作是世界上最危险的障碍,敬谢不敏。

此人骑着马小跑着往回走。他要把消息带给伦敦法学院大门旁台尔森银行门口警卫棚里的守夜的,守夜的要把消息转告银行里更高的权威。夜里的黑影仿佛是从那消息里生出的种种幻象,出现在他面前,也仿佛是令母马心神不宁的幻象横出在那牲畜面前。幻象似乎频频出现,因为她每见了路上一个黑影都要吓得倒退。

与此同时邮车正载着三个难测的奥秘轰隆轰隆、颠颠簸簸、叮叮当当地行走在萧索无聊的道路上。窗外的黑影也以乘客们睡意朦胧的眼睛和游移不定的思绪所能引起的种种幻象在他们眼前闪过。

在邮车上台尔森银行业务正忙。那银行职员半闭着眼在打瞌睡。他一条胳膊穿进皮带圈,借助它的力量使自己不至于撞着身边的乘客,也不至于在马车颠簸太厉害时给扔到车旮旯儿里去。马车车窗和车灯朦胧映入他的眼帘,他对面的旅客的大包裹便变成了银行,正在忙得不可开交。马具的响声变成了钱币的叮当,五分钟之内签署的支票数目竟有台尔森银行在国际国内业务中三倍的时间签署的总量。于是台尔森银行地下室里的保险库在他眼前打开了,里面是他所熟悉的宝贵的贮藏品和秘密(这类东西他知道得很不少)。他手执巨大的钥匙串凭借着微弱的烛光在贮藏品之间穿行,发现那里一切安全、坚实、稳定、平静,跟他上次见到时完全一样。

不过,尽管银行几乎总跟他在一起,邮车却也总跟他在一起。那感觉迷离恍惚,像是叫鸦片剂镇住的疼痛一样。此外还有一连串印象也通夜没有停止过闪动——他正要去把一个死人从坟墓里挖出来。

可是夜间的黑影并不曾指明,在那一大堆闪现在他面前的面孔中哪一张才是那被埋葬者的。但这些全是一个四十五岁男人的面孔,它们之间的差别主要在于所表现的情感和它们那憔悴消瘦的可怕形象。自尊、轻蔑,挑战、顽强、屈服、哀悼的表情一个个闪现,深陷的双颊、惨白的脸色、瘦骨嶙峋的双手和身形。但是主要的面孔只有一张,每一颗头的头发也都过早地白了。睡意朦胧的旅客一百次地问那幽灵:

“埋了多少年了?”

回答总是相同。“差不多十八年。”

“你对被挖出来已经完全放弃希望了么?”

“早放弃了。”

“你知道你复活了么?”

“他们是这样告诉我的。”

“我希望你喜欢活下去?”

“很难说。”

“你要我带她来看你么?你愿来看她么?”

对这个问题的回答前后不同,而且自相矛盾。有时那零零碎碎的回答是,“别急!我要是太早看见她,我会死掉的。”有时却是涕泗纵横,一片深情地说,“带我去看她。”有时却是瞪大了眼,满脸惶惑地说,“我不认识她,我不懂你的意思。”

在这样想象中的对话之后,那乘客又在幻想中挖呀,挖呀,挖个不止——有时用一把铁锹,有时用一把大钥匙,有时用手——要把那可怜的人挖出来。终于挖出来了,脸上和头发上还带着泥土。他可能突然消失,化为尘土。这时那乘客便猛然惊醒,放下车窗,回到现实中来,让雾和雨洒落到面颊上。

但是,即使他的眼睛在雾和雨、在闪动的灯光、路旁晃动着退走的树篱前睁了开来,车外夜里的黑影也会跟车内的一连串黑影会合在一起。伦敦法学院大门旁头有的银行大厦,昨天实有的业务,实有的保险库,派来追他的实有的急脚信使,以及他所作出的真实回答也都在那片黑影里。那幽灵一样的面孔仍然会从这一切的雾影之中冒出来。他又会跟它说话。

“埋了多久了?”

“差不多十八年。”

“我希望你想活。”

“很难说。”

挖呀-一挖呀——挖呀,直挖到一个乘客作出一个不耐烦的动作使他拉上了窗帘,把手牢牢地穿进了皮带,然后打量着那两个昏睡的人影,直到两人又从他意识中溜走,跟银行、坟墓融汇到一起。

“埋了多久了?”

“差不多十八年。”

“对于被挖出来你已经放弃了希望么?”

“早放弃了。”

这些话还在他耳里震响,跟刚说出时一样,还清清楚楚在他耳里,跟他生平所听过的任何话语一样——这时那疲劳的乘客开始意识到天已亮了,夜的影子已经消失。

他放下窗,希着窗外初升的太阳。窗外有一条翻耕过的地畦,上面有一部昨夜除去马轭后留下的铧犁。远处是一片寂静的杂树丛,还残留着许多火红的和金黄的树叶。地上虽寒冷潮湿,天空却很晴朗。太阳升了起来,赫煜、平静而美丽。

“十八年!”乘客望着太阳说。“白昼的慈祥的创造者呀!活埋了十八年!”

 

 

 

 

第四章 准备

 

邮车上午顺利到达多佛。乔治王旅馆的帐房先生按照他的习惯打开了邮车车门,动作略带几分礼仪性的花哨,因为能在冬天从伦敦乘邮车到达这里是一项值得向具有冒险精神的旅客道贺的成就。

这时值得道贺的具有冒险精神的旅客只剩下了一个,另外两位早已在途中的目的地下了车。邮车那长了霉的车厢里满是潮湿肮脏的干草和难闻的气味,而且光线暗淡,真有点像个狗窝;而踏着链条样的干草钻出车来的旅客罗瑞先生却也哆哆嗦嗦、一身臃肿褴褛、满腿泥泞、耷拉着帽檐,颇有点像个大种的狗。

“明天有去加莱的邮船么,帐房?”

“有的,先生,若是天气不变,而且风向有利的话。下午两点左右海潮一起,就好航行了,先生。要个铺位么,先生?”

“我要到晚上才睡,不过我还是要个房间,还要个理发匠。”

“然后,就吃早饭么,先生?是,先生,照您的吩咐办。领这位先生到协和轩去!把先生的箱子、还有热水送去。进了屋先给先生脱掉靴子——里面有舒服的泥炭火。还要个理发匠。都到协和轩办事去。”

协和轩客房总是安排给邮车旅客,而邮车旅客通常是浑身上下裹得严严实实。因此在乔治王旅馆的协和轩便出现了一种别有情趣的现象:进屋时一律一个模样,出门时却有千差万别。于是另一个帐房先生、两个看门的、几个女仆和老板娘都仿佛偶然似地停留在协和轩和咖啡室之间的通道上,迟迟不去。不久,一位六十岁左右的绅士便走出门来,去用早餐。此人身穿一套出入交际场所穿的褐色礼服,那礼服有大而方的袖口,巨大的荷包盖,颇有些旧,却洗烫得很考究。

那天上午咖啡室里除了这位穿褐色礼服的先生再也没有客人。他的餐桌已拉到壁炉前面,他坐在那儿等待着早餐时,炉火照在他身上,他却一动不动,仿佛在让人给他画像。

他看上去十分整饬,十分拘谨。两手放在膝盖上,有盖的背心口袋里一只怀表大声滴答着,响亮地讲着道,仿佛要拿它的庄重与长寿跟欢乐的火焰的轻佻与易逝作对比。这人长着一双漂亮的腿,也多少以此自豪,因为他那质地上乘的褐色长袜穿在腿上裹得紧紧的,闪着光,鞋和鞋扣虽不花哨,却也精巧。他戴了一个亚麻色的小假发,式样别致,鬈曲光泽,紧紧扣在头上。据说是用头发做的,可看上去更像是甩真丝或玻璃丝纺出来的。他的衬衫虽不如长袜精美,却也白得耀眼,像拍打着附近海滩的浪尖,或是阳光中闪耀在遥远的海上的白帆。那张脸习惯性地绷着,一点表情也没有。可在那奇妙的假发之下那对光泽明亮的眼睛却闪着光辉。看来这人在训练成为台尔森银行的那种胸有城府、不动声色的表情的过程中确曾饱经磨练。他的双颊泛着健康的红晕,险上虽有皱纹,却无多少忧患的痕迹。这大约是因为台尔森银行处理秘密业务的单身行员主要是为别人的忧患奔忙,而转手的忧患也如转手的服装,来得便宜去得也容易吧!

罗瑞先生仿佛在完成请人画像的动作时睡着了,是送来的早餐惊醒了他。他拉拉椅子靠近了餐桌,对管帐的说:

“请你们安排一位小姐的食宿。她今天任何时候都可能到达。她可能来打听贾维斯·罗瑞,也可能只打听台尔森银行的人。到时请通知我。”

“是的,先生。伦敦的台尔森银行么,先生?”

“是的。”

“是的,先生。贵行人员在伦敦和巴黎之间公干时我们常有幸接待,先生。台尔森银行的出差人员不少呢。”

“不错。我们是英国银行,却有颇大的法国成份。”

“是的,先生。我看您不大亲自出差,先生?”

“近几年不大出差了。我们——我——上次去法国回来到现在已是十五个年头了。”

“真的,先生?那时候我还没来这儿呢,先生。那是在我们这批人之前,先生。乔治王旅馆那时还在别人手上,先生。”

“我相信是的。”

“可是我愿打一个不小的赌,先生,像台尔森银行这样的企业在——不说十五年——在五十年前怕就已经挺兴旺了吧?“

“你可以翻三倍,说是一百五十年前,也差不多。”

“真的,先生!”

侍者张大了嘴,瞪大了眼,从餐桌边退后了几步,把餐巾从右臂转到左臂上,然后便悠然站着,仿佛是站在天文台或是了望台上,观赏着客人吃喝,那是侍者们世代相传不知已多少年的习惯做法。

罗瑞先生吃完了早饭便到海滩上去散步。多佛小城窄窄的,弯弯的,似是一只海上的鸵鸟为了逃避海滩,一头扎进了白垩质的峭壁里。海滩是大海与石头疯狂搏战的遗迹。大海已经干完了他想干的事,而它想干的事就是破坏。它曾疯狂地袭击过城市,袭击过峭壁,也曾摧毁过海岸。街舍间流荡着浓浓的鱼腥味,使人觉得是鱼生了病便到这儿来洗淡水浴,就像生病的人到海里去洗海水浴一样。海港里有少量渔船,晚上有不少人散步,眺望海景,在海潮渐渐升起快要涨满时游人更多。这有时叫某些并不做生意的小贩莫名其妙地发了财,可奇怪的是,这附近却没有人乐意承担一个点灯夫的费用。

已是下午时分,有时清明得可以看见法国海岸的空气又蒙上了雾霭与水气。罗瑞先生的思想也似乎蒙上了雾霭。黄昏时他坐到了咖啡室的壁炉前,像早上等待早餐一样等着晚餐,这时他心里又在匆匆忙忙地挖呀,挖呀,挖呀,在燃烧得通红的煤块里挖。

饭后一瓶优质红葡萄酒对于在通红的煤块里挖掘的人除了有可能使他挖不下去之外,别无妨碍。罗瑞先生已经悠闲了许久,刚带着心满意足的神情斟上最后一杯。这位因喝完了足足一瓶酒而容光焕发的老年绅士露出了完全满足的神态。此时那狭窄的街道上却响起了辚辚的车轮声,然后隆隆的车声便响进了院子。

他放下了那一杯尚未沾唇的酒。“小姐到了!”他说。

一会儿工夫,侍者已经进来报告,曼内特小姐已从伦敦到达,很乐意跟台尔森银行的先生见面。

“这么快?”

曼内特小姐在途中已经用过点心,不想再吃什么,只是非常急于跟台尔森银行的先生见面——若是他乐意而又方便的话。

台尔森银行的先生无可奈何,只好带着麻木的豁出去了的神情灌下最后一杯酒,整了整耳边那奇怪的淡黄色小假发,跟着侍者来到了曼内特小姐的屋子。那是一间阴暗的大屋,像丧礼一样摆着黑色马毛呢面的家具和沉重的黑色桌子。几张桌子曾上过多次油漆。摆在大屋正中桌面上的两枝高高的蜡烛只能模糊地反映在一张张桌面上,仿佛是埋葬在那黑色的桃花心木坟墓的深处,若是不挖掘,就别想它们发出光来。

那黑暗很难穿透,在罗瑞先生踩着破旧的土耳其地毯小心翼翼走去时,一时竟以为曼内特小姐是在隔壁的屋里,直到他走过那两枝蜡烛之后,才发现这一位不到十七岁的小姐正站在他和壁炉之间的桌边迎接他。那小姐披了一件骑马披风,旅行草帽的带子还捏在手里。他的目光落在了一个娇小美丽的身躯,一大堆金色的秀发,一双用询问的神色迎接着他的蓝色眼睛,还有一个那么年轻光洁、却具有那么独特的能力、可以时而抬起时而攒聚的前额上。那额头所露出的表情不完全是困惑、迷惘或是惊觉,也不仅仅是一种聪明集中的专注,不过它也包括了这四种表情。他一看到这一切,眼前便突然闪过一种强烈的似曾相识之感。那是一个孩子,他在跨越那海峡时曾抱在怀里的孩子。那天很冷,空中冰雹闪掠,海里浊浪排空。那印象消失了,可以说像呵在她身后那窄而高的穿衣镜上的一口气一样消失了。镜框上是像到医院探视病人的一群黑种小爱神,全都缺胳膊少腿,有的还没有脑袋,都在向黑皮肤的女神奉献盛满死海水果的黑色花篮——他向曼内特小姐郑重地鞠躬致敬。

“请坐,先生。”年轻的声音十分清脆动听,带几分外国腔调,不过不算重。

“我吻你的手,小姐。”罗瑞先生说着又用早年的仪式正式鞠了一躬,才坐下来。

“我昨天收到银行一封信,先生。通知我说有一个消息——或是一种发现——”

“用词无关紧要,两个叫法都是可以的。”

“是关于我可怜的父亲的一小笔财产的,我从来没见过他一-他已死去多年——”

罗瑞先生在椅子上动了动,带着为难的神色望了望黑色小爱神的探病队伍,仿佛他们那荒唐的篮子里会有什么对别人有用的东西。

“因此我必须去一趟巴黎。我要跟银行的一位先生接头。那先生很好,他为了这件事要专程去一趟巴黎。”

“那人就是我。”

“我估计你会这么说,先生。”

她向他行了个屈膝礼(那时年轻的妇女还行屈膝礼),同时温婉可爱地表示,她认为他比她要年长许多。他再次向她鞠了一躬。

“我回答银行说,既然了解此事而且好意向我提出建议的人认为我必须去一趟法国,而我却是个孤儿,没有亲友能与我同行,因此我若是能在旅途中得到那位可敬的先生的保护,我将十分感激。那位先生已经离开了伦敦,可我认为已经派了信使通知他,请他在这儿等我。”

“我很乐意接受这项任务,”罗瑞先生说,“更高兴执行。”

“先生,我的确要感谢你,发自内心地感谢你。银行告诉我说,那位先生会向我详细说明情况,让我作好思想准备,因为那事很令人吃惊。我已作好了思想准备。我当然产生了一种强烈的、急切的兴趣,要想知道真象。“

“当然,”罗瑞先生说。“是的——我——”

他略作停顿,整了整耳边蓬松的假发。

“这事真有些不知从何说起。”

他并没有立即说起,却在犹豫时迎接了她的目光。那年轻的眉头抬了起来,流露出一种独特的表情——独特而美丽,也颇有性格——她举起手来,好像想以一个无意识的动作抓住或制止某种一闪而过的影子。

“你从来没见过我么,先生?”

“难道我见过你么?”罗瑞张开两臂,摊开了双手,带着争辩的微笑。

在她那双眉之间、在她小巧的女性鼻子的上方出现了一道淡到不能再淡的纤细的皱纹。她一直站在一张椅子旁边,这时便若有所思地在椅子上坐了下来。他望着她在思索,她一抬起眼睛,他又说了下去:

“我看,在你所寄居的国家我只好称呼你英国小姐曼内特了。”

“随您的便,先生。”

“曼内特小姐,我是个生意人,我在执行一项业务工作。你在跟我来往中就把我当作一部会说话的机器好了——我实在也不过如此。你若是同意,小姐,我就把我们一个客户的故事告诉你。“

“故事!”

他似乎有意要曲解她所重复的那个词,匆匆补充道,“是的,客户;在银行业务中我们把跟我们有往来的人都叫做客户。他是个法国绅士;搞科学的,很有成就,是个医生。”

“不是波维人吧?”

“当然是,是波维人。跟令尊大人曼内特先生一样是波维人。这人跟令尊曼内特先生一样在巴黎也颇有名气。我在那儿有幸结识了他。我们之间是业务关系,但是彼此信任。那时我还在法国分行工作,那已是——啊!三十年前的事了。“

“那时——我可以问问是什么时候么,先生?”

“我说的是二十年前,小姐。他跟一个——英国小姐结了婚,我是他婚礼的经办人之一。他跟许多法国人和法国家庭一样把他的事务全部委托给了台尔森银行。同样,我是,或者说曾经是,数十上百个客户的经办人。都不过是业务关系,小姐;没有友谊,也无特别的兴趣和感情之类的东西。在我的业务生涯中我曾换过许多客户——现在我在业务工作中也不断换客户。简而言之,我没有感情;我只是一部机器。我再说——“

“可你讲的是我父亲的故事;我开始觉得——”她奇怪地皱紧了眉头仔细打量着他——“我父亲在我母亲去世后两年也去世了。把我带到英国来的就是你——我差不多可以肯定。”

罗瑞先生抓住那信赖地走来、却带几分犹豫想跟他握手的人的小手,礼貌地放到唇上,随即把那年轻姑娘送回了座位。然后便左手扶住椅背,右手时而擦擦面颊,时而整整耳边的假发,时而俯望着她的脸,打着手势说了下去——她坐在椅子上望着他。

“曼内特小姐,带你回来的是我。你会明白我刚才说过的话有多么真实:我没有感情,我跟别人的关系都只是业务关系。你刚才是在暗示我从那以后从来没有去看过你吧!不,从那以后你就一直受到台尔森银行的保护,我也忙于台尔森银行的其它业务。感情!我没有时间讲感情,也没有机会,小姐,我这一辈子就是在转动着一个硕大无朋的金钱机器。”

做完了这篇关于他日常工作的奇怪描述之后,罗瑞先生用双手压平了头上的亚麻色假发(那其实全无必要,因为它那带有光泽的表面已经平顺到不能再平顺了),又恢复了他原来的姿势。

“到目前为止,小姐,这只是你那不幸的父亲的故事——这你已经意识到了,现在我要讲的是跟以前不同的部分。如果令尊大人并没有在他死去时死去——别害怕,你吓得震了一下呢!”

她的确吓得震了一下。她用双手抓住了他的手腕。

“请你,”罗瑞先生安慰她说,把放在椅背上的左手放到紧抓住他的求援的手指上,那手指剧烈地颤抖着,“控制自己,不要激动——这只是业务工作。我刚才说过——”

姑娘的神色今他十分不安,他只好停下了话头,走了几步,再说下去:

“我刚才说:假定曼内特先生并没有死,而是突然无声无息地消失了;假定他是被绑架了,而那时猜出他被弄到了什么可怕的地方并不困难,难的只是找到他;如果他的某个同胞成了他的敌人,而那人却能运用某种在海的那边就连胆大包天的人也不敢悄悄谈起的特权,比如签署一张空白拘捕证就可以把任何人送进监牢,让他在任何规定的时间内被世人忘记。假定他的妻子向国王、王后、宫廷和教会请求调查他的下落,却都杳无音讯——那么,你父亲的历史也就成了这个不幸的人的历史,那波维城医生的历史。“

“我求你告诉我更多一些情况,先生。”

“我愿意。我马上就告诉你。可你能受得了么?”

“除了你现在让我感到的不安之外,我什么都受得了。”

“你这话倒还有自制力,而你——也确实镇静。好!”(虽然他的态度并不如他的话所表示的那么满意)“这是业务工作,就把它当业务工作看吧!——一种非办不可的业务。好,假定那医生的妻子虽然很有勇气,很有魄力,在孩子生下来之前遭到过严重的伤害-一”

“那孩子是女的吧,先生?”

“是女的。那是业——业务工作——你别难过。小姐,若是那可怜的太太在她的孩子出生之前遭到过极大的伤害,而她却下定了决心不让孩子承受她所承受过的任何痛若,只愿让孩子相信她的父亲已经死去,让孩子就像这样长大——不,别跪下!天啦!你为什么要向我跪下?”

“我要知道真象。啊,亲爱的,善良慈悲的先生,我要知道真象。”

“那是——是业务。你把我的心弄乱了。心弄乱了怎么能搞业务呢?咱们得要头脑清醒。如果你现在能告诉我九个九便士是多少,或是二十个畿尼合多少个先令,我就很高兴了。那我对你的心理状态也就放心了。“

在他温和地把她扶起后,她静静地坐着,虽没有回答他的请求,但抓住他的手腕的手反倒比刚才平静了许多,于是贾维斯·罗瑞先生才略微放心了些。

“说得对,说得对。鼓起勇气!这是业务工作!你面前有你的业务,你能起作用的业务,曼内特小姐,你的母亲跟你一起办过这事。而在她去世之前——我相信她的心已经碎了——一直坚持寻找你的父亲,尽管全无结果。她在你两岁时离开了你。她希望你像花朵一样开放,美丽、幸福,无论你的父亲是不久后安然出狱,还是长期在牢里消磨憔悴,你头上都没有乌云,不用提心吊胆过日子。”

他说此话时怀着赞许和怜惜的心情低头望着她那满头金色的飘洒的秀发,似乎在设想着它会立即染上灰白。

“你知道你的父母并无巨大的家产,他们的财产是由你母亲继承过来留给你的。此后再也没有发现过金钱或其它的财富,可是——”

他感到手腕捏得更紧了,便住了嘴。刚才特别引起他注意的额头上的表情已变得深沉固定,表现出了痛苦和恐惧。

“可是我们已经——已经找到了他。他还活着。只是大变了——这几乎是势所必然的。差不多成了废人——难免如此,虽然我们还可以往最好的方面希望。毕竟还,活着,你的父亲已经被接到一个他过去的仆人家里,在巴黎。我们就要到那儿去:我要去确认他,如果还认得出来的话;你呢,你要去恢复他的生命、爱、责任心,给他休息和安慰。”

她全身一阵震颤,那震颤也传遍了他的全身。她带着惶恐,仿佛梦呓一样低低地却清晰地说道:

“我要去看他的鬼魂!那将是他的鬼魂!——而不是他。”

罗瑞先生默默地摩挲着那只抓住他手臂的手,“好了,好了,好了。听我说,听我说,现在最好的和最坏的消息你都已经知道了。你马上就要去看这个蒙冤受屈的可怜人了。只要海上和陆上的旅行顺利,你很快就会到达他亲爱的身边了。”

她用同样的调子说,只是声音低得近似耳语,“我一直自由自在、无忧无虑,可他的灵魂却从没来纠缠过我。”

“还有一件事,”罗瑞先生为了引起她的注意,说时语气很重,“我们找到他时他用的是另外一个名字,他自己的名字早就被忘掉了,或是被抹掉了。现在去追究他用的是哪个名字只能是有害无益;去追究他这么多年来究竟只是遭到忽视或是有意被囚禁,也会是有害无益;现在再去追究任何问题都是有害无益的,因为很危险。这个问题以后就别再提了——无论在什么地方,无论用什么方式都别提了。只要千方百计把他弄出法国就行了。我是英国人,是安全的,台尔森银行在法国声望也很高。可就连我和银行也都要避免提起此事。我身上没有片纸只字正面提到这个问题。这完全是桩秘密业务。我的委任状、通行证和备忘录都包括在一句话里:”死人复活了。‘这适可以作任何解释。可是,怎么了?她一句话也没有听到!曼内特小姐!“

她在他的手下一动不动,一言不发,甚至没有靠到椅背上,却已完全失去了知觉。她瞪着眼睛凝望着他,还带着那最后的仿佛是雕刻在或是烙在眉梢的表情。她的手还紧紧地抓住他。他怕伤害了她,简直不敢把手抽开,只好一动不动,大声叫人来帮忙。

一个满面怒容的妇女抢在旅馆仆役之前跑进屋里。罗瑞尽管很激动,却也注意到她全身一片红色。红头发,特别的裹身红衣服。非常奇妙的女帽,像是王室卫队掷弹兵用的大容量的木质取酒器,或是一大块斯梯尔顿奶酪。这女人立即把他跟那可怜的小姐分开了——她把一只结实的手伸到他胸前一搡,便让他倒退回去,撞在靠近的墙上。

(“我简直以为她是个男人呢!”罗瑞先生撞到墙上喘不过气来时心里想道。)

“怎么,你看看你们这些人!”这个女人对旅馆仆役大叫,“你们站在这儿瞪着我干什么?我有什么好看的?为什么不去拿东西?你们若是不把嗅盐、冷水和醋拿来,我会叫你们好看的。我会的,快去!”

大家立刻走散,去取上述的解救剂了。那妇女把病人轻轻放到沙发上,很内行很体贴地照顾她,叫她作“我的宝贝”,“我的鸟儿”,而且很骄傲很小心地把她一头金发摊开披到肩上。

“你这个穿棕色衣服的,”她怒气冲冲地转向罗瑞先生,“你为什么把不该告诉她的东西告诉她,把她吓坏了?你看看她,漂亮的小脸儿一片煞白,手也冰凉。你认为这样做像个干银行的么?”

这问题很难回答,弄得罗瑞先生狼狈不堪,只好远远站着,同情之心和羞惭之感反倒受到削弱。这个健壮的女人用“若是你们再瞪着眼睛望着,我会叫你们好看的”这种没有明说的神秘惩罚轰走了旅馆仆役之后,又一步步恢复了她的工作。她哄着姑娘把她软垂的头靠在她的肩上。

“希望她现在会好些了,”罗瑞先生说。

“就是好了也不会感谢你这个穿棕色衣服的——我可爱的小美人儿!”

“我希望,”罗瑞先生带着微弱的同情与羞傀沉默了一会儿,“是你陪曼内特小姐到法国去?”

“很有可能!”那结实的妇女说。“如果有人让我过海去,你以为上帝还会把我的命运放在一个小岛上么?”

这又是一个很难回答的问题。贾维斯·罗瑞先生退到一旁思考去了。

 

 

 

 

第五章 酒店

 

街上落下一个大酒桶,磕散了,这次意外事件是在酒桶从车上搬下来时出现的。那桶一骨碌滚了下来,桶箍散开,酒桶躺在酒馆门外的石头上,像核桃壳一样碎开了。

附近的人都停止了工作和游荡,来抢酒喝。路上的石头原很粗糙,锋芒毕露,叫人以为是有意设计来弄瘸靠近它的生物的,此时却变成了一个个小酒洼;周围站满了挤来挤去的人群,人数多少随酒洼的大小而定。有人跪下身子,合拢双手捧起酒来便喝,或是趁那酒还没有从指缝里流走时捧给从他肩上弯下身子的女人喝。还有的人,有男有女,用残缺不全的陶瓷杯子到水洼里去舀;有的甚至取下女人头上的头巾去蘸满了酒再挤到婴儿嘴里;有的用泥砌起了堤防,挡住了酒;有的则按照高处窗口的人的指示跑来跑去,堵截正要往别的方向流走的酒,有的人却在被酒泡涨、被酒渣染红的酒桶木片上下功夫,津津有味地咂着湿漉漉的被酒浸朽的木块,甚至嚼了起来。那儿完全没有回收酒的设备,可是,不但一滴酒也没有流走,而且连泥土也被刮起了一层。如果有熟悉这条街的人相信这儿也会有清道夫的话,倒是会认为此时已出现了这种奇迹。

抢酒的游戏正在进行。街上响起了尖声的欢笑和兴高采烈的喧哗——男人、女人和孩子的喧哗。这场游戏中粗鲁的成份少,快活的成份多。其中倒有一种独特的伙伴感情,一种明显的逗笑取乐的成份。这种倾向使较为幸运和快活的人彼此欢乐地拥抱、祝酒、握手,甚至使十多个人手牵着手跳起舞来。酒吸完了,酒最多的地方划出了许多像炉桥似的指爪印。这一场表演也跟它爆发时一样突然结束了。刚才把锯子留在木柴里的人又推起锯子来。刚才把盛满热灰的小罐放在门口的妇女又回到小罐那里去了-一那是用来缓和她自己或孩子饥饿的手指或脚趾的疼痛的。光着膀子、蓬松着乱发、形容枯槁的男人刚才从地窖里出来,进入冬天的阳光里,现在又回到地窖里去了;这儿又聚起一片在这一带似乎比阳光更为自然的阴云。

酒是红酒;它染红了的是巴黎近郊圣安托万的一条窄街,也染红了很多双手,很多张脸,很多双赤足,很多双木屐。锯木柴的手在柴块上留下了红印;用酒喂过婴儿的妇女的额头也染上了她重新裹上的头巾的红印。贪婪的吮吸过酒桶板的人嘴角画上了道道,把他画成了老虎。有一个调皮的高个儿也变成了老虎。他那顶像个长口袋的脏睡帽只有小部分戴在头上,此时竟用手指蘸着和了泥的酒渣在墙上写了一个字:血。

他写的那东西在街面的石板上流淌并溅满居民身上的日子马上就要来了。

此时乌云又笼罩在圣安托万的头上,适才短暂的阳光曾从他神圣的脸上驱走乌云。现在这儿又笼罩着沉沉的阴霾——寒冷、肮脏、疾病、愚昧和贫困是服侍这位圣徒的几位大老爷——他们一个个大权在握,尤其是最后一位:贫穷。这儿的人是在磨坊里饱经苦难,受过反复碾磨的人的标本——但磨他们的肯定不是那能把老头儿磨成小伙子的神磨。他们在每一个角落里发抖,在每一道门里进进出出,在一家窗户前张望。他们穿着难以蔽体的衣服在寒风中瑟缩。那碾磨着他们的是能把小伙子磨成老头儿的磨;儿童被它磨出了衰老的面容,发出了沉重的声音;它在他们的脸上,也在成年人的脸上,磨出了一道道岁月的沟畦,又钻出来四处活跃。饥饿无所不在,它专横霸道。饥饿是破烂不堪的衣服,在竹竿上,绳子上,从高高的楼房里挂了出来;饥饿用稻草、破布、木片和纸补缀在衣物上;饥饿在那人锯开的少量木柴的每一片上反复出现;饥饿瞪着大眼从不冒烟的烟囱往下看;饥饿也从肮脏的街道上飘起,那儿的垃圾堆里没有一丁点可以吃的东西。饥饿写在面包师傅的货架上,写在每一片存货无多的劣质面包上,写在腊肠店里用死狗肉做成出售的每一根腊肠上。饥饿在旋转的铁筒里的烤板栗中摇着它焦干的骨头嗒嗒作响。饥饿被切成了一个铜板一小碗的极薄的干洋芋片,用极不情愿花掉的几滴油炒着。

饥饿居住在一切适合于它居住的东西上。从一条弯曲狭窄的街道分出了许多别的弯曲狭窄的街道,街上满是犯罪和臭气,住满了衣衫褴褛、戴着睡帽的人,人人散发出褴褛的衣衫和睡帽的气味。一切可以看到的东西都阴沉着脸,望着病恹恹的一切。在人们走投无路的神色里,还带着困兽犹斗的意思。虽然大家精神萎靡,可抿紧了嘴唇、眼里冒火者也大有人在-一那嘴唇因咽下的怒气而抿得发白。也有的人眉头绞成一团,就像他们打算自己接受或让别人接受的绞索。店铺的广告(几乎每家店铺都挂着广告)也全是匮乏的象征。屠户和肉铺的广告上全是皮包骨头的碎块;面包师傅陈列的广告是最粗劣的面包片。酒店广告上拙劣地画着喝酒的客人捧着少量的淡酒和啤酒在发牢骚,满脸是愤怒和机密。没有一样东西兴旺繁荣,只有工具和武器除外。磨刀匠的刀子和斧头锋利锃亮,铁匠的锤子结实沉重,枪匠造的枪托杀气腾腾,能叫人残废的石头路面有许多水洼,盛满了泥和水。路面直通到住户门口,没有人行道,作为补偿,阳沟一直通到街道正中——若是没受到阻塞的话。可要不阻塞须得下大雨,但真下了大雨,它又会在胡乱流转之。后灌进住户屋里。每隔一段较大的距离便有一盏粗笨的路灯,用绳和滑车吊在街心。晚上,灯夫放下一盏盏的灯,点亮了,再升到空中,便成了一片暗淡微弱的灯光之林,病恹恹地挂在头上,仿佛是海上的爝火。实际上它们也确是在海上,这只小船和它的船员确已面临风暴袭来的危险。

因为,不久之后那地区闲得无聊、肚子不饱的瘦削的穷苦人在长期观察灯夫工作之后就想出了一个改进工作方法的主意:用绳和滑车把人也吊起来,用以照亮他们周围的黑暗。不过,那个时期此刻尚未到来。刮过法兰西的每一阵风都吹得穷苦人破烂的衣襟乱飘,却都不起作用,因为羽毛美丽歌声嘹亮的鸟儿们并不理会什么警告。

酒店在街角上,外形和级别都超出大多数的同行。刚才它的老板就穿着黄色的背心和绿色的裤子,站在门外看着人们争夺泼洒在地上的酒。“那不关我的事,”他最后耸了耸肩说。“是市场的人弄翻的。叫他们补送一桶来好了。”

这时他偶然见到了那高个儿在墙上写的那玩笑话,便隔着街对他叫道:

“喂,加斯帕德,你在墙上写些什么?”

那人意味深长地指了指他写的字。他们这帮人常常彼此这么做。可他这一招并不灵,对方完全不理会一-.这样的现象在这帮人之间也是常有的。

“你怎么啦?你要进疯人院么?”酒店老板走过街去,从地上抓一把烂泥涂在他的字上,把它抹掉了,说,“你干吗在大街上乱画?这种字体就没有别的地方写么,告诉我?”

说话时他那只干净手有意无意地落到了那开玩笑的人心口。那人一巴掌打开他的手,敏捷地往上一蹦,便用一种奇怪的姿势跳起舞来。一只脏鞋从脚上飞起,他又一把接住举了起来。在当时情况下,他刚才那恶作剧即使不致弄得家破入亡,也是很危险的。

“把鞋穿上,穿上,”店老板说。“来杯酒,来杯酒,就在那儿喝!”老板提出劝告之后就在那人衣服上擦了擦脏手——他是故意的,因为他那手是为他弄脏的。然后他又横过街回到了酒店。

这位酒店老板三十左右年纪,脖子粗得像公牛,一副好斗的形象。他准是燥热体质,因为虽是严寒天气,他还把外衣搭在肩头,并不穿上,而且卷起了衬衫袖子,让棕黄的胳膊直露到手肘。他有一头蓬松鬈曲的黑色短发,没戴帽子。这人肤色黝黑,目光炯炯,双眼之间分得很开,惹人注目。大体看来他脾气不坏,却透着股倔强劲,显然是个有魄力有决断想干什么就得干成的人。你可别跟他在两面是水之处狭路相逢,这人是无论用什么东西也拽不回头的。

他进屋时,他的妻子德伐日太太坐在店里柜台后面。德伐日太太跟他年龄相近,是个壮实的女人,一双机警的眼睛似乎很少望着什么东西。她的大手上戴满了戒指,五官粗大,却安详沉静。她那神态叫人相信她所经管的帐目决不会有任何差错。她对寒冷很敏感,所以用裘皮裹得严严实实,还用一条色彩鲜亮的大围巾缠在头上,只露出了两个大耳环。毛线就在她面前,她却放着没织,只是一手托着胳膊,一手拿着根牙签剔牙。她的丈夫走进酒店时她一声没吭,只轻轻咳了一下。这声咳嗽再配上她那浓眉在牙签之上微微的一抬,便是向她丈夫建议,最好在店里转一圈,看看在他过街去之后有没有新的顾客进来。

酒店老板眼珠一转,看到了一位老先生和一个年轻姑娘坐在屋角。其他的顾客没有变化:两个在玩纸牌,两个在玩骨牌,三个站在柜台前悠悠地品味着所余不多的酒。他从柜台经过时注意到那位老先生向年轻姑娘递了个眼色,“就是他。”

“你钻到那旮旯里搞什么鬼呀?”德伐日先生心想,“我又不认识你。”

可是他却装出没有注意到这两位生客的样子,只跟在柜台边喝酒的三个客人搭讪。

“怎么祥,雅克?”三人中有一个对德伐日先生说。“泼翻的酒喝,喝光了没有?”

“每一滴都喝光了,雅克,”德伐日先生回答。

就在双方互称雅克时,剔着牙的德伐日太太又轻轻地咳了一声,眉头更抬高了一些。

“这些可怜虫里有好些人,”三人中第二个对德伐日先生说,“是难得有酒喝的。他们除了黑面包和死亡的滋味之外很难尝到别的东西。是吧,雅克?”

“是这样的,雅克,”德伐日先生回答。

第二次交换着叫雅克时,德伐日太太又轻轻地咳嗽了一声,仍然十分平静地剔着牙,眉头更抬高了一些,轻轻地挪了挪身子。

现在是第三个人在说话,同时放下空酒杯咂了咂嘴唇。

“啊!那就更可怜了!这些畜生嘴里永远是苦味,日子也过得艰难。我说得对不,雅克?”

“说得对,雅克,”德伐日先生回答。

这第三次雅克叫完,德伐日太太已把牙签放到了一边,眉毛仍然高抬着,同时在座位上略微挪了挪身子。

“别说了!真的!”她的丈夫叽咕道。“先生们——这是内人!”

三个客人对德伐日太太脱下帽子,做了三个花哨的致敬动作。她点了点头,瞥了他们一眼,表示领受。然后她便漫不经心地打量了一下酒店,以一派心平气和胸怀坦荡的神气拿起毛线专心织了起来。

“先生们,”她的丈夫那双明亮的眼睛一直仔细盯着她,现在说道,“日安。你们想要看的房间——我刚才出去时你们还问起的一-就在五楼,是按单身住房配备好了家具的。楼梯连着紧靠左边的小天井,”他用手指着,“我家窗户边的小天井。不过,我想起来了,你们有个人去过,他可以带路。再见吧,先生们!”

三人付了酒钱走掉了。德伐日先生的眼睛望着他老婆织着毛线,这时那老先生从屋角走了出来,客气地要求说一句话。

“说吧,先生,”德伐日先生说,平静地跟他走到门边。

两人交换的话不多,却很干脆。德伐日先生几乎在听见第一个字时就吃了一惊,然后便很专注地听着。话没有谈到一分钟,他便点了点头走了出去。老先生向年轻姑娘做了个手势,也跟了出去。德伐日太太用灵巧的手织着毛线,眉头纹丝不动,什么也没看见。

贾维斯·罗瑞先生和曼内特小姐就这样从酒店走了出来,在德伐日先生刚才对那几个人指出的门口跟他会合了。这门里面是一个又黑又臭的小天井,外面是一个公共入口,通向一大片人口众多的住房。德伐日先生经过青砖铺地的人口走进青砖铺地的楼梯口时,对他往日的主人跪下了一只脚,把她的手放到了唇边。这原是一个温和的动作,可在他做来却并不温和。几秒钟之内他便起了惊人的变化,脸上那温和、开朗的表情完全消失了,变成了一个神秘的、怒气冲冲的危险人物。

“楼很高,有点不好走。开始时不妨慢一点。”三人开始上楼,德伐日先生用粗重的声音对罗瑞先生说。

“他是一个人么?”罗瑞先生问。

“一个人?上帝保佑他,还有谁能跟他在一起?”另一个人同样低声说。

“那么,他总是一个人?”

“是的。”

“是他自己的意思么?”

“他非如此不可。他们找到我,问我愿不愿意接手时——那对我有危险,我必须小心——他就是那样,现在还是那样。”

“他的变化很大么?”

“变化!”

酒店老板停下脚步,一拳揍在墙上,发出一声凶狠的诅咒,这个动作比什么直接的回答都更有力。罗瑞先生和两个伙伴越爬越高,心情也越来越沉重。

这样的楼梯和附属设施现在在巴黎较为拥挤的老市区就已经是够糟的了,在那时对于还不习惯的、没受过锻炼的人来说更是十分难堪。一幢大楼便是一个肮脏的窠。大楼的每一个居室-一就是说通向这道公用楼梯的每一道门里的一间或几间住房——不是把垃圾从窗口倒出去,就是把它堆在门前的楼梯口上。这样,即使贫穷困乏不曾把它看不见摸不到的肮脏笼罩住户大楼,垃圾分解所产生的无法控制、也无可救药的肮脏也能叫空气污染。而这两种污染源合在一起更叫人无法忍受。楼梯所经过的就是这样一个黑暗陡峭、带着脏污与毒素的通道。贾维斯·罗瑞因为心绪不宁,也因为他年轻的同伴越来越激动,曾两次停下脚步来休息,每次都在一道凄凉的栅栏旁边。还没有完全败坏,却已失去动力的新鲜空气似乎在从那栅栏逃逸,而一切败坏了的带病的潮气则似乎从那里扑了进来。通过生锈的栅栏可以看到乱七八糟的邻近地区,但更多的是闻到它的味道。视野之内低于圣母院两座高塔塔尖和它附近的建筑的一切没有一件具有健康的生命和远大的希望。

他们终于爬到了楼梯顶上,第三次停下了脚步。还要爬一道更陡更窄的楼梯才能到达阁楼。酒店老板一直走在前面几步,就在罗瑞先生身边,仿佛害怕那小姐会提出问题。他在这里转过身子,在搭在肩上的外衣口袋里仔细摸索了一会儿,掏出一把钥匙来。

“那么,门是锁上的么,朋友?”罗瑞先生吃了一惊,说。

“是的,不错,”德伐日的回答颇为冷峻。

“你认为有必要让那不幸的人这样隔绝人世么?”

“我认为必须把他锁起来,”德伐日先生皱紧了眉头,靠近他的耳朵低声说。,

“为什么?”

“为什么!因为他锁起来过的日子太长,若是敞开门他会害怕的,会说胡话,会把自己撕成碎片,会死,还不知道会遭到什么伤害。”

“竟然可能这样么?”罗瑞先生惊叫道。

“竟然可能么!”德伐日尖刻地重复道。“可能。我们这个世界很美好,这样的事是可能的,很多类似的事也是可能的,不但可能,而且干了出来一-干了出来,你明白不!——就在那边的天底下,每天都有人干。魔鬼万岁!咱们往前走。”

这番对话声音极低,那位小姐一个字也没有听见。可这时强烈的激动已使她浑身发抖,脸上露出严重的焦虑,特别是露出害怕和恐惧。罗瑞先生感到非得说几句话安慰她一下不可了。

“勇气,亲爱的小姐!勇气!业务!最严重的困难很快就会过去。一走进门困难就过去了,然后你就可以把一切美好的东西带给他,给他安慰和快乐了。请让我们这位朋友在那边搀扶着你。好了,德伐日朋友,现在走吧。业务,业务!”

他们放轻脚步缓慢地往上爬。楼梯很短,他们很快便来到了顶上。转过一道急弯,他们突然看到有三个人弯着身子,脑袋挤在一道门边,正通过门缝或是墙洞专心地往屋里瞧着。那三人听见身后的脚步声,急忙回过头来,站直了身子。原来是在酒店喝酒的那三个同名的人。

“你们一来,我吃了一惊,竟把这三位朋友给忘了,”德伐日先生解释说,“你们都走吧,几位好伙计,我们要在这儿办点事。

那三人从他们身边侧身走过,一声不响地下了楼。

这层楼似乎再也没有别的门。酒店老板目送三人走开,才直接来到门边。罗瑞先生略有些生气地小声问道:

“你拿曼内特先生作展览么?”

“我只让经过选择的少数人看。这你已经看到了。”

“这样做好么?”

“我认为很好。”

“这少数人都是些什么人?你凭什么作选择?”

“我选中他们,因为他们是真正的男子汉,他们都使用我的名字——雅克是我的名字——让他们看看会有好处的。够了,你是英国人,是另外一回事。请你们站在这儿等一等。”

他做了一个警告的手势,让他们别再往前走,然后弯下腰,从墙上的缝隙里望了进去,随即抬起头,在门上敲了两三下——显然只是想发出声音,再没有其它的目的。怀着同样的目的他把钥匙在门上敲了三四下,才笨手笨脚地插进锁孔,大声地转动起来。

那门在他手下向里面慢慢打开。他往屋里望了望,没有出声。一点轻微的声音作了某种回答,双方都只说了一两个音节。

他回过头招呼他俩进去。罗瑞先生用手小心地搂住姑娘的腰,扶住她,因为他觉得她有些站立不稳了。

“啊一-啊——啊,业务,业务!”他给她鼓劲,但面颊上却闪动着并非业务的泪光。“进来吧,进来吧!”

“我害怕,”她发着抖,说。

“害怕什么?”

“害怕他,害怕我的父亲。”

她的情况和向导的招手使罗瑞先生无可奈何,只好把那只放在他肩上的发着抖的手臂拉到自己脖子上,扶她站直了身子,匆匆进了屋,然后放下她,扶她靠紧自己站住。

德伐日掏出钥匙,反锁上门,拔出钥匙拿在手里。这些事他做得缓慢吃力,而且故意弄出些刺耳的声音。最后,他才小心翼翼地走到窗边站住,转过头来。

阁楼原是做储藏室堆放柴禾之类的东西用的,十分阴暗;那老虎窗样的窗户其实是房顶的一道门,门上还有一个活动吊钩,是用来从街而起吊储藏品的。那门没有油漆过,是一道双扇门,跟一般法国式建筑一样,从当中关闭。为了御寒,有一扇门紧紧关闭,岳扇也只开了一条缝,诱进极少的光线。这样,乍一进门便很难看见东西。在这种幽暗的环境里,没有经过长期的适应和磨练是无法进行细致的工作的。可是现在这种工作却在这里进行着。因为一个白发老人正坐在一张矮凳上,背向着门,面向着窗户,佝偻着身子忙着做鞋。酒店老板站在窗前望着他。

 

 

 

 

第六章 鞋匠

 

“日安!”德伐日先生说,低头看着那个低垂着的白发的头。那人在做鞋。

那头抬起了一下,一个非常微弱的声音作了回答,仿佛来自遥远的地方。

“日安!”

“我看你工作得还是很辛苦?”

良久的沉默,然后那头才抬了起来;那声音回答说,“是——我在工作。”这一回有一双失神的眼睛望了望发问的人,然后那张脸又低了下去。

那声音之微弱今人怜悯,却也吓人,并非由于体力上的衰弱,虽然囚禁与粗劣的食物无疑都起过作用;却是由于孤独与废弃所导致的衰弱,而这正是它凄惨的特色。它仿佛是漠漠远古的声音那微弱、濒危的回响,已完全失去了人类嗓音所具有的生命力与共鸣,仿佛只是一种曾经美丽的颜色褪败成的模糊可怜的污斑。那声音很低沉,很压抑,像是从地下发出来的,令人想起在荒野里踽踽独行、疲惫不堪、饥饿待毙的旅人,那无家可归的绝望的生灵在躺下身子准备死去之前苦念着家庭和亲友时所发出的哀音。

一声不吭的工作进行了几分钟,那双失神的眼睛又抬起来望了望。眼里全无兴趣或好奇,只是模糊地机械地意识到刚才有个唯一的客人站立的地方现在还没有空出来。

“我想多放一点光线进来,”德伐日目不转睛地望着鞋匠,“你可以多接受一点么?

鞋匠停止了工作,露出一种茫然谛听的神情,望了望他身边的地板,同样望了望另一面地板,再抬头望着说话的人。

“你说什么?”

“你可以多接受一点光线么?”

“你要放进来,我只好忍受。”(“只好”两字受到很轻微的强调)

只开了一线的门开大了一些,暂时固定在了那个角度。一大片光线射进阁楼,照出鞋匠已停止了工作;。一只没做完的鞋放在他膝头上;几件平常的工具和各种皮件放在脚旁或长凳上。他长了一把白胡子,不长,修剪得很乱;面颊凹陷,眼睛异常明亮。因为面颊干瘦和凹陷,长在仍然深浓的眉毛和乱糟糟的头发之下的那双眼睛似乎显得很大,虽然实际上并非如此一-它们天生就大,可现在看去却大得不自然。他那破烂的黄衬衫领口敞开,露出瘦骨嶙峋的身子。由于长期与直接的阳光和空气隔绝,他跟他那帆布外衣、松垂的长袜和破烂的衣衫全都淡成了羊皮纸似的灰黄,混成一片,难以分清了。

他一直用手挡住眼前的光线,那手似乎连骨头都透明了。他就像这样坐着,停止了工作,直勾勾地瞪着眼。在直视眼前的人形之前,他总要东望望,西望望,仿佛已失去了把声音跟地点联系的习惯。说话之前也是如此,东看看,西看看,又忘掉了说话。

“你今天要做完那双鞋么?”德伐日问。

“你说什么?”

“你今天打算做完那双鞋么?”

“我说不清是不是打算,我想是的。我不知道。”

但是,这个问题却让他想起了他的工作,便又埋头忙起活儿来。

罗瑞先生让那姑娘留在门口,自己走上前去。他在德伐日身边站了一两分钟,鞋匠才抬起了头。他并不因见了另一个人而显得惊讶,但他一只颤巍巍的手指却在见他时放错了地方,落到了嘴唇上(他的嘴唇和指甲都灰白得像铅),然后那手又回到了活儿上,他弯下腰重新做起鞋来。那目光和身体的动作都只是一瞬间的事。

“你有客人了,你看,”德伐日先生说。

“你说什么?”

“这儿有个客人。”

鞋匠像刚才一样抬头望了望,双手还在继续工作。

“来吧!”德伐日说。“这位先生很懂得鞋的好坏。把你做的鞋让他看看。拿好,先生。”

罗瑞先生接过鞋。

“告诉这位先生这是什么鞋,是谁做的。”

这一次的停顿比刚才要长,好一会儿之后鞋匠才回了话:

“我忘了你问的话。你说的是什么?”

“我说,你能不能介绍一下这类鞋,给这位先生介绍一下情况。”

“这是女鞋,年轻女士走路时穿的。是流行的款式。我没见过那款式。可我手上有图样。”他带着瞬息即逝的一丝自豪望了望他的鞋。

“鞋匠的名字是……?”德伐日说。

现在手上再没了工件,他便把右手的指关节放在左手掌心里,然后又把左手的指关节放到右手掌心里,接着又用一只手抹了抹胡子拉碴的下巴。他就像这样一刻不停地依次摸来摸去,每说出一句话他总要落入一片空白。要想把他从那片空白之中唤醒过来简直像是维持一个极度衰弱的病人不致休克,或是维持濒于死亡者的生命,希望他能透露些什么。

“你问我的名字吗?”

“是的。”

“北塔一O五。”

“就这个?”

“北塔一0五。”

他发出了一种既非叹息也非呻吟的厌倦的声音,然后又弯腰干起活儿来,直做到沉默再度被打破。

“做鞋不是你的职业吧?”罗瑞先生注视着他说。

他那枯槁的眼睛转向了德伐日,仿佛希望把题目交给他来回答,从那儿没得到答案,他又在地下找了一会儿,才又转向提问者。

“做鞋不是我的职业么?不是。我——我是在这儿才学做鞋的。我是自学的。我请求让我——”

他又失去了记忆。这回长达几分钟,这时他那两只手又依次摸索起来。他的眼睛终于慢慢回到刚才离开的那张脸上。一见到那张脸,他吃了一惊,却又平静下来,像是那时才醒来的人,又回到了昨夜的题目上。

“我申请自学做鞋,费了很多力,花了很多时间,批准了。从那以后我就做鞋。”

他伸手想要回被拿走的鞋,罗瑞先生仍然注视着他的脸,说:

“曼内特先生,你一点都想不起我了么?”

鞋掉到地下,他坐在那儿呆望着提问题的人。

“曼内特先生,”罗瑞先生一只手放在德伐日的手臂上,“你一点也想不起这个人了么?看看他,看看我。你心里是不是还想得起以前的银行职员,以前的职业和仆人,曼内特先生?”

这位多年的囚徒坐在那儿一会儿呆望着罗瑞先生,一会儿呆望着德伐日,他额头正中已被长期抹去的聪明深沉的智力迹象逐渐穿破笼罩着它的阴霾透了出来,却随即又被遮住了,模糊了,隐没了,不过那种迹象确实出现过。可他的这些表情却都在一张年轻漂亮的面孔上准确地得到了反映。那姑娘早已沿着墙根悄悄走到一个能看见他的地点,此时正凝望着他。她最初举起了手,即使不是想把自己与他隔开,怕见到他,也是表现了一种混合着同情的恐惧。现在那手却又伸向了他,颤抖着,急于把他那幽灵样的面孔放到她温暖年轻的胸膛上去,用爱使他复活,使他产生希望——那表情在她那年轻漂亮的脸上重复得如此准确(虽是表现了坚强的性格),竟仿佛是一道活动的光从他身上移向了她。

黑暗又笼罩了他,他对两人的注视逐渐松懈下来,双眼以一种昏瞀而茫然的表情在地下找了一会儿,便又照老样子东张西望,最后发出一声深沉的长长的叹息,拿起鞋又干起了活儿。

“你认出他了么,先生?”德伐日先生问。

“认出来了,只一会儿。开头我还以为完全没有希望了,可我却在一瞬间毫无疑问地看到了那张我曾十分熟悉的面孔。嘘!咱们再退开一点,嘘!”

那姑娘已离开阁楼的墙壁,走近了老人的长凳。老人在低头干活儿,靠近他的人影几乎要伸出手来摸摸他,而他却一无所知。此中有一种东西令人肃然竦然。

没有话语,没有声音。她像精灵一样站在他身边,而他则弯着腰在干活。

终于,他放下了手中的工具,要取皮匠刀了。那刀就在他身边——不是她站立的一边。他拿起了刀,弯下腰要工作,眼睛却瞥见了她的裙子。他抬起头来,看到了她的脸。两个旁观者要走上前来,她却做了个手势,让他们别动。她并不担心他会用刀伤害她,虽然那两人有些不放心。

他恐惧地望着她,过了一会儿他的嘴唇开始做出说话的动作,虽然没有发出声音。他的呼吸急促吃力,不时停顿,却听见他一个字一个字地说了出来:

“这是什么?”

姑娘泪流满面,把双手放到唇边吻了吻,又伸向他;然后把他搂在胸前,仿佛要把他那衰迈的头放在她的怀抱里。

“你不是看守的女儿吧?”

她叹了口气,“不是。”

“你是谁?”

她对自己的声音不放心,便在他身边长凳上坐了下来。他退缩了一下,但她把手放到了他的手臂上,一阵震颤明显地通过他全身。他温和地放下了鞋刀,坐在那儿瞪大眼望着她。

她刚才匆匆掠到一边的金色长发此时又垂落到她的脖子上。他一点点地伸出手来拿起发鬟看着。这个动作才做了一半他又迷糊了,重新发出一声深沉的叹息,又做起鞋来。

但他做得并不久。她放掉他的胳膊,却把手放到了他的肩上。他怀疑地看了那手两三次,似乎要肯定它确实在那儿,然后放下了工作,把手放到自己脖子上,取下一根脏污的绳,绳上有一块卷好的布。他在膝盖上小心地把它打开,其中有少许头发;只不过两三根金色的长发,是多年前缠在他指头上扯下来的。

他又把她的头发拿在手上,仔细审视。“是同样的,怎么可能!那是什么时候的事?是怎么回事?”

在苦思的表情回到他额上时,他仿佛看到她也有同样的表情,便拉她完全转向了亮光,打量她。

“那天晚上我被叫走时,她的头放在我的肩上一-她怕我走,虽然我并不怕——我被送到北塔时,他们在我的袖子上找到了这个。‘你们可以把它留给我么?它不能帮助我的身体逃掉,虽然能让我的精神飞走。’这是我当时说的话。我记得很清楚。”

他用嘴唇做了多次动作才表示出了这些意思。但是他一旦找到了话语,话语便连贯而来,虽然来得缓慢。

“怎么样——是你吗?”

两个旁观者又吓了一跳,因为他令人害怕地突然转向了她。然而她却任凭他抓住,坦然地坐着,低声说,“我求你们,好先生们,不要过来,不要说话,不要动。”

“听:”他惊叫,“是谁的声音?”

他一面叫,一面已放松了她,然后两手伸到头上,发狂似地扯起头发来。正跟除了做鞋之外他的一切都会过去一样,这阵发作终于过去。他把他的小包卷了起来,打算重新挂到胸口,却仍然望着她,伤心地摇着头。

“不,不,不,你太年轻,太美丽,这是不可能的。看看囚犯是什么样子吧!这样的手她当年从来没看见过,这样的脸她当年从来没有看见过,这样的声音她当年从来没有听到过。不,不。她——还有他——都是很久很久以前的事了——在北塔那漫长的时间之前。你叫什么名字,我温和的天使?”

为了庆贺他变得柔和语调和态度,女儿跪倒在他面前,哀告的双手抚慰着父亲的胸口。

“啊,先生,以后我会告诉你我的名字,我的母亲是谁,我的父亲是谁,我为什么不知道他们那痛苦不堪的经历。但我现在不能告诉你,不能在这儿告诉你。我现在可以在这儿告诉你的是我请求你抚摸我,为我祝福,亲我,亲我啊,亲爱的,我亲爱的!”

他那一头凄凉的白发跟她那一头闪光的金发混到了一起,金发温暖了白发,也照亮了它,仿佛是自由的光芒照射在他的身上。

“如果你从我的声音里听出了你曾听到过的甜蜜的音乐——我不知道你会不会,但我希望会——就为它哭泣吧,为它哭泣吧!如果你在抚摸我的头发时能回想起在你自由的青年时代曾靠在你胸前的头的话,就为它哭泣吧,为它哭泣吧!若是我向你表示我们还会有一个家,我会对你一片孝心,全心全意地服侍你,这话能令你想起一个败落多年的家,因而使你的心憔悴,你就为它哭吧,哭吧!”

她更紧地搂住他的脖子,像摇孩子似的在胸前摇着他。

“如果我告诉你,我最最亲爱的人,你的痛苦已经过去,我是到这儿来带你脱离苦海的,我们要到英国去,去享受和平与安宁,因而让你想到你白白葬送的大好年华,想到我们的生地——对你这样冷酷无情的法兰西,你就哭吧!哭吧!如果我告诉你我的名字,谈起我还活着的父亲和已经死去的母亲,告诉你我应当跪在我光明磊落的父亲面前求他饶恕,因为我不曾营救过他,不曾为他通宵流泪、睡不着觉,而那是因为我可怜的母亲爱我,不肯让我知道她的痛苦。若是这样你就哭吧!哭吧!为她而哭!也为我哭!两位好先生,谢谢上帝!我感到他神圣的眼泪落在我脸上,他的呜咽抽搐在我心上!啊,你看!为我们感谢上帝吧!感谢上帝!”

他已倒在了她的怀里,他的脸落到了她的胸膛上:一个异常动人,也异常可怕的场面(因为那奇冤和惨祸)。两个在场人都不禁双手掩面。

阁楼的静谧久久不曾受到干扰,抽泣的胸膛和颤抖的身躯平静了下来。正如一切风暴之后总有静谧。那是人世的象征,被称作生命的那场风暴必然会静下来,进入休息和寂寥。两人走上前去把父女俩从地上扶了起来——老人已逐渐歪倒在地上,精疲力竭,昏睡过去。姑娘是扶着他倒下去的,让他的头落在自己的手臂上;她的金发垂了下来,挡住了他的光线。

“如果我们能把一切安排好,”她说,罗瑞先生已好几次抽动鼻孔,这时才对她弯下身来。她向他举起手说,“我们立即离开巴黎吧!不用惊醒他就能从门口把他带走——”

“可是你得考虑,他经得起长途跋涉么?”罗瑞先生问。

“这个城市对他太可怕,让他长途跋涉也比留在这儿强。”

“这倒是真的,”德伐日说,此时他正跪在地上旁观,听着他们说话。“更重要的是,有一切理由认为,曼内特先生最好是离开法国。你看,我是不是去雇一辆驿车?”

“这是业务工作,”罗瑞先生说,转瞬之间恢复了他一板一眼的工作态度。“既是业务工作,最好就由我来做。”

“那就谢谢你了,”曼内特小姐催促道,“就让我跟他留在这儿。你看,他已经平静下来。把他交给我好了,不用担心。有什么可担心的呢!如果你关上门,保证我们不受干扰,我毫不怀疑他在你回来的时候会跟你离开时一样平静。我保证尽一切努力照顾好他。你一回来我们马上就带他走。“

对这做法罗瑞先生跟德伐日都不怎么赞成。他们都很希望有一个人能留下来陪着,但是又要雇马车,又要办旅行手续;而天色又已经晚了,时间很急迫。最后他们只好把要办的事匆匆分了个工就赶着办事去了。

暮色笼罩下来,女儿把头放在硬地上,靠在父亲身旁,观察着他,两人静静地躺着。夜色越来越浓,一道光从墙壁的缝隙里透了进来。

罗瑞先生和德伐日先生已办好了旅行所需的一应事项,除了旅行外衣、围巾,还带来了夹肉面包、酒和热咖啡。德伐日先生把食品和带来的灯放到鞋匠长凳上(阁楼里除了一张草荐床之外别无他物),他跟罗瑞先生弄醒了囚徒,扶他站起身来。

人类的全部智慧怕也无法从那张脸上那惊恐茫然的表情解释他心里的神秘。他是否明白已经发生的事?他是否回忆起了他们告诉他的东西?他是否知道自己已经获得了自由?没有任何聪明的头脑能够回答。他们试着和他交谈,但是他仍然很迷糊,回答来得很缓慢。见到他那惶惑迷乱的样子,他们都感到害怕,都同意不再去惊扰他。他露出了一种从没出现过疯狂迷乱的表情,只用双手死死抱住脑袋。但-听见他女儿的声音就面露喜色,并把头向她转过去。

他们给他东西吃,他就吃;给他东西喝,他就喝;给他东西穿,他就穿;给他东西围,他就围,一副长期习惯于担惊受怕、逆来顺受的样子。他的女几揽住他的胳膊,他反应很快,立即用双手抓住她的手不放。

他们开始下楼,德伐日先生提着灯走在前面,罗瑞先生断后。他们才踏上长长的主楼梯没几步,老人便停下了脚,盯着房顶和四壁细看。

“你记得这地方么,爸爸?你记得是从这儿上去的么?”

“你说什么?”

但是不等她重复她的问题,他却喃喃地作出了回答,仿佛她已经再次问过了。

“记得?不,不记得,太久了。”

他们发现他显然已不记得从监牢被带到这屋里的事了。他们听见他低声含糊地念叨着“北塔一O五”。他向四面细看,显然是在寻找长期囚禁他的城堡坚壁。才下到天井里,他便本能地改变了步态,好像预计着前面便是吊桥。在他看到没有吊桥,倒是有马车在大街上等着他时,他便放掉女儿的手,抱紧了头。

门口没有人群;窗户很多,窗前却阒无一人,甚至街面上也没有行人。一种不自然的寂静和空旷笼罩着。那儿只看到一个人,那就是德伐日太太一-她倚在门框上织着毛线,什么都没看见。

囚徒进了马车,他的女儿也跟着上去了,罗瑞先生刚踩上踏板,却被他的问题挡住了一-老人在痛苦地追问他的皮匠工具和没做完的鞋。德伐日太太立即告诉丈夫她去取,然后便打着毛线走出灯光,进了天井。她很快便拿来了东西,递进马车——又立即靠在门框上打起毛线来,什么都没看见。

德伐日坐上驭手座位,说,“去关卡!”双手“叭”的一声挥动鞭子,一行人就在头顶昏暗摇曳的路灯下蹄声得得地上路。

马车在摇曳的路灯下走着。灯光好时街道便明亮,灯光差时街道便幽暗。他们驰过了火光点点的店铺、衣着鲜艳的人群、灯火辉煌的咖啡厅和戏院大门,往一道城门走去。提着风灯的卫兵站在岗哨小屋边。“证件,客人!”“那就看这儿,军官先生,”德伐日说,走下车把卫兵拉到一旁,“这是车里那位白头发先生的证件。文件和他都交我负责,是在一一”他放低了声音,几盏军用风灯闪烁了一下,穿制服的手臂举起一盏风灯,伸进马车,跟手臂相连的眼睛用颇不寻常的眼色望了望白发的头。“行了,走吧!”穿制服的人说。“再见!”德伐日回答。这样,他们从摇曳在头顶越来越暗淡的不长的光林里走了出去,来到浩瀚无涯的星光之林下面。

天弯里悬满并不摇曳的永恒的光点,天穹下夜的阴影广阔而幽渺。有的光点距离这小小的地球如此辽远,学者甚至告诉我们它们发出的光是否足以显示出自己尚成问题。它们只是宇宙的微尘,而在宇宙中一切都能容忍,一切都干了出来。在黎明之前整个寒冷而不安的旅途中,点点星光再一次对着贾维斯·罗瑞先生的耳朵悄悄提出了老问题——罗瑞先生面对已被埋葬又被掘出的老人坐着,猜测着老人已失去了哪一些精微的能力,哪一些能力还可以恢复:

“我希望你愿意重返人世?”

得到的还是老答案:

“我不知道。”

 

       



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