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  外语解密学习法 逆读法(Reverse Reading Method)   解读法(Decode-Reading Method)训练范文 ——                 

解密目标语言:英语                                解密辅助语言:汉语
              Language to be decoded:  English             Auxiliary Language :  Chinese  

  
       
解密文本:     《春潮》   [俄] 屠格涅夫  著        
 
Вешние воды
автор Иван Тургенев

 

         Torrents of Spring         
                                                                     by   Ivan Turgenev    
                                                                

     Part1   ·  Part2   
      

 只看俄语(Russian Only)     只看英语(English Only)     只看汉语(Chinese Only)     英汉对照(English & Chinese)       俄汉对照(Russian & Chinese)        俄英对照(Russian & English)   

  


   'Years of gladness,     

Days of joy,   

Like the torrents of spring     

They hurried away.'

--_From an Old Ballad_.

 

At two o'clock in the night he had gone back to his study. He had dismissed the servant after the candles were lighted, and throwing himself into a low chair by the hearth, he hid his face in both hands.

Never had he felt such weariness of body and of spirit. He had passed the whole evening in the company of charming ladies and cultivated men; some of the ladies were beautiful, almost all the men were distinguished by intellect or talent; he himself had talked with great success, even with brilliance ... and, for all that, never yet had the _taedium vitae_ of which the Romans talked of old, the 'disgust for life,' taken hold of him with such irresistible, such suffocating force. Had he been a little younger, he would have cried with misery, weariness, and exasperation: a biting, burning bitterness, like the bitter of wormwood, filled his whole soul. A sort of clinging repugnance, a weight of loathing closed in upon him on all sides like a dark night of autumn; and he did not know how to get free from this darkness, this bitterness. Sleep it was useless to reckon upon; he knew he should not sleep.

He fell to thinking ... slowly, listlessly, wrathfully. He thought of the vanity, the uselessness, the vulgar falsity of all things human. All the stages of man's life passed in order before his mental gaze (he had himself lately reached his fifty-second year), and not one found grace in his eyes. Everywhere the same ever-lasting pouring of water into a sieve, the ever-lasting beating of the air, everywhere the same self-deception--half in good faith, half conscious--any toy to amuse the child, so long as it keeps him from crying. And then, all of a sudden, old age drops down like snow on the head, and with it the ever-growing, ever-gnawing, and devouring dread of death ... and the plunge into the abyss! Lucky indeed if life works out so to the end! May be, before the end, like rust on iron, sufferings, infirmities come.... He did not picture life's sea, as the poets depict it, covered with tempestuous waves; no, he thought of that sea as a smooth, untroubled surface, stagnant and transparent to its darkest depths. He himself sits in a little tottering boat, and down below in those dark oozy depths, like prodigious fishes, he can just make out the shapes of hideous monsters: all the ills of life, diseases, sorrows, madness, poverty, blindness.... He gazes, and behold, one of these monsters separates itself off from the darkness, rises higher and higher, stands out more and more distinct, more and more loathsomely distinct.... An instant yet, and the boat that bears him will be overturned! But behold, it grows dim again, it withdraws, sinks down to the bottom, and there it lies, faintly stirring in the slime.... But the fated day will come, and it will overturn the boat.

He shook his head, jumped up from his low chair, took two turns up and down the room, sat down to the writing-table, and opening one drawer after another, began to rummage among his papers, among old letters, mostly from women. He could not have said why he was doing it; he was not looking for anything--he simply wanted by some kind of external occupation to get away from the thoughts oppressing him. Opening several letters at random (in one of them there was a withered flower tied with a bit of faded ribbon), he merely shrugged his shoulders, and glancing at the hearth, he tossed them on one side, probably with the idea of burning all this useless rubbish. Hurriedly, thrusting his hands first into one, and then into another drawer, he suddenly opened his eyes wide, and slowly bringing out a little octagonal box of old-fashioned make, he slowly raised its lid. In the box, under two layers of cotton wool, yellow with age, was a little garnet cross.

For a few instants he looked in perplexity at this cross--suddenly he gave a faint cry.... Something between regret and delight was expressed in his features. Such an expression a man's face wears when he suddenly meets some one whom he has long lost sight of, whom he has at one time tenderly loved, and who suddenly springs up before his eyes, still the same, and utterly transformed by the years.

He got up, and going back to the hearth, he sat down again in the arm-chair, and again hid his face in his hands.... 'Why to-day? just to-day?' was his thought, and he remembered many things, long since past.

This is what he remembered....

But first I must mention his name, his father's name and his surname. He was called Dimitri Pavlovitch Sanin.

Here follows what he remembered.

 

 I

 It was the summer of 1840. Sanin was in his twenty-second year, and he was in Frankfort on his way home from Italy to Russia. He was a man of small property, but independent, almost without family ties. By the death of a distant relative, he had come into a few thousand roubles, and he had decided to spend this sum abroad before entering the service, before finally putting on the government yoke, without which he could not obtain a secure livelihood. Sanin had carried out this intention, and had fitted things in to such a nicety that on the day of his arrival in Frankfort he had only just enough money left to take him back to Petersburg. In the year 1840 there were few railroads in existence; tourists travelled by diligence. Sanin had taken a place in the '_bei-wagon_'; but the diligence did not start till eleven o'clock in the evening. There was a great deal of time to be got through before then. Fortunately it was lovely weather, and Sanin after dining at a hotel, famous in those days, the White Swan, set off to stroll about the town. He went in to look at Danneker's Ariadne, which he did not much care for, visited the house of Goethe, of whose works he had, however, only read _Werter_, and that in the French translation. He walked along the bank of the Maine, and was bored as a well-conducted tourist should be; at last at six o'clock in the evening, tired, and with dusty boots, he found himself in one of the least remarkable streets in Frankfort. That street he was fated not to forget long, long after. On one of its few houses he saw a signboard: 'Giovanni Roselli, Italian confectionery,' was announced upon it. Sanin went into it to get a glass of lemonade; but in the shop, where, behind the modest counter, on the shelves of a stained cupboard, recalling a chemist's shop, stood a few bottles with gold labels, and as many glass jars of biscuits, chocolate cakes, and sweetmeats--in this room, there was not a soul; only a grey cat blinked and purred, sharpening its claws on a tall wicker chair near the window and a bright patch of colour was made in the evening sunlight, by a big ball of red wool lying on the floor beside a carved wooden basket turned upside down. A confused noise was audible in the next room. Sanin stood a moment, and making the bell on the door ring its loudest, he called, raising his voice, 'Is there no one here?' At that instant the door from an inner room was thrown open, and Sanin was struck dumb with amazement.

 

 II

 A young girl of nineteen ran impetuously into the shop, her dark curls hanging in disorder on her bare shoulders, her bare arms stretched out in front of her. Seeing Sanin, she rushed up to him at once, seized him by the hand, and pulled him after her, saying in a breathless voice, 'Quick, quick, here, save him!' Not through disinclination to obey, but simply from excess of amazement, Sanin did not at once follow the girl. He stood, as it were, rooted to the spot; he had never in his life seen such a beautiful creature. She turned towards him, and with such despair in her voice, in her eyes, in the gesture of her clenched hand, which was lifted with a spasmodic movement to her pale cheek, she articulated, 'Come, come!' that he at once darted after her to the open door.

In the room, into which he ran behind the girl, on an old-fashioned horse-hair sofa, lay a boy of fourteen, white all over--white, with a yellowish tinge like wax or old marble--he was strikingly like the girl, obviously her brother. His eyes were closed, a patch of shadow fell from his thick black hair on a forehead like stone, and delicate, motionless eyebrows; between the blue lips could be seen clenched teeth. He seemed not to be breathing; one arm hung down to the floor, the other he had tossed above his head. The boy was dressed, and his clothes were closely buttoned; a tight cravat was twisted round his neck.

The girl rushed up to him with a wail of distress. 'He is dead, he is dead!' she cried; 'he was sitting here just now, talking to me--and all of a sudden he fell down and became rigid.... My God! can nothing be done to help him? And mamma not here! Pantaleone, Pantaleone, the doctor!' she went on suddenly in Italian. 'Have you been for the doctor?'

'Signora, I did not go, I sent Luise,' said a hoarse voice at the door, and a little bandy-legged old man came hobbling into the room in a lavender frock coat with black buttons, a high white cravat, short nankeen trousers, and blue worsted stockings. His diminutive little face was positively lost in a mass of iron-grey hair. Standing up in all directions, and falling back in ragged tufts, it gave the old man's figure a resemblance to a crested hen--a resemblance the more striking, that under the dark-grey mass nothing could be distinguished but a beak nose and round yellow eyes.

'Luise will run fast, and I can't run,' the old man went on in Italian, dragging his flat gouty feet, shod in high slippers with knots of ribbon. 'I've brought some water.'

In his withered, knotted fingers, he clutched a long bottle neck.

'But meanwhile Emil will die!' cried the girl, and holding out her hand to Sanin, 'O, sir, O _mein Herr_! can't you do something for him?'

'He ought to be bled--it's an apoplectic fit,' observed the old man addressed as Pantaleone.

Though Sanin had not the slightest notion of medicine, he knew one thing for certain, that boys of fourteen do not have apoplectic fits.

'It's a swoon, not a fit,' he said, turning to Pantaleone. 'Have you got any brushes?'

The old man raised his little face. 'Eh?'

'Brushes, brushes,' repeated Sanin in German and in French. 'Brushes,' he added, making as though he would brush his clothes.

The little old man understood him at last.

'Ah, brushes! _Spazzette_! to be sure we have!'

'Bring them here; we will take off his coat and try rubbing him.'

'Good ... _Benone_! And ought we not to sprinkle water on his head?'

'No ... later on; get the brushes now as quick as you can.'

Pantaleone put the bottle on the floor, ran out and returned at once with two brushes, one a hair-brush, and one a clothes-brush. A curly poodle followed him in, and vigorously wagging its tail, it looked up inquisitively at the old man, the girl, and even Sanin, as though it wanted to know what was the meaning of all this fuss.

Sanin quickly took the boy's coat off, unbuttoned his collar, and pushed up his shirt-sleeves, and arming himself with a brush, he began brushing his chest and arms with all his might. Pantaleone as zealously brushed away with the other--the hair-brush--at his boots and trousers. The girl flung herself on her knees by the sofa, and, clutching her head in both hands, fastened her eyes, not an eyelash quivering, on her brother.

Sanin rubbed on, and kept stealing glances at her. Mercy! what a beautiful creature she was!

 

 III

 Her nose was rather large, but handsome, aquiline-shaped; her upper lip was shaded by a light down; but then the colour of her face, smooth, uniform, like ivory or very pale milky amber, the wavering shimmer of her hair, like that of the Judith of Allorio in the Palazzo-Pitti; and above all, her eyes, dark-grey, with a black ring round the pupils, splendid, triumphant eyes, even now, when terror and distress dimmed their lustre.... Sanin could not help recalling the marvellous country he had just come from.... But even in Italy he had never met anything like her! The girl drew slow, uneven breaths; she seemed between each breath to be waiting to see whether her brother would not begin to breathe.

Sanin went on rubbing him, but he did not only watch the girl. The original figure of Pantaleone drew his attention too. The old man was quite exhausted and panting; at every movement of the brush he hopped up and down and groaned noisily, while his immense tufts of hair, soaked with perspiration, flapped heavily from side to side, like the roots of some strong plant, torn up by the water.

'You'd better, at least, take off his boots,' Sanin was just saying to him.

The poodle, probably excited by the unusualness of all the proceedings, suddenly sank on to its front paws and began barking.

'_Tartaglia--canaglia_!' the old man hissed at it. But at that instant the girl's face was transformed. Her eyebrows rose, her eyes grew wider, and shone with joy.

Sanin looked round ... A flush had over-spread the lad's face; his eyelids stirred ... his nostrils twitched. He drew in a breath through his still clenched teeth, sighed....

'Emil!' cried the girl ... 'Emilio mio!'

Slowly the big black eyes opened. They still had a dazed look, but already smiled faintly; the same faint smile hovered on his pale lips. Then he moved the arm that hung down, and laid it on his chest.

'Emilio!' repeated the girl, and she got up. The expression on her face was so tense and vivid, that it seemed that in an instant either she would burst into tears or break into laughter.

'Emil! what is it? Emil!' was heard outside, and a neatly-dressed lady with silvery grey hair and a dark face came with rapid steps into the room.

A middle-aged man followed her; the head of a maid-servant was visible over their shoulders.

The girl ran to meet them.

'He is saved, mother, he is alive!' she cried, impulsively embracing the lady who had just entered.

'But what is it?' she repeated. 'I come back ... and all of a sudden I meet the doctor and Luise ...'

The girl proceeded to explain what had happened, while the doctor went up to the invalid who was coming more and more to himself, and was still smiling: he seemed to be beginning to feel shy at the commotion he had caused.

'You've been using friction with brushes, I see,' said the doctor to Sanin and Pantaleone, 'and you did very well.... A very good idea ... and now let us see what further measures ...'

He felt the youth's pulse. 'H'm! show me your tongue!'

The lady bent anxiously over him. He smiled still more ingenuously, raised his eyes to her, and blushed a little.

It struck Sanin that he was no longer wanted; he went into the shop. But before he had time to touch the handle of the street-door, the girl was once more before him; she stopped him.

'You are going,' she began, looking warmly into his face; 'I will not keep you, but you must be sure to come to see us this evening: we are so indebted to you--you, perhaps, saved my brother's life, we want to thank you--mother wants to. You must tell us who you are, you must rejoice with us ...'

'But I am leaving for Berlin to-day,' Sanin faltered out.

'You will have time though,' the girl rejoined eagerly. 'Come to us in an hour's time to drink a cup of chocolate with us. You promise? I must go back to him! You will come?'

What could Sanin do?

'I will come,' he replied.

The beautiful girl pressed his hand, fluttered away, and he found himself in the street.

 

 IV

 When Sanin, an hour and a half later, returned to the Rosellis' shop he was received there like one of the family. Emilio was sitting on the same sofa, on which he had been rubbed; the doctor had prescribed him medicine and recommended 'great discretion in avoiding strong emotions' as being a subject of nervous temperament with a tendency to weakness of the heart. He had previously been liable to fainting-fits; but never had he lost consciousness so completely and for so long. However, the doctor declared that all danger was over. Emil, as was only suitable for an invalid, was dressed in a comfortable dressing-gown; his mother wound a blue woollen wrap round his neck; but he had a cheerful, almost a festive air; indeed everything had a festive air. Before the sofa, on a round table, covered with a clean cloth, towered a huge china coffee-pot, filled with fragrant chocolate, and encircled by cups, decanters of liqueur, biscuits and rolls, and even flowers; six slender wax candles were burning in two old-fashioned silver chandeliers; on one side of the sofa, a comfortable lounge-chair offered its soft embraces, and in this chair they made Sanin sit. All the inhabitants of the confectioner's shop, with whom he had made acquaintance that day, were present, not excluding the poodle, Tartaglia, and the cat; they all seemed happy beyond expression; the poodle positively sneezed with delight, only the cat was coy and blinked sleepily as before. They made Sanin tell them who he was, where he came from, and what was his name; when he said he was a Russian, both the ladies were a little surprised, uttered ejaculations of wonder, and declared with one voice that he spoke German splendidly; but if he preferred to speak French, he might make use of that language, as they both understood it and spoke it well. Sanin at once availed himself of this suggestion. 'Sanin! Sanin!' The ladies would never have expected that a Russian surname could be so easy to pronounce. His Christian name--'Dimitri'--they liked very much too. The elder lady observed that in her youth she had heard a fine opera--Demetrio e Polibio'--but that 'Dimitri' was much nicer than 'Demetrio.' In this way Sanin talked for about an hour. The ladies on their side initiated him into all the details of their own life. The talking was mostly done by the mother, the lady with grey hair. Sanin learnt from her that her name was Leonora Roselli; that she had lost her husband, Giovanni Battista Roselli, who had settled in Frankfort as a confectioner twenty--five years ago; that Giovanni Battista had come from Vicenza and had been a most excellent, though fiery and irascible man, and a republican withal! At those words Signora Roselli pointed to his portrait, painted in oil-colours, and hanging over the sofa. It must be presumed that the painter, 'also a republican!' as Signora Roselli observed with a sigh, had not fully succeeded in catching a likeness, for in his portrait the late Giovanni Battista appeared as a morose and gloomy brigand, after the style of Rinaldo Rinaldini! Signora Roselli herself had come from 'the ancient and splendid city of Parma where there is the wonderful cupola, painted by the immortal Correggio!' But from her long residence in Germany she had become almost completely Germanised. Then she added, mournfully shaking her head, that all she had left was _this_ daughter and _this_ son (pointing to each in turn with her finger); that the daughter's name was Gemma, and the son's Emilio; that they were both very good and obedient children--especially Emilio ... ('Me not obedient!' her daughter put in at that point. 'Oh, you're a republican, too!' answered her mother). That the business, of course, was not what it had been in the days of her husband, who had a great gift for the confectionery line ... ('_Un grand uomo_!' Pantaleone confirmed with a severe air); but that still, thank God, they managed to get along!

 

 V

 Gemma listened to her mother, and at one minute laughed, then sighed, then patted her on the shoulder, and shook her finger at her, and then looked at Sanin; at last, she got up, embraced her mother and kissed her in the hollow of her neck, which made the latter laugh extremely and shriek a little. Pantaleone too was presented to Sanin. It appeared he had once been an opera singer, a baritone, but had long ago given up the theatre, and occupied in the Roselli family a position between that of a family friend and a servant. In spite of his prolonged residence in Germany, he had learnt very little German, and only knew how to swear in it, mercilessly distorting even the terms of abuse. '_Ferroflucto spitchebubbio_' was his favourite epithet for almost every German. He spoke Italian with a perfect accent--for was he not by birth from Sinigali, where may be heard '_lingua toscana in bocca romana_'! Emilio, obviously, played the invalid and indulged himself in the pleasant sensations of one who has only just escaped a danger or is returning to health after illness; it was evident, too, that the family spoiled him. He thanked Sanin bashfully, but devoted himself chiefly to the biscuits and sweetmeats. Sanin was compelled to drink two large cups of excellent chocolate, and to eat a considerable number of biscuits; no sooner had he swallowed one than Gemma offered him another--and to refuse was impossible! He soon felt at home: the time flew by with incredible swiftness. He had to tell them a great deal--about Russia in general, the Russian climate, Russian society, the Russian peasant--and especially about the Cossacks; about the war of 1812, about Peter the Great, about the Kremlin, and the Russian songs and bells. Both ladies had a very faint conception of our vast and remote fatherland; Signora Roselli, or as she was more often called, Frau Lenore, positively dumfoundered Sanin with the question, whether there was still existing at Petersburg the celebrated house of ice, built last century, about which she had lately read a very curious article in one of her husband's books, '_Bettezze delle arti_.' And in reply to Sanin's exclamation, 'Do you really suppose that there is never any summer in Russia?' Frau Lenore replied that till then she had always pictured Russia like this--eternal snow, every one going about in furs, and all military men, but the greatest hospitality, and all the peasants very submissive! Sanin tried to impart to her and her daughter some more exact information. When the conversation touched on Russian music, they begged him at once to sing some Russian air and showed him a diminutive piano with black keys instead of white and white instead of black. He obeyed without making much ado and accompanying himself with two fingers of the right hand and three of the left (the first, second, and little finger) he sang in a thin nasal tenor, first 'The Sarafan,' then 'Along a Paved Street.' The ladies praised his voice and the music, but were more struck with the softness and sonorousness of the Russian language and asked for a translation of the text. Sanin complied with their wishes--but as the words of 'The Sarafan,' and still more of 'Along a Paved Street' (_sur une rue pavée une jeune fille allait à l'eau_ was how he rendered the sense of the original) were not calculated to inspire his listeners with an exalted idea of Russian poetry, he first recited, then translated, and then sang Pushkin's, 'I remember a marvellous moment,' set to music by Glinka, whose minor bars he did not render quite faithfully. Then the ladies went into ecstasies. Frau Lenore positively discovered in Russian a wonderful likeness to the Italian. Even the names Pushkin (she pronounced it Pussekin) and Glinka sounded somewhat familiar to her. Sanin on his side begged the ladies to sing something; they too did not wait to be pressed. Frau Lenore sat down to the piano and sang with Gemma some duets and 'stornelle.' The mother had once had a fine contralto; the daughter's voice was not strong, but was pleasing.

 

 VI

 But it was not Gemma's voice--it was herself Sanin was admiring. He was sitting a little behind and on one side of her, and kept thinking to himself that no palm-tree, even in the poems of Benediktov--the poet in fashion in those days--could rival the slender grace of her figure. When, at the most emotional passages, she raised her eyes upwards--it seemed to him no heaven could fail to open at such a look! Even the old man, Pantaleone, who with his shoulder propped against the doorpost, and his chin and mouth tucked into his capacious cravat, was listening solemnly with the air of a connoisseur--even he was admiring the girl's lovely face and marvelling at it, though one would have thought he must have been used to it! When she had finished the duet with her daughter, Frau Lenore observed that Emilio had a fine voice, like a silver bell, but that now he was at the age when the voice changes--he did, in fact, talk in a sort of bass constantly falling into falsetto--and that he was therefore forbidden to sing; but that Pantaleone now really might try his skill of old days in honour of their guest! Pantaleone promptly put on a displeased air, frowned, ruffled up his hair, and declared that he had given it all up long ago, though he could certainly in his youth hold his own, and indeed had belonged to that great period, when there were real classical singers, not to be compared to the squeaking performers of to-day! and a real school of singing; that he, Pantaleone Cippatola of Varese, had once been brought a laurel wreath from Modena, and that on that occasion some white doves had positively been let fly in the theatre; that among others a Russian prince Tarbusky--'_il principe Tarbusski_'--with whom he had been on the most friendly terms, had after supper persistently invited him to Russia, promising him mountains of gold, mountains!... but that he had been unwilling to leave Italy, the land of Dante--_il paese del Dante!_ Afterward, to be sure, there came ... unfortunate circumstances, he had himself been imprudent.... At this point the old man broke off, sighed deeply twice, looked dejected, and began again talking of the classical period of singing, of the celebrated tenor Garcia, for whom he cherished a devout, unbounded veneration. 'He was a man!' he exclaimed. 'Never had the great Garcia (_il gran Garcia_) demeaned himself by singing falsetto like the paltry tenors of to-day--_tenoracci_; always from the chest, from the chest, _voce di petto, si!_' and the old man aimed a vigorous blow with his little shrivelled fist at his own shirt-front! 'And what an actor! A volcano, _signori miei_, a volcano, _un Vesuvio_! I had the honour and the happiness of singing with him in the _opera dell' illustrissimo maestro_ Rossini--in Otello! Garcia was Otello,--I was Iago--and when he rendered the phrase':--here Pantaleone threw himself into an attitude and began singing in a hoarse and shaky, but still moving voice:

  "L'i ... ra daver ... so daver ... so il fato   lo più no ... no ... no ... non temerò!"

The theatre was all a-quiver, _signori miei_! though I too did not fall short, I too after him.

  "L'i ra daver ... so daver ... so il fato   Temèr più non davro!"

And all of a sudden, he crashed like lightning, like a tiger: _Morro!... ma vendicato ..._ Again when he was singing ... when he was singing that celebrated air from "_Matrimonio segreto_," _Pria che spunti_ ... then he, _il gran Garcia_, after the words, "_I cavalli di galoppo_"--at the words, "_Senza posa cacciera_,"--listen, how stupendous, _come è stupendo_! At that point he made ...' The old man began a sort of extraordinary flourish, and at the tenth note broke down, cleared his throat, and with a wave of his arm turned away, muttering, 'Why do you torment me?' Gemma jumped up at once and clapping loudly and shouting, bravo!... bravo!... she ran to the poor old super-annuated Iago and with both hands patted him affectionately on the shoulders. Only Emil laughed ruthlessly. _Cet âge est sans pitié_--that age knows no mercy--Lafontaine has said already.

Sanin tried to soothe the aged singer and began talking to him in Italian--(he had picked up a smattering during his last tour there)--began talking of '_paese del Dante, dove il si suona_.' This phrase, together with '_Lasciate ogni speranza_,' made up the whole stock of poetic Italian of the young tourist; but Pantaleone was not won over by his blandishments. Tucking his chin deeper than ever into his cravat and sullenly rolling his eyes, he was once more like a bird, an angry one too,--a crow or a kite. Then Emil, with a faint momentary blush, such as one so often sees in spoilt children, addressing his sister, said if she wanted to entertain their guest, she could do nothing better than read him one of those little comedies of Malz, that she read so nicely. Gemma laughed, slapped her brother on the arm, exclaimed that he 'always had such ideas!' She went promptly, however, to her room, and returning thence with a small book in her hand, seated herself at the table before the lamp, looked round, lifted one finger as much as to say, 'hush!'--a typically Italian gesture--and began reading.

 

 VII

 Malz was a writer flourishing at Frankfort about 1830, whose short comedies, written in a light vein in the local dialect, hit off local Frankfort types with bright and amusing, though not deep, humour. It turned out that Gemma really did read excellently--quite like an actress in fact. She indicated each personage, and sustained the character capitally, making full use of the talent of mimicry she had inherited with her Italian blood; she had no mercy on her soft voice or her lovely face, and when she had to represent some old crone in her dotage, or a stupid burgomaster, she made the drollest grimaces, screwing up her eyes, wrinkling up her nose, lisping, squeaking.... She did not herself laugh during the reading; but when her audience (with the exception of Pantaleone: he had walked off in indignation so soon as the conversation turned _o quel ferroflucto Tedesco_) interrupted her by an outburst of unanimous laughter, she dropped the book on her knee, and laughed musically too, her head thrown back, and her black hair dancing in little ringlets on her neck and her shaking shoulders. When the laughter ceased, she picked up the book at once, and again resuming a suitable expression, began the reading seriously. Sanin could not get over his admiration; he was particularly astonished at the marvellous way in which a face so ideally beautiful assumed suddenly a comic, sometimes almost a vulgar expression. Gemma was less successful in the parts of young girls--of so-called '_jeunes premières_'; in the love-scenes in particular she failed; she was conscious of this herself, and for that reason gave them a faint shade of irony as though she did not quite believe in all these rapturous vows and elevated sentiments, of which the author, however, was himself rather sparing--so far as he could be.

Sanin did not notice how the evening was flying by, and only recollected the journey before him when the clock struck ten. He leaped up from his seat as though he had been stung.

'What is the matter?' inquired Frau Lenore.

'Why, I had to start for Berlin to-night, and I have taken a place in the diligence!'

'And when does the diligence start?'

'At half-past ten!'

'Well, then, you won't catch it now,' observed Gemma; 'you must stay ... and I will go on reading.'

'Have you paid the whole fare or only given a deposit?' Frau Lenore queried.

'The whole fare!' Sanin said dolefully with a gloomy face.

Gemma looked at him, half closed her eyes, and laughed, while her mother scolded her:

'The young gentleman has paid away his money for nothing, and you laugh!'

'Never mind,' answered Gemma; 'it won't ruin him, and we will try and amuse him. Will you have some lemonade?'

Sanin drank a glass of lemonade, Gemma took up Malz once more; and all went merrily again.

The clock struck twelve. Sanin rose to take leave.

'You must stay some days now in Frankfort,' said Gemma: 'why should you hurry away? It would be no nicer in any other town.' She paused. 'It wouldn't, really,' she added with a smile. Sanin made no reply, and reflected that considering the emptiness of his purse, he would have no choice about remaining in Frankfort till he got an answer from a friend in Berlin, to whom he proposed writing for money.

'Yes, do stay,' urged Frau Lenore too. 'We will introduce you to Mr. Karl Klüber, who is engaged to Gemma. He could not come to-day, as he was very busy at his shop ... you must have seen the biggest draper's and silk mercer's shop in the _Zeile_. Well, he is the manager there. But he will be delighted to call on you himself.'

Sanin--heaven knows why--was slightly disconcerted by this piece of information. 'He's a lucky fellow, that fiancé!' flashed across his mind. He looked at Gemma, and fancied he detected an ironical look in her eyes. He began saying good-bye.

'Till to-morrow? Till to-morrow, isn't it?' queried Frau Lenore.

'Till to-morrow!' Gemma declared in a tone not of interrogation, but of affirmation, as though it could not be otherwise.

'Till to-morrow!' echoed Sanin.

Emil, Pantaleone, and the poodle Tartaglia accompanied him to the corner of the street. Pantaleone could not refrain from expressing his displeasure at Gemma's reading.

'She ought to be ashamed! She mouths and whines, _una caricatura_! She ought to represent Merope or Clytemnaestra--something grand, tragic--and she apes some wretched German woman! I can do that ... _merz, kerz, smerz_,' he went on in a hoarse voice poking his face forward, and brandishing his fingers. Tartaglia began barking at him, while Emil burst out laughing. The old man turned sharply back.

Sanin went back to the White Swan (he had left his things there in the public hall) in a rather confused frame of mind. All the talk he had had in French, German, and Italian was ringing in his ears.

'Engaged!' he whispered as he lay in bed, in the modest apartment assigned to him. 'And what a beauty! But what did I stay for?'

Next day he sent a letter to his friend in Berlin.

 

 VIII

 He had not finished dressing, when a waiter announced the arrival of two gentlemen. One of them turned out to be Emil; the other, a good-looking and well-grown young man, with a handsome face, was Herr Karl Klüber, the betrothed of the lovely Gemma.

One may safely assume that at that time in all Frankfort, there was not in a single shop a manager as civil, as decorous, as dignified, and as affable as Herr Klüber. The irreproachable perfection of his get-up was on a level with the dignity of his deportment, with the elegance--a little affected and stiff, it is true, in the English style (he had spent two years in England)--but still fascinating, elegance of his manners! It was clear from the first glance that this handsome, rather severe, excellently brought-up and superbly washed young man was accustomed to obey his superior and to command his inferior, and that behind the counter of his shop he must infallibly inspire respect even in his customers! Of his supernatural honesty there could never be a particle of doubt: one had but to look at his stiffly starched collars! And his voice, it appeared, was just what one would expect; deep, and of a self-confident richness, but not too loud, with positively a certain caressing note in its timbre. Such a voice was peculiarly fitted to give orders to assistants under his control: 'Show the crimson Lyons velvet!' or, 'Hand the lady a chair!'

Herr Klüber began with introducing himself; as he did so, he bowed with such loftiness, moved his legs with such an agreeable air, and drew his heels together with such polished courtesy that no one could fail to feel, 'that man has both linen and moral principles of the first quality!' The finish of his bare right hand--(the left, in a suede glove, held a hat shining like a looking-glass, with the right glove placed within it)--the finish of the right hand, proffered modestly but resolutely to Sanin, surpassed all belief; each finger-nail was a perfection in its own way! Then he proceeded to explain in the choicest German that he was anxious to express his respect and his indebtedness to the foreign gentleman who had performed so signal a service to his future kinsman, the brother of his betrothed; as he spoke, he waved his left hand with the hat in it in the direction of Emil, who seemed bashful and turning away to the window, put his finger in his mouth. Herr Klüber added that he should esteem himself happy should he be able in return to do anything for the foreign gentleman. Sanin, with some difficulty, replied, also in German, that he was delighted ... that the service was not worth speaking of ... and he begged his guests to sit down. Herr Klüber thanked him, and lifting his coat-tails, sat down on a chair; but he perched there so lightly and with such a transitory air that no one could fail to realise, 'this man is sitting down from politeness, and will fly up again in an instant.' And he did in fact fly up again quickly, and advancing with two discreet little dance-steps, he announced that to his regret he was unable to stay any longer, as he had to hasten to his shop--business before everything! but as the next day was Sunday, he had, with the consent of Frau Lenore and Fräulein Gemma, arranged a holiday excursion to Soden, to which he had the honour of inviting the foreign gentleman, and he cherished the hope that he would not refuse to grace the party with his presence. Sanin did not refuse so to grace it; and Herr Klüber repeating once more his complimentary sentiments, took leave, his pea-green trousers making a spot of cheerful colour, and his brand-new boots squeaking cheerfully as he moved.

 

 IX

 Emil, who had continued to stand with his face to the window, even after Sanin's invitation to him to sit down, turned round directly his future kinsman had gone out, and with a childish pout and blush, asked Sanin if he might remain a little while with him. 'I am much better to-day,' he added, 'but the doctor has forbidden me to do any work.'

'Stay by all means! You won't be in the least in my way,' Sanin cried at once. Like every true Russian he was glad to clutch at any excuse that saved him from the necessity of doing anything himself.

Emil thanked him, and in a very short time he was completely at home with him and with his room; he looked at all his things, asked him about almost every one of them, where he had bought it, and what was its value. He helped him to shave, observing that it was a mistake not to let his moustache grow; and finally told him a number of details about his mother, his sister, Pantaleone, the poodle Tartaglia, and all their daily life. Every semblance of timidity vanished in Emil; he suddenly felt extraordinarily attracted to Sanin--not at all because he had saved his life the day before, but because he was such a nice person! He lost no time in confiding all his secrets to Sanin. He expatiated with special warmth on the fact that his mother was set on making him a shopkeeper, while he _knew_, knew for certain, that he was born an artist, a musician, a singer; that Pantaleone even encouraged him, but that Herr Klüber supported mamma, over whom he had great influence; that the very idea of his being a shopkeeper really originated with Herr Klüber, who considered that nothing in the world could compare with trade! To measure out cloth--and cheat the public, extorting from it '_Narren--oder Russen Preise_' (fools'--or Russian prices)--that was his ideal! [Footnote: In former days--and very likely it is not different now--when, from May onwards, a great number of Russians visited Frankfort, prices rose in all the shops, and were called 'Russians',' or, alas! 'fools' prices.']

'Come! now you must come and see us!' he cried, directly Sanin had finished his toilet and written his letter to Berlin.

'It's early yet,' observed Sanin.

'That's no matter,' replied Emil caressingly. 'Come along! We'll go to the post--and from there to our place. Gemma will be so glad to see you! You must have lunch with us.... You might say a word to mamma about me, my career....'

'Very well, let's go,' said Sanin, and they set off.

 

 X

 Gemma certainly was delighted to see him, and Frau Lenore gave him a very friendly welcome; he had obviously made a good impression on both of them the evening before. Emil ran to see to getting lunch ready, after a preliminary whisper, 'don't forget!' in Sanin's ear.

'I won't forget,' responded Sanin.

Frau Lenore was not quite well; she had a sick headache, and, half-lying down in an easy chair, she tried to keep perfectly still. Gemma wore a full yellow blouse, with a black leather belt round the waist; she too seemed exhausted, and was rather pale; there were dark rings round her eyes, but their lustre was not the less for it; it added something of charm and mystery to the classical lines of her face. Sanin was especially struck that day by the exquisite beauty of her hands; when she smoothed and put back her dark, glossy tresses he could not take his eyes off her long supple fingers, held slightly apart from one another like the hand of Raphael's Fornarina.

It was very hot out-of-doors; after lunch Sanin was about to take leave, but they told him that on such a day the best thing was to stay where one was, and he agreed; he stayed. In the back room where he was sitting with the ladies of the household, coolness reigned supreme; the windows looked out upon a little garden overgrown with acacias. Multitudes of bees, wasps, and humming beetles kept up a steady, eager buzz in their thick branches, which were studded with golden blossoms; through the half-drawn curtains and the lowered blinds this never-ceasing hum made its way into the room, telling of the sultry heat in the air outside, and making the cool of the closed and snug abode seem the sweeter.

Sanin talked a great deal, as on the day before, but not of Russia, nor of Russian life. Being anxious to please his young friend, who had been sent off to Herr Klüber's immediately after lunch, to acquire a knowledge of book-keeping, he turned the conversation on the comparative advantages and disadvantages of art and commerce. He was not surprised at Frau Lenore's standing up for commerce--he had expected that; but Gemma too shared her opinion.

'If one's an artist, and especially a singer,' she declared with a vigorous downward sweep of her hand, 'one's got to be first-rate! Second-rate's worse than nothing; and who can tell if one will arrive at being first-rate?' Pantaleone, who took part too in the conversation--(as an old servant and an old man he had the privilege of sitting down in the presence of the ladies of the house; Italians are not, as a rule, strict in matters of etiquette)--Pantaleone, as a matter of course, stood like a rock for art. To tell the truth, his arguments were somewhat feeble; he kept expatiating for the most part on the necessity, before all things, of possessing '_un certo estro d'inspirazione_'--a certain force of inspiration! Frau Lenore remarked to him that he had, to be sure, possessed such an '_estro_'--and yet ... 'I had enemies,' Pantaleone observed gloomily. 'And how do you know that Emil will not have enemies, even if this "_estro_" is found in him?' 'Very well, make a tradesman of him, then,' retorted Pantaleone in vexation; 'but Giovan' Battista would never have done it, though he was a confectioner himself!' 'Giovan' Battista, my husband, was a reasonable man, and even though he was in his youth led away ...' But the old man would hear nothing more, and walked away, repeating reproachfully, 'Ah! Giovan' Battista!...' Gemma exclaimed that if Emil felt like a patriot, and wanted to devote all his powers to the liberation of Italy, then, of course, for such a high and holy cause he might sacrifice the security of the future--but not for the theatre! Thereupon Frau Lenore became much agitated, and began to implore her daughter to refrain at least from turning her brother's head, and to content herself with being such a desperate republican herself! Frau Lenore groaned as she uttered these words, and began complaining of her head, which was 'ready to split.' (Frau Lenore, in deference to their guest, talked to her daughter in French.)

Gemma began at once to wait upon her; she moistened her forehead with eau-de-Cologne, gently blew on it, gently kissed her cheek, made her lay her head on a pillow, forbade her to speak, and kissed her again. Then, turning to Sanin, she began telling him in a half-joking, half-tender tone what a splendid mother she had, and what a beauty she had been. '"Had been," did I say? she is charming now! Look, look, what eyes!'

Gemma instantly pulled a white handkerchief out of her pocket, covered her mother's face with it, and slowly drawing it downwards, gradually uncovered Frau Lenore's forehead, eyebrows, and eyes; she waited a moment and asked her to open them. Her mother obeyed; Gemma cried out in ecstasy (Frau Lenore's eyes really were very beautiful), and rapidly sliding the handkerchief over the lower, less regular part of the face, fell to kissing her again. Frau Lenore laughed, and turning a little away, with a pretence of violence, pushed her daughter away. She too pretended to struggle with her mother, and lavished caresses on her--not like a cat, in the French manner, but with that special Italian grace in which is always felt the presence of power.

At last Frau Lenore declared she was tired out ... Then Gemma at once advised her to have a little nap, where she was, in her chair, 'and I and the Russian gentleman--"_avec le monsieur russe_"--will be as quiet, as quiet ... as little mice ... "_comme des petites souris_."' Frau Lenore smiled at her in reply, closed her eyes, and after a few sighs began to doze. Gemma quickly dropped down on a bench beside her and did not stir again, only from time to time she put a finger of one hand to her lips--with the other hand she was holding up a pillow behind her mother's head--and said softly, 'sh-sh!' with a sidelong look at Sanin, if he permitted himself the smallest movement. In the end he too sank into a kind of dream, and sat motionless as though spell-bound, while all his faculties were absorbed in admiring the picture presented him by the half-dark room, here and there spotted with patches of light crimson, where fresh, luxuriant roses stood in the old-fashioned green glasses, and the sleeping woman with demurely folded hands and kind, weary face, framed in the snowy whiteness of the pillow, and the young, keenly-alert and also kind, clever, pure, and unspeakably beautiful creature with such black, deep, overshadowed, yet shining eyes.... What was it? A dream? a fairy tale? And how came _he_ to be in it?

 

 XI

 The bell tinkled at the outer door. A young peasant lad in a fur cap and a red waistcoat came into the shop from the street. Not one customer had looked into it since early morning ... 'You see how much business we do!' Frau Lenore observed to Sanin at lunch-time with a sigh. She was still asleep; Gemma was afraid to take her arm from the pillow, and whispered to Sanin: 'You go, and mind the shop for me!' Sanin went on tiptoe into the shop at once. The boy wanted a quarter of a pound of peppermints. 'How much must I take?' Sanin whispered from the door to Gemma. 'Six kreutzers!' she answered in the same whisper. Sanin weighed out a quarter of a pound, found some paper, twisted it into a cone, tipped the peppermints into it, spilt them, tipped them in again, spilt them again, at last handed them to the boy, and took the money.... The boy gazed at him in amazement, twisting his cap in his hands on his stomach, and in the next room, Gemma was stifling with suppressed laughter. Before the first customer had walked out, a second appeared, then a third.... 'I bring luck, it's clear!' thought Sanin. The second customer wanted a glass of orangeade, the third, half-a-pound of sweets. Sanin satisfied their needs, zealously clattering the spoons, changing the saucers, and eagerly plunging his fingers into drawers and jars. On reckoning up, it appeared that he had charged too little for the orangeade, and taken two kreutzers too much for the sweets. Gemma did not cease laughing softly, and Sanin too was aware of an extraordinary lightness of heart, a peculiarly happy state of mind. He felt as if he had for ever been standing behind the counter and dealing in orangeade and sweetmeats, with that exquisite creature looking at him through the doorway with affectionately mocking eyes, while the summer sun, forcing its way through the sturdy leafage of the chestnuts that grew in front of the windows, filled the whole room with the greenish-gold of the midday light and shade, and the heart grew soft in the sweet languor of idleness, carelessness, and youth--first youth!

A fourth customer asked for a cup of coffee; Pantaleone had to be appealed to. (Emil had not yet come back from Herr Klüber's shop.) Sanin went and sat by Gemma again. Frau Lenore still went on sleeping, to her daughter's great delight. 'Mamma always sleeps off her sick headaches,' she observed. Sanin began talking--in a whisper, of course, as before--of his minding the shop; very seriously inquired the price of various articles of confectionery; Gemma just as seriously told him these prices, and meanwhile both of them were inwardly laughing together, as though conscious they were playing in a very amusing farce. All of a sudden, an organ-grinder in the street began playing an air from the Freischütz: '_Durch die Felder, durch die Auen_ ...' The dance tune fell shrill and quivering on the motionless air. Gemma started ... 'He will wake mamma!' Sanin promptly darted out into the street, thrust a few kreutzers into the organ-grinder's hand, and made him cease playing and move away. When he came back, Gemma thanked him with a little nod of the head, and with a pensive smile she began herself just audibly humming the beautiful melody of Weber's, in which Max expresses all the perplexities of first love. Then she asked Sanin whether he knew 'Freischütz,' whether he was fond of Weber, and added that though she was herself an Italian, she liked _such_ music best of all. From Weber the conversation glided off on to poetry and romanticism, on to Hoffmann, whom every one was still reading at that time.

And Frau Lenore still slept, and even snored just a little, and the sunbeams, piercing in narrow streaks through the shutters, were incessantly and imperceptibly shifting and travelling over the floor, the furniture, Gemma's dress, and the leaves and petals of the flowers.

 

 XII

 It appeared that Gemma was not very fond of Hoffmann, that she even thought him ... tedious! The fantastic, misty northern element in his stories was too remote from her clear, southern nature. 'It's all fairy-tales, all written for children!' she declared with some contempt. She was vaguely conscious, too, of the lack of poetry in Hoffmann. But there was one of his stories, the title of which she had forgotten, which she greatly liked; more precisely speaking, it was only the beginning of this story that she liked; the end she had either not read or had forgotten. The story was about a young man who in some place, a sort of restaurant perhaps, meets a girl of striking beauty, a Greek; she is accompanied by a mysterious and strange, wicked old man. The young man falls in love with the girl at first sight; she looks at him so mournfully, as though beseeching him to deliver her.... He goes out for an instant, and, coming back into the restaurant, finds there neither the girl nor the old man; he rushes off in pursuit of her, continually comes upon fresh traces of her, follows them up, and can never by any means come upon her anywhere. The lovely girl has vanished for him for ever and ever, and he is never able to forget her imploring glance, and is tortured by the thought that all the happiness of his life, perhaps, has slipped through his fingers.

Hoffmann does not end his story quite in that way; but so it had taken shape, so it had remained, in Gemma's memory.

'I fancy,' she said, 'such meetings and such partings happen oftener in the world than we suppose.'

Sanin was silent ... and soon after he began talking ... of Herr Klüber. It was the first time he had referred to him; he had not once remembered him till that instant.

Gemma was silent in her turn, and sank into thought, biting the nail of her forefinger and fixing her eyes away. Then she began to speak in praise of her betrothed, alluded to the excursion he had planned for the next day, and, glancing swiftly at Sanin, was silent again.

Sanin did not know on what subject to turn the conversation.

Emil ran in noisily and waked Frau Lenore ... Sanin was relieved by his appearance.

Frau Lenore got up from her low chair. Pantaleone came in and announced that dinner was ready. The friend of the family, ex-singer, and servant also performed the duties of cook.

 

 XIII

 Sanin stayed on after dinner too. They did not let him go, still on the same pretext of the terrible heat; and when the heat began to decrease, they proposed going out into the garden to drink coffee in the shade of the acacias. Sanin consented. He felt very happy. In the quietly monotonous, smooth current of life lie hid great delights, and he gave himself up to these delights with zest, asking nothing much of the present day, but also thinking nothing of the morrow, nor recalling the day before. How much the mere society of such a girl as Gemma meant to him! He would shortly part from her and, most likely, for ever; but so long as they were borne, as in Uhland's song, in one skiff over the sea of life, untossed by tempest, well might the traveller rejoice and be glad. And everything seemed sweet and delightful to the happy voyager. Frau Lenore offered to play against him and Pantaleone at 'tresette,' instructed him in this not complicated Italian game, and won a few kreutzers from him, and he was well content. Pantaleone, at Emil's request, made the poodle, Tartaglia, perform all his tricks, and Tartaglia jumped over a stick 'spoke,' that is, barked, sneezed, shut the door with his nose, fetched his master's trodden-down slippers; and, finally, with an old cap on his head, he portrayed Marshal Bernadotte, subjected to the bitterest upbraidings by the Emperor Napoleon on account of his treachery. Napoleon's part was, of course, performed by Pantaleone, and very faithfully he performed it: he folded his arms across his chest, pulled a cocked hat over his eyes, and spoke very gruffly and sternly, in French--and heavens! what French! Tartaglia sat before his sovereign, all huddled up, with dejected tail, and eyes blinking and twitching in confusion, under the peak of his cap which was stuck on awry; from time to time when Napoleon raised his voice, Bernadotte rose on his hind paws. '_Fuori, traditore!_' cried Napoleon at last, forgetting in the excess of his wrath that he had to sustain his rôle as a Frenchman to the end; and Bernadotte promptly flew under the sofa, but quickly darted out again with a joyful bark, as though to announce that the performance was over. All the spectators laughed, and Sanin more than all.

Gemma had a particularly charming, continual, soft laugh, with very droll little shrieks.... Sanin was fairly enchanted by that laugh--he could have kissed her for those shrieks!

Night came on at last. He had in decency to take leave! After saying good-bye several times over to every one, and repeating several times to all, 'till to-morrow!'--Emil he went so far as to kiss--Sanin started home, carrying with him the image of the young girl, at one time laughing, at another thoughtful, calm, and even indifferent--but always attractive! Her eyes, at one time wide open, clear and bright as day, at another time half shrouded by the lashes and deep and dark as night, seemed to float before his eyes, piercing in a strange sweet way across all other images and recollections.

Of Herr Klüber, of the causes impelling him to remain in Frankfort--in short, of everything that had disturbed his mind the evening before--he never thought once.

 

 XIV

 We must, however, say a few words about Sanin himself.

In the first place, he was very, very good-looking. A handsome, graceful figure, agreeable, rather unformed features, kindly bluish eyes, golden hair, a clear white and red skin, and, above all, that peculiar, naïvely-cheerful, confiding, open, at the first glance, somewhat foolish expression, by which in former days one could recognise directly the children of steady-going, noble families, 'sons of their fathers,' fine young landowners, born and reared in our open, half-wild country parts,--a hesitating gait, a voice with a lisp, a smile like a child's the minute you looked at him ... lastly, freshness, health, softness, softness, softness,--there you have the whole of Sanin. And secondly, he was not stupid and had picked up a fair amount of knowledge. Fresh he had remained, for all his foreign tour; the disturbing emotions in which the greater part of the young people of that day were tempest-tossed were very little known to him.

Of late years, in response to the assiduous search for 'new types,' young men have begun to appear in our literature, determined at all hazards to be 'fresh'... as fresh as Flensburg oysters, when they reach Petersburg.... Sanin was not like them. Since we have had recourse already to simile, he rather recalled a young, leafy, freshly-grafted apple-tree in one of our fertile orchards--or better still, a well-groomed, sleek, sturdy-limbed, tender young 'three-year-old' in some old-fashioned seignorial stud stable, a young horse that they have hardly begun to break in to the traces.... Those who came across Sanin in later years, when life had knocked him about a good deal, and the sleekness and plumpness of youth had long vanished, saw in him a totally different man.

       *       *       *       *       *

Next day Sanin was still in bed when Emil, in his best clothes, with a cane in his hand and much pomade on his head, burst into his room, announcing that Herr Klüber would be here directly with the carriage, that the weather promised to be exquisite, that they had everything ready by now, but that mamma was not going, as her head was bad again. He began to hurry Sanin, telling him that there was not a minute to lose.... And Herr Klüber did, in fact, find Sanin still at his toilet. He knocked at the door, came in, bowed with a bend from the waist, expressed his readiness to wait as long as might be desired, and sat down, his hat balanced elegantly on his knees. The handsome shop-manager had got himself up and perfumed himself to excess: his every action was accompanied by a powerful whiff of the most refined aroma. He arrived in a comfortable open carriage--one of the kind called landau--drawn by two tall and powerful but not well-shaped horses. A quarter of an hour later Sanin, Klüber, and Emil, in this same carriage, drew up triumphantly at the steps of the confectioner's shop. Madame Roselli resolutely refused to join the party; Gemma wanted to stay with her mother; but she simply turned her out.

'I don't want any one,' she declared; 'I shall go to sleep. I would send Pantaleone with you too, only there would be no one to mind the shop.'

'May we take Tartaglia?' asked Emil.

'Of course you may.'

Tartaglia immediately scrambled, with delighted struggles, on to the box and sat there, licking himself; it was obviously a thing he was accustomed to. Gemma put on a large straw hat with brown ribbons; the hat was bent down in front, so as to shade almost the whole of her face from the sun. The line of shadow stopped just at her lips; they wore a tender maiden flush, like the petals of a centifoil rose, and her teeth gleamed stealthily--innocently too, as when children smile. Gemma sat facing the horses, with Sanin; Klüber and Emil sat opposite. The pale face of Frau Lenore appeared at the window; Gemma waved her handkerchief to her, and the horses started.

 

 XV

 Soden is a little town half an hour's distance from Frankfort. It lies in a beautiful country among the spurs of the Taunus Mountains, and is known among us in Russia for its waters, which are supposed to be beneficial to people with weak lungs. The Frankforters visit it more for purposes of recreation, as Soden possesses a fine park and various 'wirthschaften,' where one may drink beer and coffee in the shade of the tall limes and maples. The road from Frankfort to Soden runs along the right bank of the Maine, and is planted all along with fruit trees. While the carriage was rolling slowly along an excellent road, Sanin stealthily watched how Gemma behaved to her betrothed; it was the first time he had seen them together. _She_ was quiet and simple in her manner, but rather more reserved and serious than usual; _he_ had the air of a condescending schoolmaster, permitting himself and those under his authority a discreet and decorous pleasure. Sanin saw no signs in him of any marked attentiveness, of what the French call '_empressement_,' in his demeanour to Gemma. It was clear that Herr Klüber considered that it was a matter settled once for all, and that therefore he saw no reason to trouble or excite himself. But his condescension never left him for an instant! Even during a long ramble before dinner about the wooded hills and valleys behind Soden, even when enjoying the beauties of nature, he treated nature itself with the same condescension, through which his habitual magisterial severity peeped out from time to time. So, for example, he observed in regard to one stream that it ran too straight through the glade, instead of making a few picturesque curves; he disapproved, too, of the conduct of a bird--a chaffinch--for singing so monotonously. Gemma was not bored, and even, apparently, was enjoying herself; but Sanin did not recognise her as the Gemma of the preceding days; it was not that she seemed under a cloud--her beauty had never been more dazzling--but her soul seemed to have withdrawn into herself. With her parasol open and her gloves still buttoned up, she walked sedately, deliberately, as well-bred young girls walk, and spoke little. Emil, too, felt stiff, and Sanin more so than all. He was somewhat embarrassed too by the fact that the conversation was all the time in German. Only Tartaglia was in high spirits! He darted, barking frantically, after blackbirds, leaped over ravines, stumps and roots, rushed headlong into the water, lapped at it in desperate haste, shook himself, whining, and was off like an arrow, his red tongue trailing after him almost to his shoulder. Herr Klüber, for his part, did everything he supposed conducive to the mirthfulness of the company; he begged them to sit down in the shade of a spreading oak-tree, and taking out of a side pocket a small booklet entitled, '_Knallerbsen; oder du sollst und wirst lachen!_' (Squibs; or you must and shall laugh!) began reading the funny anecdotes of which the little book was full. He read them twelve specimens; he aroused very little mirth, however; only Sanin smiled, from politeness, and he himself, Herr Klüber, after each anecdote, gave vent to a brief, business-like, but still condescending laugh. At twelve o'clock the whole party returned to Soden to the best tavern there.

They had to make arrangements about dinner. Herr Klüber proposed that the dinner should be served in a summer-house closed in on all sides--'_im Gartensalon_'; but at this point Gemma rebelled and declared that she would have dinner in the open air, in the garden, at one of the little tables set before the tavern; that she was tired of being all the while with the same faces, and she wanted to see fresh ones. At some of the little tables, groups of visitors were already sitting.

While Herr Klüber, yielding condescendingly to 'the caprice of his betrothed,' went off to interview the head waiter, Gemma stood immovable, biting her lips and looking on the ground; she was conscious that Sanin was persistently and, as it were, inquiringly looking at her--it seemed to enrage her. At last Herr Klüber returned, announced that dinner would be ready in half an hour, and proposed their employing the interval in a game of skittles, adding that this was very good for the appetite, he, he, he! Skittles he played in masterly fashion; as he threw the ball, he put himself into amazingly heroic postures, with artistic play of the muscles, with artistic flourish and shake of the leg. In his own way he was an athlete--and was superbly built! His hands, too, were so white and handsome, and he wiped them on such a sumptuous, gold-striped, Indian bandana!

The moment of dinner arrived, and the whole party seated themselves at the table.

 

 XVI

 Who does not know what a German dinner is like? Watery soup with knobby dumplings and pieces of cinnamon, boiled beef dry as cork, with white fat attached, slimy potatoes, soft beetroot and mashed horseradish, a bluish eel with French capers and vinegar, a roast joint with jam, and the inevitable '_Mehlspeise_,' something of the nature of a pudding with sourish red sauce; but to make up, the beer and wine first-rate! With just such a dinner the tavernkeeper at Soden regaled his customers. The dinner, itself, however, went off satisfactorily. No special liveliness was perceptible, certainly; not even when Herr Klüber proposed the toast 'What we like!' (Was wir lieben!) But at least everything was decorous and seemly. After dinner, coffee was served, thin, reddish, typically German coffee. Herr Klüber, with true gallantry, asked Gemma's permission to smoke a cigar.... But at this point suddenly something occurred, unexpected, and decidedly unpleasant, and even unseemly!

At one of the tables near were sitting several officers of the garrison of the Maine. From their glances and whispering together it was easy to perceive that they were struck by Gemma's beauty; one of them, who had probably stayed in Frankfort, stared at her persistently, as at a figure familiar to him; he obviously knew who she was. He suddenly got up, and glass in hand--all the officers had been drinking hard, and the cloth before them was crowded with bottles--approached the table at which Gemma was sitting. He was a very young flaxen-haired man, with a rather pleasing and even attractive face, but his features were distorted with the wine he had drunk, his cheeks were twitching, his blood-shot eyes wandered, and wore an insolent expression. His companions at first tried to hold him back, but afterwards let him go, interested apparently to see what he would do, and how it would end. Slightly unsteady on his legs, the officer stopped before Gemma, and in an unnaturally screaming voice, in which, in spite of himself, an inward struggle could be discerned, he articulated, 'I drink to the health of the prettiest confectioner in all Frankfort, in all the world (he emptied his glass), and in return I take this flower, picked by her divine little fingers!' He took from the table a rose that lay beside Gemma's plate. At first she was astonished, alarmed, and turned fearfully white ... then alarm was replaced by indignation; she suddenly crimsoned all over, to her very hair--and her eyes, fastened directly on the offender, at the same time darkened and flamed, they were filled with black gloom, and burned with the fire of irrepressible fury. The officer must have been confused by this look; he muttered something unintelligible, bowed, and walked back to his friends. They greeted him with a laugh, and faint applause.

Herr Klüber rose spasmodically from his seat, drew himself up to his full height, and putting on his hat pronounced with dignity, but not too loud, 'Unheard of! Unheard of! Unheard of impertinence!' and at once calling up the waiter, in a severe voice asked for the bill ... more than that, ordered the carriage to be put to, adding that it was impossible for respectable people to frequent the establishment if they were exposed to insult! At those words Gemma, who still sat in her place without stirring--her bosom was heaving violently--Gemma raised her eyes to Herr Klüber ... and she gazed as intently, with the same expression at him as at the officer. Emil was simply shaking with rage.

'Get up, _mein Fräulein_,' Klüber admonished her with the same severity, 'it is not proper for you to remain here. We will go inside, in the tavern!'

Gemma rose in silence; he offered her his arm, she gave him hers, and he walked into the tavern with a majestic step, which became, with his whole bearing, more majestic and haughty the farther he got from the place where they had dined. Poor Emil dragged himself after them.

But while Herr Klüber was settling up with the waiter, to whom, by way of punishment, he gave not a single kreutzer for himself, Sanin with rapid steps approached the table at which the officers were sitting, and addressing Gemma's assailant, who was at that instant offering her rose to his companions in turns to smell, he uttered very distinctly in French, 'What you have just done, sir, is conduct unworthy of an honest man, unworthy of the uniform you wear, and I have come to tell you you are an ill-bred cur!' The young man leaped on to his feet, but another officer, rather older, checked him with a gesture, made him sit down, and turning to Sanin asked him also in French, 'Was he a relation, brother, or betrothed of the girl?'

'I am nothing to her at all,' cried Sanin, 'I am a Russian, but I cannot look on at such insolence with indifference; but here is my card and my address; _monsieur l'officier_ can find me.'

As he uttered these words, Sanin threw his visiting-card on the table, and at the same moment hastily snatched Gemma's rose, which one of the officers sitting at the table had dropped into his plate. The young man was again on the point of jumping up from the table, but his companion again checked him, saying, 'Dönhof, be quiet! Dönhof, sit still.' Then he got up himself, and putting his hand to the peak of his cap, with a certain shade of respectfulness in his voice and manner, told Sanin that to-morrow morning an officer of the regiment would have the honour of calling upon him. Sanin replied with a short bow, and hurriedly returned to his friends.

Herr Klüber pretended he had not noticed either Sanin's absence nor his interview with the officers; he was urging on the coachman, who was putting in the horses, and was furiously angry at his deliberateness. Gemma too said nothing to Sanin, she did not even look at him; from her knitted brows, from her pale and compressed lips, from her very immobility it could be seen that she was suffering inwardly. Only Emil obviously wanted to speak to Sanin, wanted to question him; he had seen Sanin go up to the officers, he had seen him give them something white--a scrap of paper, a note, or a card.... The poor boy's heart was beating, his cheeks burned, he was ready to throw himself on Sanin's neck, ready to cry, or to go with him at once to crush all those accursed officers into dust and ashes! He controlled himself, however, and did no more than watch intently every movement of his noble Russian friend.

The coachman had at last harnessed the horses; the whole party seated themselves in the carriage. Emil climbed on to the box, after Tartaglia; he was more comfortable there, and had not Klüber, whom he could hardly bear the sight of, sitting opposite to him.

       *       *       *       *       *

The whole way home Herr Klüber discoursed ... and he discoursed alone; no one, absolutely no one, opposed him, nor did any one agree with him. He especially insisted on the point that they had been wrong in not following his advice when he suggested dining in a shut-up summer-house. There no unpleasantness could have occurred! Then he expressed a few decided and even liberal sentiments on the unpardonable way in which the government favoured the military, neglected their discipline, and did not sufficiently consider the civilian element in society (_das bürgerliche Element in der Societät_!), and foretold that in time this cause would give rise to discontent, which might well pass into revolution, of which (here he dropped a sympathetic though severe sigh) France had given them a sorrowful example! He added, however, that he personally had the greatest respect for authority, and never ... no, never!... could be a revolutionist--but he could not but express his ... disapprobation at the sight of such licence! Then he made a few general observations on morality and immorality, good-breeding, and the sense of dignity.

During all these lucubrations, Gemma, who even while they were walking before dinner had not seemed quite pleased with Herr Klüber, and had therefore held rather aloof from Sanin, and had been, as it were, embarrassed by his presence--Gemma was unmistakably ashamed of her betrothed! Towards the end of the drive she was positively wretched, and though, as before, she did not address a word to Sanin, she suddenly flung an imploring glance at him.... He, for his part, felt much more sorry for her than indignant with Herr Klüber; he was even secretly, half-consciously, delighted at what had happened in the course of that day, even though he had every reason to expect a challenge next morning.

This miserable _partie de plaisir_ came to an end at last. As he helped Gemma out of the carriage at the confectionery shop, Sanin without a word put into her hand the rose he had recovered. She flushed crimson, pressed his hand, and instantly hid the rose. He did not want to go into the house, though the evening was only just beginning. She did not even invite him. Moreover Pantaleone, who came out on the steps, announced that Frau Lenore was asleep. Emil took a shy good-bye of Sanin; he felt as it were in awe of him; he greatly admired him. Klüber saw Sanin to his lodging, and took leave of him stiffly. The well-regulated German, for all his self-confidence, felt awkward. And indeed every one felt awkward.

But in Sanin this feeling of awkwardness soon passed off. It was replaced by a vague, but pleasant, even triumphant feeling. He walked up and down his room, whistling, and not caring to think about anything, and was very well pleased with himself.

 

 XVII

 'I will wait for the officer's visit till ten o'clock,' he reflected next morning, as he dressed,' and then let him come and look for me!' But Germans rise early: it had not yet struck nine when the waiter informed Sanin that the Herr Seconde Lieutenant von Richter wished to see him. Sanin made haste to put on his coat, and told him to ask him up. Herr Richter turned out, contrary to Sanin's expectation, to be a very young man, almost a boy. He tried to give an expression of dignity to his beardless face, but did not succeed at all: he could not even conceal his embarrassment, and as he sat down on a chair, he tripped over his sword, and almost fell. Stammering and hesitating, he announced to Sanin in bad French that he had come with a message from his friend, Baron von Dönhof; that this message was to demand from Herr von Sanin an apology for the insulting expressions used by him on the previous day; and in case of refusal on the part of Herr von Sanin, Baron von Dönhof would ask for satisfaction. Sanin replied that he did not mean to apologise, but was ready to give him satisfaction. Then Herr von Richter, still with the same hesitation, asked with whom, at what time and place, should he arrange the necessary preliminaries. Sanin answered that he might come to him in two hours' time, and that meanwhile, he, Sanin, would try and find a second. ('Who the devil is there I can have for a second?' he was thinking to himself meantime.) Herr von Richter got up and began to take leave ... but at the doorway he stopped, as though stung by a prick of conscience, and turning to Sanin observed that his friend, Baron von Dönhof, could not but recognise ... that he had been ... to a certain extent, to blame himself in the incident of the previous day, and would, therefore, be satisfied with slight apologies ('_des exghizes léchères_.') To this Sanin replied that he did not intend to make any apology whatever, either slight or considerable, since he did not consider himself to blame. 'In that case,' answered Herr von Richter, blushing more than ever,' you will have to exchange friendly shots--_des goups de bisdolet à l'amiaple_!'

'I don't understand that at all,' observed Sanin; 'are we to fire in the air or what?'

'Oh, not exactly that,' stammered the sub-lieutenant, utterly disconcerted, 'but I supposed since it is an affair between men of honour ... I will talk to your second,' he broke off, and went away.

Sanin dropped into a chair directly he had gone, and stared at the floor. 'What does it all mean? How is it my life has taken such a turn all of a sudden? All the past, all the future has suddenly vanished, gone,--and all that's left is that I am going to fight some one about something in Frankfort.' He recalled a crazy aunt of his who used to dance and sing:

  'O my lieutenant!   My little cucumber!   My little love!   Dance with me, my little dove!'

And he laughed and hummed as she used to: 'O my lieutenant! Dance with me, little dove!' 'But I must act, though, I mustn't waste time,' he cried aloud--jumped up and saw Pantaleone facing him with a note in his hand.

'I knocked several times, but you did not answer; I thought you weren't at home,' said the old man, as he gave him the note. 'From Signorina Gemma.'

Sanin took the note, mechanically, as they say, tore it open, and read it. Gemma wrote to him that she was very anxious--about he knew what--and would be very glad to see him at once.

'The Signorina is anxious,' began Pantaleone, who obviously knew what was in the note, 'she told me to see what you are doing and to bring you to her.'

Sanin glanced at the old Italian, and pondered. A sudden idea flashed upon his brain. For the first instant it struck him as too absurd to be possible.

'After all ... why not?' he asked himself.

'M. Pantaleone!' he said aloud.

The old man started, tucked his chin into his cravat and stared at Sanin.

'Do you know,' pursued Sanin,' what happened yesterday?'

Pantaleone chewed his lips and shook his immense top-knot of hair. 'Yes.'

(Emil had told him all about it directly he got home.)

'Oh, you know! Well, an officer has just this minute left me. That scoundrel challenges me to a duel. I have accepted his challenge. But I have no second. Will _you_ be my second?'

Pantaleone started and raised his eyebrows so high that they were lost under his overhanging hair.

'You are absolutely obliged to fight?' he said at last in Italian; till that instant he had made use of French.

'Absolutely. I can't do otherwise--it would mean disgracing myself for ever.'

'H'm. If I don't consent to be your second you will find some one else.'

'Yes ... undoubtedly.'

Pantaleone looked down. 'But allow me to ask you, Signor de Tsanin, will not your duel throw a slur on the reputation of a certain lady?'

'I don't suppose so; but in any case, there's no help for it.'

'H'm!' Pantaleone retired altogether into his cravat. 'Hey, but that _ferroflucto Klüberio_--what's he about?' he cried all of a sudden, looking up again.

'He? Nothing.'

'_Che_!' Pantaleone shrugged his shoulders contemptuously. 'I have, in any case, to thank you,' he articulated at last in an unsteady voice 'that even in my present humble condition you recognise that I am a gentleman--_un galant'uomo_! In that way you have shown yourself to be a real _galant'uomo_. But I must consider your proposal.'

'There's no time to lose, dear Signor Ci ... cippa ...'

'Tola,' the old man chimed in. 'I ask only for one hour for reflection.... The daughter of my benefactor is involved in this.... And, therefore, I ought, I am bound, to reflect!... In an hour, in three-quarters of an hour, you shall know my decision.'

'Very well; I will wait.'

'And now ... what answer am I to give to Signorina Gemma?'

Sanin took a sheet of paper, wrote on it, 'Set your mind at rest, dear friend; in three hours' time I will come to you, and everything shall be explained. I thank you from my heart for your sympathy,' and handed this sheet to Pantaleone.

He put it carefully into his side-pocket, and once more repeating 'In an hour!' made towards the door; but turning sharply back, ran up to Sanin, seized his hand, and pressing it to his shirt-front, cried, with his eyes to the ceiling: 'Noble youth! Great heart! (_Nobil giovanotto! Gran cuore!_) permit a weak old man (_a un vecchiotto!_) to press your valorous right hand (_la vostra valorosa destra!_)' Then he skipped back a pace or two, threw up both hands, and went away.

Sanin looked after him ... took up the newspaper and tried to read. But his eyes wandered in vain over the lines: he understood nothing.

 

 XVIII

 An hour later the waiter came in again to Sanin, and handed him an old, soiled visiting-card, on which were the following words: 'Pantaleone Cippatola of Varese, court singer (_cantante di camera_) to his Royal Highness the Duke of Modena'; and behind the waiter in walked Pantaleone himself. He had changed his clothes from top to toe. He had on a black frock coat, reddish with long wear, and a white piqué waistcoat, upon which a pinch-beck chain meandered playfully; a heavy cornelian seal hung low down on to his narrow black trousers. In his right hand he carried a black beaver hat, in his left two stout chamois gloves; he had tied his cravat in a taller and broader bow than ever, and had stuck into his starched shirt-front a pin with a stone, a so-called 'cat's eye.' On his forefinger was displayed a ring, consisting of two clasped hands with a burning heart between them. A smell of garments long laid by, a smell of camphor and of musk hung about the whole person of the old man; the anxious solemnity of his deportment must have struck the most casual spectator! Sanin rose to meet him.

'I am your second,' Pantaleone announced in French, and he bowed bending his whole body forward, and turning out his toes like a dancer. 'I have come for instructions. Do you want to fight to the death?'

'Why to the death, my dear Signor Cippatola? I will not for any consideration take back my words--but I am not a bloodthirsty person!... But come, wait a little, my opponent's second will be here directly. I will go into the next room, and you can make arrangements with him. Believe me I shall never forget your kindness, and I thank you from my heart.'

'Honour before everything!' answered Pantaleone, and he sank into an arm-chair, without waiting for Sanin to ask him to sit down. 'If that _ferroflucto spitchebubbio_,' he said, passing from French into Italian, 'if that counter-jumper Klüberio could not appreciate his obvious duty or was afraid, so much the worse for him!... A cheap soul, and that's all about it!... As for the conditions of the duel, I am your second, and your interests are sacred to me!... When I lived in Padua there was a regiment of the white dragoons stationed there, and I was very intimate with many of the officers!... I was quite familiar with their whole code. And I used often to converse on these subjects with your principe Tarbuski too.... Is this second to come soon?'

'I am expecting him every minute--and here he comes,' added Sanin, looking into the street.

Pantaleone got up, looked at his watch, straightened his topknot of hair, and hurriedly stuffed into his shoe an end of tape which was sticking out below his trouser-leg, and the young sub-lieutenant came in, as red and embarrassed as ever.

Sanin presented the seconds to each other. 'M. Richter, sous-lieutenant, M. Cippatola, artiste!' The sub-lieutenant was slightly disconcerted by the old man's appearance ... Oh, what would he have said had any one whispered to him at that instant that the 'artist' presented to him was also employed in the culinary art! But Pantaleone assumed an air as though taking part in the preliminaries of duels was for him the most everyday affair: probably he was assisted at this juncture by the recollections of his theatrical career, and he played the part of second simply as a part. Both he and the sub-lieutenant were silent for a little.

'Well? Let us come to business!' Pantaleone spoke first, playing with his cornelian seal.

'By all means,' responded the sub-lieutenant, 'but ... the presence of one of the principals ...'

'I will leave you at once, gentlemen,' cried Sanin, and with a bow he went away into the bedroom and closed the door after him.

He flung himself on the bed and began thinking of Gemma ... but the conversation of the seconds reached him through the shut door. It was conducted in the French language; both maltreated it mercilessly, each after his own fashion. Pantaleone again alluded to the dragoons in Padua, and Principe Tarbuski; the sub-lieutenant to '_exghizes léchères_' and '_goups de bistolet à l'amiaple_.' But the old man would not even hear of any _exghizes_! To Sanin's horror, he suddenly proceeded to talk of a certain young lady, an innocent maiden, whose little finger was worth more than all the officers in the world ... (_oune zeune damigella innoucenta, qu'a elle sola dans soun péti doa vale pin que tout le zouffissié del mondo_.'), and repeated several times with heat: 'It's shameful! it's shameful!' (_E ouna onta, ouna onta_!) The sub-lieutenant at first made him no reply, but presently an angry quiver could be heard in the young man's voice, and he observed that he had not come there to listen to sermonising.

'At your age it is always a good thing to hear the truth!' cried Pantaleone.

The debate between the seconds several times became stormy; it lasted over an hour, and was concluded at last on the following conditions: 'Baron von Dönhof and M. de Sanin to meet the next day at ten o'clock in a small wood near Hanau, at the distance of twenty paces; each to have the right to fire twice at a signal given by the seconds, the pistols to be single-triggered and not rifle-barrelled.' Herr von Richter withdrew, and Pantaleone solemnly opened the bedroom door, and after communicating the result of their deliberations, cried again: '_Bravo Russo_! _Bravo giovanotto_! You will be victor!'

A few minutes later they both set off to the Rosellis' shop. Sanin, as a preliminary measure, had exacted a promise from Pantaleone to keep the affair of the duel a most profound secret. In reply, the old man had merely held up his finger, and half closing his eyes, whispered twice over, _Segredezza_! He was obviously in good spirits, and even walked with a freer step. All these unusual incidents, unpleasant though they might be, carried him vividly back to the time when he himself both received and gave challenges--only, it is true, on the stage. Baritones, as we all know, have a great deal of strutting and fuming to do in their parts.

 

 XIX

 Emil ran out to meet Sanin--he had been watching for his arrival over an hour--and hurriedly whispered into his ear that his mother knew nothing of the disagreeable incident of the day before, that he must not even hint of it to her, and that he was being sent to Klüber's shop again!... but that he wouldn't go there, but would hide somewhere! Communicating all this information in a few seconds, he suddenly fell on Sanin's shoulder, kissed him impulsively, and rushed away down the street. Gemma met Sanin in the shop; tried to say something and could not. Her lips were trembling a little, while her eyes were half-closed and turned away. He made haste to soothe her by the assurance that the whole affair had ended ... in utter nonsense.

'Has no one been to see you to-day?' she asked.

'A person did come to me and we had an explanation, and we ... we came to the most satisfactory conclusion.'

Gemma went back behind the counter.

'She does not believe me!' he thought ... he went into the next room, however, and there found Frau Lenore.

Her sick headache had passed off, but she was in a depressed state of mind. She gave him a smile of welcome, but warned him at the same time that he would be dull with her to-day, as she was not in a mood to entertain him. He sat down beside her, and noticed that her eyelids were red and swollen.

'What is wrong, Frau Lenore? You've never been crying, surely?'

'Oh!' she whispered, nodding her head towards the room where her daughter was.

'Don't speak of it ... aloud.'

'But what have you been crying for?'

'Ah, M'sieu Sanin, I don't know myself what for!'

'No one has hurt your feelings?'

'Oh no!... I felt very low all of a sudden. I thought of Giovanni Battista ... of my youth ... Then how quickly it had all passed away. I have grown old, my friend, and I can't reconcile myself to that anyhow. I feel I'm just the same as I was ... but old age--it's here! it is here!' Tears came into Frau Lenore's eyes. 'You look at me, I see, and wonder.... But you will get old too, my friend, and will find out how bitter it is!'

Sanin tried to comfort her, spoke of her children, in whom her own youth lived again, even attempted to scoff at her a little, declaring that she was fishing for compliments ... but she quite seriously begged him to leave off, and for the first time he realised that for such a sorrow, the despondency of old age, there is no comfort or cure; one has to wait till it passes off of itself. He proposed a game of tresette, and he could have thought of nothing better. She agreed at once and seemed to get more cheerful.

Sanin played with her until dinner-time and after dinner Pantaleone too took a hand in the game. Never had his topknot hung so low over his forehead, never had his chin retreated so far into his cravat! Every movement was accompanied by such intense solemnity that as one looked at him the thought involuntarily arose, 'What secret is that man guarding with such determination?' But _segredezza_! _segredezza_!

During the whole of that day he tried in every possible way to show the profoundest respect for Sanin; at table, passing by the ladies, he solemnly and sedately handed the dishes first to him; when they were at cards he intentionally gave him the game; he announced, apropos of nothing at all, that the Russians were the most great-hearted, brave, and resolute people in the world!

'Ah, you old flatterer!' Sanin thought to himself.

And he was not so much surprised at Signora Roselli's unexpected state of mind, as at the way her daughter behaved to him. It was not that she avoided him ... on the contrary she sat continually a little distance from him, listened to what he said, and looked at him; but she absolutely declined to get into conversation with him, and directly he began talking to her, she softly rose from her place, and went out for some instants. Then she came in again, and again seated herself in some corner, and sat without stirring, seeming meditative and perplexed ... perplexed above all. Frau Lenore herself noticed at last, that she was not as usual, and asked her twice what was the matter.

'Nothing,' answered Gemma; 'you know I am sometimes like this.'

'That is true,' her mother assented.

So passed all that long day, neither gaily nor drearily--neither cheerfully nor sadly. Had Gemma been different--Sanin ... who knows?... might not perhaps have been able to resist the temptation for a little display--or he might simply have succumbed to melancholy at the possibility of a separation for ever.... But as he did not once succeed in getting a word with Gemma, he was obliged to confine himself to striking minor chords on the piano for a quarter of an hour before evening coffee.

Emil came home late, and to avoid questions about Herr Klüber, beat a hasty retreat. The time came for Sanin too to retire.

He began saying good-bye to Gemma. He recollected for some reason Lensky's parting from Olga in _Oniegin_. He pressed her hand warmly, and tried to get a look at her face, but she turned a little away and released her fingers.

 

 XX

 It was bright starlight when he came out on the steps. What multitudes of stars, big and little, yellow, red, blue and white were scattered over the sky! They seemed all flashing, swarming, twinkling unceasingly. There was no moon in the sky, but without it every object could be clearly discerned in the half-clear, shadowless twilight. Sanin walked down the street to the end ... He did not want to go home at once; he felt a desire to wander about a little in the fresh air. He turned back and had hardly got on a level with the house, where was the Rosellis' shop, when one of the windows looking out on the street, suddenly creaked and opened; in its square of blackness--there was no light in the room--appeared a woman's figure, and he heard his name--'Monsieur Dimitri!'

He rushed at once up to the window ... Gemma! She was leaning with her elbows on the window-sill, bending forward.

'Monsieur Dimitri,' she began in a cautious voice, 'I have been wanting all day long to give you something ... but I could not make up my mind to; and just now, seeing you, quite unexpectedly again, I thought that it seems it is fated' ...

Gemma was forced to stop at this word. She could not go on; something extraordinary happened at that instant.

All of a sudden, in the midst of the profound stillness, over the perfectly unclouded sky, there blew such a violent blast of wind, that the very earth seemed shaking underfoot, the delicate starlight seemed quivering and trembling, the air went round in a whirlwind. The wind, not cold, but hot, almost sultry, smote against the trees, the roof of the house, its walls, and the street; it instantaneously snatched off Sanin's hat, crumpled up and tangled Gemma's curls. Sanin's head was on a level with the window-sill; he could not help clinging close to it, and Gemma clutched hold of his shoulders with both hands, and pressed her bosom against his head. The roar, the din, and the rattle lasted about a minute.... Like a flock of huge birds the revelling whirlwind darted revelling away. A profound stillness reigned once more.

Sanin raised his head and saw above him such an exquisite, scared, excited face, such immense, large, magnificent eyes--it was such a beautiful creature he saw, that his heart stood still within him, he pressed his lips to the delicate tress of hair, that had fallen on his bosom, and could only murmur, 'O Gemma!'

'What was that? Lightning?' she asked, her eyes wandering afar, while she did not take her bare arms from his shoulder.

'Gemma!' repeated Sanin.

She sighed, looked around behind her into the room, and with a rapid movement pulling the now faded rose out of her bodice, she threw it to Sanin.

'I wanted to give you this flower.'

He recognised the rose, which he had won back the day before....

But already the window had slammed-to, and through the dark pane nothing could be seen, no trace of white.

Sanin went home without his hat.... He did not even notice that he had lost it.

 

 XXI

 It was quite morning when he fell asleep. And no wonder! In the blast of that instantaneous summer hurricane, he had almost as instantaneously felt, not that Gemma was lovely, not that he liked her--that he had known before ... but that he almost ... loved her! As suddenly as that blast of wind, had love pounced down upon him. And then this senseless duel! He began to be tormented by mournful forebodings. And even suppose they didn't kill him.... What could come of his love for this girl, another man's betrothed? Even supposing this 'other man' was no danger, that Gemma herself would care for him, or even cared for him already ... What would come of it? How ask what! Such a lovely creature!...

He walked about the room, sat down to the table, took a sheet of paper, traced a few lines on it, and at once blotted them out.... He recalled Gemma's wonderful figure in the dark window, in the starlight, set all a-fluttering by the warm hurricane; he remembered her marble arms, like the arms of the Olympian goddesses, felt their living weight on his shoulders.... Then he took the rose she had thrown him, and it seemed to him that its half-withered petals exhaled a fragrance of her, more delicate than the ordinary scent of the rose.

'And would they kill him straight away or maim him?'

He did not go to bed, and fell asleep in his clothes on the sofa.

Some one slapped him on the shoulder.... He opened his eyes, and saw Pantaleone.

'He sleeps like Alexander of Macedon on the eve of the battle of Babylon!' cried the old man.

'What o'clock is it?' inquired Sanin.

'A quarter to seven; it's a two hours' drive to Hanau, and we must be the first on the field. Russians are always beforehand with their enemies! I have engaged the best carriage in Frankfort!'

Sanin began washing. 'And where are the pistols?'

'That _ferroflucto Tedesco_ will bring the pistols. He'll bring a doctor too.'

Pantaleone was obviously putting a good face on it as he had done the day before; but when he was seated in the carriage with Sanin, when the coachman had cracked his whip and the horses had started off at a gallop, a sudden change came over the old singer and friend of Paduan dragoons. He began to be confused and positively faint-hearted. Something seemed to have given way in him, like a badly built wall.

'What are we doing, my God, _Santissima Madonna!_' he cried in an unexpectedly high pipe, and he clutched at his head. 'What am I about, old fool, madman, _frenetico_?'

Sanin wondered and laughed, and putting his arm lightly round Pantaleone's waist, he reminded him of the French proverb: '_Le vin est tiré--il faut le boire_.'

'Yes, yes,' answered the old man, 'we will drain the cup together to the dregs--but still I'm a madman! I'm a madman! All was going on so quietly, so well ... and all of a sudden: ta-ta-ta, tra-ta-ta!'

'Like the _tutti_ in the orchestra,' observed Sanin with a forced smile. 'But it's not your fault.'

'I know it's not. I should think not indeed! And yet ... such insolent conduct! _Diavolo, diavolo_!' repeated Pantaleone, sighing and shaking his topknot.

The carriage still rolled on and on.

It was an exquisite morning. The streets of Frankfort, which were just beginning to show signs of life, looked so clean and snug; the windows of the houses glittered in flashes like tinfoil; and as soon as the carriage had driven beyond the city walls, from overhead, from a blue but not yet glaring sky, the larks' loud trills showered down in floods. Suddenly at a turn in the road, a familiar figure came from behind a tall poplar, took a few steps forward and stood still. Sanin looked more closely.... Heavens! it was Emil!

'But does he know anything about it?' he demanded of Pantaleone.

'I tell you I'm a madman,' the poor Italian wailed despairingly, almost in a shriek. 'The wretched boy gave me no peace all night, and this morning at last I revealed all to him!'

'So much for your _segredezza_!' thought Sanin. The carriage had got up to Emil. Sanin told the coachman to stop the horses, and called the 'wretched boy' up to him. Emil approached with hesitating steps, pale as he had been on the day he fainted. He could scarcely stand.

'What are you doing here?' Sanin asked him sternly. 'Why aren't you at home?'

'Let ... let me come with you,' faltered Emil in a trembling voice, and he clasped his hands. His teeth were chattering as in a fever. 'I won't get in your way--only take me.'

'If you feel the very slightest affection or respect for me,' said Sanin, 'you will go at once home or to Herr Klüber's shop, and you won't say one word to any one, and will wait for my return!'

'Your return,' moaned Emil--and his voice quivered and broke, 'but if you're--'

'Emil!' Sanin interrupted--and he pointed to the coachman, 'do control yourself! Emil, please, go home! Listen to me, my dear! You say you love me. Well, I beg you!' He held out his hand to him. Emil bent forward, sobbed, pressed it to his lips, and darting away from the road, ran back towards Frankfort across country.

'A noble heart too,' muttered Pantaleone; but Sanin glanced severely at him.... The old man shrank into the corner of the carriage. He was conscious of his fault; and moreover, he felt more and more bewildered every instant; could it really be he who was acting as second, who had got horses, and had made all arrangements, and had left his peaceful abode at six o'clock? Besides, his legs were stiff and aching.

Sanin thought it as well to cheer him up, and he chanced on the very thing, he hit on the right word.

'Where is your old spirit, Signor Cippatola? Where is _il antico valor_?'

Signor Cippatola drew himself up and scowled '_Il antico valor_?' he boomed in a bass voice. '_Non è ancora spento_ (it's not all lost yet), _il antico valor!_'

He put himself in a dignified attitude, began talking of his career, of the opera, of the great tenor Garcia--and arrived at Hanau a hero.

After all, if you think of it, nothing is stronger in the world ... and weaker--than a word!

 

XXII

The copse in which the duel was to take place was a quarter of a mile from Hanau. Sanin and Pantaleone arrived there first, as the latter had predicted; they gave orders for the carriage to remain outside the wood, and they plunged into the shade of the rather thick and close-growing trees. They had to wait about an hour.

The time of waiting did not seem particularly disagreeable to Sanin; he walked up and down the path, listened to the birds singing, watched the dragonflies in their flight, and like the majority of Russians in similar circumstances, tried not to think. He only once dropped into reflection; he came across a young lime-tree, broken down, in all probability by the squall of the previous night. It was unmistakably dying ... all the leaves on it were dead. 'What is it? an omen?' was the thought that flashed across his mind; but he promptly began whistling, leaped over the very tree, and paced up and down the path. As for Pantaleone, he was grumbling, abusing the Germans, sighing and moaning, rubbing first his back and then his knees. He even yawned from agitation, which gave a very comic expression to his tiny shrivelled-up face. Sanin could scarcely help laughing when he looked at him.

They heard, at last, the rolling of wheels along the soft road. 'It's they!' said Pantaleone, and he was on the alert and drew himself up, not without a momentary nervous shiver, which he made haste, however, to cover with the ejaculation 'B-r-r!' and the remark that the morning was rather fresh. A heavy dew drenched the grass and leaves, but the sultry heat penetrated even into the wood.

Both the officers quickly made their appearance under its arched avenues; they were accompanied by a little thick-set man, with a phlegmatic, almost sleepy, expression of face--the army doctor. He carried in one hand an earthenware pitcher of water--to be ready for any emergency; a satchel with surgical instruments and bandages hung on his left shoulder. It was obvious that he was thoroughly used to such excursions; they constituted one of the sources of his income; each duel yielded him eight gold crowns--four from each of the combatants. Herr von Richter carried a case of pistols, Herr von Dönhof--probably considering it the thing--was swinging in his hand a little cane.

'Pantaleone!' Sanin whispered to the old man; 'if ... if I'm killed--anything may happen--take out of my side pocket a paper--there's a flower wrapped up in it--and give the paper to Signorina Gemma. Do you hear? You promise?'

The old man looked dejectedly at him, and nodded his head affirmatively.... But God knows whether he understood what Sanin was asking him to do.

The combatants and the seconds exchanged the customary bows; the doctor alone did not move as much as an eyelash; he sat down yawning on the grass, as much as to say, 'I'm not here for expressions of chivalrous courtesy.' Herr von Richter proposed to Herr 'Tshibadola' that he should select the place; Herr 'Tshibadola' responded, moving his tongue with difficulty--'the wall' within him had completely given way again. 'You act, my dear sir; I will watch....'

And Herr von Richter proceeded to act. He picked out in the wood close by a very pretty clearing all studded with flowers; he measured out the steps, and marked the two extreme points with sticks, which he cut and pointed. He took the pistols out of the case, and squatting on his heels, he rammed in the bullets; in short, he fussed about and exerted himself to the utmost, continually mopping his perspiring brow with a white handkerchief. Pantaleone, who accompanied him, was more like a man frozen. During all these preparations, the two principals stood at a little distance, looking like two schoolboys who have been punished, and are sulky with their tutors.

The decisive moment arrived.... 'Each took his pistol....'

But at this point Herr von Richter observed to Pantaleone that it was his duty, as the senior second, according to the rules of the duel, to address a final word of advice and exhortation to be reconciled to the combatants, before uttering the fatal 'one! two! three!'; that although this exhortation had no effect of any sort and was, as a rule, nothing but an empty formality, still, by the performance of this formality, Herr Cippatola would be rid of a certain share of responsibility; that, properly speaking, such an admonition formed the direct duty of the so-called 'impartial witness' (_unpartheiischer Zeuge_) but since they had no such person present, he, Herr von Richter, would readily yield this privilege to his honoured colleague. Pantaleone, who had already succeeded in obliterating himself behind a bush, so as not to see the offending officer at all, at first made out nothing at all of Herr von Richter's speech, especially, as it had been delivered through the nose, but all of a sudden he started, stepped hurriedly forward, and convulsively thumping at his chest, in a hoarse voice wailed out in his mixed jargon: '_A la la la ... Che bestialita! Deux zeun ommes comme ça que si battono--perchè? Che diavolo? An data a casa!_'

'I will not consent to a reconciliation,' Sanin intervened hurriedly.

'And I too will not,' his opponent repeated after him.

'Well, then shout one, two, three!' von Richter said, addressing the distracted Pantaleone. The latter promptly ducked behind the bush again, and from there, all huddled together, his eyes screwed up, and his head turned away, he shouted at the top of his voice: '_Una ... due ... tre!_'

The first shot was Sanin's, and he missed. His bullet went ping against a tree. Baron von Dönhof shot directly after him--intentionally, to one side, into the air.

A constrained silence followed.... No one moved. Pantaleone uttered a faint moan.

'Is it your wish to go on?' said Dönhof.

'Why did you shoot in the air?' inquired Sanin.

'That's nothing to do with you.'

'Will you shoot in the air the second time?' Sanin asked again.

'Possibly: I don't know.'

'Excuse me, excuse me, gentlemen ...' began von Richter; 'duellists have not the right to talk together. That's out of order.'

'I decline my shot,' said Sanin, and he threw his pistol on the ground.

'And I too do not intend to go on with the duel,' cried Dönhof, and he too threw his pistol on the ground. 'And more than that, I am prepared to own that I was in the wrong--the day before yesterday.'

He moved uneasily, and hesitatingly held out his hand. Sanin went rapidly up to him and shook it. Both the young men looked at each other with a smile, and both their faces flushed crimson.

'_Bravi! bravi!_' Pantaleone roared suddenly as if he had gone mad, and clapping his hands, he rushed like a whirlwind from behind the bush; while the doctor, who had been sitting on one side on a felled tree, promptly rose, poured the water out of the jug and walked off with a lazy, rolling step out of the wood.

'Honour is satisfied, and the duel is over!' von Richter announced.

'_Fuori!_' Pantaleone boomed once more, through old associations.

       *       *       *       *       *

When he had exchanged bows with the officers, and taken his seat in the carriage, Sanin certainly felt all over him, if not a sense of pleasure, at least a certain lightness of heart, as after an operation is over; but there was another feeling astir within him too, a feeling akin to shame.... The duel, in which he had just played his part, struck him as something false, a got-up formality, a common officers' and students' farce. He recalled the phlegmatic doctor, he recalled how he had grinned, that is, wrinkled up his nose when he saw him coming out of the wood almost arm-in-arm with Baron Dönhof. And afterwards when Pantaleone had paid him the four crowns due to him ... Ah! there was something nasty about it!

Yes, Sanin was a little conscience-smitten and ashamed ... though, on the other hand, what was there for him to have done? Could he have left the young officer's insolence unrebuked? could he have behaved like Herr Klüber? He had stood up for Gemma, he had championed her ... that was so; and yet, there was an uneasy pang in his heart, and he was conscience--smitten, and even ashamed.

Not so Pantaleone--he was simply in his glory! He was suddenly possessed by a feeling of pride. A victorious general, returning from the field of battle he has won, could not have looked about him with greater self-satisfaction. Sanin's demeanour during the duel filled him with enthusiasm. He called him a hero, and would not listen to his exhortations and even his entreaties. He compared him to a monument of marble or of bronze, with the statue of the commander in Don Juan! For himself he admitted he had been conscious of some perturbation of mind, 'but, of course, I am an artist,' he observed; 'I have a highly-strung nature, while you are the son of the snows and the granite rocks.'

Sanin was positively at a loss how to quiet the jubilant artist.

       *       *       *       *       *

Almost at the same place in the road where two hours before they had come upon Emil, he again jumped out from behind a tree, and, with a cry of joy upon his lips, waving his cap and leaping into the air, he rushed straight at the carriage, almost fell under the wheel, and, without waiting for the horses to stop, clambered up over the carriage-door and fairly clung to Sanin.

'You are alive, you are not wounded!' he kept repeating. 'Forgive me, I did not obey you, I did not go back to Frankfort ... I could not! I waited for you here ... Tell me how was it? You ... killed him?'

Sanin with some difficulty pacified Emil and made him sit down.

With great verbosity, with evident pleasure, Pantaleone communicated to him all the details of the duel, and, of course, did not omit to refer again to the monument of bronze and the statue of the commander. He even rose from his seat and, standing with his feet wide apart to preserve his equilibrium, folding his arm on his chest and looking contemptuously over his shoulder, gave an ocular representation of the commander--Sanin! Emil listened with awe, occasionally interrupting the narrative with an exclamation, or swiftly getting up and as swiftly kissing his heroic friend.

The carriage wheels rumbled over the paved roads of Frankfort, and stopped at last before the hotel where Sanin was living.

Escorted by his two companions, he went up the stairs, when suddenly a woman came with hurried steps out of the dark corridor; her face was hidden by a veil, she stood still, facing Sanin, wavered a little, gave a trembling sigh, at once ran down into the street and vanished, to the great astonishment of the waiter, who explained that 'that lady had been for over an hour waiting for the return of the foreign gentleman.' Momentary as was the apparition, Sanin recognised Gemma. He recognised her eyes under the thick silk of her brown veil.

'Did Fräulein Gemma know, then?'... he said slowly in a displeased voice in German, addressing Emil and Pantaleone, who were following close on his heels.

Emil blushed and was confused.

'I was obliged to tell her all,' he faltered; 'she guessed, and I could not help it.... But now that's of no consequence,' he hurried to add eagerly, 'everything has ended so splendidly, and she has seen you well and uninjured!'

Sanin turned away.

'What a couple of chatterboxes you are!' he observed in a tone of annoyance, as he went into his room and sat down on a chair.

'Don't be angry, please,' Emil implored.

'Very well, I won't be angry'--(Sanin was not, in fact, angry--and, after all, he could hardly have desired that Gemma should know nothing about it). 'Very well ... that's enough embracing. You get along now. I want to be alone. I'm going to sleep. I'm tired.'

'An excellent idea!' cried Pantaleone. 'You need repose! You have fully earned it, noble signor! Come along, Emilio! On tip-toe! On tip-toe! Sh--sh--sh!'

When he said he wanted to go to sleep, Sanin had simply wished to get rid of his companions; but when he was left alone, he was really aware of considerable weariness in all his limbs; he had hardly closed his eyes all the preceding night, and throwing himself on his bed he fell immediately into a sound sleep.

 

 XXIII

 He slept for some hours without waking. Then he began to dream that he was once more fighting a duel, that the antagonist standing facing him was Herr Klüber, and on a fir-tree was sitting a parrot, and this parrot was Pantaleone, and he kept tapping with his beak: one, one, one!

'One ... one ... one!' he heard the tapping too distinctly; he opened his eyes, raised his head ... some one was knocking at his door.

'Come in!' called Sanin.

The waiter came in and answered that a lady very particularly wished to see him.

'Gemma!' flashed into his head ... but the lady turned out to be her mother, Frau Lenore.

Directly she came in, she dropped at once into a chair and began to cry.

'What is the matter, my dear, good Madame Roselli?' began Sanin, sitting beside her and softly touching her hand. 'What has happened? calm yourself, I entreat you.'

'Ah, Herr Dimitri, I am very ... very miserable!'

'You are miserable?'

'Ah, very! Could I have foreseen such a thing? All of a sudden, like thunder from a clear sky ...'

She caught her breath.

'But what is it? Explain! Would you like a glass of water?'

'No, thank you.' Frau Lenore wiped her eyes with her handkerchief and began to cry with renewed energy. 'I know all, you see! All!'

'All? that is to say?'

'Everything that took place to-day! And the cause ... I know that too! You acted like an honourable man; but what an unfortunate combination of circumstances! I was quite right in not liking that excursion to Soden ... quite right!' (Frau Lenore had said nothing of the sort on the day of the excursion, but she was convinced now that she had foreseen 'all' even then.) 'I have come to you as to an honourable man, as to a friend, though I only saw you for the first time five days ago.... But you know I am a widow, a lonely woman.... My daughter ...'

Tears choked Frau Lenore's voice. Sanin did not know what to think. 'Your daughter?' he repeated.

'My daughter, Gemma,' broke almost with a groan from Frau Lenore, behind the tear-soaked handkerchief, 'informed me to-day that she would not marry Herr Klüber, and that I must refuse him!'

Sanin positively started back a little; he had not expected that.

'I won't say anything now,' Frau Lenore went on, 'of the disgrace of it, of its being something unheard of in the world for a girl to jilt her betrothed; but you see it's ruin for us, Herr Dimitri!' Frau Lenore slowly and carefully twisted up her handkerchief in a tiny, tiny little ball, as though she would enclose all her grief within it. 'We can't go on living on the takings of our shop, Herr Dimitri! and Herr Klüber is very rich, and will be richer still. And what is he to be refused for? Because he did not defend his betrothed? Allowing that was not very handsome on his part, still, he's a civilian, has not had a university education, and as a solid business man, it was for him to look with contempt on the frivolous prank of some unknown little officer. And what sort of insult was it, after all, Herr Dimitri?'

'Excuse me, Frau Lenore, you seem to be blaming me.'

'I am not blaming you in the least, not in the least! You're quite another matter; you are, like all Russians, a military man ...'

'Excuse me, I'm not at all ...'

'You're a foreigner, a visitor, and I'm grateful to you,' Frau Lenore went on, not heeding Sanin. She sighed, waved her hands, unwound her handkerchief again, and blew her nose. Simply from the way in which her distress expressed itself, it could be seen that she had not been born under a northern sky.

'And how is Herr Klüber to look after his shop, if he is to fight with his customers? It's utterly inconsistent! And now I am to send him away! But what are we going to live on? At one time we were the only people that made angel cakes, and nougat of pistachio nuts, and we had plenty of customers; but now all the shops make angel cakes! Only consider; even without this, they'll talk in the town about your duel ... it's impossible to keep it secret. And all of a sudden, the marriage broken off! It will be a scandal, a scandal! Gemma is a splendid girl, she loves me; but she's an obstinate republican, she doesn't care for the opinion of others. You're the only person that can persuade her!'

Sanin was more amazed than ever. 'I, Frau Lenore?'

'Yes, you alone ... you alone. That's why I have come to you; I could not think of anything else to do! You are so clever, so good! You have fought in her defence. She will trust you! She is bound to trust you--why, you have risked your life on her account! You will make her understand, for I can do nothing more; you make her understand that she will bring ruin on herself and all of us. You saved my son--save my daughter too! God Himself sent you here ... I am ready on my knees to beseech you....' And Frau Lenore half rose from her seat as though about to fall at Sanin's feet.... He restrained her.

'Frau Lenore! For mercy's sake! What are you doing?'

She clutched his hand impulsively. 'You promise ...'

'Frau Lenore, think a moment; what right have I ...'

'You promise? You don't want me to die here at once before your eyes?'

Sanin was utterly nonplussed. It was the first time in his life he had had to deal with any one of ardent Italian blood.

'I will do whatever you like,' he cried. 'I will talk to Fräulein Gemma....'

Frau Lenore uttered a cry of delight.

'Only I really can't say what result will come of it ...'

'Ah, don't go back, don't go back from your words!' cried Frau Lenore in an imploring voice; 'you have already consented! The result is certain to be excellent. Any way, _I_ can do nothing more! She won't listen to _me_!'

'Has she so positively stated her disinclination to marry Herr Klüber?' Sanin inquired after a short silence.

'As if she'd cut the knot with a knife! She's her father all over, Giovanni Battista! Wilful girl!'

'Wilful? Is she!' ... Sanin said slowly. 'Yes ... yes ... but she's an angel too. She will mind you. Are you coming soon? Oh, my dear Russian friend!' Frau Lenore rose impulsively from her chair, and as impulsively clasped the head of Sanin, who was sitting opposite her. 'Accept a mother's blessing--and give me some water!'

Sanin brought Signora Roselli a glass of water, gave her his word of honour that he would come directly, escorted her down the stairs to the street, and when he was back in his own room, positively threw up his arms and opened his eyes wide in his amazement.

'Well,' he thought, 'well, _now_ life is going round in a whirl! And it's whirling so that I'm giddy.' He did not attempt to look within, to realise what was going on in himself: it was all uproar and confusion, and that was all he knew! What a day it had been! His lips murmured unconsciously: 'Wilful ... her mother says ... and I have got to advise her ... her! And advise her what?'

Sanin, really, was giddy, and above all this whirl of shifting sensations and impressions and unfinished thoughts, there floated continually the image of Gemma, the image so ineffaceably impressed on his memory on that hot night, quivering with electricity, in that dark window, in the light of the swarming stars!

 

 XXIV

 With hesitating footsteps Sanin approached the house of Signora Roselli. His heart was beating violently; he distinctly felt, and even heard it thumping at his side. What should he say to Gemma, how should he begin? He went into the house, not through the shop, but by the back entrance. In the little outer room he met Frau Lenore. She was both relieved and scared at the sight of him.

'I have been expecting you,' she said in a whisper, squeezing his hand with each of hers in turn. 'Go into the garden; she is there. Mind, I rely on you!'

Sanin went into the garden.

Gemma was sitting on a garden-seat near the path, she was sorting a big basket full of cherries, picking out the ripest, and putting them on a dish. The sun was low--it was seven o'clock in the evening--and there was more purple than gold in the full slanting light with which it flooded the whole of Signora Roselli's little garden. From time to time, faintly audibly, and as it were deliberately, the leaves rustled, and belated bees buzzed abruptly as they flew from one flower to the next, and somewhere a dove was cooing a never-changing, unceasing note. Gemma had on the same round hat in which she had driven to Soden. She peeped at Sanin from under its turned-down brim, and again bent over the basket.

Sanin went up to Gemma, unconsciously making each step shorter, and ... and ... and nothing better could he find to say to her than to ask why was she sorting the cherries.

Gemma was in no haste to reply.

'These are riper,' she observed at last, 'they will go into jam, and those are for tarts. You know the round sweet tarts we sell?'

As she said those words, Gemma bent her head still lower, and her right hand with two cherries in her fingers was suspended in the air between the basket and the dish.

'May I sit by you?' asked Sanin.

'Yes.' Gemma moved a little along on the seat. Sanin placed himself beside her. 'How am I to begin?' was his thought. But Gemma got him out of his difficulty.

'You have fought a duel to-day,' she began eagerly, and she turned all her lovely, bashfully flushing face to him--and what depths of gratitude were shining in those eyes! 'And you are so calm! I suppose for you danger does not exist?'

'Oh, come! I have not been exposed to any danger. Everything went off very satisfactorily and inoffensively.'

Gemma passed her finger to right and to left before her eyes ... Also an Italian gesture. 'No! no! don't say that! You won't deceive me! Pantaleone has told me everything!'

'He's a trustworthy witness! Did he compare me to the statue of the commander?'

'His expressions may be ridiculous, but his feeling is not ridiculous, nor is what you have done to-day. And all that on my account ... for me ... I shall never forget it.'

'I assure you, Fräulein Gemma ...'

'I shall never forget it,' she said deliberately; once more she looked intently at him, and turned away.

He could now see her delicate pure profile, and it seemed to him that he had never seen anything like it, and had never known anything like what he was feeling at that instant. His soul was on fire.

'And my promise!' flashed in among his thoughts.

'Fräulein Gemma ...' he began after a momentary hesitation.

'What?'

She did not turn to him, she went on sorting the cherries, carefully taking them by their stalks with her finger-tips, assiduously picking out the leaves.... But what a confiding caress could be heard in that one word,

'What?'

'Has your mother said nothing to you ... about ...'

'About?'

'About me?'

Gemma suddenly flung back into the basket the cherries she had taken.

'Has she been talking to you?' she asked in her turn.

'Yes.'

'What has she been saying to you?'

'She told me that you ... that you have suddenly decided to change ... your former intention.' Gemma's head was bent again. She vanished altogether under her hat; nothing could be seen but her neck, supple and tender as the stalk of a big flower.

'What intentions?'

'Your intentions ... relative to ... the future arrangement of your life.'

'That is ... you are speaking ... of Herr Klüber?'

'Yes.'

'Mamma told you I don't want to be Herr Klüber's wife?'

'Yes.'

Gemma moved forward on the seat. The basket tottered, fell ... a few cherries rolled on to the path. A minute passed by ... another.

'Why did she tell you so?' he heard her voice saying. Sanin as before could only see Gemma's neck. Her bosom rose and fell more rapidly than before.

'Why? Your mother thought that as you and I, in a short time, have become, so to say, friends, and you have some confidence in me, I am in a position to give you good advice--and you would mind what I say.'

Gemma's hands slowly slid on to her knees. She began plucking at the folds of her dress.

'What advice will you give me, Monsieur Dimitri?' she asked, after a short pause.

Sanin saw that Gemma's fingers were trembling on her knees.... She was only plucking at the folds of her dress to hide their trembling. He softly laid his hand on those pale, shaking fingers.

'Gemma,' he said, 'why don't you look at me?' She instantly tossed her hat back on to her shoulder, and bent her eyes upon him, confiding and grateful as before. She waited for him to speak.... But the sight of her face had bewildered, and, as it were, dazed him. The warm glow of the evening sun lighted up her youthful head, and the expression of that head was brighter, more radiant than its glow.

'I will mind what you say, Monsieur Dimitri,' she said, faintly smiling, and faintly arching her brows; 'but what advice do you give me?'

'What advice?' repeated Sanin. 'Well, you see, your mother considers that to dismiss Herr Klüber simply because he did not show any special courage the day before yesterday ...'

'Simply because?' said Gemma. She bent down, picked up the basket, and set it beside her on the garden seat.

'That ... altogether ... to dismiss him, would be, on your part ... unreasonable; that it is a step, all the consequences of which ought to be thoroughly weighed; that in fact the very position of your affairs imposes certain obligations on every member of your family ...'

'All that is mamma's opinion,' Gemma interposed; 'those are her words; but what is your opinion?'

'Mine?' Sanin was silent for a while. He felt a lump rising in his throat and catching at his breath. 'I too consider,' he began with an effort ...

Gemma drew herself up. 'Too? You too?'

'Yes ... that is ...' Sanin was unable, positively unable to add a single word more.

'Very well,' said Gemma. 'If you, as a friend, advise me to change my decision--that is, not to change my former decision--I will think it over.' Not knowing what she was doing, she began to tip the cherries back from the plate into the basket.... 'Mamma hopes that I will mind what you say. Well ... perhaps I really will mind what you say.'

'But excuse me, Fräulein Gemma, I should like first to know what reason impelled you ...'

'I will mind what you say,' Gemma repeated, her face right up to her brows was working, her cheeks were white, she was biting her lower lip. 'You have done so much for me, that I am bound to do as you wish; bound to carry out your wishes. I will tell mamma ... I will think again. Here she is, by the way, coming here.'

Frau Lenore did in fact appear in the doorway leading from the house to the garden. She was in an agony of impatience; she could not keep still. According to her calculations, Sanin must long ago have finished all he had to say to Gemma, though his conversation with her had not lasted a quarter of an hour.

'No, no, no, for God's sake, don't tell her anything yet,' Sanin articulated hurriedly, almost in alarm. 'Wait a little ... I will tell you, I will write to you ... and till then don't decide on anything ... wait!'

He pressed Gemma's hand, jumped up from the seat, and to Frau Lenore's great amazement, rushed past her, and raising his hat, muttered something unintelligible--and vanished.

She went up to her daughter.

'Tell me, please, Gemma...'

The latter suddenly got up and hugged her. 'Dear mamma, can you wait a little, a tiny bit ... till to-morrow? Can you? And till to-morrow not a word?... Ah!...'

She burst into sudden happy tears, incomprehensible to herself. This surprised Frau Lenore, the more as the expression of Gemma's face was far from sorrowful,--rather joyful in fact.

'What is it?' she asked. 'You never cry and here, all at once ...'

'Nothing, mamma, never mind! you only wait. We must both wait a little. Don't ask me anything till to-morrow--and let us sort the cherries before the sun has set.'

'But you will be reasonable?'

'Oh, I'm very reasonable!' Gemma shook her head significantly. She began to make up little bunches of cherries, holding them high above her flushed face. She did not wipe away her tears; they had dried of themselves.

 

 XXV

 Almost running, Sanin returned to his hotel room. He felt, he knew that only there, only by himself, would it be clear to him at last what was the matter, what was happening to him. And so it was; directly he had got inside his room, directly he had sat down to the writing-table, with both elbows on the table and both hands pressed to his face, he cried in a sad and choked voice, 'I love her, love her madly!' and he was all aglow within, like a fire when a thick layer of dead ash has been suddenly blown off. An instant more ... and he was utterly unable to understand how he could have sat beside her ... her!--and talked to her and not have felt that he worshipped the very hem of her garment, that he was ready as young people express it 'to die at her feet.' The last interview in the garden had decided everything. Now when he thought of her, she did not appear to him with blazing curls in the shining starlight; he saw her sitting on the garden-seat, saw her all at once tossing back her hat, and gazing at him so confidingly ... and the tremor and hunger of love ran through all his veins. He remembered the rose which he had been carrying about in his pocket for three days: he snatched it out, and pressed it with such feverish violence to his lips, that he could not help frowning with the pain. Now he considered nothing, reflected on nothing, did not deliberate, and did not look forward; he had done with all his past, he leaped forward into the future; from the dreary bank of his lonely bachelor life he plunged headlong into that glad, seething, mighty torrent--and little he cared, little he wished to know, where it would carry him, or whether it would dash him against a rock! No more the soft-flowing currents of the Uhland song, which had lulled him not long ago ... These were mighty, irresistible torrents! They rush flying onwards and he flies with them....

He took a sheet of paper, and without blotting out a word, almost with one sweep of the pen, wrote as follows:--

'DEAR GEMMA,--You know what advice I undertook to give you, what your mother desired, and what she asked of me; but what you don't know and what I must tell you now is, that I love you, love you with all the ardour of a heart that loves for the first time! This passion has flamed up in me suddenly, but with such force that I can find no words for it! When your mother came to me and asked me, it was still only smouldering in me, or else I should certainly, as an honest man, have refused to carry out her request.... The confession I make you now is the confession of an honest man. You ought to know whom you have to do with--between us there should exist no misunderstandings. You see that I cannot give you any advice.... I love you, love you, love you--and I have nothing else--either in my head or in my heart!!

'DM. SANIN.'

When he had folded and sealed this note, Sanin was on the point of ringing for the waiter and sending it by him.... 'No!' he thought, 'it would be awkward.... By Emil? But to go to the shop, and seek him out there among the other employés, would be awkward too. Besides, it's dark by now, and he has probably left the shop.' Reflecting after this fashion, Sanin put on his hat, however, and went into the street; he turned a corner, another, and to his unspeakable delight, saw Emil before him. With a satchel under his arm, and a roll of papers in his hand, the young enthusiast was hurrying home.

'They may well say every lover has a lucky star,' thought Sanin, and he called to Emil.

The latter turned and at once rushed to him.

Sanin cut short his transports, handed him the note, and explained to whom and how he was to deliver it.... Emil listened attentively.

'So that no one sees?' he inquired, assuming an important and mysterious air, that said, 'We understand the inner meaning of it all!'

'Yes, my friend,' said Sanin and he was a little disconcerted; however, he patted Emil on the cheek.... 'And if there should be an answer.... You will bring me the answer, won't you? I will stay at home.'

'Don't worry yourself about that!' Emil whispered gaily; he ran off, and as he ran nodded once more to him.

Sanin went back home, and without lighting a candle, flung himself on the sofa, put his hands behind his head, and abandoned himself to those sensations of newly conscious love, which it is no good even to describe. One who has felt them knows their languor and sweetness; to one who has felt them not, one could never make them known.

The door opened--Emil's head appeared.

'I have brought it,' he said in a whisper: 'here it is--the answer!'

He showed and waved above his head a folded sheet of paper.

Sanin leaped up from the sofa and snatched it out of Emil's hand. Passion was working too powerfully within him: he had no thought of reserve now, nor of the observance of a suitable demeanour--even before this boy, her brother. He would have been scrupulous, he would have controlled himself--if he could!

He went to the window, and by the light of a street lamp which stood just opposite the house, he read the following lines:--

I beg you, I beseech you--_don't come to see us, don't show yourself all day to-morrow_. It's necessary, absolutely necessary for me, and then everything shall be settled. I know you will not say no, because ...

'GEMMA.'

Sanin read this note twice through. Oh, how touchingly sweet and beautiful her handwriting seemed to him! He thought a little, and turning to Emil, who, wishing to give him to understand what a discreet young person he was, was standing with his face to the wall, and scratching on it with his finger-nails, he called him aloud by name.

Emil ran at once to Sanin. 'What do you want me to do?'

'Listen, my young friend...'

'Monsieur Dimitri,' Emil interrupted in a plaintive voice, 'why do you address me so formally?'

Sanin laughed. 'Oh, very well. Listen, my dearest boy--(Emil gave a little skip of delight)--listen; _there_ you understand, there, you will say, that everything shall be done exactly as is wished--(Emil compressed his lips and nodded solemnly)--and as for me ... what are you doing to-morrow, my dear boy?'

'I? what am I doing? What would you like me to do?'

'If you can, come to me early in the morning--and we will walk about the country round Frankfort till evening.... Would you like to?'

Emil gave another little skip. 'I say, what in the world could be jollier? Go a walk with you--why, it's simply glorious! I'll be sure to come!'

'And if they won't let you?'

'They will let me!'

'Listen ... Don't say _there_ that I asked you to come for the whole day.'

'Why should I? But I'll get away all the same! What does it matter?'

Emil warmly kissed Sanin, and ran away.

Sanin walked up and down the room a long while, and went late to bed. He gave himself up to the same delicate and sweet sensations, the same joyous thrill at facing a new life. Sanin was very glad that the idea had occurred to him to invite Emil to spend the next day with him; he was like his sister. 'He will recall her,' was his thought.

But most of all, he marvelled how he could have been yesterday other than he was to-day. It seemed to him that he had loved Gemma for all time; and that he had loved her just as he loved her to-day.

 

 XXVI

 At eight o'clock next morning, Emil arrived at Sanin's hotel leading Tartaglia by a string. Had he sprung of German parentage, he could not have shown greater practicality. He had told a lie at home; he had said he was going for a walk with Sanin till lunch-time, and then going to the shop. While Sanin was dressing, Emil began to talk to him, rather hesitatingly, it is true, about Gemma, about her rupture with Herr Klüber; but Sanin preserved an austere silence in reply, and Emil, looking as though he understood why so serious a matter should not be touched on lightly, did not return to the subject, and only assumed from time to time an intense and even severe expression.

After drinking coffee, the two friends set off together--on foot, of course--to Hausen, a little village lying a short distance from Frankfort, and surrounded by woods. The whole chain of the Taunus mountains could be seen clearly from there. The weather was lovely; the sunshine was bright and warm, but not blazing hot; a fresh wind rustled briskly among the green leaves; the shadows of high, round clouds glided swiftly and smoothly in small patches over the earth. The two young people soon got out of the town, and stepped out boldly and gaily along the well-kept road. They reached the woods, and wandered about there a long time; then they lunched very heartily at a country inn; then climbed on to the mountains, admired the views, rolled stones down and clapped their hands, watching the queer droll way in which the stones hopped along like rabbits, till a man passing below, unseen by them, began abusing them in a loud ringing voice. Then they lay full length on the short dry moss of yellowish-violet colour; then they drank beer at another inn; ran races, and tried for a wager which could jump farthest. They discovered an echo, and began to call to it; sang songs, hallooed, wrestled, broke up dry twigs, decked their hats with fern, and even danced. Tartaglia, as far as he could, shared in all these pastimes; he did not throw stones, it is true, but he rolled head over heels after them; he howled when they were singing, and even drank beer, though with evident aversion; he had been trained in this art by a student to whom he had once belonged. But he was not prompt in obeying Emil--not as he was with his master Pantaleone--and when Emil ordered him to 'speak,' or to 'sneeze,' he only wagged his tail and thrust out his tongue like a pipe.

The young people talked, too. At the beginning of the walk, Sanin, as the elder, and so more reflective, turned the conversation on fate and predestination, and the nature and meaning of man's destiny; but the conversation quickly took a less serious turn. Emil began to question his friend and patron about Russia, how duels were fought there, and whether the women there were beautiful, and whether one could learn Russian quickly, and what he had felt when the officer took aim at him. Sanin, on his side, questioned Emil about his father, his mother, and in general about their family affairs, trying every time not to mention Gemma's name--and thinking only of her. To speak more precisely, it was not of her he was thinking, but of the morrow, the mysterious morrow which was to bring him new, unknown happiness! It was as though a veil, a delicate, bright veil, hung faintly fluttering before his mental vision; and behind this veil he felt ... felt the presence of a youthful, motionless, divine image, with a tender smile on its lips, and eyelids severely--with affected seventy--downcast. And this image was not the face of Gemma, it was the face of happiness itself! For, behold, at last _his_ hour had come, the veil had vanished, the lips were parting, the eyelashes are raised--his divinity has looked upon him--and at once light as from the sun, and joy and bliss unending! He dreamed of this morrow--and his soul thrilled with joy again in the melting torture of ever-growing expectation!

And this expectation, this torture, hindered nothing. It accompanied every action, and did not prevent anything. It did not prevent him from dining capitally at a third inn with Emil; and only occasionally, like a brief flash of lightning, the thought shot across him, What if any one in the world knew? This suspense did not prevent him from playing leap-frog with Emil after dinner. The game took place on an open green lawn. And the confusion, the stupefaction of Sanin may be imagined! At the very moment when, accompanied by a sharp bark from Tartaglia, he was flying like a bird, with his legs outspread over Emil, who was bent double, he suddenly saw on the farthest border of the lawn two officers, in whom he recognised at once his adversary and his second, Herr von Dönhof and Herr von Richter! Each of them had stuck an eyeglass in his eye, and was staring at him, chuckling!... Sanin got on his feet, turned away hurriedly, put on the coat he had flung down, jerked out a word to Emil; the latter, too, put on his jacket, and they both immediately made off.

It was late when they got back to Frankfort. 'They'll scold me,' Emil said to Sanin as he said good-bye to him. 'Well, what does it matter? I've had such a splendid, splendid day!'

When he got home to his hotel, Sanin found a note there from Gemma. She fixed a meeting with him for next day, at seven o'clock in the morning, in one of the public gardens which surround Frankfort on all sides.

How his heart throbbed! How glad he was that he had obeyed her so unconditionally! And, my God, what was promised ... what was not promised, by that unknown, unique, impossible, and undubitably certain morrow!

He feasted his eyes on Gemma's note. The long, elegant tail of the letter G, the first letter of her name, which stood at the bottom of the sheet, reminded him of her lovely fingers, her hand.... He thought that he had not once touched that hand with his lips.... 'Italian women,' he mused, 'in spite of what's said of them, are modest and severe.... And Gemma above all! Queen ... goddess ... pure, virginal marble....'

'But the time will come; and it is not far off....' There was that night in Frankfort one happy man.... He slept; but he might have said of himself in the words of the poet:

  'I sleep ... but my watchful heart sleeps not.'

And it fluttered as lightly as a butterfly flutters his wings, as he stoops over the flowers in the summer sunshine.

 

 XXVII

 At five o'clock Sanin woke up, at six he was dressed, at half-past six he was walking up and down the public garden within sight of the little arbour which Gemma had mentioned in her note. It was a still, warm, grey morning. It sometimes seemed as though it were beginning to rain; but the outstretched hand felt nothing, and only looking at one's coat-sleeve, one could see traces of tiny drops like diminutive beads, but even these were soon gone. It seemed there had never been a breath of wind in the world. Every sound moved not, but was shed around in the stillness. In the distance was a faint thickening of whitish mist; in the air there was a scent of mignonette and white acacia flowers.

In the streets the shops were not open yet, but there were already some people walking about; occasionally a solitary carriage rumbled along ... there was no one walking in the garden. A gardener was in a leisurely way scraping the path with a spade, and a decrepit old woman in a black woollen cloak was hobbling across the garden walk. Sanin could not for one instant mistake this poor old creature for Gemma; and yet his heart leaped, and he watched attentively the retreating patch of black.

Seven! chimed the clock on the tower. Sanin stood still. Was it possible she would not come? A shiver of cold suddenly ran through his limbs. The same shiver came again an instant later, but from a different cause. Sanin heard behind him light footsteps, the light rustle of a woman's dress.... He turned round: she!

Gemma was coming up behind him along the path. She was wearing a grey cape and a small dark hat. She glanced at Sanin, turned her head away, and catching him up, passed rapidly by him.

'Gemma,' he articulated, hardly audibly.

She gave him a little nod, and continued to walk on in front. He followed her.

He breathed in broken gasps. His legs shook under him.

Gemma passed by the arbour, turned to the right, passed by a small flat fountain, in which the sparrows were splashing busily, and, going behind a clump of high lilacs, sank down on a bench. The place was snug and hidden. Sanin sat down beside her.

A minute passed, and neither he nor she uttered a word. She did not even look at him; and he gazed not at her face, but at her clasped hands, in which she held a small parasol. What was there to tell, what was there to say, which could compare, in importance, with the simple fact of their presence there, together, alone, so early, so close to each other.

'You ... are not angry with me?' Sanin articulated at last.

It would have been difficult for Sanin to have said anything more foolish than these words ... he was conscious of it himself.... But, at any rate, the silence was broken.

'Angry?' she answered. 'What for? No.'

'And you believe me?' he went on.

'In what you wrote?'

'Yes.'

Gemma's head sank, and she said nothing. The parasol slipped out of her hands. She hastily caught it before it dropped on the path.

'Ah, believe me! believe what I wrote to you!' cried Sanin; all his timidity suddenly vanished, he spoke with heat; 'if there is truth on earth--sacred, absolute truth--it's that I love, love you passionately, Gemma.'

She flung him a sideway, momentary glance, and again almost dropped the parasol.

'Believe me! believe me!' he repeated. He besought her, held out his hands to her, and did not dare to touch her. 'What do you want me to do ... to convince you?'

She glanced at him again.

'Tell me, Monsieur Dimitri,' she began; 'the day before yesterday, when you came to talk to me, you did not, I imagine, know then ... did not feel ...'

'I felt it,' Sanin broke in; 'but I did not know it. I have loved you from the very instant I saw you; but I did not realise at once what you had become to me! And besides, I heard that you were solemnly betrothed.... As far as your mother's request is concerned--in the first place, how could I refuse?--and secondly, I think I carried out her request in such a way that you could guess....'

They heard a heavy tread, and a rather stout gentleman with a knapsack over his shoulder, apparently a foreigner, emerged from behind the clump, and staring, with the unceremoniousness of a tourist, at the couple sitting on the garden-seat, gave a loud cough and went on.

'Your mother,' Sanin began, as soon as the sound of the heavy footsteps had ceased, 'told me your breaking off your engagement would cause a scandal'--Gemma frowned a little--that I was myself in part responsible for unpleasant gossip, and that ... consequently ... I was, to some extent, under an obligation to advise you not to break with your betrothed, Herr Klüber....'

'Monsieur Dimitri,' said Gemma, and she passed her hand over her hair on the side turned towards Sanin, 'don't, please, call Herr Klüber my betrothed. I shall never be his wife. I have broken with him.'

'You have broken with him? when?'

'Yesterday.'

'You saw him?'

'Yes. At our house. He came to see us.'

'Gemma? Then you love me?'

She turned to him.

'Should ... I have come here, if not?' she whispered, and both her hands fell on the seat.

Sanin snatched those powerless, upturned palms, and pressed them to his eyes, to his lips.... Now the veil was lifted of which he had dreamed the night before! Here was happiness, here was its radiant form!

He raised his head, and looked at Gemma, boldly and directly. She, too, looked at him, a little downwards. Her half-shut eyes faintly glistened, dim with light, blissful tears. Her face was not smiling ... no! it laughed, with a blissful, noiseless laugh.

He tried to draw her to him, but she drew back, and never ceasing to laugh the same noiseless laugh, shook her head. 'Wait a little,' her happy eyes seemed to say.

'O Gemma!' cried Sanin: 'I never dreamed that you would love me!'

'I did not expect this myself,' Gemma said softly.

'How could I ever have dreamed,' Sanin went on, 'when I came to Frankfort, where I only expected to remain a few hours, that I should find here the happiness of all my life!'

'All your life? Really?' queried Gemma.

'All my life, for ever and ever!' cried Sanin with fresh ardour.

The gardener's spade suddenly scraped two paces from where they were sitting.

'Let's go home,' whispered Gemma: 'we'll go together--will you?'

If she had said to him at that instant 'Throw yourself in the sea, will you?' he would have been flying headlong into the ocean before she had uttered the last word.

They went together out of the garden and turned homewards, not by the streets of the town, but through the outskirts.

 

 


 欢快的岁月,

幸福的时日——

恰似春水悠悠,

已经一去不留!

——引自古老的抒情歌曲

 

夜半一点多钟他回到自己的书房。打发走点燃灯烛的仆人,他便猛然坐到壁炉边的安乐椅里,用双手捂住了脸。

他还从未感觉到这样疲乏——肉体的与精神的。整个晚上他是与可人的女士们和有教养的男士们度过的;有几位女士颇具几分姿色,男士们几乎个个都智慧 过人,才华出众;他本人的谈吐也相当成功,甚至非常精彩,因此被罗马人称作“taedli-umVitae”的那种“生之烦恼”,还从来没有以那样不可抗拒的力量来 左右他的心情,折磨得他透不过气来。假如他再年轻几岁,或许会由于苦闷、无聊、愤懑而哭泣起来,如同苦艾的苦味一样强烈,灼人的苦痛充溢了他的整个心 灵。一种萦回不去的厌烦心理,一种令人反感的沉重感觉,仿佛秋天的暗夜一般,将他团团围住,而他却不知如何摆脱这黑暗,这苦恼。对睡觉两字已无可指望 :他明知自己不能入睡。

他开始沉思……缓缓地、无力地、又恨恨地。

他想到了尘世的辗转劳碌与无谓,想到了一切庸俗的虚伪。全部逝去的岁月徐徐在他的脑海里经过(他不久前刚满五十二岁),却没有一年一岁可以使他自 我原谅的。到处是空话连篇一事无成,到处是竹篮打水一场空,到处是一半认真、一半故意的自我陶醉——只要孩子不哭,怎么哄他都成;但是倏然间想不到老 之将至了,随之而来的是那不断增长、吞噬一切、消耗一切的对死的恐惧……于是扑通一声跌进无底深渊!如果生活就是这样风云突变,那倒反而好些!否则, 临终以前,会出现虚弱无力,多病多痛……就像铁器生锈一样。在他的印象里,生活的海洋并不像诗人描写的那样,海面上汹涌着滚滚波涛;不,他设想这个海 洋是安宁平坦、纹丝不动,直至最黑暗的底部也是清澈可见的;他自己则坐在一叶灵活易晃的小舟上,而在那淤泥堆积的黑暗海底,隐隐约约看得见一件件如巨 鱼般丑陋的怪物:那是日常人生的种种疾病。弊端、苦痛、狂妄、贫困、盲目……他望着,眼见得一件怪物从黑暗中游离出来,向上升浮,越升越高,看起来越 来越清晰,越来越令人厌恶地清晰……再过一分钟,载他的那叶小舟便会被它掀个底朝天!但是眼看着它又似乎模糊起来,它渐渐远去,沉到了水底,并在那里 停下来,轻轻摆动着尾巴……然而命定的一天终将来临,于是它将小船掀翻了。

他抖了一下脑袋,猛地站起来,在屋子里来回踱了两遍,便坐到书桌前,将抽屉一只接一只地拉开,开始翻捡那些纸页,那些陈年的、大部分是女人的书简。他自己也不明白为什么要这样做,他并不想翻寻什么——他只是想做点表面上的事务来排遣使他苦恼的思绪。无意间他打开了几封信函(在其中一封里发现一 朵干枯的小花,上面缠着一条褪了色的小带子),他只耸了耸肩,望了望壁炉,便将这些信件丢到一边,显然打算把这堆无用废物付诸一炬。他急匆匆地有时把 手伸进这只抽屉,有时伸进另一只抽屉,突然他睁大了眼睛,缓缓地取出一只老式的八角形小盒,又缓缓地打开盖子。盒子里,两层发黄的棉花下面,放着一个 石榴石的小十字架。

他困惑莫解地对着这个十字架仔细看了一会,突然轻轻叫了一声……他面部流露的表情既不是悔恨,也不是喜悦。当一个人与早已音讯杳然的另一个人不期 而遇,那个人他曾一度温存地爱过,而今忽然出现在他眼前——还是那个人,却被岁月整个儿改变了模样,在这个时候,他的脸上才会出现类似的表情。

他站起来,回到壁炉边,又坐到安乐椅上——又用手捂住了脸……“为什么要在今天?非得在今天?”他忖道,于是回想起了许多早已成为过去的事。

下面就是他的回忆……

------------------

 

不过首先得交代他的名字、父名和姓氏。他叫萨宁•德米特里•巴甫洛维奇。

下面就是他的回忆。

故事发生在1840年。萨宁刚过二十二岁,在从意大利返回俄国的途中,耽搁在法兰克福。他财产不多,却是个独立的人,几乎无家无室。由于一位远亲的故 世,他得手了几千卢布,于是决计到国外去花掉这笔钱,趁他还没有去供职谋生,趁自己还没有受到公职这根锁链的羁绊(没有这锁链,要想得到生活保障是不 堪设想的)。萨宁毫发不爽地执行了自己的计划,而且安排得恰到好处,在他抵达法兰克福时身边剩下的钱正好够他用到彼得堡。在1840年铁路还十分稀罕,旅 行家先生们乘坐的是公共马车。萨宁在拖车里订到一个座位。但是只有晚间十点才有出发的班车,时间绰绰有余。所幸天气晴好,萨宁于是在当时著名的“白天 鹅”饭店用过午餐后便去城里闲逛。他顺道参观了丹奈格尔的阿里阿德涅①,不过他不怎么喜欢;参观了歌德故居,歌德的作品他只读过一本《少年维特之烦恼 》,而且还是法文译本;沿美因河遛达徘徊了一阵,像体面的旅行者常做的那样寂寞无聊了一会,最后在傍晚五点钟的时候一身疲乏、拖着风尘仆仆的双腿,来 到法兰克福最不起眼的一条街上。这条街令他尔后久久不能忘怀。在街上为数不多的房屋中,他看到其中一幢房屋上的一块招牌:“乔万尼•路塞里记意大利糖 果店”,这一行字招待着过往行人。萨宁想喝杯柠檬汁,便走了进去。在刚进门的那个房间里,简朴的柜台后面,上了漆的橱窗的搁板上,像药铺一样陈列着几 个贴有金色标签的瓶子,还有那么多盛有面包干。巧克力饼和冰糖的玻璃罐。这个房间里一个人也没有;只有一只灰猫,在窗边一张高高的柳条椅上眯起眼睛, 四只爪子有节奏地一蹬一蹬打着呼噜;一个大大的红毛线球和一只翻倒的雕木小篮子并排放在地板上,在薄暮斜阳的映照下发出耀眼的红色。隔壁房里依稀听得 见模糊不清的声音。萨宁站了一会,打了门铃,待它响过,便提高声音说道:“这里一个人也没有吗?”就在那一刻隔壁房间的门开了——于是萨宁身不由己地 一阵惊讶。

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店堂里急急忙忙地跑进来一个十九岁上下的少女,她那裸露的肩头技散着棕色头发,一双没有戴手套的手向前伸着,见到萨宁后马上向他跑过去,抓起他的 手,拉着他跟自己走,一面气喘吁吁地说:“快,快,到这儿来,救救他吧!”萨宁不是因为不愿意跟地走,实在是过于惊讶了,所以没有立刻跟着走去,仿佛 要站在那里顶住似的;有生以来他没有见过这么漂亮的姑娘。她向他回过头来,说道:“请来吧,来吧!”在她的话音里、目光里、痉挛地举向苍白面颊的紧握 的手的动作里,都带有如此绝望的神情,使得萨宁马上跟着她冲进了敞开的门里。

在他跟随姑娘跑进去的那个房间里,一张老式的马鬃编的沙发上躺着一个十四岁左右的男孩,模样与姑娘惊人地相似,显而易见是她的弟弟;男孩满脸苍白 ,白中透着淡淡的黄色,就像白蜡或者古旧的大理石。他双目闭着,浓密的黑发在仿佛僵硬的前额和凝滞不动的细细的双眉上投下一片暗影,发青的唇间露出咬 得紧紧的牙齿。看来他已停止呼吸。一只手耷拉着碰到了地板,另一只手枕在脑后。男孩穿着衣服,扣着扣子;紧紧的领结卡着他的脖子。

杰玛哭喊着向他扑去。

“他死了,他死了!”她喊道,“刚才还坐在这里和我说话,突然倒下不动了……我的天!难道就没救了?妈妈又不在!潘塔列昂,潘塔列昂,医生怎么啦 ?”她忽然又用意大利语说,“你去请过医生了吗?”

“小姐,我没有去过,我派露易斯去了。”门后面响起一个嘶哑的声音,说着房间里一拐一拐地走进一个小老头,他穿一件黑纽扣的紫色燕尾服,系一个高 高的白领结,下身是一条南京土布做的短短的长裤,一双蓝羊毛长袜。在一大堆铁灰色的花白头发下面,他那小小的脸已全然看不见了。这蓬头发先是在头的四 周笔直向上翘起,然后又蓬蓬松松地一绺一绺往下挂,使得老人的形象酷似一只风头鸡;在这一大堆深灰色的毛发下面,只辨认得出一个尖尖的鼻子,还有一双 圆圆的黄眼睛,这就使这种相似越发惊人了。

“露易斯跑得快,我可跑不动,”老人依次抬了抬那两只穿在打花结的高帮鞋里的患风湿的双脚,继续用意大利语说,“我这就打水去。”

他用干瘦变形的手指紧紧抓着水瓶的长颈。

“可爱弥儿这就要死了!”少女大声说道,同时把手伸向萨宁。“哦,我的先生,o mein Herr!难道您就无能为力吗?”

“应当给他放血,这是中风啦。”被叫作潘塔列昂的老头说。

尽管萨宁对于医道一窍不通,但是有一点他是确信无疑的:十四岁的小孩子不会中风。

“这是昏厥,不是中风,”他向着潘塔列昂说。“你们有刷子吗?”

老人抬起了小小的脸。

“什么?”

“刷子,刷子,”萨宁用德语,又用法语说。“刷子。”他又说一遍,同时做出刷衣服的样子。

老人终于听明白了。

“哦,是刷子!Spezzette!怎么会没有刷子呢!”

“请拿几把过来,咱们把他的晚礼服脱了,再给他刷身子。”

“好……Benon!用不着往头上浇水吗?”

“不需要……过一会再说;现在快点把刷子找来。”

潘塔列昂把水瓶放到地上,跑了出去,一转眼就拿了两把刷子回来,一把头刷,一把衣刷。鬈毛狮子狗陪着他进进出出,使劲摇着尾巴,好奇地望着老人、 少女,甚至萨宁,似乎想弄明白这一场惊吓究竟是怎么回事。

萨宁利索地从躺着的男孩身上脱下晚礼服,解开领口,卷起他衬衣的袖子,然后握住刷子,开始使尽力气刷他的胸口和两臂。潘塔列昂也用心地用另一把— —刷头的刷子刷他的靴子和裤子。姑娘跪在沙发旁边,双手紧紧捧着脑袋,眼睛一眨也不眨,直勾勾地盯着自己的弟弟。

萨宁一面刷着,一面斜眼去看她。我的天!多么漂亮的姑娘!

她的鼻子略显得大些,却是美丽的鹰钩形的;上唇覆着一层细茸毛;但是均匀而没有光泽的脸色,活脱脱像象牙或乳白色琥珀;波浪形的头发就像比蒂宫里 阿洛里的尤狄菲①;尤其是眼睛,那双深灰色、瞳孔四周有一个黑圈的喜气洋洋的美丽眼睛,即使现在,当惊吓和痛苦使之失去光彩的时候……萨宁不由得想起 了他曾从那里启程回国的那个美妙的地方……是啊,他在意大利可没有遇上过类似的情景!姑娘呼吸的次数很少,而且不均匀;看样子她的每次呼吸都在期待着 ,看她的弟弟是否开始透气。

① 比蒂宫在意大利佛罗伦萨,建于1516世纪,自1828年起在此创办比蒂美术馆,收藏1517世纪意大利和佛兰德斯绘画作品。《尤狄菲》是意大利著名 画家阿洛里(1577-1621)的作品。

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萨宁继续给男孩用刷子磨擦,但是眼睛却在看姑娘。潘塔列昂的古怪形象同样引起他的注意。老人已经一点力气也没有了,开始吁吁喘气。他的刷子每刷一 下,他就身子一颠,尖声地哼哼,那大蓬的头发已被汗水浸湿,沉重地一左一右摇来摆去,仿佛受到水流冲击的巨大的植物的根须。

“您至少得脱了他的靴子。”萨宁曾想告诉他……

狮子狗大概是被所发生的种种反常现象激怒了,突然将前趾趴在地上,开始汪汪吠叫。

“塔尔塔里亚,坏蛋!”①老人向它发出警告……

① 原文为意大利文。

但是此时姑娘的脸部表情变了。她的眉头舒展了,眼睛也变大了,并且开始闪现喜悦的光芒……

萨宁回过头去……年轻人的脸上开始显现红晕;眼皮微微动了一下……鼻孔也颤动了一下。他透过依然紧咬的牙齿吸了口气,发出一声叹息……

“爱弥儿!……”姑娘大声叫道,“我的爱弥里奥!”

一双大大的黑眼睛徐徐地睁开了。这双眼睛看人的目光还很迟钝,但是已经露出笑意——微弱的笑意;同样微弱的笑意也出现在他苍白的双唇上。接着他挪 动一下下垂的手臂,然后一挥,搁到了胸口。

“爱弥里奥!”姑娘又叫了一声,身子稍稍抬起了一些。她脸部的表情是那么强烈和鲜明,使人觉得刹那之间她要么会眼泪夺眶而出,要么会爆发出一阵大 笑。

“爱弥儿!怎么回事?爱弥儿!”门外传来一个声音——于是房里快步走进一个衣着整齐、头发银灰、脸色黝黑的女士。随她进来的是一位上了年纪的男人 。女仆的头影在他的肩膀后面晃了一下。

少女迎着他们跑上前去。

“他得救了,妈妈,他活着!”她大声说道,一面痉挛地拥抱进门的女士。

“究竟是怎么回事?”她又问道,“我正回家来……突然遇见了医生先生和露易斯……”

姑娘开始叙述事情的经过,医生则走到病人的跟前;他已越来越清醒,继续挂着微笑:他仿佛开始为自己制造的这场惊吓不好意思起来。

“我看得出,你们用刷子刷过他了。”医生对着萨宁和潘塔列昂说,“你们做得非常好……这是非常好的点子……现在咱们再看看需要采取哪些措施……” 他按了按年轻人的脉搏。“嗯!伸出舌头看看!”

女士担心地向他俯下身子。他笑得更加开朗了,把目光移到了她身上,于是脸红了……

萨宁想到他成了多余的人;他走出去到了店堂里。但是他还没来得及去抓通向街上的门的把手,姑娘又出现在他面前,使他停了下来。

“您要走,”她温和地望着他的脸,开始说,“我不挽留您,但是今晚上请您一定再来这里,我们是那样地感激您,——您,也许是救了我弟弟的命,我们 想感谢您——妈妈希望这样做。您应当告诉我们您是谁,您和我们在一起应当会感到高兴……”

“但是我今天就要去柏林。”萨宁结结巴巴地说了一句。

“您还来得及,”姑娘热情地反对说,“过一个小时请再来我们家喝杯巧克力。您答应吗?我还得回去看他!您一定来。”

萨宁还能怎么办呢?

“一定来。”他回答说。

美丽的少女很快握了握他的手,飞也似的走了,萨宁则来到了街头。

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一个半小时以后当萨宁回到路塞里糖果店时,他在那里受到亲人般的接待。爱弥儿坐在给他刷身的那张沙发上;医生给他开了处方,建议病人“小心自己的 感觉”,因为他这个人的气质是敏感型的,很容易得心脏病。他以前也曾有过昏厥,不过从来没有发得那么久,那么厉害、好在医生说一切危险已经过去。爱弥 儿的穿着像一个正在康复的病人,套着一件宽大的睡衣;母亲在他脖子上围了一块天蓝色的三角头巾;但是他的样子非常快乐,几乎像过节一般。再说周围的一 切也都呈现出一派过节的样子。沙发前面放着一张圆桌,上面铺了一块干净的桌布,高高耸立着一只盛满香喷喷的巧克力的大瓷器咖啡壶,壶四周摆着茶盏,盛 糖浆的长颈玻璃瓶,饼干,小圆面包,甚至还放了花;六根细细的蜡烛分别在两只古老的银烛台上点燃。沙发的一头是一张伏尔泰椅,正张开自己柔软的怀抱, 萨宁正是被请在这张椅子上就座的。糖果店里在那一天他必须认识的一应人员,都到场了,连狮子狗塔尔塔里亚和猫咪也不例外。大家看起来都说不出的幸福。 狮子狗甚至高兴得打起了喷嚏,只有猫咪还是装腔作势,眯着眼睛。萨宁被要求说明自己是哪里人,从哪里来,姓甚名谁。当他说到自己是俄国人时两位女士有 点惊讶,甚至啊地叫了一声,但是马上又同声说他的德语说得非常好;不过,假如他觉得说法语更方便的话,他也可以说这种语言,因为她们两人对法语的理解 非常好,而且也说得不错。萨宁当即接受了这个建议。“萨宁!萨宁!”两位女士怎么也没有想到俄罗斯姓氏的发音竟如此轻松。他的名字“德米特里”也使她 们很喜欢。年长的那位女士说,她年轻时听过一个歌剧叫《德米特里奥和波丽比奥》,但是“德米特里”比“德米特里奥”念起来好多了。萨宁以这样的方式闲 谈了大约一个小时。从自己方面说,两位女士也向他叙说了自己生活中的一切详情。说得更多的是母亲,那位头发花白的女士。萨宁从她的谈吐得知她叫来诺拉 •路塞里,在丈夫乔万尼•巴蒂斯塔•路塞里去世以后一直守寡;她丈夫二十五年前作为糖果点心师迁居到法兰克福;乔万尼•巴蒂斯塔是维琴察人,虽然性情 急躁,也有点孤高自傲,为人倒挺不错,而且,还是个共和主义者!说到这里路塞里太太指了指挂在沙发上方的那幅他的油画肖像。应当认为画像的作者(正如 路塞里太太指出的那样:“也是个共和主义者!”)没有能完全抓住他的形貌,因为画上那个已故的乔万尼•巴蒂斯塔像个神色忧郁冷峻的绿林好汉,类似里纳 尔多•里纳尔第尼①的人物!路塞里太太本人出身于“古老而美丽的帕尔玛城,那里有不朽的柯勒乔绘画的美妙绝伦的圆顶②!”但是由于久居德国,她几乎完 全德国化了。后来她伤心地摇摇头继续说,她只剩下这个女儿和这个儿子了(她依次用手指指了指);女儿叫杰玛,儿子叫爱弥里奥;两个人都是很听话的好孩 子,尤其是爱弥里奥……(“我不听话吗?”这时女儿插进话来;“哦,你也是个共和主义者!”母亲回答说);他们的生意比起丈夫在世的时候,现在显然在 走下坡路,她丈夫在糖果业方面可是个了不起的能手……(“un granduomo!”潘诺列昂神色严厉地接口说);不过托上帝的福,生活还维持得下去!

① 里纳尔多•里纳尔第尼,德国作家乌尔庇乌斯(1762-1827)的绿林小说《匪首里纳尔多•里纳尔第尼》的主人公。

② 指意大利文艺复兴时期画家柯勒乔(1494-1534)在帕尔玛大教堂的天顶画《圣母升天》。

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杰玛听着母亲说话,有时哧哧暗笑,有时叹上一口气,有时抚抚她的肩膀,有时扬起一个手指向她警告,有时望望萨宁;最后她站起来,拥抱了母亲,亲了 亲她的脖子——亲在颈窝上,这使她笑了好久,甚至尖叫起来。潘塔列昂也被介绍给萨宁。原来他一度当过歌剧演员,参加男中音组的演唱,不过早已结束自己的演出生涯,在路塞里家中成为一个介乎朋友和仆人之间的人物。尽管他在德国长年居住,他的德语却学得很糟糕,只会用来骂人。“费罗弗卢克托•斯比切布 比奥!”①几乎每一个德国人都被他骂到了。他的意大利语说得非常地道,因为他出生在西尼加里亚②,那里可以听到“罗马人说的托斯卡纳语”③!爱弥里奥 明显地感到舒服起来,正尽情享受着一个脱离了危险或正在康复的人所感受到的那种愉悦;除此以外,从各方面可以看出家里人对他十分宠爱。他腼腆地向萨宁 道了谢,不过更多的是请他吃糖浆和糖果。萨宁被迫喝了两大杯上好的巧克力,吃了许多饼干:他刚吞下一块,杰玛已经给他放上第二块,而且不吃不行!不久 他便感到如同在家里一样了:时间过得难以置信地快。他必须介绍许多情况——关于俄罗斯的各个方面,俄国的气候,俄国的社会,俄罗斯的农民——尤其是哥 萨克。有关1812年的战争,彼得大帝,克里姆林宫,又谈俄罗斯的歌曲,又谈排钟。两位女士关于我们辽阔而遥远的祖国的概念非常淡薄。路塞里夫人,或者按 通常的称呼,来诺拉太太,甚至提出令萨宁惊讶的问题:在彼得堡还有没有建于上个世纪的著名冰屋,这是她前不久从她已故丈夫的一本叫《艺术之美》④的非 常引人入胜的书里读到的。对于萨宁“难道您认为俄罗斯永远也没有夏天吗”的惊叹,来诺拉太太回答说,她至今还是这样想像俄罗斯的:永恒的积雪,人人都 穿皮大衣,人人都当兵——但是异常好客,而且所有的农民都很顺良!萨宁便努力向她和她的女儿提供更准确的情况。当话题涉及到俄罗斯音乐时,她们马上要 他唱一曲俄罗斯的咏叹调,并指了指放在房间里的一架小钢琴;这架钢琴上白键的位置安的是黑键,黑键的位置安的是白健。他没有作什么推托,就服从了。他 用右手的两个手指和左手的三个手指(拇指、中指和小指)在琴上伴奏,用细细的带鼻音的男高音先唱了《萨拉方》,接着唱了《在马路上》。女士们称赞他的 歌喉和歌曲的音乐,但更多的是赞叹俄语的柔和与悦耳,于是要求他翻译歌词。萨宁满足了她们的愿望,但是由于“萨拉方”,尤其是“在马路上”(他是这样 转述原意的:“在石头铺砌的街道上年轻的姑娘去打水”)这几个词不能引起他的听众对俄罗斯诗歌的深刻理解,他先朗诵了一遍,接着再翻译了一遍,然后又 唱了普希金的《我记得那美妙的一瞬》⑤,这首由格林卡谱曲的歌的几个忧郁的小段,他唱得稍稍走了点调。这时女士们的兴奋达到了高潮——来诺拉太太甚至 发现俄语和意大利语有惊人的相似点。“Mrhobehbe”——“o,vieni”⑥;“comHod”——“siam noi”⑦,等等。甚至连名字:普希金(她读作“普斯金”)和格林卡,在她听来也有亲切感。反过来,萨宁也请两位女士唱点什么。她们也没有客气。来诺拉 太太坐到钢琴前,和杰玛一起唱了几首二重唱和民间歌谣。母亲从前曾是个出色的女低音;女儿的嗓子稍逊一筹,却非常动听。

① 被潘塔列昂说走样的德语的拟音,意为“可恶的骗子”。

② 位于亚得里亚海滨的意大利小城。

③ 托斯卡纳地区在罗马帝国崩溃后成为意大利重要的文化中心,此地的方言在兼容意大利各地方言的许多特点后,逐渐发展成意大利的标准语。

④ 原文为意大利文。

⑤ 普希金1825年写的抒情诗,是献给女友凯恩的。

⑥ 前者为俄文,意思是“瞬间”;后者为意大利文,意思是“哦,来吧”。两者在发音上有相似处。

⑦ 前者为俄文,意即“跟着我”;后者为意大利文,意即“是我们”,情况与上注同。

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然而萨宁欣赏的不是杰玛的歌喉,而是她这个人本身。他坐在稍稍靠后和靠边的地方,心里忖道,任何一棵棕榈树——甚至在当时十分时髦的诗人别内迪克 托夫的诗里——都不能和她身段的幽雅苗条媲美。当她唱到几个动人的音调而把眼睛抬起时,他觉得没有那样一块天空,在她的那样的目光前面不会豁然开朗的 。连潘塔列昂老人,他肩膀靠在门框上,下巴和嘴都缩到了宽大的领结里,也郑重其事、以行家里手的神情听着——连他也在欣赏美丽少女的面容,而且为之愕 然——其实他该是司空见惯了的!唱完和女儿的二重唱后,来诺拉太太说爱弥里奥有一副好嗓子,真正的银嗓子,但是他正处于变嗓期(确实,他说话的时候用 的是一种不断变化的男低声),因此不许他唱歌。倒是潘塔列昂,也许能一展当年雄风!潘塔列昂顿时露出不满的神色,皱起眉头,搔乱了头发,声明他早已不干这一行了,虽然在年轻的时候确曾为自己保持荣誉;但那是属于那个伟大时代的事了,当时有名副其实的古典歌手——现在那些只会叽叽叫的人比都不能比! 也有名副其实的音乐学校。有一次在摩德纳人们向他,这位来自瓦雷泽的潘塔列昂•奇巴图拉献了桂冠,为此剧场里还放了几只白鸽;而且一位叫塔尔布斯基的 俄国公爵(ilprincipe Tarbusski,他与他的关系非常友好),在晚餐的时候总是叫他到俄国去,答应给他像山一样多的金子,像山一样多!……但是他不愿意离开意大利,离开但丁 的国家(il paese del Dane!)。后来当然发生了……不幸的情况,是他自己不小心……这时老人中断自己的话,深深地叹了两口气,垂下了眼睑,接着又重新谈起了古典音乐的时代 ,谈起了著名男高音歌唱家加尔西亚①,对他,他怀有真诚、无尚的敬意。

① 马努埃尔•加尔西亚(1775-1832),世界闻名的西班牙歌剧演唱家和作曲家,也是屠格涅夫终身的朋友女歌唱家波丽•维亚尔多夫人的老师和父亲。

“这才是个人!”他大声说,“伟大的加尔西亚(il gran Garsia)从来也不会降格到像今天那些唱男高音的家伙(tenoracci)那样用假音来唱:一直是用胸音,胸音(voce di pettosi!),”老人猛烈地用干瘦的小拳头打了打自己衬衣的硬领,“多么了不起的演员!火山,我的先生们,火山,一座维苏威①!我曾荣幸地有缘和他 在最著名的大师②罗西尼的歌剧《奥赛罗》③里一起演唱!加尔西亚演奥赛罗,我演雅各——当他唱这一句的时候……”

① 原文为意大利文。

② 原文为意大利文。

③ 原文为意大利文。

这时潘塔列昂站好姿势,用颤抖而嘶哑,却依然热情奔放的噪音唱起来:

愤怒……命运……我

再也不会害怕!①

① 原文为意大利文。

全场都颤动了,我的先生们①!但是我不示弱;于是我接着唱:

愤怒……命运……我

再也不会害怕!②

① 原文为意大利文。

② 原文为意大利文。

“蓦地里他像闪电,像猛虎一样唱道:‘我要死了……但已经复仇……①,

“或者再比方,当他唱《秘婚记》②里这段著名的咏叹调时:‘在……升起之前……’③这时,伟大的加尔西亚④在‘千里快马’⑤四个字后面用念自叹道 :‘一刻不停地赶’——请听,这多么迷人,多么雄伟⑥!这时他用……”老人本来已开始用一种非同一般的装饰音唱起来,但是在第十个音符上打了个顿,咳 嗽起来。于是挥了挥手,转过身去喃喃自语:“你们干吗要折磨我!”杰玛立刻从椅子里一跃而起,很响地拍了一下掌,喊道:“好!……好!”跑向可怜的退 休的雅各,两手亲热地拍拍他的肩膀。只有爱弥儿毫不留情地笑着。“Ceet age est sans pitie⑦,这个年纪的人是不知道怜悯的。”来诺拉太太已经在说话了。

① 原文为意大利文。

② 《秘婚记》,意大利作曲家契玛罗萨(1749-1801)的著名喜剧,原文为意大利文。

③ 原文为意大利文。

④ 原文为意大利文。

⑤ 原文为意大利文。

⑥原文为意大利文。

⑦ 引自拉封丹的寓言《两只鸽子》。

萨宁试图安慰年事已高的歌手,便用意大利语和他说起话来(在他旅行的最后一程他稍稍涉略了一点意大利语的皮毛),——说到了“但丁的祖国,那里说 着‘是’这个字。”①这句话连同“放弃一切希望……”②构成了年轻的旅行者关于诗国意大利的全部知识。但是对于萨宁的讨好,潘塔列昂并不买账。他比以 前更深地将下巴埋进领结里,闷闷不乐地鼓起了眼睛,这就使他更像一只鸟了,而且是只生气的鸟——一只大乌鸦或者一只老鹰什么的。一时间爱弥儿的脸稍稍 有点红了,这在娇生惯养的孩子身上是通常会发生的,于是他转向姐姐,对她说,如果想让客人高兴,没有比朗诵一篇马尔茨的小喜剧再好的主意了,因为她朗 诵起来是那么出色。杰玛笑了起来,在弟弟的手上打了一下,大声说他“总是会出这样的鬼点子!”但是她马上去了自己的房间,回来时手里带了本小书,在桌 子前的灯光下坐定,向四周看了一圈,竖起一个手指——那是说“安静”的意思,纯意大利的手势,然后开始朗读。

① 原文为意大利文,系萨宁不准确地引自但丁《神曲•地狱篇》第33歌中的句子。准确的说法是:“说‘是’的美丽地方……。”但丁在他的论文《论民 间语言》中曾就“是”这个字在南欧罗曼语地区的不同说法,叙述由拉丁语发展而来的各地罗曼语方言的区别。由此产生一个广泛认定的说法,称意大利语为“ 说‘是’的语言”(准确的译文取自朱维基的译本《神曲》,下注同)。

② 原文为意大利文,引自《神曲•地狱篇》第3歌中地狱之门的题词:“……你们走进这里的,把一切希望捐弃吧。”

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马尔茨是30年代的法兰克福作家,他在自己那些用当地方言写作的短小而信手拈来的喜剧里,描绘了当地法兰克福的人物典型,剧中含有虽不深刻、却逗人 发笑和生动活泼的幽默。果然,杰玛的朗读非常精彩,完全是演员式的带表情朗读。她鲜明地表演了每一个人物,在使用与她的意大利血统一起继承来的脸部表 情时,恰到好处地把握了人物性格。当需要表演一个年暮昏聩的老娘,或者愚不可及的市长时,她就不惜自己柔和的嗓子,也不惜漂亮的脸蛋——装出最逗人发 笑的怪相,挤眉弄眼,扭动鼻子,混淆卷舌和不卷舌的儿字音尖叫……她自己在朗读的时候一点也不笑;然而当听众(当然潘塔列昂除外:他一听念到“一个可 恶的德国伦”①时马上怒气冲冲地走开了)爆发出一阵和谐的笑声将她打断时,她把书放到膝头,自己也大声笑了;她把头向后一仰,那黑黑的卷发的一个个柔 软的发圈随着她的颈项和起伏的双肩跳动着。笑声停止了,她马上拿起书本,重又使自己的面容保持应有的气质,认真地朗读起来。萨宁对她真是惊叹不已;尤 其使他惊讶的是什么奇迹使她这样一张理想化的美丽面孔会突然出现如此滑稽、有时几乎庸俗的表情?杰玛对几个年轻姑娘的角色,也即所谓的女主人公②的朗读比较地不太成功,尤其是爱情场面她表演得就不成功了。她自己感觉到这一点,所以朗读时使它具有一种轻松嘻笑的色彩,仿佛她对这些信誓旦旦的海誓山盟 和慷慨激昂的言词全然不信似的;不过作者本人对此也是尽可能少用的。

① 原文为德文和意大利文的混合。

② 原文为法文。

萨宁没有发觉一个晚上飞也似的过去了,直到钟敲十点,他才想起自己行将奔赴的旅程。他像被刺了一下似的一骨碌从椅子上跳起来。

“您怎么啦?”来诺拉太太问。

“我本应在今天去柏林的,而且在公共马车已订了座位!”

“马车什么时候开?”

“十点半!”

“那您已经来不及了,”杰玛说,“留下来吧……我还要念一会。”

“您已经把钱都付了,还是只付了定金?”来诺拉太太好奇地问。

“全付了!”萨宁做出一副伤心的样子大声说。

杰玛眯起眼向他望了望,大笑起来,母亲则责怪了她一番。

“年轻人白花了钱,你倒还要笑!”

“不要紧,”杰玛回答说,“这不会让他破产,咱们设法安慰安慰他就是了。您要喝柠檬汁吗?”

萨宁喝了一杯柠檬汁,杰玛重新开始朗读马尔茨的剧本,一切都顺利地进行下去。

钟敲十二点,萨宁开始告辞。

“现在您得在法兰克福待几天了,”杰玛对他说,“您急匆匆地要上哪儿去?在其他城市不会有比这儿更快活的地方了。”她静默了一会。“不错,不会有 了。”她又说道,微微一笑。萨宁一句话也没有回答,心里想,由于口袋里一个子儿也没有了,他由不得自己,只好待在法兰克福,直到一位在柏林的朋友那里 有了回音,因为他打算向他借钱去。

“留下来吧,留下来吧,”来诺拉太太也这样说,“我们要向您介绍杰玛的未婚夫卡尔•克留别尔先生。他今天不能来,因为店里很忙……您也许见过蔡尔 街上最大的一家呢绒绸缎店?那就是了,他是那里的经理。不过他一定会非常乐意和您认识。”

听到这个消息——天知道为什么——萨宁微微为之一怔。“这个未婚夫真是个幸运儿!”这个念头在他脑子里一闪。他看了看杰玛,他似乎觉得在她眼睛里 看出了某种嘲讽的神情。他开始鞠躬告辞。

“明天见?是不是,明天见?”米诺拉太太问。

“明天见!”杰玛说话的语气不是疑问的,而是肯定的,仿佛不可能有其他选择。

“明天见!”萨宁回话说。

爱弥儿、潘塔列昂,还有狮子狗塔尔塔里亚一直送他到街上的拐角。潘塔列昂忍不住要表示对杰玛朗读的不满情绪。

“她怎么不害臊!装腔作势,叽叽尖叫——una carricatura!她倒不如扮演墨洛珀①或者克吕泰涅斯特拉②——总有点宏大、悲剧的味道,可她偏要装腔作势地摹仿一个丑恶的德国女人!这种事我也会…… 梅尔茨,盖尔茨,施梅尔茨。”他把脸向前一伸,掰开五个手指,用嘶哑的声音继续说。塔尔塔里亚向着他吠叫起来,爱弥儿却大笑不止。老人猛地向后转过身 去。

① 墨洛珀在希腊神话中是墨塞尼亚国王库普塞罗斯的女儿,克瑞斯丰忒斯之妻。暴君波吕丰忒斯杀死她的丈夫和几个大儿子,又强占她为妻。她后来杀死 暴君复仇。关于她的神话被欧里庇得斯用作悲剧题材。

② 据希腊神话,克吕泰涅斯特拉(又译“克丽达妮斯特拉”)是阿伽门农的妻子,她杀死丈夫又死在儿子俄瑞斯忒斯手里。这个情节曾被用作古希腊罗马 悲剧的题材。

萨宁回到“白天鹅”饭店时(他的行李留在那儿的大堂里),心情是相当混乱的。所有这些夹杂着德语、法语、意大利语的交谈,还一直在他的耳边回响。

“未婚妻!”他轻声说,这时他已躺在开给他的一间简朴的房间的床上。“而且是位绝代佳人!可是我留下来干什么?”

但是第二天他还是给柏林的朋友去了信。

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他还没有穿衣,茶房已经通报两位先生的到来。其中一位原来是爱弥儿;另一位,仪表堂堂、身材魁梧的年轻男子,脸容幽雅英俊,就是卡尔•克留别尔先 生,美丽的杰玛的未婚夫。

应当认为,在那个时候整个法兰克福城里还没有一家商店有像克留别尔先生那样温文尔雅、彬彬有礼、身居高位而又殷勤热情的店堂经理。他的衣着无可挑 剔,正与他器宇轩昂的气派,优雅得体的风度相得益彰——当然他风度的优雅得体不免有点英国式的(他在英国待过两年)古板与拘谨,不过仍然是十分迷人的!一眼看去就可明白,这位英俊、略显严厉、受过良好教育。洗得一尘不染的年轻人,惯于对上司唯唯诺诺,而对下属则颐指气使,他在自己店里的柜台后面必 定能赢得顾客的尊敬!对于他的诚实可敬不容有丝毫的怀疑:只要看一眼他那紧扣着的浆硬的领子就够了!他的嗓音也和应当预料的丝毫不差:浑厚、自信而圆 润,但不太响亮,音色里甚至还略带一点亲切的意味。这样的声音用来吩咐属下的店员尤其相宜:“把这块里昂产的大红丝绒拿来!”或者:“给这位女士端把 椅子!”

克留别尔先生从自我介绍开始,这时他弯腰致意的姿势是那么高雅,挪动双腿的样子叫人看了是那么舒心,鞋跟碰到鞋跟的动作是那么谦恭,使得任何一个 人都一定会觉得:“这个人从衣衫到内在品质都是顶呱呱的!”他未戴手套的右手的修饰(戴着瑞典手套的左手托着一顶亮得像镜子一样的宽檐帽,帽子底部放 着另一只手套)——他谦恭地、然而坚定地向萨宁伸过去的右手的修饰是出乎一般预料的:每一个指甲都修饰得别具一格地完美!接着他用最典雅的德语说,希 望向外国先生表示他的敬意和感激,因为他为他未来的亲戚,他未婚妻的弟弟提供了重要的帮助;说到这里他用托着帽子的左手向爱弥儿的方向指了指;而爱弥 儿却像发呆似的,转身向着窗口,一个手指含在了嘴巴里。克留别尔先生又说,从自己方面来说,如果能为外国先生做件使他愉快的事情,他将感到幸福。萨宁 并非毫无难色地回他的话,也用德语,说他给予的帮助是微不足道的……同时请客人进屋里坐。克留别尔先生道了谢,一眨眼便撩开燕尾服的后襟,坐到了椅子 上;但是他下坐的动作是那么轻,坐在椅子上的样子是那么不稳固,使人不得不这样理解:“这个人坐下来是出于礼貌,马上就会一下了站起来的!”果然,他 马上霍地一下站了起来,不好意思地像跳舞一样将重心在两只脚上移动了两次,说非常遗憾,他不能在此久留,因为要赶到店里上班去——生意高于一切!—— 不过由于明天是星期日,所以他在征得来诺拉太太和杰玛的同意后,将在索屯举行一次娱乐性的郊游,并有幸邀请外国先生光临,希望他不会拒绝以自己的光临 给这次活动增色。萨宁没有拒绝为之增色,于是克留别尔先生再次作了自我介绍,就走了,走的时候最柔和的豌豆黄颜色的裤子一闪一闪的,叫人赏心说目,全新的皮靴的靴掌发出格吱格吱的声音,也是那么地叫人舒心。

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爱弥儿甚至在萨宁邀请他们“请坐”后还继续朝窗口站着,当他未来的亲戚一出门,他便向左转了个圈,然后孩子气地装了个鬼脸,红着脸问萨宁,他能不 能再在这儿待一会。“我今天好多了,”他补充说,“不过医生不准我做任何事情。”

“待着吧!您对我一点也没有妨碍。”萨宁立刻大声说,他像任何一个真正的俄罗斯人一样,乐意随便找个借口来应付,只要他自己不必做什么事。

爱弥儿向他道了谢,于是在最短的时间内完全感到自由自在了,无论跟萨宁在一起,还是在他的这间客房里;他仔细看了他的东西,几乎每一样都要问个水 落石出:他在哪里买的,多少价钱?帮他剃了胡须,同时对他说不留唇须是白费力气;最后还告诉他许多有关自己母亲、姐姐、潘塔列昂,甚至狮子狗塔尔塔里 亚的细节,有关他们家常的一切详情。任何类似胆怯的心理状态在爱弥儿身上已消失干净;他突然感到对萨宁异常地亲近,这完全不是因为他昨天晚上救了他的 命,而是因为他这个人是那么可亲可近!他毫不迟疑地向萨宁倾诉了自己的全部秘密。他特别激动地坚持说,妈妈一定要把他培养成一个商人,可是他知道(也 许他确实知道),他生来就是个当画家、音乐家、歌唱家的料;知道演出才是他的天赋使命,知道连潘塔列昂也鼓励他;但是克留别尔先生却支持妈妈的意见, 并且对她有极大的影响,事实上要他成为一名生意人的主张属于克留别尔先生,按这位先生的概念,世界上没有任何一种称谓可以和商人这一称号相比!出售呢 子或者丝绒,蒙骗公众,向他们收取“Narren-oder Russe-Preise(傻瓜或俄国人的价钱)”①,这就是他的理想!

① 根据作者自己的注释:先时,甚至在作者生活的当时,每年5月开始大批俄国人来到法兰克福,于是所有商店物价上涨,人们称这种价格叫“傻瓜或俄 罗斯人的价钱”。

“怎么样!现在应该去我们家了!”萨宁刚梳洗完毕,写完给柏林的信,爱弥儿就大声嚷了起来。

“现在还早。”萨宁说。

“这一点关系也没有,”爱弥儿向他做出亲热的表示,说道,“走吧!咱们先去邮局,再从那里到我们家。杰玛见到您一定会很高兴!您到我们家吃早餐… …您可以对妈妈说点关于我,关于我前途的事……”

“好吧,咱们走。”萨宁说道,于是他们出发了。

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杰玛果然对他的来临表示高兴,来诺拉太太也非常友好地迎接他:显然昨天晚上他在两位身上留下了好印象。爱弥儿跑去吩咐早餐了,事先对萨宁咬咬耳朵 :“别忘记!”

“不会忘记。”萨宁回答说。

来诺拉太太身体不太舒服:她害了头痛病,所以半躺在安乐椅里,尽量不动弹。杰玛穿一件宽松的黄色短上衣,束一根黑色皮腰带;她看上去也显得疲乏, 脸色有点苍白;眼睛四周蒙上了一圈黑晕,但是双眼的神采并未因此而稍减,而面容的苍白反而使面部古典式的凝重的线条平添了一种神秘、亲切的成分。那一 天萨宁尤其为她双手幽雅的美丽而惊愕;当她用这双手抚平深色而有光泽的鬈发并将它托住的时候,他的目光便无法离开这些灵活、修长、彼此分开、像拉斐尔 的福尔纳里娜①那样的手指。

① 据传,福尔纳里娜是爱上拉斐尔的一个贫苦女子。这里指拉斐尔所绘的以该女子命名的一幅画上的肖像。

户外天气很热。早餐以后萨宁曾打算离去,但是他们向他指出,在这样的日子最好还是不要动,他同意了,便留了下来。后面的一间房里,也即他和两位女 士就座的房里,笼罩着一片清凉;窗户开向一个小花园,那里长满了合欢树。许许多多的蜜蜂、黄蜂和熊蜂,在撒满金黄色花朵的繁枝茂叶间和谐而贪婪地嗡嗡 叫个不停;这种不知停息的声音透过半闭的百叶窗和垂下的帘幕传进房来:它诉说着室外空间的炎热——于是关闭在安适的居室内的清凉就变得更加甜美了。

萨宁谈得很多,按昨天的方式,不过既不谈俄罗斯,也不谈俄罗斯的生活。爱弥儿在早餐以后马上就被打发到克留别尔先生那里去实习会计了;由于想满足 自己年轻朋友的要求,萨宁就把话题引到比较搞艺术与经商的好处孰多孰少上来。他毫不奇怪来诺拉太太站在经商一边——这是他意料之中的事;但是杰玛也谈 了自己的看法。

“如果你是个艺术家——尤其是个歌唱家的话,”她热情地把手从上到下一挥,说道:“那你一定要做一流的!二流的就怎么也不行了;可谁知道你能不能 达到一流水平?”潘塔列昂也参加了谈话(他作为早已在家的仆人和一位老人,即使有主人在场也被允许坐在席上;意大利人一般对礼仪的要求不太严格),他 当然是全力维护艺术的。老实说他的理由相当乏力:他说得最多的,是首先需要具备dun certo estro dinspirazione——某种灵感的激情!来诺拉太太向他指出,说他当然具备这种“灵感”,但是……

“我有敌人。”潘塔列昂闷闷不乐地说。

“那么你(众所周知,意大利人很容易用‘你’字称呼人)凭什么知道爱弥儿就不会有敌人呢,甚至在他身上将要展示这种灵感的时候?”

“那好,就让他当个店员吧,”潘塔列昂懊丧地说,“不过乔万尼•巴蒂斯塔可不会这样做,虽然他自己不过是个糖果点心师!”

“乔万尼•巴蒂斯塔,我的丈夫,可是个有头脑的人——要是他在年轻时迷上了……”

然而老人已经一句话也不想听了,便走了出去,临走时又一次用指责的口气说:

“啊!乔万尼•巴蒂斯塔!……”

杰玛大声说,如果爱弥儿觉得自己是个爱国者,并想为了意大利的解放贡献自己的全部力量,那当然可以牺牲有保障的前程——但不是为了演戏!这时来诺 拉太太激动起来,开始央求女儿至少不要把自己兄弟的思想搞糊涂了,同时她又对这一点感到满意:她自己就是这样一个不顾一切的共和主义者!说这几个字的 时候来诺拉太太噢地一声叫了起来,于是开始诉说自己的头痛,说脑袋“要裂开来了”。(出于对客人的尊重,来诺拉太太和女儿说话用的是法语。)

杰玛马上开始讨好她,先在她的前额洒上花露水,再轻轻地吹气,轻轻地吻她的面颊,给她的头垫上枕头,不准她说话——又吻她。接着她转向萨宁,开始 用半开玩笑、半动真情的语气告诉他,她有一个多么了不起的母亲,母亲曾经多么漂亮!“我说什么来着:曾经!她就是现在也十分迷人啊。请看,请看,她这 双眼睛!”

杰玛一转眼就从口袋里掏出一块白手绢,用它盖住母亲的脸,然后徐徐把它的边沿从上往下移,逐渐露出来诺拉太太的前额,眉毛,眼睛;等了一会后又要 她睁开眼。她服从了,杰玛因为赞叹而大叫了一声(来诺拉太太的眼睛果然很漂亮),接着她快速地将手绢从自己母亲脸上靠下面的不太整齐的部分滑过,便又 扑过去吻她。来诺拉太太笑着,轻轻地转身躲她,故意装出努力躲避她的样子。杰玛也假装和母亲对抗,同时又跟她亲昵,但不是像猫那样,也不按法国人的方 式,而带着意大利式的优雅,在这种优雅里总是可以感觉到力量的存在。

终于来诺拉太太说累了……这时杰玛马上建议她睡一会儿,就在这里,安乐椅上,“我和俄罗斯先生(avec lemonsieurrusse)会那么安静,那么安静……就像小老鼠一样……commedes petites soims。”来诺拉太太微微一笑作为对她的回答,闭上了眼,稍稍叹了几口气后,开始打瞌睡。杰玛利索地坐到她旁边的长椅上,便再也不动了。只是偶尔当萨 宁稍稍动弹一下的时候,她才抬起一只手的一个手指,凑到嘴唇边——另一只手她用来托住母亲头下的枕头——轻轻地嘘一下,斜过眼去看一看萨宁。结果他也 仿佛僵住了,也一动不动地坐着,就像着了魔似的,全身心地欣赏着一幅图画,向他展示这个画面的既有这个半暗不明的房间,在这个房间里,插在几只古老的 绿茶杯里的新鲜而茂盛的玫瑰随处闪耀着显眼的红点;也有这位睡着了的妇女和她那温雅地收拢的双手、那张善良疲倦的脸以及雪白的枕头的四边;还有这位年 轻、高度警觉、同样善良、聪慧、纯洁和难以言喻的美丽的人,连同那双如此黑、如此深、虽然带上阴影却依然炯炯有神的眼睛……这是什么?是梦?是童话? 他怎么会在这里的?

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 十一

店堂的门铃响了。一个年轻的乡下小伙子戴一顶皮帽,穿一件红坎肩,从街上跨进了糖果店。一清早起,还没有一个买主来光顾过……“我们就是这样做买卖的!”早餐的时候来诺拉太太曾经叹着气对萨宁说过。此刻她还在打盹儿。杰玛不敢从枕头底下抽出手来,就悄悄地对萨宁说:“您去,代我做生意去!”萨 宁马上踮起脚尖走到店堂里。青年人要四分之一磅的薄荷饼。

“收多少钱?”萨宁压低了声音隔门问杰玛。

“六克里泽。”①她同样压低了声音回答。

① 克里泽,德国旧时货币单位,作辅币用。

萨宁称了四分之一磅,找来纸头,卷成三角包,把饼包进去,漏出来一点,再包过去,又漏出了一点,最后交给了他,收了钱……年轻人惊奇地看着他,不 住地在胸前揉着帽子;而隔壁房间杰玛却抿起嘴拼命在笑。这个顾客还未走开,又来了第二个,接着第三个……“看样子我手气不错呀!”萨宁自忖道。第二个 主顾要一杯清凉杏仁酪,第三个要半磅糖果。萨宁都满足了他们。他兴奋地敲着羹匙,把盘子移来移去,灵巧地把手指伸到箱子和罐头里去。结账的时候发现他 把杏仁酪卖便宜了,糖果却多收了两克里泽。杰玛一直在偷偷地笑,萨宁也感觉到异乎寻常的一种欢乐,一种非凡的幸福。他多么愿意永远这样站在柜台前面卖 糖果和杏仁酪啊!与此同时那亲切的身影却以友善而嘲弄的目光从门里面看着他,而夏日的骄阳则透过窗外栗树繁茂的枝叶正把正午阳光和绿荫的幽幽金光撒满 整个屋子,那种懒洋洋的甜蜜、那种无忧无虑与青春的——青春初期的倦怠,怎不叫人心里如痴如醉啊!

第四个主顾要一杯咖啡,只好叫潘塔列昂来了(爱弥儿还在克留别尔先生店里没有回来),萨宁又复回到杰玛身边坐下。来诺拉太太依然在打盹儿,这使她 的女儿十分如意。

“妈妈睡着了就不头痛。”她说。

萨宁开始谈自己的“生意经”——当然仍旧压低了声音;他十分认真地打听各种糖果的价钱;杰玛也认真地把这些价目告诉他,同时两人都会心而友爱地欢 笑着,仿佛意识到自己在演出一场最销魂的喜剧。突然从街上传来手摇风琴演奏《自由射手》中“穿过国田,穿过河谷”①这一段的音乐。琴声幽怨委婉,如泣 如诉,在凝滞的空气里震荡,刺人耳鼓。杰玛打了个冷颤……“这会吵醒妈妈的!”萨宁跳起来跑到街上,往拉风琴人的手里塞了几克里泽,吩咐他不要拉琴并 离开此地。他回来的时候杰玛轻轻对他点了点头表示谢意;她若有所思地微笑了一下,于是用勉强听得见的声音哼起了韦伯的乐曲,在这首曲子里麦斯科把初恋 的疑虑困惑表达得淋漓尽致。然后她问萨宁是否知道《自由射手》,是否喜欢韦伯的作品,接着又说自己虽然是意大利人,但像这样的音乐却比什么都喜欢。话 题从韦伯转到诗歌和浪漫主义,转到当时还是尽人皆读的霍夫曼②……

① 原文为德文。《自由射手》,德国作曲家韦伯(1786-1826)的歌剧。韦伯的作品还有《欧里安特》、《奥伯龙》等。这些作品确定了德意志民族浪漫 派歌剧的方向。

② 霍夫曼(1776-1822),德国小说家,著有《谢拉皮翁兄弟》、《金罐》等。

来诺拉太太依旧在打盹儿,甚至发出轻微的眠鼾,然而阳光却透过百叶窗抛进一条条狭窄的光带,不知不觉而又片刻不停地沿地板、沿家具、沿杰玛的衣服 、沿树叶和花瓣移动着,旅行着。

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 十二

原来,杰玛对霍夫曼,并不怎么欣赏,反而认为他的作品……是枯燥乏味的!她的南方型的开朗性格领略不了他小说的那种北方型的幻想迷离的成分。“这 无非是些童话,写给孩子看看的!”她说话的语气颇有几分轻蔑的意味。她同样模糊地觉得霍夫曼的作品缺乏诗意。但是她却很喜欢他的一部小说。虽然书名已 经被她忘记了。其实她所喜欢的也只不过是小说的开头部分,至于结尾,或许她没有读完,或许同样被她忘记了。小说讲的是一个青年人在某个地方,好像也是 在一家糖果店,遇见了一位美丽非凡的姑娘,一个希腊人,她的身边陪着一个神秘而奇怪的凶恶老头。青年人对姑娘一见钟情,而姑娘却用如此凄楚的眼神看着 他,仿佛恳求他来解救自己……他暂离片刻——但是等他回到糖果店,无论是姑娘还是老头都已踪影全无。他四处寻找,不断发现他们的最新踪迹,他追赶他们 ,但是无论何时何地,就是无法赶上他们。对他来说,美丽的姑娘已经永远消失,然而他难于忘却她那哀求的眼神。一个念头折磨着他:也许他终生的全部幸福就此在他手里溜走了……①

① 这是霍夫曼的小说《错中错》里的情节。

霍夫曼的小说未必如此结尾,但是情节大致是这样构成的,也是这样留在杰玛的记忆之中的。

“我认为,”她说,“类似的相遇和类似的分离,人世间发生得比我们想像的要多得多。”

萨宁没有作声……不久以后他谈起了……克留别尔先生。这是他第一次提到他。在此以前他连想也没有想到过他。

现在倒过来,是杰玛不作声了,她陷入了沉思,把眼睛盯着旁边,轻轻的咬啮着食指的指甲。接着她夸奖起自己的未婚夫来,说到他明天将要举行的郊游, 但是向萨宁迅速地看一眼后,又不响了。

萨宁不知该怎么说才好。

爱弥儿大声跑进来,惊醒了来诺拉太太……他的出现使萨宁高兴。

来诺拉太太从安乐椅里站起来。潘塔列昂进来通知午餐已经准备就绪。这位家庭朋友,昔日的歌手与今日的佣人,还兼任着厨师的职责。

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 十三

午后萨宁继续留在杰玛家里。她们不放走他的借口仍然是盛暑可畏。等到气温降下来,他又被请到花园里的合欢树下去喝咖啡,萨宁同意了,他心里很高兴 。一成不变的宁静而平稳的生活之流,蕴藏着巨大的魅力——萨宁沉溺其间并感到是一种享受,他既不向今天索取什么特需的东西,也不设想明天,更不追忆昨 天。有杰玛这样一个女子近在咫尺,仅此一点就值几何啊!不久他与她行将分别,也许是永远的分别。然而此刻他们却同在一只独木小舟里,像乌兰德的浪漫歌 曲①里那样沿着平稳的生活之流漂游,既然如此,那么旅行者,你就享受、欢乐吧!在幸福的旅行者眼里,一切都是愉快而亲切的。来诺拉太太邀他和她还有潘 塔列昂一起来打“特来赛得”,并且教会了他这种打法不复杂的意大利纸牌游戏,还赢了他几个克里泽,但他很高兴。潘塔列昂根据爱弥儿的请求叫来了狮子狗 塔尔塔里亚,让它表演自己的全部本事。于是塔尔塔里亚就表演跳杆、“说话”——也就是汪汪叫、打喷嚏、用鼻子锁门、衔来主人的破鞋子,最后头上戴了顶 高高的旧军帽,扮演起那个因叛变而受到拿破仑皇帝残酷责罚的贝那多特将军来。扮演拿破仑的,当然是潘塔列昂了——而且演得很逼真:他把两手交叉着叠在 胸前,再把三角制帽的帽沿拉下来低低地压到眼睛上,说话的语气粗暴而生硬,而且操一口法语,不过说的是什么样的法语,真是天晓得!塔尔塔里亚坐在自己 皇上的面前,浑身发抖,夹紧尾巴,两只眼睛在军帽的帽沿下不安地眯着,一眨一眨地;只要“拿破仑”一提高嗓子说话,“贝那多特”就站起两只后腿。“叛 徒,滚开!”②——终于“拿破仑”吆喝起来,但是盛怒之下他竟忘记应当始终保持的法兰西本色,于是“贝那多特”一溜烟跑到沙发底下去,但是马上从那里 跳出来,愉快地吠叫着,似乎向大家宣布:演出业已结束。全体观众大笑不止——笑得最厉害的数萨宁。

① 指德国浪漫主义诗人乌兰德(1787-1862)的诗《独木舟》。

② 原文为意大利文。

杰玛笑声不断而且特别笑得亲切,还发出忘情的尖叫……这笑声简直使萨宁神魂颠倒——听到这些尖叫声他真想吻她个够!

终于夜幕降临。该是告辞回家的时候了!萨宁和大家一再道别,反复多次说了“明天见!”以后(他和爱弥儿甚至亲了嘴),启身回家,萦回在他的身边的 是一个青年姑娘美丽的倩影——时而笑容可掬,时而若有所思,时而安详静谧甚至淡漠无情,然而始终令人倾倒!她的双眼,有时睁得大大的,既明朗又愉快, 有如白天;有时被睫毛半掩,既深邃又阴暗,宛如黑夜;那双眼透过一切人像与景物,老是浮现在他的面前,奇异而甜蜜。

对于克留别尔先生,对于促使他在法兰克福留下来的种种原因,一言以蔽之,对于昨晚曾经激动过他的一切种种,他连想也没有去想。

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 十四

然而应当就萨宁本人的情况说几句。

首先,他的外表长得相当相当不错:匀称英俊的身材、令人喜爱而轮廓不很分明的面容。一双和蔼可亲的淡蓝色眼睛、金黄色的头发、白净而透着红晕的皮 肤——主要的还有那单纯、愉快、诚恳、坦率、乍一看去略显笨拙的表情(先时凭这一点可以一眼就认出那些在我们自由自在的半草原区出生长大的显赫门第的 子弟、望族贵胄、出色的少爷)、从容的步态、带卷音的喉音、孩子般的见人就有的微笑……最后还有清新、健康——柔软、柔软而又柔软——这就是你看见的 整个萨宁。其次,他并不愚笨,而且颇有涵养。尽管他经过海外的长途跋涉,却依然保持着清新:对于充塞于当时一部分优秀青年心头的那种惶惑不安的情绪, 他是相当隔膜的。

近来,我们的文学界在对“新人物”经过一番毫无结果的探索以后,开始描写那样的青年,他们决意不顾一切,要使自己变得新鲜而又新鲜……新鲜得像刚 运到彼得堡的弗伦斯堡①牡蛎一样……萨宁跟他们可不一样。若要比较,那么他更像一棵前不久才嫁接到我们黑土庭园的年轻繁茂的苹果树,或者更恰当一点说 ,好像早先“老爷们”的养马场里的一匹刚套上练马索的强健、肥壮而驯服的三岁小公马……及至他备受生活的磨难而消失了自己身上那种青年人的丰腴之后, 那时遇到他的人们所见到的萨宁已完全是另一个人了。

① 德国北部城市。

翌日,萨宁还躺在床上,节日盛装的爱弥儿手里拿着拐杖,浑身香气扑鼻,闯进了他的房间,宣布说克留别尔先生驾车随后就到,而且今天将是个好天气, 现在他们已经万事俱备,但是妈妈不能去,因为她头痛得厉害。他开始催促萨宁,要他一分钟也不要浪费……果然,萨宁还在卫生间洗漱时克留别尔先生就来了 。他叩过门就跨进屋子,鞠过躬以后欠着身子说准备恭候,悉听尊便——尔后他坐下来,温雅地把帽子放在大腿上。这位仪表堂堂的店员穿着得十分讲究,浑身 洒满了香水:他的一举一动都散发出高级香水的浓烈香气。他乘来的是一辆叫作兰多的宽敞的敞蓬马车,架车的两匹马虽不漂亮然而强壮高大。一刻钟以后,萨 宁、克留别尔和爱弥儿就乘着这驾马车,威风凛凛地来到糖果店的阶沿之下。来诺拉太太坚决不要参加郊游;杰玛想陪母亲留在家里,但是恰似常言所谓,母亲 把她赶走了。

“我谁也不要,”她说,“我要睡觉。要不是店里没有人做生意,我连潘塔列昂也想打发和你们一起去。”

“能带塔尔塔里亚吗?”

“当然可以。”

塔尔塔里亚立即兴高采烈地爬上驾车的位子,龇牙咧嘴地坐在那里:它对这类事显然早已习以为常了。杰玛戴了一顶系着棕色带子的大草帽;帽子的前檐低 低地压下来,几乎替她的整个脸庞挡住了阳光,帽檐的影子恰好遮到嘴唇的上方:那两片嘴唇闪耀着红光,那样地纯洁和温柔,宛如盛开玫瑰的花瓣,透过两片 嘴唇时而露出雪白的牙齿,也与儿童一样地纯真无邪。杰玛和萨宁并排坐在后面位子上,克留别尔和爱你儿则坐在他们对面。窗口露出来诺拉太太苍白的身影。 杰玛向她挥了挥手帕,于是马车辘辘启动了。

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 十五

索屯——一个不大的城市,距法兰克福约半小时路程。它坐落在位于唐奴斯山的一条支脉的美丽地方,大概是由于它的矿泉水对肺弱的人颇有神益,所以在 俄国享有盛名。法兰克福人到此地来毋宁说是为了消遣,因为索屯拥有美丽的公园和各种各样的“维尔沙夫特”①,可供人们在高大的椴树和槭树的绿荫下喝啤 酒或咖啡。从法兰克福到索屯的道路沿美因河的右岸伸展着,沿途植满草木。马车沿平整的路面辘辘前进,而萨宁却在偷窥杰玛怎么与自己的未婚夫相处,他还 是第一次看到他们俩在一起。她的态度平静而自然——但是比往常拘谨和严肃。克留别尔的目光恰似一个宽容的、能允许自己和属下分享一种有分寸而又拘守礼 貌的快慰的上司。萨宁从他身上看不出他对杰玛的特别讨好和法国所说的“献殷勤”②。显然克留别尔先生认为大局已定,无须辗转奔忙或焦灼不安。然而那种 宽容的样子一刻也没有离开过他。无论在午前沿索屯郊外的多林山岗和河谷长时间散步的时候,还是在欣赏自然美景的时候,甚至对这大自然本身,他也依然保 持着这副宽容的样子,然而透过这种宽容的样子有时也不免要流露出上司通常的那种严厉。比如他指着一条小溪,说它流经山谷的那段过于平直,而没有转几个 弯,以致大煞风景;他同样对一只鸟——碛鶸——的行为表示不满,嫌它鸣声单调!然而杰玛倒没有枯燥乏味的感觉,看样子甚至还感到满意。但是萨宁从她身 上却认不出原先的杰马来,并非因为她的身上投上了阴影——她的美色从来不是像四射的光芒那样溢于外表的——而是因为她把思想隐藏到了内心深处。她撑着 阳伞,没有脱手套,稳重沉着、从容不迫地漫步,同一般有教养的女子散步的姿态一模一样,也很少开口。爱弥儿也感到拘束,萨宁更不用说。同时,那种老是 用德语谈话的环境也使他有点窘迫。惟一不感到难堪的是塔尔塔里亚。它狂叫着去追赶迎面飞过的鶫鸟,从高低不平的地面上、树墩上、大水缸上一一跳过去, 又一下子窜到水里,迫不及待地舔水喝,然后竦身抖落身上的水滴,于是又尖叫着向前飞奔而去,拖出红红的舌头,一直垂到胸口。对克留别尔先生来说,凡是 他认为可以使一行人愉快的事他都已尽力而为了。他请大家到枝叶繁茂的橡树荫下坐下来,自己则从旁边口袋里掏出一本小书,书名叫《knallerbseneder du sollst und wirst lachen!》(《爆破筒——或你应当而且一定会发笑》),开始朗读充斥全书的诉讼笑话。他一共念了十二则笑话,然而听去却颇觉索然。只有萨宁一个人为了 礼貌起见,总算龇了龇牙,再就是克留别尔先生本人,他在读完每个笑话以后总是例行公事般地发出一声短促的笑声——仍然是一种宽容的笑声。临近十二点时 分一行人返回索屯,走进当地一家上等菜馆。

① 维尔沙夫特,德文的俄语音译,意为营业设施,诸如饭店、酒馆之类。

② 原文为法文。

该叫午餐了。

克留别尔先生建议把吃午餐的地点选在一个四面关闭的亭子里——“im Gartensalon”;但是杰玛突然表示反对,扬言非得在户外花园里、菜馆前面的一张桌子上不可,否则就不吃饭,说老是看这几张面孔,看都看腻了,她要看看 另外的人面。有几张桌子边已有新到的几位客人就座。

克留别尔先生宽容地服从了自己未婚妻的任性要求而去跟堂倌商谈了,这时杰玛却垂下眼皮、咬紧嘴唇一动不动地站着。她感到萨宁片刻不停、似带疑问地 在看她——这,大概使她生气。终于克留别尔先生回来了,宣布说半小时以后就可开饭,于是建议先打会儿九柱戏,说这玩艺儿有助于大开胃口,嘿嘿嘿!打九 柱戏是他的拿手;他一面甩球,一面做出一个个令人惊叹的矫健姿势,炫耀自己漂亮的肌肉和优美地举腿踢腿。从某种意义上说他是一个竞技家——而且体格是 第一流的!他的双手是如此白净、美丽,而用来揩手的又竟是如此昂贵的金光十色的印度富丽雅绸帕!

午餐的时刻到了——于是一行人在桌子四周人席。

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 十六

谁不知道德国的午餐是个什么样子?稀溜溜的一碗清汤里放上几块面疙瘩和桂皮;一盘干得像软木塞的煮得烂熟的牛肉,附着一层白色的脂肪,外加黏乎乎 的土豆、圆鼓鼓的甜菜和洋姜泥;发青的鳗鱼加上白花菜芽和醋;拼上果酱的一盘炸冷盘,还有必不可少的一盘“麦黑尔斯沛斯”,一种浇上酸溜溜的红色作料 的像布丁一样的东西:不过酒和啤酒倒是一等的!索屯的饭店老板正是用这样的午餐来款待自己的主顾的。但是这顿午餐本身进行得倒还顺利,当然也看不出什 么特别活跃的气氛;甚至在克留别尔先生举杯“为我们相爱”(Was wirlieben)而祝酒时也显不出这种气氛。一切都显得过于斯文和拘谨。午饭后端来了咖啡,纯粹是德国式的,稀淡而棕红色。克留别尔先生作为真正的骑士,请求 她允许他抽一根雪茄……就在这当儿发生了一件出乎意料、简直是不愉快——甚至是不体面的事情!

邻近一张桌子上坐着几个美因兹警卫团的军官。从他们的目光和窃窃私语的样子不难猜出来,杰玛的美貌使他们惊讶。其中一个大概是到过法兰克福的,不 时地看她,像看一个他所熟识的人一样:显然他知道她是谁。他忽然拿着酒杯站起身(军官们开怀痛饮以后,桌子上已摆满了酒瓶),向杰玛的桌子这边走过来 。这个人非常年轻,淡黄色的头发,脸蛋长得很秀气,甚至很讨人喜欢;然而他喝下去的酒却使他变了样子:他的脸部抽搐着,发红的眼睛滴溜溜地转着,表情 是恶作剧的。他的伙伴们起先想阻拦他,但最后还是放了他走:说让他去吧——会出什么乱子?

那军官轻轻地摇晃着站定脚跟,在杰玛跟前停下来,喉咙里拼命挤出尖声怪气的声音来说话,这声音虽然是情不自禁的,但从中还是听得出他是在努力克制 自己:“为全法兰克福、全世界最美丽的咖啡女郎的健康干杯(说着举起酒杯一饮而尽)——作为报答,我要带走这朵用她那圣洁的手指采摘的花!”他一把拿 走了桌上放在杰玛的餐具前面的花朵。起先她愕然、惊恐、脸色煞白……继而转为愤慨,涨得满脸通红直到耳根——而她那双紧紧盯着侮辱者的眼睛,在同一个 时间里黯淡下来、又迸射出光芒,充满了黑暗,既而燃起怒不可遏的火焰。军官大概被这双眼看得局促不安起来,他呢喃着别人听不清楚的话语鞠了个躬,就朝 自己的那伙人走了回去。他们发出笑声和轻微的掌声来欢迎他。

克留别尔先生从椅子里突然站起来,挺直身,戴上帽,摆出很有身份的样子,只是声音不太响,说道:“闻所未闻!闻所未闻的恶作剧!”(Unerhort UnerhortFrechheit!)——于是旋即用严厉的声音把堂倌叫来,要他马上结账……不仅如此,他还命令把车驾好,说体面的人不能来这里,因为要受污辱!杰玛依然静 止不动地坐在位子里——她的胸脯急剧地、大幅度地起伏着——一听见这句话,杰玛把目光移到了克留别尔先生身上……而且像看那个军官一样,同样盯住不放 。爱弥儿气愤得直打战。

“请站起来,我的小姐,”克留别尔先生用同一个严厉的声音说,“您留在这里是不体面的。我们到那边,菜馆里面去!”

杰玛无声地站起来;他弯起胳膊伸给她,她也把自己的手臂伸给他——于是他跨着庄严的步伐把她带到了菜馆里,离午餐的地方越远,他走路的样子也越庄 严和傲慢,同他的外貌的变化一样。可怜的爱弥儿瘪沓沓地拖在他们后头跟着。

然而当克留别尔先生和堂倌清账的时候(他一个子儿小费也不给,以示惩罚),萨宁却快步走到军官们坐的桌子前面,对着侮辱杰玛的那个军官(此刻他正 让自己的同伴们一个个轮流嗅她的玫瑰花),用清晰的法语说道:

“尊敬的先生,您刚才的举动有失一个正派人的名声,也有失您所穿戴的军服的体统,所以我特来奉告您:您是一个缺乏教养的无赖汉!”

年轻人跳了起来,但是另一个年轻比较大一点的军官制止了他,叫他坐下,并转身来向着萨宁,也用法语说道:

“怎么,这位是姑娘的亲戚、兄弟、抑或未婚夫?”

“我和她是毫不相干的,”萨宁大声说,“我是俄国人,但是眼看着这种恶作剧,我不能无动于衷;这里是我的名片和地址,军官先生可以来找我。”

说着,萨宁把自己的名片往桌子上一扔,同时一把抓起那朵已被一个桌边坐着的军官丢在身边盘子里的杰玛的玫瑰花。年轻人再次想从椅子里跳起来,但是 同伴再一次制止了他说:“唐河夫,安静点儿!”(Donhofsei still!)尔后那个同伴自己站起来,举手敬了个礼,对萨宁说(说话的语气和样子颇带几分敬意),明天一早他们团的一个军官将有幸前往他的公馆。萨宁微 微欠了欠身子表示回答,就急忙回到自己的朋友们中间去。

克留别尔先生装作全然没有看见萨宁走开也没有看见他同军官交涉的样子;他催促马车夫快把马驾好,为他的动作缓慢大发雷霆。杰玛对萨宁也不置一词, 甚至连看也不曾去看他。从她紧锁的双眉和苍白、紧闭的嘴唇,以及静穆不动这一点,可以想见她心绪很不好。只有爱弥儿一个人,显然想和萨宁搭嘴,想向他 问个明白:他看见萨宁走到军官们面前,向他扔过去一样向东西——小纸片、字条或卡片什么的……可怜的少年的心怦怦在跳,脸上发烧,他想扑过去搂住萨宁 的脖子,想哭一场,或和他一起马上去把这批混蛋军官砸个稀巴烂!然而他克制了自己,他注视着自己高尚的俄国朋友的一举一动,对此已经感到满意。

马车夫终于套好了马,一行人上了车。爱弥儿跟着塔尔塔里亚爬上了驾车的位子:在那里他觉得自由不拘,而且克留别尔先生也不会老在他眼前,因为他看 见他的时候心里总不舒服。

一路上只有克留别尔先生一个人滔滔不绝地发议论……说了又说;不管是谁都没有表示反对的意见,同样也没有任何人去赞同他。他唠叨得最多的一点就是 怪他们故意不听他的意见,到四面都关闭的亭子里去吃午餐。否则就什么不愉快的事也不会发生!接着他又发表了一些激烈的自由主义言论,说政府对军官们如 此姑息纵容,不堪容忍,又不检点他们的纪律,对社会上的非军界人士又欠尊重(das burgerliche Element in der Societot)——因此不满情绪正在逐渐增长,而不满情绪的增长,就会使革命逼近,这方面已经有了可悲的先例(说到这里他同情地。然而严肃地叹了口气), 这可悲的先例就是法国!可是他随即又补充说他自己是尊重当局的,而且永远……永远!……不会去做革命者——不过目睹这种不守纪律的行为,不得不表示自 己的不满!以后又扯到一些老生常谈上去,诸如守德与缺德,礼貌与尊严之类!

杰玛在午前散步的时候已经对克留别尔先生不怎么满意了——所以她和萨宁保持了某种距离,仿佛有他在场她感到难为情,到克留别尔先生大发议论的时候 ,她明显地为自己的未婚夫感到羞耻了!到郊游快完毕的时候,她实在受不了了,虽然仍旧不同萨宁说话,但是突然向他投过去央求的一瞥……萨宁呢,则感到 自己对她的怜悯远远超过了对克留别尔先生的愤懑;尽管他估计明天可能有人找他决斗,但是在潜意识里他却为那天在后来发生的一切而暗自高兴。

这次令人痛苦的郊游①终于结束了。在糖果店门口扶杰玛下车的时候,萨宁一声不响地把他夺回来的玫瑰花放到她的手里。她的脸刷地一下子涨得通红,紧 紧握了握他的手,立即把玫瑰花藏了起来。他无意进屋里去,虽然天方向晚。她自己也没有邀他进去。这时台阶上出现了潘塔列昂,报告说来诺拉太太还在睡觉 。爱弥儿羞答答地和萨宁告别。他使他感到不好意思:他太使他惊奇了。克留别尔用车把萨宁一直送到他的寓处,冷冰冰地向他鞠躬告别。这位穿戴得体的德国 人虽然颇有自信心,却显得颇不自在。其实他们双方都感到不自在。

① 原文为法文。

然而在萨宁心里那种感觉——不自在的感觉,不久就烟消云散了。它被一种捉摸不定的、然而是快意的、甚至兴奋的情绪所取代。他在房间里来回踱步,什 么事也不愿去想,嘴里打着唿哨——感到十分得意。

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 十七

“上午十点以前我得等待军官先生来说明,”翌日早上他在洗漱时这样自忖着,“过时就恕不恭候了!”但是德国人起身很早:九点还未敲过,茶房就已来 报告萨宁,说陆军少尉(der Herr Secorde Lieutenant)封•里希特先生希望进见。萨宁迅速穿上外衣,吩咐去“请他进来”。出乎萨宁的意料之外,原来里希特先生极其年轻,几乎是个孩子。他竭力在 自己那张没有胡子的脸上装出傲慢的样子——但是装得一点也不像:他甚至掩饰不了自己的尴尬相——坐到椅子上去的时候被指挥刀钩住了,差点摔倒在地上。 他操一口蹩脚的法语,结结巴巴地对萨宁说,他受自己的朋友封•唐诃夫男爵的委托而来;要求德•萨宁先生为他昨天说过的侮辱性的言语道歉;要是遭到德• 萨宁先生的拒绝,那么封•唐河夫男爵将提出决斗。萨宁回答说他无意表示歉意,但是对决斗倒颇为乐意。于是封•里希特先生仍旧结结巴巴地问,他应当和谁 、在什么时间、什么地点举行必要的谈判?萨宁回答说他可以在大约两小时以后再来找他,在这以前萨宁将努力找到副手。(“真见鬼,我找谁来做副手啊?” 他当时心里想。)封•里希特先生起身开始鞠躬告辞……然而在跨门坎的时候他停住了脚步,似乎感到了良心上的责备——于是转身对萨宁说他的朋友封•唐诃 夫男爵不否认在昨天发生的事件中……自己也有某种程度的……过失,因此萨宁只要稍示歉意就够了(des exghizes lecheres),萨宁回答说不管什么样的歉意,无论是深表歉意还是稍示歉意,他都不愿意做,因为他不认为自己有什么过错。

“既然这样,”封•里希特先生脸涨得更红了,回答说,“那就只好进行友谊的对射了——de goupsde pisdolet alamiaple!”①

① 法语“友谊的对射”,但说走了样。

“这我就完全不理解了,”萨宁说,“我们朝天打,是吗?”

“噢,不是那个意思,不是的,”少尉难堪极了,嘟嘟哝哝地说,“不过我想,既然事情发生在体面人之间……我还是同您的副手谈吧!”他打断自己的话 ,走了。

萨宁待那人一走就坐到椅子上,盯着地板直发楞。“这到底是怎么回事?生活怎么会一下子风云突变呢?既往的一切,未来的一切忽然顿时烟消雾散,丧失 净尽,惟一遗留的就是——我在法兰克福为了一件事要去和别人决斗。”他想起了自己的一个发疯的姑母,她往常颠来跳去地哼着一支歌:

少尉少尉,

我心所爱。

我心所爱,

相将歌舞,

慰我情怀。

他哈哈大笑,学她的样子唱起来:少尉少尉,我心所爱。我心所爱,相将歌舞,慰我情怀。

“可是应当行动起来,不浪费时间。”他大声嚷道。他从椅子里霍地一下站起来,看见潘塔列昂站在面前,手里拿着一张字条。

“我敲了好几下门,可是您没有回音,我以为您不在呢,”老头说着把字条交给他,“是杰玛小姐的。”

萨宁接过条子的动作可以说是机械的,他打开条子,看完了它。杰玛对他写道,她为了他所知道的那件事十分不安并希望,与他即刻就见一面。

“小姐非常不安,”潘塔列昂开口说,显然他是知道字条的内容的,“她让我来看看,您在干什么,还要我陪您去见她。”

萨宁抬眼向意大利老人望去——陷入了沉思。

他的脑海里突然闪过一个念头。在最初的刹那,在他看来这个念头是奇怪得不可思议的……

“但是……为什么不?”他自问。

“潘塔列昂先生!”他大声说。

老头吓了一跳,把下巴缩到领带里,盯着他看。

“您已经知道,”萨宁继续说,“昨天发生的事了吗?”

潘塔列昂扭动嘴唇,抖动自己的一头蓬发。

“知道了。”

(爱弥儿一回到家就把一切都告诉他了。)

“哦!您知道了!那我对您直说吧。一个军官刚到这里来过。那个家伙向我提出决斗,我接受了他的挑战。但是我没有副手。您愿意做我的副手吗?”

潘塔列昂颤动了一下,把眉毛高高地挺起来,使它们淹没在他那挂下来的头发里。

“您一定要决斗吗?”他终于用意大利语说,在此以前他一直是讲法语的。

“一定的。否则——就意味着我永远没脸做人了。”

“嗯。如果我不同意做您的副手,您就会去找别的人来吗?”

“会的……一定。”

潘塔列昂耷拉下脑袋。

“但是请允许我问一声,察宁尼先生①,您的决斗会不会给一个人的声誉带来不良的影响呢?”

① 即“萨宁”,潘塔列昂不会说俄语,把音读别了。

“我不认为这样;但是不管怎么样,这已是无可挽回的了。”

“嗯。”潘塔列昂完全缩到了自己的领带里。“那么,那个克罗别里沃①先生——他干什么呢?”——他突然叫起来,向上抬起脸孔。

① 即“克留别尔”,情况同上。

“他吗?没什么。”

“嗨!(che!)①”潘塔列昂鄙夷不屑地耸了耸肩。“无论如何我应当感谢您,”他终于用迟疑不决的声气说,“因为我目前处在这样低下的地位,您却 仍然把我当作一个体面的人——ungalantuomo!您这样做,就表明自己是个真正galntuomo。不过需要仔细考虑一下您的意见。”

① 意大利文的感叹词,相当于“好吧”。

“可是时间不等人呀!好心的奇……奇巴……先生。”

“图拉,”①老头接上去说,“我只要求一个小时作考虑。事情关系到我那恩公的女儿……所以我应当,我必须斟酌一下!!过一个小时……过三刻钟—— 您就会知道我的决定。”

① 萨宁忘了他的姓,只记住了前两个音,这里是潘塔列昂自己接着说完全。

“好,我等着。”

“可是现在……我拿什么向杰玛小姐回话呢?”

萨宁拿起一张纸,写道:“放心吧,我亲爱的朋友。大约再过三个小时我来看您——到时一切都会明白的。衷心感谢您的关切。”写完,他把纸条塞给潘塔 列昂。

他小心翼翼地把纸条放进侧边的衣袋,再次说道:“过一个小时!”——他刚向门口举步走去,突然一个急转身跑到萨宁跟前,抓起他的手贴到自己的衣领 上,抬起眼睛向着天空大声说:

“高尚的年轻人!伟大的心灵!(Nobi giovanttoGrancuore!)请允许我这个不中用的老头(a un vecchiotto!)握一握您那双勇敢的手吧!(la vostra volorosa destra!)”然后他跳跃着略微后退几步,两手一挥——走了。

萨宁目送了他一阵……拿起报纸来看。然而他只是徒然地拿目光在字里行间移动:一点儿也没有看进去。

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 十八

一个小时以后,茶房又走进萨宁的房间,递给他一张污旧的名片,上面有这样几行字:潘塔列昂•奇巴图拉,祖籍瓦雷泽,莫登斯基公爵殿下的御前歌手( cantanle di camera)。跟在茶房后面出现的正是潘塔列昂自己。他从头到脚都换了装。他穿一件褪成了棕色的黑燕尾服和白色的凸纹布马甲,马甲上别出心裁地挂着一根顿 巴克铜制的链条;一块沉甸甸的光玉髓低低地垂挂到有翻边的黑色小管裤上。他右手拿一顶黑色兔皮帽子,左手握着一双厚实的麂皮手套;领带比以往系得更松 更高,在浆过的硬领上则别着一颗叫做“猫眼”的宝石(ceil de chat)。右手的食指上戴着宝石戒指,戒指的造型是一双交叉放着的手,而双手之间则镶着一颗火热的心!久置的陈旧气息以及樟脑和麝香的气味从老头的奇异 装束上散发出来;他的外貌表现出来的那种若有所思的忧心忡忡的庄重样子,足使最为冷漠无情的人一见惊心!萨宁站起来迎接他。

“我就是您的仲裁人。”潘塔列昂整个身躯向前倾着用法语说,同时分开足尖,像跳舞的样子。“我前来聆听吩咐。您希望的决斗是无情的吗?”

“为什么要无情呢?我亲爱的奇巴图拉先生。我虽然不收回昨天讲出去的话来达成和解,但我不是嗜血成性的人!……您就地等一等,我的敌人的仲裁过会 儿就会来的。我将到隔壁房间去,您就可以同他谈判。请您相信,我永远不会忘记您的大力支持,并且衷心地向您表示感谢。”

“名誉高于一切!”潘塔列昂回答说,未等萨宁说请坐他就在安乐椅里坐下来。“要是这个弗埃罗弗罗克托•斯庇契布皮沃,”他又一次把法语和意大利语 混杂起来,“要是克罗别里沃这个商人不明白自己应负的直接责任,并且胆小怕事,那么事情的结局对他就更坏!……一钱不值的灵魂——如此而已!……至于 决斗的条件,那么我作为您的仲裁,您的利益对我来说就是神圣的!!……当年我住在巴图埃,那里驻扎着一个白龙团,我和许多军官都很接近!……他们的全 部章程纪律我都一清二楚。我还经常和你们的那个塔尔布斯基亲王谈这些问题……那个副手该马上就来吧?”

“我无时不在等他——看,走来的正是他。”萨宁向街上望了望说。

潘塔列昂站起身,看了看表,整一整额上的头发,把裤脚底下露出来的鞋带急忙塞进鞋子里。年轻的少尉进来了,依然红着脸,一副窘态。

萨宁将两位仲裁人彼此作了介绍。

“里希特先生,少尉!——奇巴图拉先生,演员!”①

① 原文为法文。

少尉见到老头时微微一惊……哦,要是有人在这个时候在他耳边轻轻讲一声,说介绍他认识的那位“演员”还兼事伙房里的艺术,他该怎么说呢!……但是 潘塔列昂装出一副样子,似乎参与安排决斗这样的事情,在他是极其平常的事:也许在这种场合对剧院生涯的回忆有助于他——担任副手的角色,正像在演戏一 样。他和少尉,两个人都有一会儿默不作声。

“怎么?开始吧!”潘塔列昂手里玩弄着那块光玉髓,首先开腔。

“开始!”少尉回答。“可是……敌对的双方有一方在场……”

“先生们,我马上离开!”萨宁大声说。他鞠过躬就走进卧室,随手把门关上。

他倒到床上,开始思念杰玛……但是副手之间的谈话却透过关闭的房门传入他的耳际。谈话用法语进行;双方讲的法语都各有一套,走样得一塌糊涂。潘塔列昂重又提起巴图挨的白龙团,塔尔布斯基亲王;少尉则说“稍示歉意”①和“友谊的对射”。但是老头什么“歉意”也听不进去。他突然向对方说起一个无辜 的少女,说她的一个小拇指抵得过全世界一切所有的军官……(oune zeune damigalla innoucentaqua ella sola danssoun peti doa vale pin que toutt le zouffissie del mondo!)这使萨宁担心。他还几次三番激动地说:“这是耻辱!这是耻辱!”(E ouna ontaouna onta!)少尉起先没有反对的表示,可是后来在年轻人的嗓音里听得出愤怒的颤动,他于是说他不是来听取有关道德的教训的……

① 原文为法文。

“你们这种年纪,听听正义的言论总有好处!”潘塔列昂喊道。

副手先生之间的辨论有时进行得异常激烈;辨论延续了一个多小时,终于达成如下协议:封•唐诃夫男爵和德•萨宁先生将于明日对射;时间上午十点;地 点加拿乌附近的小林里;相距二十步;每人有权按副手的信号开枪两次;手枪上不附加加速器和来复线。封•里希德先生离去了,于是潘塔列昂郑重其事地打开 卧室的门,宣布谈判结果,继又大声叫道:“好哇,俄国人!好哇,孩子!①你将取得胜利!”

① 原文为意大利文。

几分钟以后他们俩出发去路塞里糖果店。萨宁事先要潘塔列昂对决斗一事严守秘密。老头的回答只是翘起拇指,眯起一只眼连说了两声“Segredezza!”( 机密!)他显然变得年轻起来,连举止也自在得多了。这一切异乎寻常的事件虽然令人不快,却把他带回到过去的年代,那时他也接受过和挑起过决斗——当然 ,是在舞台上。众所周知,男中音歌手扮演的角色往往是好斗的。

------------------

 十九

爱弥儿跑出来迎接萨宁——他已经等候他一个多小时了——急忙在他耳边低声告诉他,母亲对昨天的不愉快事件还一无所知,因此即使暗示她一下也是不必 要的,他还是照样被送到店里去!……然而他自己不会到那里去,而到一个别的地方去躲起来!爱弥儿在几秒钟之内把这一切都说完,突然扑到萨宁的肩头,激 动地吻了吻他就走下台阶向街上跑去。杰玛在店堂里遇见萨宁,她想对他说点儿什么,但是没有能说出来。她的嘴唇微微颤动着,眼睛却眯起来扫向两旁。他急 忙安慰她说事情已经过去……说到底也不过是些琐屑小事。

“今天谁也没有上您哪里去吗?”她问。

“来过一个人——我已经和他说清楚,所以我们……我们取得了最圆满的结果。”

杰玛回到柜台边。

“她不相信我!”他想……但是走进了隔壁房间,在那里遇见了来诺拉太太。

她的头痛已经好转,而情绪却是郁郁不乐的。她殷勤地向他微笑,同时却告诉他,说他今天和她在一起会感到乏味,因为她不能陪他。他靠近她坐下,发现 她的眼皮发红,肿了起来。

“您怎么啦,来诺拉太太?您哭过了吗?”

“嘘……”她悄悄说,转过头去指指女儿现在在的那个房间。“别大声说这个……”

“那您究竟为什么哭呢?”

“唉,萨宁先生,我自己也不知为什么!”

“没有人使您伤心吗?”

“不,没有!……我突然感到寂寞得很。我想起了乔万尼•巴蒂斯塔……想起了自己的青春……后来又想到这一切竟会如此迅速地消逝。我老了,我的朋友 ,而且对此我无论如何也无法妥协。看起来我这个人依然如故,可是转瞬之间老了……老了!”来诺拉太太的眼睛里滚出了泪珠。“我发觉您看着我感到奇怪… …可是您也会老起来的,我的朋友,而且您将会明白这是何等痛苦的事!”

萨宁开始安慰她,告诉她已经在自己孩子身上再现了自己的青春,甚至想和她说笑话,说她喜欢别人对她说好话……然而她却求他“别说下去了”。于是他 第一次确信,像这种意识到自己老之将至的伤感,任你用什么办法也是无可慰藉与排遣的;只好由它自行缓解。他提议她一起打牌——这个办法想得太好了,她 立刻表示同意,而且好像高兴了一点。

午饭前后萨宁一直和她打牌。潘塔列昂也参加一份。他的头发垂挂到额角上,从来没有这么低,他的下巴缩到领带里,也从来没有这么深!他的每一个动作 都显出他在专心致志地保持那副郑重其事的样子,令人一看他便会情不自禁地想到:这个人究竟有什么谨守不露的秘密呢?

然而——秘密!秘密!①

① 原文为意大利文。

整整这一天,他百般努力,来表示对萨宁的最高敬意;在餐桌上,他把女士们撇在一边,庄严而果决地把菜先端给萨宁;打牌的时候让他得分,不使他吃亏 ;发些牛头不对马嘴的议论,说什么俄罗斯人是世界上最高尚、最勇敢和最果断的民族!

“嗨,你这个老戏子啊!”萨宁心里自忖。

然而他感到奇怪与其说是因为路塞里太太的情绪突变,倒不如说是因为她女儿对他的态度。她不像在有意回避他,相反,始终和他保持不远的距离坐着,仔 细听他说话,看着他;但是她决没有同他说话的意思,而且只要他对她一开口,她就悄悄地站起来,不声不响地走开一会儿。过后又走回来,重新在某个角落里 坐下来——声色不动地坐着,若有所思和困惑莫解地……样子比任何时候都纳闷。来诺拉太太也发现了她的非常举止,问了她两次:“怎么啦?”

“没什么,”杰玛回答,“你晓得我常这样的。”

“那倒是。”母亲赞同她说。

这冗长的一天就此过去,既不热烈也不冷清——既不快乐又不乏味。假如杰玛的表现是另一番样子——那么萨宁……谁能知道呢?或许他会情不自禁地自我 表现一番,或者在面临可能的、也许是永久的别离之时,他会完全沉溺于离情别绪之中……但是他连同杰玛说一次话的机会也没有,所以只好在晚茶前的一刻钟 在钢琴上弹了几支凄婉的曲子。

爱你儿回来得很迟。为避免被问及克留别尔先生,他一转眼就溜之夭夭了。该是萨宁告辞的时候了。他起身向杰玛告辞。不知怎么的,他想起了《奥涅金》 里连斯基和奥尔迦的分别。他紧紧握住她的手——试图正面看她一眼——然而她转过脸去,挣脱了自己的手指。

------------------

 二十

他走下台阶时,已经是繁星满天。这些星星真是数不胜数——大的小的、黄的、红的、蓝的、白的!它们分秒不停地闪烁着,密密麻麻,争相变幻自己的五 光十色。天空没有月亮。然而在这半暗不明、无形无影的昏黄之中,虽无月光,每一样东西却依然历历可见。萨宁无意马上回住地……他一直走到街尽头;他觉 察到自己有一种需求,要在洁净的空气里往复徘徊。他于是又折回来——可是还没有走到路塞里糖果店所在的那间房子前面,那里一扇临街的窗子忽然砰地一下 打开了——在黑洞洞的方窗框里(房间里没有点灯)显现出一个女性的身影——于是他听见有人呼唤他:

“德米特里先生!”①

① 原文为法文。

他立即向窗户扑过去……是杰玛!

“德米特里先生!”她用谨慎的声音说,“今天整整一天,我一直想给您一件东西……可是拿不定主意;想不到现在会重新见到您,所以我想这大概是命里 有数……”

杰玛说到这里不由自主地停了下来。她未能继续下去:一件异乎寻常的事情就在此刻发生了。

突然,在这万簌无声的沉寂之中,从那万里无云的夜空,一阵狂风席卷而来,直吹得大地也仿佛在脚底下动荡起来,嘉微的星光颤动着隐没下去,连空气也 被卷成一团。旋风,不是寒冷的,而是温热的几乎是燥热的旋风袭击着树木、房顶、窗户和街道;它一下子吹落了萨宁的帽子,并把杰玛的鬈发吹起来打转转。 萨宁的头部齐窗台一样高;他不由得紧紧贴住了窗台——这时杰玛用双手抓住他的两肩,用胸脯护住了他的头部。喧哗声、呼啸声和轰鸣声延续了大约一分来钟 ……平地而起的旋风宛若巨大的鸟群疾驰而去……一切复归于万籁俱寂。

萨宁微微抬起头来,看到自己的头顶上竟是如此美妙、惊慌、激动的一张脸庞,如此巨大、惶恐、华美的一双眼睛——他看见的竟是如此美丽的少女,于是 他的心屏息不跳了,他把嘴唇紧紧地贴在垂到他胸际的鬈发上,——只会说:

“哦,杰玛!”

“刚才是怎么回事?闪电吗?”她问,把眼睛睁得大大的,也不把自己裸露的双手从他的肩头收回。

“杰玛!”他又重复说。

她叹了口气,回过头去,向房间里看了一眼,急速地从身后拿出那朵已经枯萎了的玫瑰扔给了萨宁。

“我想把这朵花给您……”

他认得出是昨天他夺回来的那朵玫瑰……

然而窗户已经砰然合上,而在漆黑的玻璃后面已经既看不见什么东西,也没有任何东西再隐现出来。

萨宁没有戴帽子,回到家里……他甚至没有发觉自己丢了帽子。

------------------

 二十一

他直至凌晨方始入睡。这没有什么奇怪!在那阵转瞬而逝的夏季的旋风卷地而来的当儿,他的内心也浮上一种转瞬即逝的感觉——不是觉得杰玛是个美貌女 子,也不是觉得他喜欢她——这,他早已知道,而是觉得他差点儿……没爱上她。爱情也有如那阵旋风,在同一刹那间向他袭来。然而这里却要举行这场愚蠢的 决斗!不祥的预感开始折磨他。我们设想,就算他没有被打死……那么他对这位少女,他人的未婚妻的爱情究竟会引出什么结果呢?我们进一步设想,就算这位 “他人”对他并无危险,而且杰玛也会爱他,或者已经爱上他……事情的结局又将如何呢?干吗要问结局呢?这样美丽的女子……

他在房间里踱来踱去,又坐到桌子边拿起一张纸,在上面写了几行字——又当即把它涂掉……他想起了杰玛令人倾倒的倩影,在黑洞洞的窗户里,星光之下 ,整个儿被温热的旋风吹得头发蓬松;想起了她那双如同奥林匹斯女神一样的大理石般的素手,感觉得到它们压在他肩头的实在重量……然后他拿起那朵扔给他 的玫瑰——仿佛觉得从那半枯萎的花瓣间散发出来的是一种与寻常的玫瑰迥然不同、更为细腻的气息……

“难道他会突然死于飞弹之下或者被打成重伤?”

他没有上床,而在沙发上和衣入睡了。

有人摇他的肩膀……

他睁开眼,看见了潘塔列昂。

“像巴比伦战役前夕的亚历山大•马其顿一样睡着了!”老头大声说。

“几点啦?”萨宁问。

“七点差一刻,到加拿乌有两个钟点路程,不过我们得赶在前头。俄国人比起他的敌人,总是捷足先登的!我雇的可是法兰克福城里上等的马车!”

萨宁开始梳洗。

“手枪呢?”

“手枪那个军官先生会带来的。医生也由他带来。”

潘塔列昂明显地显出精神百倍的样子,像昨天一样;然而待他和萨宁一同坐进马车,当车夫扬鞭一挥而马匹起步迅跑的时候——昔日的歌手和巴图埃龙骑兵 的知交,却一下子变了样。他显得局促不安,甚至胆战心惊起来。似乎有某种东西,宛如胡乱堆砌起来的墙壁一样倾塌下来,压在他的身上。

“可是我们这算干什么呢,我的老天,至高无上的圣母①!”他突然退尖了嗓子叫道,一面抓住自己的头发,“我这个老笨蛋,疯子,frenetico,干什么 来着?”

① 原文为意大利文。

萨宁感到奇怪,笑起来,一面轻轻搂住他的腰,告诉他一句法国谚语:“酒瓶已打开,就得喝下去。”①(用俄语说,相当于一不作二不休。)②

① 原文为法文。

② 俄语原文直译为:既然抓起了马车的轭索,就别说自己没有力气。

“对对,”老头答道,“这份酒咱们俩得分干而尽,不过我毕竟是疯子!我——真是疯子!曾几何时,一切是那么宁静,美好……可是突然间:劈劈劈,啪 拉拉打起来了!”

“好像全部①都在奏军乐,”萨宁强装着笑颜说,“不过您没错儿。”

① 原文为意大利文。

“我知道,不是我的错!还不够吗?这一切毕竟是放荡不拘的行为。见鬼!见鬼!①”潘塔列昂反复说,抖动着头发,哀声叹气地。

① 原文为意大利文。

然而马车却隐隐甸甸,不停地滚着,滚着。

晨色是迷人的。法兰克福开始热闹起来的街道,看上去是如此洁净安适,屋宇的窗户像锡箔一样泛着粼粼白光;马车一出城门,即从高处尚未全明的蓝天深 际传来了云雀清脆的啼啭。忽然,在马路的拐角处,一棵高大的杨树背后,露出一个熟识的人影,走了几步又停下来。萨宁凝神望去,我的天哪!是爱弥儿!

“难道有什么事让他知道了吗?”萨宁对潘塔列昂说。

“告诉您,我真是疯子,”可怜的意大利人绝望地、几乎是叫喊着大声说。“这个不幸的孩子折腾得我一夜不得安宁,——所以今天早上我只好对他全说了 。”

“原来如此,你的‘秘密’①。”萨宁自忖。

① 原文为意大利文。

马车赶上了爱弥儿;萨宁吩咐车夫停车叫那个“‘不幸’的孩子”走过来。爱弥儿跨着迟疑不决的脚步走来,脸色像昏厥那天一样地苍白。一双脚勉强支撑 着他的身子。

“您来这里干什么?”萨宁厉声正色地问他,“为什么不呆在家里?”

“允许我……允许我和你们一起走吧。”爱弥儿用颤抖的嗓音哺哺说,两只手垂着。他的牙齿像打摆子一样地上下相碰。

“我不会妨碍你们——可是求您允许我去!”

“假如您觉得对我哪怕有一丝一毫的感情或敬意,”萨宁说,“那么您马上回家或到克留别尔先生的店里去,而且什么也不要对人说,等我回来。”

“等您回来,”爱弥儿沉吟道,——但是他的声音刚出口就戛然而止了,“可是如果您被……”

“爱弥儿!”萨宁打断他的话,用眼色指指马车夫。“冷静一点!爱弥儿,回家去吧!听我的话,我的朋友!您说您爱我吧。那么我请求您!”

他把手伸给他。爱弥儿向前跃进一点,哽咽着,把他的手挪到自己的嘴唇边,——于是从路上跳到旁边,穿过田野,转身朝法兰克福跑去。

“也是一颗高尚的心。”潘塔列昂嘟嘟哝哝地说,而萨宁却阴郁地看了他一眼……老头缩到马车的角落里。他意识到自己的过错;另外,他又越来越感到惊 奇:难道真的是他当了仲裁,是他既雇来了马车,又只身张罗里里外外,一大早六点钟就离开了自己安逸的住房?而且他的腿病又发了,肿得厉害。

萨宁觉得有必要给他鼓鼓气……说来也巧,他想出了该说的话:

“您当年的勇气哪里去了,尊敬的奇巴图拉先生?到哪里去了——以前的勇气①?”

① 原文为意大利文。

奇巴图拉先生挺直了身子,皱起眉头。

I1 antico valor?”他粗声粗气地宣告说。“Non e ancopento(它还没有完全消失呢)——il anico valor!!”

他装出煞有介事的样子,开始谈自己的经历,谈歌剧,谈伟大的男高音歌手加尔西亚,——他今天来加拿乌,已经是够英勇的了。应当说:世界上最强有力 或最软弱的……都莫过于诺言了!

------------------

 二十二

应当在那里举行决斗的小树林距加拿乌四分之一英里。与潘塔列昂的预言一样,萨宁和他先到达这里。他们吩咐马车在林边空地上等待,就一头钻进稠密的 林荫之中。他们在此等候了大约一个小时。萨宁在等候时并未感到特别心焦;他沿小道来回散步,谛听鸟儿的鸣啭,凝视一种叫作“扁担”的蜻蜓的飞翔,力图 不去思考,就像处于此情此景的大多数俄国人那样。他只有一次动过心:他碰上了一棵摧折的小椴树,看样子无疑是被昨晚的大风吹倒的。它肯定正在死去…… 树上的枝叶也正在死去。“这是什么?预兆吗?”他脑子里闪过这个念头,然而他立刻打着唿哨跳过这棵树,继续开始在小道上踱步。潘塔列昂呢——他嘴里叽 咕个不停,骂德国人,叫苦连天,一会儿摸摸背脊,一会儿按摩膝盖。他甚至激动得打起阿欠来,这使他那小巧而皱成一团的小脸上出现一种极为滑稽的表情。 萨宁望着他,差点儿没大笑起来。

终于传来了马车辘辘碾过松软的路面的声音。“是他们来了!”潘塔列昂说着警觉起来,并且挺直了身子,刹那之间他神经质地打了个冷战,但是这冷战却 被他设法掩饰了起来:他大喊一声“勃儿……”,然后说今天的早晨非常凉。露水很多,压得草和树叶低垂下来,但是炎热已经直透到林子里头来了。

两个军官很快进入了树林,陪伴他们来的是一个身材并不高大的结实汉子,一脸倦容,几乎是睡意未央的样子——那是军医。他一手提着一只盛着水的瓦罐 ——以备万一;左面肩膀上背着一只盛放外科器械和绷带的背包。看样子他对诸如此类的旅行早已司空见惯;它们构成他收入的一个部分:每次决斗使他进账八 块金币——双方各付四块。封•里希特先生提着装手枪的箱子,封•唐诃夫先生手里舞弄着一根小小的马鞭——显然是为了装“漂亮”。

“潘塔列昂!”萨宁轻轻在他耳边说。“要是……要是我被打死了——什么都可能发生的——那么把我边袋里的一张纸掏出来,里面包着一朵花,把这张纸 交给杰玛小姐。听见吗?您答应吗?”

老头伤心地看了他一眼——于是肯定地点了点头……但是天晓得他到底是否明白萨宁对他的要求。

对手和仲裁照规定彼此行过礼,只有医生一个人连眉毛也不动一下,就坐到草地上,嘴里说:“我才不顾那套骑士们的礼节呢。”封•里希特先生提议请“ 几罢图拉”①先生挑选地点;“几罢图拉”先生翻动僵硬的舌头(他心里依然压着的那堵墙又倒塌了)说:“仁慈的先生,还是您来吧,我看着就是……”

① 几罢图拉,里希特的法语发音不准,把奇巴图拉读别了。

于是封•里希特先生开始动手。他就地在林间找到一块开满鲜花的美好空地,量好步子,用两根现削的棒儿标明两个端点,再从箱子里拿出手枪,蹲下来装 好子弹。一句话,他全力以赴地在操劳忙碌,不时用一块白手绢擦去脸上沁出的汗水。陪伴他的潘塔列昂倒更像一个冻僵的人。在整个准备过程中,决斗的对手 远远站在两边,宛如两个受处罚的小学生在生家庭教师的气。

决定的时刻到来了……

“每个人拿起了自己的手枪……”①

① 引自普希金的诗体小说《叶甫盖尼•奥涅金》第六章第二十九节中的最后一句,该章描写奥涅金和连斯基的决斗。

然而这时封•里希特先生对潘塔列昂说,按照决斗的规则,应该由他,两个副手之中年纪较大的一位,在发布“一、二、三”的命令之前向决斗着的双方提 出下面的规劝和忠告:讲和吧!虽然这种忠告毫无用处,而只是一种空洞的形式,但是奇巴图拉先生完成这种形式之后,可以卸去一定的责任;尽管作出类似规 劝是所谓“不偏不倚的见证人”(unparteiischerZeuge)的事,——可是他们没有见证人,封•里希特先生乐意把这份特权让给自己尊敬的对手。潘塔列昂却早已赶忙钻进灌木丛里,使自己一点儿也不会看见 盛气凌人的军官,他起初丝毫没有领会封•里希特先生的话,——更何况他说话带着鼻音;但是一下子忽然振作起来,他伶俐地跨上前去,颤巍巍地用手拍着胸 脯,用自己嘶哑的声音,用混杂起来的语言拉长了调子说:“阿拉--拉……多野蛮啊!两个年轻人决斗!——干吗这样?活见鬼!回去吧!”①

① 原文为意大利文和法文混杂在一起。

“我不同意和解。”萨宁急忙说。

“我也不同意。”他的敌手重复说。

“那么就喊:一、二、三!”封•里希特对张惶失措的潘塔列昂说。

他马上又钻进灌木丛里,全身发抖,闭起眼睛,别转头去,直接从那里,不过却是扯着嗓子喊出声来:

“一、二……三!”①

① 原文为意大利文。

萨宁第一个开枪,但是没有击中。啪的一响,他的子弹打到了树上。唐诃夫男爵接着他打——但是故意向旁边朝天开了一枪。

降临了紧张的沉寂……谁也没有离开原地一步。潘塔列昂轻轻地发出一声“啊!”

“命令继续打吗?”唐诃夫说。

“您为什么开朝天枪?”萨宁问。

“这不关您的事。”

“第二枪难道您也朝天打?”萨宁又问。

“也许,我不知道。”

“对不起……对不起,先生们……”封•里希特先生开始说话,“决斗者自己是不许对话的。这完全不合规定。”

“我放弃自己这一枪。”萨宁说着把手枪甩在地上。

“那我也不打算把决斗继续下去,”唐诃夫大声说,也丢下自己的手枪。“另外,我现在准备承认,前天是我的不是。”

他在原地脚踢了一会,犹豫地向前伸出一只手。萨宁快步走近他——握了他的手。两个年轻人含着微笑彼此看着——于是双方的脸上都泛起了红晕。

“好啊!好啊!①”潘塔列昂像疯了一般,一下子从树丛里猛冲出来,大声叫嚷着。军医原先坐在一个砍伐后留下的树墩上,现在则立起身来倒掉瓦罐里的 水,懒洋洋地蹒跚着步子,走向林边空地。

① 原文为意大利文。

“荣誉感已经得到满足——决斗就此结束!”封•里希特先生宣告说。

Fuori!(фopa)”①潘塔列昂凭着早先的记忆,再次大叫一声。

① Fuori——语气词,意大利文。此词有两个意思:一是运动中强者对弱者表示让步;二是演出时观众要求演员再来一次的呼喊。此处当作第一义解,此 词在欧洲其他语种里也有采用,如俄语(фopa)。

说真的,萨宁在和军官先生们相互鞠过躬而坐上马车的时候,自己浑身感到的如果不是一种满足,那么就是犹如鏖战一场以后的那种轻快;然而另外还别有 一番滋味,一种类似羞耻的感情在他心头蠕动。他觉得,适才自己参加的那场决斗,好像是一种虚伪,一种久积的恶习,一种常见于军官和大学生中的通病。他 回忆起当那个军医看见他和唐诃夫男爵几乎手挽着手走出树林时脸上露出一丝微笑——就是说皱了皱鼻子。后来,当潘塔列昂向那同一个军医偿付他应付的四个 金币的时候……唉!真不是味儿!

是的,萨宁感到有点惭愧和羞耻……虽然从另一方面说他不这样又怎么办呢?难道可以不给恶作剧的青年军官一点惩罚,难道可以和克留别尔先生一个样? 他为杰玛说话,他保护她……事情就是这样;可是他心里总是沉甸甸地压着什么,他感到惭愧,甚至羞耻。

潘塔列昂则不然——简直同凯旋而归一样。他忽然充满了骄傲,即使是从赢得胜利的战场荣归的常胜将军,那种傲视四周的自满自足的神气也不会有胜于他 的。萨宁在决斗时的举动使他欣喜若狂。他赞扬他的英雄气概——对他的规劝和要求竟连听也不要听。他把萨宁和大理石的或青铜的纪念碑相提并论——和《唐 •璜》里骑士团团长的全身塑像相比较!说到自己的时候他也老实承认一度感到有点惊慌。“我毕竟是个演员,”他说,“我的本性就有点神经过敏,可您—— 是雪山和花岗石山崖的儿子呀!”

萨宁想不出办法怎么让这位兴奋过度的演员平静下来。

几乎就是在两小时前他们赶上爱弥儿的同一地方——爱弥儿嘴里愉快地呼叫着,拿帽子在头顶上挥舞,蹦跳着又从树后头窜出来,直向马车扑过去,险些儿 碾到车轮子底下,他不等车停下来,就爬进关着的车门,一头扎进萨宁怀里。

“您活着,没有打伤!”他肯定地说,“请原谅我,我没有听您的话回到法兰克福去……我不能!我在这里等您……请告诉我,结果怎么样?您……把他打 死了吗?”

萨宁好不容易使爱弥儿安静下来,让他坐稳当。潘塔列昂脸上显露出满意的神色,滔滔不绝地对爱弥儿叙述决斗的全部细节,当然也不会忘记重新提出青铜 纪念碑和骑士团团长的全身像!他甚至从座位里站起,张开两脚保持身子的平衡,把两只手交叉在胸口,带着藐视一切的神色越过肩膀斜视着——一看便知是在 装扮骑士团团长萨宁的样子!爱弥儿怀着敬意在倾听,有时发出赞叹声来把故事打断,或者一下子站起来,飞快地亲吻自己英勇的朋友。

车轮开始碰击法兰克福街道的路面——终于在萨宁下榻的旅馆门口停下未。

他在自己两位同路人的陪同下沿楼梯登上二楼——突然一个妇女迅步从黑暗的走廊里走出来:她脸上罩着面纱;她在萨宁面前停下来,身子微微摇晃了一下 、颤抖着叹息了一声,又立刻向楼下的马路疾奔而去——随即消失了,这使茶房大为惊诧,他说这位女士等外国先生的归来已经有一个多小时了。尽管她的出现 是那么短暂,萨宁还是认出了她是杰玛。他透过稠密的咖啡色丝质面纱认出了她的一双眼睛。

“难道杰玛小姐知道这件事……”他拖长了声音用德语不满意地问跟着他而来的爱弥儿和藩塔列昂。

爱弥儿脸红了,显出局促不安的样子。

“我只好都告诉她,”他吞吞吐吐地说,“她猜到了,所以我怎么也不能……不过现在已经一点也不要紧了,”他高兴地接下去说,“一切都好了,这么顺 当,她还见到了您,好好的,一点损伤也没有!”

萨宁别过头去。

“可是他们俩也太会搬嘴了!”他懊丧地说着,走进了房间,在椅子上坐下来。

“别生气。”爱弥儿央求说。

“好,我不生气。(事实上萨宁的确没有生气——而且说到底他未必真的希望杰玛一无所知。)好……够了,别再拥抱了吧。现在请回去吧。我想独自留下 来,我要睡觉,我累了。”

“好主意!”潘诺列昂叫道,“您需要休息!您完全应当休息,高贵的先生!爱弥儿,咱们走!踮起脚!踮起脚!嘘!”

萨宁虽说想睡,其实只不过想摆脱自己的伙伴。可是一旦只剩下只身一个人,他倒真的感到全身精疲力竭了;昨夜他几乎通宵没有合眼,所以一躺到床上就 酣然入梦了。

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 二十三

一连几个小时他都沉睡不醒。尔后他开始作梦,梦见自己仍在决斗,站在他面前的对手是克留别尔先生。枞树上停着一只鹦鹉,这只鹦鹉恰恰正是潘塔列昂 ,他从鼻子里不断地发出声音:预备——一——一——一!——一——一——一!

“—……一……一!”他已经听得非常清晰:他睁开眼抬起头来……有人在敲他房间的门。

“请进来!”萨宁大声喊。进来的是茶房,报告说一位女士非常需要见他。

“是杰玛!”他脑子里一闪……然而进来的女士却是她的母亲——来诺拉太太。

她一进门就坐到椅子上哭起来。

“您怎么啦,我善良、亲爱的路塞里太太?”萨宁开口问她,一面靠近她坐下,默默地亲切地碰碰她的手。“出什么事了?我请求您安静下来。”

“唉,德米特里先生①,我非常——非常地不幸!”

① 本章来诺拉太太所说的,“德米特里先生”六字原文均为德文,下面不再一一注出。

“是您不幸?”

“唉,非常不幸!我怎么预料得到呢!太突然了,真是晴天霹雳……”

她吃力地呼吸着。

“到底是怎么回事?说吧!要水喝吗?”

“不,谢谢。”来诺拉太太用手绢擦干眼泪,又复大哭起来。“我都知道啦!都知道啦!”

“什么都知道啦?”

“今天发生的事情!那原因……我也明白啦!您的行为堪称是一个高尚的人。可是事情怎么会凑得这么不巧呢?我不是平白无故地不赞成这次到索屯的旅行 的……不是平白无故的!(来诺拉太太在旅行举行的当天什么也没有说过,但是此刻却认为她当时就预感到这一切了。)所以我来看您,把您当作一个高尚的人 ,当作一个朋友,虽然五天以前我和您的见面才是第一次……可是要知道我是一个孤孀,孤零零的一个人……我的女儿……”

眼泪哽止了来诺拉太太的声音。萨宁不知道怎么办才好。

“您的女儿?”他重复说。

“我的女儿杰玛,”来诺拉太太几乎是呻吟着的声音从浸透了泪水的手绢里挣脱出来,“今天对我说,她不愿意嫁给克留别尔先生,要我去解除婚约!”

萨宁简直轻轻地退了开去:他没有料到这一着。

“我姑且不说”,来诺拉太太继续说,“这是一种耻辱,未婚妻向未婚夫退婚,这是世界上从来没有过的事;可是德米特里先生,这对我们来说还意味着破 产哪!”来诺拉太太用力把手绢紧紧地卷成小小的一团,仿佛想把自己的全部苦楚都包进里面。“德米特里先生,依靠自己商店的收入我们已经无法维持生计, 而克留别尔先生却十分富有,而且还会更加富有。为什么要向他退婚呢?因为他没有保护自己的未婚妻?就算他这一点做得不够好,他毕竟不是个军人,也没有 受过高等教育,但是作为一个体面的商人,对于一个不相识的军官的轻率的捣蛋,是应当蔑视的。这怎么能怪他呢,德米特里先生?”

“对不起,来诺拉太太,您好像在责备我……”

“我一点也不责备您,一点也不!您完全是两码事:您同所有的俄国人一样,是一个军人……”

“对不起,我根本不是……”

“您是一个外国人,一个过路的客人,我感谢您。”来诺拉太太没有听萨宁说话,只管自己继续往下说。她摊开两手,把手绢重新打开,擤了一把鼻涕。单 凭她这种表露内心苦楚的方式,就可以看出她不是北方人。

“要是克留别尔先生和顾客打起架来,叫他怎么在店里做生意呢?这完全是不堪设想的!可是我现在就得向他退婚?那我们靠什么过日子?以前做止咳糖和 奶油杏仁糖的就我们一家,所以生意兴隆。可是现在,家家都在做止咳糖!!您想一想,没有那件事,城里对您的决斗也一定会传得沸沸扬扬……难道那件事瞒 得了吗?突然间说婚约解除了!这简直是荒唐,荒唐!杰玛是个好姑娘,她非常爱我;可是她又是一个固执的共和主义者,听不进别人的意见。只有您可以说服 她!”

“我吗,来诺拉太太?”

“对,只有您……只有您一个人。我正是为此来找您:我想不出任何别的办法!您是那么博学、那么出色的一个人!您袒护过她。她信任您!她应当信任您 ——您毕竟为她而冒过生命危险!您会向她证实:她会毁掉自己和我们全家的。您救了我儿子——也救救我的女儿吧!您是上帝亲自派到这里来的……我愿意跪 下来求您……”

于是来诺拉太太从椅子里半站起来,似乎打算在萨宁面前跪下来……但是他阻止了她。

“来诺拉太太,在上帝的分上,您干吗要这样呢?”

她哆嗦着抓住他的双手。

“您答应吗?”

“来诺拉太太,请想一想,我有什么理由……”

“您答应吗?您不想我在您面前就地立刻死去吗?”

萨宁手足无措。他生平第一次遇到激动起来的意大利血统的女性。

“好,我照您的意思去做!”他大声说。“我和杰玛小姐去谈谈看。”

来诺拉太太高兴得叫起来。

“不过我实在不知道会有什么结果……”

“啊,别推辞了,别推辞了!”来诺拉太太用央求的语调说。“您已经同意,结果也许会是好的,不管怎么样,我是想不出别的法子了!她不听我的!”

“她是这么坚决地告诉您不肯嫁给克留别尔先生吗?”萨宁沉默不久后问。

“是斩钉截铁的!她和她的父亲,乔万尼•巴蒂斯塔一模一样,真不好对付啊!”

“她不好对付?”萨宁拖长了声音说。

“是的……是的……不过她同时也是个天使。她会听您的。您来,马上来吗?啊,我亲爱的俄国朋友!”来诺拉从椅子里激动地站起来,同样又激动地抱住 坐在她跟前的萨宁的头。“请接受一个母亲的敬意吧——现在给我点水喝!”

萨宁递给她一杯水,答应马上就去,送她下了楼梯一直到外面——但是一回到房间,他却两手一拍,简直目瞪口呆了。

“真是,”他想,“真是平地起风波!而且来得叫人晕头转向!”他不想去窥探自己的内心世界,去弄清楚那里发生了什么:反正一团糟就是了。“遇上这 么一天!”他嘴里不由自主地轻声说道,“不好对付……还是她母亲说的……而我却要去规劝她——向她?可是说什么好呢?”

萨宁的脑子里真的打起转来——而在这旋风般转动着的一切形形色色的感受、印象和未曾表达出来的思想的上面,始终浮现着杰玛的影子,在那温暖的、被 雷电震撼的夜晚、在那黑暗的窗户里、在闪烁的星光下如此不可磨灭地印入了他记忆里的那个影子!

------------------

 二十四

萨宁迈着迟疑的步子走近路塞里太太的屋子。他的心激烈地跳动起来;他清晰地感觉得到它碰击肋骨的声音。他将对杰玛说些什么?怎么开口?他没有从店 堂里走,而是经过后门的台阶进了屋。在并不宽敞的过道间里他遇见了来诺拉太太。她见到他又高兴又担心。

“我等呀等,一直在等您,”她轻声说,一面交替着用自己的两只手握他的手。“到花园里去吧,她在那里。您看,我对您寄予希望呢!”

萨宁朝花园里走去。

杰玛坐在长椅上,靠近小路的地方,从装满樱桃的大篮子里把熟透的樱桃拣出来放到盘子里。夕阳西沉——已是傍晚六点多钟了一一斜阳的光辉淹没了路塞 里太太整个小巧的小花园,宽阔的光带的颜色已经是深红甚于金黄了。有时可以隐约听见树叶沙沙作响的声音,似乎是从容不迫的;迟归的蜜蜂从一朵花飞到相 邻的另一朵花上去,发出时断时续的嗡嗡声;还有一只斑鸠在鸣叫——鸣声单调而不知疲倦。

杰玛还是戴着去索屯旅行时戴的那顶草帽,她从突出的帽檐下向萨宁望了一眼,又低头看着篮子。

萨宁走近杰玛,不由自主地放慢了脚步,但是……但是……但是找不出任何别的话头来开口,只好问她:为什么要拣樱桃?

杰玛不慌不忙地回答他。

“这些——比较熟一点,”她终于说,“用来做果子酱,那些用来做饼馅儿。您知道,我们卖加糖的圆馅饼。”

杰玛说完这些话,把头垂得更低了,她的右手停留在篮子和盘子之间的空间,指间捏着两颗樱桃。

“可以在您旁边坐下吗?”萨宁问。

“可以。”杰玛在椅子上轻轻挪动身子。萨宁在她身边坐下。“怎么开口呢?”——他自忖道。但是杰玛帮助他解脱了困境。

“您今天决斗了,”她热情洋溢地说,把自己因羞怯而泛上红晕的脸整个儿转过来向着他,而在她的眼睛所射出的光芒里则饱含着满腔深切的谢意!“您就 这样泰然自若?也许危险对您并不存在?”

“请别说了。我一点危险也没有遇到,一切都很顺利,也没有受委屈。”

杰玛用一个指头在眼前左右来回摆动……这也是意大利人的手势。

“不!不!不要这样说!您瞒不了我!潘塔列昂全对我说了!”

“您怎么好相信他呀!他把我比作骑士团团长的全身像了吧!”

“他的话也许是可笑的,可是无论是他的感情,还是您今天的全部所作所为,都没有丝毫可笑的地方。而且这都是因为我……都是为了我……这个,我永远 也不会忘记。”

“请相信,杰玛小姐……”

“我不会忘记的。”她拖长了声音重复说,再一次凝神望了他一会,于是转过脸去。

现在他可以看清她那秀丽纯洁的侧影了,他仿佛觉得像这样的形象他从未见到过——而在这瞬间他所感受到的,也从未经验过。他心里的热血沸腾了。

“可是我的诺言呢!”他的脑海里闪过这个念头。

“杰玛小姐……”他犹豫了一下后说道。

“什么事?”

她没有向他转过脸去,她继续拣着樱桃,小心地用指尖拈起它们的蒂头,留神地把篮子拿起来……然而就是这一句“什么事”,却道出了多少充满信任的温 情啊!

“您的妈妈对您什么也没有说起吗?有关……”

“有关?”

“关于我?”

杰玛突然把她拿在手里的樱桃扔回到篮子里。

“她和您说过?”她反问道。

“是的。”

“她究竟对您说了些什么呢?”

“她对我说,您……突然决定改变……自己先前的意愿。”

杰玛仍然低着头。它已经在帽檐下面整个儿都看不见了,可以看见的只是脖子,柔软而温存,宛如一朵大花的梗子。

“什么样的意愿?”

“您的意愿……关系到……您建立未来的生活的。”

“就是说……您这是说……关系到克留别尔先生的?”

“是的。”

“是妈妈对您说,我不愿意做克留别尔先生的妻子吗?”

“是的。”

杰玛在椅子上移动一下身子。篮子倾过来,倒翻了……有些樱桃滚落到路上。过了一分钟……又过了一分钟……

“她为什么对您说这个?”是她的声音。萨宁依然只看得见她的脖子。她的胸脯比先前更快地起落着。

“为什么?您的妈妈认为,因为我和您可以说在短时间里建立了友谊,而您对我产生了某种信任,所以我能够向您提出有益的建议——而您也会听从我的话 。”

杰玛的手轻轻地滑到了大腿上……她开始逐条摸弄自己连衣裙上的褶裥。

“您到底给我什么样的建议呢,德米特里先生①?”过了不久她问。

① 本章中杰玛所说的“德米特里先生”六字原文均为法文。

萨宁看见杰玛放在腿上的手指在发颤……她之所以摸弄裙子的褶裥也仅仅是为了掩饰这种颤抖。他默默地把自己的一只手放到了这些苍白的、颤动着的手指 上。

“杰玛,”他说,“您为什么不看我?”

她一下子把自己的草帽往肩膀后头一甩——把依然如故地怀着信赖和感谢的那双眼睛盯着看他。她等待他开口……然而她的脸部表情使他局促不安,似乎叫 他迷惘。夕阳温暖的光辉映照着她年轻的头颅——而那头颅的表情则更比这光辉明亮。耀眼。

“我听您的,德米特里先生”,她勉强露出微笑和微微扬起眉毛说。“可是您给我什么建议呢?”

“什么建议?”萨宁重复说。“您要知道,妈妈认为拒绝克留别尔先生仅仅是因为前天他没有拿出足够的勇气……”

“仅仅是因为这个吗?”杰玛说着俯下身子,扶起篮子,把它放在自己身边椅子上。

“还认为……一般地说……对于您来说拒绝他是考虑欠周的,因为这是需要认真权衡它的全部后果的一步,而且您这件事的状态,使你们家庭的每个成员都 负有一定的责任……”

“所有这些——都是妈妈的意思,”杰玛打断他的话,“这——是她说的话,我知道;可是您的意见呢?”

“我的?”萨宁缄默了。他觉得有什么东西涌到了喉咙口,塞住了呼吸。“我也认为。”他开始费力地说……

杰玛挺直了身子。

“也?您——也认为?”

“是的……就是说……”萨宁说不出,完全无法再多说一个字了。

“好,”杰玛说,“如果您作为朋友,劝我改变自己的决定……也就是说不要改变原先的决定,——那我考虑一下。”她自己也没有发觉自己在做什么,开 始把樱桃从盘子里向篮子里放回去……“妈妈希望我听您的……怎么样?也许我真的听您的……”

“不过很抱歉,杰玛小姐,我想先了解是什么原因促使您……”

“我听您的,”杰玛重复着说,但是自己的双眉颦蹙得更紧了,脸色变得苍白。她咬着下边的嘴唇,“您为我做了这么多事情,所以我一定要照您的意思去 做,一定要完成您的意愿。我会对妈妈说……我会考虑一下。看,她正好到这里来了。”

果然,来诺拉太太出现在通向花园的门坎上了。她沉不住气了:她再也坐不牢了。她估计萨宁早就该结束自己对杰玛的解释,虽然他和她的谈话不过进行了 十五分钟。

“不,不,不,看在上帝分上,暂时什么也别对她说,”萨宁急急忙忙、几乎是怀着恐惧之情说,“请等一等……我会对您说,我会写信给您的……在此以 前您不要作任何决定……等一等!”

他紧紧地握一下杰玛的手,从椅子上一下子站起来……将帽子向上微微一举,就从来诺拉太太身边溜了过去,嘴里喃喃地说着一些含糊不清的词语,于是消 失了——这使她大吃一惊。

她走到女儿跟前。

“告诉我,杰玛……”

她突然站起来,拥抱她。

“亲爱的妈妈,您能不能等我一等,不多一会儿……到明天?能不能?而且到明天以前什么话也别说?……嗯!……”

她突然涌出了连她自己也猝不及防的、晶莹的眼泪。来诺拉太太尤其惊愕的是杰玛此刻的表情远非悲伤,毋宁是喜悦的。

“你怎么啦?”她问。“在我面前你从来不哭的——怎么突然……”

“没什么,妈妈,没什么!但是请您等一等!我们俩都需要等待。明天以前什么事也别决定——好,我们来拣樱桃吧,趁太阳还没有下山。”

“可是你会变得明白起来吗?”

“不,我头脑非常明白!”杰玛郑重地摇了摇头说。她开始把不大的一束樱桃扎起来,高高地擎在自己发红的脸孔前面。她没有擦掉自己的眼泪:它们自行 干掉了。

------------------

 二十五

萨宁几乎是跑步回到自己的寓所的。他觉得,他意识到惟有在这里,当他一人独处的时候,自己方始弄明白:他发生了什么事,他所发生的事属于什么性质 。是的,当他一走进自己的房间坐到书桌前面去把双手支撑在上面、用双手托住脸颊的时候,他就伤心而嘶哑地叫起来:“我爱她,疯狂地爱她!”——这时他 的内心一下子热起来,宛然煤块被突然吹走了覆盖在上面的一层灰烬。瞬间……他简直无法理解,与他并排而坐的怎么竟会是她……是她!——他怎么会既同她 交谈,却感觉不到自己对她的那种拜倒裙下的爱慕之情,犹如青年人常说的那样宁肯“在她的脚边死去”!最后一次在花园里的会面决定了一切。此刻,当他想 念着她的时候,在他面前的她已不再是星光下那副头发蓬松的模样——他看到她坐在长靠椅上,一下子从头上摘下帽子,如此信赖地看着他……他全身战栗,热 切的爱情流遍了他的全部脉络。他想起了那朵玫瑰,他随身带在口袋里已经有三天,——他掏出花来,狂热地把它用力贴紧自己的嘴唇,被刺得直皱起眉头。此 刻他已不再去作任何判断,作任何设想,既不作打算,也不作预测;他和过去的一切已经一刀两断,他向前跃进了一步:从自己孤单的、独身生活的忧闷的河岸 上蹦地一下跳入了愉快、沸腾、汹涌的激流——他已不再感到有几许痛苦,他也不想知道,它会把他带到什么地方去,会不会把他甩在山崖上砸个粉碎!这已经 不是乌兰德抒情歌曲里静静的细流,那些不久前催他人睡的曲子……这是汹涌的。无可遏止的波涛!它们向前奔腾,向前飞跃——而他也和它们一起奔腾!

他拿起一张纸,写下了下面的字句,未经涂改,几乎是一笔而就的。

亲爱的杰玛!

您一定知道我要给您带来的建议是什么,您也知道您妈妈希望的是什么和她请求我做的是什么,——但是还有的是您不知道的,而此刻却是我必须告诉您的 ,那就是我爱您,以一颗初恋的心的全部激情来爱您!这火焰在我的心中骤然上升,竟是如此强烈,使我找不出言词来形容!!您妈妈到我这里来向我提出请求 的时候,——它还仅仅潜伏在我的胸中——否则我作为一个诚实的人,也许会拒绝履行她的委托……现在我向您承认这一点,本身就是一个诚实的人所表示的承 认。您应当明白自己和什么人建立了联系——我们之间是不应当存在什么误会的。您会发现我不会向您提出任何建议的……我爱您,爱您,爱您——除此而外别 无所有,无论在脑子里,还是心灵上!!

                  德•萨宁

萨宁把条子折拢、封好,曾想叫茶房来送去的……“不!这样不妥当……通过爱弥儿?可是到商店,在其他的伙计之间去找他——也欠妥当。而且天已经黑 下来,或许他已经离开店里了。”萨宁虽然只是这么思量,却已经戴上帽子出了门;他转过一个街口,又拐入另一个街口——正好看见爱弥儿就在自己跟前,他 的高兴真是难以形容。热情的年轻人腋下夹着书包,手里拿着一卷纸,正匆匆赶回家去。

“此话不虚,每个热恋者都有自己的福星。”萨宁想,于是叫住了爱弥儿。

他回过头来,立即向他跑去。

萨宁没有让他兴奋起来,而把字条塞进他的手里,嘱咐他交给谁,怎么交……爱弥儿听得很认真。

“不要让任何人看见?”他问道,脸上露出煞有介事的神秘的神情,好像在说:“我们都明白其中的奥妙!”

“对了,我的朋友,”萨宁说道,现出有点难为情的样子,但又轻轻地拍拍爱弥儿的脸蛋……“要是有回条……就请您送来,好吗?我在家里等您。”

“这您就别担心了!”爱弥儿高兴地小声说,然后一溜烟跑了——但是他在跑着的时候还再一次向他点了下头。

萨宁回到家里,没有点蜡烛,就倒进沙发里,把手枕在头下面,沉溺在对方始意识到的爱情的感受之中,那种感受是无可描摹的:谁个经受过它,就知道它 的苦恼与甜蜜,谁个没有经受过——任你对他怎么说也是徒然的。

门开了——露出了爱弥儿的头。

“带来了,”他轻声说,“这不就是吗,回条呀!”

他拿出一张卷起来的纸在头顶上扬着。

萨宁一骨碌从沙发里跳起来,从爱弥儿手里一把抓过字条。他的内心太激动了,现在他已顾不上掩饰它,也顾不上礼貌了——即使在这样一个孩子,她的兄 弟面前。如果可能——他也许会为他害臊,也许会制止他这样做!

他走到窗前,借助屋前路灯的光线,读完了如下的字句:

我请求您,我恳求您——明天一天都不要来我们的家,也不要露面。我需要这样,必须这样——以后一切都会决定的,我知道您不会拒绝我,因为……

               杰玛

这张字条萨宁读了两遍——啊,在他看来,她那亲切秀丽的笔迹是何等动人啊!——他想了想,向着爱弥儿大声叫他的名字,——爱弥儿面对墙壁站着,正 在用手指甲挖墙壁,为了向对方表示自己是一个多么诚实的青年人。

爱弥儿马上跑到他跟前。

“有什么吩咐?”

“您听着,朋友……”

Monsieur德米特里,”爱弥儿用抱怨的口气打断他的话,“您为什么不对我用‘你’称呼呢?”

萨宁笑起来。

“行。你听着,朋友(爱弥儿听得满意,所以向前跳了一步),听着:那边,你明白的,你去对那边说:一切照办(爱弥儿紧闭着嘴,郑重其事地点了点头 ),——而你自己呢……明天你干什么?”

“我?我做什么?您要我做什么?”

“如果可能,明天早晨你来我这里,要早一点来——我和你到法兰克福四郊玩儿去,一直玩到晚上……好吗?”

“那还用说,天下有比这更好的事吗?和您一起玩,这简直是奇迹!一定来!”

“要是他们不放你呢?”

“会放的!”

“注意……别对他们说是我叫你出来整天玩儿的。”

“干吗要说出去呢?我就这样走掉了,怕什么的!”

爱弥儿紧紧地吻了吻萨宁就跑了。

而萨宁却长时间地在房间甲踱步——很晚才上床睡觉。他沉湎于面临新生活的那样一种魂悸魄动的。甜蜜的感受之中,那样一种紧张之中。萨宁很满意自己 出的主意,邀爱弥儿明天来;他的容貌像他的姐姐。“他会使人想起她的样子。”萨宁想。

然而他更感惊奇的是,他怎么竟会昨天和今天不一样?他觉得自己“一直”在爱杰马——以前正是这样爱她的,和今天一样地爱她。

------------------

 二十六

第二天早晨八点钟,爱弥儿用皮带牵着塔尔塔里亚,来到萨宁这里。即使生在德国人的家庭,他也不可能更遵守时间。他对家里人撒了个谎:说早饭前和萨 宁一同散步去,然后再去店里。在萨宁穿衣的时候,爱弥儿曾想(当然是非常犹豫的)跟他谈起杰玛和她同克留别尔先生的口角;但是萨宁严肃地以沉默来回答 他,所以爱弥儿就不再重提这件事,却装出一副样子,表示自己明白为什么这个问题即使稍为提一下也是不可以的——只是在有时露出专心致志、甚至严峻的神 态。

两个朋友喝过咖啡就动身——当然是步行——去皋村了,这是一个距法兰克福不远,四周都是森林的小村。整个唐奴斯山脉从这里可以尽收眼底,如在掌中 。天气很好,阳光明媚而和煦,却不炎热;清风在绿叶丛间呼呼劲吹;高处的云朵投出的块块不大的斑影沿地面平稳而迅速地推移。不久两个年青人就到了城外 ,朝气蓬勃、心神愉快地迈步在清扫过的坦荡的道路上。他们走入林子,在里面良久散步;接着到一家乡间菜馆饱餐了一顿早饭;然后爬上山巅去欣赏风景,把 石头从山上滚下去,看着它们像兔子一样有趣而奇怪地蹦跳而下,拍手叫好,直到一个他们看不见的过路人从下面大声骂了他们才罢休;以后他们伸开四肢在紫 里透黄的薄薄的干燥青苔上躺下来,又在另外一家酒店喝了啤酒;接着他们赛跑,比跳远;他们发现了回声,于是同回声对话,唱歌,彼此啊啊呼应,他们摔跤 ,采树枝,用蕨薇的枝叶装饰自己的帽子,还跳了舞。塔尔塔里亚使尽解数参加了这一切活动:当然石头是没有甩,但自己跟着石头翻筋斗,青年人唱歌,它就 汪汪叫,而且还喝了啤酒,虽然它表现出明显的反感:这玩艺儿是一个大学生教会的,它一度属于他所有。不过它不大听爱弥儿的话——不像对它自己的主人潘 塔列昂;当爱弥儿命令它“说话”或“打喷嚏”时,它只是摇摇尾巴,把舌头伸得像烟筒一样长。

青年人彼此间也开展交谈。萨宁因为年纪大一点,因而更懂事理,他在开始散步的时候一度把话题引到诸如天意或命运之类上去,像人的使命是什么意思, 它应当是什么之类。但是不久话题就转到不怎么严肃的方面去。爱弥儿开始向自己的朋友和庇护人详细了解俄国的情况,问那里决斗是怎么进行的,那里的女人 是否漂亮,学俄语容易不容易,军官向他瞄准的时候,他怎么想的?萨宁则反过来向爱弥儿打听他的父亲、母亲和他们家里的大小事务,竭力避免提到杰玛的名 字——可心里想的却是她。其实,他甚至没有去想她,而是想着明天,那将会给他带来未尝目睹的、前所未有的幸福的神秘的明天!在他思想的视野面前,仿佛 挂着一幅薄薄的轻盈的纱幕,它在微微地飘动着,——而在这纱幕的背后,他觉得……觉得有一张年轻的、静止不动的、令人神往的脸,那张脸的嘴角上留着亲 切的笑容,还有严厉的、故作严厉的低垂的睫毛。但这张脸——并非杰玛的脸,它是幸福本身的脸!眼看着终于到了显露它的时刻,纱幕揭开了,嘴巴张开来了 ,睫毛拾起来了——让神灵看见了——于是马上充满了光明,仿佛四射的阳光,还有喜悦和无穷无尽的兴奋!!他设想着这个明天——而他的心房却因不断增长 着的潜在的期待的苦闷而愉快、紧张地收缩着!

然而这期待、这苦闷于他毫无妨碍。它伴随着他的每一个行动——却于他毫无妨碍。它不影响他和爱弥儿在第三个酒馆里津津有味地共进午餐——只是偶尔 在他脑子像转瞬而过的闪电一般闪过一个念头:要是世界上有人知道??!!这苦闷也并不影响他在午后和爱弥儿做“跳背”游戏①,这个游戏在一处空旷的绿 色草坪上进行着……但是正当萨宁矫健地分开双腿从爱弥儿弓起的背上雀跃而过的时候,随着塔尔塔里亚猛烈的吠叫声,他突然看到自己的前面,在那绿色草坪 的边上有两个军官,他立刻认出他们就是自己昨天的敌手和他的仲裁,封•唐诃夫先生和封•里希特先生,这时萨宁是何等地惊愕,何等地窘迫!他们俩每个人 都戴了眼镜看着他,露出得意的微笑……萨宁双脚一落地,转过身就急忙穿上脱掉的大衣,急急巴巴地对爱弥儿说了句话,他也穿上衣服,于是两人立即走开了

① 跳背游戏,一个弓背面立,其余人经过助跑后以双手撑其背,分腿一跃而过,类似体育活动中的跳箱。

他们回到法兰克福已经很晚。

“家里要骂我了,”爱弥儿分手时对萨宁说,“反正让它去!我到底过了这么美好,这么美好的一天!”

萨宁回到自己的寓舍后发现了杰玛来的条子。她约他会面——明天,早上七点,在法兰克福环城的一个公园里。

他的心多么激动啊!他是何等喜悦,因为他无可抗辩地服从了她的要求!天哪,它预示着什么……什么又不是它所预示的——这前所未有、独一无二、没有 可能——然而无可置疑的明天!

他的眼睛盯在杰玛的字条上,写在纸条末端的字母G,她名宇的第一个字母的修长秀美的尾巴,使他想起了她美丽的手指,她的手……他想,他还一次也没 有用嘴唇接触过这只手……“意大利女人,”他想,“却同有关她们的传说相反,是既含羞而又严肃的……杰玛更是不用说了!女王……女神……处女般纯洁的 大理石雕像……”

然而这时刻必将会来到——并且为期不远了……

那一晚在法兰克福有一个幸福的人儿……他睡了;但是他可以用诗人的语言对自己说:

“我睡了……然而多情的心灵没有睡……”①

① 引自俄国诗人梅伊(1822-1862)泽自圣经歌曲《犹太人之歌》的组诗第五首。本小说中作者的引文稍有出入,应是:“我睡了,然而我那多情的心灵 没有睡。”

心儿跳动得如此轻微,宛然贴近花朵、沐浴着夏日阳光的飞蛾在搏击着翅膀。

------------------

 二十七

萨宁在五点钟醒来,六点已经穿好衣服,六点半到公园里,在杰玛条子里所提到的小亭子周围来回踱步。

清晨是宁静而温暖的,天色灰暗。有时使人觉得天好像就要下雨的样子;但是伸手探去却丝毫感觉不到,只有看着袖子的时候才会发现有玻璃珠那样细微的 小水珠的痕迹;然而就连这些小水珠不久也消失了。一点风也没有——似乎这世界上从未就没有过风似的。任何一点儿声音都飞逸不开去,而在花四周缭绕不绝 ;远处有一团白茫茫的雾气在逐渐变浓;空气中弥漫着木犀草和洋槐花的清香。

街上的店铺尚未开门,但已有行人;有时有一辆孤零零的马车在路上辚辚而过……公园里并且阒无游人。园丁用铁锹不慌不忙地清铲小道;还有一个老态龙 钟的老太婆,穿着一件呢制的黑雨衣,摇摇晃晃地穿过林荫小道。萨宁无论如何决不会把这个病弱的老人当作杰玛的——然而他竟心里一阵紧张,眼睛注视这个 徐徐远去的黑点。

七点了!钟楼的钟已经敲过了。

萨宁停下脚步。莫非她不来了?一阵冷颤突然沿着他的肩背流过。一会儿又在他心里产生了同样的冷颤,不过已经是出于另一个原因了。萨宁听到他的背后 有轻微的脚步声和妇女服饰的轻微的窸窣声……他回过头去:是她!

杰玛沿着小路从他后面走来。她穿一件灰色披肩,戴一顶深色小帽。她向萨宁投过一瞥,向旁边转过头去——及至赶上了他,又迅步从他旁边走过去。

“杰玛。”他说的话勉强听得见。

她对他轻轻点一下头,继续朝前走去。他跟着她走。

他的呼吸断断续续,脚步也不大自然。

杰玛从亭子旁边走过,拐向右边,又走过一个小浅水池,那里一只麻雀在忙忙碌碌地拍打水面——终于走到一个种着一丛高高的丁香树的花坛后面,在一张 长椅上坐下来。这是个安适而隐蔽的去处。

一分钟过去了——但是无论是他,还是她都一言不发;她连看也不看他一眼——他也没有看她的脸,却看着她那双握着一把小伞的垂着的手。说什么好呢? 应当说出一番与此时此景相称的话来:他们来到此地相对而坐,别无闲人,在这样的清早,彼此靠得这么近。

“您……不生我的气吗?”萨宁终于开口了。

萨宁说不出比这更蠢的话了……他意识到这一点……但是至少沉默已经打破。

“我?”她回答。“为什么呢?不会的。”

“那么您相信我吗?”他接着说。

“是指您写在条子上的事吗?”

“是的。”

杰玛低下头,什么话也没有说。伞从她的手心里滑出去;她及时抓住了它,没让它掉到地下。

“啊,相信我,相信我给您写的事吧。”萨宁叫道,他的胆怯的心理一下子都消失了。他热情地说:“要是世界上存在真理,神圣的、无庸置疑的真理—— 那么这真理就是:我爱您,热烈地爱您,杰玛!”

她迅速地瞟了他一眼,又差点把伞掉在地下。

“相信我,相信我。”他反复说。他央求她,向她伸出手去,却无勇气接触她。“您希望我做点儿什么……能使您相信呢?”

她又向他看了一眼。

“说吧,德米特里先生①,”她开口了,“前天您来劝说我的时候,看来您还不知道……没有觉察到……”

① 原文为法文。本章中凡出自杰玛口中的这一称谓均同。

“我觉察到了,”萨宁接口说,“可是不知道。我打一看见您的那个时候起就爱上您了,——但是没有立即弄明白,您将成为我的什么人!况且听说您是已 经订了婚的未婚妻……至于您妈妈委托我办的那件事——我怎么好拒绝呢?这是一。第二,我用这样的方式转达她的委托,您是可以猜测得出来的……”

传来一阵沉重的脚步声,于是从花坛后面走出来一个相当结实的先生,肩上背着一只旅行包,显然是个外国人——他以外路旅客常有的那种不拘礼节的神态 把目光投向坐在长靠椅上的那一对儿,大声咳嗽了一下——走了。

“您的妈妈,”萨宁等沉重的脚步声一消失就开始说,“对我说,您拒绝婚约会引起一场风波(杰玛微微皱起眉头);说这些闲言碎语部分地是我引起的, 说我……当然……在某种程度上负有责任来劝告您不要拒绝您的未婚夫——克留别尔先生……”

“德米特里先生,”杰玛说着,一面用手撩一下朝萨宁一面的头发,“请不要称克留别尔先生为我的未婚夫。我永远不会做他的妻子了。我和他已经解除婚 约了。”

“您和她解除了婚约?什么时候?”

“昨天。”

“当他本人的面?”

“当他本人的面。在我们家里。是他到我们家来的。”

“杰玛!也许,您也爱我?”

她转过脸去向着他。

“如果不是这样……我还会来这里吗?”她轻声说道,把两只手落到了椅子上。

萨宁抓起那双无力的、掌心向上的手——把它们紧紧地贴在自己的眼睛上,嘴唇上……昨夜他依稀感觉到的纱幕,终于到了揭开的时刻!就是它,幸福,就 是它,明媚灿烂的面容!

他微微抬起头——看着杰玛——直接地和勇敢地看着。她也看着他——颇有点居高临下的样子。她那半开半闭的眼睛的目光闪烁着轻细的。隐约可见的泪花 。可是面部却不见笑容……不!它在笑,也是似隐若现地笑着,虽然并无笑声。

他想拉她过来贴近自己的胸口,但是她推开了,而且继续保持着那无声的笑容,否定地摇了摇头。“等一等。”似乎是她那双幸福的眼睛在说。

“哦,杰玛!”萨宁叹息着说,“我怎么能想像你(当他的嘴里第一次吐出‘你’这个字的时候,他的心像琴弦一样地振荡起来),——你会爱上我!”

“我自己也没有料到这一点。”杰玛轻轻地说。

“我怎么能想像,”萨宁继续说,“我怎么能想像,本来我来到法兰克福只不过打算逗留几个小时,不料却找到了我终生的幸福!”

“终生?真的吗?”杰玛问。

“终生,永生永世!”萨宁怀着新的激情大声说。

离他们的椅子两步远的地方突然响起了园丁的铁锹铲地的声音。

“咱们回家吧,”杰玛低声说,“咱们一块儿走——你愿意吗?”

假如在这个当儿她对他说:“跳到海里去——你愿意吗?”——那么不用等她讲完最后一个字,他就已经向着无底深渊纵身一跳了。

他们一起步出公园,向家里走去,没有走市区的大街,而是抄郊区的道路。

 


 

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