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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:德语                                解密辅助语言:汉语
              Language to be decoded:  German            Auxiliary Language :  Chinese  

  
         
解密文本:《一 个 陌 生 女 人 的 来 信》  [奥] 茨威格 著          
 
Brief einer Unbekannten
 von  Stefan Zweig

 

                  Letter from an Unknown Woman            
                                                                         by  Stefan Zweig    
                                                                

     

 
               
德汉对照(German & Chinese)                                   德英对照(German & English)                             英汉对照(English & Chinese)               


  

 

R., the famous novelist, had been away on a brief holiday in the mountains. Reaching Vienna early in the morning, he bought a newspaper at the station, and when he glanced at the date was reminded that it was his birthday. "Forty-one!"-the thought came like a flash. He was neither glad nor sorry at the realization. He hailed a taxi, and skimmed the newspaper as he drove home. His man reported that there had been two callers during the master’s absence, besides one or two telephone messages. A bundle of letters was awaiting him. Looking indifferently at these, he opened one or two because he was interested in the senders, but laid aside for the time a bulky packet addressed in a strange handwriting. At ease in an armchair, he drank his morning tea, finished the newspaper, and read a few circulars. Then, having lighted a cigar, he turned to the remaining letter.

It was a manuscript rather than an ordinary letter, comprising a couple of dozen hastily penned sheets in a feminine handwriting. Involuntarily he examined the envelope once more, in case he might have overlooked a covering letter. But there was nothing of the kind, no signature, and no sender’s address on either envelope or contents. " Strange," he thought, as he began to read the manuscript. The first words were a superscription: "To you, who have never known me." He was perplexed. Was this addressed to him, or to some imaginary being? His curiosity suddenly awakened, he read as follows:

 

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My boy died yesterday. For three days and three nights I have been wrestling with Death for this frail little life. During forty consecutive hours, while the fever of influenza was shaking his poor burning body, I sat beside his bed. I put cold compresses on his forehead; day and night, night and day, I held his restless little hands. The third evening, my strength gave out. My eyes closed without my being aware of it, and for three or four hours I must have slept on the hard stool. Meanwhile, Death took him. There he lies, my darling boy, in his narrow cot, just as he died. Only his eyes have been closed, his wise, dark eyes; and his hands have been crossed over his breast. Four candles are burning, one at each corner of the bed. I dare not look, I dare not move; for when the candles flicker, shadows chase one another over his face and his closed lips. It looks as if his features stirred, and I could almost fancy that he is not dead after all, that he will wake up, and with his clear voice will say something childishly loving. But I know that he is dead; and I will not look again, to hope once more, and once more to be disappointed. I know, I know, my boy died yesterday. Now I have only you left in the world; only you, who know nothing about me; you, who are enjoying yourself all unheeding, sporting with men and things. Only you, who have never known me, and whom I have never ceased to love.

I have lighted a fifth candle, and am sitting at the table writing to you. I cannot stay alone with my dead child without pouring my heart out to some one and to whom should I do that in this dreadful hour if not to You, who have been and still are all in all to me? Perhaps I shall not be able to make myself plain to you. Perhaps you will not be able to understand me. My head feels so heavy; my temples are throbbing; my limbs are aching. I think I must be feverish. Influenza is raging in this quarter, and probably I have caught the infection. I should not be sorry if I could join my child in that way, instead of making short work of myself. Sometimes it seems dark before my eyes, and perhaps I shall not be able to finish this letter; but I shall try with all my strength, this one and only time, to speak to you, my beloved, to you who have never known me.

To you only do I want to speak, that I may tell you everything for the first time. I should like you to know the whole of my life, of that life which has always been yours, and of which you have known nothing. But you shall only know my secret after I am dead, when there will be no one whom you will have to answer; you shall only know it if that which is now shaking my limbs with cold and with heat should really prove, for me, the end. If I have to go on living, I shall tear up this letter and shall keep the silence I have always kept. If you ever hold it in your hands, you may know that a dead woman is telling you her life story; the story of a life which was yours from its first to its last fully conscious hour. You need have no fear of my words. A dead woman wants nothing; neither love, nor compassion, nor consolation. I have only one thing to ask of you, that you believe to the full what the pain in me forces me to disclose to you. Believe my words, for I ask nothing more of you; a mother will not speak falsely beside the death-bed of her only child.
    I am going to tell you my whole life, the life which did not really begin until the day I first saw you. What I can recall before that day is gloomy and confused, a memory as of a cellar filled with dusty, dull, and cobwebbed things and people---a place with which my heart has no concern. When you came into my life, I was thirteen, and I lived in the house where you live today, in the very house in which you are reading this letter, the last breath of my life. I lived on the same floor, for the door of our flat was just opposite the door of yours. You will certainly have forgotten us. You will long ago have forgotten the accountant’s widow in her threadbare mourning, and the thin, half-grown girl. We were always so quiet; characteristic examples of shabby gentility. It is unlikely that you ever heard our name, for we had no plate on our front door, and no one ever came to see us. Besides, it is so long ago, fifteen or sixteen years. It is impossible that you should remember, my beloved. But I, how passionately I remember every detail. As if it had just happened, I recall the day, the hour, when I first heard of you, first saw you. How could it be otherwise, seeing that it was then the world began for me? Have patience awhile, my beloved, and let me tell you everything from first to last. Do not grow weary of listening to me for a brief space, since I have not been weary of loving you my whole life long.
    Before you came, the people who lived in your flat were horrid folk, always quarrelling. Though they were wretchedly poor themselves, they hated us for our poverty because we held aloof from them. The man was given to drink, and used to beat his wife. We were often wakened in the night by the clatter of falling chairs and breaking plates. Once, when he had beaten her till the blood came, she ran out on the landing with her hair streaming, followed by her drunken husband abusing her, until all the people came out onto the staircase and threatened to send for the police. My mother would have nothing to do with them. She forbade me to play with the children, who took every opportunity of venting their spleen on me for this refusal. When they met me in the street, they would call me names; and once they threw a snowball at me which was so hard that it cut my forehead. Every one in the house detested them, and we all breathed more freely when something happened and they had to leave---I think the man had been arrested for theft. For a few days there was a "To Let" notice at the main door. Then it was taken down, and the caretaker told us that the flat had been rented by an author, who was a bachelor, and was sure to be quiet. That was the first time I heard your name.

A few days later, the flat was thoroughly cleaned, and the painters and decorators came. Of course they made a lot of noise, but my mother was glad, for she said that would be the end of the disorder next door. I did not see you during the move. The decorations and furnishings were supervised by your servant, the little gray-haired man with such a serious demeanor, who had obviously been used to service in good families. He managed everything in a most businesslike way, and impressed us all very much. A high-class domestic of this kind was something quite new in our suburban flats. Besides, he was extremely civil, but was never hail-fellow-well-met with the ordinary servants. From the outset he treated my mother respectfully, as a lady; and he was always courteous even to little me. When he had occasion to mention your name, he did so in a way which showed that his feeling towards you was that of a family retainer. I used to love good, old John for this, though I envied him at the same time because it was his privilege to see you constantly and to serve you.

Do you know why I am telling you these trifles? I want you to understand how it was that from the very beginning your personality came to exercise so much power over me when I was still a shy and timid child. Before I had actually seen you, there was a halo round your head. You were enveloped in an atmosphere of wealth, marvel, and mystery. People whose lives are narrow, are avid of novelty; and in this little suburban house we were all impatiently awaiting your arrival. In my own case, curiosity rose to fever point when I came home from school one afternoon and found the furniture van in front of the house. Most of the heavy things had gone up, and the furniture removers were dealing with the smaller articles. I stood at the door to watch and admire, for everything belonging to you was so different from what I had been used to. There were Indian idols, Italian sculptures, and great, brightly colored pictures. Last of all came books, such lovely books, and there were so many of them. They were piled by the door. The manservant  stood there carefully dusting them one by one. I greedily watched the pile as it grew. Your servant did not send me away, but he did not encourage me either, so I was afraid to touch any of them, though I should have so liked to stroke the smooth leather bindings. I did glance timidly at some of the titles; many of them were in French and in English, and in languages of which I did not know a single word. I should have liked to stand there watching for hours, but my mother called me and I had to go in.

I thought about you the whole evening, although I had not seen you yet. I had only about a dozen cheap books, bound in worn cardboard. I loved them more than anything else in the world, and was continually reading and rereading them. Now I was wondering what the man could be like who had such a lot of books, who had read so much, who knew so many languages, who was rich and at the same time so learned. The idea of so many books aroused a kind of unearthly veneration. I tried to picture you in my mind. You must be an old man with spectacles and a long, white beard, like our geography master, but much kinder, nicer-looking, and gentler. I don't know why I was sure that you must be handsome, for I fancied you to be an elderly man. That very night, I dreamed of you for the first time.

Next day you moved in; but though I was on the watch I could not get a glimpse of your face, and my failure inflamed my curiosity. At length I saw you, on the third day. How astounded I was to find that you were quite different from the ancient godfather conjured up by my childish imagination. A bespectacled, good-natured old fellow was what I had expected to see. And you came, looking just as you still look, for you are one on whom the years leave little mark. You were wearing a beautiful suit of light-brown tweeds, and you ran upstairs two steps at a time with the boyish ease that always characterizes your movements. You were hat in hand, so that, with indescribable amazement, I could see your bright and lively face and your youthful hair. Your handsome, slim, and spruce figure was a positive shock to me. How strange it was that in this first moment I should have plainly realized that which I and all others are continually surprised at in you. I realized that you are two people rolled into one: that you are an ardent, light-hearted youth, devoted to sport and adventure; and at the same time, in your art, a deeply read and highly cultured man, grave, and with a keen sense of responsibility. Unconsciously I perceived what everyone who knew you came to perceive, that you led two lives. One of these was known to all, it was the life open to the whole world; the other was very dark, and known only to yourself. I, a girl of thirteen, coming under the spell of your attraction, grasped this secret of your existence, this profound cleavage of your two lives, at the first glance.

Can you understand, now, what a miracle, what an alluring enigma, you must have seemed to me, the child? Here was a man whom everyone respected because he wrote books, and because he was famous in the great world. All of a sudden he had revealed himself to me as a boyish, cheerful young man of five-and-twenty! I need hardly tell you that henceforward, in my restricted world, you were the only thing that interested me; that my life revolved round yours with the fidelity proper to a girl of thirteen. I watched you, watched your habits, watched the people who came to see you---and all this increased instead of diminishing my interest in your personality, for the two-sidedness of your nature was reflected in the diversity of your visitors. Some of them were young men, comrades of yours, carelessly dressed students with whom you laughed and larked. Some of them were ladies who came in motors. Once the conductor of the opera---the great man whom before this I had seen only from a distance, baton in hand---called on you. Some of them were girls, young girls still attending the commercial school, who shyly glided in at the door. A great many of your visitors were women. I thought nothing of this, not even when, one morning, as I was on my way to school, I saw a closely veiled lady coming away from your flat. I was only just thirteen, and in my immaturity I did not in the least realize that the eager curiosity with which I scanned all your doings was already love.

But I remember the very day and hour when I consciously gave my whole heart to you. I had been for a walk with a schoolfellow, and we were standing at the door chattering. A motor drove up. You jumped out, in your impatient, springy fashion, and were about to go in. An impulse made me open the door for you, and this brought me in your path, so that we almost collided. You looked at me with a cordial, gracious glance, which was almost a caress. You smiled at me tenderly---yes, tenderly, is the word---and said gently, nay, confidentially: "Thanks so much, young lady."

That was all that happened, my beloved. But from this moment, from the time when you looked at me so tenderly, I was yours. Later, before long indeed, I was to learn that this was a way you had of looking at all women with whom you came in contact. It was a caressing and alluring glance, at once enfolding and disclothing, the glance of the born seducer. Involuntarily, you looked in this way at every shopgirl who served you, at every maidservant who opened the door to you. It was not that you consciously longed to possess all these women, but your impulse towards the sex unconsciously made your eyes melting and warm whenever they rested on a woman. At thirteen, I had no thought of this; and I felt as if I had been bathed in fire. I believed that the tenderness was for me, for me only; and in this one instant the woman was awakened in the half-grown girl, the woman who was to be yours for all future time.
"Who was that?" asked my friend. At first, I could not answer. I found it impossible to utter your name. It had suddenly become sacred to me, had become my secret. "Oh, it's just someone who lives in the house," I said awkwardly. " Then why did you blush so fiery red when he looked at you?" inquired my schoolfellow with the malice of an inquisitive child. I felt that she was making fun of me, and was reaching out towards my secret, and this colored my cheeks more than ever. I was deliberately rude to her: "You silly idiot," I said angrily---I should have liked to throttle her. She laughed mockingly, until the tears came into my eyes from impotent rage. I left her at the door and ran upstairs.

I have loved you ever since. I know very well that you are used to hearing women say that they love you. But I am sure that no one else has ever loved you so slavishly, with such doglike fidelity, with such devotion, as I did and do. Nothing can equal the unnoticed love of a child. It is hopeless and subservient; it is patient and passionate; it is something which the covetous love of a grown woman, the love that is unconsciously exacting, can never be. None but lonely children can cherish such a passion. The others will squander their feelings in companionship, will dissipate them in confidential talks. They have heard and read much of love, and they know that it comes to all. They play with it like a toy; they flaunt it as a boy flaunts his first cigarette. But I had no confidant; I had been neither taught nor warned; I was inexperienced and unsuspecting. I rushed to meet my fate. Everything that stirred in me, all that happened to me, was centered upon you, upon my imaginings of you. My father had died long before. My mother could think of nothing but her troubles, of the difficulties of making ends meet upon her narrow pension, so that she had little in common with the growing girl. My schoolfellows, half-enlightened and half-corrupted, were uncongenial to me because of their frivolous outlook upon that which to me was a supreme passion. The upshot was that everything which surged up in me, all which in other girls of my age is usually scattered, was focussed upon you. You became for me---what simile can do justice to my feelings? You became for me the whole of my life. Nothing existed for me except in so far as it related to you. Nothing had meaning for me unless it bore upon you in some way. You had changed everything for me. Hitherto I had been indifferent at school, and undistinguished. Now, all of a sudden, I was the first. I read book upon book, far into the night, for I knew that you were a booklover. To my mother's astonishment, I began, almost stubbornly, to practise the piano, for I fancied that you were fond of music. I stitched and mended my clothes, to make them neat for your eyes. It was a torment to me that there was a square patch in my old school-apron (cut down from one of my mother’s overalls). I was afraid you might notice it and would despise me, so I used to cover the patch with my satchel when I was on the staircase. I was terrified lest you should catch sight of it. What a fool I was! You hardly ever looked at me again.

Yet my whole day was spent in waiting for you and watching you. There was a judas in our front door, and through this a glimpse of your door could be had. Don't laugh at me, dear. Even now, I am not ashamed of the hours I spent at this spyhole. The hall was icy cold, and I was always afraid of exciting my mother's suspicions. But there I would watch through the long afternoons, during those months and years, book in hand, tense as a violin string, and vibrating at the touch of your nearness. I was ever near you, and ever tense; but you were no more aware of it than you were aware of the tension of the mainspring of the watch in your pocket, Faithfully recording the hours for you, accompanying your footsteps with its unheard ticking, and vouchsafed only a hasty glance for one second among millions. I knew all about you, your habits, the neckties you wore; I knew each one of your suits. Soon I was familiar with your regular visitors, and had my likes and dislikes among them. From my thirteenth to my sixteenth year, my every hour was yours. What follies did I not commit? I kissed the door handle you had touched; I picked up a cigarette end you had thrown away, and it was sacred to me because your lips had pressed it. A hundred times, in the evening, on one pretext or another, I ran out into the street in order to see in which room your light was burning, that I might be more fully conscious of your invisible presence. During the weeks when you were away (my heart always seemed to stop beating when I saw John carry your portmanteau downstairs), life was devoid of meaning. Out of sorts, bored to death, and in an ill-humour, I wandered about not knowing what to do, and had to take precautions lest my tear-stained eyes should betray my despair to my mother.

I know that what I am writing here is a record of grotesque absurdities, of a girl's extravagant fantasies. I ought to be ashamed of them; but I am not ashamed, for never was my love purer and more passionate than at this time. I could spend hours, days, in telling you how I lived with you though you hardly knew me by sight. Of course you hardly knew me, for if I met you on the stairs and could not avoid the encounter, I would hasten by with lowered head, afraid of your burning glance, hasten like one who is jumping into the water to avoid being singed. For hours, days, I could tell you of those years you have long since forgotten; could unroll all the calendar of your life: but I will not weary you with details. Only one more thing I should like to tell you dating from this time, the most splendid experience of my childhood. You must not laugh at it, for, trifle though you may deem it, to me it was of infinite significance.

It must have been a Sunday. You were away, and your man was dragging back the heavy rugs, which he had been beating, through the open door of the flat. They were rather too much for his strength, and I summoned up courage to ask whether he would let me help him. He was surprised, but did not refuse. Can I ever make you understand the awe, the pious veneration, with which I set foot in your dwelling, with which I saw your world---the writing-table at which you were accustomed to sit (there were some flowers on it in a blue crystal vase), the pictures, the books? I had no more than a stolen glance, though the good John would no doubt have let me see more had I ventured to ask him. But it was enough for me to absorb the atmosphere, and to provide fresh nourishment for my endless dreams of you in waking and sleeping.

This swift minute was the happiest of my childhood. I wanted to tell you of it, so that you who do not know me might at length begin to understand how my life hung upon yours. I wanted to tell you of that minute, and also of the dreadful hour which so soon followed. As I have explained, my thoughts of you had made me oblivious to all else. I paid no attention to my mother’s doings, or to those of any of our visitors. I failed to notice that an elderly gentleman, an Innsbruck merchant, a distant family connection of my mother, came often and stayed for a long time. I was glad that he took Mother to the theater sometimes, for this left me alone, undisturbed in my thoughts of you, undisturbed in the watching which was my chief, my only pleasure. But one day my mother summoned me with a certain formality, saying that she had something serious to talk to me about. I turned pale, and felt my heart throb. Did she suspect anything? Had I betrayed myself in some way? My first thought was of you, of my secret, of that which linked me with life. But my mother was herself embarrassed. It had never been her way to kiss me. Now she kissed me affectionately more than once, drew me to her on the sofa, and began hesitatingly and rather shamefacedly to tell me that her relative, who was a widower, had made her a proposal of marriage, and that, mainly for my sake, she had decided to accept. I palpitated with anxiety, having only one thought, that of you. " We shall stay here, shan't we?" I stammered out. "No, we are going to Innsbruck, where Ferdinand has a fine villa." I heard no more. Everything seemed to turn black before my eyes. I learned afterwards that I had fainted. I clasped my hands convulsively, and fell like a lump of lead. I cannot tell you all that happened in the next few days; how I, a powerless child, vainly revolted against the mighty elders. Even now, as I think of it, my hand shakes so that I can hardly write. I could not disclose the real secret, and therefore my opposition seemed ill-tempered obstinacy. No one told me anything more. All the arrangements were made behind my back. The hours when I was at school were turned to account. Each time I came home some new article had been removed or sold. My life seemed falling to pieces; And at last one day, when I returned to dinner, the furniture removers had cleared the flat. In the empty rooms there were some packed trunks, and two camp beds for Mother and myself. We were to sleep there one night more, and were then to go to Innsbruck.

On this last day I suddenly made up my mind that I could not live without being near you. You were all the world to me. I can hardly say what I was thinking of, and whether in this hour of despair I was able to think at all. My mother was out of the house. I stood up, just as I was, in my school dress, and went over to your door. Yet I can hardly say that I went. With stiff limbs and trembling joints, I seemed to be drawn towards your door as by a magnet. It was in my mind to throw myself at your feet, and to beg you to keep me as a maid, as a slave. I cannot help feeling afraid that you will laugh at this infatuation of a girl of fifteen. But you would not laugh if you could realise how I stood there on the chilly landing, rigid with apprehension, and yet drawn onward by an irresistible force; how my arm seemed to lift itself in spite of me. The struggle appeared to last for endless, terrible seconds; and then I rang the bell. The shrill noise still sounds in my ears. It was followed by a silence in which my heart well-nigh stopped beating, and my blood stagnated, while I listened for your coming.

But you did not come. No one came. You must have been out that afternoon, and John must have been away too. With the dead note of the bell still sounding in my ears, I stole back into our empty dwelling, and threw myself exhausted upon a rug, tired out by the four steps as if I had been wading through deep snow for hours. Yet beneath this exhaustion there still glowed the determination to see you, to speak to you, before they carried me away. I can assure you that there were no sensual longings in my mind; I was still ignorant, just because I never thought of anything but you. All I wanted was to see you once more, to cling to you. Throughout that dreadful night I waited for you. Directly my mother had gone to sleep, I crept into the hall to listen for your return. It was a bitterly cold night in January. I was tired, my limbs ached, and there was no longer a chair on which I could sit; so I lay upon the floor, in the draught that came under the door. In my thin dress I lay there, without any covering. I did not want to be warm, lest I should fall asleep and miss your footstep. Cramps seized me, so cold was it in the horrible darkness; again and again I had to stand up. But I waited, waited, waited for you, as for my fate.

At length (it must have been two or three in the morning) I heard the house-door open, and footsteps on the stair. The sense of cold vanished, and a rush of heat passed over me. I softly opened the door, meaning to run out, to throw myself at your feet. . . . I cannot tell what I should have done in my frenzy. The steps drew nearer. A candle flickered. Tremblingly I held the door handle. Was it you coming up the stairs?

Yes, it was you, beloved; but you were not alone. I heard a gentle laugh, the rustle of silk, and your voice, speaking in low tones. There was a woman with you. . . .

I cannot tell how I lived through the rest of the night. At eight next morning, they took me with them to Innsbruck. I had no strength left to resist.

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My boy died last night. I shall be alone once more, if I really have to go on living. Tomorrow, strange men will come, black-clad and uncouth, bringing with them a coffin for the body of my only child. Perhaps friends will come as well, with wreaths---but what is the use of flowers on a coffin? They will offer consolation in one phrase or another. Words, words, words! What can words help? All I know is that I shall be alone again. There is nothing more terrible than to be alone among human beings. That is what I came to realize during those interminable two years in Innsbruck, from my sixteenth to my eighteenth year, when I lived with my people as a prisoner and an outcast. My stepfather, a quiet, taciturn man, was kind to me. My mother, as if eager to atone for an unwitting injustice, seemed ready to meet all my wishes. Those of my own age would have been glad to befriend me. But I repelled their advances with angry defiance. I did not wish to be happy, I did not wish to live content away from you; so I buried myself in a gloomy world of self-torment and solitude. I would not wear the new and gay dresses they bought for me. I refused to go to concerts or to the theater, and I would not take part in cheerful excursions. I rarely left the house. Can you believe me when I tell you that I hardly got to know a dozen streets in this little town where I lived for two years? Mourning was my joy; I renounced society and every pleasure, and was intoxicated with delight at the mortifications I thus superadded to the lack of seeing you. Moreover, I would let nothing divert me from my passionate longing to live only for you. Sitting alone at home, hour after hour and day after day, I did nothing but think of you, turning over in my mind unceasingly my hundred petty memories of you, renewing every movement and every time of waiting, rehearsing these episodes in the theater of my mind. The countless repetitions of the years of my childhood from the day in which you came into my life have so branded the details on my memory that I can recall every minute of those long-passed years as if they had been but yesterday.

Thus my life was still entirely centered in you. I bought all your books. If your name was mentioned in the newspaper, the day was a red-letter day. Will you believe me when I tell you that I have read your books so often that I know them by heart? Were anyone to wake me in the night and quote a detached sentence, I could continue the passage unfalteringly even today, after thirteen years. Your every word was Holy Writ to me. The world existed for me only in relationship to you. In the Viennese newspapers I read the reports of concerts and first nights, wondering which would interest you most. When evening came, I accompanied you in imagination, saying to myself: " Now he is entering the hall; now he is taking his seat." Such were my fancies a thousand times, simply because I had once seen you at a concert.

Why should I recount these things? Why recount the tragic hopelessness of a forsaken child? Why tell it to you, who have never dreamed of my admiration or of my sorrow? But was I still a child? I was seventeen; I was eighteen; young fellows would turn to look after me in the street, but they only made me angry. To love anyone but you, even to play with the thought of loving anyone but you, would have been so utterly impossible to me, that the mere tender of affection on the part of another man seemed to me a crime. My passion for you remained just as intense, but it changed in character as my body grew and my senses awakened, becoming more ardent, more physical, more unmistakably the love of a grown woman. What had been hidden from the thoughts of the uninstructed child, of the girl who had rung your doorbell, was now my only longing. I wanted to give myself to you.

My associates believed me to be shy and timid. But I had an absolute fixity of purpose. My whole being was directed towards one end---back to Vienna, back to you. I fought successfully to get my own way, unreasonable, incomprehensible, though it seemed to others. My stepfather was well-to-do, and looked upon me as his daughter. I insisted, however, that I would earn my own living, and at length got him to agree to my returning to Vienna as employee in a dressmaking establishment belonging to a relative of his.

Need I tell you whither my steps first led me that foggy autumn evening when, at last, at last, I found myself back in Vienna? I left my trunk in the cloakroom, and hurried to a tram.

How slowly it moved! Every stop was a renewed vexation to me. In the end, I reached the house. My heart leapt when I saw a light in your window. The town, which had seemed so alien, so dreary, grew suddenly alive for me. I myself lived once more, now that I was near you, you who were my unending dream. When nothing but the thin, shining pane of glass was between you and my uplifted eyes, I could ignore the fact that in reality I was as far from your mind as if I had been separated by mountains and valleys and rivers. I went on looking up at your window. There was a light in it; that was your dwelling; you were there; that was my world. For two years I had dreamed of this hour, and now it had come. Throughout that warm and cloudy evening I stood in front of your windows, until the light was extinguished. Not until then did I seek my own quarters.

Evening after evening I returned to the same spot. Up to six o'clock I was at work. The work was hard, and yet I liked it, for the turmoil of the show room masked the turmoil in my heart. The instant the shutters were rolled down, I flew to the beloved spot. To see you once more, to meet you just once, was all I wanted; simply from a distance to devour your face with my eyes. At length, after a week, I did meet you, and then the meeting took me by surprise, I was watching your window, when you came across the street. In an instant, I was a child once more, the girl of thirteen. My cheeks flushed. Although I was longing to meet your eyes, I hung my head and hurried past you as if someone had been in pursuit. Afterwards I was ashamed of having fled like a schoolgirl, for now I knew what I really wanted. I wanted to meet you; I wanted you to recognize me after all these weary years, to notice me, to love me.

For a long time you failed to notice me, although I took up my post outside your house every night, even when it was snowing, or when the keen wind of the Viennese winter was blowing. Sometimes I waited for hours in vain. Often, in the end, you would leave the house in the company of friends. Twice I saw you with a woman, and the fact that I was now awakened, that there was something new and different in my feeling towards you, was disclosed by the sudden pang when I saw a strange woman walking confidently with you arm-in-arm. It was no surprise to me, for I had known since childhood how many such visitors came to your house; but now the sight aroused in me a definite bodily pain. I had a mingled feeling of enmity and desire when I witnessed this open manifestation of fleshly intimacy with another woman. For a day, animated by the youthful pride from which, perhaps, I am not yet free, I abstained from my usual visit; but how horrible was this empty evening of defiance and renunciation! The next night I was standing, as usual, in all humility, in front of your window; waiting, as I have ever waited, in front of your closed life.

At length came the hour when you noticed me. I marked your coming from a distance, and collected all my forces to prevent myself shrinking out of your path. As chance would have it, a loaded dray filled the street, so that you had to pass quite close to me. Involuntarily your eyes encountered my figure, and immediately, though you had hardly noticed the attentiveness in my gaze, there came into your face that expression with which you were wont to look at women. The memory of it darted through me like an electric shock---that caressing and alluring glance, at once enfolding and disclothing, with which, years before, you had awakened the girl to become the woman and the lover. For a moment or two your eyes thus rested on me, for a space during which I could not turn my own eyes away, and then you had passed. My heart was beating so furiously that I had to slacken my pace; and when, moved by irresistible curiosity, I turned to look back, I saw that you were standing and watching me. The inquisitive interest of your expression convinced me that you had not recognized me. You did not recognize me, either then or later. How can I describe my disappointment?

This was the first of such disappointments: the first time I had to endure what has always been my fate; that you have never recognized me. I must die, unrecognized. Ah, how can I make you understand my disappointment? During the years at Innsbruck I had never ceased to think of you. Our next meeting in Vienna was always in my thoughts. My fancies varied with my mood, ranging from the wildest possibilities to the most delightful. Every conceivable variation had passed through my mind. In gloomy moments it had seemed to me that you would repulse me, would despise me, for being of no account, for being plain, or importunate. I had had a vision of every possible form of disfavor, coldness, or indifference. But never, in the extremity of depression, in the utmost realization of my own unimportance, had I conceived this most abhorrent of possibilities---that you had never become aware of my existence. I understand now (you have taught me!) that a girl’s or a woman’s face must be for a man something extraordinarily mutable. It is usually nothing more than the reflection of moods which pass as readily as an image vanishes from a mirror. A man can readily forget a woman’s face, because she modifies its lights and shades, and because at different times the dress gives it so different a setting. Resignation comes to a woman as her knowledge grows. But I, who was still a girl, was unable to understand your forgetfulness. My whole mind had been full of you ever since I had first known you, and this had produced in me the illusion that you must have often thought of me and waited for me. How could I have borne to go on living had I realized that I was nothing to you, that I had no place in your memory. Your glance that evening, showing me as it did that on your side there was not even a gossamer thread connecting your life with mine, meant for me a first plunge into reality, conveyed to me the first intimation of my destiny.

You did not recognize me. Two days later, when our paths again crossed, and you looked at me with an approach to intimacy, it was not in recognition of the girl who had loved you so long and whom you had awakened to womanhood; it was simply that you knew the face of the pretty lass of eighteen whom you had encountered at the same spot two evenings before. Your expression was one of friendly surprise, and a smile fluttered about your lips. You passed me as before, and as before you promptly slackened your pace. I trembled, I exulted, I longed for you to speak to me. I felt that for the first time I had become alive for you; I, too, walked slowly, and did not attempt to evade you. Suddenly, I heard your step behind me. Without turning round, I knew that I was about to hear your beloved voice directly addressing me. I was almost paralyzed by the expectation, and my heart beat so violently that I thought I should have to stand still. You were at my side. You greeted me cordially, as if we were old acquaintances---though you did not really know me, though you have never known anything about my life. So simple and charming was your manner that I was able to answer you without hesitation. We walked along the street, and you asked me whether we could not have supper together. I agreed. What was there I could have refused you?

We supped in a little restaurant. You must have forgotten where it was. To you it was one of many such. For what was I? One among hundreds; one adventure, one link in an endless chain. What happened that evening to keep me in your memory? I said very little, for I was so intensely happy to have you near me and to hear you speak to me. I did not wish to waste a moment upon questions or foolish words. I shall never cease to be thankful to you for that hour, for the way in which you justified my ardent admiration. I shall never forget the gentle tact you displayed. There was no undue eagerness, no hasty offer of a caress. From the first moment you displayed so much friendly confidence that you would have won me even if my whole being had not long ere this been yours. Can I make you understand how much it meant to me that my five years of expectation were so perfectly fulfilled?

The hour grew late, and we came away from the restaurant. At the door you asked me whether I was in any hurry, or still had time to spare. How could I hide from you that I was yours? I said I had plenty of time. With a momentary hesitation, you asked me whether I would not come to your rooms for a talk. "I shall be delighted," I answered with alacrity, thus giving frank expression to my feelings. I noticed right away that my ready assent surprised you. I am not sure whether your feeling was one of vexation or pleasure, but it was obvious to me that you were surprised. Today, of course, I understand your astonishment. I know now that it is usual for a woman, even though she may ardently desire to give herself to a man, to feign reluctance, to simulate alarm or indignation. She must be brought to consent by urgent pleading, by lies, vows, and promises. I know that only professional prostitutes are accustomed to answer such an invitation with a perfectly frank assent---prostitutes, or simple-minded, immature girls. How could you know that, in my case, the frank assent was but the voicing of an eternity of desire, the uprush of yearnings that had endured for a thousand days and more?

In any case, my manner aroused your attention; I had become interesting to you. As we were walking along together, I felt that during our conversation you were trying to sample me in some way. Your perceptions, your assured touch in the gamut of human emotions, made you realize instantly that there was something unusual here; that this pretty, complaisant girl carried a secret about with her.

Your curiosity had been awakened, and your discreet questions showed that you were trying to pluck the heart out of my mystery. But my replies were evasive. I would rather seem a fool than disclose my secret to you.

We went up to your flat. Forgive me, beloved, for saying that you cannot possibly understand all that it meant to me to go up those stairs with you---how I was mad, tortured, almost suffocated with happiness. Even now I can hardly think of it without tears, but I have no tears left. Everything in that house had been steeped in my passion; everything was a symbol of my childhood and its longing. There was the door behind which a thousand times I had awaited your coming; the stairs on which I had heard your footstep, and where I had first seen you; the judas through which I had watched your comings and goings; the doormat on which I had once knelt; the sound of a key in the lock, which had always been a signal to me. My whole childhood and all its passions were nested within these few yards of space. Here was my whole life, and it surged around me like a great storm, for all was being fulfilled, and I was going with you, I with you, into your, into our house. Think (the way I am phrasing it sounds trivial, but I know no better words) that up to your door was the world of reality, the dull everyday world which had been that of all my previous life. At this door began the magic world of my childish imaginings, Aladdin’s realm. Think how, a thousand times, I had had my burning eyes fixed upon this door through which I was now passing, my head in a whirl, and you will have an inkling---no more---of all that this tremendous minute meant to me.

I stayed with you that night. You did not dream that before you no man had ever touched or seen my body. How could you fancy it, when I made no resistance, and when I suppressed every trace of shame, fearing lest I might betray the secret of my love. That would certainly have alarmed you; you care only for what comes and goes easily, for that which is light of touch, lacking substance. You dread being involved in anyone else’s destiny. You like to give yourself freely to all the world---but not to make any sacrifices. When I tell you that I gave myself to you as a maiden, do not misunderstand me. I am not making any charge against you. You did not entice me, deceive me, seduce me. I threw myself into your arms; went out to meet my fate. I have nothing but thankfulness towards you for the blessedness of that night. When I opened my eyes in the darkness and you were beside me, I felt that I must be in heaven, and I was amazed that the stars were not shining on me. Never, beloved, have I repented giving myself to you that night. When you were sleeping beside me, when I listened to your breathing, touched your body, and felt myself so near you, I shed tears for very happiness.

I went away early in the morning. I had to go to my work, and I wanted to leave before your servant came. When I was ready to go, you put your arm round me and looked at me for a very long time. Was some obscure memory stirring in your mind; or was it simply that my radiant happiness made me seem beautiful to you? You kissed me on the lips, and I moved to go. You asked me: "Would you not like to take a few flowers with you?" There were four white roses in the blue crystal vase on the writing-table (I knew it of old from that stolen glance of childhood), and you gave them to me. For days they were mine to kiss.

We had arranged to meet on a second evening. Again it was full of wonder and delight. You gave me a third night. Then you said that you were called away from Vienna for a time---oh, how I had always hated those journeys of yours---and promised that I should hear from you as soon as you came back. I would only give you a poste-restante address, and did not tell you my real name. I guarded my secret. Once more you gave me roses at parting---at parting.

Day after day for two months I asked myself. . . . No, I will not describe the anguish of my expectation and despair. I make no complaint. I love you just as you are, ardent and forgetful, generous and unfaithful. You were back long before the two months were up. The light in your windows showed me that, but you did not write to me. In my last hours I have not a line in your handwriting, not a line from you to whom my life was given. I waited, waited despairingly. You did not call me to you, did not write a word, not a word . . . .

                            

************ 

 

My boy who died yesterday was yours too. Hewas your son, the child of one of those three nights. I was yours, and yours only from that time until the hour of his birth. I felt myself sanctified by your touch, and it would not have been possible for me then to accept any other man’s caresses. He was our boy, dear; the child of my fully conscious love and of your careless, spendthrift, almost unwitting tenderness. Our child, our son, our only child. Perhaps you will be startled, perhaps merely surprised. You will wonder why I never told you of this boy; and why, having kept silence throughout the long years, I only tell you of him now, when he lies in his last sleep, about to leave me for all time never, never to return. How could I have told you? I was a stranger, a girl who had shown herself only too eager to spend those three nights with you. Never would you have believed that I, the nameless partner in a chance encounter, had been faithful to you, the unfaithful. You would never, without misgivings, have accepted the boy as your own. Even if, to all appearance, you had trusted my word, you would still have cherished the secret suspicion that I had seized an opportunity of fathering upon you, a man of means, the child of another lover. You would have been suspicious. There would always have been a shadow of mistrust between you and me. I could not have borne it. Besides, I know you. Perhaps I know you better than you know yourself. You love to be carefree, light of heart, perfectly at ease; and that is what you understand by love. It would have been repugnant to you to find yourself suddenly in the position of father; to be made responsible, all at once, for a child’s destiny. The breath of freedom is the breath of life to you, and you would have felt me to be a tie. Inwardly, even in defiance of your conscious will, you would have hated me as an embodied claim. Perhaps only now and again, for an hour or for a fleeting minute, should I have seemed a burden to you, should I have been hated by you. But it was my pride that I should never be a trouble or a care to you all my life long. I would rather take the whole burden on myself than be a burden to you; I wanted to be the one among all the women you had intimately known of whom you would never think except with love and thankfulness. In actual fact, you never thought of me at all. You forgot me.

I am not accusing you. Believe me, I am not complaining. You must forgive me if for a moment, now and again, it seems as if my pen had been dipped in gall. You must forgive me; for my boy, our boy, lies dead there beneath the flickering candles. I have clenched my fists against God, and have called him a murderer, for I have been almost beside myself with grief. Forgive me for complaining. I know that you are kindhearted, and always ready to help. You will help the merest stranger at a word. But your kindliness is peculiar. It is unbounded. And yet, I must say it, your kindliness works sluggishly. You need to be asked. You help those who call for help; you help from shame, from weakness, and not from sheer joy in helping. Let me tell you openly that those who are in affliction and torment are not dearer to you than your brothers in happiness. Now, it is hard, very hard, to ask anything of such as you, even of the kindest among you. Once, when I was still a child, I watched through the judas in our door how you gave something to a beggar who had rung your bell. You gave quickly and freely, almost before he spoke. But there was a certain nervousness and haste in your manner, as if your chief anxiety were to be speedily rid of him; you seemed to be afraid to meet his eye. I have never forgotten this uneasy and timid way of giving help, this shunning of a word of thanks. That is why I never turned to you in my difficulty. Oh, I know that you would have given me all the help I needed, in spite of your doubt that my child was yours. You would have offered me comfort, and have given me money, an ample supply of money; but always with a masked impatience, a secret desire to shake off trouble. I even believe that you would have advised me to rid myself of the coming child. This was what I dreaded above all, for I knew that I should do whatever you wanted. But the child was all in all to me. It was yours; it was you reborn---not the happy and carefree you, whom I could never hope to keep; but you, given to me for my very own, flesh of my flesh, intimately intertwined with my own life. At length I held you fast; I could feel your lifeblood flowing through my veins; I could nourish you, caress you, kiss you, as often as my soul yearned. That was why I was so happy when I knew that I was with child by you, and that is why I kept the secret from you. Henceforward you could not escape me; you were mine.

But you must not suppose that the months of waiting passed so happily as I had dreamed in my first transports. They were full of sorrow and care, full of loathing for the baseness of mankind. Things went hard with me. I could not stay at work during the latter months, for my stepfather’s relatives would have noticed my condition, and would have sent the news home. Nor would I ask my mother for money; so until my time came I managed to live by the sale of some trinkets. A week before my confinement, the few crown-pieces that remained to me were stolen by my laundress, so I had to go to the maternity hospital. The child, your son, was born there, in that asylum of wretchedness, among the very poor, the outcast, and the abandoned. It was a deadly place. Everything was strange, was alien. We were all alien to one another, as we lay there in our loneliness, filled with mutual hatred, thrust together only by our kinship of poverty and distress into this crowded ward, reeking of chloroform and blood, filled with cries and moaning. A patient in these wards loses all individuality, except such as remains in the name at the head of the clinical record. What lies in the bed is merely a piece of quivering flesh, an object of study. . . .

 I ask your forgiveness for speaking of these things. I shall never speak of them again. For eleven years I have kept silence, and shall soon be dumb for evermore. Once, at least, I had to cry aloud, to let you know how dearly bought was this child, this boy who was my delight, and who now lies dead. I had forgotten those dreadful hours, forgotten them in his smiles and his voice, forgotten them in my happiness. Now, when he is dead, the torment has come to life again; and I had, this once, to give it utterance. But I do not accuse you; only God, only God who is the author of such purposeless affliction. Never have I cherished an angry thought of you. Not even in the utmost agony of giving birth did I feel any resentment against you; Never did I repent the nights when I enjoyed your love; never did I cease to love you, or to bless the hour when you came into my life. Were it necessary for me, fully aware of what was coming, to relive that time in hell, I would do it gladly, not once, but many times.

Our boy died yesterday, and you never knew him, your eyes have never rested on him. For a long time after our son was born, I kept myself hidden from you. My longing for you had become less overpowering. Indeed, I believe I loved you less passionately. Certainly, my love for you did not hurt so much, now that I had the boy. I did not wish to divide myself between you and him, and so I did not give myself to you, who were happy and independent of me, but to the boy who needed me, whom I had to nourish, whom I could kiss and fondle. I seemed to have been healed of my restless yearning for you. The doom seemed to have been lifted from me by the birth of this other you, who was truly my own. Rarely, now, did my feelings reach out towards you in your dwelling. One thing only---on your birthday I have always sent you a bunch of white roses, like the roses you gave me after our first night of love. Has it ever occurred to you, during these ten or eleven years, to ask yourself who sent them? Have you ever recalled having given such roses to a girl? I do not know, and never shall know. For me it was enough to send them to you out of the darkness; enough, once a year, to revive my own memory of that hour.

You never knew our boy. I blame myself today for having hidden him from you, for you would have loved him. You have never seen him smile when he first opened his eyes after sleep, his dark eyes that were your eyes, the eyes with which he looked merrily forth at me and the world. He was so bright, so lovable. All your lightheartedness, and your mobile imagination were his likewise---in the form in which these qualities can show themselves in a child. He would spend entranced hours playing with things as you play with life; and then, grown serious, would sit long over his books. He was you, reborn. The mingling of sport and earnest, which is so characteristic of you, was becoming plain in him; and the more he resembled you, the more I loved him. He was good at his lessons, so that he could chatter French like a magpie. His exercise books were the tidiest in the class. And what a fine, upstanding little man he was! When I took him to the seaside in the summer, at Grado, women used to stop and stroke his fair hair. At Semmering, when he was toboganing, people would turn round to gaze after him. He was so handsome, so gentle, so appealing. Last year, when he went to college as a boarder, he began to wear the collegiate uniform of an eighteenth century page, with a little dagger stuck in his belt---now he lies here only in his shirt, with pallid lips and crossed hands.

You will wonder how I could manage to give the boy so costly an upbringing, how it was possible for me to provide for him an entry into this bright and cheerful life of the well-to-do. Dear one, I am speaking to you from the darkness. Unashamed, I will tell you. Do not shrink from me. I sold myself. I did not become a streetwalker, a common prostitute, but I sold myself. My friends, my lovers, were wealthy men. At first I sought them out, but soon they sought me, for I was (did you ever notice it?) a beautiful woman. Every one to whom I gave myself was devoted to me. They all became my grateful admirers. They all loved me---except you, except you whom I loved.

Will you despise me now that I have told you what I did? I am sure you will not. I know you will understand everything, will understand that what I did was done only for you, for your other self, for your boy. In the lying-in hospital I had tasted the full horror of poverty. I knew that, in the world of the poor, those who are downtrodden are always the victims. I could not bear to think that your son, your lovely boy, was to grow up in that abyss, amid the corruptions of the street, in the poisoned air of a slum. His delicate lips must not learn the speech of the gutter; his fine, white skin must not be chafed by the harsh and sordid underclothing of the poor. Your son must have the best of everything, all the wealth and all the lightheartedness of the world. He must follow your footsteps through life, must dwell in the sphere in which you had lived.

That is why I sold myself. It was no sacrifice to me, for what are conventionally termed "honor" and "disgrace" were unmeaning words to me. You were the only one to whom my body could belong, and you did not love me, so what did it matter what I did with that body? My companions' caresses, even their most ardent passion, never sounded my depths, although many of them were persons I could not but respect, and although the thought of my own fate made me sympathise with them in their unrequited love. All these men were kind to me; they all petted and spoiled me; they all paid me every deference. one of them, a widower, an elderly man of title, used his utmost influence until he secured your boy’s nomination to the college. This man loved me like a daughter. Three or four times he urged me to marry him. I could have been a countess today, mistress of a lovely castle in Tyrol. I could have been free from care, for the boy would have had a most affectionate father, and I should have had a sedate, distinguished, and kindhearted husband. But I persisted in my refusal, though I knew it gave him pain. It may have been foolish of me. Had I yielded, I should have been living a safe and retired life somewhere, and my child would still have been with me. Why should I hide from you the reason for my refusal? I did not want to bind myself. I wanted to remain free---for you. In my innermost self, in the unconscious, I continued to dream the dream of my childhood. Some day, perhaps, you would call me to your side, were it only for an hour. For the possibility of this one hour I rejected everything else, simply that I might be free to answer your call. Since my first awakening to womanhood, what had my life been but waiting, a waiting upon your will?

In the end, the expected hour came. And still you never knew that it had come! When it came, you were sitting with some friends at the next table, regarding me with an admiring and covetous glance, that glance which had always thrilled me beyond expression. For the first time in ten years you were looking at me again under the stress of all the unconscious passion in your nature. I trembled, and my hand shook so violently that I nearly let my wineglass fall. Fortunately my companions did not notice my condition, for their perceptions were confused by the noise of laughter and music.

Your look became continually more ardent, and touched my own senses to fire. I could not be sure whether you had at last recognized me, or whether your desires had been aroused by one whom you believed to be a stranger. My cheeks were flushed, and I talked at random. You could not help noticing the effect your glance had on me. You made an inconspicuous movement of the head, to suggest my coming into the anteroom for a moment. Then, having settled your bill, you took leave of your associates, and left the table, after giving me a further sign that you intended to wait for me outside. I shook like one in the cold stage of a fever. I could no longer answer when spoken to, could no longer control  the tumult of my blood. At this moment, as chance would have it, a couple of Negroes with clattering heels began a barbaric dance, to the accompaniment of their own shrill cries. Everyone turned to look at them, and I seized my opportunity. Standing up, I told my friend that I would be back in a moment, and followed you.

You were waiting for me in the lobby, and your face lighted up when I came. With a smile on your lips, you hastened to meet me. It was plain that you did not recognize me, neither the child, nor the girl of old days. Again, to you, I was a new acquaintance.

"Have you really got an hour to spare for me?" you asked in a confident tone, which showed that you took me for one of the women whom anyone can buy for a night. "Yes," I answered; the same tremulous but perfectly acquiescent "Yes" that you had heard from me in my girlhood, more than ten years earlier, in the darkling street. "Tell me when we can meet," you said. "Whenever you like," I replied, for I knew nothing of shame where you were concerned.You looked at me with a little surprise, with a surprise which had in it the same flavor of doubt mingled with curiosity which you had shown before when you were astonished at the readiness of my acceptance. "Now?" you inquired, after a moment’s hesitation. "Yes," I replied," let us go."

I was about to fetch my wrap from the cloakroom, when I remembered that my friend had handed in our things together, and that he had the ticket. It was impossible to go back and ask him for it, and it seemed to me even more impossible to renounce this hour with you to which I had been looking forward for years. My choice was instantly made. I gathered my shawl around me, and went forth into the misty night, regardless not only of my cloak, but regardless, likewise, of the kindhearted man with whom I had been living for years---regardless of the fact that in this public way, before his friends, I was putting him into the ludicrous position of one whose mistress abandons him at the first nod of a stranger. Inwardly, I was well aware how basely and ungratefully I was behaving towards a good friend. I knew that my outrageous folly would alienate him from me forever, and that I was playing havoc with my life. But what was his friendship, what was my own life to me when compared with the chance of again feeling your lips on mine, of again listening to the tones of your voice. Now that all is over and done with I can tell you this, can let you know how I loved you. I believe that were you to summon me from my death-bed, I should find strength to rise in answer to your call.

There was a taxi at the door, and we drove to your rooms. Once more I could listen to your voice, once more I felt the ecstasy of being near you, and was almost as intoxicated with joy and confusion as I had been so long before. But I cannot describe it all to you, how what I had felt ten years earlier was now renewed as we went up the well-known stairs together; how I lived simultaneously in the past and in the present, my whole being fused as it were with yours. In your rooms, little was changed. There were a few more pictures, a great many more books, one or two additions to your furniture---but the whole had the friendly look of an old acquaintance. On the writing table was the vase with the roses---my roses, the ones I had sent you the day before as a memento of the woman whom you did not remember, whom you did not recognize, not even now when she was close to you, when you were holding her hand and your lips were pressed on hers. But it comforted me to see my flowers there, to know that you had cherished something that was an emanation from me, was the breath of my love for you.

You took me in your arms. Again I stayed with you for the whole of one glorious night. But even then you did not recognize me. While I thrilled to your caresses, it was plain to me that your passion knew no difference between a loving mistress and a meretrix, that your spendthrift affections were wholly concentrated in their own expression. To me, the stranger picked up at a dancing-hall, you were at once affectionate and courteous. You would not treat me lightly, and yet you were full of an enthralling ardor. Dizzy with the old happiness, I was again aware of the two-sidedness of your nature, of that strange mingling of intellectual passion with sensual, which had already enslaved me to you in my childhood. In no other man have I ever known such complete surrender to the sweetness of the moment. No other has for the time being given himself so utterly as did you who, when the hour was past, were to relapse into an interminable and almost inhuman forgetfulness. But I, too, forgot myself. Who was I, lying in the darkness beside you? Was I the impassioned child of former days; was I the mother of your son; was I a stranger? Everything in this wonderful night was at one and the same time entrancingly familiar and entrancingly new. I prayed that the joy might last forever.

But morning came. It was late when we rose, and you asked me to stay to breakfast. Over the tea, which an unseen hand had discreetly served in the dining room, we talked quietly. As of old, you displayed a cordial frankness; and, as of old, there were no tactless questions, there was no curiosity about myself. You did not ask my name, nor where I lived. To you I was, as before, a casual adventure, a nameless woman, an ardent hour which leaves no trace when it is over. You told me that you were about to start on a long journey, that you were going to spend two or three months in Northern Africa. The words broke in upon my happiness like a knell: "Past, past, past and forgotten!" I longed to throw myself at your feet, crying: "Take me with you, that you may at length came to know me, at length after all these years!" But I was timid, cowardly, slavish, weak. All I could say was: "What a pity." You looked at me with a smile---"Are you really sorry?"

For a moment I was as if frenzied. I stood up and looked at you fixedly. Then I said: "The man I love has always gone on a journey." I looked you straight in the eyes. "Now, now," I thought, "now he will recognize me!" You only smiled, and said consolingly: " One comes back after a time." I answered: "Yes, one comes back, but one has forgotten by then."

I must have spoken with strong feeling, for my tone moved you. You, too, rose, and looked at me wonderingly and tenderly. You put your hands on my shoulders: "Good things are not forgotten, and I shall not forget you." Your eyes studied me attentively, as if you wished to form an enduring image of me in your mind. When I felt this penetrating glance, this exploration of my whole being, I could not but fancy that the spell of your blindness would at last be broken. "He will recognize me! He will recognize me!" My soul trembled with expectation.

But you did not recognize me. No, you did not recognize me. Never had I been more of a stranger to you than I was at that moment, for had it been otherwise you could not possibly have done what you did a few minutes later. You had kissed me again, had kissed me passionately. My hair had been ruffled, and I had to tidy it once more. Standing at the glass, I saw in it---and as I saw, I was overcome with shame and horror---that you were surreptitiously slipping a couple of banknotes into my muff. I could hardly refrain from crying out; I could hardly refrain from slapping your face. You were paying me for the night I had spent with you, me who had loved you since childhood, me the mother of your son. To you I was only a prostitute picked up at a dancing-hall. It was not enough that you should forget me; you had to pay me, and to debase me by doing so.

I hastily gathered up my belongings, that I might escape as quickly as possible; the pain was too great. I looked round for my hat. There it was, on the writing table, beside the vase with the white roses, my roses. I had an irresistible desire to make a last effort to awaken your memory. "Will you give me one of your white roses?"---"Of course," you answered, lifting them all out of the vase. "But perhaps they were given you by a woman, a woman who loves you?" "Maybe," you replied, "I don't know. They were a present, but I don't know who sent them; that's why I'm so fond of them." I looked at you intently: "Perhaps they were sent you by a woman whom you have forgotten!"

You were surprised. I looked at you yet more intently. "Recognize me, only recognize me at last!" was the clamor of my eyes. But your smile, though cordial, had no recognition in it. You kissed me yet again, but you did not recognize me.

I hurried away, for my eyes were filling with tears, and I did not want you to see. In the entry, as I precipitated myself from the room, I almost cannoned into John, your servant. Embarrassed but zealous, he got out of my way, and opened the front door for me. Then, in this fugitive instant, as I looked at him through my tears, a light suddenly flooded the old man’s face. In this fugitive instant, I tell you, he recognized me, the man who had never seen me since my childhood. I was so grateful, that I could have kneeled before him and kissed his hands. I tore from my muff the banknotes with which you had scourged me, and thrust them upon him. He glanced at me in alarm---for in this instant I think he understood more of me than you have understood in your whole life. Everyone, everyone, has been eager to spoil me; everyone has loaded me with kindness. But you, only you, forgot me. You, only you, never recognized me.

My boy, our boy, is dead. I have no one left to love; no one in the world, except you. But what can you be to me---you who have never, never recognized me; You who stepped across me as you might step across a stream, you who trod on me as you might tread on a stone; you who went on your way unheeding, while you left me to wait for all eternity? Once I fancied that I could hold you for my own; that I held you, the elusive, in the child. But he was your son. In the night, he cruelly slipped away from me on a journey; he has forgotten me, and will never return. I am alone once more, more utterly alone than ever. I have nothing, nothing from you. No child, no word, no line of writing, no place in your memory. If anyone were to mention my name in your presence, to you it would be the name of a stranger. Shall I not be glad to die, since I am dead to you? Glad to go away, since you have gone away from me?

Beloved, I am not blaming you. I do not wish to intrude my sorrows into your joyful life. Do not fear that I shall ever trouble you further. Bear with me for giving way to the longing to cry out my heart to you this once, in the bitter hour when the boy lies dead. Only this once I must talk to you. Then I shall slip back into obscurity, and be dumb towards you as I have ever been. You will not even hear my cry so long as I continue to live. Only when I am dead will this heritage come to you from one who has loved you more fondly than any other has loved you, from one whom you have never recognized, from one who has always been awaiting your summons and whom You have never summoned. Perhaps, perhaps, when you receive this legacy you will call to me; and for the first time I shall be unfaithful to you, for I shall not hear you in the sleep of death. Neither picture nor token do I leave you, just as you left me nothing, for never will you recognize me now. That was my fate in life, and it shall be my fate in death likewise. I shall not summon you in my last hour; I shall go my way leaving you ignorant of my name and my appearance. Death will be easy to me, for you will not feel it from afar. I could not die if my death were going to give you pain.

I cannot write any more. My head is so heavy; my limbs ache; I am feverish. I must lie down. Perhaps all will soon be over. Perhaps, this once, fate will be kind to me, and I shall not have to see them take away my boy. . . . I cannot write any more. Farewell, dear one, farewell. All my thanks go out to you. What happened was good, in spite of everything. I shall be thankful to you till my last breath. I am so glad that I have told you all. Now you will know, though you can never fully understand, how much I have loved you; and yet my love will never be a burden to you. It is my solace that you will not miss me. Nothing will be changed in your bright and lovely life. Beloved, my death will not harm you. This comforts me.

But who, ah who, will now send you white roses on your birthday? The vase will be empty. No longer will come that breath, that aroma, from my life, which once a year was breathed into your room.

I have one last request---the first, and the last. Do it for my sake. Always on your birthday---a day when one thinks of oneself---get some roses and put them in the vase. Do it just as others, once a year, have a Mass said for the beloved dead. I no longer believe in God, and therefore I do not want a Mass said for me. I believe in you alone. I love none but you. Only in you do I wish to go on living---just one day in the year, softly, quietly, as I have always lived near you. Please do this, my darling, please do it. . . . My first request, and my last . . . . Thanks, thanks. . . . I love you, I love you. . . . Farewell. . . .

 

***************************

 

The letter fell from his nerveless hands. He thought long and deeply. Yes, he had vague memories of a neighbour’s child, of a girl, of a woman in a dancing hall---all was dim and confused, like the flickering and shapeless view of a stone in the bed of a swiftly running stream. Shadows chased one another across his mind, but would not fuse into a picture. There were stirrings of memory in the realm of feeling, and still he could not remember. It seemed to him that he must have dreamed of all these figures, must have dreamed often and vividly---and yet they had only been the phantoms of a dream.

His eyes wandered to the blue vase on the writing-table. It was empty. For years it had not been empty on his birthday. He shuddered, feeling as if an invisible door had been suddenly opened, a door through which a chill breeze from another world was blowing into his sheltered room. An intimation of death came to him, and an intimation of deathless love. Something welled up within him; and the thought of the dead woman stirred in his mind, bodiless and passionate, like the sound of distant music.

 

 

著名小说家R到山里去进行了一次为时三天的郊游之后,这天清晨返回维也纳,在火车站买了一份报纸。他看了一眼日期,突然想起,今天是他的生日。“四十一岁了”,这个念头很快地在他脑子里一闪,他心里既不高兴也不难过。他随意地翻阅一下沙沙作响的报纸的篇页,便乘坐小轿车回到他的寓所。仆人告诉他,在他离家期间有两位客人来访,有几个人打来电话,然后有一张托盘把收集起来的邮件交给他。他懒洋洋地看了一眼,有几封信的寄信人引起他的兴趣,他就拆开信封看看;有一封信字迹陌生,摸上去挺厚,他就先把它搁在一边。这时仆人端上茶来,他就舒舒服服地往靠背椅上一靠,再一次信手翻阅一下报纸和几份印刷品;然后点上一支雪茄,这才伸手去把那封搁在一边的信拿过来。

这封信大约有二三十页,是个陌生女人的笔迹,写得非常潦草,与其说是一封信,毋宁说是一份手稿。他不由自主地再一次去摸摸信封,看里面是不是有什么附件没取出来,可是信封是空的。无论信封还是信纸都没写上寄信人的地址,甚至连个签名也没有。他心想:“真怪”,又把信拿到手里来看。“你,从来也没有认识过我的你啊!”这句话写在顶头,算是称呼,算是标题。他不胜惊讶地停了下来;这是指他呢,还是指的一个想象中的人呢?他的好奇心突然被激起。他开始往下念:

我的儿子昨天死了——为了这条幼小娇弱的生命,我和死神搏斗了三天三夜,我在他的床边足足坐了四十个小时,当时流感袭击着他,他发着高烧,可怜的身子烧得滚烫。我把冷毛巾放在他发烫的额头上,成天成夜地把他那双不时抽动的小手握在我的手里。到第三天晚上我自己垮了。我的眼睛再也支持不住,我自己也不知道,我的眼皮就合上了。我坐在一把硬椅子上睡了三四个钟头,就在这时候,死神把他夺走了。这个温柔的可怜的孩子此刻就躺在那儿,躺在他那窄小的儿童床上,就和人死去的时候一样;他的眼睛,他那双聪明的黑眼睛,刚刚给合上了,他的双手也给合拢来,搁在他的白衬衫上面,床的四角高高地燃着四支蜡烛。我不敢往床上看,我动也不敢动,因为烛光一闪,影子就会从他脸上和他紧闭着的嘴上掠过,于是看上去,就仿佛他脸上的肌肉在动,我就会以为,他没有死,他还会醒过来,还会用他那清脆的嗓子给我说些孩子气的温柔的话儿。可是我知道,他死了,我不愿意往床上看,免得再一次心存希望,免得再一次遭到失望。我知道,我知道,我的儿子昨天死了——现在我在这个世界上只有你,只有你一个人,而你对我一无所知,你正在寻欢作乐,什么也不知道,或者正在跟人家嬉笑调情。我只有你,你从来也没有认识过我,而我却始终爱着你。

我把第五支蜡烛取过来放在这张桌子上,我就在这张桌子上写信给你。我怎能孤单单地守着我死了的孩子,而不向人倾吐我心底的衷情呢?而在这可怕的时刻,不跟你说又叫我去跟谁说呢?你过去是我的一切啊!也许我没法跟你说得清清楚楚,也许你也不明白我的意思——我的脑袋现在完全发木,两个太阳穴在抽动,象有人用槌子在敲,我的四肢都在发疼。我想我在发烧,说不定也得了流感,此刻流感正在挨家挨户地蔓延扩散,要是得了流感倒好了,那我就可以和我的孩子一起去了,省得我自己动手来了结我的残生。有时候我眼前一片漆黑,也许我连这封信都写不完——可是我一定要竭尽我的全力,振作起来,和你谈一次,就谈这一次,你啊,我的亲爱的,从来也没有认识过我的你啊!

我要和你单独谈谈,第一次把一切都告诉你;我要让你知道我整个的一生一直是属于你的,而你对我的一生却始终一无所知。可是只有我死了,你再也用不着回答我了,此刻使我四肢忽冷忽热的疾病确实意味着我的生命即将终结,那我才让你知道我的秘密。要是我还得活下去,我就把这封信撕掉,我将继续保持沉默,就象我过去一直沉默一样。可是如果你手里拿着这封信,那你就知道,是个已死的女人在这里向你诉说她的身世,诉说她的生活,从她有意识的时候起,一直到她生命的最后一刻为止,她的生命始终是属于你的。看到我这些话你不要害怕;一个死者别无企求,她既不要求别人的爱,也不要求同情和慰藉。我对你只有一个要求,那就是请你相信我那向你吐露隐衷的痛苦的心所告诉你的一切。请你相信我所说的一切,这是我对你唯一的请求:一个人在自己的独生子死去的时刻是不会说谎的。

我要把我整个的一生都向你倾诉,我这一生实在说起来是我认识你的那一天才开始的。在这以前,我的生活只是阴惨惨、乱糟糟的一团,我再也不会想起它来,它就象是一个地窖,堆满了尘封霉湿的人和物,上面还结着蛛网,对于这些,我的心早已非常淡漠。你在我生活出现的时候,我十三岁,就住在你现在住的那幢房子里,此刻你就在这幢房子里,手里拿着这封信,我生命的最后一息。我和你住在同一层楼,正好门对着门。你肯定再也想不起我们,想不起那个寒酸的会计员的寡妇(她总是穿着孝服)和她那尚未长成的瘦小的女儿——我们深居简出,不声不响,仿佛沉浸在我们小资产阶级的穷酸气氛之中——,你也许从来也没有听见过我们的姓名,因为在我们的门上没有挂牌子,没有人来看望我们,没有人来打听我们。况且事情也已经过了好久了,都有十五六年了,你一定什么也不知道,我的亲爱的。可是我呢,啊,我热烈地回忆起每一份细节,我清清楚楚地记得我第一次听人家说起你,第一次看到你的那一天,不,那一小时,就象发生在今天,我又怎么能不记得呢?因为就是那时候世界才为我而开始啊。耐心点,亲爱的,等我把以前都从头说起,我求你,听我谈自己谈一刻钟,别厌倦,我爱了你一辈子也没有厌倦啊!

在你搬进来以前,你那屋子里住的人丑恶凶狠,吵架成性。他们自己穷得要命,却特别嫌恶邻居的贫穷,他们恨我们,因为我们不愿意染上他们那种破落的无产者的粗野。这家的丈夫是个酒鬼,老是揍老婆;我们常常在睡到半夜被椅子倒地、盘子摔碎的声音惊醒,有一次那老婆给打得头破血流,披头散发地逃到楼梯上面,那个酒鬼在她身后粗声大叫,最后大家都开门出来,威胁他要去叫警察,风波才算平息。我母亲从一开始就避免和这家人有任何来往,禁止我和这家的孩子一块儿玩,他们于是一有机会就在我身上找茬出气。他们要是在大街上碰到我,就在我身后嚷些脏话,有一次他们用挺硬的雪球扔我,扔得我额头流血。全楼的人怀着一种共同的本能,都恨这家人,突然有一天出了事,我记得,那个男人偷东西给抓了起来,那个老婆只好带着她那点家当搬了出去,这下我们大家都松了一口气。招租的条子在大门上贴了几天,后来又给揭下来了,从门房那里很快传开了消息,说是有个作家,一位单身的文静的先生租了这个住宅。当时我第一次听到你的姓名。

几天以后,油漆匠、粉刷匠、清洁工、裱糊匠就来打扫收拾屋子,给原来的那家人住过,屋子脏极了。于是楼里只听见一阵叮叮当当的敲打声、拖地声、刮墙声,可是我母亲倒很满意,她说,这一来对面讨厌的那一家子总算再也不会和我们为邻了。而你本人呢,即使在搬家的时候我也还没溅到你的面;搬迁的全部工作都是你的仆人照料的,这个小个子的男仆,神态严肃,头发灰白,总是轻声轻气地、十分冷静地带着一种居高临下的神气指挥着全部工作。他给我们大家留下了深刻的印象,因为首先在我们这幢坐落在郊区的房子里,上等男仆可是一件十分新颖的事物,其次因为他对所有的人都客气得要命,可是又不因此降低身份,把自己混同于一般的仆役,和他们亲密无间地谈天说地。他从第一天起就毕恭毕敬地和我母亲打招呼,把她当作一位有身份的太太;甚至对我这个小毛丫头,他也总是态度和蔼、神情严肃。他一提起你的名字,总是打着一种尊敬的神气,一种特别的敬意——别人马上就看出,他和你的关系,远远超出一般主仆只见的关系。为此我是多么喜欢他阿!这个善良的老约翰,尽管我心里暗暗地忌妒他,能够老是呆在你的身边,老是可以侍候你。

我把这以前都告诉你,亲爱的,把这以前琐碎的简直可笑的事情喋喋不休地说给你听,为了让你明白,你从一开始就对我这个生性腼腆、胆怯羞涩的女孩子具有这样巨大的力量。你自己还没有进入我的生活,你的身边就出现了一个光圈,一种富有、奇特、神秘的氛围——我们住在这幢郊区房子里的人一直非常好奇地、焦灼不耐地等你搬进来住(生活在狭小天地里的人们,对门口发生的以前新鲜事儿总是非常好奇的)。有一天下午,我放学回家,看见搬运车停在楼前,这时我心里对你的好奇心大大地增涨起来。大部分家俱,凡是笨重的大件,搬运夫早已把它们抬上楼去了;还有一些零星小件正在往上拿。我站在门口,惊奇地望着一切,因为你所有的东西都很奇特,都是那么别致,我从来也没有见过;有印度的佛像,意大利的雕刻,色彩鲜艳刺目的油画,末了又搬来好些书,好看极了,我从来没想到过,书会这么好看。这些书都码在门口,你的仆人把它们拿起来,用掸子自习地把每本书上的灰尘都掸掉。我好奇心切,轻手轻脚地围着那堆越码越高的书堆,边走边看,你的仆人既不把我撵走,也不鼓励我走近;所以我一本书也不敢碰,尽管我心里真想摸摸有些书的软皮封面。我只是怯生生地从旁边看看书的标题:这里有法文书、英文书,还有些书究竟是什么文写的,我也不认得。我想,我真会一连几小时傻看下去的,可是我的母亲把我叫回去了。

整个晚上我都不由自主地老想着你,而我当时还不认识你呢。我自己只有十几本书,价钱都很便宜,都是用破烂的硬纸做的封面,这些书我爱若至宝,读了又读。这时我就寻思,这个人有那么多漂亮的书,这些书他都读过,他还懂那么多文字,那么有钱,同时又那么有学问,这个人该长成一副什么模样呢?一想到这么多书,我心里有由得产生一种超凡脱俗的敬畏之情。我试图想象你的模样:你是个戴眼镜的老先生,蓄着长长的白胡子,就象我们的地理老师一样,所不同的只是,你更和善,更漂亮,更温雅——我不知道,为什么我在当时就确有把握地认为,你准长得漂亮,因为我当时想象中你还是个老头呢。在那天夜里,我还不认识你,我就第一次做梦梦见了你。

第二天你搬进来住了,可是我尽管拚命侦察,还是没能见你的面——这只有使我更加好奇。最后,到第三天,我才看见你。你的模样和我想象完全不同,跟我那孩子气的想象中的老爷爷的形象毫不沾边,我感到非常意外,深受震惊。我梦见的是一个戴眼镜的和蔼可亲的老年人,可你一出现,——原来你的模样跟你今天的样子完全相似,原来你这个人始终没有变化,尽管岁月在你身上缓缓地流逝!你穿着一身迷人的运动服,上楼的侍候总是两级一步,步伐轻捷,活泼灵敏,显得十分潇洒。你把帽子拿在手里,所以我一眼就看见了你的容光焕发、表情生动的脸,长了一头光泽年轻的头发,我的惊讶简直难以形容:的确,你是那样的年轻、漂亮,身材颀长,动作灵巧,英俊潇洒,我真的吓了一跳。你说这事不是很奇怪吗,在这最初的瞬间我就非常清晰地感觉到你所具有的独特之处,不仅是我,凡是和你认识的人都怀着一种意外的心情在你身上一再感觉到:你是一个具有双重人格的人,既是一个轻浮、贪玩、喜欢奇遇的热情少年,同时又是一个在你从事的那门艺术方面无比严肃、认真负责、极为渊博、很有学问的长者。我当时无意识地感觉到了后来每个人在你身上都得到的那种印象:你过着一种双重生活,既有对外界开放的光亮的一面,另外还有十分阴暗的一面,这一面只有你一个人知道——这种最深藏的两面性是你一生的秘密,我这个十三岁的姑娘,第一眼就感觉到了你身上的这种两重性,当时象着了魔似的被你吸引住了。

你现在明白了吧,亲爱的,你当时对我这个孩子该是一个多么不可思议的奇迹,一个多么诱人的谜啊!这是一位大家尊敬的人物,因为他写了好些书,因为他在另一个大世界里声名卓著,可是现在突然发现这个人年轻潇洒,是个性格开朗的二十五岁的青年!还要我对你说吗,从这天起,在我们这所房子里,在我整个可怜的儿童世界里,除了你再也没有什么别的东西使我感到兴趣;我本着一个十三岁的女孩的全部傻劲儿,全部追根究底的执拗劲头,只对你的生活、只对你的存在感兴趣!我仔细地观察你,观察你的出入起居,观察那些来找你的人,所有这一切,非但没有削弱、反而增强了我对你这个人的好奇心,因为来看你的人形形色色,各不相同,这就表现出了你性格中的两重性。有时来了一帮年轻人,是你的同学,一批不修边幅的大学生,你跟他们一起高声大笑、发疯胡闹,有时候又有些太太们乘着小轿车来,有一次歌剧院经理来了,那个伟大的指挥家,我只有满怀敬意地从远处看见他站在乐谱架前,再就是一些还在上商业学校的姑娘们,她们很不好意思的一闪身就溜进门去,来的女人很多,多极了。我不觉得这有什么奇怪,有一天早上我上学去的时候,看见有位太太脸上蒙着厚厚的面纱从你屋里出来,我也不觉得这有什么特别——我那时才十三岁,怀着一种热烈的好奇心,刺探你行踪,偷看你的举动,我还是个孩子,不知道这种好奇心就已经是爱情了。

可是我还清楚记得,亲爱的,我整个地爱上你,永远迷上你的那一天,那个时刻。那天,我跟一个女同学去散了一会儿步,我们俩站在大门口闲聊。这时驰来一辆小汽车,车刚停下,你就以你那种急迫不耐的、轻捷灵巧的方式从车上一跃而下,这样子至今还叫我动心。你下了车想走进门去,我情不自禁地给你把门打开,这样我就挡了你的道,我俩差点撞在一起。你看了我一眼,那眼光温暖、柔和、深情,活象是对我的爱抚,你冲着我一笑,用一种非常轻柔的、简直开说是亲昵的声音对我说:“多谢,小姐。”

全部经过就是这样,亲爱的;可是从我接触到你那充满柔情蜜意的眼光之时起,我就完全属于你了。我后来、我不久之后就知道,你的这道目光好象是把对方拥抱起来,吸引到你身边,既脉脉含情,又荡人心魄,这是一个天生的诱惑者的眼光,你向每一个从你身边走过的女人都投以这样的目光,向每一个卖东西给你的女店员,向每一个给你开门的使女都投以这样的目光。这种眼光在你身上并不是有意识地表示多情和爱慕,而是你对女人怀有的柔情使你一看见她们,你的眼光便不知不觉地变得温柔起来。可是我这个十三岁的孩子对此一无所知:我的心里象着了火似的。我以为你的柔情蜜意只针对我,是给我一个人的。就在这一瞬间,我这个还没有成年的姑娘一下子就成长为一个女人,而这个女人从此永远属于你了。

“这人是谁呀?”我的女同学问道。我一下子答不上来。你的名字我怎么着也说不出口:就在这一秒钟,在这唯一的一秒钟里,你的名字在我心目中变得无比神圣,成了我心里的秘密。“唉,住在我们楼里的一位先生呗!”我结结巴巴笨嘴拙腮地说道。“那他看你一眼,你干吗脸涨得通红啊!”我的女同学以一个好管闲事的女孩子的阴坏的神气,连嘲带讽地说道。可是恰巧因为我感觉到她的讽刺正好捅着了我心里的秘密,血就更往我的脸颊上涌。窘迫之余我就生气了。我恶狠狠地说了她一句:“蠢丫头!”我当时真恨不得把她活活勒死。可是她笑得更欢,讽刺的神气更加厉害,末了我发现,我火得没法,眼睛里都噙满了眼泪。我不理她,一口气跑上楼去了。

从这一秒钟起,我就爱上了你。我知道,女人们经常向你这个娇纵惯了的人说这句话。可是请相信我,没有一个女人象我这样死心塌地地、这样舍身忘己地爱过你,我对你从不变心,过去是这样,一直是这样,因为在世界上没有什么东西可以比得上一个孩子暗中怀有的不为人所觉察的爱情,因为这种爱情不抱希望,低声下气,曲意逢迎,委身屈从,热情奔放,这和一个成年妇女的那种欲火炽烈、不知不觉中贪求无厌的爱情完全不同。只有孤独的孩子才能把全部热情集聚起来,其他的人在社交活动中早已滥用了自己的感情,和人亲切交往中早已把感情消磨殆尽,他们经常听人谈论爱情,在小说里常常读到爱情,他们知道,爱情乃是人们共同的命运。他们玩弄爱情,就象摆弄一个玩具,他们夸耀自己恋爱的经历,就象男孩抽了第一支香烟而洋洋得意。

可我身边没有别人,我没法向别人诉说我的心事,没有人指点我、提醒我,我毫无阅历,毫无思想准备:我一头栽进我的命运,就象跌进一个深渊。我心里只有一个人,那就是你,我睡梦中也只看见你,我把你视为知音:我的父亲早已去世,我的母亲成天心情压抑,郁郁不乐,靠养老金生活,总是胆小怕事,所以和我也不贴心;那些多少有点变坏的女同学叫我反感,她们轻佻地把爱情看成儿戏,而在我的心目中,爱情却是我至高无上的激情——所以我把原来分散零乱的全部感情,把我整个紧缩起来而又一再急切向外迸涌的心灵都奉献给你。我该怎么对你说才好呢?任何比喻都嫌不足,你是我的一切,是我整个的生命。世上万物因为和你有关才存在,我生活中的一切只有和你连在一起才有意义。你使我整个生活变了样。我原来在学校里学习一直平平常常,不好不坏,现在突然一跃成为全班第一,我如饥似渴地念了好些书,常常念到深夜,因为我知道,你喜欢书本;我突然以一种近乎倔强的毅力练起钢琴来了,使我母亲不胜惊讶,因为我想,你是热爱音乐的。我把我的衣服刷了又刷,缝了又缝,就是为了在你面前显得干干净净,讨人喜欢。我那条旧的校服罩裙(是我母亲穿的一件家常便服改的)的左侧打了个四四方方的补钉,我觉得讨厌极了。我怕你会看见这个补钉,于是看不起我,所以我跑上楼梯的时候,总把书包盖着那个地方,我害怕得浑身哆嗦,唯恐你会看见那个补钉。可是这是多么傻气啊!你在那次以后从来也没有、几乎从来也没有正眼看过我一眼。  

而我呢,我可以说整天什么也不干,就是在等你,在窥探你的一举一动。在我们家的房门上面有一个小小的黄铜窥视孔,透过这个圆形小窗孔一直可以看到你的房门。这个窥视孔就是我伸向世界的眼睛——啊,亲爱的,你可别笑,我那几个月,那几年,手里拿着一本书,一下午一下午地就坐在小窗孔跟前,坐在冰冷的门道里守候着你,提心吊胆地生怕母亲疑心,我的心紧张得象根琴弦,你一出现,它就颤个不停。直到今天想到这些的时候,我都并不害臊。我的心始终为你而紧张,为你而颤动;可是你对此毫无感觉,就象你口袋里装了怀表,你对它绷紧的发条没有感觉一样。这根发条在暗中为你耐心地数着你的钟点,计算着你的时间,以它听不见的心跳陪着你东奔西走,而你在它那滴答不停的几百万秒当中,只有一次向它匆匆瞥了一眼。你的什么事情我都知道,我知道你的每一个生活习惯,认得你的每一根领带、每一套衣服,认得你的一个一个的朋友,并且不久就能把他们加以区分,把他们分成我喜欢的和我讨厌的两类:我从十三岁到十六岁,每一小时都是在你身上度过的。按,我干了多少傻事啊!我亲吻你的手摸过的门把,我偷了一个你进门之前扔掉的雪茄烟头,这个烟头我视若圣物,因为你嘴唇接触过它。晚上我百次地借故跑下楼去,到胡同里去看看你哪间屋里还亮着灯光,用这样的办法来感觉你那看不见的存在,在想象中亲近你。你出门旅行的那些礼拜里——我一看见那善良的约翰把你的黄色旅行袋提下落去,我的心便吓得停止了跳动——那些礼拜里我虽生犹死,活着没有一点意思。我心情恶劣,百无聊赖,茫茫然不知所从,我得十分小心,别让我母亲从我哭肿了的眼睛看出我绝望的心绪。

我知道,我现在告诉你的这些事都是滑稽可笑的荒唐行径,孩子气的蠢事。我应该为这些事而感到羞耻,可是我并不这样,因为我对你的爱从来也没有象在这种天真的感情流露中表现得更纯洁更热烈的了。要我说,我简直可以一连几小时,一连几天几夜地跟你说,我当时是如何和你一起生活的,而你呢几乎都没跟我打过一个照面,因为每次我在楼梯上遇见你,躲也躲不开了,我就一低头从你身边跑上楼去,为了怕见你那火辣辣的眼光,就象一个人怕火烧着,而纵身跳水投河一样。要我讲,我可以一连几小时,一连几天几夜地跟你讲你早已忘却的那些岁月,我可以给你展开一份你整个一生的全部日历;可是我不愿使你无聊,不愿使你难受。我只想把我童年时代最美好的一个经历再告诉你,我求你别嘲笑我,因为这只不过是微不足道的小事一桩,而对我这个孩子来说,这可是了不起的一件大事。大概是个星期天,你出门旅行去了,你的仆人把他拍打干净的笨重地毯从敞开着的房门拖进屋去。这个好心人干这个活非常吃力,我不晓得从哪儿来的一股勇气,便走了过去,问他要不要我帮他的忙。他很惊讶,可还是让我帮了他一把,于是我就看见了你的寓所的内部——我实在没法告诉你,我当时怀着何等敬畏甚至虔诚的心情!我看见了你的天地,你的书桌,你经常坐在这张书桌旁边,桌上供了一个蓝色的水晶花瓶,瓶里插着几朵鲜花,我看见了你柜子,你的画,你的书。我只是匆匆忙忙地向你的生活偷偷地望了一眼,因为你的忠仆约翰一定不会让我仔细观看的,可是就这么一眼我就把你屋里的整个气氛都吸收进来,使我无论醒着还是睡着都有足够的营养供我神思梦想。

就这匆匆而逝的一分钟是我童年时代最幸福的时刻。我要把这个时刻告诉你,是为了让你——你这个从来也没有认识过我的人啊——终于感到,有一个生命依恋着你,并且为你而憔悴。我要把这个最幸福的时刻告诉你,同时我要把那最可怕的时刻也告诉你,可惜这二者竟挨得如此之近!我刚才已经跟你说过了,为了你的缘故,我什么都忘了,我没有注意我的母亲,我对谁也不关心。我没有发现,有个上了年纪的男人,一位因斯布鲁克地方的商人和我母亲沾点远亲,这时经常来作客,一呆就是好长时间;是啊,这只有使我高兴,因为他有时带我母亲去看戏,这样我就可以一个人呆在家里,想你,守着看你回来,这可是我唯一的至高无上的幸福啊!结果有一天我母亲把我叫到她房里去,唠唠叨叨说了好些,说是要和我严肃地谈谈。我的脸刷的一下发白了,我的心突然怦怦直跳:莫非她预感到了什么,猜到了什么不成?我的第一个念头就想到你,想到我的秘密,它是我和外界发生联系的纽带。可是我妈自己倒显得非常忸怩,她温柔地吻了我一两下,(平时她是从来也不吻我的),把我拉到沙发上坐到她的身边,然后吞吞吐吐、羞羞答答地开始说道,她的亲戚是个死了妻子的单身汗,现在向她求婚,而她主要是为我着想,决定接受他的请求。一股热血涌到我的心里,我心里只有一个念头,我想到你。“那咱们还住在这儿吧?”我只能结结巴巴地说出这么一句话。“不,我们搬到因斯布鲁克去住,斐迪南在那儿有座漂亮的别墅。”她说的别的话我都没有听见。我突然眼前一黑。后来我听说,我当时晕过去了。我听见我的母亲对我那位等在门背后的继父低声说,我突然伸开双手向后一仰,就象铅块似的跌到地上。以后几天发生过什么事情,我这么一个无权自主的孩子又怎样抵挡过他们压倒一起的意志,这一切我都没法向你形容:直到现在,我一想到当时,我这握笔的手就抖了起来。我真正的秘密我又不能泄露,结果我的反对在他们看来就纯粹是脾气倔强、固执己见、心眼狠毒的表现。谁也不再答理我,一切都背着我进行。他们利用我上学的时间搬运东西:等我放学回家,总有一件家俱搬走了或者卖掉了。我眼睁睁地看着我的家搬空了,我的生活也随之毁掉了。有一次我回家吃午饭,搬运工人正在包装家俱,把所有的东西都搬走。在空荡荡的房间里放着收拾停当的箱子以及给我母亲和我准备的两张行军床:我们还得在这儿过一夜,最后一夜,明天就乘车到因斯布鲁克去。

在这最后一天我突然果断地感觉到,不在你的身边,我就没法活下去。除了你我不知道还有什么别的救星。我一辈子也说不清楚,我当时是怎么想的,在这绝望的时刻,我是否真正能够头脑清醒地进行思考,可是突然——我妈不在家——我站起身来,身上穿着校服,走到对面去找你。不,我不是走过去的:一种内在的力量象磁铁,把我僵手僵脚地、四肢哆嗦地吸引到你的门前。我已经跟你说过了,我自己也不明白,我到底打算怎么样:我想跪倒在你的脚下,求你收留我做你的丫头,做你的奴隶。我怕你会取笑一个十五岁的女孩子的这种纯洁无邪的狂热之情,可是亲爱的,要是你知道,我当时如何站在门外冷气彻骨的走廊里,吓得浑身僵直,可是又被一股难以捉摸的力量所驱使,移步向前,我如何使了大劲儿,挪动抖个不住的胳臂,伸出手去——这场斗争经过了可怕的几秒钟,真象是永恒一样漫长——用指头去按你的门铃,要是你知道了这一切,你就不会取笑了。刺耳的铃声至今还在我耳边震响,接下来是一片寂静,我的心脏停止了跳动,我周身的鲜血也凝结不动,我凝神静听,看你是否走来开门。

可是你没有来。谁也没有来。那天下午你显然不在家里,约翰大概出去办事了,所以我只好摇摇晃晃地拖着脚步回到我们搬空了家俱、残破不堪的寓所,门铃的响声还依然在我耳际萦绕,我精疲力竭地倒在一床旅行毯上,从你的门口到我家一共四步路,走得疲惫不堪,就仿佛我在深深的雪地里跋涉了几个小时似的。可是尽管精疲力尽,我想在他们把我拖走之前看你一眼,和你说说话的决心依然没有泯灭。我向你发誓,这里面丝毫也不掺杂情欲的念头,我当时还是个天真无邪的姑娘,除了你以外实在别无所想:我一心只想看见你,再见你一面,紧紧地依偎在你的身上。于是整整一夜,这可怕的漫长的一夜,亲爱的,我一直等着你。我妈刚躺下睡着,我就轻手轻脚地溜到门道里,尖起耳朵倾听,你什么时候回家。我整夜都等着你,这可是个严寒冷冻的一月之夜啊。我疲惫困倦,四肢酸疼,门道里已经没有椅子可坐,我就趴在地上,从门底下透过来阵阵寒风。我穿着单薄的衣裳躺在冰冷的使人浑身作疼的硬地板上,我没拿毯子,我不想让自己暖和,唯恐一暖和就会睡着,听不见你的脚步声。躺在那里浑身都疼,我的两脚抽筋,蜷缩起来,我的两臂索索只抖:我只好一次次地站起身来,在这可怕的黑咕隆咚的门道里实在冷得要命。可是我等着,等着,等着你,就象等待我的命运。

终于——大概是在凌晨两三点钟吧——我听见楼下有人用钥匙打开大门,然后有脚步声顺着楼梯上来。刹那间我觉得寒意顿消,浑身发热,我轻轻地打开房门,想冲到你的跟前,扑在你的脚下。……啊,我真不知道,我这个傻姑娘当时会干出什么事来。脚步声越来越近,蜡烛光晃晃悠悠地从楼梯照上来。我握着门把,浑身哆嗦。上楼来的,真是你吗?

是的,上来的是你,亲爱的——可是你不是一个人回来的。我听见一阵娇媚的轻笑,绸衣拖地的悉簌声和你低声说话的声音——你是和一个女人一起回来的。
我不知道,我这一夜是怎么熬过来的。第二天早上八点钟他们把我拖到因斯布鲁克去了;我已经一点反抗的力气也没有了。

 

我的儿子昨天夜里死了——如果现在我果真还得继续活下去的话,我又要孤零零地一个人生活了。明天他们要来,那些黝黑、粗笨的陌生男人,带口棺材来,我将把我可怜的唯一的孩子装到棺材里去。也许朋友们也会来,带来些花圈,可是鲜花放在棺材上又有什么用?他们会来安慰我,给我说些什么话;可是他们能帮我什么忙呢?我知道,事后我又得独自一人生活。时间上再也没有比置身于人群之中却又孤独生活更可怕的了。我当时,在因斯布鲁克度过的漫无止境的两年时间里,体会到了这一点。从我十六岁到十八岁的那两年,我简直象个囚犯,象个遭到屏弃的人似的,生活在我的家人中间。我的继父是个性情平和、沉默寡言的男子,他对我很好,我母亲丝毫为了补赎一个无意中犯的过错,对我总是百依百顺;年轻人围着我,讨好我;可是我执拗地拒他们于千里之外。离开了你,我不愿意高高兴兴、心满意足地生活,我沉湎于我那阴郁的小天地里,自己折磨自己,孤独寂寥地生活。他们给我买的花花绿绿的新衣服,我穿也不穿;我拒绝去听音乐会,拒绝去看戏,拒绝跟人家一起快快活活地出去远足郊游。我几乎足不逾户,很少上街:亲爱的你相信吗,我在这座小城市里住了两年之久,认识的街道还不到十条?我成天悲愁,一心只想悲愁;我看不见你,也就什么不想要,只想从中得到某种陶醉。再说,我只是热切地想要在心灵深处和你单独呆在一起,我不愿意使我分心。我一个人坐在家里,一坐几小时,一坐一整天,什么也不做,就是想你,把成百件细小的往事翻来覆去想个不停,回想起每一次和你见面,每一次等候你的情形,我把这些小小的插曲想了又想,就象看戏一样。因为我把往日的每一秒钟都重复了无数次,所以我整个童年时代都记得一清二楚,过去这些年每一分钟对我都是那样的生动、具体,仿佛这是昨天发生的事情。

我当时心思完全集中在你的身上。我把你写的书都买了来;只要你的名字一登在报上,这天就成了我的节日。你相信吗,你的书我念了又念,不知念了多少遍,你书中的每一行我都背得出来?要是有人半夜里把我从睡梦中唤醒,从你的书里孤零零地给我念上一行,我今天,时隔十三年,我今天还能接着往下背,就象在做梦一样:你写的每一句话,对我来说都是福音书和祷告词啊。整个时间只是因为和你有关才存在:我在维也纳的报纸上查看音乐会和戏剧首次公演的广告,心里只有一个念头,那就是什么演出会使你感到兴趣,一到晚上,我就在远方陪伴着你:此刻他走进剧院大厅了,此刻他坐下了。这样的事情我梦见了不下一千次,因为我曾经有一次亲眼在音乐会上看见过你。

可是干吗说这些事呢,干吗要把一个孤独的孩子的这种疯狂的、自己折磨自己的、如此悲惨、如此绝望的狂热之情告诉一个对此毫无所感,一无所知的人呢?可是我当时难道还是个孩子吗?我已经十七岁,转眼就满十八岁了——年轻人开始在大街上扭过头来看我了,可是他们只是使我生气发火。因为要我在脑子里想着和别人恋爱,而不是爱你,哪怕仅仅是闹着玩的,这种念头我都觉得难以理解、难以想象地陌生,稍稍动心在我看来就已经是在犯罪了。我对你的激情仍然一如既往,只不过随着我身体的发育,随着我情欲的觉醒而和过去有所不同,它变得更加炽烈、更加含有肉体的成分,更加具有女性的气息。当年潜伏在那个不懂事的女孩子的下意识里、驱使她去拉你的门铃的那个朦朦胧胧的愿望,现在却成了我唯一的思想:把我奉献给你,完全委身于你。

我周围的人认为我腼腆,说我害羞脸嫩,我咬紧牙关,不把我的秘密告诉任何人。可是在我心里却产生了一个钢铁般的意志。我一心一意只想着一件事:回到维也纳,回到你身边。经过努力,我的意志得以如愿以偿,不管它在别人看来,是何等荒谬绝伦,何等难以理解。我的继父很有资财,他把我看作是他自己亲生的女儿。可是我一个劲儿地顽固坚持,要自己挣钱养活自己,最后我终于达到了目的,前往维也纳去投奔一个亲戚,在一家规模很大的服装店里当了个职员。

难道还要我对你说,在一个雾气迷茫的秋日傍晚我终于!终于!来到了维也纳,我首先是到哪儿去的吗?我把箱子存在火车站,跳上一辆电车,——我觉得这电车开得多么慢啊,它每停一站我就心里冒火——跑到那幢房子跟前。你的窗户还亮着灯光,我整个心怦怦直跳。到这时候,这座城市,这座对我来说如此陌生,如此毫无意义地在我身边喧嚣轰响的城市,才获得了生气,到这时候,我才重新复活,因为我感觉到了你的存在,你,我的永恒的梦。我没有想到,我对你的心灵来说无论是相隔无数的山川峡谷,还是说在你和我那抬头仰望的目光之间只相隔你窗户的一层玻璃,其实都是同样的遥远。我抬头看啊,看啊:那儿有灯光,那儿是房子,那儿是你,那儿就是我的天地。两年来我一直朝思暮想着这一时刻,如今总算盼到了。这个漫长的夜晚,天气温和,夜雾弥漫,我一直站在你的窗下,直到灯光熄灭。然后我才去寻找我的住处。

以后每天晚上我都这样站在你的房前。我在店里干活一直干到六点,活很重,很累人,可是我很喜欢这个活,因为工作一忙,就使我不至于那么痛切地感到我内心的骚乱。等到铁制的卷帘式的百叶窗哗的一下在我身后落下,我就径直奔向我心爱的目的地。我心里唯一的心愿就是,只想看你一眼,只想和你见一次面,只想远远地用我的目光搂抱你的脸!大约过了一个星期,我终于遇见你了,而且恰好是在我没有料想到的一瞬间:我正抬头窥视你的窗口,你突然穿过马路走了过来。我一下子又成了那个十三岁的小姑娘,我觉得热血涌向我的脸颊;我违背了我内心强烈的、渴望看见你眼睛的欲望,不由自主地一低头,象身后有追兵似的,飞快地从你身边跑了过去。事后我为这种女学生似的羞怯畏缩的逃跑行为感到害臊,因为现在我不是已经打定主意了吗:我一心只想遇见你,我在找你,经过这些好不容易熬过来的岁月,我希望你认出我是谁,希望你主意我,希望为你所爱。

可是你好长一段时间都没有注意到我,尽管我每天晚上都站在你的胡同里,即使风雪交加,维也纳凛冽刺骨的寒风吹个不停,也不例外。有时候我白白地等了几个小时,有时候我等了半天,你终于和朋友一起从家里走了出来,有两次我还看见你和女人在一起,——我看见一个陌生女人和你手挽着手紧紧依偎着往外走,我的新猛地一下抽缩起来,把我的灵魂撕裂,这时我突然感到我已长大成人,感到心里有种新的异样的感觉。我并不觉得意外,我从童年时代就知道老有女人来访问你,可是现在突然一下子我感到一阵肉体上的痛苦,我心里感情起伏,恨你和另外一个女人这样明显地表示肉体上的亲昵,可同时自己也渴望着能得到这种亲昵。出于一种幼稚的自尊心,我一整天没到你的房子前面去,我以往就有这种幼稚的自尊心,说不定我今天还依然是这样。可是这个倔强赌气的夜晚变得非常空虚,这一晚多么可怕啊!第二天晚上我又忍气吞声地站在你的房前,等啊等啊,命运注定,我一生就这样站在你紧闭着的生活前面等着。

有一天晚上,你终于注意到我了。我早已看见你远远地走来,我赶忙振作精神,别到时候又躲开你。事情也真凑巧,恰好有辆卡车停在街上卸货,把马路弄得很窄,你只好擦着我的身边走过去。你那漫不经心的目光不由自主地向我身上一扫而过,它刚和我专注的目光一接触,立刻又变成了那种专门对付女人的目光——勾起往事,我大吃一惊!——又成了那种充满蜜意的目光,既脉脉含情,同时又荡人心魄,又成了那种把对方紧紧拥抱起来的勾魂摄魄的目光,这种目光从前第一次把我唤醒,使我一下子从孩子变成了女人,变成了恋人。你的目光和我的目光就这样接触了一秒钟、两秒钟,我的目光没法和你的目光分开,也不愿意和它分开——接着你就从我身边过去了。我的心跳个不停:我身不由己地不得不放慢脚步,一种难以克服的好奇心驱使我扭过头去,看见你停住了脚步,正回头来看我。你非常好奇、极感兴趣地仔细观察我,我从你的神气立刻看出,你没有认出我来。

你没有认出我来,当时没有认出我,也从来没有认出过我。亲爱的,我该怎么向你形容我那一瞬间失望的心情呢。当时我第一次遭受这种命运,这种不为你所认出的命运,我一辈子都忍受着这种命运,随着这种命运而死;没有被你认出来,一直没有被你认出来。叫我怎么向你描绘这种失望的心情呢!因为你瞧,在因斯布鲁克的这两年,我每时每刻都在想念你,我什么也不干,就在设想我们在维也纳的重逢该是什么情景,我随着自己情绪的好坏,想象最幸福的和最恶劣的可能性。如果可以这么说的话,我是在梦里把这一切都过了一遍;在我心情阴郁的时刻我设想过:你会把我拒之门外,会看不起我,因为我太低贱,太丑陋,太讨厌。你的憎恶、冷酷、淡漠所表现出来的种种形式,我在热烈活跃的想象出来的幻境里都经历过了——可是这点,就这一点,即使我心情再阴沉,自卑感再严重,我也不敢考虑,这是最可怕的一点:那就是你根本没有注意到有我这么一个人存在。今天我懂得了——唉,是你教我明白的!——对于一个男人来说,一个少女、一个女人的脸想必是变化多端的东西,因为在大多数情况下只是一面镜子,时而是炽热激情之镜,时而是天真烂漫之镜,时而又是疲劳困倦之镜,正如镜中的人影一样转瞬即逝,那么一个男子也就更容易忘却一个女人的容貌,因为年龄会在她的脸上投下光线,或者布满阴影,而服装又会把它时而这样时而那样地加以衬托。只有伤心失意的女人才会真正懂得这个中的奥秘。可我当时还是个少女,我还不能理解你的健忘,我自己毫无节制没完没了地想你,结果我竟产生错觉,以为你一定也常常在等我;要是我确切知道,我在你心目中什么也不是,你从来也没有想过我一丝一毫,我又怎么活的下去呢!你的目光告诉我,你一点也认不得我,你一点也想不起来你的生活和我的生活有细如蛛丝的联系:你的这种目光使我如梦初醒,使我第一次跌到现实之中,第一次预感到我的命运。

你当时没有认出我是谁。两天之后我们又一次邂逅,你的目光以某种亲昵的神气拥抱我,这时你又没有认出,我是那个曾经爱过你的、被你唤醒的姑娘,你只认出,我是两天之前在同一个地方和你对面相遇的那个十八岁的美丽姑娘。你亲切地看我一眼,神情不胜惊讶,嘴角泛起一丝淡淡的微笑。你又和我擦肩而过,又马上放慢脚步:我浑身战栗,我心里欢呼,我暗中祈祷,你会走来跟我打招呼。我感到,我第一次为你而活跃起来:我也放慢了脚步,我不躲着你。突然我头也美回,便感觉到你就在我的身后,我知道,这下子我就要第一次听到你用我喜欢的声音跟我说话了。我这种期待的心情,使我四肢酥麻,我正担心,我不得不停住脚步,心简直象小鹿似的狂奔猛跳——这时你走到我旁边来了。你跟我攀谈,一副高高兴兴的神气,就仿佛我们是老朋友似的——唉,你对我一点预感也没有,你对我的生活从来也没有任何预感!——你跟我攀谈起来,是那样的落落大方,富有魅力,甚至使我也能回答你的话。我们一起走完了整个的一条胡同。然后你就问我,是否愿意和你一起去吃晚饭。我说好吧。我又怎么敢拒不接受你的邀请?

我们一起在一家小饭馆里吃饭——你还记得吗,这饭馆在哪儿?一定记不得了,这样的晚饭对你一定有的是,你肯定分不清了,因为我对你来说,又算得了什么呢?不过是几百个女人当中的一个,只不过是连绵不断的一系列艳遇中的一桩而已。又有什么事情会使你回忆起我来呢:我话说的很少,因为在你身边,听你说话已经使我幸福到了极点。我不愿意因为提个问题,说句蠢话而浪费一秒钟的时间。你给了我这一小时,我对你非常感谢,我永远也不会忘记这个时间。你的举止使我感到,我对你怀有的那种热情敬意完全应该,你的态度是那样的温文尔雅,恰当得体,丝毫没有急迫逼人之势,丝毫不想匆匆表示温柔缠绵,从一开始就是那种稳重亲切,一见如故的神气。我是早就决定把我整个的意志和生命都奉献给你了,即使原来没有这种想法,你当时的态度也会赢得我的心的。唉,你是不知道,我痴痴地等了你五年!你没使我失望,我心里是多么喜不自胜啊!

天色已晚,我们离开饭馆。走到饭馆门口,你问我是否急于回家,是否还有一点时间。我事实上已经早有准备,这我怎么能瞒着你!我就说,我还有时间。你稍微迟疑了一会儿,然后问我,是否愿意到你家去坐一会,随便谈谈。我决定制不言而喻的事,就脱口而出说了句:“好吧!”我立刻发现,我答应得这么快,你感到难过或者感到愉快,反正你显然是深感意外的。今天我明白了,为什么你感到惊愕;现在我才知道,女人通常总要装出毫无准备的样子,假装惊吓万状,或者怒不可遏,即使她们实际上迫不及待地急于委身于人,一定要等到男人哀求再三,谎话连篇,发誓赌咒,作出种种诺言,这才转嗔为喜,半推半就。我知道,说不定只有以卖笑为职业的女人,只有妓女才会毫无保留地欣然接受这样的邀请,要不然就只有天真烂漫、还没有长大成人的女孩子才会这样。而在我的心里——这你又怎料想得到——只不过是化为言语的意志,经过千百个日日夜夜的集聚而今迸涌开来的相思啊。反正当时的情况是这样:你吃了一惊,我开始使你对我感起兴趣来了。我发现,我们一起往前走的时候,你一面和我说话,一面略带惊讶地在旁边偷偷地打量我。你的感觉在觉察人的种种感情时总象具有魔法似的确有把握,你此刻立即感到,在这个小鸟依人似的美丽的姑娘身上有些不同寻常的东西,有着一个秘密。于是你顿时好奇心大发,你绕着圈子试探性地提出许多问题,我从中觉察到,你一心想要探听这个秘密。可是我避开了:我宁可在你面前显得有些傻气,也不愿向你泄露我的秘密。

我们一起上楼到你的寓所里去。原谅我,亲爱的,要是我对你说,你不能明白,这条走廊,这道楼梯对我意味着什么,我感到什么样的陶醉、什么样的迷惘、什么样的疯狂的、痛苦的、几乎是致命的幸福。直到现在,我一想起这一切,不能不潸然泪下,可是我的眼泪已经流干了。我感觉到,那里的每一件东西都渗透了我的激情,都是我童年时代的相思的象征:在这个大门口我千百次地等待过你,在这座楼梯上我总是偷听你的脚步声,在那儿我第一次看见你,透过这个窥视孔我几乎看得灵魂出窍,我曾经有一次跪在你门前的小地毯上,听到你房门的钥匙咯喇一响,我从我躲着的地方吃惊地跳起。我整个童年,我全部激情都寓于这几米长的空间之中,我整个的一生都在这里,如今一切都如愿以偿,我和你走在一起,和你一起,在你的楼里,在我们的楼里,我的过去的生活犹如一股洪流向我劈头盖脑地冲了下来。你想想吧,——我这话听起来也许很俗气,可是我不知道还有什么别的说法——一直到你的房门口为止,一切都是现实的、沉闷的、平凡的世界,在你的房门口,便开始了儿童的魔法世界,阿拉丁的王国;你想想吧,我千百次望眼欲穿地盯着你的房门口,现在我如痴如醉迈步走了进去,你想象不到——充其量只能模糊地感到,永远也不会完全知道,我的亲爱的!——这迅速流逝的一分钟从我的生活中究竟带走了什么。

那天晚上,我整夜呆在你的身边。你没有想到,在这之前,还从来没有一个男人亲近过我,还没有一个男人接触过或者看见过我的身体。可是你又怎么会想到这个呢,亲爱的,因为我对你一点也不抗拒,我忍住了因为害羞而产生的任何迟疑不决,只是为了别让你猜出我对你爱情的秘密,这个秘密准会叫你吓一跳的——因为你只喜欢轻松愉快、游戏人生、无牵无挂。你深怕干预别人的命运。你愿意滥用你的感情,用在大家身上,用在所有的人身上,可是不愿意作出任何牺牲。我现在对你说,我委身于你时,还是个处女,我求你,千万别误解我!我不是责怪你!你并没有勾引我,欺骗我,引诱我——是我自己挤到你的跟前,扑到你的怀里,一头栽进我的命运之中。我永远永远也不会的,我只会永远感谢你,因为这一夜对我来说真是无比的欢娱、极度的幸福!我在黑暗里一挣开眼睛,感到你在我的身边,我不觉感到奇怪,怎么群星不在我的头上闪烁,因为我感到身子已经上了天庭。不,我的亲爱的,我从来也没有后悔过,从来也没有因为这一时刻后悔过。我还记得,你睡熟了,我听见你的呼吸,摸到你的身体,感到我自己这么紧挨着你,我幸福得在黑暗中哭了起来。

第二天一早我急着要走。我得到店里去上班,我也想在你仆人进来以前就离去,别让他看见我。我穿戴完毕站在你的面前,你把我搂在怀里,久久地凝视着我;莫非是一阵模糊而遥远的回忆在你心头翻滚,还是你只不过觉得我当时容光焕发、美丽动人呢?然后你就在我的唇上吻了一下。我轻轻地挣脱身子,想要走了。这时你问我:“你不想带几朵花走吗?”我说好吧。你就从书桌上供的那只蓝色水晶花瓶里(唉,我小时候那次偷偷地看了你房里一眼,从此就认得这个花瓶了)取出四朵白玫瑰来给了我。后来一连几天我还吻着这些花儿。

在这之前,我们约好了某个晚上见面。我去了,那天晚上又是那么销魂,那么甜蜜。你又和我一起过了第三夜。然后你就对我说,你要动身出门去了——啊,我从童年时代起就对你出门旅行恨得要死!——你答应我,一回来就通知我。我给了你一个留局待取的地址——我的姓名我不愿告诉你。我把我的秘密锁在我的心底。你又给了我几朵玫瑰作为临别纪念,——作为临别纪念。

这两个月里我每天去问……别说了,何必跟你描绘这种由于期待、绝望而引起的地狱般的折磨。我不责怪你,我爱你这个人就爱你是这个样子,感情热烈而生性健忘,一往情深而爱不专一。我就爱你是这么个人,只爱你是这么个人,你过去一直是这样,现在依然还是这样。我从你灯火通明的窗口看出,你早已出门回家,可是你没有写信给我。在我一生的最后的时刻我也没有收到过你一行手迹,我把我的一生都献给你了,可是我没收到过你一封信。我等啊,等啊,象个绝望的女人似的等啊。可是你没有叫我,你一封信也没有写给我……一个字也没写……

我的儿子昨天死了——这也是你的儿子。亲爱的,这是那三夜销魂荡魄缱绻柔情的结晶,我向你发誓,人在死神的阴影笼罩之下是不会撒谎的。他是我俩的孩子,我向你发誓,因为自从我委身于你之后,一直到孩子离开我的身体,没有一个男子碰过我的身体。被你接触之后,我自己也觉得我的身体是神圣的,我怎么能把我的身体同时分赠给你和别的男人呢?你是我的一切,而别的男人只不过是我的生活中匆匆来去的过客。他是我俩的孩子,亲爱的,是我那心甘情愿的爱情和你那无忧无虑的、任意挥霍的、几乎是无意识的缱绻柔情的结晶,他是我俩的孩子,我们的儿子,我们唯一的孩子。你于是要问了——也许大吃一惊,也许只不过有些诧异——你要问了,亲爱的,这么多年漫长的岁月,我为什么一直把这孩子的事情瞒着你,直到今天才告诉你呢?此刻他躺在这里,在黑暗中沉睡,永远沉睡,准备离去,永远也不回来,永不回来!可是你叫我怎么能告诉你呢?象我这样一个女人,心甘情愿地和你过了三夜,不加反抗,可说是满心渴望地向你张开我的怀抱,象我这样一个匆匆邂逅的无名女人,你是永远、永远也不会相信,她会对你,对你这么一个不忠实的男人坚贞不渝的,你是永远也不会坦然无疑地承认这孩子是你的亲生之子的!即使我的话使你觉得这事似真非假,你也不可能完全消除这种隐蔽的怀疑:我见你有钱,企图把另一笔风流帐转嫁在你的身上,硬说他是你的儿子。你会对我疑心,在你我之间会存在一片阴影,一片淡淡的怀疑的阴影。我不愿意这样。再说,我了解你;我对你十分了解,你自己对自己还没了解到这种地步;我知道你在恋爱之中只喜欢轻松愉快,无忧无虑,欢娱游戏,突然一下子当上了父亲,突然一下子得对另一个人的命运负责,你一定觉得不是滋味。你这个只有在无拘无束自由自在的情况下才能呼吸生活的人,一定会觉得和我有了某种牵连。你一定会因为这种牵连而恨我——我知道,你会恨我的,会违背你自己清醒的意志恨我的。也许只不过几个小时,也许只不过短短几分钟,你会觉得我讨厌,觉得我可恨——而我是有自尊心的,我要你一辈子想到我的时候,心里没有忧愁。我宁可独自承担一切后果,也不愿变成你的一个累赘。我希望你想起我来,总是怀着爱情,怀着感激:在这点上,我愿意在你结交的所有的女人当中成为独一无二的一个。可是当然罗,你从来也没有想过我,你已经把我忘得一干二净。

我不是责怪你,我的亲爱的,我不责怪你。如果有时候从我的笔端流露出一丝怨尤,那么请你原谅我吧!——我的孩子,我们的孩子死了,在摇曳不定的烛光映照下躺在那里;我冲着天主,握紧了拳头,管天主叫凶手,我心情悲愁,感觉昏乱。请原谅我的怨诉,原谅我吧!我也知道,你心地善良,打心眼里乐于助人。你帮助每一个人,即便是素不相识的人来求你,你也给予帮助。可是你的善心好意是如此的奇特,它公开亮在每个人的面前,人人可取,要取多少取多少,你的善心好意广大无边,可是,请原谅,它是不爽快的。它要人家提醒,要人家自己去拿。你只有在人家向你求援,向你恳求的时候,你才帮助别人,你帮助人家是出于害羞,出于软弱,而不是出于心愿。让我坦率地跟你说吧,在你眼里,困厄苦难中的人们,不见得比你快乐幸福中的兄弟更加可爱。象你这种类型的人,即使是其中心地最善良的人,求他们的帮助也是很难的。有一次,我还是个孩子,我通过窥视孔看见有个乞丐拉你的门铃,你给了他一些钱。他还没开口,你就很快把钱给了他,可是你给他钱的时候,有某种害怕的神气,而且相当匆忙,巴不得他马上走,仿佛你怕正视他的眼睛似的。你帮助人家的时候表现出来的惶惶不安、羞怯腼腆、怕人感谢的样子,我永远也忘不了。所以我从来也不去找你。不错,我知道,你当时是会帮助我的,即使不能确定,这是你的孩子,你也会帮助我的。你会安慰我,给我钱,给我一大笔钱,可是总会带着那种暗暗的焦躁不耐的情绪,想把这桩麻烦事情从身边推开。是啊,我相信,你甚至会劝我及时把孩子打掉。我最害怕的莫过于此了——因为只要你要求,我什么事情不会去干呢!我怎么可能拒绝你的任何请求呢!而这孩子可是我的命根子,因为他是你的骨肉啊,他又是你,又不再是你。你这个幸福的无忧无虑的人,我一直不能把你留住,我想,现在你永远交给我了,禁锢在我身体里,和我的生命连在一起。这下子我终于把你抓住了,我可以在我的血管里感觉到你在生长,你的生命在生长,我可以哺育你,喂养你,爱抚你,亲吻你,只要我的心灵有这样的渴望。你瞧,亲爱的正因为如此,我一知道我怀了一个你的孩子,我便感到如此的幸福,正因为如此,我才把这件事瞒着你:这下你再也不会从我身边溜走了。

当然,亲爱的,这些日子并不是我脑子里预先感觉的那样,尽是些幸福的时光,也有几个月充满了恐怖和苦难,充满了对人们的卑劣的憎恶。我的日子很不好过。临产前几个月我不能再到店里去上班,要不然会引起亲戚们的注意,把这事告诉我家。我不想向我母亲要钱——所以我便靠变卖手头有的那点首饰来维持我直到临产时那段时间的生活。产前一个礼拜,我最后的几枚金币被一个洗衣妇从柜子里偷走了,我只好到一个产科医院去生孩子,只有一贫如洗的女人,被人遗弃遭人遗忘的女人万不得已才到那儿去,就在这些穷困潦倒的社会渣滓当中,孩子、你的孩子呱呱坠地了。那儿真叫人活不下去:陌生、陌生,一切全都陌生,我们躺在那儿的那些人,互不相识,孤独苦寂,互相仇视,只是被穷困、被同样的苦痛驱赶到这间抑郁沉闷的、充满了哥罗仿和鲜血的气味、充满了喊叫和呻唤的病房里来。穷人不得不遭受的凌侮,精神上和肉体上的耻辱,我在那儿都受到了。我忍受着和娼妓之类的病人朝夕相处之苦,她们卑鄙地欺侮着命运相同的病友;我忍受着年轻医生的玩世不恭的态度,他们脸上挂着讥讽的微笑,把盖在这些没有抵抗能力的女人身上的被单掀起来,带着一种虚假的科学态度在她们身上摸来摸去;我忍受着女管理员的无厌的贪欲——啊,在那里,一个人的羞耻心被人们的目光钉在十字架上,备受他们的毒言恶语的鞭笞。只有写着病人姓名的那块牌子还算是她,因为床上躺着的只不过是一块抽搐颤动的肉,让好奇的人东摸西摸,只不过是观看和研究的一个对象而已——啊,那些在自己家里为自己温柔地等待着的丈夫生孩子的妇女不会知道,孤立无援,无力自卫,仿佛在实验桌上生孩子是怎么回事!我要是在哪本书里念到地狱这个词,知道今天我还会突然不由自主地想到那间挤得满满的、水气弥漫的、充满了呻唤声、笑语声和惨叫声的病房,我就在那里吃足了苦头,我会想到这座使羞耻心备受凌迟的屠宰场。

原谅我,请原谅我说了这些事。可是也就是这一次,我才谈到这些事,以后永远也不再说了。我对此整整沉默了十一年,不久我就要默不作声直到地老天荒:总得有这么一次,让我嚷一嚷,让我说出来,我付出了多大的代价,才得到这个孩子,这个孩子是我的全部的幸福,如今他躺在那里,已经停止了呼吸。我看见孩子的微笑,听见他的声音,我在幸福陶醉之中早已把那些苦难的时刻忘得一干二净;可是现在,孩子死了,这些痛苦又历历如在眼前,我这一次、就是这一次,不得不从心眼里把它们叫喊出来。可是我并不抱怨你,我只怨天主,是天主使这痛苦变得如此无谓。我不怪你,我向你发誓,我从来也没有对你生过气、发过火。即使在我的身体因为阵痛扭作一团的时刻,即使在痛苦把我的灵魂撕裂的瞬间,我也没有在天主的面前控告过你;我从来没有后悔过那几夜,从来没有谴责过我对你的爱情。我始终爱你,一直赞美着你我相遇的那个时刻。要是我还得再去一次这样的地狱,并且事先知道,我将受到什么样的折磨,我也不惜再受一次,我的亲爱的,再受一次,再受千百次!

我们的孩子昨天死了——你从来没有见过他。你从来也没有在旁边走过时扫过一眼这个俊美的小人儿、你的孩子,你连和他出于偶然匆匆相遇的机会也没有。我生了这个孩子之后,就隐居起来,很长时间不和你见面;我对你的相思不象原来那样痛苦了,我觉得,我对你的爱也不象原来那样热狂了,自从上天把他赐给我以后,我为我的爱情受的苦至少不象原来那样厉害了。我不愿把自己一分为二,一半给你,一半给他,所以我就全力照看孩子,不再管你这个幸运儿,你没有我也活得很自在,可是孩子需要我,我得抚养他,我可以吻他,可以把他搂在怀里。我似乎已经摆脱了对你朝思暮想的焦躁心情,摆脱了我的厄运,似乎由于你的另一个你,实际上是我的另一个你而得救了——只是难得的、非常难得的情况下,我的心里才会产生低三下四地到你房前去的念头。我只干一件事:每逢你的生日,总要给你送去一束白玫瑰,和你在我们恩爱的第一夜之后送给我的那些花一模一样。在这十年、在这十一年之间你有没有问过一次,是谁送来的花?也许你曾经回忆起你从前赠过这种玫瑰花的那个女人?我不知道、我也不会知道你的回答。我只是从暗地里把花递给你,一年一次,唤醒你对那一刻的回忆——这样对我来说,于愿已足。

你从来没有见过他,没有见过我们可怜的孩子——今天我埋怨我自己,不该不让你见他,因为你要是见了他,你会爱他的。你从来没有见过这个可怜的男孩,没有看过他微笑,没有见他轻轻地抬起眼睑,然后用他那聪明的黑眼睛——你的眼睛!——向我、向全世界投来一道明亮而欢快的光芒。啊,他是多么开朗、多么可爱啊:你性格中全部轻佻的成分在他身上天真地重演了,你的迅速的活跃的想象力在他身上得到再现:他可以一连几小时着迷似的玩着玩具,就象你游戏人声一样,然后又扬起眉毛,一本正经地坐着看书。他变得越来越象你;在他身上,你特有的那种严肃认真和玩笑戏谑兼而有之的两重性也已经开始明显地发展起来。他越象你,我越爱他。他学习很好,说起法文来,就象个小喜鹊滔滔不绝,他的作业本是全班最整洁的,他的相貌多么漂亮,穿着他的黑丝绒的衣服或者白色的水兵服显得多么英俊。他无论走到那儿,总是最时髦的;每次我带着他在格拉多的海滩上散步,妇女们都站住脚步,摸摸他金色的长发,他在色默林滑雪橇玩,人们都扭过头来欣赏他。他是这样的漂亮,这样的娇嫩,这样的可人意儿:去年他进了德莱瑟中学的寄宿学校,穿上制服,佩了短剑,看上去活象十八世纪宫廷的侍童!——可是他现在身上除了一件小衬衫一无所有,可怜的孩子,他躺在那儿,嘴唇苍白,双手合在一起。

你说不定要问我,我怎么可能让孩子在富裕的环境里受到教育呢,怎么可能使他过一种上流社会的光明、快乐的生活呢。我最心爱的人儿,我是在黑暗中跟你说话;我没有羞耻感,我要把这件事告诉你,可是别害怕,亲爱的——我卖身了。我倒没有变成人们称之为街头野鸡的那种人,没有变成妓女,可是我卖身了。我有一些有钱的男朋友,阔气的情人:最初是我去找他们,后来他们就来找我,因为我——这一点你可曾注意到?——长得非常之美。每一个我委身相与的男子都喜欢我,他们都感谢我,都依恋我,都爱我,只有你,只有你不是这样,我的亲爱的!

我告诉你,我卖身了,你会因此鄙视我吗?不会,我知道,你不会鄙视我。我知道,你一切全都明白,你也会明白,我这样做只是为了你,为了你的另一个自我,为了你的孩子。我在产科医院的那间病房里接触到贫穷的可怕,我知道,在这个世界上,穷人总是遭人践踏、受人凌辱的,总是牺牲品。我不愿意、我绝不愿意你的孩子、你的聪明美丽的孩子注定了要在这深深的底层,在陋巷的垃圾堆中,在霉烂、卑下的环境之中,在一间后屋的龌龊的空气中长大成人。不能让他那娇嫩的嘴唇去说那些粗俚的语言,不能让他那白净的身体去穿穷人家的发霉的皱缩的衣衫——你的孩子应该拥有一切,应该享有人间一切财富,一切轻松愉快,他应该也上升到你的高度,进入你的生活圈子。

因此只是因为这个缘故,我的爱人,我卖身了。这对我来说也不算什么牺牲,因为人间称之为名誉、耻辱的东西,对我来说纯粹是空洞的概念:我的身体只属于你一个人,既然你不爱我,那么我的身怎么着了我也觉得无所谓。我对男人们的爱抚,甚至于他们最深沉的激情,全都无动于衷,尽管我对他们当中有些人不得不深表敬意,他们的爱情得不到报答,我很同情,这也使我回忆起我自己的命运,因而常常使我深受震动。我认得的这些男人,对我都很体贴,他们大家都宠我、惯我、尊重我。尤其是那位帝国伯爵,一个年岁较大的鳏夫,他为了让这个没有父亲的孩子、你的儿子能上德莱瑟中学学习,到处奔走,托人说情——他象爱女儿那样地爱我。他向我求婚,求了三四次——我要是答应了,今天可能已经当上了伯爵夫人,成为提罗尔地方一座美妙无比的府邸的女主人,可以无忧无虑地生活,因为孩子将会有一个温柔可爱的父亲,把他看成掌上明珠,而我身边将会有一个性情平和、性格高贵、心底善良的丈夫——不论他如何一而再、再而三地催逼我,不论我的拒绝如何伤他的心,我始终没有答应他。也许我拒绝他是愚蠢的,因为要不然我此刻便会在什么地方安静地生活,并且受到保护,而这招人疼爱的孩子便会和我在一切,可是——我干吗不向你承认这一点呢——我不愿意栓住自己的手脚,我要随时为你保持自由。在我内心深处,在我的潜意识里,我往日的孩子的梦还没有破灭:说不定你还会再一次把我叫到你的身边,哪怕只是叫去一个小时也好。为了这可能有的一小时的相会,我拒绝了所以的人的求婚,好一听到你的呼唤,就能应召而去。自从我从童年觉醒过了以后,我这整个的一生无非就是等待,等待着你的意志。

而这个时刻的确来到了。可是你并不知道,你并没有感到,我的亲爱的!就是在这个时刻,你也没有认出我来——你永远、永远、永远也没有认出我来!在这之前我已多次遇见过你,在剧院里,在音乐会上,在普拉特尔,在马路上——每次我的心都猛的一抽,可是你的眼光从我身上滑了过去:从外表看来,我已经完全变了模样,我从一个腼腆的小姑娘,变成了一个女人,就象他们说的妩媚娇美,打扮得艳丽动人,为一群倾慕者簇拥着:你怎么能想象,我就是在你卧室的昏暗灯光照耀下的那个羞怯的少女呢?有时候和我走在一起的先生们当中有一个向你问好。你回答了他的问候,抬眼看我:可是你目光是客气的陌生的,表示出赞赏的神气,却从未表示出你认出我来了,陌生,可怕的陌生啊。你老是认不出我是谁,我对此几乎习以为常,可是我还记得,有一次这简直使我痛苦不堪:我和一个朋友一起坐在歌剧院的一个包厢里,隔壁的包厢里坐着你。演奏序曲的时候灯光熄灭了,我看不见你的脸,只感到你的呼吸就在我的身边,就跟那天夜里一样的近,你的手支在我们这个包厢的铺着天鹅绒的栏杆上,你那秀气的、纤细的手。我不由产生一阵阵强烈的欲望,想俯下身去谦卑地亲吻一下这只陌生的、我如此心爱的手,我从前曾经受到过这只手的温柔的拥抱啊。耳边乐声靡靡,撩人心弦,我的那种欲望变得越来越炽烈,我不得不使劲挣扎,拚命挺起身子,因为有股力量如此强烈地把我的嘴唇吸引到你那亲爱的手上去。第一幕演完,我求我的朋友和我一起离开剧院。在黑暗里你对我这样陌生,可是又挨我这么近,我简直受不了。

可是这时刻来到了,又一次来到了,在我这浪费掉的一生中这是最后一次。差不多正好是一年之前,在你生日的第二天。真奇怪:我每时每刻都想念着你,因为你的生日我总象一个节日一样地庆祝。一大清早我就出门去买了一些白玫瑰花,象以往每年一样,派人给你送去,以几年你已经忘却的那个时刻。下午我和孩子一起乘车出去,我带他到戴默尔点心铺去,晚上带他上剧院。我希望,孩子从小也能感受到这个日子是个神秘的纪念日,虽然他并不知道它的意义。第二天我就和我当时的情人呆在一起,他是布律恩地方一个年轻富有的工厂主,我和他已经同居了两年。他娇纵我,对我体贴入微,和别人一样,他也想和我结婚,而我也象对待别人一样,似乎无缘无故地拒绝了他的请求,尽管他给我和孩子送了许多礼物,而且本人也亲切可爱。他这人心肠极好,虽说有些呆板,对我有些低三下四。我们一起去听音乐会,在那儿遇到了一些寻欢作乐的朋友,然后在环城马路的一家饭馆里吃晚饭。席间,在笑语闲聊之中,我建议再到一家舞厅去玩。这种灯红酒绿花天酒地的舞厅,我一向十分厌恶,平时要是有人建议到那儿去,我一定反对,可是这一次——简直象有一股难以捉摸的魔术般的力量在我心里驱使我不知不觉地作出这样一个建议,在座的人十分兴奋,立即高兴地表示赞同——可是这一次我却感到有一种难以解释的强烈愿望,仿佛在那儿有神秘特别的东西等着我似的。他们大家都习惯于对我百依百顺,便迅速地站起身来。我们到舞厅去,喝着香槟酒,我心里突然一下子产生一种从来不曾有过的非常疯狂的、近乎痛苦的高兴劲儿。我喝了一杯又一杯,跟着他们一起唱些撩人心怀的歌曲,心里简直可说有一种按捺不住的欲望,想跳舞,想欢呼。可是突然——我仿佛觉得有一样冰凉的或者火烫的东西猛的一下子落在我的心上——我挺起身子:你和几个朋友坐在临桌,你用赞赏的渴慕的目光看着我,就用你那一向撩拨得我心摇神荡的目光看着我。十年来第一次,你又以你全部不自觉的激烈的威力盯着看我。我颤抖起来。举起的杯子几乎失手跌落。幸亏同桌的人没有注意到我的心慌意乱:它消失在哄笑和音乐的喧闹声中。

你的目光变得越来越火烧火燎,使我浑身发烧,坐立不安。我不知道,是你终于认出我来了呢,还是你把我当作新欢,当作另外一个陌生女人在追求?热血一下子涌上我的双颊,我心不在焉地回答着同桌的人跟我说的话。你想必注意到,我被你的目光搞得多么心神不安。你不让别人觉察,微微地摆动一下脑袋向我示意,要我到前厅去一会儿。接着你故意用明显的动作付帐,跟你的伙伴们告别,走了出去,行前再一次向我暗示,你在外面等我。我浑身哆嗦,好象发冷,又好象发烧,我没法回答别人提出的问题,也没法控制我周身沸腾奔流的热血。恰好这时有一对黑人舞蹈家脚后跟踩得劈啪乱响,嘴里尖声大叫,跳起一种古里古怪的新式舞蹈来:大家都在注视着他们,我便利用了这一瞬间。我站了起来,对我的男朋友说,我出去一下马上回来,就尾随你走了出去。

你就站在外面前厅里,衣帽间旁边,等着我。我一出来,你的眼睛就发亮了。你微笑着快步迎了上来;我立即看出,你没有认出我来,没有认出当年的那个小姑娘,也没有认出后来的那个少女,你又一次把我当作一个新相遇的女人,当作一个素不相识的女人来追求。“您可不可以也给我一小时时间呢?”你用亲切的语气问我——从你那确有把握的样子我感觉到,你把我当作一个夜间卖笑的女人。“好吧,”我说道。十多年前那个少女在幽暗的马路上就用这同一个声音抖颤、可是自然而然地表示赞同的“好吧”回答你的。“我们什么时候可以见面呢?”你问道。“您什么时候想见我都行,”我回答道——我在你面前是没有羞耻感的。你稍微有些惊讶地凝视着我,惊讶之中含有怀疑、好奇的成分,就和从前你见我很快接受你的请求时表示惊讶不止一样。“现在行吗?”你问道,口气有些迟疑。“行,”我说,“咱们走吧。”

我想到衣帽间去取我的大衣。

我突然想起,衣帽票在我男朋友手里,我们的大衣是一起存放的。回去向他要票,势必要唠唠叨叨解释一番,另一方面,和你呆在一起的时候,是我多年来梦寐以求的,要我放弃,我也不愿意。所以我一秒钟也不迟疑:我只取了一块围巾披在晚礼服上,就走到夜雾弥漫、潮湿阴冷的黑夜中去,撇开我的大衣不顾,撇开那个温柔多情的好心人不顾,这些年来就是他养活我的,而我却当着他朋友的面,丢他的脸,使他变成一个可笑的傻瓜:供养了几年的情妇遇到一个陌生男子一招手就会跟着跑掉。啊,我内心深处非常清楚地意识到,我对一个诚实的朋友干了多么卑鄙的恶劣、多么忘恩负义、多么下作无耻的事情,我感觉到,我的行为是可笑的,我由于疯狂,使一个善良的人永远蒙受致命的创伤,我感觉到,我已把我的生活彻底毁掉——可是我急不可耐地想在一次亲吻一下你的嘴唇,想再一次听你温柔地对我说话,与之相比,友谊对我又算得了什么,我的存在又算得了什么?我就是这样爱你的,如今一切都已消逝,一切都已过去,我可把这话告诉你了。我相信只要你叫我,我就是已经躺在尸床上,也会突然涌来一股力量,使我站起身来,跟着你走。

门口停着一辆轿车,我们驱车到你的寓所。我又听见你的声音,我又感觉到你温存地呆在我的身边,我又和从前一样如醉如痴,又和从前一样感到天真幸福。相隔十多年,我第一次又登上你的楼梯,我的心情——不说了,不说了,我没法向你描述,在那几秒钟里我是如何对于一切都有双重的感觉,既感到逝去的岁月,也感到眼前的时光,而在一切和一切之中,我只感觉到你。你的房间没有多少变化,多了几张画,多了几本书,有的地方多了几件新的家俱,可是一切在我看来还是那么亲切。书桌上供着花瓶,里面插着玫瑰花——我的玫瑰花,是我前一天你生日派人给你送来的,以此纪念一个你记不得了的女人,即使此刻,她就近在你的眼前,手握着手,嘴唇紧贴着嘴唇,你也认不出她来。可是,我还是很高兴,你供着这些鲜花:毕竟还有我的一点气息、我的爱情的一缕呼吸包围着你。

你把我搂在怀里。我又在你那里度过了一个销魂之夜。可是即使我脱去衣服赤身露体,你也没有认出我是谁。我幸福地接受你那熟练的温存和爱抚,我发现,你的激情对一位情人和一个妓女是一样看待,不加区别的。你放纵你的情欲,毫不节制,不假思索地挥霍你的感情。你对我,对于一个从夜总会里带来的女人是这样的温柔,这样的高尚,这样的亲切而又充满敬意,同时在享受女人方面又是那样的充满激情;我在陶醉于过去的幸福之中,又一次感觉到你本质的这独特的两重性,在肉欲的激情之中含有智慧的精神的激情,这在当年使我这个小姑娘都成了你的奴隶。我从来没有看见过一个男人在温存抚爱之际这样贪图享受片刻的欢娱。这样放纵自己的感情,把内心深处披露无遗——而事后竟然消烟云散,全部归于遗忘,简直遗忘得不近人情。可我自己也忘乎所以了:在黑暗中躺在你身边的我究竟是谁啊?是从前那个心急如火的小姑娘吗,是你孩子的母亲,还是一个陌生女人?啊,在这激情之夜,一切是如此的亲切,如此的熟悉,可一切又是如此异乎寻常的新鲜。我祷告上苍,但愿这一夜永远延续下去。

可是黎明还是来临了,我们起得很晚,你请我和你一同进早餐。有一个没有露面的佣人很谨慎地在餐室里摆好了早点,我们一起喝茶,闲聊。你又用你那坦率诚挚的亲昵态度和我说话,绝不提任何不得体的问题,绝不对我这个人表示任何好奇心。你不问我叫什么名字,也不问我住在那里:我对你来说,又不过只是一次艳遇,一个无名的女人,一段热情的时光,最后在遗忘的烟雾中消失得无影无踪。你告诉我,你现在又要出远门到北非去,去两三个月;我在幸福之中又战栗起来,因为在我的耳边又轰轰的响起这样的声音:完了,完了,忘了!我恨不得扑倒在你的脚下,喊道:“带我去吧,这样你终于会认出我来,过了这么多年,你终于会认出我是谁!”可是我在你的面前是如此羞怯,胆小,奴性十足,性格软弱。我只能说一句:“多遗憾哪!”你微笑着望着我说:“你真的觉得遗憾吗?”

这时候一股突发的野劲儿抓住了我。我站起来,长时间目不转睛地盯着你看。然后我说道:“我爱的那个男人也老是出门到外地去。”我凝视着你,直视你眼睛里的瞳仁。“现在,现在他要认出我来了!”我身上每一根神经都颤抖起来。可是你冲着我微笑,安慰我:“他会回来的。”——“是的,”我回答道,“会回来的,可是回来就什么都忘了。”

我说这话的腔调里一定有一种特殊的激烈的东西。因为你也站起来,注视着我,态度不胜惊讶,非常亲切。你抓住我的双肩,说道:“美好的东西是忘不了的,我是不会忘记你的,”你说着,你的目光一直射进我的心灵深处,仿佛想把我的形象牢牢记住似的。我感到你的目光一直进入我的身体,在里面探索、感觉、吮吸着我整个的生命,这时我相信,盲人重见光明。他要认出我来了,他要认出我来了!这个念头使我整个灵魂都颤抖起来。

可是你没有认出我来。没有,你没有认出我是谁,我对你来说,从来也没有象这一瞬间那样的陌生,因为要不然——你绝不会干出几分钟之后干的事情。你吻我,又一次狂热地吻我。头发给弄乱了,我只好再梳理一下,我正好站在镜子前面,从镜子里我看到——我简直又羞又惊,都要跌倒在地了——我看到你非常谨慎地把几张大钞票塞进我的暖手筒。我在这一瞬间怎么会没有叫出声来,没有扇你一股嘴巴呢!——我从小就爱你,并且是你儿子的母亲,可你却为这一夜付钱个我!被你遗忘还不够,我还得受这样的侮辱。

我急忙收拾我的东西。我要走,赶快离开。我心里太痛苦了。我抓起我的帽子,帽子就搁在书桌上,靠近那只插着白玫瑰、我的玫瑰的那只花瓶。我心里又产生一个强烈的愿望,不可抗拒的愿望:我想再尝试一次来提醒你:“你愿意给我一朵你的白玫瑰吗?”——“当然乐意,”你说着马上就取了一朵。“可是这些花也许是一个女人、一个爱你的女人送给你的吧?”我说道。

“也许是,”你说,“我不知道,是人家送给我的,我不知道是谁送的;所以我才这么喜欢它们。”我盯着看你。“也许是一个被你遗忘的女人送的!”

你脸上露出一副惊愕的神气。我目不转睛地注视着你:“认出我来,认出我来吧!”我的目光叫道。可是你的眼睛微笑着,亲切然而一无所知。你又吻了我一下。可是你没有认出我来。

我快步向门口走去,因为我感觉到,我的眼泪就要夺眶而出,可不能叫你看见我落泪。在前屋我几乎和你的仆人约翰撞个满怀,我出去时走得太急了。他胆怯地赶快跳到一边,一把拉开通向走廊的门,让我出去,就在这一秒钟,你听见了吗?——就在我正面看他、噙着眼泪看这形容苍老的老人的这一刹那,他的眼睛突然一亮。就在这一秒钟,你听见了吗?就在这一瞬间老人认出我来了,可他从我童年时代起就没有看见过我呢。为了他认出我,我恨不得跪倒在他面前,吻他的双手。我只是把你用来鞭笞我的钞票匆忙地从暖手筒里掏出来,塞在他的手里。他哆嗦着,惊慌失措地抬眼看我——他在这一秒钟里对我的了解比你一辈子对我的了解还多。所有的人都娇纵我,宠爱我,大家对我都好——只有你,只有你把我忘得干干净净,只有你,只有你从来也没认出我!

我的孩子昨天死了,我们的孩子——现在我在这世界上再也没有别的人可以爱,只除了你。可是你是我的什么人呢,你从来也没有认出我是谁,你从我身边走过,犹如从一道河边走过,你碰到我的身上犹如碰在一块石头,你总是走啊,走啊,不断向前走啊,可是叫我永远等着。曾经有一度我以为把你抓住了,在孩子身上抓住了你,你这飘忽不定的人儿。可是有其父必有其子:一夜之间他就残忍地撇开我走了,一去永不复回。我又是孤零零的一个人,比过去任何时候都更加孤苦伶仃,我一无所有,你身上的东西我一无所有——再也没有孩子了,没有一句话,没有一行字,没有一丝回忆,要是有人在你面前提到我的名字,你也会象陌生人似的充耳不闻。既然我对你来说虽生犹死,我又何必不乐于死去,既然你已离我而去,我又何必不远远走开?不,亲爱的,我不是埋怨你,我不想把我的悲苦抛进你欢乐的生活。不要担心我会继续逼着你——请原谅我,此时此刻,我的孩子死了,躺在那里,没人理睬,总得让我一吐我心里的积蕴。就这一次我得和你说说,然后我再默默地回到我的黑暗中去,就象这些年来我一直默默地呆在你的身边一样。可是只要我活着,你永远也听不到我这呼喊——只要等我死去,你才会收到我的这份遗嘱,收到一个女人的遗嘱,她爱你胜过所有的人,而你从来也没认出她来,她始终在等着你,而你从来也不去叫她。也许说不定你在这以后会来叫我,而我将第一次对你不忠,我已经死了,再也不会听见你的呼唤:我没有给你留下一张照片,没有给你留下一个印记,就象你也什么都没给我留下一样;今后你将永远也认不出我,永远也认不出我。我活着命运如此,我死后命运也将依然如此。我不想叫你在我最后的时刻来看我,我走了,你并不知道我的姓名,也不知道我的相貌。我死得很轻松,因为你在远处并不感到我死。要是我的死会使你痛苦,那我就咽不下最后一口气。

我再也写不下去了……我的头晕得厉害……我的四肢疼痛,我在发烧,……我想我得马上躺下去。也许命运对我开一次恩,我用不着亲眼看着他们如何把孩子抬走。……我实在写不下去了,别了,亲爱的,别了,我感谢你……过去那样,就很好,不管怎么着,很好……我要为此感谢你,直到生命的最后一息。我心里很舒服:要说的我都跟你说了,你现在知道了,不,你只是上浮觉得,我是多么地爱你,而你从这爱情不会受到任何牵累。我不会使你若有所失——这使我很安慰。你的美好光明的生活里不会有一丝一毫的改变……我的死并不给你增添痛苦,……这使我很安慰,你啊,我的亲爱的。

可是谁……谁还会在你的生日老给你送白玫瑰呢?啊,花瓶将要空空地供在那里,一年一度在你四周吹拂的微弱的气息,我的轻微的呼吸,也将就此消散!亲爱的,听我说,我求求你……这是我对你的第一个也是最后一个请求……为了让我高兴高兴,每年你过生日的时候,——过生日的那天,每个人总想到他自己——去买些玫瑰花,插在花瓶里。照我说的去做吧,亲爱的,就象别人一年一度为一个亲爱的死者做一台弥撒一样。可我已经不相信天主,不要人家给我做弥撒,我只相信你,我只爱你,只愿在你身上还继续活下去……唉,一年就只活那么一天,只是默默地,完全是不声不响地活那么一天,就象我从前活在你的身边一样……我求你,照我说的去做,亲爱的……这是我对你的第一个请求,也是最后一个请求……我感谢你……我爱你,我爱你……永别了……

他两手哆嗦,把信放下。然后他长时间地凝神沉思。他模模糊糊地回忆起一个邻家的小姑娘,一个少女,一个夜总会的女人,可是这些回忆,朦胧不清,混乱不堪,就象哗哗流淌的河水底下的一块石头,闪烁不定,变换莫测。阴影不时涌来,又倏忽散去,终于构不成一个图形。他感觉的一些感情上的蛛丝马迹,可是怎么也回想不起来。他仿佛觉得,所有这些形象他都梦见过,常常在深沉的梦里见到过,然而也只是梦见过而已。

他的目光忽然落到他面前书桌上的那只蓝花瓶上。瓶里是空的,这些年来第一次在他生日这一天花瓶是空的,没有插花。他悚然一惊:仿佛觉得有一扇看不见的门突然被打开了,阴冷的穿堂风从另外一个世界吹进了他寂静的房间。他感觉到死亡,感觉到不朽的爱情:百感千愁一时涌上他的心头,他隐约想起了那个看不见的女人,她飘浮不定,然而热烈奔放,犹如远方传来的一阵乐声。

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