馬丁·伊登(MARTIN EDEN)第四十六章
文章來源: 文章作者: 發布時間:2007-08-25 08:34 字體: [ ]  進入論壇
(單詞翻譯:雙擊或拖選)

"Say, Joe," was his greeting to his old-time working-mate next morning, "there's a Frenchman out on Twenty-eighth Street. He's made a pot of money, and he's going back to France. It's a dandy, well-appointed, small steam laundry. There's a start for you if you want to settle down. Here, take this; buy some clothes with it and be at this man's office by ten o'clock. He looked up the laundry for me, and he'll take you out and show you around. If you like it, and think it is worth the price - twelve thousand - let me know and it is yours. Now run along. I'm busy. I'll see you later."

"Now look here, Mart," the other said slowly, with kindling anger, "I come here this mornin' to see you. Savve? I didn't come here to get no laundry. I come a here for a talk for old friends' sake, and you shove a laundry at me. I tell you, what you can do. You can take that laundry an' go to hell."

He was out of the room when Martin caught him and whirled him around.

"Now look here, Joe," he said; "if you act that way, I'll punch your head. An for old friends' sake I'll punch it hard. Savve? - you will, will you?"

Joe had clinched and attempted to throw him, and he was twisting and writhing out of the advantage of the other's hold. They reeled about the room, locked in each other's arms, and came down with a crash across the splintered wreckage of a wicker chair. Joe was underneath, with arms spread out and held and with Martin's knee on his chest. He was panting and gasping for breath when Martin released him.

"Now we'll talk a moment," Martin said. "You can't get fresh with me. I want that laundry business finished first of all. Then you can come back and we'll talk for old sake's sake. I told you I was busy. Look at that."

A servant had just come in with the morning mail, a great mass of letters and magazines.

"How can I wade through that and talk with you? You go and fix up that laundry, and then we'll get together."

"All right," Joe admitted reluctantly. "I thought you was turnin' me down, but I guess I was mistaken. But you can't lick me, Mart, in a stand-up fight. I've got the reach on you."

"We'll put on the gloves sometime and see," Martin said with a smile.

"Sure; as soon as I get that laundry going." Joe extended his arm. "You see that reach? It'll make you go a few."

Martin heaved a sigh of relief when the door closed behind the laundryman. He was becoming anti-social. Daily he found it a severer strain to be decent with people. Their presence perturbed him, and the effort of conversation irritated him. They made him restless, and no sooner was he in contact with them than he was casting about for excuses to get rid of them.

He did not proceed to attack his mail, and for a half hour he lolled in his chair, doing nothing, while no more than vague, half- formed thoughts occasionally filtered through his intelligence, or rather, at wide intervals, themselves constituted the flickering of his intelligence.

He roused himself and began glancing through his mail. There were a dozen requests for autographs - he knew them at sight; there were professional begging letters; and there were letters from cranks, ranging from the man with a working model of perpetual motion, and the man who demonstrated that the surface of the earth was the inside of a hollow sphere, to the man seeking financial aid to purchase the Peninsula of Lower California for the purpose of communist colonization. There were letters from women seeking to know him, and over one such he smiled, for enclosed was her receipt for pew-rent, sent as evidence of her good faith and as proof of her respectability.

Editors and publishers contributed to the daily heap of letters, the former on their knees for his manuscripts, the latter on their knees for his books - his poor disdained manuscripts that had kept all he possessed in pawn for so many dreary months in order to find them in postage. There were unexpected checks for English serial rights and for advance payments on foreign translations. His English agent announced the sale of German translation rights in three of his books, and informed him that Swedish editions, from which he could expect nothing because Sweden was not a party to the Berne Convention, were already on the market. Then there was a nominal request for his permission for a Russian translation, that country being likewise outside the Berne Convention.

He turned to the huge bundle of clippings which had come in from his press bureau, and read about himself and his vogue, which had become a furore. All his creative output had been flung to the public in one magnificent sweep. That seemed to account for it. He had taken the public off its feet, the way Kipling had, that time when he lay near to death and all the mob, animated by a mob- mind thought, began suddenly to read him. Martin remembered how that same world-mob, having read him and acclaimed him and not understood him in the least, had, abruptly, a few months later, flung itself upon him and torn him to pieces. Martin grinned at the thought. Who was he that he should not be similarly treated in a few more months? Well, he would fool the mob. He would be away, in the South Seas, building his grass house, trading for pearls and copra, jumping reefs in frail outriggers, catching sharks and bonitas, hunting wild goats among the cliffs of the valley that lay next to the valley of Taiohae.

In the moment of that thought the desperateness of his situation dawned upon him. He saw, cleared eyed, that he was in the Valley of the Shadow. All the life that was in him was fading, fainting, making toward death.

He realized how much he slept, and how much he desired to sleep. Of old, he had hated sleep. It had robbed him of precious moments of living. Four hours of sleep in the twenty-four had meant being robbed of four hours of life. How he had grudged sleep! Now it was life he grudged. Life was not good; its taste in his mouth was without tang, and bitter. This was his peril. Life that did not yearn toward life was in fair way toward ceasing. Some remote instinct for preservation stirred in him, and he knew he must get away. He glanced about the room, and the thought of packing was burdensome. Perhaps it would be better to leave that to the last. In the meantime he might be getting an outfit.

He put on his hat and went out, stopping in at a gun-store, where he spent the remainder of the morning buying automatic rifles, ammunition, and fishing tackle. Fashions changed in trading, and he knew he would have to wait till he reached Tahiti before ordering his trade-goods. They could come up from Australia, anyway. This solution was a source of pleasure. He had avoided doing something, and the doing of anything just now was unpleasant. He went back to the hotel gladly, with a feeling of satisfaction in that the comfortable Morris chair was waiting for him; and he groaned inwardly, on entering his room, at sight of Joe in the Morris chair.

Joe was delighted with the laundry. Everything was settled, and he would enter into possession next day. Martin lay on the bed, with closed eyes, while the other talked on. Martin's thoughts were far away - so far away that he was rarely aware that he was thinking. It was only by an effort that he occasionally responded. And yet this was Joe, whom he had always liked. But Joe was too keen with life. The boisterous impact of it on Martin's jaded mind was a hurt. It was an aching probe to his tired sensitiveness. When Joe reminded him that sometime in the future they were going to put on the gloves together, he could almost have screamed.

"Remember, Joe, you're to run the laundry according to those old rules you used to lay down at Shelly Hot Springs," he said. "No overworking. No working at night. And no children at the mangles. No children anywhere. And a fair wage."

Joe nodded and pulled out a note-book.

"Look at here. I was workin' out them rules before breakfast this A.M. What d'ye think of them?"

He read them aloud, and Martin approved, worrying at the same time as to when Joe would take himself off.

It was late afternoon when he awoke. Slowly the fact of life came back to him. He glanced about the room. Joe had evidently stolen away after he had dozed off. That was considerate of Joe, he thought. Then he closed his eyes and slept again.

In the days that followed Joe was too busy organizing and taking hold of the laundry to bother him much; and it was not until the day before sailing that the newspapers made the announcement that he had taken passage on the Mariposa. Once, when the instinct of preservation fluttered, he went to a doctor and underwent a searching physical examination. Nothing could be found the matter with him. His heart and lungs were pronounced magnificent. Every organ, so far as the doctor could know, was normal and was working normally.

"There is nothing the matter with you, Mr. Eden," he said, "positively nothing the matter with you. You are in the pink of condition. Candidly, I envy you your health. It is superb. Look at that chest. There, and in your stomach, lies the secret of your remarkable constitution. Physically, you are a man in a thousand - in ten thousand. Barring accidents, you should live to be a hundred."

And Martin knew that Lizzie's diagnosis had been correct. Physically he was all right. It was his "think-machine" that had gone wrong, and there was no cure for that except to get away to the South Seas. The trouble was that now, on the verge of departure, he had no desire to go. The South Seas charmed him no more than did bourgeois civilization. There was no zest in the thought of departure, while the act of departure appalled him as a weariness of the flesh. He would have felt better if he were already on board and gone.

The last day was a sore trial. Having read of his sailing in the morning papers, Bernard Higginbotham, Gertrude, and all the family came to say good-by, as did Hermann von Schmidt and Marian. Then there was business to be transacted, bills to be paid, and everlasting reporters to be endured. He said good-by to Lizzie Connolly, abruptly, at the entrance to night school, and hurried away. At the hotel he found Joe, too busy all day with the laundry to have come to him earlier. It was the last straw, but Martin gripped the arms of his chair and talked and listened for half an hour.

"You know, Joe," he said, "that you are not tied down to that laundry. There are no strings on it. You can sell it any time and blow the money. Any time you get sick of it and want to hit the road, just pull out. Do what will make you the happiest."

Joe shook his head.

"No more road in mine, thank you kindly. Hoboin's all right, exceptin' for one thing - the girls. I can't help it, but I'm a ladies' man. I can't get along without 'em, and you've got to get along without 'em when you're hoboin'. The times I've passed by houses where dances an' parties was goin' on, an' heard the women laugh, an' saw their white dresses and smiling faces through the windows - Gee! I tell you them moments was plain hell. I like dancin' an' picnics, an' walking in the moonlight, an' all the rest too well. Me for the laundry, and a good front, with big iron dollars clinkin' in my jeans. I seen a girl already, just yesterday, and, d'ye know, I'm feelin' already I'd just as soon marry her as not. I've ben whistlin' all day at the thought of it. She's a beaut, with the kindest eyes and softest voice you ever heard. Me for her, you can stack on that. Say, why don't you get married with all this money to burn? You could get the finest girl in the land."

Martin shook his head with a smile, but in his secret heart he was wondering why any man wanted to marry. It seemed an amazing and incomprehensible thing.

From the deck of the Mariposa, at the sailing hour, he saw Lizzie Connolly hiding in the skirts of the crowd on the wharf. Take her with you, came the thought. It is easy to be kind. She will be supremely happy. It was almost a temptation one moment, and the succeeding moment it became a terror. He was in a panic at the thought of it. His tired soul cried out in protest. He turned away from the rail with a groan, muttering, "Man, you are too sick, you are too sick."

He fled to his stateroom, where he lurked until the steamer was clear of the dock. In the dining saloon, at luncheon, he found himself in the place of honor, at the captain's right; and he was not long in discovering that he was the great man on board. But no more unsatisfactory great man ever sailed on a ship. He spent the afternoon in a deck-chair, with closed eyes, dozing brokenly most of the time, and in the evening went early to bed.

After the second day, recovered from seasickness, the full passenger list was in evidence, and the more he saw of the passengers the more he disliked them. Yet he knew that he did them injustice. They were good and kindly people, he forced himself to acknowledge, and in the moment of acknowledgment he qualified - good and kindly like all the bourgeoisie, with all the psychological cramp and intellectual futility of their kind, they bored him when they talked with him, their little superficial minds were so filled with emptiness; while the boisterous high spirits and the excessive energy of the younger people shocked him. They were never quiet, ceaselessly playing deck-quoits, tossing rings, promenading, or rushing to the rail with loud cries to watch the leaping porpoises and the first schools of flying fish.

He slept much. After breakfast he sought his deck-chair with a magazine he never finished. The printed pages tired him. He puzzled that men found so much to write about, and, puzzling, dozed in his chair. When the gong awoke him for luncheon, he was irritated that he must awaken. There was no satisfaction in being awake.

Once, he tried to arouse himself from his lethargy, and went forward into the forecastle with the sailors. But the breed of sailors seemed to have changed since the days he had lived in the forecastle. He could find no kinship with these stolid-faced, ox- minded bestial creatures. He was in despair. Up above nobody had wanted Martin Eden for his own sake, and he could not go back to those of his own class who had wanted him in the past. He did not want them. He could not stand them any more than he could stand the stupid first-cabin passengers and the riotous young people.

Life was to him like strong, white light that hurts the tired eyes of a sick person. During every conscious moment life blazed in a raw glare around him and upon him. It hurt. It hurt intolerably. It was the first time in his life that Martin had travelled first class. On ships at sea he had always been in the forecastle, the steerage, or in the black depths of the coal-hold, passing coal. In those days, climbing up the iron ladders out the pit of stifling heat, he had often caught glimpses of the passengers, in cool white, doing nothing but enjoy themselves, under awnings spread to keep the sun and wind away from them, with subservient stewards taking care of their every want and whim, and it had seemed to him that the realm in which they moved and had their being was nothing else than paradise. Well, here he was, the great man on board, in the midmost centre of it, sitting at the captain's right hand, and yet vainly harking back to forecastle and stoke-hole in quest of the Paradise he had lost. He had found no new one, and now he could not find the old one.

He strove to stir himself and find something to interest him. He ventured the petty officers' mess, and was glad to get away. He talked with a quartermaster off duty, an intelligent man who promptly prodded him with the socialist propaganda and forced into his hands a bunch of leaflets and pamphlets. He listened to the man expounding the slave-morality, and as he listened, he thought languidly of his own Nietzsche philosophy. But what was it worth, after all? He remembered one of Nietzsche's mad utterances wherein that madman had doubted truth. And who was to say? Perhaps Nietzsche had been right. Perhaps there was no truth in anything, no truth in truth - no such thing as truth. But his mind wearied quickly, and he was content to go back to his chair and doze.

Miserable as he was on the steamer, a new misery came upon him. What when the steamer reached Tahiti? He would have to go ashore. He would have to order his trade-goods, to find a passage on a schooner to the Marquesas, to do a thousand and one things that were awful to contemplate. Whenever he steeled himself deliberately to think, he could see the desperate peril in which he stood. In all truth, he was in the Valley of the Shadow, and his danger lay in that he was not afraid. If he were only afraid, he would make toward life. Being unafraid, he was drifting deeper into the shadow. He found no delight in the old familiar things of life. The Mariposa was now in the northeast trades, and this wine of wind, surging against him, irritated him. He had his chair moved to escape the embrace of this lusty comrade of old days and nights.

The day the Mariposa entered the doldrums, Martin was more miserable than ever. He could no longer sleep. He was soaked with sleep, and perforce he must now stay awake and endure the white glare of life. He moved about restlessly. The air was sticky and humid, and the rain-squalls were unrefreshing. He ached with life. He walked around the deck until that hurt too much, then sat in his chair until he was compelled to walk again. He forced himself at last to finish the magazine, and from the steamer library he culled several volumes of poetry. But they could not hold him, and once more he took to walking.

He stayed late on deck, after dinner, but that did not help him, for when he went below, he could not sleep. This surcease from life had failed him. It was too much. He turned on the electric light and tried to read. One of the volumes was a Swinburne. He lay in bed, glancing through its pages, until suddenly he became aware that he was reading with interest. He finished the stanza, attempted to read on, then came back to it. He rested the book face downward on his breast and fell to thinking. That was it. The very thing. Strange that it had never come to him before. That was the meaning of it all; he had been drifting that way all the time, and now Swinburne showed him that it was the happy way out. He wanted rest, and here was rest awaiting him. He glanced at the open port-hole. Yes, it was large enough. For the first time in weeks he felt happy. At last he had discovered the cure of his ill. He picked up the book and read the stanza slowly aloud:-

"'From too much love of living, From hope and fear set free, We thank with brief thanksgiving Whatever gods may be That no life lives forever; That dead men rise up never; That even the weariest river Winds somewhere safe to sea.'"

He looked again at the open port. Swinburne had furnished the key. Life was ill, or, rather, it had become ill - an unbearable thing. "That dead men rise up never!" That line stirred him with a profound feeling of gratitude. It was the one beneficent thing in the universe. When life became an aching weariness, death was ready to soothe away to everlasting sleep. But what was he waiting for? It was time to go.

He arose and thrust his head out the port-hole, looking down into the milky wash. The Mariposa was deeply loaded, and, hanging by his hands, his feet would be in the water. He could slip in noiselessly. No one would hear. A smother of spray dashed up, wetting his face. It tasted salt on his lips, and the taste was good. He wondered if he ought to write a swan-song, but laughed the thought away. There was no time. He was too impatient to be gone.

Turning off the light in his room so that it might not betray him, he went out the port-hole feet first. His shoulders stuck, and he forced himself back so as to try it with one arm down by his side. A roll of the steamer aided him, and he was through, hanging by his hands. When his feet touched the sea, he let go. He was in a milky froth of water. The side of the Mariposa rushed past him like a dark wall, broken here and there by lighted ports. She was certainly making time. Almost before he knew it, he was astern, swimming gently on the foam-crackling surface.

A bonita struck at his white body, and he laughed aloud. It had taken a piece out, and the sting of it reminded him of why he was there. In the work to do he had forgotten the purpose of it. The lights of the Mariposa were growing dim in the distance, and there he was, swimming confidently, as though it were his intention to make for the nearest land a thousand miles or so away.

It was the automatic instinct to live. He ceased swimming, but the moment he felt the water rising above his mouth the hands struck out sharply with a lifting movement. The will to live, was his thought, and the thought was accompanied by a sneer. Well, he had will, - ay, will strong enough that with one last exertion it could destroy itself and cease to be.

He changed his position to a vertical one. He glanced up at the quiet stars, at the same time emptying his lungs of air. With swift, vigorous propulsion of hands and feet, he lifted his shoulders and half his chest out of water. This was to gain impetus for the descent. Then he let himself go and sank without movement, a white statue, into the sea. He breathed in the water deeply, deliberately, after the manner of a man taking an anaesthetic. When he strangled, quite involuntarily his arms and legs clawed the water and drove him up to the surface and into the clear sight of the stars.

The will to live, he thought disdainfully, vainly endeavoring not to breathe the air into his bursting lungs. Well, he would have to try a new way. He filled his lungs with air, filled them full. This supply would take him far down. He turned over and went down head first, swimming with all his strength and all his will. Deeper and deeper he went. His eyes were open, and he watched the ghostly, phosphorescent trails of the darting bonita. As he swam, he hoped that they would not strike at him, for it might snap the tension of his will. But they did not strike, and he found time to be grateful for this last kindness of life.

Down, down, he swam till his arms and leg grew tired and hardly moved. He knew that he was deep. The pressure on his ear-drums was a pain, and there was a buzzing in his head. His endurance was faltering, but he compelled his arms and legs to drive him deeper until his will snapped and the air drove from his lungs in a great explosive rush. The bubbles rubbed and bounded like tiny balloons against his cheeks and eyes as they took their upward flight. Then came pain and strangulation. This hurt was not death, was the thought that oscillated through his reeling consciousness. Death did not hurt. It was life, the pangs of life, this awful, suffocating feeling; it was the last blow life could deal him.

His wilful hands and feet began to beat and churn about, spasmodically and feebly. But he had fooled them and the will to live that made them beat and churn. He was too deep down. They could never bring him to the surface. He seemed floating languidly in a sea of dreamy vision. Colors and radiances surrounded him and bathed him and pervaded him. What was that? It seemed a lighthouse; but it was inside his brain - a flashing, bright white light. It flashed swifter and swifter. There was a long rumble of sound, and it seemed to him that he was falling down a vast and interminable stairway. And somewhere at the bottom he fell into darkness. That much he knew. He had fallen into darkness. And at the instant he knew, he ceased to know.

“我說,喬,”第二天早上他招呼當年一起干活的伙伴說,“二十八號街有一個法國人賺了一大筆錢,打算回法國。他開了一家小蒸汽洗衣店,花里胡哨,設備齊全,你若是想安定下來,可以拿這家鋪子開張。這錢你拿去先去買幾件衣服,十點鐘到這個人的辦公室去。洗衣店就是他給我找到的。由他帶你去,要你去看一看,你如果中意,覺得價錢合適——一萬二千塊——就回來告訴我,那店就歸你了。現在去吧,我很忙。你呆會兒再來,我們再見面。”

“聽著,馬,”那人慢吞吞地發起火來,緩緩說道,“我今天早上是來看你的,懂嗎?不是來要什么洗衣店的。我是來和老朋友聊天的,可你卻要塞給我一家洗衣店。我來告訴你怎么辦。你還是帶了你那洗衣店到地獄去吧。”

他正要沖出屋子,馬丁一把揪住他的肩頭,揪得他轉過身來。

“聽著,喬,你要是那樣做,我就揍你腦袋,看在你是老朋友面上,揍得更狠。明白么?愿挨揍嗎?愿嗎?”

可喬已經揪住他,打算把他摔倒在地,但馬丁卻控制了他。他扭來扭去,想擺脫馬丁的優勢。兩人彼此抱住,在屋里搖晃了一陣,便摔倒在一把已破的藤椅上。喬壓在下面,雙手被抓住了,直伸著,馬丁的膝蓋頂在他胸口上。他已經氣喘吁吁,馬丁放掉了他。

“現在咱們來談一談,”馬丁說,“你別跟我耍橫,我要你先辦完洗衣店的事再回來,咱倆那時再為了老交情談談老交情。我早告訴過你,我很忙。”

一個仆役剛送來了早班郵件,一大抱信件和雜志。

“我怎么能又跟你談話又看這些東西呢?你先去把洗衣店的事辦了,然后咱倆再見面。”

“好吧,”喬勉強同意了,“我認為你剛才是在回絕我呢,看來我是誤會了??贍閌譴蠆還業?,馬,硬碰硬地打,我的拳頭可比你打得遠。”

“哪天咱們戴上手套再較量吧,”馬丁笑了笑,說。

“肯定,我把洗衣店辦起來再說,”喬伸直了手臂,“你看見我能打多遠嗎?能打得你倒退幾步呢。”

大門在洗衣工背后關上之后,馬丁嘆了一聲,松了口氣。他已經變得落落寡合了,他一天天發現自己更難跟人和諧相處。別人的存在令他心煩,硬要跟人說話也叫他生氣、煩躁。一跟別人來往他就要設法找借口擺脫。

他并不立即開始拆看郵件,只坐在椅子上打噸,什么都沒干地過了半小時。只有一些零碎的模糊念頭偶然滲透到他的思想里,更確切地說,他的思想只極偶然地閃出一兩星火花。

他振作精神看起郵件來。其中有十二封是要他簽名的——這類信他一眼就能看出來;還有職業性的求助信,還有一些怪人的信。一個人寄來了可用的永動機模型;一個人證明世界的表面是一個圓球的內壁;一個人打算買下下加利福尼亞半島組織共產主義僑居地,來請求財政援助。什么人都有?;褂行┦歉九?,想認識他,其中有一封使他笑了,因為附有一張教堂座位的租金收據,證明她虔誠的信念和正派的作風。

編輯和出版家的信件是每日郵件的主要部分。編輯們跪地乞求他的稿件,出版家們跪地乞求他的書——乞求他那些被人輕賤的可憐的手稿,當初為了籌集它們的郵資,他曾把一切值錢的東西都送進當鋪,過了許多凄慘的日子?;褂行┦且饌獾鬧?,是英國連載的稿費,外國譯本預付的稿費。他的英國代理人通知他,有三本書的德文翻譯權已經賣出;又通知他他的作品已有瑞典譯本問市,只是得不到稿酬,因為瑞典沒有參加伯爾尼版權公約?;褂幸環菝逕仙昵肱級砦囊氡鏡男?,那個國家也同樣沒有參加伯爾尼公約。

他又轉向一大捆由各編輯部寄來的剪報。他讀到有關自己和圍繞自己所形成的風尚的消息。那風尚已成了狂熱。他全部的作品已經五彩繽紛地席卷了讀者,狂熱似乎便由此形成。讀者已被他頜倒了。他嚴然成了當年的吉卜林。那時吉卜林臥病在床,奄奄一息,他的作品卻由于群氓心態的作用,在群氓中突然風行起來。馬丁想起世界上那同樣的群氓曾如何大讀吉卜林的作品,向他歡呼,卻絲毫不理解他,然后又在幾個月之內突然何他撲去,把他撕扯成了碎片。想起了這事馬丁不禁苦笑。他算老幾?他能保證在幾個月之后不受到同樣的待遇么?好了,他得騙騙群氓諸公。他要到南海去,去修建他的草墻房屋,去做珍珠和椰子干生意,會駕駛帶平衡翼的獨木船在礁石間出沒,捕捉鯊魚和鯉魚;到泰歐黑山谷附近的峭壁上去打野蘋。

想起吉卜林他明白了自己目前處境的發發可危。他清楚地看到自己此刻正在死蔭的幽谷之中。他身上的全部活力正在消退、衰敗、趨于死亡。他意識到了自己睡眠太多,卻還非常想睡。以前他恨睡眠,恨它剝奪了他生活的寶貴時間。他在二十四小時里只睡四小時還嫌四小時生活時間被剝奪。他曾經多么不愿意睡覺!可現在他所不愿意的卻是活著?;鈄挪⒉幻爛?;在他嘴里生活已沒有了甜蜜,只有苦味。他的?;謖飫?。沒有生活欲望的生活距離長眠已經不遠。某種遼遠的求生的本能還在他心里搏動,他明白他必須走掉。他望了望屋子,一想起收拾行李他就心煩。也許還是留到最后再收拾為好。現在他可以去采購旅行用品。

他戴上帽子走了出去,在一家槍械店停了下來,上午剩下的時間就用在那里買自動步槍、彈藥和漁具了。做買賣的方式變了,他知道只能在到達塔希提島以后再訂購需要的東西。那些東西至少是可以從澳大利亞買到的。這種解決辦法也使他快樂,因為可以讓他避免做事,目前叫他做任何事他都心煩。他高高興興回到旅館,想到那舒適的莫里斯安樂椅在那兒等著他,便心滿意足??梢喚潘純醇親諛鎪拱怖忠紊系茸潘?,心里不禁呻吟起來。

洗衣店叫喬高興。一切都解決了,明天他就接手。馬丁閉著眼躺在床上心不在焉地聽他講著,他太心不在焉,幾乎覺得自己沒有什么思想,連偶然回答一兩句也覺得吃力。這人是他一向喜歡的喬,而喬正熱中著生活。他那絮絮叨叨的談話傷害著馬丁疲憊的心靈,是一根對他的感覺的探針,戳痛了他那倦怠的神經。當喬提醒他他們倆某一天可以戴上手套一起干活時,他幾乎尖叫起來。

“記住,喬,要按你當年在雪莉溫泉訂下的規矩辦洗衣店的是你。”他說,“勞動不過度,夜間不干活,碾壓機禁用童工,一律禁用童工,工資合理。”

喬點點頭,拿出了筆記本。

“你看這兒,今天早飯前我就在訂規章制度。你對它們怎么看?”

他大聲朗讀著,馬丁表示同意,同時估計著喬什么時候才會走。

他醒來時已是后半下午。生活的現實慢慢回到他心里。他四面望望,喬顯然是在他迷糊過去時悄悄溜走的。他倒很體貼,他思想,又閉上眼睡著了。

以后的幾天喬都忙于組織和管理洗衣店,沒有來給他添麻煩。他出航的前一天報紙公布了他訂了馬里泊薩號艙位的消息。在他求生的欲望顫動的時候他曾去找過醫生,仔細檢查了身體。他全身沒有絲毫毛病。心臟和肺部都異常健康。凡醫生能檢查到的器官都完全正常,功能也完全正常。

“你一切都正常,伊登先生,”他說,“絕對沒有問題。身體棒極了。坦率地說,我很羨慕你的健康,那是第一流的??純茨隳切靨?,這兒,還有你的胃,這就是你那驚人的體魄的奧秘所在。就身體而言,你是千里挑一,萬里挑一的。要是不出意外你準可以活到一百歲。”

馬丁知道麗齊的診斷并沒有錯。他的身體是好的。出了問題的是他的“思想機器”。要不一走了之,到南海去,就無法治好。問題是現在,馬上就要出發了,他卻沒有了到南海去的欲望。南海并不比資產階級文明更能吸引他。出發的念頭并不使他興奮,而出發的準備所給他的肉體疲勞又使他厭惡。上船出發之后他就會好得多了。

最后一天是一場痛苦的考驗。伯納德·希金波坦、格特露一家人在晨報上讀到他要出發的消息,忙來和他告別。赫爾曼·馮·史密特和茉莉安也來了。于是又有了事要辦,有了帳要付,有了數不清的記者采訪要忍受。他在夜校門口突然跟麗齊·康諾利告了別,便匆匆走掉了。他在旅館發現了喬,喬成天忙于洗衣店事務,設工夭早來。那是壓斷了駱駝背脊的最后一根稻草,但馬丁仍然抓住椅子扶手,和他交談了半個小時。

“你知道,喬,”他說,“那洗衣店并不能約束訪,你任何時候都可以把它賣掉,然后把錢花掉。洗衣店不是繩子,任何時候你厭倦了都可以一走了之,上路去流浪。什么東西最叫你快活你就干什么。”

喬搖搖頭。

“我再也不打算到路上去混了,謝謝你。流浪雖然不錯,卻有個不好的地方:沒有女人,那叫我受不了。我是個喜歡女人的男人,沒有女人就不好過??梢骼司橢緩霉揮信說娜兆?。我曾經多少次從開晚會、開舞會的屋子門前經過,聽見女人笑,從窗子里看見她們的白衣和笑臉——嘖嘖!告訴你,那時候我簡直就在地獄里。我太喜歡跳舞、野餐、在月光里散步這類事了。我喜歡洗衣店,喜歡漂亮,喜歡褲子口袋里裝著大洋。我已經看見一個姑娘,就在昨天,你知道不?我簡直覺得要么就不付老婆,要么就立刻娶了她。想起這事我就吹日哨,吹了一天了。是個漂亮妞,眼睛最溫柔,聲音最美妙,你簡直就沒有見過。你可以打賭,我跟她是最般配不過的。嗨,你的錢多得都燒包了,干嗎不討個老婆?全國最好的姑娘你都可以討到呢。”

馬丁搖搖頭,笑了笑,卻在心靈深處懷疑:人為什么就非結婚不可?那似乎是一件驚人也難以理解的事。

出航前他站在馬里泊薩號的甲板上看見麗齊·康諾利躲在碼頭上人群的邊緣。一個念頭閃過:把她帶走吧!發善心是容易的,麗齊準會高興得發狂。這念頭一時成了一個誘惑,可隨之卻使他恐怖了,慌亂了。他那厭倦的靈魂大喊大叫著提出了抗議。他呻吟了一聲,轉身離開了甲板,喃喃地說道:“你呀,你已經病入膏盲,病人膏盲。”

他逃回了他的豪華艙位,躲在那兒,直到輪船駛出了碼頭。午飯時他發現自己上了榮譽席,坐到了船長右邊。不久,他又發現自己成了船上的大人物。但是坐船的大人物沒有比他更令人失望的了。他在一張躺椅上整整躺了一個下午,閉著眼睛,大部分時間都在斷斷續續地打瞌睡,晚上上床也很早。

過了第二天,暈船的都恢復過來,全船旅客都—一露了面。他越和旅客們來往就越不喜歡他們??傷裁靼漬舛運鞘遣還降?。他強迫自己承認他們都是些善良和藹的人??捎氪送彼旨由狹爍魷拗樸?mdash;—善良和藹得像所有的資產階級一樣,帶著資產階級的一切心理上的障礙和智力上的無能。他討厭和他們談話。充滿他們那狹小錢陋的心靈的是巨大的空虛;而年輕人喧嘩的歡樂和太旺盛的精力又叫他吃驚。他們從來不會安靜,只是沒完沒了地玩甲板繩圈,擲環,或是喊叫著撲到欄桿邊,去看跳躍的海豚和最早出現的飛魚群。

他睡得很多,一吃完早飯就拿一本雜志去找他的躺椅。那本雜志他永遠看不完,印刷品已經令他生厭。他不明白那些人哪兒來的那么多東西可寫,想著想著又在躺椅上打起吃來。午餐鑼驚醒了他,他感到生氣:為什么非驚醒他不可。清醒時沒有什么東西能叫他滿足。

有一回他努力想把自己從昏沉里喚醒過來,便到水手艙去和水手們見面。但是自從他離開水手艙以后水手們也似乎變了樣。他好像跟這些臉膛結實、胸懷笨拙、野獸般的水手親近不起來。在甲板上沒有人因為他自己而需要馬丁·伊登,而在這兒他又無法回到自己的階級伙伴中去,他們過去可是需要他的,現在他卻已不需要他們了。容忍這些人并不比容忍一等艙那些愚蠢的旅客和鬧翻了天的年輕人容易。

生活于他好像是一道白熾的強光,能傷害病人疲勞的眼睛。在他能意識到時,生活總每時每刻用它熾烈的光照著他周圍和他自己,叫他難受,吃不消。馬丁是第一次坐頭等艙旅行。他以前出海時,總呆在水手艙里,下等艙里,或是在黑沉沉的煤倉里送煤。在那些日子從悶得喘不過氣的底層攀著鐵梯爬上來時,他常常瞥見一些旅客穿著涼爽的白衣,除了尋歡作樂什么事也不做。他們躲在能遮蔽太陽和風的涼棚下,有著殷勤的侍仆關心他們的一切需要和怪想。那時他覺得他們所活動和生活的場所簡直就是地道的天堂。好了,現在他也到了這兒,成了船上的大人物,在它核心的核心里生活,坐在船長的右手,可他回到水手艙和鍋爐間去尋找他失去的天堂時,卻一無所獲。新的天堂他沒有找到,舊的天堂也落了空。

他努力讓自己活動活動,想找點能引起他興趣的東西。他試了試跟下級職員會餐,卻終于覺得要走掉之后才能快活。他跟一個下了班的舵手閑聊,那是個聰明人,立即向他做起社會主義宣傳,把一摞傳單和小冊子塞進他的手里。他聽那人向他解釋起奴隸道德,便懶懶地想起了自己的尼采哲學??曬楦降?,這一切又能有什么用?他想起了尼采的一段話,表現了那瘋子對真理的懷疑??傷幟芩檔們宄??也許尼采竟是對的;也許事物之中原本沒有真理,就連真理中也沒有真理——也許真理壓根就并不存在??傷男牧楹蕓煬推>肓?。他又回到他的躺椅,心滿意足地打起盹來。

船上的日子已經夠痛苦了,可還有一種新的痛苦出現。船到了塔希提島又怎么辦?他還得上岸,還得訂購做生意的貨品,還得找船去馬奎撒司,去干一千零一件想起來就叫他頭痛的事。他一勉強自己去思考,就體會到了自己處境的嚴重危險。他實實在在是在死前之谷里。而他的危險之處卻在他的并不害怕。若是害怕,他就會掙扎著求生??傷⒉緩ε?,于是便越來越深地在那陰影走去。他在往日熟悉的事物中找不到歡樂,馬里泊薩號已經行駛在東北貿易風帶,就連那美酒一樣的熏風吹打著他時,他也只覺得煩亂。他把躺椅搬走了,逃避著這個過去與他日夜相伴的精力旺盛的老朋友的擁抱。

馬里泊薩號進入赤道無風帶那天,馬丁比任何時候都痛苦了。他再也睡不著覺。他已經被睡眠浸透了,說不定只好清清醒醒忍受生命的白熾光的照射。他心神不定地散著步,空氣形糊糊的,濕漉漉的,就連小風暴也沒有讓他清醒。生命只使他痛苦。他在甲板上走來走去,走得生疼,然后又坐到椅子上,坐到不得不起來散步。最后他強迫自己去讀完了那本雜志,又從船上圖書館里找到幾本詩集??傷且廊灰黃鶿男巳?,他又只好散步。

晚飯后他在甲板上停留了很久,可那對他也沒有幫助,下樓去仍然睡不著。這種生命的停頓叫他受不了,太難過了。他扭亮電燈,試著讀書。有一本是史文朋。他躺在床上一頁頁翻著,忽然發現讀起了興趣。他讀完了那一小節,打算讀下去,回頭再讀了讀。他把書反扣在胸膛上,陷入了沉思。說得對,正是這樣。奇怪,他以前怎么沒有想到?那正是他的意思。他一直就像那樣飄忽不定,現在史文朋卻把出路告訴了他。他需要的是休息,而休息卻在這兒等著他。他瞥了一眼舷窗口。不錯,那洞夠大的。多少個禮拜以來他第一次感到了高興。他終于找到了治病的辦法。他拿起書緩緩地朗誦起來:——“‘解除了希望,解除了恐俱,擺脫了對生命過分的愛,我們要對無論什么神抵簡短地表示我們的愛戴,因為他沒有給生命永恒;因為死者絕對不會復生;因為就連河流疲憊地奔騰蜿蜒到了某處,也安全入海。’”

他再看了看打開的舷窗。史文朋已經提供了鑰匙。生命邪惡,或者說變邪惡了,成了無法忍受的東西。“死者絕對不會復生!”詩句打動了他,令他深為感激。死亡是宇宙之間唯一慈祥的東西。在生命令人痛苦和厭倦時,死亡隨時能以永恒的睡眠來解除痛苦。那他還等待什么?已經是走掉的時候了。

他站了起來,把頭伸出了舷窗口,俯看著奶汁樣的翻滾的波浪。馬里泊薩號負載沉重,他只需兩手攀著舷窗雙腳便可以點到水。他可以無聲無息地落進海里,不叫人聽見。一陣水花撲來,濺濕了他的臉。水是咸的,味道不錯。他考慮著是否應該寫一首絕命詩,可他笑了笑,把那念頭放棄了。沒有時間了,他太急于走掉。

他關掉了屋里的燈,以免引人注意。他先把雙腳伸出舷窗口,肩頭卻卡住了。他擠了回來,把一只手貼著身子,再往外擠。輪船略微一轉,給了他助力,他擠出了身子,用雙手吊著。雙腳一沾水,他便放了手,落入了泡沫翻滾的奶汁樣的海水里。馬里伯薩號的船體從他身邊疾馳而去,像一堵漆黑的高墻,只有燈光偶爾從舷窗射出。那船顯然是在搶時間行駛。他幾乎還沒明白過來已經落到了船尾,在水泡迸裂的水面上緩緩地游著。

一條紅魚啄了一下他白色的身子,他不禁哈哈一笑。一片肉被咬掉了,那刺痛讓他想起了自己下水的原因。他一味忙著行動,竟連目的都忘了。馬里泊薩號的燈光在遠處漸漸模糊,他卻留在了這里。他自信地游著,仿佛是打算往最近也在千里以外的陸地游去。

那是求生的自動本能。他停止了游泳,但一感到水淹沒了嘴,他便猛然揮出了手,讓身子露出了水面。他明白這是求生的意志,同時冷笑起來。哼,意志力他還是有的——他的意志力還夠堅強,只需再作一番最后的努力就可以連意志力也摧毀,不再存在了。

他改變姿勢;垂直了身子,抬頭看了看寧靜的星星,呼出了肺里的空氣。他激烈地迅速地劃動手腳,把肩頭和半個胸膛露出了水面,這是為了聚集下沉的沖力。然后他便靜止下來,一動不動,像座白色的雕像一樣往海底沉下去。他在水里故意像吸麻醉劑一樣深深地呼吸著??傻剿鋝還?,他的手腳卻不自覺地大劃起水來,把自己劃到了水面上,清清楚楚看見了星星。

求生的本能,他輕蔑地想道。他打算拒絕把空氣吸進他快要爆炸的胸膛,卻失敗了。不行,他得試一個新的辦法。他把氣吸進了胸膛,吸得滿滿的,這口氣可以讓他深深地潛入水里。然后身子一栽,腦袋朝下往下鉆去。他竭盡全部的體力和意志力往下鉆,越鉆越深了。他睜開的眼睛望著幽靈一樣的鰹魚曳著條條熒光在他身邊倏忽往來。他劃著水,希望鰹魚不來咬他,怕因此破壞了他的意志力。鰹魚群倒真沒有來咬。他竟然找出時間對生命的這最后的仁慈表示感謝。

他狠命往下劃,往下劃,劃得手腳疲軟,幾乎劃不動了。他明白自己已經到了極深的地方。耳膜上的壓力使他疼痛,頭也嗡嗡地響了起來。他快要忍耐不住了,卻仍然強迫雙手和雙腿往深處劃,直到他的意志力斷裂,空氣從肺里猛烈地爆裂出來。水泡像小小的氣球一樣升起,跳躍著,擦著他的面額和眼睛。然后是痛苦和窒息。這種痛苦還不是死亡,這想法從他逐漸衰微的意識里搖曳了出來。死亡是沒有痛苦的。這是生命,這種可怕的窒息是生命的痛楚,是生命所能給他的最后打擊。

他頑強的手和腳開始痙攣地微弱地掙扎和劃動。但是他的手腳和使手腳掙扎和劃動的求生的欲望卻已經上了他的當。他鉆得太深,手腳再也無法把他送出水面了。他像在朦朧的幻覺的海洋里懶懶地漂浮著。斑斕的色彩和光芒包圍了他,沐浴著他,浸透了他。那是什么?似乎是一座燈塔;可那燈塔在他腦子里——一片閃爍的熾烈的白光。白光的閃動越來越快,一陣滾滾的巨聲殷殷響起,他覺得自己好像正在一座巨大的無底的樓梯里往下落,在快到樓梯底時墜入了黑暗。他的意識從此結束,他已落進了黑暗里。在他意識到這一點時他已什么都不知道了。


TAG標簽:
發表評論
請自覺遵守互聯網相關的政策法規,嚴禁發布色情、暴力、反動的言論。
評價:
表情:
驗證碼:點擊我更換圖片