茶花女 作者:小仲马
La Dame aux camélias (Camille)


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    Chapter 1
    Chapter 1
    
    IT is my considered view that no one can invent fictional characters without first having made a lengthy study of people, just as it is impossible for anyone to speak a language that has not been properly mastered.
    Since I am not yet of an age to invent, I must make do with telling a tale.
    I therefore invite the reader to believe that this story is true. All the characters who appear in it, with the exception of the heroine, are still living.
    I would further add that there are reliable witnesses in Paris for most of the particulars which I bring together here, and they could vouch for their accuracy should my word not be enough. By a singular turn of events, I alone was able to write them down since I alone was privy to the very last details without which it would have been quite impossible to piece together a full and satisfying account.
    It was in this way that these particulars came to my knowledge.
    On the 12th day of March 1847, in the rue Laffitte, I happened upon a large yellow notice announcing a sale of furniture and valuable curios. An estate was to be disposed of, the owner having died. The notice did not name the dead person, but the sale was to be held at 9 rue d'Antin on the 16th, between noon and five o'clock.
    The notice also stated that the apartments and contents could be viewed on the 13th and 14th.
    I have always been interested in curios. I promised myself I would not miss this opportunity, if not of actually buying, then at least of looking.
    The following day, I directed my steps towards 9 rue d'Antin.
    It was early, and yet a good crowd of visitors had already gathered in the apartment? men for the most part, but also a number of ladies who, though dressed in velvet and wearing Indian shawls, and all with their own elegant broughams standing at the door, were examining the riches set out before them with astonished, even admiring eyes.
    After a while, I quite saw the reason for their admiration and astonishment, for having begun myself to look around I had no difficulty in recognizing that I was in the apartment of a kept woman. Now if there is one thing that ladies of fashion desire to see above all else ?and there were society ladies present ? it is the rooms occupied by those women who have carriages which spatter their own with mud every day of the week, who have their boxes at the Opera or the Theatre-Italien just as they do, and indeed next to theirs, and who display for all Paris to see the insolent opulence of their beauty, diamonds and shameless conduct.
    The woman in whose apartments I now found myself was dead: the most virtuous of ladies were thus able to go everywhere, even into the bedroom. Death had purified the air of this glittering den of iniquity, and in any case they could always say, if they needed the excuse, that they had done no more than come to a sale without knowing whose rooms these were. I had read the notices, they had wanted to view what the notices advertised and mark out their selections in advance. It could not have been simpler ?though this did not prevent them from looking through these splendid things for traces of the secret life of a courtesan of which they had doubtless been given very strange accounts.
    Unfortunately, the mysteries had died with the goddess, and in spite of their best endeavours these good ladies found only what had been put up for sale since the time of death, and could detect nothing of what had been sold while the occupant had been alive.
    But there was certainly rich booty to be had. The furniture was superb. Rosewood and Buhl-work pieces, Severs vases and blue china porcelain, Dresden figurines, satins, velvet and lace, everything in fact.
    I wandered from room to room in the wake of these inquisitive aristocratic ladies who had arrived before me. They went into a bedroom hung with Persian fabrics and I was about to go in after them, when they came out again almost immediately, smiling and as it were put to shame by this latest revelation. The effect was to make me even keener to see inside. It was the dressing-room, complete down to the very last details, in which the dead woman's profligacy had seemingly reached its height.
    On a large table standing against one wall ?it measured a good six feet by three ?shone the finest treasures of Aucoc and Odiot. It was a magnificent collection, and among the countless objects each so essential to the appearance of the kind of woman in whose home we had gathered, there was not one that was not made of gold or silver. But it was a collection that could only have been assembled piece by piece, and clearly more than one love had gone into its making.
    I, who was not the least put out by the sight of the dressing-room of a kept woman, spent some time agreeably inspecting its contents, neglecting none of them, and I noticed that all these magnificently wrought implements bore different initials and all manner of coronets.
    As I contemplated all these things, each to my mind standing for a separate prostitution of the poor girl, I reflected that God had been merciful to her since He had not suffered her to live long enough to undergo the usual punishment but had allowed her to die at the height of her wealth and beauty, long before the coming of old age, that first death of courtesans.
    Indeed, what sadder sight is there than vice in old age, especially in a woman? It has no dignity and is singularly unattractive. Those everlasting regrets, not for wrong turnings taken but for wrong calculations made and money foolishly spent, are among the most harrowing things that can be heard. I once knew a former woman of easy virtue of whose past life there remained only a daughter who was almost as beautiful as the mother had once been, or so her contemporaries said. This poor child, to whom her mother never said 'You are my daughter' except to order her to keep her now that she was old just as she had been kept when she was young, this wretched creature was called Louise and, in obedience to her mother, she sold herself without inclination or passion or pleasure, rather as she might have followed an honest trade had it ever entered anyone's head to teach her one.
    The continual spectacle of debauchery, at so tender an age, compounded by her continuing ill- health, had extinguished in the girl the knowledge of good and evil which God had perhaps given her but which no one had ever thought to nurture.
    I shall always remember that young girl who walked along the boulevards almost every day at the same hour. Her mother was always with her, escorting her as assiduously as a true mother might have accompanied her daughter. I was very young in those days and ready enough to fall in with the easy morality of the times. Yet I recall that the sight of such scandalous chaperoning filled me with contempt and disgust.
    Add to all this that no virgin's face ever conveyed such a feeling of innocence nor any comparable expression of sadness and suffering.
    You would have said it was the image of Resignation itself.
    And then one day, the young girl's face lit up. In the midst of the debauches which her mother organized for her, it suddenly seemed to this sinful creature that God had granted her one happiness. And after all why should God, who had made her weak and helpless, abandon her without consolation to struggle on beneath the oppressive burden of her life? One day, then, she perceived that she was with child, and that part of her which remained pure trembled with joy. The soul finds refuge in the strangest sanctuaries. Louise ran to her mother to tell her the news that had filled her with such happiness. It is a shameful thing to have to say ?but we do not write gratuitously of immorality here, we relate a true incident and one perhaps which we would be better advised to leave untold if we did not believe that it is essential from time to time to make public the martyrdom of these creatures who are ordinarily condemned without a hearing and despised without trial ? it is, we say, a matter for shame, but the mother answered her daughter saying that as things stood they scarcely had enough for two, and that they would certainly not have enough for three; that such children serve no useful purpose; and that a pregnancy is so much time wasted.
    The very next day, a midwife (of whom we shall say no more than that she was a friend of the mother)called to see Louise, who remained for a few days in her bed from which she rose paler and weaker than before.
    Three months later, some man took pity on her and undertook her moral and physical salvation. But this latest blow had been too great and Louise died of the after effects of the miscarriage she had suffered.
    The mother still lives. How? God alone knows.
    This story had come back to me as I stood examining the sets of silver toilet accessories, and I must have been lost in thought for quite some time. For by now the apartment was empty save for myself and a porter who, from the doorway, was eyeing me carefully lest I should try to steal anything.
    I went up to this good man in whom I inspired such grave anxieties.
    'Excuse me, ' I said, 'I wonder if you could tell me the name of the person who lived here?'
    'Mademoiselle Marguerite Gautier.'
    I knew this young woman by name and by sight.
    'What!' I said to the porter. 'Marguerite Gautier is dead?'
    'Yes, sir.'
    'When did it happen?'
    'Three weeks ago, I think.'
    'But why are people being allowed to view her apartment?'
    'The creditors thought it would be good for trade. People can get the effect of the hangings and the furniture in advance. Encourages people to buy, you understand.'
    'So she had debts, then?'
    'Oh yes, sir! Lots of'em.'
    'But I imagine the sale will cover them?'
    'Over and above.'
    'And who stands to get the balance?'
    'The family.'
    'She had a family?'
    'Seems she did.'
    'Thank you very much.'
    The porter, now reassured as to my intentions, touched his cap and I left.
    'Poor girl, ' I said to myself as I returned home, 'she must have died a sad death, for in her world, people only keep their friends as long as they stay fit and well.' And in spite of myself, I lamented the fate of Marguerite Gautier.
    All this will perhaps seem absurd to many people, but I have a boundless forbearance towards courtesans which I shall not even trouble to enlarge upon here.
    One day, as I was on my way to collect a passport from the prefecture, I saw down one of the adjacent streets, a young woman being taken away by two policemen. Now I have no idea what she had done. All I can say is that she was weeping bitterly and clasping to her a child only a few months old from which she was about to be separated by her arrest. From that day until this, I have been incapable of spurning any woman on sight.
    
    第一章
    
    我认为只有在深入地研究了人以后,才能创造人物,就像要讲一种语言就得先认真学习这种语言一样。
    既然我还没到能够创造的年龄,那就只好满足于平铺直叙了。
    因此,我请读者相信这个故事的真实性,故事中所有的人物,除女主人公以外,至今尚在人世。
    此外,我记录在这里的大部分事实,在巴黎还有其他的见证人;如果光靠我说还不足为凭的话,他们也可以为我出面证实。由于一种特殊的机缘,只有我才能把这个故事写出来,因为唯独我洞悉这件事情的始末,除了我谁也不可能写出一篇完整、动人的故事来。
    下面就来讲讲我是怎样知道这些详情细节的。
    一八四七年三月十二日,我在拉菲特街看到一张黄色的巨幅广告,广告宣称将拍卖家具和大量珍玩。这次拍卖是在物主死后举行的。广告上没有提到死者的姓名,只是说拍卖将于十六日中午十二点到下午五点在昂坦街九号举行。
    广告上还附带通知,大家可以在十三日和十四日两天参观住宅和家具。
    我向来是个珍玩爱好者。我心想,这一回可不能坐失良机,即使不买,也要去看看。
    第二天,我就到昂坦街九号去了。
    时间还早,可是房子里已经有参观的人了,甚至还有女人。虽然这些女宾穿的是天鹅绒服装,披的是开司米披肩,大门口还有华丽的四轮轿式马车在恭候,却都带着惊讶、甚至赞赏的眼神注视着展现在她们眼前的豪华陈设。
    不久,我就懂得了她们赞赏和惊讶的原因了。我也向四周打量了一番,很快就看出了我正置身于一个高级妓女①的房间里。然而上流社会的女人——这里正有一些上流社会的女人——想看看的也就是这种女人的闺房。这种女人的穿着打扮往往使这些贵妇人相形见绌;这种女人在大歌剧院和意大利人歌剧院里,也像她们一样,拥有自己的包厢,并且就和她们并肩而坐;这种女人恬不知耻地在巴黎街头卖弄她们的姿色,炫耀她们的珠宝,播扬她们的“风流韵事”。①原文是指“由情人供养的女人”。
    这个住宅里的妓女已经死了,因此现在连最最贞洁的女人都可以进入她的卧室。死亡已经净化了这个富丽而淫秽的场所的空气。再说,如果有必要,她们可以推托是为了拍卖才来的,根本不知道这是什么样的人家。她们看到了广告,想来见识一下广告上介绍的东西,预先挑选一番,没有比这更平常的事了;而这并不妨碍她们从这一切精致的陈设里面去探索这个妓女的生活痕迹。她们想必早就听到过一些有关妓女的非常离奇的故事。
    不幸的是,那些神秘的事情已经随着这个绝代佳人一起消逝了。不管这些贵妇人心里的期望有多大,她们也只能对着死者身后要拍卖的东西啧啧称羡,却一点也看不出这个女房客在世时所操的神女生涯的痕迹。
    不过,可以买的东西还真不少。房间陈设富丽堂皇,布尔①雕刻的和玫瑰木②的家具、塞弗尔③和中国的花瓶、萨克森④的小塑像、绸缎、天鹅绒和花边绣品;真是目不暇接,应有尽有。
    我跟着那些比我先来的好奇的名媛淑女在住宅里漫步溜达。她们走进了一间张挂着波斯帷幕的房间,我正要跟着进去的当儿,她们却几乎马上笑着退了出来,仿佛对这次新的猎奇感到害臊,我倒反而更想进去看个究竟。原来这是一个梳妆间,里面摆满各种精致的梳妆用品,从这些用品里似乎可以看出死者生前的穷奢极侈。
    靠墙放着一张三尺宽、六尺长的大桌子,奥科克和奥迪奥⑤制造的各种各样的珍宝在桌子上闪闪发光,真是琳琅满目,美不胜收。这上千件小玩意儿对于我们来参观的这家女主人来说,是梳妆打扮的必备之物,而且没有一件不是用黄金或者白银制成的。然而这一大堆物品只能是逐件逐件收罗起来的,而且也不可能是某个情夫一人所能办齐的。①布尔(1642—1732):法国有名的乌木雕刻家,擅长在木制家具上精工镶嵌。②玫瑰木产于巴西,因有玫瑰香味而得名。③塞弗尔:法国城市,有名的瓷器工业中心。④萨克森:德国一地区,瓷器工业中心。⑤奥科克和奥迪奥:十八、十九世纪时巴黎有名的金银器皿制造匠。奥科克擅长帝国风格,他最著名的作品有法国银行的茶炊和罗马王的摇篮。
    我看到了一个妓女的梳妆间倒没有厌恶的心情,不管是什么东西,我都饶有兴趣地细细鉴赏一番。我发现所有这些雕刻精湛的用具上都镌刻着各种不同的人名首字母和五花八门的纹章①标记。①当时的贵族,多将其纹章镌刻于家用器物上,作为标记。
    我瞧着所有这些东西,每一件都使我联想到那个可怜的姑娘的一次肉体买卖。我心想,天主对她尚算仁慈,没有让她遭受通常的那种惩罚,而是让她在晚年之前,带着她那花容月貌,死在穷奢极侈的豪华生活之中。对这些妓女来说,衰老就是她们的第一次死亡。
    的确,还有什么比放荡生活的晚年——尤其是女人的放荡生活的晚年——更悲惨的呢?这种晚年没有一点点尊严,引不起别人的丝毫同情,这种抱恨终生的心情是我们所能听到的最悲惨的事情,因为她们并不是追悔过去的失足,而是悔恨错打了算盘,滥用了金钱。我认识一位曾经风流一时的老妇人,过去生活遗留给她的只有一个女儿。据她同时代的人说,她女儿几乎同她母亲年轻时长得一样美丽。她母亲从来没对这可怜的孩子说过一句“你是我的女儿”,只是要她养老,就像她自己曾经把她从小养到大一样。这个可怜的小姑娘名叫路易丝。她违心地顺从了母亲的旨意,既无情欲又无乐趣地委身于人,就像是有人想要她去学一种职业,她就去从事这种职业一样。
    长时期来耳濡目染的都是荒淫无耻的堕落生活,而且是从早年就开始了的堕落生活,加上这个女孩子长期来孱弱多病,抑制了她脑子里分辨是非的才智,这种才智天主可能也曾赋予她,但是从来没有人想到过要去让它得到施展。
    我永远也忘不了这个年轻的姑娘,她每天几乎总是在同一时刻走过大街。她的母亲每时每刻都陪着她,就像一个真正的母亲陪伴她真正的女儿那般形影不离。那时候我还年轻,很容易沾染上那个时代道德观念淡薄的社会风尚,但是我还记得,一看到这种丑恶的监视行为,我从心底里感到轻蔑和厌恶。
    没有一张处女的脸上会流露出这样一种天真无邪的感情和这样一种忧郁苦恼的表情。
    这张脸就像委屈女郎①的头像一样。①委屈女郎:指巴黎圣厄斯塔什教堂里一座大理石雕成的神情哀怨的妇女头像。
    一天,这个姑娘的脸突然变得容光焕发。在她母亲替她一手安排的堕落生涯里,天主似乎赐给了这个女罪人一点幸福。毕竟,天主已经赋予了她懦弱的性格,那么在她承受痛苦生活的重压的时候,为什么就不能给她一点安慰呢?这一天,她发觉自己怀孕了,她身上还残存的那么一点纯洁的思想,使她开心得全身哆嗦。人的灵魂有它不可理解的寄托。路易丝急忙去把那个使她欣喜若狂的发现告诉她母亲。说起来也使人感到羞耻。但是,我们并不是在这里随意编造什么风流韵事,而是在讲一件真人真事。这种事,如果我们认为没有必要经常把这些女人的苦难公诸于世,那也许还是索性闭口不谈为好。人们谴责这种女人而又不听她们的申诉,人们蔑视她们而又不公正地评价她们,我们说这是可耻的。可是那位母亲答复女儿说,她们两个人生活已经不容易了,三个人的日子就更难过了;再说,这样的孩子还是没有的好,而且大着肚子不做买卖也是浪费时间。
    第二天,有一位助产婆——我们姑且把她当作那位母亲的一个朋友——来看望路易丝。路易丝在床上躺了几天,后来下床了,但脸色比过去更苍白,身体比过去更虚弱。
    三个月以后,有一个男人出于怜悯,设法医治她身心的创伤,但是那次的打击太厉害了,路易丝终究还是因为流产的后遗症而死了。
    那母亲仍旧活着,生活得怎么样?天知道!
    当我凝视着这些金银器皿的时候,这个故事就浮现在我的脑海之中。时光似乎随着我的沉思默想已悄然逝去,屋子里只剩下我和一个看守人,他正站在门口严密地监视着我是不是在偷东西。
    我走到这位看守人跟前,他已被我搞得心神不定了。
    “先生,”我对他说,“您可以把原来住在这里的房客的姓名告诉我吗?”
    “玛格丽特·戈蒂埃小姐。”
    我知道这位姑娘的名字,也见到过她。
    “怎么!”我对看守人说,“玛格丽特·戈蒂埃死了吗?”
    “是呀,先生。”
    “什么时候死的?”
    “有三个星期了吧。”
    “那为什么让人来参观她的住宅呢?”
    “债权人认为这样做可以抬高价钱。您知道,让大家预先看看这些织物和家具,这样可以招徕顾客。”
    “那么说,她还欠着债?”
    “哦,先生,她欠了好多哪!”
    “卖下来的钱大概可以付清了吧?”
    “还有得剩。”
    “那么,剩下来的钱给谁呢?”
    “给她家属。”
    “她还有家?”
    “好像有。”
    “谢谢您,先生。”
    看守人摸清了我的来意后感到放心了,对我行了一个礼,我就走了出来。
    “可怜的姑娘!”我在回家的时候心里想,“她一定死得很惨,因为在她这种生活圈子里,只有身体健康才会有朋友。” 我不由自主地对玛格丽特的命运产生了怜悯的心情。
    很多人对此可能会觉得可笑,但是我对烟花女子总是无限宽容的,甚至也不想为这种宽容态度与人争辩。
    一天,在我去警察局领取护照的时候,瞥见邻街有两个警察要押走一个姑娘。我不知道这个姑娘犯了什么罪,只见她痛哭流涕地抱着一个才几个月大的孩子亲吻,因为她被捕后,母子就要骨肉分离。从这一天起,我就再也不轻易地蔑视一个女人了。
    

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