Part 2 Chapter 6

It had happened at last. The expected message had come. All his life, it seemed to him, he had been waiting for this to happen.

He was walking down the long corridor at the Ministry and he was almost at the spot where Julia had slipped the note into his hand when he became aware that someone larger than himself was walking just behind him. The person, whoever it was, gave a small cough, evidently as a prelude to speaking. Winston stopped abruptly and turned. It was O'Brien.

At last they were face to face, and it seemed that his only impulse was to run away. His heart bounded violently. He would have been incapable of speaking. O'Brien, however, had continued forward in the same movement, laying a friendly hand for a moment on Winston's arm, so that the two of them were walking side by side. He began speaking with the peculiar grave courtesy that differentiated him from the majority of Inner Party members.

'I had been hoping for an opportunity of talking to you,' he said. 'I was reading one of your Newspeak articles in The Times the other day. You take a scholarly interest in Newspeak, I believe?'

Winston had recovered part of his self-possession. 'Hardly scholarly,' he said. 'I'm only an amateur. It's not my subject. I have never had anything to do with the actual construction of the language.'

'But you write it very elegantly,' said O'Brien. 'That is not only my own opinion. I was talking recently to a friend of yours who is certainly an expert. His name has slipped my memory for the moment.'

Again Winston's heart stirred painfully. It was inconceivable that this was anything other than a reference to Syme. But Syme was not only dead, he was abolished, an unperson. Any identifiable reference to him would have been mortally dangerous. O'Brien's remark must obviously have been intended as a signal, a codeword. By sharing a small act of thoughtcrime he had turned the two of them into accomplices. They had continued to stroll slowly down the corridor, but now O'Brien halted. With the curious, disarming friendliness that he always managed to put in to the gesture he resettled his spectacles on his nose. Then he went on:

'What I had really intended to say was that in your article I noticed you had used two words which have become obsolete. But they have only become so very recently. Have you seen the tenth edition of the Newspeak Dictionary?'

'No,' said Winston. 'I didn't think it had been issued yet. We are still using the ninth in the Records Department.'

'The tenth edition is not due to appear for some months, I believe. But a few advance copies have been circulated. I have one myself. It might interest you to look at it, perhaps?'

'Very much so,' said Winston, immediately seeing where this tended.

'Some of the new developments are most ingenious. The reduction in the number of verbs -- that is the point that will appeal to you, I think. Let me see, shall I send a messenger to you with the dictionary? But I am afraid I invariably forget anything of that kind. Perhaps you could pick it up at my flat at some time that suited you? Wait. Let me give you my address.'

They were standing in front of a telescreen. Somewhat absentmindedly O'Brien felt two of his pockets and then produced a small leather-covered notebook and a gold ink-pencil. Immediately beneath the telescreen, in such a position that anyone who was watching at the other end of the instrument could read what he was writing, he scribbled an address, tore out the page and handed it to Winston.

'I am usually at home in the evenings,' he said. 'If not, my servant will give you the dictionary.'

He was gone, leaving Winston holding the scrap of paper, which this time there was no need to conceal. Nevertheless he carefully memorized what was written on it, and some hours later dropped it into the memory hole along with a mass of other papers.

They had been talking to one another for a couple of minutes at the most. There was only one meaning that the episode could possibly have. It had been contrived as a way of letting Winston know O'Brien's address. This was necessary, because except by direct enquiry it was never possible to discover where anyone lived. There were no directories of any kind. 'If you ever want to see me, this is where I can be found,' was what O'Brien had been saying to him. Perhaps there would even be a message concealed somewhere in the dictionary. But at any rate, one thing was certain. The conspiracy that he had dreamed of did exist, and he had reached the outer edges of it.

He knew that sooner or later he would obey O'Brien's summons. Perhaps tomorrow, perhaps after a long delay -- he was not certain. What was happening was only the working-out of a process that had started years ago. The first step had been a secret, involuntary thought, the second had been the opening of the diary. He had moved from thoughts to words, and now from words to actions. The last step was something that would happen in the Ministry of Love. He had accepted it. The end was contained in the beginning. But it was frightening: or, more exactly, it was like a foretaste of death, like being a little less alive. Even while he was speaking to O'Brien, when the meaning of the words had sunk in, a chilly shuddering feeling had taken possession of his body. He had the sensation of stepping into the dampness of a grave, and it was not much better because he had always known that the grave was there and waiting for him.

这件事终于发生了。期待中的信息传了过来。他觉得他这一辈子都在等待这件事的发生。

他正走在部里大楼的长长的走廊里,快到裘莉亚上次把那纸条塞到他手中的地方,他才意识到身后跟着一个个子比他高的人。那个人,不知是谁,轻轻地咳了一声,显然是表示要说话。温斯顿猛然站住,转过身去。那人是奥勃良。

他们终于面对着面,他的唯一冲动似乎是要逃走。他的心猛跳着,说不出话来。但是奥勃良仍继续走着,一只友好的手按了一下温斯顿的胳膊,这样他们两人就并肩向前走了。他开始用他特别彬彬有礼的口气说话,这是他与大多数核心党员不同的地方。

“我一直想找个机会同你谈谈,”他说。“前不久我读到你在《泰晤士报》发表的一篇用新话写的文章。我想你对新话颇有学术上的兴趣吧?”

温斯顿已恢复了他的一部分自信。他说,“谈不上什么学术上的兴趣。我是个外行,这不是我的专业。我从来没有参加过这一语言的实际创作工作。”

“但是你的文章写得很漂亮,”奥勃良说。“这不仅是我个人的意见。我最近同你的一位朋友谈过,他肯定是个专家。

我一时记不起他的名字来了。”

温斯顿的心里又是一阵难过。不可想象这不是提到赛默。但是赛默不仅死了,而且是给抹掉了,是个非人。提到他会有丧命的危险。奥勃良的话显然一定是个信号,一个暗号。由于两人共同参与了这个小小的思想罪行,他使他们成了同谋犯。他们原来是在走廊里慢慢地继续走着,这时奥勃良止了步。他整了一整鼻梁上的眼镜,这个姿态总使人有一种奇怪的亲切之感。接着他说:

“我其实想要说的是,我在你的文章中注意到你用了两个现在已经过时了的词儿,不过这两个词儿是最近才过时的。你有没有看过第十版的新话词典?”

“没有,”温斯顿说。“我想这还没有出版吧。我们纪录司仍在用第九版。”

“是啊,第十版要过几个月才发行。但是他们已发了几本样书。我自己就有一本。也许你有兴趣看一看?”

“很有兴趣,”温斯顿说,马上领会了这个意思。

“有些新发展是极其聪明的。减少动词数目,我想你对这点是会有兴趣的。让我想,派个通讯员把词典送给你?不过这种事情我老是容易忘了。还是你有空到我住的地方来取吧,不知你方便不方便?请等一等。我把地址写给你。”

他们正好站在一个电幕的前面。奥勃良有些心不在焉地摸一摸他的两只口袋,摸出了一本皮面的小笔记本和一支金色的墨水笔。他就在电幕下面写了地址,撕了下来,交给了温斯顿,这个地位使得在电幕另一边的人可以看到他写的是什么。

“我一般晚上都在家。”他说。“如果正好不在,我的勤务员会把词典给你的。”

说完他就走了,留下温斯顿站在那儿,手中拿着那张纸片,这次他没有必要把它藏起来了。但是他还是仔细地把上面写的地址背熟了,几个小时以后就把它同其他一大堆废纸一起扔进了忘怀洞。

他们在一起顶多只讲了两分钟的话。这件事只可能有一个含意。这样做是为了让温斯顿知道奥勃良的地址。所以有此必要是因为除了直接询问以外要知道谁住在哪里是不可能的。什么电话簿、地址录都是没有的。奥勃良对他说的就是“你如果要看我,可以到这个地方来找我。”也许那本词典里夹着一封信,藏着一句话。反正,有一点是肯定的。他所梦想的密谋确实存在,他已经碰到了它外层的边缘了。

他知道他迟早要应奥勃良的召唤而去找他。可能是明天,也可能要隔很久——他也说不定。刚才发生的事只不过是多年前已经开始的一个过程的实现而已。第一步是个秘密的不自觉的念头;第二步是开始写日记,他已经从思想进入到了语言,现在又从语言进入到了行动。最后一步则是将在友爱部里发生事情了。他已经决定接受这个结局。始即是终,终寓于始。但是这有点使人害怕;或者确切地说,这有点象预先尝一下死亡的滋昧,有点象少活几天。甚至在他同奥勃良说话的时候,当所说的话的含意慢慢明显以后,他全身感到一阵发冷,打了个寒战。他有了一种踏进潮湿寒冷的坟墓的感觉,并不因为他早已一直知道坟墓就在前面等候他而感到好过些。

推荐阅读: