Chapter 9 Marriage

Georges Duroy resumed his old habits. Installed in the cozy apartments on Rue de Constantinople, his relations with Mme. de Marelle became quite conjugal.

Mme. Forestier had not returned; she lingered at Cannes. He, however, received a letter from her announcing her return about the middle of April, but containing not a word as to their parting. He waited. He was resolved to employ every means to marry her if she seemed to hesitate; he had faith in his good fortune, in that power of attraction which he felt within him — a power so irresistible that all women yielded to it.

At length a short note admonished him that the decisive moment had arrived.

“I am in Paris. Come to see me.”

“Madeleine Forestier.”

Nothing more. He received it at nine o’clock. At three o’clock of the same day he called at her house. She extended both hands to him with a sweet smile, and they gazed into each other’s eyes for several seconds, then she murmured:

“How kind of you to come!”

He replied: “I should have come, whensoever you bade me.”

They sat down; she inquired about the Walters, his associates, and the newspaper.

“I miss that very much,” said she. “I had become a journalist in spirit. I like the profession.” She paused. He fancied he saw in her smile, in her voice, in her words, a kind of invitation, and although he had resolved not to hasten matters, he stammered:

“Well — why — why do you not resume — that profession — under — the name of Duroy?”

She became suddenly serious, and placing her hand on his arm, she said: “Do not let us speak of that yet.”

Divining that she would accept him, he fell upon his knees, and passionately kissed her hands, saying:

“Thank you — thank you — how I love you.”

She rose, she was very pale. Duroy kissed her brow. When she had disengaged herself from his embrace, she said gravely: “Listen, my friend, I have not yet fully decided; but my answer may be ‘yes.’ You must wait patiently, however, until I disclose the secret to you.”

He promised and left her, his heart overflowing with joy. He worked steadily, spent little, tried to save some money that he might not be without a sou at the time of his marriage, and became as miserly as he had once been prodigal. Summer glided by; then autumn, and no one suspected the tie existing between Duroy and Mme. Forestier, for they seldom met in public.

One evening Madeleine said to him: “You have not yet told Mme. de Marelle our plans?”

“No, my dear; as you wished them kept secret, I have not mentioned them to a soul.”

“Very well; there is plenty of time. I will tell the Walters.”

She turned away her head and continued: “If you wish, we can be married the beginning of May.”

“I obey you in all things joyfully.”

“The tenth of May, which falls on Saturday, would please me, for it is my birthday.”

“Very well, the tenth of May.”

“Your parents live near Rouen, do they not?”

“Yes, near Rouen, at Canteleu.”

“I am very anxious to see them!”

He hesitated, perplexed: “But — they are —” Then he added more firmly: “My dear, they are plain, country people, innkeepers, who strained every nerve to give me an education. I am not ashamed of them, but their — simplicity — their rusticity might annoy you.”

She smiled sweetly. “No, I will love them very much. We will visit them; I wish to. I, too, am the child of humble parents — but I lost mine — I have no one in the world”— she held out her hand to him — “but you.”

He was affected, conquered as he had never been by any woman.

“I have been thinking of something,” said she, “but it is difficult to explain.”

He asked: “What is it?”

“It is this: I am like all women. I have my — my weaknesses. I should like to bear a noble name. Can you not on the occasion of our marriage change your name somewhat?” She blushed as if she had proposed something indelicate.

He replied simply: “I have often thought of it, but it does not seem easy to me.”

“Why not?”

He laughed. “Because I am afraid I should be ridiculed.”

She shrugged her shoulders. “Not at all — not at all. Everyone does it, and no one laughs. Separate your name in this way: Du Roy. It sounds very well.”

He replied: “No, that will not do; it is too common a proceeding. I have thought of assuming the name of my native place, first as a literary pseudonym and then as my surname in conjunction with Duroy, which might later on, as you proposed, be separated.”

She asked: “Is your native place Canteleu?”

“Yes.”

“I do not like the termination. Could we not modify it?”

She took a pen and wrote down the names in order to study them. Suddenly she cried: “Now I have it,” and held toward him a sheet of paper on which was written: “Mme. Duroy de Cantel.”

Gravely he replied: “Yes, it is very nice.”

She was delighted, and repeated: “Duroy de Cantel. Mme. Duroy de Cantel. It is excellent, excellent!”

Then she added with an air of conviction: “You will see how easily it will be accepted by everyone! After to-morrow, sign your articles ‘D. de Cantel,’ and your ‘Echoes’ simply ‘Duroy.’ That is done on the press every day and no one will be surprised to see you take a nom de plume. What is your father’s name?”

“Alexandre.”

She murmured “Alexandre!” two or three times in succession; then she wrote upon a blank sheet:

“M. and Mme. Alexandre du Roy de Cantel announce the marriage of their son, M. Georges du Roy de Cantel with Mme. Forestier.”

She examined her writing, and, charmed with the effect, exclaimed: “With a little method one can succeed in anything.”

When Georges reached the street resolved to call himself, henceforth, “Du Roy,” or even “Du Roy de Cantel,” it seemed to him that he was of more importance. He swaggered more boldly, held his head more erect and walked as he thought gentlemen should. He felt a desire to inform the passers-by, “My name is Du Roy de Cantel.”

Scarcely had he entered his apartments when the thought of Mme. de Marelle rendered him uneasy, and he wrote to her immediately, appointing a meeting for the following day.

“It will be hard,” thought he. “There will be a quarrel surely.”

The next morning he received a telegram from Madame, informing him that she would be with him at one o’clock. He awaited her impatiently, determined to confess at once and afterward to argue with her, to tell her that he could not remain a bachelor indefinitely, and that, as M. de Marelle persisted in living, he had been compelled to choose some one else as a legal companion. When the bell rang, his heart gave a bound.

Mme. de Marelle entered and cast herself into his arms, saying: “Good afternoon, Bel-Ami.” Perceiving that his embrace was colder than usual, she glanced up at him and asked: “What ails you?”

“Take a seat,” said he. “We must talk seriously.”

She seated herself without removing her hat, and waited. He cast down his eyes; he was preparing to commence.

Finally he said slowly: “My dear friend, you see that I am very much perplexed, very sad, and very much embarrassed by what I have to confess to you. I love you; I love you with all my heart, and the fear of giving you pain grieves me more than what I have to tell you.”

She turned pale, trembled, and asked: “What is it? Tell me quickly.”

He said sadly but resolutely: “I am going to be married.”

She sighed like one about to lose consciousness; then she gasped, but did not speak.

He continued: “You cannot imagine how much I suffered before taking that resolution. But I have neither position nor money. I am alone in Paris, I must have near me some one who can counsel, comfort, and support me. What I need is an associate, an ally, and I have found one!” He paused, hoping that she would reply, expecting an outburst of furious rage, reproaches, and insults. She pressed her hand to her heart and breathed with difficulty. He took the hand resting on the arm of the chair, but she drew it away and murmured as if stupefied: “Oh, my God!”

He fell upon his knees before her, without, however, venturing to touch her, more moved by her silence than he would have been by her anger.

“Clo, my little Clo, you understand my position. Oh, if I could have married you, what happiness it would have afforded me! But you were married! What could I do? Just think of it! I must make my way in the world and I can never do so as long as I have no domestic ties. If you knew. There are days when I should like to kill your husband.” He spoke in a low, seductive voice. He saw two tears gather in Mme. de Marelle’s eyes and trickle slowly down her cheeks. He whispered: “Do not weep, Clo, do not weep, I beseech you. You break my heart.”

She made an effort to appear dignified and haughty, and asked, though somewhat unsteadily: “Who is it?”

For a moment he hesitated before he replied: “Madeleine Forestier!”

Mme. de Marelle started; her tears continued to flow. She rose. Duroy saw that she was going to leave him without a word of reproach or pardon, and he felt humbled, humiliated. He seized her gown and implored:

“Do not leave me thus.”

She looked at him with that despairing, tearful glance so charming and so touching, which expresses all the misery pent-up in a woman’s heart, and stammered: “I have nothing — to say; I can do nothing. You — you are right; you have made a good choice.”

And disengaging herself she left the room.

With a sigh of relief at escaping so easily, he repaired to Mme. Forestier’s, who asked him: “Have you told Mme. de Marelle?”

He replied calmly: “Yes.”

“Did it affect her?”

“Not at all. On the contrary, she thought it an excellent plan.”

The news was soon noised abroad. Some were surprised, others pretended to have foreseen it, and others again smiled, inferring that they were not at all astonished. The young man, who signed his articles, “D. de Cantel,” his “Echoes,” “Duroy,” and his political sketches, “Du Roy,” spent the best part of his time with his betrothed, who had decided that the date fixed for the wedding should be kept secret, that the ceremony should be celebrated in the presence of witnesses only, that they should leave the same evening for Rouen, and that the day following they should visit the journalist’s aged parents and spend several days with them. Duroy had tried to persuade Madeleine to abandon that project, but not succeeding in his efforts he was finally compelled to submit.

The tenth of May arrived. Thinking a religious ceremony unnecessary, as they had issued no invitations, the couple were married at a magistrate’s and took the six o’clock train for Normandy.

As the train glided along, Duroy seated in front of his wife, took her hand, kissed it, and said: “When we return we will dine at Chatou sometimes.”

She murmured: “We shall have a great many things to do!” in a tone which seemed to say: “We must sacrifice pleasure to duty.”

He retained her hand wondering anxiously how he could manage to caress her. He pressed her hand slightly, but she did not respond to the pressure.

He said: “It seems strange that you should be my wife.”

She appeared surprised: “Why?”

“I do not know. It seems droll. I want to embrace you and I am surprised that I have the right.”

She calmly offered him her cheek which he kissed as he would have kissed his sister’s. He continued:

“The first time I saw you (you remember, at that dinner to which I was invited at Forestier’s), I thought: ‘Sacristi, if I could only find a wife like that!’ And now I have one.”

She glanced at him with smiling eyes.

He said to himself: “I am too cold. I am stupid. I should make more advances.” And he asked: “How did you make Forestier’s acquaintance?”

She replied with provoking archness: “Are we going to Rouen to talk of him?”

He colored. “I am a fool. You intimidate me.”

She was delighted. “I? Impossible.”

He seated himself beside her. She exclaimed: “Ah! a stag!” The train was passing through the forest of Saint-Germain and she had seen a frightened deer clear an alley at a bound. As she gazed out of the open window, Duroy bending over her, pressed a kiss upon her neck. For several moments she remained motionless, then raising her head, she said: “You tickle me, stop!”

But he did not obey her.

She repeated: “Stop, I say!”

He seized her head with his right hand, turned it toward him and pressed his lips to hers. She struggled, pushed him away and repeated: “Stop!”

He did not heed her. With an effort, she freed herself and rising, said: “Georges, have done. We are not children, we shall soon reach Rouen.”

“Very well,” said he, gaily, “I will wait.”

Reseating herself near him she talked of what they would do on their return; they would keep the apartments in which she had lived with her first husband, and Duroy would receive Forestier’s position on “La Vie Francaise.” In the meantime, forgetting her injunctions and his promise, he slipped his arm around her waist, pressed her to him and murmured: “I love you dearly, my little Made.”

The gentleness of his tone moved the young woman, and leaning toward him she offered him her lips; as she did so, a whistle announced the proximity of the station. Pushing back some stray locks upon her temples, she exclaimed:

“We are foolish.”

He kissed her hands feverishly and replied:

“I adore you, my little Made.”

On reaching Rouen they repaired to a hotel where they spent the night. The following morning, when they had drunk the tea placed upon the table in their room, Duroy clasped his wife in his arms and said: “My little Made, I feel that I love you very, very much.”

She smiled trustfully and murmured as she returned his kisses: “I love you too — a little.”

The visit to his parents worried Georges, although he had prepared his wife. He began again: “You know they are peasants, real, not sham, comic-opera peasants.”

She smiled. “I know it, you have told me often enough.”

“We shall be very uncomfortable. There is only a straw bed in my room; they do not know what hair mattresses are at Canteleu.”

She seemed delighted. “So much the better. It would be charming to sleep badly — when — near you — and to be awakened by the crowing of the cocks.”

He walked toward the window and lighted a cigarette. The sight of the harbor, of the river filled with ships moved him and he exclaimed: “Egad, but that is fine!”

Madeleine joined him and placing both of her hands on her husband’s shoulder, cried: “Oh, how beautiful! I did not know that there were so many ships!”

An hour later they departed in order to breakfast with the old couple, who had been informed several days before of their intended arrival. Both Duroy and his wife were charmed with the beauties of the landscape presented to their view, and the cabman halted in order to allow them to get a better idea of the panorama before them. As he whipped up his horse, Duroy saw an old couple not a hundred meters off, approaching, and he leaped from the carriage crying: “Here they are, I know them.”

The man was short, corpulent, florid, and vigorous, notwithstanding his age; the woman was tall, thin, and melancholy, with stooping shoulders — a woman who had worked from childhood, who had never laughed nor jested.

Madeleine, too, alighted and watched the couple advance, with a contraction of her heart she had not anticipated. They did not recognize their son in that fine gentleman, and they would never have taken that handsome lady for their daughter-in-law. They walked along, passed the child they were expecting, without glancing at the “city folks.”

Georges cried with a laugh: “Good day, Father Duroy.”

Both the old man and his wife were struck dumb with astonishment; the latter recovered her self-possession first and asked: “Is it you, son?”

The young man replied: “Yes, it is I, Mother Duroy,” and approaching her, he kissed her upon both cheeks and said: “This is my wife.”

The two rustics stared at Madeleine as if she were a curiosity, with anxious fear, combined with a sort of satisfied approbation on the part of the father and of jealous enmity on that of the mother.

M. Duroy, senior, who was naturally jocose, made so bold as to ask with a twinkle in his eye: “May I kiss you too?” His son uttered an exclamation and Madeleine offered her cheek to the old peasant; who afterward wiped his lips with the back of his hand. The old woman, in her turn, kissed her daughter-in-law with hostile reserve. Her ideal was a stout, rosy, country lass, as red as an apple and as round.

The carriage preceded them with the luggage. The old man took his son’s arm and asked him: “How are you getting on?”

“Very well.”

“That is right. Tell me, has your wife any means?”

Georges replied: “Forty thousand francs.”

His father whistled softly and muttered: “Whew!” Then he added: “She is a handsome woman.” He admired his son’s wife, and in his day had considered himself a connoisseur.

Madeleine and the mother walked side by side in silence; the two men joined them. They soon reached the village, at the entrance to which stood M. Duroy’s tavern. A pine board fastened over the door indicated that thirsty people might enter. The table was laid. A neighbor, who had come to assist, made a low courtesy on seeing so beautiful a lady appear; then recognizing Georges, she cried: “Oh Lord, is it you?”

He replied merrily: “Yes, it is I, Mother Brulin,” and he kissed her as he had kissed his father and mother. Then he turned to his wife:

“Come into our room,” said he, “you can lay aside your hat.”

They passed through a door to the right and entered a room paved with brick, with whitewashed walls and a bed with cotton hangings.

A crucifix above a holy-water basin and two colored prints, representing Paul and Virginia beneath a blue palm-tree, and Napoleon I. on a yellow horse, were the only ornaments in that neat, but bare room.

When they were alone, Georges embraced Madeleine.

“Good morning, Made! I am glad to see the old people once more. When one is in Paris one does not think of this place, but when one returns, one enjoys it just the same.”

At that moment his father cried, knocking on the partition with his fist: “Come, the soup is ready.”

They re-entered the large public-room and took their seats at the table. The meal was a long one, served in a truly rustic fashion. Father Duroy, enlivened by the cider and several glasses of wine, related many anecdotes, while Georges, to whom they were all familiar, laughed at them.

Mother Duroy did not speak, but sat at the board, grim and austere, glancing at her daughter-in-law with hatred in her heart.

Madeleine did not speak nor did she eat; she was depressed. Wherefore? She had wished to come; she knew that she was coming to a simple home; she had formed no poetical ideas of those peasants, but she had perhaps expected to find them somewhat more polished, refined. She recalled her own mother, of whom she never spoke to anyone — a governess who had been betrayed and who had died of grief and shame when Madeleine was twelve years old. A stranger had had the little girl educated. Her father without doubt. Who was he? She did not know positively, but she had vague suspicions.

The meal was not yet over when customers entered, shook hands with M. Duroy, exclaimed on seeing his son, and seating themselves at the wooden tables began to drink, smoke, and play dominoes. The smoke from the clay pipes and penny cigars filled the room.

Madeleine choked and asked: “Can we go out? I cannot remain here any longer,”

Old Duroy grumbled at being disturbed. Madeleine rose and placed her chair at the door in order to wait until her father-in-law and his wife had finished their coffee and wine.

Georges soon joined her.

“Would you like to stroll down to the Seine?”

Joyfully she cried: “Yes.”

They descended the hillside, hired a boat at Croisset, and spent the remainder of the afternoon beneath the willows in the soft, warm, spring air, and rocked gently by the rippling waves of the river. They returned at nightfall. The evening repast by candle-light was more painful to Madeleine than that of the morning. Neither Father Duroy nor his wife spoke. When the meal was over, Madeleine drew her husband outside in order not to have to remain in that room, the atmosphere of which was heavy with smoke and the fumes of liquor.

When they were alone, he said: “You are already weary.”

She attempted to protest; he interrupted her:

“I have seen it. If you wish we will leave tomorrow.”

She whispered: “I should like to go.”

They walked along and entered a narrow path among high trees, hedged in on either side by impenetrable brushwood.

She asked: “Where are we?”

He replied: “In the forest — one of the largest in France.”

Madeleine, on raising her head, could see the stars between the branches and hear the rustling of the leaves. She felt strangely nervous. Why, she could not tell. She seemed to be lost, surrounded by perils, abandoned, alone, beneath that vast vaulted sky.

She murmured: “I am afraid; I should like to return.”

“Very well, we will.”

On their return they found the old people in bed. The next morning Madeleine rose early and was ready to leave at daybreak. When Georges told his parents that they were going to return home, they guessed whose wish it was.

His father asked simply: “Shall I see you soon again?”

“Yes — in the summer-time.”

“Very well.”

His mother grumbled: “I hope you will not regret what you have done.”

Georges gave them two hundred francs to appease them, and the cab arriving at ten o’clock, the couple kissed the old peasants and set out.

As they were descending the side of the hill, Duroy laughed. “You see,” said he, “I warned you. I should, however, not have presented you to M. and Mme. du Roy de Cantel, senior.”

She laughed too and replied: “I am charmed now! They are nice people whom I am beginning to like very much. I shall send them confections from Paris.” Then she murmured: “Du Roy de Cantel. We will say that we spent a week at your parents’ estate,” and drawing near him, she kissed him saying:

“Good morning, Georges.”

He replied: “Good morning, Madeleine,” as he slipped his arm around her waist.

  乔治·杜洛瓦又恢复了原来的生活节奏,一切依然如故。

  他现已搬到君士坦丁堡街一楼的那一小套房间内,生活很有条理,俨然一副一切从头开始的模样。他同德·马莱尔夫人所保持的关系,甚至也变得和正常夫妻一样,似乎为应付即将到来的重大变化,而提前进行着某种演练。对于他这种按部就班的泰然表现,他的情妇常常不免感到纳罕,不止一次地笑道:

  “你比我丈夫还要埋头家庭事务,早知如此,当初何必要换一个。”

  弗雷斯蒂埃夫人在戛纳滞留了些时日,至今未归。后来,杜洛瓦终于收到她一封信,说她将在四月中旬回来,对于他们的久别,则只字未提。但他并不死心,决心一旦她稍有犹疑,便使出浑身解数,一定要把她娶过来。他相信自己福星高照,相信他身上有一股令所有女人难以抗拒、说不出所以然的魅力。

  一天,他收到一张便条,决定性的时刻终于到来。

    我已回到巴黎。请即来面晤。

  玛德莱娜·弗雷斯蒂埃

  除此而外,便条上什么也没写。他是上午九点收到的,当天下午三点他便到了弗雷斯蒂埃夫人家中。一见到他,弗雷斯蒂埃夫人脸上漾着她耶特有的媚人微笑,将两只手向他伸了过来。久别重逢,他们相视良久。

  “难为你在那时怕的时刻,为我到那边跑了一趟,”弗雷斯蒂埃夫人喃喃地说。

  “当时只要你一句话,我是一切在所不辞,”杜洛瓦说道。

  两人于是坐了下来。弗雷斯蒂埃夫人问了问报馆及瓦尔特夫妇和其他同仁的情况。她所惦记的,就是报馆。

  “这些日子,”她说,“我很想念报馆,非常想念。虽然未在报馆担任任何职务,但我的心已同它联在一起。有什么办法?

  我很喜欢这一行。”

  说到这里,她忽然停了下来。杜洛瓦觉得,听话听音,她的微笑、声调、乃至话语本身,都分明是一种暗示。因此他虽曾许诺决不贸然从事,现在仍经不住诱惑,遂嗫嚅着问道:

  “既然如此……你为何……为何不以……杜洛瓦的名字……重新提起笔杆呢?”

  弗雷斯蒂埃夫人复又变得严肃起来,把手放在杜洛瓦的手臂上轻声说道:

  “咱们还是别谈这个吧。”

  然而杜洛瓦看出,她实际上已经接受,于是双膝在她面前一跪,狂热地吻着她的手,结结巴巴地说道:

  “谢谢,谢谢,我是多么地爱你!”

  弗雷斯蒂埃夫人站了起来,杜洛瓦跟着也站了起来。他发现,她的面色异常苍白,因此立即看出,她有意于他,也许很久很久了。由于两人正面对面站着,他一下子将她搂到怀内,带着庄重而又缠绵的神情,久久地在她的前额吻了一下。

  弗雷斯蒂埃夫人轻轻一闪,挣脱了他的拥抱,又郑重其事地说道:

  “朋友,你可听好,到目前为止,我尚未作出任何决定,不过我很可能会同意的。只是有一点,在我同意你向外讲之前,你一定要答应我严守秘密。”

  杜洛瓦发誓一定守口如瓶,然后便欢天喜地地走了。

  从此之后,他每次来她家看望她,都非常谨慎,从不要求她明确地答应下来。因为对于未来或“以后”,她有自己的做法。一谈到要做的事情,她总将两个人联系在一起,这比正式赞同岂不是更好,也更加巧妙?

  杜洛瓦像换了个人似的,天天没命地工作,而且省吃俭用,打算积攒一点钱,以免结婚时两手空空,手足无措。想当初,他是花钱如流水,现如今,他却成了个惜金如命的人。

  转眼之间,夏去秋来。他们的关系依然无人知晓。这是因为他们很少见面,即使见面,表现也极其自然。

  一天晚上,玛德莱娜盯着他的两眼,向他问道:

  “我们的事儿,你向德·马莱尔夫人透露了没有?”

  “没有。我既已答应你严守秘密,就未向任何人说过。”

  “那好,现在可以讲了。我负责通知瓦尔特两口子,这个星期就把该通知的人都通知到,你看行吗?”

  “行,明天就办,”杜洛瓦说,激动得满脸通红。

  玛德莱娜将目光往旁边移了移,以免看到他那神慌意乱的样子,一边说道:

  “如果你同意,我们结婚的日子可定在五月初。我觉得,那个时候比较合适。”

  “一切听你的,我打心底里赞成。”

  “具体日期,我看还是五月十日为好。那一天是星期六,也是我的生日。”

  “行,就订在五月十日。”

  “你父母住在卢昂近郊,是不是?记得还是你对我说的。”

  “是的,他们住在距卢昂不远的康特勒。”

  “他们以何为业?”

  “他们是……靠少量的年金为生。”

  “是吗?我很想见见他们。”

  “不过……不过……他们……”杜洛瓦支支吾吾,满脸窘态。

  到后来,他还是决定拿出男子汉的样子,如实相告:“亲爱的朋友,他们是乡巴佬,在村里开了爿小酒店,不过聊以度日。为了供我上学,他们真是累断了筋骨。我倒不为自己出身寒微而感到羞愧。只是他们……遇事考虑不周……说话粗鲁……你可能会受不了的。”

  玛德莱娜嫣然一笑,且笑得非常甜,显出一副温柔善良的样子。

  “没关系,我会喜欢他们的。咱们一起去看看他们,我一定要去。这件事,我们以后再谈。告诉你,我也出身小户人家……只是我的父母都不在世了。我在这个世界上如今是举目无亲……”说到这里,她向杜洛瓦伸过一只手来,又加了一句:“不过除了你。”

  他感到五内沸然,心里甜丝丝的,还从来没有一个女人三言两语便说得他如此动情。

  “我想到了一件事,”她又说道,“但不知怎样向你说。”

  “什么事?”杜洛瓦问。

  “是这样的,亲爱的,同所有的女人一样,我也有……我的弱点。别人不大留心的事,我却十分在意。比如我喜欢闪亮发光的外表,喜欢高贵的贵族称号。我在想,我们就要结婚了,你可否乘此机会……把你的名字改成贵族模样的?”

  她忽然粉脸羞红,好像要让杜洛瓦去做什么不太体面的事情。

  “这我倒是想过,”杜洛瓦立即答道,“不过事情恐怕不太好办。”

  “困难在哪里?”

  杜洛瓦笑了起来:

  “我担心弄得不好,会遭人讥笑。”

  她耸了耸肩:

  “这是哪儿的话?绝对不会。大家都在改,不会有人笑话你的。你可将你的姓一分为二,改成杜·洛瓦①一点问题也不会有。”

  --------

  ①在法国古代,“德”为贵族的尊称。这里的“杜”乃“德”的变音字,二者意义相同。

  杜洛瓦俨然一副对问题深为了解的腔调,立即说道:“不行,这也未免太简单,太一般化了,人人都会这么做。我原来想以我家乡的名字作我的笔名,然后渐渐将它融到我的名字里去。过些时候,再像你刚才所建议的那样,把我的姓一分为二。”

  “你的老家是康特勒吗?”弗雷斯蒂埃夫人问。

  “是的。”

  她沉吟半晌,说道:

  “不行。康特勒,这个字的结尾不好听,我不喜欢。来,咱们来看看有没有办法将它稍稍改一改……”

  说着,她从桌上拿起一支笔,随手写了几个名字,对其外表一一琢磨了一番。随后突然喊了起来:“有了,有了,你看这样改怎样?”

  她将纸片递给杜洛瓦,只见上面写的是:“杜洛瓦·德·康泰尔夫人”。

  杜洛瓦想了想,郑重其事地说道:

  “很好,非常好。”

  她欣喜万状,一连又念了几遍:

  “杜洛瓦·德·康泰尔,杜洛瓦·德·康泰尔,杜洛瓦·德·康泰尔夫人。不错,确实妙不可言。”

  接着,她满有把握地说道:

  “你就等着瞧吧,这个名字很快就会被大家接受。现在的问题是,必须说干就干,否则就太晚了。从明天起,你的专栏文章就一律署名‘杜·德·康泰尔’,而有关本地新闻的文章,则仍旧沿用‘杜洛瓦’的名字。这样天天见报,谁也不会见你取了个笔名而感到惊讶的。到我们举行婚礼时,还可再作一点改动,就对朋友们说,你当初所以未将‘杜’字单独标出,是考虑到自己所处的地位而不得不表现得谦虚一点,甚至什么也不用说。现在请告诉我,你父亲叫什么?”

  “亚力山大。”

  “亚历山大,亚历山大”,她轻轻念了两遍,仔细听了听有关音节,然后拿过一张白纸,在上面匆匆写了这样两行:

  “亚历山大·杜·洛瓦·德·康泰尔夫妇荣幸地通知阁下,犬子乔治·杜·洛瓦·德·康泰尔先生和玛德莱娜·弗雷斯蒂埃夫人,订于日内成婚,特此敬告。”

  她把纸片往远处挪了挪,又端详了一会儿,不禁为这天衣无缝的改动而拍案叫绝,说道:

  “世上的事就是这样地轻而易举,只要稍稍用点心思,便没有办不到的。”

  从弗雷斯蒂埃夫人家告辞出来后,走在大街上叫杜洛瓦决心已定,从今而后,他的名字便成了“杜·洛瓦”或“杜·洛瓦·德·康泰尔”了。他觉得自己已在忽然间成为一个非同一般的人物,因此走在街上不觉气宇轩昂,神色傲慢起来,很有点贵族绅士的派头。他心潮澎湃,真想告诉身边的过往行人:

  “我是杜·洛瓦·德·康泰尔。”

  可是回到寓所后,德·马莱尔夫人的身影立刻浮现在他眼前,使他深为不安,于是马上给她写了张便条,约她第二天来谈谈。

  “这次见面非比寻常,”他心里想,“她一定会把我骂得狗血喷头。”

  他决定一切听其自然,况且他天生大大咧咧,对于生活中不随心的事,从不过于计较。接着,他突发奇想,写了一篇文章,建议开征一种新的税赋,平衡国家预算。

  他在文中主张,凡姓氏中带有贵族标记者,每年须交纳一百法郎,从男爵到王公亲贵等有爵位者,则须交纳五百至一千法郎。

  末尾落款,他写的是“杜·德·康泰尔”。

  第二天,他收到情妇寄来的一张小蓝条,说她午后一点前来。

  在等她到来的当儿,杜洛瓦有点坐立不安。不过他已决定,一见面便单刀直入,把一切向她和盘托出。待她稍稍平静下来后,再慢慢地开导她,让她明白,他不能打一辈子光棍,再说她丈夫德·马莱尔先生,一时半刻还死不了,他不得不丢开她,另谋出路,找个名正言顺的伴侣。

  不过话虽如此,一场争吵将在所难免,他不免十分紧张。

  因此门铃一响,他的心便怦怦直跳。

  德·马莱尔夫人一下扑到他的怀内,说道:

  “漂亮朋友,你好。”

  见他在拥抱她时远不如往常热烈,她向他看了看,问道:

  “你今天怎么啦?”

  “你先坐下,”他说,“我有件事要同你谈谈。”

  德·马莱尔夫人于是坐了下来,连帽子也未摘,只是把脸上的面纱往头上撩了撩,等着他往下说。

  杜洛瓦眼帘低垂,想了想该从何说起,接着便慢慢说道:“亲爱的,你也看出来了,我心里很乱,也很沉重,正不知该怎样把这件事对你说。你是知道的,我非常爱你,打心底里爱你。因此为这件事,我终日苦恼,生怕它会给你带来痛苦,真是左右为难。”

  德·马莱尔夫人面色苍白,浑身颤抖,问道:

  “究竟发生什么事了?你倒是快说呀!”

  当一个人怀着满腔喜悦,向他人宣布一项令对方伤心欲绝的决定时,他表面上常要煞有介事地装出一副分外沉痛的样子。杜洛瓦此刻就是这样。只见他语调悲伤,但又十分坚定地说道:

  “事情是这样的,我要结婚了。”

  德·马莱尔夫人像是要昏厥过去一样,不由自主地发出一声五内俱焚的痛苦长叹。她气噎喉堵,喘息不定,一句话也说不出来。

  杜洛瓦见她一句话也没有,便又说道:

  “我在作出这一决定之前,是经受了怎样的痛苦,你是不可能想象到的。你知道,我既无金钱,也无地位,在巴黎孤身一人,连个依靠也没有。因此身边十分需要能有个人帮我出出主意,给我以安慰和鼓励。很久以来,我一直希望能找个志同道合的人。现在,这个人我终于已经找到!”

  说到这里,杜洛瓦停了下来,想看看她有何反应。因为他料定,德·马莱尔夫人一定会气急败坏,暴跳如雷,对他破口大骂的。

  不想对方却是以一只手按住了胸口,好像那颗剧烈跳动的心就要跳将出来似的。与此同时,她的呼吸依然十分急促,胸脯一起一伏,脑袋也在一上一下地不停摆动。

  杜洛瓦拿起她放在座椅扶手的那只小手,想握在手中。然而她猛的抽了回去,一副木然痴呆的神色,自言自语道:

  “啊!……上帝!……”

  杜洛瓦双腿一弯,在她面前跪了下来,但未敢碰她,因为她的沉默不语比大发雷霆,更使他如坐针毡。他结结巴巴地说道:

  “克洛,我的小克洛,我现在是处于怎样的情况,面临怎样的处境,你也应替我想一想。啊!我要是能娶你为妻,那该有多好!然而不可能,你是个有夫之妇。我该怎么办?你不妨替我想想。我要立足于社会,总得有个内助,否则是不可能的。你知道吗?……有的时候,我真想把你丈夫给杀了……”

  他娓娓而谈,语言低沉而柔媚,听来恰似一缕丝竹之声。

  他看到,目光呆滞的德·马莱尔夫人,眼内慢慢地噙了两颗泪珠,不久便滚到了面颊上,眼帘下方随即又涌出了两颗。

  “啊!别哭了,克洛,”杜洛瓦低声细语地说道。“求你别哭了,我的心都碎了。”

  为了保持自己的尊严和气度,德·马莱尔夫人作了极大的克制,随后终于开了口,颤抖的声音像是就要哭出来似的。

  她问道:

  “她是谁?”

  杜洛瓦迟疑了一会儿,后又觉得终归是要说的,于是说道:

  “玛德莱娜·弗雷斯蒂埃。”

  德·马莱尔夫人浑身一阵战栗,但仍旧一言未发。她陷入了沉思,而且是那样地专注,简直将跪在脚下的杜洛瓦完全忘却了。

  大滴大滴的眼泪,从她的眼里不断地涌出,落下,又涌出。

  她站了起来。杜洛瓦意识到,她要走了,一句话也不会对他说。她没有责备他,但也不会原谅他。他的自尊心因而受到伤害,他感到自己受到了深深的羞辱。他一把抓住她的裙子,不想让她走,接着又隔着裙子而死死地抱住她的双腿。他感到,她那肥硕的大腿绷得紧紧的,毫无退让之意。

  他于是向她央求道:

  “算是我求你了,你可不能就这样走了。”

  德·马莱尔夫人自上而下打量了他一眼,目不转睛地看着他。一双饱含绝望的泪眼,是那样地动人,又是那样地哀伤,把一个女人的内心痛苦全都反映了出来。她抽抽噎噎,语不成声地说道:

  “我没有……没有什么好说的……也没有……什么事儿了。你是对的……你……你……挑选了一个你所需要的人……”

  说着,她身子往后一缩,挣脱他的双手,一径向外走去。杜洛瓦见她既然如此坚决,也就未再设法挽留。

  房内现在只剩下他一个人了,杜洛瓦站起身,感到脑袋昏昏沉沉的,像是头上刚才挨了一棒似的。他把心一横,喃喃自语道:

  “天哪,不管是好是歹,事情总算完了……并没有大吵大闹一番。这样的结局真是再好没有。”

  他像是卸下了千斤重担,突然感到一身轻,从此可以自由自在地去迎接新的生活。他有点飘飘然,仿佛同命运之神较量了一番,为自己的处变不惊而陶醉在成功的喜悦中,不觉对着墙壁狠狠地打了几拳。

  后来,弗雷斯蒂埃夫人问他:

  “我们的事,你对德·马莱尔夫人说了没有?”

  “已经说过了,”他的回答是那样地悠闲。

  但弗雷斯蒂埃夫人的明亮目光仍在盯着他:

  “她听了后是不是感到突然?”

  “没有,一点没有。相反,她觉得这样很好。”

  消息很快传出。有的人感到惊讶,有的人说自己早已料到。还有的人只是笑了笑,那意思分明是,他们对此并不感到意外。

  现在,每逢发表专栏文章,杜洛瓦用的名字是“杜·德·康泰尔”,有关本地新闻的文章,则仍旧署名“杜洛瓦”。隔三岔五,他已开始写一些政治文章,署名“杜·洛瓦”。他每天都要到未婚妻家中去消磨一些时光。未婚妻对他虽然十分亲热,但也只是将他当作同胞兄弟一样看待。不过,她终究顶不住男女相爱的诱惑,在这“兄妹情谊”中仍隐藏着一种名副其实的柔情和欲念。她决定,他们的婚礼将秘密举行,除有关证婚人外,不邀请任何亲朋好友。婚礼一举行完毕,便于当天晚上前往卢昂,去看望杜洛瓦年迈的双亲,并在老人身边呆上几天。

  关于卢昂之行,杜洛瓦曾想方设法劝她打消这一想法,但终未如愿,最后只得照她的意思办。

  因此到了五月十日这一天,这一对新人既已决定不邀请任何客人参加其婚礼,有关宗教仪式也就成为多余的了。他们只是在市政厅匆匆登了个记,便赶回家中整理行装,于当晚六时在圣拉扎车站登上了开往诺曼底的列车。

  偌大的车厢只有他们两个乘客。他们在座位上坐下之前,几乎没有说上几句话。现在,列车就要启动了,他们相视良久。

  两个人都有点窘,为了不让对方看出,只得莞尔一笑。

  列车慢慢穿过长长的巴蒂尼奥车站,接着驶过巴黎城墙与塞纳河之间色彩斑驳的平原。

  杜洛瓦和妻子偶尔也说上两句无关紧要的话语,随后便侧过头去,看着窗外的景色。

  列车走过阿尼埃桥时,看到河里帆樯林立,各条船上渔夫和船夫来来往往,二人不禁心旷神怡。五月的骄阳正在西垂,大小船只洒满一片金辉。塞纳河波平浪静,平时旋涡翻滚的激流已无影无踪。整个河面在温暖强烈的夕照下,像是凝结了似的,一丝涟漪也没有。河流中央,一条帆船,为了尽量利用轻柔无力的晚风,两翼各挂着一块白色的大三角帆,看去酷似一只展翅欲飞的大鹏。

  “我非常喜欢巴黎郊区,”杜洛瓦喃喃地说道,“记得我曾来这里吃过炸鱼,味道之好令我终身难忘。”

  “还有那些小船也非常令人神往,”妻子接着说道,“夕阳西下的时候,驾着一叶扁舟在水上轻轻驶过,该是多有意思!”

  说了这么两句,两人又沉默不语了,仿佛谁都不敢尽情地回忆各自的往昔年华。他们这样默默地坐着,也许是在回味那令人留连、富于诗意的往事。

  坐在妻子对面的杜洛瓦,这时拿起她的小手,慢条斯理地亲了亲。

  “从卢昂回来后,”他说,“我们的晚餐有时可到夏图去吃。”

  “可是我们有多少事要做呀!”妻子说。那口气似乎是说:

  “不能因贪图享乐,而把该做的事丢在一边。”

  杜洛瓦将她的手始终握在手中,心中焦灼地不知从何入手,方可转而对她表示爱意。即使在一个情窦初开的少女面前,他也不会像现在这样神慌意乱,莫知所措。对于玛德莱娜,他之所以不敢造次,是因为觉得她聪明过人,生性狡黠。在她面前,他既不敢过于腼腆,又不敢过于鲁莽,既不敢显得反应迟钝,又不敢操之过急,生怕她觉得自己是个十足的蠢货。

  他将这只纤纤细手,轻轻捏了捏,不想对方竟毫无反应。

  他因而调侃道:

  “你已成为我的妻子,而我却觉得很是奇怪。”

  “为什么?”玛德莱娜显出惊讶的神色。

  “我也不知为什么,只是觉得奇怪。比如我很想吻你,但又为自己拥有此权利而感到惊奇。”

  她不慌不忙地将她的粉脸向他凑了过去,他也就在上面亲了亲,像亲一位亲姐妹一样。

  “我第一次见到你的时候,”杜洛瓦又说道,“你想必记得,就在弗雷斯蒂埃邀我在你家参加的那次晚宴上。我当时想,我要是能找个像你这样的女人,这一生也就算是没有虚度了。怎么样?你现在不已经是我的妻了吗?”

  “谢谢你这样抬举我,”玛德莱娜说,一面以她那始终漾着一丝笑意的目光,温柔地直视着他。

  “我这些话也未免太冷漠,太愚蠢了,”杜洛瓦心下想。“不行,我得直截了当一点。”于是向她问道:“你同弗雷斯蒂埃是怎么认识的?”

  不想她带着挑逗的调皮神情说道:

  “我们此番去卢昂,难道是为了谈他?”

  杜洛瓦面红耳赤,说道:

  “对不起,我真笨。不过这都是给你吓出来的。”

  玛德莱娜不禁喜形于色:

  “我吓的?这怎么可能?你倒是说说看。”

  杜洛瓦移过身子,紧挨着她坐了下来。

  “瞧!一只鹿!”她喊了一声。

  列车正穿过圣热尔曼林地,她看到一头受惊的小鹿,纵身一跃,跳过了一条小径。

  趁她俯身敞开的车窗,向外了望之际,杜洛瓦弯下身子,温情脉脉地在她颈部的头发上吻了很久。

  她起初僵着身子未动,随后便抬起头来说道:“别闹了,你弄得我怪痒痒的。”

  然而杜洛瓦并未就此甘休,仍不停地以他那卷曲的胡髭,在她白皙的肌肤上到处热烈地吻着,弄得她烦躁不已。

  玛德莱娜扭动了一下身子:

  “我说你安静一会儿好不好?”

  杜洛瓦将右手从她身后插过去,把她的头扭了过来,像老鹰袭击小动物一样,对着她的嘴扑了上去。

  她挣扎着,竭力将他推开,挣脱他的拥抱,后来总算将他一把推开,说道:

  “你还有没有完?”

  杜洛瓦哪里听得进去?他一把将她搂住,带着激动的神情,像饿狼似的在她脸上狂吻着,同时试图将她按倒在座位的软垫上。

  她猛一使劲,终于挣脱了他,霍地站了起来:

  “啊!乔治,你这是怎么啦?别再闹了。我们都已不是小孩,卢昂就要到了,怎么就等不及了?”

  杜洛瓦坐在那里,满脸通红,听了这几句冠冕堂皇的言词,心里顿时凉了半截。稍稍平静下来后,他又轻松地说笑起来:

  “好吧,我就耐心地等着。不过请注意,我们现在才到普瓦西,在到达卢昂之前,我是没有多少闲情,同你说上几句话的。”

  “那就由我来说好了,”玛德莱娜说道。

  她又走过去,温柔地在他身边坐了下来。

  她把他们从卢昂回来后该做些什么,详细同他谈了谈。他们将住在她的前夫留给她的房子里。弗雷斯蒂埃在《法兰西生活报》的职务和待遇,也将由杜洛瓦承袭。

  婚礼举行之前,她已像生意人一样,将他们未来家庭的收支,开列出一份详细清单。

  他们的结合,采取的是财产分开的做法,对诸如死亡、离婚、生下一个或数个子女等可能出现的情况,都考虑到了。男方声称可带来四千法郎,但其中一千五百法郎是借来的,其余部分是他在这一年中为准备结婚,而省吃俭用地积攒下来的。女方可带来四万法郎,她说这笔钱是弗雷斯蒂埃留给她的。

  说到这里,她又谈起了弗雷斯蒂埃,对他大大夸奖了一番:

  “他这个人很能埋头苦干,生活井井有条,也非常节俭。如果不死,定会很快创下一份家业。”

  杜洛瓦坐在那里,一直是心猿意马。这些话,他哪里听得进去?

  玛德莱娜说着说着,常因想起一件事而停下来。这时,她又说道:

  “不出三四年,你每年的收入便可达到三四万法郎。查理如果健在的话,这笔钱便会记在他的名下。”

  杜洛瓦对她这番说教已开始感到不耐烦,因而回敬了她一句:

  “我想,我们今天不是为了谈论他而去卢昂的。”

  “说得对,是我错了,”玛德莱娜在他脸上轻轻拍了一下。

  接着便朗朗地笑了起来。

  杜洛瓦把两手放在膝盖上端坐着,宛如一个非常乖觉的孩子。

  “你这副模样真让人忍俊不禁,”玛德莱娜说。

  “这就是我现在所处的地位,”杜洛瓦回驳道,“而且将永远无法摆脱。再说,你刚才那番话不也就是这个意思吗?”

  玛德莱娜随即问道:

  “此话怎讲?”

  “家里的事,一切由你掌管,甚至我个人也要处处听你安排。作为一个结过婚的女人,这在你自然应当仁不让!”

  玛德莱娜惊讶不已:

  “你究竟想说什么?”

  “很简单,你是结过婚的,很有点这方面的经验,而我却是个一窍不通的单身汉,我的无知得靠你来消除,靠你来开导,情况就是这样!”

  她叫了起来:

  “这是什么话?”

  杜洛瓦答道:

  “事情明摆着,我对女人可以说一无所知,而你刚刚失去前夫,对男人自然很是了解,难道不是吗?一切得由你手把手地来教我……今晚就……如果你愿意,甚至现在就可开始……”

  玛德莱娜乐不可支,大声叫道:

  “啊!要说这个,我倒是可以帮帮你的,尽管放心好了……”

  他于是又学着中学生背书的腔调说道:

  “当然,我就指望你了。我甚至希望,你给我开的课,能讲得扎实一些。整个课程……可分为二十讲……前十讲打基础……主要是阅读和语法……后十讲用于提高和修辞……我也不知道是不是应当这样?”

  玛德莱娜已笑得前仰后合,说道:

  “你可真是个榆木疙瘩。”

  杜洛瓦又说道:

  “既然你同我说话,左一个‘你’右一个‘你’,我也不妨如法炮制,今后对你一律以‘你’相称,而不再用‘您’。亲爱的,告诉你,我对你的爱现在是越来越强烈,一分一秒都在增加。卢昂怎么还没到,真是急死人!”

  这番话,他是学着演员的腔调说的,而且面部充满逗乐的表情,使得这位看惯了风流文人装腔作势、不拘形迹的年轻少妇,不禁十分开心。

  她从侧面看了看杜洛瓦,觉得他实在长得英俊迷人。此刻的她,好似见到树上熟透了的诱人果实,恨不得马上就能一饱口福,然而理智告诉她,这果实虽好,但必须在饭后吃果点时方可品尝,因此还是克制住了。

  想着自己怎么会突然产生了这种想法,她不禁粉脸羞红,说道:

  “小家伙,我是过来人,我的话你还不信?在车厢里偷情只会使人倒胃,并无多大意思。”

  接着,她的脸就红得更厉害了,因为她又说了一句:

  “瓜熟蒂落,水到渠成。什么事都不能操之过急。”

  她那魅人的小嘴说出的这一句句话语是何意思,杜洛瓦难道还听不出来?他不觉兴致大增,憨笑着在胸前划了个十字,同时口中念念有词,似乎在作祈祷。随后,他大声说道:

  “我刚刚求得主司诱惑的天神圣安东尼对我的庇佑。现在,我是心硬如铁,不为任何诱惑所动了。”

  夜色逐渐降临。透明的夜幕宛如一袭轻纱,笼罩着列车右方的广袤原野。列车此刻正沿着塞纳河岸前行。车内两个年轻人凭窗望去,路边的河水像一条光滑如镜的宽阔金属带,不停地向前延伸。火红的夕阳已坠入地平线以下,天幕上残留的一块块斑点,在水中形成耀眼的红色倒影。倒影渐渐暗了下去,变成深褐色,很快也就凄凉地悄然无踪了。四周原野于是带着一种类似死神降临的战栗,淹没在无边的黑暗中。苍茫大地,每到日暮时分,都会出现这种令人凄惶的景象。

  透过敞开的车窗,面对这凄凉的夜色,这对年轻的夫妇不禁受到深深的感染。他们刚才还是那样地欢快,而现在却突然地一句话也没有了。

  他们紧紧地依偎在一起,看着这春光明媚的一天,就这样无声无息地消失了。

  车到芒特,车厢里点起了一盏小油灯。摇曳不定的光焰,立刻在长座位的灰色垫子上洒了一层昏黄的光。

  杜洛瓦挽着妻子的纤细身腰,把她往怀里搂了搂。刚才炽烈的欲望,现已变成一股脉脉柔情,变成一种懒洋洋的要求,希望稍稍得到一点滋润心田的抚慰,如同母亲怀内的婴儿所得到的那种。

  “我的小玛德,我是多么地爱你!”他喃喃地说,声音很低。

  听了这柔声细语,玛德莱娜顿时魂酥骨软,全身一阵战栗。杜洛瓦已将脸颊靠在她那热乎乎的胸脯上,她就势俯下身子,将嘴唇向他凑了过去。

  他们一言未发,热烈地吻了很久。后来,两个人猛的一下直起身,突然疯狂地拥抱在一起,接着上气不接下气地行起了好事。就这样,没用多长时间,便猛烈而又笨拙地完成了他们的交合。事毕,他们仍旧紧紧地搂抱在一起,心中未免有点幻灭之感,既感到周身无力,又觉得似乎欲望依然。直到一声汽笛长鸣,报告列车即将抵达下一个车站。

  玛德莱娜以指尖理了理蓬乱的云鬓,说道:

  “咱们真像孩子一样,太不懂事了。”

  然而杜洛瓦却像压根儿没听见似的,狂热地吻着她的手,吻了这一只又吻那一只。口中不停地嘟哝道:

  “我的小玛德,我是多么地爱你!”

  车到卢昂之前,他们就这样脸贴脸地依偎在一起,动也不动,眼睛向着窗外。漆黑的夜空下,不时可看到几处农舍的灯光从眼前一闪而过。他们为自己能这样地紧紧相依而感到心恬意恰,不禁陷入悠悠遐思,越来越迫切地期待着更加亲密无间、更加放浪形骸的拥抱。

  他们在与河岸相对的一家旅馆住了下来,稍稍吃了点东西,便上床就寝了。第二天,时钟刚打八点,女仆便走来把他们叫醒了。

  他们将女仆放在床头柜上的茶喝完后,杜洛瓦向他的妻子看了一眼,像刚刚得到一笔财宝似的,怀着满腔喜悦,兴冲冲地一下将她搂在怀里,无比激动地说道:

  “啊!我的小玛德,我是多么……多么……多么地爱你!”

  玛德莱娜微微一笑,目光中充满信赖和欢乐。她一边回报杜洛瓦的吻,一边向他说道:

  “我恐怕……也一样。”

  不过,对于他们今番来卢昂探望其双亲一事,杜洛瓦一直忧心忡忡。他已多次提醒过她,要她做好思想准备,不要把情况想得太好。现在,他觉得有必要再说一说。

  “你知道吗?他们是乡巴佬,是乡下的农民,而不是舞台上的农民。”

  “我当然知道,”她笑道,“这你已不知对我说过多少遍了。

  好了好了,快起来吧。你一起,我也就起来了。”

  杜洛瓦跳下床,开始穿袜子:

  “那边一切都非常简陋。我的房内只有一张铺着草垫的床,住在康特勒的人从未见过弹簧床。”

  不想玛德莱娜听了这句话,却似乎兴致大增:

  “这有什么不好呢?虽然睡不好,但身边……却有你,到了早晨还有公鸡打鸣把我叫醒,这该多有意思!”

  她套上了晨衣。这是一件宽大的白法兰绒晨衣,杜洛瓦一眼就认了出来,心头不禁有点不快。为什么呢?据他所知,这类晨衣,他妻子总有一打之多。她怎么就没有想到把这些东西统统扔掉,另外买件新的呢?说实在的,他真不希望她继续使用这些她同前夫一起生活时穿过的晨衣、睡衣和内衣。因为他觉得,这些柔软、温暖的织物,肯定还保留着弗雷斯蒂埃同她接触的印迹。

  他点了一支烟,向窗边走了过去。

  窗外,宽阔的河面上帆樯如林,起重机隆隆作响,正挥动铁臂,把船上的货物卸到岸上。这景致,杜洛瓦虽然早已看惯,但今天见了,心中仍分外激动。他失声喊了起来:

  “啊!这景象是多么美啊!”

  玛德莱娜跑过来,将两手搭在丈夫的肩膀上,整个身子依偎着他,不禁心潮澎湃,欣喜异常,一连声地赞叹道:

  “啊!是美,真是美极了!没有想到,这里的船只是这样多!”

  一小时后,他们登车上了大路。因为几天前已写信告诉两位老人,他们要赶到那边,同他们一起吃午饭。这是一辆破旧的敞篷马车,走在路上摇摇晃晃,发出很大的声响。他们先走了一段坑坑洼洼、很长很长的大路,接着穿过一大片流水淙淙的草场。后来,马车便开始向山坡上走去了。

  感到困倦的玛德莱娜,不觉在车内打起了盹来。原野上,微风习习,春光明媚。暖烘烘的阳光照在身上,真使人感到无比的舒坦。

  丈夫这时叫醒了她:

  “快看!”

  马车此时已在山坡中央往上一点的地方停了下来。这里是观赏山下风光的最佳去处,因此历来成为游人必到之地。

  俯瞰山下,一个又宽又长的巨大峡谷呈现在眼前。一条大河横贯整个峡谷。清澈的河水带着汹涌的波涛,从峡谷的一头奔腾而下。河中小岛星罗棋布。湍急的流水绕过一个弯,然后沿卢昂边沿穿流而过。该城就在河的右岸,此时正笼罩在一片飘渺的晨雾中。灿烂的朝阳,给万家屋顶镀上了一层金辉。数以千计的钟楼,或尖或圆,个个小巧别致,建造精湛,远远看去酷似一件件硕大精美的珍宝,而那一个个方形或圆形的塔楼,则像是戴着一顶顶装饰华美的王冠。除此之外,还有许多小的塔楼和钟楼,散布于城中各处。这一大片哥特式教堂建筑,又以大教堂高耸入云的青铜塔尖最为突出,当属世界上最高的教堂塔尖。其粗犷、古怪和不合分寸的造型,分外引人注目。

  河对岸是圣塞韦尔市广阔的关厢地带。又细又高的工厂烟囱,栉次鳞比,其顶端部分皆呈圆形拱凸状。

  这些耸入云天的砖砌圆柱建筑,比塞纳河彼岸的教堂钟楼还要多,一直延伸到旷野腹地,天天向蓝天喷露着黑色的煤烟。

  其中最高者

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