Chapter 10 Jealousy

The Du Roys had been in Paris two days and the journalist had resumed work; he had given up his own especial province to assume that of Forestier, and to devote himself entirely to politics. On this particular evening he turned his steps toward home with a light heart. As he passed a florist’s on Rue Notre Dame de Lorette he bought a bouquet of half-open roses for Madeleine. Having forgotten his key, on arriving at his door, he rang and the servant answered his summons.

Georges asked: “Is Madame at home?” “Yes, sir.”

In the dining-room he paused in astonishment to see covers laid for three: the door of the salon being ajar, he saw Madeleine arranging in a vase on the mantelpiece a bunch of roses similar to his.

He entered the room and asked: “Have you invited anyone to dinner?”

She replied without turning her head and continuing the arrangement of her flowers: “Yes and no: it is my old friend, Count de Vaudrec, who is in the habit of dining here every Monday and who will come now as he always has,”

Georges murmured: “Very well.”

He stopped behind her, the bouquet in his hand, the desire strong within him to conceal it — to throw it away. However, he said:

“Here, I have brought you some roses!”

She turned to him with a smile and said: “Ah, how thoughtful of you!” and she kissed him with such evident affection that he felt consoled.

She took the flowers, inhaled their perfume, and put them in an empty vase. Then she said as she noted the effect: “Now I am satisfied; my mantelpiece looks pretty,” adding with an air of conviction:

“Vaudrec is charming; you will become intimate with him at once,”

A ring announced the Count. He entered as if he were at home. After gallantly kissing Mme. Du Roy’s hand, he turned to her husband and cordially offered his hand, saying: “How are you, my dear Du Roy?”

He had no longer that haughty air, but was very affable. One would have thought in the course of five minutes, that the two men had known one another for ten years. Madeleine, whose face was radiant, said: “I will leave you together. I have work to superintend in the kitchen.” The dinner was excellent and the Count remained very late. When he was gone, Madeleine said to her husband: “Is he not nice? He improves, too, on acquaintance. He is a good, true, faithful friend. Ah, without him —”

She did not complete her sentence and Georges replied: “Yes, he is very pleasant, I think we shall understand each other well.”

“You do not know,” she said, “that we have work to do to-night before retiring. I did not have time to tell you before dinner, for Vaudrec came. Laroche-Mathieu brought me important news of Morocco. We must make a fine article of that. Let us set to work at once. Come, take the lamp.”

He carried the lamp and they entered the study. Madeleine leaned, against the mantelpiece, and having lighted a cigarette, told him the news and gave him her plan of the article. He listened attentively, making notes as she spoke, and when she had finished he raised objections, took up the question and, in his turn, developed another plan. His wife ceased smoking, for her interest was aroused in following Georges’s line of thought. From time to time she murmured: “Yes, yes; very good — excellent — very forcible —” And when he had finished speaking, she said: “Now let us write.”

It was always difficult for him to make a beginning and she would lean over his shoulder and whisper the phrases in his ear, then he would add a few lines; when their article was completed, Georges re- read it. Both he and Madeleine pronounced it admirable and kissed one another with passionate admiration.

The article appeared with the signature of “G. du Roy de Cantel,” and made a great sensation. M. Walter congratulated the author, who soon became celebrated in political circles. His wife, too, surprised him by the ingenuousness of her mind, the cleverness of her wit, and the number of her acquaintances. At almost any time upon returning home he found in his salon a senator, a deputy, a magistrate, or a general, who treated Madeleine with grave familiarity.

Deputy Laroche-Mathieu, who dined at Rue Fontaine every Tuesday, was one of the largest stockholders of M. Walter’s paper and the latter’s colleague and associate in many business transactions. Du Roy hoped, later on, that some of the benefits promised by him to Forestier might fall to his share. They would be given to Madeleine’s new husband — that was all — nothing was changed; even his associates sometimes called him Forestier, and it made Du Roy furious at the dead. He grew to hate the very name; it was to him almost an insult. Even at home the obsession continued; the entire house reminded him of Charles.

One evening Du Roy, who liked sweetmeats, asked:

“Why do we never have sweets?”

His wife replied pleasantly: “I never think of it, because Charles disliked them.”

He interrupted her with an impatient gesture: “Do you know I am getting tired of Charles? It is Charles here, Charles there, Charles liked this, Charles liked that. Since Charles is dead, let him rest in peace.”

Madeleine ascribed her husband’s burst of ill humor to puerile jealousy, but she was flattered and did not reply. On retiring, haunted by the same thought, he asked:

“Did Charles wear a cotton nightcap to keep the draft out of his ears?”

She replied pleasantly: “No, a lace one!”

Georges shrugged his shoulders and said scornfully: “What a bird!”

From that time Georges never called Charles anything but “poor Charles,” with an accent of infinite pity. One evening as Du Roy was smoking a cigarette at his window, toward the end of June, the heat awoke in him a desire for fresh air. He asked:

“My little Made, would you like to go as far as the Bois?”

“Yes, certainly.”

They took an open carriage and drove to the Avenue du Bois de Boulogne. It was a sultry evening; a host of cabs lined the drive, one behind another. When the carriage containing Georges and Madeleine reached the turning which led to the fortifications, they kissed one another and Madeleine stammered in confusion: “We are as childish as we were at Rouen.”

The road they followed was not so much frequented, a gentle breeze rustled the leaves of the trees, the sky was studded with brilliant stars and Georges murmured, as he pressed his wife to his breast: “Oh, my little Made.”

She said to him: “Do you remember how gloomy the forest at Canteleu was? It seemed to me that it was full of horrible beasts and that it was interminable, while here it is charming. One can feel the caressing breezes, and I know that Sevres is on the other side.”

He replied: “In our forests there are nothing but stags, foxes, roebucks, and boars, with here and there a forester’s house.” He paused for a moment and then asked: “Did you come here in the evening with Charles occasionally?”

She replied: “Frequently.”

He felt a desire to return home at once. Forestier’s image haunted him, however; he could think of nothing else. The carriage rolled on toward the Arc de Triomphe and joined the stream of carriages returning home. As Georges remained silent, his wife, who divined his thoughts, asked in her soft voice: “Of what are you thinking? For half an hour you have not uttered a word.”

He replied with a sneer: “I am thinking of all those fools who kiss one another, and I believe truly that there is something else to be done in life.”

She whispered: “Yes, but it is nice sometimes! It is nice when one has nothing better to do.”

Georges’ thoughts were busy with the dead; he said to himself angrily: “I am foolish to worry, to torment myself as I have done.” After remonstrating thus with himself, he felt more reconciled to the thought of Forestier, and felt like exclaiming: “Good evening, old fellow!”

Madeleine, who was bored by his silence, asked: “Shall we go to Tortoni’s for ices before returning home?”

He glanced at her from his corner and thought: “She is pretty; so much the better. Tit for tat, my comrade. But if they begin again to annoy me with you, it will get somewhat hot at the North Pole!”

Then he replied: “Certainly, my darling,” and before she had time to think he kissed her. It seemed to Madeleine that her husband’s lips were icy. However he smiled as usual and gave her his hand to assist her to alight at the cafe.

  这一对新人重返巴黎,已经两天了。杜·洛瓦又回到了报馆里。原先所说由他接替弗雷斯蒂埃生前所任职务、专门撰写政论文章一事,尚须时日。因此他暂时仍负责社会新闻栏的工作。

  这天傍晚,离开报馆后,他一径赶往家中——玛德莱娜的前夫留下的房子——去吃晚饭。一想到很快又可同燕尔新婚的妻子亲昵一番,他便兴奋不已。为妻子的姿色深深倾倒的他,现在对她完全是百依百顺。走到洛雷特圣母街,路过一家花店时,他忽然灵机一动,决定给她买束花,因此特意挑了一把骨朵很多的玫瑰。其中有的骨朵已开始开放,散发出浓郁的芳香。

  踏上新居的楼梯,每登上一层楼,他都要在楼梯口的镜子前停下来,不无得意地照一照。因为一看到这些镜子,他便想起了自己当初走进这幢楼房的情景。

  由于忘了带钥匙,他按了按门铃。前来开门的人,仍是先前那个仆人。妻子主张将此人留下,他同意了。

  “太太回来没有?”他问。

  “回来了,先生。”

  走过餐厅时,他发现桌上放着三副餐具,不由地深为纳罕。客厅的门帘往上撩了起来,他因而发现,玛德莱娜正在往壁炉上的一只花瓶里插一束玫瑰。这束玫瑰,同他手上的那束一模一样。这使他很是扫兴和不快,仿佛他对妻子的这一情意缠绵的表示,及因而从她那里必会得到的快乐,被人抢先夺去了。

  “你今天请了哪位客人?”他走进去问道。

  玛德莱娜继续在那里摆弄着花,并未回过头来:

  “今晚来的这个人,可以说是客人,也可以说不是。因为他就是我的好友德·沃德雷克伯爵。多年以来,他每个星期一都要来这里吃晚饭,今晚也不例外。”

  “啊!很好,”杜·洛瓦嘀咕道。

  他站在她身后,很想把手上的花藏起来,或者扔掉。不过到后来,他还是说了出来:

  “瞧,我也给你带来一束玫瑰。”

  玛德莱娜忽然转过身,满脸堆着笑:

  “啊!你还想到了这个,真是难为你了。”

  她向杜·洛瓦伸出双臂,把嘴唇向他凑了过去,神态是那样地情真意切。他的心因而得到些许宽慰。

  玛德莱娜接过来闻了闻,像个兴高采烈的孩子,立刻就将花插到了放在壁炉另一头的空瓶内。

  “这空空如也的壁炉上方,现在总算像个样子了,我真高兴。”她对着这番布置,发出一声感叹。

  接着,她又斩钉截铁地说道:

  “知道吗?沃德雷克这个人,脾气非常好,你们很快就会相处融洽的。”

  门铃这时响了起来,伯爵显然到了。他安然地走了进来,神态之悠闲,同在自己家里一样。只见他彬彬有礼地吻了吻年轻女人的纤纤细手,然后转过身,亲热地把手向她丈夫伸了过来:

  “这一向可好,亲爱的杜·洛瓦先生?”

  想当初,他同杜·洛瓦在此相遇,表情是那样拘谨和生硬,而今天却完全是一副和蔼可亲的样子。这表明,自那时以来,情况已发生很大变化。杜·洛瓦惊讶不已,为了不辜负其盛情,立刻笑容满面地将手伸了过去。经过简短的交谈,两人简直像是一对交往多年、互相倾慕的莫逆之交。

  容光焕发的玛德莱娜,于是向他们说道:

  “你们俩谈吧,我要去厨房看看。”

  她向他们分别看了一眼,走了开去。

  待她回来时,她见他们正在谈论一出新上演的戏剧。两人的观点完全一致,目光中很有点一拍即合、相见恨晚的意思。

  晚餐十分丰盛,席间气氛随和而融洽。伯爵呆到很晚才走。在这幢房子里,同这对年轻漂亮的新婚夫妇在一起,他是那样地心恬意恰。

  他走后,玛德莱娜向丈夫说道:

  “你说他是不是很不错?待你对他完全了解后,你会对他更加钦佩的。他实在是一个忠实可靠、不可多得的朋友。唉,如果不是他……”

  她尚未把话说完,杜·洛瓦便抢着说道:

  “是啊,我也觉得他很不错。我相信,我们会相处得很好的。”

  “有件事没有告诉你,”玛德莱娜随即说道,“今晚睡觉之前,我们还得赶写一篇东西。饭前没有对你讲,是因为实在没有时间,沃德雷克那时就要来了。我今天得到一条有关摩洛哥的重要消息,是将来定会当上部长的拉罗舍—马蒂厄议员给我提供的。我们应写出一篇像样的文章,引起各方的注意。有关材料和数字,我已拿到。来,我们马上就动手,你把灯拿上。”

  杜·洛瓦拿起灯,二人于是到了书房里。

  书房里,书架上的书仍像先前一样摆放着,纹丝未动。只是最上层现在又放了三只花瓶,那是弗雷斯蒂埃去世前一天在朱昂湾买的。桌子下面,死者生前用过的暖脚套还摆在那里,正等着杜·洛瓦来享用。杜·洛瓦在桌前坐下后,随手拿起一支象牙蘸水笔。笔杆上,死者生前咬过的斑斑痕迹,清晰可见。

  玛德莱娜点上一支烟,靠在壁炉上,把她听到的消息谈了谈,接着又说了说她的想法和她所考虑的文章梗概。

  杜·洛瓦一边仔细听着,一边不时在纸上匆匆写下几个字。玛德莱娜说完后,他提了些不同的看法,然后又回到所谈问题上,大大作了一番发挥。经他这样一改,他此刻所谈的,已经不是什么文章的梗概,而是要掀起一场倒阁运动。这篇檄文不过是个引子。她妻子已放下手中的香烟,不觉兴趣大增。杜洛瓦一番话使她茅塞顿开,对问题看得更深、更远了。

  因此她不时点头道:“对……对……很好……太好了……

  这才显出文章的分量……”

  杜·洛瓦说完后,她催促道:

  “现在快动笔吧。”

  然而一旦摊开稿纸,杜·洛瓦又不知从何落笔了,这是他一贯的毛病。他苦苦地思索了起来。玛德莱娜于是走过来,轻轻地伏在他肩上,在他耳边,低声一句句地向他口授。

  虽然如此,她仍不时停下来,显出一番把握不定的样子,问道:

  “你是这个意思吗?”

  “是的,就是这个意思,”杜·洛瓦每次总这样答道。

  玛德莱娜出语辛辣而又尖刻,正是女流之辈所特有的,现在正可用来对现任政府首脑大张挞伐。她不仅对这位政府首脑所推行的政策大加嘲讽,而且对其长相尽情奚落。文章写得潇洒自如,意趣横生,使人读了不禁开怀大笑,同时对其观察之敏锐也深为折服。

  犹有甚者,杜·洛瓦还不时地加上几句,使文章的锋芒所向显得更加咄咄逼人。此外,别有用心地含沙射影,更是他的拿手好戏。这是他在撰写本地新闻时磨练出来的。每当他觉得玛德莱娜提供的依据不太可靠,易于弄巧成拙时,他总有办法把文章写得扑朔迷离,使读者不由得不信,从而比直接说出更具分量。

  文章写好后,杜·洛瓦以抑扬顿挫的腔调,大声读了一遍。夫妻俩一致认为写得无懈可击,好像互相敞开了心扉似的,带着分外的欣喜和惊奇相视而笑。他们目不转睛地盯着对方,彼此间因深深的倾慕和柔情依依而兴奋不已,从心灵到躯体不禁春情萌动,最后不约而同地一下子投入对方的怀抱。

  “咱们现在去睡吧,”杜·洛瓦拿起桌上的灯,目光灼灼。“您既然掌灯引路,请不妨先行一步,我的主人,”玛德莱娜回道。

  两人于是一前一后往卧房走去。妻子在后面一边走着,一边还为了让他快走,而不停地用指尖在丈夫的脖颈处轻轻地挠着,因为杜·洛瓦最怕别人给他搔痒。

  文章以乔治·杜·洛瓦·德·康泰尔的署名发表后,引起很大轰动。众议院一片哗然。瓦尔特老头对杜·洛瓦大大夸奖了一番,决定《法兰西生活报》的政治栏目,从此由他负责,社会新闻栏则仍由布瓦勒纳负责。

  该报随后对负责国家日常事务的内阁,展开了一系列巧妙而又猛烈的抨击。有关文章都写得别具匠心,且例举了大量事实,时而挖苦讽刺,取笑逗乐,时而笔锋犀利,炮火连连。如此接二连三,打得既准又狠,使人惊讶不已。大段大段地转载《法兰西生活报》的文章,一时成为其他报刊的时髦之举。官场人士纷纷打听,可否对这未曾谋面的凶狠家伙许以高官厚禄,从而使之偃旗息鼓。

  杜·洛瓦因而在政界名噪一时。人们一见到他,便是一番热烈的握手,头上的帽子举得老高,其声望之与日俱增,由此可见一斑。不过相形之下,他妻子主意之多,消息之灵和交游之广,更使他暗暗称奇。

  他每天不论什么时候回到家中,总可见到客厅里坐着一位客人,不是参议员或众议员,便是政府官员或军中将领。他们待玛德莱娜一如多年知交,神态自然而又亲切。她是在哪儿同这些人认识的呢?她自己说是在社交界。可是他们对她如此信任和青睐,她又是怎样得到的呢?他始终弄不明白。

  “她这个人完全可以做个呱呱叫的外交家,”杜·洛瓦心想。

  晚上回来过了吃饭时间,在她是常有的事。每当此时,她总是气喘吁吁,面色通红,激动不已。往往面纱尚未摘去,便连忙开口道:

  “我今天可给你带来了一份‘美味佳肴’。你想,司法部长刚刚任命的两位法官,曾是混合委员会成员。咱们这次可要给他一点厉害,让他永远也忘不了。”

  他们果然立即写了一篇文章,把这位部长骂得狗血喷头。第二天,又是一篇。第三天,还写了一篇。每星期二都要在德·沃德雷克伯爵于头天来过之后,到泉水街玛德莱娜家来吃晚饭的众议员拉罗舍—马蒂厄,这天一进门便紧紧地握住他们夫妇二人的手,欣喜若狂地连声说道:

  “好家伙,这气势可真厉害!经过这番穷追猛打,我们岂有不大获全胜之理?”

  此人很久以来,一直对外交部长的职位虎视眈眈。这次确实希望能趁机了却心愿。

  这个八面玲珑的政客,其实并无政治信念和多大能耐,更无什么胆略和真才实学。作为一名外省的律师,他原是某省城的一位风流人物,但为人狡诈,一向在各激进派之间谋求折衷,是所谓拥护共和的耶稣会会员,名不符实的自由思想卫士。这种像粪堆里滋生的蝇蛆,借普选之机而钻入政界者,成百上千。

  他受小农思想的驱使而特别善于投机钻营,因而在失意潦倒、一事无成的众议员同僚中,一直被视为佼佼者。为了博取众人的好感,他十分注重自己的仪表,总是穿得衣冠楚楚,待人和蔼可亲,因此在社交界和鱼龙混杂、良莠不齐的达官显宦中,取得很大成功。

  “拉罗舍很快将当上部长。”到处都有人这样议论。他自己也同他人一样,坚信部长的职位非他莫属。

  他是瓦尔特老头所办报纸的一名大股东,也是他在众议院的同僚,并已同他合伙做过多笔金融生意。

  杜·洛瓦对他的支持,可说死心塌地,因为他隐隐感到,自己日后说不定可从中捞到一些好处。再说弗雷斯蒂埃丢下的这摊事儿,他不过刚刚接手。而拉罗舍—马蒂厄曾许诺过弗雷斯蒂埃,一旦他登上部长的交椅,便授予他荣誉团十字勋章。看来这枚勋章将要戴在他这个玛德莱娜新嫁的丈夫身上了。除此之外,总的说来,其他一切如故,并无任何变化。

  对于杜·洛瓦所处的这一情况,同事们也都看了出来,人前人后常爱拿他开玩笑,弄得杜·洛瓦十分恼火。

  有的人干脆叫他弗雷斯蒂埃。

  他一走进报馆,便有人不管不顾地向他喊道:“喂,弗雷斯蒂埃。”

  他装着没有听见,走到放信的木格前,看有没有自己的信。可是那个人又喊了起来,声音也更大了:“喂!弗雷斯蒂埃。”见此情景,几个人发出吃吃的笑声。

  杜·洛瓦往经理办公室走了过去,刚才喊的人突然拦住了他,说道:

  “对不起,我才将喊的是你。真是昏了头,动不动就将你同可怜的查理混淆了起来。要说原因,主要还是你写的文章和他的文章,看起来太像了。大家都有同感。”

  杜·洛瓦什么也没有说,但心里却窝着火,开始对死鬼弗雷斯蒂埃感到愤恨不已。

  大家都觉得他这个政治栏目新任负责人,同其前任的文章,无论在措辞上还是在写法上,都极其相似。每当有人对此感到惊讶时,瓦尔特老头也说道:

  “是的,乍一看去,确实像是弗雷斯蒂埃写的。但文章的内容却要更加充实,行文也更加大胆、泼辣。”

  还有一次,杜·洛瓦偶尔打开存放小木球的柜子,发现弗雷斯蒂埃玩过的那些小球旁,木棒上缠着一块黑纱,而自己当初由圣波坦带着玩的那个小球旁,木棒上却缠了根粉红色缎带。所有木球皆按其大小而摆放整齐,旁边放着一块博物馆常见的那种标示牌。牌上写道:“此处木球系由弗雷斯蒂埃及其同仁昔日所收藏,今归未经政府正式认可之继承人弗雷斯蒂埃—杜·洛瓦所有。此物经久耐用,随处可使,旅行在外也无不可。”

  杜·洛瓦看罢,捺着性子把柜门关上,但仍大声说了一句,以便房内其他人能够听到:

  “想不到嫉妒成性的蠢才,到处都有。”

  他的自尊心和虚荣心因而受到伤害。以笔杆为生的人,自尊心和虚荣心本来就很脆弱,常常疑神疑鬼,肝火很旺。无论是一般记者还是天才诗人,都在所难免。

  “弗雷斯蒂埃”这几个字现在成了他一块心病而很怕听到,一听见就脸上发烧。

  他觉得,这个名字是对他的辛辣嘲讽,岂止是嘲讽,几乎无异于是一种侮辱。仿佛时时在向他呐喊:

  “你的文章是你老婆帮你写的,正像她的前夫发表过的那些文章一样。没有她,你岂会有今天?”

  没有玛德莱娜,弗雷斯蒂埃必会一事无成。这一点,他深信不疑。至于他,哪有这回事儿?

  回到家中,他依然为此而深深苦恼着。在这个家里,从家具到各类摆设,他不论触及到什么,马上便会想起已经作古的弗雷斯蒂埃。对于这些事,他起初倒也没怎么管,可是同事们开的玩笑,在他心里留下了难以愈合的伤痕,一碰到这些迄今一直不怎么注意的东西,心头便隐隐作痛。

  他现在是只要一拿取某件器物,便觉得仿佛看到器物上正放着查理的一只手。眼前的一切,都是查理使用过的,都是他过去购买和喜爱的。这样一来,那怕一想到他这位朋友同他妻子往日的关系,杜·洛瓦也开始感到怏怏不乐。

  他常为自己这种反常心理感到纳闷,怎么也弄不明白,不禁自言自语道:

  “这究竟是怎么回事?玛德莱娜与朋友交往,我从无嫉妒心理,对她的所作所为一向是放心的。她进进出出,我从不过问。可是现在一想起查理这个死鬼,我便气不打一处来!”

  “根本原因恐怕在于,”杜·洛瓦又想道,“他是个十足的废物,弄得我也跟着倒楣。不知玛德莱娜当初怎么嫁了这样一个蠢货?”

  因此一个问题一直在他的脑际盘桓不去:

  “以她这样一个精明女人,怎会心血来潮,看上这个无用的畜生?”

  这样,一件件日常琐事,诸如玛德莱娜、家中男仆或女佣的一句话,只要一提起死者,便使他心如针扎,忿懑之情与日俱增。

  一天晚上,喜欢甜食的杜·洛瓦向妻子问道:

  “怎么一块点心也没有?你可从来没有让他们做过。”

  “不错,这件事我倒真没想到,”年轻的妻子笑道,“因为查理生前讨厌甜的东西。”

  杜·洛瓦再也克制不住了,不耐烦地打断了她:

  “你可知道?你天天左一个查理,右一个查理,一会儿是查理喜欢这个,一会儿是查理喜欢那个,把我弄得烦透了。查理既然已经死了,就让他安息吧。”

  玛德莱娜惊异地看着丈夫,不明白他这无名火因何而发。不过她到底是个精细的女人,很快也就对他的心事猜了个八九:定是潜移默化的忌妒心理在那里作祟,只要一提起死者,此种嫉恨便会大大膨胀。

  她也许觉得这很可笑,但心里却感到甜丝丝的,因此什么也没有说。

  杜·洛瓦为自己这一通按捺不住的发泄而感到气恼。这天晚上,吃完饭后,他们在忙着写一篇文章,准备第二天发表。他忽然觉着套在脚上的暖脚套不太舒服,想把它翻过来,但未能如愿,因此一脚踢开,笑着问道:

  “查理以前常用这玩意儿吗?”

  “是的,”玛德莱娜也笑着答道,“他很怕感冒,毕竟身子骨较弱。”

  “对于这一点,他的表现是够充分的了,”杜·洛瓦恶狠狠地说道。接着又吻了吻妻子的手,笑容可掬地说道:“所幸我同他不一样。”

  到了就寝的时候,他的脑际依然萦回着那一成不变的想法,又问道:

  “查理睡觉时是否带个棉布睡帽,把后脑勺捂得严严实实,以免着凉?”

  “不,”玛德莱娜对于他的玩笑始终虚与委蛇,“他只是在头上系一块纱巾。”

  “真是丑态百出,”杜·洛瓦带着高人一等的轻蔑神情,耸了耸肩。

  从此之后,查理的名字也就时时挂在他的嘴边,不论遇上什么事总要提起他,而且装腔作势地带着无限的怜悯,一口一个“可怜的查理”。

  只要在报馆里听到有人喊他两三次弗雷斯蒂埃,他一回到家中,便会拿长眠于黄泉之下的死者出气,怀着仇恨,对死者百般嘲弄。这时,他常会得意地把他的缺点及其度量狭小和可笑之处,一一列数出来,甚至加以渲染和夸大,仿佛要把这可怕的劲敌在他妻子心中所产生的影响清除干净。

  有一句话,他不知已说了多少遍:

  “你还记得吗,玛德?弗雷斯蒂埃这个蠢货那天竟然声称,他可举出例子说明,胖子要比瘦子更加有劲。”

  到后来,他竟然对死者的床第隐私也发生了兴趣,妻子对此实在难于启齿,始终拒绝回答。然而他仍一个劲地坚持道:“好了,好了,快给我讲讲吧。他在这方面的表现一定很可笑,不是吗?”

  “算了,还是让他安息吧,”玛德莱娜说道,声音很低。

  “不,你一定要讲,”杜·洛瓦穷追不舍。“这个畜生在床上一定也笨得可以!”

  久而久之,他总是以这样的话语来结束谈话:“这家伙可真是个十足的蠢货!”

  六月末的一天晚上,天气特别热,他站在窗边抽烟,忽然灵机一动,想去外面转转,于是向玛德莱娜问道:

  “我的小玛德,想去布洛涅林苑走走吗?”

  “好呀,当然想去。”

  他们乘了一辆敞篷马车,经香榭丽舍大街向布洛涅林苑驶去。天上的云彩纹丝不动,一点风也没有。整个巴黎热得像个蒸笼,吸入体内的空气像锅炉里冒出的热气,滚烫滚烫。马车一辆接着一辆,把一对对情侣送到那较为清凉的林苑中去。

  看着这些恋人勾肩搭背地坐在车里,女的穿着浅色衣裙,男的穿着深色的衣装,从他们面前驶过,杜·洛瓦和玛德莱娜不觉心驰神往。已有星星出现的火红天空下,这情侣组成的洪流源源不断地流向林苑。除了车轮在地上的低沉滚动声,没有其他声响。每辆车上都坐着一对男女。他们默然无语,互相依偎着斜靠在座位上,沉陷于炽热的欲望所造成的梦幻中,正心急火燎地期待着那即将到来的狂热拥抱。灼热的暮色中似乎到处都是如痴如醉的热吻。这兽欲横流,滚滚向前的恋人大军,简直使空气也变得更形重浊起来,令人感到窒息。这些成双成对者,如今都沉醉于同一种追求,同一种激情中,一股狂热的气氛笼罩着四周。满载这万种情爱的马车,每一辆上方仿佛都是柔情缭绕,一边走,一边播洒着男女欢爱的浓厚气息,令人心旌摇摇,不能自已。

  在这荡人风情的熏染下,杜·洛瓦和玛德莱娜不觉也柔情依依地手拉起手,一言不发,心头因四周的强烈气氛而激动不已。

  车到城外拐弯处,他们情不自禁地一下子拥抱在一起。玛德莱娜心醉神迷,嗫嚅地说道:

  “咱们又像上次去卢昂那样,想怎样就怎样了。”

  巨大的车流进入林苑后也就散开了。在年轻人前往的湖区小路上,马车逐渐拉开了距离。林荫茂密,树影婆娑。树下小溪流水潺潺,树梢上方,广袤的苍穹已是繁星点点,空气因而显得格外凉爽而又清新。车中情人在神秘的夜色中拥抱,亲吻,无不感到销魂蚀骨。

  “啊,我的小玛德!”杜·洛瓦紧紧地搂着妻子,轻轻喊了一声。

  “还记得你家乡的树林吗?”玛德莱娜于是说道,“那片林子是多么地阴森可怖。我总觉得它无边无沿,猛禽怪兽,出没无常。这里的景象就大不相同,轻柔的晚风使人心旷神怡。据我所知,林苑那边就是塞弗勒。”

  “啊!瞧你说的,”杜·洛瓦说道,“我家乡的那个树林,也就有些鹿、狐狸、狍子和野猪而已,此外便是时而可以见到的守林人小屋。”

  这“守林人”一词,也即弗雷斯蒂埃的名字①,从他口中脱口而出,他不由地一惊。好像这个名字不是他自己说出的,而是某个人从路旁的灌木丛里向他喊出来的。忽然之间,他什么话也没有了。多日来,对死者的嫉妒一直折磨着他,弄得他坐卧不宁,难以排解。现在,他又回到了这莫名其妙、不能自拔的苦闷中。

  --------

  ①在法语中,“守林人”一词同人名弗雷斯蒂埃在拼写和读法上完全相同。

  过了片刻,他向妻子问道:

  “你过去也同查理一起,晚上乘车来此走走吗?”

  “当然,我们常来这儿。”

  听了这句话,他突然想立即打道回府,此要求是如此强烈,弄得他无以抗拒。因为这时,弗雷斯蒂埃的身影又回到了他的心头,紧紧地束缚着他,一刻也摆脱不了。无论是想什么或是说什么,都离不开这个死鬼。

  只见他恶狠狠地向玛德莱娜说道:

  “告诉我,玛德。”

  “什么,亲爱的。”

  “你有没有让可怜的查理戴绿帽子?”

  “你的这些无聊想法,什么时候才算完,真是越来越不像话了。”年轻的妻子一脸的鄙夷。

  然而杜·洛瓦依然毫无收敛:

  “瞧你,我的小玛德,有还是没有,照直说好了。快说,你让他戴了绿帽子,是不是?”

  玛德莱娜无言以对。同所有女人一样,一听到这充满侮辱的话语,便气得浑身发颤。

  “他妈的,”杜·洛瓦毫不退让,又说道,“世上如果有人像是戴了绿帽子的话,他就是一个。是的,一点没错。我之所以问你有没有让他戴绿帽子,就是想弄清这一点。不是吗?他那副模样是多么地呆头呆脑?”

  他觉得,玛德莱娜好像笑了笑,或许是想起了什么往事。

  因此他坚持道:

  “来,还是照直说了吧。这又有什么关系?相反,你若向我承认,说你欺骗过他,岂不是很有意思?”

  他所一心盼望的,是能够证实这可恨而又可恶的死鬼查理,确曾受过这可笑的耻辱。因此此刻正为弄清这一点而焦躁不已:

  “玛德,我的小玛德,求你了,你就承认了吧,这是他应有的下场。你若不这样对待他,反倒是不对的。来,玛德,承认了吧。”

  杜·洛瓦如此固执地坚持其想法,玛德莱娜现在显然觉得很有意思。因为她一阵阵地发出了咯咯的笑声。

  杜·洛瓦于是将嘴凑近妻子的耳边:

  “说了吧……说了吧……只是说个是,不就完了?”

  不想妻子猛地躲开身子,说道:

  “你这个人真蠢!这种问题,谁会回答?”

  她说这话的语气是那样认真,杜·洛瓦顿时像是浑身浇了盆冷水,微微喘息,神色茫然地僵在那里,仿佛受到了严厉训斥。

  马车此时正沿着湖边走着,映入水中的点点繁星,清晰可见。夜色沉沉,远处似乎有两只天鹅在缓缓游动。

  “现在往回走吧,”杜·洛瓦向车夫喊了一声。马车于是掉转头,踏上了归程。迎面还有一些车辆正不紧不慢地向这边驶来,硕大的车灯像一只只眼睛,在黑暗的树林中闪烁。

  “这是不是一种默认?”杜·洛瓦的心头依然萦绕着妻子刚才的话语,因为他觉得,她的语气实在有点怪!她一定欺骗了前夫,杜·洛瓦对此现在已几乎可以断定。这样一想,他不禁又怒火中烧,真想揪住她的头发,将她痛打一顿,把她掐死!“啊,亲爱的,要是我该欺骗他,那也只会同你!”她刚才的回答倘若这样,那该多好!他会怎样地拥抱她,亲吻她,爱她!

  他双臂环抱,一动不动地坐在那里,眼睛向着天上,内心却思绪翻滚,怎么也集中不起来。他只是感到,胸中正郁结着满腔的怨恨和怒火,同每一个男子在得悉自己的妻子偷人养汉时所产生的心情一样。怀疑妻子不贞,因而心情沉重,难于言表,个中滋味他还是生来第一次尝到!因此,他现在倒是在为他的亡友弗雷斯蒂埃感到不平!这种不平之感是那样地强烈,不可名状,转而迅速变成对玛德莱娜的憎恨。她既然让前夫戴了绿帽子,他杜·洛瓦又怎能信得了她?

  不过他的心情很快也就平静了下来。为使痛苦的心灵得到抚慰,他自我安慰道:

  “没有一个女人是规矩的。对于这些人,只能使之为己所用,决不可对她们有丝毫的信赖。”

  这样,内心的痛苦转瞬变成满腔的鄙视和厌恶,他真想把这些想法和盘托出,发泄一通。不过话到嘴边,还是克制住了,同时反复在心里重复着一句话:

  “世界属于强者。我必须做个强者,驾驭一切。”

  马车走得很块,转眼已越过旧日城墙。杜·洛瓦看到前方天幕上有一团红光,酷似一个烧得红红的巨大铸铁炉立在那里。耳际则传来一片由各种各样的无数声响汇集而成的低沉隆隆声,时远时近,持续不断。这就是人们隐约可以感到的巴黎的脉搏跳动和生命气息。在这夏日的夜晚,她像一个劳累了一天的巨人,正躺在那里喘着粗气。

  “我如果为此而大动肝火,”杜·洛瓦接着又想,“那也未免太蠢了。人人都为的是自己,胜利归于勇敢者。什么都离不开‘自私’两字,有的自私是为了名利,有的自私是为了爱情和女人,前者总比后者要好。”

  星形广场的凯旋门,又在视野中出现了。它像一个怪模怪样的巨人岿然挺立于城门边,似乎正准备迈开双腿,沿着面前的宽阔林荫道向前走去。杜·洛瓦和玛德莱娜所乘的马车,又卷进了车的洪流中。这一辆辆马车,如今正将那些卿卿我我的情侣送回家去。他们的心早已飞到床上,因此个个默然无语。面对这壮观的场面,杜·洛瓦和玛德莱娜觉得,好像整个人类都陶醉在这欢乐与幸福中。

  玛德莱娜看出丈夫心里一定在想着什么,便轻声问道:

  “你在想什么呢,亲爱的?你已经有半个小时一句话也没说了。”

  杜·洛瓦发出一声冷笑:

  “我在想这些搂搂抱抱的痴情男女。因为我觉得,实在说来,生活中该做的事多得很,何必这样没出息?”

  “倒也是……”玛德莱娜说道,“不过有的时候这也没什么不好。”

  “好……当然好……不过应当在实在无事可做的时候。”

  杜·洛瓦现在是彻底剥去了生活富有诗意的外表,恶狠狠地继续想道:

  “一个时期来,我总是缩手缩脚,这也不敢,那也不敢。遇到一点事儿,便心惊胆战,自己折磨自己,这是何苦来?从今之后,我是决不会再这样了。”

  想到这里,弗雷斯蒂埃的身影又在他的眼前浮现了出来,不过并未在他心中引起任何不快。相反,他觉得,他们已言归于好,又成了两个好友。他真想向他喊一声:“喂,老兄,你好。”

  玛德莱娜见他一直缄默不语,不禁感到不大自在,遂问道:

  “我们不妨先去多尔多尼咖啡馆吃点冰激淋,然后再回家,你看怎样?”

  杜·洛瓦转过头来,瞟了她一眼。车子这时恰巧走过一家有歌舞表演的咖啡馆门前,她那长着满头金发的秀丽身姿,在耀眼煤气灯饰的照耀下,是显得多么迷人。

  “她可真漂亮,”杜·洛瓦在心中嘀咕道。“也罢,这样也好。朋友,咱们俩可是棋逢对手了。除非太阳从西边出来,我是决不会为了你而不敢越雷池一步的。”

  “当然好啦,亲爱的,”他于是答道。为使她看不出任何破绽,他并且亲了亲她。

  玛德莱娜感到,丈夫的嘴唇简直冷若冰霜。

  不过他的脸上依然若无其事地漾着一丝微笑,并伸出手来,扶她在咖啡馆门前下了车。

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