Chapter 18 Attainment

It was dark in the apartments in the Rue de Constantinople, when Georges du Roy and Clotilde de Marelle, having met at the door, entered them. Without giving him time to raise the shades, the latter said:

“So you are going to marry Suzanne Walter?”

He replied in the affirmative, adding gently: “Did you not know it?”

She answered angrily: “So you are going to marry Suzanne Walter? For three months you have deceived me. Everyone knew of it but me. My husband told me. Since you left your wife you have been preparing for that stroke, and you made use of me in the interim. What a rascal you are!”

He asked: “How do you make that out? I had a wife who deceived me; I surprised her, obtained a divorce, and am now going to marry another. What is more simple than that?”

She murmured: “What a villain!”

He said with dignity: “I beg of you to be more careful as to what you say.”

She rebelled at such words from him: “What! Would you like me to handle you with gloves? You have conducted yourself like a rascal ever since I have known you, and now you do not want me to speak of it. You deceive everyone; you gather pleasure and money everywhere, and you want me to treat you as an honest man.”

He rose; his lips twitched: “Be silent or I will make you leave these rooms.”

She cried: “Leave here — you will make me — you? You forget that it is I who have paid for these apartments from the very first, and you threaten to put me out of them. Be silent, good-for-nothing! Do you think I do not know how you stole a portion of Vaudrec’s bequest from Madeleine? Do you think I do not know about Suzanne?”

He seized her by her shoulders and shook her. “Do not speak of that; I forbid you.”

“I know you have ruined her!”

He would have taken anything else, but that lie exasperated him. He repeated: “Be silent — take care”— and he shook her as he would have shaken the bough of a tree. Still she continued; “You were her ruin, I know it.” He rushed upon her and struck her as if she had been a man. Suddenly she ceased speaking, and groaned beneath his blows. Finally he desisted, paced the room several times in order to regain his self-possession, entered the bedroom, filled the basin with cold water and bathed his head. Then he washed his hands and returned to see what Clotilde was doing. She had not moved. She lay upon the floor weeping softly. He asked harshly:

“Will you soon have done crying?”

She did not reply. He stood in the center of the room, somewhat embarrassed, somewhat ashamed, as he saw the form lying before him. Suddenly he seized his hat. “Good evening. You can leave the key with the janitor when you are ready. I will not await your pleasure.”

He left the room, closed the door, sought the porter, and said to him: “Madame is resting. She will go out soon. You can tell the proprietor that I have given notice for the first of October.”

His marriage was fixed for the twentieth; it was to take place at the Madeleine. There had been a great deal of gossip about the entire affair, and many different reports were circulated. Mme. Walter had aged greatly; her hair was gray and she sought solace in religion.

In the early part of September “La Vie Francaise” announced that Baron du Roy de Cantel had become its chief editor, M. Walter reserving the title of manager. To that announcement were subjoined the names of the staff of art and theatrical critics, political reporters, and so forth. Journalists no longer sneered in speaking of “La Vie Francaise;” its success had been rapid and complete. The marriage of its chief editor was what was called a “Parisian event,” Georges du Roy and the Walters having occasioned much comment for some time.

The ceremony took place on a clear, autumn day. At ten o’clock the curious began to assemble; at eleven o’clock, detachments of officers came to disperse the crowd. Soon after, the first guests arrived; they were followed by others, women in rich costumes, men, grave and dignified. The church slowly began to fill. Norbert de Varenne espied Jacques Rival, and joined him.

“Well,” said he, “sharpers always succeed.”

His companion, who was not envious, replied: “So much the better for him. His fortune is made.”

Rival asked: “Do you know what has become of his wife?”

The poet smiled. “Yes and no — she lives a very retired life, I have been told, in the Montmartre quarter. But — there is a but — for some time I have read political articles in ‘La Plume,’ which resemble those of Forestier and Du Roy. They are supposed to be written by a Jean Le Dol, a young, intelligent, handsome man — something like our friend Georges — who has become acquainted with Mme. Forestier. From that I have concluded that she likes beginners and that they like her. She is, moreover, rich; Vaudrec and Laroche-Mathieu were not attentive to her for nothing.”

Rival asked: “Tell me, is it true that Mme. Walter and Du Roy do not speak?”

“Yes. She did not wish to give him her daughter’s hand. But he threatened the old man with shocking revelations. Walter remembered Laroche-Mathieu’s fate and yielded at once; but his wife, obstinate like all women, vowed that she would never address a word to her son-in-law. It is comical to see them together! She looks like the statue of vengeance, and he is very uncomfortable, although he tries to appear at his ease.”

Suddenly the beadle struck the floor three times with his staff. All the people turned to see what was coming, and the young bride appeared in the doorway leaning upon her father’s arm. She looked like a beautiful doll, crowned with a wreath of orange blossoms. She advanced with bowed head. The ladies smiled and murmured as she passed them. The men whispered:

“Exquisite, adorable!”

M. Walter walked by her side with exaggerated dignity. Behind them came four maids of honor dressed in pink and forming a charming court for so dainty a queen.

Mme. Walter followed on the arm of Count de Latour-Ivelin’s aged father. She did not walk; she dragged herself along, ready to faint at every step. She had aged and grown thinner.

Next came Georges du Roy with an old lady, a stranger. He held his head proudly erect and wore upon his coat, like a drop of blood, the red ribbon of the Legion of Honor.

He was followed by the relatives: Rose, who had been married six weeks, with a senator; Count de Latour-Ivelin with Viscountess de Percemur. Following them was a motley procession of associates and friends of Du Roy, country cousins of Mme. Walter’s, and guests invited by her husband.

The tones of the organ filled the church; the large doors at the entrance were closed, and Georges kneeled beside his bride in the choir. The new bishop of Tangiers, cross in hand, miter on head, entered from the sacristy, to unite them in the name of the Almighty. He asked the usual questions, rings were exchanged, words pronounced which bound them forever, and then he delivered an address to the newly married couple.

The sound of stifled sobs caused several to turn their heads. Mme. Walter was weeping, her face buried in her hands. She had been obliged to yield; but since the day on which she had told Du Roy: “You are the vilest man I know; never speak to me again, for I will not answer you,” she had suffered intolerable anguish. She hated Suzanne bitterly; her hatred was caused by unnatural jealousy. The bishop was marrying a daughter to her mother’s lover, before her and two thousand persons, and she could say nothing; she could not stop him. She could not cry: “He is mine, that man is my lover. That union you are blessing is infamous.”

Several ladies, touched by her apparent grief, murmured: “How affected that poor mother is!”

The bishop said: “You are among the favored ones of the earth. You, sir, who are raised above others by your talent — you who write, instruct, counsel, guide the people, have a grand mission to fulfill — a fine example to set.”

Du Roy listened to him proudly. A prelate of the Roman Church spoke thus to him. A number of illustrious people had come thither on his account. It seemed to him that an invisible power was impelling him on. He would become one of the masters of the country — he, the son of the poor peasants of Canteleu. He had given his parents five thousand francs of Count de Vaudrec’s fortune and he intended sending them fifty thousand more; then they could buy a small estate and live happily.

The bishop had finished his harangue, a priest ascended the altar, and the organ pealed forth. Suddenly the vibrating tones melted into delicate, melodious ones, like the songs of birds; then again they swelled into deep, full tones and human voices chanted over their bowed heads. Vauri and Landeck of the Opera were singing.

Bel-Ami, kneeling beside Suzanne, bowed his head. At that moment he felt almost pious, for he was filled with gratitude for the blessings showered upon him. Without knowing just whom he was addressing, he offered up thanks for his success. When the ceremony was over, he rose, and, giving his arm to his wife, they passed into the sacristy. A stream of people entered. Georges fancied himself a king whom the people were coming to greet. He shook hands, uttered words which signified nothing, and replied to congratulations with the words: “You are very kind.”

Suddenly he saw Mme. de Marelle, and the recollection of all the kisses he had given her and which she had returned, of all their caresses, of the sound of her voice, possessed him with the mad desire to regain her. She was so pretty, with her bright eyes and roguish air! She advanced somewhat timidly and offered him her hand. He took, retained, and pressed it as if to say: “I shall love you always, I am yours.”

Their eyes met, smiling, bright, full of love. She murmured in her soft tones: “Until we meet again, sir!” and he gaily repeated her words.

Others approached, and she passed on. Finally the throng dispersed. Georges placed Suzanne’s hand upon his arm to pass through the church with her. It was filled with people, for all had resumed their seats in order to see them leave the sacred edifice together. He walked along slowly, with a firm step, his head erect. He saw no one. He only thought of himself.

When they reached the threshold he saw a crowd gathered outside, come to gaze at him, Georges du Roy. The people of Paris envied him. Raising his eyes, he saw beyond the Place de la Concorde, the chamber of deputies, and it seemed to him that it was only a stone’s throw from the portico of the Madeleine to that of the Palais Bourbon.

Leisurely they descended the steps between two rows of spectators, but Georges did not see them; his thoughts had returned to the past, and before his eyes, dazzled by the bright sunlight, floated the image of Mme. de Marelle, rearranging the curly locks upon her temples before the mirror in their apartments.

  读者所熟悉的君士坦丁堡街那间小套房现在是一片漆黑,在公寓大门边相遇的乔治·杜·洛瓦和克洛蒂尔德·德·马莱尔匆匆进入房间后,杜·洛瓦还没来得及打开百叶窗,克洛蒂尔德便向他问道:

  “这么说,你要娶苏珊·瓦尔特了?”

  杜·洛瓦轻轻点了点头,说道:

  “你不知道?”

  克洛蒂尔德怒不可遏,站在他面前气冲冲地说道:

  “你要娶苏珊·瓦尔特!这也未免太过分了,实在太过分!三个月来,你对我甜言蜜语,把我瞒得死死的。这件事现在谁不知道,只有我蒙在鼓里。到后来,还是我丈夫告诉我的!”

  杜·洛瓦发出一声冷笑,但心里毕竟有点歉疚。把帽子放在壁炉上后,他在一把扶手椅上坐了下来。

  克洛蒂尔德目不转睛地盯着他,又忿忿地低声说道:

  “看来同你妻子分手后,你便开始这精心谋划了。而你竟煞有介事地继续让我作你的情妇,给你暂时补一补缺。你这个人怎么这样卑鄙?”

  杜·洛瓦没好气地说道:

  “怎么这样说呢?我妻子欺骗了我,并被我当场抓住。我设法同她离了婚,现在打算另娶一个。这有什么不对?”

  克洛蒂尔德气得浑身发抖,说道:

  “啊!你竟是这样一个满肚子坏水的危险家伙!”

  杜·洛瓦笑了笑:

  “是啊,上当的总是些傻瓜和白痴!”

  克洛蒂尔德没有理他,接着往下说道:

  “对于你的为人,我怎么没有从一开始就看出来呢?可是我哪里能想到,你竟会坏得这样出奇?”

  杜·洛瓦突然摆出一副威严的神情:

  “请你放尊重些,不要太过分了。”

  经他这样一说,克洛蒂尔德更是火冒三丈:

  “什么?你难道也配我同你客客气气,温文尔雅?自从我认识你以来,你对我的种种表现就是一个十足的无赖。这些话,你竟有脸不让我说。哪个人没有上过你的当?哪个人没有被你利用过?你到处寻欢作乐,到处骗取钱财,而你竟要在我面前摆出一副正人君子的样子!”

  杜·洛瓦站起身,嘴唇气得直打哆嗦:

  “住嘴,否则我就把你从这里赶出去。”

  “把我从这里赶出去……把我从这里赶出去……你……你……你要把我从这里赶出去?……”克洛蒂尔德嘟哝道。

  怒火中烧的她,现在是气得连话也说不出来了。不想这怒火忽然像是冲开了闸门,一下迸发了出来:

  “把我从这里赶出去?你难道忘了,这套房间从第一天起,就是我出钱租下的?当然,你有时也付过房租。可是是谁租下来的?……是我……是谁把它保留下来的?……是我……而你竟要把我从这里赶出去,还是闭上你的臭嘴吧,流氓!沃德雷克留给玛德莱娜的遗产,你从她手中夺走了一半,你以为我不知道吗?你也一定以为我不知道,你是怎样同苏珊发生关系,然后迫使她嫁给你……”

  杜·洛瓦双手按住她的肩头,使劲将她摇了摇:

  “不要提她,不许你把她也拉进来!”

  克洛蒂尔德大声喊道:

  “你同她睡了觉,还有脸不让我说?”

  她不论说什么,杜·洛瓦皆可忍受,唯独这无中生有的捏造,却是他所不能忍受的。她刚才当着他的面,把他的那些丑行都喊叫着抖落了出来,这已在他心中激起一股股怒火。现在,她竟又对这即将成为他妻子的姑娘,说出这种毫无根据的话来,他不禁恨得手心发痒,要对她报以拳脚了。

  他因而又说道:

  “住口……你要再不住口……我可要不客气了……”他一边说,一边摇晃着她的身子,好像在摇一根树杈,要把树杈上的果实摇落下来。

  不想蓬头散发的克洛蒂尔德仍带着凶狠的目光,张着大嘴咆哮道:

  “我就说,你同她睡了觉!”

  杜·洛瓦松开手,在她脸上狠狠扇了一耳光,使她一个跟头栽倒在墙边。不甘示弱的克洛蒂尔德用手支撑起身子,向他转过头来,又声嘶力竭地重复了一遍:

  “我就说,你同她睡了觉!”

  杜·洛瓦一个箭步冲过去,伏在她身上,像揍一个男人一样,对她抡起了拳头。

  克洛蒂尔德再也硬不起来了,只是在杜·洛瓦的重击之下不住地呻吟。她动也不动,脸藏在墙脚下,发出痛苦的叫唤。

  杜·洛瓦停住手,站了起来,在房内走了几步,使自己平静下来。接着一转念,走进卧室,拧开水龙头放了盆凉水,把头在水里浸了浸并洗了洗手。然后一边仔细地擦着手,一边走回来看她怎样了。

  克洛蒂尔德仍躺在地上呜咽啜泣。

  杜·洛瓦不耐烦地问道:

  “你号丧什么,还有完没完?”

  克洛菩尔德没答理他。他站在房间中央,对着这躺在面前的女人,心中不免感到有点羞愧和尴尬。

  他于是把心一横,拿起壁炉上的帽子,向她说道:

  “我走了。房间钥匙,你走的时候交给门房好了。我就不等你了。”

  走出房间并关好房门后,他到了门房那儿,对他说道:“太太还在房里,她一会儿就走。请告诉房东,这房子我打算从十月一日走不来住了。今天是八月十六日,到这一天还有些日子。”

  说完,他大步走了出去,因为给新娘的礼物尚未备齐,得抓紧去办。

  婚期定在十月二十日两院复会以后。婚礼将在玛德莱娜教堂举行。外间传说很多,但真实情况谁也未能弄清。各种说法都有,有人说新娘曾被拐走,但实情如何,谁也拿不准。

  仆人传出的说法是,瓦尔特夫人已不再同她那未来的女婿说话。定下这门亲事的那天晚上,她让人在深夜把女儿送往寄宿学校后,曾在一气之下服毒自杀。

  她被人发现时,已经快要气绝了。今后要彻底恢复过来,显然是不可能了。她现在已完全成了一名老妇,头发尽皆花白。与此同时,她已变得非常虔诚。教堂于星期天举办的大型弥撒,她是每场必到。

  九月初,《法兰西生活报》宣布,该报主编已改由杜·洛瓦·德·康泰勒男爵担任;至于报社经理,则仍是瓦尔特先生。

  报社在人员上作了大大扩充,靠金钱而从历史悠久、实力雄厚的各大报馆挖了许多有名的专栏编辑、本地新闻编辑和政治编辑,以及艺术评论员和戏剧评论员。

  新闻界德高望重的老报人在谈到《法兰西生活报》时,过去那种轻蔑的神情如今是再也见不到了。甚至那些对该报当初所作所为曾有微言的严肃作家,也因其在短时间内所取得的全面成功,而开始对它刮目相看。

  鉴于一个时期来,乔治·杜·洛瓦和瓦尔特一家已成为人们经常议论的话题,这位大主编的婚礼也就成了巴黎的一件大事。姓名常常见诸报端的社会名流,都纷纷表示届时要前往祝贺。

  婚礼举行那天,时当初秋,明丽的阳光洒遍大地。

  早上八点,位于罗亚尔街的玛德莱娜教堂全体员工便忙着在教堂门前高高的台阶上铺了一块大红地毯。街上行人禁止通行,巴黎市民由此得知这里将举行重大活动。

  上班的机关职员、青年女工和商店店员纷纷驻足观看,很想一睹这些为一场婚礼而如此耗费的阔佬,究竟是什么模样。

  十点左右,驻足观看者越积越多。不过大多只是呆上几分钟,见婚礼一时半刻还不会举行,也就走开了。

  但是到了十一点,围观者又已是黑压压一片。这时来了一些警察,开始疏散行人。

  不久,首批宾客终于到来。这些人显然是想占个好位置,好将整个仪式看个清楚。因此,他们都在教堂大厅靠近中间过道的椅子上坐了下来。

  接着,其他宾客陆续到来。女士们花团锦簇,裙裾窸窣,男士则大都已谢顶,个个神情严肃,步履庄重,比平时显得益发端庄。

  大厅里已渐渐坐满了人。灿烂的阳光从敞开的大门直射进来,把头几排亲友座席照得一片明亮。大厅尽头似乎仍有点昏暗,同门外长驱直入的耀眼阳光相比,祭坛上的烛光是显得多么昏黄,渺小而又苍白。

  旧友相聚,彼此很快认出,于是纷纷点头致意,不久便三三两两地聚到一起。文人骚客在此场合的表现,历来不如社交人士。他们在低声说着话,目光在女人们身上转来转去。

  诺贝尔·德·瓦伦正在找一位熟友,忽见雅克·里瓦尔就坐在几排位置中间,于是向他走了过去。

  “看到没有?”他说,“到底是有心计者神通广大。”

  对方对他们的这位仁兄倒并不怎样嫉妒,因此说道:“这样也好,他现在总算有了个归宿。”

  接着,他们就各自在人群中见到的人,一一向对方说了说。

  “你知道他前妻的近况吗?”里瓦尔突然问道。

  “可以说既知道也不知道,”诗人笑道,“据说她住在蒙马特区,平时深居简出。不过且慢……我最近在《笔杆报》上看到几篇政论文章,文笔同弗雷斯蒂埃和杜·洛瓦的文章如出一辙。作者名叫让·勒多尔,此人年轻英俊,为人聪颖,同我们的朋友杜·洛瓦属同一类型,且与他的前妻过从甚密。我因而认为她喜欢同后起之秀为伍,而且会始终如此。况且她非常富有。作为她家的常客,沃德雷克和拉罗舍—马蒂厄在这方面不会对她毫无助益。”

  “玛德莱娜这个小娘们确实不错,”里瓦尔说道,“不但聪明伶俐,而且生得一副肌肤玉骨!如果脱了衣服,一定非常迷人。不过奇怪的是,杜·洛瓦的离婚既然无人不晓,他怎么又能到教堂里来举行婚礼呢?”

  “他到教堂里来举行婚礼,”诺贝尔·德·瓦伦答道,“是因为在教会看来,他的前次婚姻可不算数。”

  “这是怎么回事?”

  “不知是因为未加考虑还是出于节约,我们这位漂亮朋友当初同玛德莱娜·弗雷斯蒂埃结婚时,认为去区政府登个记也就可以了。因此他们未去教堂接受神甫的祝福,而这在神圣的教会看来,不过是同居而已。这样,他今天是以未婚男子的身份来教堂的,教堂对他倒也非常卖力,将其豪华陈设全都摆了出来,这可要我们的瓦尔特老头破费一点。”

  宾客仍在源源不断地到来,大厅里的喧闹声越来越大。有的人甚至在说话时声音很响。几位要人成了人们注视的中心,他们则为自己能引起众人的关注而备感荣耀,因此神态庄重,十分注意保持自己在这大庭广众之下的仪表。他们觉得自己是各种喜庆活动所必不可少的装饰,是烘托气氛的高雅摆设,所以对于自己在这种时候该如何表现,非常老练。

  “亲爱的,”里瓦尔这时又说道,“你是常到老板家去的,瓦尔特夫人和杜·洛瓦彼此间真的是一句话也不说吗?”

  “是的,她不愿把女儿嫁给他。但杜·洛瓦好像在摩洛哥发现的尸体问题上拿住了瓦尔特什么把柄,因此对他发出威胁,若不将女儿嫁给他,便将一切公之与众。想起拉罗舍—马蒂厄的前车之鉴,瓦尔特只得立刻让步。然而姑娘的母亲却和所有的女人一样固执,她当即发誓,从此再也不同这未来的女婿说话。他们俩走到一起时,那样子可真滑稽。一个面无表情,完全像是一尊雕像,一尊复仇女神的雕像;另一个却窘态百出,尽管他依然谈笑自若,视若无睹,因为此人有着非凡的自制力。”

  这当儿,几位报界同行走过来同他们握了握手,就一些政治方面的问题同他们稍稍谈了几句。聚集在教堂门外的民众所发出的嘈杂声,宛如海洋深处隐约传来的涛声,随着长驱直入的阳光而传入大厅,直冲拱顶。这样一来,大厅内那些绅士淑女的窃窃私语,也就变得相形见绌了。

  守门卫士忽然用其长戈在木板地上击了三下。随着一阵衣裙的窸窣声和椅子的挪动声,众人纷纷将身子转了过去,只见新娘挽着她父亲的胳膊,出现在阳光灿烂的门边。

  她看去依然橡是一个非常精致的玩具娃娃,通身披着洁白的婚纱,头上插着几朵桔黄色小花。

  她在门外停了一会儿,然后迈过门槛,进入大厅。管风琴于是发出震耳欲聋的声响,报告新娘已经到来。

  她款款而行,脑袋低垂,但并无羞色。神情虽略显激动,但举止大方,仪态迷人,实在生得娇小柔媚。女士们微笑着看着她走过,不禁发出低声赞叹,男士们也赞不绝口:“她可真是一个美艳绝伦、世所罕见的尤物!”瓦尔特步履庄重,但不太自然,略显苍白的面庞,鼻梁上端端正正架着一副眼镜。

  个个长得眉清目秀,且穿着一式粉红色衣装的四位女傧相,走在他们后面,为这国色天香的“王后”侍候于侧。男傧相也是精心挑选来的,不但体态匀称,而且步伐整齐,仿佛由芭蕾舞教师悉心指点过。

  接下来便是瓦尔特夫人了。手上挽着现年七十二岁的德·拉图尔—伊夫林侯爵,即她另一个女婿的父亲,她与其说是在队列中走着,不如说是在一步步往前蹭,每挪动一步都有可能要昏厥过去。她的脚好似粘在了地板上,两腿瘫软如绵,怦怦直跳的心房简直像是要跳出胸膛。

  她是瘦多了,满头白发下,那张面庞是那样苍白,两颊是那样凹陷。

  她两眼直视,对身旁的宾客看也不看一眼,也许仍在为心头的伤痛而苦苦不能解脱。

  队列中随后出现的,是同一陌生老妇走在一起的乔治·杜·洛瓦。

  他昂着头,眉心微锁,凝重的目光也直勾勾地向着前方,嘴角的胡髭高高翘起。他的俊美实在无可挑剔,且身材修长,两腿笔直,步履冉冉。他穿着一套剪裁合度的礼服,肩上披着一条血红色荣誉勋位绶带。

  接着走来的是新人的亲属:刚结婚六星期的罗莎同参议员黎梭兰走在一起,她丈夫德·拉图尔—伊夫林伯爵则同佩尔斯缪子爵夫人走在一起。

  最后是杜·洛瓦的亲友所组成的一支杂七杂八的队伍。这些人,杜·洛瓦已带到他的新家去同大家相识。他们都是巴黎市井的知名人物,且个个古道热肠,只要与你见上一面,很快便可与你结为知己。其中大都为杜·洛瓦的远亲,有的是暴发户,有的则是穷愁潦倒、行为不端的没落贵族。这后一种人中,有的并已成家,那景况就更惨了。比如他们当中有德·贝尔维涅先生、德·邦若兰侯爵、德·拉沃耐尔伯爵和夫人、德·拉莫拉诺公爵、德·克拉瓦洛亲王和瓦尔莱阿里骑士。此外是瓦尔特请来的几位客人,有德·盖尔什亲王、德·费拉辛纳公爵和夫人,以及迷人的德·杜纳侯爵夫人。还有几位是瓦尔特夫人的亲戚,在这一群人中,他们还保留着外省人朴实无华的仪表。

  管风琴一直在不停地响着,其闪闪发光的钢管奏出的响亮而有节奏的乐曲,把人间的悲欢离合全都倾诉了出来。两扇大门这时隆隆关闭,明丽的阳光好像被驱赶了出去,大厅里顿时一片昏暗。

  杜·洛瓦和新娘现在已在祭坛上跪下,与烛光熊熊的祭台遥遥相对。来自丹吉尔的新任主教,头戴主教帽,手持神杖,从圣器室走了出来。他将以天主的名义为他们证婚。

  他按照惯例向他们问了几句,接着让他们交换指环,并说了几句要他们永结同心的话语。此后,他发表了一篇饱含天主教精神的祝辞,以华丽的词藻把夫妻间必不可少的忠诚说了很久很久。他身材高大而又肥胖,气度很不寻常。大腹便便正是这些高级教士所具威严的象征。

  人群中忽听有人哭泣,几个人不由地回过头去。原来是瓦尔特夫人双手捂着脸,在抽抽噎噎。

  在女儿的婚事上,她不得不作了让步。因为若不让步,她又能怎样?女儿回来后到她房内来看她时,她连亲也没有亲她,立刻把她赶了出去。杜·洛瓦来见她时是那样毕恭毕敬,她当即压低嗓音向他说道:“你是我所认识的人中最为卑鄙龌龊的小人,请从今而后别再同我说话,我不会答理你的。”自那时以来,她始终处于难以言喻的痛苦中,终日长吁短叹。她恨苏珊,这刻骨铭心的恨发自她那过于浓烈的情思和无以排解的嫉妒。因为她作为母亲和情人而在内心深处郁结的这种奇异嫉恨是那样强烈而又不便与外人言,它像一处灼热作痛的伤口,令她终日不得安宁。

  而现在,她的女儿和情夫却在一位主教的主持下,当着两千宾客和她本人的面,在这神圣的教堂里堂而皇之地举行婚礼!她能说什么呢?她能站出来加以阻止吗?她能向主教大声疾呼,对他说,“这个男人是我的,他是我的情人,你今天主持的这场婚礼,是对世间人伦肆无忌惮的玷污”吗?

  好几位女士见此情景深为感动,悄悄说道:

  “瞧这可怜的母亲在把女儿嫁出去时,是多么地伤心!”

  主教的祝辞已变得更加抑扬顿挫了:

  “你们是世间最幸福的人,你们最为富有,也最受尊敬。特别是您,先生,您才华超群,并通过您的道德文章而给芸芸众生以指点和启迪,成为民众的引路人。您身上肩负着伟大的使命,您要给他们做出表率来……”

  听了这一席话,踌躇满志的杜·洛瓦不禁有点飘飘然。罗马教会的一位高级神职人员今天居然对他说出了这样的话语!他清楚地感到,前来为他祝贺的大批社会名流,此刻正站在他身后。他觉得,仿佛有一股力量在推着他,把他高高托了起来。他这个康特勒贫苦农民的儿子不想也有今天,成了世间的一位主宰!

  倏忽之间,他仿佛看到,在那俯瞰卢昂河谷的山岗上,他的父亲和母亲正在其简陋的酒店里,为前来喝酒的当地老乡热情地张罗着。从德·沃德雷克伯爵留下的遗产中分得一份后,他曾给他们寄去五千法郎。现在,他要再给他们寄上五万法郎,让他们置点薄产,颐养天年。

  主教的祝辞已经结束。一个披着金色长袍的教士登上祭坛,管风琴又奏起了颂扬新婚夫妇的乐曲。

  起初,琴声激越,如汹涌澎湃的波涛长时间如雷震耳,其高亢雄浑的气势简直像是要掀掉屋顶,冲向蓝天。随后,这响彻大厅、撼人心魄的乐声,忽然缓和了下来。轻快活泼的音符在空中嬉戏,如阵阵轻风掠过耳边。婉转的曲调欢快而又柔媚,酷似小鸟在天空翱翔。不想过了一会儿,这幽雅的乐曲又突然一改其轻歌曼舞而再度变得高昂洪亮起来,其雷霆万钧的磅礴之势令人骇异,好像一粒沙子在转瞬之间变成了浩瀚的广宇。

  最后,有人唱了起来,歌声在垂首而立的人群上空回荡。歌唱者是来自歌剧院的沃里和朗德克。大厅里香烟缭绕,芳香扑鼻。祭坛上,教士主持的祭献业已开始,为的是祈求天主降临人间,对乔治·杜·洛瓦男爵的婚礼予以确认。

  跪在苏珊身旁的杜·洛瓦脑袋低垂。此时此刻,他感到自己好像已成为一名虔诚的信徒,对天上神明对他的如此垂顾和恩宠感激莫名。自己能取得今日的成功,他不知该感谢谁,于是将一腔感念都给了神明。

  弥撒结束后,他站起身,挽着他的妻子走进圣器室。举座宾客排成长长的队列,从他面前走过。杜·洛瓦喜不自胜,觉得自己俨然成了万民朝贺的君王。他不停地向贺喜的客人躬身行礼,同他们一一握手,口中并客套连连,对他们的恭维之辞总要说上一句:“感谢光临”。

  后来,他突然发现德·马莱尔夫人走了过来。两人间过去的热吻和温情,以及她的温存体贴、说话的声音和芳唇的韵味,不禁油然涌上心头,使他热血沸腾,真想一把将她拥入怀内,同她重享床笫之乐。她容貌较好,目光热烈,身段迷人,而且时时显出一副顽皮的样子。杜·洛瓦心想:“不管怎样,让她做个情妇,还是满不错的。”

  德·马莱尔夫人略带不安,怯生生地走到他面前,向他伸过一只手来。他接过来握在手中,感到她那纤纤细手在悄悄向他传递信息,其轻轻捏握不仅表示她已原谅了他,而且表示愿同他重修旧好。他于是将这只小手使劲握了握,意思分明是:

  “我始终爱着你,我是你的。”

  他们的目光因而相遇,这含笑的目光闪闪发亮,充满爱意。只见她娇媚地向他嘟哝一声:“回头见,先生。”

  他也快乐地向她说道:“回头见,夫人。”

  她迈着轻盈的步伐走开了。

  其他人还在向这边涌来,他面前的这条人流总也走不完。到后来,前来道贺的客人终于少了起来。及至最后一人离去,杜·洛瓦也就重新挽起苏珊的胳膊,穿过大厅,往门外走去。

  大厅里,道贺完毕的客人又回到了各自的位置上,目送这一对新人从身边走过。杜·洛瓦昂着头,神色安详,慢慢地走着,目光向着阳光灿烂的门外。他感到周身出现一阵阵战栗,这是人在处于极度幸福中时所常有的。他一个人也没有看见,心中只想着他自己。

  走到门边,他见门外万头攒动,挤着一片闹哄哄的人群。这些人来到这里,显然是想一睹他乔治·杜·洛瓦的丰采。全巴黎人如今都在看着他,羡慕他。

  他抬起头来,协和广场对面的众议院立刻映入他的眼帘。

  他觉得自己好像就要从脚下的玛德莱娜教堂跃入那波旁宫里。

  他一步步走下教堂门前高耸的阶梯,两旁挤满围观的人群。不过这些人,他根本视而未见,因为他的思绪此刻又回到了过去那些日子。耀眼的阳光下,德·马莱尔夫人的倩影总浮现在他的眼前,见她正对着镜子梳理那卷曲的云鬓。每次从床上下来,她的头发总是一片蓬乱。

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