马丁·伊登(MARTIN EDEN)第四十六章
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"Say, Joe," was his greeting to his old-time working-mate next morning, "there's a Frenchman out on Twenty-eighth Street. He's made a pot of money, and he's going back to France. It's a dandy, well-appointed, small steam laundry. There's a start for you if you want to settle down. Here, take this; buy some clothes with it and be at this man's office by ten o'clock. He looked up the laundry for me, and he'll take you out and show you around. If you like it, and think it is worth the price - twelve thousand - let me know and it is yours. Now run along. I'm busy. I'll see you later."

"Now look here, Mart," the other said slowly, with kindling anger, "I come here this mornin' to see you. Savve? I didn't come here to get no laundry. I come a here for a talk for old friends' sake, and you shove a laundry at me. I tell you, what you can do. You can take that laundry an' go to hell."

He was out of the room when Martin caught him and whirled him around.

"Now look here, Joe," he said; "if you act that way, I'll punch your head. An for old friends' sake I'll punch it hard. Savve? - you will, will you?"

Joe had clinched and attempted to throw him, and he was twisting and writhing out of the advantage of the other's hold. They reeled about the room, locked in each other's arms, and came down with a crash across the splintered wreckage of a wicker chair. Joe was underneath, with arms spread out and held and with Martin's knee on his chest. He was panting and gasping for breath when Martin released him.

"Now we'll talk a moment," Martin said. "You can't get fresh with me. I want that laundry business finished first of all. Then you can come back and we'll talk for old sake's sake. I told you I was busy. Look at that."

A servant had just come in with the morning mail, a great mass of letters and magazines.

"How can I wade through that and talk with you? You go and fix up that laundry, and then we'll get together."

"All right," Joe admitted reluctantly. "I thought you was turnin' me down, but I guess I was mistaken. But you can't lick me, Mart, in a stand-up fight. I've got the reach on you."

"We'll put on the gloves sometime and see," Martin said with a smile.

"Sure; as soon as I get that laundry going." Joe extended his arm. "You see that reach? It'll make you go a few."

Martin heaved a sigh of relief when the door closed behind the laundryman. He was becoming anti-social. Daily he found it a severer strain to be decent with people. Their presence perturbed him, and the effort of conversation irritated him. They made him restless, and no sooner was he in contact with them than he was casting about for excuses to get rid of them.

He did not proceed to attack his mail, and for a half hour he lolled in his chair, doing nothing, while no more than vague, half- formed thoughts occasionally filtered through his intelligence, or rather, at wide intervals, themselves constituted the flickering of his intelligence.

He roused himself and began glancing through his mail. There were a dozen requests for autographs - he knew them at sight; there were professional begging letters; and there were letters from cranks, ranging from the man with a working model of perpetual motion, and the man who demonstrated that the surface of the earth was the inside of a hollow sphere, to the man seeking financial aid to purchase the Peninsula of Lower California for the purpose of communist colonization. There were letters from women seeking to know him, and over one such he smiled, for enclosed was her receipt for pew-rent, sent as evidence of her good faith and as proof of her respectability.

Editors and publishers contributed to the daily heap of letters, the former on their knees for his manuscripts, the latter on their knees for his books - his poor disdained manuscripts that had kept all he possessed in pawn for so many dreary months in order to find them in postage. There were unexpected checks for English serial rights and for advance payments on foreign translations. His English agent announced the sale of German translation rights in three of his books, and informed him that Swedish editions, from which he could expect nothing because Sweden was not a party to the Berne Convention, were already on the market. Then there was a nominal request for his permission for a Russian translation, that country being likewise outside the Berne Convention.

He turned to the huge bundle of clippings which had come in from his press bureau, and read about himself and his vogue, which had become a furore. All his creative output had been flung to the public in one magnificent sweep. That seemed to account for it. He had taken the public off its feet, the way Kipling had, that time when he lay near to death and all the mob, animated by a mob- mind thought, began suddenly to read him. Martin remembered how that same world-mob, having read him and acclaimed him and not understood him in the least, had, abruptly, a few months later, flung itself upon him and torn him to pieces. Martin grinned at the thought. Who was he that he should not be similarly treated in a few more months? Well, he would fool the mob. He would be away, in the South Seas, building his grass house, trading for pearls and copra, jumping reefs in frail outriggers, catching sharks and bonitas, hunting wild goats among the cliffs of the valley that lay next to the valley of Taiohae.

In the moment of that thought the desperateness of his situation dawned upon him. He saw, cleared eyed, that he was in the Valley of the Shadow. All the life that was in him was fading, fainting, making toward death.

He realized how much he slept, and how much he desired to sleep. Of old, he had hated sleep. It had robbed him of precious moments of living. Four hours of sleep in the twenty-four had meant being robbed of four hours of life. How he had grudged sleep! Now it was life he grudged. Life was not good; its taste in his mouth was without tang, and bitter. This was his peril. Life that did not yearn toward life was in fair way toward ceasing. Some remote instinct for preservation stirred in him, and he knew he must get away. He glanced about the room, and the thought of packing was burdensome. Perhaps it would be better to leave that to the last. In the meantime he might be getting an outfit.

He put on his hat and went out, stopping in at a gun-store, where he spent the remainder of the morning buying automatic rifles, ammunition, and fishing tackle. Fashions changed in trading, and he knew he would have to wait till he reached Tahiti before ordering his trade-goods. They could come up from Australia, anyway. This solution was a source of pleasure. He had avoided doing something, and the doing of anything just now was unpleasant. He went back to the hotel gladly, with a feeling of satisfaction in that the comfortable Morris chair was waiting for him; and he groaned inwardly, on entering his room, at sight of Joe in the Morris chair.

Joe was delighted with the laundry. Everything was settled, and he would enter into possession next day. Martin lay on the bed, with closed eyes, while the other talked on. Martin's thoughts were far away - so far away that he was rarely aware that he was thinking. It was only by an effort that he occasionally responded. And yet this was Joe, whom he had always liked. But Joe was too keen with life. The boisterous impact of it on Martin's jaded mind was a hurt. It was an aching probe to his tired sensitiveness. When Joe reminded him that sometime in the future they were going to put on the gloves together, he could almost have screamed.

"Remember, Joe, you're to run the laundry according to those old rules you used to lay down at Shelly Hot Springs," he said. "No overworking. No working at night. And no children at the mangles. No children anywhere. And a fair wage."

Joe nodded and pulled out a note-book.

"Look at here. I was workin' out them rules before breakfast this A.M. What d'ye think of them?"

He read them aloud, and Martin approved, worrying at the same time as to when Joe would take himself off.

It was late afternoon when he awoke. Slowly the fact of life came back to him. He glanced about the room. Joe had evidently stolen away after he had dozed off. That was considerate of Joe, he thought. Then he closed his eyes and slept again.

In the days that followed Joe was too busy organizing and taking hold of the laundry to bother him much; and it was not until the day before sailing that the newspapers made the announcement that he had taken passage on the Mariposa. Once, when the instinct of preservation fluttered, he went to a doctor and underwent a searching physical examination. Nothing could be found the matter with him. His heart and lungs were pronounced magnificent. Every organ, so far as the doctor could know, was normal and was working normally.

"There is nothing the matter with you, Mr. Eden," he said, "positively nothing the matter with you. You are in the pink of condition. Candidly, I envy you your health. It is superb. Look at that chest. There, and in your stomach, lies the secret of your remarkable constitution. Physically, you are a man in a thousand - in ten thousand. Barring accidents, you should live to be a hundred."

And Martin knew that Lizzie's diagnosis had been correct. Physically he was all right. It was his "think-machine" that had gone wrong, and there was no cure for that except to get away to the South Seas. The trouble was that now, on the verge of departure, he had no desire to go. The South Seas charmed him no more than did bourgeois civilization. There was no zest in the thought of departure, while the act of departure appalled him as a weariness of the flesh. He would have felt better if he were already on board and gone.

The last day was a sore trial. Having read of his sailing in the morning papers, Bernard Higginbotham, Gertrude, and all the family came to say good-by, as did Hermann von Schmidt and Marian. Then there was business to be transacted, bills to be paid, and everlasting reporters to be endured. He said good-by to Lizzie Connolly, abruptly, at the entrance to night school, and hurried away. At the hotel he found Joe, too busy all day with the laundry to have come to him earlier. It was the last straw, but Martin gripped the arms of his chair and talked and listened for half an hour.

"You know, Joe," he said, "that you are not tied down to that laundry. There are no strings on it. You can sell it any time and blow the money. Any time you get sick of it and want to hit the road, just pull out. Do what will make you the happiest."

Joe shook his head.

"No more road in mine, thank you kindly. Hoboin's all right, exceptin' for one thing - the girls. I can't help it, but I'm a ladies' man. I can't get along without 'em, and you've got to get along without 'em when you're hoboin'. The times I've passed by houses where dances an' parties was goin' on, an' heard the women laugh, an' saw their white dresses and smiling faces through the windows - Gee! I tell you them moments was plain hell. I like dancin' an' picnics, an' walking in the moonlight, an' all the rest too well. Me for the laundry, and a good front, with big iron dollars clinkin' in my jeans. I seen a girl already, just yesterday, and, d'ye know, I'm feelin' already I'd just as soon marry her as not. I've ben whistlin' all day at the thought of it. She's a beaut, with the kindest eyes and softest voice you ever heard. Me for her, you can stack on that. Say, why don't you get married with all this money to burn? You could get the finest girl in the land."

Martin shook his head with a smile, but in his secret heart he was wondering why any man wanted to marry. It seemed an amazing and incomprehensible thing.

From the deck of the Mariposa, at the sailing hour, he saw Lizzie Connolly hiding in the skirts of the crowd on the wharf. Take her with you, came the thought. It is easy to be kind. She will be supremely happy. It was almost a temptation one moment, and the succeeding moment it became a terror. He was in a panic at the thought of it. His tired soul cried out in protest. He turned away from the rail with a groan, muttering, "Man, you are too sick, you are too sick."

He fled to his stateroom, where he lurked until the steamer was clear of the dock. In the dining saloon, at luncheon, he found himself in the place of honor, at the captain's right; and he was not long in discovering that he was the great man on board. But no more unsatisfactory great man ever sailed on a ship. He spent the afternoon in a deck-chair, with closed eyes, dozing brokenly most of the time, and in the evening went early to bed.

After the second day, recovered from seasickness, the full passenger list was in evidence, and the more he saw of the passengers the more he disliked them. Yet he knew that he did them injustice. They were good and kindly people, he forced himself to acknowledge, and in the moment of acknowledgment he qualified - good and kindly like all the bourgeoisie, with all the psychological cramp and intellectual futility of their kind, they bored him when they talked with him, their little superficial minds were so filled with emptiness; while the boisterous high spirits and the excessive energy of the younger people shocked him. They were never quiet, ceaselessly playing deck-quoits, tossing rings, promenading, or rushing to the rail with loud cries to watch the leaping porpoises and the first schools of flying fish.

He slept much. After breakfast he sought his deck-chair with a magazine he never finished. The printed pages tired him. He puzzled that men found so much to write about, and, puzzling, dozed in his chair. When the gong awoke him for luncheon, he was irritated that he must awaken. There was no satisfaction in being awake.

Once, he tried to arouse himself from his lethargy, and went forward into the forecastle with the sailors. But the breed of sailors seemed to have changed since the days he had lived in the forecastle. He could find no kinship with these stolid-faced, ox- minded bestial creatures. He was in despair. Up above nobody had wanted Martin Eden for his own sake, and he could not go back to those of his own class who had wanted him in the past. He did not want them. He could not stand them any more than he could stand the stupid first-cabin passengers and the riotous young people.

Life was to him like strong, white light that hurts the tired eyes of a sick person. During every conscious moment life blazed in a raw glare around him and upon him. It hurt. It hurt intolerably. It was the first time in his life that Martin had travelled first class. On ships at sea he had always been in the forecastle, the steerage, or in the black depths of the coal-hold, passing coal. In those days, climbing up the iron ladders out the pit of stifling heat, he had often caught glimpses of the passengers, in cool white, doing nothing but enjoy themselves, under awnings spread to keep the sun and wind away from them, with subservient stewards taking care of their every want and whim, and it had seemed to him that the realm in which they moved and had their being was nothing else than paradise. Well, here he was, the great man on board, in the midmost centre of it, sitting at the captain's right hand, and yet vainly harking back to forecastle and stoke-hole in quest of the Paradise he had lost. He had found no new one, and now he could not find the old one.

He strove to stir himself and find something to interest him. He ventured the petty officers' mess, and was glad to get away. He talked with a quartermaster off duty, an intelligent man who promptly prodded him with the socialist propaganda and forced into his hands a bunch of leaflets and pamphlets. He listened to the man expounding the slave-morality, and as he listened, he thought languidly of his own Nietzsche philosophy. But what was it worth, after all? He remembered one of Nietzsche's mad utterances wherein that madman had doubted truth. And who was to say? Perhaps Nietzsche had been right. Perhaps there was no truth in anything, no truth in truth - no such thing as truth. But his mind wearied quickly, and he was content to go back to his chair and doze.

Miserable as he was on the steamer, a new misery came upon him. What when the steamer reached Tahiti? He would have to go ashore. He would have to order his trade-goods, to find a passage on a schooner to the Marquesas, to do a thousand and one things that were awful to contemplate. Whenever he steeled himself deliberately to think, he could see the desperate peril in which he stood. In all truth, he was in the Valley of the Shadow, and his danger lay in that he was not afraid. If he were only afraid, he would make toward life. Being unafraid, he was drifting deeper into the shadow. He found no delight in the old familiar things of life. The Mariposa was now in the northeast trades, and this wine of wind, surging against him, irritated him. He had his chair moved to escape the embrace of this lusty comrade of old days and nights.

The day the Mariposa entered the doldrums, Martin was more miserable than ever. He could no longer sleep. He was soaked with sleep, and perforce he must now stay awake and endure the white glare of life. He moved about restlessly. The air was sticky and humid, and the rain-squalls were unrefreshing. He ached with life. He walked around the deck until that hurt too much, then sat in his chair until he was compelled to walk again. He forced himself at last to finish the magazine, and from the steamer library he culled several volumes of poetry. But they could not hold him, and once more he took to walking.

He stayed late on deck, after dinner, but that did not help him, for when he went below, he could not sleep. This surcease from life had failed him. It was too much. He turned on the electric light and tried to read. One of the volumes was a Swinburne. He lay in bed, glancing through its pages, until suddenly he became aware that he was reading with interest. He finished the stanza, attempted to read on, then came back to it. He rested the book face downward on his breast and fell to thinking. That was it. The very thing. Strange that it had never come to him before. That was the meaning of it all; he had been drifting that way all the time, and now Swinburne showed him that it was the happy way out. He wanted rest, and here was rest awaiting him. He glanced at the open port-hole. Yes, it was large enough. For the first time in weeks he felt happy. At last he had discovered the cure of his ill. He picked up the book and read the stanza slowly aloud:-

"'From too much love of living, From hope and fear set free, We thank with brief thanksgiving Whatever gods may be That no life lives forever; That dead men rise up never; That even the weariest river Winds somewhere safe to sea.'"

He looked again at the open port. Swinburne had furnished the key. Life was ill, or, rather, it had become ill - an unbearable thing. "That dead men rise up never!" That line stirred him with a profound feeling of gratitude. It was the one beneficent thing in the universe. When life became an aching weariness, death was ready to soothe away to everlasting sleep. But what was he waiting for? It was time to go.

He arose and thrust his head out the port-hole, looking down into the milky wash. The Mariposa was deeply loaded, and, hanging by his hands, his feet would be in the water. He could slip in noiselessly. No one would hear. A smother of spray dashed up, wetting his face. It tasted salt on his lips, and the taste was good. He wondered if he ought to write a swan-song, but laughed the thought away. There was no time. He was too impatient to be gone.

Turning off the light in his room so that it might not betray him, he went out the port-hole feet first. His shoulders stuck, and he forced himself back so as to try it with one arm down by his side. A roll of the steamer aided him, and he was through, hanging by his hands. When his feet touched the sea, he let go. He was in a milky froth of water. The side of the Mariposa rushed past him like a dark wall, broken here and there by lighted ports. She was certainly making time. Almost before he knew it, he was astern, swimming gently on the foam-crackling surface.

A bonita struck at his white body, and he laughed aloud. It had taken a piece out, and the sting of it reminded him of why he was there. In the work to do he had forgotten the purpose of it. The lights of the Mariposa were growing dim in the distance, and there he was, swimming confidently, as though it were his intention to make for the nearest land a thousand miles or so away.

It was the automatic instinct to live. He ceased swimming, but the moment he felt the water rising above his mouth the hands struck out sharply with a lifting movement. The will to live, was his thought, and the thought was accompanied by a sneer. Well, he had will, - ay, will strong enough that with one last exertion it could destroy itself and cease to be.

He changed his position to a vertical one. He glanced up at the quiet stars, at the same time emptying his lungs of air. With swift, vigorous propulsion of hands and feet, he lifted his shoulders and half his chest out of water. This was to gain impetus for the descent. Then he let himself go and sank without movement, a white statue, into the sea. He breathed in the water deeply, deliberately, after the manner of a man taking an anaesthetic. When he strangled, quite involuntarily his arms and legs clawed the water and drove him up to the surface and into the clear sight of the stars.

The will to live, he thought disdainfully, vainly endeavoring not to breathe the air into his bursting lungs. Well, he would have to try a new way. He filled his lungs with air, filled them full. This supply would take him far down. He turned over and went down head first, swimming with all his strength and all his will. Deeper and deeper he went. His eyes were open, and he watched the ghostly, phosphorescent trails of the darting bonita. As he swam, he hoped that they would not strike at him, for it might snap the tension of his will. But they did not strike, and he found time to be grateful for this last kindness of life.

Down, down, he swam till his arms and leg grew tired and hardly moved. He knew that he was deep. The pressure on his ear-drums was a pain, and there was a buzzing in his head. His endurance was faltering, but he compelled his arms and legs to drive him deeper until his will snapped and the air drove from his lungs in a great explosive rush. The bubbles rubbed and bounded like tiny balloons against his cheeks and eyes as they took their upward flight. Then came pain and strangulation. This hurt was not death, was the thought that oscillated through his reeling consciousness. Death did not hurt. It was life, the pangs of life, this awful, suffocating feeling; it was the last blow life could deal him.

His wilful hands and feet began to beat and churn about, spasmodically and feebly. But he had fooled them and the will to live that made them beat and churn. He was too deep down. They could never bring him to the surface. He seemed floating languidly in a sea of dreamy vision. Colors and radiances surrounded him and bathed him and pervaded him. What was that? It seemed a lighthouse; but it was inside his brain - a flashing, bright white light. It flashed swifter and swifter. There was a long rumble of sound, and it seemed to him that he was falling down a vast and interminable stairway. And somewhere at the bottom he fell into darkness. That much he knew. He had fallen into darkness. And at the instant he knew, he ceased to know.
“我说,乔,”第二天早上他招呼当年一起干活的伙伴说,“二十八号街有一个法国人赚了一大笔钱,打算回法国。他开了一家小蒸汽洗衣店,花里胡哨,设备齐全,你若是想安定下来,可以拿这家铺子开张。这钱你拿去先去买几件衣服,十点钟到这个人的办公室去。洗衣店就是他给我找到的。由他带你去,要你去看一看,你如果中意,觉得价钱合适——一万二千块——就回来告诉我,那店就归你了。现在去吧,我很忙。你呆会儿再来,我们再见面。” “听着,马,”那人慢吞吞地发起火来,缓缓说道,“我今天早上是来看你的,懂吗?不是来要什么洗衣店的。我是来和老朋友聊天的,可你却要塞给我一家洗衣店。我来告诉你怎么办。你还是带了你那洗衣店到地狱去吧。” 他正要冲出屋子,马丁一把揪住他的肩头,揪得他转过身来。 “听着,乔,你要是那样做,我就揍你脑袋,看在你是老朋友面上,揍得更狠。明白么?愿挨揍吗?愿吗?” 可乔已经揪住他,打算把他摔倒在地,但马丁却控制了他。他扭来扭去,想摆脱马丁的优势。两人彼此抱住,在屋里摇晃了一阵,便摔倒在一把已破的藤椅上。乔压在下面,双手被抓住了,直伸着,马丁的膝盖顶在他胸口上。他已经气喘吁吁,马丁放掉了他。 “现在咱们来谈一谈,”马丁说,“你别跟我耍横,我要你先办完洗衣店的事再回来,咱俩那时再为了老交情谈谈老交情。我早告诉过你,我很忙。” 一个仆役刚送来了早班邮件,一大抱信件和杂志。 “我怎么能又跟你谈话又看这些东西呢?你先去把洗衣店的事办了,然后咱俩再见面。” “好吧,”乔勉强同意了,“我认为你刚才是在回绝我呢,看来我是误会了。可你是打不过我的,马,硬碰硬地打,我的拳头可比你打得远。” “哪天咱们戴上手套再较量吧,”马丁笑了笑,说。 “肯定,我把洗衣店办起来再说,”乔伸直了手臂,“你看见我能打多远吗?能打得你倒退几步呢。” 大门在洗衣工背后关上之后,马丁叹了一声,松了口气。他已经变得落落寡合了,他一天天发现自己更难跟人和谐相处。别人的存在令他心烦,硬要跟人说话也叫他生气、烦躁。一跟别人来往他就要设法找借口摆脱。 他并不立即开始拆看邮件,只坐在椅子上打吨,什么都没干地过了半小时。只有一些零碎的模糊念头偶然渗透到他的思想里,更确切地说,他的思想只极偶然地闪出一两星火花。 他振作精神看起邮件来。其中有十二封是要他签名的——这类信他一眼就能看出来;还有职业性的求助信,还有一些怪人的信。一个人寄来了可用的永动机模型;一个人证明世界的表面是一个圆球的内壁;一个人打算买下下加利福尼亚半岛组织共产主义侨居地,来请求财政援助。什么人都有。还有些是妇女,想认识他,其中有一封使他笑了,因为附有一张教堂座位的租金收据,证明她虔诚的信念和正派的作风。 编辑和出版家的信件是每日邮件的主要部分。编辑们跪地乞求他的稿件,出版家们跪地乞求他的书——乞求他那些被人轻贱的可怜的手稿,当初为了筹集它们的邮资,他曾把一切值钱的东西都送进当铺,过了许多凄惨的日子。还有些是意外的支票,是英国连载的稿费,外国译本预付的稿费。他的英国代理人通知他,有三本书的德文翻译权已经卖出;又通知他他的作品已有瑞典译本问市,只是得不到稿酬,因为瑞典没有参加伯尔尼版权公约。还有一份名义上申请批准俄文译本的信,那个国家也同样没有参加伯尔尼公约。 他又转向一大捆由各编辑部寄来的剪报。他读到有关自己和围绕自己所形成的风尚的消息。那风尚已成了狂热。他全部的作品已经五彩缤纷地席卷了读者,狂热似乎便由此形成。读者已被他颌倒了。他严然成了当年的吉卜林。那时吉卜林卧病在床,奄奄一息,他的作品却由于群氓心态的作用,在群氓中突然风行起来。马丁想起世界上那同样的群氓曾如何大读吉卜林的作品,向他欢呼,却丝毫不理解他,然后又在几个月之内突然何他扑去,把他撕扯成了碎片。想起了这事马丁不禁苦笑。他算老几?他能保证在几个月之后不受到同样的待遇么?好了,他得骗骗群氓诸公。他要到南海去,去修建他的草墙房屋,去做珍珠和椰子干生意,会驾驶带平衡翼的独木船在礁石间出没,捕捉鲨鱼和鲤鱼;到泰欧黑山谷附近的峭壁上去打野苹。 想起吉卜林他明白了自己目前处境的发发可危。他清楚地看到自己此刻正在死荫的幽谷之中。他身上的全部活力正在消退、衰败、趋于死亡。他意识到了自己睡眠太多,却还非常想睡。以前他恨睡眠,恨它剥夺了他生活的宝贵时间。他在二十四小时里只睡四小时还嫌四小时生活时间被剥夺。他曾经多么不愿意睡觉!可现在他所不愿意的却是活着。活着并不美妙;在他嘴里生活已没有了甜蜜,只有苦味。他的危机正在这里。没有生活欲望的生活距离长眠已经不远。某种辽远的求生的本能还在他心里搏动,他明白他必须走掉。他望了望屋子,一想起收拾行李他就心烦。也许还是留到最后再收拾为好。现在他可以去采购旅行用品。 他戴上帽子走了出去,在一家枪械店停了下来,上午剩下的时间就用在那里买自动步枪、弹药和渔具了。做买卖的方式变了,他知道只能在到达塔希提岛以后再订购需要的东西。那些东西至少是可以从澳大利亚买到的。这种解决办法也使他快乐,因为可以让他避免做事,目前叫他做任何事他都心烦。他高高兴兴回到旅馆,想到那舒适的莫里斯安乐椅在那儿等着他,便心满意足。可一进门他却看见乔坐在莫里斯安乐椅上等着他,心里不禁呻吟起来。 洗衣店叫乔高兴。一切都解决了,明天他就接手。马丁闭着眼躺在床上心不在焉地听他讲着,他太心不在焉,几乎觉得自己没有什么思想,连偶然回答一两句也觉得吃力。这人是他一向喜欢的乔,而乔正热中着生活。他那絮絮叨叨的谈话伤害着马丁疲惫的心灵,是一根对他的感觉的探针,戳痛了他那倦怠的神经。当乔提醒他他们俩某一天可以戴上手套一起干活时,他几乎尖叫起来。 “记住,乔,要按你当年在雪莉温泉订下的规矩办洗衣店的是你。”他说,“劳动不过度,夜间不干活,碾压机禁用童工,一律禁用童工,工资合理。” 乔点点头,拿出了笔记本。 “你看这儿,今天早饭前我就在订规章制度。你对它们怎么看?” 他大声朗读着,马丁表示同意,同时估计着乔什么时候才会走。 他醒来时已是后半下午。生活的现实慢慢回到他心里。他四面望望,乔显然是在他迷糊过去时悄悄溜走的。他倒很体贴,他思想,又闭上眼睡着了。 以后的几天乔都忙于组织和管理洗衣店,没有来给他添麻烦。他出航的前一天报纸公布了他订了马里泊萨号舱位的消息。在他求生的欲望颤动的时候他曾去找过医生,仔细检查了身体。他全身没有丝毫毛病。心脏和肺部都异常健康。凡医生能检查到的器官都完全正常,功能也完全正常。 “你一切都正常,伊登先生,”他说,“绝对没有问题。身体棒极了。坦率地说,我很羡慕你的健康,那是第一流的。看看你那胸膛,这儿,还有你的胃,这就是你那惊人的体魄的奥秘所在。就身体而言,你是千里挑一,万里挑一的。要是不出意外你准可以活到一百岁。” 马丁知道丽齐的诊断并没有错。他的身体是好的。出了问题的是他的“思想机器”。要不一走了之,到南海去,就无法治好。问题是现在,马上就要出发了,他却没有了到南海去的欲望。南海并不比资产阶级文明更能吸引他。出发的念头并不使他兴奋,而出发的准备所给他的肉体疲劳又使他厌恶。上船出发之后他就会好得多了。 最后一天是一场痛苦的考验。伯纳德·希金波坦、格特露一家人在晨报上读到他要出发的消息,忙来和他告别。赫尔曼·冯·史密特和茉莉安也来了。于是又有了事要办,有了帐要付,有了数不清的记者采访要忍受。他在夜校门口突然跟丽齐·康诺利告了别,便匆匆走掉了。他在旅馆发现了乔,乔成天忙于洗衣店事务,设工夭早来。那是压断了骆驼背脊的最后一根稻草,但马丁仍然抓住椅子扶手,和他交谈了半个小时。 “你知道,乔,”他说,“那洗衣店并不能约束访,你任何时候都可以把它卖掉,然后把钱花掉。洗衣店不是绳子,任何时候你厌倦了都可以一走了之,上路去流浪。什么东西最叫你快活你就干什么。” 乔摇摇头。 “我再也不打算到路上去混了,谢谢你。流浪虽然不错,却有个不好的地方:没有女人,那叫我受不了。我是个喜欢女人的男人,没有女人就不好过。可要流浪就只好过没有女人的日子。我曾经多少次从开晚会、开舞会的屋子门前经过,听见女人笑,从窗子里看见她们的白衣和笑脸——啧啧!告诉你,那时候我简直就在地狱里。我太喜欢跳舞、野餐、在月光里散步这类事了。我喜欢洗衣店,喜欢漂亮,喜欢裤子口袋里装着大洋。我已经看见一个姑娘,就在昨天,你知道不?我简直觉得要么就不付老婆,要么就立刻娶了她。想起这事我就吹日哨,吹了一天了。是个漂亮妞,眼睛最温柔,声音最美妙,你简直就没有见过。你可以打赌,我跟她是最般配不过的。嗨,你的钱多得都烧包了,干吗不讨个老婆?全国最好的姑娘你都可以讨到呢。” 马丁摇摇头,笑了笑,却在心灵深处怀疑:人为什么就非结婚不可?那似乎是一件惊人也难以理解的事。 出航前他站在马里泊萨号的甲板上看见丽齐·康诺利躲在码头上人群的边缘。一个念头闪过:把她带走吧!发善心是容易的,丽齐准会高兴得发狂。这念头一时成了一个诱惑,可随之却使他恐怖了,慌乱了。他那厌倦的灵魂大喊大叫着提出了抗议。他呻吟了一声,转身离开了甲板,喃喃地说道:“你呀,你已经病入膏盲,病人膏盲。” 他逃回了他的豪华舱位,躲在那儿,直到轮船驶出了码头。午饭时他发现自己上了荣誉席,坐到了船长右边。不久,他又发现自己成了船上的大人物。但是坐船的大人物没有比他更令人失望的了。他在一张躺椅上整整躺了一个下午,闭着眼睛,大部分时间都在断断续续地打瞌睡,晚上上床也很早。 过了第二天,晕船的都恢复过来,全船旅客都—一露了面。他越和旅客们来往就越不喜欢他们。可他也明白这对他们是不公平的。他强迫自己承认他们都是些善良和蔼的人。可与此同时他又加上了个限制语——善良和蔼得像所有的资产阶级一样,带着资产阶级的一切心理上的障碍和智力上的无能。他讨厌和他们谈话。充满他们那狭小钱陋的心灵的是巨大的空虚;而年轻人喧哗的欢乐和太旺盛的精力又叫他吃惊。他们从来不会安静,只是没完没了地玩甲板绳圈,掷环,或是喊叫着扑到栏杆边,去看跳跃的海豚和最早出现的飞鱼群。 他睡得很多,一吃完早饭就拿一本杂志去找他的躺椅。那本杂志他永远看不完,印刷品已经令他生厌。他不明白那些人哪儿来的那么多东西可写,想着想着又在躺椅上打起吃来。午餐锣惊醒了他,他感到生气:为什么非惊醒他不可。清醒时没有什么东西能叫他满足。 有一回他努力想把自己从昏沉里唤醒过来,便到水手舱去和水手们见面。但是自从他离开水手舱以后水手们也似乎变了样。他好像跟这些脸膛结实、胸怀笨拙、野兽般的水手亲近不起来。在甲板上没有人因为他自己而需要马丁·伊登,而在这儿他又无法回到自己的阶级伙伴中去,他们过去可是需要他的,现在他却已不需要他们了。容忍这些人并不比容忍一等舱那些愚蠢的旅客和闹翻了天的年轻人容易。 生活于他好像是一道白炽的强光,能伤害病人疲劳的眼睛。在他能意识到时,生活总每时每刻用它炽烈的光照着他周围和他自己,叫他难受,吃不消。马丁是第一次坐头等舱旅行。他以前出海时,总呆在水手舱里,下等舱里,或是在黑沉沉的煤仓里送煤。在那些日子从闷得喘不过气的底层攀着铁梯爬上来时,他常常瞥见一些旅客穿着凉爽的白衣,除了寻欢作乐什么事也不做。他们躲在能遮蔽太阳和风的凉棚下,有着殷勤的侍仆关心他们的一切需要和怪想。那时他觉得他们所活动和生活的场所简直就是地道的天堂。好了,现在他也到了这儿,成了船上的大人物,在它核心的核心里生活,坐在船长的右手,可他回到水手舱和锅炉间去寻找他失去的天堂时,却一无所获。新的天堂他没有找到,旧的天堂也落了空。 他努力让自己活动活动,想找点能引起他兴趣的东西。他试了试跟下级职员会餐,却终于觉得要走掉之后才能快活。他跟一个下了班的舵手闲聊,那是个聪明人,立即向他做起社会主义宣传,把一摞传单和小册子塞进他的手里。他听那人向他解释起奴隶道德,便懒懒地想起了自己的尼采哲学。可归根到底,这一切又能有什么用?他想起了尼采的一段话,表现了那疯子对真理的怀疑。可谁又能说得清楚?也许尼采竟是对的;也许事物之中原本没有真理,就连真理中也没有真理——也许真理压根就并不存在。可他的心灵很快就疲倦了。他又回到他的躺椅,心满意足地打起盹来。 船上的日子已经够痛苦了,可还有一种新的痛苦出现。船到了塔希提岛又怎么办?他还得上岸,还得订购做生意的货品,还得找船去马奎撒司,去干一千零一件想起来就叫他头痛的事。他一勉强自己去思考,就体会到了自己处境的严重危险。他实实在在是在死前之谷里。而他的危险之处却在他的并不害怕。若是害怕,他就会挣扎着求生。可他并不害怕,于是便越来越深地在那阴影走去。他在往日熟悉的事物中找不到欢乐,马里泊萨号已经行驶在东北贸易风带,就连那美酒一样的熏风吹打着他时,他也只觉得烦乱。他把躺椅搬走了,逃避着这个过去与他日夜相伴的精力旺盛的老朋友的拥抱。 马里泊萨号进入赤道无风带那天,马丁比任何时候都痛苦了。他再也睡不着觉。他已经被睡眠浸透了,说不定只好清清醒醒忍受生命的白炽光的照射。他心神不定地散着步,空气形糊糊的,湿漉漉的,就连小风暴也没有让他清醒。生命只使他痛苦。他在甲板上走来走去,走得生疼,然后又坐到椅子上,坐到不得不起来散步。最后他强迫自己去读完了那本杂志,又从船上图书馆里找到几本诗集。可它们依然引不起他的兴趣,他又只好散步。 晚饭后他在甲板上停留了很久,可那对他也没有帮助,下楼去仍然睡不着。这种生命的停顿叫他受不了,太难过了。他扭亮电灯,试着读书。有一本是史文朋。他躺在床上一页页翻着,忽然发现读起了兴趣。他读完了那一小节,打算读下去,回头再读了读。他把书反扣在胸膛上,陷入了沉思。说得对,正是这样。奇怪,他以前怎么没有想到?那正是他的意思。他一直就像那样飘忽不定,现在史文朋却把出路告诉了他。他需要的是休息,而休息却在这儿等着他。他瞥了一眼舷窗口。不错,那洞够大的。多少个礼拜以来他第一次感到了高兴。他终于找到了治病的办法。他拿起书缓缓地朗诵起来:——“‘解除了希望,解除了恐俱,摆脱了对生命过分的爱,我们要对无论什么神抵简短地表示我们的爱戴,因为他没有给生命永恒;因为死者绝对不会复生;因为就连河流疲惫地奔腾蜿蜒到了某处,也安全入海。’” 他再看了看打开的舷窗。史文朋已经提供了钥匙。生命邪恶,或者说变邪恶了,成了无法忍受的东西。“死者绝对不会复生!”诗句打动了他,令他深为感激。死亡是宇宙之间唯一慈祥的东西。在生命令人痛苦和厌倦时,死亡随时能以永恒的睡眠来解除痛苦。那他还等待什么?已经是走掉的时候了。 他站了起来,把头伸出了舷窗口,俯看着奶汁样的翻滚的波浪。马里泊萨号负载沉重,他只需两手攀着舷窗双脚便可以点到水。他可以无声无息地落进海里,不叫人听见。一阵水花扑来,溅湿了他的脸。水是咸的,味道不错。他考虑着是否应该写一首绝命诗,可他笑了笑,把那念头放弃了。没有时间了,他太急于走掉。 他关掉了屋里的灯,以免引人注意。他先把双脚伸出舷窗口,肩头却卡住了。他挤了回来,把一只手贴着身子,再往外挤。轮船略微一转,给了他助力,他挤出了身子,用双手吊着。双脚一沾水,他便放了手,落入了泡沫翻滚的奶汁样的海水里。马里伯萨号的船体从他身边疾驰而去,像一堵漆黑的高墙,只有灯光偶尔从舷窗射出。那船显然是在抢时间行驶。他几乎还没明白过来已经落到了船尾,在水泡迸裂的水面上缓缓地游着。 一条红鱼啄了一下他白色的身子,他不禁哈哈一笑。一片肉被咬掉了,那刺痛让他想起了自己下水的原因。他一味忙着行动,竟连目的都忘了。马里泊萨号的灯光在远处渐渐模糊,他却留在了这里。他自信地游着,仿佛是打算往最近也在千里以外的陆地游去。 那是求生的自动本能。他停止了游泳,但一感到水淹没了嘴,他便猛然挥出了手,让身子露出了水面。他明白这是求生的意志,同时冷笑起来。哼,意志力他还是有的——他的意志力还够坚强,只需再作一番最后的努力就可以连意志力也摧毁,不再存在了。 他改变姿势;垂直了身子,抬头看了看宁静的星星,呼出了肺里的空气。他激烈地迅速地划动手脚,把肩头和半个胸膛露出了水面,这是为了聚集下沉的冲力。然后他便静止下来,一动不动,像座白色的雕像一样往海底沉下去。他在水里故意像吸麻醉剂一样深深地呼吸着。可到他憋不过气时,他的手脚却不自觉地大划起水来,把自己划到了水面上,清清楚楚看见了星星。 求生的本能,他轻蔑地想道。他打算拒绝把空气吸进他快要爆炸的胸膛,却失败了。不行,他得试一个新的办法。他把气吸进了胸膛,吸得满满的,这口气可以让他深深地潜入水里。然后身子一栽,脑袋朝下往下钻去。他竭尽全部的体力和意志力往下钻,越钻越深了。他睁开的眼睛望着幽灵一样的鲣鱼曳着条条荧光在他身边倏忽往来。他划着水,希望鲣鱼不来咬他,怕因此破坏了他的意志力。鲣鱼群倒真没有来咬。他竟然找出时间对生命的这最后的仁慈表示感谢。 他狠命往下划,往下划,划得手脚疲软,几乎划不动了。他明白自己已经到了极深的地方。耳膜上的压力使他疼痛,头也嗡嗡地响了起来。他快要忍耐不住了,却仍然强迫双手和双腿往深处划,直到他的意志力断裂,空气从肺里猛烈地爆裂出来。水泡像小小的气球一样升起,跳跃着,擦着他的面额和眼睛。然后是痛苦和窒息。这种痛苦还不是死亡,这想法从他逐渐衰微的意识里摇曳了出来。死亡是没有痛苦的。这是生命,这种可怕的窒息是生命的痛楚,是生命所能给他的最后打击。 他顽强的手和脚开始痉挛地微弱地挣扎和划动。但是他的手脚和使手脚挣扎和划动的求生的欲望却已经上了他的当。他钻得太深,手脚再也无法把他送出水面了。他像在朦胧的幻觉的海洋里懒懒地漂浮着。斑斓的色彩和光芒包围了他,沐浴着他,浸透了他。那是什么?似乎是一座灯塔;可那灯塔在他脑子里——一片闪烁的炽烈的白光。白光的闪动越来越快,一阵滚滚的巨声殷殷响起,他觉得自己好像正在一座巨大的无底的楼梯里往下落,在快到楼梯底时坠入了黑暗。他的意识从此结束,他已落进了黑暗里。在他意识到这一点时他已什么都不知道了。

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