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17

 

  This was the first time she had seen or heard of d’Urberville since she had left Trantridge.And although he stood there openly as a preacher,as a religious man,she still felt afraid of him.He had changed his clothes,his hair,his moustache and his expression,but could she really believe that he had changed his most secret thoughts and beliefs?

  As soon as she recovered from her surprise,she moved away so that he would not notice her.But he suddenly caught sight of her,and the effect on him was electric.His enthusiasm faded,his voice hesitated,his lips trembled,his eyes dropped in confusion.Tess walked rapidly away along the road.

  However,as she walked she felt he must be looking at her back as she walked away.And now she knew she could never escape the past,as she had hoped.Reminders of her past would surround her until she died.As she walked uphill she heard footsteps behind her,and,turning,saw that it was the one person in the whole world she did not want to meet this side of the grave.

  ‘Tess!’he said.‘I'm Alec d’Urberville!’

  ‘I see you are,’she said coldly.They walked on together.

  ‘You may wonder why I'm following you.Well,I feel you are the person I would most like to save from hell.So I have come to do that.’

  ‘Have you saved yourself?’Tess asked bitterly.

  ‘God has done it all,not me!I must tell you how I came to believe in Him.Have you ever heard of the parson of Emminster,old Mr Clare?A very strict,sincere man.’

  ‘I have,’said Tess.

  ‘Well,he came to Trantridge once and tried to show me how wicked my life was.I insulted him at the time.But later my mother died,and somehow I began to think about what old Mr Clare said.Since then my one desire has been to help others to understand God too…’

  ‘Don't go on!’cried Tess.‘I can't believe in such a sudden change!I almost hate you for talking to me like this, when you know how you've ruined my life!You enjoy yourself for a while and then you make sure of your place in heaven!’As she spoke she looked him full in the face with her great beautiful eyes.

  ‘Don't look at me like that!’said Alec.‘Your eyes remind me of—well,women's faces have too much power over me.Don't look at me!It might be dangerous for you!’

  Eventually they came to a crossroads,where a strange stone stood.It was a lonely,unfriendly place,where people did not like to stay for long.Alec stopped here.

  ‘I must go to the right here.I'm preaching at six this evening.Tell me,how has your life been since we last met?’

  Tess told him about the baby.Alec was shocked.

  ‘You should have told me!But before we part,come,put your hand on this stone.It was once a holy cross.I'm afraid of your power over me.Swear on the cross that you will never tempt me into wickedness!’

  ‘Good God!How can you ask such an unnecessary thing!I don't want to see you ever again!’

  ‘No,but swear it.’

  Tess placed her hand on the stone and swore.

  ‘I shall pray for you,’called Alec as he walked away.‘Who knows,we may meet again!’

  Tess went on her way,feeling upset,and soon met a man on the road.He told her that the cross was not religious,but marked the place where a criminal was put to death and buried.Trembling a little at this information,she finally arrived at Flintcomb-Ash.

  One day the following week when Tess was working in the fields as usual,Alec d’Urberville came to see her.He explained to her that he intended to sell his land at Trantridge and go to help poor people in Africa.

  ‘Will you help me put right the wicked thing I did to you?Will you be my wife?’

  ‘Oh no,sir!’she cried,horrified.

  ‘Why not?’Disappointment was visible in his face.It was not only duty which pushed him to make this offer,but also his old passion for her.

  ‘You know I don't love you,’answered Tess.‘In fact,I love somebody else.’

  ‘Perhaps that is only a passing feeling…’

  ‘No!’

  ‘Yes!Why not?You must tell me!’

  ‘Well,then… I have married him.’

  ‘Ah!’he cried and looked hard at her.

  ‘It's a secret here,’she begged.‘Please don't tell anybody.’

  ‘Who is he?’asked d’Urberville.‘Where is he?Why isn't he here to look after you?What sort of husband can he be,leaving you to work like this?’

  ‘Don't ask!’cried Tess,her eyes flashing.

  ‘Your eyes!’whispered Alec.‘I thought I no longer felt anything for you,but when I look into your eyes…’He took her hand.

  She pulled it quickly away.

  ‘Go now,please,in the name of your new religion,go!Respect me and my husband!’

  ‘Don't worry,I can control myself.I just hoped that our marriage would take away the bad in both of us.But that plan is no good now.’He walked slowly away,his head bent in thought.

  The farmer approached at that moment and was angry with Tess for wasting time talking to a stranger.Tess preferred hard words from this man of stone to sweet ones from Alec d’Urberville.For a moment,however,she imagined escaping from her present hard life by marrying Alec,but rejected it immediately.

  At home that night she began a letter to Clare,telling him of her great love for him.Reading between the lines he would have seen her secret fear for the future.But again she could not finish the letter,thinking of his offer to lzz,and so he never received it.

  On a Sunday in February she was eating her lunch in the cottage where she lived,when d’Urberville knocked at the door.He rushed in and threw himself into a chair.

  ‘Tess!’he cried desperately.‘I can't help it!I can't stop thinking of you!Pray for me,Tess!’

  Tess did not pity him.‘I cannot because I don't believe God would change His plans just because I asked Him.’

  ‘Who told you that?’

  ‘My husband.’

  ‘Ah,your dear husband… Tell me what he believes.’

  Tess explained,as clearly as she could remember,Angel's beliefs.Alec watched her closely.

  ‘The fact is,you just believe whatever he says.That's just like you women!’

  ‘Ah,that's because he knows everything!’Tess replied with enthusiasm.‘What is good enough for him is good enough for me.’

  ‘H'm,interesting,’murmured d’Urberville.‘Perhaps he understands religion better than old Mr Clare.Perhaps he's right not to attach too much importance to the Bible and to fixed ideas.Perhaps I was wrong to become a preacher.Today I should be preaching at half-past two,and here I am!My passion for you was too strong for me!’

  ‘You have let all those people down?They are waiting for you!’

  ‘What do I care?You are the one woman I have always wanted.Why have you tempted me away from religion?I can't resist you!’His black eyes flashed passionately.He advanced towards her.

  ‘I couldn't help your seeing me again!’cried Tess,moving nervously away from him.‘Please leave me!Remember I am married!Remember I can't defend myself!’

  Alec stopped,turned,and went out without another word.But he went on thinking of Angel's religious logic,as explained by Tess.It seemed to make sense.‘That clever husband doesn't know that his ideas may lead me back to her!’he laughed to himself.

  In March the threshing-machine came for a day to Flintcomb-Ash.It was a huge red machine which ate all the corn the farm-workers could feed it.Next to it stood the engine which ran it,and the engineer.He lived in a world of fire and smoke,and was permanently black,as if he came from hell.The farmer put Tess next to the threshing-machine,so that she had the hardest and most tiring job of all.She had little chance to talk or rest,and at lunch time was about to start eating when she noticed d’Urberville approaching.He had Changed his parson's clothes and now looked just like the young gentleman she had first met at Trantridge.

  ‘I am here again,you see,’he said,smiling at her.

  ‘Why do you bother me like this?’she cried.

  ‘You trouble me!Your eyes look at me night and day.I can't forget them.Tess,when you told me about that child of ours,my feelings for you became strong again.I have lost interest in religion and it is your fault!’

  ‘You have stopped preaching?’asked Tess,shocked.

  ‘I have.What a lot of stupid people they are to listen to a preacher anyway!And I am convinced that your wonderful husband's views are better than old Parson Clare's.I don't know how I became so enthusiastic!So now,here I am,my love,just as in the old times!’

  ‘Not like that at all,no,now it's different!’she said firmly.‘Oh why couldn't you stay religious?’

  ‘Because you've explained your husband's ideas so well to me that I accept them!Ha ha!But seriously,Tess,you need help.I am here and this husband of yours is not.Come with me!My carriage is waiting the other side of the field!You have tempted me,now share my life for ever!’He put an arm round her waist.Tess was red with anger but said nothing.She picked up a heavy leather glove and hit him in the face with it.It was an action which her ancestors must have often practised.Alec jumped up and wiped the blood from his mouth.

  ‘Remember one thing!’he said angrily,only just controlling himself as he held her by the shoulders.‘Remember,my lady,if you are any man's wife,you are mine!I will have you again!I'll come back for an answer later on!’

  So he left,and the farm-workers started the afternoon's threshing.It went on until the evening,as the work had to be finished that day.Tess became more and more exhausted and was near to fainting when they finally stopped.Alec d’Urberville,who had been waiting for this moment,appeared at her side.

  ‘You are so weak,’he said,holding her arm.‘I've told the farmer he should not use women for work with the threshing-machine.It's too hard.I'll walk home with you.’

  ‘Oh yes,please do!’murmured Tess,too tired to be afraid of him.‘You are kind sometimes.And at least you wanted to put right the wrong by offering to marry me.’

  ‘If I can't marry you,at least I can help you.I have finished with religion.But you must trust me!I have enough money to help your family and make them comfortable.’

  ‘Have you seen them lately?’asked Tess quickly.‘God knows they need help…but no—no,I can take nothing from you,either for them or for me!Please leave me alone!’

  As soon as she reached her room she wrote a passionate letter to Angel.My own husband,

  I must call you that.I must ask you for help—I have no one else!I am so open to temptation,Angel!I cannot tell you who it is.Can't you come to me now,before anything terrible happens?I know you are far away,but I need help!I know I deserved the punishment you gave me,but please,Angel,please be kind to me!If you would come,I could die in your arms!

  I live only for you.Don't think I shall be bitter because you left me.I am so lonely without you,my darling!

  Haven't you ever felt one little bit of your love for me at the dairy?I am the same woman you fell in love with then,the very same.As soon as I met you,the past was dead for me.Can't you see this?

  How silly I was to trust that you would always love me!I ought to have known I couldn't be so lucky.

  People say I am still rather pretty,Angel.But I don't care about my looks because you are not here.

  If you won't come to me,could I come to you?I'm so worried!I'm afraid I may fall into some wicked trap.Save me from what threatens me!

  Your faithful heartbroken

  Tess

 

17 一个悔过自新的人

 

  自从离开纯瑞脊之后,这是她第一次见到或听说德伯。虽然他是以一个传道士、一个虔诚的基督徒的身份公然地站在那里,可是,她对他仍然感到恐惧。他已经改变了他的装束、他的发型、他的胡须和他的表情,可是她真地能相信他已经改变了他内心最深处暗藏的想法和信念吗?

  她一从惊异中缓过神来,就赶紧走开了,想避免让他注意到她。但是他突然看见她了,这一发现给他带来了触电般的震惊。他的激情消退了,他的声音含糊了,他的嘴唇哆嗦着,他的眼睛慌乱不安地瞟来瞟去。苔丝加快步伐上了路。

  然而,她一边走一边觉得他在她离开时一定盯着她的背影看。现在她知道了,她永远都无法如她所希望的那样摆脱过去。在她死去之前,她过去经历的各种见证者重重包围着她。当她朝着山上走去时,她听到背后响起了脚步声,她掉过头去,看见的是那个只要她一息犹存,便最不愿意在这世上见到的人。

  “苔丝!”他说,“我是亚历克·德伯!”

  “我知道是你,”她冷漠地回答。他们一起朝前走着。

  “你一定纳闷,为什么我要跟着你。嗯,我觉得你是我最想从地狱中拯救的一个人。所以我就来这么做了。”

  “你拯救了你自己吗?”

  “是上帝做了这一切,不是我!我得告诉你我是怎样渐渐地相信他的。你曾经听说过爱敏斯特的牧师,老克莱尔先生吗?一个严格、真诚的人。”

  “我听说过,”苔丝说道。

  “嗯,有一次他来到纯瑞脊,竭力给我指出我当时的生活是多么邪恶。那时候,我辱骂了他。可是后来,我母亲去世了,不知怎么地,我开始思考老克莱尔先生说过的话。打那以后,我唯一的愿望就是帮助其他人,还有了解上帝……”

  “别再说下去了!”苔丝叫了起来,“我不能相信这样一个突如其来的改变!你这样跟我说话,我几乎要恨你了!你知道,你怎样地把我的生活给毁掉了!你寻欢作乐了一段时间后,又要确保在天堂里给你留个地方!”她用她那双美丽的大眼睛直直地盯着他的脸,说道。

  “别这样看着我!”亚历克说,“你的眼睛让我回想起了——唉,女人的脸蛋对我的威力真是太大了。别看着我!这可能对你有危险!”

  终于,他们来到了一处三岔路口,那儿竖着一块奇异的石头。这是个荒僻、险恶的地方,人们都不喜欢在此久留,亚历克在这儿停住了。

  “我得在这儿右拐了,今晚六点钟我还要讲道呢。跟我说说,我们分手以后你的生活怎么样?”

  苔丝跟他说了孩子的事。亚历克很震惊。

  “你早该告诉我!那么,来,在我们分手之前,你把手放在这块石头上,这里有过一个神圣的十字架。我很害怕你对我产生的威力。对着十字架发誓你永远不会引诱我犯罪!”

  “我的天哪!你怎么会要我做这种毫无必要的事!我连见都不想再见你!”

  “没错,不过,发誓吧。”

  苔丝把她的手放在石头上,发了誓。

  “我会为你祈祷的,”亚历克一边走一边喊道,“谁知道呢,也许我们还会再见面的!”

  苔丝怏怏不乐地继续她的路程,不久,她在路上碰见了一个人,他告诉她,那个十字架没有宗教的含义,而是给一个罪犯被判处死刑和埋葬的地方做个标记。听到这件事情让苔丝有些发颤。终于,她走到了弗林特石灰谷。

  接下来的那个星期,有一天苔丝正像平常那样在地里干活儿,亚历克·德伯看她来了。他向她说明他打算把纯瑞脊的土地卖了,然后去非洲救助那儿的穷人。

  “你愿意帮我挽回我对你犯下的罪过吗?你愿意做我的妻子吗?”

  “哦,不,先生!”她惊骇地叫道。

  “为什么不行?”他脸上的失望显而易见。不仅仅是他的责任促使他提出这个请求,还有他对她昔日的激情。

  “你知道我不爱你,”苔丝回答说,“实际上,我爱上别人了。”

  “也许那只是一时的感情……”

  “不是!”

  “是的!为什么不是?你一定得告诉我!”

  “嗯,那么……我已经嫁给他了。”

  “啊!”他惊叫起来,愕然地注视着她。

  “在这儿,这是个秘密,”她请求道,“请不要告诉任何人。”

  “他是谁?”德伯问道,“他在哪儿?他为什么不在这儿照料你?把你抛下干这样的活儿,他算哪门子的丈夫?”

  “别问了!”苔丝叫道,她的眼睛闪着光。

  “你的眼睛!”亚历克喃喃说道,“我原以为我对你已不再有什么感觉了,但是,当我看到你的眼睛……”他抓住了她的手。

  她急忙抽了出来。

  “走吧,请你走吧,以你的新信仰的名义,走吧!请尊重我和我的丈夫!”

  “别担心,我能控制自己。我原来只是希望我们的结合能除去我们两个人身上的罪恶。可是这个计划现在看来已经不合适了。”他慢慢地走开了,低头沉思着什么。

  这时,农场主过来了,他对苔丝浪费时间和一个陌生人交谈这事大为恼火。苔丝宁愿受到这个冷酷的人的严厉谴责,也不愿意听到亚历克·德怕的甜言蜜语。然而,有一刻她想象着与亚历克结婚来摆脱她目前艰难的生活,但是立即又打消了这个念头。

  那晚,她在房子里开始给克莱尔写信,倾诉她对他深厚的爱情。从字里行间,他原可以体会她对未来暗藏的恐惧。可是她又想起了他对伊茨的请求,又一次没能把信写完,因此,他根本就收不到这封信。

  2月的一个星期天,她正在她住的小房子里吃着午饭,德伯敲响了门,他冲了进来,一屁股坐在了椅子上。

  “苔丝!”他声嘶力竭地喊道,“我无法克制自己!我无法停止想你!为我祈祷吧,苔丝!”

  苔丝并不同情他。“我不能。因为我相信上帝不会因为我的请求就改变他的安排。”

  “谁这么跟你说的?”

  “我的丈夫。”

  “啊,你亲爱的丈夫……告诉我,他都相信些什么。”

  苔丝根据记忆,尽可能清楚地阐述着安吉尔的信念。亚历克密切地注视着他。

  “事实上就是,你相信他说的每一句话。你们女人都是这样的。”

  “哦,那是因为他知道一切事情!”苔丝充满激情地回答道,“对他足够好的东西对我同样足够好。”

  “哼,真有意思,”德怕咕哝着,“也许他比老克莱尔先生更好地理解了宗教。也许他是对的,不要太受《圣经》和那些教条观念的束缚。也许是我错了,竟想成为一个传教士。今天,我应该在两点半的时候讲道,但是我在这儿!我对你的感情太炽烈了!”

  “你让那些人都失望了?他们正在等着你呢!”

  “我在乎什么?你一直是我想要的女人。为什么你把我从宗教信仰里诱惑出来了?我无法抵御你!”他的黑眼睛显露出心荡神驰的情欲,他一步步朝她靠近。

  “我无法让你不再见到我!”苔丝叫着,神经质地从他身边闪开,“请离开我吧!记住我已经结婚了!记住我无法保护自己!”

  亚历克不动了,一句话也没再说,转身走了出去。但是,他还在继续思考着苔丝阐述的安吉尔的宗教逻辑。它看起来合情合理。“那个聪明的丈夫不知道他的思想可能会把我重新牵回到她身边!”他在心里窃笑道。

  3月的一天,弗林特库姆一带来了一辆打谷机。这是一台大型的红色机器,它可以吞掉农场工人们装进去的所有麦子。它的旁边放着一台开动它的发动机,还站着一个技师。他生活在一个烟与火的世界里,永远是黑乎乎的,好像从地狱里来的一般。农场主安排苔丝站到打谷机边上,这样她就得干最繁重最乏味的活儿。她几乎没有机会说话或休息。到了午饭时间,她正准备吃饭时,看见德伯过来了。他已经换掉了那身牧师的服装,现在看起来就与她在纯瑞脊初次遇到时的那个年轻的绅士一样。

  “你看,我又来了。”他笑着对她说。

  “你为什么老来烦我呀!”她大叫起来。

  “是你扰乱了我的心!你的眼睛日日夜夜地注视着我。我无法忘记它们。苔丝,当你把我们的孩子的事跟我说了的时候,我对你的感情又变得炽烈起来了。对宗教我已经失去了兴趣,这是你的罪过。”

  “你已经停止布道了吗?”苔丝震惊地问道。

  “是的,停止了。总之,他们是多么愚蠢的一大群人啊,听一个传教士布道!我为你那伟大的丈夫的观点折服了,我确信他的观点比老克莱尔牧师的好。真不知道我怎么就变得热情高涨了!所以,现在,我来了,亲爱的,就像过去的日子一样!”

  “一点儿也不像那样了,不,现在情况不同了!”她坚决地说道,“哦,为什么你不能保持你对宗教的虔诚?”

  “因为你如此生动地向我解释了你丈夫的观点,我接受它们了!哈哈!不过,说正经的,苔丝,你需要帮助。我在这儿,而你的那个丈夫不在。跟我来吧!我的马车就在田那头等着!你已经引诱我了,现在,永远地和我一起共享生活吧!”他伸出一只手臂,揽住了她的腰。苔丝气得涨红了脸,可是一句话都说不出来。她抓起了一只笨重的皮手套,朝他的脸打去。这一定是她的祖先们经常要练习的动作。亚历克跳了起来,擦了擦嘴角渗出的血。

  “记住一件事情!”他恼怒地说道,抓住她的肩膀,克制着自己。“记住,我的小姐,如果你是任何一个男人的妻子,你就是我的!我会再度拥有你的!晚些时候,我会再来听你的回音!”

  于是他离开了,农场工人又开始了下午打谷的活儿。因为这活儿必须在今天干完,所以一直持续到晚上。苔丝越来越精疲力尽,等到他们终于干完时,她几乎快晕倒了。一直在等候着这个时刻的亚历克·德伯出现在她的身边。

  “你太虚弱了,”他抓着她的手臂说道,“我已经告诉农场主了,他不应该让女人跟着打谷机干活。这活儿太累人了,我陪你走回去。”

  “哦,是的,好吧!”苔丝喃喃地说道,她太累了,已感觉不到对他的惧怕。“有时候你的心肠挺好的,至少,你想弥补过去的过失,提出要跟我结婚。”

  “如果我不能娶你,至少我可以帮助你。我已经跟宗教没有什么瓜葛了,但是你一定要信任我!我有足够的钱帮助你的家人,让他们都过得舒舒服服的。”

  “你最近见过他们吗?”苔丝急切地问道,”“上帝知道,他们需要帮助……但是,不——不,我不能从你这儿拿任何东西,不管是为他们还是为我自己!请让我一个人待着吧!”

  她一回到房间,就给安吉尔写了一封感情深切的信。我自己的丈夫:

  我必须这样称呼你,我必须向你呼救了——我别无他人可求!我是这么毫无防卫地受到诱惑,安吉尔!我不能告诉你他是谁。你难道不能趁着现在,不等可怕的事情发生,立即赶到我身边来吗?我知道,你在很远的地方,但是我需要帮助!我理解你给我的惩罚,我罪有应得,可是请你,安吉尔,请你善待我!如果你来,我就可以在你怀里安息了!

  我只是为了你才活着。不要以为你离我而去,我会怨恨什么。亲爱的,没有你,我是多么孤寂啊!

  难道你没有感觉到过一丝一毫你在牛奶场时对我的爱吗?我没变,我还是你以前爱上的那个女人,一点也没变。当初,我一见到你,过去的事情对我就都消亡了。难道你看不出这一点吗?

  我有多傻呀,我一开始相信您会永远爱我的!我早就应该知道,我是不可能这么幸运的。

  安吉尔,人们说我依然是那么漂亮迷人。可是,因为你不在这儿,我不关心我的容貌。

  如果你不能到我这儿来。我能上你那儿去吗?我是这么地担心!我怕我也许会落入某个可怕的陷阱,我面临危险,救救我吧!

你忠实的心碎的妻子

苔丝