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Part 3 Chapter 26

THE ENGLISH VISITOR.

When they had passed the anteroom and the sickening, stinking corridor, the Englishman and Nekhludoff, accompanied by the inspector, entered the first cell, where those sentenced to hard labour were confined. The beds took up the middle of the cell and the prisoners were all in bed. There were about 70 of them. When the visitors entered all the prisoners jumped up and stood beside the beds, excepting two, a young man who was in a state of high fever, and an old man who did nothing but groan.

The Englishman asked if the young man had long been ill. The inspector said that he was taken ill in the morning, but that the old man had long been suffering with pains in the stomach, but could not be removed, as the infirmary had been overfilled for a long time. The Englishman shook his head disapprovingly, said he would like to say a few words to these people, asking Nekhludoff to interpret. It turned out that besides studying the places of exile and the prisons of Siberia, the Englishman had another object in view, that of preaching salvation through faith and by the redemption.

"Tell them," he said, "that Christ died for them. If they believe in this they shall be saved." While he spoke, all the prisoners stood silent with their arms at their sides. "This book, tell them," he continued, "says all about it. Can any of them read?"

There were more than 20 who could.

The Englishman took several bound Testaments out of a hang-bag, and many strong hands with their hard, black nails stretched out from beneath the coarse shirt-sleeves towards him. He gave away two Testaments in this cell.

The same thing happened in the second cell. There was the same foul air, the same icon hanging between the windows, the same tub to the left of the door, and they were all lying side by side close to one another, and jumped up in the same manner and stood stretched full length with their arms by their sides, all but three, two of whom sat up and one remained lying, and did not even look at the newcomers; these three were also ill. The Englishman made the same speech and again gave away two books.

In the third room four were ill. When the Englishman asked why the sick were not put all together into one cell, the inspector said that they did not wish it themselves, that their diseases were not infectious, and that the medical assistant watched them and attended to them.

"He has not set foot here for a fortnight," muttered a voice.

The inspector did not say anything and led the way to the next cell. Again the door was unlocked, and all got up and stood silent. Again the Englishman gave away Testaments. It was the same in the fifth and sixth cells, in those to the right and those to the left.

From those sentenced to hard labour they went on to the exiles.

From the exiles to those evicted by the Commune and those who followed of their own free will.

Everywhere men, cold, hungry, idle, infected, degraded, imprisoned, were shown off like wild beasts.

The Englishman, having given away the appointed number of Testaments, stopped giving any more, and made no speeches. The oppressing sight, and especially the stifling atmosphere, quelled even his energy, and he went from cell to cell, saying nothing but "All right" to the inspector's remarks about what prisoners there were in each cell.

Nekhludoff followed as in a dream, unable either to refuse to go on or to go away, and with the same feelings of weariness and hopelessness.

典狱长、英国人和聂赫留朵夫在几个看守的陪同下,穿过门廊和臭得令人作呕的过道,走进第一间苦役犯牢房。在过道里,他们看见两个男犯直对着地板小便,不禁吃了一惊。牢房中央放着一排板床,犯人都已睡了。里面大约有七十个人。他们躺在那儿,头挨着头,身子挨着身子。参观的人一进来,个个都从床上跳下来,铁链哐啷发响,他们站在床边,新剃的阴阳头闪闪发亮。只有两个人躺着没有起来。一个是年轻人,脸色通红,显然在发烧;另一个是老头儿,嘴里不住地呻吟着。

英国人问,那个年轻人是不是病了很久。典狱长说他是今天早晨才发病的,至于那个老头儿,闹胃病已有好久,可是没有地方安顿,因为医院早就住满人了。英国人不以为然地摇摇头,说他想对这些人讲几句话,要求聂赫留朵夫替他当翻译。原来英国人这次旅行,除了要写一篇反映西伯利亚流放和监禁地的文章,还有一个目的,就是宣讲通过信仰和赎罪来拯救灵魂的道理。

“请您告诉他们,基督怜悯他们,爱他们,而且为他们死去,”他说。“如果他们相信这道理,他们就可以得救。”他讲话的时候,全体犯人都挺直身子,双手贴住裤缝,默默地站在板床前面。“请您告诉他们,”他结束说,“在这本书里所有的道理都有。这儿有识字的吗?”

原来这里有二十多人识字。英国人从手提包里取出几本精装的《新约全书》。于是就有几只肌肉发达、生有坚硬黑指甲的大手,从粗麻布衬衫袖口里伸出来,争先恐后地来要书。英国人在这个牢房里发了两本福音书,然后往下一个牢房走去。

下一个牢房情况也一样。里边也是那样气闷,那样恶臭;前面,两个窗子中间同样挂着圣像;左边放着一个便桶;犯人也都那样身子挨着身子,拥挤地躺在那里;他们同样都从床上跳下来,挺直身子站在那儿;同样也有三个人起不了床。其中两个勉强爬起来,坐在床上,还有一个躺着不动,对进来的人连看都不看一眼。这三个人都有病。英国人又同样讲了道,同样发给他们两本福音书。

从第三个牢房里传出来叫嚷声和吵闹声。典狱长敲敲门,叫道:“立正!”房门一打开,全体犯人也都挺直身子站在床边,除了几个病人和两个打架的人以外。那两个打架的人,满脸怒容,扭在一起,这个抓住那个的头发,那个揪住这个的胡子。直到看守跑到他们跟前,他们才松手。一个被打破鼻子,鼻子里直流鼻涕和血,他不住用外衣袖子擦着;另一个拉去被对方拔下的一根根胡子。

“班长!”典狱长恶狠狠地叫道。

一个身强力壮、相貌端正的人走了出来。

“怎么也管不住他们,长官,”班长眼睛里露出快乐的笑意,说。

“那就让我来对付他们,”典狱长皱着眉头说。

“他们为什么事打架?”①英国人问。

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①原文是英语。

聂赫留朵夫就问班长,他们为什么事打架。

“为了一块包脚布,他错拿了别人的包脚布,”班长仍旧笑着说。“这个推了一下,那个就还了一拳。”

聂赫留朵夫告诉了英国人。

“我想对他们说几句话,”英国人对典狱长说。

聂赫留朵夫把这句话翻译过来。典狱长说:“行。”于是英国人就拿出他那本皮面精装的福音书来。

“麻烦您给我翻译一下,”他对聂赫留朵夫说。“你们吵嘴,打架,可是为我们而死的基督,却给我们提出另一种办法来解决争端。您问问他们,知道不知道按基督教义该怎样对待欺负我们的人?”

聂赫留朵夫把英国人的话和问题翻译了一遍。

“告诉长官,听凭长官发落,对吗?”有一个人斜睨看威严的典狱长,试探着说。

“揍他一顿,他就不会再欺负人了,”另一个说。

有几个人笑着表示赞成。聂赫留朵夫把他们的回答翻译给英国人听。

“请您告诉他们,按基督教义行事正好相反:有人打你的右脸,连左脸也转过来由他打,”英国人一面说,一面做出把脸送给人家打的样子。

聂赫留朵夫作了翻译。

“最好让他自己尝一尝,”有人说。

“要是他两边都挨了揍,那还可以拿什么给人家打呢?”有个病人躺在床上说。

“那就让他把你打个稀巴烂。”

“嘿,那就来试一试吧,”后面有个人说,快乐地笑起来。整个牢房里爆发出一片难以控制的大笑。就连那个挨打的人也一面流血,吐痰,一面哈哈大笑。连几个病人也笑了。

英国人不动声色,要求聂赫留朵夫转告他们,有些事看来似乎办不到,但信徒能够办到,而且轻而易举。

“您问问他们喝不喝酒。”

“喝的,老爷,”一个人说,接着又是一片嗤鼻声和大笑声。

这个牢房里有四名病人。英国人问,为什么不把病人集中在一个牢房里。典狱长回答说,他们自己不愿意。这些病人害的都不是传染病,而且有一名医士照料他们,给他们治疗。

“他有一个多星期没露面了,”有人说。

典狱长没有理他,就把客人带到下一个牢房。又是打开房门,又是全体起床,肃静无声,又是英国人发福音书。在第五个牢房,第六个牢房,在过道右边,在过道左边,个个牢房里都是同样的景象。

他们从苦役犯的牢房走到流放犯的牢房,从流放犯的牢房走到村社判刑农民的牢房,再到自愿跟随犯人的家属房间。到处都是同样的情况,到处都是受冻的人,挨饿的人,无所事事的人,染上疾病的人,受尽凌辱的人,丧失自由的人,就象畜生一样。

英国人发完一定数量的福音书,不再发了,甚至不再讲道了。难堪的景象,尤其是使人窒息的空气,显然耗尽了他的精力。他从这个牢房到那个牢房,听着典狱长对每个牢房的情况介绍,只是随口说一句:“行了。”①聂赫留朵夫象梦游一般踉踉跄跄地走着,感到精疲力竭,心灰意懒,但又没有勇气中途退出,离开这地方。

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①原文是英语。



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