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chapter 4
Philip parted from Emma with tears, but the journey to Blackstable amused him, and, when they arrived, he was resigned and cheerful. Blackstable was sixty miles from London. Giving their luggage to a porter, Mr. Carey set out to walk with Philip to the vicarage; it took them little more than five minutes, and, when they reached it, Philip suddenly remembered the gate. It was red and five-barred: it swung both ways on easy hinges; and it was possible, though forbidden, to swing backwards and forwards on it. They walked through the garden to the front-door. This was only used by visitors and on Sundays, and on special occasions, as when the Vicar went up to London or came back. The traffic of the house took place through a side-door, and there was a back door as well for the gardener and for beggars and tramps. It was a fairly large house of yellow brick, with a red roof, built about five and twenty years before in an ecclesiastical style. The front-door was like a church porch, and the drawing-room windows were gothic.

Mrs. Carey, knowing by what train they were coming, waited in the drawing-room and listened for the click of the gate. When she heard it she went to the door.

‘There’s Aunt Louisa,’ said Mr. Carey, when he saw her. ‘Run and give her a kiss.’

Philip started to run, awkwardly, trailing his club-foot, and then stopped. Mrs. Carey was a little, shrivelled woman of the same age as her husband, with a face extraordinarily filled with deep wrinkles, and pale blue eyes. Her gray hair was arranged in ringlets according to the fashion of her youth. She wore a black dress, and her only ornament was a gold chain, from which hung a cross. She had a shy manner and a gentle voice.

‘Did you walk, William?’ she said, almost reproachfully, as she kissed her husband.

‘I didn’t think of it,’ he answered, with a glance at his nephew.

‘It didn’t hurt you to walk, Philip, did it?’ she asked the child.

‘No. I always walk.’

He was a little surprised at their conversation. Aunt Louisa told him to come in, and they entered the hall. It was paved with red and yellow tiles, on which alternately were a Greek Cross and the Lamb of God. An imposing staircase led out of the hall. It was of polished pine, with a peculiar smell, and had been put in because fortunately, when the church was reseated, enough wood remained over. The balusters were decorated with emblems of the Four Evangelists.

‘I’ve had the stove lighted as I thought you’d be cold after your journey,’ said Mrs. Carey.

It was a large black stove that stood in the hall and was only lighted if the weather was very bad and the Vicar had a cold. It was not lighted if Mrs. Carey had a cold. Coal was expensive. Besides, Mary Ann, the maid, didn’t like fires all over the place. If they wanted all them fires they must keep a second girl. In the winter Mr. and Mrs. Carey lived in the dining-room so that one fire should do, and in the summer they could not get out of the habit, so the drawing-room was used only by Mr. Carey on Sunday afternoons for his nap. But every Saturday he had a fire in the study so that he could write his sermon.

Aunt Louisa took Philip upstairs and showed him into a tiny bed-room that looked out on the drive. Immediately in front of the window was a large tree, which Philip remembered now because the branches were so low that it was possible to climb quite high up it.

‘A small room for a small boy,’ said Mrs. Carey. ‘You won’t be frightened at sleeping alone?’

‘Oh, no.’

On his first visit to the vicarage he had come with his nurse, and Mrs. Carey had had little to do with him. She looked at him now with some uncertainty.

‘Can you wash your own hands, or shall I wash them for you?’

‘I can wash myself,’ he answered firmly.

‘Well, I shall look at them when you come down to tea,’ said Mrs. Carey.

She knew nothing about children. After it was settled that Philip should come down to Blackstable, Mrs. Carey had thought much how she should treat him; she was anxious to do her duty; but now he was there she found herself just as shy of him as he was of her. She hoped he would not be noisy and rough, because her husband did not like rough and noisy boys. Mrs. Carey made an excuse to leave Philip alone, but in a moment came back and knocked at the door; she asked him, without coming in, if he could pour out the water himself. Then she went downstairs and rang the bell for tea.

The dining-room, large and well-proportioned, had windows on two sides of it, with heavy curtains of red rep; there was a big table in the middle; and at one end an imposing mahogany sideboard with a looking-glass in it. In one corner stood a harmonium. On each side of the fireplace were chairs covered in stamped leather, each with an antimacassar; one had arms and was called the husband, and the other had none and was called the wife. Mrs. Carey never sat in the arm-chair: she said she preferred a chair that was not too comfortable; there was always a lot to do, and if her chair had had arms she might not be so ready to leave it.

Mr. Carey was making up the fire when Philip came in, and he pointed out to his nephew that there were two pokers. One was large and bright and polished and unused, and was called the Vicar; and the other, which was much smaller and had evidently passed through many fires, was called the Curate.

‘What are we waiting for?’ said Mr. Carey.

‘I told Mary Ann to make you an egg. I thought you’d be hungry after your journey.’

Mrs. Carey thought the journey from London to Blackstable very tiring. She seldom travelled herself, for the living was only three hundred a year, and, when her husband wanted a holiday, since there was not money for two, he went by himself. He was very fond of Church Congresses and usually managed to go up to London once a year; and once he had been to Paris for the exhibition, and two or three times to Switzerland. Mary Ann brought in the egg, and they sat down. The chair was much too low for Philip, and for a moment neither Mr. Carey nor his wife knew what to do.

‘I’ll put some books under him,’ said Mary Ann.

She took from the top of the harmonium the large Bible and the prayer-book from which the Vicar was accustomed to read prayers, and put them on Philip’s chair.

‘Oh, William, he can’t sit on the Bible,’ said Mrs. Carey, in a shocked tone. ‘Couldn’t you get him some books out of the study?’

Mr. Carey considered the question for an instant.

‘I don’t think it matters this once if you put the prayer-book on the top, Mary Ann,’ he said. ‘The book of Common Prayer is the composition of men like ourselves. It has no claim to divine authorship.’

‘I hadn’t thought of that, William,’ said Aunt Louisa.

Philip perched himself on the books, and the Vicar, having said grace, cut the top off his egg.

‘There,’ he said, handing it to Philip, ‘you can eat my top if you like.’

Philip would have liked an egg to himself, but he was not offered one, so took what he could.

‘How have the chickens been laying since I went away?’ asked the Vicar.

‘Oh, they’ve been dreadful, only one or two a day.’

‘How did you like that top, Philip?’ asked his uncle.

‘Very much, thank you.’

‘You shall have another one on Sunday afternoon.’

Mr. Carey always had a boiled egg at tea on Sunday, so that he might be fortified for the evening service.

 

第四章

菲利普同埃玛分手时眼泪汪汪的,但是一上了路,沿途所见所闻使他感到挺新鲜。等他们最后到了布莱克斯泰勃,他已显得随遇而安,兴致勃勃。布莱克斯泰勃离伦敦六十英里。凯里先生把行李交给了脚夫,同菲利普一起徒步朝牧师公馆走去。他们走了不过五分钟就到了。菲利普一见那扇大门,立即记起来了。那是扇红颜色的栅门,上面竖有五根栅栏,门上的铰链很活络,能向里外两个方向自由启闭,要是攀吊在栅门上,可以像荡秋千似地前后摆动,只是大人不许这么玩罢了。他们穿过花园来到正门前。这扇正门只有在客人来访时,或是在星期天,再不就是逢到某些特殊场合,比如牧师出门去伦敦或从伦敦归来时,才让使用。平时家里人进出都走边门;另外,还有一扇后门专供花匠、乞丐和流浪汉等出入。这是一幢相当宽敞的黄砖红顶楼房,有教堂建筑物的风格,大约是在二十五年前盖的。正门的款式颇像教堂的门廊,客厅装有哥特式窗户。

凯里太太知道他们会搭乘哪班火车来,所以就在客厅里静心等候,留神着开门的咔哒声。她一听到这声响,立即跑到门口。

"那就是你的路易莎伯母,"凯里先生瞧见凯里太太时对菲利普说,"快去同她亲亲。"

菲利普拖着他那条瘸腿奔跑起来,步态怪别扭的;他跑了几步又站住身子。凯里太太是个瘦小、干瘪的妇人,和丈夫同年,长着一对淡蓝眼睛,脸上皱纹之密,褶印之深,还真少见。灰白的头发,依然接她年轻时流行的发型,梳成一络络的小发卷。她穿了件黑衣裙,身上唯一的装饰品是根金链子,上面挂着一枚十字架。她神态羞怯,说起话来柔声细气的。

"一路走来的吗,威廉?"她一边吻着丈夫,一边带着近乎责备的口气说。

"我可没想到这点,"他回答说,同时朝他侄儿瞥了一眼。

"走了这么一程,脚疼不疼,菲利普?"她问孩子。

"不疼。我走惯了。"

菲利普听了他们的对话不免有点奇怪。路易莎伯母招呼他进屋去,他们一齐走进门厅。门厅里铺着红黄相间的花砖,上面交替印有希腊正十字图案和耶稣基督画像。一道气势不凡的楼梯由厅内通向厅外,它是用磨光发亮的松木做的,散发着一股异香。当年教区教堂装设新座椅时,幸好剩下很多木料,于是就成全了这道楼梯。楼梯栏杆上镌有象征福音书四作者的寓意图案。

"我已叫人把火炉生好了,我想你们一路风尘仆仆,到家一定会感到冷的,"凯里太太说。

门厅里有只黑乎乎的大火炉,只有逢到天气十分恶劣,再加上牧师先生伤风不适的日子才用它来取暖。即使凯里太太受凉感冒了,那也舍不得生这个炉子。煤太贵了。再说,女仆玛丽·安也不乐意在屋子里到处生火取暖。要是有个炉子就生个火,那非得再请个女仆不可。冬天,凯里夫妇整天呆在餐室里,这样,只需在那儿生个火炉就行了Z习惯成自然,到了夏天他们照样在那儿饮食起居,凯里先生只是在星期日下午才去客厅睡个午觉。不过每逢星期六,他为了撰写讲道稿,总让人在书房里生个火。

路易莎伯母带菲利普上了楼,把他领进一间面朝车道的小卧室。临窗有棵参天大树,菲利普记起来了,是的,就是这棵大树,枝条低低垂挂着,借着这些枝条,可以上树,爬得很高很高哩。

"小孩住小屋,"凯里太太说。"你独个儿睡不害怕吧?"

"哦,不害怕。"

菲利普上一回来这儿,有保姆陪着,所以凯里太太用不着为他操什么心。而此刻她望着菲利普,心里委实有点放心不下。

"你自己洗手行吗?要不要我帮你洗?"

"我自己能洗,"他回答得挺干脆。

"嗯,待会儿你下楼来用茶点,我可要检查呢,"凯里太太说。

她对孩子的事一无所知。在决定让菲利普来布莱克斯泰勃之后,凯里太太经常在盘算该如何对待他。她急切地想尽一下作长辈的义务;而现在孩子来了,她却发现自己在菲利普面前,竞像菲利普在自己跟前一样,感到羞怯不安。但愿他不是个老爱大声嚷嚷的野孩子,因为凯里先生不喜欢那样的孩子。凯里太太找了个借口走了,留下菲利普一个人,可是

一转眼又跑回来敲门。她没走进房间,只是站在门外问了声他会不会自己倒水,然后便下楼打铃吩咐仆人上茶点。

餐室宽绰,结构匀称,房间两面都有一排窗户,遮着厚厚实实的大红棱纹平布窗帘。餐室中央搁着张大餐桌,靠墙边立着的带镜红木餐具柜,颇有几分气派。一个角落里放着一架簧风琴。壁炉两边各摆着一张皮靠椅,革面上留有商标压印,椅背上都罩有椅套。其中一张配有扶手,被叫作"丈夫"椅;另一张没有扶手,被称为"老婆"椅。凯里太太从来不坐那张有扶手的安乐椅。她说,她宁可坐不太舒适的椅子;每天有许多家务事要干,要是她的椅于也配上扶手,那她就会一个劲儿坐下去,懒得动弹了。

菲利普进来时,凯里先生正在给炉子加煤。他随手指给侄子看两根拨火棒。其中一根又粗又亮,表面很光滑,未曾使用过,他管这根叫"牧师";另一根要细得多,显然经常是用它来拨弄炉火的,他管这根叫"副牧师"。

"咱们还等什么呢?"凯里先生说。

"我吩咐玛丽·安给你煮个鸡蛋。我想你一路辛苦,大概饿坏了吧。"

在凯里太太想来,从伦敦回布莱克斯泰勃,一路上够劳累的。她自己难得出门,因为他们只能靠区区三百镑的年俸度日;每回丈夫要想外出度假,因手头拮据,负担不起两个人的盘缠,最后总是让他一个人去。凯里先生很喜欢出席全国基督教大会,每年总要设法去伦敦一次。他曾上巴黎参观过一次展览会,还到瑞士去旅行过两三回。玛丽·安把鸡蛋端了进来,大家人席就座。菲利普的椅子嫌太低,凯里先生和他太太竟一时不知所措。

"我去拿几本书给他垫垫,"玛丽·安说。

玛丽·安从簧风琴顶盖上取下一部大开本《圣经》和牧师祷告时经常用到的祈祷书,把它们放在菲利普的坐椅上。

"噢,威廉,他可不能坐在《圣经》上面呀!"凯里太太诚惶诚恐地说。"你上书房给他拿几本书来不行吗?"

凯里先生沉思了半晌。

"玛丽·安,我想,如果你偶尔把祈祷书搁在上面一次,也没多大关系吧,"他说。"这本《大众祈祷书》,本来就是一些像我们这样的凡人编写的,算不得什么经典神书。"

"这我倒没想到,威廉,"路易莎伯母说。

菲利普在这两本书上坐定身子,牧师做完了谢恩祈祷,动手把鸡蛋的尖头切下来。

"哎,"他说着,把切下的鸡蛋尖递给菲利普,"你喜欢的话,可以把这块蛋尖吃了。"

菲利普希望自己能享用一整个鸡蛋,可现在既然没这福分,只能给多少吃多少了。

"我不在家的时候,母鸡下蛋勤不勤?"牧师问。

"噢,差劲得很,每天只有一两只鸡下蛋。"

"那块鸡蛋尖的味儿怎么样,菲利普?"他大伯问。

"很好,谢谢您。"

"星期天下午你还可以吃上这么一块。"

凯里先生星期天用茶点时总要吃个煮鸡蛋,这样才有精力应付晚上的礼拜仪式。


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