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chapter 5
Philip came gradually to know the people he was to live with, and by fragments of conversation, some of it not meant for his ears, learned a good deal both about himself and about his dead parents. Philip’s father had been much younger than the Vicar of Blackstable. After a brilliant career at St. Luke’s Hospital he was put on the staff, and presently began to earn money in considerable sums. He spent it freely. When the parson set about restoring his church and asked his brother for a subscription, he was surprised by receiving a couple of hundred pounds: Mr. Carey, thrifty by inclination and economical by necessity, accepted it with mingled feelings; he was envious of his brother because he could afford to give so much, pleased for the sake of his church, and vaguely irritated by a generosity which seemed almost ostentatious. Then Henry Carey married a patient, a beautiful girl but penniless, an orphan with no near relations, but of good family; and there was an array of fine friends at the wedding. The parson, on his visits to her when he came to London, held himself with reserve. He felt shy with her and in his heart he resented her great beauty: she dressed more magnificently than became the wife of a hardworking surgeon; and the charming furniture of her house, the flowers among which she lived even in winter, suggested an extravagance which he deplored. He heard her talk of entertainments she was going to; and, as he told his wife on getting home again, it was impossible to accept hospitality without making some return. He had seen grapes in the dining-room that must have cost at least eight shillings a pound; and at luncheon he had been given asparagus two months before it was ready in the vicarage garden. Now all he had anticipated was come to pass: the Vicar felt the satisfaction of the prophet who saw fire and brimstone consume the city which would not mend its way to his warning. Poor Philip was practically penniless, and what was the good of his mother’s fine friends now? He heard that his father’s extravagance was really criminal, and it was a mercy that Providence had seen fit to take his dear mother to itself: she had no more idea of money than a child.

When Philip had been a week at Blackstable an incident happened which seemed to irritate his uncle very much. One morning he found on the breakfast table a small packet which had been sent on by post from the late Mrs. Carey’s house in London. It was addressed to her. When the parson opened it he found a dozen photographs of Mrs. Carey. They showed the head and shoulders only, and her hair was more plainly done than usual, low on the forehead, which gave her an unusual look; the face was thin and worn, but no illness could impair the beauty of her features. There was in the large dark eyes a sadness which Philip did not remember. The first sight of the dead woman gave Mr. Carey a little shock, but this was quickly followed by perplexity. The photographs seemed quite recent, and he could not imagine who had ordered them.

‘D’you know anything about these, Philip?’ he asked.

‘I remember mamma said she’d been taken,’ he answered. ‘Miss Watkin scolded her.... She said: I wanted the boy to have something to remember me by when he grows up.’

Mr. Carey looked at Philip for an instant. The child spoke in a clear treble. He recalled the words, but they meant nothing to him.

‘You’d better take one of the photographs and keep it in your room,’ said Mr. Carey. ‘I’ll put the others away.’

He sent one to Miss Watkin, and she wrote and explained how they came to be taken.

One day Mrs. Carey was lying in bed, but she was feeling a little better than usual, and the doctor in the morning had seemed hopeful; Emma had taken the child out, and the maids were downstairs in the basement: suddenly Mrs. Carey felt desperately alone in the world. A great fear seized her that she would not recover from the confinement which she was expecting in a fortnight. Her son was nine years old. How could he be expected to remember her? She could not bear to think that he would grow up and forget, forget her utterly; and she had loved him so passionately, because he was weakly and deformed, and because he was her child. She had no photographs of herself taken since her marriage, and that was ten years before. She wanted her son to know what she looked like at the end. He could not forget her then, not forget utterly. She knew that if she called her maid and told her she wanted to get up, the maid would prevent her, and perhaps send for the doctor, and she had not the strength now to struggle or argue. She got out of bed and began to dress herself. She had been on her back so long that her legs gave way beneath her, and then the soles of her feet tingled so that she could hardly bear to put them to the ground. But she went on. She was unused to doing her own hair and, when she raised her arms and began to brush it, she felt faint. She could never do it as her maid did. It was beautiful hair, very fine, and of a deep rich gold. Her eyebrows were straight and dark. She put on a black skirt, but chose the bodice of the evening dress which she liked best: it was of a white damask which was fashionable in those days. She looked at herself in the glass. Her face was very pale, but her skin was clear: she had never had much colour, and this had always made the redness of her beautiful mouth emphatic. She could not restrain a sob. But she could not afford to be sorry for herself; she was feeling already desperately tired; and she put on the furs which Henry had given her the Christmas before—she had been so proud of them and so happy then—and slipped downstairs with beating heart. She got safely out of the house and drove to a photographer. She paid for a dozen photographs. She was obliged to ask for a glass of water in the middle of the sitting; and the assistant, seeing she was ill, suggested that she should come another day, but she insisted on staying till the end. At last it was finished, and she drove back again to the dingy little house in Kensington which she hated with all her heart. It was a horrible house to die in.

She found the front door open, and when she drove up the maid and Emma ran down the steps to help her. They had been frightened when they found her room empty. At first they thought she must have gone to Miss Watkin, and the cook was sent round. Miss Watkin came back with her and was waiting anxiously in the drawing-room. She came downstairs now full of anxiety and reproaches; but the exertion had been more than Mrs. Carey was fit for, and when the occasion for firmness no longer existed she gave way. She fell heavily into Emma’s arms and was carried upstairs. She remained unconscious for a time that seemed incredibly long to those that watched her, and the doctor, hurriedly sent for, did not come. It was next day, when she was a little better, that Miss Watkin got some explanation out of her. Philip was playing on the floor of his mother’s bed-room, and neither of the ladies paid attention to him. He only understood vaguely what they were talking about, and he could not have said why those words remained in his memory.

‘I wanted the boy to have something to remember me by when he grows up.’

‘I can’t make out why she ordered a dozen,’ said Mr. Carey. ‘Two would have done.’

 

第五章

菲利普同那些自己要与之一起生活的人终于渐渐熟稔起来,通过他们日常交谈的片言只语--一有些当然并非有意说给他听的--了解到许多有关自己和他已故双亲的情况。菲利普的父亲要比牧师年轻好多岁。他在圣路加医院实习期间,成绩出众,被院方正式聘为该院的医生,不久,他就有了相当可观的收入。他花起钱来大手大脚,满不在乎。有回牧师着手修缮教堂,向这位兄弟募款,结果出乎意外地收到了几百镑。凯里先生手头拮据,省吃俭用惯了,他收下那笔款子时,心里酸甜苦辣,百感交集。他妒忌弟弟,因为弟弟竟拿得出这么一大笔钱来;他也为教堂感到高兴,不过又对这种近乎炫耀的慷慨解囊隐隐感到恼火。后来,亨利·凯里同一个病人结了婚,那是个容貌出众却一贫如洗的姑娘,一个无亲无故却是出身名门的孤女。婚礼上良朋佳友如云。打那以后,牧师每次上伦敦,总要去看望这位弟媳。不过在她面前,牧师总显得拘谨,甚至有些胆怯;心底里却对她的仪态万方暗怀愠怨。作为一个兢兢业业的外科医生的妻子,她的穿戴未免过于华丽;而她家里精美雅致的家具,还有那些鲜花--一甚至在寒冬腊月她也要生活在花丛之中--说明她生活之奢华,已达到令人痛心的程度。牧师还听她说起,她要出门去赴宴。正如牧师回到家里对他老伴所说,既然她受了人家的款待,总该礼尚往来罗。他在餐室里看到过一些鲜葡萄,想来至少得花八先令一磅;在吃午餐时,还请他尝用尚未上市的鲜芦笋,这种芦笋,在牧师自己家的菜园里还得过两个月才能拿来当菜吃。现在,他所预料的一切都已成了现实。牧师不由心生某种满足之感,就像预言家亲眼见到一个无视自己警告而一意孤行的城市,终于遭到地狱硫火的吞噬一般。可怜的菲利普现在差不多不名一文,他妈妈的那些良朋佳友现在又管什么用?菲利普听人说,自己父亲肆意挥霍实在是造了孽;老天爷还算慈悲,及早把他亲爱的妈妈领回到自己身边去了。在金钱方面,她并不比小孩更有见识。

菲利普来到布莱克斯泰勃一个星期后,发生了一件似乎使他伯父颇不以为然的事情。一天早上,牧师在餐桌上看到一个小包邮件,是由伦敦凯里太太生前所住寓所转寄来的。上面写的是已故凯里太太的名字和地址。牧师拆开一看,原来是凯里太太的照片,共十二张。照片只拍了头部和肩部。发式比平时朴素,云鬓低垂在前额上,使她显得有点异样;脸盘瘦削,面容憔悴,然而疾病却无损于她容貌的俏丽。一双乌黑的大眼睛,隐隐透出一股哀怨之情,这种哀怨神情菲利普已记不得了。凯里先生乍一见到这个已辞人世的女子,心头不觉微微一震,紧接着又感到迷惑不解。这些照片似乎是新近拍摄的,可他想象不出究竟是谁让拍的。

"你知道这些照片是怎么回事,菲利普?"他问道。

"我记得妈妈说去拍过照,"他回答说。"沃特金小姐还为这事责怪妈妈来着……妈妈说:'我要给孩子留下点什么,让他长大以后能记起我来。'"

凯里先生愣愣地望着菲利普。孩子的话音尖细而清朗。他回忆着母亲的话,却不明白话中的含义。

"你最好拿一张去,把它放在自己的房间里,"凯里先生说。"其余的就保存在我这儿吧。"

他寄了一张给沃特金小姐。她在回信里讲了拍摄这些照片的始末。

一天,凯里太太躺在床上,觉得人比平时稍微精神了些,医生早晨来看她,似乎也觉得病情有了点转机。埃玛带着孩子出去了,女仆们都在下面地下室里,凯里太太蓦地感到自己于然一身飘零世上,好不凄苦。一阵巨大的恐惧攫住心头:她原以为要不了两个星期,病体就会复原的,现在看来要水远卧床不起了。儿子今年才九岁,怎么能指望他将来不把自己忘掉呢?想到他日后长大成人会将自己忘掉,忘得一干二净,她心如刀割,难以忍受;她之所以这么炽烈地爱着他,是因为他体质赢弱,又有残疾,又因为他是自己的亲生骨肉。结婚以后她还没有拍过照,而结婚到现在一晃已有十载。她要让儿子知道自己临终前的模样,这样他就不会把自己忘得一干二净了。凯里太太知道,如果招呼侍女,说自己要起床,那么侍女一定会阻止她,说不定还会把医生叫来。她现在连挣扎、分辩的力气也没有。她下了床,开始穿衣。由于长期辗转病榻,双腿酥软,身体难以支撑,接着脚底又产生一种刺痛的感觉,甚至连脚都没法放到地上。她咬紧牙挺着。她不习惯自己梳理头发;她抬起手臂梳头时,感到一阵眩晕。她怎么也梳不成侍女给自己梳理的那种发式。那一头金黄色的秀发,既柔且密。两道细眉又直又黑。她穿上一条黑裙子,但选了一件最合她心意的夜礼服紧身胸衣。胸衣是用白锦缎做成的,这种料于在当时很时髦。她照照镜子,瞧见自己脸色苍白异常,但皮肤却很细洁。她脸上一向没有多少血色,而这一来,她那美丽的嘴唇反而越发显得红润。她情不自禁地抽泣了一声。但是,此刻可不是顾影自怜的当口,她已感到精疲力竭。凯里太太披上皮外衣,那是亨利前一年圣诞节送给她的,当时她颇为这件礼物自豪,感到无比幸福。她悄没声儿溜下楼梯,心儿突突剧跳不已。她顺顺当当出了屋子,叫了辆车去照相馆。凯里太太付了十一二张照片的钱。在坐着拍照的过程中,她支撑不住,不得不要了杯茶水。摄影师的助手看到她有病,建议她改日再来,但她坚持让自己拍完。最后,好歹算拍完了,她又叫车回肯辛顿的那所幽暗小屋。她打心底里厌恶那住所,想到自己竟要死在那里面,真可怕。

她看见大门洞开着。当她的车停下来时,侍女和埃玛三步并作两步奔下台阶来搀扶她。先前,她们发现房间空了,可真吓坏了。她们一转念,心想太太准是上沃特金小姐那儿去了,于是打发厨娘去找。不料,沃特金小姐却跟着厨娘一起来了,一直心焦如焚地守在客厅里。此刻沃特金小姐也赶下楼来,心里焦灼不安,嘴里不住嗔怪凯里太太。凯里太太经过这番折腾,已劳累过度,加上需要硬挺的时刻已经过去,她再也支撑不住,一头扑倒在埃玛怀里,随后便被抬到楼上。凯里太太虽只昏迷了不多一会儿,但对守护在身旁的人来说,时间却长得难以置信;他们赶紧派人去请医生,医生一直没来。到了第二大,凯里太太体力稍有恢复,沃特金小姐从她嘴里了解到了事情的原委。那当儿,菲利普正坐在母亲卧室的地板上玩耍,这两位妇人谁也没去注意他。她俩的谈话,他只是似懂非懂地听到了一些,他也说不清那些话怎么会留在他的记忆里的。

"我要给孩子留下点什么,让他长大以后能记起我来。"

"我不懂她为什么要拍十二张,"凯里先生说,"拍两张不就行了?"


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