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chapter 9
On the following Sunday, when the Vicar was making his preparations to go into the drawing-room for his nap—all the actions of his life were conducted with ceremony—and Mrs. Carey was about to go upstairs, Philip asked:

‘What shall I do if I’m not allowed to play?’

‘Can’t you sit still for once and be quiet?’

‘I can’t sit still till tea-time.’

Mr. Carey looked out of the window, but it was cold and raw, and he could not suggest that Philip should go into the garden.

‘I know what you can do. You can learn by heart the collect for the day.’

He took the prayer-book which was used for prayers from the harmonium, and turned the pages till he came to the place he wanted.

‘It’s not a long one. If you can say it without a mistake when I come in to tea you shall have the top of my egg.’

Mrs. Carey drew up Philip’s chair to the dining-room table—they had bought him a high chair by now—and placed the book in front of him.

‘The devil finds work for idle hands to do,’ said Mr. Carey.

He put some more coals on the fire so that there should be a cheerful blaze when he came in to tea, and went into the drawing-room. He loosened his collar, arranged the cushions, and settled himself comfortably on the sofa. But thinking the drawing-room a little chilly, Mrs. Carey brought him a rug from the hall; she put it over his legs and tucked it round his feet. She drew the blinds so that the light should not offend his eyes, and since he had closed them already went out of the room on tiptoe. The Vicar was at peace with himself today, and in ten minutes he was asleep. He snored softly.

It was the Sixth Sunday after Epiphany, and the collect began with the words: O God, whose blessed Son was manifested that he might destroy the works of the devil, and make us the sons of God, and heirs of Eternal life. Philip read it through. He could make no sense of it. He began saying the words aloud to himself, but many of them were unknown to him, and the construction of the sentence was strange. He could not get more than two lines in his head. And his attention was constantly wandering: there were fruit trees trained on the walls of the vicarage, and a long twig beat now and then against the windowpane; sheep grazed stolidly in the field beyond the garden. It seemed as though there were knots inside his brain. Then panic seized him that he would not know the words by tea-time, and he kept on whispering them to himself quickly; he did not try to understand, but merely to get them parrot-like into his memory.

Mrs. Carey could not sleep that afternoon, and by four o’clock she was so wide awake that she came downstairs. She thought she would hear Philip his collect so that he should make no mistakes when he said it to his uncle. His uncle then would be pleased; he would see that the boy’s heart was in the right place. But when Mrs. Carey came to the dining-room and was about to go in, she heard a sound that made her stop suddenly. Her heart gave a little jump. She turned away and quietly slipped out of the front-door. She walked round the house till she came to the dining-room window and then cautiously looked in. Philip was still sitting on the chair she had put him in, but his head was on the table buried in his arms, and he was sobbing desperately. She saw the convulsive movement of his shoulders. Mrs. Carey was frightened. A thing that had always struck her about the child was that he seemed so collected. She had never seen him cry. And now she realised that his calmness was some instinctive shame of showing his fillings: he hid himself to weep.

Without thinking that her husband disliked being wakened suddenly, she burst into the drawing-room.

‘William, William,’ she said. ‘The boy’s crying as though his heart would break.’

Mr. Carey sat up and disentangled himself from the rug about his legs.

‘What’s he got to cry about?’

‘I don’t know.... Oh, William, we can’t let the boy be unhappy. D’you think it’s our fault? If we’d had children we’d have known what to do.’

Mr. Carey looked at her in perplexity. He felt extraordinarily helpless.

‘He can’t be crying because I gave him the collect to learn. It’s not more than ten lines.’

‘Don’t you think I might take him some picture books to look at, William? There are some of the Holy Land. There couldn’t be anything wrong in that.’

‘Very well, I don’t mind.’

Mrs. Carey went into the study. To collect books was Mr. Carey’s only passion, and he never went into Tercanbury without spending an hour or two in the second-hand shop; he always brought back four or five musty volumes. He never read them, for he had long lost the habit of reading, but he liked to turn the pages, look at the illustrations if they were illustrated, and mend the bindings. He welcomed wet days because on them he could stay at home without pangs of conscience and spend the afternoon with white of egg and a glue-pot, patching up the Russia leather of some battered quarto. He had many volumes of old travels, with steel engravings, and Mrs. Carey quickly found two which described Palestine. She coughed elaborately at the door so that Philip should have time to compose himself, she felt that he would be humiliated if she came upon him in the midst of his tears, then she rattled the door handle. When she went in Philip was poring over the prayer-book, hiding his eyes with his hands so that she might not see he had been crying.

‘Do you know the collect yet?’ she said.

He did not answer for a moment, and she felt that he did not trust his voice. She was oddly embarrassed.

‘I can’t learn it by heart,’ he said at last, with a gasp.

‘Oh, well, never mind,’ she said. ‘You needn’t. I’ve got some picture books for you to look at. Come and sit on my lap, and we’ll look at them together.’

Philip slipped off his chair and limped over to her. He looked down so that she should not see his eyes. She put her arms round him.

‘Look,’ she said, ‘that’s the place where our blessed Lord was born.’

She showed him an Eastern town with flat roofs and cupolas and minarets. In the foreground was a group of palm-trees, and under them were resting two Arabs and some camels. Philip passed his hand over the picture as if he wanted to feel the houses and the loose habiliments of the nomads.

‘Read what it says,’ he asked.

Mrs. Carey in her even voice read the opposite page. It was a romantic narrative of some Eastern traveller of the thirties, pompous maybe, but fragrant with the emotion with which the East came to the generation that followed Byron and Chateaubriand. In a moment or two Philip interrupted her.

‘I want to see another picture.’

When Mary Ann came in and Mrs. Carey rose to help her lay the cloth. Philip took the book in his hands and hurried through the illustrations. It was with difficulty that his aunt induced him to put the book down for tea. He had forgotten his horrible struggle to get the collect by heart; he had forgotten his tears. Next day it was raining, and he asked for the book again. Mrs. Carey gave it him joyfully. Talking over his future with her husband she had found that both desired him to take orders, and this eagerness for the book which described places hallowed by the presence of Jesus seemed a good sign. It looked as though the boy’s mind addressed itself naturally to holy things. But in a day or two he asked for more books. Mr. Carey took him into his study, showed him the shelf in which he kept illustrated works, and chose for him one that dealt with Rome. Philip took it greedily. The pictures led him to a new amusement. He began to read the page before and the page after each engraving to find out what it was about, and soon he lost all interest in his toys.

Then, when no one was near, he took out books for himself; and perhaps because the first impression on his mind was made by an Eastern town, he found his chief amusement in those which described the Levant. His heart beat with excitement at the pictures of mosques and rich palaces; but there was one, in a book on Constantinople, which peculiarly stirred his imagination. It was called the Hall of the Thousand Columns. It was a Byzantine cistern, which the popular fancy had endowed with fantastic vastness; and the legend which he read told that a boat was always moored at the entrance to tempt the unwary, but no traveller venturing into the darkness had ever been seen again. And Philip wondered whether the boat went on for ever through one pillared alley after another or came at last to some strange mansion.

One day a good fortune befell him, for he hit upon Lane’s translation of The Thousand Nights and a Night. He was captured first by the illustrations, and then he began to read, to start with, the stories that dealt with magic, and then the others; and those he liked he read again and again. He could think of nothing else. He forgot the life about him. He had to be called two or three times before he would come to his dinner. Insensibly he formed the most delightful habit in the world, the habit of reading: he did not know that thus he was providing himself with a refuge from all the distress of life; he did not know either that he was creating for himself an unreal world which would make the real world of every day a source of bitter disappointment. Presently he began to read other things. His brain was precocious. His uncle and aunt, seeing that he occupied himself and neither worried nor made a noise, ceased to trouble themselves about him. Mr. Carey had so many books that he did not know them, and as he read little he forgot the odd lots he had bought at one time and another because they were cheap. Haphazard among the sermons and homilies, the travels, the lives of the Saints, the Fathers, the histories of the church, were old-fashioned novels; and these Philip at last discovered. He chose them by their titles, and the first he read was The Lancashire Witches, and then he read The Admirable Crichton, and then many more. Whenever he started a book with two solitary travellers riding along the brink of a desperate ravine he knew he was safe.

The summer was come now, and the gardener, an old sailor, made him a hammock and fixed it up for him in the branches of a weeping willow. And here for long hours he lay, hidden from anyone who might come to the vicarage, reading, reading passionately. Time passed and it was July; August came: on Sundays the church was crowded with strangers, and the collection at the offertory often amounted to two pounds. Neither the Vicar nor Mrs. Carey went out of the garden much during this period; for they disliked strange faces, and they looked upon the visitors from London with aversion. The house opposite was taken for six weeks by a gentleman who had two little boys, and he sent in to ask if Philip would like to go and play with them; but Mrs. Carey returned a polite refusal. She was afraid that Philip would be corrupted by little boys from London. He was going to be a clergyman, and it was necessary that he should be preserved from contamination. She liked to see in him an infant Samuel.

 

第九章

这个星期天,牧师正准备去客厅睡午觉(牧师的生活起居就像举行仪式似地按部就班,有板有眼),而凯里太太也正打算上楼去休息,菲利普这时却冷不防启口问:

"不许我玩,那叫我干什么呢?"

"你就不能安安稳稳地坐一会儿吗?"

"我心没法在吃茶点以前,老是这么一动不动坐着。"

凯里先生朝窗外望了望,屋外寒峭阴冷,总不能叫菲利普上花园去吧。

"我知道你可以干点什么了。你可以背一段规定今天念的短祈祷文。"

说着,他从风琴上取下那本供祷告用的祈祷书,翻到要找的那一页。

"这段不算长。如果我进来吃茶点的时候你能一字不差地背出来,我就把我的鸡蛋尖奖给你吃。"

凯里太太随手把菲利普的座椅拖到餐桌旁(他们已特地为菲利普备置了一张高脚座椅),并且把祈祷书放在他面前。

"魔鬼会差使游手好闲之徒干坏事的,"凯里先生说。

他给火炉加了点煤,待会儿进来用茶点时炉火就会烧得旺旺的。凯用先生走进客厅,松开衣领,把靠垫摆摆正,然后舒舒坦坦地在沙发上躺下。凯里太太想到客厅里冷丝丝的,便从门厅那儿拿了条旅行毛毯来,给他盖在腿上,并将双脚裹了个严实。她本来还想把百叶窗放下,免得日光刺眼,后来看到他已经把百叶窗关严了,便踏着脚走出客厅。牧师今天心神安宁,不到十分钟就已堕入梦乡,还轻轻地打起呼噜来。

那天是主显节后的第六个星期天,指定这天念的祈祷文一开头是这么写的:"主啊,圣子已显明他可以破除魔鬼的妖术,从而使我们成为上帝之子,成为永生的后嗣。"菲利普一口气读完祈祷文,却不知所云。他开始高声诵读,里面有好多不认得的词儿,句子结构又是那么古怪。菲利普念来念去,至多也只记得住两行。他老是心不在焉:屋子四周沿墙种着许多果树,一根细长的垂枝不时曳打着窗子玻璃;羊群在花园那边的田野里木然地啃嚼着青草。菲利普的脑袋瓜里似乎结满了疙瘩。突然一阵恐惧袭上心头:要是到用茶点时还背不出来怎么办?他又继续叽里咕噜念起来,念得很快,他不再试着去理解内容,而是像鹦鹉学舌那样硬把这些句于往自己脑袋里塞。

那天下午,凯里太太却翻来覆去睡不着,捱到四点钟光景,她毫无睡意,索性起床走下楼来。她想先听菲利普背一遍祈祷文,免得在背给大伯听时出什么差错,这样他大伯就会感到满意,明白这孩子的心地还是纯正的。但是凯里太太来到餐室门口正待进去的时候,忽然听见一个意想不到的声音,使她倏地收住脚步。她心头猛地一跳。她转过身,蹑手蹑脚出了正门,沿着屋子绕到餐室窗下,小心翼翼地探头朝屋里张望。菲利普仍坐在她端给他的那张椅子里,但是身子却趴在桌子上,小脑瓜埋在手臂里,正悲痛欲绝地低声啜泣着。凯里太太还看到他的肩膀在一扇一扇上下抽搐。这一下可把她给吓坏了。过去她一直有这样的印象,似乎这孩子颇能自制,从未见他哭过鼻子。凯里太太恍然省悟,孩子的故作镇静原来是某种本能反应,认为在人前流露感情是丢脸的事儿:他常常躲在人背后偷偷哭泣呢!

凯里太太一口气冲进客厅,她丈夫向来讨厌别人突然把他从睡梦中叫醒,这时她也顾不得了。

"威廉,威廉,"她说,"那孩子哭得好伤心哩。"

凯里先生坐起身子,把裹在腿上的毯子掀掉。

"哭的什么事?"

"我不知道……噢,威廉,我们可不能让孩子受委屈呀。你说这是不是该怪我们?我们要是自己有孩子,就知道该怎么办了。"

凯里先生惶惑不解地望着凯里太太。遇到这种事,他特别感到束手无策。

"不见得是因为我叫他背祈祷文他才哭鼻子的吧。一共还不满十行呢。"

"还是让我去拿几本图画书给他看看,你说呢,威廉?我们有几本关于圣地的图画书。这么做不会有什么不妥吧。"

"好吧,我没意见。"

凯里太太进了书房。搜集图书是凯里先生唯一热中的俗事,他每回上坎特伯雷总要在旧书店泡上一两个钟头,而且还带回来四五卷发霉的旧书。他从不去读它们,因为读书恰情的习惯他早就给丢了,不过他有时还是喜欢翻翻,假如书里有插图的话,就看看那些插图。他还喜欢修补旧书的封皮。他巴望天下雨,因为逢到这种天气,他可以心安理得地呆在家里,用胶水锅调点蛋白,花一个下午的时间,修补几册四开本旧书的俄罗斯皮革封面。他收藏了好多册古旧游记,里面还有钢板雕刻画的插页;凯里太太一下子就找出两本介绍圣地巴勒斯坦的书。她走到餐室门口,故意咳嗽一声,好让菲利普有时间镇定下来。她想,菲利普如果在偷偷掉眼泪的当口被自己撞上了,一定会觉得丢脸的。接着,她又喀哒喀哒地转动门把。她走进餐室时,看见菲利普装出一副聚精会神看祈祷书的样子。他用手遮住眼睛,生怕让凯里太太发觉自己刚才在掉眼泪。

"祈祷文背出来了吗?"她问。

他没有马上回答;她觉察得出孩子是生怕自己的嗓音露了馅。她感到这局面尴尬得出奇。

"我背不出来,"他喘了一口粗气,总算迸出了一句。

"噢,没关系,"她说。"你不用背了。我给你拿来了几本图画书。来,坐到我膝头上来,我们一块儿看吧。"

菲利普一骨碌翻下椅于,一瘸一拐地朝她走来。他低头望着地板,有意不让凯里太太看到自己的眼睛。她一把将他搂住。

"瞧,这儿就是耶稣基督的诞生地。"

她指给他看的是座东方风味的城池,城内平顶、圆顶建筑物和寺院尖塔交相错落。画面的前景是一排棕桐树,两个阿拉伯人和几只骆驼正在树下歇脚。菲利普用手在画面上抹来抹去,似乎是想摸到那些房屋建筑和流浪汉身上的宽松衣衫。

"念念这上面写了些什么,"他请求说。

凯里太太用平静的声调,念了那另外一页上的文字记叙。那是三十年代某个东方旅行家写的一段富有浪漫色彩的游记,词藻也许过于华丽了些,但文笔优美动人,感情充沛,而对于继拜伦和夏多勃里昂之后的那一代人来说,东方世界正是焕发着这种感情色彩展现在他们面前的。过了一会儿,菲利普打断了凯里太太的朗读。

"再给我看张别的图画。"

这时,玛丽·安走了进来,凯里太太站起身来帮她铺台布,菲利普捧着书,忙不迭把书里所有插图一张张翻看过去。他伯母费了好大一番口舌,才哄住他放下书本来用茶点。他已把刚才背祈祷文时的极度苦恼丢诸脑后,忘了刚才还在哭鼻子流眼泪哩。次日,天下起雨来,他又提出要看那本书。凯里太太满心欢喜地拿给了他。凯里太太曾同丈夫谈起过孩子的前途,发觉他俩都希望孩子将来能领圣职,当个牧师;现在,菲利普对这本描述圣子显身之地的书表现出异乎寻常的兴趣,这无疑是个好兆头哟。看来这孩子的心灵,天生是同神圣的事物息息相通的。而隔了一两天,他又提出要看别的书。凯里先生把他领到书房里,给他看一排书架,那上面放着他收藏的一些有插图的书卷,并为他挑选了一本介绍罗马的书。菲利普遍不及待地接了过去。书中的插图把他引进一片新的乐境。为了搞清图画的内容,他试着去念每幅版画前后页的文字叙述;不久,玩具再也弓坏起他的兴趣了。

之后,只要身旁没有人,他就把书拿出来自念自看;也许是因为最初给他留下深刻印象的是座东方城市,所以他特别偏爱那些描述地中海东部国家和岛屿的书籍。他一看到画有清真寺和富丽堂皇的宫殿的图片时,心儿就兴奋得怦怦直跳;在一本关于康斯坦丁堡的书里,有一幅题为"千柱厅"的插图,特别使他浮想联翩。画的是拜占庭的一个人工湖,经过人n]的想象加工,它成了一个神奇虚幻、浩瀚无际的魔湖。菲利普读了插图的说明:在这人工湖的入口处,总是停泊着一叶轻舟,专门引诱那些处事轻率的莽汉,而凡是冒险闯入这片神秘深渊的游人,没有一个能生还。菲利普真想知道,那一叶轻舟究竟是在那一道道柱廊里永远穿行转悠着呢,还是最终抵达了某座奇异的大厦。

一天,菲利普意外地交上了好运,偶然翻到一本莱恩翻译的个一千零一夜》。他一翻开书就被书中的插图吸引住了,接着开始细读起来。一上来先读了那几篇述及巫术的故事,然后又陆续读了其他各篇;他喜欢的几篇,则是爱不释手,读了又读。他完全沉浸在这些故事里面,把周围的一切全忘了。吃饭时,总得让人唤上两三遍才珊珊而来。不知不觉间,菲利普养成了世上给人以最大乐趣的习惯--一披览群书的习惯;他自己并没意识到,这一来却给自己找到了一个逃避人生忧患苦难的庇护所;他也没意识到,他正在为自己臆造出一个虚无缥缈的幻境,转而又使得日常的现实世界成了痛苦失望的源泉。没多久,他开始阅读起其他书籍来。他的智力过早地成熟了。大伯和伯母见到孩子既不发愁也不吵闹,整个身心沉浸在书海之中,也就不再在他身上劳神了。凯里先生的藏书多得连他自己也搞不清;他自己并没认真读过几本,对那些因贪其便宜而陆陆续续买回来的零星旧书,心里也没有个底。在一大堆讲道集、游记、圣人长老传记、宗教史话等书价里面,也混杂了一些旧小说,而这些旧小说终于也让菲利普发现了。他根据书名把它们挑了出来。第一本念的是烂开夏女巫》,接着读了《令人钦羡的克里奇顿》,以后又陆续读了好多别的小说。每当他翻开一本书,看到书里关于两个孤独游子在悬崖峭壁上策马行进的描写时,他总联想到自己是安然无险的。

春去夏来。一位老水手出身的花匠,给菲利普做了一张吊床,挂在垂柳的枝干上。菲利普一连几小时躺在这张吊床上看书,如饥似渴地看呀看呀,不论是谁上牧师家来,都见不着菲利普的人影。光阴荏苒,转眼已是七月,接着忽忽又到了八月。每逢星期天,教堂内总挤满了陌生人,做礼拜时募到的捐款往往有两镑之多。在这段时间里,牧师也好,凯里太太也好,经常足不出户。他们不喜欢见到那些陌生面孔,对那些来自伦敦的游客极为反感。有位先生租下牧师公馆对面的一幢房子,住了六个星期。这位先生有两个小男孩。有一回,他特地派人来问菲利普是否高兴上他家和孩子一起玩耍,凯里太太婉言谢绝了。她生怕菲利普会被伦敦来的孩子带坏。菲利普长大了要当牧师,所以一定不能让他沾染上不良习气。凯里太太巴不得菲利普从小就成为一个撒母耳。


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