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chapter 20
Philip was moved into the Sixth, but he hated school now with all his heart, and, having lost his ambition, cared nothing whether he did ill or well. He awoke in the morning with a sinking heart because he must go through another day of drudgery. He was tired of having to do things because he was told; and the restrictions irked him, not because they were unreasonable, but because they were restrictions. He yearned for freedom. He was weary of repeating things that he knew already and of the hammering away, for the sake of a thick-witted fellow, at something that he understood from the beginning.

With Mr. Perkins you could work or not as you chose. He was at once eager and abstracted. The Sixth Form room was in a part of the old abbey which had been restored, and it had a gothic window: Philip tried to cheat his boredom by drawing this over and over again; and sometimes out of his head he drew the great tower of the Cathedral or the gateway that led into the precincts. He had a knack for drawing. Aunt Louisa during her youth had painted in water colours, and she had several albums filled with sketches of churches, old bridges, and picturesque cottages. They were often shown at the vicarage tea-parties. She had once given Philip a paint-box as a Christmas present, and he had started by copying her pictures. He copied them better than anyone could have expected, and presently he did little pictures of his own. Mrs. Carey encouraged him. It was a good way to keep him out of mischief, and later on his sketches would be useful for bazaars. Two or three of them had been framed and hung in his bed-room.

But one day, at the end of the morning’s work, Mr. Perkins stopped him as he was lounging out of the form-room.

‘I want to speak to you, Carey.’

Philip waited. Mr. Perkins ran his lean fingers through his beard and looked at Philip. He seemed to be thinking over what he wanted to say.

‘What’s the matter with you, Carey?’ he said abruptly.

Philip, flushing, looked at him quickly. But knowing him well by now, without answering, he waited for him to go on.

‘I’ve been dissatisfied with you lately. You’ve been slack and inattentive. You seem to take no interest in your work. It’s been slovenly and bad.’

‘I’m very sorry, sir,’ said Philip.

‘Is that all you have to say for yourself?’

Philip looked down sulkily. How could he answer that he was bored to death?

‘You know, this term you’ll go down instead of up. I shan’t give you a very good report.’

Philip wondered what he would say if he knew how the report was treated. It arrived at breakfast, Mr. Carey glanced at it indifferently, and passed it over to Philip.

‘There’s your report. You’d better see what it says,’ he remarked, as he ran his fingers through the wrapper of a catalogue of second-hand books.

Philip read it.

‘Is it good?’ asked Aunt Louisa.

‘Not so good as I deserve,’ answered Philip, with a smile, giving it to her.

‘I’ll read it afterwards when I’ve got my spectacles,’ she said.

But after breakfast Mary Ann came in to say the butcher was there, and she generally forgot.

Mr. Perkins went on.

‘I’m disappointed with you. And I can’t understand. I know you can do things if you want to, but you don’t seem to want to any more. I was going to make you a monitor next term, but I think I’d better wait a bit.’

Philip flushed. He did not like the thought of being passed over. He tightened his lips.

‘And there’s something else. You must begin thinking of your scholarship now. You won’t get anything unless you start working very seriously.’

Philip was irritated by the lecture. He was angry with the headmaster, and angry with himself.

‘I don’t think I’m going up to Oxford,’ he said.

‘Why not? I thought your idea was to be ordained.’

‘I’ve changed my mind.’

‘Why?’

Philip did not answer. Mr. Perkins, holding himself oddly as he always did, like a figure in one of Perugino’s pictures, drew his fingers thoughtfully through his beard. He looked at Philip as though he were trying to understand and then abruptly told him he might go.

Apparently he was not satisfied, for one evening, a week later, when Philip had to go into his study with some papers, he resumed the conversation; but this time he adopted a different method: he spoke to Philip not as a schoolmaster with a boy but as one human being with another. He did not seem to care now that Philip’s work was poor, that he ran small chance against keen rivals of carrying off the scholarship necessary for him to go to Oxford: the important matter was his changed intention about his life afterwards. Mr. Perkins set himself to revive his eagerness to be ordained. With infinite skill he worked on his feelings, and this was easier since he was himself genuinely moved. Philip’s change of mind caused him bitter distress, and he really thought he was throwing away his chance of happiness in life for he knew not what. His voice was very persuasive. And Philip, easily moved by the emotion of others, very emotional himself notwithstanding a placid exterior—his face, partly by nature but also from the habit of all these years at school, seldom except by his quick flushing showed what he felt—Philip was deeply touched by what the master said. He was very grateful to him for the interest he showed, and he was conscience-stricken by the grief which he felt his behaviour caused him. It was subtly flattering to know that with the whole school to think about Mr. Perkins should trouble with him, but at the same time something else in him, like another person standing at his elbow, clung desperately to two words.

‘I won’t. I won’t. I won’t.’

He felt himself slipping. He was powerless against the weakness that seemed to well up in him; it was like the water that rises up in an empty bottle held over a full basin; and he set his teeth, saying the words over and over to himself.

‘I won’t. I won’t. I won’t.’

At last Mr. Perkins put his hand on Philip’s shoulder.

‘I don’t want to influence you,’ he said. ‘You must decide for yourself. Pray to Almighty God for help and guidance.’

When Philip came out of the headmaster’s house there was a light rain falling. He went under the archway that led to the precincts, there was not a soul there, and the rooks were silent in the elms. He walked round slowly. He felt hot, and the rain did him good. He thought over all that Mr. Perkins had said, calmly now that he was withdrawn from the fervour of his personality, and he was thankful he had not given way.

In the darkness he could but vaguely see the great mass of the Cathedral: he hated it now because of the irksomeness of the long services which he was forced to attend. The anthem was interminable, and you had to stand drearily while it was being sung; you could not hear the droning sermon, and your body twitched because you had to sit still when you wanted to move about. Then philip thought of the two services every Sunday at Blackstable. The church was bare and cold, and there was a smell all about one of pomade and starched clothes. The curate preached once and his uncle preached once. As he grew up he had learned to know his uncle; Philip was downright and intolerant, and he could not understand that a man might sincerely say things as a clergyman which he never acted up to as a man. The deception outraged him. His uncle was a weak and selfish man, whose chief desire it was to be saved trouble.

Mr. Perkins had spoken to him of the beauty of a life dedicated to the service of God. Philip knew what sort of lives the clergy led in the corner of East Anglia which was his home. There was the Vicar of Whitestone, a parish a little way from Blackstable: he was a bachelor and to give himself something to do had lately taken up farming: the local paper constantly reported the cases he had in the county court against this one and that, labourers he would not pay their wages to or tradesmen whom he accused of cheating him; scandal said he starved his cows, and there was much talk about some general action which should be taken against him. Then there was the Vicar of Ferne, a bearded, fine figure of a man: his wife had been forced to leave him because of his cruelty, and she had filled the neighbourhood with stories of his immorality. The Vicar of Surle, a tiny hamlet by the sea, was to be seen every evening in the public house a stone’s throw from his vicarage; and the churchwardens had been to Mr. Carey to ask his advice. There was not a soul for any of them to talk to except small farmers or fishermen; there were long winter evenings when the wind blew, whistling drearily through the leafless trees, and all around they saw nothing but the bare monotony of ploughed fields; and there was poverty, and there was lack of any work that seemed to matter; every kink in their characters had free play; there was nothing to restrain them; they grew narrow and eccentric: Philip knew all this, but in his young intolerance he did not offer it as an excuse. He shivered at the thought of leading such a life; he wanted to get out into the world.

 

第二十章

菲利普升入了六年级,但是现在他打心底里讨厌学校生活。由于失去了奋斗目标,他心灰意懒,觉得功课学得好坏都无所谓。每天一早醒来,他心情便十分沉重,因为又得熬过枯燥无味的一天。现在他干什么都觉着厌烦,因为这全是别人要他干的。他对校方规定的各种限制极其反感,这倒不是因为这些限制不合理,而在于它们本身就是束缚人们身心的条条框框。他渴望得到解脱。他讨厌教师重复自已早已知道的东西;教师上课有时为了照顾智力愚钝的学生,翻来复去地讲解某些内容,而这些内容自己一眼就看懂了,对此他也不胜烦腻。

珀金斯先生的课,学生听不听可以随自己的高兴。珀金斯先生讲课时,热切而又若有所思。六年级的教室设在一座经过修葺的古修道院内,教室里有一扇哥特式窗户,菲利普上课时就把这扇窗子画了一遍又一遍,想借此消闲解闷;有时他凭着记忆信手勾勒大教堂的主塔楼,或是描画那条通往教堂园地的过道。他还真能画上两笔。路易莎伯母年轻时曾画过一些水彩画,现在手头还藏有好几本画册,里面全是她的大作,有画教堂的,画古桥的,还有画田舍风光的。牧师公馆举行茶会时,常把这些画册拿出来请客人观赏。有回她送了一盒颜料给菲利普,作为圣诞节礼物;而菲利普学画,就是从临摹他伯母的水彩画人门的。他临摹得相当出色,出乎他人意料。不久,他就开始自行构思作画。凯里夫人鼓励他学画,觉得这样一来,他就无心再调皮捣蛋了,而且说不定日后菲利普画的画儿还能拿去义卖呢。他有两三幅画配上了镜框,挂在自己的卧室内。

可是有一天,上午的课刚结束菲利普正懒洋洋地往教室外走,珀金斯先生忽然把他叫住。

"我有话要对你说哩,凯里。"

菲利普等着。珀金斯先生一面用他精瘦的手指持着胡子,一面定睛打量菲利普,似乎是在琢磨要对这孩子说些什么。

"你怎么搞的,凯里?"他劈头问了这么一句。

菲利普红了脸,飞快地瞥了珀金斯先生一眼。但是他现在摸熟了珀金斯先生的脾气,所以并不急于回答,而是等他继续往下讲。

"我很不满意你近来的表现。老是这么松松垮垮,漫不经心的,似乎对自己的功课一点不感兴趣。作业做得潦潦草草,敷衍了事。"

"很抱歉,先生,"菲利普说。

"就这么句话吗?"

菲利普绷着脸,望着地面。他怎么能照实对珀金斯先生说,这儿的一切都叫他厌烦透了?!

"你知道,这学期你的学业非但没有长进,反而退步了。你别想得到一份成绩优秀的报告单。"

菲利普暗暗在想,要是这位夫子知道学校报告单的下场,不知会作何感慨呢。其实,学校成绩报告单早些时就寄到家了,凯里先生满不在乎地看了一眼,随手递给菲利普。

"是你的成绩报告单。你最好看看上面写些什么来着,"说毕,便只顾用手指去剥旧书目录册上的封面包纸。

菲利普看了一下成绩报告单。

"成绩好吗?"路易莎伯母问。

"没反映出我的实际成绩哪,"菲利普笑嘻嘻地应了一句,把成绩报告单递给他伯母。

"待会儿我戴上眼镜再看吧,"她说。

但是用过早餐,玛丽·安进来说肉铺掌柜来啦,因而她也就把这件事抛到了九霄云外……

这时,珀金斯先生继续说:

"你真叫我大失所望。简直没法理解。我知道,你只要愿意,一定能搞出点名堂来的,看来你再也不想在这方面花功夫了。我本打算下学期让你当班长,可现在我想还是等等再说吧。"

菲利普涨红了脸,想到自已被人瞧不起,心里很不服气。他紧咬嘴唇。

"还有一点。现在你得开始考虑考虑你的奖学金了。除非打现在起发奋攻读,否则,你什么也别想到手。"

菲利普被这顿训斥惹火了。他既生校长的气,又生自己的气。

"我想我不打算上牛津念书了,"他说。

"为什么?我想你是打算将来当牧师的。"

"我已经改变了主意。"

"为什么?"

菲利普不作回答。珀金斯先生摆出个习惯性的古怪姿势,颇像佩鲁季诺画里的人物,若有所思地捋弄着自己的胡须,他打量着菲利普,似乎想看透这孩子的心思,过了一会儿,突然对菲利普说他可以走了。

显然,珀金斯先生余言未尽。大约隔了一星期,有天晚上菲利普到他书房来交作文,他又拣起几天前的话题。不过这一次他改变了谈话方式:不是以校长身分对学生训话,而是作为普通人在与他人推心置腹交谈。这一回,他似乎并不计较菲利普功课差,也不在乎菲利普在劲敌面前很少有可能夺得进牛津深造所必须的奖学金,而重要的问题在于:菲利普竟贸然改变他今后的生活宗旨。珀金斯先生决计要重新点燃孩子心中献身教会的热情。他极其巧妙地在菲利普的感情上下功夫,这么做还是比较容易的,因为连珀金斯先生自己也动了真情。菲利普的改弦易辙,给他珀金斯带来莫大的痛苦,他真心认为菲利普竞莫名其妙地糟蹋了获得人生幸福的机会。他说话的口吻委婉亲切,感人肺腑。菲利普向来很容易被别人的情感所打动,尽管从外表来看,他常常不动声色--除了短暂地红一下脸之外,内心感受难得见于言表。这一方面是他生性如此,另一方面也是多年来在学校养成的习惯--实质上却极易动感情。此刻他被校长先生的一席恳谈深深打动了。他由衷地感激校长的关心,想到自己的所作所为给校长带来了痛苦,不免深感内疚。珀金斯先生作为一校之长,要考虑全校的事务,居然还在他的事情上如此操心,想到这里,菲利普不免有点受宠若惊;可是与此同时,总觉得心头有样异物,像个紧贴在他肘边的第三者,死命地抓住这两个字:

"我不!我不!我不!"

他感到自己在不断沉沦。他无力克服自己的软弱,而这种软弱之感似乎正逐渐充斥他整个身心,就像一只浸在满盆水里的空瓶,水正在不断往里灌;他咬紧牙关,一遍又一遍地对自己重复这几个字:

"我不!我不!我不!"

最后,珀金斯先生伸手按住菲利普的肩头。

"我也不想多劝你了,"他说。"你得自己拿定主意。向全能的上帝祈祷,求他保佑,给你指点迷津吧。"

菲利普从校长的屋子走出来时,天正下着丝丝小雨。他在那条通往教堂园地的拱道内走着。周围阒无一人,白嘴鸦悄然栖息在大榆树上。菲利普慢腾腾地四下转悠。他浑身燥热,身上淋点雨正好清凉一下。他反复回味着珀金斯先生刚才说的每一句话,现在既然已从自己个性的狂热之中摆脱出来,正可以作一番冷静的思考--他额手庆幸自己总算没有让步。

在朦胧的夜色中,他只能影影绰绰地看见大教堂的巨大轮廓:现在他憎恶这座教堂,因为他被迫要在那儿参加各种冗长而令人生厌的宗教仪式。唱起圣歌来又没完没了,而你得一直百无聊赖地木然站着;讲经时,声音单调而低沉,叫人没法听清楚,想舒展舒展肢体,但又不得不在那儿正襟危坐,于是身子不由自主地扭动起来。菲利普又联想到在布莱克斯泰勃做礼拜的情景:每个星期日得早晚做两次,空荡荡的教堂里,阴气逼人;四周弥散着一股润发脂和上过浆的衣服的气味。两次布道分别由副牧师和他大伯主持。随着年岁的增长,他逐渐认清了大伯的为人。菲利普性格率直、偏激;他没法理解这种现象:一个人可以作为教士虔诚地讲上一通大道理,却从不愿以普通人的身分躬身力行。这种言行不一的欺骗行为使他义愤填膺。他大伯是个懦弱、自私之徒,生活中的主要愿望就是别给自己找麻烦。

珀金斯先生对他讲到了鞠躬尽瘁、侍奉上帝的动人之处。菲利普洞悉自己家乡东英吉利那一隅衮衮牧师诸公过着什么样的生活。离布莱克斯泰勃不远,有个怀特斯通教区,教区牧师是个单身汉,为了不让自己闲得发慌,最近着手务农了。当地报纸不断报道他如何在郡法院一会儿同这个一会儿又同那个打官司的情况---一不是雇工们控告他拒不发给工资,就是他指控商人们骗取钱财;也有人愤愤然说他竟让自己的奶牛饿着肚子。人们议论纷纷,认为对这个牧师应该采取某种一致行动。另外还有费尔尼教区的牧师,一个蓄着大胡子,颇有几分大丈夫气概的角色,他的老婆因为受不了他的虐待,只得离家出走。她给左邻右舍数说了许多有关他的邪恶行径。在傍海的小村庄苏尔勒,人们每天晚上都可以见到教区牧师在小酒店里厮混。他的公馆离酒店仅一箭之遥。那一带的教会执事常登门向凯里先生求教。在那儿要想找个人聊聊,那只有去找农夫或渔夫。在漫长的冬夜,寒风在光秃秃的树林里凄厉呼啸;环顾四周,唯见一片片清一色的耕翻过的田地和贫困凄凉的景象。人们性格中的各种乘戾因素全都暴露无遗,没有什么可以使他们有所节制。他们变得心胸狭隘,脾气古怪。凡此种种,菲利普知道得一清二楚。但是出于小孩特有的偏执心理,他并不想把这作为口实提出来。他每每想到要去过那种生活就不寒而栗;不,他要跨出去,到尘世中去。


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