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首页 » 经典英文小说 » The Man With the Black Feather28章节 » CHAPTER XX
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That profound sadness was destined1 to affect seriously the future of Theophrastus. As he made his way over the roofs of Gerando Street, it increased to such a paralysing intensity2 that presently he sat down on the edge of a roof, with his legs dangling3 over the street, and plunged4 into the bitterest reflections. The result of this unwise action was that he caught a severe cold.
As he sat reflecting, he slowly came to himself, his modern self. During the reading of the article which narrated5 the crimes of the new Cartouche, he had displayed a carelessness airy to the point of callousness6. Now the sense of his responsibility, especially in the matter of cutting up the butcher Houdry, weighed on him more and more heavily. The memory of many midnight outings, by way of the chimney he had just climbed, came into his mind; and several sanguinary crimes filled his[Pg 235] blinking eyes with the too tardy7 tears of an ineffectual remorse8.
So, in spite of all the suffering he had endured, in spite of all the passionate9 prayers of M. de la Nox to Æon, Source of Æons, Cartouche was not dead; the Black Feather ever sprouted10 afresh. This very night, as on so many other nights of crime, he was out on the roofs of Paris with his familiar spirit and his Black Feather. He wept. He cursed that mysterious and irresistible11 force which, from the depth of the centuries, bade him slay12. He cursed the gesture which slays13. He thought of his wife and his friend. He recalled with bitter regret the hours of happiness passed with those dear ones. He forgave them their terror and their flight. He resolved never again henceforth to trouble their peaceful hours with his red vagaries14.
"Let us vanish!" said he. "Let us hide our shame and our original obliquity15 in the heart of the desert! They will forget me!... I shall forget myself! Let us profit by these moments of reason in which my brain, for the while free from the Past, discusses, weighs, deduces, and forms conclusions in the Present. It is no longer Cartouche who speaks. To-night it is Theophrastus who wills! Theo[Pg 236]phrastus who cries to Cartouche: 'Let us fly! let us fly! Since I love Marceline, let us fly! Since I love Adolphe, let us fly! One day they will be happy without thee; with thee there is no longer any happiness!... Farewell! Farewell, Marceline, beloved wife! Farewell, Adolphe, dear friend and comforter!... Farewell! Theophrastus bids you farewell!'"
He wept and wept. Then he said aloud:
"Come along, Cartouche."
He plunged into the night, springing from gutter16 to gutter, crawling from roof to roof, sliding from the tops of walls with the ease, the balance, and the sureness of a somnambulist.
And now, who is this man who, with bowed head and stooping back, his hands in his pockets, wanders like Fortune's step-son through the bitter wind and the rain that falls all the dreary17 way? He moves along the road which runs beside the railway, a road dismally19 straight, bordered by dismal18 little stunted20 trees, the dismal ornaments21 of the departmental road, the road which runs beside the railway. Whence does this man, or rather this shadow of a man, this sad shadow of a man, with his hands in his pockets, come? On his right and[Pg 237] on his left stretches the plain, without an undulation, without the bulge22 of a hill, without the hollow of a river—stretches grey and gloomy under the grey and gloomy sky.
Now and again along the railway, so painfully straight, trains pass,—slow trains, express trains, freight trains. While they pass the railway snores; then it is silent, and one hears, borne on the wind, the ting-ting-ting-ting of the little electric bell in the little railway station in front. But what little railway station? There is one in front; there is one behind. They are three miles apart; and between them the double line of rails runs as straight as a die. Between the two railway stations there are no viaducts, no tunnel, no bridge, not even a level-crossing. I dwell on these details on account of the strange behaviour of the express train.
That sad shadow of a man is Theophrastus. He has resolved to fly, to fly no matter where, from his wife—poor dear, unfortunate, heroic fellow! After a night passed on the roofs of Paris, not knowing whither to direct his steps, yet not wishing to stay them, he went into a railway station—what railway station? Shall we ever know?—And without a ticket he got on a train, and without a ticket some[Pg 238]where he got off it and came out of another railway station. It may be that in this evasion24 of the duties of the passenger his Black Feather stood him in good stead.
Behold25 him then on the road... At the entrance to a village... On the road which runs beside the railway.
Whom does he perceive on the threshold of a cottage at the entrance to the village?... The Signora Petito herself!
It was the first time the Signora Petito had seen M. Longuet since he clipped her husband's ears. She fell into a fury. She ran down to the garden gate; and her anger found vent26 not only in abuse, but in the most imprudent revelations. Had Signor Petito heard what his angry Regina said, he would have smacked27 her for her incredible folly28. After abusing Theophrastus for his barbarity to Signor Petito, she told him with vindictive29 triumph that her husband had found the treasures of the Chopinettes, and that those treasures were the richest in the world, treasures worth far more than a couple of ears, were they as big as the ears of Signor Petito. "They are quits!"
In the course of this outburst, Theophrastus with considerable difficulty interjected a few words; but he was not at all disturbed by it.[Pg 239] Indeed he was grateful to the fury of Signora Petito for having given him such important information. He said grimly:
"I shall find my treasures, for I shall find Signor Petito."
The Signora Petito burst into a satanic laugh, and cried:
"Signor Petito is in the train!"
"In what train?"
"In the train which is going to pass under your nose."
"What is the train which is going to pass under my nose?"
"The train which is carrying my husband beyond the frontier! Get into it, M. Longuet! Get into it if you want to speak to Signor Petito. But you'd better make haste, for it passes in less than an hour, and you can't buy a ticket for it at any of these little stations. It doesn't stop at them!"
She laughed an even more satanic laugh, so satanic that Theophrastus longed for the moments when he was deaf. He raised his hat, and went quickly down the road which runs beside the railway. When he was alone, between the little trees and the telegraph posts, he said to himself:
"Come, come! I must ask news of my[Pg 240] treasures of Signor Petito himself... But how the deuce am I to do it? He is in the train which is going to pass under my nose."
At this point it is necessary to give a map:
It is unnecessary to give the names of the stations, for the demonstration30 is practically geometrical, and to geometry letters are more appropriate.
Let us go to station A. The signal-man of station A hears the ting! of the bell which announces that the express he is expecting has passed station B, and is on that section of the block-system which begins at station A and ends at station B. The express goes from B to A. It is on the line B A. That is clear. The signal at A announces the train by lowering its little red arm with a ting!
The signal-man at station A waits for the train, and waits for the train, and waits for the train! It ought to be there. It is a train which goes sixty miles an hour, and, if it is late, it goes seventy or eighty. The distance between station A and station B is at the most three miles and a furlong. Three minutes and a half is the longest an express[Pg 241] takes to do the distance. The signal-man, frightened to death at not seeing the train appear, shouts to the station-master that the train ought to have gone through! The station-master dashes to the telegraph, and telegraphs station B: "Train signalled not arrived!" Station B answers: "Joker!" Station A: "It's serious. What are we to do? Horrible anxiety." Station B: "Notify Jericho!" Station A: "There must have been an accident! We are hurrying along the line! Come and meet us!" Station B: "What can have happened? We are coming."
Then the station-master, the porters, and the ticket-clerks of stations A and B hurry along the line, the staff of station A going towards station B, the staff of station B going towards station A. They hurry along, in the full light of day, in the middle of a perfectly31 flat plain, a plain without a river, without ridge23, and without hollow. They hurry along the line, and meet one another between A and B.... But they do not meet the train!
The station-master of station A (I say particularly of station A), who suffered from heart disease, fell down dead.


1 destined Dunznz     
  • It was destined that they would marry.他们结婚是缘分。
  • The shipment is destined for America.这批货物将运往美国。
2 intensity 45Ixd     
  • I didn't realize the intensity of people's feelings on this issue.我没有意识到这一问题能引起群情激奋。
  • The strike is growing in intensity.罢工日益加剧。
3 dangling 4930128e58930768b1c1c75026ebc649     
悬吊着( dangle的现在分词 ); 摆动不定; 用某事物诱惑…; 吊胃口
  • The tooth hung dangling by the bedpost, now. 结果,那颗牙就晃来晃去吊在床柱上了。
  • The children sat on the high wall,their legs dangling. 孩子们坐在一堵高墙上,摇晃着他们的双腿。
4 plunged 06a599a54b33c9d941718dccc7739582     
v.颠簸( plunge的过去式和过去分词 );暴跌;骤降;突降
  • The train derailed and plunged into the river. 火车脱轨栽进了河里。
  • She lost her balance and plunged 100 feet to her death. 她没有站稳,从100英尺的高处跌下摔死了。
5 narrated 41d1c5fe7dace3e43c38e40bfeb85fe5     
v.故事( narrate的过去式和过去分词 )
  • Some of the story was narrated in the film. 该电影叙述了这个故事的部分情节。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • Defoe skilfully narrated the adventures of Robinson Crusoe on his desert island. 笛福生动地叙述了鲁滨逊·克鲁索在荒岛上的冒险故事。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》
6 callousness callousness     
  • He remembered with what callousness he had watched her. 他记得自己以何等无情的态度瞧着她。 来自辞典例句
  • She also lacks the callousness required of a truly great leader. 她还缺乏一个真正伟大领袖所应具备的铁石心肠。 来自辞典例句
7 tardy zq3wF     
  • It's impolite to make a tardy appearance.晚到是不礼貌的。
  • The boss is unsatisfied with the tardy tempo.老板不满于这种缓慢的进度。
8 remorse lBrzo     
  • She had no remorse about what she had said.她对所说的话不后悔。
  • He has shown no remorse for his actions.他对自己的行为没有任何悔恨之意。
9 passionate rLDxd     
  • He is said to be the most passionate man.据说他是最有激情的人。
  • He is very passionate about the project.他对那个项目非常热心。
10 sprouted 6e3d9efcbfe061af8882b5b12fd52864     
v.发芽( sprout的过去式和过去分词 );抽芽;出现;(使)涌现出
  • We can't use these potatoes; they've all sprouted. 这些土豆儿不能吃了,都出芽了。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • The rice seeds have sprouted. 稻种已经出芽了。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》
11 irresistible n4CxX     
  • The wheel of history rolls forward with an irresistible force.历史车轮滚滚向前,势不可挡。
  • She saw an irresistible skirt in the store window.她看见商店的橱窗里有一条叫人着迷的裙子。
12 slay 1EtzI     
  • He intended to slay his father's murderer.他意图杀死杀父仇人。
  • She has ordered me to slay you.她命令我把你杀了。
13 slays c2d8e586f5ae371c0a4194e3df39481c     
杀死,宰杀,杀戮( slay的第三人称单数 )
  • No other infection so quickly slays. 再没有别的疾病会造成如此迅速的死亡。
  • That clown just slays me. 那小丑真叫我笑死了。
14 vagaries 594130203d5d42a756196aa8975299ad     
n.奇想( vagary的名词复数 );异想天开;异常行为;难以预测的情况
  • The vagaries of fortune are indeed curious.\" 命运的变化莫测真是不可思议。” 来自英汉文学 - 嘉莉妹妹
  • The vagaries of inclement weather conditions are avoided to a certain extent. 可以在一定程度上避免变化莫测的恶劣气候影响。 来自辞典例句
15 obliquity RIVxy     
  • It is here that the obliquity factor makes a crucial difference. 正是在这里,倾斜因子构成了重要的差别。 来自辞典例句
  • The obliquity of the ecliptic is the fundamental cause of the seasons. 黄道的倾角是季节的基本成因。 来自辞典例句
16 gutter lexxk     
  • There's a cigarette packet thrown into the gutter.阴沟里有个香烟盒。
  • He picked her out of the gutter and made her a great lady.他使她脱离贫苦生活,并成为贵妇。
17 dreary sk1z6     
  • They live such dreary lives.他们的生活如此乏味。
  • She was tired of hearing the same dreary tale of drunkenness and violence.她听够了那些关于酗酒和暴力的乏味故事。
18 dismal wtwxa     
  • That is a rather dismal melody.那是一支相当忧郁的歌曲。
  • My prospects of returning to a suitable job are dismal.我重新找到一个合适的工作岗位的希望很渺茫。
19 dismally cdb50911b7042de000f0b2207b1b04d0     
  • Fei Little Beard assented dismally. 费小胡子哭丧着脸回答。 来自子夜部分
  • He began to howl dismally. 它就凄凉地吠叫起来。 来自辞典例句
20 stunted b003954ac4af7c46302b37ae1dfa0391     
  • the stunted lives of children deprived of education 未受教育的孩子所过的局限生活
  • But the landed oligarchy had stunted the country's democratic development for generations. 但是好几代以来土地寡头的统治阻碍了这个国家民主的发展。
21 ornaments 2bf24c2bab75a8ff45e650a1e4388dec     
n.装饰( ornament的名词复数 );点缀;装饰品;首饰v.装饰,点缀,美化( ornament的第三人称单数 )
  • The shelves were chock-a-block with ornaments. 架子上堆满了装饰品。
  • Playing the piano sets up resonance in those glass ornaments. 一弹钢琴那些玻璃饰物就会产生共振。 来自《简明英汉词典》
22 bulge Ns3ze     
  • The apple made a bulge in his pocket.苹果把他口袋塞得鼓了起来。
  • What's that awkward bulge in your pocket?你口袋里那块鼓鼓囊囊的东西是什么?
23 ridge KDvyh     
  • We clambered up the hillside to the ridge above.我们沿着山坡费力地爬上了山脊。
  • The infantry were advancing to attack the ridge.步兵部队正在向前挺进攻打山脊。
24 evasion 9nbxb     
  • The movie star is in prison for tax evasion.那位影星因为逃税而坐牢。
  • The act was passed as a safeguard against tax evasion.这项法案旨在防止逃税行为。
25 behold jQKy9     
  • The industry of these little ants is wonderful to behold.这些小蚂蚁辛勤劳动的样子看上去真令人惊叹。
  • The sunrise at the seaside was quite a sight to behold.海滨日出真是个奇景。
26 vent yiPwE     
  • He gave vent to his anger by swearing loudly.他高声咒骂以发泄他的愤怒。
  • When the vent became plugged,the engine would stop.当通风口被堵塞时,发动机就会停转。
27 smacked bb7869468e11f63a1506d730c1d2219e     
拍,打,掴( smack的过去式和过去分词 )
  • He smacked his lips but did not utter a word. 他吧嗒两下嘴,一声也不言语。
  • She smacked a child's bottom. 她打孩子的屁股。
28 folly QgOzL     
  • Learn wisdom by the folly of others.从别人的愚蠢行动中学到智慧。
  • Events proved the folly of such calculations.事情的进展证明了这种估计是愚蠢的。
29 vindictive FL3zG     
  • I have no vindictive feelings about it.我对此没有恶意。
  • The vindictive little girl tore up her sister's papers.那个充满报复心的小女孩撕破了她姐姐的作业。
30 demonstration 9waxo     
  • His new book is a demonstration of his patriotism.他写的新书是他的爱国精神的证明。
  • He gave a demonstration of the new technique then and there.他当场表演了这种新的操作方法。
31 perfectly 8Mzxb     
  • The witnesses were each perfectly certain of what they said.证人们个个对自己所说的话十分肯定。
  • Everything that we're doing is all perfectly above board.我们做的每件事情都是光明正大的。


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