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Tropic of Cancer  北回归线-第十章第三节

Somehow, when I saw Collins down below my spirits revived. If ever any one seemed to be thoroughly alive, healthy, joyous, magnanimous, it was he. He picked me up as if I were a doll and laid me out on the seat of the cab – gently too, which I appreciated after the way Kruger had manhandled me.

不知为什么,一看到柯林斯在楼下我的精神就好多了。如果有谁显得充满生气、健康、快活、豁达,这个人便是他。他把我抱起来放在汽车座位上,好像我是个洋娃娃,而且动作很轻柔,被克鲁格粗暴地搬了一回后我很欣赏这一点。

When we drove up to the hotel – the hotel that Collins was stopping at – there was a bit of a discussion with the proprietor, during which I lay stretched out on the sofa in the bureau. I could hear Collins saying to the patron that it was nothing… just a little breakdown… be all right in a few days. I saw him put a crisp bill in the man's hands and then, turning swiftly and lithely, he came back to where I was and said: "Come on, buck up! Don't let him think you're croaking." And with that, he yanked me to my feet and, bracing me with one arm, escorted me to the elevator.

我们驱车来到旅馆—柯林斯下榻的旅馆—柯林斯同旅馆主人谈了几句。我听得见柯林斯对这位主人说,没有什么疾箔…只是有一点儿累了……几天就会好的。我看到他把一张皱巴巴的钞票塞在那人手里,然后迅速、灵巧地转身回到我身边说,“来,振作起来!别让他以为你快死了。”说着,他把我用力拉起来,用一只胳膊撑住我的身体,带我朝电梯走去。

Don't let him think you're croaking! Obviously it was bad taste to die on people's hands. One should die in the bosom of his family, in private, as it were. His words were encouraging. I began to see it all as a bad joke. Upstairs, with the door closed, they undressed me and put me between the sheets. "You can't die now, goddamn it!" said Collins warmly. "You'll put me in a hole… Besides, what the hell's the matter with you? Can't stand good living? Keep your chin up! You'll be eating a porterhouse steak in a day or two. You think you're ill! Wait, by Jesus until you get a dose of syphilis! That's something to make you worry…" And he began to relate, in a humorous way, his trip down the Yangtze Kiang, with hair falling out and teeth rotting away. In the feeble state that I was in, the yarn that he spun had an extraordinary soothing effect upon me. It took me completely out of myself. He had guts, this guy. Perhaps he put it on a bit thick, for my benefit, but I wasn't listening to him critically at the moment. I was all ears and eyes. I saw the dirty yellow mouth of the river, the lights going up at Hankow, the sea of yellow faces, the sampans shooting down through the gorges and the rapids flaming with the sulfurous breath of the dragon. What a story! The coolies swarming around the boat each day, dredging for the garbage that was flung overboard, Tom Slattery rising up on his deathbed to take a last look at the lights of Hankow, the beautiful Eurasian who lay in a dark room and filled his veins with poison, the monotony of blue jackets and yellow faces, millions and millions of them hollowed out by famine, ravaged by disease, subsisting on rats and dogs and roots, chewing the grass off the earth, devouring their own children. It was hard to imagine that this man's body had once been a mass of sores, that he had been shunned like a leper; his voice was so quiet and gentle, it was as though his spirit had been cleansed by all the suffering he had endured.

“别让他以为你快死了!”显然死在别人手上是不得体的,一个人应该死在自己家里,也可以说是悄悄死去。他的话很鼓舞人,我开始把这看作一个拙劣的笑话了。上了楼,关上房门后他们脱掉我的衣服,给我盖上被子。柯林斯热切他说,“你现在不能死,他妈的!那样你会叫我难堪的……再说,你到底有什么病?过不了好日子?拿出点儿勇气来!过一两天你就能吃上等腰肉牛排了。你以为你生病了!别急,等你生了一回梅毒再说!那才叫你胆战心惊呢……”他又幽默地谈起他沿着长江的旅行,路上头发掉了,牙齿也烂了。处于这样的衰弱状态中,他讲述的这段往事对我产生了一种奇异的安慰效果,使我完全忘记了病痛。这家伙胆子真大,也许为了我的缘故他有几分添油加醋,可我当时听他讲故事时并不想挑刺。我全神贯注地听,我仿佛看到了长江肮脏混浊的河口、汉口的灯光、众多的黄面孔、穿过三峡飞流直下的舢板和被龙口中吐出的带股硫磺味的火舌映红的湍流。多么奇异的经历!中国苦力们如何每天围在小船周围,打捞被船上人扔下水的垃圾废物;汤姆•斯莱特里如何在弥留之际从病榻上撑起身子再看一眼汉口的灯光;那个英俊的欧亚混血儿如何躺在一间屋子里往自己血管中注射毒药。还有千篇一律的蓝褂子和黄面孔,他们中有千千万万的人被饥馑弄得惟悴不堪,忍受疾病折磨,他们靠吃老鼠、狗和树根为生,他们啃光了地上长的草,吞下了自己的孩子。很难设想这个人身上曾一度布满了伤疤,曾因是麻风病人被关起来,然而他说话时的声音平静、和蔼,好像经历过的磨难已荡涤了他的灵魂。

As he reached for his drink his face grew more and more soft and his words actually seemed to caress me. And all the while China hanging over us like Fate itself. A China rotting away, crumbling to dust like a huge dinosaur, yet preserving to the very end the glamor, the enchantment, the mystery, the cruelty of her hoary legends.

他伸手去端酒,这时他的面容变得越来越柔和,他的话真的宽慰了我。这会儿中国自始至终像命运之神那样悬在我们头顶上,一个正在烂掉的中国,它正像一头硕大的恐龙一样化为尘土,然而直到最后一刻仍保留着它的魅力、新奇、神秘,它的残酷古老的传说。

I could no longer follow his story; my mind had slipped back to a Fourth of July when I bought my first package of firecrackers and with it the long pieces of punk which break so easily, the punk that you blow on to get a good red glow, the punk whose smell stick to your fingers for days and makes you dream of strange things. The Fourth of July the streets are littered with bright red paper stamped with black and gold figures and everywhere there are tiny firecrackers which have the most curious intestines; packages and packages of them, all strung together by their thin, flat, little gutstrings, the color of human brains.

我再也无法继续听他讲下去,我的思绪回到头一回买了一包爆竹的那个国庆日,还有点燃爆竹用的长长的引火棍,这种引人物很容易断,一吹便呈现出一点明亮的红光,它的气味会留在手指上好几天,会使你联想到一些古怪念头。国庆那天街上乱扔着颜色鲜艳的红纸张,上面盖着黑色和金色的印记,四处是细小的爆竹,里面裹的东西是最最稀奇古怪的。这些爆竹一包包多极了,全用人脑浆色的又细又扁的肠线穿成一串串的。

All day long there is the smell of powder and punk and the gold dust from the bright red wrappers sticks to your fingers. One never thinks of China, but it is there all the time on the tips of your fingers and it makes your nose itchy; and long afterwards, when you have forgotten almost what a firecracker smells like, you wake up one day with gold leaf choking you and the broken pieces of punk waft back their pungent odor and the bright red wrappers give you a nostalgia for a people and a soil you have never known, but which is in your blood, mysteriously there in your blood, like the sense of time or space, a fugitive, constant value to which you turn more and more as you get old, which you try to seize with your mind, but ineffectually, because in everything Chinese there is wisdom and mystery and you can never grasp it with two hands or with your mind but you must let it rub off, let it stick to your fingers, let it slowly infiltrate your veins.

整天空气中都弥漫着火药和引火棍味,艳红色包装纸上的金粉始终沾在手上。一个人永远也不会想到中国,可它一直沾在你的指尖上,叫你的鼻子直发痒。很久以后,当你几乎全然忘记了爆竹的气味之后,某一天你会被金箔呛醒,破碎的引人棍又送来刺鼻的气味,艳红的包装纸使你对根本不了解的一个民族、一个国土产生了眷恋之情。尽管你并不了解它,它在你的血液中流动,神秘地流动。像时间或空间这类时隐时现却又永恒的概念,越年老你便越仰慕它,试图用脑子去理解它,可是却不成功,这是由于中国的每一件事物中都孕含智慧和神秘,你无法用双手抓住它,也无法理解它,只得由它去,由它沾在你手指上,由它渐渐渗进你的血管中。

A few weeks later, upon receipt of a pressing invitation from Collins who had returned to Le Havre, Fillmore and I boarded the train one morning, prepared to spend the weekend with him. It was the first time I had been outside of Paris since my arrival here. We were in fine fettle, drinking Anjou all the way to the coast. Collins had given us the address of a bar where we were to meet; it was a place called Jimmie's Bar, which everyone in Le Havre was supposed to know.

几星期后我收到已回到勒阿弗尔的柯林斯写来的言辞恳切的邀请信,于是一天早上我同菲尔莫上了火车,打算同柯林斯共度周末,这是到巴黎后第一次离开它。我们精神振奋,一路喝着安如葡萄酒来到海边。柯林斯给了我们一个酒吧的地址,我们就在那儿见面。那是一个叫作“吉米餐馆”的地方,据说在勒阿弗尔人人都知道它。

We got into an open barouche at the station and started on a brisk trot for the rendezvous; there was still a half bottle of Anjou left which we polished off as we rode along. Le Havre looked gay, sunny; the air was bracing, with that strong salty tang which almost made me homesick for New York. There were masts and hulls cropping up everywhere, bright bits of bunting, big open squares and high ceilinged cafés such as one only sees in the provinces. A fine impression immediately; the city was welcoming us with open arms.

我们在火车站搭上一辆四轮马车快速赶往约会地点,在车上我们边走边喝光了剩下的半瓶安如葡萄酒。勒阿弗尔是一个欢快、充满阳光的城市,空气十分清新,那种强烈的咸味差点儿使我思念起纽约的家乡。桅杆和船身处处可见,还有鲜艳的船旗、宽阔的广场和只有在外省才见得到的屋顶很高的咖啡馆。我立即产生了很好的印象,这个城市在张开双臂迎接我们。

Before we ever reached the bar we saw Collins coming down the street on a trot, heading for the station, no doubt, and a little late as usual. Fillmore immediately suggested a Pernod; we were all slapping each other on the back, laughing and spitting, drunk already from the sunshine and the salt sea air. Collins seemed undecided about the Pernod at first. He had a little dose of clap, he informed us. Nothing very serious – "a strain" most likely. He showed us a bottle he had in his pocket – "Vénétienne" it was called, if I remember rightly. The sailors' remedy for clap.

不等走到酒吧我们便看到柯林斯急匆匆地沿着街道走过来,肯定是要去车站,而且同往常一样迟到了一会儿。菲尔莫马上提议喝点茴香酒,我们都在互相拍背、笑、喷唾沫星子,阳光和带咸味的海边空气已经使我们陶醉了。起初柯林斯拿不定主意喝不喝茴香酒,他告诉我们他得了淋病,不太厉害—很可能是“太累了”。他从口袋里掏出一个瓶子给我们看,这玩艺儿叫作“花柳灵”,若是我没有记错的活。这是海员们用来治淋病的药。

We stopped off at a restaurant to have a little snack before repairing to Jimmie's place. It was a huge tavern with big, smoky rafters and tables creaking with food. We drank copiously of the wines that Collins recommended. Then we sat down on a terrasse and had coffee and liqueurs. Collins was talking about the Baron de Charlus, a man after his own heart, he said. For almost a year now he had been staying at Le Havre, going through the money that he had accumulated during his bootlegging days. His tastes were simple – food, drink, women and books. And a private bath! That he insisted on.

去“吉米餐馆”之前我们在一家馆子里先垫补了一点,这儿铺面很大,椽子粗大,被烟熏得很黑,餐桌上摆满了吃的。我们滥饮柯林斯推荐的甜酒,以后又坐在一个露天咖啡座上喝咖啡和烈性酒。柯林斯在谈论查露斯男爵,他说此人甚中他的意。他在勒阿弗尔呆了差不多一年,滥花从前走私时积蓄下的钱财。他的爱好很简单—吃、喝、女人和书,还得有一个私人浴室,他坚持这一点。

We were still talking about the Baron de Charlus when we arrived at Jimmie's Bar. It was late in the afternoon and the place was just beginning to fill up. Jimmie was there, his face red as a beet, and beside him was his spouse, a fine buxom Frenchwoman with glittering eyes. We were given a marvelous reception all around. There were Pernods in front of us again, the gramophone was shrieking, people were jabbering away in English and French and Dutch and Norwegian and Spanish, and Jimmie and his wife, both of them looking very brisk and dapper, were slapping and kissing each other heartily and raising their glasses and clinking them – altogether such a bubble and blabber of merriment that you felt like pulling off your clothes and doing a war dance. The women at the bar had gathered around like flies. If we were friends of Collins that meant we were rich. It didn't matter that we had come in our old clothes; all Anglais dressed like that. I hadn't a sou in my pocket, which didn't matter, of course, since I was the guest of honour. Nevertheless I felt somewhat embarrassed with two stunning looking whores hanging on my arms waiting for me to order something. I decided to take the bull by the horns. You couldn't tell any more which drinks were on the house and which were to be paid for. I had to be a gentleman, even if I didn't have a sou in my pocket.

仍在谈论查露斯男爵,我们已到了“吉米餐馆”。这时已临近傍晚,店里的人渐渐多起来。吉米在店里,脸红得像棵甜菜,他太太站在他身边,是一个眼睛明亮、胸脯丰满的漂亮法国女人。我们受到了殷勤的招待,面前又摆上了茴香酒,留声机在高声尖叫,人们用英语、法语、荷兰语、挪威语和西班牙语叽哩咕嗜地闲扯。吉米和他妻子都非常快活,活跃,他们真诚地互相拍打、亲吻,还举起酒杯碰碰,置身于这样一个欢快的大笑大喊的环境中你只想脱下衣服跳一场战舞。酒店里的女人都像苍蝇一样围拢来,如果我们是柯林斯的朋友也就是说我们有钱,我们穿着旧衣服来也不要紧,英国人都是这身装束。我口袋里一个苏也没有,当然这也不成问题,因为我是贵客。不过有两个极漂亮的婊子挽着我的胳膊,听候我吩咐,我还是觉得有些难堪。于是我打算硬着头皮挺下去,谁也说不上哪些饮料由酒店提供、哪些要付钱。我得摆出一副绅士派头,哪怕口袋里一个苏也没有呢。

Yvette – that was Jimmie's wife – was extraordinarily gracious and friendly with us. She was preparing a little spread in our honor. It would take a little while yet. We were not to get too drunk – she wanted us to enjoy the meal. The gramophone was going like wild and Fillmore had begun to dance with a beautiful mulatto who had on a tight velvet dress that revealed all her charms. Collins slipped over to my side and whispered a few words about the girl at my side. "The madame will invite her to dinner," he said, "if you'd like to have her." She was an ex whore who owned a beautiful home on the outskirts of the city. The mistress of a sea captain now. He was away and there was nothing to fear. "If she likes you she'll invite you to stay with her," he added.

伊薇特,就是吉米的妻子,对我们格外大方,非常友好。她在为我们准备一个小宴会,还得再等一会儿。她不让我们喝得太醉,因为她要我们好好吃饭。留声机疯了似的响着,菲尔莫早已同一个美丽的黑白混血儿跳起舞来,她穿着一件紧身天鹅绒衣服,优雅的身姿一览无余。柯林斯溜到我身边小声讲了讲我身边那个姑娘的情况,“老板娘会请她吃饭的,只要你想要她。”她从前是妓女,在这个城市的郊区有一所漂亮的房子,现在她成了一位船长的情妇。他走了,所以没有什么好怕的。“如果她喜欢上你,就会邀你和她同居。”他又补充道。
 

That was enough for me. I turned at once to Marcelle and began to flatter the ass off her. We stood at the corner of the bar, pretending to dance, and mauled each other ferociously. Jimmie gave me a big horse wink and nodded his head approvingly. She was a lascivious bitch, this Marcelle, and pleasant at the same time. She soon got rid of the other girl, I noticed, and then we settled down for a long and intimate conversation which was interrupted unfortunately by the announcement that dinner was ready.

这番话已足够了,我马上转向这位马色尔,着着实实把她吹捧了一通。我俩假装跳舞,站在酒吧的一个角落里,互相狠命地揉弄。吉米朝我拼命挤挤眼,赞许地点点头。这个马色尔是个淫荡的婊子,同时也很令人愉快。我发现她很快就把其他姑娘打发走了,以后我们坐下来亲密地谈了许久。遗憾的是宣布吃饭了,打断了我们的谈话。

There were about twenty of us at the table, and Marcelle and I were placed at one end opposite Jimmie and his wife. It began with the popping of champagne corks and was quickly followed by drunken speeches, during the course of which Marcelle and I played with each other under the table. When it came my turn to stand up and deliver a few words I had to hold the napkin in front of me. It was painful and exhilarating at the same time. I had to cut my speech very short because Marcelle was tickling me in the crotch all the while.

餐桌边坐了大约二十个人,我和马色尔被安排在一侧,对面就是吉米和他妻子。宴会以噼噼拍拍地打开香摈酒瓶塞开始,接着便是醉意十足的致词,在此期间马色尔和我在桌子底下互相挑逗。轮到我起身讲几句话了,我只得捏着面前的餐巾,真是使人痛苦又叫人兴奋。我只能简单讲两句拉倒,因为马色尔一直在我的裆里搔痒。

The dinner lasted until almost midnight. I was looking forward to spending the night with Marcelle in that beautiful home up on the cliff. But it was not to be. Collins had planned to show us about and I couldn't very well refuse. "Don't worry about her," he said. "You'll have a bellyful of it before you leave. Tell her to wait here for you until we get back."

这顿饭一直吃到临近午夜,我一直盼着同马色尔在那幢悬崖上的漂亮房子里过夜,可是还办不到。柯林斯计划带我们到各处转转,我也不便拒绝。他说,“别担心,你走以前会跟她厮混个够。叫她在这儿等你,直到我们回来。”

She was a bit peeved at this, Marcelle, but when we informed her that we had several days ahead of us she brightened up. When we got outdoors Fillmore very solemnly took us by the arm and said he had a little confession to make. He looked pale and worried.

对此她有几分不快,后来我们告诉她我们在这儿要呆几天,她这才高兴起来。一出门菲尔莫便极其严肃地拉住我们的胳膊说他有点儿事要说,他面色苍白,忧心忡忡。

"Well, what is it?" said Collins cheerfully. "Spit it out!"

“说呀,怎么了?”柯林斯快活地说,“有话快说。”

Fillmore couldn't spit it out like that, all at once. He hemmed and hawed and finally he blurted out "Well, when I went to the closet just a minute ago I noticed something…"

菲尔莫一时还说不出来,他哼哼卿卿了许久才迸出一句,“嗯,刚才去上厕所时我发现……”

"Then you've got it!" said Collins triumphantly, and with that he flourished the bottle of "Vénétienne." "Don't go to a doctor," he added venomously. "They'll bleed you to death, the greedy bastards. And don't stop drinking either. That's all hooey. Take this twice a day… shake it well before using. And nothing's worse than worry, do you understand? Come on now. I'll give you a syringe and some permanganate when we get back."

“这就是说你已经染上淋病了!”柯林斯得意洋洋地说,一边炫耀式地掏出那瓶“花柳灵”。他又刻毒地补充一句,“别去看医生,那些贪心的王八蛋会把你的血放光的。也别停止喝酒,那一套全是胡扯。每天喝两次这个……喝之前先把它摇匀。最糟的是发愁,你懂吗?来吧,等我们回去我给你一个注水器、一些高锰酸盐好了。”

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