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安徒生童话:看门人的儿子

发布时间:2018-12-15     文章来源:翔之梦故事百科     推荐人数:

将军的家住在第一层楼上;看门人的家住在地下室里。这两家的距离很远,整整相隔一层楼;而他们的地位也不同。不过他们是住在同一个屋顶下,面向着同一条街和同一个院子。院子里有一块草坪和一株开花的槐树——这就是说,当它开起花来的时候,在这树下面有时坐着一位穿得很漂亮的保姆和一位将军的穿得更漂亮的孩子“小小的爱米莉”。

那个有一对棕色大眼睛和一头黑发的看门人的孩子,常常在她们面前赤着脚跳舞。这位小姑娘对他大笑,同时把一双小手向他伸出来。将军在窗子里看到了这情景,就点点头,说:“好极了!”将军夫人很年轻,她几乎像他头一个太太生的女儿。她从来不朝院子里望,不过她下过一道命令说,住在地下室里的那家人家的孩子可以在她的女儿面前玩,但是不能碰她。保姆严格地执行太太的指示。

太阳照着住在第一层楼上的人,也照着住在地下室里的人。槐树开出花来了,而这些花又落了,第二年它们又开出来了。树儿开着花,看门人的小儿子也开着花——他的样子像一朵鲜艳的郁金香。

将军的女儿长得又嫩又白,像槐树花的粉红色花瓣。她现在很少到这株树底下来,她要呼吸新鲜空气时,就坐上马车;而且她出去时总是跟妈妈坐在一块。她一看到看门人的儿子乔治,就对他点点头,用手指飞一个吻,直到后来母亲告诉她说,她的年纪已经够大了,不能再做这类事儿。

有一天上午,他把门房里早晨收到的信件和报纸送给将军。当他爬上楼梯经过沙洞子的门①的时候,听到里面有一种卿卿喳喳的声音。他以为里面有一只小鸡在叫,但是这却是将军的那个穿着花边洋布衣的小女儿。

“你不要告诉爸爸和妈妈,他们知道就会生气的!”

“这是什么,小姐?”乔治问。

“什么都烧起来了!’”她说。“火烧得真亮!”

乔治把小育儿室的门推开;窗帘几乎都快要烧光了;挂窗帘的杆子也烧红了,在冒出火焰,乔治向上一跳就把它拉了下来,同时大声呼喊。要不是他,恐怕整个房子也要烧起来了。

将军和太太追问小爱米莉。

“我只是划了一根火柴,”她说,“但是它马上就燃起来了,窗帖也马上烧起来了。我吐出唾沫来想把它压熄,但是怎样吐也吐得不够多,所以我就跑出来,躲开了,因为怕爸爸妈妈生气。”

“吐唾沫!”将军说,“这是一种什么字眼?你什么时候听到爸爸妈妈说过‘吐唾沫’的?你一定是跟楼底下的那些人学来的。”

但是小小的乔治得到了一个铜板。他没有把这钱在面包店里花掉,却把它塞进储藏匣里去。过了不久,他就有了许多银毫,够买一盒颜料。他开始画起彩色画来,并且确实画得不少。它们好像是从他的铅笔和指尖直接跳出来似的。他把他最初的几幅彩色画送给了小爱米莉。

“好极了!”将军说。将军夫人承认,人们一眼就可以看出这个小家伙的意图。“他有天才!”这就是看门人的妻子带到地下室来的一句话。

将军和他的夫人是有地位的人:他们的车子上绘着两个族徽——每一个代表一个家族。夫人的每件衣服上也有一个族徽,里里外外都是如此;便帽上也有,连睡衣袋上都有。她的族徽是非常昂贵的,是她的父亲用锃亮的现洋买来的②,因为他并不是一生下来就有它,她当然也不是一生下来就有它的:她生得太早,比族徽早7个年头。大多数的人都记得这件事情,但是这一家人却记不得。将军的族徽是又老又大:压在你的肩上可以压碎你的骨头——两个这样的族徽当然更不用说了。当夫人摆出一副生硬和庄严的架子去参加宫廷舞会的时候,她的骨头就曾经碎过。

将军是一个年老的人,头发有些灰白,不过他骑马还不坏。这点他自己知道,所以他每天骑马到外面去,而且叫他的马夫在后面跟他保持着相当的距离。因此他去参加晚会时总好像是骑着一匹高大的马儿似的。他戴着勋章,而且很多,把许多人都弄得莫名其妙,但是这不能怪他。他年轻的时候在军队中服过役,而且还参加过一次盛大的秋季演习——军队在和平时期所举行的演习。从那时起,他有一个关于自己的小故事——他常常讲的唯一的故事:他属下的一位军官在中途截获了一位王公。王公和他几个被俘的兵士必须骑着马跟在将军后面一同进城,王公自己也是一个俘虏。这真是一件难忘的事件。多少年来,将军一直在讲它,而且老是用那几个同样值得纪念的字眼来讲它:这几个字是他把那把剑归还给王公的时候说的:“只有我的部下才会把阁下抓来,作为俘虏;我本人决不会的!”于是王公回答说:“您是盖世无双的!”

老实讲,将军并没有参加过战争。当这国家遭遇到战争的时候,他却改行去办外交了;他先后到三个国家去当过使节。他的法文讲得很好,弄得他几乎把本国的语言也忘记掉了。他的舞也跳得很好,马也骑得很好;他上衣上挂的勋章多到不可想象的地步。警卫向他敬礼,一位非常漂亮的女子主动地要求作他的太太。他们生了一个很美丽的孩子。她好像是天上降下的一样,那么美丽。当她开始会玩的时候,看门人的孩子就在院子里跳舞给她看,还赠送许多彩色画给她。她把这些东西玩了一会儿,就把它们撕成碎片。她是那么美,那么可爱!

“我的玫瑰花瓣!”将军的夫人说,“你是为了一个王子而生下来的!”

那个王子已经站在他们的门口了,但是人们却不知道。人们的视线总是看不见自己门外的事情的。

“前天我们的孩子把黄油面包分给她吃,”看门人的妻子说;“那上面没有干奶酪,也没有肉,但是她吃得很香,好像那就是烤牛肉似的。将军家里的人如果看到这种食物一定会大闹一场的,但是他们没有看见。”

乔治把黄油面包分给小小的爱米莉吃。他连自己的心也愿意分给她呢,如果他这样就能使她高兴的话。他是一个好孩子,又聪明,又活泼。他现在到美术学院的夜校去学习绘画。小小的爱米莉在学习方面也有些进步。她跟保姆学讲法国话,还有一位老师教她跳舞。

“到了复活节的时候,乔治就应该受坚信礼了!”看门人的妻子说。乔治已经很大了。

“现在是叫他去学一门手艺的时候了,”爸爸说。“当然要学一个好手艺,这样我们也可以叫他独立生活了。”

“可是他晚间得回家睡,”妈妈说;“要找到一个有地方给他住的师傅是不容易的。我们还得做衣服给他穿;他吃的那点儿伙食还不太贵——他有一两个熟马铃薯吃就已经很高兴了;而且他读书也并不花钱。让他自己选择吧;你将来看吧,他会带给我们很大的安慰;那位教授也这样说过。”

受坚信礼穿的新衣已经做好了。那是妈妈亲手为他缝的,不过是由一个做零活的裁缝裁的,而且裁得很好。看门人的妻子说、如果他的境遇好一点,能有一个门面和伙计的话,他也有资格为宫廷里的人做衣服。

受坚信礼的衣服已经准备好了,坚信礼也准备好了。在受坚信礼的那天,乔治从他的教父那里拿到了一个黄铜表。这个教父是一个做麻生意的商人的伙计,在乔治的教父中要算是富有的了。这只表很旧,经受过考验:它走得很快,不过这比走得慢要好得多了。这是一件很贵重的礼品。将军家里送来一本用鞣皮装订的《圣诗集》,是由那个小姑娘赠送的,正如乔治赠送过她图画一样。书的标题页上写着他的名字和她的名字,还写着“祝你万事如意”。这是由将军夫人亲口念出而由别人记下来的。将军仔细看了一次,说:“好极了!”

“这样一位高贵的绅士真算是瞧得起我们!”看门人的妻子说。乔治得穿上他受坚信礼的衣服,拿着那本《圣诗集》,亲自到楼上去答谢一番。

将军夫人穿着许多衣服,又害起恶性的头痛病来——当她对于生活感到腻昧的时候,就老是患这种病。她对乔治的态度非常和蔼,祝他一切如意,同时也希望自己今后永远也不害头痛病。将军穿着睡衣,戴着一顶有缨子的帽子,穿着一双俄国式的红长统靴。他怀着许多感想和回忆,来回走了三次,然后站着不动,说:

“小乔治现在成了一个基督徒!让他也成为一个诚实的、尊敬他长辈的人吧!将来你老了的时候,你可以说这句话是将军教给你的!”

这比他平时所作的演说要长得多!于是他又沉到他的默想中去,现出一副很庄严的样子。不过乔治在这儿听到和看到的一切东西之中,他记得最清楚的是爱米莉小姐。她是多么可爱,多么温柔,多么轻盈,多么娇嫩啊!如果要把她画下来,那么他就应该把她画在肥皂泡上才对。她的衣服,她金色的薄发,都发出一阵香气,好像她是一棵开着鲜花的玫瑰树一样;而他却曾经把自己的黄油面包分给她吃过!她吃得那么津津有味,每吃一口就对他点点头。她现在是不是还能记得这事呢?是的,当然记得。她还送过他一本美丽的《圣诗集》“作为纪念”呢。因此在新年后新月第一次出现的时候,他就拿着面包和一枚银毫到外边去;他把这书打开,要看看他会翻到哪一首诗。他翻到一首赞美和感恩的诗;于是他又翻开.看小小的爱米莉会得到一首什么诗。他很当心不耍翻到悼亡歌那一部分;但是他却翻到关于死和坟墓之间的那几页了。这类事儿当然是不值得相信的!但是他却害怕起来,因为那个柔嫩的小姑娘不久就倒在床上病了,医生的车子每天中午都停在她的门口。

“他们留不住她了!”看门人的妻子说;“我们的上帝知道他应该把什么人收回去!”

然而他们却把她留下来了。乔治画了些图画赠送给她:他画了沙皇的宫殿——莫斯科的古克里姆林宫——一点也不走样:有尖塔,也有圆塔,样子很像绿色和金色的大黄瓜——起码在乔治的画里是如此。小爱米莉非常喜欢它们,因此在一星期以内,乔治又送了几张画给她——它们全是建筑物,因为她可以对建筑物想象许多东西——门里和窗里的东西。

他画了一幢中国式的房子;它有16层楼,每层楼上都有钟乐器。他画了两座希腊的庙宇,有细长的大理石圆柱,周围还有台阶;他画了一个挪威的教堂,你一眼就可以看出来,它完全是木头做的,雕着花,建筑得非常好,每层楼就好像是建筑在摇篮下面的弯杆上一样。但是最美丽的一张画是一个宫殿,它的标题是:“小爱米莉之宫”。她将要住在这样的一座房子里。这完全是乔治的创见;他把一切别的建筑物中最美的东西都移到这座宫殿里来。它像那个挪威的教堂一样,有雕花的大梁;像那个希腊的庙宇一样,有大理石圆柱;每层楼上都有钟乐器,同时在最高一层的顶上有绿色和镀金的圆塔,像沙皇的克里姆林宫。这真是一个孩子的楼阁!每个窗子下面都注明了房间和厅堂的用处:“这是爱米莉睡的地方”,“这是爱米莉跳舞的地方”,“这是爱米莉玩会客游戏的地方”。它看起来很好玩,而大家也就真的来看它了。

“好极了!”将军说。

但是那位年老的伯爵一点也不表示意见。那一位伯爵比将军更有名望,而且还拥有一座宫殿和田庄。他听说它是由一个看门人的小儿子设计和画出来的。不过他现在既然受了坚信礼,就不应该再算是一个小孩子了。老伯爵把这些图画看了一眼,对它们有一套冷静的看法。

有一天,天气非常阴沉、潮湿、可怕。对于小乔治说来,这要算是最明朗和最好的时候了。艺术学院的那位教授把他喊进去。

“请听着,我的朋友,”他说。“我们来谈一下吧!上帝厚待你,使你有些天资。他还对你很好,使你跟许多好人来往。住在街角的那位老伯爵跟我谈到过你;我也看到过你的图画。我们可以在那上面修几笔,因为它们有许多地方需要修正。请你每星期到我的绘图学校来两次;以后你就可以画得好一点。我相信,你可以成为一个好建筑师,而不是一个画家;你还有时间可以考虑这个问题。不过请你今天到住在街角的老伯爵那儿去,同时感谢我们的上帝,你居然碰到了这样一个人!”

街角的那幢房子是很大的;它的窗子上雕着大象和单峰骆驼——全是古代的手工艺。不过老伯爵最喜欢新时代和这个时代所带来的好处,不管这些好处是来自第二层楼、地下室,或者阁楼。

“我相信,”看门人的妻子说,“一个真正伟大的人是不会太骄傲的。那位老伯爵是多么可爱和直爽啊!他讲起话来的态度跟你和我完全一样;将军家里的人做不到这一点!你看,昨天乔治受到伯爵热情的接待,简直是高兴得不知怎样办才好。今天我跟这个伟人谈过话,也有同样的感觉。我们没有让乔治去当学徒,不是一件很好的事吗?他是一个有天资的人。”

“但是他需要外来的帮助,”父亲说。

“他现在已经得到帮助了,”妈妈说,“伯爵的话已经讲得很清楚了。”

“事情有这样的结果,跟将军家的关系是分不开的!”爸爸说。“我们也应该感谢他们。”

“自然啰!”妈妈说,“不过我觉得他们没有什么东西值得我们感谢,我应该感谢我们的上帝;我还有一件事应该感谢他:爱米莉现在懂事了!”

爱米莉在进步,乔治也在进步。在这一年中他得到一个小小的银奖章;后来没有多久又得到一个较大的奖章。

“如果我们把他送去学一门手艺倒也好了!”母亲说,同时哭起来;“那样我们倒还可以把他留下来!他跑到罗马去干什么呢?就是他回来了,我永远也不会再看到他的;但是他不会回来的,我可爱的孩子!”

“但是这是他的幸运和光荣啊!”爸爸说。

“是的,谢谢你,我的朋友!”妈妈说,“不过你没说出你心里的话!你跟我一样,也是很难过的!”

就想念和别离说来,这是真的。大家都说,这个年轻人真幸运。

乔治告别了,也到将军家里去告别了。不过将军夫人没有出来,因为她又在害她的重头痛病。作为临别赠言,将军把他那个唯一的故事又讲了一遍——他对那位王公所讲的话,和那位王公对他所讲的话:“你是盖世无双的!”于是他就把手伸向乔治——一只松软的手。

爱米莉也把手向乔治伸出来,她的样子几乎有些难过;不过乔治是最难过的。

当一个人在忙的时候,时间就过去了;当一个人在闲着的时候,时间也过去了。时间是同样地长,但不一定是同样有用。就乔治说来,时间很有用,而且除非他在想家的时候以外,也似乎不太长。住在楼上和楼下的人生活得好吗?嗯,信上也谈到过;而信上可写的东西也不少;可以写明朗的太阳光,也可以写阴沉的日子。他们的事情信上都有:爸爸已经死了,只有母亲还活着。爱米莉一直是一个会安慰人的安琪儿。妈妈在信中写道:她常常下楼来看她。信上还说,主人准许她仍旧保留着看门的这个位置。

将军夫人每天写日记。在她的日记里,她参加的每一个宴会,每一个舞会,接见的每一个客人,都记载下来了。日记本里还有些外交官和显贵人士的名片作为插图。她对于她的日记本感到骄傲。日子越长,篇幅就越多:她害过许多次重头痛病,参加过许多次热闹的晚会——这也就是说.参加过宫廷的舞会。

爱米莉第一次去参加宫廷舞会的时候,妈妈是穿着缀有黑花边的粉红色衣服。这是西班牙式的装束!女儿穿着白衣服,那么明朗,那么美丽!绿色的缎带在她戴着睡莲花冠的金黄鬈发上飘动着,像灯心草一样。她的眼睛是那么蓝,那么清亮;她的嘴是那么红,那么小;她的样子像一个小人鱼,美丽得超乎想象之外。三个王子跟她跳过舞,这也就是说,第一个跳了,接着第二个就来跳。将军夫人算是一整个星期没有害过头痛病了。

头一次的舞会并不就是最后的一次,不过爱米莉倒是累得吃不消了。幸而夏天到了;它带来休息和新鲜空气。这一家人被请到那位老伯爵的王府里去。

王府里有一个花园,值得一看。它有一部分布置得古色古香,有庄严的绿色篱笆,人们在它们之间走就好像置身于有窥孔的、绿色的屏风之间一样。黄杨树和水松被剪扎成为星星和金字塔的形状,水从嵌有贝壳的石洞里流出来。周围有许多巨大的石头雕成的人像——你从它们的衣服和面孔就可以认得出来;每一块花畦的形状不是一条鱼,一个盾牌,就是一个拼成字。这是花园富有法国风味的一部分。从这儿你可以走到一个新鲜而开阔的树林里去。树在这儿可以自由地生长,因此它们是又大又好看。草是绿色的,可以在上面散步。它被剪过,压平过,保护得很好。这是这花园富有英国风味的一部分。

“旧的时代和新的时代,”伯爵说,“在这儿和谐地配合在一起!两年以后这房子就会有它一套独特的风格。它将会彻底地改变——变成一种更好。更美的东西。我把它设计给你看,同时还可以把那个建筑师介绍给你们。他今天来这儿吃午饭!”

“好极了!”将军说。

“这儿简直像一个天堂!”夫人说。“那儿你还有一个华丽的王府!”

“那是我的鸡屋。”伯爵说。“鸽子住在顶上,吐绶鸡住在第一层楼,不过老爱尔茜住在大厅里。她的四周还有客房:孵卵鸡单独住在一起,带着小鸡的母鸡又另外住在一起.鸭子有它们自己对水里去的出口!”

“好极了!”将军重复说。

于是他们就一起去看这豪华的布置。

老爱尔茜在大厅的中央,她旁边站着的是建筑师乔治。过了多少年以后,现在他和小爱米莉又在鸡屋里碰头了。

是的,他就站在这儿,他的风度很优雅;面孔是开朗的,有决断的;头发黑得发光;嘴唇上挂着微笑,好像是说:“我耳朵后面坐着一个调皮鬼,他对你的里里外外都知道得清清楚楚。”老爱尔茜为了要对贵客们表示尊敬,特地把她的木鞋脱掉,穿着袜子站着。母鸡咯咯地叫,公鸡咯咯地啼,鸭子一边蹒跚地走,一边嘎嘎地喊。不过那位苍白的、苗条的姑娘站在那儿——她就是他儿时的朋友,将军的女儿——她苍白的脸上发出一阵然红,眼睛睁得很大,嘴唇虽然没透露出一句话,却表示出无穷尽的意思。如果他们不是一家人,或者从来没有在一起跳过舞,这要算一个年轻人从一个女子那里所能得到的最漂亮的敬礼了。她和这位建筑师却是从来没有在一起跳过舞的。

伯爵和他握手,介绍他说,“我们的年轻朋友乔治先生并不完全是一个生人。”

将军夫人行了礼。她的女儿正要向他伸出手来,忽然又缩回去了。

“我们亲爱的乔治先生!”将军说,“我们是住在一处的老朋友,好极了!”

“你简直成了一个意大利人了。”将军夫人说,“我想你的意大利话一定跟意大利人讲得一样好了。”

将军夫人会唱意大利歌,但是不会讲意大利话——将军这样说。

乔治坐在爱米莉的右首。将军陪着她,伯爵陪着将军夫人。

乔治先生讲了一些奇闻轶事,他讲得很好。他是这次宴会中的灵魂和生命,虽然老伯爵也可以充当这个角色。爱米莉坐着一声不响;她的耳朵听着,她的眼睛亮着。

但是她一句话也不说。

后来她和乔治一起在阳台上的花丛中间站着。玫瑰花的篱笆把他们遮住了。乔治又是第一个先讲话。

“我感谢你对我老母亲的厚意!”他说。“我知道,我父亲去世的那天晚上,你特别走下楼来陪着她,一直到他闭上眼睛为止。我感谢你!”他握着爱米莉的手,吻了它——在这种情形下他是可以这样做的。她脸上发出一阵绯红,不过她把他的手又捏了一下,同时用温柔的蓝眼睛盯了他一眼。

“你的母亲是一位慈爱的妈妈!她是多么疼爱你啊!她让我读你写给她的信,我现在可说是很了解你了!我小的时候,你对我是多么和气啊;你送给我许多图画——”

“而你却把它们撕成碎片!”乔治说。

“不,我仍然保存着我的那座楼阁——它的图画。”

“现在我要把楼阁建筑成为实物了!”乔治说,同时对自己的话感到兴奋起来。

将军和夫人在自己的房间里谈论着这个看门人的儿子,他的行为举止很好,谈吐也能表示出他的学问和聪明。“他可以做一个家庭教师!”将军说。

“简直是天才!”将军夫人说。她不再说别的话了。

在美丽的夏天里,乔治到伯爵王府来的次数更多了。当他不来的时候,大家就想念他。

“上帝赐给你的东西比赐给我们这些可怜的人多得多!”爱米莉对他说。“你体会到这点没有?”

乔治感到很荣幸,这么一个漂亮的年轻女子居然瞧得起他。他也觉得她得天独厚。

将军渐渐深切地感觉到乔治不可能是地下室里长大的孩子。

“不过他的母亲是一个非常诚实的女人,”他说,“这点使我永远记得她。”

夏天过去了,冬天来了。人们更常常谈论起乔治先生来。他在高尚的场合中都受到重视和欢迎。将军在宫廷的舞会中碰见他。现在家中要为小爱米莉开一个舞会了。是不是把乔治先生也请来呢?

“国王可以请的人,将军当然也可以请的!”将军说,同时他挺起腰来,整整高了一寸。

乔治先生得到了邀请,而他也就来了。王子和伯爵们也来了,他们跳起舞来一个比一个好;不过爱米莉只能跳头一次的舞。她在这欢舞中扭了脚;不太厉害,但是使她感到很不舒服。因此她得很当心,不能再跳,只能望着别人跳。她坐在那儿望着,那位建筑师站在她身边。

“你真是把整个圣·彼得教堂①都给她了!”将军从旁边走过去的时候说。他笑得像一个慈爱的老人。

几天以后,他用同样慈爱的笑来接待乔治先生。这位年轻人是来感谢那次邀请他参加舞会的,他还能有什么别的话呢?是的,这是一件最使人惊奇、最使人害怕的事情!他说了一些疯狂的话。将军简直不能相信自己的耳朵,“荒唐的建议”——一个不可想象的要求:乔治先生要求小爱米莉做他的妻子!

“天啦!”将军说,他的脑袋气得要裂开了。

“我一点也不懂得你的意思!你说的什么?你要求什么?先生,我不认识你!朋友!你居然带着这种念头到我家里来!我要不要呆在这儿呢?”于是他就退到卧室里去,把门锁上,让乔治单独站在外面。他站了几分钟,然后就转身走出去。爱米莉站在走廊里。

“父亲答应了吗?——”她问,她的声音有些发抖。

乔治握着她的手。“他避开我了!——机会还有!”

爱米莉的眼睛里充满了眼泪;但是这个年轻人的眼睛里充满了勇气和信心。太阳照在他们两个人身上,为他们祝福。将军坐在自己的房间里,气得不得了。是的,他还在生气,而且用这样的喊声表示出来:“简直是发疯!看门人的发疯!”

不到一点钟,将军夫人就从将军口里听到这件事情。她把爱米莉喊来,单独和她坐在一起。

“你这个可怜的孩子!他这样地侮辱你!这样地侮辱我们!你的眼睛里也有眼泪,但是这与你很相称!你有眼泪倒显得更美了!你很像我在结婚那天的样子。痛哭吧,小爱米莉!”

“是的,我要哭一场!”爱米莉说,“假如你和爸爸不说一声‘同意’的话!”

“孩子啊!”夫人大叫一声,“你病了!你在发呓语,我那个可怕的头痛病现在又发了!请想想你带给我家的苦痛吧!爱米莉,请你不要逼死你的母亲吧。爱米莉,你这样做就没有母亲了!”

将军夫人的眼睛也变得潮湿了。她一想到她自己的死就非常难过。

人们在报纸上读到一批新的任命:“乔治先生被任命为第八类的五级教授。”

“真可惜,他的父母埋在坟墓里,读不到这个消息!”新的看门人一家子说。现在他们就住在将军楼下的地下室里。他们知道,教授就是在他们的四堵墙中间出世和长大的。

“现在他得付头衔税了,”丈夫说。

“是的,对于一个穷人家的孩子说来,这是一桩大事,”妻子说。

“一年得付18块钱!”丈夫说,“这的确不是一笔很小的数目!”

“不,我是说他的升级!”妻子说。“你以为他还会为钱费脑筋!那点钱他可以赚不知多少倍!他还会讨一个有钱的太太呢。如果我们有孩子,他们也应该是建筑师和教授才对!”

住在地下室里的人对于乔治的印象都很好;住在第二层楼上的人对他的印象也很好;那位老伯爵也表示同样的看法。

这些话都是由于他儿时所画的那些图画所引起的。不过他们为什么要提起这些图画呢?他们在谈论着俄国,在谈论着莫斯科,因此他们也当然谈到克里姆林宫——小乔治曾经专为小爱米莉画过。他画过那么多的画,那位伯爵还特别能记得起一张:“小爱米莉的宫殿——她在那里面睡觉.在那用面跳汤.在那里面做‘接待客人的游戏’。”这位教授有很大的能力;他一定会以当上一位老枢密顾问官而告终的。这并不是不可能的事。他从前既然可以为现在这样一位年轻的小姐建筑一座宫殿,为什么不可能呢?

“这真是一个滑稽的玩笑!”将军夫人在伯爵离去以后说。将军若有所思地摇摇头,骑着马走了——他的马夫跟在后面保持相当的距离;他坐在他那匹高头大马上显得比平时要神气得不知多少倍。

现在是小爱米莉的生日;人们送给她许多花和书籍、信和名片。将军夫人吻着她的嘴;将军吻着她的额;他们是一对慈爱的父母;她和他们都有很名贵的客人——两位王子——来拜访。他们谈论着舞会和戏剧,谈论着外交使节的事情,谈论着许多国家和政府。他们谈论着有才能的人和本国的优秀人物;那位年轻的教授和建筑师也在这些谈话中被提到了。

“他为了要使自己永垂不朽而建筑着!”大家说。“他也为将来和一个望族拉上关系而建筑着!”

“一个望族?”将军后来对夫人重复了这句话,“哪一个望族?”

“我知道大家所指的是谁!”将军夫人说,“不过我对此事不表示意见!我连想都不要想它!上帝决定一切!不过我倒觉得很奇怪!”

“让我也奇怪一下吧!”将军说,“我脑子里一点概念也没有。”于是他就浸入沉思里去了。

恩宠的源泉,不管它是来自宫廷,或者来自上帝,都会发生一种力量,一种说不出的力量——这些思宠,小小的乔治都有了。不过我们却把生日忘记了。

爱米莉的房间被男朋友和女朋友送来的花熏得喷香;桌子上摆着许多美丽的贺礼和纪念品,可是乔治的礼品一件也没有。礼品来不了,但是也没有这个必要,因为整个房子就是他的一种纪念品。甚至楼梯下面那个沙洞子里也有一朵纪念的花冒出来:爱米莉曾经在这里朝外望过,窗帘子在这里烧起来过,而乔治那时也作为第一架救火机开到这里来过。她只须朝窗子外望一眼,那棵槐树就可以使她回忆起儿童时代。花和叶子都谢了,但是树仍在寒霜中立着,像一棵奇怪的珊瑚树。月亮挂在树枝之间,又大又圆,像在移动,又像没有移动,正如乔治分黄油面包给小爱米莉吃的那个时候一样。

她从抽屉里取出那些绘着沙皇宫殿和她自己的宫殿的画——这都是乔治的纪念品。她看着,思索着,心中起了许多感想。她记得有一天,在爸爸妈妈没有注意的时候,她走到楼下看门人的妻子那儿去——她正躺在床上快要断气。她坐在她旁边,握着她的手,听到她最后的话:“祝福你——乔治!”母亲在想着自己的儿子。现在爱米莉懂得了她这话的意思。是的,是的,在她的生日这天,乔治是陪她在一起,的确在一起!

第二天碰巧这家又有一个生日——将军的生日。他比他的女儿生得晚一天——当然他出生的年份是要早一些的,要早许多年。人们又送许多礼品来了;在这些礼品之中有一个马鞍,它的样子很特殊,坐起来很舒服,价钱很贵。只有王子有类似这样的马鞍。这是谁送来的呢?将军非常高兴。它上面有一张小卡片。如果纸条上写着“谢谢你过去对我的好意”,我们可能猜到是谁送来的;可是它上面却写着:“将军所不认识的一个人敬赠”!

“世界上有哪一个人我不认识呢?”将军说。

“每个人我都认识!”这时他便想起社交界中的许多人士;他每个人都认识。“这是我的太太送的!”他最后说,“她在跟我开玩笑!好极了!”

但是她并没有跟他开玩笑;那个时候已经过去了。

现在又有一个庆祝会,但不是在将军家里开的。这是在一位王子家里开的一个化装舞会。人们可以戴假面具参加跳舞。

将军穿着西班牙式的小皱领的服装,挂着剑,庄严地打扮成为鲁本斯③先生去参加。夫人则打扮成为鲁本斯夫人。她穿着黑天鹅绒的、高领的、热得可怕的礼眼;她的头颈上还挂着一块磨石——这也就是说,一个很大的皱领,完全像将军所有的那幅荷兰画上的画像——画里面的手特别受人赞赏:完全跟夫人的手一样。

爱米莉打扮成为一个穿缀着花边的细棉布衣的普赛克④。她很像一根浮着的天鹅羽毛。她不需要翅膀。她装上翅膀只是作为普赛克的一个表征。这儿是一派富丽堂皇而雅致的景象,充满着光明和花朵。这儿的东西真是看不完,因此人们也就没有注意到鲁本斯夫人的一双美丽的手了。

一位穿黑色化装外衣的人⑤的帽子上插着槐花,跟普赛克在一起跳舞。

“他是谁呢?”夫人问。

“王子殿下!”将军说;“我一点也不怀疑;和他一握手,我马上就知道是他。”

夫人有点儿怀疑。

鲁本斯将军一点疑心也没有;他走到这位穿化装外衣的人身边去,在他手上写出王子姓名的第一个字母。这个人否认,但是给了他一个暗示:

“请想想马鞍上的那句话!将军所不认识的那个人!”

“那么我就认识您了!”将军说。“原来是您送给我那个马鞍!”

这个人摆脱自己的手,在人群中不见了。

“爱米莉,跟你一起跳舞的那位黑衣人是谁呀?”将军夫人问。

“我没有问过他的姓名,”她回答说。

“因为你认识他呀!他就是那位教授呀!”她把头掉向站在旁边的伯爵,继续说,“伯爵,您的那位教授就在这儿。黑衣人,戴着槐树花!”

“亲爱的夫人,这很可能,”他回答说;“‘不过有一位王子也是穿着这样的衣服呀,”

“我认识他握手的姿势!”将军说。“这位王子送过我一个马鞍!我一点也不怀疑,我要请他吃饭。”

“那么你就这样办吧!如果他是王子的话,他一定会来的,”伯爵说。

“假如他是别人,那么他就不会来了!”将军说,同时向那位正在跟国王谈话的黑衣人身边走去。将军恭敬地邀请他——为的是想彼此交交朋友。将军满怀信心地微笑着;他相信他知道他请的是什么人。他大声地、清楚地表示他的邀请。

穿化装外衣的人把他的假面具揭开来:原来是乔治。

“将军能否把这次邀请重说一次呢?”他问。

将军马上长了一寸来高,显出一副傲慢的神气,向后倒退两步,又向前进了一步,像在小步舞⑥中一样。一个将军的面孔所能做出的那种庄严的表情,现在全都摆出来了。

“我从来是不食言的;教授先生,我请您!”他鞠了一躬,向听到了这全部话语的国王膘了一眼。

这么着,将军家里就举行了一个午宴。被请的客人只有老伯爵和他的年轻朋友。

“脚一伸到桌子底下,”乔治想,“奠基石就算是安下来了!”的确,奠基石是庄严地安下来了,而且是在将军和他的夫人面前安的。

客人到来了。正如将军所知道和承认的,他的谈吐很像一位上流社会人士,而且他非常有趣。将军有许多次不得不说:“好极了!”将军夫人常常谈起这次午宴——她甚至还跟宫廷的一位夫人谈过。这位夫人也是一个天赋独厚的人;她要求下次教授来的时候,也把她请来。因此他得以又受到一次邀请。他终于被请来了,而且仍然那么可爱。他甚至还下棋呢。

“他不是在地下室里出生的那种人!”将军说,“他一定是一个望族的少爷!像这样出自名门的少爷很多,这完全不能怪那个年轻人。”

这位教授既然可以到国王的宫殿里去,当然也可以走进将军的家。不过要在那里生下根来——那是绝对不可能的。他只能在整个的城市里生下根。

他在发展。恩惠的滑水从上面降到他身上来。

因此,不用奇怪,当这位教授成了枢密顾问的时候,爱米莉就成了枢密顾问夫人。

“人生不是一个悲剧,就是一个喜剧,”将军说。“人们在悲剧中灭亡,但在喜剧中结为眷属。”

目前的这种情形,是结为眷属。他们还生了三个健壮的孩子,当然不是一次生的。

这些可爱的孩子来看外公外婆的时候,就在房间和堂屋里骑着木马乱跑。将军也在他们后面骑着木马,“作为这些小枢密顾问的马夫”。

将军夫人坐在沙发上看;即使她又害起很严重的头痛病来,她还是微笑着。

乔治的发展就是这样的,而且还在发展;不然的话,这个看门人的儿子的故事也就不值得一讲了。

①在北欧的建筑物中,楼梯旁边总有一个放扫帚和零星什物的小室。这个小室叫“沙洞子”(Sandhullet)。

②在欧洲的封建社会里,只有贵族才可以有一个族徽。这儿的意思是说,这人的贵族头衔是用钱买来的,而不是继承来的。

③鲁本斯(Rubens)是荷兰一个最普通的姓。

④古希腊中代表灵魂的女神,参看《普赛克》注。

⑤原文是Domino,是一种带有黑帽子的黑披肩。原先是意大利牧师穿的一种御寒的衣服。后来参加化装舞会而不扮演任何特殊角色的人,都是这种装束,这里是指这种装束的人。

⑥原文是minuet,是欧洲中世纪流行的一种舞蹈。

英文版:The Porter’s Son

THE General lived in the grand first floor, and the porter lived in the cellar. There was a great distance between the two families— the whole of the ground floor, and the difference in rank; but they lived in the same house, and both had a view of the street, and of the courtyard. In the courtyard was a grass-plot, on which grew a blooming acacia tree (when it was in bloom), and under this tree sat occasionally the finely-dressed nurse, with the still more finely-dressed child of the General—little Emily. Before them danced about barefoot the little son of the porter, with his great brown eyes and dark hair; and the little girl smiled at him, and stretched out her hands towards him; and when the General saw that from the window, he would nod his head and cry, “Charming!” The General’s lady (who was so young that she might very well have been her husband’s daughter from an early marriage) never came to the window that looked upon the courtyard. She had given orders, though, that the boy might play his antics to amuse her child, but must never touch it. The nurse punctually obeyed the gracious lady’s orders.

The sun shone in upon the people in the grand first floor, and upon the people in the cellar; the acacia tree was covered with blossoms, and they fell off, and next year new ones came. The tree bloomed, and the porter’s little son bloomed too, and looked like a fresh tulip.

The General’s little daughter became delicate and pale, like the leaf of the acacia blossom. She seldom came down to the tree now, for she took the air in a carriage. She drove out with her mamma, and then she would always nod at the porter’s George; yes, she used even to kiss her hand to him, till her mamma said she was too old to do that now.

One morning George was sent up to carry the General the letters and newspapers that had been delivered at the porter’s room in the morning. As he was running up stairs, just as he passed the door of the sand-box, he heard a faint piping. He thought it was some young chicken that had strayed there, and was raising cries of distress; but it was the General’s little daughter, decked out in lace and finery.

“Don’t tell papa and mamma,” she whimpered; “they would be angry.”

“What’s the matter, little missie?” asked George.

“It’s all on fire!” she answered. “It’s burning with a bright flame!” George hurried up stairs to the General’s apartments; he opened the door of the nursery. The window curtain was almost entirely burnt, and the wooden curtain-pole was one mass of flame. George sprang upon a chair he brought in haste, and pulled down the burning articles; he then alarmed the people. But for him, the house would have been burned down.

The General and his lady cross-questioned little Emily.

“I only took just one lucifer-match,” she said, “and it was burning directly, and the curtain was burning too. I spat at it, to put it out; I spat at it as much as ever I could, but I could not put it out; so I ran away and hid myself, for papa and mamma would be angry.”

“I spat!” cried the General’s lady; “what an expression! Did you ever hear your papa and mamma talk about spitting? You must have got that from down stairs!”

And George had a penny given him. But this penny did not go to the baker’s shop, but into the savings-box; and soon there were so many pennies in the savings-box that he could buy a paint-box and color the drawings he made, and he had a great number of drawings. They seemed to shoot out of his pencil and out of his fingers’ ends. His first colored pictures he presented to Emily.

“Charming!” said the General, and even the General’s lady acknowledged that it was easy to see what the boy had meant to draw. “He has genius.” Those were the words that were carried down into the cellar.

The General and his gracious lady were grand people. They had two coats of arms on their carriage, a coat of arms for each of them, and the gracious lady had had this coat of arms embroidered on both sides of every bit of linen she had, and even on her nightcap and her dressing-bag. One of the coats of arms, the one that belonged to her, was a very dear one; it had been bought for hard cash by her father, for he had not been born with it, nor had she; she had come into the world too early, seven years before the coat of arms, and most people remembered this circumstance, but the family did not remember it. A man might well have a bee in his bonnet, when he had such a coat of arms to carry as that, let alone having to carry two; and the General’s wife had a bee in hers when she drove to the court ball, as stiff and as proud as you please.

The General was old and gray, but he had a good seat on horseback, and he knew it, and he rode out every day, with a groom behind him at a proper distance. When he came to a party, he looked somehow as if he were riding into the room upon his high horse; and he had orders, too, such a number that no one would have believed it; but that was not his fault. As a young man he had taken part in the great autumn reviews which were held in those days. He had an anecdote that he told about those days, the only one he knew. A subaltern under his orders had cut off one of the princes, and taken him prisoner, and the Prince had been obliged to ride through the town with a little band of captured soldiers, himself a prisoner behind the General. This was an ever-memorable event, and was always told over and over again every year by the General, who, moreover, always repeated the remarkable words he had used when he returned his sword to the Prince; those words were, “Only my subaltern could have taken your Highness prisoner; I could never have done it!” And the Prince had replied, “You are incomparable.” In a real war the General had never taken part. When war came into the country, he had gone on a diplomatic career to foreign courts. He spoke the French language so fluently that he had almost forgotten his own; he could dance well, he could ride well, and orders grew on his coat in an astounding way. The sentries presented arms to him, one of the most beautiful girls presented arms to him, and became the General’s lady, and in time they had a pretty, charming child, that seemed as if it had dropped from heaven, it was so pretty; and the porter’s son danced before it in the courtyard, as soon as it could understand it, and gave her all his colored pictures, and little Emily looked at them, and was pleased, and tore them to pieces. She was pretty and delicate indeed.

“My little Roseleaf!” cried the General’s lady, “thou art born to wed a prince.”

The prince was already at the door, but they knew nothing of it; people don’t see far beyond the threshold.

“The day before yesterday our boy divided his bread and butter with her!” said the porter’s wife. There was neither cheese nor meat upon it, but she liked it as well as if it had been roast beef. There would have been a fine noise if the General and his wife had seen the feast, but they did not see it.

George had divided his bread and butter with little Emily, and he would have divided his heart with her, if it would have pleased her. He was a good boy, brisk and clever, and he went to the night school in the Academy now, to learn to draw properly. Little Emily was getting on with her education too, for she spoke French with her “bonne,” and had a dancing master.

“George will be confirmed at Easter,” said the porter’s wife; for George had got so far as this.

“It would be the best thing, now, to make an apprentice of him,” said his father. “It must be to some good calling—and then he would be out of the house.”

“He would have to sleep out of the house,” said George’s mother. “It is not easy to find a master who has room for him at night, and we shall have to provide him with clothes too. The little bit of eating that he wants can be managed for him, for he’s quite happy with a few boiled potatoes; and he gets taught for nothing. Let the boy go his own way. You will say that he will be our joy some day, and the Professor says so too.”

The confirmation suit was ready. The mother had worked it herself; but the tailor who did repairs had cut them out, and a capital cutter-out he was.

“If he had had a better position, and been able to keep a workshop and journeymen,” the porter’s wife said, “he might have been a court tailor.”

The clothes were ready, and the candidate for confirmation was ready. On his confirmation day, George received a great pinchbeck watch from his godfather, the old iron monger’s shopman, the richest of his godfathers. The watch was an old and tried servant. It always went too fast, but that is better than to be lagging behind. That was a costly present. And from the General’s apartment there arrived a hymn-book bound in morocco, sent by the little lady to whom George had given pictures. At the beginning of the book his name was written, and her name, as “his gracious patroness.” These words had been written at the dictation of the General’s lady, and the General had read the inscription, and pronounced it “Charming!”

“That is really a great attention from a family of such position,” said the porter’s wife; and George was sent up stairs to show himself in his confirmation clothes, with the hymn-book in his hand.

The General’s lady was sitting very much wrapped up, and had the bad headache she always had when time hung heavy upon her hands. She looked at George very pleasantly, and wished him all prosperity, and that he might never have her headache. The General was walking about in his dressing-gown. He had a cap with a long tassel on his head, and Russian boots with red tops on his feet. He walked three times up and down the room, absorbed in his own thoughts and recollections, and then stopped and said:

“So little George is a confirmed Christian now. Be a good man, and honor those in authority over you. Some day, when you are an old man, you can say that the General gave you this precept.”

That was a longer speech than the General was accustomed to make, and then he went back to his ruminations, and looked very aristocratic. But of all that George heard and saw up there, little Miss Emily remained most clear in his thoughts. How graceful she was, how gentle, and fluttering, and pretty she looked. If she were to be drawn, it ought to be on a soap-bubble. About her dress, about her yellow curled hair, there was a fragrance as of a fresh-blown rose; and to think that he had once divided his bread and butter with her, and that she had eaten it with enormous appetite, and nodded to him at every second mouthful! Did she remember anything about it? Yes, certainly, for she had given him the beautiful hymn-book in remembrance of this; and when the first new moon in the first new year after this event came round, he took a piece of bread, a penny, and his hymn-book, and went out into the open air, and opened the book to see what psalm he should turn up. It was a psalm of praise and thanksgiving. Then he opened the book again to see what would turn up for little Emily. He took great pains not to open the book in the place where the funeral hymns were, and yet he got one that referred to the grave and death. But then he thought this was not a thing in which one must believe; for all that he was startled when soon afterwards the pretty little girl had to lie in bed, and the doctor’s carriage stopped at the gate every day.

“They will not keep her with them,” said the porter’s wife. “The good God knows whom He will summon to Himself.”

But they kept her after all; and George drew pictures and sent them to her. He drew the Czar’s palace; the old Kremlin at Moscow, just as it stood, with towers and cupolas; and these cupolas looked like gigantic green and gold cucumbers, at least in George’s drawing. Little Emily was highly pleased, and consequently, when a week had elapsed, George sent her a few more pictures, all with buildings in them; for, you see, she could imagine all sorts of things inside the windows and doors.

He drew a Chinese house, with bells hanging from every one of sixteen stories. He drew two Grecian temples with slender marble pillars, and with steps all round them. He drew a Norwegian church. It was easy to see that this church had been built entirely of wood, hewn out and wonderfully put together; every story looked as if it had rockers, like a cradle. But the most beautiful of all was the castle, drawn on one of the leaves, and which he called “Emily’s Castle.” This was the kind of place in which she must live. That is what George had thought, and consequently he had put into this building whatever he thought most beautiful in all the others. It had carved wood-work, like the Norwegian church; marble pillars, like the Grecian temple; bells in every story; and was crowned with cupolas, green and gilded, like those of the Kremlin of the Czar. It was a real child’s castle, and under every window was written what the hall or the room inside was intended to be; for instance: “Here Emily sleeps;” “Here Emily dances;” “Here Emily plays at receiving visitors.” It was a real pleasure to look at the castle, and right well was the castle looked at accordingly.

“Charming!” said the General.

But the old Count—for there was an old Count there, who was still grander than the General, and had a castle of his own—said nothing at all; he heard that it had been designed and drawn by the porter’s little son. Not that he was so very little, either, for he had already been confirmed. The old Count looked at the pictures, and had his own thoughts as he did so.

One day, when it was very gloomy, gray, wet weather, the brightest of days dawned for George; for the Professor at the Academy called him into his room.

“Listen to me, my friend,” said the Professor; “I want to speak to you. The Lord has been good to you in giving you abilities, and He has also been good in placing you among kind people. The old Count at the corner yonder has been speaking to me about you. I have also seen your sketches; but we will not say any more about those, for there is a good deal to correct in them. But from this time forward you may come twice a-week to my drawing-class, and then you will soon learn how to do them better. I think there’s more of the architect than of the painter in you. You will have time to think that over; but go across to the old Count this very day, and thank God for having sent you such a friend.”

It was a great house—the house of the old Count at the corner. Round the windows elephants and dromedaries were carved, all from the old times; but the old Count loved the new time best, and what it brought, whether it came from the first floor, or from the cellar, or from the attic.

“I think,” said, the porter’s wife, “the grander people are, the fewer airs do they give themselves. How kind and straightforward the old count is! and he talks exactly like you and me. Now, the General and his lady can’t do that. And George was fairly wild with delight yesterday at the good reception he met with at the Count’s, and so am I to-day, after speaking to the great man. Wasn’t it a good thing that we didn’t bind George apprentice to a handicraftsman? for he has abilities of his own.”

“But they must be helped on by others,” said the father.

“That help he has got now,” rejoined the mother; “for the Count spoke out quite clearly and distinctly.”

“But I fancy it began with the General,” said the father, “and we must thank them too.”

“Let us do so with all my heart,” cried the mother, “though I fancy we have not much to thank them for. I will thank the good God; and I will thank Him, too, for letting little Emily get well.”

Emily was getting on bravely, and George got on bravely too. In the course of the year he won the little silver prize medal of the Academy, and afterwards he gained the great one too.

“It would have been better, after all, if he had been apprenticed to a handicraftsman,” said the porter’s wife, weeping; “for then we could have kept him with us. What is he to do in Rome? I shall never get a sight of him again, not even if he comes back; but that he won’t do, the dear boy.”

“It is fortune and fame for him,” said the father.

“Yes, thank you, my friend,” said the mother; “you are saying what you do not mean. You are just as sorrowful as I am.”

And it was all true about the sorrow and the journey. But everybody said it was a great piece of good fortune for the young fellow. And he had to take leave, and of the General too. The General’s lady did not show herself, for she had her bad headache. On this occasion the General told his only anecdote, about what he had said to the Prince, and how the Prince had said to him, “You are incomparable.” And he held out a languid hand to George.

Emily gave George her hand too, and looked almost sorry; and George was the most sorry of all.

Time goes by when one has something to do; and it goes by, too, when one has nothing to do. The time is equally long, but not equally useful. It was useful to George, and did not seem long at all, except when he happened to be thinking of his home. How might the good folks be getting on, up stairs and down stairs? Yes, there was writing about that, and many things can be put into a letter—bright sunshine and dark, heavy days. Both of these were in the letter which brought the news that his father was dead, and that his mother was alone now. She wrote that Emily had come down to see her, and had been to her like an angel of comfort; and concerning herself, she added that she had been allowed to keep her situation as porteress.

The General’s lady kept a diary, and in this diary was recorded every ball she attended and every visit she received. The diary was illustrated by the insertion of the visiting cards of the diplomatic circle and of the most noble families; and the General’s lady was proud of it. The diary kept growing through a long time, and amid many severe headaches, and through a long course of half-nights, that is to say, of court balls. Emily had now been to a court ball for the first time. Her mother had worn a bright red dress, with black lace, in the Spanish style; the daughter had been attired in white, fair and delicate; green silk ribbons fluttered like flag-leaves among her yellow locks, and on her head she wore a wreath of water-lillies. Her eyes were so blue and clear, her mouth was so delicate and red, she looked like a little water spirit, as beautiful as such a spirit can be imagined. The Princes danced with her, one after another of course; and the General’s lady had not a headache for a week afterwards.

But the first ball was not the last, and Emily could not stand it; it was a good thing, therefore, that summer brought with it rest, and exercise in the open air. The family had been invited by the old Count to visit him at him castle. That was a castle with a garden which was worth seeing. Part of this garden was laid out quite in the style of the old days, with stiff green hedges; you walked as if between green walls with peep-holes in them. Box trees and yew trees stood there trimmed into the form of stars and pyramids, and water sprang from fountains in large grottoes lined with shells. All around stood figures of the most beautiful stone—that could be seen in their clothes as well as in their faces; every flower-bed had a different shape, and represented a fish, or a coat of arms, or a monogram. That was the French part of the garden; and from this part the visitor came into what appeared like the green, fresh forest, where the trees might grow as they chose, and accordingly they were great and glorious. The grass was green, and beautiful to walk on, and it was regularly cut, and rolled, and swept, and tended. That was the English part of the garden.

“Old time and new time,” said the Count, “here they run well into one another. In two years the building itself will put on a proper appearance, there will be a complete metamorphosis in beauty and improvement. I shall show you the drawings, and I shall show you the architect, for he is to dine here to-day.”

“Charming!” said the General.

“ ’Tis like Paradise here,” said the General’s lady, “and yonder you have a knight’s castle!”

“That’s my poultry-house,” observed the Count. “The pigeons live in the tower, the turkeys in the first floor, but old Elsie rules in the ground floor. She has apartments on all sides of her. The sitting hens have their own room, and the hens with chickens have theirs; and the ducks have their own particular door leading to the water.”

“Charming!” repeated the General.

And all sailed forth to see these wonderful things. Old Elsie stood in the room on the ground floor, and by her side stood Architect George. He and Emily now met for the first time after several years, and they met in the poultry-house.

Yes, there he stood, and was handsome enough to be looked at. His face was frank and energetic; he had black shining hair, and a smile about his mouth, which said, “I have a brownie that sits in my ear, and knows every one of you, inside and out.” Old Elsie had pulled off her wooden shoes, and stood there in her stockings, to do honor to the noble guests. The hens clucked, and the cocks crowed, and the ducks waddled to and fro, and said, “Quack, quack!” But the fair, pale girl, the friend of his childhood, the daughter of the General, stood there with a rosy blush on her usually pale cheeks, and her eyes opened wide, and her mouth seemed to speak without uttering a word, and the greeting he received from her was the most beautiful greeting a young man can desire from a young lady, if they are not related, or have not danced many times together, and she and the architect had never danced together.

The Count shook hands with him, and introduced him.

“He is not altogether a stranger, our young friend George.”

The General’s lady bowed to him, and the General’s daughter was very nearly giving him her hand; but she did not give it to him.

“Our little Master George!” said the General. “Old friends! Charming!”

“You have become quite an Italian,” said the General’s lady, “and I presume you speak the language like a native?”

“My wife sings the language, but she does not speak it,” observed the General.

At dinner, George sat at the right hand of Emily, whom the General had taken down, while the Count led in the General’s lady.

Mr. George talked and told of his travels; and he could talk well, and was the life and soul of the table, though the old Count could have been it too. Emily sat silent, but she listened, and her eyes gleamed, but she said nothing.

In the verandah, among the flowers, she and George stood together; the rose-bushes concealed them. And George was speaking again, for he took the lead now.

“Many thanks for the kind consideration you showed my old mother,” he said. “I know that you went down to her on the night when my father died, and you stayed with her till his eyes were closed. My heartiest thanks!”

He took Emily’s hand and kissed it—he might do so on such an occasion. She blushed deeply, but pressed his hand, and looked at him with her dear blue eyes.

“Your mother was a dear soul!” she said. “How fond she was of her son! And she let me read all your letters, so that I almost believe I know you. How kind you were to me when I was little girl! You used to give me pictures.”

“Which you tore in two,” said George.

“No, I have still your drawing of the castle.”

“I must build the castle in reality now,” said George; and he became quite warm at his own words.

The General and the General’s lady talked to each other in their room about the porter’s son—how he knew how to behave, and to express himself with the greatest propriety.

“He might be a tutor,” said the General.

“Intellect!” said the General’s lady; but she did not say anything more.

During the beautiful summer-time Mr. George several times visited the Count at his castle; and he was missed when he did not come.

“How much the good God has given you that he has not given to us poor mortals,” said Emily to him. “Are you sure you are very grateful for it?”

It flattered George that the lovely young girl should look up to him, and he thought then that Emily had unusually good abilities. And the General felt more and more convinced that George was no cellar-child.

“His mother was a very good woman,” he observed. “It is only right I should do her that justice now she is in her grave.”

The summer passed away, and the winter came; again there was talk about Mr. George. He was highly respected, and was received in the first circles. The General had met him at a court ball.

And now there was a ball to be given in the General’s house for Emily, and could Mr. George be invited to it?

“He whom the King invites can be invited by the General also,” said the General, and drew himself up till he stood quite an inch higher than before.

Mr. George was invited, and he came; princes and counts came, and they danced, one better than the other. But Emily could only dance one dance—the first; for she made a false step—nothing of consequence; but her foot hurt her, so that she had to be careful, and leave off dancing, and look at the others. So she sat and looked on, and the architect stood by her side.

“I suppose you are giving her the whole history of St. Peter’s,” said the General, as he passed by; and smiled, like the personification of patronage.

With the same patronizing smile he received Mr. George a few days afterwards. The young man came, no doubt, to return thanks for the invitation to the ball. What else could it be? But indeed there was something else, something very astonishing and startling. He spoke words of sheer lunacy, so that the General could hardly believe his own ears. It was “the height of rhodomontade,” an offer, quite an inconceivable offer—Mr. George came to ask the hand of Emily in marriage!

“Man!” cried the General, and his brain seemed to be boiling. “I don’t understand you at all. What is it you say? What is it you want? I don’t know you. Sir! Man! What possesses you to break into my house? And am I to stand here and listen to you?” He stepped backwards into his bed-room, locked the door behind him, and left Mr. George standing alone. George stood still for a few minutes, and then turned round and left the room. Emily was standing in the corridor.

“My father has answered?” she said, and her voice trembled.

George pressed her hand.

“He has escaped me,” he replied; “but a better time will come.”

There were tears in Emily’s eyes, but in the young man’s eyes shone courage and confidence; and the sun shone through the window, and cast his beams on the pair, and gave them his blessing.

The General sat in his room, bursting hot. Yes, he was still boiling, until he boiled over in the exclamation, “Lunacy! porter! madness!”

Not an hour was over before the General’s lady knew it out of the General’s own mouth. She called Emily, and remained alone with her.

“You poor child,” she said; “to insult you so! to insult us so! There are tears in your eyes, too, but they become you well. You look beautiful in tears. You look as I looked on my wedding-day. Weep on, my sweet Emily.”

“Yes, that I must,” said Emily, “if you and my father do not say ‘yes.’”

“Child!” screamed the General’s lady; “you are ill! You are talking wildly, and I shall have a most terrible headache! Oh, what a misfortune is coming upon our house! Don’t make your mother die, Emily, or you will have no mother.”

And the eyes of the General’s lady were wet, for she could not bear to think of her own death.

In the newspapers there was an announcement. “Mr. George has been elected Professor of the Fifth Class, number Eight.”

“It’s a pity that his parents are dead and cannot read it,” said the new porter people, who now lived in the cellar under the General’s apartments. They knew that the Professor had been born and grown up within their four walls.

“Now he’ll get a salary,” said the man.

“Yes, that’s not much for a poor child,” said the woman.

“Eighteen dollars a year,” said the man. “Why, it’s a good deal of money.”

“No, I mean the honor of it,” replied the wife. “Do you think he cares for the money? Those few dollars he can earn a hundred times over, and most likely he’ll get a rich wife into the bargain. If we had children of our own, husband, our child should be an architect and a professor too.”

George was spoken well of in the cellar, and he was spoken well of in the first floor. The old Count took upon himself to do that.

The pictures he had drawn in his childhood gave occasion for it. But how did the conversation come to turn on these pictures? Why, they had been talking of Russia and of Moscow, and thus mention was made of the Kremlin, which little George had once drawn for Miss Emily. He had drawn many pictures, but the Count especially remembered one, “Emily’s Castle,” where she was to sleep, and to dance, and to play at receiving guests.

“The Professor was a true man,” said the Count, “and would be a privy councillor before he died, it was not at all unlikely; and he might build a real castle for the young lady before that time came: why not?”

“That was a strange jest,” remarked the General’s lady, when the Count had gone away. The General shook his head thoughtfully, and went out for a ride, with his groom behind him at a proper distance, and he sat more stiffly than ever on his high horse.

It was Emily’s birthday. Flowers, books, letters, and visiting cards came pouring in. The General’s lady kissed her on the mouth, and the General kissed her on the forehead; they were affectionate parents, and they and Emily had to receive grand visitors, two of the Princes. They talked of balls and theatres, of diplomatic missions, of the government of empires and nations; and then they spoke of talent, native talent; and so the discourse turned upon the young architect.

“He is building up an immortality for himself,” said one, “and he will certainly build his way into one of our first families”.

“One of our first families!” repeated the General and afterwards the General’s lady; “what is meant by one of our first families?”

“I know for whom it was intended,” said the General’s lady, “but I shall not say it. I don’t think it. Heaven disposes, but I shall be astonished.”

“I am astonished also!” said the General. “I haven’t an idea in my head!” And he fell into a reverie, waiting for ideas.

There is a power, a nameless power, in the possession of favor from above, the favor of Providence, and this favor little George had. But we are forgetting the birthday.

Emily’s room was fragrant with flowers, sent by male and female friends; on the table lay beautiful presents for greeting and remembrance, but none could come from George—none could come from him; but it was not necessary, for the whole house was full of remembrances of him. Even out of the ash-bin the blossom of memory peeped forth, for Emily had sat whimpering there on the day when the window-curtain caught fire, and George arrived in the character of fire engine. A glance out of the window, and the acacia tree reminded of the days of childhood. Flowers and leaves had fallen, but there stood the tree covered with hoar frost, looking like a single huge branch of coral, and the moon shone clear and large among the twigs, unchanged in its changings, as it was when George divided his bread and butter with little Emily.

Out of a box the girl took the drawings of the Czar’s palace and of her own castle—remembrances of George. The drawings were looked at, and many thoughts came. She remembered the day when, unobserved by her father and mother, she had gone down to the porter’s wife who lay dying. Once again she seemed to sit beside her, holding the dying woman’s hand in hers, hearing the dying woman’s last words: “Blessing George!” The mother was thinking of her son, and now Emily gave her own interpretation to those words. Yes, George was certainly with her on her birthday.

It happened that the next day was another birthday in that house, the General’s birthday. He had been born the day after his daughter, but before her of course—many years before her. Many presents arrived, and among them came a saddle of exquisite workmanship, a comfortable and costly saddle—one of the Princes had just such another. Now, from whom might this saddle come? The General was delighted. There was a little note with the saddle. Now if the words on the note had been “many thanks for yesterday’s reception,” we might easily have guessed from whom it came. But the words were “From somebody whom the General does not know.”

“Whom in the world do I not know?” exclaimed the General. “I know everybody;” and his thoughts wandered all through society, for he knew everybody there. “That saddle comes from my wife!” he said at last. “She is teasing me—charming!”

But she was not teasing him; those times were past.

Again there was a feast, but it was not in the General’s house, it was a fancy ball at the Prince’s, and masks were allowed too.

The General went as Rubens, in a Spanish costume, with a little ruff round his neck, a sword by his side, and a stately manner. The General’s lady was Madame Rubens, in black velvet made high round the neck, exceedingly warm, and with a mill-stone round her neck in the shape of a great ruff—accurately dressed after a Dutch picture in the possession of the General, in which the hands were especially admired. They were just like the hands of the General’s lady.

Emily was Psyche. In white crape and lace she was like a floating swan. She did not want wings at all. She only wore them as emblematic of Psyche.

Brightness, splendor, light and flowers, wealth and taste appeared at the ball; there was so much to see, that the beautiful hands of Madame Rubens made no sensation at all.

A black domino, with an acacia blossom in his cap, danced with Psyche.

“Who is that?” asked the General’s lady.

“His Royal Highness,” replied the General. “I am quite sure of it. I knew him directly by the pressure of his hand.”

The General’s lady doubted it.

General Rubens had no doubts about it. He went up to the black domino and wrote the royal letters in the mask’s hand. These were denied, but the mask gave him a hint.

The words that came with the saddle: “One whom you do not know, General.”

“But I do know you,” said the General. “It was you who sent me the saddle.”

The domino raised his hand, and disappeared among the other guests.

“Who is that black domino with whom you were dancing, Emily?” asked the General’s lady.

“I did not ask his name,” she replied, “because you knew it. It is the Professor. Your protégé is here, Count!” she continued, turning to that nobleman, who stood close by. “A black domino with acacia blossoms in his cap.”

“Very likely, my dear lady,” replied the Count. “But one of the Princes wears just the same costume.”

“I knew the pressure of the hand,” said the General. “The saddle came from the Prince. I am so certain of it that I could invite that domino to dinner.”

“Do so. If it be the Prince he will certainly come,” replied the Count.

“And if it is the other he will not come,” said the General, and approached the black domino, who was just speaking with the King. The General gave a very respectful invitation “that they might make each other’s acquaintance,” and he smiled in his certainty concerning the person he was inviting. He spoke loud and distinctly.

The domino raised his mask, and it was George. “Do you repeat your invitation, General?” he asked.

The General certainly seemed to grow an inch taller, assumed a more stately demeanor, and took two steps backward and one step forward, as if he were dancing a minuet, and then came as much gravity and expression into the face of the General as the General could contrive to infuse into it; but he replied,

“I never retract my words! You are invited, Professor!” and he bowed with a glance at the King, who must have heard the whole dialogue.

Now, there was a company to dinner at the General’s, but only the old Count and his protégé were invited.

“I have my foot under his table,” thought George. “That’s laying the foundation stone.”

And the foundation stone was really laid, with great ceremony, at the house of the General and of the General’s lady.

The man had come, and had spoken quite like a person in good society, and had made himself very agreeable, so that the General had often to repeat his “Charming!” The General talked of this dinner, talked of it even to a court lady; and this lady, one of the most intellectual persons about the court, asked to be invited to meet the Professor the next time he should come. So he had to be invited again; and he was invited, and came, and was charming again; he could even play chess.

“He’s not out of the cellar,” said the General; “he’s quite a distinguished person. There are many distinguished persons of that kind, and it’s no fault of his.”

The Professor, who was received in the King’s palace, might very well be received by the General; but that he could ever belong to the house was out of the question, only the whole town was talking of it.

He grew and grew. The dew of favor fell from above, so no one was surprised after all that he should become a Privy Councillor, and Emily a Privy Councillor’s lady.

“Life is either a tragedy or a comedy,” said the General. “In tragedies they die, in comedies they marry one another.”

In this case they married. And they had three clever boys—but not all at once.

The sweet children rode on their hobby-horses through all the rooms when they came to see the grandparents. And the General also rode on his stick; he rode behind them in the character of groom to the little Privy Councillors.

And the General’s lady sat on her sofa and smiled at them, even when she had her severest headache.

So far did George get, and much further; else it had not been worth while to tell the story of THE PORTER’S SON.

文章来源:安徒生童话

还记得那段神话故事吗?还记得那份令人感动的精神吗?正义的力量赋予了神话一个坚硬无比的灵魂。神话,在很远很远的地方,走过很远很远的旅程,送来了整整一个“曾经”。

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