江苏省仪征中学
 
【名著阅读】红字 第十五章(下)

来源:英语教研室  时间:2021-09-03
 
Chapter 15 HESTER AND PEARL
第十五章 海丝特和珠儿

Her final employment was to gather sea-weed, of various kinds, and make herself a scarf, or mantle, and a head-dress, and thus assume the aspect of a little mermaid. She inherited her mother"s gift for devising drapery and costume. As the last touch to her mermaid garb, Pearl took some eel-grass, and imitated, as best she could, on her own bosom, the decoration with which she was so familiar on her mother"s. A letter- the letter A- but freshly green, instead of scarlet! The child bent her chin upon her breast, and contemplated this device with strange interest; even as if the one only thing for which she had been sent into the world was to make out its hidden import.
她最后一件事是采集各种海草,给自己做了一条围巾或披肩,还有一圈头饰,把自己打扮成一个小人鱼的模样。她倒是继承了她母亲那种制做服装衣饰的天才。珠儿拿过一片大叶藻给她那身人鱼的装束做最后的点缀:她在自己的胸前,尽力模仿着她所极熟悉的她母亲胸上的装饰,也为自己佩了一个。一个字母“A";,不过不是腥红的,而且鲜绿的!这孩子把下额抵到胸口,怀着奇妙的兴致端详着这一玩艺儿,仿佛她诞生到这个世界上的唯一目的就是弄清其隐秘的含义。

"I wonder if mother will ask me what it means?" thought Pearl.
“我不知道妈妈会不会问我这是什么意思!”珠儿想道。

Just then, she heard her mother"s voice, and flitting along as lightly as one of the little sea-birds, appeared before Hester Prynne, dancing, laughing, and pointing her finger to the ornament upon her bosom.
就在这时,她听到了她母亲的呼唤,就象一只小海鸟似的一路轻快地跑跳着,来到海丝特·白兰的面前,又跳又笑地用手指着自己胸前的装饰。

"My little Pearl," said Hester, after a moment"s silence, "the green letter, and on thy childish bosom, has no purport. But dost thou know, my child, what this letter means which thy mother is doomed to wear?"
“我的小珠儿,”海丝特沉默了一会儿之后说,“那绿色的字母,在你童稚的胸口是没有意义的。不过,我的孩子,你可知道你妈妈非戴不可的这个字母的意思吗?”。

"Yes, mother," said the child. "It is the great letter A. Thou hast taught me in the hornbook."
“知道的,妈妈,”那孩子说。“那是一个大写的A宇。你已经在字帖上教过我了。”

Hester looked steadily into her little face; but, though there was that singular expression which she had so often remarked in her black eyes, she could not satisfy herself whether Pearl really attached any meaning to the symbol. She felt a morbid desire to ascertain the point.
海丝特目不转睛地盯着她的小脸;然而,孩子那黑眼睛中虽然带着平时极其独特的表情,她却说不准珠儿是否当真把什么意思同那象征联系到了一起。她感到有一种病态的欲望想弄明白这一点。

"Dost thou know, child, wherefore thy mother wears this letter?"
“孩子,你知道你妈妈为什么要戴这个字母吗?”

"Truly do I!" answered Pearl, looking brightly into her mother"s face. "It is for the same reason that the minister keeps his hand over his heart!"
“我当然知道!”珠儿说着,闪光的眸子紧盯着她母亲的面孔。“这和牧师用手捂住心口都是出于同样的原因!”
"And what reason is that?" asked Hester, half smiling at the absurd incongruity of the child"s observation; but, on second thoughts, turning pale. "What has the letter to do with any heart, save mine?"
“那究竟是什么原因呢?”海丝特问道,起初还因为孩子那番话荒诞不经而面带微笑;但转念一想,面孔就苍白了。“除去我的心之外,这字母跟别人的心又有什么关系呢?”

"Nay, mother, I have told all I know," said Pearl, more seriously than she was wont to speak. "Ask yonderold man whom thou hast been talking with! It may be he can tell. But in good earnest now, mother dear, what does this scarlet letter mean?- and why dost thou wear it on thy bosom?- and why does the minister keep his hand over his heart?"
“那我可不知道了,妈妈,我知道的全都说了,”珠儿说道,那神情比平时说话要严肃认真得多。“问问你刚刚同他谈话的那个老头儿吧!他也许能告诉你。不过,现在说真格的,我的好妈妈,这红字是什么意思呢?——为什么你要在胸前戴着它?——为什么牧师要把手捂在心口上?”

She took her mother"s hand in both her own, and gazed into her eyes with an earnestness that was seldom seen in her wild and capricious character. The thought occurred to Hester, that the child might really be seeking to approach her with childlike confidence, and doing what she could, and as intelligently as she knew how, to establish a meeting-point of sympathy. It showed Pearl in an unwontedaspect. Heretofore, the mother, while loving her child with the intensity of a soul affection, had schooled herself to hope for little other return than the waywardness of an April breeze; which spends its time in airy sport, and has its gusts of inexplicable passion, and is petulant in its best of moods, and chills oftener than caresses you, when you take it to your bosom; in requital of which misdemeanours, it will sometimes, of its own vague purpose, kiss your cheek with a kind of doubtful tenderness, and play gently with your hair, and then be gone about its other idle business, leaving a dreamy pleasure at your heart. And this, moreover, was a mother"s estimate of the child"s disposition. Any other observer might have seen few but unamiable traits, and have given them a far darker colouring. But now the idea came strongly into Hester"s mind, that Pearl, with her remarkable precocity and acuteness, might already have approached the age when she could be made a friend, and entrusted with as much of her mother"s sorrows as could be imparted, without irreverence either to the parent or the child. In the little chaos of Pearl"s character, there might be seen emerging- and could have been, from the very first- the steadfastprinciples of an unflinching courage- an uncontrollable will- a sturdy pride, which might be disciplined into self-respect- and a bitter scorn of many things, which, when examined, might be found to have the taint of falsehood in them. She possessed affections, too, though hitherto acrid and disagreeable, as are the richest flavours of unripe fruit. With all these sterling attributes, thought Hester, the evil which she inherited from her mother must be great indeed, if a noble woman do not grow out of this elfish child.
她用双手握住她母亲的一只手,用她那狂野和任性的个性中少见的一本正经的神情盯着母亲的眼睛。这时海丝特突然闪过一个念头:这孩子也许当真在以她孩提的信任来寻求同自己接近,并且尽其智慧所能来建起一个同情的交汇点。这表现出珠儿的不同往常的另一副面孔。此前,做母亲的虽以极其专一的钟爱爱着她的孩子,却总在告诫自己,且莫指望得到比任性的四月的微风更多的回报——那微风以飘渺的运动来消磨时光,具有一种难以名状的突发的激情,会在心情最好时勃然大怒,当你放它吹进怀中时,经常是给你寒气而不是爱抚;为了补偿这种过失,它有时会出于模糊的目的,以一种值得怀疑的温柔,亲吻你的面颊,轻柔地抚弄你的头发,然后便跑到一边去作别的无所事事的举动,只在你的心中留下一种梦幻般的快感。何况,这还是母亲对她孩子的气质的揣摩呢。至于别的旁观者,恐怕不会看出什么讨人喜欢的品性,只能说出些糟糕得多的评价。但此时闯入海丝特脑海的念头是:珠儿早熟和敏感得出奇,或许已然到了可以作为朋友的年龄,可以尽其所能分担母亲的忧伤,而不会对母女任何一方造成不敬了。在珠儿那小小的混沌的个性中,或许可以见到开始呈现出——也可能从一开始就一直存在着——一种毫无畏缩、坚定不移的气质,一种无拘无束的意志,一种可以培养成自尊心的桀骜不驯的骄傲,而且对许多事物抱有一种极度的轻蔑,而对这些事物如果加以推敲,就可能会发现其甲确有虚伪的污点。她还具有丰富的情感,尽管至今还象末熟的果子那样酸涩得难以入口。海丝特自忖,这个小精灵似的孩子已经具备了这些纯正的秉赋,如若再不能成长为一个高贵的妇人,那就是她从母亲身上继承到的邪恶实在太大了。
Pearl"s inevitable tendency to hover about the enigma of the scarlet letter seemed an innate quality of her being. From the earliest epoch of her conscious life, she had entered upon this as her appointed mission. Hester had often fancied that Providence had a design of justice and retribution, in endowing the child with this marked propensity; but never, until now, had she bethought herself to ask, whether, linked with that design, there might not likewise be a purpose of mercy and beneficence. If little Pearl were entertained with faith and trust, as a spirit messenger no less than an earthly child, might it not be her errand to soothe away the sorrow that lay cold in her mother"s heart, and converted it into a tomb?- and to help her to overcome the passion, once so wild, and even yet neither dead nor asleep, but only imprisoned within the same tomb-like heart? Such were some of the thoughts that now stirred in Hester"s mind, with as much vivacity of impression as if they had actually been whispered into her ear. And there was little Pearl, all this while, holding her mother"s hand in both her own, and turning her face upward, while she put these searching questions, once, and again, and still a third time.
珠儿一味纠缠着要弄清红字之谜,看来是她的一种内在的天性。从她开始懂事的时候起,就对这一问题当作指定的使命来琢磨。海丝特从那时起就常常想象:上天赋予这孩子这种突出的倾向,是有其惩恶扬善的果报意图在内的;但直到最近,她才扪心自问,是否还有一个与那个意图相关的施赐仁慈与恩惠的目的。如果把小珠儿不仅当作一个尘世的孩子,也当‘作一个精神使者,对她抱有忠诚与信任,那么,她难道就不能承担起她的使命,把冷冷地藏在她母亲心中、从而把那颗心变成坟墓的忧伤扫荡净尽吗?——并帮助母亲克制那一度十分狂野、至今仍未死去或入睡、而只是禁锢在同一颗坟墓般的心中的激情呢?此时在海丝特头脑中翻腾的就是这些念头;其印象之活跃生动,不啻在她耳畔低语。而且眼前就有小珠儿,在这段时间里始终用双手握住母亲的手,还仰起脸来望着母亲,同时一而再、再而三地刨根问底。

"What does the letter mean, mother?- and why dost thou wear it?- and why does the minister keep his hand over his heart?"
“这字母到底是什么意思,妈妈?——你干嘛要戴着它?——牧师干嘛总要用手捂着心口?”

"What shall I say?" thought Hester to herself. "No! If this be the price of the child"s sympathy, I cannot pay it."
“我该说什么才好呢?”海丝特心中自忖。“不成!如果这是换取孩子同情的代价,我是不能支付的。”

Then she spoke aloud.
于是她开口说话了。
 

"Silly Pearl," said she, "what questions are these? There are many things in this world that a child must not ask about. What know I of the minister"s heart? And as for the scarlet letter, I wear it for the sake of its gold thread."
“傻珠儿,”她说,“这是些什么问题呢?这世上有许多事情是一个小孩子不该问的。我怎么会知道关于牧师的心的事情呢?至于这红字嘛,我戴上是因为金线好看。”
In all the seven bygone years, Hester Prynne had never before been false to the symbol on her bosom. It may be that it was the talisman of a stern and severe, but yet a guardian spirit, who now forsook her; as recognising that, in spite of his strict watch over her heart, some new evil had crept into it, or some old one had never been expelled. As for little Pearl, the earnestness soon passed out of her face.
在过去的七今年头中,海丝特·白兰还从来没有就她胸前的标记说过假话。很可能,那红字虽是一个严苛的符咒,但同时也是一个守护神,不过现在那守护神抛弃了她,正是由于看到了这一点,尽管红字依然严格地守在她心口,但某个新的邪恶已经钻了进去,或者说某个旧的邪恶始终没有被驱逐出来。至于小珠儿呢,那种诚挚的神情很快就从她脸上消失了。 

But the child did not see fit to let the matter drop. Two or three times, as her mother and she went homeward, and as often at suppertime, and while Hester was putting her to bed, and once after she seemed to be fairly asleep, Pearl looked up, with mischief gleaming in her black eyes.
但那孩子仍不肯就此罢休。在她母亲领她回家的路上,她又问了两三次,在吃晚饭时和海丝特送她上床时又问了两三次,在她象是已经入睡之后又问了一次:珠儿抬起头来,黑眼睛中闪着捣蛋的光芒。

"Mother," said she, "what does the scarlet letter mean?"
“妈妈,”她说,“这红字到底是什么意思?”

And the next morning, the first indication the child gave of being awake was by popping up her head from the pillow, and making that other inquiry, which she had so unaccountably connected with her investigations about the scarlet letter-
第二天一早,那孩子醒来的第一个表示,就是从枕头上猛地把头一抬,问起另外那个问题,不知为什么她总是把那个问题同探询红字的问题搅在一起—— 

"Mother!- mother!- why does the minister keep his hand over his heart?"
“妈妈!——妈妈!——牧师于嘛总用手捂住心口呢?”

"Hold thy tongue, naughty child!" answered her mother, with an asperity that she had never permitted to herself before. "Do not tease me; else I shall shut thee into the dark closet!"
“闭嘴,调皮鬼!”她母亲回答说,语气之严厉,是她以前从来不准自己有的。“别缠我了,要不我就把你关进橱柜里去了!”
 
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