Tải bản đầy đủ

The line of love


TheProjectGutenbergEBookofTheLineofLove,byJamesBranchCabell#4
inourseriesbyJamesBranchCabell
Copyrightlawsarechangingallovertheworld.Besuretocheckthecopyright
lawsforyourcountrybeforedownloadingorredistributingthisoranyother
ProjectGutenbergeBook.
ThisheadershouldbethefirstthingseenwhenviewingthisProjectGutenberg
file.Pleasedonotremoveit.Donotchangeoredittheheaderwithoutwritten
permission.
Pleasereadthe“legalsmallprint,”andotherinformationabouttheeBookand
ProjectGutenbergatthebottomofthisfile.Includedisimportantinformation
aboutyourspecificrightsandrestrictionsinhowthefilemaybeused.Youcan
alsofindoutabouthowtomakeadonationtoProjectGutenberg,andhowtoget
involved.

**WelcomeToTheWorldofFreePlainVanillaElectronicTexts**
**eBooksReadableByBothHumansandByComputers,Since1971**
*****TheseeBooksWerePreparedByThousandsofVolunteers!*****

Title:TheLineofLoveDizaindesMariages
Author:JamesBranchCabell

ReleaseDate:December,2005[EBook#9488][Yes,wearemorethanoneyear
aheadofschedule][ThisfilewasfirstpostedonOctober5,2003]
Edition:10
Language:English
Charactersetencoding:ISO-8859-1


***STARTOFTHEPROJECTGUTENBERGEBOOKTHELINEOFLOVE
***

ProducedbySuzanneShell,MaryMeehanandPGDistributedProofreaders

THELINEOFLOVE
BY
JAMESBRANCHCABELL

1921

TO
ROBERTGAMBLECABELLI

“Helovedchivalrye,Troutheandhonour,fredomandcurteisye.Andofhisport
asmeekasisamayde,HeneveryetnovileinyenesaydeInalhislyf,untono
manerwight.Hewasaverrayparfitgentilknyght.”


Introduction
TheCabellcasebelongstocomedyinthegrandmanner.Forfifteenyearsor
morethemanwroteandwrote—goodstuff,soundstuff,extremelyoriginalstuff,
oftensuperblyfinestuff—andyetnooneinthewholeofthisvastand
incomparableRepublicarosetohismerit—noone,thatis,saveafew
encapsulatedenthusiasts,chieflysomewhatdubious.Itwouldbedifficultto
imagineafirst-rateartistcloakedingreaterobscurity,evenintheremotestlands
ofGhengisKhan.Thenewspapers,reviewinghim,dismissedhimwithasortof
inspiredill-nature;thecriticsofamoreausterekidney—thePaulElmerMores,
BranderMatthewses,HamiltonWrightMabies,andothersuchbrummagem
dons—wereutterlyunawareofhim.Then,ofasudden,theimbecileswho
operatetheComstockSocietyraidedandsuppressedhis“Jurgen,”andatoncehe
wasamademan.Oldbook-shopsbegantoberansackedforhisromancesand
extravaganzas—manyofthemstored,Idaresay,as“picture-books,”andunder


thenameoftheartistwhoillustratedthem,HowardPyle.Andsimultaneously,a
greatgabbleabouthimsetupinthenewspapers,andthenintheliterary
weeklies,andfinallyeveninthelearnedreviews.AnEnglishman,Hugh
Walpole,magnifiedtheexcitementwithsomestartlinghochs;asinglehochfrom
theMotherlandbringsdowntheprofessorslikefiremenslidingdownapole.TodayeveryliterateAmericanhasheardofCabell,includingeventhosepresidents
ofwomen’sclubswholatelyconfessedthattheyhadneverheardofLizette
WoodworthReese.Moreofhisbooksaresoldinaweekthanusedtobesoldin
ayear.Everyflapperinthelandhasread“Jurgen”behindthedoor;two-thirdsof
thegrandmotherseastoftheMississippihavetriedtoborrowitfromme.
SolemnPrivatDozentenlectureupontheauthor;heisinvitedtotaketothe
chautauquahimself;ifthedonkeyswhomanagetheNationalInstituteofArts
andLetterswerenotafraidofhisreplyhewouldbeoffereditsgilt-edgedribbon,
viceSylvanusCobb,deceased.Andallbecauseafewpornographicoldfellows
thrusttheirever-hopefulsnoutsintotheman’stenth(orwasiteleventhor
twelfth?)book!
Certainly,thefarcemustappealtoCabellhimself—asardonicmocker,not
incapableofmakinghimselfacharacterinhisownrevues.ButIdoubtthathe
enjoystheactualpawingthathehasbeengetting—anymorethanheresented
theneglectthathegotforsolong.Verylately,inthemidstofthecarnival,he
announcedhisownliterarydeathandburial,andevenpreachedaburlesque


funeralsermonuponhislifeandtimes.Suchanartist,bytheverynatureofhis
endeavors,mustneedsstandaboveallpublic-clapper-clawing,proorcon.He
writes,nottopleasehiscustomersingeneral,noreventopleasehispartisansin
particular,buttopleasehimself.Heishisowncriterion,hisownaudience,his
ownjudgeandhangman.Whenhedoesbadwork,hesuffersforitasnoholy
clerkeversufferedfromagnawingconscienceorFreudiansuppressions;when
hedoesgoodworkhegetshispayinaformofjoythatonlyartistsknow.One
couldnomorethinkofhimexposinghimselftothestealthy,uneasyadmiration
ofawomen’sclub—heisamanofagreeableexterior,withhandsomemanners
andaneyeforthisandthat—thanonecouldimaginehimtakingtothestumpfor
somepoliticalmountebankorgettingconvertedatacamp-meeting.Whatmoves
suchamantowriteistheobscure,innernecessitythatJosephConradhastoldus
of,andwhatrewardshimwhenhehasdoneishisownsearchingandaccurate
judgment,hisownprideanddelightinabeautifulpieceofwork.
Atonce,Isuppose,youvisualizeasomewhatsmugfellow,loftilycomplacent
andsuperior—inbrief,thebogusartistofGreenwichVillage,posturinginapothatbeforeacellarfullofvisitingschoolmarms,alldreamingofbeingbetrayed.
Ifso,youseeaghost.Itisthecurseofthetrueartistthathisworkneverstands
beforehiminallitsimaginedcompleteness—thathecanneverlookatitwithout
feelinganimpulsetoaddtoithereortakeawayfromitthere—thatthe
beautiful,tohim,isnotastateofbeing,butaneternalbecoming.Satisfaction,
likethepraiseofdolts,isthecompensationoftheaestheticcheese-monger—the
popularnovelist,theBroadwaydramatist,theMassenetandKipling,the
MaeterlinckandAugustusThomas.Cabell,infact,isforeverfussingoverhis
books,tryingtomakethemonedegreebetter.Herewritesalmostas
pertinaciouslyasJosephConrad,HenryJames,orBrahms.Compare“Domnei”
initspresentstateto“TheSoulofMelicent,”itsfirststate,circa1913.The
obviouschangeisthechangeintitle,butoffarmoreimportanceareamultitude
oflittlechanges—aphrasemademoremusical,awordmovedfromoneplaceto
another,somesmallbanalitytrackeddownandexcised,abrilliantadjective
inserted,theplanalteredinsmallways,therhythmofitmademoredelicateand
agreeable.Here,in“TheLineofLove,”thereisanothercuriousexampleofhis
highcapacityforrevision.Itisnotonlythatthebook,oncestandingisolated,
hasbeenbroughtintotheCabelliancanon,andsorelatedto“Jurgen”and
“FiguresofEarth”atoneend,andtothetalesoflatter-dayVirginiaattheother;
itisthatthewholetexturehasbeenworkedover,andthecolorsmademore
harmonious,andtheinnerlifeofthethinggivenafreshenergy.Onceaflavorof
therococohungaboutit;nowitbreathesandmoves.ForCabellknowsagood


dealmorethanheknewin1905.Heisanartistwhoseworkshowsconstant
progresstowardthegoalsheaimsat—principallythegoalofaperfectstyle.
Content,withhim,isalwayssecondary.Hehasideas,andtheyareoftenofmuch
charmandplausibility,buthismainconcerniswiththemannerofstatingthem.
Itissurelynotideasthatmake“Jurgen”standoutsosalientlyfromthedreadful
prairieofmodernAmericanliterature;itisthemagnificentwritingthatisvisible
oneverypageofit—writingapparentlysimpleandspontaneous,andyet
extraordinarilycunningandpainstaking.Thecurrentnotorietyof“Jurgen”will
pass.TheComstockswillturntonewimbecilities,andthefollowersofliterary
paradestonewmarvels.Butitwillremainanauthor’sbookformanyayear.
Byauthor,ofcourse,Imeanartist—notmereartisan.Itwascertainlynot
surprisingtohearthatMauriceHewlettfound“Jurgen”exasperating.So,too,
thereisexasperationinRichardStraussforploddingmusic-masters.Hewlettis
simplyaBritishCivilServantturnedauthor,whichisnotunsuggestiveofan
AmericanCongressmanturnedphilosopher.Hehasaprettyeyeforcolor,andall
thegustothatgoeswithbeefiness,butlikeallthemenofhisclassandraceand
timehecanthinkonlywithintherangeofafewelementalideas,chieflyofa
sentimentalvariety,andwhenhefindsthoseideasfloutedheishorrified.The
bray,infact,revealedtheass.ItisCabell’sskepticismthatsaveshimfroman
AmericanismascrushingasHewlett’sBriticism,andsosetshimfreeasan
artist.Unhamperedbyamission,happilyignorantofwhatiscommendedbyall
goodmen,disdainfulofthepettycertaintiesofpedagoguesandgreen-grocers,
notcaringadamnwhatbecomesoftheRepublic,ortheFamily,oreven
snivelizationitself,heisatlibertytodisporthimselfpleasantlywithhisnouns,
verbs,adjectives,adverbs,conjunctions,prepositionsandpronouns,arranging
themwiththesamefreehand,thesameinnocentjoy,thesamesuperbskilland
discretionwithwhichthelateJahveharrangedcarbon,nitrogen,sulphur,
hydrogen,oxygenandphosphorusinthesublimeformofthehumancarcass.He,
too,hashisjokes.Heknowsthearcheffectofastrangetouch;hiselaborate
pedantriescorrespondalmostexactlytothehooknoses,cockeyes,outstanding
earsandundulatingAdam’sappleswhichgivesosinisterandRabelaisiana
touchtothehumanscene.Butinthemainhestickstomoreseemlymaterials
anddesigns.Hisachievement,infact,consistspreciselyinthesuccesswith
whichhegivesthosematerialsastrikingnewness,andgetsanovelvitalityinto
thosedesigns.Hetakestheancientandmouldypartsofspeech—theliverand
lightsofharanguesbyDr.Harding,ofeditorialsintheNewYorkTimes,of
“ScienceandHealth,withaKeytotheScriptures,”ofdepartment-store
advertisements,ofcollegeyells,ofchautauqualoratory,ofsmoke-room


anecdote—andarrangestheminmosaicsthatglitterwithanalmostfabulous
light.Heknowswherearednounshouldgo,andwhereapeacock-blueverb,
andwhereanadjectiveasdarklypurpleasagrape.Heisanimagistinprose.
Youmaylikehisstoryandyoumaynotlikeit,butifyoudon’tlikethewayhe
tellsitthenthereissomethingthematterwithyourears.Asforme,his
experimentswithwordscaressmeasIamcaressedbythetunesofoldJohannes
Brahms.Howsimpleitseemstomanagethem—andhowinfernallydifficultit
actuallyis!
H.L.MENCKEN.
Baltimore,October1st,1921.

Contents


CHAPTER
THEEPISTLEDEDICATORY
ITHEEPISODECALLEDTHEWEDDINGJEST
IITHEEPISODECALLEDADHELMARATPUYSANGE
IIITHEEPISODECALLEDLOVE-LETTERSOFFALSTAFF
IVTHEEPISODECALLED“SWEETADELAIS”
VTHEEPISODECALLEDINNECESSITY’SMORTAR
VITHEEPISODECALLEDTHECONSPIRACYOFARNAYE
VIITHEEPISODECALLEDTHECASTLEOFCONTENT
VIIITHEEPISODECALLEDINURSULA’SGARDEN
IXTHEEPISODECALLEDPORCELAINCUPS
XTHEENVOICALLEDSEMPERIDEM

THEEPISTLEDEDICATORY
“Inelectutterauncetomakememoriall,Totheeforsouccour,totheeforhelpeI
call,MinehomelyrudenessanddryghnesstoexpellWiththefreshewatersof
Elyconyswell.”

MYDEARMRS.GRUNDY:Youmayhaveobservedthatnowadayswerank
thelove-storyamongthecomfitsofliterature;andwedothisfortheexcellent
reasonthatmanisathinkinganimalbycourtesyratherthanusage.
Rightlyconsidered,themosttriviallove-affairisofstaggeringimport.Whoare


wetoquestionthis,whennine-tenthsofusoweourexistencetoasummer
flirtation?Andwhileourgravereconomicandsocialandpsychic“problems”(to
settlesomeoneofwhichisnowadaystheobjectofallponderablefiction)are
doubtlessworthyofmostseriousconsideration,youwillfind,mydearmadam,
thatfrivolouslove-affairs,littleandbig,wereshapinghistoryandplaying
spillikinswithsceptreslongbeforeanyofthesedelectablematterswerethought
of.
Yes,eventhemosttalked-about“questionsoftheday”aresometimesworthyof
consideration;butwereitnotforthekissesofremoteyearsandthehigh
gropingsofheartsnolongeranimate,therewouldbenonetoaccordthemthis
sameconsideration,andavoidworldwouldteeteraboutthesun,silentand
nakedasanorange.Loveisanillusion,ifyouwill;butalwaysthroughthis
illusion,alone,hasthenextgenerationbeenrenderedpossible,andallendearing
humanidiocies,including“questionsoftheday,”havebeenmaintained.
Love,then,isnotrifle.Andliterature,mimickinglifeatarespectfuldistance,
mayveryreasonablybepermittedanoccasionalreferencetothecorner-stoneof
allthatexists.Forinlife“atriviallittlelove-story”isamattermorefrequently
aspersedthanfound.Viewedinthelightofitsconsequences,anylove-affairis
ofgiganticsignification,inasmuchasthemosttrivialisapartofNature’s
unendingand,somesay,heronlylabor,towardthepeoplingoftheworlds.
Sheisuninventive,ifyouwill,thisNature,butsheistireless.Generationby
generationshebringsitaboutthatforaperiodweakmenmaystalkasdemigods,
whiletoeverywomanisgrantedatleastonehourwhereintospurntheearth,a
warm,breathingangel.GenerationbygenerationdoesNaturethusbetrick
humanity,thathumanitymayendure.
Hereforalittle—withthegraciousconnivanceofMr.R.E.Townsend,towhom
alllyricshereinaftershouldbeaccredited—IhavefollowedNature,thearchtrickster.ThroughhermonstroustapestryIhavetracedoutforyouthewindings
ofasinglethread.Itisparti-colored,thisthread—nowblackforamourning
sign,andnowscarletwherebloodhasstainedit,andnowbrilliancyitself—for
thetinselofyounglove(if,aswisementellus,itbebuttinsel),atleastmakesa
prodigiouslyfineappearanceuntiltimetarnishit.Ientreatyou,dearlady,to
acceptthistraced-outthreadwithassurancesofmymostdistinguishedregard.
Thegiftisnotgreat.Hereinafterisrecordednothingmoreweightythanthe


folliesofyoungpersons,perpetratedinalostworldwhichwhencomparedwith
yourladyship’spresentplanetseemsrathercallow.Hereinafterareonlylovestories,andnowadaysnobodytakeslove-makingveryseriously….
Andtruly,mydearmadam,IdaresaythePompeiiansdidnottakeVesuviusvery
seriously;itwasmerelyaneligiblespotforaf�techamp�tre.Andwhengaunt
fishermenfirstpreachedChristaboutthehighways,dependuponit,thatwasnot
takenveryseriously,either.CredatJudaeus;butallsensiblefolk—suchasyou
andI,mydearmadam—passedonwithatolerantshrug,knowing“theirdoctrine
couldbeheldofnosaneman.”

*

APRIL30,1293—MAY1,1323
“Pusvezemdenovelhflorirpratz,evergiersreverdezirriusefontanasesclarzir,
bendeuquascuslojoyjauzirdonesjauzens.”

Itwouldinordinarycircumstancesbemyendeavortotellyou,firstofall,just
whomthefollowingtaleconcerns.Yettodothisisnotexpedient,sinceanysuch
attemptcouldnotbutrevivethequestionastowhosesonwasFloriande
Puysange?
Nogainistobehadbyresuscitatingthemouldyscandal:and,indeed,itdoesnot
matterabutton,nowadays,thatinPoictesme,towardtheendofthethirteenth
century,therewereelderlypersonswhoconsideredtheyoungVicomtede
PuysangetoexhibitanindiscreetresemblancetoJurgenthepawnbroker.Inthe
wildyouthofJurgen,whenJurgenwasapractisingpoet(declaredthese
persons),JurgenhadbeenveryintimatewiththeformerVicomtedePuysange,
nowdead,forthetwomenhadmuchincommon.Oh,agreatdealmorein
common,saidthesegossips,thanthepoorvicomteeversuspected,asyoucan
seeforyourself.Thatwastheextentofthescandal,nowhappilyforgotten,
whichwemustatoutsetagreetoignore.


AllthiswasinPoictesme,whithertheyoungvicomtehadcomea-wooingthe
oldestdaughteroftheComtedelaFor�t.Thewhisperingandthenodsdidnot
muchtroubleMessireJurgen,whomerelyobservedthathewasusedtothe
buffetsofacensoriousworld;youngFlorianneverheardofthisfurtivechatter;
andcertainlywhatpeoplesaidinPoictesmedidnotatallperturbthevicomte’s
mother,thatelderlyandpiouslady,MadameF�lisedePuysange,atherremote
homeinNormandy.Theprincipalstakingtheaffairthusquietly,wemaywith
profitemulatethem.SoIletlapsethisdelicatematterofyoungFlorian’s
paternity,andbeginwithhiswedding._


CHAPTERI
TheEpisodeCalledTheWeddingJest

1.ConcerningSeveralCompacts
ItisatalewhichtheynarrateinPoictesme,tellinghowlovebeganbetween
FloriandePuysangeandAdelaidedelaFor�t.Theytellalsohowyoung
Florianhadearlierfanciedotherwomenforonereasonoranother;butthatthis,
heknew,wasthegreatloveofhislife,andalovewhichwouldendure
unchangedaslongashislifelasted.
AndthetaletellshowtheComtedelaFor�tstrokedagraybeard,andsaid,
“Well,afterall,Puysangeisagoodfief—”
“Asifthatmattered!”criedhisdaughter,indignantly.“Myfather,youarea
deplorablysordidperson.”
“Mydear,”repliedtheoldgentleman,“itdoesmatter.Fiefslast.”
Sohegavehisconsenttothematch,andthetwoyoungpeopleweremarriedon
Walburga’sEve,onthedaythatendsApril.
AndtheynarratehowFloriandePuysangewasvexedbyathoughtthatwasin
hismind.Hedidnotknowwhatthisthoughtwas.Butsomethinghehad
overlooked;somethingtherewashehadmeanttodo,andhadnotdone:anda
troublingconsciousnessofthislurkedatthebackofhismindlikeasmall
formlesscloud.Allday,whilebustlingaboutothermatters,hehadgroped
towardthisunapprehendedthought.
Nowhehadit:Tiburce.
TheyoungVicomtedePuysangestoodinthedoorway,lookingbackintothe
brighthallwheretheyofStorisendeweredancingathismarriagefeast.Hiswife,
forawholehalf-hourhiswife,wasdancingwithhandsomeEtiennedeN�rac.
HerglancemetFlorian’s,andAdelaideflashedhimanespecialsmile.Herhand


wentoutasthoughtotouchhim,forallthatthewidthofthehallseveredthem.
Florianrememberedpresentlytosmilebackather.Thenhewentoutofthe
castleintoastarlessnightthatwasasquietasanunvoicedmenace.Asmalland
hardandgnarled-lookingmoonruledoverthedusk’ssecrecy.Themoonthis
night,afloatinaluminousgrayvoid,somehowremindedFlorianofaglistening
andunripehugeapple.
Thefoliageabouthimmovedatmostasasleeperbreathes,whileFlorian
descendedeastwardthroughwalledgardens,andsocametothegraveyard.
Whitemistswererising,suchmistsasthewitchesofAmnerannotoriously
evokedinthesepartsoneachWalburga’sEvetopurchaserecreationswhich
squeamishnessleavesundescribed.
ForfiveyearsnowTiburced’Arnayehadlainthere.Florianthoughtofhisdead
comradeandofthelovewhichhadbeenbetweenthem—alovemoreperfectand
deeperandhigherthancommonlyexistsbetweenmen—andthethoughtcameto
Florian,andwaspetulantlythrustaway,thatAdelaidelovedignorantlywhere
Tiburced’Arnayehadlovedwithcomprehension.Yes,hehadknownalmostthe
worstofFloriandePuysange,thisdearladwho,nonetheless,hadflunghimself
betweenBlackTorrismond’sswordandthebreastofFloriandePuysange.Andit
seemedtoFlorianunfairthatallshouldprosperwithhim,andTiburceliethere
imprisonedindirtwhichshutawaythecolorandvariousnessofthingsandthe
drollnessofthings,whereinTiburced’Arnayehadtakensuchjoy.AndTiburce,
itseemedtoFlorian—forthiswasastrangenight—wasstrugglingfutilelyunder
allthatdirt,whichshutoutmovement,andcloggedthemouthofTiburce,and
wouldnotlethimspeak;andwasstrugglingtovoiceadesirewhichwas
unsatisfiedandhopeless.
“Ocomradedear,”saidFlorian,“youwholovedmerriment,thereisafeastafoot
onthisstrangenight,andmyheartissadthatyouarenotheretoshareinthe
feasting.Come,come,Tiburce,arighttrustyfriendyouweretome;and,living
ordead,youshouldnotfailtomakemerryatmywedding.”
Thushespoke.Whitemistswererising,anditwasWalburga’sEve.
Soaqueerthinghappened,anditwasthattheearthuponthegravebeganto
heaveandtobreakinfissures,aswhenamolepassesthroughtheground.And
otherqueerthingshappenedafterthat,andpresentlyTiburced’Arnayewas


standingthere,grayandvagueinthemoonlightashestoodtherebrushingthe
moldfromhisbrows,andashestoodthereblinkingbrightwildeyes.Andhe
wasnotgreatlychanged,itseemedtoFlorian;onlythebrowsandnoseof
Tiburcecastnoshadowsuponhisface,nordidhismovinghandcastanyshadow
there,either,thoughthemoonwasnakedoverhead.
“Youhadforgottenthepromisethatwasbetweenus,”saidTiburce;andhis
voicehadnotchangedmuch,thoughitwassmaller.
“Itistrue.Ihadforgotten.Iremembernow.”AndFlorianshiveredalittle,not
withfear,butwithdistaste.
“Amanpreferstoforgetthesethingswhenhemarries.Itisnaturalenough.But
areyounotafraidofmewhocomefromyonder?”
“WhyshouldIbeafraidofyou,Tiburce,whogaveyourlifeformine?”
“Idonotsay.Butwechangeyonder.”
“Anddoeslovechange,Tiburce?Forsurelyloveisimmortal.”
“Livingordead,lovechanges.Idonotsaylovediesinuswhomayhopetogain
nothingmorefromlove.Still,lyingaloneinthedarkclay,thereisnothingtodo,
asyet,savetothinkofwhatlifewas,andofwhatsunlightwas,andofwhatwe
sangandwhisperedindarkplaceswhenwehadlips;andofhowyounggrass
andmurmuringwatersandthehighstarsbegetfinefolliesevennow;andto
thinkofhowmerryourlovedonesstillcontrivetobe,evennow,withtheirnew
playfellows.Suchreflectionsarenotalwaysconducivetophilanthropy.”
“Tellme,”saidFlorianthen,“andistherenowayinwhichwewhoarestillalive
mayaidyoutobehappieryonder?”
“Oh,butassuredly,”repliedTiburced’Arnaye,andhediscoursedofcurious
matters;andashetalked,themistsaboutthegraveyardthickened.“Andso,”
Tiburcesaid,inconcludinghistale,“itisnotpermittedthatImakemerryatyour
weddingafterthefashionofthosewhoarestillinthewarmflesh.Butnowthat
yourecallourancientcompact,itispermittedIhavemypeculiarshareinthe
merriment,andImaydrinkwithyoutothebride’swelfare.”
“Idrink,”saidFlorian,ashetooktheprofferedcup,“tothewelfareofmy


belovedAdelaide,whomaloneofwomenIhavereallyloved,andwhomIshall
lovealways.”
“Iperceive,”repliedtheother,“thatyoumuststillbehavingyourjoke.”
ThenFloriandrank,andafterhimTiburce.AndFloriansaid,“Butitisastrange
drink,Tiburce,andnowthatyouhavetastedityouarechanged.”
“Youhavenotchanged,atleast,”Tiburceanswered;andforthefirsttimehe
smiled,alittleperturbinglybyreasonofthechangeinhim.
“Tellme,”saidFlorian,“ofhowyoufareyonder.”
SoTiburcetoldhimofyetmorecuriousmatters.Nowtheaugmentingmistshad
shutoffalltherestoftheworld.Floriancouldseeonlyvaguerollinggraynesses
andagrayandchangedTiburcesittingthere,withbrightwildeyes,and
discoursinginasmallchillvoice.Theappearanceofawomancame,andsat
besidehimontheright.She,too,wasgray,asbecameEve’ssenior:andshe
madeasignwhichFlorianremembered,andittroubledhim.
Tiburcesaidthen,“Andnow,youngFlorian,youwhowereoncesodeartome,
itistoyourwelfareIdrink.”
“Idrinktoyours,Tiburce.”
Tiburcedrankfirst:andFlorian,havingdrunkinturn,criedout,“Youhave
changedbeyondrecognition!”
“Youhavenotchanged,”Tiburced’Arnayerepliedagain.“Nowletmetellyou
ofourpastimesyonder.”
Withthathetalkedofexceedinglycuriousmatters.AndFlorianbegantogrow
dissatisfied,forTiburcewasnolongerrecognizable,andTiburcewhispered
thingsuncomfortabletobelieve;andothereyes,aswildashis,butlitwithred
flaringsfrombehind,likeabeast’seyes,showedinthemiststothissideandto
thatside,forunhappybeingswerepassingthroughthemistsuponsecreterrands
whichtheydischargedunwillingly.Then,too,theappearanceofagraymannow
sattotheleftofthatwhichhadbeenTiburced’Arnaye,andthisnewcomerwas
markedsothatallmightknowwhohewas:andFlorian’sheartwastroubledto
notehowhandsomeandhowadmirablewasthatdesecratedfaceevennow.


“ButImustgo,”saidFlorian,“lesttheymissmeatStorisende,andAdelaidebe
worried.”
“Surelyitwillnottakelongtotossoffathirdcup.Nay,comrade,whowereonce
sodear,letustwonowdrinkourlasttoasttogether.Thengo,inSclaug’sname,
andcelebrateyourmarriage.Butbeforethatletusdrinktothecontinuanceof
humanmirth-makingeverywhere.”
Floriandrankfirst.ThenTiburcetookhisturn,lookingatFlorianasTiburce
drankslowly.Ashedrank,Tiburced’Arnayewaschangedevenmore,andthe
shapeofhimaltered,andtheshapeofhimtrickledasthoughTiburcewere
buildedofslidingfinewhitesand.SoTiburced’Arnayereturnedtohisown
place.Theappearancesthathadsattohisleftandtohisrightwerenolonger
theretotroubleFlorianwithmemories.AndFloriansawthatthemistsof
Walburga’sEvehaddeparted,andthatthesunwasrising,andthatthegraveyard
wasallovergrownwithnettlesandtallgrass.
Hehadnotrememberedtheplacebeingthus,anditseemedtohimthenighthad
passedwithunnaturalquickness.Buthethoughtmoreofthefactthathehad
beenbeguiledintospendinghiswedding-nightinagraveyard,insuch
questionablecompany,andofwhatexplanationhecouldmaketoAdelaide.

2.OfYoungPersonsinMay
ThetaletellshowFloriandePuysangecameinthedawnthroughflowering
gardens,andheardyoungpeoplefromafar,alreadyabouttheirmaying.Twoby
twohesawthemfromafarastheywentwithrompingandlaughterintothetall
woodsbehindStorisendetofetchbacktheMay-polewithdubiousoldrites.And
astheywenttheysang,aswascustomary,thatsongwhichRaimbautde
VaqueirasmadeintheancienttimeinhonorofMay’sagelesstriumph.
Sangthey:
“MayshowswithgodlikeshowingTo-dayforeachthatseesMay’smagic
overthrowingAllmustymemoriesInhimwhomMaydecreesTobelove’sown.
Hesaith,‘Iwearlove’sliveriesUntilreleasedbydeath.’
“_ThusallwelaudMay’ssowing,NorheedhowharvestspleaseWhennowhere


grainworthgrowingGreetsautumn’squestingbreeze,Andgarnerersgarner
these—VainwordsandwastedbreathAndspilthandtastelesslees—Until
releasedbydeath.
“UnwillinglyforeknowingThatlovewithMay-timeflees,Wetakethisday’s
bestowing,AndfeedonfantasiesSuchaslovelendsforeaseWherenonebut
travaileth,Withleaninfrequentfees,Untilreleasedbydeath_.”
AndFlorianshookhissleekblackhead.“Averyfoolishandpessimisticalold
song,asuperfluoussong,andasongthatisparticularlyoutofplaceinthe
loveliestspotintheloveliestofallpossibleworlds.”
YetFloriantooknoinventoryofthegardens.Therewasbutahappysenseof
greenandgold,withbluetoppingall;oftwinkling,fluent,tossingleavesandof
thegrayundersideofelongated,strainingleaves;asenseofpertbirdnoises,and
ofalongershadowthanusualslantingbeforehim,andasenseofyouthand
well-beingeverywhere.Certainlyitwasnotamorningwhereinpessimismmight
hopetoflourish.
Instead,itwasofAdelaidethatFlorianthought:ofthetall,impulsive,andyet
timid,fairgirlwhowasbothshrewdandinnocent,andofhertenderlycolored
loveliness,andofhisabysmallyunmeritedfelicityinhavingwonher.Why,but
what,hereflected,grimacing—whatifhehadtoohastilymarriedsomebody
else?Forhehadearlierfanciedotherwomenforonereasonoranother:butthis,
heknew,wasthegreatloveofhislife,andalovewhichwouldendure
unchangedaslongashislifelasted.

3.WhatComesofMarryingHappily
ThetaletellshowFloriandePuysangefoundAdelaideinthecompanyoftwo
ladieswhowereunknowntohim.Oneofthesewasveryold,theotheran
imposingmatroninmiddlelife.Thethreewerepleasantlyshadedbyyoungoaktrees;beyondwasatallhedgeofclippedyew.Theolderwomenwereatchess,
whileAdelaidebenthermeekgoldenheadtosomeofthatfineneedleworkin
whichthegirldelighted.Andbesidethemrippledasmallsunlitstream,which
babbledandgurgledwithsilverflashes.Florianhastilynotedthesethingsashe
ranlaughingtohiswife.


“Heart’sdearest—!”hecried.Andhesaw,perplexed,thatAdelaidehadrisen
withafaintwordlesscry,andwasgazingathimasthoughshewerepuzzledand
alarmedaverylittle.
“SuchanadventureasIhavetotellyouof!”saysFlorianthen.
“But,hey,youngman,whoareyouthatwouldseemtoknowmydaughterso
well?”demandstheladyinmiddlelife,andsherosemajesticallyfromherchessgame.
Florianstared,ashewellmight.“Yourdaughter,madame!Butcertainlyyouare
notDameMelicent.”
Atthistheold,oldwomanraisedhernoddinghead.“DameMelicent?Andwas
itIyouwereseeking,sir?”
NowFlorianlookedfromonetotheotheroftheseincomprehensiblestrangers,
bewildered:andhiseyescamebacktohislovelywife,andhislipssmiled
irresolutely.“Isthissomejesttopunishme,mydear?”
Butthenanewandgravertroublekindledinhisface,andhiseyesnarrowed,for
therewassomethingoddabouthiswifealso.
“Ihavebeendrinkinginqueercompany,”hesaid.“Itmustbethatmyheadis
notyetclear.NowcertainlyitseemstomethatyouareAdelaidedelaFor�t,
andcertainlyitseemstomethatyouarenotAdelaide.”
Thegirlreplied,“Why,no,messire;IamSylviedeNointel.”
“Come,come,”saysthemiddle-agedlady,briskly,“letusmakeanendtothis
play-acting,and,youngfellow,letushaveasniffatyou.No,youarenottipsy,
afterall.Well,Iamgladofthat.Soletusgettothebottomofthisbusiness.
Whatdotheycallyouwhenyouareathome?”
“FloriandePuysange,”heanswered,speakingmeeklyenough.Thiscapable
largepersonwastotheyoungmanratherintimidating.
“La!”saidshe.Shelookedathimveryhard.Shenoddedgravelytwoorthree
times,sothatherdoublechinopenedandshut.“Yes,andyoufavorhim.How
oldareyou?”


Hetoldhertwenty-four.
Shesaid,inconsequently:“SoIwasafool,afterall.Well,youngman,youwill
neverbeasgood-lookingasyourfather,butItrustyouhaveanhonesternature.
However,bygonesarebygones.Istheoldrascalstillliving?andwasithethat
hadtheimpudencetosendyoutome?”
“Myfather,madame,wasslainatthebattleofMarchfeld—”
“Somefiftyyearsago!Andyouaretwenty-four.Youngman,yourparentagehad
unusualfeatures,orelseweareatcross-purposes.Letusstartatthebeginningof
this.YoutellusyouarecalledFloriandePuysangeandthatyouhavebeen
drinkinginqueercompany.Nowletushavethewholestory.”
Floriantoldoflastnight’shappenings,withnomoreomissionsthanseemed
desirablewithfeminineauditors.
Thentheoldwomansaid:“Ithinkthisisatruetale,mydaughter,forthewitches
ofAmnerancontrivestrangethings,withmiststoaidthem,andwithLilithand
Sclaugtoabet.Yes,andthisfatehasfallenbeforetomenthatwereover-friendly
withthedead.”
“Stuffandnonsense!”saidthestoutlady.
“But,no,mydaughter.ThussevenpersonssleptatEphesus,fromthetimeof
DeciustothetimeofTheodosius—”
“Still,Mother—”
“—AndtheproofofitisthattheywerecalledConstantineandDionysiusand
JohnandMalchusandMarcianandMaximianandSerapion.Theywereduly
canonized.Youcannotdenythatthisthinghappenedwithoutassertingnoless
thansevenblessedsaintstohavebeenunprincipledliars,andthatwouldbea
veryhorribleheresy—”
“Yet,Mother,youknowaswellasIdo—”
“—AndthusEpimenides,anotherexcellentlyspoken-ofsaint,sleptatAthensfor
fifty-sevenyears.ThusCharlemagnesleptintheUntersberg,andwillsleepuntil
theravensofMiramonLluagorhavelefthismountains.ThusRhymingThomas


intheEildonHills,thusOgierinAvalon,thusOisin—”
Theoldladybadefairtogooninterminablyinhergentleresolutepipingold
voice,buttheotherinterrupted.
“Well,Mother,donotexciteyourselfaboutit,foritonlymakesyourasthma
worse,anddoesnoespecialgoodtoanybody.Thingsmaybeasyousay.
CertainlyIintendednothingirreligious.Yettheseextendednaps,appropriate
enoughforsaintsandemperors,areoutofplaceinone’sownfamily.So,ifitis
notstuffandnonsense,itoughttobe.AndthatIstickto.”
“Butweforgettheboy,mydear,”saidtheoldlady.“Nowlisten,Floriande
Puysange.Thirtyyearsagolastnight,tothemonthandtheday,itwasthatyou
vanishedfromourknowledge,leavingmydaughteraforsakenbride.ForIam
whattheyearshavemadeofDameMelicent,andthisismydaughterAdelaide,
andyonderisherdaughterSylviedeNointel.”
“La,Mother,”observedthestoutlady,“butareyoucertainitwasthelastof
April?IhadbeenthinkingitwassometimeinJune.AndIprotestitcouldnot
havebeenallofthirtyyears.Letmeseenow,Sylvie,howoldisyourbrother
Richard?Twenty-eight,yousay.Well,Mother,Ialwayssaidyouhada
marvelousmemoryforthingslikethat,andIoftenenvyyou.Buthowtimedoes
fly,tobesure!”
AndFlorianwasperturbed.“Forthisisanawkwardthing,andTiburcehas
playedmeanunworthytrick.Heneverdidknowwhentoleaveoffjoking;but
suchposthumousfrivolityispastendurance.For,seenow,inwhatapickleithas
landedme!Ihaveoutlivedmyfriends,Imayencounterdifficultyinregaining
myfiefs,andcertainlyIhavelostthefairestwifemaneverhad.Oh,canitbe,
madame,thatyouareindeedmyAdelaide!”
“Yes,everypoundofme,poorboy,andthatsaysmuch.”
“—Andthatyouhavebeenuntruetotheeternalfidelitywhichyouvowedtome
herebythisverystream!Oh,butIcannotbelieveitwasthirtyyearsago,fornot
agrass-bladeorapebblehasbeenaltered;andIperfectlyrememberthelapping
ofwaterunderthoselichenedrocks,andthatcontinuousfileofripplesyonder,
whichareshapedlikearrowheads.”
Adelaiderubbedhernose.“DidIpromiseeternalfidelity?Icanhardly


rememberthatfarback.ButIrememberIweptagreatdeal,andmyparents
assuredmeyouwereeitherdeadorarascal,sothattearscouldnothelpeither
way.ThenRalphdeNointelcamealong,goodman,andmademeafair
husband,ashusbandsgo—”
“Asforthatstream,”thensaidDameMelicent,“itisoftenIhavethoughtofthat
stream,sittingherewithmygrandchildrenwhereIoncesatwithgayyoungmen
whomnobodyremembersnowsaveme.Yes,itisstrangetothinkthatinstantly,
andwithinthespeakingofanysimpleword,nodropofwaterretainstheplaceit
hadbeforethewordwasspoken:andyetthestreamremainsunchanged,and
staysasitwaswhenIsatherewiththoseyoungmenwhoaregone.Yes,thatisa
strangethought,anditisasadthought,too,forthoseofuswhoareold.”
“But,Mother,ofcoursethestreamremainsunchanged,”agreedDameAdelaide.
“Streamsalwaysdoexceptafterheavyrains.Everybodyknowsthat,andIcan
seenothingveryremarkableaboutit.Asforyou,Florian,ifyousticklefor
love’sbeinganimmortalaffair,”sheadded,withalargetwinkle,“Iwouldhave
youknowIhavebeenawidowforthreeyears.Sothemattercouldbearranged.”
Florianlookedathersadly.Tohimthesituationwasincongruouswiththe
terriblearchnessofafatwoman.“But,madame,youarenolongerthesame
person.”
Shepattedhimupontheshoulder.“Come,Florian,thereissomesenseinyou,
afterall.Consoleyourself,lad,withthereflectionthatifyouhadstuckmanfully
byyourwifeinsteadofmooningaboutgraveyards,IwouldstillbejustasIam
to-day,andyouwouldbetiedtome.Yourfriendprobablyknewwhathewas
aboutwhenhedranktoourwelfare,forwewouldneverhavesuitedeachother,
asyoucanseeforyourself.Well,Mother,manythingsfalloutqueerlyinthis
world,butwithagewelearntoacceptwhathappenswithoutflusteringtoomuch
overit.Whatarewetodowiththisresurrectedoldloverofmine?”
ItwashorribletoFloriantoseehowprosaicallythesewomendealtwithhis
unusualmisadventure.Herewasamiracleoccurringvirtuallybeforetheireyes,
andthesewomenaccepteditwithmaddeningtranquillityasanaffairforwhich
theywerenotresponsible.Florianbegantoreflectthatelderlypersonswere
alwaysmoreorlessunsympatheticandinadequate.
“Firstofall,”saysDameMelicent,“Iwouldgivehimsomebreakfast.Hemust


behungryafteralltheseyears.AndyoucouldputhiminAdhelmar’sroom—”
“But,”Floriansaidwildly,toDameAdelaide,“youhavecommittedthecrimeof
bigamy,andyouare,afterall,mywife!”
Shereplied,herselfnotuntroubled:“Yes,but,Mother,boththecookandthe
butleraresomewhereinthebushesyonder,uptosomenonsensethatIpreferto
knownothingabout.Youknowhowservantsare,particularlyonholidays.I
couldscramblehimsomeeggs,though,witharasher.AndAdhelmar’sroomit
hadbetterbe,Isuppose,thoughIhadmeanttohaveitturnedout.Butasfor
bigamyandbeingyourwife,”sheconcludedmorecheerfully,“itseemstome
theleastsaidthesoonestmended.Itistonobody’sinteresttorakeupthose
foolishbygones,sofarasIcansee.”
“Adelaide,youprofaneequallylove,whichisdivine,andmarriage,whichisa
holysacrament.”
“Florian,doyoureallyloveAdelaidedeNointel?”askedthisterriblewoman.
“AndnowthatIamfreetolistentoyourproposals,doyouwishtomarryme?”
“Well,no,”saidFlorian:“for,asIhavejustsaid;youarenolongerthesame
person.”
“Why,then,youseeforyourself.Sodoyouquittalkingnonsenseabout
immortalityandsacraments.”
“But,still,”criedFlorian,“loveisimmortal.Yes,Irepeattoyou,preciselyasI
toldTiburce,loveisimmortal.”
ThensaysDameMelicent,noddinghershriveledoldhead:“WhenIwasyoung,
andwasservedbynimblersensesanddesires,andwashousedinbrightly
coloredflesh,therewereahostofmentoloveme.Minstrelsyettellofthemen
thatlovedme,andofhowmanytallmenwereslainbecauseoftheirloveforme,
andofhowintheenditwasPerionwhowonme.Forthenoblestandthemost
faithfulofallmyloverswasPerionoftheForest,andthroughtempestuousyears
hesoughtmewithalovethatconqueredtimeandchance:andsohewonme.
Thereafterhemademeafairhusband,ashusbandsgo.ButImightnotstaythe
girlhehadloved,normightheremaintheladthatMelicenthaddreamedof,
withdreamsbe-druggingthelongyearsinwhichDemetriosheldMelicenta
prisoner,andyouthwentawayfromher.No,PerionandIcouldnotdothat,any


morethanmighttwodropsofwaterthereretaintheirplaceinthestream’s
flowing.SoPerionandIgrewoldtogether,friendlyenough;andoursensesand
desiresbegantoserveusmoredrowsily,sothatwedidnotgreatlymindthe
fallingawayofyouth,norgreatlymindtonotewhatshriveledhandsnowmoved
beforeus,performingcommontasks;andwewerecontentenough.Butofthe
highpassionthathadweddedustherewasnotrace,andoflittlesenselesshuman
bickeringstherewereagreatmany.Foronething”—andtheoldlady’svoice
waschanged—“foronething,hewasfoolishlyparticularaboutwhathewould
eatandwhathewouldnoteat,andthatupsetmyhousekeeping,andIhadnever
anypatiencewithsuchnonsense.”
“Well,nonetheless,”saidFlorian,“itisnotquiteniceofyoutoacknowledge
it.”
ThensaidDameAdelaide:“Thatisatrueword,Mother.Allmengetfinicky
abouttheirfood,andthinktheyaretheonlypersonstobeconsidered,andthere
isnoendtoitifonceyoubegintohumorthem.Sotherehastobeastandmade.
Well,andindeedmypoorRalph,too,wasallforkissingandprettytalkatfirst,
andIaccepteditwillinglyenough.Youknowhowgirlsare.Theyliketobe
mademuchof,anditisperfectlynatural.Butthatleadstochildren.Andwhen
thechildrenbegantocome,Ihadnotmuchtimetobotherwithhim:andRalph
hadhisfarmingandhiswarfaringtokeephimbusy.Amanwithagrowing
familycannotaffordtoneglecthisaffairs.Andcertainly,beingnofool,hebegan
tonoticethatgirlshereandtherehadbrightereyesandtrimmerwaiststhanI.I
donotknowwhatsuchobservationsmayhaveledtowhenhewasawayfrom
me:Ineverinquiredintoit,becauseinsuchmattersallmenarefools.ButIput
upwithnononsenseathome,andhemademeafairhusband,ashusbandsgo.
ThatmuchIwillsayforhimgladly:andifanywidowsaysmorethanthat,
Florian,doyoubewareofher,forsheisanuntruthfulwoman.”
“Bethatasitmay,”repliedFlorian,“itisnotquitebecomingtospeakthusof
yourdeadhusband.Nodoubtyouspeakthetruth:thereisnotellingwhatsortof
personyoumayhavemarriedinwhatstillseemstomeunseemlyhasteto
providemewithasuccessor:butevenso,alittlecharitableprevaricationwould
befarmoreedifying.”
Hespokewithsuchearnestnessthattherefellasilence.Thewomenseemedto
pityhim.AndinthesilenceFlorianheardfromafaryoungpersonsreturning
fromthewoodsbehindStorisende,andbringingwiththemtheMay-pole.They


werestillsinging.
Sangthey:
“UnwillinglyforeknowingThatlovewithMay-timeflees,Wetakethisday’s
bestowing,Andfeedonfantasies—”

4.YouthSolvesIt
Thetaletellshowlightlyandsweetly,andcompassionately,too,thenspoke
youngSylviedeNointel.
“Ah,but,assuredly,MessireFlorian,youdonotarguewithmypetsquite
seriously!Oldpeoplealwayshavesomesuchqueernotions.Ofcourseloveall
dependsuponwhatsortofpersonyouare.Now,asIseeit,Mamaand
Grandmamaarenotthesortofpersonswhohavereallove-affairs.DevotedasI
amtobothofthem,Icannotbutperceivetheyarelackinginrealdepthof
sentiment.Theysimplydonotunderstandorcareaboutsuchmatters.Theyare
fine,straightforward,practicalpersons,poordears,andalwayshavebeen,of
course,forinthingslikethatonedoesnotchange,asIhaveoftennoticed.And
Father,andGrandfatherPerion,too,asIrememberhim,waskind-heartedand
admirableandallthat,butnobodycouldeverhaveexpectedhimtobea
satisfactorylover.Why,hewasbaldasanegg,thepoorpet!”
AndSylvielaughedagainatthepreposterousnotionsofoldpeople.Sheflashed
anespecialsmileatFlorian.Herhandwentoutasthoughtotouchhim,inan
unforgottengesture.“Oldpeopledonotunderstand,”saidSylviedeNointel,in
toneswhichtookthishandsomeyoungfellowineffablyintoconfidence.
“Mademoiselle,”saidFlorian,withasighthatwaspartreliefandallapproval,
“itisyouwhospeakthetruth,andyoureldershavefallenvictimstothe
cynicismofacrasslymaterialage.Loveisimmortalwhenitisreallyloveand
whenoneistherightsortofperson.Thereisthelove—knowntohowfew,alas!
andapassionofwhichIregrettofindyourmotherincapable—thatendures
unchangeduntiltheendoflife.”
“Iamsogladyouthinkso,MessireFlorian,”sheanswereddemurely.


“Anddoyounotthinkso,mademoiselle?”
“HowshouldIknow,”sheaskedhim,“asyet?”Henotedshehadincredibly
longlashes.
“Thricehappyishethatconvincesyou!”saysFlorian.Andaboutthem,who
wereyoungintheworld’srecapturedyouth,springtriumphedwithanageless
ruralpageant,andbirdscriedtotheirmates.Henotedtheredbrevityofherlips
andtheirprobablesoftness.
Meanwhiletheelderwomenregardedeachother.
“ItistheseasonofMay.Theyareyoungandtheyaretogether.Poorchildren!”
saidDameMelicent.“Youthcriestoyouthforthetoysofyouth,andsaying,‘Lo,
Icrywiththevoiceofagreatgod!’”
“Still,”saidMadameAdelaide,“Puysangeisagoodfief—”
ButFlorianheededneitherofthemashestoodtherebythesunlitstream,in
whichnodropofwaterretaineditsplaceforamoment,andwhichyetdidnot
alterinappearanceatall.Hedidnotheedhiseldersfortheexcellentreasonthat
SylviedeNointelwasabouttospeak,andhepreferredtolistentoher.Forthis
girl,heknew,waslovelierthananyotherpersonhadeverbeensinceEvefirst
raisedjustsuchadmiring,innocent,andventuresomeeyestoinspectwhatmust
haveseemedtoherthequaintestofallanimals,calledman.Soitwaswitha
shrugthatFlorianrememberedhowhehadearlierfanciedotherwomenforone
reasonoranother;sincethis,heknew,wasthegreatloveofhislife,andalove
whichwouldendureunchangedaslongashislifelasted.

*

APRIL14,1355—OCTOBER23,1356
“D’aquestsegleflac,plendemarrimen,S’amors’envai,sonjotteinh
mensongier.”


Tài liệu bạn tìm kiếm đã sẵn sàng tải về

Tải bản đầy đủ ngay

×