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《绛红雪白的花瓣》第十四章 Chapter Fourteen(未完待续)



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    本帖最后由 小山林卡 于 2017-7-27 20:30 编辑 5 S) s! e1 O/ L
    Chapter 14
    Part 1

    2 z( N+ P, p/ M: zOne sunny afternoon late inthe April of 1875, in a vast rolling field of lavender, a scattered host ofworkers cease their toil for just a minute. Submerged knee-high in a lake ofLavandula, they stand idle with their hoes and slug-buckets, to stare at thebeautiful young woman walking past them on the path dividing the acres.

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    ‘’Oo’s that?’ theywhisper to each other, eyes owlish with curiosity. ‘’Oo’s that?’ But no oneknows.

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    The lady wears a lavenderdress; her white-gloved hands and bonneted head are like blossoms sproutingfrom her wrists and neck. The dress is intricately pleated and ruched, likeunravelling rope, giving her the appearance of a life-sized corn dolly.
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    ‘An’ ’oo’s that wiv’’er?’
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    The woman does not walk aloneor unencumbered. She’s pushing, with the utmost care along the maze of paths,an indistinct burden in a wheelchair. It’s an ancient, crippled man, wellrugged up with blankets and shawls, his head muffled in a scarf, despite themildness of the weather. And, next to the old man and the woman who wheels him,there walks a third visitor to the fields today: William Rackham, owner of all.He speaks frequently; the old man speaks from time to time; the woman saysalmost nothing; but the toilers in the field, row upon row, catch only a fewwords each before the procession moves on.

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    ‘ ’Oo d’yer fink sheis?’ asks a sun-dried wife of her sun-dried husband.

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    ‘The old one’s daughter,I’d say. Or grand-daughter. Likely the old one’s rich. Likely our Curly Bill① wants to do business wiv ’im.’

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    ‘’E’ll ’ave to movefast, then. That old crock could cark it any minute.’

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    ‘At least ’Opsom ’ad a pair o’ legs to walk on.’
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    And with that they return towork, drifting into separate currents of vegetation.
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    Yet, further on, more toilersstop and stare. Nothing like this – a lady visitor to the fields – was everseen in William’s father’s time; Rackham Senior preferred to keep well-bredfemales out of the field, for fear their hearts might start bleeding. The lastto visit was his own wife, twenty years ago, before the cuckolding.
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    ‘Oh but she’sbeautiful,’ sighs one swarthy toiler, squinting after the strange femininesilhouette.

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    ‘So would you be,’ spitsa fellow drudge, ‘if you never done hard labour.’
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    ‘Yarrr!’ growls the oldman in the wheelchair, his stench of stale clothing and haphazard hygiene muchdiluted by the fresh air and the acres of damp soil and lovingly tendedlavender.

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    Sugar bows her head down asshe continues to wheel him forward, her lips hovering near his scarf-shroudedskull, approximately where one of his ears must be.
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    ‘Now, now, ColonelLeek,’ she says. ‘Remember you’re here to enjoy yourself.’
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    But Colonel Leek is notenjoying himself, or so he would have Sugar believe. Only his lust for thepromised reward – six shillings and more whisky in a day than Mrs Leek will lethim have in a month – keeps him from outright mutiny. He’s certainly not in theleast interested in playing the part of anyone’s grandfather.
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    ‘I need to pee.’

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    ‘Do it in your pants,’hisses Sugar sweetly. ‘Pretend you’re at home.’
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    ‘Oh, so kind-hearted,you are.’ He twists his head, exposing one rheumy malevolent eye and half amottled, gummy mouth. ‘Too good for St Giles, eh, trollop?’
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    ‘Six shillings andwhisky, remember – Grandfather.’
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    And so they trundle on, withthe sun beaming down on them, there in the pampered heartland of RackhamPerfumeries.

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    William Rackham walks aloof,unimpeachably proper, dressed in his stiff Sunday best despite it beingWednesday. Not for him his father’s moleskin trousers and Wellington boots; amodern perfumery is ruled from the head, and kept in line with the pen.Everything that goes on in these fields, every stoop of a worker’s back orpruning of the tiniest twig, is set in motion by his own thoughts and writtenrequirements. Or so he has attempted to convey to his visitors.

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    He’s aware, of course, thatthe liaison between Sugar and the old man is rather less amicable than she’dclaimed, but he has forgiven her. Indeed, had she and Colonel Leek been sharingconfidential affections, he might have felt a prick of jealousy. It’s betterthis way: the old man’s pneumonic mumbling is so gruff that the field-workerswon’t understand much of what they chance to overhear, and the fact that Sugaris wheeling him speaks louder than any declarations of kinship.

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    ‘Enjoy the sunshine, whydon’t you,’ she admonishes the Colonel as the three of them make their way upthe gentle slope of Beehive Hill.
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    The old man coughs, givingthe phlegm in his chest a slight jiggle.
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    ‘Sunlight is bad,’ hewheezes. ‘It’s the exact same stuff as breeds maggots in wounded soldiers’legs. And when there’s no war on, it fades wallpaper.’

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    Sugar presses forward,rolling this talking Sisyphus stone② farther up the slope, flashing William a smile ofreassurance. Pay him no heed, her smile says. You and I know the value of thisplace – and the significance of this grand day in our lives.
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    ‘It’s as I thought:they’ll feed on me like parasites, if I let them,’ mutters William. ‘They thinkI’ll swallow any story they tell me.’

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    Sugar cocks her headsympathetically, inviting him to explain.
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    ‘They swear they’ve beenpruning the older bushes for weeks,’ he scoffs. ‘Since yesterday afternoon,more likely! You can’t see how straggly they look?’
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    Sugar glances back. To her,the workers appear stragglier and less well cared for than the lavender. ‘Itall looks magnificent to me,’ she says.
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    ‘They ought to beputting a damn sight more cuttings in,’ he assures her. ‘Now’s the time when they’llroot freely.’
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    ‘Hurgh-hurgh-hurgh!’ coughs the Colonel.
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    ‘Your farm is muchbigger than I dreamed it would be,’ remarks Sugar, to steer the conversationback to flattery. ‘There seems no end it.’
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    ‘Ah, but,’ says Rackham, ‘it isn’t all mine.’ Taking advantage oftheir elevation, he points downhill, to a long line of white-washed stakes allalong one of the paths. ‘Those mark the boundary of another farm. Lavendergrows best the more of it there is. The bees don’t prefer one man’s bush toanother’s. All in all, some half-dozen perfumeries own a portion of this land;my portion is forty acres.’
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    ‘Forty acres!’ Sugar hasonly the vaguest idea how much this is, but appreciates it’s an enormous areacompared to, say, Golden Square. Indeed, all the streets she’s ever lived in,if they were dug out of their polluted foundations by a giant spade, could bedumped in the pillowy centre of this lavender paradise, and discreetly buriedin soft brown earth, never to be seen again.

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    ①    Curly Bill:卷发比尔。著名的不法之徒,1880年代初美国南亚利桑那州的团伙头目,参与无数的越轨行为和暴行。这里工人意指暴力剥削的农场主威廉·拉克姆。
    ②   Sisyphus stone:西西弗斯石头。西西弗斯是希腊神话中的人物,被众神惩戒,要求他把一块巨石推上山顶,然而每每未达山顶,石头又滚下山去,永无止境。这里意指苏糖推着的里克上校太过沉重。
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    校对 by Turing
    校对 by 山山
    本书版权归原作者Michel Faber所有
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     楼主| 发表于 2017-7-27 20:19:00 | 显示全部楼层
    本帖最后由 小山林卡 于 2017-7-27 20:22 编辑 / W$ B/ ~7 a% r" n- n5 `
    Chapter 14
    Part 2
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    And yet, as William has reminded her several times, this farm is only onetributary of his empire. There are other farms in other places, each devoted toa single bloom; there are even whaling boats on the Atlantic harvestingambergris and spermaceti for Rackham Perfumeries. Sugar surveys the great lakeof lavender before her, and measures it against a pomander of petals such asshe might be able to hold in her hand. So much luxury, in such excess! Anessence she might purchase in a tiny phial for a considerable sum is soabundant, here at its source, that it’s no doubt poured roughly into barrelsand the overspills trampled into mud –or so she fancies. The concept is magical and indecent, like a vision ofjewellers wading ankle-deep in gems, crunching them underfoot, shovelling theminto sacks.

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    ‘But really, Colonel,’ sheimplores the old man beneath her, half-teasing, half-impassioned. ‘This is all so … so glorious. Can’t you admit, at least, that it makes a nice change from Mrs Leek’s?’
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    ‘Ah? A nice change?’ The old manfidgets furiously in his squeaking seat, straining to retrieve some salientfacts from his encyclopaedic memory for disasters. ‘Granville’s Combined Orchards, burnt to a cinder, two and a half yearago!’ he proclaims in triumph. ‘Twelve dead! Lucifer factory in Goeteborg,Sweden, 27th of last month: forty-four burnt to death and nine mortallyinjured! Cotton plantation in Virginialast Christmas, down to ash in half a day, savages andall!’ He pauses, swivels his gaze around to WilliamRackham, and leers, ‘What a bonfire all this’d make, eh?’ ‘Actually, sir,’ William replies with lofty condescension, ‘itdoes indeed make a splendid bonfire, every year. My fields are divided, yousee, according to the age of the plants on them. Some are in their fifth year,exhausted, and will be burnt at the end of October. I can assure you the fireis big enough to make all Mitcham smell of lavender.’

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    ‘Oh, how wonderful!’ criesSugar. ‘How I should love to be here then!’

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    William blushes with pride, there on the hillock, his chin pushed out inthe direction of his empire. What a miracle he has wrought – he, so recently an effete idler in straitenedcircumstances – now master of this vast farm with itsquaint brown workers moving amongst the lavender like field mice. The sounds ofindustry belong to him too, plus the smells of a million flowers, plus even thesky immediately above, for if he doesn’t own thesethings, who does? Oh, granted, God is still supposed toown everything, but where’s the line to be drawn? Onlya crackpot would insist on God’s ownership ofPaddington Station or a mound of cow-dung – whyquibble, then, with William Rackham’s ownership of thisfarm, and everything above and below it? William recalls the versesof Scripture his father was fond of quoting to the dubious young Henry: ‘Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish theearth, and subdue it’ (Rackham Senior would layemphasis on this word) ‘and have dominion overeverything that move upon the earth.’
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    So vividly does William recall this statement that he feels almostreinstated in the tiny body he occupied at seven years old, on the occasion ofhis own first visit to this farm, dawdling behind his older brother. Theirfather, dark-haired and big then, chose the lavender fields as that part of theempire which might appeal most to the boy who would one day inherit.

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    ‘And are these ladies and gentlemen p’mitted to take home any of the lavender they harvest, Father?’ Clear as a bell across the years comes Henry’s childish voice – yes, Henry’s, for William would never, even at the age of seven, have askedsuch a stupid question.
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    ‘They don’t need to take anyhome,’ Henry Calder Rackham enlightened his first-bornindulgently.
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    ‘They reek of it just by working in it.’
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    ‘That is a very pleasant reward, I think.’ (What an ass Henry was, always!)
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    Their father guffawed. ‘They won’t work for that alone, boy. They must have wages as well.’ The expression of incredulity on Henry’sface ought to have alerted the old man that he had thewrong son earmarked for heir. But no matter, no matter … Time upraises all who are worthy.
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    Ignoring the bestial grousing of Colonel Leek, William surveys his fieldsonce more before descending Beehive Hill. Everythingis identical to how it was when he was a boy – although these workers cannot be the same workers who toiled inHenry Calder Rackham’s domain twenty-one years ago, formen and women, too, like enfeebled fifth-year plants, are uprooted anddestroyed when they are exhausted.
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    A wrinkled, thick-set girl carrying on her backa sack of branches passes close by William and his guests, nodding in grimsycophancy.

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    ‘You were telling us about the fifth-year plants, MrRackham,’ comes the voice of Sugar.

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    ‘Yes,’ he loudly replies, as asecond sack-bearer follows the first.
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    ‘Some perfumeries harvest their lavender a sixth year.Not Rackham’s.’

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    ‘And how soon after planting is the lavender ready to beused, sir?’
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    ‘When the plants are in their second year – though they are not at their best until the third.’

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    ‘And how much lavender water will be produced, sir?’

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    ‘Oh, several thousand gallons.’
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    ‘Isn’t that an astonishingthought, grandfather?’ Sugar asks the old man.
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    ‘Eh? Grandfather? You don’t evenknow who your grandfather was!’
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    Sugar cranes her head to confirm that the sack-bearers are out ofearshot. ‘You’regoing to get us all into mischief,’ she chides ColonelLeek in a feral whisper, jerking the handles of his wheelchair warningly. ‘I’d’ve had lessbother from a beggar off the street.’
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    The old man bares his teeth and shakes his hideous head free of itsswaddlings. ‘What of it!’ he sneers. ‘That’swhat comes of subterfuge. Charades!Fancy dress! Har! Did I ever tell you about LieutenantCarp, who I served with in the last great war?’ (Bythis he doesn’t mean the war against the Ashantees, oreven the Indian Mutiny, but the Crimean.)‘There’s subterfuge for ye!Carp dressed up in a lady’s cloak and bonnet, and triedto cross over the enemy lines – the wind blew the cloakup over his head and there he was, hobbling aroundwith his musket dangling between his legs. I’ve neverseen a man shot so many times. Hur! Hur! Hur! Subterfuge!’ This outburst causes a few heads to pop up in the surroundingfields.

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    ‘A most diverting anecdote, sir,’ says William frigidly.

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    ‘Don’t mind him, William,’ says Sugar. ‘He’llbe asleep soon. He always sleeps in the afternoon.’
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    Colonel Leek churns his grizzled jaw in indignation. ‘That was years ago, trollop, when I weren’t well! I’m better now!’

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    Sugar bends low over him, one hand digging her thinly-gloved claws intohis right shoulder, the other gently caressing his left.

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    ‘Whisssky,’ she sings into his ear. ‘Whisssssky.’
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    Minutes later, when Colonel Leek is slumped in his chair, snoring,William Rackham and Sugar stand in the shade of an oak, watching the industryfrom a distance. Sugar is radiant, and not merely from the unaccustomedexercise of pushing the wheelchair; she’sdeeply happy. All her life, she’s considered herself acity creature, and assumed that the countryside (imagined only throughmonochrome engravings and romantic poetry) had nothing to offer her. Thisconception she now casts off with joyful abandon. She must make sure this isn’t the last time she walks under these grand blue skies and on thissoft, verdant earth. Here is air she means to breathe more often.

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    ‘Oh, William,’ she says, ‘will you bring me here again, for the great bonfire?’

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    ‘Yes, of course I shall,’ hesays, for he can recognise the glow of happiness when he sees it, and he knowshe is the author of that glow.
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    ‘Do you promise?’
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    ‘Yes, you have my word.’
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    翻译 by Janice
    校对 by Viola
    终校 by 山山
    本书版权归原作者Michel Faber所有

    / G8 J; `/ i9 Y+ }


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     楼主| 发表于 2017-7-27 20:22:48 | 显示全部楼层
    本帖最后由 小山林卡 于 2017-7-27 20:24 编辑
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    Content,she turns to look towards the north-east: there’s a swathe of rain far, faraway, sprouting a rainbow. William stares at her from behind, his handshielding his eyes against the sun. His mistress’s long skirts rustle gently inthe breeze, her shoulder-blades poke through the tight fabric of her dress asshe lifts her arm to shield her face. All at once he recalls how her breastsfeel against his palms, the bruising sharpness of her hips on his own softerbelly, the thrilling touch of her rough, cracked hands on his prick. He recallsthe lushness of her hair when she’s naked, the tiger textures on her skin likediagrams for his own fingers, showing him where to hold her waist or her arseas he slides inside. He longs to embrace her, wishes he could have his lavenderfields empty for half an hour while he lies with Sugar on a verge of grass.What’s kept him from going to see her every night? What man worthy of the namewouldn’t have that exquisite body next to his as often as possible? Yes, hewill, he must, go to see her much oftener in future – but not today; he has alot to do today.

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    Sugar turns,and there are tears in her eyes.

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    * * *
    The journey back to London, in the charteredcoach-and-four, is purgatorially long, and the rain, sofar away when Sugar stood in Rackham’s fields, has met them half-way and nowbeats on the roof. The coach travels slower for the bad weather, and makesmysterious stops in villages and hamlets along the way, where the coachman dismountsand disappears for two, five, ten minutes at a time. Returning, he fiddles withthe horses’ bridles, combs the excess water from their hair, checks that theold fellow’s wheelchair is still safe and snug under the tarpaulin on the roof,performs actions against the undercarriage that make the cabin shake. Haste isnot his watchword.

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    Inside the cabin, Sugar shivers, and grits herteeth to stop them chattering. She’s still in her lavender dress and nothingmore, not even a shawl. Knowing she’d be wheeling Colonel Leekabout today, and keen to make an enchanting impression on William, she didwithout extra layers of clothing; now she’s suffering the lack. The last thingshe wants to do is snuggle close to the old man for warmth; he smells vile and,deprived of the support of his wheelchair’s arm-rests, he’s liable to keel intoher lap.

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    ‘Collapseof bridge in heavy rain, Hawick, 1867,’ he growls into the chilly, darkeningspace between them. ‘Three dead, not including livestock.’
    “1867年,在霍伊克,大雨冲塌了桥,” 他的低吼声从他们之间寒冷黑暗的空隙里传来。“死了三个,还不包括家畜。”
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    Sugarhugs herself and looks out of the mud-spattered, rain-swept window. Thecountryside, so colourful and miraculous when she walked at William’s side onthe lavender farm, has turned grey and godforsaken, like a hundred square milesof Hyde Park gone to seed, without any lights or gay pedestrians. The coachjogs slowly onwards, towards a lost metropolis.
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    ‘Urp,’belches Colonel Leek. The unsubtle fragrance of whisky and fermented digestivejuices spreads in the bitter air.

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    Atrain might have been mercifully swift, not to mention (although William didmention it) a great deal cheaper, but the old man’s infirmity would have causedno end of bother at various stations along the way, and he’d still have neededa coach to take him to Charing Cross and again at the Mitcham end, so engaginga coach for the whole journey seemed more sensible. Seemed.

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    ‘Igive it six months,’ Colonel Leek is saying, ‘and you’ll be out on yer arse.’

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    ‘Ididn’t ask your opinion,’ retorts Sugar. (Cunning old blackguard: he’s fired anarrow straight into the heart of her anxiety. William Rackham should be sittinghere next to her just now, whiling the hours away with lively conversation,warming her hands inside his: why, oh why, didn’t he accompany her?)
    “我没有征求你的意见,”苏糖反驳。(狡猾的恶棍:他直戳她的烦心事 。威廉.拉克姆应当坐在她身边 ,让她的手在他的手掌里得到温暖,并且还能欢快交谈打发时间:为什么,到底为什么他不能陪在她身边?)
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    TheColonel clears his glutinous windpipe for another recitation. ‘Fanny Gresham –in 1834, mistress of Anstey the shipping magnate, abode Mayfair; in 1835,discarded, abode Holloway Prison. Jane Hubble, known as Natasha – in 1852,mistress of Lord Finbar, abode Admiralty House; in 1853, corpse, abode Thamesestuary …’
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    ‘Spareme the details, Colonel.’
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    ‘Noooobodyspared nothing, never!’ he barks. ‘That’s what I’ve learned in a long lifewalking this earth.’
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    ‘Ifyou were still walking, old man, we’d be on a train and back in London by now.’
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    Thereis a pause while the insult sinks in.

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    ‘Enjoythe scenery, trollop,’ he sneers, nodding his gargoyle head towards herstreaming window. ‘Makes a nice change, eh? Glo-o-orious.’
    “好好享受这美景吧,堕落的女人。”他冷笑道,把他像鬼一样的头转向窗口。“想华丽转身,呵?荣——耀——啊! 。”
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    Sugarturns away from him, and hugs herself tighter. William cares for her, yes hedoes. Said he loves her, even – said it while drunk, admittedly, but notroaring drunk. And he allowed her to come to his farm, even though he couldeasily, once sober, have declared the subject closed. And he’s promised to lether come again, at the end of October, which is … almost seven months in thefuture.
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    She tries to take heart from the sheer number ofRackham’s employees. He is reconciled to a large amount ofmoney flowing out from his personal fortune every week; it’s not as if Sugar’supkeep is an isolated and conspicuous drain on his resources. She must regardherself, not as living out of his pocket, but as part of a grand tapestry ofprofit and expenditure that’s been generations in the making. All she need dois spin out her own stitches in that tapestry, weave herself an inextricablefigure in it. Already she’s made marvellous progress: just think: a month agoshe was a common prostitute! In half ayear, who knows …

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    ‘He’sa wind-bag,’ snarls Colonel Leek from inside his mulch of scarves, ‘and acoward. A nasty piece of work.’

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    ‘Who?’says Sugar irritably, wishing she were as snugly wrapped as he, but without theadded ingredients.
    1 Y6 A* n  h& }: l& n

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    ‘He’sno worse than most,’ she retorts. ‘Kinder-hearted than you.’
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    ‘Horse-piss,’ cackles the old salt. ‘The thought ofhis own fat self at the top of the tree, that’s what he loves. He’d kill for advancement,can’t you see? He’d fill a dirty puddle with you, to save his shoes.’

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    ‘Youdon’t know a thing about him,’ she snaps. ‘What would someone like youunderstand of his world?’
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    Provokedto rage, the Colonel rears up so alarmingly that Sugar fears he’ll pitchhead-first onto the cabin floor. ‘I weren’t always an old spoony-man, youlittle bed-rat,’ he wheezes. ‘I’ve lived more lives than you’ll ever dream of!’

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    ‘All right, I’m sorry,’ she says hastily. ‘Here,drink some more of this.’ And she offers him the whisky bottle.

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    ‘I’vehad enough,’ he groans, settling back into his mulch of knitwear.
    “我喝够了 ,” 他抱怨说,身子缩到他那堆织物里。   

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    Sugarlooks down at the bottle, whose contents are trembling and twinkling in thevibrating gloom. ‘You’ve hardly drunk any.’
    苏糖低看着酒瓶,里面的液体摇晃着,折射出点点闪光。 “你并没有喝多少。”
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    ‘Alittle goes a long way,’ the old man mutters, subdued after his outburst.‘Drink some yerself, it’ll stop yer shivering.’
    “喝一点就可以熬上一段很长的路,”老男人低声说,在爆发之后,。“你喝点吧,它能让你暖和些 。”
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    Sugarcalls to mind his method of sucking whisky from the neck of the bottle, his toothlessmouth closed round the smooth glassy teat. ‘No, thank you.’

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    ‘I’ve wiped the end.’
    “我擦了 。”

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    ‘Ugh,’ shudders Sugar helplessly.
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    ‘That’sright, trollop,’ he sneers. ‘Don’t let anything dirty pass yer lips!’、
    “这才对,堕落的女人 ,” 他冷笑道。“不要让任何脏东西碰你的唇!”
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    2 z) a6 z% Q' h+ t; E, R, g
    翻译 by Viola
    校对 by Amel
    终校 by 山山
    本书版权归原作者Michel Faber所有

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  • TA的每日心情
    2016-4-30 15:04
  • 签到天数: 1 天

    连续签到: 1 天


     楼主| 发表于 2017-7-27 20:26:43 | 显示全部楼层
    Chapter 14
    Part 4

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    Sugar utters a sharp moan ofannoyance, almost identical to the one she uses for ecstasy, and folds her armshard against her bosom. Mouth clamped shut to muffle the sound of chatteringteeth, she counts to twenty; then, still angry, she counts the months of theyear. She met William Rackham in November; now, in April, she is his mistress,with her own rooms and money enough to buy whatever she wishes. April, May, June… Why isn’t he here with her in this coach? There’s nothing she wishes to buyexcept his enduring passion for her …
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    Colonel Leek begins to snoreloudly, a gross embodiment of all the sounds and smells of St Giles. She mustnever go back there, never. But what if Rackham tires of her? Only a few daysago, he came to visit her (after not visiting her for three days) and theirunion was so hurried he didn’t even trouble to undress her. (‘I’m expected atmy solicitor’s in an hour,’ he explained. ‘You told me that Grinling fellowsounded slippery and by God you were right.’) And what about the time beforethat? What a peculiar mood he was in! The way he asked her if she liked theornaments he’d chosen for her and, having encouraged her to confess she didn’tcare for the swan on the mantelpiece, jovially snapped its porcelain neck. Shelaughed along with him, but what the devil was he playing at? Was he grantingher greater licence to be candid – or was he letting her know he’s a man who’llhappily break the neck of anything that has outlived its usefulness?
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    Her rooms in Marylebone,towards which this coach is ferrying her so painfully slowly, ought to glow inher anticipation like a fire-lit haven, but that’s not how she envisages them.They are dead rooms, waiting to be inspired by the vivacity of conversation,the heat of coupling. When she’s there alone, loitering in the silence, washingher hair over and over, forcing herself to study books without the remotestsensational appeal, she feels surrounded by a gas-lit halo of unease. She cansay aloud, as often and as loudly as she pleases, ‘This is mine,’ but she’llhear no reply.

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    The crates containing herbelongings were finally delivered, but she’s already thrown most of theircontents away – books she’ll never read again, pamphlets whose marginalscribbles would enrage William if he chanced upon them. What’s the use ofkeeping these things stowed in her cupboards and wardrobes, attractingsilverfish (ugh!) when they might as well be gunpowder waiting to blow up inher face? She worries enough as it is, about William discovering her novel.Each time she leaves the house, she frets he’ll come and rummage through allher nooks and drawers. Only when she’s nearly sick with hunger does she hurryinto the streets, conceding that if she waits any longer for him to visit,she’s liable to starve. In the hotels and restaurants where she takes hermeals, the attendants serve her wordlessly, as if biding their time before theysee her no more.

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    If only she could rememberexactly how many glasses of brandy William had in him when he said he lovedher!

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    ‘Arghl-grrnugh,’ groansColonel Leek, convulsing in dreams of long ago. ‘Come out with it, man! …What’s the story on my legs? I’ll have a limp, yes? … need a walking stick, isthat it? Arghl … Speak, damn you … Unff … Unff … Speak …’
        ‘啊-嗯,’   里克上校呻吟着,纠缠在许久之前的梦里:“伙计,直说吧…..我的腿有什么毛病?我会成为瘸子,是吗?….需要一根拐杖,是吗?啊……说,去你妈的……说……”
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    In the morning, the rain haspassed away and church bells chime. Lying half-uncovered in a tangle of sunlitbed-sheets, bathed in creamy yellow brilliance streaming through the window,Henry Rackham wakes from nightmares of erotic disgrace. God has wrought aperfect new day regardless; the divine imperative for renewal is proof againstwhatever evils may have transpired during the hours of darkness. God neverloses heart, despite the baseness of Man …

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    Henry disentwines himselffrom the sheets, which are wet with the same substance that pollutes hisnight-shirt. He strips naked, shocked as always by the bestiality of the bodythus revealed, for he’s an exceptionally hairy specimen, and the hair on hisbody is darker and wirier than the soft blond fleece on his head. It’s sexualincontinence that makes all this coarse hair grow, Henry knows. Adam and Evewere hairless in Paradise, and so are the ideal physiques of antiquity and suchnudes as Modern Art permits. Were he ever to find himself in a gathering ofunclothed men, his own ape-like form would mark him out as a habitualself-abuser, a beast in the making. There is a grain of truth in Darwin’sheresy: for, though humankind did not evolve from animals, each human has thepotential to devolve into a savage.

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    The church bells toll on asHenry shambles to his bathroom. Funeral service? Not a wedding, surely, at thisearly hour. One day, the bells will toll for him … Will he, by then, finally beready?
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    He sponges himself clean witha cloth dipped in cold water: flesh like his doesn’t deserve pampering. Hisbody hair has thickened, over the years, into patterns which, when moistened,lie plastered around his abdomen and thighs like Gothic designs. His penishangs gross and distended, like a reptile head, and his testicles writheirritably as he washes them; nothing could bear less resemblance to thecompressed, seashell-smooth pudenda of classical statuary.

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    Bodley and Ashwell haveassured him that lewd women can be hairy too – so perhaps it’s thanks to hisold schoolchums that his dreams are so full of hirsute nymphs. Can he blameBodley and Ashwell though, for the way Mrs Fox, in his sleeping fantasies,disports herself like a succubus, laughing as she seizes hold of his phallusand guides it between her legs, where it slips through warm wet fur … ?
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    Oh, if only I could grow up! he laments, as, even now, hisgenitals stir in excitement. What man of my age still behaves as if pubescenceis newly upon him? When, oh when, will First Corinthians 13:11 come true forme? My friends advise me to take Orders without delay, lest I begin ‘too old’:Lord, if they only knew! I am a little boy trapped inside a monstrous, degradedhusk …
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    Half-dressed now, naked onlyfrom the waist up, Henry sits heavily in his chair before the hearth, tiredbefore his day even starts. He longs for someone to bring him a cup of tea anda hot breakfast, but … no, he cannot employ a servant. He could easily affordone – his father is more generous than rumour gives him credit for – but no, aservant is out of the question. Think of it: a flesh-and-blood woman in hishouse, sleeping under the same roof, undressing for bed, bathing naked in a tub… !  As if things weren’t bad enoughalready.
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    ‘Servants are a boon for everygrowing boy,’ Bodley once told him, in one of those encounters whose soleobject was to send the adolescent Henry fleeing under a cloud of his peers’laughter. ‘Especially when they come straight from the country. Sun-ripened,clean and fresh.’
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    Henry’s cat comes padding innow, making exotic attempts at conversation as she butts her head against hiscalves. He has nothing for her, the last of the meat having spoiled.
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    ‘Can you not wait?’ he mutters, but theinnocent animal looks at him as though he’s feather-brained.
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    His own stomach churnsnoisily. Perhaps a very old servant would be safe? But how old would she haveto be? Fifty? Mightn’t the butcher’s wife – the one who saves the best scrapsfor Henry’s puss and always has a smile for him – be fifty? And yet he’s beenknown to wonder what she might look like naked. Seventy, then?

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    He looks down at the fire, athis overzealously-darned socks sheathing his big feet like tubers caked withearth. He gazes at his own bare arms, folded across his chest. His own nipples,framed thus, are of no sensual interest to him –yet identical knobbles offlesh, imagined on a female chest, have the power to drive him toself-pollution. Were his own breasts enlarged with milk he would recoil indisgust – yet, imagined on a woman, those same bladders of flesh becomefantastically attractive. And what about the paintings at the Royal Academyexhibitions – the Magdalens and the classical heroines and the martyred saints– he doesn’t care who they’re supposed to be, as long as their flesh is onshow! The way he stares at them, the other gallery visitors must take him for aconnoisseur – or perhaps they perceive perfectly well that he’s oglingrose-nippled breasts and pearly thighs. And yet, what is he really staring at?A layer of pink paint! A layer of dried oil covered with varnish – and he’llstand before it, for minutes at a time, willing a silvery wisp of drapery toslip from between a woman’s legs, wishing he could grasp hold of it and tear itout of the way, revealing … revealing what? A triangle of canvas? For atriangle of inanimate canvas he is willing to risk his immortal soul! All theso-called-mysteries of the Christian faith, the enigmas beyond human reason,are not so very difficult to understand if one applies oneself, but this … !

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    Henry’s cat is not to bedenied, and begins to cry, having learned that this is the best way to rousehim from concerns not relevant to the feline world. Within fifteen minutes,Henry has been driven from his house, fully dressed, combed and shaved, insearch of meat.

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    翻译 by Sally
    校对 by 酸酸
    终校 by 山山
    本书版权归原作者Michel Faber所有

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