A Rose For Emily 愛蜜莉的一朵玫瑰

By William Faulkner 威廉.福柯納 著 (1930)

Eileen Hsu

(僅供網路閱讀,不做出版用途,譯文禁止轉載)

 

 

     愛蜜莉.奎爾森小姐過世的時候,我們全鎮的人都去參加她的葬禮。男士們懷著對一代人物隕落的敬意,女士們則大多是好奇想一窺她的房子而來,那房子十幾年來只有一個身兼園丁和廚師的老男僕守著。

    那是一幢白色、方型為主體的木造房子,以圓屋頂和尖鋒作裝飾,陽台有著很濃厚的1870年代優雅風格,座落在曾經是我們鎮上最熱鬧的街道上。隨著汽車業和壓棉業進駐到鎮裡,那一帶的望族勢力逐漸消退,卻唯獨愛蜜莉小姐的房子一直屹立不搖,對那些運棉花的貨車和加油幫浦展現它頑強的姿態,相較之下,那些東西簡直礙眼到不行。而現在愛蜜莉小姐也追隨那些顯赫的前人們,與南北戰爭中死於傑佛遜戰場的無名士兵們,一起長眠在杉木群立的墓園裡了。

    愛蜜莉小姐生前是個很傳統、行事很小心謹慎的人,可以說是我們鎮上傳統精神的代表。1894那一年,鎮長沙托里上校(他曾經頒佈一項命令,規定黑人婦女在鎮上只能當女傭)給愛蜜莉小姐一項特許,自她父親過世後,讓她們家永久免稅。他怕愛蜜莉小姐不接受這個好意,還捏造的一個故事說愛蜜莉小姐的父親曾經借錢給鎮上,而本鎮也樂於用這種方式償還,只有像沙托里上校那樣的人才想得到那種故事,也只有愛蜜莉小姐那樣的女人才會相信他的故事。

    當下個世代崛起成為鎮長和議會代表時,開始有了一些比較前衛的想法,於是這樣的安排就引起了一些小小的反彈。年初,他們寄了一張稅單給她,到了二月都沒有回覆,他們又寫了一封正式信函,要求她方便的時候到鎮長辦公室去一趟,一個禮拜後,鎮長親自寫信給她,說要去拜訪她或者派車來接她,收到的回函是用舊式信紙寫成的短箋,她用褪色的墨水、纖細流暢的筆跡寫說她已經不再出門了,隨信附上那張稅單,沒有做任何說明!

    他們召開一場特別的代表大會,然後議會代表在她家敲門等著她,十年前她不再開瓷器彩繪課之後就再沒人來拜訪過她。他們被年老的黑人帶到一間幽暗的大廳,大廳的樓梯往上顯得更加陰暗,一股陳年的霉塵味、沉悶的溼氣味撲鼻而來。黑人把他們帶進起居室,室內陳設著笨重的皮製傢俱,他打開百葉窗時,令人窒息的灰塵緩緩浮現在腿邊,隨著透進來的那道光線慢慢地打轉,放在火爐前褪色的鍍金畫架上,佇立著一幅愛蜜莉小姐她父親的蠟畫像。

    她走進來時,大家都起身,她看起來身材矮胖,穿著一襲黑色衣服,戴著一條細長的金色錶鍊,垂到腰際用腰帶繫住,拿著一支檀木手杖,杖頭已經褪成暗淡的金色。她的骨架原本瘦小的,可能就是因為這樣,更突顯她此刻的豐腴,或者說根本就是肥胖,她擁腫的體態看起來好像身體長時間浸泡在靜止不動的水裡而變得蒼白浮腫般;她的雙眼陷入肥胖的凹紋裡,簡直像把兩塊小煤炭塞到一坨麵糰裡,當訪客表明他們的來意時,她的目光在他們的臉上游移打量著。

    她並沒有請他們坐下,只是站在門前靜靜地聽發言的人結結巴巴的講完話,然後大家聽到了錶鍊末端藏在腰際的錶發出滴答滴答的聲音。

    她用乾澀的聲音冷冷地說:「我在傑佛遜不用繳稅,沙托里上校有跟我解釋過,你們去查查鎮上的稅務紀錄應該就知道了!」

「但是我們查過了,愛蜜莉小姐!我們就是相關單位的人,妳沒有收到鎮長親自署名的稅單嗎?」

「我是有收到一份文件沒錯。」愛蜜莉小姐說:「也許他自認為是鎮長……我在傑佛遜不用繳稅!」

「但是沒有任何書面證明你知道嗎?我們必須遵守-」

「去找沙托里上校,我在傑佛遜不用繳稅。」

「可是,愛蜜莉小姐-」

「去找沙托里上校!」(沙托里上校已經死了將近十年了!)

「我在傑佛遜不用繳稅,陶伯!」黑人走了進來。

「請這些紳士們出去!」

 

 

    於是,她壓倒性的戰勝了他們,就像三十年前因為臭味的事情,她戰勝了他們的父親一樣。那是她父親過世後兩年、她的愛人拋棄她不久後的事情(我們本來一直相信那個人會娶她的!)。她父親過世後她就很少出門,她的愛人離開後,我們就幾乎沒再見過她了,有幾位小姐們很唐突地去拜訪,但是都被拒於門外,那房子唯一還能見到的就是那個黑人(那時還很年輕)每天提著菜籃進出。

「好像男人、任何男人都沒辦法打理好廚房的樣子!」那些小姐們說。所以開始聞到那股臭味時,她們一點也不訝異,那不過是高尚的爾森家和這鄙俗的世界的另一處共通點罷了!

    一位鄰居婦人向八十歲的鎮長史蒂文斯法官抱怨這件事。

「但是妳們到底要我怎麼做啊!夫人。」他說。

「怎麼做,就跟她說不要再製造臭味了!」那婦人說。

「不是有法律嗎?」

「我認為沒那個必要。」史蒂文斯法官說。

「也許不過是她家的黑人在院子裡殺了蛇或老鼠之類的,我會去跟他說一下。」

    第二天,又有兩個人來跟他投訴,其中一位持更堅決的反彈聲。

「這件事,我們真的必須採取點行動,法官!也許再沒有人像我一樣衝著愛蜜莉小姐了,但是我們一定得做點什麼才行!」

    那天晚上,三位長者加上一位新世代的年輕人開了一場代表會議。

「很簡單!」他說

「叫她把房子打掃乾淨,給她一個期限,如果她沒有改善的話-」

「該死啊!先生。」史蒂文斯法官說。

「你是叫我當她的面,指責說她家很臭嗎?」

    第二天晚上午夜過後,四個男人像夜賊似的穿過愛蜜莉小姐家的草坪,然後潛入她的房子,沿著磚造的地基,摒著呼吸來到地下室的入口,其中有一個人肩膀上背著一袋東西,手一邊從裡面拿出東西來灑到地上,他們撬開地下室的門,在地下室和房子的倉庫裡噴灑萊姆汁。當他們再度穿過草坪的時候,本來燈關暗的一扇窗亮了起來,愛蜜莉小姐坐在裡面,她坐在燈前,挺直的身軀像座雕像般,一動也不動的,他們靜悄悄地爬過草坪,朝著洋槐行道樹的陰暗處走去。一、兩個禮拜過後,那味道就消失了!

    就在那時候,大家開始為她感到難過,我們鎮裡的人都記得她的大姑姑,維特老太太最後是怎麼瘋掉的,他們覺得奎爾森家的眼光有點過高,所以認為沒有任何男人配得上愛蜜莉小姐,一直以來我們都覺得她們家像一幅活人畫:嬌小的愛蜜莉小姐穿著白色的衣裳站在後面,她父親像伸展開的半黑側影般,站在前面手持馬鞭背對著她,她們兩個像是被框在猛一甩上的門內般!也就因為這樣,她到了三十歲還是單身,這不是我們所樂見的但事實就是如此。面對著瘋狂的家族背景,如果那些緣分有可能實現的話,她應該也不會放棄所有的機會吧!

    她父親過世的時候,唯一留給她的是那棟房子,就某種意義來看,大家還是替她感到高興,大家終於可以同情她了!一個孤苦無依的窮人,她已經和普通人沒什麼兩樣了,現在她多少也能體會那過去所花費的一分一毛錢的悸動與失落感了!

    她父親過世後第二天,女士們照慣例來到她家拜訪,準備幫忙弔唁的事,愛蜜莉小姐站在門前見她們,她的穿著一如往常,臉上也沒有一絲哀傷,她告訴她們她父親沒有死,接連三天都是同樣的情況,牧師們來拜訪她,醫生們也來勸說讓他們處理她父親的遺體,就在他們準備訴諸法律強力執行的時候,她崩潰了!然後,大家迅速地安葬了她的父親。

    我們不認為他當時那樣是瘋掉了,反而認為她會那樣是有原因的。我們大家都記得那些被她父親趕走的年輕人,她父親死後卻沒有留給她任何東西,我們能理解她就好像一般人一樣,會極力想抓住那個曾經剝奪她一切東西的人!

 

 

    她病了好一段時間,我們再次見到她的時候,她把頭髮剪短了,看起來像個少女又有點像是教堂彩繪玻璃上的那些天使,安詳中帶著點哀傷。

    鎮上剛剛通過一份鋪設人行道的合約,在她父親過世後的那年夏天開始動工,建設公司送來了一批黑人和機具,工頭名叫荷蒙拜倫,是一個塊頭很大、長得結實黝黑、嗓門很大、眼睛淡淡的北方佬,黑人上工時,隨著十字鎬上下揮動的節拍唱著歌,這時鎮上的小男孩們總是成群的跟在一旁,聽他吆喝著那些黑人們。很快地他和鎮上的人都熟識了,只要聽到哪裡有笑聲傳來,荷蒙拜倫一定是被圍著的那個人。過沒多久,我們開始看見他和愛蜜莉小姐在週日午後駕著黃色輪子的馬車,從車行一起出來。

    一開始,我們很高興愛蜜莉小姐終於找到她感興趣的人,因為那些女士們老是說:「奎爾森家的人應該不會認真考慮那個北方來的工人吧!」也有一些老一輩的人認為悲傷也不會讓她忘記「尊貴的使命」的,他們只會說: 「可憐的愛蜜莉,她的親戚真應該來看看她現在這樣!」她在阿拉巴馬有一些親戚,不過幾年前,她父親為了發瘋的維特老太太的財產問題和他們鬧翻了,之後兩家族之間就沒再聯繫,他們也沒有來參加她父親的葬禮。

    當老一輩的人說: 「可憐的愛蜜莉啊!」的時候,大家開始交頭接耳地說: 「你覺得真的是那樣嗎?」大家議論著。

「當然是啊!不然會是怎樣……」每當週日晴朗的午後,她們兩人的馬車喀落喀落經過時,大家就在背後妒嫉似地指指點點的說: 「可憐的愛蜜莉啊!」

    她把頭昂起來(即使我們都認為她是硬撐著的),似乎極力地自我要求以最後一代奎爾森家族的尊嚴自居,好像天要榻下來也不為所動的樣子。就拿她去買老鼠藥-砒霜的事情來說,這是他們開始說: 「可憐的愛蜜莉啊!」一年後的事,那時候她的兩個表姊來找她。

    「我要買一些毒藥。」她對藥房老闆說。那時候她已經三十幾歲了,身材嬌小,比以前更瘦一些,她黑色的眼珠顯得冷淡又高傲,臉上肌肉從太陽穴到眼窩附近看起來很緊繃,像極了燈塔看守人的臉。

「我要買一些毒藥。」她說。

「是的,愛蜜莉小姐,要哪一種?是要毒老鼠的呢,還是?我推薦……」

「我要效果最好的,哪一種都沒關係。」

老闆說了幾款名稱,「這些可以毒殺所有的東西,連大象也殺的死,但妳是想要……」

「砒霜」愛蜜莉小姐說: 「那個效果好嗎?」

「砒…砒霜嗎?是的,小姐,但妳是想要……」

「我要買砒霜!」

    藥房老闆看了她一下,她站的直挺挺的,也回看他一眼,她的臉像一面攤開的旗子般。

「那麼,當然!」老闆說: 「如果你真的想買的話,不過法律規定妳必須說明用途在哪裡。」

    愛蜜莉小姐背稍傾斜,和他眼光交會,直盯著他看,直到他把目光移開後去拿砒霜包起來為止。後來一個幫忙遞東西的黑人小男孩把包裹拿給她,那老闆就沒再走回來。她回到家打開包裝,裡面的盒子上有個骷顱頭的圖樣,下面寫著: 「老鼠專用」。

 

 

    因此,第二天我們大家都說:她會自殺,我們認為那會是最好的結局。她開始被大家看到和荷蒙拜倫在一起時,我們曾說:她會嫁給他。後來我們大家又說:「她會設法讓他娶自己的!」因為有謠傳說荷蒙本身喜歡的是─男人,有人看到他在愛爾克俱樂部和年紀比他小的男人喝酒,而且那個男人還未婚呢!之後,我們說了: 「可憐的愛蜜莉啊!」。儘管這些妒嫉似的謠傳,她們兩個人依舊在週日午後,一起駕著華麗的馬車出去!愛蜜莉小姐昂著頭,荷蒙拜倫帽子斜戴著、嘴裡叼著雪茄,帶著黃色手套揮鞭駕車。

    然後有些女士們開始說那是鎮上的羞恥、年輕人的壞榜樣,男士們不想插手管這件事,女士們最後要求浸信教會牧師(愛蜜莉小姐她們家是新教派的)去拜訪她,牧師不願意透露那次談話時所發生的事,也不願意再去找她,再下個禮拜天,她們兩人還是照樣在街上駕車,隔天牧師太太就寫信給她在阿拉巴馬的親戚。

    於是,終於有至親再和她同住了,而我們就等著看事情的進展。剛開始,什麼事也沒發生,所以我們相信她們應該結婚了,有人看到愛蜜莉小姐去了珠寶店,還訂了一套男用的銀製馬桶,上面鏤刻的縮寫字母是H.B.(荷.拜.),兩天後我們又聽說她買了一整套男士服,包括一件長睡衣,我們就說了: 「她們已經結婚了!」我們替她感到高興,因為她那兩個表姊實在比愛蜜莉小姐更像典型的奎爾森家族的人。

    因此,當荷蒙拜倫先離開的時候(那時候,街道的工程已經結束一段時間了),我們並不感到訝異,只是有點失望她們沒有公開道別!不過我們相信他的離開是要等愛蜜莉小姐來找他,或者是為了給她機會,好趕走她的兩個表姊(那時候就好像一場陰謀,我們都是愛蜜莉小姐的同盟,要幫她壓制住她的表姊們),果不其然,過了一個禮拜,她們就離開了,然後如我們預料般的,三天後荷蒙拜倫又回到鎮上,某天晚上,有一個鄰居看到那個黑人讓他從廚房進去。

    那是我們最後一次見到荷蒙拜倫,也是我們難得見到愛蜜莉小姐的其中一次,那個黑人每天提著菜籃進出,可是前門卻一直深鎖,我們偶爾看到她在窗前出現一會兒,就像那些噴灑萊姆汁的人看到的那樣,可是幾乎有半年的時間,她都不曾出現在街上,其實那也是可以想見的事,就好比她那個多次阻撓她人生的父親一樣,他死的時候也是那麼的乖張、暴怒!

    我們再看到愛蜜莉小姐時,她變胖了,頭髮也變得灰白,接下來幾年她的頭髮越來越灰白,白到像胡椒鹽般的鐵灰色為止!一直到她七十四歲過世的時候,她的頭髮都一直保持像個活躍男子般,有著堅韌的鐵灰色頭髮!

    從那時候開始,她家的門前一直深鎖著,只有其中六、七年,她四十歲左右的時候,曾經開過瓷器彩繪課。她在樓下的房間開了一間工作室,沙托里上校那一輩的人經常把他們的女兒、孫女們送到那裏,她們都是在星期日過去上課,每件作品她收費二十五分錢,也就在那時候,沙托里上校給她免稅。

    然後,新的世代成為鎮上的中心勢力了,那些學彩繪的學生們長大後也離開了,她們沒再把小孩送到她那裏學習乏味的彩繪和剪女性雜誌上的圖片,最後一堂課結束後,前門再度關上而且是永遠鎖上了。鎮上要實施免費郵件遞送時,唯獨愛蜜莉小姐拒絕讓他們在她家門上貼金屬門牌號碼,也不讓他們掛信箱,她完全不理會他們。

    就這樣,日復一日、年復一年,我們看著那個黑人的頭髮日漸斑白,背也越來越駝,每天提著菜籃進出。每年十二月,我們都會把稅單寄給她,一週後總是被郵局退回,沒有做任何說明!我們偶爾看到她在樓下窗邊(很顯然地,她把頂樓的門窗緊閉),像是一座在壁龕上的雕像一樣,好像是又好像不是在注視著我們,也沒人能說的清楚。於是她就這樣歷經了一代又一代─從原本的慈愛、順從到堅決、穩重,最後變得孤僻乖戾!

    她過世了!先是病倒在滿是塵埃的陰暗房裡,只有年邁的黑人在一旁照顧她,我們甚至不知道她生病了,有好長一段時間,我們已經不再向那個黑人打探她的消息了,他其實也不跟別人說話,搞不好也都不和她說話,因為他的聲音粗啞難聽,像是已經很久不說話的樣子!

    她在樓下的一間房裡,掛著帷幔的胡桃木床上過世了!滿頭白髮依靠在因陳年缺乏陽光而泛黃發霉的枕頭上。

 

 

    黑人在門前見第一批來的女士們並且讓她們進來,她們低聲的竊竊私語,好奇地快步張望著四周,而那黑人就消失不見了!他穿過房子,從後門出去後就再也沒出現過。

    她的兩個表姊在第一時間趕到,第二天馬上舉行葬禮。愛蜜莉小姐身上覆滿了花束,鎮上的人都來瞻仰她的遺容,棺架上放著一張他父親沉思時的蠟畫像,那些老一輩的人(有的還穿著絨製的南軍制服)站在門廊和草坪上談論著愛蜜莉小姐的事,說她跟他們是同輩的,有跟她跳過舞,或許也追求過她之類的話,只是像老人家一樣,把事情的時間順序都搞混了!對他們來說,那些過往不是一條趨於盡頭的路途,而是像一片寒冬也無法觸及的草原般,只是這幾十年來的歲月把他們和那些過往的回憶阻隔開罷了!

    我們知道樓上有一間房間四十年來都沒人進去看過,看來得破門而入了!大家等到愛蜜莉小姐入土之後才打開房間。

    奮力打開門的那一刻,房間裡揚起了塵埃,室內陳設的好像新娘房般,房裡有一股猶如墳墓般刺鼻的煙塵味,瀰漫在褪色的玫瑰色床沿帷幔上、在暗紅色的燈光上、在梳妝台上、在整排典雅的水晶飾品上,還有一些男士盥洗用具,上面鑲著的銀製縮寫字母已經褪色到難以辨識。有一條衣領像是剛剛被移動過一樣,在灰塵上,被拿起來的地方印出一道彎月型的蒼白色痕跡,椅子上掛著一套摺得很整齊的西裝,椅子下方靜靜地躺著一雙鞋和散放著的襪子。

    那個男人就躺在床上!

    有好一會兒,我們大家站著呆望那裂嘴而笑的枯骨。他的身體很顯然曾經以擁抱的姿勢躺下,不過長眠敵過了那樣的愛意,那種愛的姿態成了扭曲怪異的樣子,所剩的只有睡衣下腐敗的身軀和他躺著的床鋪糾結在一起,在他身上和旁邊的枕頭上覆著一層厚厚的灰塵。

    我們注意到第二顆枕頭上有個凹陷的頭型痕跡,當中有一個人彎下身去拿起什麼東西來,這時,窒息般的微塵發出一股乾枯的刺鼻味,我們看到的是一縷鐵灰色的長髮!

~Eileen Hsu

 

A Rose for Emily

by William Faulkner

I

WHEN Miss Emily Grierson died, our whole town went to her funeral: the men through a sort of respectful affection for a fallen monument, the women mostly out of curiosity to see the inside of her house, which no one save an old man-servant--a combined gardener and cook--had seen in at least ten years.

It was a big, squarish frame house that had once been white, decorated with cupolas and spires and scrolled balconies in the heavily lightsome style of the seventies, set on what had once been our most select street. But garages and cotton gins had encroached and obliterated even the august names of that neighborhood; only Miss Emily's house was left, lifting its stubborn and coquettish decay above the cotton wagons and the gasoline pumps-an eyesore among eyesores. And now Miss Emily had gone to join the representatives of those august names where they lay in the cedar-bemused cemetery among the ranked and anonymous graves of Union and Confederate soldiers who fell at the battle of Jefferson.

Alive, Miss Emily had been a tradition, a duty, and a care; a sort of hereditary obligation upon the town, dating from that day in 1894 when Colonel Sartoris, the mayor--he who fathered the edict that no Negro woman should appear on the streets without an apron-remitted her taxes, the dispensation dating from the death of her father on into perpetuity. Not that Miss Emily would have accepted charity. Colonel Sartoris invented an involved tale to the effect that Miss Emily's father had loaned money to the town, which the town, as a matter of business, preferred this way of repaying. Only a man of Colonel Sartoris' generation and thought could have invented it, and only a woman could have believed it.

When the next generation, with its more modern ideas, became mayors and aldermen, this arrangement created some little dissatisfaction. On the first of the year they mailed her a tax notice. February came, and there was no reply. They wrote her a formal letter, asking her to call at the sheriff's office at her convenience. A week later the mayor wrote her himself, offering to call or to send his car for her, and received in reply a note on paper of an archaic shape, in a thin, flowing calligraphy in faded ink, to the effect that she no longer went out at all. The tax notice was also enclosed, without comment.

They called a special meeting of the Board of Aldermen. A deputation waited upon her, knocked at the door through which no visitor had passed since she ceased giving china-painting lessons eight or ten years earlier. They were admitted by the old Negro into a dim hall from which a stairway mounted into still more shadow. It smelled of dust and disuse--a close, dank smell. The Negro led them into the parlor. It was furnished in heavy, leather-covered furniture. When the Negro opened the blinds of one window, they could see that the leather was cracked; and when they sat down, a faint dust rose sluggishly about their thighs, spinning with slow motes in the single sun-ray. On a tarnished gilt easel before the fireplace stood a crayon portrait of Miss Emily's father.

They rose when she entered--a small, fat woman in black, with a thin gold chain descending to her waist and vanishing into her belt, leaning on an ebony cane with a tarnished gold head. Her skeleton was small and spare; perhaps that was why what would have been merely plumpness in another was obesity in her. She looked bloated, like a body long submerged in motionless water, and of that pallid hue. Her eyes, lost in the fatty ridges of her face, looked like two small pieces of coal pressed into a lump of dough as they moved from one face to another while the visitors stated their errand.

She did not ask them to sit. She just stood in the door and listened quietly until the spokesman came to a stumbling halt. Then they could hear the invisible watch ticking at the end of the gold chain.

Her voice was dry and cold. "I have no taxes in Jefferson. Colonel Sartoris explained it to me. Perhaps one of you can gain access to the city records and satisfy yourselves."

"But we have. We are the city authorities, Miss Emily. Didn't you get a notice from the sheriff, signed by him?"

"I received a paper, yes," Miss Emily said. "Perhaps he considers himself the sheriff . . . I have no taxes in Jefferson."

"But there is nothing on the books to show that, you see We must go by the--"

"See Colonel Sartoris. I have no taxes in Jefferson."

"But, Miss Emily--"

"See Colonel Sartoris." (Colonel Sartoris had been dead almost ten years.) "I have no taxes in Jefferson. Tobe!" The Negro appeared. "Show these gentlemen out."


II

So SHE vanquished them, horse and foot, just as she had vanquished their fathers thirty years before about the smell.

That was two years after her father's death and a short time after her sweetheart--the one we believed would marry her --had deserted her. After her father's death she went out very little; after her sweetheart went away, people hardly saw her at all. A few of the ladies had the temerity to call, but were not received, and the only sign of life about the place was the Negro man--a young man then--going in and out with a market basket.

"Just as if a man--any man--could keep a kitchen properly, "the ladies said; so they were not surprised when the smell developed. It was another link between the gross, teeming world and the high and mighty Griersons.

A neighbor, a woman, complained to the mayor, Judge Stevens, eighty years old.

"But what will you have me do about it, madam?" he said.

"Why, send her word to stop it," the woman said. "Isn't there a law? "

"I'm sure that won't be necessary," Judge Stevens said. "It's probably just a snake or a rat that nigger of hers killed in the yard. I'll speak to him about it."

The next day he received two more complaints, one from a man who came in diffident deprecation. "We really must do something about it, Judge. I'd be the last one in the world to bother Miss Emily, but we've got to do something." That night the Board of Aldermen met--three graybeards and one younger man, a member of the rising generation.

"It's simple enough," he said. "Send her word to have her place cleaned up. Give her a certain time to do it in, and if she don't. .."

"Dammit, sir," Judge Stevens said, "will you accuse a lady to her face of smelling bad?"

So the next night, after midnight, four men crossed Miss Emily's lawn and slunk about the house like burglars, sniffing along the base of the brickwork and at the cellar openings while one of them performed a regular sowing motion with his hand out of a sack slung from his shoulder. They broke open the cellar door and sprinkled lime there, and in all the outbuildings. As they recrossed the lawn, a window that had been dark was lighted and Miss Emily sat in it, the light behind her, and her upright torso motionless as that of an idol. They crept quietly across the lawn and into the shadow of the locusts that lined the street. After a week or two the smell went away.

That was when people had begun to feel really sorry for her. People in our town, remembering how old lady Wyatt, her great-aunt, had gone completely crazy at last, believed that the Griersons held themselves a little too high for what they really were. None of the young men were quite good enough for Miss Emily and such. We had long thought of them as a tableau, Miss Emily a slender figure in white in the background, her father a spraddled silhouette in the foreground, his back to her and clutching a horsewhip, the two of them framed by the back-flung front door. So when she got to be thirty and was still single, we were not pleased exactly, but vindicated; even with insanity in the family she wouldn't have turned down all of her chances if they had really materialized.

When her father died, it got about that the house was all that was left to her; and in a way, people were glad. At last they could pity Miss Emily. Being left alone, and a pauper, she had become humanized. Now she too would know the old thrill and the old despair of a penny more or less.

The day after his death all the ladies prepared to call at the house and offer condolence and aid, as is our custom Miss Emily met them at the door, dressed as usual and with no trace of grief on her face. She told them that her father was not dead. She did that for three days, with the ministers calling on her, and the doctors, trying to persuade her to let them dispose of the body. Just as they were about to resort to law and force, she broke down, and they buried her father quickly.

We did not say she was crazy then. We believed she had to do that. We remembered all the young men her father had driven away, and we knew that with nothing left, she would have to cling to that which had robbed her, as people will.


III

SHE WAS SICK for a long time. When we saw her again, her hair was cut short, making her look like a girl, with a vague resemblance to those angels in colored church windows--sort of tragic and serene.

The town had just let the contracts for paving the sidewalks, and in the summer after her father's death they began the work. The construction company came with niggers and mules and machinery, and a foreman named Homer Barron, a Yankee--a big, dark, ready man, with a big voice and eyes lighter than his face. The little boys would follow in groups to hear him cuss the niggers, and the niggers singing in time to the rise and fall of picks. Pretty soon he knew everybody in town. Whenever you heard a lot of laughing anywhere about the square, Homer Barron would be in the center of the group. Presently we began to see him and Miss Emily on Sunday afternoons driving in the yellow-wheeled buggy and the matched team of bays from the livery stable.

At first we were glad that Miss Emily would have an interest, because the ladies all said, "Of course a Grierson would not think seriously of a Northerner, a day laborer." But there were still others, older people, who said that even grief could not cause a real lady to forget noblesse oblige- -

without calling it noblesse oblige. They just said, "Poor Emily. Her kinsfolk should come to her." She had some kin in Alabama; but years ago her father had fallen out with them over the estate of old lady Wyatt, the crazy woman, and there was no communication between the two families. They had not even been represented at the funeral.

 

And as soon as the old people said, "Poor Emily," the whispering began. "Do you suppose it's really so?" they said to one another. "Of course it is. What else could . . ." This behind their hands; rustling of craned silk and satin behind jalousies closed upon the sun of Sunday afternoon as the thin, swift clop-clop-clop of the matched team passed: "Poor Emily."

She carried her head high enough--even when we believed that she was fallen. It was as if she demanded more than ever the recognition of her dignity as the last Grierson; as if it had wanted that touch of earthiness to reaffirm her imperviousness. Like when she bought the rat poison, the arsenic. That was over a year after they had begun to say "Poor Emily," and while the two female cousins were visiting her.

"I want some poison," she said to the druggist. She was over thirty then, still a slight woman, though thinner than usual, with cold, haughty black eyes in a face the flesh of which was strained across the temples and about the eyesockets as you imagine a lighthouse-keeper's face ought to look. "I want some poison," she said.

"Yes, Miss Emily. What kind? For rats and such? I'd recom--"

"I want the best you have. I don't care what kind."

The druggist named several. "They'll kill anything up to an elephant. But what you want is--"

"Arsenic," Miss Emily said. "Is that a good one?"

"Is . . . arsenic? Yes, ma'am. But what you want--"

"I want arsenic."

The druggist looked down at her. She looked back at him, erect, her face like a strained flag. "Why, of course," the druggist said. "If that's what you want. But the law requires you to tell what you are going to use it for."

Miss Emily just stared at him, her head tilted back in order to look him eye for eye, until he looked away and went and got the arsenic and wrapped it up. The Negro delivery boy brought her the package; the druggist didn't come back. When she opened the package at home there was written on the box, under the skull and bones: "For rats."


IV

So THE NEXT day we all said, "She will kill herself"; and we said it would be the best thing. When she had first begun to be seen with Homer Barron, we had said, "She will marry him." Then we said, "She will persuade him yet," because Homer himself had remarked--he liked men, and it was known that he drank with the younger men in the Elks' Club--that he was not a marrying man. Later we said, "Poor Emily" behind the jalousies as they passed on Sunday afternoon in the glittering buggy, Miss Emily with her head high and Homer Barron with his hat cocked and a cigar in his teeth, reins and whip in a yellow glove.

Then some of the ladies began to say that it was a disgrace to the town and a bad example to the young people. The men did not want to interfere, but at last the ladies forced the Baptist minister--Miss Emily's people were Episcopal-- to call upon her. He would never divulge what happened during that interview, but he refused to go back again. The next Sunday they again drove about the streets, and the following day the minister's wife wrote to Miss Emily's relations in Alabama.

So she had blood-kin under her roof again and we sat back to watch developments. At first nothing happened. Then we were sure that they were to be married. We learned that Miss Emily had been to the jeweler's and ordered a man's toilet set in silver, with the letters H. B. on each piece. Two days later we learned that she had bought a complete outfit of men's clothing, including a nightshirt, and we said, "They are married." We were really glad. We were glad because the two female cousins were even more Grierson than Miss Emily had ever been.

So we were not surprised when Homer Barron--the streets had been finished some time since--was gone. We were a little disappointed that there was not a public blowing-off, but we believed that he had gone on to prepare for Miss Emily's coming, or to give her a chance to get rid of the cousins. (By that time it was a cabal, and we were all Miss Emily's allies to help circumvent the cousins.) Sure enough, after another week they departed. And, as we had expected all along, within three days Homer Barron was back in town. A neighbor saw the Negro man admit him at the kitchen door at dusk one evening.

And that was the last we saw of Homer Barron. And of Miss Emily for some time. The Negro man went in and out with the market basket, but the front door remained closed. Now and then we would see her at a window for a moment, as the men did that night when they sprinkled the lime, but for almost six months she did not appear on the streets. Then we knew that this was to be expected too; as if that quality of her father which had thwarted her woman's life so many times had been too virulent and too furious to die.

When we next saw Miss Emily, she had grown fat and her hair was turning gray. During the next few years it grew grayer and grayer until it attained an even pepper-and-salt iron-gray, when it ceased turning. Up to the day of her death at seventy-four it was still that vigorous iron-gray, like the hair of an active man.

From that time on her front door remained closed, save for a period of six or seven years, when she was about forty, during which she gave lessons in china-painting. She fitted up a studio in one of the downstairs rooms, where the daughters and granddaughters of Colonel Sartoris' contemporaries were sent to her with the same regularity and in the same spirit that they were sent to church on Sundays with a twenty-five-cent piece for the collection plate. Meanwhile her taxes had been remitted.

Then the newer generation became the backbone and the spirit of the town, and the painting pupils grew up and fell away and did not send their children to her with boxes of color and tedious brushes and pictures cut from the ladies' magazines. The front door closed upon the last one and remained closed for good. When the town got free postal delivery, Miss Emily alone refused to let them fasten the metal numbers above her door and attach a mailbox to it. She would not listen to them.

Daily, monthly, yearly we watched the Negro grow grayer and more stooped, going in and out with the market basket. Each December we sent her a tax notice, which would be returned by the post office a week later, unclaimed. Now and then we would see her in one of the downstairs windows--she had evidently shut up the top floor of the house--like the carven torso of an idol in a niche, looking or not looking at us, we could never tell which. Thus she passed from generation to generation--dear, inescapable, impervious, tranquil, and perverse.

And so she died. Fell ill in the house filled with dust and shadows, with only a doddering Negro man to wait on her. We did not even know she was sick; we had long since given up trying to get any information from the Negro

He talked to no one, probably not even to her, for his voice had grown harsh and rusty, as if from disuse.

She died in one of the downstairs rooms, in a heavy walnut bed with a curtain, her gray head propped on a pillow yellow and moldy with age and lack of sunlight.


V

THE NEGRO met the first of the ladies at the front door and let them in, with their hushed, sibilant voices and their quick, curious glances, and then he disappeared. He walked right through the house and out the back and was not seen again.

The two female cousins came at once. They held the funeral on the second day, with the town coming to look at Miss Emily beneath a mass of bought flowers, with the crayon face of her father musing profoundly above the bier and the ladies sibilant and macabre; and the very old men --some in their brushed Confederate uniforms--on the porch and the lawn, talking of Miss Emily as if she had been a contemporary of theirs, believing that they had danced with her and courted her perhaps, confusing time with its mathematical progression, as the old do, to whom all the past is not a diminishing road but, instead, a huge meadow which no winter ever quite touches, divided from them now by the narrow bottle-neck of the most recent decade of years.

Already we knew that there was one room in that region above stairs which no one had seen in forty years, and which would have to be forced. They waited until Miss Emily was decently in the ground before they opened it.

The violence of breaking down the door seemed to fill this room with pervading dust. A thin, acrid pall as of the tomb seemed to lie everywhere upon this room decked and furnished as for a bridal: upon the valance curtains of faded rose color, upon the rose-shaded lights, upon the dressing table, upon the delicate array of crystal and the man's toilet things backed with tarnished silver, silver so tarnished that the monogram was obscured. Among them lay a collar and tie, as if they had just been removed, which, lifted, left upon the surface a pale crescent in the dust. Upon a chair hung the suit, carefully folded; beneath it the two mute shoes and the discarded socks.

The man himself lay in the bed.

For a long while we just stood there, looking down at the profound and fleshless grin. The body had apparently once lain in the attitude of an embrace, but now the long sleep that outlasts love, that conquers even the grimace of love, had cuckolded him. What was left of him, rotted beneath what was left of the nightshirt, had become inextricable from the bed in which he lay; and upon him and upon the pillow beside him lay that even coating of the patient and biding dust.

Then we noticed that in the second pillow was the indentation of a head. One of us lifted something from it, and leaning forward, that faint and invisible dust dry and acrid in the nostrils, we saw a long strand of iron-gray hair.

原文資料來源~http://xroads.virginia.edu/~drbr/wf_rose.html

創作者介紹
創作者 Eileen Hsu 的頭像
Eileen Hsu

Eileen Hsu 的部落格

Eileen Hsu 發表在 痞客邦 留言(0) 人氣()