世界经典名著《荆棘鸟》是澳大利亚当代著名女作家Colleen Mccullough(考琳·麦卡洛,1937— )的长篇代表作之一,自1977年问世以来,迅速成为风靡全球的国际畅销小说,并先后被改编成影视剧,是20世纪80年代最佳畅销书之一。小说情节曲折生动,结构严密精巧,文笔清新婉丽,被誉为“澳大利亚的《飘》”。
When Meggie came into the room 1)Cardinal Ralph hardly knew her. It was thirteen years since he had last seen her; she was fifty-three and he was seventy-one. Both of them had aged now. Her face hadn’t changed so much as settled, and into a mold unlike the one he had given her in his imagination. Substitute a 2)trenchant 3)incisiveness for sweetness, 4)a touch of 5)iron for softness; she resembled a vigorous, aging, 6)willful 7)martyr rather than the 8)resigned, contemplative saint of his dreams. Her beauty was as striking as ever, her eyes still that clear silvery grey, but both had hardened, and the once 9)vivid hair had faded to a 10)drab 11)beige. Most disconcerting of all, she wouldn’t look at him for long enough to satisfy his eager and loving curiosity. Unable to greet this Meggie naturally, he stiffly indicated a chair. “Please sit down.”
“Thank you,” she said, equally 12)stilted. It was only when she was seated and he could gaze down upon her whole person that he noticed how visibly swollen her feet and ankles were. “Meggie! Have you flown all the way through from Australia without breaking your journey? What’s the matter?”
“Yes, I did fly straight through,” she said. “For the past twenty-nine hours I’ve been sitting in planes between 13)Gilly and Rome, with nothing to do except stare out the window at the clouds, and think.” Her voice was harsh, cold.
“What’s the matter?” he repeated impatiently, anxious and fearful. She lifted her gaze from her feet and looked at him steadily. There was something awful in her eyes; something so dark and chilling that the skin on the back of his neck 14)crawled and automatically he put his hand up to 15)stroke it.
“Dane is dead,” said Meggie. His hand slipped, 16)flopped like a 17)rag doll’s into his lap as he sank into a chair. “Dead?” he asked slowly. “Dane dead?” “Yes. He was drowned six days ago in 18)Crete, rescuing some women from the sea.”
He leaned forward, put his hands over his face. “Dead?” she heard him say indistinctly. “Dane dead? My beautiful boy! He can’t be dead! Dane—he was the perfect priest—all that I couldn’t be. What I lacked he had.” His voice broke. “He always had it—that was what we all recognized—all of us who aren’t perfect priests. Dead? Oh, dear Lord!”
“Don’t 19)bother about your dear Lord, Ralph,” said the stranger sitting opposite him. “You have more important things to do. I came to ask for your help—not to witness your grief. I’ve had all those hours in the air to20)go over the way I’d tell you this, all those hours just staring out the window at the clouds knowing Dane is dead. After that, your grief has no power to move me.”
Yet when he lifted his face from his hands her dead cold heart 21)bounded, 22)twisted, leaped. It was Dane’s face, with a suffering written upon it that Dane would never live to feel. Oh, thank God he’s dead, can never now go through what this man has, what I have. Better he’s dead than to suffer something like this.
“How can I help, Meggie?” he asked quietly, suppressing his own emotions to 23)don the soul-deep 24)guise of her spiritual counselor.
“They’ve buried Dane somewhere on Crete, and I can’t find out where, when, why.” She leaned forward in her chair tensely. “I want my boy back, Ralph, I want him found and brought home to sleep where he belongs. I’d keep him on 25)Drogheda and I will, if I have to crawl on my hands and knees through every graveyard on Crete. No fancy Roman priest’s tomb for him, Ralph. He’s to come home.”
“No one is going to deny you that, Meggie,” he said gently. “It’s 26)consecrated Catholic ground, which is all the Church asks. I too have requested that I be buried on Drogheda.”
“I can’t get through all the 27)red tape,” she went on, as if he hadn’t spoken. “I can’t speak Greek, and I have no power or influence. So I came to you, to use yours. Get me back my son, Ralph!”
“Don’t worry, Meggie, we’ll get him back, though it may not be very quickly. However, I’m not without friends in Greece, so it will be done. Let me start the 28)wheels in motion immediately, and don’t worry. He is a priest of the Holy Catholic Church, we’ll get him back.” His hand had gone to the 29)bell cord, but Meggie’s coldly fierce gaze 30)stilled it.
“You don’t understand, Ralph. I don’t want wheels set in motion. I want my son back—not next week or next month, but now! You speak Greek, you can get visas for yourself and me, you’ll get results. I want you to come to Greece with me now, and help me get my son back.”
There was much in his eyes: tenderness, compassion, shock, grief. But they had become the priest’s eyes too, sane, logical, reasonable. “Meggie, I love your son as if he were my own, but I can’t leave Rome at the moment. I’m not a 31)free agent—you above all others should know that. No matter how much I may feel for you, how much I may feel on my own account, I can’t leave Rome in the midst of a vital congress. I am the 32)Holy Father’s 33)aide.”
She 34)reared back, stunned and outraged, then shook her head, half-smiling as if at the 35)antics of some 36)inanimate object beyond her power to influence; then she trembled, licked her lips, seemed to come to a decision and sat up straight and stiff. “Do you really love my son as if he were your own, Ralph?” she asked. “What would you do for a son of yours? Could you sit back then and say to his mother, No, I’m very sorry, I can’t possibly 37)take the time off? Could you say that to the mother of your son?” Dane’s eyes, yet not Dane’s eyes. Looking at her; bewildered, full of pain, helpless.
“Dane was your son too,” said Meggie.
He stared at her blankly. “What?”
“I said, Dane was your son too. When I left38)Matlock Island I was pregnant. Dane was yours, not Luke O’Neill’s.”
“I never intended you to know, even now,” she said. “Would I lie to you?”
“To get Dane back? Yes,” he said faintly.
She got up, came to stand over him in the red 39)brocade chair, took his thin, 40)parchment-like hand in hers, bent and kissed the ring, the breath of her voice misting its ruby to milky 41)dullness. “By all that you hold holy, Ralph, I swear that Dane was your son. He was not and could not have been Luke’s. By his death I swear it.”
There was a 42)wail, the sound of a soul passing between the 43)portals of Hell. Ralph de Bricassart fell forward out of the chair and wept, huddled on the crimson carpet in a scarlet 44)pool like new blood, his face hidden in his folded arms, his hands clutching at his hair.
“Yes, cry!” said Meggie. “Cry, now that you know! It’s right that one of his parents be able to shed tears for him. Cry, Ralph! For twenty-six years I had your son and you didn’t even know it, you couldn’t even see it. Couldn’t see that he was you all over again! When my mother took him from me at birth she knew, but you never did. Your hands, your feet, your face, your eyes, your body. Only the color of his hair was his own; all the rest was you. Do you understand now? ”
She sat in her chair, 45)implacable and 46)unpitying, and watched the scarlet form in its agony on the floor. “I loved you, Ralph, but you were never mine. Dane was my part, all I could get from you. I vowed you’d never know, I vowed you’d never have the chance to take him away from me. And then he gave himself to you, of his own free will. The 47)image of the perfect priest, he called you. What a laugh I had over that one! But not for anything would I have given you a weapon like knowing he was yours. Except for this! For nothing less would I have told you. He doesn’t belong to either of us anymore… ”