开门的钥匙



每一把钥匙都有自己的故事,而钥匙的种类却是不少:有家臣①的钥匙,有开钟的钥匙,有圣彼得大教堂②的钥匙。我们可以谈到种种钥匙,不过现在我们只谈谈家臣的那把开门的钥匙。

大门钥匙概述

《大门钥匙》讲的是一把神奇的钥匙可以预知未来,对它提问题,它都能一一回答。内侍长用这把钥匙提前知道了很多关于未来的事情,并最后与洛特—莲妮结婚。

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大门钥匙

每一把钥匙都有自己的故事,而钥匙的种类却是不少:有家臣①的钥匙,有开钟的钥匙,有圣彼得大教堂②的钥匙。我们可以谈到种种钥匙,不过现在我们只谈谈家臣的那把开门的钥匙。

它是在一个锁匠店里出世的;不过人们在它身上锤和挫得那么厉害,人们可能相信它是一个铁匠的产品。就裤袋说来,它是太大了,因此人们只好把它装在上衣袋里。它在这个袋里经常待在黑暗之中;不过它在墙上也有一个固定的位置;这个位置是在家臣的一张儿时画像的旁边——在这张像里,他的一副样儿倒颇像衬衫皱襞包着的肉丸。

人们说,在某些星宿下出生的人,会在自己的性格和品行中带有这些星宿的某些特点——如历书上所写的金牛宫啦、处女宫啦、天蝎宫啦。家臣的太太没有提起任何这类星宿的名字,而只是说她的丈夫是在“手车星”下面出生的,因为他老是要人向前推几下才能动。

他的父亲把他推到一个办公室里去,他的母亲把他推到结婚的路上去,他的太太把他推到家臣的职位上去——不过最后这件事她不讲出来,因为她是一个非常有分寸的女人:她在适当的场合下沉默,在适当的场合下讲话和向前推进。

现在他的年事渐长了,正如他自己所说的“肥瘦适中”;他是一个有教养、有幽默感的人,对于钥匙,具有丰富的知识——关于钥匙的问题,我们待一会儿就会知道。他老是心情愉快;大家都喜欢他,愿意和他谈话。他上城里去的时候,要不是他的妈妈在后面推着,是很难把他弄回家里来的。他必然会跟他碰到的每一个熟人谈一通,而他的熟人却是多如过江之鲫。这弄得他总是把吃饭的时间耽误了。

家臣太太坐在窗口盼望他。“现在他来了!”她对女佣人说,“快把锅放上!……现在他又停下来了,跟一个什么人在谈话,快把锅拿下来吧,不然菜就煮得太烂了!……现在他来了!是的,把锅再放上吧!”

不过他还是没有来。

他可以站在窗子下面对她点头,但是只要有一个熟人走过,他就控制不住自己;要跟这人说一两句话。假如他在跟这个人谈话时而又有另一个熟人走过,那么他就抓住这个人的扣子洞,握住那个人的手,而同时大声地对快要经过的第三个熟人打招呼。

对于太太的耐心说来,这真是一个考验。“家臣!家臣!”她于是就这样喊起来。“是的,此人是在手车星宿下出生的,不把他推一下,他就走不动!”

他非常喜欢到书店里去,翻翻书和杂志。他送给书商一些小礼物,为的是要得到许可把新书借回家里来看——这就是说,得到许可把书的直边裁开,而不是把书的顶上横边裁开③,因为如果这样做,就不能当做新书出卖了。他是一本活的礼仪规范杂志:他知道一切关于订婚、结婚、入葬、书本子上的闲话和街头巷尾的闲话等事情。许多人们所不知道的东西,他能做出神秘的暗示叫人知道。这一套本领他是从开门钥匙那里得来的。

家臣和他的太太从还是一对年轻的新婚夫妇的时候起,就住在自己的公馆里。那时,他们就有了这把钥匙,不过那时他们不知道它出奇的能力——他们只是后来才知道的。

那是在国王腓特烈六世④统治的时代。哥本哈根在那时还没有煤气。那时还只用油灯,还没有提佛里或者卡新诺⑤;还没有电车,没有铁路。比起现在来,娱乐的地方并没有多少。星期天,人们只是走出城外,到“互助教堂”去游览,读坟上刻的字,坐在草地上,吃装在篮子里的东西,喝点烧酒;不然就到佛列得里克斯堡公园去,这儿有一个乐队在宫殿面前奏乐。许多人到这儿来专门看皇室的人在那又小又狭窄的运河上划船。老国王在船上掌舵;他和皇后对众人不分等级上下,一律点头。有钱的人家特别从城里到这里来吃晚茶。他们可以从花园外面的农舍里得到开水,至于其他东西,他们就得自己准备了。

家臣的一家人在一个阳光很好的星期天下午也到这儿来。他们的女佣人提着茶壶和一篮子食物及“一滴斯本得路普浓酒”走在前面。

“把开门钥匙带着吧!”太太说,“好叫我们回来时可以进来。你知道,他们天一擦黑就把门锁上了,而门铃绳子昨天又断了!……我们要很晚才回家!而且游了佛列得里克斯堡以后,还要到西桥的加索蒂戏院去看哑剧《收获人的头目哈列金》;他们从云块上降下来;每张票价是两个马克。”

这样,他们就到佛列得里克斯堡去,听了音乐,看了飘着国旗的御船,瞧见了老国王和雪白的天鹅。他们痛痛快快地吃了一顿茶点以后就匆匆地走了,但是到戏院里仍然没有按时。

踩绳这个节目已经完了,高跷舞也告一结束,哑剧早已开始;他们照例是迟到了;这应该怪这位家臣。他在路上每分钟要停一下,跟某个熟人谈几句,在戏院里他又碰见很多好朋友。等这个节目演完以后,他和他的太太又非得陪一家熟人回到西桥的家里去喝一杯潘趣酒不可;本来这只须10分钟就可以喝完的,但是他们却拉长到一个钟头。他们简直谈不完。特别有趣的是瑞典的一位男爵——也可能是一位德国的男爵吧?这位家臣记不太清楚。可是相反,这位男爵教给他的关于钥匙的花样,他却一直记得清清楚楚。这真是了不起!他可以叫钥匙回答他的一切问题,甚至最秘密的事情。

家臣的钥匙特别适合于这个目的。它的头特别沉重,所以非倒悬着不可。男爵把钥匙的把手放在右手的食指上。它轻松愉快地悬在那儿;他指尖上每一次脉搏的跳动都可以使它动,使它摆,如果它不动,男爵就知道怎样叫它按照他的意志转,而不被人察觉。每一次转动代表一个字母,从A开始,直到我们所希望的任何字母。第一个字母出现以后,钥匙就朝相反的方向转,于是我们就可以找下一个字母。“这样我们就可以得出整个字,整个句,整个问题的答案。这完全是虚构的,但是有趣。这位家臣最初的看法也是这样,但是他没有坚持下去。他被钥匙迷住了。

“先生!先生!”他的太太喊起来。“西城门在12点钟就要关呀!我们进不去了,现在只剩下一刻钟了。”

他们得赶快。有好几位想回到城里去的人匆匆在他们身旁走过。当他们快要走近最后一个哨所的时候,钟正在敲12下,门于是就砰的一声关上了。一大堆人被关在外面,包括这对家臣夫妇和那位提着茶壶和一个空篮子的女佣人。有的人站在那儿感到万分惶恐,有的人感到非常烦恼。每个人的心情都不同。究竟怎么办呢?

很幸运的是:最近曾经决定过,有一个城门——北门——不关,步行的人可以通过那儿的哨所钻进城里去。

这一段路可不很短,不过天气非常可爱;天空是清净无尘,布满了星星;水沟和池塘里是一片蛙声。这一行人士开始唱起歌来——一个接着一个地唱。不过这位家臣既不唱歌,也不看星星,甚至还不看自己的腿。因此他就一个倒栽葱,在水沟旁跌了一交,人们可能以为他的酒喝得太多了一点;不过钻到他脑袋里去,在那儿打转的东西倒不是潘趣酒,而是那个钥匙。

最后他们来到了北门的哨所,走过桥,进入城里去。

“我现在算是放心了!”太太说。“到了我们的门口了!”

“但是开门的钥匙在什么地方呢?”家臣问。它既不在后边的衣袋里,也不在侧边的衣袋里。

“我的天!”他的太太喊着。“你把钥匙丢掉了吗?你一定是在跟那位男爵玩钥匙花样时遗失了的。我们现在怎样进去呢?门铃绳子昨天断了,更夫又没有开我们房子的钥匙。这简直叫我们走投无路!”

女佣人开始呜咽地哭起来。只有这位家臣是唯一能保持镇静的人。

“我们得把那个杂货商人⑥的窗玻璃打破!”他说;“把他喊起来,然后走进去。”

他打破了一块玻璃。接着又打破了两块。“比得生!”他喊着;同时把阳伞的把手伸进窗子里去。地下室的人的女儿在里面尖叫起来。这人把店门打开,大声喊:“更夫!”但是他一看到家臣一家人,马上就认出来了,让他们进来。更夫吹着哨子;附近街上的另一个更夫也用哨子来回答。许多人都挤到窗子这边来。

“什么地方火烧起来了?什么地方出了乱子?”大家都问。等这位家臣回到了他的房间里去,他们还在问。他把上衣脱掉……他的钥匙恰恰就在那里面——不在衣袋里,却在衬布里。原来它从衣袋里不应该有的一个洞溜到那儿去了。

从那天晚上开始,钥匙就有了一种特殊的巨大意义,不仅是他们晚上出去的时候,就是他们坐在家里的时候都是如此。这家臣表现出他的聪明,让钥匙来回答一切问题。他自己想出最可能的答案,而却让钥匙讲出来,直到后来他自己也把答案信以为真了。不过一个药剂师——他是和家臣太太有亲戚关系的一个年轻人——不相信这一套。

药剂师有一个聪明的头脑;他从学生时代起就写过书评和剧评,但是他从来没有署过自己的名字——这是一件重要的事情。他是我们所谓的有精力的人,可是他不相信精灵,也不相信钥匙精。

“是的,我相信,我相信,”他说,“亲爱的家臣,我相信钥匙和一切钥匙精,正如我相信现在开始为大家所明了的新科学:灵动术⑦和新旧家具的精灵。你听到人们说过没有?我听到过!我曾经怀疑过。你知道,我是一个怀疑论者,但是我在一个相当可信的外国杂志上读到一个可怕的故事——而我被说服了。家臣,你能想象得到吗?我把我所知道的这个故事讲给你听吧。

“两个聪明的孩子看到过他们的父母把一张大餐桌的精灵叫醒。当这两个小家伙单独在房间里的时候,他们想用同样的方法把一个柜子叫醒。它有了生命了,它的精灵醒了,但是它却不理两个孩子的命令。它自己立起来,发出一个破裂声,把抽屉都倒出来了,接着用它的两只木腿把这两个孩子各抱进一个抽屉里去。柜子装着他们跑出敞开的门,跑下楼梯,跑到街上,一直冲到运河里去,把两个孩子都淹死了。这两具小尸体被埋在基督徒的坟地里,但是柜子却被带到市府的会议厅里去,作为孩子的谋杀犯而判处死刑,在市场上活活地烧死了。

“我读到过这个故事!”药剂师说,“在一本外国杂志上读到过,这并不是我自己捏造的。凭这把钥匙作证,这是真事!我庄严地发誓!”

家臣认为这类故事简直是一种粗暴的玩笑。关于钥匙的事儿,两个人永远谈不到一起;在钥匙问题上,药剂师完全是一个糊涂虫。

对于钥匙的知识,家臣不断地获得进步。钥匙成了他的娱乐和智慧的源泉。

有一天晚上,家臣上床去睡觉;当他把衣服脱了一半的时候,忽然听到走廊上有人敲门。这是那个杂货商人。他的来访真是迟了。他的衣服也脱了一半,不过他说他忽然想起了一件事情,只怕过了一夜就会忘记。

“我所要说的是关于我的女儿洛特·伦的事情。她是一个美丽的女孩子,她已经受了坚信礼,现在我想把她好好地安顿一下。”

“我的太太还没有死呀,”家臣说,同时微笑了一下,“而我又没有儿子可以介绍给她。”

“我想您懂得我的意思,家臣!”杂货商人说。“她能弹钢琴,也能唱歌。您也许在这屋子的楼上听到过。您不知道这个女孩能做些什么事情。她能够模仿各种人说话和走路的样子。她是一个天生的演员,这对于出身良家的女孩子是一条好出路。她们可能嫁给伯爵,不过这并不是我,或者洛特·伦的想法。她能唱歌,能弹钢琴!所以前天我陪她一起到声乐学校去过一次。她唱了一下,但是她缺乏那种女子所必须有的浊音,也没有人们对于一个女歌唱家所要求的那种金丝鸟般的最高的尖嗓子。因此他们都建议她别干那一行。后来我想,如果她不能成为一个歌唱家,她无论如何可以成为一个演员——一个演员只要能背台词就行。今天我跟教师——人们这样叫他——谈过话。‘她的书读得多吗?’他问。‘不多’,我说。‘什么也没有读过!’他说:‘多读书对于一个艺术家是必要的!’我想这件事还不难办;所以我就回到家里来。我想,她可以到一个租阅图书馆去,读那里所有的书。不过,今天晚上当我坐着正在脱衣服的时候,我忽然想起:当我想要借书的时候,为什么要去租书呢?家里有的是书,让她去读吧。她读也读不完,而且她一文不花就能读到。”

“洛特·伦是一个可爱的女子!”家臣说,“一个漂亮的女子!她应该有书读。不过她脑子里有没有人们所谓的‘精气’——即天才——呢?更重要的是:她有没有——福气呢?”

“她中过两次彩票,”杂货商人说。“有一次她抽到一个衣柜,另一次抽到六条床单。我把这叫做幸运,而她是有这种幸运的!”

“我要问问钥匙看,”家臣说。他把钥匙放在右手的食指上和商人的食指上,让它转动起来,接二连三地标出一系列的字母。

钥匙说:“胜利和幸运!”所以洛特·伦的未来就这么确定了。

家臣立刻给她两本书读:关于“杜威克”⑧的剧本和克尼格⑨的《处世与交友》。

从这天晚上开始,洛特·伦和家臣家庭间的一种亲密的关系就开始了。她常来拜访这家;家臣认为她是一个聪明的女子。她也相信他和钥匙。家臣太太从她时时刻刻在不知不觉中所表现出来的无知中,发现了她有某种孩子气和天真。这对夫妇,每人根据自己的一套看法来喜爱她,而她也是一样地喜爱他们。

“楼上有一阵非常好闻的香气,”洛特·伦说。

走廊上飘着一种香味,一种芬芳的气味,一种苹果的香味——家臣太太曾经在走廊上放了整整一桶“格洛斯登苹果⑩”,所有的房间里也飘着一种喷香的玫瑰花和燕衣草的气味。

“这真是可爱!”洛特·伦说。

家臣太太经常在这儿陈设着许多美丽的花儿,洛特·伦真是把眼睛都看花了。是的,甚至在冬天,这儿都有紫丁香和樱桃的枝子在开着花。插在水里的这些枝子,在温暖的房间里,很快地就冒出叶,开出花来。

“人们可能以为这些光赤的枝子已经没有生命了。可是,请看它们怎样起死回生吧。”

“我以前从来没有看见过这样的东西,”洛特·伦说。“大自然真是美妙!”

于是家臣就让她看看他的“钥匙书”。这书里记载着钥匙所讲过的一切奇异的事情——甚至一天晚上,当他的女佣人的爱人来看她时,橱柜里的半块苹果饼不见了的这类事情也被记载下来了。

家臣问他的钥匙:“谁吃了那块苹果饼——猫儿呢,还是她的爱人?”钥匙回答说:“她的爱人!”家臣在没有问它以前心里早就有数了。女佣人只得承认:这该死的钥匙什么都知道!

“是的,这不是很稀奇吗?”家臣说。“钥匙!钥匙!它对洛特·伦作了这样的预言:‘胜利和幸运!’——我们将会看到它实现的——我敢负责!”

“那真是好极了,”洛特·伦说。

家臣太太并不轻易相信这种话,但是她不当面表示怀疑,因为她怕丈夫听见。不过后来她告诉洛特·伦说,家臣在年轻的时候曾经是一个戏迷。如果那时有人推他一把,他一定可以成为一个演员;不过他的家庭把他推到另一方面去了。他曾经坚持要进入戏剧界;为了达到这个目的,他曾经写过一部戏。

“亲爱的洛特·伦,这是我告诉你的一件大秘密。那个戏写得并不坏,皇家剧院接受了它,但是它却被观众嘘下了台。因此后来就没有人提起过它了。这种结果倒使我感到很高兴。我是他的太太,我了解他。嗯,你将要走同样的道路——我希望你万事如意,不过我不相信这会成为事实——我不相信钥匙!”

洛特·伦相信它;在这个信仰上,她和家臣的看法一致。他们是诚心诚意地心心相印。

这位小姐有好几种才能,家臣非常欣赏。洛特·伦知道怎样用土豆做出淀粉来,怎样用旧丝袜子织出丝手套,怎样把舞鞋上的绸面子补上——虽然她有钱买新衣服。她像那个杂货商人所说的,“抽屉里有的是银元,钱柜里有的是股票。”家臣太太认为她可以成为那个药剂师的理想的妻子,但是她没有说出口来,也没有让那个钥匙讲出来,药剂师不久就要成家了,而且自己在离这儿最近的一个大城镇里开了药店。

洛特·伦经常读着《杜威克》和克尼格的《处世与交友》。她把这些书保留了两年,其中《杜威克》这本书她记得烂熟;她记得里面所有的人物,不过她只希望成为其中之——杜威克这个角色——同时她不愿在京城里演出,因为那里的人都非常嫉妒,而且也都不欢迎她演出。照家臣的说法,她倒很想在一个较大的乡镇里开始她的艺术事业呢。

这也真是神奇:那个年轻的药剂师就正是在这个乡镇里开业了——如果说他不是这城里唯一的一个年轻的药剂师,却是一个最年轻的药剂师。

那个等待了很久的伟大的一晚终于到来了。洛特·伦要登台了,正如钥匙所说的,要获得胜利和财富了。家臣不在这儿;他病倒在床上,他的太太在看护他。他得用温暖的餐巾,喝甘菊茶;他肚子外面是绷带,他肚子里面是茶。

《杜威克》演出的时候,这对夫妇不在场;不过药剂师却在那儿。他把这次演出的情形写了一封信给他的亲戚——家臣太太。

“最像个样子的是杜威克的绉领!”他写道,“假如家臣的钥匙在我的衣袋里的话,我一定要把它取出来,嘘它几下;她应受这种待遇,开门的钥匙也应受这种待遇——因为它曾经那么无耻地用什么‘胜利和幸运’这类话儿来骗她。”

家臣读了这封信。他说这是一种恶意诽谤——对钥匙的仇恨——而同时却把这仇恨发泄在这个天真女子的身上。

他一能够起床,恢复了健康以后,就马上写了一封简短而恶毒的信给那个药剂师。药剂师也回了一封,其语调好像他在家臣的信里没有读到什么,只看到了玩笑和幽默的话似的。

他感谢他那封信,正如他要感谢家臣以后每次替钥匙的无比价值和重要性所作的宣传一样。接着,他告诉家臣说,他除了做药剂师的工作外,还正在写一部伟大的钥匙传奇。在这部书里,所有的人物毫无例外地都是钥匙。“开门钥匙”当然是里面的主人公,而家臣的开门钥匙就是他的模特儿,具有未卜先知的特性。一切其他的钥匙都围绕着它发展:如那个知道宫廷的豪华和喜庆场面的老家臣的钥匙啦;那个细小、精致、华丽、在铁匠店里值三个铜板的开钟的钥匙啦;那个经常跟牧师打交道的,因为有一夜呆在钥匙孔里而曾经看到过鬼的讲道坛的钥匙啦。储藏室的、柴草房的、酒窖的钥匙都出了场,都在敬礼,并且在开门钥匙的周围活动着。阳光把开门钥匙照得像银子一样亮;风——宇宙的精气——吹进它的身体,使它发出哨子声。它是钥匙工,它是家臣的开门钥匙,现在它是开天国之门的钥匙,它是教皇的钥匙,它是永远不会错的!

“恶意!”家臣说,“骇人的恶意!”

他和药剂师不见面了……是的,只有在家臣的太太安葬时他们才碰头。

她先死了。

屋子里充满了悲哀和惋惜之情。甚至那些开了花、冒了芽的樱桃枝子也由于悲哀而萎谢了。它们被人遗忘了,因为她不能再照料它们。

家臣和药剂师,作为最亲近的亲属,在棺材后面并排地走着。现在他们没有时间,也没有心情来吵嘴了。

洛特·伦在家臣的帽子上围了一条黑纱。她早就回到这儿来了,并没有从她的艺术事业中得到胜利和幸运。不过将来她可能得到胜利和幸运的。洛特·伦有她的前途。钥匙曾经这样说过,家臣也这样说过。

她来看他。他们谈起死者,他们哭起来;洛特·伦是一个软心肠的人。他们谈到艺术;洛特·伦是坚定的。

“舞台生活真是可爱得很!”她说,“可是无聊和嫉妒的事儿也真够多!我宁愿走我自己的道路。先解决我自己的问题,然后再谈艺术!”

克尼格曾经在他关于演员的一章书里说过真话;她知道钥匙并没有说真话,但是她不愿意在家臣面前揭穿它;她太喜欢他了。

在他居丧的这一年中,开门钥匙是他唯一的慰藉。他问它许多问题,它都一一作出回答。这一年完结了以后,有一天晚上他和洛特·伦情意绵绵地坐在一起。他问钥匙:

“我会结婚吗?我会和谁结婚?”

现在没有谁来推他;所以他就只好推这钥匙。它说:“跟洛特·伦。”

话既然是这么说了,洛特·伦也就成了家臣的太太。

“胜利和幸运!”这句话以前已经说过——是开门的钥匙说的。

①“家臣”是封建时代皇家或贵族家里一种“管事”的官职。

②圣彼得大教堂是罗马梵蒂冈的一个大教堂。教皇在这儿举行所有的宗教仪式。它是在1506-1626年建筑的,历时120年。顶高约138米,占地36,450平方米,室内直径210米,里面有30个祭坛。

③在欧洲的许多国家里,特别是法国和意大利,有些书籍是不切边的,因此读者必须自己裁开。这里是说裁开书页的一部分,这样既可阅读,又可仍然作为新书出售。

④腓特烈六世(1768-1839)是丹麦国王(1808-1839),又是挪威国王(1808-1814)。

⑤提佛里是现在哥本哈根市内的一个大游艺场;卡新诺是现在哥本哈根市内的一个大咖啡馆兼游艺场。

⑥在欧洲的大建筑物里.最底下的一层经常不住人,只租给小商人开店。

⑦这是19世纪中叶在欧洲盛行的一种迷信:许多人围着桌子坐着,把手放在桌子上,桌子就会自动地动起来。据说这是因为“精灵”在暗中发生作用。

⑧“杜威克”是荷兰文Duiveke的音译。它是一个荷兰旅店主人的女儿的小名,她后来成了丹麦国王克里斯蒂安二世的情妇。她在1517年暴卒,据说是被人毒死的。

⑨德国的一个男爵Adolf von Knigge。他是一个作家。

⑩这是一种很大的苹果,出产于丹麦尤兰岛上一个叫做格洛斯登的地方。

它是在一个锁匠店里出世的;不过人们在它身上锤和挫得那么厉害,人们可能相信它是一个铁匠的产品。就裤袋说来,它是太大了,因此人们只好把它装在上衣袋里。它在这个袋里经常待在黑暗之中;不过它在墙上也有一个固定的位置;这个位置是在家臣的一张儿时画像的旁边——在这张像里,他的一副样儿倒颇像衬衫皱襞包着的肉丸。

大门钥匙读后感

内侍长的钥匙是原型,它很有预见,具有算命的本事。其他的钥匙,都得围绕着它转。似乎看起来很神奇,甚至内侍长后来和心灵相通的洛特—莲妮结婚了,但在我看来,世界上没有什么可以预见,做人、做事还是要脚踏实地去拼搏,特别是我们,我们是祖国的未来,更应该在读书时候好好储备我们的知识,打包好技术的锦囊,为更好的未来,努力!

人们说,在某些星宿下出生的人,会在自己的性格和品行中带有这些星宿的某些特点——如历书上所写的金牛宫啦、处女宫啦、天蝎宫啦。家臣的太太没有提起任何这类星宿的名字,而只是说她的丈夫是在“手车星”下面出生的,因为他老是要人向前推几下才能动。

英文版:The Gate Key

Every key has a history, and there are many kinds of keys – a
chamberlain’s key, a watch key, Saint Peter’s key. We could tell you
about all the keys; but now we will only tell about the councilor’s gate
key.

It had come into being at a locksmith’s, but it might well have believed
it had been made by a blacksmith, the way the man had worked on it with
hammer and file. It was too large for one’s trouser pocket, so it had to
be put into the overcoat pocket. There it often lay in utter darkness;
yet it had its own special hanging place on the wall, beside a childhood
silhouette of the Councilor, in which he looked like a dumpling dressed
in a frilled shirt.

It is said that every human being acquires in his character and conduct
something from the astrological sign under which he has been born, such
as the Bull, the Virgin, or Scorpion, as they are called in the
almanacs. The Councilor’s wife never mentioned the names of any of
these; she said that her husband was born under the sign of the
“Wheelbarrow,” for he always had to be pushed on. His father had pushed
him into an office; his mother had pushed him into matrimony; and his
wife had pushed him on to become a councilor; the latter fact, however,
she did not mention, being a good, sensible sort of woman who kept quiet
in the right place and spoke and pushed in the right place.

He was now along in years – “well proportioned,” as he said himself – a
well-read man, good-natured, and “key wise” as well, which is something
we shall better understand later. He was always in a good humor, loved
all mankind, and liked to talk to everybody. If he went into the city,
it was difficult to get him home again when his wife was not with him to
push him along. He simply had to talk to every acquaintance he met; he
had a lot of acquaintances, and this often made him late for dinner.
Mrs. Councilor would sit at the window and watch for him. “Here he
comes,” she would say to the maid; “put the pot on the fire. Now he has
stopped to speak to somebody, so take the pot off, or the food will be
cooked too much. Now he is finally coming, so put the pot on again!”

But then he wouldn’t come, after all. He would stand right under the
windows of the house and nod up to her, and if an acquaintance happened
to come by then, he could not keep from saying a few words to him; if
while he was talking to this one, another one came by, he would take
hold of the first by the buttonhole, clasp the other’s hand, and shout
to a third who wanted to pass by.

This was a heavy trial for the patience of the Councilor’s wife.
“Councilor! Councilor!” she would shout. “Yes, indeed, that man was born
under the sign of the ‘Wheelbarrow’; he won’t move unless he is being
pushed.”

He was very fond of visiting bookshops and looking at books and
periodicals. He would give his bookseller a small amount of money for
the privilege of reading the new books at home, which meant he had
permission to cut the leaves of the books along the side but not across
the top, for then they could not be sold as new. He was a living
newspaper, but a harmless one, and knew everything about engagements,
weddings, and funerals, book talk and town talk. Yes, and he even gave
out mysterious hints regarding matters no one else knew anything about.
This mysterious information came from the gate key.

The Councilor and his wife had lived in their own house since young and
newly married, and they’d had that very same gate key since then; but in
those days they hadn’t yet come to know of its unusual powers, and not
until much later had they learned of these.

It was at the time of King Frederick VI. Copenhagen had no gas then; it
had only train-oil lamps; it had no Tivoli Gardens, no Casino Theater,
no streetcars, and no railways. It had very few public amusements,
compared with what it now has. On Sundays one would go for a walk, out
beyond the city gates, to the Assistants’ Churchyard, read the
inscriptions on the graves, sit down in the grass, eat from one’s food
basket, and drink a glass of schnapps; or one would go to Frederiksberg,
where in front of the palace military music was played; and many people
would go to see the royal family rowing about in the small, narrow
canals of the park, with old King himself steering the boat, and he and
the Queen greeting everyone, without distinction of rank. Well-to-do
families from the city would come to this place and drink their
afternoon tea. They could get hot water at a small farmhouse in the
field outside the park, but they had to bring their own tea service
along.

One sunny Sunday afternoon the Councilor and his wife went out to the
park, the servant girl walking in front with the tea service, a basket
of food, and a “sip of Spendrup’s Liqueur.”

“Bring the gate key,” Mrs. Councilor had said, “so we can get in by
ourselves when we return; you know, they lock the gate here at
nightfall, and the bell cord was broken this morning! It will be late
before we get home! After we’ve been in Frederiksberg Park, we are going
to the Casorti’s theater at Vesterbro to see the pantomime, Harlequin,
Chief of the Thrashers. You see them come down in a cloud; it costs two
kroner a person.”

And so they went to Frederiksberg, heard the music, saw the royal barges
with their waving banners, saw the old King and the white swans. After
drinking some very good tea, they hurried away; yet they did not arrive
at the theater on time.

The rope-dance act was finished, the dance on stilts was finished, and
the pantomime had started; as always, they were too late, and that was
the Councilor’s fault; every moment on the road, he had stopped to speak
to an acquaintance. Within the theater he also found several good
friends, and when the performance was over, he and his wife were obliged
to accompany a family home at Vesterbro, to enjoy a glass of punch; they
would stop for only ten minutes. But this was extended to a whole hour.
They talked and talked. Especially entertaining was a Swedish baron, or,
perhaps, he was German, for the Councilor hadn’t quite caught which –
but, on the other hand, the trick with the key that the baron taught him
he caught and always remembered. This trick was extraordinarily
interesting! He could get the key to answer everything that one asked
it, even questions pertaining to the most secret matters. The
Councilor’s gate key was particularly suitable for performing this
trick; its bit was heavy, and this part had to hang downward. The baron
let the handle of the key rest on the forefinger of his right hand.
There it hung loosely and lightly, and every pulsebeat in his finger
could put it into motion and make it swing; and if this failed to
happen, the baron understood how unnoticeably to make it turn as he
wished. Every turn denoted a letter of the alphabet, and as many letters
as desired, from A on through the alphabet, could be indicated by the
key. When the first letter of a word was revealed, the key would turn to
the opposite side; then the next letter would be sought, and in that
manner one got whole words, sentences, and answers to questions. It was
all a fake, but at any rate provided amusement; this was the Councilor’s
first thought, but he did not retain it; he became very engrossed in the
key.

“Husband! Husband!” cried Mrs. Councilor. “The Westgate closes at twelve
o’clock! We won’t get through; we have only a quarter of an hour in
which to hurry there.”

They had to hurry indeed; several persons who were going into the city
soon got ahead of them. They finally approached the outside guardhouse
as the clock was striking twelve and the gates were being slammed shut.
A number of people were locked out, and among these were the Councilor
and his wife, with their servant girl, tea service, and empty food
basket. Some stood there greatly frightened, while others were very
annoyed, each reacting in his own manner. What could be done?
Fortunately, an ordinance had been passed of late that one of the city
gates, the Northgate, should not be locked at night, and there
pedestrians were allowed to slip through the guardhouse into the city.

The road to the Northgate was by no means short, but the weather was
fine, the sky bright with starlight and shooting stars; the frogs were
croaking in the ditches and ponds. The party began singing and sang one
song after another, but the Councilor did not sing; nor did he look up
at the stars or even look at his own feet. He then fell down at the edge
of the ditch, the full length of his body alongside it. One might have
thought that he had had too much to drink; but it was not the punch, it
was the key, that had gone to his head, and kept on turning there. They
finally reached the Northgate guardhouse, slipped across the bridge and
into the city.

“Now I am happy again, ” said the Councilor’s wife. “Here’s our gate.”

“But where is the gate key,” said the Councilor. It was neither in the
back pocket nor in the side pocket.

“Good gracious!” cried the Councilor’s wife. “Haven’t you got the key?
You must have lost it after letting the Baron use it for the key trick.
How will we get in now? You know the bell cord was broken this morning,
and the watchman doesn’t have a key to our home. We are in a hopeless
situation!”

The servant girl began to cry. The Councilor was the only one who showed
presence of mind.

“We must break in a windowpane at the grocer’s downstairs!” he said,
“get him up, and then we can get into the building.”

He broke one pane; he broke two. “Petersen!” he shouted, as the put the
handle of his umbrella in through the windowpanes. Whereupon the
grocer’s daughter began to scream loudly. The grocer threw open the door
of his shop and shouted, “Watchman!” And before he had a chance to see
and recognize the Councilor’s family and let them in, the watchman blew
his whistle, and in the next street another watchman answered and
whistled. People appeared in the windows. “Where is the fire? Where is
the cause of all the excitement?” they asked, and were still asking such
questions even after the Councilor was in his room. There he removed his
overcoat – and in it lay the gate key, not in the pocket, but inside the
lining; it had slipped through a hole that should not have been in the
pocket.

From that night on, the gate key held a unique and great importance, not
only when it was taken out in the evening, but also when remaining at
home, for in either case the Councilor would show how clever he was by
making the key answer questions. He would think of the most likely
answer and then pretend to let the key give it. Finally, he himself came
to believe in the power of the key.

That was not so of the Pharmacist, however, a young man closely related
to the Councilor’s wife. The Pharmacist had a good head, a critical
mind; he had, as mere schoolboy, sent in critical articles on books and
the theater, but without his signature, which is always important. He
was what one calls abel esprit, but he by no means believed in spirits,
and, least of all, key spirits.

“Yes, I believe, I believe,” he said, “blessed Mr. Councilor, I believe
in gate keys and all key spirits as firmly as I believe in that new
science which is beginning to become known the table dance and the
spirits in old and new furniture. Have you heard about that? I have! I
have doubted – you know I am a skeptic – but I have been converted by
reading, in a quite reliable foreign paper, a dreadful story. Councilor,
can you imagine! I will give you the story as I read it. Two clever
children had seen their parents raise the spirits in a large dining-room
table. The little ones were alone, and decided they would try, in the
same manner, to rub life into an old chest of drawers. Life came, for a
spirit was awakened; but it did not tolerate the commands of mere
children; it arose, and the chest of drawers creaked; it then shot out
the drawers, and with its wooden legs put each of the children in a
separate drawer. The chest of drawers then ran off with them, out the
open door, down the stairs, into the street, and over to the canal,
where it jumped out into the water and drowned both the children. Their
little bodies were given Christian burial, but the chest of drawers was
taken to the town hall, tried for murder, and burned alive in the market
place! I have read this,” said the Pharmacist, “in a foreign paper; it
is not something I have invented myself. This is the truth, and may the
key take me if it isn’t! I swear to it – on my oath!”

The Councilor found that such talk was all too much like a coarse joke.
The two could never speak agreeably about the key. The Pharmacist was
key ignorant.

The Councilor made progress in his key knowledge; the key was his
diversion and channel of wisdom.

One evening, as the Councilor was getting ready to go to bed, and was
half undressed, there was a knock on the front door. It was the
shopkeeper from downstairs who was calling at this late hour; he, too,
was half undressed, but he had suddenly had a thought, he said, which he
was afraid he would not be able to retain through the night.

“It is my daughter Lotte-Lene I must talk about. She is a beautiful
girl, and has been confirmed, and now I would like to see her well
provided for.”

“But I am not as yet a widower!” said the Councilor, and chuckled, “and
I have no son to offer her.”

“You must understand me, Councilor,” said the man from downstairs. “She
can play the piano, and she can sing; you must be able to hear her
upstairs. You have no idea of all the things that little girl is able to
do; she can talk and entertain people. She is made for the stage, and
that is a good course for pretty girls of good families to take; they
may even have an opportunity to marry a count, though neither I nor
Lotte-Lene are thinking of that. She can indeed sing and play the piano,
so the other day I took her up to the singing school. She sang; but she
doesn’t have a beer bass, as I call it in women, nor does she shriek
those very high canary-bird notes which they now demand in singers, and
so they advised her strongly against pursuing that career. Well, I
thought, if she can’t become a singer, she can always become an actress;
that only requires the ability to speak. Today I talked about it to the
Instructor as they call him. ‘Is she well read?’ he asked. ‘No, ‘ I
said, ‘not at all.’ ‘But it is necessary for an actress to be well
read!’ said he. She still has time for that, was my opinion; and then I
went home. She can go to a rental library and read what is to be had
there, I thought.

“But then tonight, while I was undressing, it occurred to me – why rent
books when one can borrow them? The Councilor has plenty of books; let
her read them; there is enough reading here for her, and it could be
hers gratis!”

“Lotte-Lene is a nice girl,” said the Councilor, “a beautiful girl! She
shall have books to read. But has she what one calls grit and spirit –
aptitude – genius? And, what is equally important, has she luck with
her?”

“She has twice won in the lottery,” said the grocer from downstairs.
“Once she won a clothes cabinet, and another time six pairs of bed
sheets; that I call luck, and that she has!”

“I shall ask the key,” said the Councilor. And he placed the key on his
right forefinger, and on the grocer’s right forefinger as well, and then
the key swung and gave out letter after letter.

The key said, “Victory and luck!” And so Lotte-Lene’s future was
decided.

The Councilor at once gave her two books to read, Dyveke and Knigge’s
Social Intercourse.

That night marked the beginning of a closer acquaintance between
Lotte-Lene and the Councilor and his wife. She would come upstairs to
the couple, and the Councilor found her to be a sensible girl; she
believed in him and the key. The Councilor’s wife saw something childish
and innocent in the frankness with which she would at every moment show
her great ignorance. The couple was fond of her, he in his way and she
in hers, and Lotte-Lene was fond of them.

“It smells so lovely upstairs,” Lotte-Lene would say. There was an odor,
a fragrance, an apple fragrance, in the hallway, where the Councilor’s
wife had put away a whole barrel of graystone apples. There was also an
incense odor of roses and lavender throughout all the rooms. “There is
something refined in that!” Lotte-Lene would say.

Then, too, her eyes were pleased by the many pretty flowers the
Councilor’s wife always had. Even in the middle of winter, lilacs and
cherry-tree slips bloomed here. The leafless twigs were cut off and put
into water and in the warm room soon bore leaves and flowers.

“One would have thought that all life was gone from these naked
branches, but see how they rise from the dead. It has never occurred to
me before,” said Lotte-Lene, “how wonderful nature is!”

And the Councilor let her look at his “key book, ” in which were written
strange things the key had said – even about the half of an apple cake
that had disappeared from the cupboard on the very evening that the
servant girl had had her sweetheart there for a visit. The Councilor had
asked his key. “Who has eaten the apple cake, the cat or the
sweetheart?” and the key had replied, “The sweetheart.” The Councilor
had already thought so before asking the key; and the servant girl had
confessed, “That cursed key knows everything!”

“Yes, isn’t it strange!” said the Councilor. “That key, that key! And
about Lotte-Lene it has said, ‘Victory and luck.’ That we shall see! I
swear to it.”

“That’s wonderful” said Lotte-Lene.

The Councilor’s wife was not so confident, but she did not express her
doubts when her husband was within hearing distance. She later told
Lotte-Lene in confidence that the Councilor, when a young man, had been
quite taken with the theater. Had someone pushed him a little in that
direction, he surely would have become an actor; his family, however,
had pushed him in the opposite direction. But, he had still aspired to
the stage, and to further that ambition he had written a play.

“This is a great secret that I am entrusting you with, little
Lotte-Lene. The play was not bad; it was accepted at the Royal Theater,
and then hissed out, and no one has since heard of it, for which I am
glad. I am his wife and know him. Now you want such a career, too. I
wish you all that is good, but I don’t think that things will work out
as predicted; I don’t believe in the gate key.”

Lotte-Lene believed in it, and in that belief she was united with the
Councilor. Within their hearts they had a mutual understanding, in all
honor and chastity.

The girl had many qualifications that the Councilor’s wife valued.
Lotte-Lene knew how to make starch from potatoes, make silk gloves from
old silk stockings, and recover her silk dancing shoes, although she
could afford to buy all her clothes new. She had, as the grocer said,
pennies in the table drawer and credit notes in her money safe. She
would make just the wife for the Pharmacist, thought the Councilor’s
wife, but she did not say so, and of course didn’t permit the key to say
anything about it. The Pharmacist was going to settle down soon and have
his own pharmacy in one of the nearest and largest provincial towns.

Lotte-Lene was continually reading Dyveke and Knigge’s Social
Intercourse. She kept the two books for two years, and by the end of
that time she had learned one, Dyveke, by heart – all the parts,
although she wished to play only one, that of Dyveke; she did not,
however, want to appear at first in the capital, where there is so much
envy, and where they would not have her, anyway. She wanted to start her
artistic career, as the Councilor called it, in one of the country’s
large provincial towns. Now that, strangely enough, turned out to be the
same place where the youthful Pharmacist had settled down as the
youngest of the town’s pharmacists.

The great, long-awaited night came on which Lotte-Lene was to make her
debut and have “victory and luck,” as the key had said. The Councilor
was not there, for he lay in his bed, and his wife was nursing him; he
had to have warm napkins and camomile tea; the napkins about his body
and the tea in his body.

While the couple was absent from the Dyveke performance, the Pharmacist
was there, and wrote a letter about it to his relative, the Councilor’s
wife.

“Dyveke’s ruff was the best thing about it,” he wrote. “If I had had the
Councilor’s gate key in my pocket, I would have pulled it out and used
it as a whistle; she deserved it, and the key deserved it, because of
its nasty lie about her ‘victory and luck.'”

The Councilor read the letter. It was all spitefulness, he said, key
hatred, aimed at that innocent girl. And as soon as he was out of bed
and was himself again, he sent a short but poisonous note to the
Pharmacist, who in turn replied as if he had seen only jest and good
humor in the whole epistle. He thanked him for this and for any future
contribution to the revelation of the incomparable worth and
significance of keys; next he confided to the Councilor that, apart from
his activities as an apothecary, he was writing a great key novel in
which all the characters were keys and keys alone. A gate key naturally
was the central character and – patterned after the Councilor’s gate key

  • was gifted with prophetic vision and second sight; around this all the
    other keys had to revolve – the old chamberlain’s key, experienced in
    the splendor and festivity of the court; the watch key, small, refined,
    and distinguished, but worth only a few pennies at the ironmonger’s; the
    key to the church pew, which counted itself among the clergy, and which,
    from remaining one night in its keyhole in the church, could see ghosts;
    the larder key, the wine-cellar key, and the coal-cellar key all
    appeared, and bowed before, and turned around, the gate key. The
    sunbeams brightened it into silver, and the wind, that spirit of the
    earth, entered its body and made it whistle!

It was the key of all keys; it was the Councilor’s gate key. It was now
the key of the heavenly gate itself; it was the papal key; it was
infallible!

“Wickedness!” said the Councilor. “Great wickedness!”

He and the Pharmacist never saw each other again – except once, and that
was at the funeral of the Councilor’s wife.

She was the first to die. There were sorrow an emptiness in the house.
Even the slips of cherry which had thrown out fresh roots and flowers
seemed to mourn and fade away; they stood forgotten, for she was not
there to tend them.

The Councilor and the Pharmacist walked behind her coffin, side by side,
as the two nearest relations of the departed. This was not the time, nor
were they in the mood, for quarreling. Lotte-Lene tied the mourning
crape around the Councilor’s hat. She was living in the house again,
having long since returned without victory and luck in her career. Yet
that still might come; Lotte-Lene had a future before her; the key had
said so, and the Councilor had said so.

She went up to him. They talked about the departed and they wept, for
Lotte-Lene was tenderhearted; but when they talked about the art,
Lotte-Lene felt strong. “Life in the theater is charming,” she said,
“but there is so much nonsense and envy! I would rather go my own way.
Myself first, then art!”

Knigge had told the truth in his chapter about actors; that she was
aware of; the key had not told the truth, but she never spoke of this to
the Councilor; she was fond of him. Besides, the gate key was his
comfort and relief during the whole year of mourning. He gave it
questions, and it gave him answers.

美高梅手机版,And when the year had passed, and he and Lotte-Lene were sitting
together one inspiring evening; he asked the key, “Will I marry, and
whom will I marry?” No one pushed him, but he pushed the key, and it
answered, “Lotte-Lene!”

So it was said, and Lotte-Lene became Mrs. Councilor.

“Victory and luck!”

And these words had been said before -by the gate key.

文章来源:安徒生童话

他的父亲把他推到一个办公室里去,他的母亲把他推到结婚的路上去,他的太太把他推到家臣的职位上去——不过最后这件事她不讲出来,因为她是一个非常有分寸的女人:她在适当的场合下沉默,在适当的场合下讲话和向前推进。

现在他的年事渐长了,正如他自己所说的“肥瘦适中”;他是一个有教养、有幽默感的人,对于钥匙,具有丰富的知识——关于钥匙的问题,我们待一会儿就会知道。他老是心情愉快;大家都喜欢他,愿意和他谈话。他上城里去的时候,要不是他的妈妈在后面推着,是很难把他弄回家里来的。他必然会跟他碰到的每一个熟人谈一通,而他的熟人却是多如过江之鲫。这弄得他总是把吃饭的时间耽误了。

家臣太太坐在窗口盼望他。“现在他来了!”她对女佣人说,“快把锅放上!……现在他又停下来了,跟一个什么人在谈话,快把锅拿下来吧,不然菜就煮得太烂了!……现在他来了!是的,把锅再放上吧!”

不过他还是没有来。

他可以站在窗子下面对她点头,但是只要有一个熟人走过,他就控制不住自己;要跟这人说一两句话。假如他在跟这个人谈话时而又有另一个熟人走过,那么他就抓住这个人的扣子洞,握住那个人的手,而同时大声地对快要经过的第三个熟人打招呼。

对于太太的耐心说来,这真是一个考验。“家臣!家臣!”她于是就这样喊起来。“是的,此人是在手车星宿下出生的,不把他推一下,他就走不动!”

他非常喜欢到书店里去,翻翻书和杂志。他送给书商一些小礼物,为的是要得到许可把新书借回家里来看——这就是说,得到许可把书的直边裁开,而不是把书的顶上横边裁开③,因为如果这样做,就不能当做新书出卖了。他是一本活的礼仪规范杂志:他知道一切关于订婚、结婚、入葬、书本子上的闲话和街头巷尾的闲话等事情。许多人们所不知道的东西,他能做出神秘的暗示叫人知道。这一套本领他是从开门钥匙那里得来的。

家臣和他的太太从还是一对年轻的新婚夫妇的时候起,就住在自己的公馆里。那时,他们就有了这把钥匙,不过那时他们不知道它出奇的能力——他们只是后来才知道的。

那是在国王腓特烈六世④统治的时代。哥本哈根在那时还没有煤气。那时还只用油灯,还没有提佛里或者卡新诺⑤;还没有电车,没有铁路。比起现在来,娱乐的地方并没有多少。星期天,人们只是走出城外,到“互助教堂”去游览,读坟上刻的字,坐在草地上,吃装在篮子里的东西,喝点烧酒;不然就到佛列得里克斯堡公园去,这儿有一个乐队在宫殿面前奏乐。许多人到这儿来专门看皇室的人在那又小又狭窄的运河上划船。老国王在船上掌舵;他和皇后对众人不分等级上下,一律点头。有钱的人家特别从城里到这里来吃晚茶。他们可以从花园外面的农舍里得到开水,至于其他东西,他们就得自己准备了。

家臣的一家人在一个阳光很好的星期天下午也到这儿来。他们的女佣人提着茶壶和一篮子食物及“一滴斯本得路普浓酒”走在前面。

“把开门钥匙带着吧!”太太说,“好叫我们回来时可以进来。你知道,他们天一擦黑就把门锁上了,而门铃绳子昨天又断了!……我们要很晚才回家!而且游了佛列得里克斯堡以后,还要到西桥的加索蒂戏院去看哑剧《收获人的头目哈列金》;他们从云块上降下来;每张票价是两个马克。”

这样,他们就到佛列得里克斯堡去,听了音乐,看了飘着国旗的御船,瞧见了老国王和雪白的天鹅。他们痛痛快快地吃了一顿茶点以后就匆匆地走了,但是到戏院里仍然没有按时。

踩绳这个节目已经完了,高跷舞也告一结束,哑剧早已开始;他们照例是迟到了;这应该怪这位家臣。他在路上每分钟要停一下,跟某个熟人谈几句,在戏院里他又碰见很多好朋友。等这个节目演完以后,他和他的太太又非得陪一家熟人回到西桥的家里去喝一杯潘趣酒不可;本来这只须10分钟就可以喝完的,但是他们却拉长到一个钟头。他们简直谈不完。特别有趣的是瑞典的一位男爵——也可能是一位德国的男爵吧?这位家臣记不太清楚。可是相反,这位男爵教给他的关于钥匙的花样,他却一直记得清清楚楚。这真是了不起!他可以叫钥匙回答他的一切问题,甚至最秘密的事情。

家臣的钥匙特别适合于这个目的。它的头特别沉重,所以非倒悬着不可。男爵把钥匙的把手放在右手的食指上。它轻松愉快地悬在那儿;他指尖上每一次脉搏的跳动都可以使它动,使它摆,如果它不动,男爵就知道怎样叫它按照他的意志转,而不被人察觉。每一次转动代表一个字母,从A开始,直到我们所希望的任何字母。第一个字母出现以后,钥匙就朝相反的方向转,于是我们就可以找下一个字母。“这样我们就可以得出整个字,整个句,整个问题的答案。这完全是虚构的,但是有趣。这位家臣最初的看法也是这样,但是他没有坚持下去。他被钥匙迷住了。

“先生!先生!”他的太太喊起来。“西城门在12点钟就要关呀!我们进不去了,现在只剩下一刻钟了。”

他们得赶快。有好几位想回到城里去的人匆匆在他们身旁走过。当他们快要走近最后一个哨所的时候,钟正在敲12下,门于是就砰的一声关上了。一大堆人被关在外面,包括这对家臣夫妇和那位提着茶壶和一个空篮子的女佣人。有的人站在那儿感到万分惶恐,有的人感到非常烦恼。每个人的心情都不同。究竟怎么办呢?

很幸运的是:最近曾经决定过,有一个城门——北门——不关,步行的人可以通过那儿的哨所钻进城里去。

这一段路可不很短,不过天气非常可爱;天空是清净无尘,布满了星星;水沟和池塘里是一片蛙声。这一行人士开始唱起歌来——一个接着一个地唱。不过这位家臣既不唱歌,也不看星星,甚至还不看自己的腿。因此他就一个倒栽葱,在水沟旁跌了一交,人们可能以为他的酒喝得太多了一点;不过钻到他脑袋里去,在那儿打转的东西倒不是潘趣酒,而是那个钥匙。

最后他们来到了北门的哨所,走过桥,进入城里去。

“我现在算是放心了!”太太说。“到了我们的门口了!”

“但是开门的钥匙在什么地方呢?”家臣问。它既不在后边的衣袋里,也不在侧边的衣袋里。

“我的天!”他的太太喊着。“你把钥匙丢掉了吗?你一定是在跟那位男爵玩钥匙花样时遗失了的。我们现在怎样进去呢?门铃绳子昨天断了,更夫又没有开我们房子的钥匙。这简直叫我们走投无路!”

女佣人开始呜咽地哭起来。只有这位家臣是唯一能保持镇静的人。

“我们得把那个杂货商人⑥的窗玻璃打破!”他说;“把他喊起来,然后走进去。”

他打破了一块玻璃。接着又打破了两块。“比得生!”他喊着;同时把阳伞的把手伸进窗子里去。地下室的人的女儿在里面尖叫起来。这人把店门打开,大声喊:“更夫!”但是他一看到家臣一家人,马上就认出来了,让他们进来。更夫吹着哨子;附近街上的另一个更夫也用哨子来回答。许多人都挤到窗子这边来。

“什么地方火烧起来了?什么地方出了乱子?”大家都问。等这位家臣回到了他的房间里去,他们还在问。他把上衣脱掉……他的钥匙恰恰就在那里面——不在衣袋里,却在衬布里。原来它从衣袋里不应该有的一个洞溜到那儿去了。出自七故事网:www.qigushi.com

从那天晚上开始,钥匙就有了一种特殊的巨大意义,不仅是他们晚上出去的时候,就是他们坐在家里的时候都是如此。这家臣表现出他的聪明,让钥匙来回答一切问题。他自己想出最可能的答案,而却让钥匙讲出来,直到后来他自己也把答案信以为真了。不过一个药剂师——他是和家臣太太有亲戚关系的一个年轻人——不相信这一套。

药剂师有一个聪明的头脑;他从学生时代起就写过书评和剧评,但是他从来没有署过自己的名字——这是一件重要的事情。他是我们所谓的有精力的人,可是他不相信精灵,也不相信钥匙精。

“是的,我相信,我相信,”他说,“亲爱的家臣,我相信钥匙和一切钥匙精,正如我相信现在开始为大家所明了的新科学:灵动术⑦和新旧家具的精灵。你听到人们说过没有?我听到过!我曾经怀疑过。你知道,我是一个怀疑论者,但是我在一个相当可信的外国杂志上读到一个可怕的故事——而我被说服了。家臣,你能想象得到吗?我把我所知道的这个故事讲给你听吧。

“两个聪明的孩子看到过他们的父母把一张大餐桌的精灵叫醒。当这两个小家伙单独在房间里的时候,他们想用同样的方法把一个柜子叫醒。它有了生命了,它的精灵醒了,但是它却不理两个孩子的命令。它自己立起来,发出一个破裂声,把抽屉都倒出来了,接着用它的两只木腿把这两个孩子各抱进一个抽屉里去。柜子装着他们跑出敞开的门,跑下楼梯,跑到街上,一直冲到运河里去,把两个孩子都淹死了。这两具小尸体被埋在基督徒的坟地里,但是柜子却被带到市府的会议厅里去,作为孩子的谋杀犯而判处死刑,在市场上活活地烧死了。

“我读到过这个故事!”药剂师说,“在一本外国杂志上读到过,这并不是我自己捏造的。凭这把钥匙作证,这是真事!我庄严地发誓!”

家臣认为这类故事简直是一种粗暴的玩笑。关于钥匙的事儿,两个人永远谈不到一起;在钥匙问题上,药剂师完全是一个糊涂虫。

对于钥匙的知识,家臣不断地获得进步。钥匙成了他的娱乐和智慧的源泉。

有一天晚上,家臣上床去睡觉;当他把衣服脱了一半的时候,忽然听到走廊上有人敲门。这是那个杂货商人。他的来访真是迟了。他的衣服也脱了一半,不过他说他忽然想起了一件事情,只怕过了一夜就会忘记。

“我所要说的是关于我的女儿洛特·伦的事情。她是一个美丽的女孩子,她已经受了坚信礼,现在我想把她好好地安顿一下。”

“我的太太还没有死呀,”家臣说,同时微笑了一下,“而我又没有儿子可以介绍给她。”

“我想您懂得我的意思,家臣!”杂货商人说。“她能弹钢琴,也能唱歌。您也许在这屋子的楼上听到过。您不知道这个女孩能做些什么事情。她能够模仿各种人说话和走路的样子。她是一个天生的演员,这对于出身良家的女孩子是一条好出路。她们可能嫁给伯爵,不过这并不是我,或者洛特·伦的想法。她能唱歌,能弹钢琴!所以前天我陪她一起到声乐学校去过一次。她唱了一下,但是她缺乏那种女子所必须有的浊音,也没有人们对于一个女歌唱家所要求的那种金丝鸟般的最高的尖嗓子。因此他们都建议她别干那一行。后来我想,如果她不能成为一个歌唱家,她无论如何可以成为一个演员——一个演员只要能背台词就行。今天我跟教师——人们这样叫他——谈过话。‘她的书读得多吗?’他问。‘不多’,我说。‘什么也没有读过!’他说:‘多读书对于一个艺术家是必要的!’我想这件事还不难办;所以我就回到家里来。我想,她可以到一个租阅图书馆去,读那里所有的书。不过,今天晚上当我坐着正在脱衣服的时候,我忽然想起:当我想要借书的时候,为什么要去租书呢?家里有的是书,让她去读吧。她读也读不完,而且她一文不花就能读到。”

“洛特·伦是一个可爱的女子!”家臣说,“一个漂亮的女子!她应该有书读。不过她脑子里有没有人们所谓的‘精气’——即天才——呢?更重要的是:她有没有——福气呢?”

“她中过两次彩票,”杂货商人说。“有一次她抽到一个衣柜,另一次抽到六条床单。我把这叫做幸运,而她是有这种幸运的!”

“我要问问钥匙看,”家臣说。他把钥匙放在右手的食指上和商人的食指上,让它转动起来,接二连三地标出一系列的字母。

钥匙说:“胜利和幸运!”所以洛特·伦的未来就这么确定了。

家臣立刻给她两本书读:关于“杜威克”⑧的剧本和克尼格⑨的《处世与交友》。

从这天晚上开始,洛特·伦和家臣家庭间的一种亲密的关系就开始了。她常来拜访这家;家臣认为她是一个聪明的女子。她也相信他和钥匙。家臣太太从她时时刻刻在不知不觉中所表现出来的无知中,发现了她有某种孩子气和天真。这对夫妇,每人根据自己的一套看法来喜爱她,而她也是一样地喜爱他们。

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