我回到前线的时候，原来所属的部队还驻在那小镇上。附近乡下，炮比从前多了好些，而春天也到了。田野青翠，葡萄藤上长出小青芽，路边的树木吐了叶 子，海那边有微风吹来①。我看见那小镇和小镇上边的小山和古堡，众山环绕，仿佛是只杯子，背后便是些褐色高峰，山坡上稍有青翠。小镇里炮更多，还有一些新 的医院，街上可以碰到英国军人，有时还有英国妇女，此外炮火所毁的房屋也多了一些。天气暖和如春，我在树荫小巷里走，全身给墙上反射过来的阳光晒得暖洋洋 的；原来我们还住在那幢老房子里；这房子看起来跟我离开时没有多少分别。大门开着，有个士兵坐在外边长凳上晒太阳，边门口停有一部救护车，而我一踏进门， 便闻到大理石地板和医院的气味。景物如旧，只是春天到了。我向大房间的门里张望一下，看到少校正在办公，窗子打开着，阳光晒了进来。他没看见我，而我则不 晓得现在就进去报到好呢，还是先上楼洗刷一下。我决定还是先上楼去。
我和雷那蒂中尉合住的房间，窗子朝着院子。现在窗子开着；我床上铺好了毯子，我的东西挂在墙壁上，我的防毒面具放在一个长方形的白铁罐子里，钢盔仍 旧挂在那钉子上。床脚放着我那只扁皮箱，而我的冬靴，涂过油擦得亮光光的，搁在皮箱上。我那根奥军狙击兵的步枪，则挂在两张床的中间，枪铳是蓝色的八角 形，枪托是可爱的黑胡桃木，可以靠在颊骨上射击。跟那根枪配套用的望远镜，我记得是锁在皮箱里的。中尉雷那蒂本来睡在他的床上。他听见我的声响便醒了，坐 起身来。
“自从你走以后，没有什么大病重伤，只是些冻伤，冻疮，黄疸，白浊，自己弄的伤，肺炎，硬性和软性下疳。每星期总有人给石片砸伤。真正的伤员当然也 有几个。战争下星期又要开始了。或许已经开始了。人家是这么说的。照你看，我跟巴克莱小姐结婚行不行——婚期自然得在停战以后。““绝对行，“我说，在脸 盆里倒满了水。
那天晚上在饭堂里，我坐在教士的旁边。教士对于我没到他故乡阿布鲁息去很失望，仿佛突然伤了心似的。他给他父亲写信，说我要去，他们也预备好一切等 待我。我自己也像他那样不好过，想不出我当时为什么竟没有去。其实我本来打算去的，我就说明给他听，本来打算去，后来一事又是一事，终于拖得没有去成。到 末了他也看出我实在是本来打算去的，于是他才无所谓了。我喝了许多酒，过后又喝了咖啡和施特烈嘉酒②，带着酒意说，我们并不做我们想做的事，我们从来不这 样做。 ③
③ 参见《圣经·罗马书》第7 章第15 节：“..我所愿意的，我并不作..“
我们俩谈话的时候，别人正在争辩。我本来有意思要到阿布鲁息去的。我并没有到路面冻得像铁那么坚硬的寒地去，那儿天气晴朗，又冷又干燥，下的雪干燥 像粉，雪地上有野兔走过的脚迹，庄稼人一见到你就脱帽喊老爷。可惜我去的地方都是烟雾弥漫呛人的咖啡馆，一到夜里，房间直打转，你得盯住墙壁，才能使房子 停止旋转。夜间醉了酒躺在床上，体会到人生的一切都是这样，醒来时有一种奇异的兴奋，不晓得究竟是跟谁在睡觉，在黑暗中，世界显得都是不实在的，而且这样 令人兴奋，所以你不得不又装得假痴假呆、糊里糊涂，认为这就是一切，一切的一切，天不管，地不管。有时候，你会突然间又非常警惕起来，怀着这样的心情从睡 梦中醒来，早晨一到，一切消逝，触目都是尖锐的、苛刻的、清楚的现实，有时甚至还争吵价钱过于昂贵。有时早上醒来愉快、甜蜜、温暖，还一同吃了早饭和中 饭。有时一点快感都没有，急于早点走开上街去，但是有另一天的开始，接下来的就有另一天的夜晚。我想把夜里的情况，以及日夜的区别告诉那教士，说明为什么 白天倘若不是很清爽很寒冷的话，还是黑夜好。但是我这番意思说不出来，就像我现在讲不出来一样。但是如果你有过这种经验，你就明白了。他没有这种经验，但 是他也明白我本来想到他故乡去的意思，虽然我没去成，我们俩还是朋友，有好些共同的兴趣，也有些分歧。我所不明白的事往往他都明白，有时我也懂了，只是后 来总是忘掉。关于这一点，我当时不晓得，后来才明白。当时我们大家都在饭堂里，晚饭已吃完，旁人还在争辩。我们俩一停止谈话，上尉便嚷道：“教士不开心。 教士没有姐儿不开心。“
When I came back to the front we still lived in that town. There were many more guns in the country around and the spring had come. The fields were green and there were small green shoots on the vines, the trees along the road had small leaves and a breeze came from the sea. I saw the town with the hill and the old castle above it in a cup in the hills with the mountains beyond, brown mountains with a little green on their slopes. In the town there were more guns, there were some new hospitals, you met British men and sometimes women, on the street, and a few more houses had been hit by shell fire. Jt was warm and like the spring and I walked down the alleyway of trees, warmed from the sun on the wall, and found we still lived in the same house and that it all looked the same as when I had left it. The door was open, there was a soldier sitting on a bench outside in the sun, an ambulance was waiting by the side door and inside the door, as I went in, there was the smell of marble floors and hospital. It was all as I had left it except that now it was spring. I looked in the door of the big room and saw the major sitting at his desk, the window open and the sunlight coming into the room. He did not see me and I did not know whether to go in and report or go upstairs first and clean up. I decided to go on upstairs.
The room I shared with the lieutenant Rinaldi looked out on the courtyard. The window was open, my bed was made up with blankets and my things hung on the wall, the gas mask in an oblong tin can, the steel helmet on the same peg. At the foot of the bed was my flat trunk, and my winter boots, the leather shiny with oil, were on the trunk. My Austrian sniper's rifle with its blued octagon barrel and the lovely dark walnut, cheek-fitted, schutzen stock, hung over the two beds. The telescope that fitted it was, I remembered, locked in the trunk. The lieutenant, Rinaldi, lay asleep on the other bed. He woke when he heard me in the room and sat up.
"Ciaou!" he said. "What kind of time did you have?"
We shook hands and he put his arm around my neck and kissed me.
"Oughf," I said.
"You're dirty," he said. "You ought to wash. Where did you go and what did you do? Tell me everything at once."
"I went everywhere. Milan, Florence, Rome, Naples, Villa San Giovanni, Messina, Taormina--"
"You talk like a time-table. Did you have any beautiful adventures?"
"Milano, Firenze, Roma, Napoli--"
"That's enough. Tell me really what was the best."
"That was because it was first. Where did you meet her? In the Cova? Where did you go? How did you feel? Tell me everything at once. Did you stay all night?"
"That's nothing. Here now we have beautiful girls. New girls never been to the front before."
"You don't believe me? We will go now this afternoon and see. And in the town we have beautiful English girls. I am now in love with Miss Barkley. I will take you to call. I will probably marry Miss Barkley."
"I have to get washed and report. Doesn't anybody work now?"
"Since you are gone we have nothing but frostbites, chilblains, jaundice, gonorrhea, self-inflicted wounds, pneumonia and hard and soft chancres. Every week some one gets wounded by rock fragments. There are a few real wounded. Next week the war starts again. Perhaps it start again. They say so. Do you think I would do right to marry Miss Barkley--after the war of course?"
"Absolutely," I said and poured the basin full of water.
"To-night you will tell me everything," said Rinaldi. "Now I must go back to sleep to be fresh and beautiful for Miss Barkley."
I took off my tunic and shirt and washed in the cold water in the basin. While I rubbed myself with a towel I looked around the room and out the window and at Rinaldi lying with his eyes closed on the bed. He was good-looking, was my age, and he came from Amalfi. He loved being a surgeon and we were great friends. While I was looking at him he opened his eyes.
"Have you any money?"
"Loan me fifty lire."
I dried my hands and took out my pocket-book from the inside of my tunic hanging on the wall. Rinaldi took the note, folded it without rising from the bed and slid it in his breeches pocket. He smiled, "I must make on Miss Barkley the impression of a man of sufficient wealth. You are my great and good friend and financial protector."
"Go to hell," I said.
That night at the mess I sat next to the priest and he was disappointed and suddenly hurt that I had not gone to the Abruzzi. He had written to his father that I was coming and they had made preparations. I myself felt as badly as he did and could not understand why I had not gone. It was what I had wanted to do and I tried to explain how one thing had led to another and finally he saw it and understood that I had really wanted to go and it was almost all right. I had drunk much wine and afterward coffee and Strega and I explained, winefully, how we did not do the things we wanted to do; we never did such things.
We two were talking while the others argued. I had wanted to go to Abruzzi. I had gone to no place where the roads were frozen and hard as iron, where it was clear cold and dry and the snow was dry and powdery and hare-tracks in the snow and the peasants took off their hats and called you Lord and there was good hunting. I had gone to no such place but to the smoke of cafe and nights when the room whirled and you needed to look at the wall to make it stop, nights in bed, drunk, when you knew that that was all there was, and the strange excitement of waking and not knowing who it was with you, and the world all unreal in the dark and so exciting that you must resume again unknowing and not caring in the night, sure that this was all and all and all and not caring. Suddenly to care very much and to sleep to wake with it sometimes morning and all that had been there gone and everything sharp and hard and clear and sometimes a dispute about the cost. Sometimes still pleasant and fond and warm and breakfast and lunch. Sometimes all niceness gone and glad to get out on the street but always another day starting and then another night. I tried to tell about the night and the difference between the night and the day and how the night was better unless the day was very clean and cold and I could not tell it; as I cannot tell it now. But if you have had it you know. He had not had it but he understood that I had really wanted to go to the Abruzzi but had not gone and we were still friends, with many tastes alike, but with the difference between us. He had always known what I did not know and what, when I learned it, I was always able to forget. But I did not know that then, although I learned it later. In the meantime we were all at the mess, the meal was finished, and the argument went on. We two stopped talking and the captain shouted, "Priest not happy. Priest not happy without girls."
"I am happy," said the priest.
"Priest not happy. Priest wants Austrians to win the war," the captain said. The others listened. The priest shook his head.
"No," he said.
"Priest wants us never to attack. Don't you want us never to attack?"
"No. If there is a war I suppose we must attack."
"Must attack. Shall attack!"
The priest nodded.
"Leave him alone," the major said. "He's all right."
"He can't do anything about it anyway," the captain said. We all got up and left the table.