The Story of An Hour
by Kate Chopin
This story was first published in 1894 as The Dream of an Hour before being republished under this title in 1895.
Knowing that Mrs. Mallard was afflicted with a heart trouble, great care was taken to break to her as gently as possible the news of her husband’s death.
It was her sister Josephine who told her, in broken sentences; veiled hints that revealed in half concealing. Her husband’s friend Richards was there, too, near her. It was he who had been in the newspaper office when intelligence of the railroad disaster was received, with Brently Mallard’s name leading the list of “killed.” He had only taken the time to assure himself of its truth by a second telegram, and had hastened to forestall any less careful, less tender friend in bearing the sad message.
She did not hear the story as many women have heard the same, with a paralyzed inability to accept its significance. She wept at once, with sudden, wild abandonment, in her sister’s arms. When the storm of grief had spent itself she went away to her room alone. She would have no one follow her.
There stood, facing the open window, a comfortable, roomy armchair. Into this she sank, pressed down by a physical exhaustion that haunted her body and seemed to reach into her soul.
She could see in the open square before her house the tops of trees that were all aquiver with the new spring life. The delicious breath of rain was in the air. In the street below a peddler was crying his wares. The notes of a distant song which someone was singing reached her faintly, and countless sparrows were twittering in the eaves.
There were patches of blue sky showing here and there through the clouds that had met and piled one above the other in the west facing her window.
She sat with her head thrown back upon the cushion of the chair, quite motionless, except when a sob came up into her throat and shook her, as a child who has cried itself to sleep continues to sob in its dreams.
She was young, with a fair, calm face, whose lines bespoke repression and even a certain strength. But now there was a dull stare in her eyes, whose gaze was fixed away off yonder on one of those patches of blue sky. It was not a glance of reflection, but rather indicated a suspension of intelligent thought.
There was something coming to her and she was waiting for it, fearfully. What was it? She did not know; it was too subtle and elusive to name. But she felt it, creeping out of the sky, reaching toward her through the sounds, the scents, the color that filled the air.
Now her bosom rose and fell tumultuously. She was beginning to recognize this thing that was approaching to possess her, and she was striving to beat it back with her will–as powerless as her two white slender hands would have been. When she abandoned herself a little whispered word escaped her slightly parted lips. She said it over and over under the breath: “free, free, free!” The vacant stare and the look of terror that had followed it went from her eyes. They stayed keen and bright. Her pulses beat fast, and the coursing blood warmed and relaxed every inch of her body.
She did not stop to ask if it were or were not a monstrous joy that held her. A clear and exalted perception enabled her to dismiss the suggestion as trivial. She knew that she would weep again when she saw the kind, tender hands folded in death; the face that had never looked save with love upon her, fixed and gray and dead. But she saw beyond that bitter moment a long procession of years to come that would belong to her absolutely. And she opened and spread her arms out to them in welcome.
There would be no one to live for during those coming years; she would live for herself. There would be no powerful will bending hers in that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow-creature. A kind intention or a cruel intention made the act seem no less a crime as she looked upon it in that brief moment of illumination.
And yet she had loved him–sometimes. Often she had not. What did it matter! What could love, the unsolved mystery, count for in the face of this possession of self-assertion which she suddenly recognized as the strongest impulse of her being!
“Free! Body and soul free!” she kept whispering.
Josephine was kneeling before the closed door with her lips to the keyhole, imploring for admission. “Louise, open the door! I beg; open the door–you will make yourself ill. What are you doing, Louise? For heaven’s sake open the door."
“Go away. I am not making myself ill.” No; she was drinking in a very elixir of life through that open window.
Her fancy was running riot along those days ahead of her. Spring days, and summer days, and all sorts of days that would be her own. She breathed a quick prayer that life might be long. It was only yesterday she had thought with a shudder that life might be long.
She arose at length and opened the door to her sister’s importunities. There was a feverish triumph in her eyes, and she carried herself unwittingly like a goddess of Victory. She clasped her sister’s waist, and together they descended the stairs. Richards stood waiting for them at the bottom.
Someone was opening the front door with a latchkey. It was Brently Mallard who entered, a little travel-stained, composedly carrying his grip-sack and umbrella. He had been far from the scene of the accident, and did not even know there had been one. He stood amazed at Josephine’s piercing cry; at Richards' quick motion to screen him from the view of his wife.
When the doctors came they said she had died of heart disease–of the joy that kills.
大家都知道马拉德夫人的心脏有毛病，所以在把她丈夫的死讯告诉她时是非常注意方式方法的。是她的姐姐朱赛芬告诉她的，话都没说成句，吞吞吐吐、遮遮掩掩地暗示着。她丈夫的朋友理查德也在她身边。 要是别的妇女遇到这种情况，一定是手足无措，无法接受现实，她可不是这样。她立刻一下子倒在姐姐的怀里，放声大哭起来。当暴风雨般的悲伤逐渐减弱时，她就独自走向自己的房里，不要人跟着她。 正对着打开的窗户，放着一把舒适、宽大的安乐椅。全身的精疲力竭，似乎已浸透到她的心灵深处，她一屁股坐了下来。 她能看到房前场地上洋溢着初春活力的轻轻摇曳着的树梢。空气里充满了阵雨的芳香。下面街上有个小贩在吆喝着他的货色。远处传来了什么人的微弱歌声；屋檐下，数不清的麻雀在嘁嘁喳喳地叫。对着她的窗的正西方，相逢又相重的朵朵行云之间露出了这儿一片、那儿一片的蓝天。 她坐在那里，头靠着软垫，一动也不动，嗓子眼里偶而啜泣一两声。她还年轻，美丽，沉着的面孔出现的线条，说明了一种相当的抑制能力。可是，这会儿她两眼只是呆滞地凝视着远方的一片蓝天，从她的眼光看来她不是在沉思，而像是在理智地思考什么问题，却又尚未做出决定。什么东西正向她走来，她等待着，又有点害怕。那是什么呢？她不知道，太微妙难解了,可是能感觉得出来。这会儿，她的胸口激动地起伏着。她开始认出来那正向她逼近、就要占有她的东西，她挣扎着决心把它打回去——可是她的意志就像她那白皙纤弱的双手一样软弱无力。当她放松自己时，从微弱的嘴唇间溜出了悄悄的声音。她一遍又一遍地低声悄语：“自由了，自由了，自由了！”她的目光明亮而锋利，她的脉搏加快了，循环中的血液使她全身感到温暖、松快。 她知道，等她见到死者那张一向含情脉脉地望着她、如今已是僵硬、灰暗、毫无生气的脸庞时，她还是会哭的。不过她透过那痛苦的时刻看到，来日方长的岁月可就完全属于她了。她张开双臂欢迎这岁月的到来。在那即将到来的岁月里，没有人会替她做主；她将独立生活。再不会有强烈的意志而迫使她屈从了，多古怪，居然有人相信，盲目而执拗地相信，自己有权把自己的意志强加于别人。在她目前心智特别清明的一刻里，她看清楚：促成这种行为的动机无论是出于善意还是出于恶意，这种行为本身都是有罪的。 当然，她是爱过他的——有时候是爱他的，但经常是不爱他的。那又有什么关系！有了独立的意志，爱情这未有答案的神秘事物，又算得了什么呢！“自由了！身心自由了！”她悄悄低语。 朱赛芬跪在关着的门外，苦苦哀求让她进去。“露易丝，你干什么哪？看在上帝的份儿上，开开门吧！”“去吧，我没事。”她正透过那扇开着的窗子畅饮那真正的长生不老药呢，在纵情地幻想未来的自由美好岁月，春天，还有夏天以及所有各种时光都将为她自己所有。她终于站了起来，在她姐姐的强求下，打开了门。她眼睛里充满了胜利的激情，搂着姐姐的腰，一齐下楼去了。 有人在用弹簧锁钥匙开大门。进来的是布兰特雷•马拉德，略显旅途劳顿，但泰然自若地提着他的大旅行包和伞。他不但没有在发生事故的地方呆过，而且连出了什么事也不知道。他站在那儿，大为吃惊地听见了朱赛芬刺耳的尖叫声；看见了理查德急忙在他妻子面前遮挡着他的快速动作。不过，理查德已经太晚了。 医生来后，他们说她是死于心脏病——说她是因为极度高兴致死的comments powered by Disqus