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The fortunes of those who have figured in this tale are nearly closed. The little that remains to their historian to relate, is told in few and simple words. Before three months had passed, Rose Fleming and Harry Maylie were married in the village church which was henceforth to be the scene of the young clergyman's labours; on the same day they entered into possession of their new and happy home. Mrs. Maylie took up her abode with her son and daughter-in-law, to enjoy, during the tranquil remainder of her days, the greatest felicity that age and worth can know--the contemplation of the happiness of those on whom the warmest affections and tenderest cares of a well-spent life, have been unceasingly bestowed. It appeared, on full and careful investigation, that if the wreck of property remaining in the custody of Monks (which had never prospered either in his hands or in those of his mother) were equally divided between himself and Oliver, it would yield, to each, little more than three thousand pounds. By the provisions of his father's will, Oliver would have been entitled to the whole; but Mr. Brownlow, unwilling to deprive the elder son of the opportunity of retrieving his former vices and pursuing an honest career, proposed this mode of distribution, to which his young charge joyfully acceded. Monks, still bearing that assumed name, retired with his portion to a distant part of the New World; where, having quickly squandered it, he once more fell into his old courses, and, after undergoing a long confinement for some fresh act of fraud and knavery, at length sunk under an attack of his old disorder, and died in prison. As far from home, died the chief remaining members of his friend Fagin's gang. Mr. Brownlow adopted Oliver as his son. Removing with him and the old housekeeper to within a mile of the parsonage-house, where his dear friends resided, he gratified the only remaining wish of Oliver's warm and earnest heart, and thus linked together a little society, whose condition approached as nearly to one of perfect happiness as can ever be known in this changing world. Soon after the marriage of the young people, the worthy doctor returned to Chertsey, where, bereft of the presence of his old friends, he would have been discontented if his temperament had admitted of such a feeling; and would have turned quite peevish if he had known how. For two or three months, he contented himself with hinting that he feared the air began to disagree with him; then, finding that the place really no longer was, to him, what it had been, he settled his business on his assistant, took a bachelor's cottage outside the village of which his young friend was pastor, and instantaneously recovered. Here he took to gardening, planting, fishing, carpentering, and various other pursuits of a similar kind: all undertaken with his characteristic impetuosity. In each and all he has since become famous throughout the neighborhood, as a most profound authority. Before his removal, he had managed to contract a strong friendship for Mr. Grimwig, which that eccentric gentleman cordially reciprocated. He is accordingly visited by Mr. Grimwig a great many times in the course of the year. On all such occasions, Mr. Grimwig plants, fishes, and carpenters, with great ardour; doing everything in a very singular and unprecedented manner, but always maintaining with his favourite asseveration, that his mode is the right one. On Sundays, he never fails to criticise the sermon to the young clergyman's face: always informing Mr. Losberne, in strict confidence afterwards, that he considers it an excellent performance, but deems it as well not to say so. It is a standing and very favourite joke, for Mr. Brownlow to rally him on his old prophecy concerning Oliver, and to remind him of the night on which they sat with the watch between them, waiting his return; but Mr. Grimwig contends that he was right in the main, and, in proof thereof, remarks that Oliver did not come back after all; which always calls forth a laugh on his side, and increases his good humour. Mr. Noah Claypole: receiving a free pardon from the Crown in consequence of being admitted approver against Fagin: and considering his profession not altogether as safe a one as he could wish: was, for some little time, at a loss for the means of a livelihood, not burdened with too much work. After some consideration, he went into business as an Informer, in which calling he realises a genteel subsistence. His plan is, to walk out once a week during church time attended by Charlotte in respectable attire. The lady faints away at the doors of charitable publicans, and the gentleman being accommodated with three-penny worth of brandy to restore her, lays an information next day, and pockets half the penalty. Sometimes Mr. Claypole faints himself, but the result is the same. Mr. and Mrs. Bumble, deprived of their situations, were gradually reduced to great indigence and misery, and finally became paupers in that very same workhouse in which they had once lorded it over others. Mr. Bumble has been heard to say, that in this reverse and degradation, he has not even spirits to be thankful for being separated from his wife. As to Mr. Giles and Brittles, they still remain in their old posts, although the former is bald, and the last-named boy quite grey. They sleep at the parsonage, but divide their attentions so equally among its inmates, and Oliver and Mr. Brownlow, and Mr. Losberne, that to this day the villagers have never been able to discover to which establishment they properly belong. Master Charles Bates, appalled by Sikes's crime, fell into a train of reflection whether an honest life was not, after all, the best. Arriving at the conclusion that it certainly was, he turned his back upon the scenes of the past, resolved to amend it in some new sphere of action. He struggled hard, and suffered much, for some time; but, having a contented disposition, and a good purpose, succeeded in the end; and, from being a farmer's drudge, and a carrier's lad, he is now the merriest young grazier in all Northamptonshire. And now, the hand that traces these words, falters, as it approaches the conclusion of its task; and would weave, for a little longer space, the thread of these adventures. I would fain linger yet with a few of those among whom I have so long moved, and share their happiness by endeavouring to depict it. I would show Rose Maylie in all the bloom and grace of early womanhood, shedding on her secluded path in life soft and gentle light, that fell on all who trod it with her, and shone into their hearts. I would paint her the life and joy of the fire-side circle and the lively summer group; I would follow her through the sultry fields at noon, and hear the low tones of her sweet voice in the moonlit evening walk; I would watch her in all her goodness and charity abroad, and the smiling untiring discharge of domestic duties at home; I would paint her and her dead sister's child happy in their love for one another, and passing whole hours together in picturing the friends whom they had so sadly lost; I would summon before me, once again, those joyous little faces that clustered round her knee, and listen to their merry prattle; I would recall the tones of that clear laugh, and conjure up the sympathising tear that glistened in the soft blue eye. These, and a thousand looks and smiles, and turns of thought and speech--I would fain recall them every one. How Mr. Brownlow went on, from day to day, filling the mind of his adopted child with stores of knowledge, and becoming attached to him, more and more, as his nature developed itself, and showed the thriving seeds of all he wished him to become--how he traced in him new traits of his early friend, that awakened in his own bosom old remembrances, melancholy and yet sweet and soothing--how the two orphans, tried by adversity, remembered its lessons in mercy to others, and mutual love, and fervent thanks to Him who had protected and preserved them--these are all matters which need not to be told. I have said that they were truly happy; and without strong affection and humanity of heart, and gratitude to that Being whose code is Mercy, and whose great attribute is Benevolence to all things that breathe, happiness can never be attained. Within the altar of the old village church there stands a white marble tablet, which bears as yet but one word: 'AGNES.' There is no coffin in that tomb; and may it be many, many years, before another name is placed above it! But, if the spirits of the Dead ever come back to earth, to visit spots hallowed by the love--the love beyond the grave--of those whom they knew in life, I believe that the shade of Agnes sometimes hovers round that solemn nook. I believe it none the less because that nook is in a Church, and she was weak and erring.
(最后一章。) 有关这部传记中出场人物的命运差不多已经讲完了。留给本书作者交待的只有简简单单几句话。 不出三个月,露丝·弗莱明与哈利·梅莱结婚了,地点就是那所从此以后将成为这位年轻牧师工作场所的乡村教堂。同一天,他俩搬进了幸福的新居。 梅莱太太也搬来跟儿子、儿媳妇住在一块儿,准备在宁静的余年享受一下品德高洁的老年人所能领略的最大乐事——细细品味两个孩子的幸福,自己的一生没有虚度,又曾不断地向他俩倾注最温暖的爱心和无微不至的关怀。 经过充分而又周密的调查,黎福特家的那笔遗产(无论是在孟可司名下还是在他母亲手中,那笔财产从未增值),除去孟可司已经挥霍的部分,如果在他与奥立弗之间平分,各自可得三千英镑多一点。依照父亲的遗嘱,奥立弗本来有权得到全部财产,但布朗罗先生不愿意剥夺那位长子改邪归正的机会,提出了这样一个分配方式,他的那位幼小的被保护人愉快地接受了。 孟可司,依旧顶着这个化名,带上自己得到的那一份财产,隐退到新大陆一个遥远的地方去了。在那儿,他很快便把财产挥霍一空,又一次重操旧业,由于犯下另一桩欺诈罪被判长期监禁,最终因旧病复发死在狱中。他的朋友费金一伙余下的几名首犯也都客死异乡。 布朗罗先生把奥立弗当作亲生儿子收养下来,带着他和老管家迁往新居,离自己那几位老朋友的牧师住宅不到一英里,满足了奥立弗那热情而又真挚的心怀中余下的唯一希望,就这样,他把一个小小的团体联系在一起,他们的幸福俨然达到了在这个动荡不定的世界上所能达到的最高境界。 两个年轻人结婚以后不久,那位可敬的大夫便返回杰茨去了。在那儿,离开了那班老朋友,他本来没准会变得牢骚满腹,或者莫名其妙地变得暴躁易怒,幸而他生来没有这样一份德性。两三个月之间,他一开始还通过暗示来自我宽慰,意思是那边的空气恐怕对自己不大合适,随后又发觉对他说来当地确实已经和过去大不一样了,他把业务交给助手,在年轻朋友担任牧师的那所村子外边租了一所供单身汉住的小房子,所有的不舒服便立刻康复了。在那里,他忙于种花、植树、钓鱼、做木器活以及诸如此类的活动,不管是干什么,他无不带着自己独具一格的急性子。他后来在各个方面都成为最渊博的权威人士,名气传遍了附近一带。 大夫搬家以前就已经对格林维格先生印象极佳,这位执拗的绅士也对他投桃报李。一年当中,格林维格先生多次前来拜访。每次来访,格林维格先生都劲头十足地植树、钓鱼、做木工。他做什么事情都与众不同,有的更是史无前例,而且老是搬出他所珍爱的那句名言来说明自已的方法才是正确的。赶上礼拜日,他照例要当着年轻牧师的面对布道演说评点指摘一番,事后又总是极其秘密地告诉罗斯伯力先生,他认为牧师的布道发挥得好极了,但还是不明说的好。布朗罗先生经常取笑格林维格先生,重提他那个在奥立弗问题上的过了时的预言,帮助他回想他们将怀表放在两人中间,坐等孩子归来的那个夜晚。不过,格林维格先生依旧一口咬定自己大体上是对的,并且以奥立弗毕竟没有回来作为凭证——这事总要引起他一阵大笑,快活的心情有增无已。 诺亚·克雷波尔先生由于指证费金而获得了王室的特赦,他认为自己的职业毕竟不像指望的那样可靠,在一段不太长的时间里又找不到不用花太大力气的谋生之道。经过一番考虑,他于起了举报这一行,生活上也有了上等人的派头。他的办法是,每逢礼拜时间穿上体面的衣服,由夏洛蒂陪同出去走走,这位女士一到大慈大悲的酒店老板的门口就晕过去,这位绅士破费几个小钱的白兰地把她救醒,第二天便去告发酒店老板,将罚款的一半装人私囊。克雷波尔先生本人有时也会晕过去,效果也很不错①。 ①当时法律规定,在教堂礼拜结束之前,酒店不得出售酒类,对违者课以罚款,对告发者奖以罚款之半数。 邦布尔夫妇被撤职以后,逐渐陷于穷困潦倒之中,最后在他俩一度对其他人作威作福的那所济贫院里沦为贫民,有人听邦布尔先生说起,他背运、潦倒至此,简直连感谢上帝把他与老婆分开也打不起精神。 凯尔司先生和布里特尔斯仍旧担任原来的职司,尽管前者已经秃顶,布里特尔斯这个大孩子也已头发斑白。他俩住在牧师先生家中,对这一家人以及奥立弗、布朗罗先生、罗斯伯力先生的服务却是同样周到,村民们直到今天也分不清楚他们到底属于哪一家。 查理·贝兹少爷叫赛克斯的罪行吓破了胆,他进行了一连串的思考:正派的生活究竟算不算最好的。一旦认定这种生活理所当然是最好的,他便决定告别往昔,改过自新。在一段时间里,他拚死拚活地干,吃了不少苦头。不过,他凭着知足常乐的个性和向善的决心,终于获得成功,一开始是替庄户人打打短工,给搬运夫当下手,现在成了整个北安普顿郡最快活的畜牧业新秀。 现在,笔者的手在行将完成自己的使命时变得有些发颤,很想拿这些故事的线,多织一会儿布。 我与书中的人物相处了这样久,但仍愿意陪着他们再走一程,我要奋笔疾书他们的欢乐,分享他们的幸福。我很想让新婚的露丝·梅莱展示出全部的风采和韵致,将柔和的清辉撒在她那与世无争的人生道路上,撒在所有与她一起走在这条路上的人们身上,并且照进他们的心田。我要描绘她冬日围炉和生气盎然的夏日长聚的活力与欢乐。中午,我要跟着她穿过酷热的原野,月夜漫步时,我要聆听她用甜美的嗓音低声唱出的曲调。我要注视着她出门乐善好施,在家含着微笑、孜孜不倦地履行天职。我要描述她和她姐姐的遗孤的幸福,她俩相亲相爱,常常在一起想像失去的亲人长得像什么样子,一想就是几个小时。我要再一次把围聚在她膝前的那些欢乐的小脸蛋召到跟前,听一听他们那快活的卿卿喳喳。我要在记忆中唤起那清脆的笑语欢声,刻画在她那双温柔的蓝眼睛里闪动着的同情的泪花。这一切,以及千百次的眼神与微笑,数不清的思想和言语——我都想—一记录下来。 日复一日,布朗罗先生怎样继续用丰富的学识充实他的养子的头脑,随着孩子的天性不断发展,希望的种子已经破土而出,大有可能成为老先生希望看到的那种人,布朗罗先生对他的钟爱也日益加深——他又是怎样在孩子身上不断找到老朋友的特征,这些特征在他自己的心坎上唤起了久已逝去的回忆,既牵动忧伤,又带来甜蜜与温馨——两个孤儿经历了磨难,他们如何记取教训,善待他人,互敬互爱,热诚感谢庇护、保全了他俩的上帝——这一切都是毋庸赘述的事情。我已经说过了,他们确实很幸福。如果没有强烈的爱,没有仁爱之心,如果对以慈悲为信条、以博爱一切生灵为最高标志的上帝不知感恩,是绝对得不到幸福的。 在那个古老乡村的教堂墓地里,矗立着一块白色的大理石墓碑,上边直到今日还只刻着一个名宇:艾格尼丝。墓穴里没有灵柩,也许要过许多年,才会有另外一个名字刻上去。然而坟墓隔不断死者生前友人对他们的爱,如果他们身后时常回返尘世,魂游一处处爱的圣地,我相信艾格尼丝的阴魂有时就在这个神圣的角落盘旋。尽管这个角落是在教堂里,柔弱的她又曾迷途忘返,我还是相信她会到这里来的。