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双语小说连载:纯真年代 The Age of Innocence(3)

Source: 恒星英语学习网    2011-07-21  我要投稿   论坛   Favorite  

The question was: who was Beaufort? He passed for an Englishman, was agreeable, handsome, ill-tempered, hospitable and witty. He had come to America with letters of recommendation from old Mrs. Manson Mingott's English son-in-law, the banker, and had speedily made himself an important position in the world of affairs; but his habits were dissipated, his tongue was bitter, his antecedents were mysterious; and when Medora Manson announced her cousin's engagement to him it was felt to be one more act of folly in poor Medora's long record of imprudences.
问题在于:博福特究竟是何许人?他被认为是个英国人,彬彬有礼,仪表堂堂,脾气很坏,但却诙谐好客。他原是带着老曼森·明戈特太太那位英国银行家女婿的推荐信来到美国的,并很快在社交界赢得了重要地位;然而他生性放荡,言辞尖刻,而他的履历又很神秘。当梅多拉·曼森宣布她表妹与他订婚的消息时,人们认定,在可怜的梅多拉长长的鲁莽纪录中又增加了一次愚蠢行动。

But folly is as often justified of her children as wisdom, and two years after young Mrs. Beaufort's marriage it was admitted that she had the most distinguished house in New York. No one knew exactly how the miracle was accomplished. She was indolent, passive, the caustic even called her dull; but dressed like an idol, hung with pearls, growing younger and blonder and more beautiful each year, she throned in Mr. Beaufort's heavy brown-stone palace, and drew all the world there without lifting her jewelled little finger. The knowing people said it was Beaufort himself who trained the servants, taught the chef new dishes, told the gardeners what hot-house flowers to grow for the dinner-table and the drawing-rooms, selected the guests, brewed the after-dinner punch and dictated the little notes his wife wrote to her friends. If he did, these domestic activities were privately performed, and he presented to the world the appearance of a careless and hospitable millionaire strolling into his own drawing-room with the detachment of an invited guest, and saying: "My wife's gloxinias are a marvel, aren't they? I believe she gets them out from Kew."
然而愚蠢与聪明一样,常常会给她带来良好的结果。年轻的博福特太太结婚两年之后,人们已公认她拥有了纽约最引人注目的住宅。没有人知道这一奇迹究竟是怎样发生的。她懒散驯服,刻薄的人甚至称她果笨。但她打扮得像个玩偶,金发碧眼,珠光宝气,变得一年比一年年轻,一年比一年漂亮。她在博福特先生深棕色的石头宫殿里登上宝座,无须抬一抬戴钻戒的小手指便能把整个社交界的名人都吸引到身边。知情的人说,博福特亲自训练仆役,教厨师烹调新的菜肴,吩咐园丁在温室中栽培适宜餐桌与客厅的鲜花。他还亲自挑选宾客,酿制餐后的潘趣酒,并口授妻子写给朋友的便函。假若他果真如此,那么,这些家务活动也都是私下进行的;在社交界面前出现的他,却是一位漫不经心、热情好客的百万富翁,像贵宾一样潇洒地走进自己的客厅,赞不绝口地说:“我妻子的大岩桐真令人叫绝,不是吗?我相信她是从伦敦国立植物园弄来的。”

Mr. Beaufort's secret, people were agreed, was the way he carried things off. It was all very well to whisper that he had been "helped" to leave England by the international banking-house in which he had been employed; he carried off that rumour as easily as the rest--though New York's business conscience was no less sensitive than its moral standard--he carried everything before him, and all New York into his drawing- rooms, and for over twenty years now people had said they were "going to the Beauforts'" with the same tone of security as if they had said they were going to Mrs. Manson Mingott's, and with the added satisfaction of knowing they would get hot canvas-back ducks and vintage wines, instead of tepid Veuve Clicquot without a year and warmed-up croquettes from Philadelphia.
人们一致认为,博福特先生的秘密在于他成功的处事方法。虽然有传闻说,他是由雇佣他的国际银行“帮助”离开英国的,但他对这一谣言跟对其他谣言一样满不在乎。尽管纽约的商业良心跟它的道德准则一样地敏感,但他搬走了挡在前面的一切障碍,并把全纽约的人搬进了他的客厅。二十多年来,人们说起“要去博福特家”,那口气就跟说去曼森·明戈特太太家一样地心安理得,外加一种明知会享受灰背野鸭与陈年佳酿——而非劣酒与炸丸子——的满足。

Mrs. Beaufort, then, had as usual appeared in her box just before the Jewel Song; and when, again as usual, she rose at the end of the third act, drew her opera cloak about her lovely shoulders, and disappeared, New York knew that meant that half an hour later the ball would begin.
于是,跟往常一样,博福特太太在《朱厄尔之歌》开唱之前准时出现在她的包厢里;她又跟往常一样在第三幕结束时站了起来,拉一拉披在她可爱的肩膀上的歌剧斗篷,退场了。全纽约的人都明白,这意味着半小时后舞会即将开始。


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