双语小说连载:纯真年代 The Age of Innocence(4)

Source: 恒星英语学习网    2011-07-22  我要投稿   论坛   Favorite  

In the course of the next day the first of the usual betrothal visits were exchanged. The New York ritual was precise and inflexible in such matters; and in conformity with it Newland Archer first went with his mother and sister to call on Mrs. Welland, after which he and Mrs. Welland and May drove out to old Mrs. Manson Mingott's to receive that venerable ancestress's blessing.

A visit to Mrs. Manson Mingott was always an amusing episode to the young man. The house in itself was already an historic document, though not, of course, as venerable as certain other old family houses in University Place and lower Fifth Avenue. Those were of the purest 1830, with a grim harmony of cabbage- rose-garlanded carpets, rosewood consoles, round-arched fire-places with black marble mantels, and immense glazed book-cases of mahogany; whereas old Mrs. Mingott, who had built her house later, had bodily cast out the massive furniture of her prime, and mingled with the Mingott heirlooms the frivolous upholstery of the Second Empire. It was her habit to sit in a window of her sitting-room on the ground floor, as if watching calmly for life and fashion to flow northward to her solitary doors. She seemed in no hurry to have them come, for her patience was equalled by her confidence. She was sure that presently the hoardings, the quarries, the one-story saloons, the wooden green-houses in ragged gardens, and the rocks from which goats surveyed the scene, would vanish before the advance of residences as stately as her own--perhaps (for she was an impartial woman) even statelier; and that the cobble- stones over which the old clattering omnibuses bumped would be replaced by smooth asphalt, such as people reported having seen in Paris. Meanwhile, as every one she cared to see came to HER (and she could fill her rooms as easily as the Beauforts, and without adding a single item to the menu of her suppers), she did not suffer from her geographic isolation.
拜访曼森·明戈特太太永远是年轻人的一件乐事。那房子本身就是一个历史的见证,尽管它自然不会像大学区与第五大街南部某些住宅那样令人肃然起敬。那些住宅清一色是1830年建的,里面那些百叶蔷该图案的地毯、黄檀木的蜗形支腿桌案、黑大理石面饰的圆拱形壁炉,还有锃亮的红木大书橱,显得既古板又协调。而明戈特老太太的住宅建得晚一些,她悉数摈弃了年轻时代那些笨重的家具,将第二帝国轻浮的室内装饰品与明戈特的传家宝熔为一炉。她坐在一楼客厅的窗户后面,仿佛是在安详地等候着社交活动与时尚的潮流滚滚北上,流向她冷落的门坎。她看起来并不急于让它们来到,因为她的耐心与她的信心不相上下。她深信那些囤积物与猎获物,那些单层的厅房、荒芜花园里的木制暖房以及山羊登临的石基,不久就会随着新住宅的推进而提前消逝,而那些新的宅邸将跟她的家一样富丽堂皇 ——或许(她是个不带偏见的女人)比她的更为壮观。而且,那些老式公共马车卡嗒卡嗒颠簸于其上的卵石路也将被平滑的柏油路面取代,就像人们传闻在巴黎见过的那样。同时,由于她乐于接见的人全都过来看她(她能像博福特夫妇那样,轻而易举把她家的客厅塞满,而且无须往晚餐菜单里加一道菜),她也并不因为住处偏僻而受与世隔绝之苦。

The immense accretion of flesh which had descended on her in middle life like a flood of lava on a doomed city had changed her from a plump active little woman with a neatly-turned foot and ankle into something as vast and august as a natural phenomenon. She had accepted this submergence as philosophically as all her other trials, and now, in extreme old age, was rewarded by presenting to her mirror an almost unwrinkled expanse of firm pink and white flesh, in the centre of which the traces of a small face survived as if awaiting excavation. A flight of smooth double chins led down to the dizzy depths of a still-snowy bosom veiled in snowy muslins that were held in place by a miniature portrait of the late Mr. Mingott; and around and below, wave after wave of black silk surged away over the edges of a capacious armchair, with two tiny white hands poised like gulls on the surface of the billows.

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