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无期徒刑精彩小说部分阅读第一章

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在一个热带的下午悄无声息的寂静,当空气又热又闷,天空无云,厚颜无耻的马拉巴尔的阴影下,孤独的在金光闪闪的海面。
太阳每天早上谁玫瑰炽热的球在左手上,通过移动缓慢,难以忍受的蓝,直到他把火红的交融的天空和海洋的辉煌在右手-刚刚得到足够低PEEP在棚覆盖在尾楼甲板,并唤醒一个年轻人,在一个脱下军装,谁在打瞌睡的一卷绳子。
“挂吧!他站起来,伸了个懒腰,用一个没什么事的男人的疲倦的叹息,说:“我一定是睡着了”;然后,他停了下来,转过身,低头看了看船的腰部。
除了车轮上的人和四分之一栏杆的守卫外,他独自一人在甲板上。有几只鸟在船上飞来飞去,好像从她那扇关着的窗户下面经过,只是再次出现在船头上。一个懒惰的信天翁,与白水闪光从他的翅膀,与涉猎声音背风的玫瑰,在那里他一直悄悄默默的一个游泳的鲨鱼鳍的可怕。擦洗得很好的甲板接缝处粘着熔化的沥青,罗盘盒的黄铜盘在阳光下闪闪发光。没有一丝风,和笨拙的船摇晃一下在波涛汹涌的大海,她闲帆拍打着她的桅杆的经常发生的噪音,和她的船首斜桅似乎上升水的膨胀,将使各绳再次颤抖,绷紧的混蛋。在艏楼,半数以上的士兵,在所有品种的脱衣服,玩纸牌,抽烟,或看的钓鱼线挂在猫头。
到目前为止,该船的外观不同,毫不与普通的运输。但在腰部,一种奇特的景象出现了。好像有人在那里盖了一支牛栏。在前桅脚下,在甲板上,一个强大的防御工事,并配有环孔的入口和出口的门,穿过甲板从堡垒堡垒。在这牛笔武装哨兵站岗;里面,站着,坐着,或行走的单调,在船尾的手臂胸部的闪亮的桶的范围内,有六十的男人和男孩,穿着统一的灰色。男人和男孩都是王冠的囚犯,牛栏是他们的运动场。监狱是主要的通道,在“甲板,和路障,继续下行,使其侧壁。
这是国王陛下的第四King George陛下每天下午两次为国王的囚犯们慷慨地允许的两个小时的活动,囚犯们正在享受他们自己。不,也许,如此令人愉快的雨篷在尾楼甲板,但那神圣的阴影只是作为队长和他的军官,外科医生的松树,Maurice Frere中尉,和这样的伟人,所有最重要的人物,Captain Vickers和他的妻子。
那犯人靠在舷墙一直想摆脱他的敌人一会儿太阳,可能是足够的。他的同伴,坐在主孵化梳头,或蹲在草时尚在街垒的阴面,都有说有笑,亵渎和淫秽的欢乐与可怕的考虑;但他用帽遮住自己的眉毛,两手插在他粗糙的灰色衣服的口袋里,避开他们低迷的愉悦。
太阳把热射线在他头上注意,虽然在甲板上的每个角落和缝隙却热沥青激烈下,那个人站在那里,一动不动,郁闷,盯着沉睡的海。他这样站着,在一个地方或另一个,自从呻吟有从比斯开湾的辊逃脱,和悲惨的百和八十的动物中他被摆脱了他们的镣铐,闻着清新的空气,一天两次。
低眉,粗精选的地痞围在甲板上投下许多乐儿的蔑视在孤单的身影,但他们的言论被局限于手势只。有度的犯罪,和Rufus Dawes,被判刑的罪犯,他却逃过绞刑为他的镣铐一生辛劳,是男人的标志。他曾试图抢劫和谋杀Lord Bellasis。没有流浪的跛脚的故事在荒野中一个垂死的人发现会不让他,但奇怪的宣誓由西班牙人的旅馆的老板,那个谋杀的贵族都摇摇头,当被问及如果犯人是他的杀手。流浪者被谋杀,但被判处死刑的抢劫,和伦敦,谁参加了庭审的一些兴趣,认为他幸运,当他被减刑至终身流放。
这些在船上的浮动监狱保持每个人的犯罪是司空见惯

In the breathless stillness of a tropical afternoon, when the air was hot and heavy, and the sky brazen and cloudless, the shadow of the Malabar lay solitary on the surface of the glittering sea.

The sun — who rose on the left hand every morning a blazing ball, to move slowly through the unbearable blue, until he sank fiery red in mingling glories of sky and ocean on the right hand — had just got low enough to peep beneath the awning that covered the poop-deck, and awaken a young man, in an undress military uniform, who was dozing on a coil of rope.

“Hang it!” said he, rising and stretching himself, with the weary sigh of a man who has nothing to do, “I must have been asleep”; and then, holding by a stay, he turned about and looked down into the waist of the ship.

Save for the man at the wheel and the guard at the quarter-railing, he was alone on the deck. A few birds flew round about the vessel, and seemed to pass under her stern windows only to appear again at her bows. A lazy albatross, with the white water flashing from his wings, rose with a dabbling sound to leeward, and in the place where he had been glided the hideous fin of a silently-swimming shark. The seams of the well-scrubbed deck were sticky with melted pitch, and the brass plate of the compass-case sparkled in the sun like a jewel. There was no breeze, and as the clumsy ship rolled and lurched on the heaving sea, her idle sails flapped against her masts with a regularly recurring noise, and her bowsprit would seem to rise higher with the water’s swell, to dip again with a jerk that made each rope tremble and tauten. On the forecastle, some half-dozen soldiers, in all varieties of undress, were playing at cards, smoking, or watching the fishing-lines hanging over the catheads.

So far the appearance of the vessel differed in nowise from that of an ordinary transport. But in the waist a curious sight presented itself. It was as though one had built a cattle-pen there. At the foot of the foremast, and at the quarter-deck, a strong barricade, loop-holed and furnished with doors for ingress and egress, ran across the deck from bulwark to bulwark. Outside this cattle-pen an armed sentry stood on guard; inside, standing, sitting, or walking monotonously, within range of the shining barrels in the arm chest on the poop, were some sixty men and boys, dressed in uniform grey. The men and boys were prisoners of the Crown, and the cattle-pen was their exercise ground. Their prison was down the main hatchway, on the ’tween decks, and the barricade, continued down, made its side walls.

It was the fag end of the two hours’ exercise graciously permitted each afternoon by His Majesty King George the Fourth to prisoners of the Crown, and the prisoners of the Crown were enjoying themselves. It was not, perhaps, so pleasant as under the awning on the poop-deck, but that sacred shade was only for such great men as the captain and his officers, Surgeon Pine, Lieutenant Maurice Frere, and, most important personages of all, Captain Vickers and his wife.

That the convict leaning against the bulwarks would like to have been able to get rid of his enemy the sun for a moment, was probable enough. His companions, sitting on the combings of the main-hatch, or crouched in careless fashion on the shady side of the barricade, were laughing and talking, with blasphemous and obscene merriment hideous to contemplate; but he, with cap pulled over his brows, and hands thrust into the pockets of his coarse grey garments, held aloof from their dismal joviality.

The sun poured his hottest rays on his head unheeded, and though every cranny and seam in the deck sweltered hot pitch under the fierce heat, the man stood there, motionless and morose, staring at the sleepy sea. He had stood thus, in one place or another, ever since the groaning vessel had escaped from the rollers of the Bay of Biscay, and the miserable hundred and eighty creatures among whom he was classed had been freed from their irons, and allowed to sniff fresh air twice a day.

The low-browed, coarse-featured ruffians grouped about the deck cast many a leer of contempt at the solitary figure, but their remarks were confined to gestures only. There are degrees in crime, and Rufus Dawes, the convicted felon, who had but escaped the gallows to toil for all his life in irons, was a man of mark. He had been tried for the robbery and murder of Lord Bellasis. The friendless vagabond’s lame story of finding on the Heath a dying man would not have availed him, but for the curious fact sworn to by the landlord of the Spaniards’ Inn, that the murdered nobleman had shaken his head when asked if the prisoner was his assassin. The vagabond was acquitted of the murder, but condemned to death for the robbery, and London, who took some interest in the trial, considered him fortunate when his sentence was commuted to transportation for life.

It was customary on board these floating prisons to keep each man’s crime a secret from his fellows, so that if he chose, and the caprice of his gaolers allowed him, he could lead a new life in his adopted home, without being taunted with his former misdeeds. But, like other excellent devices, the expedient was only a nominal one, and few out of the doomed hundred and eighty were ignorant of the offence which their companions had committed. The more guilty boasted of their superiority in vice; the petty criminals swore that their guilt was blacker than it appeared. Moreover, a deed so bloodthirsty and a respite so unexpected, had invested the name of Rufus Dawes with a grim distinction, which his superior mental abilities, no less than his haughty temper and powerful frame, combined to support. A young man of two-and-twenty owning to no friends, and existing among them but by the fact of his criminality, he was respected and admired. The vilest of all the vile horde penned between decks, if they laughed at his “fine airs” behind his back, cringed and submitted when they met him face to face — for in a convict ship the greatest villain is the greatest hero, and the only nobility acknowledged by that hideous commonwealth is that Order of the Halter which is conferred by the hand of the hangman.

The young man on the poop caught sight of the tall figure leaning against the bulwarks, and it gave him an excuse to break the monotony of his employment.

“Here, you!” he called with an oath, “get out of the gangway! “Rufus Dawes was not in the gangway — was, in fact, a good two feet from it, but at the sound of Lieutenant Frere’s voice he started, and went obediently towards the hatchway.

“Touch your hat, you dog!” cries Frere, coming to the quarter-railing. “Touch your damned hat! Do you hear?”

Rufus Dawes touched his cap, saluting in half military fashion. “I’ll make some of you fellows smart, if you don’t have a care,” went on the angry Frere, half to himself. “Insolent blackguards!”

And then the noise of the sentry, on the quarter-deck below him, grounding arms, turned the current of his thoughts. A thin, tall, soldier-like man, with a cold blue eye, and prim features, came out of the cuddy below, handing out a fair-haired, affected, mincing lady, of middle age. Captain Vickers, of Mr. Frere’s regiment, ordered for service in Van Diemen’s Land, was bringing his lady on deck to get an appetite for dinner.

Mrs. Vickers was forty-two (she owned to thirty-three), and had been a garrison-belle for eleven weary years before she married prim John Vickers. The marriage was not a happy one. Vickers found his wife extravagant, vain, and snappish, and she found him harsh, disenchanted, and commonplace. A daughter, born two years after their marriage, was the only link that bound the ill-assorted pair. Vickers idolized little Sylvia, and when the recommendation of a long sea-voyage for his failing health induced him to exchange into the — th, he insisted upon bringing the child with him, despite Mrs. Vickers’s reiterated objections on the score of educational difficulties. “He could educate her himself, if need be,” he said; “and she should not stay at home.”

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