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Dark Angle(翻译连载九)

(2009-11-06 16:16:08)





分类: UNCLE赵&他国际事务部的同事们

Before I went to bed I telephoned Betty Marpruder again. I telephoned three times. I checked with Directory Assistance. I checked there was no fault on the line. I dialed a fourth time. Still no reply. I found that very curious.


Betty Marpruder –Miss Marpruder to everyone except Constance and me; we were allowed to call her Prudie- was quite unlike the other women Constance employed, since she was neither young nor decorative and no member of her family had ever adorned the Social Register.


Constance, like many decorators, was careful to employ women-and men-whose accents, clothes, and demeanor would impress he clients. She did so with a certain scornful pragmatism-widow-dressing, she called it –but she did so nonetheless. Miss Marpruder, therefore, with her chain-store necklaces, her jaunty mannerisms, her brightly colored slacks, her aging invalid mother, her defiant yet sad air of spinsterhood, was always confined to a back room. There, she ruled the roost:She supervised the books, she tyrannized the workshops on Constance’s behalf, she put the fear of God into manufacturers, and she never, under any circumstances, met the clients. Constance had always supplied the inspiration within the company, but it was Miss Marpruder, compensating for Constance’s undeniable capriciousness, who did all the practical work..


睡觉前,我又给Betty Marpruder打了个电话。我前后共打了三次。我打电话到查询台确认路线没有故障,打了第四个电话,仍然没有人接听。我觉得事有跷蹊。


Marpruder小姐,只允许我和Constance称呼她Prudie,其他人都不行。Betty Marpruder跟Constance聘请的员工不一样,她既不年轻,也不是装修行业的,更不是出身名门望族。


Constance跟其他设计师一样,很注重自己员工的口音,穿着打扮及行为举止,这些因素都会影响顾客留下的印象。她称之为“寡妇盛装打扮”,很鄙视这种现实主义做法,但是她也一如既往地做。因此,Marpruder小姐为了她的连锁项链店,将她活泼可爱的性格,色彩鲜艳的宽腿裤,年迈不便的母亲以及单身生活的苦闷统统抛在身后。她管理整个连锁店:监管图册制作。她的店就是Constance理念的体现。她将所有畏惧都转化为生产制作,另外,不管何种情况下,她都不会直接接触客人。因此,Constance经常将其灵感提供给Marpruder,作为补偿, Betty Marpruder常常做实际工作,将设计方案从设计雏形中整理出来。




In return for this, she had been granted certain favors; I was sure she would enjoy them still. Chief of these was that knowledge of hers of Constance’s whereabouts. Miss Marpruder alone would be given the address of the villa or the number of the hotel suite; she would be entrusted with the details of the flights. She was given these privileged pieces of information because Constance knew how jealously she guarded them; Miss Marpruder, a worshipper at Constance’s temple, was also Constance’s high priestess.


In any decorating business there are constant crises; people relish them. In Constance’s workplace they happened daily. Her clients were very rich; their riches made them whimsical. Costly material, a year on order, would arrive and fail to please. Rooms, hand-lacquered with sixteen coats of paint, would be completed and would disappoint. A drama would ensue. Assistants would scurry back and forth. Telephones would shrill. Clients would insist, demand, to speak with Constance, no one else.


In the midst of this melee, secure in her little back room, Miss Marpruder would wait. No, Miss Shawcross could not be contacted; no, she was not available; no, she would not telephone Venice or Paris or London or the airline—not just yet.


作为回报, 她得到了Constance的偏爱。我确信她将一直享受这些偏爱。其中最重要的是她能知道Constance的行踪。Marpruder小姐是唯一能够知道Constance别墅地址或酒店套间房号的人;她也能够知道Constance乘坐航班的具体信息。她被给予了这些秘密的信息,主要是因为Constance知道她可以多么谨慎地保守这些秘密;Marpruder小姐不仅仅是Constance神庙里的一个礼拜者,同时也是Constance的大祭司。








“Prudie has a perfect nose,” Constance would crow. “When it comes to crises, she’s a Supreme Court judge.”

I listened to Miss Marpruder’s telephone. I could see it quite clearly, this instrument, as I listened to it ring. I could see the lace mat on which it stood, the rickety table beneath, all the details of that sad room which Prudie, in her jaunty way, liked to refer to as her bachelor den.

I was parked with Prudie often as a child. She would take me down to Thiry-second Street, bring me through to say hello to her invalid mother, install me in her small sitting room, bring me little treats—homemade cookies, glasses of real lemonade. Prudie would have liked children of her own, I think.

Her sitting room was garish and brave. It had an air of scrimping, of insufficient money stretched to the limit by medical bills. There was a defiant couch, in an unhappy shade of red, draped with a shawl in a manner designed to imitate Constance’s expensive, throwaway techniques. In Constance’s rooms the shawl would have been a cashmere throw or an antique Paisley; in Miss Marpruder’s it was Taiwanese silk.

She was exploited by Constance. When had I first understood that? To be loyal and indispensable, yet not to be well paid—or even adequately paid. How old was I when I first saw that as wrong? Whatever the age I was when liking fused with pity, it must have been in that small sitting room of Prudie’s that my doubts about my godmother began.









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