** Blue Wind ** - 『レ・ミゼラブル』の青空翻訳 -

IV. Forms assumed by Suffering during Sleep

2004/01/12 (Mon)


Three o'clock in the morning had just struck, and he had been
walking thus for five hours, almost uninterruptedly, when he
at length allowed himself to drop into his chair.

There he fell asleep and had a dream.

This dream, like the majority of dreams, bore no relation to
the situation, except by its painful and heart-rending character,
but it made an impression on him. This nightmare struck him so
forcibly that he wrote it down later on. It is one of the papers
in his own handwriting which he has bequeathed to us. We think
that we have here reproduced the thing in strict accordance with the text.

Of whatever nature this dream may be, the history of this night
would be incomplete if we were to omit it: it is the gloomy
adventure of an ailing soul.

Here it is. On the envelope we find this line inscribed, "The Dream
I had that Night."

"I was in a plain; a vast, gloomy plain, where there was no grass.
It did not seem to me to be daylight nor yet night.

"I was walking with my brother, the brother of my childish years,
the brother of whom, I must say, I never think, and whom I now
hardly remember.

"We were conversing and we met some passers-by. We were talking
of a neighbor of ours in former days, who had always worked with her
window open from the time when she came to live on the street.
As we talked we felt cold because of that open window.

"There were no trees in the plain. We saw a man passing close to us.
He was entirely nude, of the hue of ashes, and mounted on a horse
which was earth color. The man had no hair; we could see his skull
and the veins on it. In his hand he held a switch which was as
supple as a vine-shoot and as heavy as iron. This horseman passed
and said nothing to us.

"My brother said to me, `Let us take to the hollow road.'

"There existed a hollow way wherein one saw neither a single shrub
nor a spear of moss. Everything was dirt-colored, even the sky.
After proceeding a few paces, I received no reply when I spoke:
I perceived that my brother was no longer with me.

"I entered a village which I espied. I reflected that it must
be Romainville. (Why Romainville?)[5]

[5] This parenthesis is due to Jean Valjean.

"The first street that I entered was deserted. I entered
a second street. Behind the angle formed by the two streets,
a man was standing erect against the wall. I said to this Man:--

"`What country is this? Where am I?' The man made no reply.
I saw the door of a house open, and I entered.

"The first chamber was deserted. I entered the second. Behind the
door of this chamber a man was standing erect against the wall.
I inquired of this man, `Whose house is this? Where am I?'
The man replied not.

"The house had a garden. I quitted the house and entered the garden.
The garden was deserted. Behind the first tree I found a man
standing upright. I said to this man, `What garden is this?
Where am I?' The man did not answer.

"I strolled into the village, and perceived that it was a town.
All the streets were deserted, all the doors were open. Not a single
living being was passing in the streets, walking through the chambers
or strolling in the gardens. But behind each angle of the walls,
behind each door, behind each tree, stood a silent man. Only one was
to be seen at a time. These men watched me pass.

"I left the town and began to ramble about the fields.

"After the lapse of some time I turned back and saw a great crowd coming
up behind me. I recognized all the men whom I had seen in that town.
They had strange heads. They did not seem to be in a hurry, yet they
walked faster than I did. They made no noise as they walked.
In an instant this crowd had overtaken and surrounded me.
The faces of these men were earthen in hue.

"Then the first one whom I had seen and questioned on entering
the town said to me:--

"`Whither are you going! Do you not know that you have been dead
this long time?'

"I opened my mouth to reply, and I perceived that there was no
one near me."

He woke. He was icy cold. A wind which was chill like the breeze
of dawn was rattling the leaves of the window, which had been left
open on their hinges. The fire was out. The candle was nearing
its end. It was still black night.

He rose, he went to the window. There were no stars in the sky
even yet.

From his window the yard of the house and the street were visible.
A sharp, harsh noise, which made him drop his eyes, resounded from
the earth.

Below him he perceived two red stars, whose rays lengthened
and shortened in a singular manner through the darkness.

As his thoughts were still half immersed in the mists of sleep,
"Hold!" said he, "there are no stars in the sky. They are on
earth now."

But this confusion vanished; a second sound similar to the first
roused him thoroughly; he looked and recognized the fact that these
two stars were the lanterns of a carriage. By the light which
they cast he was able to distinguish the form of this vehicle.
It was a tilbury harnessed to a small white horse. The noise which
he had heard was the trampling of the horse's hoofs on the pavement.

"What vehicle is this?" he said to himself. "Who is coming here
so early in the morning?"

At that moment there came a light tap on the door of his chamber.

He shuddered from head to foot, and cried in a terrible voice:--

"Who is there?"

Some one said:--

"I, Monsieur le Maire."

He recognized the voice of the old woman who was his portress.

"Well!" he replied, "what is it?"

"Monsieur le Maire, it is just five o'clock in the morning."

"What is that to me?"

"The cabriolet is here, Monsieur le Maire."

"What cabriolet?"

"The tilbury."

"What tilbury?"

"Did not Monsieur le Maire order a tilbury?"

"No," said he.

"The coachman says that he has come for Monsieur le Maire."

"What coachman?"

"M. Scaufflaire's coachman."

"M. Scaufflaire?"

That name sent a shudder over him, as though a flash of lightning
had passed in front of his face.

"Ah! yes," he resumed; "M. Scaufflaire!"

If the old woman could have seen him at that moment, she would
have been frightened.

A tolerably long silence ensued. He examined the flame of the candle
with a stupid air, and from around the wick he took some of the
burning wax, which he rolled between his fingers. The old woman
waited for him. She even ventured to uplift her voice once more:--

"What am I to say, Monsieur le Maire?"

"Say that it is well, and that I am coming down."


- Genesis -