小说:《傲慢与偏见》 第47章 (中英对照)

简.奥斯汀
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              第 47 章

他们离开那个城镇的时候,舅父跟伊莉莎白说:”我又把这件事想了一遍,认真地考虑了一番,越发觉得你姐姐的看法很对。我认为无论是哪个青年,决不会对这样一位姑娘存着这样的坏心眼,她又不是无亲无靠,何况她就住在他自己的上校家里,因此我要从最好的方面去着想。难道他以为她的亲友们不会挺身而出吗?难道他还以为这一次冒犯弗斯脱上校以后,还好意思回到民兵团里去吗?我看他不见得会痴情到冒险的地步。”

  伊莉莎白的脸色立刻显得高兴起来,连忙嚷道:”你果真这样想吗?”

  嘉丁纳太太接嘴说:”你相信我好了,我也开始赞成你舅舅的看法了。这件事太不顾羞耻,太不顾名誉和利害关系了,他不会这样胆大妄为。我觉得韦翰未必会这样坏。丽萃,你竟这样不把他放在眼里,相信他会做出这种事吗?”

  ”他也许不会不顾全自己的利害关系。除此以外,我相信他全不在乎。但愿他能有所顾忌。我可不敢存这个奢望。要是真象你所想的那样,那他们干吗不到苏格兰去呢?”

  嘉丁纳先生回答道:”第一,现在并不能完全证明他们没有到苏格兰去。”

  ”哎哟!可是他们把原来的马车打发走,换上了出租的马车,光是凭这一点就可想而知!此外,到巴纳特去的路上,也找不到他们的踪迹。”

  ”那么就假定他们在伦敦吧。他们到那儿去也许是为了暂时躲避一下,不会别有用心。他们两个人都没有多少钱;也许他们都会想到,在伦敦结婚虽然比不上在苏格兰结婚来得方便,可是要省俭些。”

  ”可是为什么要这样秘密?为什么怕给人家发觉?为什么结婚要偷偷摸摸?哦,不,不,你这种想法不切合实际。你不是看到吉英信里说吗……连他自己最要好的朋友也相信他不会跟她结婚。韦翰绝不会跟一个没有钱的女人结婚的。他根本办不到。丽迪雅除了年轻、健康、爱开玩笑之外,有什么办法、有什么吸引力,可以叫他为了她而放弃掉结婚致富的机会?至于他会不会怕这次羞耻的私奔使他自己在部队里丢面子,便把行为检点一下,那我就无法判断了,因为我无从知道他这一次的行为究竟会产生什么样的后果。但是你说的另外一点,我恐怕不大靠得住。丽迪雅的确没有个亲兄弟为她出头,他又看到我父亲平日为人懒散,不管家事,便以为他遇到这类事情,也会跟人家做父亲的一样,不肯多管,也不肯多想。”

  ”可是你以为丽迪雅为了爱他,竟会不顾一切,可以不跟他结婚而跟他同居吗?”

  伊莉莎白眼睛里涌起了眼泪说道:”说起来真是骇人听闻,一个人居然怀疑到自己亲妹妹会不顾体面,不顾贞操!可是我的确不知道该怎么说才好。也许是我冤枉了她。她很年轻,又从来没有人教她应该怎样去考虑这些重大的问题;半年以来……不,整整一年以来──她只知道开心作乐,爱好虚荣。家里纵容她,让她尽过些轻浮浪荡的日子,让她随便遇到什么事情都是轻信盲从。自从民兵团驻扎到麦里屯以后,她一脑子只想到谈情说爱,卖弄风情,勾搭军官。她先天就已经足够骚,再加上老是想这件事,谈这件事,想尽办法使自己的感情更加……我应该说更加怎么呢?……更加容易被人家诱惑。我们都知道韦翰无论在仪表方面,辞令方面,都有足够的魅力可以迷住一个女人。”

  ”可是你得明白,”她的舅母说,”吉英就不把韦翰看得那么坏,她认为他不会存这种心肠。”

  ”吉英何尝把任何人看作坏人?不管是什么样的人,无论他过去的行为怎样,除非等到事实证明了那个人确实是坏,她怎么会相信人家会存这种心肠?可是说到韦翰的底细,吉英却和我一样明白。我们俩都知道他是个不折不扣的淫棍,他既没有人格,又不顾体面,一味虚情假意,柔声媚气。”

  这番话使嘉丁纳太太起了极大的好奇心,想要弄明白外甥女儿怎么知道这些事情的,便大声问道:”这些情形你真的都了解吗?”

  伊莉莎白红著脸回答道:”我当然了解,那一天我已经把他对待达西先生的无耻行为说给你听过。人家待他那么宽宏大量,可是你上次在浪搏恩的时候,曾经亲耳听到他是以什么的态度谈到人家。还有许多事情我不便于说,也不值得说,可是他对于彭伯里府上造谣中伤的事实,真是数说不尽。他把达西小姐说成那样一个人,使得我开头完全把她当做一位骄傲冷酷,惹人讨厌的小姐。然而他自己也知道事实完全相反。他心里一定明白,达西小姐正象我们所看到的那样和蔼可亲,一些也不装腔作势。”

  ”难道丽迪雅完全不知道这些事吗?既然你和吉英都了解得那么透彻,她自己怎么会完全不晓得?”

  ”糟就糟在这里。我自己也是到了肯特郡以后,常常跟达西先生和他的亲戚弗茨威廉上校在一起,才知道真相。等我回得家来,某某郡的民兵团已经准备在一两个星期以内就要离开麦里屯了。当时我就把这情形在吉英面前和盘托出,吉英和我都觉得不必向外面声张,因为街坊四邻既然都对韦翰有好感,如果叫大家对他印象转坏,这会对谁有好处?甚至于临到决定让丽迪雅跟弗斯脱太太一块儿走的时候,我还不想叫丽迪雅了解他的人品。我从来没想到她竟会被他欺骗。你可以相信我万万想不到会造成这样的后果。”

  ”那么说,他们开拔到白利屯去的时候,你还是毫不在意,没想到他们俩已经爱上了吧?”

  ”根本没想到。我记得他们谁都没有流露出相爱的意思,要知道,当初只要看出了一点形迹,在我们那样的一个家庭里是不会不谈论的。他刚到部队里来的时候,她就对他十分爱慕,当时我们大家都是那样。在开头一两个月里面,麦里屯一带的姑娘们没有哪一个不为他神魂颠倒;可是他对她却不曾另眼相看。后来那一阵滥爱狂恋的风气过去了,她对他的幻想也就消失了,因为民兵团里其他的军官们更加看重她,于是她的心又转到他们身上去了。”

  他们一路上把这个有趣的话题翻来复去地谈论,谈到哪些地方值得顾虑,哪些地方还可以寄予希望;揣想起来又是如何如何;实在再也谈不出什么新意来了,只得暂时住口。可是隔了不多一会儿,又谈到这件事上面来了;这是可想而知的。伊莉莎白的脑子里总是摆脱不开这件事。她为这件事自怨自艾,没有一刻能够安心,也没有一刻能够忘怀。

  他们匆匆忙忙赶着路,在中途住宿了一夜,第二天吃饭的时候就到了浪搏恩。伊莉莎白感到快慰的是,总算没有让吉英等得心焦。

  他们进了围场,嘉丁纳舅舅的孩子们一看见一辆马车,便赶到台阶上来站着;等到马车赶到门口的时候,孩子们一个个惊喜交集,满面笑容,跳来蹦去,这是大人们回来时第一次受到的愉快热诚的欢迎。

  伊莉莎白跳下马车,匆匆忙忙把每个孩子亲吻了一下便赶快向门口奔去,吉英这时候正从母亲房间里跑下楼来,在那儿迎接她。

  伊莉莎白热情地拥抱着她,姐妹两人都热泪滚滚。伊莉莎白一面又迫不及待地问她是否听到那一对私奔的男女有什么下落。

  ”还没有听到什么下落,”吉英回答道。”好在亲爱的舅舅回来了,我希望从此以后一切都会顺利。”

  ”爸爸进城去了吗?”

  ”进城去了,他是星期二走的,我信上告诉过你了。”

  ”常常收到他的信吗?”

  ”只收到他一封信。是星期三寄来的,信上三言两语,只说他已经平安抵达,又把他的详细地址告诉了我,这还是他临走时我特别要求他写的。另外他只说,等到有了重要消息,再写信来。”

  ”妈好吗?家里人都好吗?”

  ”我觉得妈还算好,只不过精神上受了很大的挫折。她在楼上;她看到你们回来,一定非常快活。她还在自己的化妆室里呢。谢天谢地,曼丽和吉蒂都非常好。”

  ”可是你好吗?”伊莉莎白又大声问道。”你脸色苍白。你一定担了多少心思啊!”

  姐姐告诉她完好无恙。姐妹俩趁著嘉丁纳夫妇忙于应付孩子们的时候,刚刚谈了这几句话,只见他们一大群男女老幼都走过来了,于是谈话只得终止。吉英走到舅父母跟前去表示欢迎和感谢,笑一阵又哭一阵。

  大家都走进会客室以后,舅父母又把伊莉莎白刚才问过的那些话重新问了一遍,立刻就发觉吉英没有什么消息可以奉告。吉英因为心肠慈善,总是从乐观的方面去着想,即使事到如今,她还没有心灰意冷,她还在指望着一切都会有圆满的结局;总有哪一天早上她会收到一封信,或者是父亲写来的,或者是丽迪雅写来的,信上会把事情进行的经过详细报导一番,或许还会宣布那一对男女的结婚消息。

  大家谈了一会儿以后,都到班纳特太太房里去了。果然不出所料,班纳特太太见到他们便眼泪汪汪,长吁短叹。她先把韦翰的卑劣行为痛骂了一顿,又为自己的病痛和委屈抱怨了一番,她几乎把每个人都骂到了,只有一个人没骂到,而那个人却正是盲目溺爱女儿,使女儿铸成大错的主要原因。

  她说:”要是当初能够依了我的打算,让全家人都跟着到白利屯去,那就不会发生这种事了。丽迪雅真是又可怜又可爱。毛病就出在没有人照应。弗斯脱太太怎么竟放心让她离开他们跟前呢?我看,一定是他们太怠慢了她。象她那样一个姑娘,要是有人好好地照料她,她是决不会做出那种事来的。我一直觉得他们不配照管她;可是我一直要受人家摆布。可怜的好孩子呀!班纳特先生已经走了,他一碰到韦翰,一定会跟他拼个死活,他一定会给韦翰活活打死,那叫我们大家可怎么办?他尸骨未寒,柯林斯一家人就要把我们撵出去;兄弟呀,要是你不帮帮我们的忙,我就真不知道怎么是好啦。”

  大家听到她这些可怕的话,都失声大叫;嘉丁纳先生告诉她说,无论对她本人,对她家里人,他都会尽心照顾,然后又告诉她说,他明天就要到伦敦去,尽力帮助班纳特先生去找丽迪雅。

  他又说:”不要过分焦急,虽说也应该从最坏的方面去着想,可也不一定会落得最坏的下场。他们离开白利屯还不到一个星期。再过几天,我们可能会打听到一些有关他们的消息。等我们把事情弄明白了;要是他们真的没有结婚,而且不打算结婚,那时候才谈得上失望。我一进城就会到姐夫那里去,请他到天恩寺街我们家里去住,那时候我们就可以一块儿商量出一个办法来。”

  班纳特太太回答道:”噢,好兄弟,这话正讲在我心上。你一到城里,千万把他们找到,不管他们在哪里也好;要是他们还没有结婚,一定叫他们结婚。讲到结婚的礼服,叫他们用不着等了,只告诉丽迪雅说,等他们结婚以后,她要多少钱做衣服我就给她多少钱。千万要紧的是,别让班纳特先生跟他打架。还请你告诉他,我真是在活受罪,简直给吓得神经错乱了,遍身发抖,东倒西歪,腰部抽搐,头痛心跳,从白天到夜里,没有一刻能够安心。请你跟我的丽迪雅宝贝儿说,叫她不要自作主张做衣服,等到和我见了面再说,因为她不知道哪一家衣料店最好。噢,兄弟,你真是一片好心!我知道你会想出办法来把样样事情都办好。”

  嘉丁纳先生虽然又重新安了她一下心,说他一定会认真尽力地去效劳,可是又叫她不要过分乐观,也不要过分忧虑。大家跟她一直谈到吃中饭才走开,反正女儿们不在她跟前的时候,有管家妇等候她,她还可以去向管家妇发牢骚。

  虽然她弟弟和弟妇都以为她大可不必和家里人分开吃饭,可是他们并不打算反对她这样做,因为他们考虑到她说话不谨慎,如果吃起饭来让好几个佣人一起来等候,那么她在佣人们面前把心里话全说了出来,未免不大好,因此最好还是只让一个佣人……一个最靠得住的佣人等候她,听她去叙述她对这件事是多么担心,多么牵挂。

  他们走进饭厅不久,曼丽和吉蒂也来了,原来这两姐妹都在自己房间里忙着各人自己的事,一个在读书,一个在化妆,因此没有能够早一些出来。两人的脸色都相当平静,看不出有什么变化,只是吉蒂讲话的声调比平常显得暴躁一些,这或者是因为她丢了一个心爱的妹妹而感到伤心,或者是因为这件事也使她觉得气愤。至于曼丽,她却自有主张,等大家坐定以后,她便摆出一副严肃的面孔,跟伊莉莎白低声说道:

  ”家门不幸,遭此惨祸,很可能会引起外界议论纷纷。人心恶毒,我们一定要及时防范,免得一发不可收拾。我们要用姐妹之情来安慰彼此创伤的心灵。”

  她看到伊莉莎白不想回答,便又接下去说:”此事对于丽迪雅固属不幸,但亦可以作为我们的前车之鉴。大凡女人家一经失去贞操,便无可挽救,这真是一失足成千古恨。美貌固然难于永保,名誉亦何尝容易保全。世间多的是轻薄男子,岂可不寸步留神?”

  伊莉莎白抬起眼睛来,神情很是诧异;她心里实在太郁闷,所以一句话也答不上来。可是曼丽还在往下说,她要从这件不幸的事例中阐明道德的精义,以便聊以自慰。

  到了下午,两位年纪最大的小姐有了半个钟头的时间可以在一起谈谈心。伊莉莎白不肯错过机会,连忙向吉英问东问西,吉英也连忙一一加以回答,好让妹妹放心。两姐妹先把这件事的不幸的后果共同叹息了一番。伊莉莎白认为一定会发生不幸的后果,吉英也认为难免。于是伊莉莎白继续说道:”凡是我不知道的情节,请你全部说给我听。请你谈得再详细一些。弗斯脱上校怎么说的?他们俩私奔之前,难道看不出一点形迹可疑的地方吗?照理应该常常看到他们两人在一起呀。”

  ”弗斯脱上校说,他也曾怀疑过他们俩有情感,特别是怀疑丽迪雅,可是他并没有看出什么形迹,因此没有及时留意。我真为他难受。他为人极其殷勤善良。远在他想到他们两人并没有到苏格兰去的时候,他就打算上我们这儿来慰问我们。等到人心惶惶的时候,他连忙便赶来了。”

  ”丹尼认为韦翰不会跟她结婚吗?他是否知道他们存心私奔?弗斯脱上校有没有见到丹尼本人?”

  ”见到的,不过他回到丹尼的时候,丹尼绝口否认,说是根本不知道他们私奔的打算,也不肯说出他自己对这件事究竟怎样看法。丹尼以后便没有再提起他们俩不会结婚之类的话。照这样看来,但愿上一次是我听错了他的话。”

  ”我想弗斯脱上校没有到这儿以前,你们谁都没有怀疑到他们不会正式结婚吧?”

  ”我们的脑子里怎么会有这种念头呢!我只是觉得有些不安心,有些顾虑,怕妹妹跟他结婚不会幸福,因为我早就知道他的品德不太端正。父亲和母亲完全不知道这种情形,他们只觉得这门亲事非常冒昧。吉蒂当时十分好胜地说,她比我们大家都熟悉内幕情形,丽迪雅给她的最后一封信上就已经隐隐约约透露也了一些口风,准备来这一著。看吉蒂那副神气,她好象远在她几个星期以前,就知道他们俩相爱了。”

  ”总不见得在他们俩去到白利屯以前就看出了吧?”

  ”不见得,我相信不见得。”

  ”弗斯脱上校是不是显出看不起韦翰的样子?他了解韦翰的真面目吗?”

  ”这我得承认,他不象从前那样器重他了。他认为他行事荒唐,又爱奢华,这件伤心的事发生以后,人们都传说他离开麦里屯的时候,还欠下了好多债,我但愿这是谣言。”

  ”哎哟,吉英,要是我们当初少替他保守一点秘密,把他的事情照直说出来,那也许就不会发生这件事了!”

  吉英说:”说不定会好些,不过,光是揭露人家过去的错误,而不尊重人家目前的为人,未免亦有些说不过去。我们待人接物,应该完全好心好意。”

  ”弗斯脱上校能不能把丽迪雅留给他太太的那封短信逐字逐句背出来?”

  ”那封信他是随身带来给我们看的。”

  于是吉英从口袋里掏出那封信,递给伊莉莎白。全文如下:

  亲爱的海丽,

  明天一大早你发现我失了踪,一定会大为惊奇;等你弄明白了我上什么地方去,你一定又会发笑。我想到这里,自己也禁不住笑出来了。我要到格利那草场去。如果你猜不着我是跟谁一起去,那我真要把你看成一个大傻瓜,因为这世界上只有一个男人是我心爱的,他真是一个天使。没有了他,我决不会幸福,因此,你别以为这这次去会惹出什么祸来。如果你不愿意把我出走的消息告诉浪搏恩我家里人,那你不告诉也罢。我要使他们接到我信的时候,看到我的签名是”丽迪雅韦翰”,让他们更觉得事出意外。这个玩笑真开得太有意思!我几乎笑得无法写下去了!请你替我向普拉特道个歉,我今天晚上不能赴约,不能和他跳舞了。我希望他知道了这一切情形以后,能够原谅我;请你告诉他,下次在跳舞会上想见的时候,我一定乐意同他跳舞。我到了浪搏恩就派人来取衣服,请你告诉莎蕾一声,我那件细洋纱的长衣服裂了一条大缝,叫她替我收拾行李的时候,把它补一补。再见。请代问候弗斯脱上校。愿你为我们的一路顺风而干杯。

  你的好友丽迪雅班纳特

  伊莉莎白读完了信以后叫道:”好一个没有脑子的丽迪雅!遇到这样重大的事,竟会写出这样一封信来!但是至少可以说明,她倒是把这一次旅行看成一件正经事。不管他以后会诱惑她走到哪一步田地,她可没有存心要做出什么丢脸的事来。可怜的爸爸!!他对这件事会有多少感触啊!”

  ”他当时惊骇得那种样子,我真一辈子也没见过。他整整十分钟说不出一句话来。妈一下子就病倒了,全家都给弄得鬼神不安!”

  ”噢,吉英,”伊莉莎白叫道。”岂不是所有的佣人当天都知道了这件事的底细吗?”

  ”我不清楚,但愿他们并没有全都知道。不过在这种时候,即使你要当心,也很难办到。妈那种歇斯底里的毛病又发作了,我虽然尽了我的力量去劝慰她,恐怕还是不有够周到的地方。我只怕会出什么意外,因此吓得不知如何是好。”

  ”你这样待候她,真够你累的。我看你脸色不怎么好。样样事都让你一个人操心烦神,要是我跟你在一起就好了!”

  ”曼丽和吉蒂都非常好心,愿意替我分担疲劳,可是我不好意思让她们受累,因为吉蒂很纤弱,曼丽又太用功,不应该再去打扰她们休息的时间。好在星期二那天,父亲一走,腓力普姨妈就到浪搏恩来了,蒙她那么好心,一直陪我到星期四才走。她帮了我们不少的忙,还安慰了我们。卢卡斯太太待我们也好,她星期三早上来慰问过我们,她说,如果我们需要她们帮忙,她和她女儿们都乐意效劳。”

  伊莉莎白大声说道:”还是让她待在自己家里吧,她也许真是出于一片好意,但是遇到了这样一件不幸的事,谁还乐意见到自己的邻居?他们帮我们忙帮不成功,慰问我们反而会叫我们难受。让她们在我们背后去高兴得意吧。”

  然后她又问起父亲这次到城里去,打算采用什么方法去找到丽迪雅。

  吉英说:”我看他打算到艾普桑去,因为他们俩是在那儿换马车的,他要上那儿去找找那些马车夫,看看能不能从他们那里探听出一点消息。他的主要目的就要去查出他们在克拉普汗所搭乘的那辆出租马车的号码。那辆马车本来是从伦敦搭乘客人来的;据他的想法,一男一女从一辆马车换上另一辆马车,一定会引起人家注目,因此他准备到克拉普汗去查问。他只要查出那个马车夫在哪家门口卸下先前的那位客人,他便决定上那儿去查问一下,也许能够查问得出那辆马车的号码和停车的地方。至于他有什么别的打算,我就不知道了。他急急忙忙要走,心绪非常紊乱,我能够从他嘴里问出这么些话来,已经算是不容易了。”

Chapter 47

“I HAVE been thinking it over again, Elizabeth,” said her uncle as they drove from the town; “and really, upon serious consideration, I am much more inclined than I was to judge as your eldest sister does of the matter. It appears to me so very unlikely that any young man should form such a design against a girl who is by no means unprotected or friendless, and who was actually staying in his colonel’s family, that I am strongly inclined to hope the best. Could he expect that her friends would not step forward? Could he expect to be noticed again by the regiment, after such an affront to Colonel Forster? His temptation is not adequate to the risk.”
“Do you really think so?” cried Elizabeth, brightening up for a moment.
“Upon my word,” said Mrs. Gardiner, “I begin to be of your uncle’s opinion. It is really too great a violation of decency, honour, and interest, for him to be guilty of it. I cannot think so very ill of Wickham. Can you, yourself, Lizzy, so wholly give him up as to believe him capable of it?”
“Not perhaps of neglecting his own interest. But of every other neglect I can believe him capable. If, indeed, it should be so! But I dare not hope it. Why should they not go on to Scotland, if that had been the case?”
“In the first place,” replied Mr. Gardiner, “there is no absolute proof that they are not gone to Scotland.”
“Oh! but their removing from the chaise into an hackney coach is such a presumption! And, besides, no traces of them were to be found on the Barnet road.”
“Well, then — supposing them to be in London. They may be there, though, for the purpose of concealment, for no more exceptionable purpose. It is not likely that money should be very abundant on either side; and it might strike them that they could be more economically, though less expeditiously, married in London, than in Scotland.”
“But why all this secrecy? Why any fear of detection? Why must their marriage be private? Oh! no, no, this is not likely. His most particular friend, you see by Jane’s account, was persuaded of his never intending to marry her. Wickham will never marry a woman without some money. He cannot afford it. And what claims has Lydia, what attractions has she beyond youth, health, and good humour, that could make him, for her sake, forgo every chance of benefiting himself by marrying well? As to what restraint the apprehension of disgrace in the corps might throw on a dishonourable elopement with her, I am not able to judge; for I know nothing of the effects that such a step might produce. But as to your other objection, I am afraid it will hardly hold good. Lydia has no brothers to step forward; and he might imagine, from my father’s behaviour, from his indolence and the little attention he has ever seemed to give to what was going forward in his family, that he would do as little, and think as little about it, as any father could do in such a matter.”
“But can you think that Lydia is so lost to every thing but love of him, as to consent to live with him on any other terms than marriage?”
“It does seem, and it is most shocking indeed,” replied Elizabeth, with tears in her eyes, “that a sister’s sense of decency and virtue in such a point should admit of doubt. But, really, I know not what to say. Perhaps I am not doing her justice. But she is very young; she has never been taught to think on serious subjects; and for the last half year, nay, for a twelvemonth, she has been given up to nothing but amusement and vanity. She has been allowed to dispose of her time in the most idle and frivolous manner, and to adopt any opinions that came in her way. Since the —-shire were first quartered in Meryton, nothing but love, flirtation, and officers have been in her head. She has been doing every thing in her power, by thinking and talking on the subject, to give greater — what shall I call it? — susceptibility to her feelings, which are naturally lively enough. And we all know that Wickham has every charm of person and address that can captivate a woman.”
“But you see that Jane,” said her aunt, “does not think so ill of Wickham as to believe him capable of the attempt.”
“Of whom does Jane ever think ill? And who is there, whatever might be their former conduct, that she would believe capable of such an attempt, till it were proved against them? But Jane knows, as well as I do, what Wickham really is. We both know that he has been profligate in every sense of the word. That he has neither integrity nor honour. That he is as false and deceitful, as he is insinuating.”
“And do you really know all this?” cried Mrs. Gardiner, whose curiosity as to the mode of her intelligence was all alive.
“I do, indeed,” replied Elizabeth, colouring. “I told you the other day, of his infamous behaviour to Mr. Darcy; and you, yourself, when last at Longbourn, heard in what manner he spoke of the man who had behaved with such forbearance and liberality towards him. And there are other circumstances which I am not at liberty — which it is not worth while to relate; but his lies about the whole Pemberley family are endless. From what he said of Miss Darcy, I was thoroughly prepared to see a proud, reserved, disagreeable girl. Yet he knew to the contrary himself. He must know that she was amiable and unpretending as we have found her.”
“But does Lydia know nothing of this? Can she be ignorant of what you and Jane seem so well to understand?”
“Oh, yes! — that, that is the worst of all. Till I was in Kent, and saw so much both of Mr. Darcy and his relation, Colonel Fitzwilliam, I was ignorant of the truth myself. And when I returned home, the —-shire was to leave Meryton in a week or fortnight’s time. As that was the case, neither Jane, to whom I related the whole, nor I, thought it necessary to make our knowledge public; for of what use could it apparently be to any one that the good opinion which all the neighbourhood had of him should then be overthrown? And even when it was settled that Lydia should go with Mrs. Forster, the necessity of opening her eyes to his character never occurred to me. That she could be in any danger from the deception never entered my head. That such a consequence as this should ensue, you may easily believe was far enough from my thoughts.”
“When they all removed to Brighton, therefore, you had no reason, I suppose, to believe them fond of each other.”
“Not the slightest. I can remember no symptom of affection on either side; and had any thing of the kind been perceptible, you must be aware that ours is not a family on which it could be thrown away. When first he entered the corps, she was ready enough to admire him; but so we all were. Every girl in or near Meryton was out of her senses about him for the first two months; but he never distinguished her by any particular attention, and consequently, after a moderate period of extravagant and wild admiration, her fancy for him gave way, and others of the regiment who treated her with more distinction again became her favourites.”
It may be easily believed that, however little of novelty could be added to their fears, hopes, and conjectures, on this interesting subject by its repeated discussion, no other could detain them from it long, during the whole of the journey. From Elizabeth’s thoughts it was never absent. Fixed there by the keenest of all anguish, self-reproach, she could find no interval of ease or forgetfulness.
They travelled as expeditiously as possible; and, sleeping one night on the road, reached Longbourn by dinner-time the next day. It was a comfort to Elizabeth to consider that Jane could not have been wearied by long expectations.
The little Gardiners, attracted by the sight of a chaise, were standing on the steps of the house as they entered the paddock; and when the carriage drove up to the door, the joyful surprise that lighted up their faces, and displayed itself over their whole bodies in a variety of capers and frisks, was the first pleasing earnest of their welcome.
Elizabeth jumped out; and, after giving each of them an hasty kiss, hurried into the vestibule, where Jane, who came running down stairs from her mother’s apartment, immediately met her.
Elizabeth, as she affectionately embraced her, whilst tears filled the eyes of both, lost not a moment in asking whether any thing had been heard of the fugitives.
“Not yet,” replied Jane. “But now that my dear uncle is come, I hope every thing will be well.”
“Is my father in town?”
“Yes, he went on Tuesday, as I wrote you word.”
“And have you heard from him often?”
“We have heard only once. He wrote me a few lines on Wednesday, to say that he had arrived in safety, and to give me his directions, which I particularly begged him to do. He merely added that he should not write again till he had something of importance to mention.”
“And my mother — How is she? How are you all?”
“My mother is tolerably well, I trust; though her spirits are greatly shaken. She is up stairs, and will have great satisfaction in seeing you all. She does not yet leave her dressing-room. Mary and Kitty, thank Heaven! are quite well.”
“But you — How are you?” cried Elizabeth. “You look pale. How much you must have gone through!”
Her sister, however, assured her of her being perfectly well; and their conversation, which had been passing while Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner were engaged with their children, was now put an end to by the approach of the whole party. Jane ran to her uncle and aunt, and welcomed and thanked them both, with alternate smiles and tears.
When they were all in the drawing room, the questions which Elizabeth had already asked were of course repeated by the others, and they soon found that Jane had no intelligence to give. The sanguine hope of good, however, which the benevolence of her heart suggested, had not yet deserted her; she still expected that it would all end well, and that every morning would bring some letter, either from Lydia or her father, to explain their proceedings, and perhaps announce the marriage.
Mrs. Bennet, to whose apartment they all repaired, after a few minutes conversation together, received them exactly as might be expected; with tears and lamentations of regret, invectives against the villainous conduct of Wickham, and complaints of her own sufferings and ill usage; blaming every body but the person to whose ill-judging indulgence the errors of her daughter must be principally owing.
“If I had been able,” said she, “to carry my point of going to Brighton, with all my family, this would not have happened; but poor dear Lydia had nobody to take care of her. Why did the Forsters ever let her go out of their sight? I am sure there was some great neglect or other on their side, for she is not the kind of girl to do such a thing, if she had been well looked after. I always thought they were very unfit to have the charge of her; but I was over-ruled, as I always am. Poor dear child! And now here’s Mr. Bennet gone away, and I know he will fight Wickham wherever he meets him, and then he will be killed, and what is to become of us all? The Collinses will turn us out, before he is cold in his grave; and if you are not kind to us, brother, I do not know what we shall do.”
They all exclaimed against such terrific ideas; and Mr. Gardiner, after general assurances of his affection for her and all her family, told her that he meant to be in London the very next day, and would assist Mr. Bennet in every endeavour for recovering Lydia.
“Do not give way to useless alarm,” added he; “though it is right to be prepared for the worst, there is no occasion to look on it as certain. It is not quite a week since they left Brighton. In a few days more, we may gain some news of them, and till we know that they are not married, and have no design of marrying, do not let us give the matter over as lost. As soon as I get to town, I shall go to my brother and make him come home with me to Gracechurch Street, and then we may consult together as to what is to be done.”
“Oh! my dear brother,” replied Mrs. Bennet, “that is exactly what I could most wish for. And now do, when you get to town, find them out, wherever they may be; and if they are not married already, make them marry. And as for wedding clothes, do not let them wait for that, but tell Lydia she shall have as much money as she chuses to buy them, after they are married. And, above all things, keep Mr. Bennet from fighting. Tell him what a dreadful state I am in, — that I am frightened out of my wits; and have such tremblings, such flutterings all over me such spasms in my side, and pains in my head, and such beatings at heart, that I can get no rest by night nor by day. And tell my dear Lydia, not to give any directions about her clothes till she has seen me, for she does not know which are the best warehouses. Oh, brother, how kind you are! I know you will contrive it all.”
But Mr. Gardiner, though he assured her again of his earnest endeavours in the cause, could not avoid recommending moderation to her, as well in her hopes as her fears; and, after talking with her in this manner till dinner was on table, they left her to vent all her feelings on the housekeeper, who attended in the absence of her daughters.
Though her brother and sister were persuaded that there was no real occasion for such a seclusion from the family, they did not attempt to oppose it, for they knew that she had not prudence enough to hold her tongue before the servants while they waited at table, and judged it better that one only of the household, and the one whom they could most trust, should comprehend all her fears and solicitude on the subject.
In the dining-room they were soon joined by Mary and Kitty, who had been too busily engaged in their separate apartments, to make their appearance before. One came from her books, and the other from her toilette. The faces of both, however, were tolerably calm; and no change was visible in either, except that the loss of her favourite sister, or the anger which she had herself incurred in the business, had given something more of fretfulness than usual to the accents of Kitty. As for Mary, she was mistress enough of herself to whisper to Elizabeth, with a countenance of grave reflection, soon after they were seated at table,
“This is a most unfortunate affair; and will probably be much talked of. But we must stem the tide of malice, and pour into the wounded bosoms of each other the balm of sisterly consolation.”
Then, perceiving in Elizabeth no inclination of replying, she added, “Unhappy as the event must be for Lydia, we may draw from it this useful lesson: that loss of virtue in a female is irretrievable — that one false step involves her in endless ruin — that her reputation is no less brittle than it is beautiful, — and that she cannot be too much guarded in her behaviour towards the undeserving of the other sex.”
Elizabeth lifted up her eyes in amazement, but was too much oppressed to make any reply. Mary, however, continued to console herself with such kind of moral extractions from the evil before them.
In the afternoon, the two elder Miss Bennets were able to be for half an hour by themselves; and Elizabeth instantly availed herself of the opportunity of making many enquiries, which Jane was equally eager to satisfy. After joining in general lamentations over the dreadful sequel of this event, which Elizabeth considered as all but certain, and Miss Bennet could not assert to be wholly impossible, the former continued the subject by saying, “But tell me all and every thing about it which I have not already heard. Give me farther particulars. What did Colonel Forster say? Had they no apprehension of any thing before the elopement took place? They must have seen them together for ever.”
“Colonel Forster did own that he had often suspected some partiality, especially on Lydia’s side, but nothing to give him any alarm. I am so grieved for him. His behaviour was attentive and kind to the utmost. He was coming to us, in order to assure us of his concern, before he had any idea of their not being gone to Scotland; when that apprehension first got abroad, it hastened his journey.”
“And was Denny convinced that Wickham would not marry? Did he know of their intending to go off? Had Colonel Forster seen Denny himself?”
“Yes; but when questioned by him, Denny denied knowing any thing of their plan, and would not give his real opinion about it. He did not repeat his persuasion of their not marrying — and from that, I am inclined to hope, he might have been misunderstood before.”
“And till Colonel Forster came himself, not one of you entertained a doubt, I suppose, of their being really married?”
“How was it possible that such an idea should enter our brains! I felt a little uneasy — a little fearful of my sister’s happiness with him in marriage, because I knew that his conduct had not been always quite right. My father and mother knew nothing of that, they only felt how imprudent a match it must be. Kitty then owned, with a very natural triumph on knowing more than the rest of us, that in Lydia’s last letter she had prepared her for such a step. She had known, it seems, of their being in love with each other many weeks.”
“But not before they went to Brighton?”
“No, I believe not.”
“And did Colonel Forster appear to think ill of Wickham himself? Does he know his real character?”
“I must confess that he did not speak so well of Wickham as he formerly did. He believed him to be imprudent and extravagant. And since this sad affair has taken place, it is said that he left Meryton greatly in debt; but I hope this may be false.”
“Oh, Jane, had we been less secret, had we told what we knew of him, this could not have happened!”
“Perhaps it would have been better,” replied her sister. “But to expose the former faults of any person, without knowing what their present feelings were, seemed unjustifiable. We acted with the best intentions.”
“Could Colonel Forster repeat the particulars of Lydia’s note to his wife?”
“He brought it with him for us to see.”
Jane then took it from her pocket-book, and gave it to Elizabeth. These were the contents:
“MY DEAR HARRIET,
You will laugh when you know where I am gone, and I cannot help laughing myself at your surprise to-morrow morning, as soon as I am missed. I am going to Gretna Green, and if you cannot guess with who, I shall think you a simpleton, for there is but one man in the world I love, and he is an angel. I should never be happy without him, so think it no harm to be off. You need not send them word at Longbourn of my going, if you do not like it, for it will make the surprise the greater when I write to them and sign my name Lydia Wickham. What a good joke it will be! I can hardly write for laughing. Pray make my excuses to Pratt, for not keeping my engagement and dancing with him to night. Tell him I hope he will excuse me when he knows all, and tell him I will dance with him at the next ball we meet, with great pleasure. I shall send for my clothes when I get to Longbourn; but I wish you would tell Sally to mend a great slit in my worked muslin gown before they are packed up. Good bye. Give my love to Colonel Forster. I hope you will drink to our good journey.
Your affectionate friend,
LYDIA BENNET.”
“Oh! thoughtless, thoughtless Lydia!” cried Elizabeth when she had finished it. “What a letter is this, to be written at such a moment. But at least it shews that she was serious in the object of her journey. Whatever he might afterwards persuade her to, it was not on her side a scheme of infamy. My poor father! how he must have felt it!”
“I never saw any one so shocked. He could not speak a word for full ten minutes. My mother was taken ill immediately, and the whole house in such confusion!”
“Oh! Jane!” cried Elizabeth, “was there a servant belonging to it, who did not know the whole story before the end of the day?”
“I do not know. — I hope there was. — But to be guarded at such a time, is very difficult. My mother was in hysterics, and though I endeavoured to give her every assistance in my power, I am afraid I did not do so much as I might have done! But the horror of what might possibly happen, almost took from me my faculties.”
“Your attendance upon her has been too much for you. You do not look well. Oh! that I had been with you, you have had every care and anxiety upon yourself alone.”
“Mary and Kitty have been very kind, and would have shared in every fatigue, I am sure, but I did not think it right for either of them. Kitty is slight and delicate, and Mary studies so much, that her hours of repose should not be broken in on. My aunt Phillips came to Longbourn on Tuesday, after my father went away; and was so good as to stay till Thursday with me. She was of great use and comfort to us all, and Lady Lucas has been very kind; she walked here on Wednesday morning to condole with us, and offered her services, or any of her daughters, if they could be of use to us.”
“She had better have stayed at home,” cried Elizabeth; “perhaps she meant well, but under such a misfortune as this, one cannot see too little of one’s neighbours. Assistance is impossible; condolence, insufferable. Let them triumph over us at a distance, and be satisfied.”
She then proceeded to enquire into the measures which her father had intended to pursue, while in town, for the recovery of his daughter.
“He meant, I believe,” replied Jane, “to go to Epsom, the place where they last changed horses, see the postilions, and try if any thing could be made out from them. His principal object must be to discover the number of the hackney coach which took them from Clapham. It had come with a fare from London; and as he thought the circumstance of a gentleman and lady’s removing from one carriage into another might be remarked, he meant to make enquiries at Clapham. If he could any how discover at what house the coachman had before set down his fare, he determined to make enquiries there, and hoped it might not be impossible to find out the stand and number of the coach. I do not know of any other designs that he had formed: but he was in such a hurry to be gone, and his spirits so greatly discomposed, that I had difficulty in finding out even so much as this.”
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  • 第 46 章

    伊莉莎白到蓝白屯的时候,因为没有立即接到吉英的来信,感到非常失望;第二天早上又感到同样的失望。可是到了第三天,她就再也不用焦虑了,再也不埋怨她的姐姐了,因为她这一天收到了姐姐两封信,其中一封注明曾经送错了地方。伊莉莎白并不觉得诧异,因为吉英确实把位址写得很潦草。

  •     第 45 章

    伊莉莎白现在认为,彬格莱小姐所以一向厌恶她,原因不外乎和她吃醋。她既然有了这种想法,便不禁觉得这次到彭伯里去,彬格莱小姐一定不会欢迎她;尽管如此,她倒想看看这一次旧雨重逢,那位小姐是否会多少顾全一些大体。

  • 第 44 章

    伊莉莎白料定达西先生的妹妹一到彭伯里,达西先生隔天就会带着她来拜访她,因此决定那天整个上午都不离开旅馆,至多在附近走走。

  • 第 43 章 (下)

    他们只相隔二十码路光景,他这样突然出现,叫人家简直来不及躲避。顷刻之间,四只眼睛碰在一起,两个人脸上都涨得血红。只见主人吃惊非凡,竟楞在那儿一动不动,但是他立刻定了一定心,走到他们面前来,跟伊莉莎白说话,语气之间即使不能算是十分镇静,至少十分有礼貌。

  • 第 43 章 (上)

    他们坐着车子一直向前去。彭伯里的树林一出现在眼前,伊莉莎白就有些心慌;等到走进了庄园,她更加心神不定。

  •   第 42 章

    倘若叫伊莉莎白根据她自己家庭的情形,来说一说什么叫做婚姻的幸福,什么叫做家庭的乐趣,那她一定说不出好话来。她父亲当年就因为贪恋青春美貌,为的是青春美貌往往会给人带来很大的情趣,因此娶了这样一个智力贫乏而又小心眼儿的女人,结婚不久,他对太太的深挚的情意便完结了。夫妇之间的互敬互爱和推心置腹,都永远消失得无影无踪;他对于家庭幸福的理想也完全给推翻了。换了别的人,凡是因为自己的冒失而招来了不幸,往往会用荒唐或是不正当的佚乐来安慰自己,可是班纳特先生却不喜欢这一套。他喜爱乡村景色,喜爱读书自娱,这就是他最大的乐趣。说到他的太太,除了她的无知和愚蠢倒可以供他开心作乐之外,他对她就再没有别的恩情了。一般男人照理总不希望在妻子身上找这一种乐趣,可是大智大慧的人既然没有本领去找别的玩艺儿,当然只好听天由命。

  •    第 41 章

    她们回得家来,眨下眼睛就过了一个星期,现在已经开始过第二个星期。过了这个星期,驻扎在麦里屯的那个民兵团就要开拔了,附近的年轻小姐们立刻一个个垂头丧气起来。几乎处处都是心灰意冷的气象。只有班纳特家的两位大小姐照常饮食起居,照常各干各的事。可是吉蒂和丽迪雅已经伤心到极点,便不由得常常责备两位姐姐冷淡无情。她们真不明白,家里怎么竟会有这样没有心肝的人!

  • 第 40 章

    伊莉莎白非把那桩事告诉吉英不可了,再也忍耐不住了。于是她决定把牵涉到姐姐的地方,都一概不提,第二天上午就把达西先生跟她求婚的那一幕,拣主要情节说了出来,她料定吉英听了以后,一定会感到诧异。

  •  第 39 章

    五月已经到了第二个星期,三位年轻小姐一块儿从天恩寺街出发,到哈德福郡的某某镇去,班纳特先生事先就跟她们约定了一个小客店,打发了马车在那儿接她们,刚一到那儿,她们就看到吉蒂和丽迪雅从楼上的餐室里望着她们,这表明车夫已经准时到了。这两位姑娘已经在那儿待了一个多钟头,高高兴兴地光顾过对面的一家帽子店,看了看站岗的哨兵,又调制了一些胡瓜沙拉。

  • 【大纪元3月6日报导】(中央社记者颜伶如旧金山五日专电)奥斯卡最佳电影配乐今晚由“断背山”赢得,击败了“傲慢与偏见”、“艺伎回忆录”等片。“断背山”这次入围奥斯卡八个奖项。
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