小說:《傲慢與偏見》 第47章 (中英對照)

簡.奧斯汀
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              第 47 章

他們離開那個城鎮的時候,舅父跟伊莉莎白說:”我又把這件事想了一遍,認真地考慮了一番,越發覺得你姐姐的看法很對。我認為無論是哪個青年,決不會對這樣一位姑娘存著這樣的壞心眼,她又不是無親無靠,何況她就住在他自己的上校家裏,因此我要從最好的方面去著想。難道他以為她的親友們不會挺身而出嗎?難道他還以為這一次冒犯弗斯脫上校以後,還好意思回到民兵團裏去嗎?我看他不見得會癡情到冒險的地步。”

  伊莉莎白的臉色立刻顯得高興起來,連忙嚷道:”你果真這樣想嗎?”

  嘉丁納太太接嘴說:”你相信我好了,我也開始贊成你舅舅的看法了。這件事太不顧羞恥,太不顧名譽和利害關係了,他不會這樣膽大妄為。我覺得韋翰未必會這樣壞。麗萃,你竟這樣不把他放在眼裏,相信他會做出這種事嗎?”

  ”他也許不會不顧全自己的利害關係。除此以外,我相信他全不在乎。但願他能有所顧忌。我可不敢存這個奢望。要是真象你所想的那樣,那他們幹嗎不到蘇格蘭去呢?”

  嘉丁納先生回答道:”第一,現在並不能完全證明他們沒有到蘇格蘭去。”

  ”哎喲!可是他們把原來的馬車打發走,換上了出租的馬車,光是憑這一點就可想而知!此外,到巴納特去的路上,也找不到他們的蹤跡。”

  ”那麼就假定他們在倫敦吧。他們到那兒去也許是為了暫時躲避一下,不會別有用心。他們兩個人都沒有多少錢;也許他們都會想到,在倫敦結婚雖然比不上在蘇格蘭結婚來得方便,可是要省儉些。”

  ”可是為什麼要這樣秘密?為什麼怕給人家發覺?為什麼結婚要偷偷摸摸?哦,不,不,你這種想法不切合實際。你不是看到吉英信裏說嗎……連他自己最要好的朋友也相信他不會跟她結婚。韋翰絕不會跟一個沒有錢的女人結婚的。他根本辦不到。麗迪雅除了年輕、健康、愛開玩笑之外,有什麼辦法、有什麼吸引力,可以叫他為了她而放棄掉結婚致富的機會?至於他會不會怕這次羞恥的私奔使他自己在部隊裏丟面子,便把行為檢點一下,那我就無法判斷了,因為我無從知道他這一次的行為究竟會產生什麼樣的後果。但是你說的另外一點,我恐怕不大靠得住。麗迪雅的確沒有個親兄弟為她出頭,他又看到我父親平日為人懶散,不管家事,便以為他遇到這類事情,也會跟人家做父親的一樣,不肯多管,也不肯多想。”

  ”可是你以為麗迪雅為了愛他,竟會不顧一切,可以不跟他結婚而跟他同居嗎?”

  伊莉莎白眼睛裏湧起了眼淚說道:”說起來真是駭人聽聞,一個人居然懷疑到自己親妹妹會不顧體面,不顧貞操!可是我的確不知道該怎麼說才好。也許是我冤枉了她。她很年輕,又從來沒有人教她應該怎樣去考慮這些重大的問題;半年以來……不,整整一年以來──她只知道開心作樂,愛好虛榮。家裏縱容她,讓她盡過些輕浮浪蕩的日子,讓她隨便遇到什麼事情都是輕信盲從。自從民兵團駐紮到麥裏屯以後,她一腦子只想到談情說愛,賣弄風情,勾搭軍官。她先天就已經足夠騷,再加上老是想這件事,談這件事,想盡辦法使自己的感情更加……我應該說更加怎麼呢?……更加容易被人家誘惑。我們都知道韋翰無論在儀錶方面,辭令方面,都有足夠的魅力可以迷住一個女人。”

  ”可是你得明白,”她的舅母說,”吉英就不把韋翰看得那麼壞,她認為他不會存這種心腸。”

  ”吉英何嘗把任何人看作壞人?不管是什麼樣的人,無論他過去的行為怎樣,除非等到事實證明瞭那個人確實是壞,她怎麼會相信人家會存這種心腸?可是說到韋翰的底細,吉英卻和我一樣明白。我們倆都知道他是個不折不扣的淫棍,他既沒有人格,又不顧體面,一味虛情假意,柔聲媚氣。”

  這番話使嘉丁納太太起了極大的好奇心,想要弄明白外甥女兒怎麼知道這些事情的,便大聲問道:”這些情形你真的都瞭解嗎?”

  伊莉莎白紅著臉回答道:”我當然瞭解,那一天我已經把他對待達西先生的無恥行為說給你聽過。人家待他那麼寬宏大量,可是你上次在浪搏恩的時候,曾經親耳聽到他是以什麼的態度談到人家。還有許多事情我不便於說,也不值得說,可是他對於彭伯裏府上造謠中傷的事實,真是數說不盡。他把達西小姐說成那樣一個人,使得我開頭完全把她當做一位驕傲冷酷,惹人討厭的小姐。然而他自己也知道事實完全相反。他心裏一定明白,達西小姐正象我們所看到的那樣和藹可親,一些也不裝腔作勢。”

  ”難道麗迪雅完全不知道這些事嗎?既然你和吉英都瞭解得那麼透徹,她自己怎麼會完全不曉得?”

  ”糟就糟在這裏。我自己也是到了肯特郡以後,常常跟達西先生和他的親戚弗茨威廉上校在一起,才知道真相。等我回得家來,某某郡的民兵團已經準備在一兩個星期以內就要離開麥裏屯了。當時我就把這情形在吉英面前和盤托出,吉英和我都覺得不必向外面聲張,因為街坊四鄰既然都對韋翰有好感,如果叫大家對他印象轉壞,這會對誰有好處?甚至於臨到決定讓麗迪雅跟弗斯脫太太一塊兒走的時候,我還不想叫麗迪雅瞭解他的人品。我從來沒想到她竟會被他欺騙。你可以相信我萬萬想不到會造成這樣的後果。”

  ”那麼說,他們開拔到白利屯去的時候,你還是毫不在意,沒想到他們倆已經愛上了吧?”

  ”根本沒想到。我記得他們誰都沒有流露出相愛的意思,要知道,當初只要看出了一點形跡,在我們那樣的一個家庭裏是不會不談論的。他剛到部隊裏來的時候,她就對他十分愛慕,當時我們大家都是那樣。在開頭一兩個月裏面,麥裏屯一帶的姑娘們沒有哪一個不為他神魂顛倒;可是他對她卻不曾另眼相看。後來那一陣濫愛狂戀的風氣過去了,她對他的幻想也就消失了,因為民兵團裏其他的軍官們更加看重她,於是她的心又轉到他們身上去了。”

  他們一路上把這個有趣的話題翻來複去地談論,談到哪些地方值得顧慮,哪些地方還可以寄予希望;揣想起來又是如何如何;實在再也談不出什麼新意來了,只得暫時住口。可是隔了不多一會兒,又談到這件事上面來了;這是可想而知的。伊莉莎白的腦子裏總是擺脫不開這件事。她為這件事自怨自艾,沒有一刻能夠安心,也沒有一刻能夠忘懷。

  他們匆匆忙忙趕著路,在中途住宿了一夜,第二天吃飯的時候就到了浪搏恩。伊莉莎白感到快慰的是,總算沒有讓吉英等得心焦。

  他們進了圍場,嘉丁納舅舅的孩子們一看見一輛馬車,便趕到臺階上來站著;等到馬車趕到門口的時候,孩子們一個個驚喜交集,滿面笑容,跳來蹦去,這是大人們回來時第一次受到的愉快熱誠的歡迎。

  伊莉莎白跳下馬車,匆匆忙忙把每個孩子親吻了一下便趕快向門口奔去,吉英這時候正從母親房間裏跑下樓來,在那兒迎接她。

  伊莉莎白熱情地擁抱著她,姐妹兩人都熱淚滾滾。伊莉莎白一面又迫不及待地問她是否聽到那一對私奔的男女有什麼下落。

  ”還沒有聽到什麼下落,”吉英回答道。”好在親愛的舅舅回來了,我希望從此以後一切都會順利。”

  ”爸爸進城去了嗎?”

  ”進城去了,他是星期二走的,我信上告訴過你了。”

  ”常常收到他的信嗎?”

  ”只收到他一封信。是星期三寄來的,信上三言兩語,只說他已經平安抵達,又把他的詳細地址告訴了我,這還是他臨走時我特別要求他寫的。另外他只說,等到有了重要消息,再寫信來。”

  ”媽好嗎?家裏人都好嗎?”

  ”我覺得媽還算好,只不過精神上受了很大的挫折。她在樓上;她看到你們回來,一定非常快活。她還在自己的化粧室裏呢。謝天謝地,曼麗和吉蒂都非常好。”

  ”可是你好嗎?”伊莉莎白又大聲問道。”你臉色蒼白。你一定擔了多少心思啊!”

  姐姐告訴她完好無恙。姐妹倆趁著嘉丁納夫婦忙於應付孩子們的時候,剛剛談了這幾句話,只見他們一大群男女老幼都走過來了,於是談話只得終止。吉英走到舅父母跟前去表示歡迎和感謝,笑一陣又哭一陣。

  大家都走進會客室以後,舅父母又把伊莉莎白剛才問過的那些話重新問了一遍,立刻就發覺吉英沒有什麼消息可以奉告。吉英因為心腸慈善,總是從樂觀的方面去著想,即使事到如今,她還沒有心灰意冷,她還在指望著一切都會有圓滿的結局;總有哪一天早上她會收到一封信,或者是父親寫來的,或者是麗迪雅寫來的,信上會把事情進行的經過詳細報導一番,或許還會宣佈那一對男女的結婚消息。

  大家談了一會兒以後,都到班納特太太房裏去了。果然不出所料,班納特太太見到他們便眼淚汪汪,長籲短歎。她先把韋翰的卑劣行為痛駡了一頓,又為自己的病痛和委屈抱怨了一番,她幾乎把每個人都罵到了,只有一個人沒罵到,而那個人卻正是盲目溺愛女兒,使女兒鑄成大錯的主要原因。

  她說:”要是當初能夠依了我的打算,讓全家人都跟著到白利屯去,那就不會發生這種事了。麗迪雅真是又可憐又可愛。毛病就出在沒有人照應。弗斯脫太太怎麼竟放心讓她離開他們跟前呢?我看,一定是他們太怠慢了她。象她那樣一個姑娘,要是有人好好地照料她,她是決不會做出那種事來的。我一直覺得他們不配照管她;可是我一直要受人家擺佈。可憐的好孩子呀!班納特先生已經走了,他一碰到韋翰,一定會跟他拚個死活,他一定會給韋翰活活打死,那叫我們大家可怎麼辦?他屍骨未寒,柯林斯一家人就要把我們攆出去;兄弟呀,要是你不幫幫我們的忙,我就真不知道怎麼是好啦。”

  大家聽到她這些可怕的話,都失聲大叫;嘉丁納先生告訴她說,無論對她本人,對她家裏人,他都會盡心照顧,然後又告訴她說,他明天就要到倫敦去,盡力幫助班納特先生去找麗迪雅。

  他又說:”不要過分焦急,雖說也應該從最壞的方面去著想,可也不一定會落得最壞的下場。他們離開白利屯還不到一個星期。再過幾天,我們可能會打聽到一些有關他們的消息。等我們把事情弄明白了;要是他們真的沒有結婚,而且不打算結婚,那時候才談得上失望。我一進城就會到姐夫那裏去,請他到天恩寺街我們家裏去住,那時候我們就可以一塊兒商量出一個辦法來。”

  班納特太太回答道:”噢,好兄弟,這話正講在我心上。你一到城裏,千萬把他們找到,不管他們在哪里也好;要是他們還沒有結婚,一定叫他們結婚。講到結婚的禮服,叫他們用不著等了,只告訴麗迪雅說,等他們結婚以後,她要多少錢做衣服我就給她多少錢。千萬要緊的是,別讓班納特先生跟他打架。還請你告訴他,我真是在活受罪,簡直給嚇得神經錯亂了,遍身發抖,東倒西歪,腰部抽搐,頭痛心跳,從白天到夜裏,沒有一刻能夠安心。請你跟我的麗迪雅寶貝兒說,叫她不要自作主張做衣服,等到和我見了面再說,因為她不知道哪一家衣料店最好。噢,兄弟,你真是一片好心!我知道你會想出辦法來把樣樣事情都辦好。”

  嘉丁納先生雖然又重新安了她一下心,說他一定會認真盡力地去效勞,可是又叫她不要過分樂觀,也不要過分憂慮。大家跟她一直談到吃中飯才走開,反正女兒們不在她跟前的時候,有管家婦等候她,她還可以去向管家婦發牢騷。

  雖然她弟弟和弟婦都以為她大可不必和家裏人分開吃飯,可是他們並不打算反對她這樣做,因為他們考慮到她說話不謹慎,如果吃起飯來讓好幾個傭人一起來等候,那麼她在傭人們面前把心裏話全說了出來,未免不大好,因此最好還是只讓一個傭人……一個最靠得住的傭人等候她,聽她去敍述她對這件事是多麼擔心,多麼牽掛。

  他們走進飯廳不久,曼麗和吉蒂也來了,原來這兩姐妹都在自己房間裏忙著各人自己的事,一個在讀書,一個在化妝,因此沒有能夠早一些出來。兩人的臉色都相當平靜,看不出有什麼變化,只是吉蒂講話的聲調比平常顯得暴躁一些,這或者是因為她丟了一個心愛的妹妹而感到傷心,或者是因為這件事也使她覺得氣憤。至於曼麗,她卻自有主張,等大家坐定以後,她便擺出一副嚴肅的面孔,跟伊莉莎白低聲說道:

  ”家門不幸,遭此慘禍,很可能會引起外界議論紛紛。人心惡毒,我們一定要及時防範,免得一發不可收拾。我們要用姐妹之情來安慰彼此創傷的心靈。”

  她看到伊莉莎白不想回答,便又接下去說:”此事對於麗迪雅固屬不幸,但亦可以作為我們的前車之鑒。大凡女人家一經失去貞操,便無可挽救,這真是一失足成千古恨。美貌固然難於永保,名譽亦何嘗容易保全。世間多的是輕薄男子,豈可不寸步留神?”

  伊莉莎白抬起眼睛來,神情很是詫異;她心裏實在太鬱悶,所以一句話也答不上來。可是曼麗還在往下說,她要從這件不幸的事例中闡明道德的精義,以便聊以自慰。

  到了下午,兩位年紀最大的小姐有了半個鐘頭的時間可以在一起談談心。伊莉莎白不肯錯過機會,連忙向吉英問東問西,吉英也連忙一一加以回答,好讓妹妹放心。兩姐妹先把這件事的不幸的後果共同歎息了一番。伊莉莎白認為一定會發生不幸的後果,吉英也認為難免。於是伊莉莎白繼續說道:”凡是我不知道的情節,請你全部說給我聽。請你談得再詳細一些。弗斯脫上校怎麼說的?他們倆私奔之前,難道看不出一點形跡可疑的地方嗎?照理應該常常看到他們兩人在一起呀。”

  ”弗斯脫上校說,他也曾懷疑過他們倆有情感,特別是懷疑麗迪雅,可是他並沒有看出什麼形跡,因此沒有及時留意。我真為他難受。他為人極其殷勤善良。遠在他想到他們兩人並沒有到蘇格蘭去的時候,他就打算上我們這兒來慰問我們。等到人心惶惶的時候,他連忙便趕來了。”

  ”丹尼認為韋翰不會跟她結婚嗎?他是否知道他們存心私奔?弗斯脫上校有沒有見到丹尼本人?”

  ”見到的,不過他回到丹尼的時候,丹尼絕口否認,說是根本不知道他們私奔的打算,也不肯說出他自己對這件事究竟怎樣看法。丹尼以後便沒有再提起他們倆不會結婚之類的話。照這樣看來,但願上一次是我聽錯了他的話。”

  ”我想弗斯脫上校沒有到這兒以前,你們誰都沒有懷疑到他們不會正式結婚吧?”

  ”我們的腦子裏怎麼會有這種念頭呢!我只是覺得有些不安心,有些顧慮,怕妹妹跟他結婚不會幸福,因為我早就知道他的品德不太端正。父親和母親完全不知道這種情形,他們只覺得這門親事非常冒昧。吉蒂當時十分好勝地說,她比我們大家都熟悉內幕情形,麗迪雅給她的最後一封信上就已經隱隱約約透露也了一些口風,準備來這一著。看吉蒂那副神氣,她好象遠在她幾個星期以前,就知道他們倆相愛了。”

  ”總不見得在他們倆去到白利屯以前就看出了吧?”

  ”不見得,我相信不見得。”

  ”弗斯脫上校是不是顯出看不起韋翰的樣子?他瞭解韋翰的真面目嗎?”

  ”這我得承認,他不象從前那樣器重他了。他認為他行事荒唐,又愛奢華,這件傷心的事發生以後,人們都傳說他離開麥裏屯的時候,還欠下了好多債,我但願這是謠言。”

  ”哎喲,吉英,要是我們當初少替他保守一點秘密,把他的事情照直說出來,那也許就不會發生這件事了!”

  吉英說:”說不定會好些,不過,光是揭露人家過去的錯誤,而不尊重人家目前的為人,未免亦有些說不過去。我們待人接物,應該完全好心好意。”

  ”弗斯脫上校能不能把麗迪雅留給他太太的那封短信逐字逐句背出來?”

  ”那封信他是隨身帶來給我們看的。”

  於是吉英從口袋裏掏出那封信,遞給伊莉莎白。全文如下:

  親愛的海麗,

  明天一大早你發現我失了蹤,一定會大為驚奇;等你弄明白了我上什麼地方去,你一定又會發笑。我想到這裏,自己也禁不住笑出來了。我要到格利那草場去。如果你猜不著我是跟誰一起去,那我真要把你看成一個大傻瓜,因為這世界上只有一個男人是我心愛的,他真是一個天使。沒有了他,我決不會幸福,因此,你別以為這這次去會惹出什麼禍來。如果你不願意把我出走的消息告訴浪搏恩我家裏人,那你不告訴也罷。我要使他們接到我信的時候,看到我的簽名是”麗迪雅韋翰”,讓他們更覺得事出意外。這個玩笑真開得太有意思!我幾乎笑得無法寫下去了!請你替我向普拉特道個歉,我今天晚上不能赴約,不能和他跳舞了。我希望他知道了這一切情形以後,能夠原諒我;請你告訴他,下次在跳舞會上想見的時候,我一定樂意同他跳舞。我到了浪搏恩就派人來取衣服,請你告訴莎蕾一聲,我那件細洋紗的長衣服裂了一條大縫,叫她替我收拾行李的時候,把它補一補。再見。請代問候弗斯脫上校。願你為我們的一路順風而乾杯。

  你的好友麗迪雅班納特

  伊莉莎白讀完了信以後叫道:”好一個沒有腦子的麗迪雅!遇到這樣重大的事,竟會寫出這樣一封信來!但是至少可以說明,她倒是把這一次旅行看成一件正經事。不管他以後會誘惑她走到哪一步田地,她可沒有存心要做出什麼丟臉的事來。可憐的爸爸!!他對這件事會有多少感觸啊!”

  ”他當時驚駭得那種樣子,我真一輩子也沒見過。他整整十分鐘說不出一句話來。媽一下子就病倒了,全家都給弄得鬼神不安!”

  ”噢,吉英,”伊莉莎白叫道。”豈不是所有的傭人當天都知道了這件事的底細嗎?”

  ”我不清楚,但願他們並沒有全都知道。不過在這種時候,即使你要當心,也很難辦到。媽那種歇斯底里的毛病又發作了,我雖然盡了我的力量去勸慰她,恐怕還是不有夠周到的地方。我只怕會出什麼意外,因此嚇得不知如何是好。”

  ”你這樣待候她,真夠你累的。我看你臉色不怎麼好。樣樣事都讓你一個人操心煩神,要是我跟你在一起就好了!”

  ”曼麗和吉蒂都非常好心,願意替我分擔疲勞,可是我不好意思讓她們受累,因為吉蒂很纖弱,曼麗又太用功,不應該再去打擾她們休息的時間。好在星期二那天,父親一走,腓力普姨媽就到浪搏恩來了,蒙她那麼好心,一直陪我到星期四才走。她幫了我們不少的忙,還安慰了我們。盧卡斯太太待我們也好,她星期三早上來慰問過我們,她說,如果我們需要她們幫忙,她和她女兒們都樂意效勞。”

  伊莉莎白大聲說道:”還是讓她待在自己家裏吧,她也許真是出於一片好意,但是遇到了這樣一件不幸的事,誰還樂意見到自己的鄰居?他們幫我們忙幫不成功,慰問我們反而會叫我們難受。讓她們在我們背後去高興得意吧。”

  然後她又問起父親這次到城裏去,打算採用什麼方法去找到麗迪雅。

  吉英說:”我看他打算到艾普桑去,因為他們倆是在那兒換馬車的,他要上那兒去找找那些馬車夫,看看能不能從他們那裏探聽出一點消息。他的主要目的就要去查出他們在克拉普汗所搭乘的那輛出租馬車的號碼。那輛馬車本來是從倫敦搭乘客人來的;據他的想法,一男一女從一輛馬車換上另一輛馬車,一定會引起人家注目,因此他準備到克拉普汗去查問。他只要查出那個馬車夫在哪家門口卸下先前的那位客人,他便決定上那兒去查問一下,也許能夠查問得出那輛馬車的號碼和停車的地方。至於他有什麼別的打算,我就不知道了。他急急忙忙要走,心緒非常紊亂,我能夠從他嘴裏問出這麼些話來,已經算是不容易了。”

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

    伊莉莎白到藍白屯的時候,因為沒有立即接到吉英的來信,感到非常失望;第二天早上又感到同樣的失望。可是到了第三天,她就再也不用焦慮了,再也不埋怨她的姐姐了,因為她這一天收到了姐姐兩封信,其中一封注明曾經送錯了地方。伊莉莎白並不覺得詫異,因為吉英確實把位址寫得很潦草。

  •     第 45 章

    伊莉莎白現在認為,彬格萊小姐所以一向厭惡她,原因不外乎和她吃醋。她既然有了這種想法,便不禁覺得這次到彭伯裏去,彬格萊小姐一定不會歡迎她;儘管如此,她倒想看看這一次舊雨重逢,那位小姐是否會多少顧全一些大體。

  • 第 44 章

    伊莉莎白料定達西先生的妹妹一到彭伯裏,達西先生隔天就會帶著她來拜訪她,因此決定那天整個上午都不離開旅館,至多在附近走走。

  • 第 43 章 (下)

    他們只相隔二十碼路光景,他這樣突然出現,叫人家簡直來不及躲避。頃刻之間,四隻眼睛碰在一起,兩個人臉上都漲得血紅。只見主人吃驚非凡,竟楞在那兒一動不動,但是他立刻定了一定心,走到他們面前來,跟伊莉莎白說話,語氣之間即使不能算是十分鎮靜,至少十分有禮貌。

  • 第 43 章 (上)

    他們坐著車子一直向前去。彭伯裏的樹林一出現在眼前,伊莉莎白就有些心慌;等到走進了莊園,她更加心神不定。

  •   第 42 章

    倘若叫伊莉莎白根據她自己家庭的情形,來說一說什麼叫做婚姻的幸福,什麼叫做家庭的樂趣,那她一定說不出好話來。她父親當年就因為貪戀青春美貌,為的是青春美貌往往會給人帶來很大的情趣,因此娶了這樣一個智力貧乏而又小心眼兒的女人,結婚不久,他對太太的深摯的情意便完結了。夫婦之間的互敬互愛和推心置腹,都永遠消失得無影無蹤;他對於家庭幸福的理想也完全給推翻了。換了別的人,凡是因為自己的冒失而招來了不幸,往往會用荒唐或是不正當的佚樂來安慰自己,可是班納特先生卻不喜歡這一套。他喜愛鄉村景色,喜愛讀書自娛,這就是他最大的樂趣。說到他的太太,除了她的無知和愚蠢倒可以供他開心作樂之外,他對她就再沒有別的恩情了。一般男人照理總不希望在妻子身上找這一種樂趣,可是大智大慧的人既然沒有本領去找別的玩藝兒,當然只好聽天由命。

  •    第 41 章

    她們回得家來,眨下眼睛就過了一個星期,現在已經開始過第二個星期。過了這個星期,駐紮在麥裏屯的那個民兵團就要開拔了,附近的年輕小姐們立刻一個個垂頭喪氣起來。幾乎處處都是心灰意冷的氣象。只有班納特家的兩位大小姐照常飲食起居,照常各幹各的事。可是吉蒂和麗迪雅已經傷心到極點,便不由得常常責備兩位姐姐冷淡無情。她們真不明白,家裏怎麼竟會有這樣沒有心肝的人!

  • 第 40 章

    伊莉莎白非把那樁事告訴吉英不可了,再也忍耐不住了。於是她決定把牽涉到姐姐的地方,都一概不提,第二天上午就把達西先生跟她求婚的那一幕,揀主要情節說了出來,她料定吉英聽了以後,一定會感到詫異。

  •  第 39 章

    五月已經到了第二個星期,三位年輕小姐一塊兒從天恩寺街出發,到哈德福郡的某某鎮去,班納特先生事先就跟她們約定了一個小客店,打發了馬車在那兒接她們,剛一到那兒,她們就看到吉蒂和麗迪雅從樓上的餐室裏望著她們,這表明車夫已經準時到了。這兩位姑娘已經在那兒待了一個多鐘頭,高高興興地光顧過對面的一家帽子店,看了看站崗的哨兵,又調製了一些胡瓜沙拉。

  • 【大紀元3月6日報導】(中央社記者顏伶如舊金山五日專電)奧斯卡最佳電影配樂今晚由「斷背山」贏得,擊敗了「傲慢與偏見」、「藝伎回憶錄」等片。「斷背山」這次入圍奧斯卡八個獎項。
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