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Chapter 23

A SPLENDID Midsummer shone over England: skies so pure, suns so radiant as were then seen in long succession, seldom favour even singly, our wave-girt land. It was as if a band of Italian days had come from the South, like a flock of glorious passenger birds, and lighted to rest them on the cliffs of Albion. The hay was all got in; the fields round Thornfield were green and shorn; the roads white and baked; the trees were in their dark prime;  hedge and wood, full-leaved and deeply tinted, contrasted well with the sunny hue of the cleared meadows between.
On Midsummer-eve, Adele, weary with gathering wild strawberries in Hay Lane half the day, had gone to bed with the sun. I watched her drop asleep, and when I left her, I sought the garden.

It was now the sweetest hour of the twenty-four:- 'Day its fervid fires had wasted,' and dew fell cool on panting plain and scorched summit. Where the sun had gone down in simple state- pure of the pomp of clouds- spread a solemn purple, burning with the light of red jewel and furnace flame at one point, on one hill-peak, and extending high and wide, soft and still softer, over half heaven.

The east had its own charm of fine deep blue, and its own modest gem, a rising and solitary star: soon it would boast the moon; but she was yet beneath the horizon.

I walked a while on the pavement; but a subtle, well-known scent- that of a cigar- stole from some window; I saw the library casement open a hand-breadth; I knew I might be watched thence; so I went apart into the orchard. No nook in the grounds more sheltered and more Eden-like; it was full of trees, it bloomed with flowers: a very high wall shut it out from the court, on one side; on the other, a beech avenue screened it from the lawn. At the bottom was a sunk fence; its sole separation from lonely fields: a winding walk, bordered with laurels and terminating in a giant horse-chestnut, circled at the base by a seat, led down to the fence. Here one could wander unseen. While such honey-dew fell, such silence reigned, such gloaming gathered, I felt as if I could haunt such shade for ever; but in threading the flower and fruit parterres at the upper part of the enclosure, enticed there by the light the now rising moon cast on this more open quarter, my step is stayed-not by sound, not by sight, but once more by a warning fragrance.

Sweet-briar and southernwood, jasmine, pink, and rose have long been yielding their evening sacrifice of incense: this new scent is neither of shrub nor flower; it is- I know it well- it is Mr. Rochester's cigar. I look round and I listen. I see trees laden with ripening fruit. I hear a nightingale warbling in a wood half a mile off; no moving form is visible, no coming step audible; but that perfume increases: I must flee. I make for the wicket leading to the shrubbery, and I see Mr. Rochester entering. I step aside into the ivy recess; he will not stay long: he will soon return whence he came, and if I sit still he will never see me.

But no- eventide is as pleasant to him as to me, and this antique garden as attractive; and he strolls on, now lifting the gooseberry-tree branches to look at the fruit, large as plums, with which they are laden; now taking a ripe cherry from the wall; now stooping towards a knot of flowers, either to inhale their fragrance or to admire the dew-beads on their petals. A great moth goes humming by me; it alights on a plant at Mr. Rochester's foot: he sees it, and bends to examine it.

'Now, he has his back towards me,' thought I, 'and he is occupied too; perhaps, if I walk softly, I can slip away unnoticed.'

I trode on an edging of turf that the crackle of the pebbly gravel might not betray me: he was standing among the beds at a yard or two distant from where I had to pass; the moth apparently engaged him. 'I shall get by very well,' I meditated. As I crossed his shadow, thrown long over the garden by the moon, not yet risen high, he said quietly, without turning-

'Jane, come and look at this fellow.'

I had made no noise: he had not eyes behind- could his shadow feel?

I started at first, and then I approached him.

'Look at his wings,' said he, 'he reminds me rather of a West Indian insect; one does not often see so large and gay a night-rover in England; there! he is flown.'

The moth roamed away. I was sheepishly retreating also; but Mr. Rochester followed me, and when we reached the wicket, he said- 'Turn back: on so lovely a night it is a shame to sit in the house; and surely no one can wish to go to bed while sunset is thus at meeting with moonrise.'

It is one of my faults, that though my tongue is sometimes prompt enough at an answer, there are times when it sadly fails me in framing an excuse; and always the lapse occurs at some crisis, when a facile word or plausible pretext is specially wanted to get me out of painful embarrassment. I did not like to walk at this hour alone with Mr. Rochester in the shadowy orchard; but I could not find a reason to allege for leaving him. I followed with lagging step, and thoughts busily bent on discovering a means of extrication; but he himself looked so composed and so grave also, I became ashamed of feeling any confusion: the evil- if evil existent or prospective there was- seemed to lie with me only; his mind was unconscious and quiet.

'Jane,' he recommenced, as we entered the laurel walk, and slowly strayed down in the direction of the sunk fence and the horse-chestnut, 'Thornfield is a pleasant place in summer, is it not?'

'Yes, sir.'

'You must have become in some degree attached to the house,- you, who have an eye for natural beauties, and a good deal of the organ of Adhesiveness?'

'I am attached to it, indeed.'

'And though I don't comprehend how it is, I perceive you have acquired a degree of regard for that foolish little child Adele, too; and even for simple dame Fairfax?'

'Yes, sir; in different ways, I have an affection for both.'

'And would be sorry to part with them?'

'Yes.'

'Pity!' he said, and sighed and paused. 'It is always the way of events in this life,' he continued presently: 'no sooner have you got settled in a pleasant resting-place, than a voice calls out to you to rise and move on, for the hour of repose is expired.'

'Must I move on, sir?' I asked. 'Must I leave Thornfield?'

'I believe you must, Jane. I am sorry, Janet, but I believe indeed you must.'

This was a blow: but I did not let it prostrate me.

'Well, sir, I shall be ready when the order to march comes.'

'It is come now- I must give it to-night.'

'Then you are going to be married, sir?'

'Ex-act-ly- pre-cise-ly: with your usual acuteness, you have hit the nail straight on the head.'

'Soon, sir?'

'Very soon, my- that is, Miss Eyre: and you'll remember, Jane, the first time I, or Rumour, plainly intimated to you that it was my intention to put my old bachelor's neck into the sacred noose, to enter into the holy estate of matrimony- to take Miss Ingram to my bosom, in short (she's an extensive armful: but that's not to the point- one can't have too much of such a very excellent thing as my beautiful Blanche): well, as I was saying- listen to me, Jane!

You're not turning your head to look after more moths, are you? That was only a lady-clock, child, "flying away home." I wish to remind you that it was you who first said to me, with that discretion I respect in you- with that foresight, prudence, and humility which befit your responsible and dependent position- that in case I married Miss Ingram, both you and little Adele had better trot forthwith. I pass over the sort of slur conveyed in this suggestion on the character of my beloved; indeed, when you are far away, Janet, I'll try to forget it: I shall notice only its wisdom; which is such that I have made it my law of action. Adele must go to school; and you, Miss Eyre, must get a new situation.'

'Yes, sir, I will advertise immediately: and meantime, I suppose-' I was going to say, 'I suppose I may stay here, till I find another shelter to betake myself to': but I stopped, feeling it would not do to risk a long sentence, for my voice was not quite under command.

'In about a month I hope to be a bridegroom,' continued Mr. Rochester; 'and in the interim, I shall myself look out for employment and an asylum for you.'

'Thank you, sir; I am sorry to give-'

'Oh, no need to apologise! I consider that when a dependant does her duty as well as you have done yours, she has a sort of claim upon her employer for any little assistance he can conveniently render her; indeed I have already, through my future mother-in-law, heard of a place that I think will suit: it is to undertake the education of the five daughters of Mrs. Dionysius O'Gall of Bitternutt Lodge, Connaught, Ireland. You'll like Ireland, I think: they're such warmhearted people there, they say.'

'It is a long way off, sir.'

'No matter- a girl of your sense will not object to the voyage or the distance.'

'Not the voyage, but the distance: and then the sea is a barrier-'

'From what, Jane?'

'From England and from Thornfield: and-'

'Well?'

'From you, sir.'

I said this almost involuntarily, and, with as little sanction of free will, my tears gushed out. I did not cry so as to be heard, however; I avoided sobbing. The thought of Mrs. O'Gall and Bitternutt Lodge struck cold to my heart; and colder the thought of all the brine and foam, destined, as it seemed, to rush between me and the master at whose side I now walked, and coldest the remembrance of the wider ocean- wealth, caste, custom intervened between me and what I naturally and inevitably loved.

'It is a long way,' I again said.

'It is, to be sure; and when you get to Bitternutt Lodge, Connaught, Ireland, I shall never see you again, Jane: that's morally certain. I never go over to Ireland, not having myself much of a fancy for the country. We have been good friends, Jane; have we not?'

'Yes, sir.'

'And when friends are on the eve of separation, they like to spend the little time that remains to them close to each other.

Come! we'll talk over the voyage and the parting quietly half an hour or so, while the stars enter into their shining life up in heaven yonder: here is the chestnut tree: here is the bench at its old roots.

Come, we will sit there in peace to-night, though we should never more be destined to sit there together.' He seated me and himself.

'It is a long way to Ireland, Janet, and I am sorry to send my little friend on such weary travels: but if I can't do better, how is it to be helped? Are you anything akin to me, do you think, Jane?'

I could risk no sort of answer by this time: my heart was still.

'Because,' he said, 'I sometimes have a queer feeling with regard to you- especially when you are near me, as now: it is as if I had a string somewhere under my left ribs, tightly and inextricably knotted to a similar string situated in the corresponding quarter of your little frame. And if that boisterous Channel and two hundred miles or so of land come broad between us, I am afraid that cord of communion will be snapt; and then I've a nervous notion I should take to bleeding inwardly. As for you,- you'd forget me.'

'That I never should, sir: you know-' Impossible to proceed.

'Jane, do you hear that nightingale singing in the wood? Listen!'

In listening, I sobbed convulsively; for I could repress what I endured no longer; I was obliged to yield, and I was shaken from head to foot with acute distress. When I did speak, it was only to express an impetuous wish that I had never been born, or never come to Thornfield.

'Because you are sorry to leave it?'

The vehemence of emotion, stirred by grief and love within me, was claiming mastery, and struggling for full sway, and asserting a right to predominate, to overcome, to live, rise, and reign at last: yes,- and to speak.

'I grieve to leave Thornfield: I love Thornfield:- I love it, because I have lived in it a full and delightful life,- momentarily at least. I have not been trampled on. I have not been petrified. I have not been buried with inferior minds, and excluded from every glimpse of communion with what is bright and energetic and high. I have talked, face to face, with what I reverence, with what I delight in,- with an original, a vigorous, an expanded mind. I have known you, Mr. Rochester; and it strikes me with terror and anguish to feel I absolutely must be torn from you for ever. I see the necessity of departure; and it is like looking on the necessity of death.'

'Where do you see the necessity?' he asked suddenly.

'Where? You, sir, have placed it before me.'

'In what shape?'

'In the shape of Miss Ingram; a noble and beautiful woman,- your bride.'

'My bride! What bride? I have no bride!'

'But you will have.'

'Yes;- I will!'- I will!' He set his teeth.

'Then I must go:- you have said it yourself.'

'No: you must stay! I swear it- and the oath shall be kept.'

'I tell you I must go!' I retorted, roused to something like passion. 'Do you think I can stay to become nothing to you? Do you think I am an automaton?- a machine without feelings? and can bear to have my morsel of bread snatched from my lips, and my drop of living water dashed from my cup? Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong!- I have as much soul as you,- and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you. I am not talking to you now through the medium of custom, conventionalities, nor even of mortal flesh;- it is my spirit  that addresses your spirit; just as if both had passed through the grave, and we stood at God's feet, equal,- as we are!'

'As we are!' repeated Mr. Rochester- 'so,' he added, enclosing me in his arms, gathering me to his breast, pressing his lips on my lips:

'so, Jane!'

'Yes, so, sir,' I rejoined: 'and yet not so; for you are a married man- or as good as a married man, and wed to one inferior to you- to one with whom you have no sympathy- whom I do not believe you truly love; for I have seen and heard you sneer at her. I would scorn such a union: therefore I am better than you- let me go!'

'Where, Jane? To Ireland?'

'Yes- to Ireland. I have spoken my mind, and can go anywhere now.'

'Jane, be still; don't struggle so, like a wild frantic bird that is rending its own plumage in its desperation.'

'I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will, which I now exert to leave you.'

Another effort set me at liberty, and I stood erect before him.

'And your will shall decide your destiny,' he said: 'I offer you my hand, my heart, and a share of all my possessions.'

'You play a farce, which I merely laugh at.'

'I ask you to pass through life at my side- to be my second self, and best earthly companion.'

'For that fate you have already made your choice, and must abide by it.'

'Jane, be still a few moments: you are over-excited: I will be still too.'

A waft of wind came sweeping down the laurel-walk and trembled through the boughs of the chestnut: it wandered away- away- to an indefinite distance- it died. The nightingale's song was then the only voice of the hour: in listening to it, I again wept. Mr. Rochester sat

quiet, looking at me gently and seriously. Some time passed before he spoke; he at last said-

'Come to my side, Jane, and let us explain and understand one another.'

'I will never again come to your side: I am torn away now, and cannot return.'

'But, Jane, I summon you as my wife: it is you only I intend to marry.'

I was silent: I thought he mocked me.

'Come, Jane- come hither.'

'Your bride stands between us.'

He rose, and with a stride reached me.

'My bride is here,' he said, again drawing me to him, 'because my equal is here, and my likeness. Jane, will you marry me?'

Still I did not answer, and still I writhed myself from his grasp: for I was still incredulous.

'Do you doubt me, Jane?'

'Entirely.'

'You have no faith in me?'

'Not a whit.'

'Am I a liar in your eyes?' he asked passionately. 'Little sceptic, you shall be convinced. What love have I for Miss Ingram? None: and that you know. What love has she for me? None: as I have taken pains to prove: I caused a rumour to reach her that my fortune was not a third of what was supposed, and after that I presented myself to see the result; it was coldness both from her and her mother. I would not- I could not- marry Miss Ingram. You- you strange, you almost unearthly thing!- I love as my own flesh. You- poor and obscure, and small and plain as you are- I entreat to accept me as a husband.'

'What, me!' I ejaculated, beginning in his earnestness- and especially in his incivility- to credit his sincerity: 'me who have not a friend in the world but you- if you are my friend: not a shilling but what you have given me?'

'You, Jane, I must have you for my own- entirely my own. Will you be mine? Say yes, quickly.'

'Mr. Rochester, let me look at your face: turn to the moonlight.'

'Why?'

'Because I want to read your countenance- turn!'

'There! you will find it scarcely more legible than a crumpled, scratched page. Read on: only make haste, for I suffer.'

His face was very much agitated and very much flushed, and there were strong workings in the features, and strange gleams in the eyes.

'Oh, Jane, you torture me!' he exclaimed. 'With that searching and yet faithful and generous look, you torture me!'

'How can I do that? If you are true, and your offer real, my only feelings to you must be gratitude and devotion- they cannot torture.'

'Gratitude!' he ejaculated; and added wildly- 'Jane, accept me quickly. Say, Edward- give me my name- Edward- I will marry you.'

'Are you in earnest? Do you truly love me? Do you sincerely wish me to be your wife?'

'I do; and if an oath is necessary to satisfy you, I swear it.'

'Then, sir, I will marry you.'

'Edward- my little wife!'

'Dear Edward!'

'Come to me- come to me entirely now,' said he; and added, in his deepest tone, speaking in my ear as his cheek was laid on mine, 'Make my happiness- I will make yours.'

'God pardon me!' he subjoined ere long; 'and man meddle not with me: I have her, and will hold her.'

'There is no one to meddle, sir. I have no kindred to interfere.'

'No- that is the best of it,' he said. And if I had loved him less I should have thought his accent and look of exultation savage; but, sitting by him, roused from the nightmare of parting- called to the paradise of union- I thought only of the bliss given me to drink in so abundant a flow. Again and again he said, 'Are you happy, Jane?'

And again and again I answered, 'Yes,' After which he murmured, 'It will atone- it will atone. Have I not found her friendless, and cold, and comfortless? Will I not guard, and cherish, and solace her? Is there not love in my heart, and constancy in my resolves? It will expiate at God's tribunal. I know my Maker sanctions what I do.

For the world's judgment- I wash my hands thereof. For man's opinion- I defy it.'

But what had befallen the night? The moon was not yet set, and we were all in shadow: I could scarcely see my master's face, near as I was. And what ailed the chestnut tree? it writhed and groaned; while wind roared in the laurel walk, and came sweeping over us.

'We must go in,' said Mr. Rochester: 'the weather changes. I could have sat with thee till morning, Jane.'

'And so,' thought I, 'could I with you.' I should have said so, perhaps, but a livid, vivid spark leapt out of a cloud at which I was looking, and there was a crack, a crash, and a close rattling peal; and I thought only of hiding my dazzled eyes against Mr. Rochester's shoulder.

The rain rushed down. He hurried me up the walk, through the grounds, and into the house; but we were quite wet before we could pass the threshold. He was taking off my shawl in the hall, and shaking the water out of my loosened hair, when Mrs. Fairfax emerged from her room. I did not observe her at first, nor did Mr. Rochester. The lamp was lit. The dock was on the stroke of twelve.

'Hasten to take off your wet things,' said he; 'and before you go, good-night- good-night, my darling!'

He kissed me repeatedly. When I looked up, on leaving his arms, there stood the widow, pale, grave, and amazed. I only smiled at her, and ran upstairs. 'Explanation will do for another time,' thought I. Still, when I reached my chamber, I felt a pang at the idea she should even temporarily misconstrue what she had seen. But joy soon effaced every other feeling; and loud as the wind blew, near and deep as the thunder crashed, fierce and frequent as the lightning gleamed, cataract-like as the rain fell during a storm of two hours' duration, I experienced no fear and little awe. Mr. Rochester came thrice to my door in the course of it, to ask if I was safe and tranquil: and that was comfort, that was strength for anything.

Before I left my bed in the morning, little Adele came running in to tell me that the great horse-chestnut at the bottom of the orchard had been struck by lightning in the night, and half of it split away.
 

仲夏明媚的阳光普照英格兰。当时那种一连几天日丽天清的气候,甚至一天半天都难得惠顾我们这个波浪环绕的岛国。仿佛持续的意大利天气从南方飘移过来,像一群灿烂的候鸟,落在英格兰的悬崖上歇脚。干草己经收好,桑菲尔德周围的田野己经收割干净,显出一片新绿。道路晒得白煞煞仿佛烤过似的,林木葱郁,十分茂盛。树篱与林子都叶密色浓,与它们之间收割过的草地的金黄色,形成了鲜明的对比。

施洗约翰节前夕,阿黛勒在海村小路上采了半天的野草莓,累坏了,太阳一落山就上床睡觉。我看着她入睡后,便离开她向花园走去。

此刻是二十四小时中最甜蜜的时刻——“白昼己耗尽了它的烈火,”清凉的露水落在喘息的平原和烤灼过的山顶上。在夕阳朴实地西沉——并不伴有华丽的云彩——的地和谦卑,首先向我提出,万一我娶了英格拉姆小姐,你和小阿黛勒两个还是立刻就走好。我并不计较这一建议所隐含的对我意中人人格上的污辱。说实在,一旦你们走得远远的,珍妮特,我会努力把它忘掉。我所注意到的只是其中的智慧,它那么高明,我已把它奉为行动的准则。阿黛勒必须上学,爱小姐,你得找一个新的工作。”

“是的,先生,我会马上去登广告,而同时我想——”我想说,“我想我可以呆在这里,直到我找到另外一个安身之处”但我打住了,觉得不能冒险说一个长句,因为我的嗓门已经难以自制了。

“我希望大约一个月以后成为新郎,”罗切斯特先生继续说,“在这段期间,我会亲自为你留意找一个工作和落脚的地方。”

“谢谢你,先生,对不起给你——”

“呵——不必道歉!我认为一个下人把工作做得跟你自己一样出色时,她就有权要求雇主给予一点容易办到的小小帮助。其实我从未来的岳母那儿听到一个适合你去的地方。就是爱尔兰康诺特的苦果村,教迪奥尼修斯.奥加尔太太的五个女儿,我想你会喜欢爱尔兰的。他们说,那里的人都很热心。”
贃筻挝诺搅艘恢治宜??醯南阄丁?br>
多花蔷蕾、老人蒿、茉莉花、石竹花和玫瑰花早就在奉献着它们的晚香,刚刚飘过来的气味既不是来自灌木,也不是来自花朵,但我很熟悉,它来自罗切斯特先生的雪茄。我举目四顾,侧耳静听。我看到树上沉甸甸垂着即将成熟的果子,听到一只夜莺在半英里外的林子里鸣啭。我看不见移动的身影,听不到走近的脚步声,但是那香气却越来越浓了。我得赶紧走掉。我往通向灌木林的边门走去,却看见罗切斯特先生正跨进门来。我往旁边一闪,躲进了长满长春藤的幽深处。他不会久待,很快会顺原路返回,只要我坐着不动,他就绝不会看见我。

可是不行——薄暮对他来说也象对我一样可爱,古老的园子也一样诱人。他继续往前踱步,一会儿拎起醋栗树枝,看看梅子般大压着枝头的果子;一会儿从墙上采下一颗熟了的樱挑;一会儿又向着一簇花弯下身子,不是闻一闻香味,就是欣赏花瓣上的露珠。一只大飞蛾嗡嗡地从我身旁飞过,落在罗切斯特先生脚边的花枝上,他见了便俯下身去打量。

“现在,他背对着我,”我想,“而且全神贯注,也许要是我脚步儿轻些,我可以人不知鬼不觉地溜走。”

我踩在路边的草皮上,免得沙石路的咔嚓声把自己给暴露。他站在离我必经之地一两码的花坛中间,显然飞蛾吸引了他的注意力。“我会顺利通过,”我暗自思忖。月亮还没有升得很高,在园子里投下了罗切斯特先生长长的身影,我正要跨过这影子,他却头也不回就低声说:

“简,过来看看这家伙。”

我不曾发出声响,他背后也不长眼睛——难道他的影子会有感觉不成?我先是吓了一跳,随后便朝他走去。

“瞧它的翅膀,”他说,“它使我想起一只西印度的昆虫,在英国不常见到这么又大又艳丽的夜游虫。瞧!它飞走了。”

飞蛾飘忽着飞走了。我也局促不安地退去。可是罗切斯特先生跟着我,到了边门,他说:

“回来,这么可爱的夜晚,坐在屋子里多可惜。在日落与月出相逢的时刻,肯定是没有谁愿意去睡觉的。”

我有一个缺陷,那就是尽管我口齿伶俐,对答如流,但需要寻找藉口的时候却往往一筹莫展。因此某些关键时刻,需要随口一句话,或者站得住脚的遁词来摆脱痛苦的窘境时,我便常常会出差错。我不愿在这个时候单独同罗切斯特先生漫步在阴影笼罩的果园里。但是我又找不出一个脱身的理由。我慢吞吞地跟在后头,一面在拼命动脑筋设法摆脱。可是他显得那么镇定,那么严肃,使我反而为自己的慌乱而感到羞愧了。如果说心中有鬼——不管是现在还是将来——那只能说我有。他心里十分平静,而且全然不觉。

“简,”他重又开腔了。我们正走进长满月桂的小径,缓步踱向矮篱笆和七叶树,“夏天,桑菲尔德是个可爱的地方,是吗?”

“是的,先生。”

“你一定有些依恋桑菲尔德府了——你有欣赏自然美的眼力,而且很有依恋之情。”

“说实在,我依恋这个地方。”

“而且,尽管我不理解这究竟是怎么回事,但我觉察出来,你已开始关切阿黛勒这个小傻瓜,甚至还有朴实的老妇费尔法克斯。”

“是的,先生,尽管性质不同,我对她们两人都有感情。”

“而同她们分手会感到难过。”

“是的。”

“可惜呀!”他说,叹了口气又打住了。“世上的事情总是这样,”他马上又继续说,“你刚在一个愉快的栖身之处安顿下来,一个声音便会叫你起来往前赶路,因为已过了休息的时辰。”

“我得往前赶路吗,先生?”我问。“我得离开桑菲尔德吗?”

“我想你得走了,简,很抱歉,珍妮特,但我的确认为你该走了。”

这是一个打击,但我不让它击倒我。

“行呀,先生,要我走的命令一下,我便走。”

“现在命令来了——我今晚就得下。”

“那你要结婚了,先生?”

“确——实——如——此,对——极——了。凭你一贯的机敏,你已经一语中的。”

“快了吗,先生?”

“很快,我的一—,那就是,爱小姐,你还记得吧,简,我第一次,或者说谣言明白向你表示,我有意把自己老单身汉的脖子套上神圣的绳索,进入圣洁的婚姻状态——把英格拉姆小姐搂入我的怀抱,总之(她足足有一大抱,但那无关紧要——像我漂亮的布兰奇那样的市民,是谁都不会嫌大的)。是呀,就像我刚才说的——听我说,简!你没有回头去看还有没有飞蛾吧?那不过是个瓢虫,孩子,‘正飞回家去’我想提醒你一下,正是你以我所敬佩的审慎,那种适合你责任重大、却并不独立的职业的远见、精明和谦卑,首先向我提出,万一我娶了英格拉姆小姐,你和小阿黛勒两个还是立刻就走好。我并不计较这一建议所隐含的对我意中人人格上的污辱。说实在,一旦你们走得远远的,珍妮特,我会努力把它忘掉。我所注意到的只是其中的智慧,它那么高明,我已把它奉为行动的准则。阿黛勒必须上学,爱小姐,你得找一个新的工作。”

“是的,先生,我会马上去登广告,而同时我想——”我想说,“我想我可以呆在这里,直到我找到另外一个安身之处”但我打住了,觉得不能冒险说一个长句,因为我的嗓门已经难以自制了。

“我希望大约一个月以后成为新郎,”罗切斯特先生继续说,“在这段期间,我会亲自为你留意找一个工作和落脚的地方。”

“谢谢你,先生,对不起给你——”

“呵——不必道歉!我认为一个下人把工作做得跟你自己一样出色时,她就有权要求雇主给予一点容易办到的小小帮助。其实我从未来的岳母那儿听到一个适合你去的地方。就是爱尔兰康诺特的苦果村,教迪奥尼修斯.奥加尔太太的五个女儿,我想你会喜欢爱尔兰的。他们说,那里的人都很热心。”

“离这儿很远呢,先生。”

“没有关系——像你这样一个通情达理的姑娘是不会反对航程或距离的。”

“不是航程,而是距离。还有大海是一大障碍——”

“离开什么地方,简?”

“离开英格兰和桑菲尔德,还有——”

“怎么?”

“离开你,先生。”

我几乎不知不觉中说了这话,眼泪不由自主夺眶而出。但我没有哭出声来,我也避免抽泣。一想起奥加尔太太和苦果村,我的心就凉了半截;一想起在我与此刻同我并肩而行的主人之间,注定要翻腾着大海和波涛,我的心就更凉了;而一记起在我同我自然和必然所爱的东西之间,横亘着财富、阶层和习俗的辽阔海洋,我的心凉透了。

“离这儿很远,”我又说了一句。

“确实加此。等你到了爱尔兰康诺特的苦果村,我就永远见不到你了,肯定就是这么回事。我从来不去爱尔兰,因为自己并不太喜欢这个国家。我们一直是好朋友,简,你说是不是?”

“是的,先生。”

“朋友们在离别的前夕,往往喜欢亲密无间地度过余下的不多时光。来——星星们在那边天上闪烁着光芒时,我们用上半个小时左右,平静地谈谈航行和离别。这儿是一棵七叶树,这边是围着老树根的凳子。来,今晚我们就安安心心地坐在这儿,虽然我们今后注定再也不会坐在一起了。”他让我坐下,然后自己也坐了下来。

“这儿到爱尔兰很远,珍妮特,很抱歉,把我的小朋友送上这么今人厌倦的旅程。但要是没有更好的主意了,那该怎么办呢?简,你认为你我之间有相近之处吗?”

这时我没敢回答,因为我内心很激动。

“因为,”他说,“有时我对你有一种奇怪的感觉——尤其是当你象现在这样靠近我的时候。仿佛我左面的肋骨有一根弦,跟你小小的身躯同一个部位相似的弦紧紧地维系着,难分难解。如果咆哮的海峡和二百英里左右的陆地,把我们远远分开,恐怕这根情感交流的弦会折断,于是我不安地想到,我的内心会流血。至于你——你会忘掉我。”

“那我永远不会,先生,你知道——”我不可能再说下去了。

“简,听见夜莺在林中歌唱吗?——听呀!”

我听着听着便抽抽噎噎地哭泣起来,再也抑制不住强忍住的感情,不得不任其流露了。我痛苦万分地浑身颤栗着。到了终于开口时,我便只能表达一个冲动的愿望:但愿自己从来没有生下来,从未到过桑菲尔德。

“因为要离开而难过吗?”

悲与爱在我内心所煽起的强烈情绪,正占上风,并竭力要支配一切,压倒一切,战胜一切,要求生存、扩展和最终主宰一切,不错——还要求吐露出来。

“离开桑菲尔德我很伤心,我爱桑菲尔德——我爱它是因为我在这里过着充实而愉快的生活——至少有一段时间。我没有遭人践踏,也没有弄得古板僵化,没有混迹于志向低下的人之中,也没有被排斥在同光明、健康、高尚的心灵交往的一切机会之外。我已面对面同我所敬重的人、同我所喜欢的人,——同一个独特、活跃、博大的心灵交谈过。我已经熟悉你,罗切斯特先生,硬要让我永远同你分开,使我感到恐惧和痛苦。我看到非分别不可,就像看到非死不可一样。”

“在哪儿看到的呢?”他猛地问道。

“哪儿?你,先生,已经把这种必要性摆在我面前了。”

“什么样的必要性?”

“就是英格拉姆小姐那模样,一个高尚而漂亮的女人——你的新娘。”

“我的新娘!什么新娘呀?我没有新娘!”

“但你会有的。”

“是的,我会!我会!”他咬紧牙齿。

“那我得走——你自己已经说了。”

“不,你非留下不可!我发誓——我信守誓言。”

“我告诉你我非走不可!”我回驳着,感情很有些冲动。“你难道认为,我会留下来甘愿做一个对你来说无足轻重的人?你以为我是一架机器?——一架没有感情的机器?能够容忍别人把一口面包从我嘴里抢走,把一滴生命之水从我杯子里泼掉?难道就因为我一贫如洗、默默无闻、长相平庸、个子瘦小,就没有灵魂,没有心肠了?——你不是想错了吗?——我的心灵跟你一样丰富,我的心胸跟你一样充实!要是上帝赐予我一点姿色和充足的财富,我会使你同我现在一样难分难舍,我不是根据习俗、常规,甚至也不是血肉之躯同你说话,而是我的灵魂同你的灵魂在对话,就仿佛我们两人穿过坟墓,站在上帝脚下,彼此平等——本来就如此!”

“本来就如此!”罗切斯特先生重复道——“所以,”他补充道,一面用胳膊把我抱住,搂到怀里,把嘴唇贴到我的嘴唇上。“所以是这样,简?”

“是呀,所以是这样,先生,”我回答,“可是并没有这样。因为你已结了婚——或者说无异于结了婚,跟一个远不如你的人结婚——一个跟你并不意气相投的人——我才不相信你真的会爱她,因为我看到过,也听到过你讥笑她。对这样的结合我会表示不屑,所以我比你强——让我走!”

“上哪儿,简?去爱尔兰?”

“是的——去爱尔兰。我已经把心里话都说了,现在上哪儿都行了。”

“简,平静些,别那挣扎着,像一只发疯的鸟儿,拚命撕掉自己的羽毛。”

“我不是鸟,也没有陷入罗网。我是一个具有独立意志的自由人,现在我要行施自己的意志,离开你。”

我再一挣扎便脱了身,在他跟前昂首而立。

“你的意志可以决定你的命运,”他说。“我把我的手,我的心和我的一份财产都献给你。”

“你在上演一出闹剧,我不过一笑置之。”

“我请求你在我身边度过余生——成为我的另一半,世上最好的伴侣。”

“那种命运,你已经作出了选择,那就应当坚持到底。”

“简,请你平静一会儿,你太激动了,我也会平静下来的。”

一阵风吹过月桂小径,穿过摇曳着的七叶树枝,飘走了——走了——到了天涯海角——消失了。夜莺的歌喉成了这时唯一的声响,听着它我再次哭了起来。罗切斯特先生静静地坐着,和蔼而严肃地瞧着我。过了好一会他才开口。最后他说:

“到我身边来,简,让我们解释一下,相互谅解吧。”

“我再也不会回到你身边了,我已经被拉走,不可能回头了。”

“不过,简,我唤你过来做我的妻子,我要娶的是你。”

我没有吭声,心里想他在讥笑我。

“过来,简——到这边来。”

“你的新娘阻挡着我们。”

他站了起来,一个箭步到了我跟前。

“我的新娘在这儿,”他说着,再次把我往身边拉,“因为与我相配的人在这儿,与我
相像的人,简,你愿意嫁给我吗?”

我仍然没有回答,仍然要挣脱他,因为我仍然不相信。

“你怀疑我吗,简?”

“绝对怀疑。”

“你不相信我?”

“一点也不信。”

“你看我是个爱说谎的人吗?”他激动地问。“疑神疑鬼的小东西,我一定要使你信服。我同英格拉姆小姐有什么爱可言?没有,那你是知道的。她对我有什么爱?没有,我已经想方设法来证实。我放出了谣言,传到她耳朵里,说是我的财产还不到想象中的三分之一,然后我现身说法,亲自去看结果,她和她母亲对我都非常冷淡。我不愿意——也不可能——娶英格拉姆小姐。你——你这古怪的——你这近乎是精灵的家伙——我像爱我自己的肉体一样爱你。你——虽然一贫如洗、默默无闻、个子瘦小、相貌平庸—一我请求你把我当作你的丈夫。”

“什么,我!”我猛地叫出声来。出于他的认真,尤其是粗鲁的言行,我开始相信他的诚意了。“我,我这个人除了你,世上没有一个朋友,——如果你是我朋友的话。除了你给我的钱,一个子儿也没有。”

“就是你,简。我得让你属于我——完全属于我。你肯吗?快说‘好’呀。”

“罗切斯特先生,让我瞧瞧你的脸。转到朝月光的一边去。”

“为什么?”

“因为我要细看你的面容,转呀!”

“那儿,你能看到的无非是撕皱了的一页,往下看吧,只不过快些,因为我很不好受。”

他的脸焦急不安,涨得通红,五官在激烈抽动,眼睛射出奇怪的光芒。

“呵,简,你在折磨我!”他大嚷道。“你用那种犀利而慷慨可信的目光瞧着我,你在折磨我!”

“我怎么会呢?如果你是真的,你的提议也是真的,那么我对你的感情只会是感激和忠心——那就不可能是折磨。”

“感激!”他脱口喊道,并且狂乱地补充道——“简,快接受我吧。说,爱德华——叫我的名字——爱德华,我愿意嫁你。”

“你可当真?——你真的爱我?——你真心希望我成为你的妻子?”

“我真的是这样。要是有必要发誓才能使你满意,那我就以此发誓。”

“那么,先生,我愿意嫁给你。”

“叫爱德华——我的小夫人。”

“亲爱的爱德华!”

“到我身边来——完完全全过来。”他说,把他的脸颊贴着我的脸颊,用深沉的语调对着我耳朵补充说,“使我幸福吧——我也会使你幸福。”

“上帝呀,宽恕我吧!”他不久又添了一句,“还有人呀,别干涉我,我得到了她,我要紧紧抓住她。”

“没有人会干涉,先生。我没有亲人来干预。”

“不——那再好不过了。”他说。要是我不是那么爱他,我会认为他的腔调,他狂喜的表情有些粗野。但是我从离别的恶梦中醒来,被赐予天作之合,坐在他身旁,光想着啜饮源源而来的幸福的清泉。他一再问,“你幸福吗,简?”而我一再回答“是的”。随后他咕哝着,“会赎罪的,——会赎罪的。我不是发现她没有朋友,得不到抚慰,受到冷落吗?我不是会保护她,珍爱她,安慰她吗?我心里不是有爱,我的决心不是始终不变吗?那一切会在上帝的法庭上得到赎罪。我知道造物主会准许我的所作所为。至于世间的评判——我不去理睬。别人的意见——我断然拒绝。”

可是,夜晚发生什么变化了?月亮还没有下沉,我们已全湮没在阴影之中了。虽然主人离我近在咫尺,但我几乎看不清他的脸。七叶树受了什么病痛的折磨?它扭动着,呻吟着,狂风在月桂树小径咆哮,直向我们扑来。

“我们得进去了,”罗切斯特先生说。“天气变了。不然我可以同你坐到天明,简。”

“我也一样,”我想。也许我应该这么说出来,可是从我正仰望着的云层里,窜出了一道铅灰色的闪电,随后是喀啦啦一声霹雳和近处的一阵隆隆声。我只想把自己发花的眼睛贴在罗切斯特先生的肩膀上。大雨倾盆而下,他催我踏上小径,穿过庭园,进屋子去。但是我们还没跨进门槛就已经湿淋淋了。在厅里他取下了我的披肩,把水滴从我散了的头发中摇下来,正在这时,费尔法克斯太太从她房间里出来了。起初我没有觉察,罗切斯特先生也没有。灯亮着,时钟正敲十二点。

“快把湿衣服脱掉,”他说,“临走之前,说一声晚安——晚安,我的宝贝!”

他吻了我,吻了又吻。我离开他怀抱抬起头来一看,只见那位寡妇站在那儿,脸色苍白,神情严肃而惊讶。我只朝她微微一笑,便跑上楼去了。“下次再解释也行,”我想。但是到了房间里,想起她一时会对看到的情况产生误解,心里便感到一阵痛楚。然而喜悦抹去了一切其他感情。尽管在两小时的暴风雨中,狂风大作,雷声隆隆,电光闪闪,暴雨如注,我并不害怕,并不畏惧。这中间罗切斯特先生三次上门,问我是否平安无事。这无论如何给了我安慰和力量。

早晨我还没起床,小阿黛勒就跑来告诉我,果园尽头的大七叶树夜里遭了雷击,被劈去了一半。



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