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Part 1 Chapter 4

Harriet Smith's intimacy at Hartfield was soon a settled thing. Quick and decided in her ways, Emma lost no time in inviting, encouraging, and telling her to come very often; and as their acquaintance increased, so did their satisfaction in each other. As a walking companion, Emma had very early foreseen how useful she might find her. In that respect Mrs. Weston's loss had been important. Her father never went beyond the shrubbery, where two divisions of the ground sufficed him for his long walk, or his short, as the year varied; and since Mrs. Weston's marriage her exercise had been too much confined. She had ventured once alone to Randalls, but it was not pleasant; and a Harriet Smith, therefore, one whom she could summon at any time to a walk, would be a valuable addition to her privileges. But in every respect, as she saw more of her, she approved her, and was confirmed in all her kind designs.

Harriet certainly was not clever, but she had a sweet, docile, grateful disposition, was totally free from conceit, and only desiring to be guided by any one she looked up to. Her early attachment to herself was very amiable; and her inclination for good company, and power of appreciating what was elegant and clever, shewed that there was no want of taste, though strength of understanding must not be expected. Altogether she was quite convinced of Harriet Smith's being exactly the young friend she wanted - exactly the something which her home required. Such a friend as Mrs. Weston was out of the question. Two such could never be granted. Two such she did not want. It was quite a different sort of thing, a sentiment distinct and independent. Mrs. Weston was the object of a regard which had its basis in gratitude and esteem. Harriet would be loved as one to whom she could be useful. For Mrs. Weston there was nothing to be done; for Harriet every thing.

Her first attempts at usefulness were in an endeavour to find out who were the parents, but Harriet could not tell. She was ready to tell every thing in her power, but on this subject questions were vain. Emma was obliged to fancy what she liked - but she could never believe that in the same situation she should not have discovered the truth. Harriet had no penetration. She had been satisfied to hear and believe just what Mrs. Goddard chose to tell her; and looked no farther.

Mrs. Goddard, and the teachers, and the girls and the affairs of the school in general, formed naturally a great part of the conversation - and but for her acquaintance with the Martins of Abbey-Mill Farm, it must have been the whole. But the Martins occupied her thoughts a good deal; she had spent two very happy months with them, and now loved to talk of the pleasures of her visit, and describe the many comforts and wonders of the place. Emma encouraged her talkativeness - amused by such a picture of another set of beings, and enjoying the youthful simplicity which could speak with so much exultation of Mrs. Martin's having `two parlours, two very good parlours, indeed; one of them quite as large as Mrs. Goddard's drawing-room; and of her having an upper maid who had lived five-and-twenty years with her; and of their having eight cows, two of them Alderneys, and one a little Welch cow, a very pretty little Welch cow indeed; and of Mrs. Martin's saying as she was so fond of it, it should be called her cow; and of their having a very handsome summer-house in their garden, where some day next year they were all to drink tea: - a very handsome summer-house, large enough to hold a dozen people.'

For some time she was amused, without thinking beyond the immediate cause; but as she came to understand the family better, other feelings arose. She had taken up a wrong idea, fancying it was a mother and daughter, a son and son's wife, who all lived together; but when it appeared that the Mr. Martin, who bore a part in the narrative, and was always mentioned with approbation for his great good-nature in doing something or other, was a single man; that there was no young Mrs. Martin, no wife in the case; she did suspect danger to her poor little friend from all this hospitality and kindness, and that, if she were not taken care of, she might be required to sink herself forever.

With this inspiriting notion, her questions increased in number and meaning; and she particularly led Harriet to talk more of Mr. Martin, and there was evidently no dislike to it. Harriet was very ready to speak of the share he had had in their moonlight walks and merry evening games; and dwelt a good deal upon his being so very good-humoured and obliging. He had gone three miles round one day in order to bring her some walnuts, because she had said how fond she was of them, and in every thing else he was so very obliging. He had his shepherd's son into the parlour one night on purpose to sing to her. She was very fond of singing. He could sing a little himself. She believed he was very clever, and understood every thing. He had a very fine flock, and, while she was with them, he had been bid more for his wool than any body in the country. She believed every body spoke well of him. His mother and sisters were very fond of him. Mrs. Martin had told her one day (and there was a blush as she said it,) that it was impossible for any body to be a better son, and therefore she was sure, whenever he married, he would make a good husband. Not that she wanted him to marry. She was in no hurry at all.

`Well done, Mrs. Martin!' thought Emma. `You know what you are about.'

`And when she had come away, Mrs. Martin was so very kind as to send Mrs. Goddard a beautiful goose - the finest goose Mrs. Goddard had ever seen. Mrs. Goddard had dressed it on a Sunday, and asked all the three teachers, Miss Nash, and Miss Prince, and Miss Richardson, to sup with her.'

`Mr. Martin, I suppose, is not a man of information beyond the line of his own business? He does not read?'

`Oh yes! - that is, no - I do not know - but I believe he has read a good deal - but not what you would think any thing of. He reads the Agricultural Reports, and some other books that lay in one of the window seats - but he reads all them to himself. But sometimes of an evening, before we went to cards, he would read something aloud out of the Elegant Extracts, very entertaining. And I know he has read the Vicar of Wakefield. He never read the Romance of the Forest, nor The Children of the Abbey. He had never heard of such books before I mentioned them, but he is determined to get them now as soon as ever he can.'

The next question was -

`What sort of looking man is Mr. Martin?'

`Oh! not handsome - not at all handsome. I thought him very plain at first, but I do not think him so plain now. One does not, you know, after a time. But did you never see him? He is in Highbury every now and then, and he is sure to ride through every week in his way to Kingston. He has passed you very often.'

`That may be, and I may have seen him fifty times, but without having any idea of his name. A young farmer, whether on horseback or on foot, is the very last sort of person to raise my curiosity. The yeomanry are precisely the order of people with whom I feel I can have nothing to do. A degree or two lower, and a creditable appearance might interest me; I might hope to be useful to their families in some way or other. But a farmer can need none of my help, and is, therefore, in one sense, as much above my notice as in every other he is below it.'

`To be sure. Oh yes! It is not likely you should ever have observed him; but he knows you very well indeed - I mean by sight.'

`I have no doubt of his being a very respectable young man. I know, indeed, that he is so, and, as such, wish him well. What do you imagine his age to be?'

`He was four-and-twenty the 8th of last June, and my birthday is the 23rd just a fortnight and a day's difference - which is very odd.'

`Only four-and-twenty. That is too young to settle. His mother is perfectly right not to be in a hurry. They seem very comfortable as they are, and if she were to take any pains to marry him, she would probably repent it. Six years hence, if he could meet with a good sort of young woman in the same rank as his own, with a little money, it might be very desirable.'

`Six years hence! Dear Miss Woodhouse, he would be thirty years old!'

`Well, and that is as early as most men can afford to marry, who are not born to an independence. Mr. Martin, I imagine, has his fortune entirely to make - cannot be at all beforehand with the world. Whatever money he might come into when his father died, whatever his share of the family property, it is, I dare say, all afloat, all employed in his stock, and so forth; and though, with diligence and good luck, he may be rich in time, it is next to impossible that he should have realised any thing yet.'

`To be sure, so it is. But they live very comfortably. They have no indoors man, else they do not want for any thing; and Mrs. Martin talks of taking a boy another year.'

`I wish you may not get into a scrape, Harriet, whenever he does marry; - I mean, as to being acquainted with his wife - for though his sisters, from a superior education, are not to be altogether objected to, it does not follow that he might marry any body at all fit for you to notice. The misfortune of your birth ought to make you particularly careful as to your associates. There can be no doubt of your being a gentleman's daughter, and you must support your claim to that station by every thing within your own power, or there will be plenty of people who would take pleasure in degrading you.'

`Yes, to be sure, I suppose there are. But while I visit at Hartfield, and you are so kind to me, Miss Woodhouse, I am not afraid of what any body can do.'

`You understand the force of influence pretty well, Harriet; but I would have you so firmly established in good society, as to be independent even of Hartfield and Miss Woodhouse. I want to see you permanently well connected, and to that end it will be advisable to have as few odd acquaintance as may be; and, therefore, I say that if you should still be in this country when Mr. Martin marries, I wish you may not be drawn in by your intimacy with the sisters, to be acquainted with the wife, who will probably be some mere farmer's daughter, without education.'

`To be sure. Yes. Not that I think Mr. Martin would ever marry any body but what had had some education - and been very well brought up. However, I do not mean to set up my opinion against your's - and I am sure I shall not wish for the acquaintance of his wife. I shall always have a great regard for the Miss Martins, especially Elizabeth, and should be very sorry to give them up, for they are quite as well educated as me. But if he marries a very ignorant, vulgar woman, certainly I had better not visit her, if I can help it.'

Emma watched her through the fluctuations of this speech, and saw no alarming symptoms of love. The young man had been the first admirer, but she trusted there was no other hold, and that there would be no serious difficulty, on Harriet's side, to oppose any friendly arrangement of her own.

They met Mr. Martin the very next day, as they were walking on the Donwell road. He was on foot, and after looking very respectfully at her, looked with most unfeigned satisfaction at her companion. Emma was not sorry to have such an opportunity of survey; and walking a few yards forward, while they talked together, soon made her quick eye sufficiently acquainted with Mr. Robert Martin. His appearance was very neat, and he looked like a sensible young man, but his person had no other advantage; and when he came to be contrasted with gentlemen, she thought he must lose all the ground he had gained in Harriet's inclination. Harriet was not insensible of manner; she had voluntarily noticed her father's gentleness with admiration as well as wonder. Mr. Martin looked as if he did not know what manner was.

They remained but a few minutes together, as Miss Woodhouse must not be kept waiting; and Harriet then came running to her with a smiling face, and in a flutter of spirits, which Miss Woodhouse hoped very soon to compose.

`Only think of our happening to meet him! - How very odd! It was quite a chance, he said, that he had not gone round by Randalls. He did not think we ever walked this road. He thought we walked towards Randalls most days. He has not been able to get the Romance of the Forest yet. He was so busy the last time he was at Kingston that he quite forgot it, but he goes again to-morrow. So very odd we should happen to meet! Well, Miss Woodhouse, is he like what you expected? What do you think of him? Do you think him so very plain?'

`He is very plain, undoubtedly - remarkably plain: - but that is nothing compared with his entire want of gentility. I had no right to expect much, and I did not expect much; but I had no idea that he could be so very clownish, so totally without air. I had imagined him, I confess, a degree or two nearer gentility.'

`To be sure,' said Harriet, in a mortified voice, `he is not so genteel as real gentlemen.'

`I think, Harriet, since your acquaintance with us, you have been repeatedly in the company of some such very real gentlemen, that you must yourself be struck with the difference in Mr. Martin. At Hartfield, you have had very good specimens of well educated, well bred men. I should be surprized if, after seeing them, you could be in company with Mr. Martin again without perceiving him to be a very inferior creature - and rather wondering at yourself for having ever thought him at all agreeable before. Do not you begin to feel that now? Were not you struck? I am sure you must have been struck by his awkward look and abrupt manner, and the uncouthness of a voice which I heard to be wholly unmodulated as I stood here.'

`Certainly, he is not like Mr. Knightley. He has not such a fine air and way of walking as Mr. Knightley. I see the difference plain enough. But Mr. Knightley is so very fine a man!'

`Mr. Knightley's air is so remarkably good that it is not fair to compare Mr. Martin with him. You might not see one in a hundred with gentleman so plainly written as in Mr. Knightley. But he is not the only gentleman you have been lately used to. What say you to Mr. Weston and Mr. Elton? Compare Mr. Martin with either of them. Compare their manner of carrying themselves; of walking; of speaking; of being silent. You must see the difference.'

`Oh yes! - there is a great difference. But Mr. Weston is almost an old man. Mr. Weston must be between forty and fifty.'

`Which makes his good manners the more valuable. The older a person grows, Harriet, the more important it is that their manners should not be bad; the more glaring and disgusting any loudness, or coarseness, or awkwardness becomes. What is passable in youth is detestable in later age. Mr. Martin is now awkward and abrupt; what will he be at Mr. Weston's time of life?'

`There is no saying, indeed,' replied Harriet rather solemnly.

`But there may be pretty good guessing. He will be a completely gross, vulgar farmer, totally inattentive to appearances, and thinking of nothing but profit and loss.'

`Will he, indeed? That will be very bad.'

`How much his business engrosses him already is very plain from the circumstance of his forgetting to inquire for the book you recommended. He was a great deal too full of the market to think of any thing else - which is just as it should be, for a thriving man. What has he to do with books? And I have no doubt that he will thrive, and be a very rich man in time - and his being illiterate and coarse need not disturb us.'

`I wonder he did not remember the book' - was all Harriet's answer, and spoken with a degree of grave displeasure which Emma thought might be safely left to itself. She, therefore, said no more for some time. Her next beginning was,

`In one respect, perhaps, Mr. Elton's manners are superior to Mr. Knightley's or Mr. Weston's. They have more gentleness. They might be more safely held up as a pattern. There is an openness, a quickness, almost a bluntness in Mr. Weston, which every body likes in him, because there is so much good-humour with it - but that would not do to be copied. Neither would Mr. Knightley's downright, decided, commanding sort of manner, though it suits him very well; his figure, and look, and situation in life seem to allow it; but if any young man were to set about copying him, he would not be sufferable. On the contrary, I think a young man might be very safely recommended to take Mr. Elton as a model. Mr. Elton is good-humoured, cheerful, obliging, and gentle. He seems to me to be grown particularly gentle of late. I do not know whether he has any design of ingratiating himself with either of us, Harriet, by additional softness, but it strikes me that his manners are softer than they used to be. If he means any thing, it must be to please you. Did not I tell you what he said of you the other day?'

She then repeated some warm personal praise which she had drawn from Mr. Elton, and now did full justice to; and Harriet blushed and smiled, and said she had always thought Mr. Elton very agreeable.

Mr. Elton was the very person fixed on by Emma for driving the young farmer out of Harriet's head. She thought it would be an excellent match; and only too palpably desirable, natural, and probable, for her to have much merit in planning it. She feared it was what every body else must think of and predict. It was not likely, however, that any body should have equalled her in the date of the plan, as it had entered her brain during the very first evening of Harriet's coming to Hartfield. The longer she considered it, the greater was her sense of its expediency. Mr. Elton's situation was most suitable, quite the gentleman himself, and without low connexions; at the same time, not of any family that could fairly object to the doubtful birth of Harriet. He had a comfortable home for her, and Emma imagined a very sufficient income; for though the vicarage of Highbury was not large, he was known to have some independent property; and she thought very highly of him as a good-humoured, well-meaning, respectable young man, without any deficiency of useful understanding or knowledge of the world.

She had already satisfied herself that he thought Harriet a beautiful girl, which she trusted, with such frequent meetings at Hartfield, was foundation enough on his side; and on Harriet's there could be little doubt that the idea of being preferred by him would have all the usual weight and efficacy. And he was really a very pleasing young man, a young man whom any woman not fastidious might like. He was reckoned very handsome; his person much admired in general, though not by her, there being a want of elegance of feature which she could not dispense with: - but the girl who could be gratified by a Robert Martin's riding about the country to get walnuts for her might very well be conquered by Mr. Elton's admiration.

 

哈丽特·史密斯很快就跟哈特菲尔德建立了密切的关系。爱玛办事利索果断,当即邀请她,鼓励她,要她常来她家玩。两人渐渐熟识起来,彼此也就感到越发满意。爱玛早就预见到,哈丽特作为散步的伙伴,可以发挥很大的作用。韦斯顿太太走后,她在这方面蒙受了很大的损失。父亲散步顶多走到灌木丛,随着季节的变更,不管距离长短,那里有两块空地,足够他散步的了。所以,自韦斯顿太太结婚以后,爱玛的活动受到了很大的限制。有一次,她一个人愣闯到了兰多尔斯,可滋味并不好受。因此,如今有了个哈丽特·史密斯,想散步了可以随时喊上她,倒给她又增添了一个宝贵的有利条件。不过,随着接触的增多,她发现哈丽特各方面都好,也就越发坚信她的全盘计划。

哈丽特还真不算聪明,不过她性情温柔和顺,知道感恩,没有一丁点傲气,正希望有个她敬仰的人给以指点。她从小就知道自尊自爱,这是很可贵的。她喜欢结交正经朋友,知道什么叫文雅,什么叫聪明,表明她有鉴赏力,但不能指望她有多强的洞察力。总的说来,爱玛相信哈丽特-史密斯正是她所需要的年轻朋友——她家里正需要她这么个人。像韦斯顿太太这样的朋友不会再有了,决不会有两个这样的人。、她也不需要两个这样的人。这完全是另外一码事——显然给人一种截然不同的独立自主的感觉。韦斯顿太太是个值得器重的人,她感激她,尊重她。而她喜爱哈丽特,则因为她可以向她施展自己的本领。她对韦斯顿太太一无所能,而对哈丽特却无所不能。

她施展本领的第一个尝试,是查询谁是哈丽特的父母亲,可惜哈丽特闹不清楚。她知道的事情总是愿意爽然相告,但是在这个问题上,你再问也是白搭。爱玛不得不随心所欲地发挥想象,可她说什么也不肯相信,要是处在同样的情况下,她居然会搞不出个水落石出。哈丽特缺乏洞察力,戈达德太太跟她说什么,她就听什么、信什么,从不追根究底。

哈丽特的谈话内容,自然主要是戈达德太太、老师和同学,以及学校的各种事情——若不是幸亏她认识阿比一米尔农庄的马丁一家,那她也只能谈谈学校的事了。不过,她心里经常想着马丁一家人。她曾在他们家度过了十分愉快的两个月,如今就喜欢谈论做客时的种种乐趣,描绘他们家有多么舒适,多么好玩。爱玛激励她滔滔不绝地讲下去——听她绘声绘色地讲起另一阶层的人,觉得倒蛮有意思的,见她兴高采烈地讲起马丁太太家,那个天真活泼的样子,也很讨人喜欢。哈丽特说:“马丁太太家有两间客厅,真是两个好棒的客厅。有一间跟戈达德太太家的一样大。她有一个上等女仆,在她家住了二十五年。她家有八头奶牛,两头是奥尔德尼种,一头韦尔奇小奶牛,真是一头好漂亮的韦尔奇小奶牛。马丁太太好喜欢它,说是应该称它为‘她的’奶牛。她家的花园里造了一座好漂亮的凉亭,明年哪一天,他们全家人要去那里喝茶。一座好漂亮的凉亭,坐得下十二个人。”

爱玛一时只顾得高兴,除了听她讲以外,没往深里去考虑。不过,等她深入了解了这家人之后,她心里犯起嘀咕来。她起先转错了念头,以为这家人是母女俩和儿子、儿媳住在一起。后来才发现,哈丽特一再提到并且总是赞扬性情温和、乐于助人的马丁先生,竟然是个单身汉;因为没有个少夫人,马丁也就没成亲。爱玛于是起了疑心,这家人如此热情好客,她这位可怜的小朋友可就危险了,如果没人关照她,她可要一失足成千古恨了。

心里这么一警觉,她的问题增多了,意味也增强了。她特意诱导哈丽特再谈谈马丁先生,哈丽特显然也很乐意谈。她欣然说起了他跟她们一起在月下散过步,玩过一些快活的游戏,大讲特讲他脾气如何好,多会体贴人。“有一天,就因为我说了声爱吃核桃,他便跑了三英里,给我弄了一些来。不管什么事,他都这么热心!有天晚上,他把他家牧羊人的儿子叫到客厅,唱歌给我听。我非常喜欢唱歌。他自己也会唱一点。我觉得他很聪明,什么都懂。他养了一群好棒的羊。我在他家时,他的羊毛卖出的价钱,比乡下哪个人的都高。我想大家都说他好。他母亲和两个妹妹都很喜欢他。有一天,马丁太太对我说,她说着脸就红了,“天底下没有比他更强的儿子了,因此她敢说,他要是结了婚,一定会是个好丈夫。倒不是做母亲的想要他结婚,她可一点也不着急。”

“好啊,马丁太太!”爱玛心想。“你知道你在搞什么名堂。”

“我走的时候,马丁太太真好,送给戈达德太太一只好棒的鹅,戈达德太太从没见过这么棒的鹅。有个星期天,戈达德太太把鹅杀了收拾好,请学校的三位老师纳什小姐、普林斯小姐和理查森小姐来家吃饭。”

“我想马丁先生只会干本行,不会有多少知识。他不读书吧?”

“哦,是呀!——我是说不——我不知道——不过我想他看了很多书——不过不是你看重的书。他看《农业报告》和一些别的书,都放在一个窗座(译注:窗座:指室内凸窗处的座位。)上——可他都是一个人闷头看。不过,有天晚上,趁我们还没开始打牌,他拿着《美文集》(译注:《美文集》:一七八九年出版的一个流行文集,为V.诺克斯(1752-1821)编纂)大声念了起来,让人觉得非常有趣。我知道他看过《威克菲尔德的牧师》(译注:《威克菲尔德的牧师》:英国作家哥尔德斯密斯(1730-1774)所写的小说,于一七六六年初次出版),却从未看过《森林奇遇》(译注:《森林奇遇》:英国作家拉德克利夫夫人(1764-1823)所写的小说)和《修道院的孩子》(译注:《修道院的孩子》:英国作家罗奇(约1764-1845)所写的小说)。我没向他介绍之前,他从未听说过这些书,不过他现在一定要尽快找来看看。”

接下来的问题是: “马丁先生长得怎么样?”

“哦!不漂亮——一点也不漂亮。我起先觉得他很不好看,不过现在就不觉得那么难看了。你知道,时间一久,都会看顺眼的。不过,难道你从未见过他?他时常来海伯里,每个星期骑马去金斯顿都要路过这里。他经常遇见你。”

“这倒可能——我也许见过他五十回了,可就不知道他叫什么名字。一个年轻的农夫,不管是骑马还是走路,怎么也激不起我的好奇心。我觉得,正是自耕农这个阶层的人,我决不会跟他们发生关系。比他们低一两档的、样子比较体面的人,或许会激起我的兴趣;我也许想要从某些方面帮帮这些人家的忙。可是,自耕农用不着我帮忙。因此,他们一方面不需要我帮忙,另一方面又不值得我帮忙。”

“那当然。哦!是呀,你不大可能注意他,可他的确很熟悉你——我是指面熟。”

“我不怀疑他是个非常体面的年轻人。我的确觉得他很体面,因此祝他走运。你看他有多大了?”

“六月八日刚满二十四岁,我的生日是六月二十三日——只差十五天哪!真是怪啊!”

“才二十四岁。要成家还太早了些。他母亲完全用不着着急。他们的日子似乎过得挺舒服,她要是费劲给儿子娶媳妇,以后说不定要后悔的。六年以后,他要是能找到一个门当户对的好姑娘,多少有点钱,那可就称心如意了。”

“六年以后!亲爱的伍德豪斯小姐,那他就三十岁啦!”

“是呀,凡是生来经济不宽裕的人,大多数都要到这个年纪才能结婚。依我看,马丁先生完全要靠自己操置家业,眼前手头根本不可能有钱。不管他父亲去世时能给他留下多少钱,也不管他能继承多少家产,我敢说,全都要派用场的,全都用来买了牲口什么的。他要是勤奋一些,运气好一点,将来也可能发财,可眼下还不可能有多少积攒。”

“一点不错,是这样。不过,他们的日子过得挺舒服的。他们缺一个在屋里做事的男用人,此外什么也不缺。马丁太太说明年要雇一名男佣。”

“哈丽特,不管他什么时候结婚,但愿你不要跟着陷进去,我是指不要跟他太太来往。虽说他妹妹受过良好的教育,用不着多去顾虑,但他不见得就会娶一个值得你结识的太太。你出身不幸,跟人结交要特别小心。毫无疑问,你是个体面人家的女儿,你得尽一切努力,表明你当得起这个身份,不然,好多人都会存心贬低你。”

“是呀,一点不错——我看是有这样的人。不过,伍德豪斯小姐,我常到哈特菲尔德来,你对我这么好,我不怕别人拿我怎么样。”

“哈丽特,你很清楚环境对人有多大的影响,不过我要帮你在上流社会里立稳脚跟,甚至也不依靠哈特菲尔德和伍德豪斯小姐。我要看着你始终跟上流人结交。为此,你要尽量少结交不三不四的朋友。所以我说,如果马丁先生结婚时你还在这一带,我希望你不要因为跟他妹妹关系密切,而给牵扯进去,去搭理他太太,他太太很可能是个十足的农夫的女儿,没受过什么教育。”

“那当然。是呀。我倒并不觉得他一定娶不到一个受过教育的女人——一个很有教养的女人。不过,我不想违背你的意见——我一定不会去结交他太太。我会永远很敬重两位马丁小姐,特别是伊丽莎白,真不舍得跟她们断绝来往,因为她们跟我一样受过良好的教育。不过,要是他娶了个愚昧庸俗的女人,我只要做得到,就肯定不会去看她。”

哈丽特讲这番话时,爱玛一直在观察她的情绪起伏,并未发现令人惊骇的恋爱征兆。马丁是第一个对哈丽特产生爱慕之心的年轻人,不过她断定还没达到坠人情网的地步,她若是作出好心的安排,哈丽特不会有多大的难处,非要加以违抗。

就在第二天,两人走在当维尔街头,遇见了马丁先生。他没有骑马,先是恭恭敬敬地瞧了瞧爱玛,然后带着真挚的喜悦之情,望着她的伙伴。爱玛没有错过这个观察的良机。就在那两人一起说话的当儿,她刚往前走了几码远,便用那双敏锐的眼睛把罗伯特·马丁先生看了个分明。他外表十分整洁,看样子像个很有头脑的年轻人,不过,除此之外,他身上也没有别的优点了。只要拿他跟有教养的人一比较,就觉得他在哈丽特心里赢得的美好印象定会丧失殆尽。哈丽特并非不注意风度,她曾有意识地观察过她父亲的优雅举止,感到既惊讶又倾慕。马丁先生看样子就不知道什么叫风度。

那两人可不能让爱玛久等,只在一起待了几分钟。这时哈丽特笑吟吟地朝她跑来,心情有些激动,伍德豪斯小姐希望,她能尽快平静下来。

“真想不到,居然会碰上他!好奇怪呀!他说真是巧,他没打兰多尔斯那儿走。他没想到我们会走这条路。他以为我们大多是朝兰多尔斯的方向散步。他没能买到《森林奇遇》。上次去金斯顿事情太多,他把这事给忘了,不过他明天还要去。真奇怪,我们居然碰巧遇上了!对啦,伍德豪斯小姐,他是你想象中的模样吗?你看他怎么样?你觉得他长得很一般吗?”

“他当然长得很一般——非常一般。不过,这还算不了什么,更糟的是,他没有一点风度。我不该有很高的期望,也没有抱很高的期望,可我万万没有料到,他居然会这么土里土气,连一点风度也没有。说实话,我原以为他多少会文雅一点。”

“当然,”哈丽特以羞愧的口气说道,“他不像真正有教养的人来得那么文雅。”

“哈丽特,你认识我们以后,经常见到一些真正有教养的人,你自己应该察觉到马丁先生的差距。哈特菲尔德就有些受过良好教育的人,堪称教养有素的典范。你见到这些人以后,再跟马丁先生凑到一起,居然意识不到他是个十分低下的人——而且也不奇怪自己以前为什么还觉得他挺可爱,真让我感到吃惊。难道你现在还没有这个感受吗?你没有感受到吗?我想你一定注意到了他那笨拙的样子,唐突的举止——还有那难听的声音,我站在这里都觉得刺耳。”

“他当然比不上奈特利先生。他没有奈特利先生的优雅神态,电没有他那么优雅的走路姿态。两人的差别我看得很清楚。不过,奈特利先生可是个多么高雅的人哪!”

“奈特利先生是个风度极其优雅的人,你不能拿马丁先生跟他相比。像奈特利先生这么教养有素的人,你在一百个人里也找不到个。不过,你最近见到的有教养的人可小止他一个。你觉得韦斯顿先生和埃尔顿先生怎么样?拿马丁先生跟他们俩比一比。比一比他们身体的姿态,走路的姿态,说话的神态,沉默的神态。你一定能看出差别来。”

“哦,是呀!是有很大差别。不过,韦斯顿先生都快成了老头子了。他肯定有四五十岁了。”

“正因为这样,他的优雅风度就显得更为可贵。哈丽特,人年纪越大,就越需要注意举止不要失体——说话声音稍大一些,举止稍微粗鲁一些,笨拙一些,就会更加惹眼,更加讨人嫌。有些缺陷,在年轻人身上还说得过去,到了上年纪人的身上,可就令人厌恶了。马丁先生现在就又笨拙又粗鲁,他到了韦斯顿先生的年纪会成什么样子呢?”

“那还真没法说呢!”哈丽特一本正经地答道。

“不过还是可以猜个八九不离十的。他会变成一个粗俗不堪的农夫——整天不修边幅,光会算计盈亏。”

“他要真是这样,那就太糟糕了。”

“你推荐给他的书他都忘了去买,从这件事上看得很清楚,他光顾得做生意了。他满脑袋除了行情,别的什么也顾不上——不过,要发财的人都是这样。他要书做什么?我不怀疑,他将来一定会发财,成为一个富翁——他没有文化,举止粗俗,用不着我们去操心。”

“我也奇怪他怎么把书忘了,”哈丽特只回答了这么一句,听语气还真有几分不高兴了,爱玛觉得最好不要再火上浇油了。因此,她好久没再做声。后来,才接着说道: “就某一方面而言,埃尔顿先生的风度也许胜过了奈特利先生和韦斯顿先生。他更加文雅,以他为榜样更为妥当。韦斯顿先生坦率,性子急,几乎有些藏不住话,大家都喜欢他这一点,因为他脾气还特别好——不过,要学他可办不到。奈特利先生直率,果决,带有几分威严——虽然与他很相称,别人也不能学。他的形体容貌,以及他的身份,似乎容许他有这样的风度。但是,假如哪个年轻人想要学他,那可就让人不堪忍受了。相比之下,我看最好还是建议年轻人以埃尔顿先生为榜样。埃尔顿先生脾气好,性情开朗,乐于助人,斯斯文文。我觉得他最近变得特别温存。哈丽特,他如此格外温存,我不知道是否在有意讨好我们俩,不过,我总觉得他现在比以前来得更温和。他要真是有心,那一定是想讨好你。几天前我不是把他说你的话讲给你听了吗?”

接着,她把她从埃尔顿先生嘴里套出来的赞美哈丽特的话,又重新说了一遍,并且夸奖他说得好。哈丽特羞红了脸,笑着说道:她一直觉得埃尔顿先生十分讨人喜欢。

爱玛就是看中了埃尔顿先生,想让他把那个年轻的农夫从哈丽特的头脑里驱逐出去。她觉得这两人十分般配,只是显然太称心如意,太理所当然,太容易撮合了,她筹划好了也未必有多大功劳。她担心别人也都想到了,预料到了。然而,谁也不可能像她这么早就有了这个打算,因为就在哈丽特来哈特菲尔德的头一个晚上,她脑子里就萌生了这个主意。她心里越琢磨,越觉得这是一起天赐良缘。埃尔顿先生的身份极其相称,本人非常体面,又没有卑贱的亲友,同时家里人也不会嫌弃哈丽特身份不明。他能给哈丽特提供个舒适的家,据爱玛估计,他也有充裕的收入,因为海伯里教区虽说不算大,但谁都知道他有一笔足够花销的资产。爱玛很看得起这个年轻人,觉得他脾气好,心眼好,名声也好,既有知识,又明事理。

爱玛相信,在埃尔顿先生看来,哈丽特无疑是个漂亮姑娘,他们屡屡在哈特菲尔德见面,这肯定在他心里打下了坚实的基础。至于说到哈丽特,她一知道埃尔顿先生看中了她,毫无疑问也会照样产生很大的效力。埃尔顿先生的确是个十分讨人喜欢的青年,任何女人,只要不是过于挑剔,都会喜欢他的。大家都认为他长得很英俊,对他的人品也交口称赞,唯有她爱玛例外,她始终认为他还缺少几分优雅。不过,哈丽特既然那么感激罗伯特·马丁骑着马给她弄核桃,那埃尔顿先生那样爱慕她,也一定能征服她那颗心。



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