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Part 1 Chapter 11

Mr. Elton must now be left to himself. It was no longer in Emma's power to superintend his happiness or quicken his measures. The coming of her sister's family was so very near at hand, that first in anticipation, and then in reality, it became henceforth her prime object of interest; and during the ten days of their stay at Hartfield it was not to be expected - she did not herself expect - that any thing beyond occasional, fortuitous assistance could be afforded by her to the lovers. They might advance rapidly if they would, however; they must advance somehow or other whether they would or no. She hardly wished to have more leisure for them. There are people, who the more you do for them, the less they will do for themselves.

Mr. and Mrs. John Knightley, from having been longer than usual absent from Surry, were exciting of course rather more than the usual interest. Till this year, every long vacation since their marriage had been divided between Hartfield and Donwell Abbey; but all the holidays of this autumn had been given to sea-bathing for the children, and it was therefore many months since they had been seen in a regular way by their Surry connexions, or seen at all by Mr. Woodhouse, who could not be induced to get so far as London, even for poor Isabella's sake; and who consequently was now most nervously and apprehensively happy in forestalling this too short visit.

He thought much of the evils of the journey for her, and not a little of the fatigues of his own horses and coachman who were to bring some of the party the last half of the way; but his alarms were needless; the sixteen miles being happily accomplished, and Mr. and Mrs. John Knightley, their five children, and a competent number of nursery-maids, all reaching Hartfield in safety. The bustle and joy of such an arrival, the many to be talked to, welcomed, encouraged, and variously dispersed and disposed of, produced a noise and confusion which his nerves could not have borne under any other cause, nor have endured much longer even for this; but the ways of Hartfield and the feelings of her father were so respected by Mrs. John Knightley, that in spite of maternal solicitude for the immediate enjoyment of her little ones, and for their having instantly all the liberty and attendance, all the eating and drinking, and sleeping and playing, which they could possibly wish for, without the smallest delay, the children were never allowed to be long a disturbance to him, either in themselves or in any restless attendance on them.

Mrs. John Knightley was a pretty, elegant little woman, of gentle, quiet manners, and a disposition remarkably amiable and affectionate; wrapt up in her family; a devoted wife, a doating mother, and so tenderly attached to her father and sister that, but for these higher ties, a warmer love might have seemed impossible. She could never see a fault in any of them. She was not a woman of strong understanding or any quickness; and with this resemblance of her father, she inherited also much of his constitution; was delicate in her own health, over-careful of that of her children, had many fears and many nerves, and was as fond of her own Mr. Wingfield in town as her father could be of Mr. Perry. They were alike too, in a general benevolence of temper, and a strong habit of regard for every old acquaintance.

Mr. John Knightley was a tall, gentleman-like, and very clever man; rising in his profession, domestic, and respectable in his private character; but with reserved manners which prevented his being generally pleasing; and capable of being sometimes out of humour. He was not an ill-tempered man, not so often unreasonably cross as to deserve such a reproach; but his temper was not his great perfection; and, indeed, with such a worshipping wife, it was hardly possible that any natural defects in it should not be increased. The extreme sweetness of her temper must hurt his. He had all the clearness and quickness of mind which she wanted, and he could sometimes act an ungracious, or say a severe thing.

He was not a great favourite with his fair sister-in-law. Nothing wrong in him escaped her. She was quick in feeling the little injuries to Isabella, which Isabella never felt herself. Perhaps she might have passed over more had his manners been flattering to Isabella's sister, but they were only those of a calmly kind brother and friend, without praise and without blindness; but hardly any degree of personal compliment could have made her regardless of that greatest fault of all in her eyes which he sometimes fell into, the want of respectful forbearance towards her father. There he had not always the patience that could have been wished. Mr. Woodhouse's peculiarities and fidgetiness were sometimes provoking him to a rational remonstrance or sharp retort equally ill-bestowed. It did not often happen; for Mr. John Knightley had really a great regard for his father-in-law, and generally a strong sense of what was due to him; but it was too often for Emma's charity, especially as there was all the pain of apprehension frequently to be endured, though the offence came not. The beginning, however, of every visit displayed none but the properest feelings, and this being of necessity so short might be hoped to pass away in unsullied cordiality. They had not been long seated and composed when Mr. Woodhouse, with a melancholy shake of the head and a sigh, called his daughter's attention to the sad change at Hartfield since she had been there last.

`Ah, my dear,' said he, `poor Miss Taylor - It is a grievous business.'

`Oh yes, sir,' cried she with ready sympathy, `how you must miss her! And dear Emma, too! - What a dreadful loss to you both! - I have been so grieved for you. - I could not imagine how you could possibly do without her. - It is a sad change indeed. - But I hope she is pretty well, sir.'

`Pretty well, my dear - I hope - pretty well. - I do not know but that the place agrees with her tolerably.'

Mr. John Knightley here asked Emma quietly whether there were any doubts of the air of Randalls.

`Oh! no - none in the least. I never saw Mrs. Weston better in my life - never looking so well. Papa is only speaking his own regret.'

`Very much to the honour of both,' was the handsome reply.

`And do you see her, sir, tolerably often?' asked Isabella in the plaintive tone which just suited her father.

Mr. Woodhouse hesitated. - `Not near so often, my dear, as I could wish.'

`Oh! papa, we have missed seeing them but one entire day since they married. Either in the morning or evening of every day, excepting one, have we seen either Mr. Weston or Mrs. Weston, and generally both, either at Randalls or here - and as you may suppose, Isabella, most frequently here. They are very, very kind in their visits. Mr. Weston is really as kind as herself. Papa, if you speak in that melancholy way, you will be giving Isabella a false idea of us all. Every body must be aware that Miss Taylor must be missed, but every body ought also to be assured that Mr. and Mrs. Weston do really prevent our missing her by any means to the extent we ourselves anticipated - which is the exact truth.'

`Just as it should be,' said Mr. John Knightley, `and just as I hoped it was from your letters. Her wish of shewing you attention could not be doubted, and his being a disengaged and social man makes it all easy. I have been always telling you, my love, that I had no idea of the change being so very material to Hartfield as you apprehended; and now you have Emma's account, I hope you will be satisfied.'

`Why, to be sure,' said Mr. Woodhouse - `yes, certainly - I cannot deny that Mrs. Weston, poor Mrs. Weston, does come and see us pretty often - but then - she is always obliged to go away again.'

`It would be very hard upon Mr. Weston if she did not, papa. - You quite forget poor Mr. Weston.'

`I think, indeed,' said John Knightley pleasantly, `that Mr. Weston has some little claim. You and I, Emma, will venture to take the part of the poor husband. I, being a husband, and you not being a wife, the claims of the man may very likely strike us with equal force. As for Isabella, she has been married long enough to see the convenience of putting all the Mr. Westons aside as much as she can.'

`Me, my love,' cried his wife, hearing and understanding only in part. - `Are you talking about me? - I am sure nobody ought to be, or can be, a greater advocate for matrimony than I am; and if it had not been for the misery of her leaving Hartfield, I should never have thought of Miss Taylor but as the most fortunate woman in the world; and as to slighting Mr. Weston, that excellent Mr. Weston, I think there is nothing he does not deserve. I believe he is one of the very best-tempered men that ever existed. Excepting yourself and your brother, I do not know his equal for temper. I shall never forget his flying Henry's kite for him that very windy day last Easter - and ever since his particular kindness last September twelvemonth in writing that note, at twelve o'clock at night, on purpose to assure me that there was no scarlet fever at Cobham, I have been convinced there could not be a more feeling heart nor a better man in existence. - If any body can deserve him, it must be Miss Taylor.'

`Where is the young man?' said John Knightley. `Has he been here on this occasion - or has he not?'

`He has not been here yet,' replied Emma. `There was a strong expectation of his coming soon after the marriage, but it ended in nothing; and I have not heard him mentioned lately.'

`But you should tell them of the letter, my dear,' said her father. `He wrote a letter to poor Mrs. Weston, to congratulate her, and a very proper, handsome letter it was. She shewed it to me. I thought it very well done of him indeed. Whether it was his own idea you know, one cannot tell. He is but young, and his uncle, perhaps - '

`My dear papa, he is three-and-twenty. You forget how time passes.'

`Three-and-twenty! - is he indeed? - Well, I could not have thought it - and he was but two years old when he lost his poor mother! Well, time does fly indeed! - and my memory is very bad. However, it was an exceeding good, pretty letter, and gave Mr. and Mrs. Weston a great deal of pleasure. I remember it was written from Weymouth, and dated Sept. 28th - and began, ``My dear Madam,'' but I forget how it went on; and it was signed ``F. C. Weston Churchill.'' - I remember that perfectly.'

`How very pleasing and proper of him!' cried the good-hearted Mrs. John Knightley. `I have no doubt of his being a most amiable young man. But how sad it is that he should not live at home with his father! There is something so shocking in a child's being taken away from his parents and natural home! I never could comprehend how Mr. Weston could part with him. To give up one's child! I really never could think well of any body who proposed such a thing to any body else.'

`Nobody ever did think well of the Churchills, I fancy,' observed Mr. John Knightley coolly. `But you need not imagine Mr. Weston to have felt what you would feel in giving up Henry or John. Mr. Weston is rather an easy, cheerful-tempered man, than a man of strong feelings; he takes things as he finds them, and makes enjoyment of them somehow or other, depending, I suspect, much more upon what is called society for his comforts, that is, upon the power of eating and drinking, and playing whist with his neighbours five times a week, than upon family affection, or any thing that home affords.'

Emma could not like what bordered on a reflection on Mr. Weston, and had half a mind to take it up; but she struggled, and let it pass. She would keep the peace if possible; and there was something honourable and valuable in the strong domestic habits, the all-sufficiency of home to himself, whence resulted her brother's disposition to look down on the common rate of social intercourse, and those to whom it was important. - It had a high claim to forbearance.

 

现在,埃尔顿先生只能任他自己去了。爱玛已经没有能力顾及他的幸福,促使他从速采取措施。她姐姐一家即将到来,先是让她翘首以盼,然后是忙于接待,她从此一心扑在这上面。姐姐一家要在哈特菲尔德住十天,在这期间,对于那对情人,她除了偶尔帮点忙之外,谁也不能指望——连她自己也不指望——她还能做些什么。不过,两人只要主动些,事情还是会取得迅速进展的。再说,不管双方主动与否,这事总会取得一定进展的。她简直不想再抽空去管他们的事。天下就有这样的人,你越是多管他们,他们就越是不管自己。

跟往年相比,约翰·奈特利夫妇今年有很久没来萨里郡(译注:萨里郡:系英格兰南部一郡,与伦敦南部毗邻,书中的海伯里和当维尔寺均属该郡)了,当然让人格外企盼。本来,他们自结婚后,每逢假期较长,就要在哈特菲尔德和当维尔寺各住些日子。可是今年秋天的假日,他们全用来带孩子去洗海水澡了。因此,好几个月以来,萨里郡的亲人很少见到他们,而伍德豪斯先生压根儿就没见到他们。他就是想见可怜的伊莎贝拉,也不肯跑到伦敦那么远的地方。所以,现在女儿要来家少住几天,他心里既欣喜万分,又紧张不已,忧念丛生。

他担心女儿旅途受苦,也担心他那到半路接客的马匹和马夫路上劳顿。其实,他大可不必担心。那十六英里的路顺顺当当地走下来了,约翰·奈特利夫妇,那五个孩子,还有一帮保姆,全都平平安安地来到了哈特菲尔德。一下子来了这么多人,大家兴高采烈,顿时忙碌起来,一个个地寒暄,又是欢迎,又是鼓励,随即便分开,送到各自的住处,搞得一片闹哄哄、乱糟糟的,要是换成往常,伍德豪斯先生的神经肯定受不了,就是在今天,他也忍受不了多长时间。好在约翰·奈特利夫人十分尊重哈特菲尔德的规矩和她父亲的情绪,虽然她身为母亲巴不得几个孩子一到就能高高兴兴,马上就能自由自在,受人服侍,想吃就吃,要喝就喝,愿睡就睡,爱玩就玩,但她决不允许孩子们长久地打扰外公,不仅孩子们不行,就是不停侍候他们的人也不让。

约翰·奈特利夫人是个娇小娟秀的妇女,举止优雅娴静,性情极其温柔,一心顾着她那个家,对丈夫忠心耿耿,对子女娇宠溺爱;对父亲和妹妹也情深意切,若不是因为跟丈夫孩子关系更亲一些,她似乎不可能更热烈地爱他们。她从来看不到他们有什么缺点。她不是个聪明伶俐的女人,不仅在这一点上像她父亲,而且还在很大程度上遗传了她父亲的体魄。她身体虚弱,也极其当心孩子们的身体,成天担惊受怕,紧紧张张,十分喜爱她在伦敦的医生温菲尔德先生,就像她父亲厚爱佩里先生一样。他们父女俩还有一个相似之处:对任何人都心地慈善,对老朋友更是一往情深。

约翰·奈特利先生是个身材高大、风度翩翩、头脑聪敏的男人。他事业蒸蒸日上,顾惜家庭生活,为人十分体面。不过,由于举止拘谨的缘故,他又不讨众人喜欢,有时还会发发脾气。他并不常常无端发火,因而算不上性情乖戾。不过,他的性情也不是他的尽善尽美之处。他有个崇拜他的妻子,他性情上那些先天的缺陷,难免不因此得到助长。他妻子生性极其温柔,这势必会损害他的性情。他头脑机灵敏锐,这是他妻子所缺乏的。他有时能做出一桩没有气量的事,说两句刻薄的话。他那个漂亮的小姨子并不很喜欢他,他有什么过失都逃不过她的眼睛。他做了对不起伊莎贝拉的小事,伊莎贝拉是从来察觉不了的,她却能敏锐地觉察到。也许,他的仪态若是能讨爱玛喜欢一些,爱玛说不定会多体谅一些他的毛病。可惜他只摆出一副不冷不热的姐夫和朋友的姿态,既不吹吹捧捧,也不贸然行事。然而,不管他对爱玛如何恭敬,爱玛都难以无视他不时显露的一个缺陷,她认为这是他最大的缺陷:对她父亲缺乏应有的包涵。在需要宽容的时候,他并非总是表现得很有耐心。伍德豪斯先生有些怪癖,经常坐立不安,有时惹得他或是以理相劝,或是厉声反驳两句。这种事倒不经常发生,因为约翰·奈特利先生毕竟十分敬重他的岳父,通常也知道应该如何待他。可是对于爱玛来说,做女婿的还是说得太多,因而不能宽容他;特别是,即便约翰·奈特利先生没有说出什么不得体的话,但是爱玛往往因为怕他出言不逊,而搞得提心吊胆。然而,约翰·奈特利先生每次来到岳父家,起初总是表现得恭恭敬敬.而这次既然只能住几天,兴许可望过得相安无事。等大家坐定之后,伍德豪斯先生伤心地摇了摇头,叹了口气,向女儿说起了她走后哈特菲尔德发生的不幸变化。

“唉!亲爱的,”他说,“可怜的泰勒小姐——她这事儿真让人伤心啊!”

“哦!是呀,爸爸,”伊莎贝拉欣然赞同地嚷道。、“你该多么挂念她啊!还有亲爱的爱玛!这对你们俩是多大的损失啊!我真为你们感到难过。我无法想象你们怎么离得了她。这确实是个不幸的变化,不过,但愿她过得挺好吧,爸爸。”

“挺好,亲爱的--但愿——挺好。我甚至说不上她是否能勉强适应那地方。”

约翰·奈特利先生一听这话,便轻声问爱玛:是不是兰多尔斯的空气不好。

“哦!不——没有的事儿。我从未看见韦斯顿夫人身体这么好——气色从没这么好过。爸爸只是表示有些惋惜。”

“这是双方都很光彩的事,”约翰·奈特利先生慨然答道。

“你常见到她吗,爸爸?”伊莎贝拉问道,那哀婉的语调跟她父亲的心境正相协调。

伍德豪斯先生迟疑了一下。“不常见,亲爱的,不像我希望的那样常见。”

“哦!爸爸,他们结婚后,我们只有一天没见过他们的面。除了那一天,每天早上或是晚上,我们不是见到韦斯顿先生,就是见到韦斯顿太太,往往是两人一起见到,要么在兰多尔斯,要么在这儿——你可以猜想,伊莎贝拉,还是在这儿的次数多。他们真是太好了,经常来看望我们,韦斯顿先生跟他太太一样好。爸爸,你说得那样伤心,伊莎贝拉会产生误解的。人人都知道我们想念泰勒小姐,不过还应该让大家知道,韦斯顿夫妇想方设法不让我们想念他们,凡是我们所期待的,他们都做得很周全——这是个千真万确的事实。”

“果不其然,”约翰·奈特利先生说,“从你的信里看,我就期待是这样的。韦斯顿太太总想来看望我们,这是不容怀疑的,而韦斯顿先生又是个悠闲自得、喜欢交际的人,这一来事情就好办了。亲爱的,我总是对你说,我觉得这事并不像你担心的那样,哈特菲尔德不会发生什么大不了的变化。你现在听爱玛这么一说,我想你该放心了。”

“哦,那当然,”伍德豪斯先生说,“的确是这样。毋庸否认,韦斯顿太太,可怜的韦斯顿太太,确实经常来看望我们——可是——她每次总得走啊。”

“爸爸,她要是不走,那就太让韦斯顿先生为难了。你把可怜的韦斯顿先生忘掉啦。”

“说真的,”约翰·奈特利打趣说,“我看我们得替韦斯顿先生想一想。爱玛,你我都要大胆地袒护那可怜的做丈夫的。我当了丈夫,你还没有做妻子,我们都同样同情那做丈夫的。至于伊莎贝拉嘛,她结婚久了,自然容易把做丈夫的撇在一边。”

“说我呀,亲爱的,”他妻子没有听全他的话,也不大明白他的意思,便大声嚷道。“你在说我吗?我敢说,天底下不可能,也不会有人比我更赞成男婚女嫁了。泰勒小姐若不是令人难过地离开了哈特菲尔德,我真要把她视为世界上最幸运的女人。至于说把韦斯顿先生撇在一边;他可是个出类拔萃的人,我看他没有什么不配得到的。我相信,他是个脾气最好的人,除了你和你哥哥,我真不知道还有谁的脾气能跟他的相比。我怎么也忘不了今年复活节那天,他冒着大风给亨利放风筝。去年九月一天夜里,都半夜十二点了,他还特意写信告诉我,说科巴姆没有流行猩红热,由此我便认定:天底下没有比他更热心、更好的人了。要说有谁能配得上他,那就是泰勒小姐。”

“他那个儿子哪儿去了?”约翰·奈特利问道。“这一次他来了没有?”

“还没来呢,”爱玛答道。“大家都盼望他父亲结婚后他能来,不想白盼了一场。近来也没听人说起他。”

“不过,亲爱r的,你应该跟他们说说那封信,”她父亲说道。“他给可怜的韦斯顿太太写了一封信,向她道喜,写得十分亲切得体。韦斯顿太太给我看过那封信。我觉得写得真是好。不过,那是不是出于他自己的心意,还很难说。他还年轻,说不定他姨妈——”

“我的好爸爸,他已经二十三岁啦。你忘了岁月过得多快呀。”

“二十三岁啦!真的吗?唉,真想不到啊——他那可怜的母亲去世时,他才两岁呀!哎,光阴似箭啊!我的记性真不好。不过,他那封信写得好极了,棒极了,韦斯顿夫妇看了好生高兴。我记得信是从韦默斯寄来的,日期是九月二十八日,开头是‘亲爱的夫人’,可惜我忘了后面是怎么写的。署名是‘F.C.韦斯顿·邱吉尔’,这我记得很清楚。”

“他多讨人喜欢,多有礼貌啊!”好心肠的约翰·奈特利太太嚷嚷道。“我想他一定是个十分可爱的青年。不过,他不跟他父亲住在家里,这有多遗憾啊!做孩子的离开父母,不回自己的家,这就有点不像话啦!我真想不通韦斯顿先生怎么舍得放他走。连自己的孩子都不要啦!谁要是捣鼓别人去做这种事,我决不会看得起他!”

“我看谁也不曾看得起邱吉尔夫妇,”约翰·奈特利先生沉静地说道。“你是不会舍得把亨利或约翰送给别人的,但你不要以为韦斯顿先生跟你心情一样。韦斯顿先生是个心情愉快、脾气随和的人,不是个很重感情的人。他比较现实,凡事都想图个快乐。依我看,他主要通过所谓的交际求取快乐,也就是说,每周跟邻居聚会五次,一起吃吃喝喝,打打惠斯特。他并不在乎一家人亲亲热热,不在乎家中应有的天伦之乐。”

这几乎是在非议韦斯顿先生,爱玛有心想反驳,但又踌躇了一下,最后没有吭声。她要尽可能保持一团和气。对她姐夫来说,具有强烈的家庭观念,一切以家庭为满足,这是一种可贵的美德,因此他不喜欢平常的社交,也不喜欢看重社交的人。于是,也就大有忍耐的必要了。



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