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Part 2 Chapter 2

Jane Fairfax was an orphan, the only child of Mrs. Bates's youngest daughter.

The marriage of Lieut. Fairfax of the regiment of infantry, and Miss Jane Bates, had had its day of fame and pleasure, hope and interest; but nothing now remained of it, save the melancholy remembrance of him dying in action abroad - of his widow sinking under consumption and grief soon afterwards - and this girl.

By birth she belonged to Highbury: and when at three years old, on losing her mother, she became the property, the charge, the consolation, the fondling of her grandmother and aunt, there had seemed every probability of her being permanently fixed there; of her being taught only what very limited means could command, and growing up with no advantages of connexion or improvement, to be engrafted on what nature had given her in a pleasing person, good understanding, and warm-hearted, well-meaning relations.

But the compassionate feelings of a friend of her father gave a change to her destiny. This was Colonel Campbell, who had very highly regarded Fairfax, as an excellent officer and most deserving young man; and farther, had been indebted to him for such attentions, during a severe camp-fever, as he believed had saved his life. These were claims which he did not learn to overlook, though some years passed away from the death of poor Fairfax, before his own return to England put any thing in his power. When he did return, he sought out the child and took notice of her. He was a married man, with only one living child, a girl, about Jane's age: and Jane became their guest, paying them long visits and growing a favourite with all; and before she was nine years old, his daughter's great fondness for her, and his own wish of being a real friend, united to produce an offer from Colonel Campbell of undertaking the whole charge of her education. It was accepted; and from that period Jane had belonged to Colonel Campbell's family, and had lived with them entirely, only visiting her grandmother from time to time.

The plan was that she should be brought up for educating others; the very few hundred pounds which she inherited from her father making independence impossible. To provide for her otherwise was out of Colonel Campbell's power; for though his income, by pay and appointments, was handsome, his fortune was moderate and must be all his daughter's; but, by giving her an education, he hoped to be supplying the means of respectable subsistence hereafter.

Such was Jane Fairfax's history. She had fallen into good hands, known nothing but kindness from the Campbells, and been given an excellent education. Living constantly with right-minded and well-informed people, her heart and understanding had received every advantage of discipline and culture; and Colonel Campbell's residence being in London, every lighter talent had been done full justice to, by the attendance of first-rate masters. Her disposition and abilities were equally worthy of all that friendship could do; and at eighteen or nineteen she was, as far as such an early age can be qualified for the care of children, fully competent to the office of instruction herself; but she was too much beloved to be parted with. Neither father nor mother could promote, and the daughter could not endure it. The evil day was put off. It was easy to decide that she was still too young; and Jane remained with them, sharing, as another daughter, in all the rational pleasures of an elegant society, and a judicious mixture of home and amusement, with only the drawback of the future, the sobering suggestions of her own good understanding to remind her that all this might soon be over.

The affection of the whole family, the warm attachment of Miss Campbell in particular, was the more honourable to each party from the circumstance of Jane's decided superiority both in beauty and acquirements. That nature had given it in feature could not be unseen by the young woman, nor could her higher powers of mind be unfelt by the parents. They continued together with unabated regard however, till the marriage of Miss Campbell, who by that chance, that luck which so often defies anticipation in matrimonial affairs, giving attraction to what is moderate rather than to what is superior, engaged the affections of Mr. Dixon, a young man, rich and agreeable, almost as soon as they were acquainted; and was eligibly and happily settled, while Jane Fairfax had yet her bread to earn.

This event had very lately taken place; too lately for any thing to be yet attempted by her less fortunate friend towards entering on her path of duty; though she had now reached the age which her own judgment had fixed on for beginning. She had long resolved that one-and-twenty should be the period. With the fortitude of a devoted novitiate, she had resolved at one-and-twenty to complete the sacrifice, and retire from all the pleasures of life, of rational intercourse, equal society, peace and hope, to penance and mortification for ever.

The good sense of Colonel and Mrs. Campbell could not oppose such a resolution, though their feelings did. As long as they lived, no exertions would be necessary, their home might be hers for ever; and for their own comfort they would have retained her wholly; but this would be selfishness: - what must be at last, had better be soon. Perhaps they began to feel it might have been kinder and wiser to have resisted the temptation of any delay, and spared her from a taste of such enjoyments of ease and leisure as must now be relinquished. Still, however, affection was glad to catch at any reasonable excuse for not hurrying on the wretched moment. She had never been quite well since the time of their daughter's marriage; and till she should have completely recovered her usual strength, they must forbid her engaging in duties, which, so far from being compatible with a weakened frame and varying spirits, seemed, under the most favourable circumstances, to require something more than human perfection of body and mind to be discharged with tolerable comfort.

With regard to her not accompanying them to Ireland, her account to her aunt contained nothing but truth, though there might be some truths not told. It was her own choice to give the time of their absence to Highbury; to spend, perhaps, her last months of perfect liberty with those kind relations to whom she was so very dear: and the Campbells, whatever might be their motive or motives, whether single, or double, or treble, gave the arrangement their ready sanction, and said, that they depended more on a few months spent in her native air, for the recovery of her health, than on any thing else. Certain it was that she was to come; and that Highbury, instead of welcoming that perfect novelty which had been so long promised it - Mr. Frank Churchill - must put up for the present with Jane Fairfax, who could bring only the freshness of a two years' absence.

Emma was sorry; - to have to pay civilities to a person she did not like through three long months! - to be always doing more than she wished, and less than she ought! Why she did not like Jane Fairfax might be a difficult question to answer; Mr. Knightley had once told her it was because she saw in her the really accomplished young woman, which she wanted to be thought herself; and though the accusation had been eagerly refuted at the time, there were moments of self-examination in which her conscience could not quite acquit her. But `she could never get acquainted with her: she did not know how it was, but there was such coldness and reserve - such apparent indifference whether she pleased or not - and then, her aunt was such an eternal talker! - and she was made such a fuss with by every body! - and it had been always imagined that they were to be so intimate - because their ages were the same, every body had supposed they must be so fond of each other.' These were her reasons - she had no better.

It was a dislike so little just - every imputed fault was so magnified by fancy, that she never saw Jane Fairfax the first time after any considerable absence, without feeling that she had injured her; and now, when the due visit was paid, on her arrival, after a two years' interval, she was particularly struck with the very appearance and manners, which for those two whole years she had been depreciating. Jane Fairfax was very elegant, remarkably elegant; and she had herself the highest value for elegance. Her height was pretty, just such as almost every body would think tall, and nobody could think very tall; her figure particularly graceful; her size a most becoming medium, between fat and thin, though a slight appearance of ill-health seemed to point out the likeliest evil of the two. Emma could not but feel all this; and then, her face - her features - there was more beauty in them altogether than she had remembered; it was not regular, but it was very pleasing beauty. Her eyes, a deep grey, with dark eye-lashes and eyebrows, had never been denied their praise; but the skin, which she had been used to cavil at, as wanting colour, had a clearness and delicacy which really needed no fuller bloom. It was a style of beauty, of which elegance was the reigning character, and as such, she must, in honour, by all her principles, admire it: - elegance, which, whether of person or of mind, she saw so little in Highbury. There, not to be vulgar, was distinction, and merit.

In short, she sat, during the first visit, looking at Jane Fairfax with twofold complacency; the sense of pleasure and the sense of rendering justice, and was determining that she would dislike her no longer. When she took in her history, indeed, her situation, as well as her beauty; when she considered what all this elegance was destined to, what she was going to sink from, how she was going to live, it seemed impossible to feel any thing but compassion and respect; especially, if to every well-known particular entitling her to interest, were added the highly probable circumstance of an attachment to Mr. Dixon, which she had so naturally started to herself. In that case, nothing could be more pitiable or more honourable than the sacrifices she had resolved on. Emma was very willing now to acquit her of having seduced Mr. Dixon's actions from his wife, or of any thing mischievous which her imagination had suggested at first. If it were love, it might be simple, single, successless love on her side alone. She might have been unconsciously sucking in the sad poison, while a sharer of his conversation with her friend; and from the best, the purest of motives, might now be denying herself this visit to Ireland, and resolving to divide herself effectually from him and his connexions by soon beginning her career of laborious duty.

Upon the whole, Emma left her with such softened, charitable feelings, as made her look around in walking home, and lament that Highbury afforded no young man worthy of giving her independence; nobody that she could wish to scheme about for her.

These were charming feelings - but not lasting. Before she had committed herself by any public profession of eternal friendship for Jane Fairfax, or done more towards a recantation of past prejudices and errors, than saying to Mr. Knightley, `She certainly is handsome; she is better than handsome!' Jane had spent an evening at Hartfield with her grandmother and aunt, and every thing was relapsing much into its usual state. Former provocations reappeared. The aunt was as tiresome as ever; more tiresome, because anxiety for her health was now added to admiration of her powers; and they had to listen to the description of exactly how little bread and butter she ate for breakfast, and how small a slice of mutton for dinner, as well as to see exhibitions of new caps and new workbags for her mother and herself; and Jane's offences rose again. They had music; Emma was obliged to play; and the thanks and praise which necessarily followed appeared to her an affectation of candour, an air of greatness, meaning only to shew off in higher style her own very superior performance. She was, besides, which was the worst of all, so cold, so cautious! There was no getting at her real opinion. Wrapt up in a cloak of politeness, she seemed determined to hazard nothing. She was disgustingly, was suspiciously reserved.

If any thing could be more, where all was most, she was more reserved on the subject of Weymouth and the Dixons than any thing. She seemed bent on giving no real insight into Mr. Dixon's character, or her own value for his company, or opinion of the suitableness of the match. It was all general approbation and smoothness; nothing delineated or distinguished. It did her no service however. Her caution was thrown away. Emma saw its artifice, and returned to her first surmises. There probably was something more to conceal than her own preference; Mr. Dixon, perhaps, had been very near changing one friend for the other, or been fixed only to Miss Campbell, for the sake of the future twelve thousand pounds.

The like reserve prevailed on other topics. She and Mr. Frank Churchill had been at Weymouth at the same time. It was known that they were a little acquainted; but not a syllable of real information could Emma procure as to what he truly was. `Was he handsome?' - `She believed he was reckoned a very fine young man.' `Was he agreeable?' - `He was generally thought so.' `Did he appear a sensible young man; a young man of information?' - `At a watering-place, or in a common London acquaintance, it was difficult to decide on such points. Manners were all that could be safely judged of, under a much longer knowledge than they had yet had of Mr. Churchill. She believed every body found his manners pleasing.' Emma could not forgive her.

 

简·费尔法克斯是个孤儿,贝茨太太小女儿的独生女。

某步兵团费尔法克斯上尉和简·贝茨小姐的婚姻曾经名噪一时,甜甜蜜蜜,充满希望,情趣盎然。可是,现在这一切都已烟消云散,剩下的只是丈夫在国外战死疆场,寡妻患上肺结核,随即郁郁而终的令人忧伤的记忆——以及这个孤女。

从母亲这边看,简是海伯里人。三岁那年失去母亲后,她就成了外婆和姨妈的财产、抚养对象、精神安慰和心肝宝贝。看来她很可能要永远拴在这里,接受一个贫困家庭所能提供的教育,长大后除了上天赐给她的一张漂亮的面孔、一个聪明的脑袋、几个热心善良的亲戚以外,就没有什么亲友能提携她,没有什么办法能找到出头之日。

可是,她父亲的一个朋友出于一片同情心,改变了她的命运。此人就是坎贝尔上校。他非常器重费尔法克斯,认为他是个出色的军官,是个值得提拔的青年。此外,坎贝尔上校在患斑疹伤寒时,受到他的精心护理,他便觉得是他救了自己的命。这份恩情他始终没忘,不过他是在可怜的费尔法克斯死了几年后才回到英国,才能够尽到点力。他回来以后,找到了这个孩子,开始关心她。他已经结过婚,只有一个孩子还活着,是个女儿,跟简年纪差不多。简成了他们家的常客,在他们家一住就是很久,渐渐博得了一家人的欢心。简还不满九岁的时候,坎贝尔上校见女儿十分喜爱她,加上自己一心想真正尽到做朋友的义务,便主动提出全面负责她的教育。这个提议被接受了。从此以后,简就成了坎贝尔上校家的一员,成年跟他们生活在一起,只是偶尔去看看外婆。

坎贝尔上校的计划是,把她培养成个教师。她从父亲那里只继承了几百英镑,要靠这点钱独立生活是不可能的。想以别的方式为她提供生计,坎贝尔上校又没有这个能力。虽然他的津贴和薪金加起来还算可观,但是他的财产却不多,而且必须全部归女儿所有。因此他希望,让简受些教育,就会为她以后维持体面生活创造条件。

这就是简·费尔法克斯的身世。她落到了好人手里,在坎贝尔家受到了百般关怀,得到了良好的教育。由于成天跟思想纯正、见多识广的人生活在一起,她的心灵和智力受到了充分的训练和熏陶。由于坎贝尔上校住在伦敦,即使天分不高的人,只要能有一流的老师指点,也能得到充分的发挥。简性情好,又有能力,没有辜负恩人的一片盛情。到了十八九岁,如果说这么小的年纪就有资格照料孩子,那她可就完全能够胜任教育别人的工作了。可是大家都很疼爱她,不舍得放她走。那做爸爸妈妈的不肯催促这件事,那做女儿的更不忍心这么做。那令人心酸的日子被推迟了。这倒很好办,就说她还太年轻。于是简仍旧跟他们在一起,就算是另一个女儿,分享着上流社会的正当乐趣,既有家庭的温馨,又有快活的消遣。只是未来令人担心,简是个聪明人,头脑也很清醒,知道这一切马上就要结束。

简在姿容和学识上都明显地胜过坎贝尔小姐,在这种情况下,一家人还那样喜欢她,特别是坎贝尔小姐还对她一片深情,这对双方来说,就格外可贵了。上天赋予简的容貌,那位小姐不会看不到,而简的聪明才智,那做父母的也不会没有觉察。然而,他们依旧相亲相爱地住住一起,直到坎贝尔小姐出嫁。在婚姻问题上,运气往往令人不可捉摸,把诱惑力赐给了平庸的人,而不是出众的人。坎贝尔小姐就是凭着这样的机遇,差不多一认识既有钱又可爱的迪克逊先生,就博得r他的欢心。她称心如意地成了家,而简还要自己去谋生。

这件事刚发生不久,她那位没有她幸运的朋友还来不及寻求自己的谋生之路,虽然她已到了自己认为应该走这条路的年龄。她早就下了决心,把这个期限定在二十一岁。她怀着虔诚的见习修女的那种刚毅精神,决心在二十一岁那年完成这种献身,放弃一切人生的欢乐、正当的来往、平等的交际、宁静和希望,永远过着屈辱苦修的生活。

坎贝尔上校夫妇都是明白人,眼见简主意已定,虽然感情上过意不去,但却不会表示反对。只要他们还健在,简就没有必要去自己奋斗,她可以永远把他们的家当做她的家。而且,就是为了他们自己的安适,他们也可以完全把她留下来,但是这样做岂不有些自私。最终免不了的事,不如趁早了结了。也许他们开始意识到,要是能克制住往后拖延的念头,不让她再享受现在非放弃不可的安逸和舒适,倒可能更仁慈、更明智。然而,人难免不受感情的支配,喜欢抓住任何合理的借口,来延缓那不幸的时刻。自从他们的女儿出嫁以后,简身体一直不大好。她没有完全复原之前,他们必须禁止她操劳。因为,别说身体虚弱、心情纷乱的人不宜操劳,即便在最有利的情况下,似乎还不能仅仅凭借身心安然无恙,就能胜任愉快地完成任务。

至于她不陪上校夫妇去爱尔兰,她对姨妈讲的倒全是事实,尽管有些事实可能还没讲出来。趁上校夫妇出门的时候到海伯里来,这是她自己的选择,也许是跟她最和蔼可亲的亲人一起,度过她最后几个月的完全自由的时间。坎贝尔上校夫妇不管是出于什么动机,不管是一个动机,还是两个动机,还是三个动机,反正是欣然同意了这一安排,说是要想使她恢复健康,最好让她呼吸几个月家乡的空气,这比什么办法都有效。因此,她准定会来。海伯里人既然欢迎不到一个早就许诺要来而一直未能谋面的完全新奇的人物——弗兰克·邱吉尔先生——便只好暂时将就一下,迎接简·费尔法克斯到来,她才离开两年,也只能给人们带来这么点新奇感。

爱玛觉得很遗憾,居然要跟一个她不喜欢的人应酬漫长的三个月!往往要做些不想做的事,而该做的事却又不能做!她为什么不喜欢简·费尔法克斯,这也许是个难以回答的问题。有一次,奈特利先生对她说,那是因为她一心希望别人把她看成一个多才多艺的人,后来却发现简才是个真正多才多艺的年轻女士。虽然她当场对这话做了激烈的反驳,但有时候她也自我反省,良心上觉得自己并非完全无辜。可是,“我总是跟她合不来,不知道是怎么回事。不过,她总是那么冷冷冰冰、默默不语;不管她高兴不高兴,总是摆出一副爱理不理的样子。再说,她姨妈总是没完没了地唠叨!大家个个都烦她!人们都以为我们俩亲密无间——就因为我们是同龄人,谁都以为我们一定情投意合。”这就是她的理由——她没有什么更好的理由了。

爱玛的这种讨厌是毫无来由的——那种种缺点本来就是强加于人,又给想入非非地夸大了,所以每逢久别之后第一次见到简·费尔法克斯,她都会觉得自己对不住她。现在,简离别了两年又回来了,爱玛按照礼节去看望她。整整两年来,她一直在贬低简的外貌和举止,然而这次一见面,不由得大为震惊。简·费尔法克斯样子十分优雅,简直优雅得出奇;而爱玛自己就最看重优雅。简的身高就很适中,几乎人人都会认为她个子高,却又不会有人觉得她太高。她的体态特别娇美,长得身材适中,不胖不瘦,虽然略带一点病态,似乎表明可能还是偏瘦一些。爱玛不可能不察觉这一切。再说她的脸蛋,她的五官,要比她记忆的更美;虽然不是端端正正,却颇有几分迷人的姿色。她的眼睛是深灰色的,睫毛和眉毛是黑色的,谁见了都要为之赞美。而她的皮肤,以前爱玛总爱挑剔,认为缺少血色,现在却又光洁又细嫩,真可谓容光焕发。这是一种以优雅为主要特征的美,她根据自己的原则,不得不为之赞赏。这种外貌和心灵上的优雅,她在海伯里很少见到。在那里,只要不粗俗,就算杰出,就算优点。

总之,在这第一次相见时,她坐在那里瞅着简·费尔法克斯,心里怀着双重的满足:既感到高兴,又觉得自己很公正。她下定决心,以后再也不讨厌简了。她不仅看到了简的美貌,还确实了解了她的身世和处境,考虑了她的这般优雅注定会有什么结果,她要从什么地位上跌落下来,以后会过着什么样的生活,这时,爱玛除了同情和钦佩之外,似乎不可能还有什么别的感触。特别是,除了每个可以使爱玛感兴趣的众所周知的细节之外,简还很可能爱上了迪克逊先生,这是爱玛早就自然而然产生的猜疑。如果真有此事,她决心做出的牺牲可就是再可怜、再可敬不过了。爱玛现在很愿意改变自己的看法,认为简没有去勾引迪克逊先生,从他太太那里夺取了他的爱,她也不会做出任何她原先猜疑的坏事。即使是爱,那也只是她一方的天真而执着的单相思。也许是简在和她的朋友一起跟他讲话时,不知不觉地吸食了那可悲的毒汁。现在,出于最良好、最纯洁的动机,毅然放弃了去爱尔兰的机会,决心马上开始她那辛勤的职业,以便跟他和他的亲友来个干脆利索的一刀两断。

总的说来,爱玛是怀着这种温良宽厚的心情离开简的,因此在回家的路上,眼睛不时地向四下张望,一面哀叹海伯里没有一个小伙子能让简过上舒适的生活。

这是些极其美好的情感——然而并不持久。爱玛还没来得及公开宣称自己要跟简·费尔法克斯做一辈子朋友,除了对奈特利先生说了声“她确实很漂亮,而且还不止是漂亮!”之外,还没来得及拿出什么行动,表示她放弃了过去的偏见和错误,简就已经跟外婆和姨妈在哈特菲尔德过了一个晚上,一切也都恢复了常态。以前那些令人烦恼的事又出现了。那位姨妈跟往常一样讨厌,甚至比以往更讨厌,因为现在除了赞赏简的多才多艺之外,还要担心她的身体。大家既要听她唠叨简早饭吃了多么小的一块奶油面包,中饭吃了多么小的一片羊肉,还要看她给她母亲和她自己做的一顶顶新帽、一只只新针线包。简也开始讨人嫌了。大家要听音乐,爱玛不得不演奏,简随即必然要感谢和赞扬一番,可是在爱玛看来,她那是故作坦荡,装出很了不起的样子,只不过想顾盼自雄地炫耀自己有多么高超的演技。此外,最糟糕的是,她是那么冷漠,那么谨慎!你简直没法知道她的真实想法。她裹着一层礼貌的外衣,好像决不肯贸然开口。她是那样沉闷不语,真是既可恶又可疑。

如果说在事事隐秘不说的情况下,还有什么更加讳莫如深的事,那就是,她更是绝口不提韦默斯和迪克逊夫妇。她似乎不愿让人了解迪克逊先生的性格,她对与他交往的估价,以及她对他那门婚事是否合适的看法。一切都是笼统地表示赞美,话讲得很圆滑,既没有详细的描绘,也没有具体的评说。然而,这对她毫无帮助。她的谨慎只是枉费心机。爱玛看穿了她的伎俩,又回到了原先的猜疑上。也许,简要隐瞒的还不仅仅是自己的隐衷。迪克逊先生兴许就要换个朋友了,也许只是为了将来可以获得一万二千英镑的财产,所以才选定了坎贝尔小姐。

她对别的事也同样少言寡语。她跟弗兰克·邱吉尔先生在同一时间去过韦默斯。听说他们有一点相识,可邱吉尔先生究竟足怎样一个人,爱玛从她嘴里却套不出一句真话来。“他长得漂亮吗?”“我想大家都认为他是个非常英俊的青年。”“他和蔼可亲吗?”“人家都这么认为。”“他看起来像不像一个通情达理的青年,一个见多识广的青t睥年?”“只不过在海滨玩玩,在伦敦也不过是泛泛之交,要在这些方面做出判断是很困难的。一个人的举止,要经过长久的交往才能作出正却的判断,而我跟邱吉尔先生只有这点交往是远远不够的。我想大家都觉得他的举止很讨人喜欢。”爱玛无法宽恕她。



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