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Part 2 Chapter 4

Human nature is so well disposed towards those who are in interesting situations, that a young person, who either marries or dies, is sure of being kindly spoken of.

A week had not passed since Miss Hawkins's name was first mentioned in Highbury, before she was, by some means or other, discovered to have every recommendation of person and mind; to be handsome, elegant, highly accomplished, and perfectly amiable: and when Mr. Elton himself arrived to triumph in his happy prospects, and circulate the fame of her merits, there was very little more for him to do, than to tell her Christian name, and say whose music she principally played.

Mr. Elton returned, a very happy man. He had gone away rejected and mortified - disappointed in a very sanguine hope, after a series of what appeared to him strong encouragement; and not only losing the right lady, but finding himself debased to the level of a very wrong one. He had gone away deeply offended - he came back engaged to another - and to another as superior, of course, to the first, as under such circumstances what is gained always is to what is lost. He came back gay and self-satisfied, eager and busy, caring nothing for Miss Woodhouse, and defying Miss Smith.

The charming Augusta Hawkins, in addition to all the usual advantages of perfect beauty and merit, was in possession of an independent fortune, of so many thousands as would always be called ten; a point of some dignity, as well as some convenience: the story told well; he had not thrown himself away - he had gained a woman of 10,000 l. or thereabouts; and he had gained her with such delightful rapidity - the first hour of introduction had been so very soon followed by distinguishing notice; the history which he had to give Mrs. Cole of the rise and progress of the affair was so glorious - the steps so quick, from the accidental rencontre, to the dinner at Mr. Green's, and the party at Mrs. Brown's - smiles and blushes rising in importance - with consciousness and agitation richly scattered - the lady had been so easily impressed - so sweetly disposed - had in short, to use a most intelligible phrase, been so very ready to have him, that vanity and prudence were equally contented.

He had caught both substance and shadow - both fortune and affection, and was just the happy man he ought to be; talking only of himself and his own concerns - expecting to be congratulated - ready to be laughed at - and, with cordial, fearless smiles, now addressing all the young ladies of the place, to whom, a few weeks ago, he would have been more cautiously gallant.

The wedding was no distant event, as the parties had only themselves to please, and nothing but the necessary preparations to wait for; and when he set out for Bath again, there was a general expectation, which a certain glance of Mrs. Cole's did not seem to contradict, that when he next entered Highbury he would bring his bride.

During his present short stay, Emma had barely seen him; but just enough to feel that the first meeting was over, and to give her the impression of his not being improved by the mixture of pique and pretension, now spread over his air. She was, in fact, beginning very much to wonder that she had ever thought him pleasing at all; and his sight was so inseparably connected with some very disagreeable feelings, that, except in a moral light, as a penance, a lesson, a source of profitable humiliation to her own mind, she would have been thankful to be assured of never seeing him again. She wished him very well; but he gave her pain, and his welfare twenty miles off would administer most satisfaction.

The pain of his continued residence in Highbury, however, must certainly be lessened by his marriage. Many vain solicitudes would be prevented - many awkwardnesses smoothed by it. A Mrs. Elton would be an excuse for any change of intercourse; former intimacy might sink without remark. It would be almost beginning their life of civility again.

Of the lady, individually, Emma thought very little. She was good enough for Mr. Elton, no doubt; accomplished enough for Highbury - handsome enough - to look plain, probably, by Harriet's side. As to connexion, there Emma was perfectly easy; persuaded, that after all his own vaunted claims and disdain of Harriet, he had done nothing. On that article, truth seemed attainable. What she was, must be uncertain; but who she was, might be found out; and setting aside the 10,000 l., it did not appear that she was at all Harriet's superior. She brought no name, no blood, no alliance. Miss Hawkins was the youngest of the two daughters of a Bristol - merchant, of course, he must be called; but, as the whole of the profits of his mercantile life appeared so very moderate, it was not unfair to guess the dignity of his line of trade had been very moderate also. Part of every winter she had been used to spend in Bath; but Bristol was her home, the very heart of Bristol; for though the father and mother had died some years ago, an uncle remained - in the law line - nothing more distinctly honourable was hazarded of him, than that he was in the law line; and with him the daughter had lived. Emma guessed him to be the drudge of some attorney, and too stupid to rise. And all the grandeur of the connexion seemed dependent on the elder sister, who was very well married, to a gentleman in a great way, near Bristol, who kept two carriages! That was the wind-up of the history; that was the glory of Miss Hawkins.

Could she but have given Harriet her feelings about it all! She had talked her into love; but, alas! she was not so easily to be talked out of it. The charm of an object to occupy the many vacancies of Harriet's mind was not to be talked away. He might be superseded by another; he certainly would indeed; nothing could be clearer; even a Robert Martin would have been sufficient; but nothing else, she feared, would cure her. Harriet was one of those, who, having once begun, would be always in love. And now, poor girl! she was considerably worse from this reappearance of Mr. Elton. She was always having a glimpse of him somewhere or other. Emma saw him only once; but two or three times every day Harriet was sure just to meet with him, or just to miss him, just to hear his voice, or see his shoulder, just to have something occur to preserve him in her fancy, in all the favouring warmth of surprize and conjecture. She was, moreover, perpetually hearing about him; for, excepting when at Hartfield, she was always among those who saw no fault in Mr. Elton, and found nothing so interesting as the discussion of his concerns; and every report, therefore, every guess - all that had already occurred, all that might occur in the arrangement of his affairs, comprehending income, servants, and furniture, was continually in agitation around her. Her regard was receiving strength by invariable praise of him, and her regrets kept alive, and feelings irritated by ceaseless repetitions of Miss Hawkins's happiness, and continual observation of, how much he seemed attached! - his air as he walked by the house - the very sitting of his hat, being all in proof of how much he was in love!

Had it been allowable entertainment, had there been no pain to her friend, or reproach to herself, in the waverings of Harriet's mind, Emma would have been amused by its variations. Sometimes Mr. Elton predominated, sometimes the Martins; and each was occasionally useful as a check to the other. Mr. Elton's engagement had been the cure of the agitation of meeting Mr. Martin. The unhappiness produced by the knowledge of that engagement had been a little put aside by Elizabeth Martin's calling at Mrs. Goddard's a few days afterwards. Harriet had not been at home; but a note had been prepared and left for her, written in the very style to touch; a small mixture of reproach, with a great deal of kindness; and till Mr. Elton himself appeared, she had been much occupied by it, continually pondering over what could be done in return, and wishing to do more than she dared to confess. But Mr. Elton, in person, had driven away all such cares. While he staid, the Martins were forgotten; and on the very morning of his setting off for Bath again, Emma, to dissipate some of the distress it occasioned, judged it best for her to return Elizabeth Martin's visit.

How that visit was to be acknowledged - what would be necessary - and what might be safest, had been a point of some doubtful consideration. Absolute neglect of the mother and sisters, when invited to come, would be ingratitude. It must not be: and yet the danger of a renewal of the acquaintance! -

After much thinking, she could determine on nothing better, than Harriet's returning the visit; but in a way that, if they had understanding, should convince them that it was to be only a formal acquaintance. She meant to take her in the carriage, leave her at the Abbey Mill, while she drove a little farther, and call for her again so soon, as to allow no time for insidious applications or dangerous recurrences to the past, and give the most decided proof of what degree of intimacy was chosen for the future.

She could think of nothing better: and though there was something in it which her own heart could not approve - something of ingratitude, merely glossed over - it must be done, or what would become of Harriet?

 

人类出于自己的本性,对于处于令人关注的境况中的人们,往往会产生好感。因此,一个年轻人无论结婚还是去世,人家准会说他几句好话。

霍金斯小姐的名字第一次在海伯里提起后不到一星期,人们就通过这样那样的方式发现,她里里外外都很讨人喜欢:面容秀丽,仪态大方,多才多艺,还十分和蔼可亲。埃尔顿先生回来以后,想要夸耀自己的幸福前景,宣扬霍金斯小姐的百般优点,并不需费什么事,只要说出她的教名,说出她最喜欢演奏谁的乐曲就行了。

埃尔顿先生回来时,成了一个非常幸福的人。他走的时候,遭到了拒绝,受到了羞辱——在受到他认为是一连串的热烈鼓励之后,他的满怀希望却破灭了,不仅失去了一位与他正相匹配的小姐,而且发现自己给贬低到必须娶一个跟他很不相配的小姐的水平上。他气冲冲地离去了——跟另一位小姐订了婚回来了——那位小姐当然要胜过第一位。在这种情况下,得到的足以弥补失去的。他回来以后,兴高采烈,洋洋自得,风风火火,忙个不停,根本不把伍德豪斯小姐放在心上,更不把史密斯小姐放在眼里。

那位迷人的奥古斯塔·霍金斯小姐,不仅具有品貌双全的平常优点,而且还拥有一笔可以确保丰衣足食的财产,一笔高达一万英镑的财产。这既是一种实惠,又是一种体面。这事说来真是光彩。他并没有自暴自弃——他得到了一个拥有一万英镑或差不多一万英镑的女人,而且是以令人可喜的神速获得的——两人一经结识,便立即脉脉传情起来。他向科尔太太讲起事情的来龙去脉,讲得兴味盎然——从偶然相遇,到格林先生家的宴会,到布朗太太家的晚会,一步步发展得非常迅速——小姐脸上泛起笑容和红晕,意味越来越深——满脸露出羞涩和激动的神情——她轻而易举就动了心——显得那么甜蜜可爱——总之,用最明了的话来说,欣然乐意嫁给他,这样一来,爱慕虚荣的人和谨小慎微的人都同样得到了满足。

他既得到了实惠,又得到了体面——既得到了财富,又得到了爱情,理所当然地成了一个幸福的人。他只谈论自己和自己关心的事——就想让别人向他道喜,任凭别人取笑他——见到当地的年轻小姐们,表现得热情无畏,谈笑自若,而仅仅几个星期前,他对她们还只能小心翼翼地献殷勤呢。

婚礼已经为期不远了,双方只要让自己满意就行了,因此,除了做些必要的准备工作之外,什么也不需要再等了。他再次动身击巴思的时候,大家都指望他下次来海伯里时,一定会把新娘带来。科尔太太的眼神似乎表明,这种指望是不会落空的。

他这次没逗留几天,爱玛跟他很少见面。不过,就是这难得的见一两面,使她觉得这第一次接触算是结束了,并且得到一个印象:他如今摆出一副又怄气又做作的架势,并不比以前好。其实,她觉得很奇怪,她以前怎么会认为他讨人喜欢。她一看见他,心里难免会感到很不舒服。她只是从道德的角度,把事情视为一种赎罪,一种教训,一种对她心灵有益的羞辱办法,否则她真希望今生今世不再看见他。她祝愿他万事如意,可他使她感到痛苦。他如果能到二十英里以外去享受幸福,那她就要庆幸不已了。

他继续待在海伯里,这本是一件令人痛苦的事,可是等他一结了婚,那痛苦肯定会随之减少。这样一来,可以免除许多徒然的担忧——缓和许多尴尬的局面。有了一位埃尔顿太太,就可以成为他们改变交往的借口;以前的亲密关系可以渐渐疏远,而又不招人议论。他们可以再度以礼相待。

说到那位小姐个人,爱玛很是瞧不起她。毫无疑问,她还是配得上埃尔顿先生的。对海伯里来说,她还是够多才多艺的——也是够漂亮的——但是跟哈丽特比起来,可就显得很一般了。至于说到亲友,爱玛心里倒是十分踏实。她相信,尽管埃尔顿先生条件很高,瞧不起哈丽特,但他并未找到一个比哈丽特更好的人。在这方面,事情似乎是可以搞个水落石出的。她是干什么的,当然还让人捉摸不定;不过她是何许人,也许还能打听出来。撇开那一万英镑不说,看来她一点也不比哈丽特强。她一没有名望,二没有门第,三没有显贵的亲戚。霍金斯小姐的父亲是布里斯托尔人——当然只能把他称作商人(译注:此话说得有些吞吐,因为经商在当时的英国被视为不体面的),她是他两个女儿中的小女儿。不过,看来他经商的整个收益非常有限,也就可以猜想他干的不是什么体面的行当。每年冬天,霍金斯小姐要去巳思住一段时间。可是她的家在布里斯托尔,就在布里斯托尔中心。虽然她父母亲几年前就去世了,但她还有一个叔叔——他是搞法律的——没有人敢说他干过什么更体面的行当,只听说他是搞法律的。这个女儿就跟他住在一起。爱玛猜想他是给哪个律师干苦差使,因为太笨,总也爬不上去。这门亲事唯一的荣耀,就在于那位姐姐。她攀上了一门阔亲,嫁给了一个很有钱的绅士,就住在布里斯托尔附近,竟然有两辆马车!这就是这件事的结局,也是霍金斯小姐的荣耀所在。

她要是能把自己的想法向哈丽特和盘托出,那该有多好啊!她是经她劝说才坠人了情网,可是天哪!要劝说她摆脱这份情感,可不那么容易。一个意中人盘踞了哈丽特的整个心灵,这种魔力可不是言语可以驱除掉的。也许可以用另外一个人来取代他;当然也可以用另外一个人来取代他;这是再清楚不过了;哪怕是罗伯特·马丁这样一个人,也能够取代他。然而她又担心,没有什么别的办法可以医治她的创伤。有的人一旦爱上什么人,就会始终不渝地爱下去,哈丽特就是这样一个人。可怜的姑娘啊!埃尔顿先生这次回来以后,她的心情可是比以前糟多了。她总要在这儿那儿瞧见他。爱玛只见过他一次,可是哈丽特每天总有两三次,肯定要恰巧碰见他,或者恰巧发现他刚走,恰巧听到他的声音,或者恰巧看到他的肩膀,恰巧出了点什么事,将他留在她的幻想中,而这一切都是带着惊异和猜测的激烈心情进行的。此外,她总是听到别人谈论他,因为除了在哈特菲尔德以外,她周围的人没有一个能看到埃尔顿先生的缺点,大家都认为没有什么比谈论他的事更有趣了。因此,每一篇报道,每一个猜测——关于他的已经发生的事情,可能发生的事情,包括收入、仆人和家具,总是给谈得沸沸扬扬。听到人们个个都在称赞他,她也就越发敬慕他了。听到大家不停地谈论霍金斯小姐多么幸福,不停地议论埃尔顿先生多么爱她,她又感到非常懊悔,也很气恼。埃尔顿先生在房前屋后走过时的那副神态,他戴帽子的模样,全都表明他正处在热恋之中!

哈丽特心里摇摆不定,如果这事可以拿来逗乐,而不给这位朋友带来痛苦,也不使爱玛自己为之自责的话,她爱玛还真会觉得这摇摆不定很是可笑。有时是埃尔顿先生占上风,有时又是马丁家的人占上风。而且偶尔间,哪一方都可以用来遏制另一方。埃尔顿先生的订婚,打消了她与马丁先生相遇引起的激动。而获悉这起订婚所引起的不快,又因几天后伊丽莎白·马丁来到戈达德太太家,而被暂时置诸脑后。当时哈丽特不在家,但是客人给她留下了一封信,写得十分动人:大多是表示亲切的话,中间夹杂了一点责怪。埃尔顿先生到来之前,她一直在琢磨这封信,不停地思忖怎样写回信,心里很想写些不敢承认的事。可是,埃尔顿先生一来,这些心思也就一扫而光。在他逗留期间,马丁一家人给抛到脑后去了。就在埃尔顿先生再次去巴思的那天早晨,爱玛想消除这件事带来的一些痛苦,觉得最好去回访一下伊丽莎白·马丁。

她这次回访会受到怎样的接待——需要做些什么事情——怎么做才能万无一失,真叫她左思右想,捉摸不定。既然是请她去,到时不理睬那位母亲和两个妹妹,岂不显得忘恩负义。决不能那么办。然而,不那么办吧,又有恢复旧交的危险呀!

她想来想去,还是想不出更好的办法,只得让哈丽特去回访。不过要注意方式,让主人家明白,这只是一次礼节性的拜访。她打算用马车送她去,让她在阿比一米尔下车,她自己坐在车上再往前走一小段,然后马上回来接她。这样一来,他们就来不及搞什么阴谋诡计,或者危险地重提往事,向他们清清楚楚地表明:他们以后将保持一种怎样的友情关系。

她想不出更好的办法。尽管她自知这样做有点不妥——有点像是经过掩饰的忘恩负义——但是还非得这么办不可,否则哈丽特会怎么样呢?



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