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Part 3 Chapter 11

`Harriet, poor Harriet!' - Those were the words; in them lay the tormenting ideas which Emma could not get rid of, and which constituted the real misery of the business to her. Frank Churchill had behaved very ill by herself - very ill in many ways, - but it was not so much his behaviour as her own, which made her so angry with him. It was the scrape which he had drawn her into on Harriet's account, that gave the deepest hue to his offence. - Poor Harriet! to be a second time the dupe of her misconceptions and flattery. Mr. Knightley had spoken prophetically, when he once said, `Emma, you have been no friend to Harriet Smith.' - She was afraid she had done her nothing but disservice. - It was true that she had not to charge herself, in this instance as in the former, with being the sole and original author of the mischief; with having suggested such feelings as might otherwise never have entered Harriet's imagination; for Harriet had acknowledged her admiration and preference of Frank Churchill before she had ever given her a hint on the subject; but she felt completely guilty of having encouraged what she might have repressed. She might have prevented the indulgence and increase of such sentiments. Her influence would have been enough. And now she was very conscious that she ought to have prevented them. - She felt that she had been risking her friend's happiness on most insufficient grounds. Common sense would have directed her to tell Harriet, that she must not allow herself to think of him, and that there were five hundred chances to one against his ever caring for her. - `But, with common sense,' she added, `I am afraid I have had little to do.'

She was extremely angry with herself. If she could not have been angry with Frank Churchill too, it would have been dreadful. - As for Jane Fairfax, she might at least relieve her feelings from any present solicitude on her account. Harriet would be anxiety enough; she need no longer be unhappy about Jane, whose troubles and whose ill-health having, of course, the same origin, must be equally under cure. - Her days of insignificance and evil were over. - She would soon be well, and happy, and prosperous. - Emma could now imagine why her own attentions had been slighted. This discovery laid many smaller matters open. No doubt it had been from jealousy. - In Jane's eyes she had been a rival; and well might any thing she could offer of assistance or regard be repulsed. An airing in the Hartfield carriage would have been the rack, and arrowroot from the Hartfield storeroom must have been poison. She understood it all; and as far as her mind could disengage itself from the injustice and selfishness of angry feelings, she acknowledged that Jane Fairfax would have neither elevation nor happiness beyond her desert. But poor Harriet was such an engrossing charge! There was little sympathy to be spared for any body else. Emma was sadly fearful that this second disappointment would be more severe than the first. Considering the very superior claims of the object, it ought; and judging by its apparently stronger effect on Harriet's mind, producing reserve and self-command, it would. - She must communicate the painful truth, however, and as soon as possible. An injunction of secresy had been among Mr. Weston's parting words. `For the present, the whole affair was to be completely a secret. Mr. Churchill had made a point of it, as a token of respect to the wife he had so very recently lost; and every body admitted it to be no more than due decorum.' - Emma had promised; but still Harriet must be excepted. It was her superior duty.

In spite of her vexation, she could not help feeling it almost ridiculous, that she should have the very same distressing and delicate office to perform by Harriet, which Mrs. Weston had just gone through by herself. The intelligence, which had been so anxiously announced to her, she was now to be anxiously announcing to another. Her heart beat quick on hearing Harriet's footstep and voice; so, she supposed, had poor Mrs. Weston felt when she was approaching Randalls. Could the event of the disclosure bear an equal resemblance! - But of that, unfortunately, there could be no chance.

`Well, Miss Woodhouse!' cried Harriet, coming eagerly into the room - `is not this the oddest news that ever was?'

`What news do you mean?' replied Emma, unable to guess, by look or voice, whether Harriet could indeed have received any hint.

`About Jane Fairfax. Did you ever hear any thing so strange? Oh! - you need not be afraid of owning it to me, for Mr. Weston has told me himself. I met him just now. He told me it was to be a great secret; and, therefore, I should not think of mentioning it to any body but you, but he said you knew it.'

`What did Mr. Weston tell you?' - said Emma, still perplexed.

`Oh! he told me all about it; that Jane Fairfax and Mr. Frank Churchill are to be married, and that they have been privately engaged to one another this long while. How very odd!'

It was, indeed, so odd; Harriet's behaviour was so extremely odd, that Emma did not know how to understand it. Her character appeared absolutely changed. She seemed to propose shewing no agitation, or disappointment, or peculiar concern in the discovery. Emma looked at her, quite unable to speak.

`Had you any idea,' cried Harriet, `of his being in love with her? - You, perhaps, might. - You (blushing as she spoke) who can see into every body's heart; but nobody else - '

`Upon my word,' said Emma, `I begin to doubt my having any such talent. Can you seriously ask me, Harriet, whether I imagined him attached to another woman at the very time that I was - tacitly, if not openly - encouraging you to give way to your own feelings? - I never had the slightest suspicion, till within the last hour, of Mr. Frank Churchill's having the least regard for Jane Fairfax. You may be very sure that if I had, I should have cautioned you accordingly.'

`Me!' cried Harriet, colouring, and astonished. `Why should you caution me? - You do not think I care about Mr. Frank Churchill.'

`I am delighted to hear you speak so stoutly on the subject,' replied Emma, smiling; `but you do not mean to deny that there was a time - and not very distant either - when you gave me reason to understand that you did care about him?'

`Him! - never, never. Dear Miss Woodhouse, how could you so mistake me?' turning away distressed.

`Harriet!' cried Emma, after a moment's pause - `What do you mean? - Good Heaven! what do you mean? - Mistake you! - Am I to suppose then? - '

She could not speak another word. - Her voice was lost; and she sat down, waiting in great terror till Harriet should answer.

Harriet, who was standing at some distance, and with face turned from her, did not immediately say any thing; and when she did speak, it was in a voice nearly as agitated as Emma's.

`I should not have thought it possible,' she began, `that you could have misunderstood me! I know we agreed never to name him - but considering how infinitely superior he is to every body else, I should not have thought it possible that I could be supposed to mean any other person. Mr. Frank Churchill, indeed! I do not know who would ever look at him in the company of the other. I hope I have a better taste than to think of Mr. Frank Churchill, who is like nobody by his side. And that you should have been so mistaken, is amazing! - I am sure, but for believing that you entirely approved and meant to encourage me in my attachment, I should have considered it at first too great a presumption almost, to dare to think of him. At first, if you had not told me that more wonderful things had happened; that there had been matches of greater disparity (those were your very words); - I should not have dared to give way to - I should not have thought it possible - But if you, who had been always acquainted with him - '

`Harriet!' cried Emma, collecting herself resolutely - `Let us understand each other now, without the possibility of farther mistake. Are you speaking of - Mr. Knightley?'

`To be sure I am. I never could have an idea of any body else - and so I thought you knew. When we talked about him, it was as clear as possible.'

`Not quite,' returned Emma, with forced calmness, `for all that you then said, appeared to me to relate to a different person. I could almost assert that you had named Mr. Frank Churchill. I am sure the service Mr. Frank Churchill had rendered you, in protecting you from the gipsies, was spoken of.'

`Oh! Miss Woodhouse, how you do forget!'

`My dear Harriet, I perfectly remember the substance of what I said on the occasion. I told you that I did not wonder at your attachment; that considering the service he had rendered you, it was extremely natural: - and you agreed to it, expressing yourself very warmly as to your sense of that service, and mentioning even what your sensations had been in seeing him come forward to your rescue. - The impression of it is strong on my memory.'

`Oh, dear,' cried Harriet, `now I recollect what you mean; but I was thinking of something very different at the time. It was not the gipsies - it was not Mr. Frank Churchill that I meant. No! (with some elevation) I was thinking of a much more precious circumstance - of Mr. Knightley's coming and asking me to dance, when Mr. Elton would not stand up with me; and when there was no other partner in the room. That was the kind action; that was the noble benevolence and generosity; that was the service which made me begin to feel how superior he was to every other being upon earth.'

`Good God!' cried Emma, `this has been a most unfortunate - most deplorable mistake! - What is to be done?'

`You would not have encouraged me, then, if you had understood me? At least, however, I cannot be worse off than I should have been, if the other had been the person; and now - it is possible - '

She paused a few moments. Emma could not speak.

`I do not wonder, Miss Woodhouse,' she resumed, `that you should feel a great difference between the two, as to me or as to any body. You must think one five hundred million times more above me than the other. But I hope, Miss Woodhouse, that supposing - that if - strange as it may appear - . But you know they were your own words, that more wonderful things had happened, matches of greater disparity had taken place than between Mr. Frank Churchill and me; and, therefore, it seems as if such a thing even as this, may have occurred before - and if I should be so fortunate, beyond expression, as to - if Mr. Knightley should really - if he does not mind the disparity, I hope, dear Miss Woodhouse, you will not set yourself against it, and try to put difficulties in the way. But you are too good for that, I am sure.'

Harriet was standing at one of the windows. Emma turned round to look at her in consternation, and hastily said,

`Have you any idea of Mr. Knightley's returning your affection?'

`Yes,' replied Harriet modestly, but not fearfully - `I must say that I have.'

Emma's eyes were instantly withdrawn; and she sat silently meditating, in a fixed attitude, for a few minutes. A few minutes were sufficient for making her acquainted with her own heart. A mind like hers, once opening to suspicion, made rapid progress. She touched - she admitted - she acknowledged the whole truth. Why was it so much worse that Harriet should be in love with Mr. Knightley, than with Frank Churchill? Why was the evil so dreadfully increased by Harriet's having some hope of a return? It darted through her, with the speed of an arrow, that Mr. Knightley must marry no one but herself!

Her own conduct, as well as her own heart, was before her in the same few minutes. She saw it all with a clearness which had never blessed her before. How improperly had she been acting by Harriet! How inconsiderate, how indelicate, how irrational, how unfeeling had been her conduct! What blindness, what madness, had led her on! It struck her with dreadful force, and she was ready to give it every bad name in the world. Some portion of respect for herself, however, in spite of all these demerits - some concern for her own appearance, and a strong sense of justice by Harriet - (there would be no need of compassion to the girl who believed herself loved by Mr. Knightley - but justice required that she should not be made unhappy by any coldness now,) gave Emma the resolution to sit and endure farther with calmness, with even apparent kindness. - For her own advantage indeed, it was fit that the utmost extent of Harriet's hopes should be enquired into; and Harriet had done nothing to forfeit the regard and interest which had been so voluntarily formed and maintained - or to deserve to be slighted by the person, whose counsels had never led her right. - Rousing from reflection, therefore, and subduing her emotion, she turned to Harriet again, and, in a more inviting accent, renewed the conversation; for as to the subject which had first introduced it, the wonderful story of Jane Fairfax, that was quite sunk and lost. - Neither of them thought but of Mr. Knightley and themselves.

Harriet, who had been standing in no unhappy reverie, was yet very glad to be called from it, by the now encouraging manner of such a judge, and such a friend as Miss Woodhouse, and only wanted invitation, to give the history of her hopes with great, though trembling delight. - Emma's tremblings as she asked, and as she listened, were better concealed than Harriet's, but they were not less. Her voice was not unsteady; but her mind was in all the perturbation that such a development of self, such a burst of threatening evil, such a confusion of sudden and perplexing emotions, must create. - She listened with much inward suffering, but with great outward patience, to Harriet's detail. - Methodical, or well arranged, or very well delivered, it could not be expected to be; but it contained, when separated from all the feebleness and tautology of the narration, a substance to sink her spirit - especially with the corroborating circumstances, which her own memory brought in favour of Mr. Knightley's most improved opinion of Harriet.

Harriet had been conscious of a difference in his behaviour ever since those two decisive dances. - Emma knew that he had, on that occasion, found her much superior to his expectation. From that evening, or at least from the time of Miss Woodhouse's encouraging her to think of him, Harriet had begun to be sensible of his talking to her much more than he had been used to do, and of his having indeed quite a different manner towards her; a manner of kindness and sweetness! - Latterly she had been more and more aware of it. When they had been all walking together, he had so often come and walked by her, and talked so very delightfully! - He seemed to want to be acquainted with her. Emma knew it to have been very much the case. She had often observed the change, to almost the same extent. - Harriet repeated expressions of approbation and praise from him - and Emma felt them to be in the closest agreement with what she had known of his opinion of Harriet. He praised her for being without art or affectation, for having simple, honest, generous, feelings. - She knew that he saw such recommendations in Harriet; he had dwelt on them to her more than once. - Much that lived in Harriet's memory, many little particulars of the notice she had received from him, a look, a speech, a removal from one chair to another, a compliment implied, a preference inferred, had been unnoticed, because unsuspected, by Emma. Circumstances that might swell to half an hour's relation, and contained multiplied proofs to her who had seen them, had passed undiscerned by her who now heard them; but the two latest occurrences to be mentioned, the two of strongest promise to Harriet, were not without some degree of witness from Emma herself. - The first, was his walking with her apart from the others, in the lime-walk at Donwell, where they had been walking some time before Emma came, and he had taken pains (as she was convinced) to draw her from the rest to himself - and at first, he had talked to her in a more particular way than he had ever done before, in a very particular way indeed! - (Harriet could not recall it without a blush.) He seemed to be almost asking her, whether her affections were engaged. - But as soon as she (Miss Woodhouse) appeared likely to join them, he changed the subject, and began talking about farming: - The second, was his having sat talking with her nearly half an hour before Emma came back from her visit, the very last morning of his being at Hartfield - though, when he first came in, he had said that he could not stay five minutes - and his having told her, during their conversation, that though he must go to London, it was very much against his inclination that he left home at all, which was much more (as Emma felt) than he had acknowledged to her. The superior degree of confidence towards Harriet, which this one article marked, gave her severe pain.

On the subject of the first of the two circumstances, she did, after a little reflection, venture the following question. `Might he not? - Is not it possible, that when enquiring, as you thought, into the state of your affections, he might be alluding to Mr. Martin - he might have Mr. Martin's interest in view? But Harriet rejected the suspicion with spirit.

`Mr. Martin! No indeed! - There was not a hint of Mr. Martin. I hope I know better now, than to care for Mr. Martin, or to be suspected of it.'

When Harriet had closed her evidence, she appealed to her dear Miss Woodhouse, to say whether she had not good ground for hope.

`I never should have presumed to think of it at first,' said she, `but for you. You told me to observe him carefully, and let his behaviour be the rule of mine - and so I have. But now I seem to feel that I may deserve him; and that if he does chuse me, it will not be any thing so very wonderful.'

The bitter feelings occasioned by this speech, the many bitter feelings, made the utmost exertion necessary on Emma's side, to enable her to say on reply,

`Harriet, I will only venture to declare, that Mr. Knightley is the last man in the world, who would intentionally give any woman the idea of his feeling for her more than he really does.'

Harriet seemed ready to worship her friend for a sentence so satisfactory; and Emma was only saved from raptures and fondness, which at that moment would have been dreadful penance, by the sound of her father's footsteps. He was coming through the hall. Harriet was too much agitated to encounter him. `She could not compose herself - Mr. Woodhouse would be alarmed - she had better go;' - with most ready encouragement from her friend, therefore, she passed off through another door - and the moment she was gone, this was the spontaneous burst of Emma's feelings: `Oh God! that I had never seen her!'

The rest of the day, the following night, were hardly enough for her thoughts. - She was bewildered amidst the confusion of all that had rushed on her within the last few hours. Every moment had brought a fresh surprize; and every surprize must be matter of humiliation to her. - How to understand it all! How to understand the deceptions she had been thus practising on herself, and living under! - The blunders, the blindness of her own head and heart! - she sat still, she walked about, she tried her own room, she tried the shrubbery - in every place, every posture, she perceived that she had acted most weakly; that she had been imposed on by others in a most mortifying degree; that she had been imposing on herself in a degree yet more mortifying; that she was wretched, and should probably find this day but the beginning of wretchedness.

To understand, thoroughly understand her own heart, was the first endeavour. To that point went every leisure moment which her father's claims on her allowed, and every moment of involuntary absence of mind.

How long had Mr. Knightley been so dear to her, as every feeling declared him now to be? When had his influence, such influence begun? - When had he succeeded to that place in her affection, which Frank Churchill had once, for a short period, occupied? - She looked back; she compared the two - compared them, as they had always stood in her estimation, from the time of the latter's becoming known to her - and as they must at any time have been compared by her, had it - oh! had it, by any blessed felicity, occurred to her, to institute the comparison. - She saw that there never had been a time when she did not consider Mr. Knightley as infinitely the superior, or when his regard for her had not been infinitely the most dear. She saw, that in persuading herself, in fancying, in acting to the contrary, she had been entirely under a delusion, totally ignorant of her own heart - and, in short, that she had never really cared for Frank Churchill at all!

This was the conclusion of the first series of reflection. This was the knowledge of herself, on the first question of inquiry, which she reached; and without being long in reaching it. - She was most sorrowfully indignant; ashamed of every sensation but the one revealed to her - her affection for Mr. Knightley. - Every other part of her mind was disgusting.

With insufferable vanity had she believed herself in the secret of every body's feelings; with unpardonable arrogance proposed to arrange every body's destiny. She was proved to have been universally mistaken; and she had not quite done nothing - for she had done mischief. She had brought evil on Harriet, on herself, and she too much feared, on Mr. Knightley. - Were this most unequal of all connexions to take place, on her must rest all the reproach of having given it a beginning; for his attachment, she must believe to be produced only by a consciousness of Harriet's; - and even were this not the case, he would never have known Harriet at all but for her folly.

Mr. Knightley and Harriet Smith! - It was a union to distance every wonder of the kind. - The attachment of Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax became commonplace, threadbare, stale in the comparison, exciting no surprize, presenting no disparity, affording nothing to be said or thought. - Mr. Knightley and Harriet Smith! - Such an elevation on her side! Such a debasement on his! It was horrible to Emma to think how it must sink him in the general opinion, to foresee the smiles, the sneers, the merriment it would prompt at his expense; the mortification and disdain of his brother, the thousand inconveniences to himself. - Could it be? - No; it was impossible. And yet it was far, very far, from impossible. - Was it a new circumstance for a man of first-rate abilities to be captivated by very inferior powers? Was it new for one, perhaps too busy to seek, to be the prize of a girl who would seek him? - Was it new for any thing in this world to be unequal, inconsistent, incongruous - or for chance and circumstance (as second causes) to direct the human fate?

Oh! had she never brought Harriet forward! Had she left her where she ought, and where he had told her she ought! - Had she not, with a folly which no tongue could express, prevented her marrying the unexceptionable young man who would have made her happy and respectable in the line of life to which she ought to belong - all would have been safe; none of this dreadful sequel would have been.

How Harriet could ever have had the presumption to raise her thoughts to Mr. Knightley! - How she could dare to fancy herself the chosen of such a man till actually assured of it! - But Harriet was less humble, had fewer scruples than formerly. - Her inferiority, whether of mind or situation, seemed little felt. - She had seemed more sensible of Mr. Elton's being to stoop in marrying her, than she now seemed of Mr. Knightley's. - Alas! was not that her own doing too? Who had been at pains to give Harriet notions of self-consequence but herself? - Who but herself had taught her, that she was to elevate herself if possible, and that her claims were great to a high worldly establishment? - If Harriet, from being humble, were grown vain, it was her doing too.

 

“哈丽特啊,可怜的哈丽特!”正是这声感叹,蕴涵着令人痛苦的思绪,这些思绪,爱玛摆脱不了,却构成了这件事的真正可悲之处。弗兰克·邱吉尔很对不起她——在许多方面都对不起她。但是,惹她如此怨恨他的,与其说是他的行为,不如说是她自己的行为。他最让她恼火的是,她为了哈丽特的缘故,被他拖进了窘境。可怜的哈丽特!又一次成了她主观臆断和恣意吹捧的牺牲品。真让奈特利先生言中了,因为他有一次说道:“爱玛,你根本算不上哈丽特·史密斯的朋友。”她担心自己只是给哈丽特帮了倒忙。不错,这一次跟上一次不一样,她不用责怪自己一手酿造了这起恶作剧,不用责怪自己在哈丽特心中挑起了原本不可能有的情感,因为哈丽特已经承认,爱玛在这件事上还没给她暗示之前,她就爱慕并喜欢上了弗兰克·邱吉尔。然而,她鼓励了她本该加以抑制的感情,她觉得这完全是她的过错。她本来是可以阻止这种感情的滋长的,她有足够的左右力。如今她深感自己应该加以制止。她觉得她无端地拿朋友的幸福冒了险。本来,她凭着人情常理,满可以告诉哈丽特说:她千万不要一厢情愿地去思恋他,他看上她的可能性真是微乎其微。“不过,”她心里又想,“我恐怕就没考虑什么人情常理。”

她非常气自己。如果她不能也生弗兰克·邱吉尔的气,那就太可怕r。至于简·费尔法克斯,她至少现在用不着为她操心了。哈丽特已经够她心烦的了,她不必再为简苦恼,她那由于同一原因产生的烦恼和疾病,一定也会同样好起来。她那卑微不幸的日子已经到头了,她马上就会恢复健康,获得幸福,祥和如意。爱玛现在想象得出,为什么她的关心屡屡受到轻慢。这一发现使许多小事都容易理解了。无疑,那是出于嫉妒。在简看来,爱玛是她的情敌,她只要提出想帮助她、关心她,势必都要遭到拒绝。乘哈特菲尔德的马车出去兜风,等于叫她受刑;吃哈特菲尔德储藏室里的葛粉,岂不是叫她服毒。爱玛一切都明白了。她尽量摆脱掉气恼时的褊狭、自私心理,承认简·费尔法克斯攀得这样的人家,取得这样的幸福,都是她理所应得的。但是,她始终念念不忘她对可怜的哈丽特应负的责任!她顾不上再去同情别人了。爱玛非常伤心,担心这第二次打击比第一次来得还要沉重。考虑到对方的条件那么优越,必然会更加沉重;再看看此事在哈丽特心里显然产生了更强烈的影响,导致了她的沉闷不语和自我克制,那也会更加沉重。然而,她必须把这令人痛苦的事实告诉哈丽特,而且要尽快告诉。韦斯顿先生临别时叮嘱要保守秘密。“眼下,这件事还得严守秘密。邱吉尔先生特别强调这一点,借以表示他对他最近过世的妻子的敬重。人人都觉得这不过是尽尽礼仪而已。”爱玛答应了,但是哈丽特应当除外,她有义不容辞的责任。

爱玛尽管很苦恼,但又不由得觉得有些可笑,她对哈丽特居然要扮演一个韦斯顿太太刚刚扮演过的难堪而又微妙的角色。韦斯顿太太焦灼不安地告诉她的消息,她现在要焦灼不安地告诉另一个人。一听到哈丽特的脚步声和说话声,她的心就怦怦直跳。她心想,可怜的韦斯顿太太快到兰多尔斯时,心里无疑也是同样的感觉。要是她去报告消息能有相同的结果就好了!但不幸的是,完全没有这个可能。

“喂,伍德豪斯小姐!”哈丽特急急忙忙走进屋来,大声嚷道——“这不是天下最奇特的消息吗?”

“你说的什么消息?”爱玛答道,从神情和话音判断,她还猜不出哈丽特是否真的听到了风声。

“关于简·费尔法克斯的消息。你听到过这么奇怪的事吗?哦!你用不着怕告诉我,韦斯顿先生已经亲口告诉我了。我刚才碰到了他。他跟我说这绝对是秘密。因此,除了你以外,我对谁也不能提起,不过他说你知道了。”

“韦斯顿先生告诉你什么了?”爱玛还是困惑不解,说道。

“哦!他什么都告诉我了,说简·费尔法克斯和弗兰克·邱吉尔先生就要结婚了,还说他们早就秘密订了婚。多奇怪呀!”

的确很奇怪,哈丽特的表现真是奇怪极了,真叫爱玛琢磨不透。她的性格似乎完全变了。她似乎要表明,她得知这件事并不激动,也不失望,也不怎么在意。爱玛瞧着她,简直说不出话来。

“你想到过他爱她吗?”哈丽特大声说道。“你也许想到过。你,”说到这里脸红了,“能看透每个人的心,可是别人却不能——”

“说实话,”爱玛说,“我开始怀疑我是否有这样的天赋。哈丽特,难道你在一本正经地问我:我在——如果不是公开,也是暗中——鼓励你大胆表露自己的感情的时候,却又认为他爱着另一个女人呀?直到一小时以前,我还丝毫没想到弗兰克·邱吉尔先生居然会对简·费尔法克斯有一丁点意思。你可以相信,我要是真想到了,一定会劝你小心点。”

“我!”哈丽特红着脸惊叫道。“你干吗要劝我小心呀?你总不会认为我对弗兰克·邱吉尔先生有意思吧。”

“听你说得这么理直气壮,我很高兴,”爱玛笑吟吟地答道。“可是有一段时问——而且还是不久以前——你却使我有理由认为你对他有意思,这你不想否认吧?”

“对他!绝对没有,绝对没有。亲爱的伍德豪斯小姐,你怎么能这样误解我?”哈丽特委屈地转过头去。

“哈丽特!”爱玛先是顿了一下,然后喊了起来。“你这是什么意思?天哪!你这是什么意思?误解你?那你是要我——?”

她再也说不下去了。她的嗓子哽住了,便坐了下来,怯生生地等着哈丽特回答。

哈丽特站的地方离她有点距离,脸背着她,没有马上回答。等她开口说话时,声音差不多跟爱玛的一样激动。

“我没想到你居然会误解我!”她说。“我知道,我们说好了不再提他的名字——可是,考虑到他比别人不知要好多少倍,我觉得我不可能被误认为是指别的什么人。弗兰克·邱吉尔先生,真是的!他跟那另一个人在一起的时候,我真不知道有谁会去看他。我想我还不至于那么没有品位,居然会把弗兰克·邱吉尔先生放在心上,谁都比他强。你居然会这样误解我,真令人吃惊!我敢说,我若不是认为你满心赞成并且鼓动我去爱他,我从一开始就会觉得那太不自量,连想都不敢去想他。从一开始,要不是你跟我说以前有过比这更奇妙的事,门第更悬殊的人都结合了(这是你的原话)——我就决不敢听任——决不会以为有这个可能——可是你一向跟他很熟,要是你——”

“哈丽特!”爱玛终于冷静下来,大声说道,“我们还是把话说清楚,免得再误会下去。你是说——奈特利先生吧?”

“我当然是说他。我决不会想到别人——我还以为你知道呢。我们说起他的时候,那是再清楚不过了。”

“不见得,”爱玛强作镇静地回道,“你当时说的话,我听起来都是指的另一个人。我几乎可以说,你都说出过弗兰克·邱吉尔先生的名字。我想一定是说起弗兰克·邱吉尔先生帮了你的忙,保护你没受吉普赛人的伤害。”

“哎!伍德豪斯小姐,你真健忘!”

“亲爱的哈丽特,我当时说的话,大意还记得很清楚。我跟你说,我对你的心思并不感到奇怪。鉴于他帮了你的忙,那是再自然不过了。你同意我的说法,还十分热烈地谈了你对他帮忙的感受,甚至还说起你眼看着他来搭救你时,你心里是什么滋味。我对这事的印象很深。”

“哦,天哪,”哈丽特嚷道,“现在我可明白你说的是什么事了。可我当时想的完全是另一码事。我说的不是吉普赛人——不是弗兰克·邱吉尔先生。不是的!”略微抬高了一点嗓门,“我想的是一件更难能可贵的事情——在埃尔顿先生不肯跟我跳舞,而屋里又没有别的舞伴的时候,奈特利先生走过来请我跳舞。正是这好心的举动,正是这大仁大义、宽怀大度,正是这次帮助,使我开始感觉到,他比天下任何人都不知要强多少倍。”

“天哪!”爱玛嚷道,“这是个极其不幸——极其可悲的误会啊!这可怎么办呢?”

“这么说,你要是明白了我的意思,就不会鼓励我了。不过,至少我的处境还不算太糟,要是换了另外那个人,我可能就要更倒霉了。现在——倒有可能——”

哈丽特停了停,爱玛也说不出话来。

“伍德豪斯小姐,”哈丽特接着说道,“你觉得不管对我来说,还是对别人来说,这两人之间有着极大的差别,我并不感到奇怪。你一准认为这两人都比我条件好,但其中一个比另一个还要高出几亿倍。可是我希望,伍德豪斯小姐,要是——如果——尽管事情看来有些奇怪——可是你知道,这都是你的原话:以前有过更奇妙的事,比弗兰克·邱吉尔先生和我门第更悬殊的人都结合了。因此,看来好像以前就连这样的事也有过——如果我幸运的话,幸运得没法说——如果奈特利先乍真会——如果他不在乎这种差异,我希望,亲爱的伍德豪斯小姐,你不要反对,不要从中阻拦。不过我知道,你是个好心人,不会做那样的事。”

哈丽特站在一扇窗子跟前。爱玛惊异地转过头去看她,急忙说道:

“你认为奈特利先生对你也有意思吗?”

“是的,”哈丽特回答得有点羞涩,但并不胆怯。“我要说是这样的。”

爱玛蓦地收回了目光,坐在那里一动不动,默默沉思了一会。就这一会工夫,足以让她摸透自己的心思了。像她这样的头脑,一旦起了猜疑,就会很快猜疑下去。她触及了——接受了——承认了整个事实。为什么哈丽特爱上奈特利先生就比爱上弗兰克·邱吉尔糟糕得多呢?为什么哈丽特有了一点希望,说奈特利先生也有意于她,那问题就越发可怕了呢?她脑子里像箭似的闪过一个念头:奈特利先生不能跟别人结婚,只能跟她爱玛!

就在这一会工夫,她自己的行为,连同她的内心世界,一起展现在她眼前。她看得清清楚楚,以前从没这么清楚过。她多么对不起哈丽特呀!她的行为多么轻率、多么粗暴、多么不合情理、多么冷漠无情!把她引入歧途的,是何等的盲目,何等的疯狂啊!她受到了可怕而沉重的打击,恨不得用尽种种恶名来诅咒自己的行为。然而,尽管有这些过错,她还是要保持一点自尊心——要注意自己的体面,对哈丽特要公正——(对一个自以为赢得奈特利先生爱情的姑娘不必再怜悯——但为公正起见,现在还不能冷淡她,免得惹她伤心。)于是,爱玛决定冷静地坐着,继续忍受这一切,甚至要装出一副心慈面善的样子。的确,为了自身的利益,她要探究一下究竟有多大的希望。她一直在心甘情愿地关心爱护哈丽特,哈丽特并没犯下什么过失,活该失去她的关心和爱护——或者活该受到从未给过她正确引导的人的蔑视。因此,她从沉思中醒来,抑制住自己的情感,又转向哈丽特,用比较热情的口吻,继续跟她交谈。她们起先谈论的简·费尔法克斯的奇妙故事,早已给忘得一干二净。两人都只想着奈特利先生和她们自己。

哈丽特一直站在那儿沉浸在惬意的幻想之中,现在让伍德豪斯小姐这样一个有见识的朋友,以鼓励的姿态把她从幻想中唤醒,倒也觉得挺高兴。只要爱玛一要求,她就会满怀喜悦,颤颤抖抖地讲出她那希望的来龙去脉。爱玛在询问和倾听时也在颤抖,虽然比哈丽特掩饰得好,但同样抖得厉害。她的声音并没有颤抖,但她内心却一片烦乱。她自身出现这样的变化,意外遇到这样的险情,突然冒出这样错综复杂的情感,势必会造成这样的结果。她听着哈丽特讲述,内心痛苦不堪,外表却若无其事。哈丽特当然不会讲得有条有理,头头是道,或者有声有色,但是把其中累赘无力的成分去掉以后,这些话却包含着令她情绪低沉的主要内容——特别是她回想起奈特利先生对哈丽特的看法已大有好转,则越发证明哈丽特说的是实情。

自从那两次关键的跳舞以后,哈丽特就看出他的态度有了转变。爱玛知道,他当时觉得哈丽特比他料想的强得多。从那天晚上起,至少从伍德豪斯小姐鼓励她动动他的心思那刻起,哈丽特就察觉他跟她谈话比以前多了,对她的态度也确实跟以前大不一样,变得和蔼可亲了!后来,她看得越来越清楚了。大家一起散步的时候,他常过来走在她旁边,而且谈笑风生!他似乎想接近她。爱玛知道确实是这么回事。她经常察觉这种变化,跟实际情况差不多。哈丽特一再重复他对她表示赞同和赞赏的话——爱玛觉得这些话与她所了解的他对哈丽特的看法完全吻合。他称赞哈丽特不虚伪、不做作,称赞她具有真诚、纯朴、宽厚的情怀。她知道他看出了哈丽特的这些优点,不止一次地跟她谈论过这些优点。有许多事情,哈丽特受到奈特利先生关注的许多小小的举动,例如一个眼神,一句话,一个换张椅子的动作,一声委婉的夸奖,一种含蓄的喜爱,这一切哈丽特都记在心里,爱玛却由于毫不猜疑,而从未注意过。有些事可以滔滔不绝地说上半个小时,而且包含了她所见到的许多明证,她也都忽视过去,直到现在才听说。不过,值得一提的最近发生的两件事,哈丽特最满怀希望的两件事,也不是爱玛没有亲眼目睹的。第一件是他撇开众人,跟哈丽特在当维尔的欧椴路上散步,两人在一起走了好久爱玛才赶来。爱玛相信,他那次是煞费苦心把哈丽特从别人那儿拽到他身边的——而且从一开始,他就以一种前所未有的特殊方式跟哈丽特谈话,的确是以一种非常特殊的方式(哈丽特一回想起来就要脸红。)!他似乎想要问她是否已有心上人,可是一见她(伍德豪斯小姐)好像在朝他们走来,他就换了话题,谈起了农事。第二件是他最后一次来哈特菲尔德的那个早上,趁爱玛出去没回来,他已跟哈丽特坐在那儿谈了将近半个小时——虽然他一进来就说,他连五分钟也不能待——在谈话中,他对哈丽特说,虽说他非去伦敦不可,但他很不情愿离开家,爱玛觉得,这话他可没对她爱玛说过呀。这件事表明,他对哈丽特更加推心置腹,她心里真不是滋味。

沉思了一下之后,她大胆地就第一件事提出了下面的问题:“他会不会?是不是有这样的可能,他像你说的那样询问你有没有心上人时,可能是指马丁先生——可能是为马丁先生着想呢?”可是哈丽特断然否定了这一猜测。

“马丁先生!决不会!压根儿没提到马丁先生。我想我现在头脑清醒了,不会去喜欢马丁先生,也不会有人怀疑我喜欢他。”

哈丽特摆完了证据之后,便请亲爱的伍德豪斯小姐说说,她是否有充分根据抱有希望。

“要不是因为你,”她说,“我起初还真不敢往这上面想。你叫我仔细观察他,看他的态度行事——我就这么办了。可现在我似乎觉得,我也许配得上他,他要是真看中了我,那也不会是什么很奇怪的事。”

爱玛听了这番话,心里好不酸楚,真是满腹酸楚,费了很大劲儿才这样答道:

“哈丽特,我只想冒昧地说一句:奈特利先生要是不喜欢哪个女人,就决不会虚情假意,让她觉得他有意于她。”

哈丽特听到这句可心的话,似乎真要对她的朋友顶礼膜拜了。恰在这时,传来了伍德豪斯先生的脚步声,爱玛这才幸免了目睹那如痴如狂的神态,不然的话,那对她真是可怕的惩罚。伍德豪斯先生穿过门厅走来,哈丽特太激动了,不便跟他见面。“我平静不下来——会吓着伍德豪斯先生的——我还是走开吧。”于是,她的朋友爽爽快快地一说好,她就从另一扇门出去了——她刚走掉,爱玛的情绪就不由自主地发泄出来了:“哦,天哪!我要是从没见过她有多好啊!”

白天余下的时间,以及晚上的时间,还不够她用来思考的。过去的几个小时里,一切都来得那么突然,使她慌慌张张不知所措。每时每刻都带来了新的惊异,而每一次惊异又使她感到屈辱。怎么来理解这一切呀!怎么来理解她自欺欺人、自作自受的行径啊!她自己没有理智,盲目行事,铸成的大错啊!她要么一动不动地坐着,要么走来走去,在自己房里踱步,在灌木丛里徘徊——无论在哪里,无论坐还是走,她都觉得自己太软弱无力。她受了别人的欺骗,真是太没有脸面了。她还自己欺骗了自己,更是羞愧难当。,她真是不幸,很可能还会发现:这一天只是不幸的开始。

摸透自己的心思,彻底摸透自己的心思,这是她首先要做的事。照料父亲之余的一切空闲时间,每逢心不在焉的时候,她都在琢磨自己的心思。

她现在深感自己爱上了奈特利先生,可她爱上他多久了呢?奈特利先生对她的影响,像现在这样的影响,是什么时候开始的呢?她曾一度有意于弗兰克·邱吉尔,奈特利先生什么时候取代了他呢?她回顾了一下,拿两人作了比较——就从她认识弗兰克·邱吉尔的时候起,比较一下两人在她心中所占的地位——她本来早就可以作这样的比较,如果——唉!如果她早就灵机一动,想到要在他们中间作这样的比较。她发现,她一向认为奈特利先生要强得多,对她也亲切得多。她发现,她在自我劝解、想人非非、作出相反行动的时候,完全处在错觉之中,丝毫也不了解自己的心思——总而言之,她从未真正喜欢过弗兰克·邱吉尔!

这是她头一阵思考的结果,是探究第一个问题时对自己作出的认识,而且没用多长时间就完成了。她非常懊悔,也非常气恼,为自己的每一次冲动感到羞愧,除了刚意识到的这一次——她对奈特利先生的爱。她的其他心念都令人厌恶。

她出于让人无法容忍的自负,以为自己能看透每个人内心的秘密;出于不可饶恕的自大,硬要安排每个人的命运。结果,她一次次地犯错误。她也不是一事无成——她造成了危害。她害了哈丽特,害了她自己,而且她还很担心,也害了奈特利先生。假如天下最不般配的这门亲事成为事实的话,那她要承担全部罪责,因为事情是她起的头;因为她坚决相信,奈特利先生的感情只可能是由于意识到哈丽特爱他之后才产生的。即使并非如此,若不是因为她爱玛的愚蠢,他也不会认识哈丽特。

奈特利先生娶哈丽特·史密斯!这门亲事真使再怪的亲事也不算怪了。相比之下,弗兰克·邱吉尔跟简·费尔法克斯相爱就变得很普通,很一般,很平淡了,看不出什么不般配的,没什么好惊奇的,也没什么想不通、好非议的。奈特利先生娶哈丽特·史密斯!女的一步登天!男的一落千丈!一想到这一来奈特利先生会怎样让众人看不起,大家会怎样嘲笑他、讥讽他、拿他开心,他弟弟会觉得没有脸面,再也瞧不起他,他自己也会遇到没完没了的麻烦,爱玛觉得真是可怕。这可能吗?不,不可能。然而,却又决不是,决不是不可能。一个卓著有能耐的男人被一个很平庸的女人所迷住,这难道是新鲜事吗?一个也许是忙得无暇追求的人被一个追求他的姑娘俘获了,这难道是新奇的事吗?世界上出现不平等、不一致、不协调的事情——机遇和环境(只是第二位的原因)左右人的命运,这难道是新奇的吗?

唉!她要是没有提携哈丽特该有多好啊!她要是让哈丽特保持原有的状况,保持奈特利先生所说的她应有的状况,那该有多好啊!她若不是由于不可言喻的愚蠢,阻止哈丽特嫁给一个可以使她在她所属的生活天地过得又幸福又体面的好端端的青年——那就会万事大吉,不会出现这一连串可怕的事情。

哈丽特怎么会这么不自量,居然想要高攀奈特利先生!要不是确有把握的话,她怎么敢幻想自己被这样一个人看中!不过,哈丽特不像以前那么胆小,那么顾虑重重了。她似乎已经觉察不到自己在智力和地位上的低下。以前若是让埃尔顿先生娶她,她似乎觉得是屈尊降贵,现在要让奈特利先生娶她,她就没有这个感觉了。唁!难道这不是她爱玛一手造成的吗?除了她以外,还有谁费尽心机地向哈丽特灌输妄自尊大的思想呢?除了她以外,还有谁会教她尽力往上爬,认为自己完全有权进入名门望族呢?如果哈丽特真从自卑发展成自傲,那也是她爱玛一手造成的。



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