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Part 3 Chapter 12

Till now that she was threatened with its loss, Emma had never known how much of her happiness depended on being first with Mr. Knightley, first in interest and affection. - Satisfied that it was so, and feeling it her due, she had enjoyed it without reflection; and only in the dread of being supplanted, found how inexpressibly important it had been. - Long, very long, she felt she had been first; for, having no female connexions of his own, there had been only Isabella whose claims could be compared with hers, and she had always known exactly how far he loved and esteemed Isabella. She had herself been first with him for many years past. She had not deserved it; she had often been negligent or perverse, slighting his advice, or even wilfully opposing him, insensible of half his merits, and quarrelling with him because he would not acknowledge her false and insolent estimate of her own - but still, from family attachment and habit, and thorough excellence of mind, he had loved her, and watched over her from a girl, with an endeavour to improve her, and an anxiety for her doing right, which no other creature had at all shared. In spite of all her faults, she knew she was dear to him; might she not say, very dear? - When the suggestions of hope, however, which must follow here, presented themselves, she could not presume to indulge them. Harriet Smith might think herself not unworthy of being peculiarly, exclusively, passionately loved by Mr. Knightley. She could not. She could not flatter herself with any idea of blindness in his attachment to her. She had received a very recent proof of its impartiality. - How shocked had he been by her behaviour to Miss Bates! How directly, how strongly had he expressed himself to her on the subject! - Not too strongly for the offence - but far, far too strongly to issue from any feeling softer than upright justice and clear-sighted goodwill. - She had no hope, nothing to deserve the name of hope, that he could have that sort of affection for herself which was now in question; but there was a hope (at times a slight one, at times much stronger,) that Harriet might have deceived herself, and be overrating his regard for her. - Wish it she must, for his sake - be the consequence nothing to herself, but his remaining single all his life. Could she be secure of that, indeed, of his never marrying at all, she believed she should be perfectly satisfied. - Let him but continue the same Mr. Knightley to her and her father, the same Mr. Knightley to all the world; let Donwell and Hartfield lose none of their precious intercourse of friendship and confidence, and her peace would be fully secured. - Marriage, in fact, would not do for her. It would be incompatible with what she owed to her father, and with what she felt for him. Nothing should separate her from her father. She would not marry, even if she were asked by Mr. Knightley.

It must be her ardent wish that Harriet might be disappointed; and she hoped, that when able to see them together again, she might at least be able to ascertain what the chances for it were. - She should see them henceforward with the closest observance; and wretchedly as she had hitherto misunderstood even those she was watching, she did not know how to admit that she could be blinded here. - He was expected back every day. The power of observation would be soon given - frightfully soon it appeared when her thoughts were in one course. In the meanwhile, she resolved against seeing Harriet. - It would do neither of them good, it would do the subject no good, to be talking of it farther. - She was resolved not to be convinced, as long as she could doubt, and yet had no authority for opposing Harriet's confidence. To talk would be only to irritate. - She wrote to her, therefore, kindly, but decisively, to beg that she would not, at present, come to Hartfield; acknowledging it to be her conviction, that all farther confidential discussion of one topic had better be avoided; and hoping, that if a few days were allowed to pass before they met again, except in the company of others - she objected only to a tete-a-tete - they might be able to act as if they had forgotten the conversation of yesterday. - Harriet submitted, and approved, and was grateful.

This point was just arranged, when a visitor arrived to tear Emma's thoughts a little from the one subject which had engrossed them, sleeping or waking, the last twenty-four hours - Mrs. Weston, who had been calling on her daughter-in-law elect, and took Hartfield in her way home, almost as much in duty to Emma as in pleasure to herself, to relate all the particulars of so interesting an interview.

Mr. Weston had accompanied her to Mrs. Bates's, and gone through his share of this essential attention most handsomely; but she having then induced Miss Fairfax to join her in an airing, was now returned with much more to say, and much more to say with satisfaction, than a quarter of an hour spent in Mrs. Bates's parlour, with all the encumbrance of awkward feelings, could have afforded.

A little curiosity Emma had; and she made the most of it while her friend related. Mrs. Weston had set off to pay the visit in a good deal of agitation herself; and in the first place had wished not to go at all at present, to be allowed merely to write to Miss Fairfax instead, and to defer this ceremonious call till a little time had passed, and Mr. Churchill could be reconciled to the engagement's becoming known; as, considering every thing, she thought such a visit could not be paid without leading to reports: - but Mr. Weston had thought differently; he was extremely anxious to shew his approbation to Miss Fairfax and her family, and did not conceive that any suspicion could be excited by it; or if it were, that it would be of any consequence; for `such things,' he observed, `always got about.' Emma smiled, and felt that Mr. Weston had very good reason for saying so. They had gone, in short - and very great had been the evident distress and confusion of the lady. She had hardly been able to speak a word, and every look and action had shewn how deeply she was suffering from consciousness. The quiet, heart-felt satisfaction of the old lady, and the rapturous delight of her daughter - who proved even too joyous to talk as usual, had been a gratifying, yet almost an affecting, scene. They were both so truly respectable in their happiness, so disinterested in every sensation; thought so much of Jane; so much of every body, and so little of themselves, that every kindly feeling was at work for them. Miss Fairfax's recent illness had offered a fair plea for Mrs. Weston to invite her to an airing; she had drawn back and declined at first, but, on being pressed had yielded; and, in the course of their drive, Mrs. Weston had, by gentle encouragement, overcome so much of her embarrassment, as to bring her to converse on the important subject. Apologies for her seemingly ungracious silence in their first reception, and the warmest expressions of the gratitude she was always feeling towards herself and Mr. Weston, must necessarily open the cause; but when these effusions were put by, they had talked a good deal of the present and of the future state of the engagement. Mrs. Weston was convinced that such conversation must be the greatest relief to her companion, pent up within her own mind as every thing had so long been, and was very much pleased with all that she had said on the subject.

`On the misery of what she had suffered, during the concealment of so many months,' continued Mrs. Weston, `she was energetic. This was one of her expressions. ``I will not say, that since I entered into the engagement I have not had some happy moments; but I can say, that I have never known the blessing of one tranquil hour:'' - and the quivering lip, Emma, which uttered it, was an attestation that I felt at my heart.'

`Poor girl!' said Emma. `She thinks herself wrong, then, for having consented to a private engagement?'

`Wrong! No one, I believe, can blame her more than she is disposed to blame herself. ``The consequence,'' said she, ``has been a state of perpetual suffering to me; and so it ought. But after all the punishment that misconduct can bring, it is still not less misconduct. Pain is no expiation. I never can be blameless. I have been acting contrary to all my sense of right; and the fortunate turn that every thing has taken, and the kindness I am now receiving, is what my conscience tells me ought not to be.'' ``Do not imagine, madam,'' she continued, ``that I was taught wrong. Do not let any reflection fall on the principles or the care of the friends who brought me up. The error has been all my own; and I do assure you that, with all the excuse that present circumstances may appear to give, I shall yet dread making the story known to Colonel Campbell.'''

`Poor girl!' said Emma again. `She loves him then excessively, I suppose. It must have been from attachment only, that she could be led to form the engagement. Her affection must have overpowered her judgment.'

`Yes, I have no doubt of her being extremely attached to him.'

`I am afraid,' returned Emma, sighing, `that I must often have contributed to make her unhappy.'

`On your side, my love, it was very innocently done. But she probably had something of that in her thoughts, when alluding to the misunderstandings which he had given us hints of before. One natural consequence of the evil she had involved herself in,' she said, `was that of making her unreasonable. The consciousness of having done amiss, had exposed her to a thousand inquietudes, and made her captious and irritable to a degree that must have been - that had been - hard for him to bear. ``I did not make the allowances,'' said she, ``which I ought to have done, for his temper and spirits - his delightful spirits, and that gaiety, that playfulness of disposition, which, under any other circumstances, would, I am sure, have been as constantly bewitching to me, as they were at first.'' She then began to speak of you, and of the great kindness you had shewn her during her illness; and with a blush which shewed me how it was all connected, desired me, whenever I had an opportunity, to thank you - I could not thank you too much - for every wish and every endeavour to do her good. She was sensible that you had never received any proper acknowledgment from herself.'

`If I did not know her to be happy now,' said Emma, seriously, `which, in spite of every little drawback from her scrupulous conscience, she must be, I could not bear these thanks; - for, oh! Mrs. Weston, if there were an account drawn up of the evil and the good I have done Miss Fairfax! - Well (checking herself, and trying to be more lively), this is all to be forgotten. You are very kind to bring me these interesting particulars. They shew her to the greatest advantage. I am sure she is very good - I hope she will be very happy. It is fit that the fortune should be on his side, for I think the merit will be all on hers.'

Such a conclusion could not pass unanswered by Mrs. Weston. She thought well of Frank in almost every respect; and, what was more, she loved him very much, and her defence was, therefore, earnest. She talked with a great deal of reason, and at least equal affection - but she had too much to urge for Emma's attention; it was soon gone to Brunswick Square or to Donwell; she forgot to attempt to listen; and when Mrs. Weston ended with, `We have not yet had the letter we are so anxious for, you know, but I hope it will soon come,' she was obliged to pause before she answered, and at last obliged to answer at random, before she could at all recollect what letter it was which they were so anxious for.

`Are you well, my Emma?' was Mrs. Weston's parting question.

`Oh! perfectly. I am always well, you know. Be sure to give me intelligence of the letter as soon as possible.'

Mrs. Weston's communications furnished Emma with more food for unpleasant reflection, by increasing her esteem and compassion, and her sense of past injustice towards Miss Fairfax. She bitterly regretted not having sought a closer acquaintance with her, and blushed for the envious feelings which had certainly been, in some measure, the cause. Had she followed Mr. Knightley's known wishes, in paying that attention to Miss Fairfax, which was every way her due; had she tried to know her better; had she done her part towards intimacy; had she endeavoured to find a friend there instead of in Harriet Smith; she must, in all probability, have been spared from every pain which pressed on her now. - Birth, abilities, and education, had been equally marking one as an associate for her, to be received with gratitude; and the other - what was she? - Supposing even that they had never become intimate friends; that she had never been admitted into Miss Fairfax's confidence on this important matter - which was most probable - still, in knowing her as she ought, and as she might, she must have been preserved from the abominable suspicions of an improper attachment to Mr. Dixon, which she had not only so foolishly fashioned and harboured herself, but had so unpardonably imparted; an idea which she greatly feared had been made a subject of material distress to the delicacy of Jane's feelings, by the levity or carelessness of Frank Churchill's. Of all the sources of evil surrounding the former, since her coming to Highbury, she was persuaded that she must herself have been the worst. She must have been a perpetual enemy. They never could have been all three together, without her having stabbed Jane Fairfax's peace in a thousand instances; and on Box Hill, perhaps, it had been the agony of a mind that would bear no more.

The evening of this day was very long, and melancholy, at Hartfield. The weather added what it could of gloom. A cold stormy rain set in, and nothing of July appeared but in the trees and shrubs, which the wind was despoiling, and the length of the day, which only made such cruel sights the longer visible.

The weather affected Mr. Woodhouse, and he could only be kept tolerably comfortable by almost ceaseless attention on his daughter's side, and by exertions which had never cost her half so much before. It reminded her of their first forlorn tete-a-tete, on the evening of Mrs. Weston's wedding-day; but Mr. Knightley had walked in then, soon after tea, and dissipated every melancholy fancy. Alas! such delightful proofs of Hartfield's attraction, as those sort of visits conveyed, might shortly be over. The picture which she had then drawn of the privations of the approaching winter, had proved erroneous; no friends had deserted them, no pleasures had been lost. - But her present forebodings she feared would experience no similar contradiction. The prospect before her now, was threatening to a degree that could not be entirely dispelled - that might not be even partially brightened. If all took place that might take place among the circle of her friends, Hartfield must be comparatively deserted; and she left to cheer her father with the spirits only of ruined happiness.

The child to be born at Randalls must be a tie there even dearer than herself; and Mrs. Weston's heart and time would be occupied by it. They should lose her; and, probably, in great measure, her husband also. - Frank Churchill would return among them no more; and Miss Fairfax, it was reasonable to suppose, would soon cease to belong to Highbury. They would be married, and settled either at or near Enscombe. All that were good would be withdrawn; and if to these losses, the loss of Donwell were to be added, what would remain of cheerful or of rational society within their reach? Mr. Knightley to be no longer coming there for his evening comfort! - No longer walking in at all hours, as if ever willing to change his own home for their's! - How was it to be endured? And if he were to be lost to them for Harriet's sake; if he were to be thought of hereafter, as finding in Harriet's society all that he wanted; if Harriet were to be the chosen, the first, the dearest, the friend, the wife to whom he looked for all the best blessings of existence; what could be increasing Emma's wretchedness but the reflection never far distant from her mind, that it had been all her own work?

When it came to such a pitch as this, she was not able to refrain from a start, or a heavy sigh, or even from walking about the room for a few seconds - and the only source whence any thing like consolation or composure could be drawn, was in the resolution of her own better conduct, and the hope that, however inferior in spirit and gaiety might be the following and every future winter of her life to the past, it would yet find her more rational, more acquainted with herself, and leave her less to regret when it were gone.

 

爱玛如今面临着失去幸福的危险,才终于意识到,她的幸福在多大程度上取决于奈特利先生把她摆在第一位,最关心她,也最疼爱她。本来,她对此深信不疑,觉得这是她理所应得的,因而心安理得地享受了这般幸福;现在,只是在害怕被人取而代之的情况下,才发现这对她说不出有多么重要。长久以来,她觉得奈特利先生一直把她摆在第一位。奈特利先生没有姊妹,就关系而言,只有伊莎贝拉可以和她相比,而她一向很清楚,奈特利先生对伊莎贝拉是多么喜爱、多么敬重。许多年以来,他一直把她爱玛摆在第一位,她真有些担当不起。她经常漫不经心、执拗任性,无视他的规劝,甚至有意与他作对,对他的优点有一半感觉不到,还要跟他争吵,就因为他不赞成她不切实际地过高估计自己——不过,由于亲戚和生性的关系,也是出于一片好心,他还是很喜欢她,从小就关心她,竭力促使她上进,巴望她不要有什么差失,别人根本没有这样的情意。尽管她有这样那样的缺点,她知道他仍然与她亲近,难道不可以说是很亲近吗?然而,就在她由此而产生一点希望的时候,她却不能尽情地沉迷在其中。哈丽特·史密斯也许认为自己并非不配得到奈特利先生那特有的、专一的、热烈的爱。而她爱玛却不能这样想。她不能自以为奈特利先生在盲目地爱着她。她最近就遇到一件事,说明他并没有偏爱她——见她那样对待贝茨小姐,他是多么震惊啊!在这件事上,他对她多么直言不讳,言词多么激烈呀!就她的过错而言,他的责备并不算太重——但是,如果他除了心地耿直、善意规劝之外,还夹有什么柔情的话,那就未免太重了。她并不指望他会对她怀有那种令她猜疑不定的情意,也没有什么理由抱有这样的指望。但是,她(时弱时强地)希望哈丽特是在自己欺骗自己,过高地估计了奈特利先生对她的情意。她必须怀有这样的希望,这是为了他——不管后果如何,她都无所谓,只要他一辈子不结婚。的确,只要能确保他一辈子不结婚,她就会心满意足。让他对他们父女来说还是过去的奈特利先生,对众人来说还是过去的奈特利先生,让当维尔和哈特菲尔德不要失去那充满友谊和信任的珍贵交往,那她就会平平静静地生活下去。事实上,她也不能结婚。她要是结了婚,就没法报答父亲的养育之恩,也没法对他尽孝心。说什么也不应该把她和她父亲分开。她不能结婚,即使奈特利先生向她求婚也不行。

她一心巴望哈丽特只是空欢喜一场,希望等到再次看见他们俩在一起时,至少能弄清楚这件事究竟有多大的可能性。从今以后,她要密切地观察他们。虽说她以前可怜巴巴地甚至误解了她所观察的人,但她却不知道自己在这件事上怎么会受了蒙蔽。她天天盼他回来,她的眼睛马上就会明亮起来——她只要思路对头了,立刻就会心叫眼亮。在此期间,她决计不跟哈丽特见面。这件事再谈下上,埘她ffJ俩没有好处,对事情本身也没有好处。她打定主意,只要还有犯疑的地方,她就决不信以为真,然而她没有根据可以打消哈丽特的信心。谈话只会惹人生气。因此,她给哈丽特特写了封信,以亲切而又坚决的口吻,请她暂儿不要到哈特菲尔德来,说她相信,有一个话题最好不要再推心置腹地谈下去,并且希望近日内两人不要再见面,除非有别人在场——她只是不想两人私下见面——这样她们就当做忘掉了昨天的谈话。哈丽特依从了,同意了,还很感激。

这件事刚安排好,就来了一位客人,把爱玛从过去二十四小时连睡觉走路都无法释怀的那件事上分了心——这就是韦斯顿太太,她去看望未来的儿媳妇,回家时顺路来到哈特菲尔德,一方面礼节性地看看爱玛,一方面也好散散心,把这么有趣的一场会晤详详细细地讲一讲。

韦斯顿先生陪太太去了贝茨太太家,在这次必不可免的探访中,极其客气地尽到了自己的一份心意。他们在贝茨太太的客厅里只尴尬地坐了一刻钟,本来没有多少话可对爱玛说,但是韦斯顿太太劝说费尔法克斯小姐跟她一起出去兜风,现在回来了,要说的话可就多得多了,可以高高兴兴地说一阵子了。

爱玛对这事还是有一点好奇,趁朋友述说的时候,倒是充分利用了这点好奇心。韦斯顿太太刚出门时,心里有些忐忑不安。她原先并不打算去,只想给费尔法克斯小姐写封信,等过一些时候,邱吉尔先生同意把婚约公开了,再去作这次礼节性的拜访,因为考虑到方方面面的因素,她这一去势必会传得沸沸扬扬。可是,韦斯顿先生却不以为然。他急于要向费尔法克斯小姐及其家人表示认可,认为去一趟不会引起别人的猜疑,即便有人猜疑,也没有什么大不了的。他说:“这一类事总要张扬出去。”爱玛笑了,觉得韦斯顿先生这么说很有道理。总而言之,他们去了——那位小姐显得极其窘迫,极为不安。她几乎一声不吭,每一个眼神、每一个举动,都流露出一副难为情的样子。老太太打心眼里感到满意,但是没有做声,她女儿则欣喜若狂——高兴得甚至都不像往常那样唠唠叨叨了,真是一个令人高兴,甚至令人感动的场面。她们两人的喜幸劲儿真令人可敬,襟怀那样坦荡无私,只想着简,想着别人,就是没想到自己,心里洋溢着种种亲切的情意。费尔法克斯小姐最近生过病,恰好为韦斯顿太太邀她出去兜风提供了借口。费尔法克斯小姐起初退退缩缩不想去,后来经不住韦斯顿太太竭力劝说,只好依从了。兜风的时候,韦斯顿太太温声细语地鼓励她,大大消除了她的局促不安,终于使她谈起了那个重大的话题。首先当然是表示歉意,说他们第一次来看她,她却沉闷不语,真是太没有礼貌了;接着便激动不已地表达了她对韦斯顿夫妇一贯的感激之情。倾诉了这些心意之后,两人谈了很多有关订婚的现状和未来。韦斯顿太太心想,她的游伴长期把苦衷埋在心里,这次跟她一交谈,一定感到如释重负,因而她对自己说的话,感到很满意。

“她隐瞒了好几个月,忍受了不少的痛苦,”韦斯顿太太继续说道,“从这点看来,她还是很坚强的。她有这样一句话:‘我不能说订婚后就没有过快乐的时候,但是我敢说,我一时一刻也没安宁过。’爱玛,她说这话的时候,嘴唇都在颤抖,我从心底里相信她说的是实情。”

“可怜的姑娘!”爱玛说。“这么说,她认为同意秘密订婚是做错了?”

“做错了!我想她总要责备自己,别人谁也没有那样责备她。‘结果,’她说,‘给我带来了没完没了的痛苦,这也是理所当然的。尽管错误带来了惩罚,可错误还是错误。痛苦并不能涤罪。我决不再是无可指摘的了。我的行为违背了我的是非观。虽说事情出现了转机,我现在受到了厚待,但我的良心告诉我,我是受之有愧的。太太,’她又说,‘你不要以为我从小被教坏了。千万别责怪抚养我长大成人的朋友管教不严,照顾不周。都是我自己的过失。跟你说实话,虽然目前的处境似乎给我提供了借口,但我还是不敢把这件事告诉坎贝尔上校。”’

“可怜的姑娘!”爱玛又一次说道。“我想她一定非常爱他,只有Hj于一片真情,才会订下这样的婚约。她的情感一定压倒了理智。”

“是的,我想她一定非常爱他。”

“很遗憾,”爱玛叹了口气说,“我一定经常惹她不高兴。”

“亲爱的,你那完全是无意的。不过,她提起弗兰克以前给我们造成的误会时,心里也许就有这样的想法。她说,她卷入这场不幸的一个自然后果,就是搞得自己不合情理。她知道自己做错了事,心里万分不安,性情变得很古怪,动不动就发脾气,他一定会觉得——其实就是觉得——很难忍受。‘我本该体谅他的脾气和心情,’她说,‘可我没那么做——他性情开朗,快快活活,爱开玩笑,要是换一个处境,我肯定会像一开始那样,始终为之着迷。’接着她就讲到了你,说她生病期间你对她关怀备至。她脸都红了,我一看就明白了是怎么回事。她要我一有机会就向你道谢——我怎么道谢都不会过分——感谢你为她操的心,为她尽的力。她心里明白,她自己从来没有好好地谢谢你。”

“我知道她现在很快活,”爱玛一本正经地说道,“尽管她良心上有点过意不去,她一定还是很快活,不然的话,我也领受不起这样的感谢。唉!韦斯顿太太,要是把我为费尔法克斯小姐做的好事和坏事算出一笔账来!算了,”她说到这儿顿了顿,想要装作快活些,“把这一切都忘了吧。多谢你告诉了我这些很有意思的情况,从中可以充分看出她的好处。我认为她的确很好——希望她也很幸福。这两个人,男的是该有钱,因为我觉得美德都在女的一边。”

对于这样的结论,韦斯顿太太没法不辩驳了。在她看来,弗兰克几乎样样都好。再说她又很喜欢他,因此她要竭力为他辩护。她说得人情人理,至少情深意浓——可是因为话太多,爱玛难免不走神,不一会工夫,她就时而想到布伦斯威克广场,时而想到当维尔,忘了去听她的话。韦斯顿太太最后说:“你知道,我们还没收到那封左盼右盼的信,不过我想很快就会收到的。”爱玛一下子愣住了,后来不得已敷衍了两句,因为她压根儿想不起她们在盼什么信。

“你身体好吗,爱玛?”韦斯顿太太临别时问道。

“哦!很好。你知道,我一向很好。信来了一定要尽快告诉我。”

听了韦斯顿太太说的情况,爱玛越发敬重和同情费尔法克斯小姐,越发感到以前对不起她,因而心里越想越难过。她悔不该没跟她再亲近一些,为自己的嫉妒心理感到脸红,正是这嫉妒心理,在一定程度上妨碍了她们的亲近。想当初,她要是听了奈特利先生的话,注意关心费尔法克斯小姐(不管从哪方面看,这都是她应该做的);她要是设法去进一步了解她,尽量去亲近她,力求跟她做朋友,而不是跟哈丽特·史密斯做朋友,那八成就不会有现在这些烦恼。就出身、天分和教养来看,两人中有一个可以做她的朋友,本该是她求之不得的,而那另一个呢——她是什么人呢?就算她们俩没有成为亲密的朋友,就算费尔法克斯小姐在这个重大问题上没向她推心置腹——这是很可能的——然而,就凭她对费尔法克斯小姐应有的了解,她也不该胡乱猜疑她与迪克逊先生关系暧昧。她不仅极其荒唐地胡乱猜疑,而且还要讲给别人听,这就越发不可原谅。她很担心,由于弗兰克·邱吉尔的轻率或粗心,这一想法给简的脆弱感情带来了很大的痛苦。她觉得,简自从来到海伯里以后,给她造成痛苦的种种根源中,最糟糕的一定是她爱玛了。她简直成了她的老冤家。每次他们三个人在一起,她总要无数次地刺伤简的心。而在博克斯山,她那颗心也许痛苦到了极点,再也无法忍受了。

哈特菲尔德的这天黄昏又漫长又阴沉,平添了几分阴郁的气氛。骤然袭来一场阴冷的暴风雨,除了树林和灌木丛中的绿叶受到狂风的摧残,白昼延长可以让人多瞧一瞧这凄凉的景象以外,已经丝毫看不到七月的景致。

伍德豪斯先生受天气影响,他女儿几乎在一刻不停地关照他,付出了比平常多得多的努力,才使他觉得还算好受些。这时候,爱玛不由得想起了韦斯顿太太结婚的那天晚上,他们父女俩第一次孤苦伶仃在一起的情景。不过,那次吃过茶点后不久,奈特利先生就走了进来,驱散了一切的忧思。唉!类似这样的探访说明哈特菲尔德还是个令人喜欢的地方,但是也许好景不长了。当时,她为即将到来的冬天描绘出一幅凄凄凉凉的景象,可结果证明她错了。他们既没失去哪个朋友,也没失去任何欢乐。可是她在担心,这一次不祥的预感不会出现适得其反的结果。她眼下面临的前景就有点预兆不祥,不可能被完全消除——甚至不可能出现几分光明。如果她的朋友中间能发生的事都发生了的话,那哈特菲尔德一定会变得冷冷清清,她只能怀着幸福已经破灭的心情,来逗父亲高兴。

兰多尔斯的孩子出世以后,那关系肯定要比她爱玛来得还亲,韦斯顿太太的心思和时间势必要全部花在那孩子身上。他们会失去韦斯顿太太,说不定在很大程度上还会失去她丈夫。弗兰克·邱吉尔不会再来了,而且还可以设想,费尔法克斯小姐马上也不再是海伯里的人了。他们将会结婚,在恩斯库姆或附近什么地方定居下来。一切美好的东西都将化为乌有,若是在这些损失之外,再失去当维尔,那他们还能到哪里找到快乐而理智的朋友呢?奈特利先生再也不会来他们家消磨夜晚的时光了!再也不会随时走进来,好像甘愿把他们家当作他自己的家似的!这叫人怎么受得了啊?如果他真为哈丽特而抛开了他们,如果今后真觉得他有了哈丽特就有了一切,如果哈丽特真成了他最中意、最可亲的人,成了他的朋友和妻子,成了他终身幸福的归属,那她爱玛始终不会忘记这都是她自作自受的结果,还有什么比这更让她伤心的呢?

想到这里,她不由得为之一惊,长叹了一声,甚至在屋里踱了几步——唯一能使她感到宽慰和平静的是,她下定决心好自为之,并且希望,不管今年还是以后哪个冬天,她要是情绪比以前来得低落,没有什么欢乐可言,她能变得理智一些,有点自知之明,少做令她后悔的事。



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