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Chapter 10

THE day passed much as the day before had done. Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley had spent some hours of the morning with the invalid, who continued, though slowly, to mend; and in the evening Elizabeth joined their party in the drawing room. The loo table, however, did not appear. Mr. Darcy was writing, and Miss Bingley, seated near him, was watching the progress of his letter, and repeatedly calling off his attention by messages to his sister. Mr. Hurst and Mr. Bingley were at piquet, and Mrs. Hurst was observing their game.
Elizabeth took up some needlework, and was sufficiently amused in attending to what passed between Darcy and his companion. The perpetual commendations of the lady either on his hand-writing, or on the evenness of his lines, or on the length of his letter, with the perfect unconcern with which her praises were received, formed a curious dialogue, and was exactly in unison with her opinion of each.

"How delighted Miss Darcy will be to receive such a letter!"

He made no answer.

"You write uncommonly fast."

"You are mistaken. I write rather slowly."

"How many letters you must have occasion to write in the course of the year! Letters of business too! How odious I should think them!"

"It is fortunate, then, that they fall to my lot instead of to yours."

"Pray tell your sister that I long to see her."

"I have already told her so once, by your desire."

"I am afraid you do not like your pen. Let me mend it for you. I mend pens remarkably well."

"Thank you -- but I always mend my own."

"How can you contrive to write so even?"

He was silent.

"Tell your sister I am delighted to hear of her improvement on the harp, and pray let her know that I am quite in raptures with her beautiful little design for a table, and I think it infinitely superior to Miss Grantley's."

"Will you give me leave to defer your raptures till I write again? -- At present I have not room to do them justice."

"Oh! it is of no consequence. I shall see her in January. But do you always write such charming long letters to her, Mr. Darcy?"

"They are generally long; but whether always charming, it is not for me to determine."

"It is a rule with me, that a person who can write a long letter, with ease, cannot write ill."

"That will not do for a compliment to Darcy, Caroline," cried her brother -- "because he does not write with ease. He studies too much for words of four syllables. -- Do not you, Darcy?"

"My stile of writing is very different from yours."

"Oh!" cried Miss Bingley, "Charles writes in the most careless way imaginable. He leaves out half his words, and blots the rest."

"My ideas flow so rapidly that I have not time to express them -- by which means my letters sometimes convey no ideas at all to my correspondents."

"Your humility, Mr. Bingley," said Elizabeth, "must disarm reproof."

"Nothing is more deceitful," said Darcy, "than the appearance of humility. It is often only carelessness of opinion, and sometimes an indirect boast."

"And which of the two do you call my little recent piece of modesty?"

"The indirect boast; -- for you are really proud of your defects in writing, because you consider them as proceeding from a rapidity of thought and carelessness of execution, which if not estimable, you think at least highly interesting. The power of doing any thing with quickness is always much prized by the possessor, and often without any attention to the imperfection of the performance. When you told Mrs. Bennet this morning that if you ever resolved on quitting Netherfield you should be gone in five minutes, you meant it to be a sort of panegyric, of compliment to yourself -- and yet what is there so very laudable in a precipitance which must leave very necessary business undone, and can be of no real advantage to yourself or any one else?"

"Nay," cried Bingley, "this is too much, to remember at night all the foolish things that were said in the morning. And yet, upon my honour, I believed what I said of myself to be true, and I believe it at this moment. At least, therefore, I did not assume the character of needless precipitance merely to shew off before the ladies."

"I dare say you believed it; but I am by no means convinced that you would be gone with such celerity. Your conduct would be quite as dependant on chance as that of any man I know; and if, as you were mounting your horse, a friend were to say, "Bingley, you had better stay till next week," you would probably do it, you would probably not go -- and, at another word, might stay a month."

"You have only proved by this," cried Elizabeth, "that Mr. Bingley did not do justice to his own disposition. You have shewn him off now much more than he did himself."

"I am exceedingly gratified," said Bingley, "by your converting what my friend says into a compliment on the sweetness of my temper. But I am afraid you are giving it a turn which that gentleman did by no means intend; for he would certainly think the better of me, if under such a circumstance I were to give a flat denial, and ride off as fast as I could."

"Would Mr. Darcy then consider the rashness of your original intention as atoned for by your obstinacy in adhering to it?"

"Upon my word I cannot exactly explain the matter; Darcy must speak for himself."

"You expect me to account for opinions which you chuse to call mine, but which I have never acknowledged. Allowing the case, however, to stand according to your representation, you must remember, Miss Bennet, that the friend who is supposed to desire his return to the house, and the delay of his plan, has merely desired it, asked it without offering one argument in favour of its propriety."

"To yield readily -- easily -- to the persuasion of a friend is no merit with you."

"To yield without conviction is no compliment to the understanding of either."

"You appear to me, Mr. Darcy, to allow nothing for the influence of friendship and affection. A regard for the requester would often make one readily yield to a request without waiting for arguments to reason one into it. I am not particularly speaking of such a case as you have supposed about Mr. Bingley. We may as well wait, perhaps, till the circumstance occurs, before we discuss the discretion of his behaviour thereupon. But in general and ordinary cases between friend and friend, where one of them is desired by the other to change a resolution of no very great moment, should you think ill of that person for complying with the desire, without waiting to be argued into it?"

"Will it not be advisable, before we proceed on this subject, to arrange with rather more precision the degree of importance which is to appertain to this request, as well as the degree of intimacy subsisting between the parties?"

"By all means," cried Bingley; "Let us hear all the particulars, not forgetting their comparative height and size; for that will have more weight in the argument, Miss Bennet, than you may be aware of. I assure you that if Darcy were not such a great tall fellow, in comparison with myself, I should not pay him half so much deference. I declare I do not know a more aweful object than Darcy, on particular occasions, and in particular places; at his own house especially, and of a Sunday evening when he has nothing to do."

Mr. Darcy smiled; but Elizabeth thought she could perceive that he was rather offended; and therefore checked her laugh. Miss Bingley warmly resented the indignity he had received, in an expostulation with her brother for talking such nonsense.

"I see your design, Bingley," said his friend. -- "You dislike an argument, and want to silence this."

"Perhaps I do. Arguments are too much like disputes. If you and Miss Bennet will defer yours till I am out of the room, I shall be very thankful; and then you may say whatever you like of me."

"What you ask," said Elizabeth, "is no sacrifice on my side; and Mr. Darcy had much better finish his letter,"

Mr. Darcy took her advice, and did finish his letter.

When that business was over, he applied to Miss Bingley and Elizabeth for the indulgence of some music. Miss Bingley moved with alacrity to the piano-forte, and after a polite request that Elizabeth would lead the way, which the other as politely and more earnestly negatived, she seated herself.

Mrs. Hurst sang with her sister, and while they were thus employed, Elizabeth could not help observing, as she turned over some music books that lay on the instrument, how frequently Mr. Darcy's eyes were fixed on her. She hardly knew how to suppose that she could be an object of admiration to so great man; and yet that he should look at her because he disliked her was still more strange. She could only imagine however, at last, that she drew his notice because there was a something about her more wrong and reprehensible, according to his ideas of right, than in any other person present. The supposition did not pain her. She liked him too little to care for his approbation.

After playing some Italian songs, Miss Bingley varied the charm by a lively Scotch air; and soon afterwards Mr. Darcy, drawing near Elizabeth, said to her --

"Do not you feel a great inclination, Miss Bennet, to seize such an opportunity of dancing a reel?"

She smiled, but made no answer. He repeated the question, with some surprise at her silence.

"Oh!" said she, "I heard you before; but I could not immediately determine what to say in reply. You wanted me, I know, to say "Yes," that you might have the pleasure of despising my taste; but I always delight in overthrowing those kind of schemes, and cheating a person of their premeditated contempt. I have therefore made up my mind to tell you that I do not want to dance a reel at all -- and now despise me if you dare."

"Indeed I do not dare."

Elizabeth, having rather expected to affront him, was amazed at his gallantry; but there was a mixture of sweetness and archness in her manner which made it difficult for her to affront anybody; and Darcy had never been so bewitched by any woman as he was by her. He really believed, that were it not for the inferiority of her connections, he should be in some danger.

Miss Bingley saw, or suspected, enough to be jealous; and her great anxiety for the recovery of her dear friend Jane received some assistance from her desire of getting rid of Elizabeth.

She often tried to provoke Darcy into disliking her guest, by talking of their supposed marriage, and planning his happiness in such an alliance.

"I hope," said she, as they were walking together in the shrubbery the next day, "you will give your mother-in-law a few hints, when this desirable event takes place, as to the advantage of holding her tongue; and if you can compass it, do cure the younger girls of running after the officers. -- And, if I may mention so delicate a subject, endeavour to check that little something, bordering on conceit and impertinence, which your lady possesses."

"Have you any thing else to propose for my domestic felicity?"

"Oh! yes. -- Do let the portraits of your uncle and aunt Philips be placed in the gallery at Pemberley. Put them next to your great uncle, the judge. They are in the same profession, you know; only in different lines. As for your Elizabeth's picture, you must not attempt to have it taken, for what painter could do justice to those beautiful eyes?"

"It would not be easy, indeed, to catch their expression, but their colour and shape, and the eye-lashes, so remarkably fine, might be copied."

At that moment they were met from another walk, by Mrs. Hurst and Elizabeth herself.

"I did not know that you intended to walk," said Miss Bingley, in some confusion, lest they had been overheard.

"You used us abominably ill," answered Mrs. Hurst, "in running away without telling us that you were coming out." Then taking the disengaged arm of Mr. Darcy, she left Elizabeth to walk by herself. The path just admitted three.

Mr. Darcy felt their rudeness and immediately said, --

"This walk is not wide enough for our party. We had better go into the avenue."

But Elizabeth, who had not the least inclination to remain with them, laughingly answered,

"No, no; stay where you are. -- You are charmingly group'd, and appear to uncommon advantage. The picturesque would be spoilt by admitting a fourth. Good bye."

She then ran gaily off, rejoicing, as she rambled about, in the hope of being at home again in a day or two. Jane was already so much recovered as to intend leaving her room for a couple of hours that evening.
 

这一天过得和前一天没有多大的不同。赫斯脱太太和彬格莱小姐上午陪了病人几个钟头,病人尽管好转得很慢,却在不断地好转。晚上,伊丽莎白跟她们一块儿待在客厅里。不过这一回却没有看见有人打“禄牌”。达西先生在写信,彬格莱小姐坐在他身旁看他写,一再纠缠不清地要他代她附笔问候他的妹妹。赫斯脱先生和彬格莱先生在打“皮克牌”,赫斯脱太太在一旁看他们打。

伊丽莎白在做针线,一面留神地听着达西跟彬格莱小姐谈话。只听得彬格莱小姐恭维话说个不停,不是说他的字写得好,就是说他的字迹一行行很齐整,要不就是赞美他的信写得仔细,可是对方却完全是冷冰冰爱理不理。这两个人你问我答,形成了一段奇妙的对白。照这样看来,伊丽莎白的确没有把他们俩看错。

“达西小姐收到了这样的一封信,将会怎样高兴啊!”

他没有回答。

“你写信写得这样快,真是少见。”

“你这话可说得不对。我写得相当慢。”

“你一年里头得写多少封信啊。还得写事务上的信,我看这是够厌烦的吧!”

“这么说,这些信总算幸亏碰到了我,没有碰到你。”

“请你告诉令妹,我很想和她见见面。”

“我已经遵命告诉过她了。”

“我怕你那支笔不大管用了吧。让我来代你修理修理。修笔真是我的拿手好戏。”

“谢谢你的好意,我一向都是自己修理。”

“你怎么写得那么整齐来着?”

他没有作声。

“请告诉令妹,就说我听到她的竖琴弹得进步了。真觉得高兴,还请你告诉她说,她寄来给我装饰桌子的那张美丽的小图案,我真喜欢极了,我觉得比起格兰特小姐的那张真好得太多了。”

“可否请你通融一下,让我把你的喜欢,延迟到下一次写信时再告诉她?这一次我可写不下这么多啦。”

“噢,不要紧。正月里我就可以跟她见面。不过,你老是写那么动人的长信给她吗,达西先生?”

“我的信一般都写得很长;不过是否每封信都写得动人,那可不能由我自己来说了。”

“不过我总觉得,凡是写起长信来一挥而就的人,无论如何也不会写得不好。”

她的哥哥嚷道:“这种恭维话可不能用在达西身上,珈罗琳,因为他并不能够大笔一挥而就,他还得在四个音节的字上面多多推敲。──达西,你可不是这样吗?”

“我写信的风格和你很不同。”

“噢,”彬格莱小姐叫起来了,“查尔斯写起信来,那种潦草随便的态度,简直不可想象。他要漏掉一半字,涂掉一半字。”

“我念头转得太快,简直来有及写,因此有时候收信人读到我的信,反而觉得言之无物。”

“彬格莱先生,”伊丽莎白说,“你这样谦虚,真叫人家本来要责备你也不好意思责备了。”

达西说:“假装谦虚偏偏往往就是信口开河,有时候简直是转弯抹角的自夸?”

“那么,我刚刚那几句谦虚的话,究竟是信口开河呢,还是转弯抹角的自夸?”

“要算是转弯抹角的自夸,因为你对于你自己写信方面的缺点觉得很得意,你认为你思想敏捷,懒得去注意书法,而且你认为你这些方面即使没有什么了不起,完全不考虑到做出来的成绩是不是完美。你今天早上跟班纳特太太说,如果你决定要从尼日斐花园搬走,你五分钟之内就可以搬走,这种话无非是夸耀自己,恭维自己。再说,急躁的结果只会使得应该要做好的事情没有做好,无论对人对已,都没有真正的好处,这有什么值得赞美的呢?”

“得了吧,”彬格莱先生嚷道,“晚上还记起早上的事,真是太不值得。而且老实说,我相信我对于自己的看法并没有错,我到现在还相信没有错。因此,我至少不是故意要显得那么神速,想要在小姐们面前炫耀自己。”

“也许你真的相信你自己的话;可是我怎么也不相信你做事情会那么当机立断。我知道你也跟一般人一样,都是见机行事。譬如你正跨上马要走了,忽然有朋友跟你说:‘彬格莱,你最好还是待到下个星期再走吧。’那你可能就会听他的话,可能就不走了,要是他再跟你说句什么的,你也许就会再待上一个月。”

伊丽莎白叫道:“你这一番话只不过说明了彬格莱先生并没有任着他自己的性子说做就做。你这样一说,比他自己说更来得光彩啦。”

彬格莱说:“我真太高兴了,我的朋友所说的话,经你这么一圆转,反面变成恭维我的话了。不过,我只怕你这种圆转并不投合那位先生的本意,因为:我如果真遇到这种事,我会爽爽快快地谢绝那位朋友,骑上马就走,那他一定更看得起我。”

“那么,难道达西先生认为,不管你本来的打算是多么轻率卤莽,只要你一打定主意就坚持到底,也就情有可原了吗?”

“老实说,我也解释不清楚;那得由达西自己来说明。”

“你想要把这些意见说成我的意见,我可从来没承认过。不过,班纳特小姐,即使把你所说的这种种情形假定为真有其事,你可别忘了这一点:那个朋友固然叫他回到屋子里去叫他不要那么说做就做,可是那也不过是那位朋友有那么一种希望,对他提出那么一个要求,可并没有坚持要他非那样做不可。”

“说到随随便便地轻易听从一个朋友的劝告,在你身上可还找不出这个优点。”

“如果不问是非,随随便便就听从,恐怕对于两个人全不能算是一种恭维吧。”

“达西先生,我觉得你未免否定了友谊和感情对于一个人的影响。要知道,一个人如果尊重别人提出的要求,通常都是用不着说服就会心甘情愿地听从的。我并不是因为你说到彬格莱先生而就借题发挥。也许我们可以等到真有这种事情发生的时候,再来讨论他处理得是不适当。不过一般说来,朋友与朋友相处,遇到一件无关紧要的事情的时候,一个已经打定主意,另一个要他改变一下主意,如果被要求的人不等到到对方加以说服,就听众了对方的意见,你能说他有什么不是吗?”

“我们且慢讨论这个问题,不妨先仔仔细细研究一下,那个朋友提出的要求究竟重要到什么程度,他们两个人的交情又深到什么程度,这样好不好?”

彬格莱大声说道:“好极了,请你仔仔细细讲吧,连到他们的身材的高矮和大小也别忘了讲,因为,班纳特小姐,你一定想象不到讨论起问题来的时候这一点是多么重要。老实对你说,要是达西先生不比我高那么多,大那么多,你才休想叫我那么尊敬他。在某些时候,某些场合,达西是个再讨厌不过的家伙──特别是礼拜天晚上在他家里,当他没有事情做的时候。”

达西微笑了一下,伊丽莎白本来要笑,可是觉得他好象有些生气了,便忍住了没有笑。彬格莱小姐看见人家拿他开玩笑,很是生气,便怪她的哥哥干吗要谈这样没意思的话。

达西说:“我明白你的用意,彬格莱,你不喜欢辩论,要把这场辩论压下去。”

“我也许真是这样。辩论往往很象争论,假若你和班纳特小姐能够稍缓一下等我走出房间以后再,辩论那我是非常感激的。我走出去以后,你们便可以爱怎么说我就怎么说我了。”

伊丽莎白说:“你要这样做,对我并没有什么损失;达西先生还是去把信写好吧。”

达西先生听从了她的意见,去把那封信写好。

这件事过去以后,达西要求彬格莱小姐和伊丽莎白小姐赏赐他一点音乐听听,彬格莱小姐便敏捷地走钢琴跟前,先客气了一番,请伊丽莎白带头,伊丽莎白却更加客气、更加诚恳地推辞了,然后彬格莱小姐才在琴旁坐下来。

赫斯脱太太替她妹妹伴唱。当她们姐妹俩演奏的时候,伊丽莎白翻阅着钢琴上的几本琴谱,只见达西先生的眼睛总是望着她。如果说,这位了不起的人这样看着她是出于爱慕之意,她可不大敢存这种奢望,不过,要是说达西是因为讨厌她所以才望着她,那就更说不通了。最后,她只得这样想;她所以引起了达西的注意,大概是因为达西认为她比起在座的任何人来,都叫人看不顺眼。她作出了这个假想之后,并没有感到痛苦,因为她根本不喜欢他,因此不稀罕他的垂青。

彬格莱小姐弹了几支意大利歌曲以后,便改弹了一些活泼的苏格兰曲子来变换变换情调。不大一会儿工夫,达西先生走到伊丽莎白跟前来,跟她说:

“班纳特小姐,你是不是很想趁这个机会来跳一次苏格兰舞?”

伊丽莎白没有回答他,只是笑了笑。他见她闷声不响,觉得有点儿奇怪,便又问了她一次。

“噢,”她说,“我早就听见了;可是我一下子拿不准应该怎样回答你。当然,我知道你希望我回答一声‘是的’那你就会蔑视我的低级趣味,好让你自己得意一番,只可惜我一向喜欢戳穿人家的诡计,作弄一下那些存心想要蔑视人的人。因此,我决定跟你说,我根本不爱跳苏格兰舞;这一下你可不敢蔑视我了吧。”

“果真不敢。”

伊丽莎白本来打算使他难堪一下,这会儿见他那么体贴,倒楞住了。不过,伊丽莎白的为人一贯温柔乖巧,不轻易得罪任何人,而达西又对她非常着迷,以前任何女人也不曾使他这样着迷过。他不由得一本正经地想道,要不是她的亲戚出身微贱,那我难免危险了。

彬格莱小姐见到这般光景,很是嫉妒,或者也可以说是她疑心病重,因此由疑而妒。于是她愈想把伊丽莎白撵走,就愈巴不得她的好朋友吉英病体赶快复元。

为了挑拨达西厌恶这位客人,她常常闲言闲语,说他跟伊丽莎白终将结成美满良缘,而且估料着这一门良缘会给达西带来多大幸福。

第二天彬格莱小姐跟达西两人在矮树林里散步,彬格莱小姐说:“我希望将来有一天好事如愿的时候,你得委婉地奉劝你那位岳母出言吐语要谨慎些,还有你那几位小姨子,要是你能力办得到,最好也得把她们那种醉心追求军官的毛病医治好。还有一件事,我真不好意思说出口;尊夫人有一点儿小脾气,好象是自高自大,又好象是不懂礼貌,你也得尽力帮助她克制一下。”

“关于促进我的家庭幸福方面,你还有什么别的意见吗?”

“噢,有的是。千万把你姨丈人姨丈母的像挂到彭伯里画廊里面去,就挂在你那位当法官的伯祖父大人遗象旁边。你知道他们都是同行,只不过部门不同而已。至于尊夫人伊丽莎白,可千万别让别人替她画像,天下哪一个画家能够把她那一双美丽的眼睛画得维妙维肖?”

“那双眼睛的神气确不容易描画;可是眼睛的形状和颜色,以及她的睫毛,都非常美妙,也许描画得出来。”

他们正谈得起劲和时候,忽然看见赫斯脱太太和伊丽莎白从另外一条路走过来。

彬格莱小姐连忙招呼她们说:“我不知道你们也想出来散散步,”她说这话的时候,心里很有些惴惴不安,因为她恐怕刚才的话让她们听见了。

“你们也太对不起我们了,”赫斯脱太太回答道,“只顾自己出来,也不告诉我们一声。”

接着她就挽住达西空着的那条臂膀,丢下伊丽莎白,让她独个儿去走。这条路恰巧只容得下三个人并排走。达西先生觉得她们太冒味了,便说道:

“这条路太窄,不能让我们大家一块儿并排走,我们不是走到大道上去吧。”

伊丽莎白本不想跟他们待在一起,一听这话,便笑嘻嘻地说:

“不用啦,不用啦;你们就在这儿走走吧。你们三个人在一起走非常好看,而且很出色。加上第四个人,画面就给弄毁了。再见。”

于是她就得意洋洋地跑开了。她一面跪溜达,一面想到一两天内就可以回家,觉得很高兴。吉英的病已经大为好转,当天晚上就想走出房间去玩它两个钟头。



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