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Chapter 12

IN consequence of an agreement between the sisters, Elizabeth wrote the next morning to her mother, to beg that the carriage might be sent for them in the course of the day. But Mrs. Bennet, who had calculated on her daughters remaining at Netherfield till the following Tuesday, which would exactly finish Jane's week, could not bring herself to receive hem with pleasure before. Her answer, therefore, was not propitious, at least not to Elizabeth's wishes, for she was impatient to get home. Mrs. Bennet sent them word that they could not possibly have the carriage before Tuesday; and in her postscript it was added that, if Mr. Bingley and his sister pressed them to stay longer, she could spare them very well. -- Against staying longer, however, Elizabeth was positively resolved -- nor did she much expect it would be asked; and fearful, on the contrary, as being considered as intruding themselves needlessly long, she urged Jane to borrow Mr. Bingley's carriage immediately, and at length it was settled that their original design of leaving Netherfield that morning should be mentioned, and the request made.

The communication excited many professions of concern; and enough was said of wishing them to stay at least till the following day, to work on Jane; and till the morrow their going was deferred. Miss Bingley was then sorry that she had proposed the delay, for her jealousy and dislike of one sister much exceeded her affection for the other.

The master of the house heard with real sorrow that they were to go so soon, and repeatedly tried to persuade Miss Bennet that it would not be safe for her -- that she was not enough recovered; but Jane was firm where she felt herself to be right.

To Mr. Darcy it was welcome intelligence -- Elizabeth had been at Netherfield long enough. She attracted him more than he liked -- and Miss Bingley was uncivil to her, and more teazing than usual to himself. He wisely resolved to be particularly careful that no sign of admiration should now escape him, nothing that could elevate her with the hope of influencing his felicity; sensible that if such an idea had been suggested, his behaviour during the last day must have material weight in confirming or crushing it. Steady to his purpose, he scarcely spoke ten words to her through the whole of Saturday, and though they were at one time left by themselves for half an hour, he adhered most conscientiously to his book, and would not even look at her.

On Sunday, after morning service, the separation, so agreeable to almost all, took place. Miss Bingley's civility to Elizabeth increased at last very rapidly, as well as her affection for Jane; and when they parted, after assuring the latter of the pleasure it would always give her to see her either at Longbourn or Netherfield, and embracing her most tenderly, she even shook hands with the former. -- Elizabeth took leave of the whole party in the liveliest spirits.

They were not welcomed home very cordially by their mother. Mrs. Bennet wondered at their coming, and thought them very wrong to give so much trouble, and was sure Jane would have caught cold again. -- But their father, though very laconic in his expressions of pleasure, was really glad to see them; he had felt their importance in the family circle. The evening conversation, when they were all assembled, had lost much of its animation, and almost all its sense, by the absence of Jane and Elizabeth.

They found Mary, as usual, deep in the study of thorough bass and human nature; and had some new extracts to admire, and some new observations of thread-bare morality to listen to. Catherine and Lydia had information for them of a different sort. Much had been done and much had been said in the regiment since the preceding Wednesday; several of the officers had dined lately with their uncle, a private had been flogged, and it had actually been hinted that Colonel Forster was going to be married.
 

班纳特姐妹俩商量妥当了以后,伊丽莎白第二天早上就写信给她母亲,请她当天就派车子来接她们。可是,班纳特太太早就打算让她两个女儿在尼日斐花园待到下星期二,以便让吉英正好住满一个星期,因此不大乐意提前接她们回家,回信也写得使她们不太满意,──至少使伊丽莎白不十分满意,因为她急于要回家。班纳特太太信上说,非到星期二,家里弄不出马车来。她写完信之后,又补写了几句,说是倘若彬格莱先生兄妹挽留她们多待几天,她非常愿意让她们待下去。怎奈伊丽莎白就是不肯待下去,她打定主意非回家不可──也不怎么指望主人家挽留她们,她反而怕人家以为她们赖在那儿不肯走。于是她催促吉英马上去向彬格莱借马车。她们最后决定向主人家说明,她们当天上午就要离开尼日斐花园,而且把借马车的事也提出来。

主人家听到这话,表示百般关切,便再三挽留她们,希望她们至少待到下一天再走,吉英让她们说服了,于是姐妹俩只得再耽搁一天。这一下可叫彬格莱小姐后悔挽留她们,她对伊丽莎白又嫉妒又讨厌,因此也就顾不得对吉英的感情了。彬格莱听到她们马上要走非常发愁,便一遍又一遍劝导吉英,说她还没有完全复元,马上就走不大妥当,可是吉英既然觉得自己的主张是对的便再三坚持。

不过达西却觉得这是个好消息,他认为伊丽莎白在尼日斐花园待得够久了。他没想到这次会给她弄得这般地心醉,加上彬格莱小姐一方面对她没礼貌,另方面又越发拿他自己开玩笑。他灵机一动,决定叫自己特别当心些,目前决不要流露出对她有什么爱慕的意思───一点儿形迹也不要流露出来,免得她存非份之想,就此要操纵我达西的终身幸福。他感觉到,假如她存了那种心,那么一定是他昨天对待她的态度起了举足轻重的作用──叫她不是对他更有好感,便是把他完全厌弃。他这样拿定了主意,于是星期六一整天简直没有跟她说上十句话。虽然他那天曾经有一次跟她单独在一起待了半小时之久,他却正大光明地用心看书,看也没看她一眼。

星期日做过晨祷以后,班家两姐妹立即告辞,主人家几乎人人乐意。彬格莱小姐对伊丽莎白一下子变得有礼貌起来了,对吉英也一下子变得亲热了。分手的时候,她先跟吉英说,非常盼望以后有机会在浪博恩或者在尼日斐花园跟她重逢,接着又十分亲切地拥抱了她一番,甚至还跟伊丽莎白握了握手。伊丽莎白高高兴兴地告别了大家。

到家以后,母亲并不怎么热诚地欢迎她们。班纳特太太奇怪她们俩怎么竟会提前回来,非常埋怨她们给家里招来那么多麻烦,说是吉英十拿九稳地又要伤风了。倒是她们的父亲,看到两个女儿回家来了,嘴上虽然没有说什么欢天喜地的话,心里确实非常高兴。他早就体会到,这两个女儿在家里的地位多么重要。晚上一家人聚在一起聊天的时候,要是吉英和伊丽莎白不在场,就没有劲,甚至毫无意义。

她们发觉曼丽还象以往一样,在埋头研究和声学以及人性的问题,她拿出了一些新的札记给她们欣赏,又发表一些对旧道德的新见解给她们听。咖苔琳和丽迪雅也告诉了她们一些新闻,可是性质完全不同。据她们说,民兵团自从上星期三以来又出了好多事,添了好多传说;有几个军官新近跟她们的姨爹吃过饭;一个士兵挨了鞭打,又听说弗斯脱上校的确快结婚了。



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