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Chapter 27

WITH no greater events than these in the Longbourn family, and otherwise diversified by little beyond the walks to Meryton, sometimes dirty and sometimes cold, did January and February pass away. March was to take Elizabeth to Hunsford. She had not at first thought very seriously of going thither; but Charlotte, she soon found, was depending on the plan, and she gradually learned to consider it herself with greater pleasure as well as greater certainty. Absence had increased her desire of seeing Charlotte again, and weakened her disgust of Mr. Collins. There was novelty in the scheme; and as, with such a mother and such uncompanionable sisters, home could not be faultless, a little change was not unwelcome for its own sake. The journey would moreover give her a peep at Jane; and, in short, as the time drew near, she would have been very sorry for any delay. Every thing, however, went on smoothly, and was finally settled according to Charlotte's first sketch. She was to accompany Sir William and his second daughter. The improvement of spending a night in London was added in time, and the plan became perfect as plan could be.
The only pain was in leaving her father, who would certainly miss her, and who, when it came to the point, so little liked her going that he told her to write to him, and almost promised to answer her letter.

The farewell between herself and Mr. Wickham was perfectly friendly; on his side even more. His present pursuit could not make him forget that Elizabeth had been the first to excite and to deserve his attention, the first to listen and to pity, the first to be admired; and in his manner of bidding her adieu, wishing her every enjoyment, reminding her of what she was to expect in Lady Catherine de Bourgh, and trusting their opinion of her -- their opinion of every body -- would always coincide, there was a solicitude, an interest which she felt must ever attach her to him with a most sincere regard; and she parted from him convinced that, whether married or single, he must always be her model of the amiable and pleasing.

Her fellow-travellers the next day were not of a kind to make her think him less agreeable. Sir William Lucas and his daughter Maria, a good humoured girl, but as empty-headed as himself, had nothing to say that could be worth hearing, and were listened to with about as much delight as the rattle of the chaise. Elizabeth loved absurdities, but she had known Sir William's too long. He could tell her nothing new of the wonders of his presentation and knighthood; and his civilities were worn out like his information.

It was a journey of only twenty-four miles, and they began it so early as to be in Gracechurch-street by noon. As they drove to Mr. Gardiner's door, Jane was at a drawing-room window watching their arrival; when they entered the passage she was there to welcome them, and Elizabeth, looking earnestly in her face, was pleased to see it healthful and lovely as ever. On the stairs were a troop of little boys and girls, whose eagerness for their cousin's appearance would not allow them to wait in the drawing-room, and whose shyness, as they had not seen her for a twelvemonth, prevented their coming lower. All was joy and kindness. The day passed most pleasantly away; the morning in bustle and shopping, and the evening at one of the theatres.

Elizabeth then contrived to sit by her aunt. Their first subject was her sister; and she was more grieved than astonished to hear, in reply to her minute enquiries, that though Jane always struggled to support her spirits, there were periods of dejection. It was reasonable, however, to hope that they would not continue long. Mrs. Gardiner gave her the particulars also of Miss Bingley's visit in Gracechurch-street, and repeated conversations occurring at different times between Jane and herself, which proved that the former had, from her heart, given up the acquaintance.

Mrs. Gardiner then rallied her niece on Wickham's desertion, and complimented her on bearing it so well.

"But, my dear Elizabeth," she added, "what sort of girl is Miss King? I should be sorry to think our friend mercenary."

"Pray, my dear aunt, what is the difference in matrimonial affairs, between the mercenary and the prudent motive? Where does discretion end, and avarice begin? Last Christmas you were afraid of his marrying me, because it would be imprudent; and now, because he is trying to get a girl with only ten thousand pounds, you want to find out that he is mercenary."

"If you will only tell me what sort of girl Miss King is, I shall know what to think."

"She is a very good kind of girl, I believe. I know no harm of her."

"But he paid her not the smallest attention, till her grandfather's death made her mistress of this fortune."

"No -- why should he? If it was not allowable for him to gain my affections, because I had no money, what occasion could there be for making love to a girl whom he did not care about, and who was equally poor?"

"But there seems indelicacy in directing his attentions towards her, so soon after this event."

"A man in distressed circumstances has not time for all those elegant decorums which other people may observe. If she does not object to it, why should we?"

"Her not objecting, does not justify him. It only shews her being deficient in something herself -- sense or feeling."

"Well," cried Elizabeth, "have it as you choose. He shall be mercenary, and she shall be foolish."

"No, Lizzy, that is what I do not choose. I should be sorry, you know, to think ill of a young man who has lived so long in Derbyshire."

"Oh! if that is all, I have a very poor opinion of young men who live in Derbyshire; and their intimate friends who live in Hertfordshire are not much better. I am sick of them all. Thank Heaven! I am going to-morrow where I shall find a man who has not one agreeable quality, who has neither manner nor sense to recommend him. Stupid men are the only ones worth knowing, after all."

"Take care, Lizzy; that speech savours strongly of disappointment."

Before they were separated by the conclusion of the play, she had the unexpected happiness of an invitation to accompany her uncle and aunt in a tour of pleasure which they proposed taking in the summer.

"We have not quite determined how far it shall carry us," said Mrs. Gardiner, "but perhaps to the Lakes."

No scheme could have been more agreeable to Elizabeth, and her acceptance of the invitation was most ready and grateful. "My dear, dear aunt," she rapturously cried, "what delight! what felicity! You give me fresh life and vigour. Adieu to disappointment and spleen. What are men to rocks and mountains? Oh! what hours of transport we shall spend! And when we do return, it shall not be like other travellers, without being able to give one accurate idea of any thing. We will know where we have gone -- we will recollect what we have seen. Lakes, mountains, and rivers shall not be jumbled together in our imaginations; nor, when we attempt to describe any particular scene, will we begin quarrelling about its relative situation. Let our first effusions be less insupportable than those of the generality of travellers."
 

浪搏恩这家人家除了这些事以外,再没有别的大事;除了到麦里屯去散散步以外,再没有别的消遣。时而雨水泞途、时而风寒刺骨的正月和二月,就这样过去了。三月里伊丽莎白要上汉斯福去。开头她并不是真想去;可是她立刻想到夏绿蒂对于原来的约定寄予了很大的期望,于是她也就带着比较乐意和比较肯定的心情来考虑这个问题了。离别促进了她想夏绿蒂重逢的愿望,也消除了她对柯林斯先生的厌恶。这个计划多少总有它新奇的地方;再说,家里有了这样的母亲和这样几位不能融洽的妹妹,自难完美无缺,换换环境也好。趁着旅行的机会也可去看看吉英;总之,时日迫近了,她反而有些等不及了。她在一切都进行得很顺利,最后依旧照了夏绿蒂原先的意思,跟威廉爵士和他的第二个女儿一块儿去作一次客。以后这计划又补充了一下,决定在伦敦住一夜,这一来可真是个十全十美的计划了。

只有和父亲离别使她感到痛苦,父亲一定会记挂她。说起来,他根本就不愿意让她去,既是事情已经决定,只得叫她常常写信给他,而且几乎答应亲自给她回信。

她跟韦翰先生告别时,双方都十分客气,韦翰比她还要客气。他目前虽然在追求别人,却并没有因此就忘了伊丽莎白是第一个引起他注目的人,第一个值得他注目的人,第一个听他倾诉衷情,第一个可怜他,第一个搏得了他爱慕的人;他向她告别,祝她万事如意,又对她说了一遍德·包尔夫人是很好的一个人,他相信他们俩对那位老夫人的评价,对每一个人的评价,一定完全吻合。他说这话的时候,显得很是热诚,很是关切,这种盛情一定会使她对他永远怀着极其深挚的好感。他们分手以后,她更相信不管他结婚也罢,单身也罢,他在她的心目中将会始终是一个极其和蔼可亲而又讨人喜欢的人。

第二天和她同路的那些人,也并没有使韦翰在她心目中相形见绌。威廉爵士简直说不出一句中听的话,他那位女儿玛丽亚虽然脾气很好,脑子却象她父亲一样空洞,也说不出一句中听的话。听他们父女俩说话,就好象听到车辆的辘辘声一样无聊。伊丽莎白本来爱听无稽之谈,不过威廉爵士那一套她实在听得腻了。他谈来谈去总不外乎觐见皇上以及荣膺爵士头衔之类的奇闻,翻不出什么新花样来;他那一套礼貌举止,也象他的出言吐语一样,已经陈腐不堪。

这段旅程不过二十四英里路,他们启程很早,为的是要在正午赶到天恩寺街。他们走近嘉丁纳先生的大门时,吉英正在会客室的窗口望着他们。他们走近过道时,吉英正等在那儿接他们,伊丽莎白真挚地仔细望了望吉英的脸,只见那张脸蛋儿还是象往常一样地健康美丽,她觉得很高兴。男男女女的孩子们为了急于要见到表奶,在客厅里等不及,又因为一年没见面,不好意思下楼去,便都待在楼梯口。到处是一片欢乐与和善的气氛。这一天真过得极其愉快;上午乱哄哄地忙做一团,又要出去买东西;晚上上戏院去看戏。

伊丽莎白在舅母身旁坐下来。她们俩首先就谈到她姐姐。她仔仔细细问了许多话,舅母回答她说,吉英虽然竭力提着精神,还免不了有意气消沉的时候,她听了并不十分诧异,却很忧郁。她在这种意气消沉的现象还会继续多久。嘉丁纳太太也跟伊丽莎白谈起彬格莱小姐过访天恩寺街的一切情形,又把吉英跟她好几次的谈话重述了一遍给她听,这些话足以说明吉英的确打算再不和彬格莱小姐来往了。

嘉丁纳太太然后又谈起韦翰遗弃伊丽莎白的话,把她外甥女笑话了一番,同时又赞美她的忍耐功夫。

她接着又说:“可是,亲爱的伊丽莎白,金小姐是怎么样的一个姑娘?我可不愿意把我们的朋友看作是一个见不得钱的人啊。”

“请问你,亲爱的舅母,拿婚姻问题来讲,见钱眼红与动机正当究竟有什么不同?做到什么地步为止就算知礼,打哪儿起就要算是贪心?去年圣诞节你还生怕我跟他结婚,怕的是不郑重其事,而现在呢,他要去跟一个只不过有一万镑财产的姑娘结婚,你就要说他见不得钱啦。”

“只要你告诉我,金小姐是怎么样一个姑娘,我就知道该怎么说话了。”

“我相信她是个好姑娘。我说不出她有什么坏处。”

“可是韦翰本来完全不把她放在眼睛里,为什么她祖父一去世,她做了这笔家产的主人,他就会看上了她呢?:”

“没有的事,他为什么要那样?要是说,他不愿意跟我相爱,就是因为我没有钱,那么,他一向不关心的一个姑娘,一个同样穷的姑娘,他又有什么理由要去跟她谈恋爱呢?”

“不过,她家里一发生这件变故,他就去向她献殷勤,这未免不象话吧。”

“一个处境困难的人,不会象一般人那样有闲,去注意这些繁文缛节。只要她不反对,我们为什么要反对?”

“她不反对,并不说明他就做得对。那只不过说明了她本身有什么缺陷,不是见识方面有缺陷,就是感觉方面有缺陷。”

“哦,”伊丽莎白叫道:“你爱怎么说就怎么说吧,说他贪财也好,说她傻也好。”

“不丽萃,我才不这么说呢。你知道,在德比郡住了这么久的一个青年,我是不忍心说他坏话的。”

“噢,要是光光就凭这点理由,我才看不起那些住在德比郡的青年人呢,他们住在哈福德郡的那批知已朋友们,也好不了多少。他们全都叫我讨厌。谢谢老天爷!明天我就要到一个地方去,我将要在那儿见到一个一无可取的人,他无论在风度方面,在见解方面,都不见长。说到头来,只有那些傻瓜值得你去跟他们来来往往。”

“当心些,丽萃;这种话未免说得太消沉了些。”

她们看完了戏,刚要分手的时候,舅父母又邀请她参加他们的夏季旅行,这真是一种意外的快乐。

嘉丁纳太太说:“至于究竟到什么地方去,我们还没有十分决定,也许到湖区去。”

对伊丽莎白说来,随便什么计划也不会比这个计划更中她的意了,她毫不犹豫地接受了这个邀请,而且非常感激。“我的好舅母,亲舅母,”她欢天喜地叫了起来,“多高兴,多幸福!你给了我新的生命和活力。我再也不沮丧和忧郁了。人比起高山大石来,算得了什么?我们将要度过一些多么快乐的时日啊!等到我们回来的时候,一定不会象一般游人那样,什么都是浮光惊影。我们一定会知道到过什么地方───我们看见过的东西一定会记得住。湖泊山川决不会在我们脑子里乱七八糟地混做一团;我们要谈到某一处风景的时候,决不会连位置也弄不明白,彼此争论不休。但愿我们一回来叙述起游踪浪迹的时候,不要象一般旅客那样陈腔滥调,叫人听不入耳。”



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