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Chapter 28

EVERY object in the next day's journey was new and interesting to Elizabeth; and her spirits were in a state for enjoyment; for she had seen her sister looking so well as to banish all fear for her health, and the prospect of her northern tour was a constant source of delight.
When they left the high-road for the lane to Hunsford, every eye was in search of the Parsonage, and every turning expected to bring it in view. The palings of Rosings Park was their boundary on one side. Elizabeth smiled at the recollection of all that she had heard of its inhabitants.

At length the Parsonage was discernable. The garden sloping to the road, the house standing in it, the green pales and the laurel hedge, everything declared that they were arriving. Mr. Collins and Charlotte appeared at the door, and the carriage stopped at a small gate, which led by a short gravel walk to the house, amidst the nods and smiles of the whole party. In a moment they were all out of the chaise, rejoicing at the sight of each other. Mrs. Collins welcomed her friend with the liveliest pleasure, and Elizabeth was more and more satisfied with coming, when she found herself so affectionately received. She saw instantly that her cousin's manners were not altered by his marriage; his formal civility was just what it had been, and he detained her some minutes at the gate to hear and satisfy his enquiries after all her family. They were then, with no other delay than his pointing out the neatness of the entrance, taken into the house; and as soon as they were in the parlour, he welcomed them a second time with ostentatious formality to his humble abode, and punctually repeated all his wife's offers of refreshment.

Elizabeth was prepared to see him in his glory; and she could not help fancying that in displaying the good proportion of the room, its aspect and its furniture, he addressed himself particularly to her, as if wishing to make her feel what she had lost in refusing him. But though every thing seemed neat and comfortable, she was not able to gratify him by any sigh of repentance; and rather looked with wonder at her friend that she could have so cheerful an air, with such a companion. When Mr. Collins said any thing of which his wife might reasonably be ashamed, which certainly was not unseldom, she involuntarily turned her eye on Charlotte. Once or twice she could discern a faint blush; but in general Charlotte wisely did not hear. After sitting long enough to admire every article of furniture in the room, from the sideboard to the fender, to give an account of their journey, and of all that had happened in London, Mr. Collins invited them to take a stroll in the garden, which was large and well laid out, and to the cultivation of which he attended himself. To work in his garden was one of his most respectable pleasures; and Elizabeth admired the command of countenance with which Charlotte talked of the healthfulness of the excercise, and owned she encouraged it as much as possible. Here, leading the way through every walk and cross walk, and scarcely allowing them an interval to utter the praises he asked for, every view was pointed out with a minuteness which left beauty entirely behind. He could number the fields in every direction, and could tell how many trees there were in the most distant clump. But of all the views which his garden, or which the country, or the kingdom could boast, none were to be compared with the prospect of Rosings, afforded by an opening in the trees that bordered the park nearly opposite the front of his house. It was a handsome modern building, well situated on rising ground.

From his garden, Mr. Collins would have led them round his two meadows, but the ladies, not having shoes to encounter the remains of a white frost, turned back; and while Sir William accompanied him, Charlotte took her sister and friend over the house, extremely well pleased, probably, to have the opportunity of shewing it without her husband's help. It was rather small, but well built and convenient; and everything was fitted up and arranged with a neatness and consistency of which Elizabeth gave Charlotte all the credit. When Mr. Collins could be forgotten, there was really a great air of comfort throughout, and by Charlotte's evident enjoyment of it, Elizabeth supposed he must be often forgotten. She had already learnt that Lady Catherine was still in the country. It was spoken of again while they were at dinner, when Mr. Collins joining in, observed,

"Yes, Miss Elizabeth, you will have the honour of seeing Lady Catherine de Bourgh on the ensuing Sunday at church, and I need not say you will be delighted with her. She is all affability and condescension, and I doubt not but you will be honoured with some portion of her notice when service is over. I have scarcely any hesitation in saying that she will include you and my sister Maria in every invitation with which she honours us during your stay here. Her behaviour to my dear Charlotte is charming. We dine at Rosings twice every week, and are never allowed to walk home. Her ladyship's carriage is regularly ordered for us. I should say, one of her ladyship's carriages, for she has several."

"Lady Catherine is a very respectable, sensible woman indeed," added Charlotte, "and a most attentive neighbour."

"Very true, my dear, that is exactly what I say. She is the sort of woman whom one cannot regard with too much deference."

The evening was spent chiefly in talking over Hertfordshire news, and telling again what had been already written; and when it closed, Elizabeth, in the solitude of her chamber, had to meditate upon Charlotte's degree of contentment, to understand her address in guiding, and composure in bearing with her husband, and to acknowledge that it was all done very well. She had also to anticipate how her visit would pass, the quiet tenor of their usual employments, the vexatious interruptions of Mr. Collins, and the gaieties of their intercourse with Rosings. A lively imagination soon settled it all. About the middle of the next day, as she was in her room getting ready for a walk, a sudden noise below seemed to speak the whole house in confusion; and after listening a moment, she heard somebody running up stairs in a violent hurry, and calling loudly after her. She opened the door, and met Maria in the landing place, who, breathless with agitation, cried out,

"Oh, my dear Eliza! pray make haste and come into the dining-room, for there is such a sight to be seen! I will not tell you what it is. Make haste, and come down this moment."

Elizabeth asked questions in vain; Maria would tell her nothing more, and down they ran into the dining-room, which fronted the lane, in quest of this wonder; it was two ladies stopping in a low phaeton at the garden gate.

"And is this all?" cried Elizabeth. "I expected at least that the pigs were got into the garden, and here is nothing but Lady Catherine and her daughter!"

"La! my dear," said Maria quite shocked at the mistake, "it is not Lady Catherine. The old lady is Mrs. Jenkinson, who lives with them. The other is Miss De Bourgh. Only look at her. She is quite a little creature. Who would have thought she could be so thin and small!"

"She is abominably rude to keep Charlotte out of doors in all this wind. Why does she not come in?"

"Oh! Charlotte says, she hardly ever does. It is the greatest of favours when Miss De Bourgh comes in."

"I like her appearance," said Elizabeth, struck with other ideas. "She looks sickly and cross. -- Yes, she will do for him very well. She will make him a very proper wife."

Mr. Collins and Charlotte were both standing at the gate in conversation with the ladies; and Sir William, to Elizabeth's high diversion, was stationed in the doorway, in earnest contemplation of the greatness before him, and constantly bowing whenever Miss De Bourgh looked that way.

At length there was nothing more to be said; the ladies drove on, and the others returned into the house. Mr. Collins no sooner saw the two girls than he began to congratulate them on their good fortune, which Charlotte explained by letting them know that the whole party was asked to dine at Rosings the next day.
 

第二天旅途上的每一样事物,伊丽莎白都感到新鲜有趣;她精神很愉快,因为看到姐姐气色那么好,可以不用再为她的健康担心,加上一想到去北方的旅行,她就越发高兴。当他们离开了大路,走上一条通往汉斯福的小径时,每一只眼睛都在寻找着那幢牧师住宅;每拐一个弯,都以为就要看到那幢房子。他们沿着罗新斯花园的栅栏往前走。伊丽莎白一想到外界所传闻的那家人家和种种情形,不禁好笑。

终于看到那幢牧师住宅了。大路斜对面的花园、花园里的房子、绿的栅栏、以及桂树围篱───每一样东西好象都在宣布他们的来到。柯林斯先生和夏绿蒂走到门口来了。在宾主频频点头脉脉微笑中,客人们在一道小门跟前停下了车,从这里穿过一条短短的鹅卵石铺道,便能直达正屋。一刹眼工夫,他们都下了车,宾主相见,无限欢欣。柯林斯简直手舞足蹈地欢迎自己的朋友,伊丽莎白受到这么亲切的欢迎,就越发满意于这次的作客了。她立刻看到她表兄并没有因为结了婚而改变态度,他还是完全和以往一样地拘泥礼节,在门口耽搁了她好几分钟,问候她全家大小的起居安好。听到她一一回答了之后,他才满意。于是他就没有再耽搁他们,只指给他们看看门口是多么整洁,便把客人们带进了屋子;等到客人一走进客厅,他又对他们作了第二次的欢迎,极其客气地说,这次承蒙诸位光临寒舍,真是不胜荣幸,并且刻不容缓地把他太太送上来的点心重新奉献了一次。

伊丽莎白早就料到他会那样得意非凡,因此当他夸耀那屋子的优美结构、式样、以及一切陈设的时候,她禁不住想到他是特地讲给她听的,好象要叫她明白,她当初拒绝了他,是多么大的一个损失。虽说样样东西的确都那么整洁和舒适,她可千万不能流露出一点点后悔的痕迹来叫他得意;她甚至带着诧异的目光看看夏绿蒂,她弄不明白夏绿蒂和这样的一位伴侣相处,为什么还会那么高兴。柯林斯先生有时竟会说些很不得体的话,叫他自己的太太听了也不免难为情,而且这类话又说得并不太少,每逢这种场合,伊丽莎白就不由自主地要向夏绿蒂望一眼。夏绿蒂有一两次被她看得微微脸红了,不过一般总是很聪明地装作没有听见。大家在屋里坐了好一会儿,欣赏着每一件家具,从食器橱一直欣赏到壁炉架,又谈了谈一路上的情况以及伦敦的一切情形,然后柯林斯先生就请他们到花园里去散散步。花园很大,布置得也很好,一切都是由他亲手料理的。他的最高尚的娱乐就是收拾花园。夏绿蒂说,这种操作有益于健康,她尽可能鼓励他这样做;她讲起这件事的时候,非常镇定自若,真叫伊丽莎白佩服。他领着他们走遍了花园里的曲径小道,看遍了每一处景物,每看一处都得琐琐碎碎地讲一阵,美不美倒完全不在他心上,看的人即使想要赞美几句也插不上嘴。他数得出每一个方向有多少田园,连最远的树丛里有多少棵树他也讲得出来,可是,不论是他自己花园里的景物也好,或者是这整个乡村甚至全国的名胜古迹也好,都万万比不上罗新斯花园的景色。罗新斯花园差不多就在他住宅的正对面,四面是树,从树林的空隙处可以望见里面。那是一幢漂亮的控建筑,耸立在一片高地上。

柯林斯先生本来想把他们从花园里带去看看两块草地,但是太太小姐们的鞋子抵挡不住那残余的白霜,于是全都走回去了,只剩下威廉爵士陪伴着他。夏绿蒂陪着自己的妹妹和朋友参观住宅,这一下她能够撇开丈夫的帮忙,有机会让她自己显显身手,真是高兴极了。房子很小,但是建筑结实,使用也很方便;一切都布置得很精巧,安排得很调和,伊丽莎白对夏绿蒂夸奖备至。只要不想起柯林斯先生,便真正有了一种非常美好的气氛。伊丽莎白看见夏绿蒂那样得意,便不由得想到她平常一定不把柯林斯先生放在心上。

伊丽莎白已经打听到咖苔琳夫人还在乡下。吃饭的时候又谈起了这桩事,当时柯林斯先生立即插嘴说:

“正是,伊丽莎白小姐,星期日晚上你就可以有荣幸在教学里见到咖苔琳·德·包尔夫人,你一定会喜欢她的。她为人极其谦和,丝毫没有架子,我相信那天做完礼拜之后,你就会很荣幸地受到她的注目。我可以毫无犹豫地说,只要你待在这儿,每逢她赏脸请我们作客的时候,总少不了要请你和我的小姨子玛丽亚。她对待我亲爱的夏绿蒂真是好极了。我们每星期去罗新斯吃两次饭,她老人家从来没有哪一次让我们步行回家,总是打发自己的马车送我们──我应该说,是打发她老人家的某一部马车,因为她有好几部车子呢。”

夏绿蒂又说:“咖苔琳夫人的确是个道貌岸然、通达情理的女人,而且是位极其殷勤的邻居。”

“说得很对,亲爱的,你真说到我心上去了。象她这样一位夫人,你无论对她怎样尊敬,依旧会感到有些欠缺。”

这一晚主要就谈论哈福德郡的新闻,又把以前信上所说的话重新再提一遍。大家散了以后,伊丽莎白孤单单地在房间里,不由得默默想起了夏绿蒂对于现状究竟满意到什么程度,驾御丈夫的手腕巧妙到什么程度,容忍丈夫的肚量又大到什么程度。她不由得承认,一切都安排得非常好。她又去想象着这次作客的时间将如何度过,无非是:平淡安静的日常起居,柯林斯先生那种惹人讨厌的插嘴打贫,再加上跟罗新斯的应酬来往等。她那丰富的想象力马上解决了整个问题。

大约在第二天响午的时候,她正在房间里准备出去散散步,忽听得楼下一阵喧哗,马上这整个住宅里的人好象都慌乱了起来;一会儿工夫,只听得有人急急忙忙奔上楼来,大声叫她。她开了门,在楼梯口遇见了玛丽亚,只见她激动得气都喘不过来,嚷道:

“噢,亲爱的伊丽莎呀,请你赶快到餐室里去,那儿有了不起的场面值得看呢!我可不告诉你是怎么回事。赶快呀,马上下楼来。”

伊丽莎白一遍遍问,也问不出一个究竟来;玛丽亚多一句也不肯跟她说;于是她们俩便奔进那间面临着大路的餐室,去探奇寻胜。原来来了两位女客,乘着一辆低低的四轮马车,停在花园门口。

伊丽莎白连忙嚷道:“就是这么回事吗?我还以为是猪猡闯进了花园呢,原来只不过是咖苔琳夫人母女俩。”

玛丽亚听她说错了,不禁大吃一惊:“噍你,亲爱的,那不是咖苔琳夫人。那位老夫人是姜金生太太,她跟她们住在一起的;另外一位是德·包尔小姐。你且瞧瞧她那副模样儿吧。她真是个非常纤小的人儿。谁会想到她会这么单薄,这么小!”

“她真是太没有礼貌,风这样大,却让夏绿蒂待在门外。她为什么不进来?”

“噢,夏绿蒂说,她真难得进来。德·包尔小姐要是进来一次,那可真是天大的面子。”

“她那副模样儿真够人瞧的,”伊丽莎白一面说,一面又突然起了别的种种念头。

“她看上去身体不好,脾气又坏。她配他真是再好不过呢。她做他的太太极其相称。”

柯林斯先生和夏绿蒂都站在门口跟那位女客谈话。伊丽莎白觉得最好笑的是,威廉爵士正必恭必敬地站在门口,虔诚地瞻仰着面前的蔚然大观,每当德·包尔小姐朝着他这边望的时候,他总是一鞠躬。

后来他们的话全说完了,两位女客驱车而去,别人都回到屋里。柯林斯一看到两位小姐,就恭贺她们走了鸿运;夏绿蒂把他的意思解释给她们听,原来罗新斯明天又要请他们全体去吃饭了。



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