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Chapter 4

He was not Mr Wentworth, the former curate of Monkford, however suspicious appearances may be, but a Captain Frederick Wentworth, his brother, who being made commander in consequence of the action off St Domingo, and not immediately employed, had come into Somersetshire, in the summer of 1806; and having no parent living, found a home for half a year at Monkford. He was, at that time, a remarkably fine young man, with a great deal of intelligence, spirit, and brilliancy; and Anne an extremely pretty girl, with gentleness, modesty, taste, and feeling. Half the sum of attraction, on either side, might have been enough, for he had nothing to do, and she had hardly anybody to love; but the encounter of such lavish recommendations could not fail. They were gradually acquainted, and when acquainted, rapidly and deeply in love. It would be difficult to say which had seen highest perfection in the other, or which had been the happiest: she, in receiving his declarations and proposals, or he in having them accepted.

A short period of exquisite felicity followed, and but a short one. Troubles soon arose. Sir Walter, on being applied to, without actually withholding his consent, or saying it should never be, gave it all the negative of great astonishment, great coldness, great silence, and a professed resolution of doing nothing for his daughter. He thought it a very degrading alliance; and Lady Russell, though with more tempered and pardonable pride, received it as a most unfortunate one.

Anne Elliot, with all her claims of birth, beauty, and mind, to throw herself away at nineteen; involve herself at nineteen in an engagement with a young man, who had nothing but himself to recommend him, and no hopes of attaining affluence, but in the chances of a most uncertain profession, and no connexions to secure even his farther rise in the profession, would be, indeed, a throwing away, which she grieved to think of! Anne Elliot, so young; known to so few, to be snatched off by a stranger without alliance or fortune; or rather sunk by him into a state of most wearing, anxious, youth-killing dependence! It must not be, if by any fair interference of friendship, any representations from one who had almost a mother's love, and mother's rights, it would be prevented.

Captain Wentworth had no fortune. He had been lucky in his profession; but spending freely, what had come freely, had realized nothing. But he was confident that he should soon be rich: full of life and ardour, he knew that he should soon have a ship, and soon be on a station that would lead to everything he wanted. He had always been lucky; he knew he should be so still. Such confidence, powerful in its own warmth, and bewitching in the wit which often expressed it, must have been enough for Anne; but Lady Russell saw it very differently. His sanguine temper, and fearlessness of mind, operated very differently on her. She saw in it but an aggravation of the evil. It only added a dangerous character to himself. He was brilliant, he was headstrong. Lady Russell had little taste for wit, and of anything approaching to imprudence a horror. She deprecated the connexion in every light.

Such opposition, as these feelings produced, was more than Anne could combat. Young and gentle as she was, it might yet have been possible to withstand her father's ill-will, though unsoftened by one kind word or look on the part of her sister; but Lady Russell, whom she had always loved and relied on, could not, with such steadiness of opinion, and such tenderness of manner, be continually advising her in vain. She was persuaded to believe the engagement a wrong thing: indiscreet, improper, hardly capable of success, and not deserving it. But it was not a merely selfish caution, under which she acted, in putting an end to it. Had she not imagined herself consulting his good, even more than her own, she could hardly have given him up. The belief of being prudent, and self-denying, principally for his advantage, was her chief consolation, under the misery of a parting, a final parting; and every consolation was required, for she had to encounter all the additional pain of opinions, on his side, totally unconvinced and unbending, and of his feeling himself ill used by so forced a relinquishment. He had left the country in consequence.

A few months had seen the beginning and the end of their acquaintance; but not with a few months ended Anne's share of suffering from it. Her attachment and regrets had, for a long time, clouded every enjoyment of youth, and an early loss of bloom and spirits had been their lasting effect.

More than seven years were gone since this little history of sorrowful interest had reached its close; and time had softened down much, perhaps nearly all of peculiar attachment to him, but she had been too dependent on time alone; no aid had been given in change of place (except in one visit to Bath soon after the rupture), or in any novelty or enlargement of society. No one had ever come within the Kellynch circle, who could bear a comparison with Frederick Wentworth, as he stood in her memory. No second attachment, the only thoroughly natural, happy, and sufficient cure, at her time of life, had been possible to the nice tone of her mind, the fastidiousness of her taste, in the small limits of the society around them. She had been solicited, when about two-and-twenty, to change her name, by the young man, who not long afterwards found a more willing mind in her younger sister; and Lady Russell had lamented her refusal; for Charles Musgrove was the eldest son of a man, whose landed property and general importance were second in that country, only to Sir Walter's, and of good character and appearance; and however Lady Russell might have asked yet for something more, while Anne was nineteen, she would have rejoiced to see her at twenty-two so respectably removed from the partialities and injustice of her father's house, and settled so permanently near herself. But in this case, Anne had left nothing for advice to do; and though Lady Russell, as satisfied as ever with her own discretion, never wished the past undone, she began now to have the anxiety which borders on hopelessness for Anne's being tempted, by some man of talents and independence, to enter a state for which she held her to be peculiarly fitted by her warm affections and domestic habits.

They knew not each other's opinion, either its constancy or its change, on the one leading point of Anne's conduct, for the subject was never alluded to; but Anne, at seven-and-twenty, thought very differently from what she had been made to think at nineteen. She did not blame Lady Russell, she did not blame herself for having been guided by her; but she felt that were any young person, in similar circumstances, to apply to her for counsel, they would never receive any of such certain immediate wretchedness, such uncertain future good. She was persuaded that under every disadvantage of disapprobation at home, and every anxiety attending his profession, all their probable fears, delays, and disappointments, she should yet have been a happier woman in maintaining the engagement, than she had been in the sacrifice of it; and this, she fully believed, had the usual share, had even more than the usual share of all such solicitudes and suspense been theirs, without reference to the actual results of their case, which, as it happened, would have bestowed earlier prosperity than could be reasonably calculated on. All his sanguine expectations, all his confidence had been justified. His genius and ardour had seemed to foresee and to command his prosperous path. He had, very soon after their engagement ceased, got employ: and all that he had told her would follow, had taken place. He had distinguished himself, and early gained the other step in rank, and must now, by successive captures, have made a handsome fortune. She had only navy lists and newspapers for her authority, but she could not doubt his being rich; and, in favour of his constancy, she had no reason to believe him married.

How eloquent could Anne Elliot have been! how eloquent, at least, were her wishes on the side of early warm attachment, and a cheerful confidence in futurity, against that over-anxious caution which seems to insult exertion and distrust Providence! She had been forced into prudence in her youth, she learned romance as she grew older: the natural sequel of an unnatural beginning.

With all these circumstances, recollections and feelings, she could not hear that Captain Wentworth's sister was likely to live at Kellynch without a revival of former pain; and many a stroll, and many a sigh, were necessary to dispel the agitation of the idea. She often told herself it was folly, before she could harden her nerves sufficiently to feel the continual discussion of the Crofts and their business no evil. She was assisted, however, by that perfect indifference and apparent unconsciousness, among the only three of her own friends in the secret of the past, which seemed almost to deny any recollection of it. She could do justice to the superiority of Lady Russell's motives in this, over those of her father and Elizabeth; she could honour all the better feelings of her calmness; but the general air of oblivion among them was highly important from whatever it sprung; and in the event of Admiral Croft's really taking Kellynch Hall, she rejoiced anew over the conviction which had always been most grateful to her, of the past being known to those three only among her connexions, by whom no syllable, she believed, would ever be whispered, and in the trust that among his, the brother only with whom he had been residing, had received any information of their short-lived engagement. That brother had been long removed from the country and being a sensible man, and, moreover, a single man at the time, she had a fond dependence on no human creature's having heard of it from him.

The sister, Mrs Croft, had then been out of England, accompanying her husband on a foreign station, and her own sister, Mary, had been at school while it all occurred; and never admitted by the pride of some, and the delicacy of others, to the smallest knowledge of it afterwards.

With these supports, she hoped that the acquaintance between herself and the Crofts, which, with Lady Russell, still resident in Kellynch, and Mary fixed only three miles off, must be anticipated, need not involve any particular awkwardness.

此人不管外表看来如何令人可疑,他却不是蒙克福德以前的副牧师,而是副牧师的弟弟弗雷德里克·温特沃思海军上校。这位温特沃思当年由于参加了圣多明戈附近的海战,而被晋升为海军中校,再加之一时没有任务,便于一八O六年夏天来到萨默塞特郡。可怜他父母双亡,只好在蒙克福德住了半年。当时,他是个出类拔萃的好后生,聪明过人,朝气勃勃,才华横溢。而安妮是个极其美丽的少女,性情温柔,举止娴静,兴致高雅,感情丰富。本来,双方只要具备一半的魅力也就足够了,因为小伙子无所事事,姑娘却又简直无人可爱。然而,双方都有这么多的优点长处,相逢之后岂有不成功的道理。他们逐渐结识了,结识后便迅速陷入了深挚的爱情。很难说谁觉得对方更完美,也很难说谁感到更幸福:是受到小伙子求爱的姑娘,还是得到姑娘应允的小伙子。

接踵而来的是一段无比幸福的美好光阴,可惜好景不长,不久便出现了麻烦。当小伙子向沃尔特爵士提出请求时,沃尔特爵士既不实说不同意,也不明示这永远不可能,而是用大为惊讶和冷漠不语的方式表示否决,并且明确表示:决不给女儿任何好处。他觉得,这是一起极不体面的姻缘。拉塞尔夫人虽然不像爵士那样傲气十足,不可一世,但还是认为这门亲事极不恰当。

安妮·埃利奥特出身高贵,才貌超群,十九岁就要把自己葬送掉,去跟这样一个年轻人定婚。他除了自己的人品之外别无其他长处,没有希望发家致富,一切指望着一项极不可靠的职业,而且即使从事这项职业,也没有亲朋故旧可以确保他步步高升,安妮嫁给他可真是自我葬送。拉塞尔夫人一想起来就痛心!安妮·埃利奥特这么年轻,见识的人这么少,现在要让一个无亲无故、没有财产的陌生人抢走;或者说使她堕落到困苦忧愁、扼杀青春的从属地位!这可不行,她对安妮几乎怀有母亲般的爱,享有母亲般的权利,她若是采取正当的方式,朋友式地出面干预,向她陈述利害,事情还是可以挽救的。

温特沃思没有家产。他在海军混得不错,但是钱来得随便花得也随便,他一直没有积下财产。不过他确信,他很快就会有钱的。他生气勃勃,热情洋溢,知道自己不久便会当上舰长,不久便会达到要啥有啥的地步。他始终是幸运的,他知道以后还会如此。他这种信心本身就很强烈,再加上又往往表示得那样逗趣,安妮岂能不为之心摇神驰。可是拉塞尔夫人却大不以为然。温特沃思的乐天性格和大无畏精神使她产生了迥然不同的反响。她认为,这只不过是罪孽的恶性发展,仅仅为温特沃思增添了危险性。他才华横溢而又刚腹自用。拉塞尔夫人不喜欢听人逗趣,极端厌恶一切轻率的举动。她从各方面表示不赞成这门亲事。

拉塞尔夫人怀着这样的感情表示反对,这是安妮无法抗拒的。她虽然年轻温柔,又得不到姐姐好言好色的安慰,可是父亲的不怀好意她或许还是可以顶得住的。然而,拉塞尔夫人是她热爱信赖的人,她一直在坚定不移、满怀深情地劝导她,岂能徒劳无益。她被说服了,认为他们的订婚是错误的,既不慎重又不得体,很难获得成功。不过,她之所以能谨慎从事,解除了婚约,并不仅仅是出于自私的考虑。假若她认为她是在为自己着想,而不是更多地在为温特沃思着想,她根本不可能舍弃他。她相信自己这样谨慎从事,自我克制,主要是为了他好,这是她忍痛与他分离(也是最终分离)的主要安慰。而每一点安慰又是必要的,因为使安妮感到格外痛苦的是,温特沃思固执己见,无法说服,总觉得自己受到虐待,被人强行抛弃。因此,他离开了乡下。

他们前前后后只交往了几个月。但是安妮由此而引起的痛苦却没有在几个月中消释。长年以来,痴情和懊恼的阴云一直笼罩着她的心头,使她丝毫尝不到青年人的欢乐。结果,她过早地失去了青春的艳丽和兴致。

这段令人心酸的短暂历史结束七年多了。随着时光的流逝,她对温特沃思的特殊感情已经大大淡薄了,也许可以说,几乎整个地淡薄了,然而她过于完全依赖时光的作用了。她没有采取其他的辅助手段,比如换换地方(她只在他们关系破裂后不久,去过一趟巴思),或者多结交些新朋友。在她的心目中,凡是来过凯林奇一带的人里,没有一个比得上弗雷德里克·温特沃思的。在她这个年纪,

要治愈她心头创伤的最自然、最恰当、最有效的办法就是再找个对象。可是她心比天高,挑三拣四,要在周围有限的小天地里再找个对象,谈何容易。当她大约二十二岁的时候,有位年轻人向她求婚,她不同意,小伙子过不多久便娶了她那位心甘情愿嫁给他的妹妹。拉塞尔夫人对她的拒绝表示惋惜,因为查尔斯·默斯格罗夫是个长子,他父亲的地产和地位在本郡仅次于沃尔特爵士,而且查尔斯本人名声很好,仪表堂堂。安妮十九岁的时候,拉塞尔夫人尽管对她要求可能更高些,可是等她到了二十二岁,她又很想看见她体面地搬出凯林奇大厦,摆脱她父亲的偏见不公,在她近旁找个终身的归宿。可是在这件事情中,安妮根本不给人留有忠告的余地。虽然拉塞尔夫人对自己的谨慎态度一如既往地感到很满意,并不希望挽回过去的局面,但是她现在开始担忧了,而且这担忧有些近似绝望。她认为安妮感情热烈,善于持家,特别适宜过小家庭生活,可现在她恐怕再也不会被哪位富有才干、独立自主的男子所打动,而与他结成美满姻缘。

对于安妮的行为,她们在一个主要问题上并不了解相互间的观点,不知道对方的观点改变了没有,因为这个问题从来不曾谈起过。不过安妮到了二十七岁,心里的想法和十九岁时的想法大不相同。她曾经接受过拉塞尔夫人的指引,为此她既不责怪拉塞尔夫人,也不责怪她自己。可她觉得,假使有哪位处于同样情况的年轻人向她求教,她决不会给人家出那样的主意,以至眼前的痛苦毋庸置疑,而长远的好处又不可捉摸。她相信,在遭到家人反对的不利情况下,尽管他们会对温特沃思的职业感到焦灼不安,尽管这可能引起忧虑、推延和失望,但是她假如保持婚约的话,还是会比解除婚约来得更幸福些。而且,她完全相信,即使他们感到通常分量、甚至超过通常分量的焦虑不安,她也会感到更幸福些。何况,他们的实际情况还并非如此。事实上,他们发财走运的时间将比人们合理推测的要早。温特沃思的乐观期待和满怀信心,统统被证明是有道理的。天赋与热情似乎给他带来了先见之明,指引他走上了成功之 路。他们解约之后不久,他就得到了任用。他原先告诉她要出现的情况,全部应验了。他表现突出,很快又被晋升了一级。由于接连缴获战利品,他现在一定攒下了一笔可观的巨款。安妮只有海军花名册和报纸作为依据,但是她无法怀疑他发了财。而且,她相信他是忠贞不渝的,没有理由认为他已经结婚。

若叫安妮·埃利奥特说起来,那该具有何等的说服力啊!至少,她对早年炽热恋情的渴望,对未来的满怀喜悦和信心,是有充分理由的,而过去的谨小慎微似乎成了胡作非为和对上帝的亵读!她年轻的时候被迫采取了谨慎小心的态度,随着年龄的增长,她逐渐染上了浪漫色彩,这是一个不自然开端的自然结果。

她怀着这样的心情,回想起这一切情景,一听说温特沃思海军上校的姐姐可能住进凯林奇,心里怎能不勾起过去的隐痛。她需要多次的散步,多次的叹息,方能消除内心的忐忑不安。她经常告诫自己这样做是愚蠢的,后来才鼓足勇气,觉得大家接连讨论克罗夫特夫妇要租房子的事情并没有什么不好。不过,使她感到宽慰的是,她的朋友中了解过去这段隐情的总共不过三个人,而这三个人看上去又似不知不觉、不闻不问的,仿佛压根儿记不起这件事儿了。她可以公平地断定,拉塞尔夫人这样做的动机要比她父亲和伊丽莎白来得光明磊落。她钦佩她那镇静自若的体谅态度。然而他们之间存在着的那种若无其事的气氛,不管起因何在,对她却是至为紧要的。倘若克罗夫特将军果真住进凯林奇大厦,她可以一如既往地高高兴兴地相信:她的亲戚朋友中只有三个人了解她的过去,这三个人想来决不会走漏一点风声。而在温特沃思的亲戚朋友中,只有同他住在一起的哥哥知道他们之间有过一次短命的订婚。这位哥哥已经早就离开了乡下,鉴于他是个通情达理的人,而且当时又是个单身汉,安妮可以心安理得地相信,不会有人从他那里听到这段隐情的。

温特沃思的姐姐克罗夫特夫人当时不在英国,随着丈夫到海外驻防去了,而安妮自己的妹妹玛丽呢,当发生这一切情况的时候,她正在上学,别人有的出于自尊,有的出于体贴,后来一丝半点也没告诉她。

有了这些安慰,她觉得即使拉塞尔夫人仍然住在凯林奇,玛丽就在三英里之外,她也必须结识一下克罗夫特夫妇,而不必感到有什么特别尴尬的地方。



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