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Chapter 15

Sir Walter had taken a very good house in Camden Place, a lofty dignified situation, such as becomes a man of consequence; and both he and Elizabeth were settled there, much to their satisfaction.

Anne entered it with a sinking heart, anticipating an imprisonment of many months, and anxiously saying to herself, "Oh! when shall I leave you again?" A degree of unexpected cordiality, however, in the welcome she received, did her good. Her father and sister were glad to see her, for the sake of shewing her the house and furniture, and met her with kindness. Her making a fourth, when they sat down to dinner, was noticed as an advantage.

Mrs Clay was very pleasant, and very smiling, but her courtesies and smiles were more a matter of course. Anne had always felt that she would pretend what was proper on her arrival, but the complaisance of the others was unlooked for. They were evidently in excellent spirits, and she was soon to listen to the causes. They had no inclination to listen to her. After laying out for some compliments of being deeply regretted in their old neighbourhood, which Anne could not pay, they had only a few faint enquiries to make, before the talk must be all their own. Uppercross excited no interest, Kellynch very little: it was all Bath.

They had the pleasure of assuring her that Bath more than answered their expectations in every respect. Their house was undoubtedly the best in Camden Place; their drawing-rooms had many decided advantages over all the others which they had either seen or heard of, and the superiority was not less in the style of the fitting-up, or the taste of the furniture. Their acquaintance was exceedingly sought after. Everybody was wanting to visit them. They had drawn back from many introductions, and still were perpetually having cards left by people of whom they knew nothing.

Here were funds of enjoyment. Could Anne wonder that her father and sister were happy? She might not wonder, but she must sigh that her father should feel no degradation in his change, should see nothing to regret in the duties and dignity of the resident landholder, should find so much to be vain of in the littlenesses of a town; and she must sigh, and smile, and wonder too, as Elizabeth threw open the folding-doors and walked with exultation from one drawing-room to the other, boasting of their space; at the possibility of that woman, who had been mistress of Kellynch Hall, finding extent to be proud of between two walls, perhaps thirty feet asunder.

But this was not all which they had to make them happy. They had Mr Elliot too. Anne had a great deal to hear of Mr Elliot. He was not only pardoned, they were delighted with him. He had been in Bath about a fortnight; (he had passed through Bath in November, in his way to London, when the intelligence of Sir Walter's being settled there had of course reached him, though only twenty-four hours in the place, but he had not been able to avail himself of it;) but he had now been a fortnight in Bath, and his first object on arriving, had been to leave his card in Camden Place, following it up by such assiduous endeavours to meet, and when they did meet, by such great openness of conduct, such readiness to apologize for the past, such solicitude to be received as a relation again, that their former good understanding was completely re-established.

They had not a fault to find in him. He had explained away all the appearance of neglect on his own side. It had originated in misapprehension entirely. He had never had an idea of throwing himself off; he had feared that he was thrown off, but knew not why, and delicacy had kept him silent. Upon the hint of having spoken disrespectfully or carelessly of the family and the family honours, he was quite indignant. He, who had ever boasted of being an Elliot, and whose feelings, as to connection, were only too strict to suit the unfeudal tone of the present day. He was astonished, indeed, but his character and general conduct must refute it. He could refer Sir Walter to all who knew him; and certainly, the pains he had been taking on this, the first opportunity of reconciliation, to be restored to the footing of a relation and heir-presumptive, was a strong proof of his opinions on the subject.

The circumstances of his marriage, too, were found to admit of much extenuation. This was an article not to be entered on by himself; but a very intimate friend of his, a Colonel Wallis, a highly respectable man, perfectly the gentleman, (and not an ill-looking man, Sir Walter added), who was living in very good style in Marlborough Buildings, and had, at his own particular request, been admitted to their acquaintance through Mr Elliot, had mentioned one or two things relative to the marriage, which made a material difference in the discredit of it.

Colonel Wallis had known Mr Elliot long, had been well acquainted also with his wife, had perfectly understood the whole story. She was certainly not a woman of family, but well educated, accomplished, rich, and excessively in love with his friend. There had been the charm. She had sought him. Without that attraction, not all her money would have tempted Elliot, and Sir Walter was, moreover, assured of her having been a very fine woman. Here was a great deal to soften the business. A very fine woman with a large fortune, in love with him! Sir Walter seemed to admit it as complete apology; and though Elizabeth could not see the circumstance in quite so favourable a light, she allowed it be a great extenuation.

Mr Elliot had called repeatedly, had dined with them once, evidently delighted by the distinction of being asked, for they gave no dinners in general; delighted, in short, by every proof of cousinly notice, and placing his whole happiness in being on intimate terms in Camden Place.

Anne listened, but without quite understanding it. Allowances, large allowances, she knew, must be made for the ideas of those who spoke. She heard it all under embellishment. All that sounded extravagant or irrational in the progress of the reconciliation might have no origin but in the language of the relators. Still, however, she had the sensation of there being something more than immediately appeared, in Mr Elliot's wishing, after an interval of so many years, to be well received by them. In a worldly view, he had nothing to gain by being on terms with Sir Walter; nothing to risk by a state of variance. In all probability he was already the richer of the two, and the Kellynch estate would as surely be his hereafter as the title. A sensible man, and he had looked like a very sensible man, why should it be an object to him? She could only offer one solution; it was, perhaps, for Elizabeth's sake. There might really have been a liking formerly, though convenience and accident had drawn him a different way; and now that he could afford to please himself, he might mean to pay his addresses to her. Elizabeth was certainly very handsome, with well-bred, elegant manners, and her character might never have been penetrated by Mr Elliot, knowing her but in public, and when very young himself. How her temper and understanding might bear the investigation of his present keener time of life was another concern and rather a fearful one. Most earnestly did she wish that he might not be too nice, or too observant if Elizabeth were his object; and that Elizabeth was disposed to believe herself so, and that her friend Mrs Clay was encouraging the idea, seemed apparent by a glance or two between them, while Mr Elliot's frequent visits were talked of.

Anne mentioned the glimpses she had had of him at Lyme, but without being much attended to. "Oh! yes, perhaps, it had been Mr Elliot. They did not know. It might be him, perhaps. " They could not listen to her description of him. They were describing him themselves; Sir Walter especially. He did justice to his very gentlemanlike appearance, his air of elegance and fashion, his good shaped face, his sensible eye; but, at the same time, "must lament his being very much under-hung, a defect which time seemed to have increased; nor could he pretend to say that ten years had not altered almost every feature for the worse. Mr Elliot appeared to think that he (Sir Walter) was looking exactly as he had done when they last parted;" but Sir Walter had "not been able to return the compliment entirely, which had embarrassed him. He did not mean to complain, however. Mr Elliot was better to look at than most men, and he had no objection to being seen with him anywhere. "

Mr Elliot, and his friends in Marlborough Buildings, were talked of the whole evening. "Colonel Wallis had been so impatient to be introduced to them! and Mr Elliot so anxious that he should!" and there was a Mrs Wallis, at present known only to them by description, as she was in daily expectation of her confinement; but Mr Elliot spoke of her as "a most charming woman, quite worthy of being known in Camden Place, " and as soon as she recovered they were to be acquainted. Sir Walter thought much of Mrs Wallis; she was said to be an excessively pretty woman, beautiful. "He longed to see her. He hoped she might make some amends for the many very plain faces he was continually passing in the streets. The worst of Bath was the number of its plain women. He did not mean to say that there were no pretty women, but the number of the plain was out of all proportion. He had frequently observed, as he walked, that one handsome face would be followed by thirty, or five-and-thirty frights; and once, as he had stood in a shop on Bond Street, he had counted eighty-seven women go by, one after another, without there being a tolerable face among them. It had been a frosty morning, to be sure, a sharp frost, which hardly one woman in a thousand could stand the test of. But still, there certainly were a dreadful multitude of ugly women in Bath; and as for the men! they were infinitely worse. Such scarecrows as the streets were full of! It was evident how little the women were used to the sight of anything tolerable, by the effect which a man of decent appearance produced. He had never walked anywhere arm-in-arm with Colonel Wallis (who was a fine military figure, though sandy-haired) without observing that every woman's eye was upon him; every woman's eye was sure to be upon Colonel Wallis. " Modest Sir Walter! He was not allowed to escape, however. His daughter and Mrs Clay united in hinting that Colonel Wallis's companion might have as good a figure as Colonel Wallis, and certainly was not sandy-haired.

"How is Mary looking?" said Sir Walter, in the height of his good humour. "The last time I saw her she had a red nose, but I hope that may not happen every day. "

"Oh! no, that must have been quite accidental. In general she has been in very good health and very good looks since Michaelmas. "

"If I thought it would not tempt her to go out in sharp winds, and grow coarse, I would send her a new hat and pelisse. "

Anne was considering whether she should venture to suggest that a gown, or a cap, would not be liable to any such misuse, when a knock at the door suspended everything. "A knock at the door! and so late! It was ten o'clock. Could it be Mr Elliot? They knew he was to dine in Lansdown Crescent. It was possible that he might stop in his way home to ask them how they did. They could think of no one else. Mrs Clay decidedly thought it Mr Elliot's knock. " Mrs Clay was right. With all the state which a butler and foot-boy could give, Mr Elliot was ushered into the room.

It was the same, the very same man, with no difference but of dress. Anne drew a little back, while the others received his compliments, and her sister his apologies for calling at so unusual an hour, but "he could not be so near without wishing to know that neither she nor her friend had taken cold the day before, " &c. &c; which was all as politely done, and as politely taken, as possible, but her part must follow then. Sir Walter talked of his youngest daughter; "Mr Elliot must give him leave to present him to his youngest daughter" (there was no occasion for remembering Mary); and Anne, smiling and blushing, very becomingly shewed to Mr Elliot the pretty features which he had by no means forgotten, and instantly saw, with amusement at his little start of surprise, that he had not been at all aware of who she was. He looked completely astonished, but not more astonished than pleased; his eyes brightened! and with the most perfect alacrity he welcomed the relationship, alluded to the past, and entreated to be received as an acquaintance already. He was quite as good-looking as he had appeared at Lyme, his countenance improved by speaking, and his manners were so exactly what they ought to be, so polished, so easy, so particularly agreeable, that she could compare them in excellence to only one person's manners. They were not the same, but they were, perhaps, equally good.

He sat down with them, and improved their conversation very much. There could be no doubt of his being a sensible man. Ten minutes were enough to certify that. His tone, his expressions, his choice of subject, his knowing where to stop; it was all the operation of a sensible, discerning mind. As soon as he could, he began to talk to her of Lyme, wanting to compare opinions respecting the place, but especially wanting to speak of the circumstance of their happening to be guests in the same inn at the same time; to give his own route, understand something of hers, and regret that he should have lost such an opportunity of paying his respects to her. She gave him a short account of her party and business at Lyme. His regret increased as he listened. He had spent his whole solitary evening in the room adjoining theirs; had heard voices, mirth continually; thought they must be a most delightful set of people, longed to be with them, but certainly without the smallest suspicion of his possessing the shadow of a right to introduce himself. If he had but asked who the party were! The name of Musgrove would have told him enough. "Well, it would serve to cure him of an absurd practice of never asking a question at an inn, which he had adopted, when quite a young man, on the principal of its being very ungenteel to be curious.

"The notions of a young man of one or two and twenty, " said he, "as to what is necessary in manners to make him quite the thing, are more absurd, I believe, than those of any other set of beings in the world. The folly of the means they often employ is only to be equalled by the folly of what they have in view. "

But he must not be addressing his reflections to Anne alone: he knew it; he was soon diffused again among the others, and it was only at intervals that he could return to Lyme.

His enquiries, however, produced at length an account of the scene she had been engaged in there, soon after his leaving the place. Having alluded to "an accident, " he must hear the whole. When he questioned, Sir Walter and Elizabeth began to question also, but the difference in their manner of doing it could not be unfelt. She could only compare Mr Elliot to Lady Russell, in the wish of really comprehending what had passed, and in the degree of concern for what she must have suffered in witnessing it.

He staid an hour with them. The elegant little clock on the mantel- piece had struck "eleven with its silver sounds, " and the watchman was beginning to be heard at a distance telling the same tale, before Mr Elliot or any of them seemed to feel that he had been there long.

Anne could not have supposed it possible that her first evening in Camden Place could have passed so well!

沃尔特爵士在卡姆登巷租了一幢上好的房子,地势又高又威严,正好适合一个贵绅的身份。他和伊丽莎白都在那里住了下来,感到十分称心如意。

安妮怀着沉重的心情走进屋去,一想到自己要在这里关上好几个月,便焦灼不安地自言自语道:“哦!我什么时候能再离开你?”

不过出乎意料,她受到了相当热情的欢迎,这使她感到欣慰。她父亲和姐姐就想让她看看房子、家具,见到她颇为高兴,待她十分和气。大伙坐下吃饭时,发现多了个第四者,这也不无好处。

克莱夫人和颜悦色,笑容满面,不过她的礼貌和微笑倒是理所当然的事情。安妮总是觉得,她一到来,克莱夫人就会装出礼貌周到的样子,然而另外两个人的如此多礼却是没有料到的。显而易见,他们都兴高采烈的,这其中的缘由安妮马上就要听到。他们并不想听她说话,开始还指望她能恭维几句,说说老邻居如何深切地怀念他们,怎奈安妮不会这一套。他们只不过随便询问了两句,然后整个谈话就由他们包揽了。厄泼克劳斯激不起他们的兴趣,凯林奇引起的兴趣也很小,谈来谈去全是巴思。

他们高高兴兴地告诉她,巴思无论从哪方面看,都超出了他们的期望。他们的房子在卡姆登巷无疑是最好的,他们的客厅同他们耳闻目睹过的所有客厅比起来,具有许多明显的优点,而这种优越性同样表现在陈设的式样和家具的格调上。人们都争先恐后地结交他们,个个都想拜访他们。他们回避了许多引荐,但仍然有素不相识的人络绎不绝地送来名片。

这就是享乐的资本!安妮能对父亲和姐姐的喜悦感到惊讶吗?她或许不会惊讶,但一定会叹息。她父亲居然对自己的变化不觉得屈辱,对失去居住在自己土地上的义务和尊严不感到懊悔,却对呆在一个小城镇里沾沾自喜。当伊丽莎白打开折门,洋洋得意地从一间客厅走到另一间客厅,夸耀这些客厅有多么宽敞时,安妮岂能不为这位女人的行止感到可笑和惊奇,并为之叹息。她原是凯林奇大厦的女主人,现在见到两壁之间大约有三十英尺的距离,居然能够如此得意。

然而,这并不是他们为之欣喜的全部内容,其中还有埃利奥特先生。安妮听到他们大谈特谈埃利奥特先生。他不仅受到宽恕,而且博得了他们的欢心。他在巴思住了大约两个星期。(他十一月份去伦敦的途中,曾路过巴思,有关沃尔特爵士移居这里的消息,他当然已有所闻。他虽说在此地逗留了二十四小时,但却未能趁机求得一见。)但是,他如今已在巴思住了两个星期,他到达后的头一件事就是去卡姆登巷递上名片,接着便千方百计地求见。在他们见面的时候,他举止是那样诚恳大方,主动为过去的行为道了歉,又那样急切地希望被重新接纳为本家亲戚,于是他们完全恢复了过去的融洽关系。

他们发现他并没有什么过错。他为自己的貌似怠慢作了辩解,说那纯粹是误解造成的。他从没想到要脱离家族。他担心自己被抛弃了,可是又不知道原因何在,而且一直不好意思询问。一听说他曾对家族和荣誉出言不逊,或出言不慎,他不由得义愤填膺。他一向夸耀自己是埃利奥特家族的人,有着极其传统的家族观念,这同现今的非封建风气很不合拍。他的确感到惊讶,不过他的人格和整个行为一定能对这种误解加以反驳。他告诉沃尔特爵士,他可以向熟悉他的一切人了解他的情况。当然,他一得到重修旧好的机会,便在这上面费尽了心血,想把自己恢复到本家和继承人的地位,此事充分证明了他对这个问题的看法。

他们发现,他的婚姻情况也是十分情有可原的。这一条他自己不好说,不过他有个非常亲密的朋友——沃利斯上校。这是个很体面的人,一个地地道道的绅士(沃尔特爵士还补充说,他是一个不丑的男子汉),在马尔巴勒大楼过着非常优裕的生活,经他自己特意要求,埃利奥特先生从中介绍,结识了沃尔特爵士父女。他提到了有关埃利奥特先生婚事的一两个情况,这就大大改变了他们的看法搅得事情并非那么不光彩。

沃利斯上校早就认识埃利奥特先生,同他妻子也很熟悉,因而对整个事情了如指掌。当然,她不是个大家困秀,但却受过上等教育,多才多艺,也很有钱,极其喜欢他的朋友。她富有怎力,主动追求他。她若是没有那点踢力,她的钱再多也打动不了埃利奥特先生的心,况且,他还向沃尔特爵士担保说,她是个十分漂亮的女人。有了这一大堆情况,事情就好理解了。一个非常有钱、非常漂亮的女人爱上了他。沃尔特爵士似乎承认,照这么说来完全可以谅解。伊丽莎白对此虽说不能完全赞同,却觉得情有可原。

埃利奥特先生三番五次地登门拜访,还同他们一起吃过一顿饭。显然,他对自己受到盛情邀请感到高兴,因为沃尔特爵士父女一般并不请人吃饭。总而言之,他为自己受到伯父、堂妹的盛情接待而感到高兴,把自己的整个幸福寄托在同卡姆登巷建立亲善关系上。

安妮倾听着,但是又搞不太明白。她知道,对于说话人的观点,她必须打个折扣,很大的折扣。她听到的内容全都经过了添枝加叶。在重修旧好的过程中,那些听起来过火的、不合理的东西可能是说话人的言语引起的。尽管如此,她还是有这样的感觉:间隔了许多年之后,埃利奥特先生又想受到他们的厚待,外表上看不出来,心里可不知道打的什么主意。从世俗的观点来看,他同沃尔特爵士关系好了无利可图,关系坏了也无险可担。十有八九,他已经比沃尔特爵士更有钱了。再说今后,凯林奇庄园连同那爵位肯定要归他所有。他是个聪明人,而且看来十分聪明,那他为什么要蓄意这样干?她只能找到一个解释:说不定是为了伊丽莎白。他过去也许真的喜欢她,不过由于贪图享受和偶然的机遇,他又作出了别的抉择。如今他既然可以按照自己的意愿行事了,就会打算向伊丽莎白求婚。伊丽莎白当然很漂亮,举止端庄娴雅,她的性格也许从来未被埃利奥特先生看透过,因为他只是在公开场合结识了她,而且是在他自己十分年轻的时候。现在他到了更加敏锐的年纪,伊丽莎白的性情和见识能否经得起他的审查,却是令人担心的,而且令人可怕。安妮情恳意切地希望,如果埃利奥特先生当真相中了伊丽莎白,他可不要太挑剔,太认真了。伊丽莎白自认为埃利奥特先生看中了她,而她的朋友克莱夫人也怂恿她这样想,这在大伙谈论埃利奥特先生的频繁来访时,看着她俩眉来眼去地使上一两次眼色,便能一目了然。

安妮说起她在莱姆匆匆见过他两眼,可惜没有人注意听。“哦!是的,那也许是埃利奥特先生。我们不清楚。那也许是他。”他们无法听她来形容,因为他们自己在形容他,尤其是沃尔特爵士。他称赞他很有绅士派头,风度优雅入时,脸形好看,还长有一双聪慧的眼睛。不过,他又不得不为他的下颌过于突出表示惋惜,而且这一缺陷似乎越来越明显。他也不能假意奉承,说他这些年来几乎一点也没变样。埃利奥特先生却仿佛认为,沃尔特爵士看上去倒和他们最后分手时一模一样。但是沃尔特爵士却不能同样恭维他一番,因为这使他感到不安。不过,他也不想表示不满。埃利奥特先生毕竟比大多数人更好看些,无论走到哪里,他都不怕人家看见他俩在一起。

整个晚上,大家都在谈论埃利奥特先生和他在马尔巴勒大楼的朋友。“沃利斯上校是那样急于结识我们!埃利奥特先生也是那样急切地希望他能结识我们!”眼下,他们对沃利斯夫人只是有所耳闻,因为她很快就要分娩了。不过埃利奥特先生称她是个“极其可爱的女人,很值得卡姆登巷的人们与之交往”,她一恢复健康,他们便可结识。沃尔特爵士十分推崇沃利斯夫人,说她是个极其漂亮的女人。他渴望见到她。他在街上尽见到些难看的女人,希望沃利斯夫人能为他弥补一下。巴思的最大缺点,就是难看的女人大多。

他不想说这里没有漂亮的女人,但是丑女人的比例太大。他往往是边走边观察,每见到一个漂亮的女子,接下来就要见到三十个、甚至三十五个丑女人。一次,他站在邦德街的一家商店里,数来数去,总共有八十七个女人走过去了,还没见到一个像样的。不错,那天早晨很冷,寒气袭人,能经得起这个考验的,一千个女人里头还找不到一个。但是,巴思的丑女人仍然多得吓人。再说那些男人!他们更是丑不可言。这样的丑八怪,大街上触目皆是!这里的女人很难见到一个像样的男人,这可以从相貌端正的男人引起的反应中看得明明白白。沃利斯上校虽说长着浅棕色头发,可也是个仪表堂堂的军人,沃尔特爵士无论同他臂挽臂地走到哪里,总是注意到每个女人的目光都在盯着他。的的确确,每个女人的目光都要盯着沃利斯上校。好谦虚的沃尔特爵士!其实,他又何尝逃脱得了。他的女儿和克莱夫人一同暗示说,沃利斯上校的伙伴具有像沃利斯上校一样漂亮的体态,而且他的头发当然不是浅棕色的。

“玛丽看上去怎么样啦?”沃尔特爵士喜冲冲地说道。“我上次见到她的时候,她红着个鼻子,我希望她不是成天这样。”

“哦!不是的,那一定纯属偶然。自从米迹勒节以来,她的身体一般都很好,样子也很漂亮。”

“我本想送给她一顶新遮阳帽和一件皮制新外衣,可是又怕她冒着刺骨的寒风往外跑,把皮肤吹粗糙了。”

安妮心里在想,她是不是应该贸然建议,他若是改送一件礼服或是一顶便帽,便不至于被如此滥用,不料一阵敲门声把一切都打断了。有人敲门!天这么晚,都十点钟了!难道是埃利奥特先生?

他们知道他到兰斯造思新月饭店吃饭去了,回家的路上可能顺便进来问个安。他们想不到会有别人。克莱夫人心想一定是埃利奥特先生敲门。克莱夫人猜对了。一个管家兼男仆礼仪周到地把埃利奥特先生引进屋里。

一点不错,就是那个人,除了衣着之外,没有别的什么两样的。安妮往后退了退,只见他在向别人表示问候,请她姐姐原谅他这么晚了还来登门拜访,不过都走到门口了,他禁不住想知道一下,伊丽莎白和她的朋友头天有没有发生伤风感冒之类的事情。这些话,他尽量说得客客气气的,别人也尽量客客气气地听着,可是下面就要轮到她了。沃尔特爵士谈起了他的小女儿。“埃利奥特先生,请允许我介绍一下我的小女儿。”(谁也不会想起玛丽)安妮脸上露出了羞涩的微笑,恰好向埃利奥特先生显现出他始终未能忘怀的那张漂亮面孔。安妮当即发现他微微一怔,不禁觉得有些好笑,他居然一直不晓得她是谁。他看上去大为惊讶,但是惊讶之余更感到欣喜。他的眼睛在熠熠发光!他情恳意切地欢迎这位亲戚,还提起了过去的事情,求她拿他当熟人看待。他看上去跟在莱姆的时候一样漂亮,说起话来更显得仪态不凡。他的举止真是堪称楷模,既雍容大方,又和蔼可亲,安妮只能拿一个人的举止与之媲美。这两个人的举止并不相同,但也许同样令人可爱。

他同他们一起坐了下来,为他们的谈话增添了异彩。他无疑是个聪明人,这在十分钟里便得到了证实。他的语气、神态、话题的选择,知道适可而止,处处表明他是个聪明、理智的人。他一得到机会,便同安妮谈起了莱姆,想交换一下对那个地方的看法,尤其想谈谈他们同时住在同一座旅馆的情况;把他自己的旅程告诉她,也听她说说她的旅程,并为失去这样一个向她表示敬意的机会而感到遗憾。安妮简要述说了她们一伙人在莱姆的活动。埃利奥特先生听了越发感到遗憾。他整个晚上都是独自一个人在她们隔壁的房间里度过的,总是听到他们有说有笑的,心想他们准是一伙顶开心的人,渴望能加入他们一起,不过他当然丝毫没有想到他会有任何权利来作自我介绍啦。他要是问问这伙人是谁就好了!一听到默斯格罗夫这个名字,他就会明白真情的。“唔,那还可以帮助我纠正在旅馆决不向人发问的荒诞做法,我还是在很年轻的时候,就开始遵循好奇者不礼貌的原则。”

“我相信,”他说,“一个二十一二岁的年轻人为了争时髦,对于必须采取什么样的举止所抱有的想法,真比天下其他任何一种人的想法还要荒诞。他们采用的方式往往是愚蠢的,而能与这种愚蠢方式相比拟的,却只有他们那愚蠢的想法。”

但是他知道,他不能光对安妮一个人谈论自己的想法,他很快又向众人扯开了话题,莱姆的经历只能偶尔再提提。

不过,经他一再询问,安妮终于介绍了他离开莱姆不久她在那里所经历的情景。一提起“一起事故”,他就必得听听全部真相。他询问的时候,沃尔特爵士和伊丽莎白也跟着询问,但是你又不能不感到他们的提问方式是不同的。安妮只能拿埃利奥特先生与拉塞尔夫人相比较,看谁真正希望了解出了什么事情,看谁对安妮目睹这一事件时所遭受的痛苦更加关切。

他和他们在一起呆了一个小时。壁炉架上那只精致的小时钟以银铃般的声音敲了十一点,只听远处的更夫也在报告同样的时辰。直到此时,埃利奥特先生或是别的什么人才似乎感到,他在爵士府上呆得够久的了。

安妮万万没有想到,她在卡姆登巷的头一天晚上会过得这么愉快。



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