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Chapter 2

In addition to what has been already said of Catherine Morland's personal and mental endowments, when about to be launched into all the difficulties and dangers of a six weeks' residence in Bath, it may be stated, for the reader's more certain information, lest the following pages should otherwise fail of giving any idea of what her character is meant to be, that her heart was affectionate; her disposition cheerful and open, without conceit or affectation of any kind -- her manners just removed from the awkwardness and shyness of a girl; her person pleasing, and, when in good looks, pretty -- and her mind about as ignorant and uninformed as the female mind at seventeen usually is.

When the hour of departure drew near, the maternal anxiety of Mrs. Morland will be naturally supposed to be most severe. A thousand alarming presentiments of evil to her beloved Catherine from this terrific separation must oppress her heart with sadness, and drown her in tears for the last day or two of their being together; and advice of the most important and applicable nature must of course flow from her wise lips in their parting conference in her closet. Cautions against the violence of such noblemen and baronets as delight in forcing young ladies away to some remote farm-house, must, at such a moment, relieve the fulness of her heart. Who would not think so? But Mrs. Morland knew so little of lords and baronets, that she entertained no notion of their general mischievousness, and was wholly unsuspicious of danger to her daughter from their machinations. Her cautions were confined to the following points. "I beg, Catherine, you will always wrap yourself up very warm about the throat, when you come from the rooms at night; and I wish you would try to keep some account of the money you spend; I will give you this little book on purpose. "

Sally, or rather Sarah (for what young lady of common gentility will reach the age of sixteen without altering her name as far as she can?), must from situation be at this time the intimate friend and confidante of her sister. It is remarkable, however, that she neither insisted on Catherine's writing by every post, nor exacted her promise of transmitting the character of every new acquaintance, nor a detail of every interesting conversation that Bath might produce. Everything indeed relative to this important journey was done, on the part of the Morlands, with a degree of moderation and composure, which seemed rather consistent with the common feelings of common life, than with the refined susceptibilities, the tender emotions which the first separation of a heroine from her family ought always to excite. Her father, instead of giving her an unlimited order on his banker, or even putting an hundred pounds bank-bill into her hands, gave her only ten guineas, and promised her more when she wanted it.

Under these unpromising auspices, the parting took place, and the journey began. It was performed with suitable quietness and uneventful safety. Neither robbers nor tempests befriended them, nor one lucky overturn to introduce them to the hero. Nothing more alarming occurred than a fear, on Mrs. Allen's side, of having once left her clogs behind her at an inn, and that fortunately proved to be groundless.

They arrived at Bath. Catherine was all eager delight -- her eyes were here, there, everywhere, as they approached its fine and striking environs, and afterwards drove through those streets which conducted them to the hotel. She was come to be happy, and she felt happy already.

They were soon settled in comfortable lodgings in Pulteney Street.

It is now expedient to give some description of Mrs. Allen, that the reader may be able to judge in what manner her actions will hereafter tend to promote the general distress of the work, and how she will, probably, contribute to reduce poor Catherine to all the desperate wretchedness of which a last volume is capable -- whether by her imprudence, vulgarity, or jealousy -- whether by intercepting her letters, ruining her character, or turning her out of doors.

Mrs. Allen was one of that numerous class of females, whose society can raise no other emotion than surprise at there being any men in the world who could like them well enough to marry them. She had neither beauty, genius, accomplishment, nor manner. The air of a gentlewoman, a great deal of quiet, inactive good temper, and a trifling turn of mind were all that could account for her being the choice of a sensible, intelligent man like Mr. Allen. In one respect she was admirably fitted to introduce a young lady into public, being as fond of going everywhere and seeing everything herself as any young lady could be. Dress was her passion. She had a most harmless delight in being fine; and our heroine's entree into life could not take place till after three or four days had been spent in learning what was mostly worn, and her chaperone was provided with a dress of the newest fashion. Catherine too made some purchases herself, and when all these matters were arranged, the important evening came which was to usher her into the Upper Rooms. Her hair was cut and dressed by the best hand, her clothes put on with care, and both Mrs. Allen and her maid declared she looked quite as she should do. With such encouragement, Catherine hoped at least to pass uncensured through the crowd. As for admiration, it was always very welcome when it came, but she did not depend on it.

Mrs. Allen was so long in dressing that they did not enter the ballroom till late. The season was full, the room crowded, and the two ladies squeezed in as well as they could. As for Mr. Allen, he repaired directly to the card-room, and left them to enjoy a mob by themselves. With more care for the safety of her new gown than for the comfort of her protegee, Mrs. Allen made her way through the throng of men by the door, as swiftly as the necessary caution would allow; Catherine, however, kept close at her side, and linked her arm too firmly within her friend's to be torn asunder by any common effort of a struggling assembly. But to her utter amazement she found that to proceed along the room was by no means the way to disengage themselves from the crowd; it seemed rather to increase as they went on, whereas she had imagined that when once fairly within the door, they should easily find seats and be able to watch the dances with perfect convenience. But this was far from being the case, and though by unwearied diligence they gained even the top of the room, their situation was just the same; they saw nothing of the dancers but the high feathers of some of the ladies. Still they moved on -- something better was yet in view; and by a continued exertion of strength and ingenuity they found themselves at last in the passage behind the highest bench. Here there was something less of crowd than below; and hence Miss Morland had a comprehensive view of all the company beneath her, and of all the dangers of her late passage through them. It was a splendid sight, and she began, for the first time that evening, to feel herself at a ball: she longed to dance, but she had not an acquaintance in the room. Mrs. Allen did all that she could do in such a case by saying very placidly, every now and then, "I wish you could dance, my dear -- I wish you could get a partner." For some time her young friend felt obliged to her for these wishes; but they were repeated so often, and proved so totally ineffectual, that Catherine grew tired at last, and would thank her no more.

They were not long able, however, to enjoy the repose of the eminence they had so laboriously gained. Everybody was shortly in motion for tea, and they must squeeze out like the rest. Catherine began to feel something of disappointment -- she was tired of being continually pressed against by people, the generality of whose faces possessed nothing to interest, and with all of whom she was so wholly unacquainted that she could not relieve the irksomeness of imprisonment by the exchange of a syllable with any of her fellow captives; and when at last arrived in the tea-room, she felt yet more the awkwardness of having no party to join, no acquaintance to claim, no gentleman to assist them. They saw nothing of Mr. Allen; and after looking about them in vain for a more eligible situation, were obliged to sit down at the end of a table, at which a large party were already placed, without having anything to do there, or anybody to speak to, except each other.

Mrs. Allen congratulated herself, as soon as they were seated, on having preserved her gown from injury. "It would have been very shocking to have it torn," said she, "would not it? It is such a delicate muslin. For my part I have not seen anything I like so well in the whole room, I assure you."

"How uncomfortable it is," whispered Catherine, "not to have a single acquaintance here!"

"Yes, my dear," replied Mrs. Allen, with perfect serenity, "it is very uncomfortable indeed."

"What shall we do? The gentlemen and ladies at this table look as if they wondered why we came here -- we seem forcing ourselves into their party."

"Aye, so we do. That is very disagreeable. I wish we had a large acquaintance here."

"I wish we had any -- it would be somebody to go to."

"Very true, my dear; and if we knew anybody we would join them directly. The Skinners were here last year -- I wish they were here now."

"Had not we better go away as it is? Here are no tea-things for us, you see."

"No more there are, indeed. How very provoking! But I think we had better sit still, for one gets so tumbled in such a crowd! How is my head, my dear? Somebody gave me a push that has hurt it, I am afraid."

"No, indeed, it looks very nice. But, dear Mrs. Allen, are you sure there is nobody you know in all this multitude of people? I think you must know somebody."

"I don't, upon my word -- I wish I did. I wish I had a large acquaintance here with all my heart, and then I should get you a partner. I should be so glad to have you dance. There goes a strange-looking woman! What an odd gown she has got on! How old-fashioned it is! Look at the back."

After some time they received an offer of tea from one of their neighbours; it was thankfully accepted, and this introduced a light conversation with the gentleman who offered it, which was the only time that anybody spoke to them during the evening, till they were discovered and joined by Mr. Allen when the dance was over.

"Well, Miss Morland," said he, directly, "I hope you have had an agreeable ball."

"Very agreeable indeed," she replied, vainly endeavouring to hide a great yawn.

"I wish she had been able to dance," said his wife; "I wish we could have got a partner for her. I have been saying how glad I should be if the Skinners were here this winter instead of last; or if the Parrys had come, as they talked of once, she might have danced with George Parry. I am so sorry she has not had a partner!"

"We shall do better another evening I hope," was Mr. Allen's consolation.

The company began to disperse when the dancing was over -- enough to leave space for the remainder to walk about in some comfort; and now was the time for a heroine, who had not yet played a very distinguished part in the events of the evening, to be noticed and admired. Every five minutes, by removing some of the crowd, gave greater openings for her charms. She was now seen by many young men who had not been near her before. Not one, however, started with rapturous wonder on beholding her, no whisper of eager inquiry ran round the room, nor was she once called a divinity by anybody. Yet Catherine was in very good looks, and had the company only seen her three years before, they would now have thought her exceedingly handsome.

She was looked at, however, and with some admiration; for, in her own hearing, two gentlemen pronounced her to be a pretty girl. Such words had their due effect; she immediately thought the evening pleasanter than she had found it before -- her humble vanity was contented -- she felt more obliged to the two young men for this simple praise than a true-quality heroine would have been for fifteen sonnets in celebration of her charms, and went to her chair in good humour with everybody, and perfectly satisfied with her share of public attention.

我们已经介绍了凯瑟琳·莫兰的姿容和资质。在行将开始的巴思六周之行中,她的姿容和资质就要经受种种艰难险阻的考验。为了让读者对她有个比较明确的认识,免得往后越看越糊涂,也许还要说明:凯瑟琳心肠热切,性情愉悦直爽,没有丝毫的自负与造作。她的举止刚刚消除了少女的忸怩与腼腆。她很讨人喜欢,神色好的时候还很妩媚。和一般的十七岁姑娘一样,她的头脑也是那么蒙昧无知。

动身的时刻临近了。莫兰太太是做母亲的,当然应该满腹焦虑才是。亲爱的凯瑟琳就要离家远行,做母亲的唯恐她遭遇不幸。应该忧念丛生,哀伤不已,临别前一两天应该哭得泪人似的。在她房里话别时,她应该凭着自己的老于世故,向女儿提出许多极其紧要,极其实用的忠告。有的贵族和准男爵专爱把年轻小姐拉到偏僻的乡舍里,倘若莫兰太太此刻能告诫女儿提防这些人行凶作恶,她那满腹的忧虑必定会松快一点。谁说不是呢?可惜莫兰太太并不了解贵族和准男爵,对他们的恶作剧一无所知,因而丝毫也不疑心女儿会遭到他们的暗算。她的叮咛仅限于以下几点:“我求你,凯瑟琳,晚上从舞厅出来的时候,可要把脖子裹暖和了。我希望你用钱时能记个帐,我特意把这个小帐簿送给你。”

萨利,最好叫萨拉(因为普通绅士家的年轻小姐到了十六岁,有哪个不尽可能改改名字呢?)由于处境的缘故,此时,一准是她姐姐的挚友和知己。可是,值得注意的是,她既没坚持让凯瑟琳每天都给她写封信,也没硬要她答应把每一个新朋友的人品来信描述描述,或者把巴思可能出现的每一起趣谈详细报导一番。莫兰一家人冷静而适度地处理了与这次重要旅行有关的一切事项。这种态度倒是十分符合日常生活中的一般感情,但是并不符合那种优雅的多情善感,不符合一位女主角初次离家远行时,照理总应激起的那种缠绵柔情。她父亲不但没给她开一张随行支取的银行汇票,甚至也没把一张一百镑的钞票塞进她手里,他只给了她十个几尼,答应她不够时再给。

就在这般惨淡的光景中,凯瑟琳辞别家人,登上旅程。一路上一帆风顺,平安无事。既没碰上强盗,又没遇上风暴,也没有因为翻车而幸会男主角。只有一次,艾伦太太担心把木屐丢在旅店里,后来幸而发现这只是一场虚惊。除此之外,再也没有发生令人惊恐的事情。

他们来到了巴思。凯瑟琳心里不觉急煎煎,乐滋滋的。车子驶近景致优美、引人入胜的城郊,以及后来驶过通往旅馆的几条街道时,只见她两眼左顾右盼,东张西望。她来这里是想玩个痛快,她已经感到很痛快了。

他们很快便在普尔蒂尼街的一幢舒适房子里住了下来。

现在应该来介绍一下艾伦太太,以便让读者能够判断:她的行为今后将会如何促成本书中的种种烦恼,可能如何使可怜的凯瑟琳陷入狼狈不堪的境地。究竟是出自她的轻率、粗俗或是嫉妒。还是因为她偷拆了凯瑟琳的信件,诋毁了她的声誉,甚至把她撵出门去。(译者注:其实,艾伦太太与凯瑟琳后来的遭遇毫无关系。作者之所以这样说,旨在讽刺哥特传奇小说,因为在哥特传奇小说中,女主角的不幸都是由于姑母等人的嫉妒造成的。)

世上有许多这样的女人,你在同她们的交往中只会感到奇怪:天下居然会有男人喜爱她们,甚至还和她们结为夫妻;艾伦太太便是这样一位女人。她既不美貌,又无才无艺,还缺乏风度。像艾伦先生这样一个洞达世故、通晓情理的人之所以挑中她,全是因为她有上流社会的淑女气派、性情娴静温厚,还喜欢开开玩笑。她和年轻小姐一样,喜欢四处奔走,无所不看,就这点来说、她倒是极其适宜作年轻小姐的社交引介人。她爱好衣着,有个完全不足为害的癖好:总喜欢打扮得漂漂亮亮的。她先费了三四天工夫,打听到穿什么衣服最时兴,并且还买到一身顶时髦的衣服,然后才领着我们的女主角踏进社交界。凯瑟琳自己也买了些东西。等这些事情筹措停当,那个事关重大的夜晚来临了,她就要被引进上舞厅啦。最好的理发师给她修剪了头发,她再仔仔细细地穿好衣服。艾伦太太和她的使女看了都说,她打扮得很好看。受到这番鼓励,凯瑟琳便希望自己打人群中穿过时,起码可以不遭到非议。至于说赞赏,真有人赞赏当然可喜,但是她并不抱这个奢望。

艾伦太太磨磨蹭蹭地打扮了半天,致使两人很晚才步入舞厅。眼下正赶上闹季,舞厅里拥挤不堪,两位女士用力挤了进去。却说艾伦先生,他径直奔牌室去了,让两位女士在乱哄哄的人丛中去自寻乐趣。艾伦太太光顾得当心自己的新衣服,也不管她的被保护人是否受得了。打门前的人堆里穿过时,艾伦太太小心翼翼地走得飞快。幸亏凯瑟琳紧贴在她身边,使劲挽住她朋友的胳膊,才算没被那推推搡搡的人群冲散。但是,使她大为惊奇的是,打大厅里穿过决不是摆脱重围的办法,她们越走人群似乎变得越挤。她本来设想,只要一进门,就能很容易地找到座位,舒舒服服地坐下来看人跳舞。谁想事实完全不是这样。她们虽说经过不懈努力挤到了大厅尽头,但是境况却依然如故,全然看不到跳舞人的身影,只能望见一些女人头上高耸的羽毛。两人继续往前走,看见了一个比较好的地方。她们凭借力气和灵巧,经过进一步努力,终于来到最高一排长凳后面的过道上。这里的人比下面少些,因此莫兰小姐可以通观一下下面的人群,也可以通观一下刚才闯进来时所冒的种种危险。这真是个壮观的景象,莫兰小姐当晚第一次感到:自己是在舞会上。她很想跳舞,但是这里没有一个她认识的人。在这种情况下,艾伦太太只能安慰她几句,时常温声细语地说:“好孩子,你要是能跳跳舞就好了。但愿你能找到个舞伴。”起先,她的年轻朋友很感激她的好意,谁知她这话说得太多了,而且全然不见效果,凯瑟琳终于听腻了,也就不再谢她了。

她们好不容易挤到这里,领受一下高处的宁静,可是好景不长。转眼间,大家都动身去喝茶,她俩只得跟着一道挤出去。凯瑟琳开始觉得有点失望了:她讨厌让人挤来挤去的,而这些人的面孔大多也没有什么让人感兴趣的地方,再说她同这些人素不相识,因而无法同哪位难友交谈一两句,来减轻困境的烦恼。最后终于来到了茶室,她越发感到找不着伙伴、见不着熟人、没有男人相助的苦恼。艾伦先生连影儿也见不到。两位女士向四下看了看,找不到更合适的地方,无可奈何地只好在一张桌子的一端坐下来。桌前早已坐好一大帮人,两人在那儿无事可做,除了彼此说说话,也找不到别人交谈。

两人刚一坐定,艾伦太太便庆幸自己没把长裙挤坏。“要是给拉破了,那就糟糕了,”她说,“你说是吧?这纱料子可细啦。老实跟你说吧,我在这大厅里还没见到叫我这么喜欢的料子呢。”

“这儿一个熟人也没有,”凯瑟琳低声说道,“可真别扭啊!”

“可不是吗,孩子,”艾伦太太泰然自若地答道,“确实别扭。”

“我们怎么办呢?同桌的先生女士们似乎在奇怪我们来这儿干什么,好像我们硬是夹进来的。”

“是的,像这么回事。真令人难堪。这儿能有一大帮熟人就好了。”

“哪怕认识一两个也好啊。那样总有个人好凑凑热闹。”

“一点不错,好孩子。我们要是认识什么人,马上就去找他们。斯金纳一家子去年来过,他们要是现在在就好了。”

既然如此,我们是不是是索性走了好?你瞧,这儿连我们的茶具都没有。”

“的确是没有。真气人!不过,我看我们最好还是坐着别动,人这么多,非挤得你晕头转向不可。好孩子,我的头发怎么样?有人推了我一下。我怕头发给碰乱了。”

“没有,的确没有,看上去很整齐。不过,亲爱的艾伦太太,你在这么多人里当真连一个也不认识?我想你一定认识几个人吧。”

“说实话,我谁也不认识。我但愿认识几个人。我真心希望这儿有我一大帮子熟人。那样一来,我就能给你找个舞伴。我真想让你跳跳舞。你瞧,那儿来了个怪模怪样的女人!她穿了一件多古怪的长裙啊!真是件老古董!瞧那后身。”

过了一阵,邻座里有个人请她们喝茶,两人很感激地接受了,顺便还和那位先生寒暄了几句。整个晚上,这是旁人同她们唯一的一次搭话。直到舞会结束,艾伦先生才过来找她们。

“怎么样,莫兰小姐,”他立即说道,“舞会开得很愉快吧?”

“的确很愉快,”莫兰小姐答道,尽管想憋住,但还是打了个大呵欠。

“可惜她没有跳成舞,”艾伦太太说道。“我们要是能给她找个舞伴就好了,我刚才还在说,假使斯金纳一家子不是去年冬天来的。而是今年冬天来的、那该有多好啊。或者。仅使帕里一家子果真像他们说的那样来到这里,那莫兰小姐就可以同乔治·帕里跳舞啦。真遗憾,她一直没有舞伴。”

“我希望下次来的时候会好一些,”艾伦先生安慰说。

舞会结束了,人们开始散场。地方一宽敞,余下的人走动起来,也舒畅了。我们的女主角在舞会上还没大显身手,现在可轮到大家注意她,赞美她了。每过五分钟,随着人群的进一步减少,都要给她增加几分显现魅力的机会。许多原来不在她近前的年轻人,现在看见她了。不过,大家看归看,谁也没有为之惊喜若狂,大厅里听不到嘁嘁喳喳的询问声,也听不到有人称她是仙女下凡。然而,凯瑟琳着实迷人,那些人要是见过她三年前那副样子,现在准会觉得她俊俏极了。

不过.确实有人在瞧她,而且是带着几分艳羡之情,因为她亲耳听到两个男子说她是个漂亮姑娘。这些赞语产生了应有的效果:莫兰小姐立刻觉得。这个晚上比她先前感觉的更令人愉快,她那点卑微的虚荣心得到了满足。她十分感激那两个青年对她发出这简短的赞语甚至连一个名符其实的女主角听说别人写了十五首歌颂她美貌的十四行诗时,也不会像她那样感激不尽。她去乘轿子的时候都很和颜悦色。她对自己受到的那点公众的注目,已经感到十分满足了。



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