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Chapter 41

A week was gone since Edmund might be supposed in town, and Fanny had heard nothing of him. There were three different conclusions to be drawn from his silence, between which her mind was in fluctuation; each of them at times being held the most probable. Either his going had been again delayed, or he had yet procured no opportunity of seeing Miss Crawford alone, or he was too happy for letter-writing!

One morning, about this time, Fanny having now been nearly four weeks from Mansfield, a point which she never failed to think over and calculate every day, as she and Susan were preparing to remove, as usual, upstairs, they were stopped by the knock of a visitor, whom they felt they could not avoid, from Rebecca's alertness in going to the door, a duty which always interested her beyond any other.

It was a gentleman's voice; it was a voice that Fanny was just turning pale about, when Mr. Crawford walked into the room.

Good sense, like hers, will always act when really called upon; and she found that she had been able to name him to her mother, and recall her remembrance of the name, as that of "William's friend," though she could not previously have believed herself capable of uttering a syllable at such a moment. The consciousness of his being known there only as William's friend was some support. Having introduced him, however, and being all reseated, the terrors that occurred of what this visit might lead to were overpowering, and she fancied herself on the point of fainting away.

While trying to keep herself alive, their visitor, who had at first approached her with as animated a countenance as ever, was wisely and kindly keeping his eyes away, and giving her time to recover, while he devoted himself entirely to her mother, addressing her, and attending to her with the utmost politeness and propriety, at the same time with a degree of friendliness, of interest at least, which was making his manner perfect.

Mrs. Price's manners were also at their best. Warmed by the sight of such a friend to her son, and regulated by the wish of appearing to advantage before him, she was overflowing with gratitude--artless, maternal gratitude-- which could not be unpleasing. Mr. Price was out, which she regretted very much. Fanny was just recovered enough to feel that _she_ could not regret it; for to her many other sources of uneasiness was added the severe one of shame for the home in which he found her. She might scold herself for the weakness, but there was no scolding it away. She was ashamed, and she would have been yet more ashamed of her father than of all the rest.

They talked of William, a subject on which Mrs. Price could never tire; and Mr. Crawford was as warm in his commendation as even her heart could wish. She felt that she had never seen so agreeable a man in her life; and was only astonished to find that, so great and so agreeable as he was, he should be come down to Portsmouth neither on a visit to the port-admiral, nor the commissioner, nor yet with the intention of going over to the island, nor of seeing the dockyard. Nothing of all that she had been used to think of as the proof of importance, or the employment of wealth, had brought him to Portsmouth. He had reached it late the night before, was come for a day or two, was staying at the Crown, had accidentally met with a navy officer or two of his acquaintance since his arrival, but had no object of that kind in coming.

By the time he had given all this information, it was not unreasonable to suppose that Fanny might be looked at and spoken to; and she was tolerably able to bear his eye, and hear that he had spent half an hour with his sister the evening before his leaving London; that she had sent her best and kindest love, but had had no time for writing; that he thought himself lucky in seeing Mary for even half an hour, having spent scarcely twenty-four hours in London, after his return from Norfolk, before he set off again; that her cousin Edmund was in town, had been in town, he understood, a few days; that he had not seen him himself, but that he was well, had left them all well at Mansfield, and was to dine, as yesterday, with the Frasers.

Fanny listened collectedly, even to the last-mentioned circumstance; nay, it seemed a relief to her worn mind to be at any certainty; and the words, "then by this time it is all settled," passed internally, without more evidence of emotion than a faint blush.

After talking a little more about Mansfield, a subject in which her interest was most apparent, Crawford began to hint at the expediency of an early walk. "It was a lovely morning, and at that season of the year a fine morning so often turned off, that it was wisest for everybody not to delay their exercise"; and such hints producing nothing, he soon proceeded to a positive recommendation to Mrs. Price and her daughters to take their walk without loss of time. Now they came to an understanding. Mrs. Price, it appeared, scarcely ever stirred out of doors, except of a Sunday; she owned she could seldom, with her large family, find time for a walk. "Would she not, then, persuade her daughters to take advantage of such weather, and allow him the pleasure of attending them?" Mrs. Price was greatly obliged and very complying. "Her daughters were very much confined; Portsmouth was a sad place; they did not often get out; and she knew they had some errands in the town, which they would be very glad to do." And the consequence was, that Fanny, strange as it was-- strange, awkward, and distressing--found herself and Susan, within ten minutes, walking towards the High Street with Mr. Crawford.

It was soon pain upon pain, confusion upon confusion; for they were hardly in the High Street before they met her father, whose appearance was not the better from its being Saturday. He stopt; and, ungentlemanlike as he looked, Fanny was obliged to introduce him to Mr. Crawford. She could not have a doubt of the manner in which Mr. Crawford must be struck. He must be ashamed and disgusted altogether. He must soon give her up, and cease to have the smallest inclination for the match; and yet, though she had been so much wanting his affection to be cured, this was a sort of cure that would be almost as bad as the complaint; and I believe there is scarcely a young lady in the United Kingdoms who would not rather put up with the misfortune of being sought by a clever, agreeable man, than have him driven away by the vulgarity of her nearest relations.

Mr. Crawford probably could not regard his future father-in-law with any idea of taking him for a model in dress; but (as Fanny instantly, and to her great relief, discerned) her father was a very different man, a very different Mr. Price in his behaviour to this most highly respected stranger, from what he was in his own family at home. His manners now, though not polished, were more than passable: they were grateful, animated, manly; his expressions were those of an attached father, and a sensible man; his loud tones did very well in the open air, and there was not a single oath to be heard. Such was his instinctive compliment to the good manners of Mr. Crawford; and, be the consequence what it might, Fanny's immediate feelings were infinitely soothed.

The conclusion of the two gentlemen's civilities was an offer of Mr. Price's to take Mr. Crawford into the dockyard, which Mr. Crawford, desirous of accepting as a favour what was intended as such, though he had seen the dockyard again and again, and hoping to be so much the longer with Fanny, was very gratefully disposed to avail himself of, if the Miss Prices were not afraid of the fatigue; and as it was somehow or other ascertained, or inferred, or at least acted upon, that they were not at all afraid, to the dockyard they were all to go; and but for Mr. Crawford, Mr. Price would have turned thither directly, without the smallest consideration for his daughters' errands in the High Street. He took care, however, that they should be allowed to go to the shops they came out expressly to visit; and it did not delay them long, for Fanny could so little bear to excite impatience, or be waited for, that before the gentlemen, as they stood at the door, could do more than begin upon the last naval regulations, or settle the number of three-deckers now in commission, their companions were ready to proceed.

They were then to set forward for the dockyard at once, and the walk would have been conducted--according to Mr. Crawford's opinion--in a singular manner, had Mr. Price been allowed the entire regulation of it, as the two girls, he found, would have been left to follow, and keep up with them or not, as they could, while they walked on together at their own hasty pace. He was able to introduce some improvement occasionally, though by no means to the extent he wished; he absolutely would not walk away from them; and at any crossing or any crowd, when Mr. Price was only calling out, "Come, girls; come, Fan; come, Sue, take care of yourselves; keep a sharp lookout!" he would give them his particular attendance.

Once fairly in the dockyard, he began to reckon upon some happy intercourse with Fanny, as they were very soon joined by a brother lounger of Mr. Price's, who was come to take his daily survey of how things went on, and who must prove a far more worthy companion than himself; and after a time the two officers seemed very well satisfied going about together, and discussing matters of equal and never-failing interest, while the young people sat down upon some timbers in the yard, or found a seat on board a vessel in the stocks which they all went to look at. Fanny was most conveniently in want of rest. Crawford could not have wished her more fatigued or more ready to sit down; but he could have wished her sister away. A quick-looking girl of Susan's age was the very worst third in the world: totally different from Lady Bertram, all eyes and ears; and there was no introducing the main point before her. He must content himself with being only generally agreeable, and letting Susan have her share of entertainment, with the indulgence, now and then, of a look or hint for the better-informed and conscious Fanny. Norfolk was what he had mostly to talk of: there he had been some time, and everything there was rising in importance from his present schemes. Such a man could come from no place, no society, without importing something to amuse; his journeys and his acquaintance were all of use, and Susan was entertained in a way quite new to her. For Fanny, somewhat more was related than the accidental agreeableness of the parties he had been in. For her approbation, the particular reason of his going into Norfolk at all, at this unusual time of year, was given. It had been real business, relative to the renewal of a lease in which the welfare of a large and--he believed-- industrious family was at stake. He had suspected his agent of some underhand dealing; of meaning to bias him against the deserving; and he had determined to go himself, and thoroughly investigate the merits of the case. He had gone, had done even more good than he had foreseen, had been useful to more than his first plan had comprehended, and was now able to congratulate himself upon it, and to feel that in performing a duty, he had secured agreeable recollections for his own mind. He had introduced himself to some tenants whom he had never seen before; he had begun making acquaintance with cottages whose very existence, though on his own estate, had been hitherto unknown to him. This was aimed, and well aimed, at Fanny. It was pleasing to hear him speak so properly; here he had been acting as he ought to do. To be the friend of the poor and the oppressed! Nothing could be more grateful to her; and she was on the point of giving him an approving look, when it was all frightened off by his adding a something too pointed of his hoping soon to have an assistant, a friend, a guide in every plan of utility or charity for Everingham: a somebody that would make Everingham and all about it a dearer object than it had ever been yet.

She turned away, and wished he would not say such things. She was willing to allow he might have more good qualities than she had been wont to suppose. She began to feel the possibility of his turning out well at last; but he was and must ever be completely unsuited to her, and ought not to think of her.

He perceived that enough had been said of Everingham, and that it would be as well to talk of something else, and turned to Mansfield. He could not have chosen better; that was a topic to bring back her attention and her looks almost instantly. It was a real indulgence to her to hear or to speak of Mansfield. Now so long divided from everybody who knew the place, she felt it quite the voice of a friend when he mentioned it, and led the way to her fond exclamations in praise of its beauties and comforts, and by his honourable tribute to its inhabitants allowed her to gratify her own heart in the warmest eulogium, in speaking of her uncle as all that was clever and good, and her aunt as having the sweetest of all sweet tempers.

He had a great attachment to Mansfield himself; he said so; he looked forward with the hope of spending much, very much, of his time there; always there, or in the neighbourhood. He particularly built upon a very happy summer and autumn there this year; he felt that it would be so: he depended upon it; a summer and autumn infinitely superior to the last. As animated, as diversified, as social, but with circumstances of superiority undescribable.

"Mansfield, Sotherton, Thornton Lacey," he continued; "what a society will be comprised in those houses! And at Michaelmas, perhaps, a fourth may be added: some small hunting-box in the vicinity of everything so dear; for as to any partnership in Thornton Lacey, as Edmund Bertram once good-humouredly proposed, I hope I foresee two objections: two fair, excellent, irresistible objections to that plan."

Fanny was doubly silenced here; though when the moment was passed, could regret that she had not forced herself into the acknowledged comprehension of one half of his meaning, and encouraged him to say something more of his sister and Edmund. It was a subject which she must learn to speak of, and the weakness that shrunk from it would soon be quite unpardonable.

When Mr. Price and his friend had seen all that they wished, or had time for, the others were ready to return; and in the course of their walk back, Mr. Crawford contrived a minute's privacy for telling Fanny that his only business in Portsmouth was to see her; that he was come down for a couple of days on her account, and hers only, and because he could not endure a longer total separation. She was sorry, really sorry; and yet in spite of this and the two or three other things which she wished he had not said, she thought him altogether improved since she had seen him; he was much more gentle, obliging, and attentive to other people's feelings than he had ever been at Mansfield; she had never seen him so agreeable--so _near_ being agreeable; his behaviour to her father could not offend, and there was something particularly kind and proper in the notice he took of Susan. He was decidedly improved. She wished the next day over, she wished he had come only for one day; but it was not so very bad as she would have expected: the pleasure of talking of Mansfield was so very great!

Before they parted, she had to thank him for another pleasure, and one of no trivial kind. Her father asked him to do them the honour of taking his mutton with them, and Fanny had time for only one thrill of horror, before he declared himself prevented by a prior engagement. He was engaged to dinner already both for that day and the next; he had met with some acquaintance at the Crown who would not be denied; he should have the honour, however, of waiting on them again on the morrow, etc., and so they parted--Fanny in a state of actual felicity from escaping so horrible an evil!

To have had him join their family dinner-party, and see all their deficiencies, would have been dreadful! Rebecca's cookery and Rebecca's waiting, and Betsey's eating at table without restraint, and pulling everything about as she chose, were what Fanny herself was not yet enough inured to for her often to make a tolerable meal. _She_ was nice only from natural delicacy, but _he_ had been brought up in a school of luxury and epicurism.

从估计埃德蒙已到伦敦的那天起,一个星期已经过去了,而范妮还没听到他的消息。他不来信可能有三个原因,她的心就在这三个原因之间犹疑不定,每个原因都曾被认为最有可能。不是他又推迟了起程的日期,就是他还没有找到与克劳福德小姐单独相会的机会——不然,就是他过于快乐,忘记了写信。

范妮离开曼斯菲尔德已经快四个星期了——她可是每天都在琢磨和算计来了多少天了。就在这时的一天早上,她和苏珊照例准备上楼的时候,听到了有人敲门。丽贝卡总是最喜欢给客人开门,闻声便向门口跑去,于是两位姐姐知道回避不了,只好停下来等着和客人见面。

是个男人的声音,范妮一听这声音便脸上失色。就在这时,克劳福德先生走进屋来。

像她这样有心眼的人,真到了节骨眼上,总会有办法应对的。她原以为在这样的关头她会一句话也说不出来,可她却发现自己居然能把他的名字说给妈妈听,并且为了让妈妈想起这个名字,还特意提醒说他是“威廉的朋友”。家里人只知道他是威廉的朋友,这一点对她是一种安慰。不过,等介绍过了他,大家重新坐定之后,她又对他这次来访的意图感到惊恐万分,觉得自己就要昏厥过去。

他们的这位客人向她走来时,起初像往常一样眉飞色舞,但是一见她惊恐万状地快撑不住了,便机灵而体贴地将目光移开,让她从容地恢复常态。这时,他只和她母亲寒喧,无论是对她讲话还是听她讲话,都极其斯文,极其得体,同时又有几分亲热——至少带有几分兴致——那风度达到了无可挑剔的地步。

普莱斯太太也表现甚佳。看到儿子有这样一位朋友非常激动,同时又希望在他面前行为得体,于是便说了不少感激的话,这是做母亲的感激之情,毫无矫揉造作之感,听了自然使人惬意。普莱斯先生出去了,她感到非常遗憾。范妮已有所恢复,她可不为父亲不在家感到遗憾。本来就有很多情况令她局促不安,再让对方看到她待在这样一个家里,她就越发感到羞耻。她尽可以责备自己的这个弱点,但再怎么责备这弱点也消失不了。她感到羞耻,父亲若在家里,她尤其会为他感到羞耻。

他们谈起了威廉,这个话题是普莱斯太太百谈不厌的。克劳福德先生热烈地夸奖威廉,普莱斯太太听得满心欢喜。她觉得自己还从没见过这么讨人喜欢的人。眼见这么高贵、这么可爱的一个人来到朴次茅斯,一不为拜访海港司令;二不为拜会地方长官;三不为去岛上观光;四不为参观海军船坞,她不禁感到万分惊奇。他来朴次茅斯跟她惯常想象的不一样,既不是为了显示高贵,也不是为了摆阔。他是头一天深夜到达的,打算待上一两天,眼下住在皇冠旅社。来了之后,只偶然碰到过一两位相熟的海军军官,不过他来此也不是为了看他们。

等他介绍完这些情况之后,可以设想,他会眼盯着范妮,把话说给她听。范妮倒可以勉强忍受他的目光,听他说他在离开伦敦的头一天晚上,跟他妹妹在一起待了半个小时。他妹妹托他向她致以最真挚、最亲切的问候,但却来不及写信。他从诺福克回到伦敦,在伦敦待了不到二十四小时便动身往这里来,能和玛丽相聚半个小时,觉得也挺幸运。她的埃德蒙表哥到了伦敦,据他了解已到了几天了。他本人没有见到他,不过听说他挺好,他离开曼斯菲尔德时家里人也都挺好。他还像前一天一样,要去弗雷泽家吃饭。

范妮镇定自若地听着,甚至听到最后提到的情况时也很镇定。不仅如此,对她那疲惫不堪的心灵来说,只要知道个结果,不管这结果如何,她似乎都可以松一口气。她心里在想:“那么,到这时事情全都定下来了。”这当儿,她只是脸上微微一红,并没有流露出明显的情绪。

他们又谈了谈曼斯菲尔德,范妮对这个话题的兴趣是极为明显的。克劳福德开始向她暗示,最好早点出去散散步。“今天早上天气真好。在这个季节,天气经常时好时坏,早上要抓紧时间活动。”这样的暗示没有引起反应,他接着便明言直语地向普莱斯太太及其女儿们建议:要不失时机地到外面散散步。现在,他们达成了谅解。看来,普莱斯太太除了星期天,平常几乎从不出门。她承认家里孩子太多,没有时间到外边散步。“那您是否可以劝说您的女儿们趁着这良辰美景出去走走,并允许我陪伴着她们?”普莱斯太太不胜感激,满口答应。。我的女儿们常常关在家里——朴次茅斯这地方太糟糕了——她们很少出门——我知道她们在城里有些事情,很想去办一办。”其结果,说来真奇怪——既奇怪,又尴尬,又令人烦恼,不到十分钟工夫,范妮不知怎么就和苏珊跟克劳福德先生一起向大街走去。

过了不久,她真是苦上加苦,窘上加窘。原来,他们刚走到大街上,便碰上了她父亲,他的外表并没有因为是星期六而有所改观。他停了下来,尽管样子很不体面,范妮不得不把他介绍给克劳福德先生。她无疑明白克劳福德先生会对他产生什么印象。他肯定会替他害臊,对他感到厌恶。他一定会很快放弃她,丝毫不再考虑这桩婚事。虽然她一直想治好他的相思病,但是这种治法几乎和不治一样糟糕。我相信,联合王国没有一位年轻小姐宁肯拒不忍受一个聪明、可爱的年轻人的不幸追求,而却情愿让自己粗俗的至亲把他吓跑。

克劳福德先生大概不会用时装模特儿的标准来看待他未来的老丈人。不过,范妮立即极为欣慰地发现,她父亲和他在家中的表现相比完全变成了另外一个人;从他对这位极其尊贵的陌生人的态度来看,他完全变成了另一个普莱斯先生。他现在的言谈举止虽然谈不上优雅,但也相当过得去。他和颜悦色,热情洋溢,颇有几分男子汉气概。他说起话来俨然像个疼爱儿女的父亲,像个通情达理的人。他那高门大嗓在户外听起来倒也挺悦耳的,而且他连一句赌咒骂人的话都没说。他见克劳福德先生文质彬彬,本能地肃然起敬。且不论结果如何,范妮当即感到无比欣慰。

两位先生寒暄过后,普莱斯先生提出带克劳福德先生参观海军船坞。克劳福德先生已经不止一次地去那里参观过,但他觉得对方是一番好意,再说他又很想和范妮多在一起走走,只要两位普莱斯小姐不怕辛苦,他就十分乐意接受这个建议。两位小姐以某种方式表明,或者说暗示,或者至少从行动上看出,她们不怕辛苦,于是大家都要去海军船坞。若不是克劳福德先生提出意见.普莱斯先生会直接领他们到船坞去,丝毫不考虑女儿们还要上大街办点事。克劳福德先生比较细心,建议让姑娘们到她们要去的商店去一趟。这并没有耽搁他们多少时间,因为范妮生怕惹得别人不耐烦,或是让别人等自己,两位先生站在门口刚开始谈到最近颁布的海军条例,以及共有多少现役的三层甲板军舰,他们的两个同伴已经买完了东西,可以走了。

于是,大家这就动身去海军船坞。照克劳福德先生的看法,若是完全由普莱斯先生做主,他是不可能把路带好的。克劳福德先生发现,普莱斯先生会领着他们急匆匆地往前走,让两个姑娘在后边跟,是否能跟上他一概不管。克劳福德先生想不时地改变一下这种状况,尽管改变不到他所希望的程度。他绝对不愿意远离她们,每逢到了十字路口或者人多的地方,普莱斯先生只是喊一喊:“来,姑娘们——来,范——来,苏——小心点——注意点。”而克劳福德先生却特地跑回去关照她们。

一进入海军船坞,他觉得他有希望和范妮好好谈谈了,因为他们进来不久,便遇到了一个常和普莱斯先生一起厮混的朋友。他是执行日常任务,来察看情况的,由他陪伴普莱斯先生,自然比克劳福德先生来得合适。过了不久,两位军官似乎便乐呵呵地走在一起,谈起了他们同样感兴趣并且永远感兴趣的事情,而几位年轻人或者坐在院里的木头上,或者在去参观造船台的时候在船上找个座位坐下。范妮需要休息,这给克劳福德先生提供了极大的方便。她觉得疲劳,想坐下来休息,这是克劳福德先生求之不得的。不过,他还希望她妹妹离得远一些。像苏珊这么大的目光敏锐的姑娘可是世界上最糟糕的第三者了——与伯特伦夫人完全不同——总是瞪着眼睛,竖着耳朵,在她面前就没法说要紧的话,他只能满足于一般地客客气气,让苏珊也分享一份快乐,不时地对心中有数的范妮递个眼色,给个暗示。他谈得最多的是诺福克,他在那里住了一殷时间,由于执行了他的改造计划,那里处处都越发了不得了。他这个人不论从什么地方来,从什么人那里来,总会带来点有趣的消息。他的旅途生活和他认识的人都是他的谈资,苏珊觉得极为新鲜有趣。除了他那些熟人的偶然趣事之外,他还讲了一些别的事情,那是讲给范妮听的。他讲了讲他在这个不寻常季节去诺福克的具体原因,以博得她的欢心。他是真的去办事的,重订一个租约,原来的租约危及了一大家子(他认为是)勤劳人的幸福。他怀疑他的代理人在耍弄诡秘伎俩,企图使他对好好干的人产生偏见,因此他决定亲自跑一趟,彻底调查一下这里面的是非曲直。他去了一趟,所做的好事超出了自己的预料,帮助的人比原来计划的还要多,现在真可以为此而自我庆贺,觉得由于履行了自己的义务,心里一想起来就感到欣慰。他会见了一些他过去从未见过的佃户,访问了一些农舍,这些农舍虽然就在他的庄园上,但他一直不了解。这话是说给范妮听的,而且收到良好效果。听他说得这么有分寸,真令人高兴。他在这件事上表现得颇为得体。跟受压迫的穷人做朋友啊!对范妮来说,再没有什么比这更可喜的了。她刚想向他投去赞赏的目光,却突然给吓回去了,因为克劳福德先生又赤裸裸地加了一句:希望不久能有一个助手,一个朋友,一个指导者,跟他共同实施埃弗灵厄姆的公益和慈善计划,能有一个人把埃弗灵厄姆及其周围的一切整治得更加宜人。

范妮把脸转向一边,希望他不要再说这样的话。她愿意承认,他的好品质也许比她过去想象的多。她开始感到,他最后有可能变好,但他对她一点不适合,而且永远不适合,他不应该再打她的主意。

克劳福德先生意识到,埃弗灵厄姆的事情谈得够多了,应该谈点别的事情了,于是把话题转到了曼斯菲尔德。这个话题选得再好不过了,几乎刚一开口就把她的注意力和目光吸引了回来。对她来说,不管是听别人讲起曼斯菲尔德,还是自己讲起曼斯菲尔德,还真让她着迷。她和熟悉这个地方的人分别了这么久,现在听到他提起这个地方,觉得像是听到了朋友的声音。他赞美起了曼斯菲尔德的美丽景色和舒适生活,引起她连连赞叹;他夸奖那里的人,说她姨父头脑机灵,心地善良,说她姨妈性情比谁都和蔼可亲,真让她满怀高兴,也跟着热烈称赞。

克劳福德先生自己也非常眷恋曼斯菲尔德,他是这么说的。他盼望将来把大部分时间都消磨在那里——始终住在那里,或者住在附近一带。他特别指望今年能在那里度过一个非常快乐的夏天和秋天,他觉得会办得到的,他相信会实现的,这个夏天和秋天会比去年夏天和秋天好得多。像去年一样兴致勃勃,一样丰富多彩,一样热闹——但是有些情况要比去年好到不可言传的地步。

“曼斯菲尔德,索瑟顿,桑顿莱西,”他接着说,“在这些大宅里会玩得多么开心啊!到了米迦勒节,也许还会加上第四个去处,在每个去处附近建一个狩猎小屋。埃德蒙·伯特伦曾热情地建议我和他一起住到桑顿莱西,我有先见之明,觉得有两个原因不能去:两个充分的、绝妙的、无法抗拒的原因。”

听他这么一说,范妮越发沉默不语了。可事过之后,她又后悔没有鼓起勇气表示自己明白其中的一个原因,鼓励他再多讲讲他妹妹和埃德蒙的情况。她应该把这个问题提出来,但她畏畏缩缩地不敢提,不久就再也没有机会提了。

普莱斯先生和他的朋友把他们要看或者有工夫看的地方都看过了,其他人也准备一起动身回去了。在回去的路上,他处心积虑地找了个机会,跟范妮说了几句悄悄话,说他来朴次茅斯唯一的目的就是看看她,他来住上一两天就是为了她,仅仅为了她,他再也受不了长久的分离了。范妮感到遗憾,非常遗憾。然而,尽管他说了这话,还说了两三件她认为不该说的事,她还是觉得自从分别以来他已有了很大长进。比起上次在曼斯菲尔德见到的时候,他变得文雅多了,对人恳切多了,也能体贴别人的心情。她从来没有见到他这么和蔼可亲——这么近乎和蔼可亲。他对她父亲的态度无可指摘,他对苏珊的关注更有一种特别亲切、特别得体的味道。他有了明显的长进。她希望第二天快一点过去,希望他在这里住一天就走。不过,事情并不像她原先预料的那么糟糕,谈起曼斯菲尔德来真是其乐融融啊!

临别之前,范妮还得为另一桩乐事感谢他,而且这还不是一桩区区小事。他父亲请他赏光来和他们一起吃羊肉,范妮心里刚感到一阵惊慌失措,他就声称他已有约在先,不能应邀前往了。他已约好当天和第二天要跟别人一起就餐。他在皇冠旅社遇到了几个熟人,定要请他吃饭,他无法推辞。不过,他可以在第二天上午再来拜访他们。他们就这样分手了,范妮由于避免了这么可怕的灾难,心里感到不胜欣慰!

让他来和她家里人一起吃饭,把家里的种种缺陷都暴露在他面前,这该有多么可怕呀!丽贝卡做的那种饭菜,侍候进餐的那种态度,贝齐在饭桌上毫无规矩的那副吃相,看见什么好吃的就往自己面前拉,这一切连范妮都看不惯,经常因此吃不好饭。她只不过因为天生知趣一点而看不惯,而他却是在荣华富贵、讲究吃喝中长大的。



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