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Chapter 48

Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery. I quit such odious subjects as soon as I can, impatient to restore everybody, not greatly in fault themselves, to tolerable comfort, and to have done with all the rest.

My Fanny, indeed, at this very time, I have the satisfaction of knowing, must have been happy in spite of everything. She must have been a happy creature in spite of all that she felt, or thought she felt, for the distress of those around her. She had sources of delight that must force their way. She was returned to Mansfield Park, she was useful, she was beloved; she was safe from Mr. Crawford; and when Sir Thomas came back she had every proof that could be given in his then melancholy state of spirits, of his perfect approbation and increased regard; and happy as all this must make her, she would still have been happy without any of it, for Edmund was no longer the dupe of Miss Crawford.

It is true that Edmund was very far from happy himself. He was suffering from disappointment and regret, grieving over what was, and wishing for what could never be. She knew it was so, and was sorry; but it was with a sorrow so founded on satisfaction, so tending to ease, and so much in harmony with every dearest sensation, that there are few who might not have been glad to exchange their greatest gaiety for it.

Sir Thomas, poor Sir Thomas, a parent, and conscious of errors in his own conduct as a parent, was the longest to suffer. He felt that he ought not to have allowed the marriage; that his daughter's sentiments had been sufficiently known to him to render him culpable in authorising it; that in so doing he had sacrificed the right to the expedient, and been governed by motives of selfishness and worldly wisdom. These were reflections that required some time to soften; but time will do almost everything; and though little comfort arose on Mrs. Rushworth's side for the misery she had occasioned, comfort was to be found greater than he had supposed in his other children. Julia's match became a less desperate business than he had considered it at first. She was humble, and wishing to be forgiven; and Mr. Yates, desirous of being really received into the family, was disposed to look up to him and be guided. He was not very solid; but there was a hope of his becoming less trifling, of his being at least tolerably domestic and quiet; and at any rate, there was comfort in finding his estate rather more, and his debts much less, than he had feared, and in being consulted and treated as the friend best worth attending to. There was comfort also in Tom, who gradually regained his health, without regaining the thoughtlessness and selfishness of his previous habits. He was the better for ever for his illness. He had suffered, and he had learned to think: two advantages that he had never known before; and the self-reproach arising from the deplorable event in Wimpole Street, to which he felt himself accessory by all the dangerous intimacy of his unjustifiable theatre, made an impression on his mind which, at the age of six-and-twenty, with no want of sense or good companions, was durable in its happy effects. He became what he ought to be: useful to his father, steady and quiet, and not living merely for himself.

Here was comfort indeed! and quite as soon as Sir Thomas could place dependence on such sources of good, Edmund was contributing to his father's ease by improvement in the only point in which he had given him pain before-- improvement in his spirits. After wandering about and sitting under trees with Fanny all the summer evenings, he had so well talked his mind into submission as to be very tolerably cheerful again.

These were the circumstances and the hopes which gradually brought their alleviation to Sir Thomas, deadening his sense of what was lost, and in part reconciling him to himself; though the anguish arising from the conviction of his own errors in the education of his daughters was never to be entirely done away.

Too late he became aware how unfavourable to the character of any young people must be the totally opposite treatment which Maria and Julia had been always experiencing at home, where the excessive indulgence and flattery of their aunt had been continually contrasted with his own severity. He saw how ill he had judged, in expecting to counteract what was wrong in Mrs. Norris by its reverse in himself; clearly saw that he had but increased the evil by teaching them to repress their spirits in his presence so as to make their real disposition unknown to him, and sending them for all their indulgences to a person who had been able to attach them only by the blindness of her affection, and the excess of her praise.

Here had been grievous mismanagement; but, bad as it was, he gradually grew to feel that it had not been the most direful mistake in his plan of education. Something must have been wanting _within_, or time would have worn away much of its ill effect. He feared that principle, active principle, had been wanting; that they had never been properly taught to govern their inclinations and tempers by that sense of duty which can alone suffice. They had been instructed theoretically in their religion, but never required to bring it into daily practice. To be distinguished for elegance and accomplishments, the authorised object of their youth, could have had no useful influence that way, no moral effect on the mind. He had meant them to be good, but his cares had been directed to the understanding and manners, not the disposition; and of the necessity of self-denial and humility, he feared they had never heard from any lips that could profit them.

Bitterly did he deplore a deficiency which now he could scarcely comprehend to have been possible. Wretchedly did he feel, that with all the cost and care of an anxious and expensive education, he had brought up his daughters without their understanding their first duties, or his being acquainted with their character and temper.

The high spirit and strong passions of Mrs. Rushworth, especially, were made known to him only in their sad result. She was not to be prevailed on to leave Mr. Crawford. She hoped to marry him, and they continued together till she was obliged to be convinced that such hope was vain, and till the disappointment and wretchedness arising from the conviction rendered her temper so bad, and her feelings for him so like hatred, as to make them for a while each other's punishment, and then induce a voluntary separation.

She had lived with him to be reproached as the ruin of all his happiness in Fanny, and carried away no better consolation in leaving him than that she _had_ divided them. What can exceed the misery of such a mind in such a situation?

Mr. Rushworth had no difficulty in procuring a divorce; and so ended a marriage contracted under such circumstances as to make any better end the effect of good luck not to be reckoned on. She had despised him, and loved another; and he had been very much aware that it was so. The indignities of stupidity, and the disappointments of selfish passion, can excite little pity. His punishment followed his conduct, as did a deeper punishment the deeper guilt of his wife. _He_ was released from the engagement to be mortified and unhappy, till some other pretty girl could attract him into matrimony again, and he might set forward on a second, and, it is to be hoped, more prosperous trial of the state: if duped, to be duped at least with good humour and good luck; while she must withdraw with infinitely stronger feelings to a retirement and reproach which could allow no second spring of hope or character.

Where she could be placed became a subject of most melancholy and momentous consultation. Mrs. Norris, whose attachment seemed to augment with the demerits of her niece, would have had her received at home and countenanced by them all. Sir Thomas would not hear of it; and Mrs. Norris's anger against Fanny was so much the greater, from considering _her_ residence there as the motive. She persisted in placing his scruples to _her_ account, though Sir Thomas very solemnly assured her that, had there been no young woman in question, had there been no young person of either sex belonging to him, to be endangered by the society or hurt by the character of Mrs. Rushworth, he would never have offered so great an insult to the neighbourhood as to expect it to notice her. As a daughter, he hoped a penitent one, she should be protected by him, and secured in every comfort, and supported by every encouragement to do right, which their relative situations admitted; but farther than _that_ he could not go. Maria had destroyed her own character, and he would not, by a vain attempt to restore what never could be restored, by affording his sanction to vice, or in seeking to lessen its disgrace, be anywise accessory to introducing such misery in another man's family as he had known himself.

It ended in Mrs. Norris's resolving to quit Mansfield and devote herself to her unfortunate Maria, and in an establishment being formed for them in another country, remote and private, where, shut up together with little society, on one side no affection, on the other no judgment, it may be reasonably supposed that their tempers became their mutual punishment.

Mrs. Norris's removal from Mansfield was the great supplementary comfort of Sir Thomas's life. His opinion of her had been sinking from the day of his return from Antigua: in every transaction together from that period, in their daily intercourse, in business, or in chat, she had been regularly losing ground in his esteem, and convincing him that either time had done her much disservice, or that he had considerably over-rated her sense, and wonderfully borne with her manners before. He had felt her as an hourly evil, which was so much the worse, as there seemed no chance of its ceasing but with life; she seemed a part of himself that must be borne for ever. To be relieved from her, therefore, was so great a felicity that, had she not left bitter remembrances behind her, there might have been danger of his learning almost to approve the evil which produced such a good.

She was regretted by no one at Mansfield. She had never been able to attach even those she loved best; and since Mrs. Rushworth's elopement, her temper had been in a state of such irritation as to make her everywhere tormenting. Not even Fanny had tears for aunt Norris, not even when she was gone for ever.

That Julia escaped better than Maria was owing, in some measure, to a favourable difference of disposition and circumstance, but in a greater to her having been less the darling of that very aunt, less flattered and less spoilt. Her beauty and acquirements had held but a second place. She had been always used to think herself a little inferior to Maria. Her temper was naturally the easiest of the two; her feelings, though quick, were more controllable, and education had not given her so very hurtful a degree of self-consequence.

She had submitted the best to the disappointment in Henry Crawford. After the first bitterness of the conviction of being slighted was over, she had been tolerably soon in a fair way of not thinking of him again; and when the acquaintance was renewed in town, and Mr. Rushworth's house became Crawford's object, she had had the merit of withdrawing herself from it, and of chusing that time to pay a visit to her other friends, in order to secure herself from being again too much attracted. This had been her motive in going to her cousin's. Mr. Yates's convenience had had nothing to do with it. She had been allowing his attentions some time, but with very little idea of ever accepting him; and had not her sister's conduct burst forth as it did, and her increased dread of her father and of home, on that event, imagining its certain consequence to herself would be greater severity and restraint, made her hastily resolve on avoiding such immediate horrors at all risks, it is probable that Mr. Yates would never have succeeded. She had not eloped with any worse feelings than those of selfish alarm. It had appeared to her the only thing to be done. Maria's guilt had induced Julia's folly.

Henry Crawford, ruined by early independence and bad domestic example, indulged in the freaks of a cold-blooded vanity a little too long. Once it had, by an opening undesigned and unmerited, led him into the way of happiness. Could he have been satisfied with the conquest of one amiable woman's affections, could he have found sufficient exultation in overcoming the reluctance, in working himself into the esteem and tenderness of Fanny Price, there would have been every probability of success and felicity for him. His affection had already done something. Her influence over him had already given him some influence over her. Would he have deserved more, there can be no doubt that more would have been obtained, especially when that marriage had taken place, which would have given him the assistance of her conscience in subduing her first inclination, and brought them very often together. Would he have persevered, and uprightly, Fanny must have been his reward, and a reward very voluntarily bestowed, within a reasonable period from Edmund's marrying Mary.

Had he done as he intended, and as he knew he ought, by going down to Everingham after his return from Portsmouth, he might have been deciding his own happy destiny. But he was pressed to stay for Mrs. Fraser's party; his staying was made of flattering consequence, and he was to meet Mrs. Rushworth there. Curiosity and vanity were both engaged, and the temptation of immediate pleasure was too strong for a mind unused to make any sacrifice to right: he resolved to defer his Norfolk journey, resolved that writing should answer the purpose of it, or that its purpose was unimportant, and staid. He saw Mrs. Rushworth, was received by her with a coldness which ought to have been repulsive, and have established apparent indifference between them for ever; but he was mortified, he could not bear to be thrown off by the woman whose smiles had been so wholly at his command: he must exert himself to subdue so proud a display of resentment; it was anger on Fanny's account; he must get the better of it, and make Mrs. Rushworth Maria Bertram again in her treatment of himself.

In this spirit he began the attack, and by animated perseverance had soon re-established the sort of familiar intercourse, of gallantry, of flirtation, which bounded his views; but in triumphing over the discretion which, though beginning in anger, might have saved them both, he had put himself in the power of feelings on her side more strong than he had supposed. She loved him; there was no withdrawing attentions avowedly dear to her. He was entangled by his own vanity, with as little excuse of love as possible, and without the smallest inconstancy of mind towards her cousin. To keep Fanny and the Bertrams from a knowledge of what was passing became his first object. Secrecy could not have been more desirable for Mrs. Rushworth's credit than he felt it for his own. When he returned from Richmond, he would have been glad to see Mrs. Rushworth no more. All that followed was the result of her imprudence; and he went off with her at last, because he could not help it, regretting Fanny even at the moment, but regretting her infinitely more when all the bustle of the intrigue was over, and a very few months had taught him, by the force of contrast, to place a yet higher value on the sweetness of her temper, the purity of her mind, and the excellence of her principles.

That punishment, the public punishment of disgrace, should in a just measure attend _his_ share of the offence is, we know, not one of the barriers which society gives to virtue. In this world the penalty is less equal than could be wished; but without presuming to look forward to a juster appointment hereafter, we may fairly consider a man of sense, like Henry Crawford, to be providing for himself no small portion of vexation and regret: vexation that must rise sometimes to self-reproach, and regret to wretchedness, in having so requited hospitality, so injured family peace, so forfeited his best, most estimable, and endeared acquaintance, and so lost the woman whom he had rationally as well as passionately loved.

After what had passed to wound and alienate the two families, the continuance of the Bertrams and Grants in such close neighbourhood would have been most distressing; but the absence of the latter, for some months purposely lengthened, ended very fortunately in the necessity, or at least the practicability, of a permanent removal. Dr. Grant, through an interest on which he had almost ceased to form hopes, succeeded to a stall in Westminster, which, as affording an occasion for leaving Mansfield, an excuse for residence in London, and an increase of income to answer the expenses of the change, was highly acceptable to those who went and those who staid.

Mrs. Grant, with a temper to love and be loved, must have gone with some regret from the scenes and people she had been used to; but the same happiness of disposition must in any place, and any society, secure her a great deal to enjoy, and she had again a home to offer Mary; and Mary had had enough of her own friends, enough of vanity, ambition, love, and disappointment in the course of the last half-year, to be in need of the true kindness of her sister's heart, and the rational tranquillity of her ways. They lived together; and when Dr. Grant had brought on apoplexy and death, by three great institutionary dinners in one week, they still lived together; for Mary, though perfectly resolved against ever attaching herself to a younger brother again, was long in finding among the dashing representatives, or idle heir-apparents, who were at the command of her beauty, and her 20,000, any one who could satisfy the better taste she had acquired at Mansfield, whose character and manners could authorise a hope of the domestic happiness she had there learned to estimate, or put Edmund Bertram sufficiently out of her head.

Edmund had greatly the advantage of her in this respect. He had not to wait and wish with vacant affections for an object worthy to succeed her in them. Scarcely had he done regretting Mary Crawford, and observing to Fanny how impossible it was that he should ever meet with such another woman, before it began to strike him whether a very different kind of woman might not do just as well, or a great deal better: whether Fanny herself were not growing as dear, as important to him in all her smiles and all her ways, as Mary Crawford had ever been; and whether it might not be a possible, an hopeful undertaking to persuade her that her warm and sisterly regard for him would be foundation enough for wedded love.

I purposely abstain from dates on this occasion, that every one may be at liberty to fix their own, aware that the cure of unconquerable passions, and the transfer of unchanging attachments, must vary much as to time in different people. I only entreat everybody to believe that exactly at the time when it was quite natural that it should be so, and not a week earlier, Edmund did cease to care about Miss Crawford, and became as anxious to marry Fanny as Fanny herself could desire.

With such a regard for her, indeed, as his had long been, a regard founded on the most endearing claims of innocence and helplessness, and completed by every recommendation of growing worth, what could be more natural than the change? Loving, guiding, protecting her, as he had been doing ever since her being ten years old, her mind in so great a degree formed by his care, and her comfort depending on his kindness, an object to him of such close and peculiar interest, dearer by all his own importance with her than any one else at Mansfield, what was there now to add, but that he should learn to prefer soft light eyes to sparkling dark ones. And being always with her, and always talking confidentially, and his feelings exactly in that favourable state which a recent disappointment gives, those soft light eyes could not be very long in obtaining the pre-eminence.

Having once set out, and felt that he had done so on this road to happiness, there was nothing on the side of prudence to stop him or make his progress slow; no doubts of her deserving, no fears of opposition of taste, no need of drawing new hopes of happiness from dissimilarity of temper. Her mind, disposition, opinions, and habits wanted no half-concealment, no self-deception on the present, no reliance on future improvement. Even in the midst of his late infatuation, he had acknowledged Fanny's mental superiority. What must be his sense of it now, therefore? She was of course only too good for him; but as nobody minds having what is too good for them, he was very steadily earnest in the pursuit of the blessing, and it was not possible that encouragement from her should be long wanting. Timid, anxious, doubting as she was, it was still impossible that such tenderness as hers should not, at times, hold out the strongest hope of success, though it remained for a later period to tell him the whole delightful and astonishing truth. His happiness in knowing himself to have been so long the beloved of such a heart, must have been great enough to warrant any strength of language in which he could clothe it to her or to himself; it must have been a delightful happiness. But there was happiness elsewhere which no description can reach. Let no one presume to give the feelings of a young woman on receiving the assurance of that affection of which she has scarcely allowed herself to entertain a hope.

Their own inclinations ascertained, there were no difficulties behind, no drawback of poverty or parent. It was a match which Sir Thomas's wishes had even forestalled. Sick of ambitious and mercenary connexions, prizing more and more the sterling good of principle and temper, and chiefly anxious to bind by the strongest securities all that remained to him of domestic felicity, he had pondered with genuine satisfaction on the more than possibility of the two young friends finding their natural consolation in each other for all that had occurred of disappointment to either; and the joyful consent which met Edmund's application, the high sense of having realised a great acquisition in the promise of Fanny for a daughter, formed just such a contrast with his early opinion on the subject when the poor little girl's coming had been first agitated, as time is for ever producing between the plans and decisions of mortals, for their own instruction, and their neighbours' entertainment.

Fanny was indeed the daughter that he wanted. His charitable kindness had been rearing a prime comfort for himself. His liberality had a rich repayment, and the general goodness of his intentions by her deserved it. He might have made her childhood happier; but it had been an error of judgment only which had given him the appearance of harshness, and deprived him of her early love; and now, on really knowing each other, their mutual attachment became very strong. After settling her at Thornton Lacey with every kind attention to her comfort, the object of almost every day was to see her there, or to get her away from it.

Selfishly dear as she had long been to Lady Bertram, she could not be parted with willingly by _her_. No happiness of son or niece could make her wish the marriage. But it was possible to part with her, because Susan remained to supply her place. Susan became the stationary niece, delighted to be so; and equally well adapted for it by a readiness of mind, and an inclination for usefulness, as Fanny had been by sweetness of temper, and strong feelings of gratitude. Susan could never be spared. First as a comfort to Fanny, then as an auxiliary, and last as her substitute, she was established at Mansfield, with every appearance of equal permanency. Her more fearless disposition and happier nerves made everything easy to her there. With quickness in understanding the tempers of those she had to deal with, and no natural timidity to restrain any consequent wishes, she was soon welcome and useful to all; and after Fanny's removal succeeded so naturally to her influence over the hourly comfort of her aunt, as gradually to become, perhaps, the most beloved of the two. In _her_ usefulness, in Fanny's excellence, in William's continued good conduct and rising fame, and in the general well-doing and success of the other members of the family, all assisting to advance each other, and doing credit to his countenance and aid, Sir Thomas saw repeated, and for ever repeated, reason to rejoice in what he had done for them all, and acknowledge the advantages of early hardship and discipline, and the consciousness of being born to struggle and endure.

With so much true merit and true love, and no want of fortune and friends, the happiness of the married cousins must appear as secure as earthly happiness can be. Equally formed for domestic life, and attached to country pleasures, their home was the home of affection and comfort; and to complete the picture of good, the acquisition of Mansfield living, by the death of Dr. Grant, occurred just after they had been married long enough to begin to want an increase of income, and feel their distance from the paternal abode an inconvenience.

On that event they removed to Mansfield; and the Parsonage there, which, under each of its two former owners, Fanny had never been able to approach but with some painful sensation of restraint or alarm, soon grew as dear to her heart, and as thoroughly perfect in her eyes, as everything else within the view and patronage of Mansfield Park had long been.

让别的文人墨客去描写罪恶与不幸吧。我要尽快抛开这样一些令人厌恶的话题,急欲使没有重大过失的每一个人重新过上安生日子,其余的话也就不往下说了。

这时候,不管怎么说,我的范妮还真是过得很快活,这一点我知道,也为此感到高兴。尽管她为周围人的痛苦而难过,或者她觉得她为他们而难过,但她肯定是个快活的人。她有遏制不住的幸福源泉。她被接回了曼斯菲尔德庄园,是个有用的人,受人喜爱的人,再不会受到克劳福德先生的搅扰。托马斯爵士回来后,尽管忧心忡忡,但种种迹象表明,他对外甥女十分满意,更加喜爱。虽然这一切必然会使范妮为之高兴,但没有这一切,她仍然会感到高兴,因为埃德蒙已经不再上克劳福德小姐的当了。

不错,埃德蒙本人还远远谈不上高兴。他感到失望和懊恼,一边为过去的事伤心,一边又盼望那永远不可能的事。范妮知道这个情况,并为此而难过。不过,这种难过是建立在满意的基础上,是与心情舒畅相通的,与种种最美妙的情愫相协调的,谁都愿以最大的快乐来换这种难过。

托马斯爵士,可怜的托马斯爵士是做父亲的,意识到自己身为做父亲的过失,因而痛苦的时间最久。他觉得自己当初不该答应这门亲事,他本来十分清楚女儿的心思,却又同意这门亲事,岂不是明知故犯。他觉得自己那样做是为了一时的利益而牺牲了原则,是受到了自私和世俗动机的支配。要抚慰这样的内疚之情,是需要一定时间的。但时间几乎是无所不能的。拉什沃思太太给家中造成不幸之后,虽然没有传来什么令人欣慰的好消息,但是别的子女却给他带来了意想不到的安慰。朱莉娅的婚事没有他当初想象的那么糟糕。她自知理亏,希望家里原谅。耶茨一心巴望他能给接纳进这个家庭,便甘愿仰仗他,接受他的指导。他不是很正经,但是他有可能变得不那么轻浮,至少有可能变得多少顾家一些,多少安分一些。不管怎样,现已弄清他的地产不是那么少,债务不是那么多,他还把爵士当做最值得器重的朋友来对待、来求教,这总会给他带来一点安慰。汤姆也给他带来了安慰,因为他渐渐恢复了健康,却没有恢复他那不顾别人、自私自利的习性。他这一病反而从此变好了。他吃了苦头,学会了思考,这是他以前不曾有过的好事。他对温普尔街发生的痛心事件感到内疚,觉得都是演戏时男女过分亲昵造成的后果,他是负有责任的。他已经二十六岁了,头脑不笨,也不乏良师益友,因此这种内疚深深地印在他的心里,长久地起着良好的作用。他成了个安分守己的人,能为父亲分忧解难,稳重安详,不再光为自己活着。

这真令人欣慰啊!就在托马斯爵士看出这些好现象的同时,埃德蒙也在自己以前让父亲担忧的唯一一点上有了改善——他的精神状态有了改善,因此父亲心情更舒畅了。整个夏天,他天天晚上都和范妮一起漫步,或者坐在树下休息,通过一次次交谈,心里渐渐想开了,恢复了以往的愉快心情。

正是这些情况,这些给人以希望的现象,渐渐缓解了托马斯爵士的痛苦,使他不再为失去的一切而忧伤,不再跟自己过不去。不过,由于想到自己教育女儿不当而感到的痛心,则是永远不会彻底消失的。

玛丽亚和朱莉娅在家中总是受到两种截然不同的对待,父亲对她们非常严厉,而姨妈却极度放纵她们,迎合她们,这对年轻人的品格形成是多么不利,托马斯爵士对此认识得太迟了。当初他见诺里斯太太做法不对,自己便反其道而行之,后来清楚地发现,他这样做结果反而更糟,只能教她们当着他的面压抑自己的情绪,使他无法了解她们的真实思想,与此同时,把她们交给一个只知道盲目宠爱、过度夸奖她们的人,到她那里恣意放纵。

这样的做法实在糟糕透顶。但尽管糟糕,他还是逐渐感到,在他的教育计划中,这还不算是最可怕的错误。两个女儿本身必然缺点什么东西,不然的话,时间早该把那不良的影响消磨掉了许多。他猜想是缺少了原则,缺少了有效的原则,觉得从来没有好好教育她们用责任感去控制自己的爱好和脾性,只要有了责任感,一切都可迎刃而解。她们只学了一些宗教理论,却从来没有要求她们每天实践这些理论。在文雅和才华方面出众,这是她们年轻时的既定目标,但是这对她们并不能起到这样的有益影响,对她们的思想产生不了道德教育的效果。他本想让她们好好做人,但却把心思用到了提高她们的心智和礼仪上,而不是她们的性情上。他感到遗憾的是,她们从来没有听到可以帮助她们的人说过,必须克己,必须谦让。

他感到多么痛心,女儿教育上存在这样的缺陷,他到现在还觉得难以理解。他又感到多么伤心,他花了那么多心血、那么多钱来教育女儿,她们长大成人以后,却不知道自己的首要义务是什么,而他自己也不了解她们的品格和性情。

尤其是拉什沃思太太,她心比天高,欲望强烈,只是造成了恶果之后,做父亲的才有所省悟。无论怎么劝说,她都不肯离开克劳福德先生。她希望嫁给他,两人一直在一起,后来才意识到她是白希望一场,并因此感到失望,感到不幸,脾气变得极坏,心里憎恨克劳福德先生,两人势不两立,最后自愿分手。

她和克劳福德住在一起,克劳福德怪她毁了他和范妮的美满姻缘。她离开他时,唯一的安慰是她已把他们拆散了。这样一颗心,处在这样的情况下,还有什么比它更凄怆的呢?

拉什沃思先生没费多大周折就离婚了。一场婚姻就此结束了。这桩婚事从订婚时的情况来看,除非碰上意想不到的好运,否则决不会有什么好下场。做妻子的当时就瞧不起他,爱上了另一个人,这个情况他也十分清楚。愚蠢蒙受了耻辱,自私的欲望落了空,这都激不起同情。他的行为使他受到了惩罚,他妻子罪孽深重,受到了更重的惩罚。他离婚之后,只觉得没有脸面,心里郁郁不乐,非得另有一个漂亮姑娘能打动他的心,引得他再次结婚,这种状况才会结束。他可以再做一次婚姻尝试,但愿这一次比上一次来得成功。即便受骗,骗他的人至少脾气好些,运气好些。而她呢,则必须怀着更加不胜悲伤的心情,忍辱含垢地远离尘世,再也没有希望,再也恢复不了名誉。

把她安置到什么地方,这是一个极其重要、极伤脑筋的问题,需要好好商量。诺里斯太太自从外甥女做了错事以未,似乎对她更疼爱了,她主张把她接回家,得到大家的原谅。托马斯爵士不同意她的意见,诺里斯太太认为他所以反对是因为范妮住在家里,因而她就越发记恨范妮。她一口咬定他顾虑的都是她,但托马斯爵士非常庄严地向她保证,即使这里面没有年轻姑娘,即使他家里没有年轻的男女,不怕和拉什沃思太太相处有什么危险,不怕接受她的人品的不良影响,那他也决不会给临近一带招来这么大的一个祸害,期待人们对她会客气。她作为女儿,只要肯忏悔,他就保护她,给她安排舒适的生活,竭力鼓励她正经做人,根据他们的家境,这都是做得到的。但是,他决不会越过这个限度。玛丽亚毁了自己的名声,他不会采取姑息罪恶的办法,试图为她恢复无法恢复的东西,那样做是徒劳的。他也不会明知故犯,还要把这样的不幸再引到另一个男人家里,来替她遮羞。

讨论的结果,诺里斯太太决定离开曼斯菲尔德,悉心照顾她那不幸的玛丽亚。她要跟她住到偏远的异乡,关起门来与世隔绝过日子,一个心灰意冷,一个头脑不清,可以想象,两人的脾气会成为彼此之间的惩罚。

诺里斯太太搬出曼斯菲尔德,托马斯爵士的生活就轻快多了。他从安提瓜回来的那天起,对她的印象就越来越差了。自那时起,在每次交往中,不论是日常谈话,还是办事,还是闲聊,他对她的看法每况愈下,觉得不是岁月不饶人,就是他当初对她的才智估计过高,对她的所作所为又过于包涵。他感到她无时无刻不在起不良的作用,尤其糟糕的是,除非她老死,否则似乎没完没了。她好像是他的一个包袱,他要永远背在身上。因此,能摆脱她是件极大的幸事,若不是她走后留下了痛苦的记忆,他几乎要为这件坏事叫好了,因为坏事带来了这么大的好处。

诺里斯太太这一走,曼斯菲尔德没有任何人为之遗憾。就连她最喜欢的人,也没有一个真正爱过她的。拉什沃思太太私奔以后,她的脾气变得非常暴躁,到哪里都让入受不了。连范妮也不再为诺里斯姨妈流泪——即使她要永远离开的时候,也没有为她掉一滴眼泪。

朱莉娅私奔的结果没有玛丽亚的那么糟,这在一定程度上是由于两人性情不同,处境也不一样,但在更大程度上是由于这位姨妈没有那样把她当宝贝,没有那样捧她,那样惯她。她的美貌和才学只居第二位。她总是自认比玛丽亚差一点。两人比起来,她的性情自然随和一些;她尽管有些急躁,但还比较容易控制。她受的教育没有使她产生一种非常有害的妄自尊大。

她在亨利·克劳福德那里碰了钉子之后,能很好地把握自己。她受到他的冷落,起初心里很不好受,但是没过多久,就不再去多想他了。在伦敦重新相遇的时候,拉什沃思先生的家成了克劳福德的目标,她倒能知趣地撤离出来,专挑这段时间去看望别的朋友,以免再度坠人情网。这就是她到亲戚家去的原因,与耶茨先生是否住在附近毫无关系。她听任耶茨先生对她献殷勤已有一段时间了,但是从未想过要嫁给他。她姐姐出了事情之后,她越发怕见父亲怕回家,心想回家后家里定会对她管教得更加严厉,因此她急忙决定要不顾一切地避免眼前的可怕命运,不然的话,耶茨先生可能永远不会得逞的。朱莉娅所以要私奔,就是由于心里害怕,有些自私的念头,并没有什么更糟糕的想法。她觉得她只有那一条路。玛丽亚的罪恶引来了朱莉娅的愚蠢。

亨利·克劳福德坏就坏在早年继承了一笔丰厚的家业,家里还有一个不好的榜样,因此很久以来,就醉心于挑逗妇女的感情,并以此为荣,做些薄情负心的怪事。他这次对范妮,一开始并没有诚心,也用心不良,后来却走上了通往幸福的道路。假若他能满足于赢得一个可爱女性的欢心,假若他能克服范妮·普莱斯的抵触情绪,逐步赢得她的尊重和好感,并能从中得到充分的快乐的话.那他是有可能取得成功、获得幸福的。他的苦苦追求已经取得了一定的效果,范妮对他的影响反过来使他对她也产生了一定的影响。他若是表现得再好一些,无疑将会有更大的收获。尤其是,假如他妹妹和埃德蒙结了婚,范妮就会有意克服她的初恋,他们就会经常在一起。假如他坚持下去,而且堂堂正正,那在埃德蒙和玛丽结婚后不要多久,范妮就会以身相许来报答他,而且是心甘情愿地报答他。

假若他按照原来的打算,按照当时的想法,从朴次茅斯一同来就去埃弗灵厄姆,他也许已决定了自己的幸福命运。但是,别人劝他留下来参加弗雷泽太太的舞会,说他能给舞会增添光彩,再说在舞会上还可以见到拉什沃思太太。这里面既有好奇心,也有虚荣心。他那颗心不习惯于为正经事做出任何牺牲,因此他抵御不住眼前快乐的诱惑。他决定推迟他的诺福克之行,心想写封信就能解决问题,再说事情也不重要,于是他就留了下来。他见到了拉什沃思太太,对方对他很冷漠,这本是大煞风景的事,两人之间从此井水不犯河水。但是,他觉得自己太没有脸面,居然让一个喜怒哀乐完全掌握在他手中的女人所抛弃,他实在受不了。他必须施展本事,把她那自不量力的怨恨压下去。拉什沃思太太所以气愤,是为了范妮的缘故。他必须刹住这气焰,让拉什沃思太太还像当姑娘时一样待他。

他怀着这种心态开始进攻了。他振奋精神,坚持不懈,不久便恢复了原来那种亲密交往,那种献殷勤,那种调情卖俏,他的目标原定到此为止。起初,拉什沃思太太余恨未消,火烛小心,若能照此下去,两人都可望得救,但这种谨慎还是被摧垮了,克劳福德成了她感情的俘虏,她的感情热烈到他未曾料到的地步。她爱上他了,公然表示珍惜他的一片情意,他想退却已是不可能了。他陷入了虚荣的圈套,既没有什么爱情作为托辞,又对她的表妹忠贞不贰。他的首要任务是不让范妮和伯特伦家里的人知道这件事。他觉得,为拉什沃思先生的名誉考虑,固然需要保密,为他的名誉考虑,同样需要保密。他从里士满回来以后,本来并不希望再见到拉什沃思太太。后来的事情都是这位太太唐突行事的结果,克劳福德出于无奈,最后跟她一起私奔了。他甚至在当时就为范妮感到懊悔,而私奔的事折腾完之后,他更是感到无比懊悔。几个月过去了,他通过对比受到了教育,越发珍惜范妮那温柔的性格,纯洁的心灵,高尚的情操。

根据他在这一罪过中应负的责任,给以适当的惩罚,把他的丑事公诸于众,我们知道,并不是社会上保护美德的屏障。在当今这个世界上,对罪行的惩罚并不像人们希望的那样严厉。不过,像亨利·克劳福德这样一个有头脑的人,虽然我们不敢冒昧地期望他今后前途如何,但是公正而论,他这样报答人家对他的热情接待,这样破坏人家的家庭安宁,这样失去了他最好的、最可敬的、最珍贵的朋友,失去了他从理智到情感都深爱着的姑娘,这自然给自己招来了不少的烦恼和悔恨,有时候,这烦恼会变成内疚,悔恨会变成痛苦。

出事之后,伯特伦家和格兰特家深受其害,彼此也疏远了。在这种情况下,两家人若是继续做近邻,那将是极其别扭的。不过,格兰特家故意把归期推迟了几个月,最后出于需要,至少由于切实可行,幸好永久搬走了。格兰特博士通过一个几乎不抱什么希望的私人关系,在威斯敏斯特教堂继承了一个牧师职位。这既为离开曼斯菲尔德提供了理由,为住到伦敦提供了借口,又增加了收入来支付这次变迁的费用,因而不管是要走的人,还是留下不走的人,都求之不得。

格兰特太太生来容易爱上别人,也容易让别人爱上自己,离开久已习惯的景物和人,自然会有几分惆怅。不过,像她这样的欢快性格,无论走到哪里,来到什么人中间,都会感到非常快乐。她又可以给玛丽提供一个家了。玛丽对自己的朋友感到厌倦了,对半年来的虚荣.野心、恋爱和失恋感到腻烦了,她需要姐姐的真正友爱,需要跟她一起过理智而平静的生活。她们住在一起。等格兰特博士由于一星期内参加了三次慈善机关的盛大宴会,导致中风而死之后,她们姐妹俩仍然住在一起。玛丽决定不再爱上一个次子,而在那些贪图她的美貌和两万英镑财产的风流倜傥的国会议员或闲散成性的法定继承人中间,她久久找不到一个合适的人。他们没有一个人能满足她在曼斯菲尔德养就的高雅情趣,没有一个人的品格和教养符合她在曼斯菲尔德形成的对家庭幸福的憧憬,也无法让她彻底忘掉埃德蒙·伯特伦。

在这方面,埃德蒙的情况比她有利得多。他不必等待,不必期盼,玛丽·克劳福德给他留下的感情空缺,自会有合适的人来填补。他对失去玛丽而感到的懊恼刚刚过去,他对范妮刚说过他再也不会碰到这样的姑娘,心里突然想到:一个不同类型的姑娘是否同样可以,甚至还要好得多;范妮凭着她的微笑、她的表现,是否像玛丽·克劳福德以前一样,使他觉得越来越亲切,越来越重要;他是否可以告诉她,她对他那热烈的、亲密无间的情意足以构成婚爱的基础。

这一次我有意不表明具体日期,由诸位随意去裁夺吧,因为大家都知道,要医治难以克服的激情,转移矢志不渝的痴情,不同的人需要的时间是大不相同的。我只请求各位相信:就在那最恰当的时候,一个星期也不早,埃德蒙不再眷恋克劳福德小姐,而是急切地想和范妮结婚,这也正是范妮所期望的。

他长期以来一直很关心范妮,这种关心是建立在她那天真无邪、孤苦无靠的基础上,后来随着她越来越可爱,他对她也就越来越关心。因此,现在出现这种变化不是再自然不过了吗?从她十岁那年起,他就爱她,指导她,保护她,她的思想在很大程度上是在他的关心下形成的,她的安适取决于他的关爱。他对她特别关心,她觉得在曼斯菲尔德,他比任何人都更重要,比任何人都更亲。现在只需要说明一点:他必须放弃那闪闪发光的黑色眼睛,来喜欢这柔和的淡色眼睛。由于总是和她在一起,总是和她一起谈心,加上由于最近的失意心态出现了有利的转机,没过多久,这双柔和的浅色眼睛便在他心中赢得了突出的地位。

一旦迈出了第一步,一旦觉得自己走上了幸福的道路,再也不用谨小慎微地半途而废,或者放慢前进的步伐。他无须怀疑她的人品,无须担心情趣对立,无须操心如何克服不同的性情来获得幸福。她的思想、气质、见解和习惯,他看得一目了然,现在不会受到蒙蔽,将来也不需他来费心改进。即使在他不久前神魂颠倒地热恋着克劳福德小姐的时候,他也承认范妮在心智上更胜一筹。那他现在该怎么想呢?她当然是好得他配不上。不过,谁也不反对要得到自己配不上的东西,因此他便坚定不移地追求这份幸福,而对方也不会长久地不给以鼓励。范妮虽说羞怯,多虑,易起疑心,但是她的柔弱性格有时也会抱着坚定不移的成功希望,只不过她要在稍后一个时候,再把那整个令人惊喜的真情告诉他。埃德蒙得知自己被这样一颗心爱了这么久之后,他那幸福的心情用什么语言形容都不会过分。那该是多么令人欣喜若狂的幸福啊!不过,在另一颗心里也有一种无法形容的幸福。一个年轻女人,在听到一个她求之不得的男人向她表白衷情的时候,她的那种心情,我们谁也不要自不量力地想去形容。

说明了他们的心意之后,余下的就没有什么难办的事情了,既无贫困之忧,也无父母从中作梗。托马斯爵士甚至早就有了这个意愿。他已经厌倦了贪图权势和钱财的婚姻,越来越看重道德和性情,尤其渴望用最坚固的纽带来缔结家庭的幸福。他早就在得意地盘算,这两个新近失意的年轻人完全可能相互从对方那里得到安慰。埃德蒙一提出来,他便欢欢喜喜地答应了。他同意范妮做自己的儿媳妇,那个兴奋劲儿犹如获得了无价之宝似的,和当初接受那可怜的小姑娘时相比.形成了多么鲜明的对照。时间总要在人们的打算与结果之间创造出一些花样,既可教育当事人自己,也好让邻居为之开心。

范妮真是他所需要的那种儿媳。他当年所发的善心为他孕育了最大的安慰。他的慷慨行为得到了丰厚的回报,他好心好意地对待她,也应该受到这样的报答。他本来可以使她的童年过得更快活一些,不过,那只是由于她判断错误,觉得他看上去很严厉,因此早年未能爱他。现在,彼此之间真正了解了,相互之间的感情也变得很深了。他把她安置在桑顿莱西,无微不至地关怀她的安适,几乎每天都来看望她,或者来把她接走。

长久以来,伯特伦夫人从自身的利益考虑,一直待范妮很亲,因此她可不愿意放她走。不管是为了儿子的幸福,还是为了外甥女的幸福,她都不希望他们结婚。不过,她现在离得开她了,因为苏珊还在,可以顶替她的位置。苏珊成了家中的常驻外甥女——她还就乐意这样做呢!而且她和范妮一样适合,范妮是因为性情温柔,有强烈的知恩图报之心,她则因为思想敏捷,乐意多做事情。家里是绝对缺不了苏珊的。她给安置在曼斯菲尔德,第一能让范妮快乐,第二能辅助范妮,第三能做范妮的替身,种种迹象表明,她会同样长久地住在这里。她胆子比较大,性情比较开朗,因而觉得这里一切都很适意。对于需要与之打交道的人,她很快便摸透了他们的脾气,加上她生来不会羞羞答答,有什么要求从不压在心里,于是大家个个都喜欢她,她对人人也都有用处。范妮走后,她自然而然地承担了时刻照顾姨妈的任务,渐渐变得也许比范妮更招姨妈喜爱。她的勤快,范妮的贤良,威廉继续表现突出,名誉蒸蒸日上,家里其他人个个身体健康,事事顺利,这一切相互促进,对托马斯爵士起着支持作用,因此他觉得他为大家做了这一切之后,就有充分的理由,而且永远有充分的理由,为之感到高兴,并且要认识到:小时候吃点苦,管敦严一些,知道生下来就是要奋斗,要吃苦,乃是大有好处的。

有这么多真实的好品质,有这么多真实的爱,既不缺钱花,也不缺朋友,这一对表兄妹看来婚后过得十分幸福,真是世上少有。他们生来都同样喜欢家庭生活,同样陶醉于田园乐趣,他们的家是一个恩爱的家,安乐的家。他们婚后到了一定的时候,刚开始觉得需要增加一点收入,觉得离父母家过远不便的时候,格兰特博士去世了,埃德蒙便继承了曼斯菲尔德的牧师俸禄。这可谓是锦上添花了。

因此,他们搬到了曼斯菲尔德。那座牧师住宅,当初还在前两位牧师名下时,范妮每次走近都有一种畏缩、惊惧的痛苦心理,但是没过多久,她就觉得它变得亲切了,完美无缺了,就像曼斯菲尔德庄园视野内、掌管下的其他景物一样亲切,一样完美无缺。



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