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傲慢與偏見中英文對照part52

本文屬閱讀資料
第五十二章

伊麗莎白果然如願以償,很快就接到了回信。她一接到信,就跑到那清靜的小樹林裡去,在一張長凳上坐下來,準備讀個痛快,因為她看到信寫得那麼長,便斷定舅母沒有拒絕她的要求。

親愛的甥女:

剛剛接到你的來信,我便決定以整個上午的時間來給你寫回信,因為我估料三言兩語不能夠把我要跟你講的話講個明白。我得承認,你所提出的要求很使我詫異,我沒有料到提出這個要求的竟會是你。請你不要以為我這是生氣的話,我不過說,我實在想象不到你居然還要來問。如果你一定裝作聽不懂我的話,那隻有請你原諒我失禮了。你舅父也跟我同樣地詫異,我們都認為,達西所以要那樣做,完全是為了你的緣故。如果你當真一點也不知道,那也隻好讓我來跟你說說明白了。就在我從浪搏恩回家的那一天,有一個意想不到的客人來見你舅父。那人原來就是達西先生,他跟你舅父關起門來,密談了好幾個鐘頭。等我到家的時候,事情已經過去了,我當時倒并沒有象你現在這樣好奇。他是因為發覺了你妹妹和韋翰的下落,特地趕來告訴嘉丁納先生一聲。他說,他已經看到過他們,而且跟他們談過話──跟韋翰談過好多次,跟麗迪雅談過一次。據我看,我們離開德比郡的第二天,達西就動身趕到城裡來找他們了。他說,事情弄到如此地步,都怪他不好,沒有及早揭露韋翰的下流品格,否則就不會有哪一位正派姑娘會把他當作知心,會愛上他了。他概然引咎自責,認為這次的事情都得怪他當初太傲慢,因為他以前認為韋翰的品格自然而然會讓别人看穿,不必把他的私人行為都一一揭露出來,免得使他自己有失體統,他認為這都是他自己一手造成的罪惡,因此他這次出面調停,設法補救實在是義不容辭。他自己承認他要幹預這件事的動機就是如此。如果他當真别有用心,也不會使他丢臉。他在城裡待了好幾天才找到他們;可是他有線索可找,我們可沒有。他也是因為自信有這點把握,才下定決心緊跟着我們而來。好象有一位揚吉太太,她早先做過達西小姐的家庭教師,後來犯了什麼過錯(他沒有講明)被解雇了,便在愛德華街弄了一幢大房子,分租過活。達西知道這位楊吉太太跟韋翰極其相熟,于是他一到城裡,便上她那兒去打聽他的消息。他花了兩三天工夫,才從她那兒把事情探聽明白。我想,楊吉太太早就知道韋翰的下落,可是不給她賄賂她決不肯講出來。他們倆确實是一到倫敦便到她那裡去,要是她能夠留他們住,他們早就住在她那兒了。我們這位好心的朋友終于探聽出了他們在某某街的住址,于是他先去看韋翰,然後他又非要看到麗迪雅不可。據他說,他第一件事就是勸麗迪雅改邪歸正,一等到和家裡人說通了,就趕快回去,還答應替她幫忙到底,可是他發覺麗迪雅堅決要那樣搞下去,家裡人一個都不在她心上。她不要他幫助,她無論如何也不肯丢掉韋翰。她斷定他們倆遲早總要結婚,早一天遲一天毫無關系。于是他想,他第一次跟韋翰談話的時候,明明發覺對方毫無結婚的打算,如今既是麗迪雅存着這樣的念頭,當然隻有趕快促成他們結婚。韋翰曾經親口承認,他當初所以要從民兵團裡逃出來,完全是由于為賭債所逼,至于麗迪雅這次私奔所引起的不良後果,他竟毫不猶豫地把它完全歸罪于她自己的愚蠢。他說他馬上就要辭職,講到事業前途,他簡直不堪設想。他應該到一個什麼地方去找份差事,可是又不知道究竟去哪兒,他知道他快要沒有錢生活下去了。達西先生問他為什麼沒有立刻跟你妹妹結婚,雖然班納特先生算不上什麼大闊人,可是也能夠幫他一些忙,他結婚以後,境況一定會有利一些。但是他發覺韋翰回答這話的時候,仍然指望到别的地方去另外攀門親,以便紮紮實實地賺進一筆錢。不過,他目前的情況既是如此,如果有救急的辦法,他也未始不會心動。他們見了好幾次面,因為有好多地方都得當面商讨。韋翰當然漫天讨價,結果總算減少到一個合理的數目。他們之間一切都商談好了,達西先生的下一個步驟就是把這件事告訴你舅父,于是他就在我回家的前一天晚上,到天恩寺街來進行第一次訪問。當時嘉丁納先生不在家;達西先生打聽到你父親那天還住在這兒,不過第二天早晨就要走。他以為你父親不是象你舅父那樣一個好商量的人,因此,決定等到你父親走了以後,再來看你舅父。他當時沒有留下姓名,直到第二天,我們還隻知道有位某某先生到這兒來過,找他有事,星期六他又來了。那天你父親已經走了,你舅父在家,正如我剛才說過的,他們倆便在一起談了許久。他們星期天又見了面,當時我也看見他的。事情一直到星期一才完全談妥。一談妥之後,就派專人送信到浪搏恩來。但是我們這位貴客實在太固執。人們都紛紛指責他的錯處,今天說他有這個錯處,明天又說他有那個錯處,可是這一個才是他真正的錯處。樣樣事情都非得由他親自來辦不可;其實你舅父非常願意全盤包辦(我這樣說并不是為了讨你的好,所以請你不要跟别人提起)。他們為這件事争執了好久,其實對當事人來說,無論是男方女方,都不配享受這樣的對待。可是你舅父最後還是不得不依從他,以緻非但不能替自己的外甥女稍微盡點力,而且還要無勞居功,這完全和他的心願相違;我相信你今天早上的來信一定會使他非常高興,因為這件掠人之美的事,從此可以說個清楚明白,使那應該受到贊美的人受到贊美。不過,麗萃,這件事隻能讓你知道,最多隻能說給吉英聽。我想你一定會深刻了解到,他對那一對青年男女盡了多大的力。我相信他替他償還的債務一定遠在一千鎊以上,而且除了她自己名下的錢以外,另外又給她一千鎊,還給他買了個官職。至于這些錢為什麼得由他一個人付,我已經在上面說明理由。他說這都怪他自己不好,怪他當初考慮欠妥,矜持過分,以緻叫人家不明了韋翰的人品,結果使人家上了當,把他當做好人。這番話或許真有幾分道理;不過我卻覺得,這種事既不應當怪他矜持過分,也不應當怪别人矜持過分。親愛的麗萃,你應當明白,他的話雖然說得這樣動聽,我們要不是鑒于他别有苦心,你舅父決不肯依從他。一切事情都決定了以後,他便回到彭伯裡去應酬他那些朋友,大家同時說定,等到舉行婚禮的那天,他還得再到倫敦來,辦理一切有關金錢方面的最後手續。現在我把所有的事情都講給你聽了。這就是你所謂會使你大吃一驚的一篇叙述;我希望至少不會叫你聽了不痛快。麗迪雅上我們這兒來住,韋翰也經常來。他完全還是上次我在哈福德郡見到他時的那副老樣子。麗迪雅待在我們這兒時,她的種種行為舉止,的确叫我很不滿,我本來不打算告訴你,不過星期三接到吉英的來信,我才知道她回家依然故态複萌,那麼告訴了你也不會使你不什麼新的難過。我幾次三番一本正經地跟她說,她這件事做得大錯特錯,害得一家人都痛苦悲傷。哪裡知道,我的話她聽也不要聽。有幾次我非常生氣,但是一記起了親愛的伊麗莎白和吉英,看她們面上,我還是容忍着她。達西先生準時來到,正如麗迪雅所告訴你的,他參加了婚禮。他第二天跟我們在一起吃飯,星期三或星期四又要進城去。親愛的麗萃,要是我利用這個機會說,我多麼喜歡他(我以前一直沒有敢這樣說),你會生我的氣嗎?他對待我們的态度,從任何方面來說,都跟我們在德比郡的時候同樣讨人喜愛。他的見識,他的言論,我都很喜歡。他沒有任何缺點,隻不過稍欠活潑;關于這一點,隻要他結婚結得當心一些,娶個好太太,他也許會讓她給教好的。我認為他很調皮,因為他幾乎沒有提起過你的名字。但是調皮倒好象成了時下的一種風氣。如果我說得太放肆了,還得請你原諒,至少不要處罰我太厲害,将來連彭伯裡也不許我去啊。我要把那個花園逛遍了,才會心滿意足。我隻要弄一輛矮矮的雙輪小馬車,駕上一對漂亮的小馬就行了。我無法再寫下去,孩子們已經嚷着要我要了半個鐘頭。

你的舅母M·嘉丁納九月六日寫于天恩寺街

伊麗莎白讀了這封信,真是心神搖蕩。她這種心情,叫人家弄不明白她是高興多于苦痛,還是苦痛多于高興。她本來也曾隐隐約約、疑疑惑惑地想到達西先生可能會成全她妹妹的好事,可是又不敢往這方面多想,怕他不可能好心到這個地步;另一方面她又顧慮到,如果他當真這樣做了,那又未免情意太重,報答不了人家,因此她又痛苦。如今這些揣測卻成了千真萬确的事實!想不到他那天竟會跟随着她和舅父母趕到城裡去。他不惜擔當起一切的麻煩和艱苦,來探索這件事。他不得不向一個他所深惡痛絕、極其鄙視的女人去求情。他不得不委曲求全,同一個他極力要加以回避、而且連名字也不願意提起的人去見面,常常見面,跟他說理,規勸他,最後還不得不賄賂他。他這般仁至義盡,隻不過是為了一個他既無好感又不器重的姑娘。她心裡輕輕地說,他這樣做,都是為了她。但是,再想到一些别的方面,她立刻就不敢再存這個希望。她馬上感覺到,她本可以從虛榮心出發,認為他确實愛她,可是她哪能存着那麼大的虛榮心,指望他會愛上一個已經拒絕過他的女人!他不願意跟韋翰做親戚,這種情緒本來也極其自然,又哪能指望他去遷就!何況是跟韋翰做連襟!凡是稍有自尊心的人,都容忍不了這種親戚關系。毫無問題,他為這件事出了很大的力。她簡直不好意思去想象他究竟出了多大的力。他所以要過問這件事,理由已經由他自己加以說明,你不必多費思索就可以深信無疑。他怪他自己當初做事欠妥,這自然講得通;他很慷慨,而且有資格可以慷慨;雖然她不願意認為他這次主要就是為了她,可是她也許可以相信,他對她依舊未能忘情,因此遇到這樣一件與她心境攸關的事情,他還是願意盡心竭力。一想起這樣一個人對她們情意隆重,而她們卻無法報答他,這真是痛苦,說不盡的痛苦。麗迪雅能夠回來,能夠保全了人格,這一切都得歸功于他。她一想起自己以前竟會那樣厭惡他,竟會對他那樣出言唐突,真是萬分傷心!她不勝自愧,同時又為他感到驕傲。驕傲的是,他竟會一本同情之心,崇尚義氣,委曲求全。于是她把舅母信上恭維他的那段話讀了又讀,隻覺還嫌說得不夠,可是也足以叫她十分高興。她發覺舅父母都斷定她跟達西先生感情深切,推心置腹。她雖然不免因此而感到幾分懊惱,卻也頗為得意。

這時已經有人走近前來,打斷了她的深思,使她從座位上站起來;她剛要從另一條小徑過去,隻見韋翰卻趕了上來。

他走到她身邊說道:“我怕打擾了你清靜的散步吧,親愛的姐姐

她笑着回答道:“的确是這樣,不過,打擾未必就不受歡迎。”

“要是這樣,我真過意不去。我們一向是好朋友,現在更加親近了。”

“你說得是。他們都出來了嗎?”

“不知道。媽媽和麗迪雅乘着馬車到麥裡屯去了。親愛的姐姐,聽舅父母說起,你當真到彭伯裡去玩過了。”

她說,當真去過了。

“你這眼福幾乎叫我嫉妒,可惜我又消受不了,否則,我到紐卡斯爾去的時候,也可以順道一訪。我想,你看到了那位年老的管家奶奶吧?可憐的雷諾奶奶!她從前老是那麼喜歡我。不過,她當然不會在你面前提起我的名字。”

“她倒提到了。”

“她怎麼說來着?”

“她說你進了軍隊,就怕──-就怕你情形不大好。路隔得那麼遠,傳來的話十分靠不住。”

“當然羅,”他咬着嘴唇回答道。

伊麗莎白滿以為這一下可以叫他住嘴了;但是過不了一會兒,他又說道:

“上個月真出乎意料,在城裡碰到了達西。我們見了好幾次面。我不知道他到城裡有什麼事。”

“或許是準備跟德·包爾結婚吧,”伊麗莎白說。“他在這樣的季節到城裡去,一定是為了什麼特别的事。”

“毫無疑問。你在藍白屯見到過他嗎?聽嘉丁納夫婦說,你見到過他的。”

“見過,他還把我們介紹給他的妹妹。”

“你喜歡她嗎?”

“非常喜歡。”

“真的,我聽說她這一兩年來有了很大的長進。以前看到他的時候,我真覺得她沒有什麼出息。你喜歡她,我很高興。但願她能夠改好得象個人樣。”

“她一定會那樣;她那最容易惹禍的年齡已經過去了。”

“你們經過金泊屯村的嗎?”

“我記不得是否到過那個地方。”

“我所以要提到那個地方,就因為我當初應該得到的一份牧師俸祿就在那兒。那是個非常好玩的地方!那所牧師住宅也好極了!各方面都适合我。”

“你竟喜歡講道嗎?”

“喜歡極了。我本當把它看作我自己本份的職務,即使開頭要費點力氣,過不了多久也就無所謂了。一個人不應該後悔;可是,這的确是我的一份好差事!這樣安閑清靜的生活,完全合乎我幸福的理想!隻可惜已經事過境遷。你在肯特郡的時候,有沒有聽到達西談起過這件事?”

“聽到過的,而且我認為他的話很靠得住,聽說那個位置給你是有條件的,而且目前這位施主可以自由處理。”

“你聽到過!不錯,這話也有道理;我開頭就告訴過你,你可能還記得。”

“我還聽說,你過去有一個時期,并不象現在這樣喜歡講道,你曾經慎重其事地宣布過,決計不要當牧師,于是這件事就此解決了。”

“你真聽說過!這話倒不是完全沒有根據。你也許還記得,我們第一次談起這件事的時候,我也提起過的。”

他們兩人現在快要走到家門口了,因為她有意走得很快,要摔脫他;不過看在妹妹份上,她又不願意使他生氣,因此她隻是和顔悅色地笑了笑,回答道:

“算了吧,韋翰先生;你要知道,我們現在已是兄弟姐妹。不要再為了過去的事去争論吧。但願将來一直不會有什麼沖突。”

她伸出手來,他親切而殷勤地吻了一下。他這時候簡直有些啼笑皆非。他們就這樣走進了屋子。






Chapter 52


ELIZABETH had the satisfaction of receiving an answer to her letter as soon as she possibly could. She was no sooner in possession of it than, hurrying into the little copse, where she was least likely to be interrupted, she sat down on one of the benches and prepared to be happy; for the length of the letter convinced her that it did not contain a denial.
"Gracechurch-street, Sept. 6.
MY DEAR NIECE,

I have just received your letter, and shall devote this whole morning to answering it, as I foresee that a little writing will not comprise what I have to tell you. I must confess myself surprised by your application; I did not expect it from you. Don't think me angry, however, for I only mean to let you know that I had not imagined such enquiries to be necessary on your side. If you do not choose to understand me, forgive my impertinence. Your uncle is as much surprised as I am -- and nothing but the belief of your being a party concerned would have allowed him to act as he has done. But if you are really innocent and ignorant, I must be more explicit. On the very day of my coming home from Longbourn, your uncle had a most unexpected visitor. Mr. Darcy called, and was shut up with him several hours. It was all over before I arrived; so my curiosity was not so dreadfully racked as your'sseems to have been. He came to tell Mr. Gardiner that he had found out where your sister and Mr. Wickham were, and that he had seen and talked with them both; Wickham repeatedly, Lydia once. From what I can collect, he left Derbyshire only one day after ourselves, and came to town with the resolution of hunting for them. The motive professed was his conviction of its being owing to himself that Wickham's worthlessness had not been so well known as to make it impossible for any young woman of character to love or confide in him. He generously imputed the whole to his mistaken pride, and confessed that he had before thought it beneath him to lay his private actions open to the world. His character was to speak for itself. He called it, therefore, his duty to step forward, and endeavour to remedy an evil which had been brought on by himself. If he had another motive, I am sure it would never disgrace him. He had been some days in town, before he was able to discover them; but he had something to direct his search, which was more than we had; and the consciousness of this was another reason for his resolving to follow us. There is a lady, it seems, a Mrs. Younge, who was some time ago governess to Miss Darcy, and was dismissed from her charge on some cause of disapprobation, though he did not say what. She then took a large house in Edward-street, and has since maintained herself by letting lodgings. This Mrs. Younge was, he knew, intimately acquainted with Wickham; and he went to her for intelligence of him as soon as he got to town. But it was two or three days before he could get from her what he wanted. She would not betray her trust, I suppose, without bribery and corruption, for she really did know where her friend was to be found. Wickham indeed had gone to her on their first arrival in London, and had she been able to receive them into her house, they would have taken up their abode with her. At length, however, our kind friend procured the wished-for direction. They were in ---- street. He saw Wickham, and afterwards insisted on seeing Lydia. His first object with her, he acknowledged, had been to persuade her to quit her present disgraceful situation, and return to her friends as soon as they could be prevailed on to receive her, offering his assistance, as far as it would go. But he found Lydia absolutely resolved on remaining where she was. She cared for none of her friends; she wanted no help of his; she would not hear of leaving Wickham. She was sure they should be married some time or other, and it did not much signify when. Since such were her feelings, it only remained, he thought, to secure and expedite a marriage, which, in his very first conversation with Wickham, he easily learnt had never been his design. He confessed himself obliged to leave the regiment, on account of some debts of honour, which were very pressing; and scrupled not to lay all the ill-consequences of Lydia's flight on her own folly alone. He meant to resign his commission immediately; and as to his future situation, he could conjecture very little about it. He must go somewhere, but he did not know where, and he knew he should have nothing to live on. Mr. Darcy asked him why he had not married your sister at once. Though Mr. Bennet was not imagined to be very rich, he would have been able to do something for him, and his situation must have been benefited by marriage. But he found, in reply to this question, that Wickham still cherished the hope of more effectually making his fortune by marriage in some other country. Under such circumstances, however, he was not likely to be proof against the temptation of immediate relief. They met several times, for there was much to be discussed. Wickham of course wanted more than he could get; but at length was reduced to be reasonable. Every thing being settled between them, Mr. Darcy's next step was to make your uncle acquainted with it, and he first called in Gracechurch-street the evening before I came home. But Mr. Gardiner could not be seen, and Mr. Darcy found, on further enquiry, that your father was still with him, but would quit town the next morning. He did not judge your father to be a person whom he could so properly consult as your uncle, and therefore readily postponed seeing him till after the departure of the former. He did not leave his name, and till the next day it was only known that a gentleman had called on business. On Saturday he came again. Your father was gone, your uncle at home, and, as I said before, they had a great deal of talk together. They met again on Sunday, and then I saw him too. It was not all settled before Monday: as soon as it was, the express was sent off to Longbourn. But our visitor was very obstinate. I fancy, Lizzy, that obstinacy is the real defect of his character, after all. He has been accused of many faults at different times, but this is the true one. Nothing was to be done that he did not do himself; though I am sure (and I do not speak it to be thanked, therefore say nothing about it), your uncle would most readily have settled the whole. They battled it together for a long time, which was more than either the gentleman or lady concerned in it deserved. But at last your uncle was forced to yield, and instead of being allowed to be of use to his niece, was forced to put up with only having the probable credit of it, which went sorely against the grain; and I really believe your letter this morning gave him great pleasure, because it required an explanation that would rob him of his borrowed feathers, and give the praise where it was due. But, Lizzy, this must go no farther than yourself, or Jane at most. You know pretty well, I suppose, what has been done for the young people. His debts are to be paid, amounting, I believe, to considerably more than a thousand pounds, another thousand in addition to her own settled upon her, and his commission purchased. The reason why all this was to be done by him alone, was such as I have given above. It was owing to him, to his reserve and want of proper consideration, that Wickham's character had been so misunderstood, and consequently that he had been received and noticed as he was. Perhaps there was some truth in this; though I doubt whether his reserve, or anybody'sreserve, can be answerable for the event. But in spite of all this fine talking, my dear Lizzy, you may rest perfectly assured that your uncle would never have yielded, if we had not given him credit for another interest in the affair. When all this was resolved on, he returned again to his friends, who were still staying at Pemberley; but it was agreed that he should be in London once more when the wedding took place, and all money matters were then to receive the last finish. I believe I have now told you every thing. It is a relation which you tell me is to give you great surprise; I hope at least it will not afford you any displeasure. Lydia came to us; and Wickham had constant admission to the house. He was exactly what he had been when I knew him in Hertfordshire; but I would not tell you how little I was satisfied with her behaviour while she staid with us, if I had not perceived, by Jane's letter last Wednesday, that her conduct on coming home was exactly of a piece with it, and therefore what I now tell you can give you no fresh pain. I talked to her repeatedly in the most serious manner, representing to her all the wickedness of what she had done, and all the unhappiness she had brought on her family. If she heard me, it was by good luck, for I am sure she did not listen. I was sometimes quite provoked, but then I recollected my dear Elizabeth and Jane, and for their sakes had patience with her. Mr. Darcy was punctual in his return, and as Lydia informed you, attended the wedding. He dined with us the next day, and was to leave town again on Wednesday or Thursday. Will you be very angry with me, my dear Lizzy, if I take this opportunity of saying (what I was never bold enough to say before) how much I like him. His behaviour to us has, in every respect, been as pleasing as when we were in Derbyshire. His understanding and opinions all please me; he wants nothing but a little more liveliness, and that, if he marry prudently, his wife may teach him. I thought him very sly; -- he hardly ever mentioned your name. But slyness seems the fashion. Pray forgive me if I have been very presuming, or at least do not punish me so far as to exclude me from P. I shall never be quite happy till I have been all round the park. A low phaeton, with a nice little pair of ponies, would be the very thing. But I must write no more. The children have been wanting me this half hour. Your's, very sincerely,

M. GARDINER."

The contents of this letter threw Elizabeth into a flutter of spirits, in which it was difficult to determine whether pleasure or pain bore the greatest share. The vague and unsettled suspicions which uncertainty had produced of what Mr. Darcy might have been doing to forward her sister's match, which she had feared to encourage as an exertion of goodness too great to be probable, and at the same time dreaded to be just, from the pain of obligation, were proved beyond their greatest extent to be true! He had followed them purposely to town, he had taken on himself all the trouble and mortification attendant on such a research; in which supplication had been necessary to a woman whom he must abominate and despise, and where he was reduced to meet, frequently meet, reason with, persuade, and finally bribe, the man whom he always most wished to avoid, and whose very name it was punishment to him to pronounce. He had done all this for a girl whom he could neither regard nor esteem. Her heart did whisper that he had done it for her. But it was a hope shortly checked by other considerations, and she soon felt that even her vanity was insufficient, when required to depend on his affection for her -- for a woman who had already refused him -- as able to overcome a sentiment so natural as abhorrence against relationship with Wickham. Brother-in-law of Wickham! Every kind of pride must revolt from the connection. He had, to be sure, done much. She was ashamed to think how much. But he had given a reason for his interference, which asked no extraordinary stretch of belief. It was reasonable that he should feel he had been wrong; he had liberality, and he had the means of exercising it; and though she would not place herself as his principal inducement, she could, perhaps, believe that remaining partiality for her might assist his endeavours in a cause where her peace of mind must be materially concerned. It was painful, exceedingly painful, to know that they were under obligations to a person who could never receive a return. They owed the restoration of Lydia, her character, every thing, to him. Oh! how heartily did she grieve over every ungracious sensation she had ever encouraged, every saucy speech she had ever directed towards him. For herself she was humbled; but she was proud of him. Proud that in a cause of compassion and honour, he had been able to get the better of himself. She read over her aunt's commendation of him again and again. It was hardly enough; but it pleased her. She was even sensible of some pleasure, though mixed with regret, on finding how steadfastly both she and her uncle had been persuaded that affection and confidence subsisted between Mr. Darcy and herself.

She was roused from her seat, and her reflections, by some one's approach; and before she could strike into another path, she was overtaken by Wickham.

"I am afraid I interrupt your solitary ramble, my dear sister?" said he, as he joined her.

"You certainly do," she replied with a smile; "but it does not follow that the interruption must be unwelcome."

"I should be sorry indeed, if it were. We were always good friends; and now we are better."

"True. Are the others coming out?"

"I do not know. Mrs. Bennet and Lydia are going in the carriage to Meryton. And so, my dear sister, I find, from our uncle and aunt, that you have actually seen Pemberley."

She replied in the affirmative.

"I almost envy you the pleasure, and yet I believe it would be too much for me, or else I could take it in my way to Newcastle. And you saw the old housekeeper, I suppose? Poor Reynolds, she was always very fond of me. But of course she did not mention my name to you."

"Yes, she did."

"And what did she say?"

"That you were gone into the army, and she was afraid had -- not turned out well. At such a distance as that, you know, things are strangely misrepresented."

"Certainly," he replied, biting his lips. Elizabeth hoped she had silenced him; but he soon afterwards said,

"I was surprised to see Darcy in town last month. We passed each other several times. I wonder what he can be doing there."

"Perhaps preparing for his marriage with Miss de Bourgh," said Elizabeth. "It must be something particular, to take him there at this time of year."

"Undoubtedly. Did you see him while you were at Lambton? I thought I understood from the Gardiners that you had."

"Yes; he introduced us to his sister."

"And do you like her?"

"Very much."

"I have heard, indeed, that she is uncommonly improved within this year or two. When I last saw her, she was not very promising. I am very glad you liked her. I hope she will turn out well."

"I dare say she will; she has got over the most trying age."

"Did you go by the village of Kympton?"

"I do not recollect that we did."

"I mention it, because it is the living which I ought to have had. A most delightful place! -- Excellent Parsonage House! It would have suited me in every respect."

"How should you have liked making sermons?"

"Exceedingly well. I should have considered it as part of my duty, and the exertion would soon have been nothing. One ought not to repine; -- but, to be sure, it would have been such a thing for me! The quiet, the retirement of such a life would have answered all my ideas of happiness! But it was not to be. Did you ever hear Darcy mention the circumstance, when you were in Kent?"

"I have heard from authority, which I thought as good, that it was left you conditionally only, and at the will of the present patron."

"You have. Yes, there was something in that; I told you so from the first, you may remember."

"I did hear, too, that there was a time, when sermon-making was not so palatable to you as it seems to be at present; that you actually declared your resolution of never taking orders, and that the business had been compromised accordingly."

"You did! and it was not wholly without foundation. You may remember what I told you on that point, when first we talked of it."

They were now almost at the door of the house, for she had walked fast to get rid of him; and unwilling, for her sister's sake, to provoke him, she only said in reply, with a good-humoured smile,

"Come, Mr. Wickham, we are brother and sister, you know. Do not let us quarrel about the past. In future, I hope we shall be always of one mind."

She held out her hand; he kissed it with affectionate gallantry, though he hardly knew how to look, and they entered the house.
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