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convulse/[kən'vʌls]/ vt. 使震動, 使震撼, 使抽搐...

Sense and Sensibility(理智與情感) V3-C11

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CHAPTER XI

rs. Dashwood did not hear unmoved the vindication of

her former favourite. She rejoiced in his being cleared

from some part of his imputed guilt;―she was sorry for

him;―she wished him happy. But the feelings of the past could

not be recalled.―Nothing could restore him with a faith

unbroken―a character unblemished, to Marianne. Nothing could

do away the knowledge of what the latter had suffered through his

means, nor remove the guilt of his conduct towards Eliza. Nothing

could replace him, therefore, in her former esteem, nor injure the

interests of Colonel Brandon.

Had Mrs. Dashwood, like her daughter, heard Willoughby’s

story from himself―had she witnessed his distress, and been

under the influence of his countenance and his manner, it is

probable that her compassion would have been greater. But it was

neither in Elinor’s power, nor in her wish, to rouse such feelings in

another, by her retailed explanation, as had at first been called

forth in herself. Reflection had given calmness to her judgment,

and sobered her own opinion of Willoughby’s deserts;―she

wished, therefore, to declare only the simple truth, and lay open

such facts as were really due to his character, without any

embellishment of tenderness to lead the fancy astray.

In the evening, when they were all three together, Marianne

began voluntarily to speak of him again;―but that it was not

without an effort, the restless, unquiet thoughtfulness in which she

had been for some time previously sitting―her rising colour, as

she spoke,―and her unsteady voice, plainly shewed.

“I wish to assure you both,” said she, “that I see every thing―as

you can desire me to do.”

Mrs. Dashwood would have interrupted her instantly with

soothing tenderness, had not Elinor, who really wished to hear her

sister’s unbiased opinion, by an eager sign, engaged her silence.

Marianne slowly continued―

“It is a great relief to me―what Elinor told me this morning―I

have now heard exactly what I wished to hear.”―For some

moments her voice was lost; but recovering herself, she added,

and with greater calmness than before―“I am now perfectly

satisfied, I wish for no change. I never could have been happy with

him, after knowing, as sooner or later I must have known, all

this.―I should have had no confidence, no esteem. Nothing could

have done it away to my feelings.”

“I know it―I know it,” cried her mother. “Happy with a man of

libertine practices!―With one who so injured the peace of the

dearest of our friends, and the best of men!―No―my Marianne

has not a heart to be made happy with such a man!―Her

conscience, her sensitive conscience, would have felt all that the

conscience of her husband ought to have felt.”

Marianne sighed, and repeated, “I wish for no change.”

“You consider the matter,” said Elinor, “exactly as a good mind

and a sound understanding must consider it; and I dare say you

perceive, as well as myself, not only in this, but in many other

circumstances, reason enough to be convinced that your marriage

must have involved you in many certain troubles and

disappointments, in which you would have been poorly supported

by an affection, on his side, much less certain. Had you married,

you must have been always poor. His expensiveness is

acknowledged even by himself, and his whole conduct declares

that self-denial is a word hardly understood by him. His demands

and your inexperience together, on a small, very small income,

must have brought on distresses which would not be the less

grievous to you, from having been entirely unknown and

unthought of before. Your sense of honour and honesty would

have led you, I know, when aware of your situation, to attempt all

the economy that would appear to you possible; and perhaps, as

long as your frugality retrenched only on your own comfort, you

might have been suffered to practise it, but beyond that―and how

little could the utmost of your single management do to stop the

ruin which had begun before your marriage?―Beyond that, had

you endeavoured, however reasonably, to abridge his enjoyments,

is it not to be feared, that instead of prevailing on feelings so

selfish to consent to it, you would have lessened your own

influence on his heart, and made him regret the connection which

had involved him in such difficulties?”

Marianne’s lips quivered, and she repeated the word “Selfish?”

in a tone that implied―“do you really think him selfish?”

“The whole of his behaviour,” replied Elinor, “from the

beginning to the end of the affair, has been grounded on

selfishness. It was selfishness which first made him sport with

your affections; which afterwards, when his own were engaged,

made him delay the confession of it, and which finally carried him

from Barton. His own enjoyment, or his own ease, was, in every

particular, his ruling principle.”

“It is very true. My happiness never was his object.”

“At present,” continued Elinor, “he regrets what he has done.

And why does he regret it?―Because he finds it has not answered

towards himself. It has not made him happy. His circumstances

are now unembarrassed―he suffers from no evil of that kind; and

he thinks only that he has married a woman of a less amiable

temper than yourself. But does it follow that had he married you,

he would have been happy?―The inconveniences would have

been different. He would then have suffered under the pecuniary

distresses which, because they are removed, he now reckons as

nothing. He would have had a wife of whose temper he could

make no complaint, but he would have been always necessitous―

always poor; and probably would soon have learned to rank the

innumerable comforts of a clear estate and good income as of far

more importance, even to domestic happiness, than the mere

temper of a wife.”

“I have not a doubt of it,” said Marianne; “and I have nothing to

regret―nothing but my own folly.”

“Rather say your mother’s imprudence, my child,” said Mrs.

Dashwood; “she must be answerable.”

Marianne would not let her proceed;―and Elinor, satisfied that

each felt their own error, wished to avoid any survey of the past

that might weaken her sister’s spirits; she, therefore, pursuing the

first subject, immediately continued,

“One observation may, I think, be fairly drawn from the whole

of the story―that all Willoughby’s difficulties have arisen from the

first offence against virtue, in his behaviour to Eliza Williams. That

crime has been the origin of every lesser one, and of all his present

discontents.”

Marianne assented most feelingly to the remark; and her

mother was led by it to an enumeration of Colonel Brandon’s

injuries and merits, warm as friendship and design could unitedly

dictate. Her daughter did not look, however, as if much of it were

heard by her.

Elinor, according to her expectation, saw on the two or three

following days, that Marianne did not continue to gain strength as

she had done; but while her resolution was unsubdued, and she

still tried to appear cheerful and easy, her sister could safely trust

to the effect of time upon her health.

Margaret returned, and the family were again all restored to

each other, again quietly settled at the cottage; and if not pursuing

their usual studies with quite so much vigour as when they first

came to Barton, at least planning a vigorous prosecution of them

in future.

Elinor grew impatient for some tidings of Edward. She had

heard nothing of him since her leaving London, nothing new of his

plans, nothing certain even of his present abode. Some letters had

passed between her and her brother, in consequence of

Marianne’s illness; and in the first of John’s, there had been this

sentence:―“We know nothing of our unfortunate Edward, and

can make no inquiries on so prohibited a subject, but conclude

him to be still at Oxford;” which was all the intelligence of Edward

afforded her by the correspondence, for his name was not even

mentioned in any of the succeeding letters. She was not doomed,

however, to be long in ignorance of his measures.

Their man-servant had been sent one morning to Exeter on

business; and when, as he waited at table, he had satisfied the

inquiries of his mistress as to the event of his errand, this was his

voluntary communication―

“I suppose you know, ma’am, that Mr. Ferrars is married.”

Marianne gave a violent start, fixed her eyes upon Elinor, saw

her turning pale, and fell back in her chair in hysterics. Mrs.

Dashwood, whose eyes, as she answered the servant’s inquiry, had

intuitively taken the same direction, was shocked to perceive by

Elinor’s countenance how much she really suffered, and a moment

afterwards, alike distressed by Marianne’s situation, knew not on

which child to bestow her principal attention.

The servant, who saw only that Miss Marianne was taken ill,

had sense enough to call one of the maids, who, with Mrs.

Dashwood’s assistance, supported her into the other room. By that

time, Marianne was rather better, and her mother leaving her to

the care of Margaret and the maid, returned to Elinor, who,

though still much disordered, had so far recovered the use of her

reason and voice as to be just beginning an inquiry of Thomas, as

to the source of his intelligence. Mrs. Dashwood immediately took

all that trouble on herself; and Elinor had the benefit of the

information without the exertion of seeking it.

“Who told you that Mr. Ferrars was married, Thomas?”

“I see Mr. Ferrars myself, ma’am, this morning in Exeter, and

his lady too, Miss Steele as was. They was stopping in a chaise at

the door of the New London Inn, as I went there with a message

from Sally at the Park to her brother, who is one of the post-boys. I

happened to look up as I went by the chaise, and so I see directly it

was the youngest Miss Steele; so I took off my hat, and she knew

me and called to me, and inquired after you, ma’am, and the

young ladies, especially Miss Marianne, and bid me I should give

her compliments and Mr. Ferrars’s, their best compliments and

service, and how sorry they was they had not time to come on and

see you, but they was in a great hurry to go forwards, for they was

going further down for a little while, but howsever, when they

come back, they’d make sure to come and see you.”

“But did she tell you she was married, Thomas?”

“Yes, ma’am. She smiled, and said how she had changed her

name since she was in these parts. She was always a very affable

and free-spoken young lady, and very civil behaved. So, I made

free to wish her joy.”

“Was Mr. Ferrars in the carriage with her?”

“Yes, ma’am, I just see him leaning back in it, but he did not

look up;―he never was a gentleman much for talking.”

Elinor’s heart could easily account for his not putting himself

forward; and Mrs. Dashwood probably found the same

explanation.

“Was there no one else in the carriage?”

“No, ma’am, only they two.”

“Do you know where they came from?”

“They come straight from town, as Miss Lucy―Mrs. Ferrars

told me.”

“And are they going farther westward?”

“Yes, ma’am―but not to bide long. They will soon be back

again, and then they’d be sure and call here.”

Mrs. Dashwood now looked at her daughter; but Elinor knew

better than to expect them. She recognised the whole of Lucy in

the message, and was very confident that Edward would never

come near them. She observed in a low voice, to her mother, that

they were probably going down to Mr. Pratt’s, near Plymouth.

Thomas’s intelligence seemed over. Elinor looked as if she

wished to hear more.

“Did you see them off, before you came away?”

“No, ma’am―the horses were just coming out, but I could not

bide any longer; I was afraid of being late.”

“Did Mrs. Ferrars look well?”

“Yes, ma’am, she said how she was very well; and to my mind

she was always a very handsome young lady―and she seemed

vastly contented.”

Mrs. Dashwood could think of no other question, and Thomas

and the table-cloth, now alike needless, were soon afterwards

dismissed. Marianne had already sent to say, that she should eat

nothing more. Mrs. Dashwood’s and Elinor’s appetites were

equally lost, and Margaret might think herself very well off, that

with so much uneasiness as both her sisters had lately

experienced, so much reason as they had often had to be careless

of their meals, she had never been obliged to go without her

dinner before.

When the dessert and the wine were arranged, and Mrs.

Dashwood and Elinor were left by themselves, they remained long

together in a similarity of thoughtfulness and silence. Mrs.

Dashwood feared to hazard any remark, and ventured not to offer

consolation. She now found that she had erred in relying on

Elinor’s representation of herself; and justly concluded that every

thing had been expressly softened at the time, to spare her from

an increase of unhappiness, suffering as she then had suffered for

Marianne. She found that she had been misled by the careful, the

considerate attention of her daughter, to think the attachment,

which once she had so well understood, much slighter in reality,

than she had been wont to believe, or than it was now proved to

be. She feared that under this persuasion she had been unjust,

inattentive, nay, almost unkind, to her Elinor;―that Marianne’s

affliction, because more acknowledged, more immediately before

her, had too much engrossed her tenderness, and led her away to

forget that in Elinor she might have a daughter suffering almost as

much, certainly with less self-provocation, and greater fortitude.
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