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  • CHAPTER 13

  • "I hope, my dear," said Mr. Bennet to his wife, as they were at breakfast the next

  • morning, "that you have ordered a good dinner to-day, because I have reason to

  • expect an addition to our family party."

  • "Who do you mean, my dear? I know of nobody that is coming, I am sure,

  • unless Charlotte Lucas should happen to call in--and I hope my dinners are good

  • enough for her.

  • I do not believe she often sees such at home."

  • "The person of whom I speak is a gentleman, and a stranger."

  • Mrs. Bennet's eyes sparkled.

  • "A gentleman and a stranger! It is Mr. Bingley, I am sure!

  • Well, I am sure I shall be extremely glad to see Mr. Bingley.

  • But--good Lord! how unlucky!

  • There is not a bit of fish to be got to- day.

  • Lydia, my love, ring the bell--I must speak to Hill this moment."

  • "It is not Mr. Bingley," said her husband; "it is a person whom I never saw in the

  • whole course of my life."

  • This roused a general astonishment; and he had the pleasure of being eagerly

  • questioned by his wife and his five daughters at once.

  • After amusing himself some time with their curiosity, he thus explained:

  • "About a month ago I received this letter; and about a fortnight ago I answered it,

  • for I thought it a case of some delicacy, and requiring early attention.

  • It is from my cousin, Mr. Collins, who, when I am dead, may turn you all out of

  • this house as soon as he pleases." "Oh! my dear," cried his wife, "I cannot

  • bear to hear that mentioned.

  • Pray do not talk of that odious man.

  • I do think it is the hardest thing in the world, that your estate should be entailed

  • away from your own children; and I am sure, if I had been you, I should have tried long

  • ago to do something or other about it."

  • Jane and Elizabeth tried to explain to her the nature of an entail.

  • They had often attempted to do it before, but it was a subject on which Mrs. Bennet

  • was beyond the reach of reason, and she continued to rail bitterly against the

  • cruelty of settling an estate away from a

  • family of five daughters, in favour of a man whom nobody cared anything about.

  • "It certainly is a most iniquitous affair," said Mr. Bennet, "and nothing can clear Mr.

  • Collins from the guilt of inheriting Longbourn.

  • But if you will listen to his letter, you may perhaps be a little softened by his

  • manner of expressing himself."

  • "No, that I am sure I shall not; and I think it is very impertinent of him to

  • write to you at all, and very hypocritical. I hate such false friends.

  • Why could he not keep on quarreling with you, as his father did before him?"

  • "Why, indeed; he does seem to have had some filial scruples on that head, as you will

  • hear."

  • "Hunsford, near Westerham, Kent, 15th October.

  • "Dear Sir,--

  • "The disagreement subsisting between yourself and my late honoured father always

  • gave me much uneasiness, and since I have had the misfortune to lose him, I have

  • frequently wished to heal the breach; but

  • for some time I was kept back by my own doubts, fearing lest it might seem

  • disrespectful to his memory for me to be on good terms with anyone with whom it had

  • always pleased him to be at variance.--

  • 'There, Mrs. Bennet.'--My mind, however, is now made up on the subject, for having

  • received ordination at Easter, I have been so fortunate as to be distinguished by the

  • patronage of the Right Honourable Lady

  • Catherine de Bourgh, widow of Sir Lewis de Bourgh, whose bounty and beneficence has

  • preferred me to the valuable rectory of this parish, where it shall be my earnest

  • endeavour to demean myself with grateful

  • respect towards her ladyship, and be ever ready to perform those rites and ceremonies

  • which are instituted by the Church of England.

  • As a clergyman, moreover, I feel it my duty to promote and establish the blessing of

  • peace in all families within the reach of my influence; and on these grounds I

  • flatter myself that my present overtures

  • are highly commendable, and that the circumstance of my being next in the entail

  • of Longbourn estate will be kindly overlooked on your side, and not lead you

  • to reject the offered olive-branch.

  • I cannot be otherwise than concerned at being the means of injuring your amiable

  • daughters, and beg leave to apologise for it, as well as to assure you of my

  • readiness to make them every possible amends--but of this hereafter.

  • If you should have no objection to receive me into your house, I propose myself the

  • satisfaction of waiting on you and your family, Monday, November 18th, by four

  • o'clock, and shall probably trespass on

  • your hospitality till the Saturday se'ennight following, which I can do

  • without any inconvenience, as Lady Catherine is far from objecting to my

  • occasional absence on a Sunday, provided

  • that some other clergyman is engaged to do the duty of the day.--I remain, dear sir,

  • with respectful compliments to your lady and daughters, your well-wisher and friend,

  • "WILLIAM COLLINS"

  • "At four o'clock, therefore, we may expect this peace-making gentleman," said Mr.

  • Bennet, as he folded up the letter.

  • "He seems to be a most conscientious and polite young man, upon my word, and I doubt

  • not will prove a valuable acquaintance, especially if Lady Catherine should be so

  • indulgent as to let him come to us again."

  • "There is some sense in what he says about the girls, however, and if he is disposed

  • to make them any amends, I shall not be the person to discourage him."

  • "Though it is difficult," said Jane, "to guess in what way he can mean to make us

  • the atonement he thinks our due, the wish is certainly to his credit."

  • Elizabeth was chiefly struck by his extraordinary deference for Lady Catherine,

  • and his kind intention of christening, marrying, and burying his parishioners

  • whenever it were required.

  • "He must be an oddity, I think," said she.

  • "I cannot make him out.--There is something very pompous in his style.--And what can he

  • mean by apologising for being next in the entail?--We cannot suppose he would help it

  • if he could.--Could he be a sensible man, sir?"

  • "No, my dear, I think not. I have great hopes of finding him quite the

  • reverse.

  • There is a mixture of servility and self- importance in his letter, which promises

  • well. I am impatient to see him."

  • "In point of composition," said Mary, "the letter does not seem defective.

  • The idea of the olive-branch perhaps is not wholly new, yet I think it is well

  • expressed."

  • To Catherine and Lydia, neither the letter nor its writer were in any degree

  • interesting.

  • It was next to impossible that their cousin should come in a scarlet coat, and it was

  • now some weeks since they had received pleasure from the society of a man in any

  • other colour.

  • As for their mother, Mr. Collins's letter had done away much of her ill-will, and she

  • was preparing to see him with a degree of composure which astonished her husband and

  • daughters.

  • Mr. Collins was punctual to his time, and was received with great politeness by the

  • whole family.

  • Mr. Bennet indeed said little; but the ladies were ready enough to talk, and Mr.

  • Collins seemed neither in need of encouragement, nor inclined to be silent

  • himself.

  • He was a tall, heavy-looking young man of five-and-twenty.

  • His air was grave and stately, and his manners were very formal.

  • He had not been long seated before he complimented Mrs. Bennet on having so fine

  • a family of daughters; said he had heard much of their beauty, but that in this

  • instance fame had fallen short of the

  • truth; and added, that he did not doubt her seeing them all in due time disposed of in

  • marriage.

  • This gallantry was not much to the taste of some of his hearers; but Mrs. Bennet, who

  • quarreled with no compliments, answered most readily.

  • "You are very kind, I am sure; and I wish with all my heart it may prove so, for else

  • they will be destitute enough. Things are settled so oddly."

  • "You allude, perhaps, to the entail of this estate."

  • "Ah! sir, I do indeed. It is a grievous affair to my poor girls,

  • you must confess.

  • Not that I mean to find fault with you, for such things I know are all chance in this

  • world. There is no knowing how estates will go

  • when once they come to be entailed."

  • "I am very sensible, madam, of the hardship to my fair cousins, and could say much on

  • the subject, but that I am cautious of appearing forward and precipitate.

  • But I can assure the young ladies that I come prepared to admire them.

  • At present I will not say more; but, perhaps, when we are better acquainted--"

  • He was interrupted by a summons to dinner; and the girls smiled on each other.

  • They were not the only objects of Mr. Collins's admiration.

  • The hall, the dining-room, and all its furniture, were examined and praised; and

  • his commendation of everything would have touched Mrs. Bennet's heart, but for the

  • mortifying supposition of his viewing it all as his own future property.

  • The dinner too in its turn was highly admired; and he begged to know to which of

  • his fair cousins the excellency of its cooking was owing.

  • But he was set right there by Mrs. Bennet, who assured him with some asperity that

  • they were very well able to keep a good cook, and that her daughters had nothing to

  • do in the kitchen.

  • He begged pardon for having displeased her. In a softened tone she declared herself not

  • at all offended; but he continued to apologise for about a quarter of an hour.

CHAPTER 13

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B1 中級 英國腔

第13章--簡-奧斯汀的《傲慢與偏見》。 (Chapter 13 - Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen)

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