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Title: Northanger Abbey
Author: Austen, Jane
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Northanger Abbey" ***

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NORTHANGER ABBEY


by

Jane Austen (1803)



ADVERTISEMENT BY THE AUTHORESS, TO NORTHANGER ABBEY

THIS little work was finished in the year 1803, and intended for
immediate publication. It was disposed of to a bookseller, it was even
advertised, and why the business proceeded no farther, the author
has never been able to learn. That any bookseller should think it
worth-while to purchase what he did not think it worth-while to publish
seems extraordinary. But with this, neither the author nor the public
have any other concern than as some observation is necessary upon those
parts of the work which thirteen years have made comparatively obsolete.
The public are entreated to bear in mind that thirteen years have passed
since it was finished, many more since it was begun, and that during
that period, places, manners, books, and opinions have undergone
considerable changes.



CHAPTER 1


No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy would have
supposed her born to be an heroine. Her situation in life, the character
of her father and mother, her own person and disposition, were
all equally against her. Her father was a clergyman, without being
neglected, or poor, and a very respectable man, though his name
was Richard--and he had never been handsome. He had a considerable
independence besides two good livings--and he was not in the least
addicted to locking up his daughters. Her mother was a woman of useful
plain sense, with a good temper, and, what is more remarkable, with a
good constitution. She had three sons before Catherine was born; and
instead of dying in bringing the latter into the world, as anybody might
expect, she still lived on--lived to have six children more--to see them
growing up around her, and to enjoy excellent health herself. A family
of ten children will be always called a fine family, where there are
heads and arms and legs enough for the number; but the Morlands had
little other right to the word, for they were in general very plain, and
Catherine, for many years of her life, as plain as any. She had a thin
awkward figure, a sallow skin without colour, dark lank hair, and strong
features--so much for her person; and not less unpropitious for heroism
seemed her mind. She was fond of all boy’s plays, and greatly preferred
cricket not merely to dolls, but to the more heroic enjoyments of
infancy, nursing a dormouse, feeding a canary-bird, or watering a
rose-bush. Indeed she had no taste for a garden; and if she gathered
flowers at all, it was chiefly for the pleasure of mischief--at least
so it was conjectured from her always preferring those which she was
forbidden to take. Such were her propensities--her abilities were quite
as extraordinary. She never could learn or understand anything
before she was taught; and sometimes not even then, for she was often
inattentive, and occasionally stupid. Her mother was three months in
teaching her only to repeat the “Beggar’s Petition”; and after all, her
next sister, Sally, could say it better than she did. Not that Catherine
was always stupid--by no means; she learnt the fable of “The Hare and
Many Friends” as quickly as any girl in England. Her mother wished her
to learn music; and Catherine was sure she should like it, for she was
very fond of tinkling the keys of the old forlorn spinnet; so, at eight
years old she began. She learnt a year, and could not bear it; and Mrs.
Morland, who did not insist on her daughters being accomplished in
spite of incapacity or distaste, allowed her to leave off. The day which
dismissed the music-master was one of the happiest of Catherine’s life.
Her taste for drawing was not superior; though whenever she could obtain
the outside of a letter from her mother or seize upon any other odd
piece of paper, she did what she could in that way, by drawing houses
and trees, hens and chickens, all very much like one another. Writing
and accounts she was taught by her father; French by her mother: her
proficiency in either was not remarkable, and she shirked her lessons in
both whenever she could. What a strange, unaccountable character!--for
with all these symptoms of profligacy at ten years old, she had neither
a bad heart nor a bad temper, was seldom stubborn, scarcely ever
quarrelsome, and very kind to the little ones, with few interruptions
of tyranny; she was moreover noisy and wild, hated confinement and
cleanliness, and loved nothing so well in the world as rolling down the
green slope at the back of the house.

Such was Catherine Morland at ten. At fifteen, appearances were mending;
she began to curl her hair and long for balls; her complexion improved,
her features were softened by plumpness and colour, her eyes gained more
animation, and her figure more consequence. Her love of dirt gave way to
an inclination for finery, and she grew clean as she grew smart; she had
now the pleasure of sometimes hearing her father and mother remark
on her personal improvement. “Catherine grows quite a good-looking
girl--she is almost pretty today,” were words which caught her ears now
and then; and how welcome were the sounds! To look almost pretty is an
acquisition of higher delight to a girl who has been looking plain the
first fifteen years of her life than a beauty from her cradle can ever
receive.

Mrs. Morland was a very good woman, and wished to see her children
everything they ought to be; but her time was so much occupied in
lying-in and teaching the little ones, that her elder daughters were
inevitably left to shift for themselves; and it was not very wonderful
that Catherine, who had by nature nothing heroic about her, should
prefer cricket, baseball, riding on horseback, and running about
the country at the age of fourteen, to books--or at least books of
information--for, provided that nothing like useful knowledge could be
gained from them, provided they were all story and no reflection, she
had never any objection to books at all. But from fifteen to seventeen
she was in training for a heroine; she read all such works as heroines
must read to supply their memories with those quotations which are so
serviceable and so soothing in the vicissitudes of their eventful lives.

From Pope, she learnt to censure those who

   “bear about the mockery of woe.”


From Gray, that

   “Many a flower is born to blush unseen,
   “And waste its fragrance on the desert air.”


From Thompson, that--

   “It is a delightful task
   “To teach the young idea how to shoot.”


And from Shakespeare she gained a great store of information--amongst
the rest, that--

   “Trifles light as air,
   “Are, to the jealous, confirmation strong,
   “As proofs of Holy Writ.”


That

   “The poor beetle, which we tread upon,
   “In corporal sufferance feels a pang as great
   “As when a giant dies.”


And that a young woman in love always looks--

   “like Patience on a monument
   “Smiling at Grief.”


So far her improvement was sufficient--and in many other points she came
on exceedingly well; for though she could not write sonnets, she brought
herself to read them; and though there seemed no chance of her throwing
a whole party into raptures by a prelude on the pianoforte, of her own
composition, she could listen to other people’s performance with very
little fatigue. Her greatest deficiency was in the pencil--she had no
notion of drawing--not enough even to attempt a sketch of her lover’s
profile, that she might be detected in the design. There she fell
miserably short of the true heroic height. At present she did not know
her own poverty, for she had no lover to portray. She had reached the
age of seventeen, without having seen one amiable youth who could call
forth her sensibility, without having inspired one real passion, and
without having excited even any admiration but what was very moderate
and very transient. This was strange indeed! But strange things may be
generally accounted for if their cause be fairly searched out. There was
not one lord in the neighbourhood; no--not even a baronet. There was not
one family among their acquaintance who had reared and supported a boy
accidentally found at their door--not one young man whose origin
was unknown. Her father had no ward, and the squire of the parish no
children.

But when a young lady is to be a heroine, the perverseness of forty
surrounding families cannot prevent her. Something must and will happen
to throw a hero in her way.

Mr. Allen, who owned the chief of the property about Fullerton, the
village in Wiltshire where the Morlands lived, was ordered to Bath
for the benefit of a gouty constitution--and his lady, a good-humoured
woman, fond of Miss Morland, and probably aware that if adventures will
not befall a young lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad,
invited her to go with them. Mr. and Mrs. Morland were all compliance,
and Catherine all happiness.



CHAPTER 2


In addition to what has been already said of Catherine Morland’s
personal and mental endowments, when about to be launched into all the
difficulties and dangers of a six weeks’ residence in Bath, it may be
stated, for the reader’s more certain information, lest the following
pages should otherwise fail of giving any idea of what her character is
meant to be, that her heart was affectionate; her disposition cheerful
and open, without conceit or affectation of any kind--her manners just
removed from the awkwardness and shyness of a girl; her person pleasing,
and, when in good looks, pretty--and her mind about as ignorant and
uninformed as the female mind at seventeen usually is.

When the hour of departure drew near, the maternal anxiety of Mrs.
Morland will be naturally supposed to be most severe. A thousand
alarming presentiments of evil to her beloved Catherine from this
terrific separation must oppress her heart with sadness, and drown her
in tears for the last day or two of their being together; and advice of
the most important and applicable nature must of course flow from her
wise lips in their parting conference in her closet. Cautions against
the violence of such noblemen and baronets as delight in forcing young
ladies away to some remote farm-house, must, at such a moment, relieve
the fulness of her heart. Who would not think so? But Mrs. Morland knew
so little of lords and baronets, that she entertained no notion of their
general mischievousness, and was wholly unsuspicious of danger to her
daughter from their machinations. Her cautions were confined to the
following points. “I beg, Catherine, you will always wrap yourself up
very warm about the throat, when you come from the rooms at night; and
I wish you would try to keep some account of the money you spend; I will
give you this little book on purpose.”

Sally, or rather Sarah (for what young lady of common gentility will
reach the age of sixteen without altering her name as far as she can?),
must from situation be at this time the intimate friend and confidante
of her sister. It is remarkable, however, that she neither insisted
on Catherine’s writing by every post, nor exacted her promise of
transmitting the character of every new acquaintance, nor a detail
of every interesting conversation that Bath might produce. Everything
indeed relative to this important journey was done, on the part of the
Morlands, with a degree of moderation and composure, which seemed
rather consistent with the common feelings of common life, than with the
refined susceptibilities, the tender emotions which the first separation
of a heroine from her family ought always to excite. Her father, instead
of giving her an unlimited order on his banker, or even putting an
hundred pounds bank-bill into her hands, gave her only ten guineas, and
promised her more when she wanted it.

Under these unpromising auspices, the parting took place, and the
journey began. It was performed with suitable quietness and uneventful
safety. Neither robbers nor tempests befriended them, nor one lucky
overturn to introduce them to the hero. Nothing more alarming occurred
than a fear, on Mrs. Allen’s side, of having once left her clogs behind
her at an inn, and that fortunately proved to be groundless.

They arrived at Bath. Catherine was all eager delight--her eyes were
here, there, everywhere, as they approached its fine and striking
environs, and afterwards drove through those streets which conducted
them to the hotel. She was come to be happy, and she felt happy already.

They were soon settled in comfortable lodgings in Pulteney Street.

It is now expedient to give some description of Mrs. Allen, that the
reader may be able to judge in what manner her actions will hereafter
tend to promote the general distress of the work, and how she will,
probably, contribute to reduce poor Catherine to all the desperate
wretchedness of which a last volume is capable--whether by her
imprudence, vulgarity, or jealousy--whether by intercepting her letters,
ruining her character, or turning her out of doors.

Mrs. Allen was one of that numerous class of females, whose society can
raise no other emotion than surprise at there being any men in the world
who could like them well enough to marry them. She had neither beauty,
genius, accomplishment, nor manner. The air of a gentlewoman, a great
deal of quiet, inactive good temper, and a trifling turn of mind
were all that could account for her being the choice of a sensible,
intelligent man like Mr. Allen. In one respect she was admirably fitted
to introduce a young lady into public, being as fond of going everywhere
and seeing everything herself as any young lady could be. Dress was
her passion. She had a most harmless delight in being fine; and our
heroine’s entree into life could not take place till after three or four
days had been spent in learning what was mostly worn, and her chaperone
was provided with a dress of the newest fashion. Catherine too made
some purchases herself, and when all these matters were arranged, the
important evening came which was to usher her into the Upper Rooms. Her
hair was cut and dressed by the best hand, her clothes put on with care,
and both Mrs. Allen and her maid declared she looked quite as she should
do. With such encouragement, Catherine hoped at least to pass uncensured
through the crowd. As for admiration, it was always very welcome when it
came, but she did not depend on it.

Mrs. Allen was so long in dressing that they did not enter the ballroom
till late. The season was full, the room crowded, and the two ladies
squeezed in as well as they could. As for Mr. Allen, he repaired
directly to the card-room, and left them to enjoy a mob by themselves.
With more care for the safety of her new gown than for the comfort of
her protegee, Mrs. Allen made her way through the throng of men by
the door, as swiftly as the necessary caution would allow; Catherine,
however, kept close at her side, and linked her arm too firmly within
her friend’s to be torn asunder by any common effort of a struggling
assembly. But to her utter amazement she found that to proceed along the
room was by no means the way to disengage themselves from the crowd; it
seemed rather to increase as they went on, whereas she had imagined that
when once fairly within the door, they should easily find seats and be
able to watch the dances with perfect convenience. But this was far from
being the case, and though by unwearied diligence they gained even the
top of the room, their situation was just the same; they saw nothing
of the dancers but the high feathers of some of the ladies. Still they
moved on--something better was yet in view; and by a continued exertion
of strength and ingenuity they found themselves at last in the passage
behind the highest bench. Here there was something less of crowd than
below; and hence Miss Morland had a comprehensive view of all the
company beneath her, and of all the dangers of her late passage through
them. It was a splendid sight, and she began, for the first time that
evening, to feel herself at a ball: she longed to dance, but she had
not an acquaintance in the room. Mrs. Allen did all that she could do
in such a case by saying very placidly, every now and then, “I wish you
could dance, my dear--I wish you could get a partner.” For some time
her young friend felt obliged to her for these wishes; but they were
repeated so often, and proved so totally ineffectual, that Catherine
grew tired at last, and would thank her no more.

They were not long able, however, to enjoy the repose of the eminence
they had so laboriously gained. Everybody was shortly in motion for
tea, and they must squeeze out like the rest. Catherine began to feel
something of disappointment--she was tired of being continually pressed
against by people, the generality of whose faces possessed nothing to
interest, and with all of whom she was so wholly unacquainted that she
could not relieve the irksomeness of imprisonment by the exchange of a
syllable with any of her fellow captives; and when at last arrived in
the tea-room, she felt yet more the awkwardness of having no party to
join, no acquaintance to claim, no gentleman to assist them. They saw
nothing of Mr. Allen; and after looking about them in vain for a more
eligible situation, were obliged to sit down at the end of a table, at
which a large party were already placed, without having anything to do
there, or anybody to speak to, except each other.

Mrs. Allen congratulated herself, as soon as they were seated, on having
preserved her gown from injury. “It would have been very shocking to
have it torn,” said she, “would not it? It is such a delicate muslin.
For my part I have not seen anything I like so well in the whole room, I
assure you.”

“How uncomfortable it is,” whispered Catherine, “not to have a single
acquaintance here!”

“Yes, my dear,” replied Mrs. Allen, with perfect serenity, “it is very
uncomfortable indeed.”

“What shall we do? The gentlemen and ladies at this table look as if
they wondered why we came here--we seem forcing ourselves into their
party.”

“Aye, so we do. That is very disagreeable. I wish we had a large
acquaintance here.”

“I wish we had any--it would be somebody to go to.”

“Very true, my dear; and if we knew anybody we would join them directly.
The Skinners were here last year--I wish they were here now.”

“Had not we better go away as it is? Here are no tea-things for us, you
see.”

“No more there are, indeed. How very provoking! But I think we had
better sit still, for one gets so tumbled in such a crowd! How is my
head, my dear? Somebody gave me a push that has hurt it, I am afraid.”

“No, indeed, it looks very nice. But, dear Mrs. Allen, are you sure
there is nobody you know in all this multitude of people? I think you
must know somebody.”

“I don’t, upon my word--I wish I did. I wish I had a large acquaintance
here with all my heart, and then I should get you a partner. I should be
so glad to have you dance. There goes a strange-looking woman! What an
odd gown she has got on! How old-fashioned it is! Look at the back.”

After some time they received an offer of tea from one of their
neighbours; it was thankfully accepted, and this introduced a light
conversation with the gentleman who offered it, which was the only time
that anybody spoke to them during the evening, till they were discovered
and joined by Mr. Allen when the dance was over.

“Well, Miss Morland,” said he, directly, “I hope you have had an
agreeable ball.”

“Very agreeable indeed,” she replied, vainly endeavouring to hide a
great yawn.

“I wish she had been able to dance,” said his wife; “I wish we could
have got a partner for her. I have been saying how glad I should be if
the Skinners were here this winter instead of last; or if the Parrys had
come, as they talked of once, she might have danced with George Parry. I
am so sorry she has not had a partner!”

“We shall do better another evening I hope,” was Mr. Allen’s
consolation.

The company began to disperse when the dancing was over--enough to leave
space for the remainder to walk about in some comfort; and now was the
time for a heroine, who had not yet played a very distinguished part
in the events of the evening, to be noticed and admired. Every five
minutes, by removing some of the crowd, gave greater openings for her
charms. She was now seen by many young men who had not been near her
before. Not one, however, started with rapturous wonder on beholding
her, no whisper of eager inquiry ran round the room, nor was she once
called a divinity by anybody. Yet Catherine was in very good looks, and
had the company only seen her three years before, they would now have
thought her exceedingly handsome.

She was looked at, however, and with some admiration; for, in her own
hearing, two gentlemen pronounced her to be a pretty girl. Such words
had their due effect; she immediately thought the evening pleasanter
than she had found it before--her humble vanity was contented--she
felt more obliged to the two young men for this simple praise than a
true-quality heroine would have been for fifteen sonnets in celebration
of her charms, and went to her chair in good humour with everybody, and
perfectly satisfied with her share of public attention.



CHAPTER 3


Every morning now brought its regular duties--shops were to be visited;
some new part of the town to be looked at; and the pump-room to be
attended, where they paraded up and down for an hour, looking at
everybody and speaking to no one. The wish of a numerous acquaintance
in Bath was still uppermost with Mrs. Allen, and she repeated it after
every fresh proof, which every morning brought, of her knowing nobody at
all.

They made their appearance in the Lower Rooms; and here fortune was more
favourable to our heroine. The master of the ceremonies introduced to
her a very gentlemanlike young man as a partner; his name was Tilney.
He seemed to be about four or five and twenty, was rather tall, had a
pleasing countenance, a very intelligent and lively eye, and, if not
quite handsome, was very near it. His address was good, and Catherine
felt herself in high luck. There was little leisure for speaking
while they danced; but when they were seated at tea, she found him as
agreeable as she had already given him credit for being. He talked with
fluency and spirit--and there was an archness and pleasantry in his
manner which interested, though it was hardly understood by her. After
chatting some time on such matters as naturally arose from the objects
around them, he suddenly addressed her with--“I have hitherto been very
remiss, madam, in the proper attentions of a partner here; I have not
yet asked you how long you have been in Bath; whether you were ever here
before; whether you have been at the Upper Rooms, the theatre, and
the concert; and how you like the place altogether. I have been
very negligent--but are you now at leisure to satisfy me in these
particulars? If you are I will begin directly.”

“You need not give yourself that trouble, sir.”

“No trouble, I assure you, madam.” Then forming his features into a set
smile, and affectedly softening his voice, he added, with a simpering
air, “Have you been long in Bath, madam?”

“About a week, sir,” replied Catherine, trying not to laugh.

“Really!” with affected astonishment.

“Why should you be surprised, sir?”

“Why, indeed!” said he, in his natural tone. “But some emotion must
appear to be raised by your reply, and surprise is more easily assumed,
and not less reasonable than any other. Now let us go on. Were you never
here before, madam?”

“Never, sir.”

“Indeed! Have you yet honoured the Upper Rooms?”

“Yes, sir, I was there last Monday.”

“Have you been to the theatre?”

“Yes, sir, I was at the play on Tuesday.”

“To the concert?”

“Yes, sir, on Wednesday.”

“And are you altogether pleased with Bath?”

“Yes--I like it very well.”

“Now I must give one smirk, and then we may be rational again.”
 Catherine turned away her head, not knowing whether she might venture to
laugh. “I see what you think of me,” said he gravely--“I shall make but
a poor figure in your journal tomorrow.”

“My journal!”

“Yes, I know exactly what you will say: Friday, went to the Lower
Rooms; wore my sprigged muslin robe with blue trimmings--plain black
shoes--appeared to much advantage; but was strangely harassed by a
queer, half-witted man, who would make me dance with him, and distressed
me by his nonsense.”

“Indeed I shall say no such thing.”

“Shall I tell you what you ought to say?”

“If you please.”

“I danced with a very agreeable young man, introduced by Mr. King; had
a great deal of conversation with him--seems a most extraordinary
genius--hope I may know more of him. That, madam, is what I wish you to
say.”

“But, perhaps, I keep no journal.”

“Perhaps you are not sitting in this room, and I am not sitting by
you. These are points in which a doubt is equally possible. Not keep a
journal! How are your absent cousins to understand the tenour of your
life in Bath without one? How are the civilities and compliments of
every day to be related as they ought to be, unless noted down every
evening in a journal? How are your various dresses to be remembered,
and the particular state of your complexion, and curl of your hair to be
described in all their diversities, without having constant recourse to
a journal? My dear madam, I am not so ignorant of young ladies’ ways as
you wish to believe me; it is this delightful habit of journaling which
largely contributes to form the easy style of writing for which ladies
are so generally celebrated. Everybody allows that the talent of writing
agreeable letters is peculiarly female. Nature may have done something,
but I am sure it must be essentially assisted by the practice of keeping
a journal.”

“I have sometimes thought,” said Catherine, doubtingly, “whether ladies
do write so much better letters than gentlemen! That is--I should not
think the superiority was always on our side.”

“As far as I have had opportunity of judging, it appears to me that the
usual style of letter-writing among women is faultless, except in three
particulars.”

“And what are they?”

“A general deficiency of subject, a total inattention to stops, and a
very frequent ignorance of grammar.”

“Upon my word! I need not have been afraid of disclaiming the
compliment. You do not think too highly of us in that way.”

“I should no more lay it down as a general rule that women write better
letters than men, than that they sing better duets, or draw better
landscapes. In every power, of which taste is the foundation, excellence
is pretty fairly divided between the sexes.”

They were interrupted by Mrs. Allen: “My dear Catherine,” said she, “do
take this pin out of my sleeve; I am afraid it has torn a hole already;
I shall be quite sorry if it has, for this is a favourite gown, though
it cost but nine shillings a yard.”

“That is exactly what I should have guessed it, madam,” said Mr. Tilney,
looking at the muslin.

“Do you understand muslins, sir?”

“Particularly well; I always buy my own cravats, and am allowed to be an
excellent judge; and my sister has often trusted me in the choice of a
gown. I bought one for her the other day, and it was pronounced to be a
prodigious bargain by every lady who saw it. I gave but five shillings a
yard for it, and a true Indian muslin.”

Mrs. Allen was quite struck by his genius. “Men commonly take so little
notice of those things,” said she; “I can never get Mr. Allen to know
one of my gowns from another. You must be a great comfort to your
sister, sir.”

“I hope I am, madam.”

“And pray, sir, what do you think of Miss Morland’s gown?”

“It is very pretty, madam,” said he, gravely examining it; “but I do not
think it will wash well; I am afraid it will fray.”

“How can you,” said Catherine, laughing, “be so--” She had almost said
“strange.”

“I am quite of your opinion, sir,” replied Mrs. Allen; “and so I told
Miss Morland when she bought it.”

“But then you know, madam, muslin always turns to some account or other;
Miss Morland will get enough out of it for a handkerchief, or a cap, or
a cloak. Muslin can never be said to be wasted. I have heard my sister
say so forty times, when she has been extravagant in buying more than
she wanted, or careless in cutting it to pieces.”

“Bath is a charming place, sir; there are so many good shops here. We
are sadly off in the country; not but what we have very good shops in
Salisbury, but it is so far to go--eight miles is a long way; Mr. Allen
says it is nine, measured nine; but I am sure it cannot be more than
eight; and it is such a fag--I come back tired to death. Now, here one
can step out of doors and get a thing in five minutes.”

Mr. Tilney was polite enough to seem interested in what she said; and
she kept him on the subject of muslins till the dancing recommenced.
Catherine feared, as she listened to their discourse, that he indulged
himself a little too much with the foibles of others. “What are you
thinking of so earnestly?” said he, as they walked back to the ballroom;
“not of your partner, I hope, for, by that shake of the head, your
meditations are not satisfactory.”

Catherine coloured, and said, “I was not thinking of anything.”

“That is artful and deep, to be sure; but I had rather be told at once
that you will not tell me.”

“Well then, I will not.”

“Thank you; for now we shall soon be acquainted, as I am authorized to
tease you on this subject whenever we meet, and nothing in the world
advances intimacy so much.”

They danced again; and, when the assembly closed, parted, on the
lady’s side at least, with a strong inclination for continuing the
acquaintance. Whether she thought of him so much, while she drank her
warm wine and water, and prepared herself for bed, as to dream of him
when there, cannot be ascertained; but I hope it was no more than in
a slight slumber, or a morning doze at most; for if it be true, as a
celebrated writer has maintained, that no young lady can be justified
in falling in love before the gentleman’s love is declared,* it must be
very improper that a young lady should dream of a gentleman before the
gentleman is first known to have dreamt of her. How proper Mr. Tilney
might be as a dreamer or a lover had not yet perhaps entered Mr. Allen’s
head, but that he was not objectionable as a common acquaintance for
his young charge he was on inquiry satisfied; for he had early in the
evening taken pains to know who her partner was, and had been assured
of Mr. Tilney’s being a clergyman, and of a very respectable family in
Gloucestershire.



CHAPTER 4


With more than usual eagerness did Catherine hasten to the pump-room the
next day, secure within herself of seeing Mr. Tilney there before the
morning were over, and ready to meet him with a smile; but no smile
was demanded--Mr. Tilney did not appear. Every creature in Bath,
except himself, was to be seen in the room at different periods of the
fashionable hours; crowds of people were every moment passing in and
out, up the steps and down; people whom nobody cared about, and nobody
wanted to see; and he only was absent. “What a delightful place Bath
is,” said Mrs. Allen as they sat down near the great clock, after
parading the room till they were tired; “and how pleasant it would be if
we had any acquaintance here.”

This sentiment had been uttered so often in vain that Mrs. Allen had no
particular reason to hope it would be followed with more advantage now;
but we are told to “despair of nothing we would attain,” as “unwearied
diligence our point would gain”; and the unwearied diligence with which
she had every day wished for the same thing was at length to have its
just reward, for hardly had she been seated ten minutes before a lady of
about her own age, who was sitting by her, and had been looking at her
attentively for several minutes, addressed her with great complaisance
in these words: “I think, madam, I cannot be mistaken; it is a long time
since I had the pleasure of seeing you, but is not your name Allen?”
 This question answered, as it readily was, the stranger pronounced hers
to be Thorpe; and Mrs. Allen immediately recognized the features of
a former schoolfellow and intimate, whom she had seen only once since
their respective marriages, and that many years ago. Their joy on this
meeting was very great, as well it might, since they had been contented
to know nothing of each other for the last fifteen years. Compliments
on good looks now passed; and, after observing how time had slipped away
since they were last together, how little they had thought of meeting in
Bath, and what a pleasure it was to see an old friend, they proceeded to
make inquiries and give intelligence as to their families, sisters, and
cousins, talking both together, far more ready to give than to receive
information, and each hearing very little of what the other said. Mrs.
Thorpe, however, had one great advantage as a talker, over Mrs. Allen,
in a family of children; and when she expatiated on the talents of her
sons, and the beauty of her daughters, when she related their different
situations and views--that John was at Oxford, Edward at Merchant
Taylors’, and William at sea--and all of them more beloved and respected
in their different station than any other three beings ever were, Mrs.
Allen had no similar information to give, no similar triumphs to press
on the unwilling and unbelieving ear of her friend, and was forced to
sit and appear to listen to all these maternal effusions, consoling
herself, however, with the discovery, which her keen eye soon made, that
the lace on Mrs. Thorpe’s pelisse was not half so handsome as that on
her own.

“Here come my dear girls,” cried Mrs. Thorpe, pointing at three
smart-looking females who, arm in arm, were then moving towards her. “My
dear Mrs. Allen, I long to introduce them; they will be so delighted
to see you: the tallest is Isabella, my eldest; is not she a fine young
woman? The others are very much admired too, but I believe Isabella is
the handsomest.”

The Miss Thorpes were introduced; and Miss Morland, who had been for a
short time forgotten, was introduced likewise. The name seemed to strike
them all; and, after speaking to her with great civility, the eldest
young lady observed aloud to the rest, “How excessively like her brother
Miss Morland is!”

“The very picture of him indeed!” cried the mother--and “I should have
known her anywhere for his sister!” was repeated by them all, two or
three times over. For a moment Catherine was surprised; but Mrs. Thorpe
and her daughters had scarcely begun the history of their acquaintance
with Mr. James Morland, before she remembered that her eldest brother
had lately formed an intimacy with a young man of his own college, of
the name of Thorpe; and that he had spent the last week of the Christmas
vacation with his family, near London.

The whole being explained, many obliging things were said by the Miss
Thorpes of their wish of being better acquainted with her; of being
considered as already friends, through the friendship of their brothers,
etc., which Catherine heard with pleasure, and answered with all the
pretty expressions she could command; and, as the first proof of amity,
she was soon invited to accept an arm of the eldest Miss Thorpe, and
take a turn with her about the room. Catherine was delighted with this
extension of her Bath acquaintance, and almost forgot Mr. Tilney while
she talked to Miss Thorpe. Friendship is certainly the finest balm for
the pangs of disappointed love.

Their conversation turned upon those subjects, of which the free
discussion has generally much to do in perfecting a sudden intimacy
between two young ladies: such as dress, balls, flirtations, and
quizzes. Miss Thorpe, however, being four years older than Miss Morland,
and at least four years better informed, had a very decided advantage in
discussing such points; she could compare the balls of Bath with those
of Tunbridge, its fashions with the fashions of London; could rectify
the opinions of her new friend in many articles of tasteful attire;
could discover a flirtation between any gentleman and lady who only
smiled on each other; and point out a quiz through the thickness of a
crowd. These powers received due admiration from Catherine, to whom they
were entirely new; and the respect which they naturally inspired might
have been too great for familiarity, had not the easy gaiety of Miss
Thorpe’s manners, and her frequent expressions of delight on this
acquaintance with her, softened down every feeling of awe, and left
nothing but tender affection. Their increasing attachment was not to be
satisfied with half a dozen turns in the pump-room, but required, when
they all quitted it together, that Miss Thorpe should accompany Miss
Morland to the very door of Mr. Allen’s house; and that they should
there part with a most affectionate and lengthened shake of hands, after
learning, to their mutual relief, that they should see each other across
the theatre at night, and say their prayers in the same chapel the next
morning. Catherine then ran directly upstairs, and watched Miss Thorpe’s
progress down the street from the drawing-room window; admired the
graceful spirit of her walk, the fashionable air of her figure and
dress; and felt grateful, as well she might, for the chance which had
procured her such a friend.

Mrs. Thorpe was a widow, and not a very rich one; she was a
good-humoured, well-meaning woman, and a very indulgent mother. Her
eldest daughter had great personal beauty, and the younger ones, by
pretending to be as handsome as their sister, imitating her air, and
dressing in the same style, did very well.

This brief account of the family is intended to supersede the necessity
of a long and minute detail from Mrs. Thorpe herself, of her past
adventures and sufferings, which might otherwise be expected to occupy
the three or four following chapters; in which the worthlessness of
lords and attorneys might be set forth, and conversations, which had
passed twenty years before, be minutely repeated.



CHAPTER 5


Catherine was not so much engaged at the theatre that evening, in
returning the nods and smiles of Miss Thorpe, though they certainly
claimed much of her leisure, as to forget to look with an inquiring eye
for Mr. Tilney in every box which her eye could reach; but she looked in
vain. Mr. Tilney was no fonder of the play than the pump-room. She hoped
to be more fortunate the next day; and when her wishes for fine weather
were answered by seeing a beautiful morning, she hardly felt a doubt of
it; for a fine Sunday in Bath empties every house of its inhabitants,
and all the world appears on such an occasion to walk about and tell
their acquaintance what a charming day it is.

As soon as divine service was over, the Thorpes and Allens eagerly
joined each other; and after staying long enough in the pump-room to
discover that the crowd was insupportable, and that there was not
a genteel face to be seen, which everybody discovers every Sunday
throughout the season, they hastened away to the Crescent, to breathe
the fresh air of better company. Here Catherine and Isabella, arm
in arm, again tasted the sweets of friendship in an unreserved
conversation; they talked much, and with much enjoyment; but again
was Catherine disappointed in her hope of reseeing her partner. He was
nowhere to be met with; every search for him was equally unsuccessful,
in morning lounges or evening assemblies; neither at the Upper nor Lower
Rooms, at dressed or undressed balls, was he perceivable; nor among the
walkers, the horsemen, or the curricle-drivers of the morning. His name
was not in the pump-room book, and curiosity could do no more. He must
be gone from Bath. Yet he had not mentioned that his stay would be so
short! This sort of mysteriousness, which is always so becoming in a
hero, threw a fresh grace in Catherine’s imagination around his person
and manners, and increased her anxiety to know more of him. From the
Thorpes she could learn nothing, for they had been only two days in Bath
before they met with Mrs. Allen. It was a subject, however, in which
she often indulged with her fair friend, from whom she received every
possible encouragement to continue to think of him; and his impression
on her fancy was not suffered therefore to weaken. Isabella was very
sure that he must be a charming young man, and was equally sure that he
must have been delighted with her dear Catherine, and would therefore
shortly return. She liked him the better for being a clergyman, “for she
must confess herself very partial to the profession”; and something like
a sigh escaped her as she said it. Perhaps Catherine was wrong in not
demanding the cause of that gentle emotion--but she was not experienced
enough in the finesse of love, or the duties of friendship, to know when
delicate raillery was properly called for, or when a confidence should
be forced.

Mrs. Allen was now quite happy--quite satisfied with Bath. She had found
some acquaintance, had been so lucky too as to find in them the family
of a most worthy old friend; and, as the completion of good fortune, had
found these friends by no means so expensively dressed as herself. Her
daily expressions were no longer, “I wish we had some acquaintance in
Bath!” They were changed into, “How glad I am we have met with Mrs.
Thorpe!” and she was as eager in promoting the intercourse of the two
families, as her young charge and Isabella themselves could be; never
satisfied with the day unless she spent the chief of it by the side of
Mrs. Thorpe, in what they called conversation, but in which there was
scarcely ever any exchange of opinion, and not often any resemblance of
subject, for Mrs. Thorpe talked chiefly of her children, and Mrs. Allen
of her gowns.

The progress of the friendship between Catherine and Isabella was quick
as its beginning had been warm, and they passed so rapidly through every
gradation of increasing tenderness that there was shortly no fresh proof
of it to be given to their friends or themselves. They called each other
by their Christian name, were always arm in arm when they walked, pinned
up each other’s train for the dance, and were not to be divided in the
set; and if a rainy morning deprived them of other enjoyments, they
were still resolute in meeting in defiance of wet and dirt, and shut
themselves up, to read novels together. Yes, novels; for I will not
adopt that ungenerous and impolitic custom so common with novel-writers,
of degrading by their contemptuous censure the very performances, to the
number of which they are themselves adding--joining with their greatest
enemies in bestowing the harshest epithets on such works, and scarcely
ever permitting them to be read by their own heroine, who, if she
accidentally take up a novel, is sure to turn over its insipid pages
with disgust. Alas! If the heroine of one novel be not patronized by the
heroine of another, from whom can she expect protection and regard? I
cannot approve of it. Let us leave it to the reviewers to abuse such
effusions of fancy at their leisure, and over every new novel to talk in
threadbare strains of the trash with which the press now groans. Let us
not desert one another; we are an injured body. Although our productions
have afforded more extensive and unaffected pleasure than those of any
other literary corporation in the world, no species of composition has
been so much decried. From pride, ignorance, or fashion, our foes
are almost as many as our readers. And while the abilities of the
nine-hundredth abridger of the History of England, or of the man who
collects and publishes in a volume some dozen lines of Milton, Pope, and
Prior, with a paper from the Spectator, and a chapter from Sterne,
are eulogized by a thousand pens--there seems almost a general wish of
decrying the capacity and undervaluing the labour of the novelist, and
of slighting the performances which have only genius, wit, and taste to
recommend them. “I am no novel-reader--I seldom look into novels--Do not
imagine that I often read novels--It is really very well for a novel.”
 Such is the common cant. “And what are you reading, Miss--?” “Oh! It is
only a novel!” replies the young lady, while she lays down her book
with affected indifference, or momentary shame. “It is only Cecilia, or
Camilla, or Belinda”; or, in short, only some work in which the greatest
powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge
of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the
liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the
best-chosen language. Now, had the same young lady been engaged with a
volume of the Spectator, instead of such a work, how proudly would she
have produced the book, and told its name; though the chances must be
against her being occupied by any part of that voluminous publication,
of which either the matter or manner would not disgust a young person of
taste: the substance of its papers so often consisting in the statement
of improbable circumstances, unnatural characters, and topics of
conversation which no longer concern anyone living; and their language,
too, frequently so coarse as to give no very favourable idea of the age
that could endure it.



CHAPTER 6


The following conversation, which took place between the two friends in
the pump-room one morning, after an acquaintance of eight or nine
days, is given as a specimen of their very warm attachment, and of the
delicacy, discretion, originality of thought, and literary taste which
marked the reasonableness of that attachment.

They met by appointment; and as Isabella had arrived nearly five
minutes before her friend, her first address naturally was, “My dearest
creature, what can have made you so late? I have been waiting for you at
least this age!”

“Have you, indeed! I am very sorry for it; but really I thought I was in
very good time. It is but just one. I hope you have not been here long?”

“Oh! These ten ages at least. I am sure I have been here this half hour.
But now, let us go and sit down at the other end of the room, and enjoy
ourselves. I have an hundred things to say to you. In the first place,
I was so afraid it would rain this morning, just as I wanted to set off;
it looked very showery, and that would have thrown me into agonies! Do
you know, I saw the prettiest hat you can imagine, in a shop window in
Milsom Street just now--very like yours, only with coquelicot ribbons
instead of green; I quite longed for it. But, my dearest Catherine, what
have you been doing with yourself all this morning? Have you gone on
with Udolpho?”

“Yes, I have been reading it ever since I woke; and I am got to the
black veil.”

“Are you, indeed? How delightful! Oh! I would not tell you what is
behind the black veil for the world! Are not you wild to know?”

“Oh! Yes, quite; what can it be? But do not tell me--I would not be
told upon any account. I know it must be a skeleton, I am sure it is
Laurentina’s skeleton. Oh! I am delighted with the book! I should like
to spend my whole life in reading it. I assure you, if it had not been
to meet you, I would not have come away from it for all the world.”

“Dear creature! How much I am obliged to you; and when you have finished
Udolpho, we will read the Italian together; and I have made out a list
of ten or twelve more of the same kind for you.”

“Have you, indeed! How glad I am! What are they all?”

“I will read you their names directly; here they are, in my pocketbook.
Castle of Wolfenbach, Clermont, Mysterious Warnings, Necromancer of the
Black Forest, Midnight Bell, Orphan of the Rhine, and Horrid Mysteries.
Those will last us some time.”

“Yes, pretty well; but are they all horrid, are you sure they are all
horrid?”

“Yes, quite sure; for a particular friend of mine, a Miss Andrews, a
sweet girl, one of the sweetest creatures in the world, has read every
one of them. I wish you knew Miss Andrews, you would be delighted with
her. She is netting herself the sweetest cloak you can conceive. I think
her as beautiful as an angel, and I am so vexed with the men for not
admiring her! I scold them all amazingly about it.”

“Scold them! Do you scold them for not admiring her?”

“Yes, that I do. There is nothing I would not do for those who are
really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves; it is
not my nature. My attachments are always excessively strong. I told
Captain Hunt at one of our assemblies this winter that if he was to
tease me all night, I would not dance with him, unless he would allow
Miss Andrews to be as beautiful as an angel. The men think us incapable
of real friendship, you know, and I am determined to show them the
difference. Now, if I were to hear anybody speak slightingly of you, I
should fire up in a moment: but that is not at all likely, for you are
just the kind of girl to be a great favourite with the men.”

“Oh, dear!” cried Catherine, colouring. “How can you say so?”

“I know you very well; you have so much animation, which is exactly
what Miss Andrews wants, for I must confess there is something amazingly
insipid about her. Oh! I must tell you, that just after we parted
yesterday, I saw a young man looking at you so earnestly--I am sure he
is in love with you.” Catherine coloured, and disclaimed again. Isabella
laughed. “It is very true, upon my honour, but I see how it is; you are
indifferent to everybody’s admiration, except that of one gentleman,
who shall be nameless. Nay, I cannot blame you”--speaking more
seriously--“your feelings are easily understood. Where the heart is
really attached, I know very well how little one can be pleased with the
attention of anybody else. Everything is so insipid, so uninteresting,
that does not relate to the beloved object! I can perfectly comprehend
your feelings.”

“But you should not persuade me that I think so very much about Mr.
Tilney, for perhaps I may never see him again.”

“Not see him again! My dearest creature, do not talk of it. I am sure
you would be miserable if you thought so!”

“No, indeed, I should not. I do not pretend to say that I was not very
much pleased with him; but while I have Udolpho to read, I feel as if
nobody could make me miserable. Oh! The dreadful black veil! My dear
Isabella, I am sure there must be Laurentina’s skeleton behind it.”

“It is so odd to me, that you should never have read Udolpho before; but
I suppose Mrs. Morland objects to novels.”

“No, she does not. She very often reads Sir Charles Grandison herself;
but new books do not fall in our way.”

“Sir Charles Grandison! That is an amazing horrid book, is it not? I
remember Miss Andrews could not get through the first volume.”

“It is not like Udolpho at all; but yet I think it is very
entertaining.”

“Do you indeed! You surprise me; I thought it had not been readable.
But, my dearest Catherine, have you settled what to wear on your head
tonight? I am determined at all events to be dressed exactly like you.
The men take notice of that sometimes, you know.”

“But it does not signify if they do,” said Catherine, very innocently.

“Signify! Oh, heavens! I make it a rule never to mind what they say.
They are very often amazingly impertinent if you do not treat them with
spirit, and make them keep their distance.”

“Are they? Well, I never observed that. They always behave very well to
me.”

“Oh! They give themselves such airs. They are the most conceited
creatures in the world, and think themselves of so much importance!
By the by, though I have thought of it a hundred times, I have always
forgot to ask you what is your favourite complexion in a man. Do you
like them best dark or fair?”

“I hardly know. I never much thought about it. Something between both, I
think. Brown--not fair, and--and not very dark.”

“Very well, Catherine. That is exactly he. I have not forgot your
description of Mr. Tilney--‘a brown skin, with dark eyes, and rather
dark hair.’ Well, my taste is different. I prefer light eyes, and as to
complexion--do you know--I like a sallow better than any other. You must
not betray me, if you should ever meet with one of your acquaintance
answering that description.”

“Betray you! What do you mean?”

“Nay, do not distress me. I believe I have said too much. Let us drop
the subject.”

Catherine, in some amazement, complied, and after remaining a few
moments silent, was on the point of reverting to what interested her
at that time rather more than anything else in the world, Laurentina’s
skeleton, when her friend prevented her, by saying, “For heaven’s sake!
Let us move away from this end of the room. Do you know, there are two
odious young men who have been staring at me this half hour. They really
put me quite out of countenance. Let us go and look at the arrivals.
They will hardly follow us there.”

Away they walked to the book; and while Isabella examined the names, it
was Catherine’s employment to watch the proceedings of these alarming
young men.

“They are not coming this way, are they? I hope they are not so
impertinent as to follow us. Pray let me know if they are coming. I am
determined I will not look up.”

In a few moments Catherine, with unaffected pleasure, assured her
that she need not be longer uneasy, as the gentlemen had just left the
pump-room.

“And which way are they gone?” said Isabella, turning hastily round.
“One was a very good-looking young man.”

“They went towards the church-yard.”

“Well, I am amazingly glad I have got rid of them! And now, what say you
to going to Edgar’s Buildings with me, and looking at my new hat? You
said you should like to see it.”

Catherine readily agreed. “Only,” she added, “perhaps we may overtake
the two young men.”

“Oh! Never mind that. If we make haste, we shall pass by them presently,
and I am dying to show you my hat.”

“But if we only wait a few minutes, there will be no danger of our
seeing them at all.”

“I shall not pay them any such compliment, I assure you. I have no
notion of treating men with such respect. That is the way to spoil
them.”

Catherine had nothing to oppose against such reasoning; and therefore,
to show the independence of Miss Thorpe, and her resolution of humbling
the sex, they set off immediately as fast as they could walk, in pursuit
of the two young men.



CHAPTER 7


Half a minute conducted them through the pump-yard to the archway,
opposite Union Passage; but here they were stopped. Everybody acquainted
with Bath may remember the difficulties of crossing Cheap Street at
this point; it is indeed a street of so impertinent a nature, so
unfortunately connected with the great London and Oxford roads, and the
principal inn of the city, that a day never passes in which parties of
ladies, however important their business, whether in quest of pastry,
millinery, or even (as in the present case) of young men, are not
detained on one side or other by carriages, horsemen, or carts. This
evil had been felt and lamented, at least three times a day, by Isabella
since her residence in Bath; and she was now fated to feel and lament it
once more, for at the very moment of coming opposite to Union Passage,
and within view of the two gentlemen who were proceeding through the
crowds, and threading the gutters of that interesting alley, they
were prevented crossing by the approach of a gig, driven along on bad
pavement by a most knowing-looking coachman with all the vehemence that
could most fitly endanger the lives of himself, his companion, and his
horse.

“Oh, these odious gigs!” said Isabella, looking up. “How I detest them.”
 But this detestation, though so just, was of short duration, for she
looked again and exclaimed, “Delightful! Mr. Morland and my brother!”

“Good heaven! ‘Tis James!” was uttered at the same moment by Catherine;
and, on catching the young men’s eyes, the horse was immediately checked
with a violence which almost threw him on his haunches, and the servant
having now scampered up, the gentlemen jumped out, and the equipage was
delivered to his care.

Catherine, by whom this meeting was wholly unexpected, received her
brother with the liveliest pleasure; and he, being of a very amiable
disposition, and sincerely attached to her, gave every proof on his
side of equal satisfaction, which he could have leisure to do, while the
bright eyes of Miss Thorpe were incessantly challenging his notice;
and to her his devoirs were speedily paid, with a mixture of joy and
embarrassment which might have informed Catherine, had she been more
expert in the development of other people’s feelings, and less simply
engrossed by her own, that her brother thought her friend quite as
pretty as she could do herself.

John Thorpe, who in the meantime had been giving orders about the
horses, soon joined them, and from him she directly received the amends
which were her due; for while he slightly and carelessly touched the
hand of Isabella, on her he bestowed a whole scrape and half a short
bow. He was a stout young man of middling height, who, with a plain face
and ungraceful form, seemed fearful of being too handsome unless he wore
the dress of a groom, and too much like a gentleman unless he were easy
where he ought to be civil, and impudent where he might be allowed to be
easy. He took out his watch: “How long do you think we have been running
it from Tetbury, Miss Morland?”

“I do not know the distance.” Her brother told her that it was
twenty-three miles.

“Three and twenty!” cried Thorpe. “Five and twenty if it is an inch.”
 Morland remonstrated, pleaded the authority of road-books, innkeepers,
and milestones; but his friend disregarded them all; he had a surer test
of distance. “I know it must be five and twenty,” said he, “by the time
we have been doing it. It is now half after one; we drove out of the
inn-yard at Tetbury as the town clock struck eleven; and I defy any man
in England to make my horse go less than ten miles an hour in harness;
that makes it exactly twenty-five.”

“You have lost an hour,” said Morland; “it was only ten o’clock when we
came from Tetbury.”

“Ten o’clock! It was eleven, upon my soul! I counted every stroke. This
brother of yours would persuade me out of my senses, Miss Morland; do
but look at my horse; did you ever see an animal so made for speed in
your life?” (The servant had just mounted the carriage and was driving
off.) “Such true blood! Three hours and and a half indeed coming only
three and twenty miles! Look at that creature, and suppose it possible
if you can.”

“He does look very hot, to be sure.”

“Hot! He had not turned a hair till we came to Walcot Church; but look
at his forehand; look at his loins; only see how he moves; that horse
cannot go less than ten miles an hour: tie his legs and he will get on.
What do you think of my gig, Miss Morland? A neat one, is not it?
Well hung; town-built; I have not had it a month. It was built for a
Christchurch man, a friend of mine, a very good sort of fellow; he ran
it a few weeks, till, I believe, it was convenient to have done with it.
I happened just then to be looking out for some light thing of the kind,
though I had pretty well determined on a curricle too; but I chanced to
meet him on Magdalen Bridge, as he was driving into Oxford, last term:
‘Ah! Thorpe,’ said he, ‘do you happen to want such a little thing as
this? It is a capital one of the kind, but I am cursed tired of it.’
‘Oh! D--,’ said I; ‘I am your man; what do you ask?’ And how much do you
think he did, Miss Morland?”

“I am sure I cannot guess at all.”

“Curricle-hung, you see; seat, trunk, sword-case, splashing-board,
lamps, silver moulding, all you see complete; the iron-work as good
as new, or better. He asked fifty guineas; I closed with him directly,
threw down the money, and the carriage was mine.”

“And I am sure,” said Catherine, “I know so little of such things that I
cannot judge whether it was cheap or dear.”

“Neither one nor t’other; I might have got it for less, I dare say; but
I hate haggling, and poor Freeman wanted cash.”

“That was very good-natured of you,” said Catherine, quite pleased.

“Oh! D---- it, when one has the means of doing a kind thing by a friend,
I hate to be pitiful.”

An inquiry now took place into the intended movements of the young
ladies; and, on finding whither they were going, it was decided that
the gentlemen should accompany them to Edgar’s Buildings, and pay their
respects to Mrs. Thorpe. James and Isabella led the way; and so
well satisfied was the latter with her lot, so contentedly was she
endeavouring to ensure a pleasant walk to him who brought the double
recommendation of being her brother’s friend, and her friend’s brother,
so pure and uncoquettish were her feelings, that, though they overtook
and passed the two offending young men in Milsom Street, she was so far
from seeking to attract their notice, that she looked back at them only
three times.

John Thorpe kept of course with Catherine, and, after a few minutes’
silence, renewed the conversation about his gig. “You will find,
however, Miss Morland, it would be reckoned a cheap thing by some
people, for I might have sold it for ten guineas more the next day;
Jackson, of Oriel, bid me sixty at once; Morland was with me at the
time.”

“Yes,” said Morland, who overheard this; “but you forget that your horse
was included.”

“My horse! Oh, d---- it! I would not sell my horse for a hundred. Are
you fond of an open carriage, Miss Morland?”

“Yes, very; I have hardly ever an opportunity of being in one; but I am
particularly fond of it.”

“I am glad of it; I will drive you out in mine every day.”

“Thank you,” said Catherine, in some distress, from a doubt of the
propriety of accepting such an offer.

“I will drive you up Lansdown Hill tomorrow.”

“Thank you; but will not your horse want rest?”

“Rest! He has only come three and twenty miles today; all nonsense;
nothing ruins horses so much as rest; nothing knocks them up so soon.
No, no; I shall exercise mine at the average of four hours every day
while I am here.”

“Shall you indeed!” said Catherine very seriously. “That will be forty
miles a day.”

“Forty! Aye, fifty, for what I care. Well, I will drive you up Lansdown
tomorrow; mind, I am engaged.”

“How delightful that will be!” cried Isabella, turning round. “My
dearest Catherine, I quite envy you; but I am afraid, brother, you will
not have room for a third.”

“A third indeed! No, no; I did not come to Bath to drive my sisters
about; that would be a good joke, faith! Morland must take care of you.”

This brought on a dialogue of civilities between the other two; but
Catherine heard neither the particulars nor the result. Her companion’s
discourse now sunk from its hitherto animated pitch to nothing more than
a short decisive sentence of praise or condemnation on the face of every
woman they met; and Catherine, after listening and agreeing as long as
she could, with all the civility and deference of the youthful female
mind, fearful of hazarding an opinion of its own in opposition to that
of a self-assured man, especially where the beauty of her own sex is
concerned, ventured at length to vary the subject by a question which
had been long uppermost in her thoughts; it was, “Have you ever read
Udolpho, Mr. Thorpe?”

“Udolpho! Oh, Lord! Not I; I never read novels; I have something else to
do.”

Catherine, humbled and ashamed, was going to apologize for her question,
but he prevented her by saying, “Novels are all so full of nonsense
and stuff; there has not been a tolerably decent one come out since
Tom Jones, except The Monk; I read that t’other day; but as for all the
others, they are the stupidest things in creation.”

“I think you must like Udolpho, if you were to read it; it is so very
interesting.”

“Not I, faith! No, if I read any, it shall be Mrs. Radcliffe’s; her
novels are amusing enough; they are worth reading; some fun and nature
in them.”

“Udolpho was written by Mrs. Radcliffe,” said Catherine, with some
hesitation, from the fear of mortifying him.

“No sure; was it? Aye, I remember, so it was; I was thinking of that
other stupid book, written by that woman they make such a fuss about,
she who married the French emigrant.”

“I suppose you mean Camilla?”

“Yes, that’s the book; such unnatural stuff! An old man playing at
see-saw, I took up the first volume once and looked it over, but I soon
found it would not do; indeed I guessed what sort of stuff it must be
before I saw it: as soon as I heard she had married an emigrant, I was
sure I should never be able to get through it.”

“I have never read it.”

“You had no loss, I assure you; it is the horridest nonsense you can
imagine; there is nothing in the world in it but an old man’s playing at
see-saw and learning Latin; upon my soul there is not.”

This critique, the justness of which was unfortunately lost on poor
Catherine, brought them to the door of Mrs. Thorpe’s lodgings, and the
feelings of the discerning and unprejudiced reader of Camilla gave way
to the feelings of the dutiful and affectionate son, as they met Mrs.
Thorpe, who had descried them from above, in the passage. “Ah, Mother!
How do you do?” said he, giving her a hearty shake of the hand. “Where
did you get that quiz of a hat? It makes you look like an old witch.
Here is Morland and I come to stay a few days with you, so you must look
out for a couple of good beds somewhere near.” And this address seemed
to satisfy all the fondest wishes of the mother’s heart, for she
received him with the most delighted and exulting affection. On his
two younger sisters he then bestowed an equal portion of his fraternal
tenderness, for he asked each of them how they did, and observed that
they both looked very ugly.

These manners did not please Catherine; but he was James’s friend
and Isabella’s brother; and her judgment was further bought off by
Isabella’s assuring her, when they withdrew to see the new hat, that
John thought her the most charming girl in the world, and by John’s
engaging her before they parted to dance with him that evening. Had she
been older or vainer, such attacks might have done little; but, where
youth and diffidence are united, it requires uncommon steadiness of
reason to resist the attraction of being called the most charming girl
in the world, and of being so very early engaged as a partner; and the
consequence was that, when the two Morlands, after sitting an hour with
the Thorpes, set off to walk together to Mr. Allen’s, and James, as
the door was closed on them, said, “Well, Catherine, how do you like my
friend Thorpe?” instead of answering, as she probably would have done,
had there been no friendship and no flattery in the case, “I do not like
him at all,” she directly replied, “I like him very much; he seems very
agreeable.”

“He is as good-natured a fellow as ever lived; a little of a rattle; but
that will recommend him to your sex, I believe: and how do you like the
rest of the family?”

“Very, very much indeed: Isabella particularly.”

“I am very glad to hear you say so; she is just the kind of young woman
I could wish to see you attached to; she has so much good sense, and is
so thoroughly unaffected and amiable; I always wanted you to know her;
and she seems very fond of you. She said the highest things in your
praise that could possibly be; and the praise of such a girl as Miss
Thorpe even you, Catherine,” taking her hand with affection, “may be
proud of.”

“Indeed I am,” she replied; “I love her exceedingly, and am delighted
to find that you like her too. You hardly mentioned anything of her when
you wrote to me after your visit there.”

“Because I thought I should soon see you myself. I hope you will be a
great deal together while you are in Bath. She is a most amiable girl;
such a superior understanding! How fond all the family are of her; she
is evidently the general favourite; and how much she must be admired in
such a place as this--is not she?”

“Yes, very much indeed, I fancy; Mr. Allen thinks her the prettiest girl
in Bath.”

“I dare say he does; and I do not know any man who is a better judge of
beauty than Mr. Allen. I need not ask you whether you are happy here, my
dear Catherine; with such a companion and friend as Isabella Thorpe, it
would be impossible for you to be otherwise; and the Allens, I am sure,
are very kind to you?”

“Yes, very kind; I never was so happy before; and now you are come it
will be more delightful than ever; how good it is of you to come so far
on purpose to see me.”

James accepted this tribute of gratitude, and qualified his conscience
for accepting it too, by saying with perfect sincerity, “Indeed,
Catherine, I love you dearly.”

Inquiries and communications concerning brothers and sisters, the
situation of some, the growth of the rest, and other family matters now
passed between them, and continued, with only one small digression
on James’s part, in praise of Miss Thorpe, till they reached Pulteney
Street, where he was welcomed with great kindness by Mr. and Mrs. Allen,
invited by the former to dine with them, and summoned by the latter
to guess the price and weigh the merits of a new muff and tippet.
A pre-engagement in Edgar’s Buildings prevented his accepting the
invitation of one friend, and obliged him to hurry away as soon as he
had satisfied the demands of the other. The time of the two parties
uniting in the Octagon Room being correctly adjusted, Catherine was then
left to the luxury of a raised, restless, and frightened imagination
over the pages of Udolpho, lost from all worldly concerns of dressing
and dinner, incapable of soothing Mrs. Allen’s fears on the delay of an
expected dressmaker, and having only one minute in sixty to bestow even
on the reflection of her own felicity, in being already engaged for the
evening.



CHAPTER 8


In spite of Udolpho and the dressmaker, however, the party from Pulteney
Street reached the Upper Rooms in very good time. The Thorpes and James
Morland were there only two minutes before them; and Isabella having
gone through the usual ceremonial of meeting her friend with the most
smiling and affectionate haste, of admiring the set of her gown, and
envying the curl of her hair, they followed their chaperones, arm in
arm, into the ballroom, whispering to each other whenever a thought
occurred, and supplying the place of many ideas by a squeeze of the hand
or a smile of affection.

The dancing began within a few minutes after they were seated; and
James, who had been engaged quite as long as his sister, was very
importunate with Isabella to stand up; but John was gone into the
card-room to speak to a friend, and nothing, she declared, should induce
her to join the set before her dear Catherine could join it too. “I
assure you,” said she, “I would not stand up without your dear sister
for all the world; for if I did we should certainly be separated the
whole evening.” Catherine accepted this kindness with gratitude, and
they continued as they were for three minutes longer, when Isabella, who
had been talking to James on the other side of her, turned again to his
sister and whispered, “My dear creature, I am afraid I must leave you,
your brother is so amazingly impatient to begin; I know you will not
mind my going away, and I dare say John will be back in a moment,
and then you may easily find me out.” Catherine, though a little
disappointed, had too much good nature to make any opposition, and the
others rising up, Isabella had only time to press her friend’s hand and
say, “Good-bye, my dear love,” before they hurried off. The younger
Miss Thorpes being also dancing, Catherine was left to the mercy of Mrs.
Thorpe and Mrs. Allen, between whom she now remained. She could not help
being vexed at the non-appearance of Mr. Thorpe, for she not only longed
to be dancing, but was likewise aware that, as the real dignity of her
situation could not be known, she was sharing with the scores of other
young ladies still sitting down all the discredit of wanting a partner.
To be disgraced in the eye of the world, to wear the appearance of
infamy while her heart is all purity, her actions all innocence, and the
misconduct of another the true source of her debasement, is one of those
circumstances which peculiarly belong to the heroine’s life, and her
fortitude under it what particularly dignifies her character. Catherine
had fortitude too; she suffered, but no murmur passed her lips.

From this state of humiliation, she was roused, at the end of ten
minutes, to a pleasanter feeling, by seeing, not Mr. Thorpe, but Mr.
Tilney, within three yards of the place where they sat; he seemed to be
moving that way, but he did not see her, and therefore the smile and the
blush, which his sudden reappearance raised in Catherine, passed away
without sullying her heroic importance. He looked as handsome and as
lively as ever, and was talking with interest to a fashionable and
pleasing-looking young woman, who leant on his arm, and whom Catherine
immediately guessed to be his sister; thus unthinkingly throwing away
a fair opportunity of considering him lost to her forever, by being
married already. But guided only by what was simple and probable, it
had never entered her head that Mr. Tilney could be married; he had not
behaved, he had not talked, like the married men to whom she had been
used; he had never mentioned a wife, and he had acknowledged a sister.
From these circumstances sprang the instant conclusion of his sister’s
now being by his side; and therefore, instead of turning of a deathlike
paleness and falling in a fit on Mrs. Allen’s bosom, Catherine sat
erect, in the perfect use of her senses, and with cheeks only a little
redder than usual.

Mr. Tilney and his companion, who continued, though slowly, to approach,
were immediately preceded by a lady, an acquaintance of Mrs. Thorpe; and
this lady stopping to speak to her, they, as belonging to her, stopped
likewise, and Catherine, catching Mr. Tilney’s eye, instantly received
from him the smiling tribute of recognition. She returned it with
pleasure, and then advancing still nearer, he spoke both to her and Mrs.
Allen, by whom he was very civilly acknowledged. “I am very happy to see
you again, sir, indeed; I was afraid you had left Bath.” He thanked her
for her fears, and said that he had quitted it for a week, on the very
morning after his having had the pleasure of seeing her.

“Well, sir, and I dare say you are not sorry to be back again, for it
is just the place for young people--and indeed for everybody else too.
I tell Mr. Allen, when he talks of being sick of it, that I am sure he
should not complain, for it is so very agreeable a place, that it is
much better to be here than at home at this dull time of year. I tell
him he is quite in luck to be sent here for his health.”

“And I hope, madam, that Mr. Allen will be obliged to like the place,
from finding it of service to him.”

“Thank you, sir. I have no doubt that he will. A neighbour of ours,
Dr. Skinner, was here for his health last winter, and came away quite
stout.”

“That circumstance must give great encouragement.”

“Yes, sir--and Dr. Skinner and his family were here three months; so I
tell Mr. Allen he must not be in a hurry to get away.”

Here they were interrupted by a request from Mrs. Thorpe to Mrs. Allen,
that she would move a little to accommodate Mrs. Hughes and Miss Tilney
with seats, as they had agreed to join their party. This was accordingly
done, Mr. Tilney still continuing standing before them; and after a
few minutes’ consideration, he asked Catherine to dance with him. This
compliment, delightful as it was, produced severe mortification to the
lady; and in giving her denial, she expressed her sorrow on the occasion
so very much as if she really felt it that had Thorpe, who joined her
just afterwards, been half a minute earlier, he might have thought her
sufferings rather too acute. The very easy manner in which he then told
her that he had kept her waiting did not by any means reconcile her more
to her lot; nor did the particulars which he entered into while they
were standing up, of the horses and dogs of the friend whom he had just
left, and of a proposed exchange of terriers between them, interest her
so much as to prevent her looking very often towards that part of the
room where she had left Mr. Tilney. Of her dear Isabella, to whom she
particularly longed to point out that gentleman, she could see nothing.
They were in different sets. She was separated from all her party, and
away from all her acquaintance; one mortification succeeded another,
and from the whole she deduced this useful lesson, that to go previously
engaged to a ball does not necessarily increase either the dignity or
enjoyment of a young lady. From such a moralizing strain as this, she
was suddenly roused by a touch on the shoulder, and turning round,
perceived Mrs. Hughes directly behind her, attended by Miss Tilney and
a gentleman. “I beg your pardon, Miss Morland,” said she, “for this
liberty--but I cannot anyhow get to Miss Thorpe, and Mrs. Thorpe said
she was sure you would not have the least objection to letting in this
young lady by you.” Mrs. Hughes could not have applied to any creature
in the room more happy to oblige her than Catherine. The young ladies
were introduced to each other, Miss Tilney expressing a proper sense of
such goodness, Miss Morland with the real delicacy of a generous mind
making light of the obligation; and Mrs. Hughes, satisfied with having
so respectably settled her young charge, returned to her party.

Miss Tilney had a good figure, a pretty face, and a very agreeable
countenance; and her air, though it had not all the decided pretension,
the resolute stylishness of Miss Thorpe’s, had more real elegance. Her
manners showed good sense and good breeding; they were neither shy nor
affectedly open; and she seemed capable of being young, attractive, and
at a ball without wanting to fix the attention of every man near her,
and without exaggerated feelings of ecstatic delight or inconceivable
vexation on every little trifling occurrence. Catherine, interested at
once by her appearance and her relationship to Mr. Tilney, was desirous
of being acquainted with her, and readily talked therefore whenever she
could think of anything to say, and had courage and leisure for saying
it. But the hindrance thrown in the way of a very speedy intimacy, by
the frequent want of one or more of these requisites, prevented their
doing more than going through the first rudiments of an acquaintance, by
informing themselves how well the other liked Bath, how much she admired
its buildings and surrounding country, whether she drew, or played, or
sang, and whether she was fond of riding on horseback.

The two dances were scarcely concluded before Catherine found her arm
gently seized by her faithful Isabella, who in great spirits exclaimed,
“At last I have got you. My dearest creature, I have been looking for
you this hour. What could induce you to come into this set, when you
knew I was in the other? I have been quite wretched without you.”

“My dear Isabella, how was it possible for me to get at you? I could not
even see where you were.”

“So I told your brother all the time--but he would not believe me. Do go
and see for her, Mr. Morland, said I--but all in vain--he would not stir
an inch. Was not it so, Mr. Morland? But you men are all so immoderately
lazy! I have been scolding him to such a degree, my dear Catherine, you
would be quite amazed. You know I never stand upon ceremony with such
people.”

“Look at that young lady with the white beads round her head,” whispered
Catherine, detaching her friend from James. “It is Mr. Tilney’s sister.”

“Oh! Heavens! You don’t say so! Let me look at her this moment. What a
delightful girl! I never saw anything half so beautiful! But where is
her all-conquering brother? Is he in the room? Point him out to me this
instant, if he is. I die to see him. Mr. Morland, you are not to listen.
We are not talking about you.”

“But what is all this whispering about? What is going on?”

“There now, I knew how it would be. You men have such restless
curiosity! Talk of the curiosity of women, indeed! ‘Tis nothing. But be
satisfied, for you are not to know anything at all of the matter.”

“And is that likely to satisfy me, do you think?”

“Well, I declare I never knew anything like you. What can it signify to
you, what we are talking of. Perhaps we are talking about you; therefore
I would advise you not to listen, or you may happen to hear something
not very agreeable.”

In this commonplace chatter, which lasted some time, the original
subject seemed entirely forgotten; and though Catherine was very well
pleased to have it dropped for a while, she could not avoid a little
suspicion at the total suspension of all Isabella’s impatient desire to
see Mr. Tilney. When the orchestra struck up a fresh dance, James would
have led his fair partner away, but she resisted. “I tell you, Mr.
Morland,” she cried, “I would not do such a thing for all the world.
How can you be so teasing; only conceive, my dear Catherine, what your
brother wants me to do. He wants me to dance with him again, though
I tell him that it is a most improper thing, and entirely against the
rules. It would make us the talk of the place, if we were not to change
partners.”

“Upon my honour,” said James, “in these public assemblies, it is as
often done as not.”

“Nonsense, how can you say so? But when you men have a point to carry,
you never stick at anything. My sweet Catherine, do support me; persuade
your brother how impossible it is. Tell him that it would quite shock
you to see me do such a thing; now would not it?”

“No, not at all; but if you think it wrong, you had much better change.”

“There,” cried Isabella, “you hear what your sister says, and yet you
will not mind her. Well, remember that it is not my fault, if we set all
the old ladies in Bath in a bustle. Come along, my dearest Catherine,
for heaven’s sake, and stand by me.” And off they went, to regain
their former place. John Thorpe, in the meanwhile, had walked away; and
Catherine, ever willing to give Mr. Tilney an opportunity of repeating
the agreeable request which had already flattered her once, made her
way to Mrs. Allen and Mrs. Thorpe as fast as she could, in the hope
of finding him still with them--a hope which, when it proved to be
fruitless, she felt to have been highly unreasonable. “Well, my dear,”
 said Mrs. Thorpe, impatient for praise of her son, “I hope you have had
an agreeable partner.”

“Very agreeable, madam.”

“I am glad of it. John has charming spirits, has not he?”

“Did you meet Mr. Tilney, my dear?” said Mrs. Allen.

“No, where is he?”

“He was with us just now, and said he was so tired of lounging about,
that he was resolved to go and dance; so I thought perhaps he would ask
you, if he met with you.”

“Where can he be?” said Catherine, looking round; but she had not looked
round long before she saw him leading a young lady to the dance.

“Ah! He has got a partner; I wish he had asked you,” said Mrs. Allen;
and after a short silence, she added, “he is a very agreeable young
man.”

“Indeed he is, Mrs. Allen,” said Mrs. Thorpe, smiling complacently; “I
must say it, though I am his mother, that there is not a more agreeable
young man in the world.”

This inapplicable answer might have been too much for the comprehension
of many; but it did not puzzle Mrs. Allen, for after only a moment’s
consideration, she said, in a whisper to Catherine, “I dare say she
thought I was speaking of her son.”

Catherine was disappointed and vexed. She seemed to have missed by so
little the very object she had had in view; and this persuasion did not
incline her to a very gracious reply, when John Thorpe came up to her
soon afterwards and said, “Well, Miss Morland, I suppose you and I are
to stand up and jig it together again.”

“Oh, no; I am much obliged to you, our two dances are over; and,
besides, I am tired, and do not mean to dance any more.”

“Do not you? Then let us walk about and quiz people. Come along with
me, and I will show you the four greatest quizzers in the room; my two
younger sisters and their partners. I have been laughing at them this
half hour.”

Again Catherine excused herself; and at last he walked off to quiz his
sisters by himself. The rest of the evening she found very dull; Mr.
Tilney was drawn away from their party at tea, to attend that of his
partner; Miss Tilney, though belonging to it, did not sit near her, and
James and Isabella were so much engaged in conversing together that the
latter had no leisure to bestow more on her friend than one smile, one
squeeze, and one “dearest Catherine.”



CHAPTER 9


The progress of Catherine’s unhappiness from the events of the evening
was as follows. It appeared first in a general dissatisfaction with
everybody about her, while she remained in the rooms, which speedily
brought on considerable weariness and a violent desire to go home. This,
on arriving in Pulteney Street, took the direction of extraordinary
hunger, and when that was appeased, changed into an earnest longing to
be in bed; such was the extreme point of her distress; for when there
she immediately fell into a sound sleep which lasted nine hours, and
from which she awoke perfectly revived, in excellent spirits, with fresh
hopes and fresh schemes. The first wish of her heart was to improve her
acquaintance with Miss Tilney, and almost her first resolution, to seek
her for that purpose, in the pump-room at noon. In the pump-room, one
so newly arrived in Bath must be met with, and that building she had
already found so favourable for the discovery of female excellence,
and the completion of female intimacy, so admirably adapted for secret
discourses and unlimited confidence, that she was most reasonably
encouraged to expect another friend from within its walls. Her plan
for the morning thus settled, she sat quietly down to her book after
breakfast, resolving to remain in the same place and the same employment
till the clock struck one; and from habitude very little incommoded by
the remarks and ejaculations of Mrs. Allen, whose vacancy of mind and
incapacity for thinking were such, that as she never talked a great
deal, so she could never be entirely silent; and, therefore, while she
sat at her work, if she lost her needle or broke her thread, if she
heard a carriage in the street, or saw a speck upon her gown, she must
observe it aloud, whether there were anyone at leisure to answer her or
not. At about half past twelve, a remarkably loud rap drew her in haste
to the window, and scarcely had she time to inform Catherine of there
being two open carriages at the door, in the first only a servant,
her brother driving Miss Thorpe in the second, before John Thorpe came
running upstairs, calling out, “Well, Miss Morland, here I am. Have
you been waiting long? We could not come before; the old devil of a
coachmaker was such an eternity finding out a thing fit to be got into,
and now it is ten thousand to one but they break down before we are out
of the street. How do you do, Mrs. Allen? A famous ball last night, was
not it? Come, Miss Morland, be quick, for the others are in a confounded
hurry to be off. They want to get their tumble over.”

“What do you mean?” said Catherine. “Where are you all going to?”

“Going to? Why, you have not forgot our engagement! Did not we agree
together to take a drive this morning? What a head you have! We are
going up Claverton Down.”

“Something was said about it, I remember,” said Catherine, looking at
Mrs. Allen for her opinion; “but really I did not expect you.”

“Not expect me! That’s a good one! And what a dust you would have made,
if I had not come.”

Catherine’s silent appeal to her friend, meanwhile, was entirely thrown
away, for Mrs. Allen, not being at all in the habit of conveying any
expression herself by a look, was not aware of its being ever intended
by anybody else; and Catherine, whose desire of seeing Miss Tilney again
could at that moment bear a short delay in favour of a drive, and who
thought there could be no impropriety in her going with Mr. Thorpe, as
Isabella was going at the same time with James, was therefore obliged to
speak plainer. “Well, ma’am, what do you say to it? Can you spare me for
an hour or two? Shall I go?”

“Do just as you please, my dear,” replied Mrs. Allen, with the most
placid indifference. Catherine took the advice, and ran off to get
ready. In a very few minutes she reappeared, having scarcely allowed
the two others time enough to get through a few short sentences in her
praise, after Thorpe had procured Mrs. Allen’s admiration of his gig;
and then receiving her friend’s parting good wishes, they both hurried
downstairs. “My dearest creature,” cried Isabella, to whom the duty
of friendship immediately called her before she could get into the
carriage, “you have been at least three hours getting ready. I was
afraid you were ill. What a delightful ball we had last night. I have a
thousand things to say to you; but make haste and get in, for I long to
be off.”

Catherine followed her orders and turned away, but not too soon to hear
her friend exclaim aloud to James, “What a sweet girl she is! I quite
dote on her.”

“You will not be frightened, Miss Morland,” said Thorpe, as he handed
her in, “if my horse should dance about a little at first setting off.
He will, most likely, give a plunge or two, and perhaps take the rest
for a minute; but he will soon know his master. He is full of spirits,
playful as can be, but there is no vice in him.”

Catherine did not think the portrait a very inviting one, but it was too
late to retreat, and she was too young to own herself frightened; so,
resigning herself to her fate, and trusting to the animal’s boasted
knowledge of its owner, she sat peaceably down, and saw Thorpe sit down
by her. Everything being then arranged, the servant who stood at the
horse’s head was bid in an important voice “to let him go,” and off they
went in the quietest manner imaginable, without a plunge or a caper, or
anything like one. Catherine, delighted at so happy an escape, spoke
her pleasure aloud with grateful surprise; and her companion immediately
made the matter perfectly simple by assuring her that it was entirely
owing to the peculiarly judicious manner in which he had then held the
reins, and the singular discernment and dexterity with which he had
directed his whip. Catherine, though she could not help wondering that
with such perfect command of his horse, he should think it necessary to
alarm her with a relation of its tricks, congratulated herself sincerely
on being under the care of so excellent a coachman; and perceiving that
the animal continued to go on in the same quiet manner, without
showing the smallest propensity towards any unpleasant vivacity, and
(considering its inevitable pace was ten miles an hour) by no means
alarmingly fast, gave herself up to all the enjoyment of air and
exercise of the most invigorating kind, in a fine mild day of February,
with the consciousness of safety. A silence of several minutes succeeded
their first short dialogue; it was broken by Thorpe’s saying very
abruptly, “Old Allen is as rich as a Jew--is not he?” Catherine did not
understand him--and he repeated his question, adding in explanation,
“Old Allen, the man you are with.”

“Oh! Mr. Allen, you mean. Yes, I believe, he is very rich.”

“And no children at all?”

“No--not any.”

“A famous thing for his next heirs. He is your godfather, is not he?”

“My godfather! No.”

“But you are always very much with them.”

“Yes, very much.”

“Aye, that is what I meant. He seems a good kind of old fellow enough,
and has lived very well in his time, I dare say; he is not gouty for
nothing. Does he drink his bottle a day now?”

“His bottle a day! No. Why should you think of such a thing? He is a
very temperate man, and you could not fancy him in liquor last night?”

“Lord help you! You women are always thinking of men’s being in liquor.
Why, you do not suppose a man is overset by a bottle? I am sure of
this--that if everybody was to drink their bottle a day, there would not
be half the disorders in the world there are now. It would be a famous
good thing for us all.”

“I cannot believe it.”

“Oh! Lord, it would be the saving of thousands. There is not the
hundredth part of the wine consumed in this kingdom that there ought to
be. Our foggy climate wants help.”

“And yet I have heard that there is a great deal of wine drunk in
Oxford.”

“Oxford! There is no drinking at Oxford now, I assure you. Nobody drinks
there. You would hardly meet with a man who goes beyond his four pints
at the utmost. Now, for instance, it was reckoned a remarkable thing, at
the last party in my rooms, that upon an average we cleared about five
pints a head. It was looked upon as something out of the common way.
Mine is famous good stuff, to be sure. You would not often meet with
anything like it in Oxford--and that may account for it. But this will
just give you a notion of the general rate of drinking there.”

“Yes, it does give a notion,” said Catherine warmly, “and that is, that
you all drink a great deal more wine than I thought you did. However, I
am sure James does not drink so much.”

This declaration brought on a loud and overpowering reply, of which
no part was very distinct, except the frequent exclamations, amounting
almost to oaths, which adorned it, and Catherine was left, when it
ended, with rather a strengthened belief of there being a great deal
of wine drunk in Oxford, and the same happy conviction of her brother’s
comparative sobriety.

Thorpe’s ideas then all reverted to the merits of his own equipage, and
she was called on to admire the spirit and freedom with which his horse
moved along, and the ease which his paces, as well as the excellence of
the springs, gave the motion of the carriage. She followed him in all
his admiration as well as she could. To go before or beyond him was
impossible. His knowledge and her ignorance of the subject, his rapidity
of expression, and her diffidence of herself put that out of her power;
she could strike out nothing new in commendation, but she readily echoed
whatever he chose to assert, and it was finally settled between them
without any difficulty that his equipage was altogether the most
complete of its kind in England, his carriage the neatest, his horse the
best goer, and himself the best coachman. “You do not really think,
Mr. Thorpe,” said Catherine, venturing after some time to consider the
matter as entirely decided, and to offer some little variation on the
subject, “that James’s gig will break down?”

“Break down! Oh! Lord! Did you ever see such a little tittuppy thing in
your life? There is not a sound piece of iron about it. The wheels have
been fairly worn out these ten years at least--and as for the body! Upon
my soul, you might shake it to pieces yourself with a touch. It is the
most devilish little rickety business I ever beheld! Thank God! we
have got a better. I would not be bound to go two miles in it for fifty
thousand pounds.”

“Good heavens!” cried Catherine, quite frightened. “Then pray let us
turn back; they will certainly meet with an accident if we go on. Do let
us turn back, Mr. Thorpe; stop and speak to my brother, and tell him how
very unsafe it is.”

“Unsafe! Oh, lord! What is there in that? They will only get a roll if
it does break down; and there is plenty of dirt; it will be excellent
falling. Oh, curse it! The carriage is safe enough, if a man knows how
to drive it; a thing of that sort in good hands will last above twenty
years after it is fairly worn out. Lord bless you! I would undertake for
five pounds to drive it to York and back again, without losing a nail.”

Catherine listened with astonishment; she knew not how to reconcile two
such very different accounts of the same thing; for she had not been
brought up to understand the propensities of a rattle, nor to know to
how many idle assertions and impudent falsehoods the excess of vanity
will lead. Her own family were plain, matter-of-fact people who seldom
aimed at wit of any kind; her father, at the utmost, being contented
with a pun, and her mother with a proverb; they were not in the habit
therefore of telling lies to increase their importance, or of asserting
at one moment what they would contradict the next. She reflected on the
affair for some time in much perplexity, and was more than once on the
point of requesting from Mr. Thorpe a clearer insight into his real
opinion on the subject; but she checked herself, because it appeared to
her that he did not excel in giving those clearer insights, in making
those things plain which he had before made ambiguous; and, joining to
this, the consideration that he would not really suffer his sister and
his friend to be exposed to a danger from which he might easily preserve
them, she concluded at last that he must know the carriage to be in fact
perfectly safe, and therefore would alarm herself no longer. By him
the whole matter seemed entirely forgotten; and all the rest of his
conversation, or rather talk, began and ended with himself and his own
concerns. He told her of horses which he had bought for a trifle and
sold for incredible sums; of racing matches, in which his judgment had
infallibly foretold the winner; of shooting parties, in which he had
killed more birds (though without having one good shot) than all his
companions together; and described to her some famous day’s sport, with
the fox-hounds, in which his foresight and skill in directing the dogs
had repaired the mistakes of the most experienced huntsman, and in which
the boldness of his riding, though it had never endangered his own life
for a moment, had been constantly leading others into difficulties,
which he calmly concluded had broken the necks of many.

Little as Catherine was in the habit of judging for herself, and unfixed
as were her general notions of what men ought to be, she could not
entirely repress a doubt, while she bore with the effusions of his
endless conceit, of his being altogether completely agreeable. It was a
bold surmise, for he was Isabella’s brother; and she had been assured by
James that his manners would recommend him to all her sex; but in spite
of this, the extreme weariness of his company, which crept over her
before they had been out an hour, and which continued unceasingly to
increase till they stopped in Pulteney Street again, induced her, in
some small degree, to resist such high authority, and to distrust his
powers of giving universal pleasure.

When they arrived at Mrs. Allen’s door, the astonishment of Isabella was
hardly to be expressed, on finding that it was too late in the day for
them to attend her friend into the house: “Past three o’clock!” It was
inconceivable, incredible, impossible! And she would neither believe her
own watch, nor her brother’s, nor the servant’s; she would believe no
assurance of it founded on reason or reality, till Morland produced his
watch, and ascertained the fact; to have doubted a moment longer then
would have been equally inconceivable, incredible, and impossible; and
she could only protest, over and over again, that no two hours and a
half had ever gone off so swiftly before, as Catherine was called on to
confirm; Catherine could not tell a falsehood even to please Isabella;
but the latter was spared the misery of her friend’s dissenting voice,
by not waiting for her answer. Her own feelings entirely engrossed
her; her wretchedness was most acute on finding herself obliged to go
directly home. It was ages since she had had a moment’s conversation
with her dearest Catherine; and, though she had such thousands of things
to say to her, it appeared as if they were never to be together again;
so, with smiles of most exquisite misery, and the laughing eye of utter
despondency, she bade her friend adieu and went on.

Catherine found Mrs. Allen just returned from all the busy idleness of
the morning, and was immediately greeted with, “Well, my dear, here
you are,” a truth which she had no greater inclination than power to
dispute; “and I hope you have had a pleasant airing?”

“Yes, ma’am, I thank you; we could not have had a nicer day.”

“So Mrs. Thorpe said; she was vastly pleased at your all going.”

“You have seen Mrs. Thorpe, then?”

“Yes, I went to the pump-room as soon as you were gone, and there I met
her, and we had a great deal of talk together. She says there was hardly
any veal to be got at market this morning, it is so uncommonly scarce.”

“Did you see anybody else of our acquaintance?”

“Yes; we agreed to take a turn in the Crescent, and there we met Mrs.
Hughes, and Mr. and Miss Tilney walking with her.”

“Did you indeed? And did they speak to you?”

“Yes, we walked along the Crescent together for half an hour. They seem
very agreeable people. Miss Tilney was in a very pretty spotted
muslin, and I fancy, by what I can learn, that she always dresses very
handsomely. Mrs. Hughes talked to me a great deal about the family.”

“And what did she tell you of them?”

“Oh! A vast deal indeed; she hardly talked of anything else.”

“Did she tell you what part of Gloucestershire they come from?”

“Yes, she did; but I cannot recollect now. But they are very good kind
of people, and very rich. Mrs. Tilney was a Miss Drummond, and she
and Mrs. Hughes were schoolfellows; and Miss Drummond had a very large
fortune; and, when she married, her father gave her twenty thousand
pounds, and five hundred to buy wedding-clothes. Mrs. Hughes saw all the
clothes after they came from the warehouse.”

“And are Mr. and Mrs. Tilney in Bath?”

“Yes, I fancy they are, but I am not quite certain. Upon recollection,
however, I have a notion they are both dead; at least the mother is;
yes, I am sure Mrs. Tilney is dead, because Mrs. Hughes told me there
was a very beautiful set of pearls that Mr. Drummond gave his daughter
on her wedding-day and that Miss Tilney has got now, for they were put
by for her when her mother died.”

“And is Mr. Tilney, my partner, the only son?”

“I cannot be quite positive about that, my dear; I have some idea he is;
but, however, he is a very fine young man, Mrs. Hughes says, and likely
to do very well.”

Catherine inquired no further; she had heard enough to feel that
Mrs. Allen had no real intelligence to give, and that she was most
particularly unfortunate herself in having missed such a meeting with
both brother and sister. Could she have foreseen such a circumstance,
nothing should have persuaded her to go out with the others; and, as
it was, she could only lament her ill luck, and think over what she had
lost, till it was clear to her that the drive had by no means been very
pleasant and that John Thorpe himself was quite disagreeable.



CHAPTER 10


The Allens, Thorpes, and Morlands all met in the evening at the
theatre; and, as Catherine and Isabella sat together, there was then an
opportunity for the latter to utter some few of the many thousand
things which had been collecting within her for communication in the
immeasurable length of time which had divided them. “Oh, heavens!
My beloved Catherine, have I got you at last?” was her address on
Catherine’s entering the box and sitting by her. “Now, Mr. Morland,” for
he was close to her on the other side, “I shall not speak another word
to you all the rest of the evening; so I charge you not to expect it. My
sweetest Catherine, how have you been this long age? But I need not ask
you, for you look delightfully. You really have done your hair in a
more heavenly style than ever; you mischievous creature, do you want to
attract everybody? I assure you, my brother is quite in love with you
already; and as for Mr. Tilney--but that is a settled thing--even your
modesty cannot doubt his attachment now; his coming back to Bath makes
it too plain. Oh! What would not I give to see him! I really am quite
wild with impatience. My mother says he is the most delightful young man
in the world; she saw him this morning, you know; you must introduce him
to me. Is he in the house now? Look about, for heaven’s sake! I assure
you, I can hardly exist till I see him.”

“No,” said Catherine, “he is not here; I cannot see him anywhere.”

“Oh, horrid! Am I never to be acquainted with him? How do you like my
gown? I think it does not look amiss; the sleeves were entirely my own
thought. Do you know, I get so immoderately sick of Bath; your brother
and I were agreeing this morning that, though it is vastly well to be
here for a few weeks, we would not live here for millions. We soon found
out that our tastes were exactly alike in preferring the country to
every other place; really, our opinions were so exactly the same, it was
quite ridiculous! There was not a single point in which we differed; I
would not have had you by for the world; you are such a sly thing, I am
sure you would have made some droll remark or other about it.”

“No, indeed I should not.”

“Oh, yes you would indeed; I know you better than you know yourself. You
would have told us that we seemed born for each other, or some nonsense
of that kind, which would have distressed me beyond conception; my
cheeks would have been as red as your roses; I would not have had you by
for the world.”

“Indeed you do me injustice; I would not have made so improper a remark
upon any account; and besides, I am sure it would never have entered my
head.”

Isabella smiled incredulously and talked the rest of the evening to
James.

Catherine’s resolution of endeavouring to meet Miss Tilney again
continued in full force the next morning; and till the usual moment of
going to the pump-room, she felt some alarm from the dread of a second
prevention. But nothing of that kind occurred, no visitors appeared to
delay them, and they all three set off in good time for the pump-room,
where the ordinary course of events and conversation took place; Mr.
Allen, after drinking his glass of water, joined some gentlemen to
talk over the politics of the day and compare the accounts of their
newspapers; and the ladies walked about together, noticing every new
face, and almost every new bonnet in the room. The female part of the
Thorpe family, attended by James Morland, appeared among the crowd in
less than a quarter of an hour, and Catherine immediately took her
usual place by the side of her friend. James, who was now in constant
attendance, maintained a similar position, and separating themselves
from the rest of their party, they walked in that manner for some
time, till Catherine began to doubt the happiness of a situation which,
confining her entirely to her friend and brother, gave her very
little share in the notice of either. They were always engaged in
some sentimental discussion or lively dispute, but their sentiment was
conveyed in such whispering voices, and their vivacity attended with
so much laughter, that though Catherine’s supporting opinion was not
unfrequently called for by one or the other, she was never able to give
any, from not having heard a word of the subject. At length however
she was empowered to disengage herself from her friend, by the avowed
necessity of speaking to Miss Tilney, whom she most joyfully saw just
entering the room with Mrs. Hughes, and whom she instantly joined, with
a firmer determination to be acquainted, than she might have had courage
to command, had she not been urged by the disappointment of the day
before. Miss Tilney met her with great civility, returned her advances
with equal goodwill, and they continued talking together as long as
both parties remained in the room; and though in all probability not
an observation was made, nor an expression used by either which had not
been made and used some thousands of times before, under that roof, in
every Bath season, yet the merit of their being spoken with simplicity
and truth, and without personal conceit, might be something uncommon.

“How well your brother dances!” was an artless exclamation of
Catherine’s towards the close of their conversation, which at once
surprised and amused her companion.

“Henry!” she replied with a smile. “Yes, he does dance very well.”

“He must have thought it very odd to hear me say I was engaged the other
evening, when he saw me sitting down. But I really had been engaged
the whole day to Mr. Thorpe.” Miss Tilney could only bow. “You cannot
think,” added Catherine after a moment’s silence, “how surprised I was
to see him again. I felt so sure of his being quite gone away.”

“When Henry had the pleasure of seeing you before, he was in Bath but
for a couple of days. He came only to engage lodgings for us.”

“That never occurred to me; and of course, not seeing him anywhere, I
thought he must be gone. Was not the young lady he danced with on Monday
a Miss Smith?”

“Yes, an acquaintance of Mrs. Hughes.”

“I dare say she was very glad to dance. Do you think her pretty?”

“Not very.”

“He never comes to the pump-room, I suppose?”

“Yes, sometimes; but he has rid out this morning with my father.”

Mrs. Hughes now joined them, and asked Miss Tilney if she was ready to
go. “I hope I shall have the pleasure of seeing you again soon,” said
Catherine. “Shall you be at the cotillion ball tomorrow?”

“Perhaps we--Yes, I think we certainly shall.”

“I am glad of it, for we shall all be there.” This civility was duly
returned; and they parted--on Miss Tilney’s side with some knowledge
of her new acquaintance’s feelings, and on Catherine’s, without the
smallest consciousness of having explained them.

She went home very happy. The morning had answered all her hopes, and
the evening of the following day was now the object of expectation,
the future good. What gown and what head-dress she should wear on the
occasion became her chief concern. She cannot be justified in it. Dress
is at all times a frivolous distinction, and excessive solicitude about
it often destroys its own aim. Catherine knew all this very well; her
great aunt had read her a lecture on the subject only the Christmas
before; and yet she lay awake ten minutes on Wednesday night debating
between her spotted and her tamboured muslin, and nothing but the
shortness of the time prevented her buying a new one for the evening.
This would have been an error in judgment, great though not uncommon,
from which one of the other sex rather than her own, a brother rather
than a great aunt, might have warned her, for man only can be aware of
the insensibility of man towards a new gown. It would be mortifying to
the feelings of many ladies, could they be made to understand how little
the heart of man is affected by what is costly or new in their attire;
how little it is biased by the texture of their muslin, and how
unsusceptible of peculiar tenderness towards the spotted, the sprigged,
the mull, or the jackonet. Woman is fine for her own satisfaction alone.
No man will admire her the more, no woman will like her the better for
it. Neatness and fashion are enough for the former, and a something of
shabbiness or impropriety will be most endearing to the latter. But not
one of these grave reflections troubled the tranquillity of Catherine.

She entered the rooms on Thursday evening with feelings very different
from what had attended her thither the Monday before. She had then been
exulting in her engagement to Thorpe, and was now chiefly anxious to
avoid his sight, lest he should engage her again; for though she could
not, dared not expect that Mr. Tilney should ask her a third time to
dance, her wishes, hopes, and plans all centred in nothing less. Every
young lady may feel for my heroine in this critical moment, for every
young lady has at some time or other known the same agitation. All have
been, or at least all have believed themselves to be, in danger from the
pursuit of someone whom they wished to avoid; and all have been anxious
for the attentions of someone whom they wished to please. As soon as
they were joined by the Thorpes, Catherine’s agony began; she fidgeted
about if John Thorpe came towards her, hid herself as much as possible
from his view, and when he spoke to her pretended not to hear him. The
cotillions were over, the country-dancing beginning, and she saw nothing
of the Tilneys.

“Do not be frightened, my dear Catherine,” whispered Isabella, “but I am
really going to dance with your brother again. I declare positively it
is quite shocking. I tell him he ought to be ashamed of himself, but you
and John must keep us in countenance. Make haste, my dear creature, and
come to us. John is just walked off, but he will be back in a moment.”

Catherine had neither time nor inclination to answer. The others walked
away, John Thorpe was still in view, and she gave herself up for lost.
That she might not appear, however, to observe or expect him, she kept
her eyes intently fixed on her fan; and a self-condemnation for her
folly, in supposing that among such a crowd they should even meet with
the Tilneys in any reasonable time, had just passed through her mind,
when she suddenly found herself addressed and again solicited to dance,
by Mr. Tilney himself. With what sparkling eyes and ready motion she
granted his request, and with how pleasing a flutter of heart she went
with him to the set, may be easily imagined. To escape, and, as
she believed, so narrowly escape John Thorpe, and to be asked, so
immediately on his joining her, asked by Mr. Tilney, as if he had sought
her on purpose!--it did not appear to her that life could supply any
greater felicity.

Scarcely had they worked themselves into the quiet possession of a
place, however, when her attention was claimed by John Thorpe, who stood
behind her. “Heyday, Miss Morland!” said he. “What is the meaning of
this? I thought you and I were to dance together.”

“I wonder you should think so, for you never asked me.”

“That is a good one, by Jove! I asked you as soon as I came into the
room, and I was just going to ask you again, but when I turned round,
you were gone! This is a cursed shabby trick! I only came for the sake
of dancing with you, and I firmly believe you were engaged to me ever
since Monday. Yes; I remember, I asked you while you were waiting in the
lobby for your cloak. And here have I been telling all my acquaintance
that I was going to dance with the prettiest girl in the room; and
when they see you standing up with somebody else, they will quiz me
famously.”

“Oh, no; they will never think of me, after such a description as that.”

“By heavens, if they do not, I will kick them out of the room for
blockheads. What chap have you there?” Catherine satisfied his
curiosity. “Tilney,” he repeated. “Hum--I do not know him. A good figure
of a man; well put together. Does he want a horse? Here is a friend
of mine, Sam Fletcher, has got one to sell that would suit anybody. A
famous clever animal for the road--only forty guineas. I had fifty minds
to buy it myself, for it is one of my maxims always to buy a good horse
when I meet with one; but it would not answer my purpose, it would not
do for the field. I would give any money for a real good hunter. I
have three now, the best that ever were backed. I would not take
eight hundred guineas for them. Fletcher and I mean to get a house in
Leicestershire, against the next season. It is so d--uncomfortable,
living at an inn.”

This was the last sentence by which he could weary Catherine’s
attention, for he was just then borne off by the resistless pressure of
a long string of passing ladies. Her partner now drew near, and said,
“That gentleman would have put me out of patience, had he stayed with
you half a minute longer. He has no business to withdraw the attention
of my partner from me. We have entered into a contract of mutual
agreeableness for the space of an evening, and all our agreeableness
belongs solely to each other for that time. Nobody can fasten themselves
on the notice of one, without injuring the rights of the other.
I consider a country-dance as an emblem of marriage. Fidelity and
complaisance are the principal duties of both; and those men who do not
choose to dance or marry themselves, have no business with the partners
or wives of their neighbours.”

“But they are such very different things!”

“--That you think they cannot be compared together.”

“To be sure not. People that marry can never part, but must go and keep
house together. People that dance only stand opposite each other in a
long room for half an hour.”

“And such is your definition of matrimony and dancing. Taken in that
light certainly, their resemblance is not striking; but I think I could
place them in such a view. You will allow, that in both, man has the
advantage of choice, woman only the power of refusal; that in both,
it is an engagement between man and woman, formed for the advantage of
each; and that when once entered into, they belong exclusively to each
other till the moment of its dissolution; that it is their duty, each
to endeavour to give the other no cause for wishing that he or she had
bestowed themselves elsewhere, and their best interest to keep their own
imaginations from wandering towards the perfections of their neighbours,
or fancying that they should have been better off with anyone else. You
will allow all this?”

“Yes, to be sure, as you state it, all this sounds very well; but still
they are so very different. I cannot look upon them at all in the same
light, nor think the same duties belong to them.”

“In one respect, there certainly is a difference. In marriage, the man
is supposed to provide for the support of the woman, the woman to make
the home agreeable to the man; he is to purvey, and she is to smile.
But in dancing, their duties are exactly changed; the agreeableness, the
compliance are expected from him, while she furnishes the fan and the
lavender water. That, I suppose, was the difference of duties which
struck you, as rendering the conditions incapable of comparison.”

“No, indeed, I never thought of that.”

“Then I am quite at a loss. One thing, however, I must observe. This
disposition on your side is rather alarming. You totally disallow any
similarity in the obligations; and may I not thence infer that your
notions of the duties of the dancing state are not so strict as your
partner might wish? Have I not reason to fear that if the gentleman who
spoke to you just now were to return, or if any other gentleman were to
address you, there would be nothing to restrain you from conversing with
him as long as you chose?”

“Mr. Thorpe is such a very particular friend of my brother’s, that if he
talks to me, I must talk to him again; but there are hardly three young
men in the room besides him that I have any acquaintance with.”

“And is that to be my only security? Alas, alas!”

“Nay, I am sure you cannot have a better; for if I do not know anybody,
it is impossible for me to talk to them; and, besides, I do not want to
talk to anybody.”

“Now you have given me a security worth having; and I shall proceed
with courage. Do you find Bath as agreeable as when I had the honour of
making the inquiry before?”

“Yes, quite--more so, indeed.”

“More so! Take care, or you will forget to be tired of it at the proper
time. You ought to be tired at the end of six weeks.”

“I do not think I should be tired, if I were to stay here six months.”

“Bath, compared with London, has little variety, and so everybody finds
out every year. ‘For six weeks, I allow Bath is pleasant enough; but
beyond that, it is the most tiresome place in the world.’ You would be
told so by people of all descriptions, who come regularly every winter,
lengthen their six weeks into ten or twelve, and go away at last because
they can afford to stay no longer.”

“Well, other people must judge for themselves, and those who go to
London may think nothing of Bath. But I, who live in a small retired
village in the country, can never find greater sameness in such a place
as this than in my own home; for here are a variety of amusements, a
variety of things to be seen and done all day long, which I can know
nothing of there.”

“You are not fond of the country.”

“Yes, I am. I have always lived there, and always been very happy. But
certainly there is much more sameness in a country life than in a Bath
life. One day in the country is exactly like another.”

“But then you spend your time so much more rationally in the country.”

“Do I?”

“Do you not?”

“I do not believe there is much difference.”

“Here you are in pursuit only of amusement all day long.”

“And so I am at home--only I do not find so much of it. I walk about
here, and so I do there; but here I see a variety of people in every
street, and there I can only go and call on Mrs. Allen.”

Mr. Tilney was very much amused.

“Only go and call on Mrs. Allen!” he repeated. “What a picture of
intellectual poverty! However, when you sink into this abyss again, you
will have more to say. You will be able to talk of Bath, and of all that
you did here.”

“Oh! Yes. I shall never be in want of something to talk of again to Mrs.
Allen, or anybody else. I really believe I shall always be talking of
Bath, when I am at home again--I do like it so very much. If I could but
have Papa and Mamma, and the rest of them here, I suppose I should be
too happy! James’s coming (my eldest brother) is quite delightful--and
especially as it turns out that the very family we are just got so
intimate with are his intimate friends already. Oh! Who can ever be
tired of Bath?”

“Not those who bring such fresh feelings of every sort to it as you do.
But papas and mammas, and brothers, and intimate friends are a good deal
gone by, to most of the frequenters of Bath--and the honest relish of
balls and plays, and everyday sights, is past with them.” Here
their conversation closed, the demands of the dance becoming now too
importunate for a divided attention.

Soon after their reaching the bottom of the set, Catherine perceived
herself to be earnestly regarded by a gentleman who stood among the
lookers-on, immediately behind her partner. He was a very handsome man,
of a commanding aspect, past the bloom, but not past the vigour of
life; and with his eye still directed towards her, she saw him presently
address Mr. Tilney in a familiar whisper. Confused by his notice, and
blushing from the fear of its being excited by something wrong in
her appearance, she turned away her head. But while she did so, the
gentleman retreated, and her partner, coming nearer, said, “I see that
you guess what I have just been asked. That gentleman knows your name,
and you have a right to know his. It is General Tilney, my father.”

Catherine’s answer was only “Oh!”--but it was an “Oh!” expressing
everything needful: attention to his words, and perfect reliance on
their truth. With real interest and strong admiration did her eye now
follow the general, as he moved through the crowd, and “How handsome a
family they are!” was her secret remark.

In chatting with Miss Tilney before the evening concluded, a new source
of felicity arose to her. She had never taken a country walk since
her arrival in Bath. Miss Tilney, to whom all the commonly frequented
environs were familiar, spoke of them in terms which made her all
eagerness to know them too; and on her openly fearing that she might
find nobody to go with her, it was proposed by the brother and sister
that they should join in a walk, some morning or other. “I shall like
it,” she cried, “beyond anything in the world; and do not let us put
it off--let us go tomorrow.” This was readily agreed to, with only a
proviso of Miss Tilney’s, that it did not rain, which Catherine was sure
it would not. At twelve o’clock, they were to call for her in Pulteney
Street; and “Remember--twelve o’clock,” was her parting speech to
her new friend. Of her other, her older, her more established friend,
Isabella, of whose fidelity and worth she had enjoyed a fortnight’s
experience, she scarcely saw anything during the evening. Yet, though
longing to make her acquainted with her happiness, she cheerfully
submitted to the wish of Mr. Allen, which took them rather early away,
and her spirits danced within her, as she danced in her chair all the
way home.



CHAPTER 11


The morrow brought a very sober-looking morning, the sun making only
a few efforts to appear, and Catherine augured from it everything most
favourable to her wishes. A bright morning so early in the year,
she allowed, would generally turn to rain, but a cloudy one foretold
improvement as the day advanced. She applied to Mr. Allen for
confirmation of her hopes, but Mr. Allen, not having his own skies and
barometer about him, declined giving any absolute promise of sunshine.
She applied to Mrs. Allen, and Mrs. Allen’s opinion was more positive.
“She had no doubt in the world of its being a very fine day, if the
clouds would only go off, and the sun keep out.”

At about eleven o’clock, however, a few specks of small rain upon the
windows caught Catherine’s watchful eye, and “Oh! dear, I do believe it
will be wet,” broke from her in a most desponding tone.

“I thought how it would be,” said Mrs. Allen.

“No walk for me today,” sighed Catherine; “but perhaps it may come to
nothing, or it may hold up before twelve.”

“Perhaps it may, but then, my dear, it will be so dirty.”

“Oh! That will not signify; I never mind dirt.”

“No,” replied her friend very placidly, “I know you never mind dirt.”

After a short pause, “It comes on faster and faster!” said Catherine, as
she stood watching at a window.

“So it does indeed. If it keeps raining, the streets will be very wet.”

“There are four umbrellas up already. How I hate the sight of an
umbrella!”

“They are disagreeable things to carry. I would much rather take a chair
at any time.”

“It was such a nice-looking morning! I felt so convinced it would be
dry!”

“Anybody would have thought so indeed. There will be very few people in
the pump-room, if it rains all the morning. I hope Mr. Allen will put
on his greatcoat when he goes, but I dare say he will not, for he had
rather do anything in the world than walk out in a greatcoat; I wonder
he should dislike it, it must be so comfortable.”

The rain continued--fast, though not heavy. Catherine went every five
minutes to the clock, threatening on each return that, if it still
kept on raining another five minutes, she would give up the matter as
hopeless. The clock struck twelve, and it still rained. “You will not be
able to go, my dear.”

“I do not quite despair yet. I shall not give it up till a quarter after
twelve. This is just the time of day for it to clear up, and I do think
it looks a little lighter. There, it is twenty minutes after twelve, and
now I shall give it up entirely. Oh! That we had such weather here
as they had at Udolpho, or at least in Tuscany and the south of
France!--the night that poor St. Aubin died!--such beautiful weather!”

At half past twelve, when Catherine’s anxious attention to the weather
was over and she could no longer claim any merit from its amendment, the
sky began voluntarily to clear. A gleam of sunshine took her quite by
surprise; she looked round; the clouds were parting, and she instantly
returned to the window to watch over and encourage the happy appearance.
Ten minutes more made it certain that a bright afternoon would succeed,
and justified the opinion of Mrs. Allen, who had “always thought it
would clear up.” But whether Catherine might still expect her friends,
whether there had not been too much rain for Miss Tilney to venture,
must yet be a question.

It was too dirty for Mrs. Allen to accompany her husband to the
pump-room; he accordingly set off by himself, and Catherine had barely
watched him down the street when her notice was claimed by the approach
of the same two open carriages, containing the same three people that
had surprised her so much a few mornings back.

“Isabella, my brother, and Mr. Thorpe, I declare! They are coming for
me perhaps--but I shall not go--I cannot go indeed, for you know Miss
Tilney may still call.” Mrs. Allen agreed to it. John Thorpe was soon
with them, and his voice was with them yet sooner, for on the stairs he
was calling out to Miss Morland to be quick. “Make haste! Make haste!”
 as he threw open the door. “Put on your hat this moment--there is no
time to be lost--we are going to Bristol. How d’ye do, Mrs. Allen?”

“To Bristol! Is not that a great way off? But, however, I cannot go with
you today, because I am engaged; I expect some friends every moment.”
 This was of course vehemently talked down as no reason at all; Mrs.
Allen was called on to second him, and the two others walked in, to give
their assistance. “My sweetest Catherine, is not this delightful? We
shall have a most heavenly drive. You are to thank your brother and me
for the scheme; it darted into our heads at breakfast-time, I verily
believe at the same instant; and we should have been off two hours ago
if it had not been for this detestable rain. But it does not signify,
the nights are moonlight, and we shall do delightfully. Oh! I am in such
ecstasies at the thoughts of a little country air and quiet! So much
better than going to the Lower Rooms. We shall drive directly to Clifton
and dine there; and, as soon as dinner is over, if there is time for it,
go on to Kingsweston.”

“I doubt our being able to do so much,” said Morland.

“You croaking fellow!” cried Thorpe. “We shall be able to do ten times
more. Kingsweston! Aye, and Blaize Castle too, and anything else we can
hear of; but here is your sister says she will not go.”

“Blaize Castle!” cried Catherine. “What is that?”

“The finest place in England--worth going fifty miles at any time to
see.”

“What, is it really a castle, an old castle?”

“The oldest in the kingdom.”

“But is it like what one reads of?”

“Exactly--the very same.”

“But now really--are there towers and long galleries?”

“By dozens.”

“Then I should like to see it; but I cannot--I cannot go.”

“Not go! My beloved creature, what do you mean?”

“I cannot go, because”--looking down as she spoke, fearful of Isabella’s
smile--“I expect Miss Tilney and her brother to call on me to take a
country walk. They promised to come at twelve, only it rained; but now,
as it is so fine, I dare say they will be here soon.”

“Not they indeed,” cried Thorpe; “for, as we turned into Broad Street, I
saw them--does he not drive a phaeton with bright chestnuts?”

“I do not know indeed.”

“Yes, I know he does; I saw him. You are talking of the man you danced
with last night, are not you?”

“Yes.”

“Well, I saw him at that moment turn up the Lansdown Road, driving a
smart-looking girl.”

“Did you indeed?”

“Did upon my soul; knew him again directly, and he seemed to have got
some very pretty cattle too.”

“It is very odd! But I suppose they thought it would be too dirty for a
walk.”

“And well they might, for I never saw so much dirt in my life. Walk!
You could no more walk than you could fly! It has not been so dirty the
whole winter; it is ankle-deep everywhere.”

Isabella corroborated it: “My dearest Catherine, you cannot form an idea
of the dirt; come, you must go; you cannot refuse going now.”

“I should like to see the castle; but may we go all over it? May we go
up every staircase, and into every suite of rooms?”

“Yes, yes, every hole and corner.”

“But then, if they should only be gone out for an hour till it is dryer,
and call by and by?”

“Make yourself easy, there is no danger of that, for I heard Tilney
hallooing to a man who was just passing by on horseback, that they were
going as far as Wick Rocks.”

“Then I will. Shall I go, Mrs. Allen?”

“Just as you please, my dear.”

“Mrs. Allen, you must persuade her to go,” was the general cry. Mrs.
Allen was not inattentive to it: “Well, my dear,” said she, “suppose you
go.” And in two minutes they were off.

Catherine’s feelings, as she got into the carriage, were in a very
unsettled state; divided between regret for the loss of one great
pleasure, and the hope of soon enjoying another, almost its equal in
degree, however unlike in kind. She could not think the Tilneys had
acted quite well by her, in so readily giving up their engagement,
without sending her any message of excuse. It was now but an hour later
than the time fixed on for the beginning of their walk; and, in spite of
what she had heard of the prodigious accumulation of dirt in the course
of that hour, she could not from her own observation help thinking that
they might have gone with very little inconvenience. To feel herself
slighted by them was very painful. On the other hand, the delight of
exploring an edifice like Udolpho, as her fancy represented Blaize
Castle to be, was such a counterpoise of good as might console her for
almost anything.

They passed briskly down Pulteney Street, and through Laura Place,
without the exchange of many words. Thorpe talked to his horse, and she
meditated, by turns, on broken promises and broken arches, phaetons
and false hangings, Tilneys and trap-doors. As they entered Argyle
Buildings, however, she was roused by this address from her companion,
“Who is that girl who looked at you so hard as she went by?”

“Who? Where?”

“On the right-hand pavement--she must be almost out of sight now.”
 Catherine looked round and saw Miss Tilney leaning on her brother’s arm,
walking slowly down the street. She saw them both looking back at her.
“Stop, stop, Mr. Thorpe,” she impatiently cried; “it is Miss Tilney; it
is indeed. How could you tell me they were gone? Stop, stop, I will
get out this moment and go to them.” But to what purpose did she speak?
Thorpe only lashed his horse into a brisker trot; the Tilneys, who had
soon ceased to look after her, were in a moment out of sight round the
corner of Laura Place, and in another moment she was herself whisked
into the marketplace. Still, however, and during the length of another
street, she entreated him to stop. “Pray, pray stop, Mr. Thorpe. I
cannot go on. I will not go on. I must go back to Miss Tilney.” But Mr.
Thorpe only laughed, smacked his whip, encouraged his horse, made odd
noises, and drove on; and Catherine, angry and vexed as she was, having
no power of getting away, was obliged to give up the point and submit.
Her reproaches, however, were not spared. “How could you deceive me so,
Mr. Thorpe? How could you say that you saw them driving up the Lansdown
Road? I would not have had it happen so for the world. They must think
it so strange, so rude of me! To go by them, too, without saying a word!
You do not know how vexed I am; I shall have no pleasure at Clifton, nor
in anything else. I had rather, ten thousand times rather, get out now,
and walk back to them. How could you say you saw them driving out in a
phaeton?” Thorpe defended himself very stoutly, declared he had never
seen two men so much alike in his life, and would hardly give up the
point of its having been Tilney himself.

Their drive, even when this subject was over, was not likely to be very
agreeable. Catherine’s complaisance was no longer what it had been in
their former airing. She listened reluctantly, and her replies were
short. Blaize Castle remained her only comfort; towards that, she still
looked at intervals with pleasure; though rather than be disappointed of
the promised walk, and especially rather than be thought ill of by the
Tilneys, she would willingly have given up all the happiness which its
walls could supply--the happiness of a progress through a long suite of
lofty rooms, exhibiting the remains of magnificent furniture, though
now for many years deserted--the happiness of being stopped in their way
along narrow, winding vaults, by a low, grated door; or even of having
their lamp, their only lamp, extinguished by a sudden gust of wind, and
of being left in total darkness. In the meanwhile, they proceeded on
their journey without any mischance, and were within view of the town
of Keynsham, when a halloo from Morland, who was behind them, made his
friend pull up, to know what was the matter. The others then came close
enough for conversation, and Morland said, “We had better go back,
Thorpe; it is too late to go on today; your sister thinks so as well as
I. We have been exactly an hour coming from Pulteney Street, very little
more than seven miles; and, I suppose, we have at least eight more to
go. It will never do. We set out a great deal too late. We had much
better put it off till another day, and turn round.”

“It is all one to me,” replied Thorpe rather angrily; and instantly
turning his horse, they were on their way back to Bath.

“If your brother had not got such a d--beast to drive,” said he soon
afterwards, “we might have done it very well. My horse would have
trotted to Clifton within the hour, if left to himself, and I have
almost broke my arm with pulling him in to that cursed broken-winded
jade’s pace. Morland is a fool for not keeping a horse and gig of his
own.”

“No, he is not,” said Catherine warmly, “for I am sure he could not
afford it.”

“And why cannot he afford it?”

“Because he has not money enough.”

“And whose fault is that?”

“Nobody’s, that I know of.” Thorpe then said something in the loud,
incoherent way to which he had often recourse, about its being a
d--thing to be miserly; and that if people who rolled in money could not
afford things, he did not know who could, which Catherine did not even
endeavour to understand. Disappointed of what was to have been the
consolation for her first disappointment, she was less and less disposed
either to be agreeable herself or to find her companion so; and they
returned to Pulteney Street without her speaking twenty words.

As she entered the house, the footman told her that a gentleman and lady
had called and inquired for her a few minutes after her setting off;
that, when he told them she was gone out with Mr. Thorpe, the lady had
asked whether any message had been left for her; and on his saying no,
had felt for a card, but said she had none about her, and went away.
Pondering over these heart-rending tidings, Catherine walked slowly
upstairs. At the head of them she was met by Mr. Allen, who, on hearing
the reason of their speedy return, said, “I am glad your brother had so
much sense; I am glad you are come back. It was a strange, wild scheme.”

They all spent the evening together at Thorpe’s. Catherine was disturbed
and out of spirits; but Isabella seemed to find a pool of commerce, in
the fate of which she shared, by private partnership with Morland, a
very good equivalent for the quiet and country air of an inn at Clifton.
Her satisfaction, too, in not being at the Lower Rooms was spoken more
than once. “How I pity the poor creatures that are going there! How glad
I am that I am not amongst them! I wonder whether it will be a full ball
or not! They have not begun dancing yet. I would not be there for
all the world. It is so delightful to have an evening now and then
to oneself. I dare say it will not be a very good ball. I know the
Mitchells will not be there. I am sure I pity everybody that is. But I
dare say, Mr. Morland, you long to be at it, do not you? I am sure you
do. Well, pray do not let anybody here be a restraint on you. I dare say
we could do very well without you; but you men think yourselves of such
consequence.”

Catherine could almost have accused Isabella of being wanting in
tenderness towards herself and her sorrows, so very little did they
appear to dwell on her mind, and so very inadequate was the comfort she
offered. “Do not be so dull, my dearest creature,” she whispered. “You
will quite break my heart. It was amazingly shocking, to be sure; but
the Tilneys were entirely to blame. Why were not they more punctual?
It was dirty, indeed, but what did that signify? I am sure John and I
should not have minded it. I never mind going through anything, where a
friend is concerned; that is my disposition, and John is just the same;
he has amazing strong feelings. Good heavens! What a delightful hand you
have got! Kings, I vow! I never was so happy in my life! I would fifty
times rather you should have them than myself.”

And now I may dismiss my heroine to the sleepless couch, which is the
true heroine’s portion; to a pillow strewed with thorns and wet with
tears. And lucky may she think herself, if she get another good night’s
rest in the course of the next three months.



CHAPTER 12


“Mrs. Allen,” said Catherine the next morning, “will there be any harm
in my calling on Miss Tilney today? I shall not be easy till I have
explained everything.”

“Go, by all means, my dear; only put on a white gown; Miss Tilney always
wears white.”

Catherine cheerfully complied, and being properly equipped, was more
impatient than ever to be at the pump-room, that she might inform
herself of General Tilney’s lodgings, for though she believed they were
in Milsom Street, she was not certain of the house, and Mrs. Allen’s
wavering convictions only made it more doubtful. To Milsom Street she
was directed, and having made herself perfect in the number, hastened
away with eager steps and a beating heart to pay her visit, explain her
conduct, and be forgiven; tripping lightly through the church-yard, and
resolutely turning away her eyes, that she might not be obliged to
see her beloved Isabella and her dear family, who, she had reason to
believe, were in a shop hard by. She reached the house without any
impediment, looked at the number, knocked at the door, and inquired for
Miss Tilney. The man believed Miss Tilney to be at home, but was not
quite certain. Would she be pleased to send up her name? She gave her
card. In a few minutes the servant returned, and with a look which did
not quite confirm his words, said he had been mistaken, for that Miss
Tilney was walked out. Catherine, with a blush of mortification, left
the house. She felt almost persuaded that Miss Tilney was at home, and
too much offended to admit her; and as she retired down the street,
could not withhold one glance at the drawing-room windows, in
expectation of seeing her there, but no one appeared at them. At the
bottom of the street, however, she looked back again, and then, not at a
window, but issuing from the door, she saw Miss Tilney herself. She was
followed by a gentleman, whom Catherine believed to be her father,
and they turned up towards Edgar’s Buildings. Catherine, in deep
mortification, proceeded on her way. She could almost be angry herself
at such angry incivility; but she checked the resentful sensation; she
remembered her own ignorance. She knew not how such an offence as hers
might be classed by the laws of worldly politeness, to what a degree
of unforgivingness it might with propriety lead, nor to what rigours of
rudeness in return it might justly make her amenable.

Dejected and humbled, she had even some thoughts of not going with the
others to the theatre that night; but it must be confessed that they
were not of long continuance, for she soon recollected, in the first
place, that she was without any excuse for staying at home; and, in the
second, that it was a play she wanted very much to see. To the theatre
accordingly they all went; no Tilneys appeared to plague or please her;
she feared that, amongst the many perfections of the family, a fondness
for plays was not to be ranked; but perhaps it was because they were
habituated to the finer performances of the London stage, which she
knew, on Isabella’s authority, rendered everything else of the kind
“quite horrid.” She was not deceived in her own expectation of pleasure;
the comedy so well suspended her care that no one, observing her during
the first four acts, would have supposed she had any wretchedness about
her. On the beginning of the fifth, however, the sudden view of Mr.
Henry Tilney and his father, joining a party in the opposite box,
recalled her to anxiety and distress. The stage could no longer excite
genuine merriment--no longer keep her whole attention. Every other look
upon an average was directed towards the opposite box; and, for the
space of two entire scenes, did she thus watch Henry Tilney, without
being once able to catch his eye. No longer could he be suspected of
indifference for a play; his notice was never withdrawn from the stage
during two whole scenes. At length, however, he did look towards her,
and he bowed--but such a bow! No smile, no continued observance attended
it; his eyes were immediately returned to their former direction.
Catherine was restlessly miserable; she could almost have run round to
the box in which he sat and forced him to hear her explanation. Feelings
rather natural than heroic possessed her; instead of considering her
own dignity injured by this ready condemnation--instead of proudly
resolving, in conscious innocence, to show her resentment towards him
who could harbour a doubt of it, to leave to him all the trouble
of seeking an explanation, and to enlighten him on the past only by
avoiding his sight, or flirting with somebody else--she took to herself
all the shame of misconduct, or at least of its appearance, and was only
eager for an opportunity of explaining its cause.

The play concluded--the curtain fell--Henry Tilney was no longer to be
seen where he had hitherto sat, but his father remained, and perhaps he
might be now coming round to their box. She was right; in a few minutes
he appeared, and, making his way through the then thinning rows, spoke
with like calm politeness to Mrs. Allen and her friend. Not with such
calmness was he answered by the latter: “Oh! Mr. Tilney, I have been
quite wild to speak to you, and make my apologies. You must have thought
me so rude; but indeed it was not my own fault, was it, Mrs. Allen?
Did not they tell me that Mr. Tilney and his sister were gone out in a
phaeton together? And then what could I do? But I had ten thousand times
rather have been with you; now had not I, Mrs. Allen?”

“My dear, you tumble my gown,” was Mrs. Allen’s reply.

Her assurance, however, standing sole as it did, was not thrown away; it
brought a more cordial, more natural smile into his countenance, and
he replied in a tone which retained only a little affected reserve:
“We were much obliged to you at any rate for wishing us a pleasant walk
after our passing you in Argyle Street: you were so kind as to look back
on purpose.”

“But indeed I did not wish you a pleasant walk; I never thought of such
a thing; but I begged Mr. Thorpe so earnestly to stop; I called out to
him as soon as ever I saw you; now, Mrs. Allen, did not--Oh! You were
not there; but indeed I did; and, if Mr. Thorpe would only have stopped,
I would have jumped out and run after you.”

Is there a Henry in the world who could be insensible to such a
declaration? Henry Tilney at least was not. With a yet sweeter smile, he
said everything that need be said of his sister’s concern, regret, and
dependence on Catherine’s honour. “Oh! Do not say Miss Tilney was not
angry,” cried Catherine, “because I know she was; for she would not see
me this morning when I called; I saw her walk out of the house the next
minute after my leaving it; I was hurt, but I was not affronted. Perhaps
you did not know I had been there.”

“I was not within at the time; but I heard of it from Eleanor, and she
has been wishing ever since to see you, to explain the reason of such
incivility; but perhaps I can do it as well. It was nothing more than
that my father--they were just preparing to walk out, and he being
hurried for time, and not caring to have it put off--made a point of her
being denied. That was all, I do assure you. She was very much vexed,
and meant to make her apology as soon as possible.”

Catherine’s mind was greatly eased by this information, yet a something
of solicitude remained, from which sprang the following question,
thoroughly artless in itself, though rather distressing to the
gentleman: “But, Mr. Tilney, why were you less generous than your
sister? If she felt such confidence in my good intentions, and could
suppose it to be only a mistake, why should you be so ready to take
offence?”

“Me! I take offence!”

“Nay, I am sure by your look, when you came into the box, you were
angry.”

“I angry! I could have no right.”

“Well, nobody would have thought you had no right who saw your face.” He
replied by asking her to make room for him, and talking of the play.

He remained with them some time, and was only too agreeable for
Catherine to be contented when he went away. Before they parted,
however, it was agreed that the projected walk should be taken as soon
as possible; and, setting aside the misery of his quitting their box,
she was, upon the whole, left one of the happiest creatures in the
world.

While talking to each other, she had observed with some surprise that
John Thorpe, who was never in the same part of the house for ten minutes
together, was engaged in conversation with General Tilney; and she felt
something more than surprise when she thought she could perceive herself
the object of their attention and discourse. What could they have to say
of her? She feared General Tilney did not like her appearance: she found
it was implied in his preventing her admittance to his daughter, rather
than postpone his own walk a few minutes. “How came Mr. Thorpe to know
your father?” was her anxious inquiry, as she pointed them out to her
companion. He knew nothing about it; but his father, like every military
man, had a very large acquaintance.

When the entertainment was over, Thorpe came to assist them in getting
out. Catherine was the immediate object of his gallantry; and, while
they waited in the lobby for a chair, he prevented the inquiry which had
travelled from her heart almost to the tip of her tongue, by asking, in
a consequential manner, whether she had seen him talking with General
Tilney: “He is a fine old fellow, upon my soul! Stout, active--looks
as young as his son. I have a great regard for him, I assure you: a
gentleman-like, good sort of fellow as ever lived.”

“But how came you to know him?”

“Know him! There are few people much about town that I do not know. I
have met him forever at the Bedford; and I knew his face again today the
moment he came into the billiard-room. One of the best players we have,
by the by; and we had a little touch together, though I was almost
afraid of him at first: the odds were five to four against me; and, if
I had not made one of the cleanest strokes that perhaps ever was made in
this world--I took his ball exactly--but I could not make you understand
it without a table; however, I did beat him. A very fine fellow; as rich
as a Jew. I should like to dine with him; I dare say he gives famous
dinners. But what do you think we have been talking of? You. Yes, by
heavens! And the general thinks you the finest girl in Bath.”

“Oh! Nonsense! How can you say so?”

“And what do you think I said?”--lowering his voice--“well done,
general, said I; I am quite of your mind.”

Here Catherine, who was much less gratified by his admiration than by
General Tilney’s, was not sorry to be called away by Mr. Allen. Thorpe,
however, would see her to her chair, and, till she entered it, continued
the same kind of delicate flattery, in spite of her entreating him to
have done.

That General Tilney, instead of disliking, should admire her, was very
delightful; and she joyfully thought that there was not one of the
family whom she need now fear to meet. The evening had done more, much
more, for her than could have been expected.



CHAPTER 13


Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday have now
passed in review before the reader; the events of each day, its hopes
and fears, mortifications and pleasures, have been separately stated,
and the pangs of Sunday only now remain to be described, and close the
week. The Clifton scheme had been deferred, not relinquished, and on
the afternoon’s Crescent of this day, it was brought forward again. In a
private consultation between Isabella and James, the former of whom had
particularly set her heart upon going, and the latter no less anxiously
placed his upon pleasing her, it was agreed that, provided the weather
were fair, the party should take place on the following morning; and
they were to set off very early, in order to be at home in good time.
The affair thus determined, and Thorpe’s approbation secured, Catherine
only remained to be apprised of it. She had left them for a few minutes
to speak to Miss Tilney. In that interval the plan was completed, and as
soon as she came again, her agreement was demanded; but instead of the
gay acquiescence expected by Isabella, Catherine looked grave, was very
sorry, but could not go. The engagement which ought to have kept her
from joining in the former attempt would make it impossible for her to
accompany them now. She had that moment settled with Miss Tilney to take
their proposed walk tomorrow; it was quite determined, and she would
not, upon any account, retract. But that she must and should retract
was instantly the eager cry of both the Thorpes; they must go to Clifton
tomorrow, they would not go without her, it would be nothing to put off
a mere walk for one day longer, and they would not hear of a refusal.
Catherine was distressed, but not subdued. “Do not urge me, Isabella. I
am engaged to Miss Tilney. I cannot go.” This availed nothing. The same
arguments assailed her again; she must go, she should go, and they would
not hear of a refusal. “It would be so easy to tell Miss Tilney that you
had just been reminded of a prior engagement, and must only beg to put
off the walk till Tuesday.”

“No, it would not be easy. I could not do it. There has been no prior
engagement.” But Isabella became only more and more urgent, calling
on her in the most affectionate manner, addressing her by the most
endearing names. She was sure her dearest, sweetest Catherine would not
seriously refuse such a trifling request to a friend who loved her so
dearly. She knew her beloved Catherine to have so feeling a heart, so
sweet a temper, to be so easily persuaded by those she loved. But all
in vain; Catherine felt herself to be in the right, and though pained
by such tender, such flattering supplication, could not allow it to
influence her. Isabella then tried another method. She reproached her
with having more affection for Miss Tilney, though she had known her so
little a while, than for her best and oldest friends, with being grown
cold and indifferent, in short, towards herself. “I cannot help being
jealous, Catherine, when I see myself slighted for strangers, I, who
love you so excessively! When once my affections are placed, it is not
in the power of anything to change them. But I believe my feelings are
stronger than anybody’s; I am sure they are too strong for my own peace;
and to see myself supplanted in your friendship by strangers does cut me
to the quick, I own. These Tilneys seem to swallow up everything else.”

Catherine thought this reproach equally strange and unkind. Was it the
part of a friend thus to expose her feelings to the notice of others?
Isabella appeared to her ungenerous and selfish, regardless of
everything but her own gratification. These painful ideas crossed her
mind, though she said nothing. Isabella, in the meanwhile, had applied
her handkerchief to her eyes; and Morland, miserable at such a sight,
could not help saying, “Nay, Catherine. I think you cannot stand out any
longer now. The sacrifice is not much; and to oblige such a friend--I
shall think you quite unkind, if you still refuse.”

This was the first time of her brother’s openly siding against her, and
anxious to avoid his displeasure, she proposed a compromise. If they
would only put off their scheme till Tuesday, which they might easily
do, as it depended only on themselves, she could go with them, and
everybody might then be satisfied. But “No, no, no!” was the immediate
answer; “that could not be, for Thorpe did not know that he might not
go to town on Tuesday.” Catherine was sorry, but could do no more; and
a short silence ensued, which was broken by Isabella, who in a voice of
cold resentment said, “Very well, then there is an end of the party.
If Catherine does not go, I cannot. I cannot be the only woman. I would
not, upon any account in the world, do so improper a thing.”

“Catherine, you must go,” said James.

“But why cannot Mr. Thorpe drive one of his other sisters? I dare say
either of them would like to go.”

“Thank ye,” cried Thorpe, “but I did not come to Bath to drive my
sisters about, and look like a fool. No, if you do not go, d---- me if I
do. I only go for the sake of driving you.”

“That is a compliment which gives me no pleasure.” But her words were
lost on Thorpe, who had turned abruptly away.

The three others still continued together, walking in a most
uncomfortable manner to poor Catherine; sometimes not a word was said,
sometimes she was again attacked with supplications or reproaches, and
her arm was still linked within Isabella’s, though their hearts were
at war. At one moment she was softened, at another irritated; always
distressed, but always steady.

“I did not think you had been so obstinate, Catherine,” said James;
“you were not used to be so hard to persuade; you once were the kindest,
best-tempered of my sisters.”

“I hope I am not less so now,” she replied, very feelingly; “but indeed
I cannot go. If I am wrong, I am doing what I believe to be right.”

“I suspect,” said Isabella, in a low voice, “there is no great
struggle.”

Catherine’s heart swelled; she drew away her arm, and Isabella made no
opposition. Thus passed a long ten minutes, till they were again joined
by Thorpe, who, coming to them with a gayer look, said, “Well, I
have settled the matter, and now we may all go tomorrow with a safe
conscience. I have been to Miss Tilney, and made your excuses.”

“You have not!” cried Catherine.

“I have, upon my soul. Left her this moment. Told her you had sent me to
say that, having just recollected a prior engagement of going to Clifton
with us tomorrow, you could not have the pleasure of walking with her
till Tuesday. She said very well, Tuesday was just as convenient to her;
so there is an end of all our difficulties. A pretty good thought of
mine--hey?”

Isabella’s countenance was once more all smiles and good humour, and
James too looked happy again.

“A most heavenly thought indeed! Now, my sweet Catherine, all our
distresses are over; you are honourably acquitted, and we shall have a
most delightful party.”

“This will not do,” said Catherine; “I cannot submit to this. I must run
after Miss Tilney directly and set her right.”

Isabella, however, caught hold of one hand, Thorpe of the other, and
remonstrances poured in from all three. Even James was quite angry. When
everything was settled, when Miss Tilney herself said that Tuesday would
suit her as well, it was quite ridiculous, quite absurd, to make any
further objection.

“I do not care. Mr. Thorpe had no business to invent any such message.
If I had thought it right to put it off, I could have spoken to Miss
Tilney myself. This is only doing it in a ruder way; and how do I know
that Mr. Thorpe has--He may be mistaken again perhaps; he led me into
one act of rudeness by his mistake on Friday. Let me go, Mr. Thorpe;
Isabella, do not hold me.”

Thorpe told her it would be in vain to go after the Tilneys; they were
turning the corner into Brock Street, when he had overtaken them, and
were at home by this time.

“Then I will go after them,” said Catherine; “wherever they are I will
go after them. It does not signify talking. If I could not be persuaded
into doing what I thought wrong, I never will be tricked into it.”
 And with these words she broke away and hurried off. Thorpe would have
darted after her, but Morland withheld him. “Let her go, let her go, if
she will go.”

“She is as obstinate as--”

Thorpe never finished the simile, for it could hardly have been a proper
one.

Away walked Catherine in great agitation, as fast as the crowd would
permit her, fearful of being pursued, yet determined to persevere. As
she walked, she reflected on what had passed. It was painful to her to
disappoint and displease them, particularly to displease her brother;
but she could not repent her resistance. Setting her own inclination
apart, to have failed a second time in her engagement to Miss Tilney, to
have retracted a promise voluntarily made only five minutes before,
and on a false pretence too, must have been wrong. She had not been
withstanding them on selfish principles alone, she had not consulted
merely her own gratification; that might have been ensured in some
degree by the excursion itself, by seeing Blaize Castle; no, she had
attended to what was due to others, and to her own character in their
opinion. Her conviction of being right, however, was not enough to
restore her composure; till she had spoken to Miss Tilney she could not
be at ease; and quickening her pace when she got clear of the Crescent,
she almost ran over the remaining ground till she gained the top of
Milsom Street. So rapid had been her movements that in spite of the
Tilneys’ advantage in the outset, they were but just turning into
their lodgings as she came within view of them; and the servant still
remaining at the open door, she used only the ceremony of saying
that she must speak with Miss Tilney that moment, and hurrying by him
proceeded upstairs. Then, opening the first door before her, which
happened to be the right, she immediately found herself in the
drawing-room with General Tilney, his son, and daughter. Her
explanation, defective only in being--from her irritation of nerves and
shortness of breath--no explanation at all, was instantly given. “I am
come in a great hurry--It was all a mistake--I never promised to go--I
told them from the first I could not go.--I ran away in a great hurry
to explain it.--I did not care what you thought of me.--I would not stay
for the servant.”

The business, however, though not perfectly elucidated by this speech,
soon ceased to be a puzzle. Catherine found that John Thorpe had given
the message; and Miss Tilney had no scruple in owning herself greatly
surprised by it. But whether her brother had still exceeded her in
resentment, Catherine, though she instinctively addressed herself as
much to one as to the other in her vindication, had no means of knowing.
Whatever might have been felt before her arrival, her eager declarations
immediately made every look and sentence as friendly as she could
desire.

The affair thus happily settled, she was introduced by Miss Tilney
to her father, and received by him with such ready, such solicitous
politeness as recalled Thorpe’s information to her mind, and made her
think with pleasure that he might be sometimes depended on. To such
anxious attention was the general’s civility carried, that not aware of
her extraordinary swiftness in entering the house, he was quite angry
with the servant whose neglect had reduced her to open the door of the
apartment herself. “What did William mean by it? He should make a point
of inquiring into the matter.” And if Catherine had not most warmly
asserted his innocence, it seemed likely that William would lose the
favour of his master forever, if not his place, by her rapidity.

After sitting with them a quarter of an hour, she rose to take leave,
and was then most agreeably surprised by General Tilney’s asking her if
she would do his daughter the honour of dining and spending the rest
of the day with her. Miss Tilney added her own wishes. Catherine was
greatly obliged; but it was quite out of her power. Mr. and Mrs. Allen
would expect her back every moment. The general declared he could say no
more; the claims of Mr. and Mrs. Allen were not to be superseded; but on
some other day he trusted, when longer notice could be given, they would
not refuse to spare her to her friend. “Oh, no; Catherine was sure they
would not have the least objection, and she should have great pleasure
in coming.” The general attended her himself to the street-door, saying
everything gallant as they went downstairs, admiring the elasticity of
her walk, which corresponded exactly with the spirit of her dancing, and
making her one of the most graceful bows she had ever beheld, when they
parted.

Catherine, delighted by all that had passed, proceeded gaily to Pulteney
Street, walking, as she concluded, with great elasticity, though she
had never thought of it before. She reached home without seeing anything
more of the offended party; and now that she had been triumphant
throughout, had carried her point, and was secure of her walk, she began
(as the flutter of her spirits subsided) to doubt whether she had been
perfectly right. A sacrifice was always noble; and if she had given way
to their entreaties, she should have been spared the distressing idea of
a friend displeased, a brother angry, and a scheme of great happiness
to both destroyed, perhaps through her means. To ease her mind, and
ascertain by the opinion of an unprejudiced person what her own conduct
had really been, she took occasion to mention before Mr. Allen the
half-settled scheme of her brother and the Thorpes for the following
day. Mr. Allen caught at it directly. “Well,” said he, “and do you think
of going too?”

“No; I had just engaged myself to walk with Miss Tilney before they told
me of it; and therefore you know I could not go with them, could I?”

“No, certainly not; and I am glad you do not think of it. These schemes
are not at all the thing. Young men and women driving about the country
in open carriages! Now and then it is very well; but going to inns and
public places together! It is not right; and I wonder Mrs. Thorpe should
allow it. I am glad you do not think of going; I am sure Mrs. Morland
would not be pleased. Mrs. Allen, are not you of my way of thinking? Do
not you think these kind of projects objectionable?”

“Yes, very much so indeed. Open carriages are nasty things. A clean
gown is not five minutes’ wear in them. You are splashed getting in
and getting out; and the wind takes your hair and your bonnet in every
direction. I hate an open carriage myself.”

“I know you do; but that is not the question. Do not you think it has an
odd appearance, if young ladies are frequently driven about in them by
young men, to whom they are not even related?”

“Yes, my dear, a very odd appearance indeed. I cannot bear to see it.”

“Dear madam,” cried Catherine, “then why did not you tell me so before?
I am sure if I had known it to be improper, I would not have gone with
Mr. Thorpe at all; but I always hoped you would tell me, if you thought
I was doing wrong.”

“And so I should, my dear, you may depend on it; for as I told Mrs.
Morland at parting, I would always do the best for you in my power. But
one must not be over particular. Young people will be young people,
as your good mother says herself. You know I wanted you, when we first
came, not to buy that sprigged muslin, but you would. Young people do
not like to be always thwarted.”

“But this was something of real consequence; and I do not think you
would have found me hard to persuade.”

“As far as it has gone hitherto, there is no harm done,” said Mr. Allen;
“and I would only advise you, my dear, not to go out with Mr. Thorpe any
more.”

“That is just what I was going to say,” added his wife.

Catherine, relieved for herself, felt uneasy for Isabella, and after a
moment’s thought, asked Mr. Allen whether it would not be both proper
and kind in her to write to Miss Thorpe, and explain the indecorum of
which she must be as insensible as herself; for she considered that
Isabella might otherwise perhaps be going to Clifton the next day, in
spite of what had passed. Mr. Allen, however, discouraged her from doing
any such thing. “You had better leave her alone, my dear; she is old
enough to know what she is about, and if not, has a mother to advise
her. Mrs. Thorpe is too indulgent beyond a doubt; but, however, you had
better not interfere. She and your brother choose to go, and you will be
only getting ill will.”

Catherine submitted, and though sorry to think that Isabella should be
doing wrong, felt greatly relieved by Mr. Allen’s approbation of her
own conduct, and truly rejoiced to be preserved by his advice from the
danger of falling into such an error herself. Her escape from being one
of the party to Clifton was now an escape indeed; for what would the
Tilneys have thought of her, if she had broken her promise to them in
order to do what was wrong in itself, if she had been guilty of one
breach of propriety, only to enable her to be guilty of another?



CHAPTER 14


The next morning was fair, and Catherine almost expected another attack
from the assembled party. With Mr. Allen to support her, she felt no
dread of the event: but she would gladly be spared a contest, where
victory itself was painful, and was heartily rejoiced therefore at
neither seeing nor hearing anything of them. The Tilneys called for
her at the appointed time; and no new difficulty arising, no sudden
recollection, no unexpected summons, no impertinent intrusion to
disconcert their measures, my heroine was most unnaturally able to
fulfil her engagement, though it was made with the hero himself.
They determined on walking round Beechen Cliff, that noble hill whose
beautiful verdure and hanging coppice render it so striking an object
from almost every opening in Bath.

“I never look at it,” said Catherine, as they walked along the side of
the river, “without thinking of the south of France.”

“You have been abroad then?” said Henry, a little surprised.

“Oh! No, I only mean what I have read about. It always puts me in mind
of the country that Emily and her father travelled through, in The
Mysteries of Udolpho. But you never read novels, I dare say?”

“Why not?”

“Because they are not clever enough for you--gentlemen read better
books.”

“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good
novel, must be intolerably stupid. I have read all Mrs. Radcliffe’s
works, and most of them with great pleasure. The Mysteries of Udolpho,
when I had once begun it, I could not lay down again; I remember
finishing it in two days--my hair standing on end the whole time.”

“Yes,” added Miss Tilney, “and I remember that you undertook to read it
aloud to me, and that when I was called away for only five minutes to
answer a note, instead of waiting for me, you took the volume into the
Hermitage Walk, and I was obliged to stay till you had finished it.”

“Thank you, Eleanor--a most honourable testimony. You see, Miss Morland,
the injustice of your suspicions. Here was I, in my eagerness to get on,
refusing to wait only five minutes for my sister, breaking the promise
I had made of reading it aloud, and keeping her in suspense at a most
interesting part, by running away with the volume, which, you are to
observe, was her own, particularly her own. I am proud when I reflect on
it, and I think it must establish me in your good opinion.”

“I am very glad to hear it indeed, and now I shall never be ashamed of
liking Udolpho myself. But I really thought before, young men despised
novels amazingly.”

“It is amazingly; it may well suggest amazement if they do--for they
read nearly as many as women. I myself have read hundreds and hundreds.
Do not imagine that you can cope with me in a knowledge of Julias and
Louisas. If we proceed to particulars, and engage in the never-ceasing
inquiry of ‘Have you read this?’ and ‘Have you read that?’ I shall soon
leave you as far behind me as--what shall I say?--I want an appropriate
simile.--as far as your friend Emily herself left poor Valancourt when
she went with her aunt into Italy. Consider how many years I have had
the start of you. I had entered on my studies at Oxford, while you were
a good little girl working your sampler at home!”

“Not very good, I am afraid. But now really, do not you think Udolpho
the nicest book in the world?”

“The nicest--by which I suppose you mean the neatest. That must depend
upon the binding.”

“Henry,” said Miss Tilney, “you are very impertinent. Miss Morland, he
is treating you exactly as he does his sister. He is forever finding
fault with me, for some incorrectness of language, and now he is taking
the same liberty with you. The word ‘nicest,’ as you used it, did not
suit him; and you had better change it as soon as you can, or we shall
be overpowered with Johnson and Blair all the rest of the way.”

“I am sure,” cried Catherine, “I did not mean to say anything wrong; but
it is a nice book, and why should not I call it so?”

“Very true,” said Henry, “and this is a very nice day, and we are taking
a very nice walk, and you are two very nice young ladies. Oh! It is a
very nice word indeed! It does for everything. Originally perhaps it
was applied only to express neatness, propriety, delicacy, or
refinement--people were nice in their dress, in their sentiments, or
their choice. But now every commendation on every subject is comprised
in that one word.”

“While, in fact,” cried his sister, “it ought only to be applied to you,
without any commendation at all. You are more nice than wise. Come,
Miss Morland, let us leave him to meditate over our faults in the utmost
propriety of diction, while we praise Udolpho in whatever terms we
like best. It is a most interesting work. You are fond of that kind of
reading?”

“To say the truth, I do not much like any other.”

“Indeed!”

“That is, I can read poetry and plays, and things of that sort, and
do not dislike travels. But history, real solemn history, I cannot be
interested in. Can you?”

“Yes, I am fond of history.”

“I wish I were too. I read it a little as a duty, but it tells me
nothing that does not either vex or weary me. The quarrels of popes and
kings, with wars or pestilences, in every page; the men all so good for
nothing, and hardly any women at all--it is very tiresome: and yet I
often think it odd that it should be so dull, for a great deal of it
must be invention. The speeches that are put into the heroes’ mouths,
their thoughts and designs--the chief of all this must be invention, and
invention is what delights me in other books.”

“Historians, you think,” said Miss Tilney, “are not happy in their
flights of fancy. They display imagination without raising interest. I
am fond of history--and am very well contented to take the false with
the true. In the principal facts they have sources of intelligence
in former histories and records, which may be as much depended on,
I conclude, as anything that does not actually pass under one’s own
observation; and as for the little embellishments you speak of, they are
embellishments, and I like them as such. If a speech be well drawn up,
I read it with pleasure, by whomsoever it may be made--and probably with
much greater, if the production of Mr. Hume or Mr. Robertson, than if
the genuine words of Caractacus, Agricola, or Alfred the Great.”

“You are fond of history! And so are Mr. Allen and my father; and I have
two brothers who do not dislike it. So many instances within my small
circle of friends is remarkable! At this rate, I shall not pity the
writers of history any longer. If people like to read their books, it
is all very well, but to be at so much trouble in filling great volumes,
which, as I used to think, nobody would willingly ever look into, to be
labouring only for the torment of little boys and girls, always struck
me as a hard fate; and though I know it is all very right and necessary,
I have often wondered at the person’s courage that could sit down on
purpose to do it.”

“That little boys and girls should be tormented,” said Henry, “is what
no one at all acquainted with human nature in a civilized state can
deny; but in behalf of our most distinguished historians, I must observe
that they might well be offended at being supposed to have no higher
aim, and that by their method and style, they are perfectly well
qualified to torment readers of the most advanced reason and mature
time of life. I use the verb ‘to torment,’ as I observed to be your own
method, instead of ‘to instruct,’ supposing them to be now admitted as
synonymous.”

“You think me foolish to call instruction a torment, but if you had been
as much used as myself to hear poor little children first learning their
letters and then learning to spell, if you had ever seen how stupid they
can be for a whole morning together, and how tired my poor mother is
at the end of it, as I am in the habit of seeing almost every day of my
life at home, you would allow that ‘to torment’ and ‘to instruct’ might
sometimes be used as synonymous words.”

“Very probably. But historians are not accountable for the difficulty
of learning to read; and even you yourself, who do not altogether seem
particularly friendly to very severe, very intense application, may
perhaps be brought to acknowledge that it is very well worth-while to
be tormented for two or three years of one’s life, for the sake of
being able to read all the rest of it. Consider--if reading had not been
taught, Mrs. Radcliffe would have written in vain--or perhaps might not
have written at all.”

Catherine assented--and a very warm panegyric from her on that lady’s
merits closed the subject. The Tilneys were soon engaged in another on
which she had nothing to say. They were viewing the country with the
eyes of persons accustomed to drawing, and decided on its capability of
being formed into pictures, with all the eagerness of real taste. Here
Catherine was quite lost. She knew nothing of drawing--nothing of taste:
and she listened to them with an attention which brought her little
profit, for they talked in phrases which conveyed scarcely any idea
to her. The little which she could understand, however, appeared to
contradict the very few notions she had entertained on the matter
before. It seemed as if a good view were no longer to be taken from the
top of an high hill, and that a clear blue sky was no longer a proof
of a fine day. She was heartily ashamed of her ignorance. A misplaced
shame. Where people wish to attach, they should always be ignorant.
To come with a well-informed mind is to come with an inability of
administering to the vanity of others, which a sensible person would
always wish to avoid. A woman especially, if she have the misfortune of
knowing anything, should conceal it as well as she can.

The advantages of natural folly in a beautiful girl have been already
set forth by the capital pen of a sister author; and to her treatment
of the subject I will only add, in justice to men, that though to the
larger and more trifling part of the sex, imbecility in females is a
great enhancement of their personal charms, there is a portion of them
too reasonable and too well informed themselves to desire anything
more in woman than ignorance. But Catherine did not know her own
advantages--did not know that a good-looking girl, with an affectionate
heart and a very ignorant mind, cannot fail of attracting a clever young
man, unless circumstances are particularly untoward. In the present
instance, she confessed and lamented her want of knowledge, declared
that she would give anything in the world to be able to draw; and
a lecture on the picturesque immediately followed, in which his
instructions were so clear that she soon began to see beauty in
everything admired by him, and her attention was so earnest that he
became perfectly satisfied of her having a great deal of natural taste.
He talked of foregrounds, distances, and second distances--side-screens
and perspectives--lights and shades; and Catherine was so hopeful a
scholar that when they gained the top of Beechen Cliff, she voluntarily
rejected the whole city of Bath as unworthy to make part of a landscape.
Delighted with her progress, and fearful of wearying her with too much
wisdom at once, Henry suffered the subject to decline, and by an easy
transition from a piece of rocky fragment and the withered oak which
he had placed near its summit, to oaks in general, to forests, the
enclosure of them, waste lands, crown lands and government, he shortly
found himself arrived at politics; and from politics, it was an
easy step to silence. The general pause which succeeded his short
disquisition on the state of the nation was put an end to by Catherine,
who, in rather a solemn tone of voice, uttered these words, “I have
heard that something very shocking indeed will soon come out in London.”

Miss Tilney, to whom this was chiefly addressed, was startled, and
hastily replied, “Indeed! And of what nature?”

“That I do not know, nor who is the author. I have only heard that it is
to be more horrible than anything we have met with yet.”

“Good heaven! Where could you hear of such a thing?”

“A particular friend of mine had an account of it in a letter from
London yesterday. It is to be uncommonly dreadful. I shall expect murder
and everything of the kind.”

“You speak with astonishing composure! But I hope your friend’s accounts
have been exaggerated; and if such a design is known beforehand, proper
measures will undoubtedly be taken by government to prevent its coming
to effect.”

“Government,” said Henry, endeavouring not to smile, “neither desires
nor dares to interfere in such matters. There must be murder; and
government cares not how much.”

The ladies stared. He laughed, and added, “Come, shall I make you
understand each other, or leave you to puzzle out an explanation as
you can? No--I will be noble. I will prove myself a man, no less by the
generosity of my soul than the clearness of my head. I have no patience
with such of my sex as disdain to let themselves sometimes down to the
comprehension of yours. Perhaps the abilities of women are neither sound
nor acute--neither vigorous nor keen. Perhaps they may want observation,
discernment, judgment, fire, genius, and wit.”

“Miss Morland, do not mind what he says; but have the goodness to
satisfy me as to this dreadful riot.”

“Riot! What riot?”

“My dear Eleanor, the riot is only in your own brain. The confusion
there is scandalous. Miss Morland has been talking of nothing more
dreadful than a new publication which is shortly to come out, in three
duodecimo volumes, two hundred and seventy-six pages in each, with
a frontispiece to the first, of two tombstones and a lantern--do you
understand? And you, Miss Morland--my stupid sister has mistaken all
your clearest expressions. You talked of expected horrors in London--and
instead of instantly conceiving, as any rational creature would have
done, that such words could relate only to a circulating library, she
immediately pictured to herself a mob of three thousand men assembling
in St. George’s Fields, the Bank attacked, the Tower threatened, the
streets of London flowing with blood, a detachment of the Twelfth Light
Dragoons (the hopes of the nation) called up from Northampton to quell
the insurgents, and the gallant Captain Frederick Tilney, in the
moment of charging at the head of his troop, knocked off his horse by a
brickbat from an upper window. Forgive her stupidity. The fears of the
sister have added to the weakness of the woman; but she is by no means a
simpleton in general.”

Catherine looked grave. “And now, Henry,” said Miss Tilney, “that you
have made us understand each other, you may as well make Miss Morland
understand yourself--unless you mean to have her think you intolerably
rude to your sister, and a great brute in your opinion of women in
general. Miss Morland is not used to your odd ways.”

“I shall be most happy to make her better acquainted with them.”

“No doubt; but that is no explanation of the present.”

“What am I to do?”

“You know what you ought to do. Clear your character handsomely before
her. Tell her that you think very highly of the understanding of women.”

“Miss Morland, I think very highly of the understanding of all the women
in the world--especially of those--whoever they may be--with whom I
happen to be in company.”

“That is not enough. Be more serious.”

“Miss Morland, no one can think more highly of the understanding of
women than I do. In my opinion, nature has given them so much that they
never find it necessary to use more than half.”

“We shall get nothing more serious from him now, Miss Morland. He is
not in a sober mood. But I do assure you that he must be entirely
misunderstood, if he can ever appear to say an unjust thing of any woman
at all, or an unkind one of me.”

It was no effort to Catherine to believe that Henry Tilney could never
be wrong. His manner might sometimes surprise, but his meaning must
always be just: and what she did not understand, she was almost as ready
to admire, as what she did. The whole walk was delightful, and though it
ended too soon, its conclusion was delightful too; her friends attended
her into the house, and Miss Tilney, before they parted, addressing
herself with respectful form, as much to Mrs. Allen as to Catherine,
petitioned for the pleasure of her company to dinner on the day after
the next. No difficulty was made on Mrs. Allen’s side, and the only
difficulty on Catherine’s was in concealing the excess of her pleasure.

The morning had passed away so charmingly as to banish all her
friendship and natural affection, for no thought of Isabella or James
had crossed her during their walk. When the Tilneys were gone, she
became amiable again, but she was amiable for some time to little
effect; Mrs. Allen had no intelligence to give that could relieve her
anxiety; she had heard nothing of any of them. Towards the end of the
morning, however, Catherine, having occasion for some indispensable yard
of ribbon which must be bought without a moment’s delay, walked out into
the town, and in Bond Street overtook the second Miss Thorpe as she was
loitering towards Edgar’s Buildings between two of the sweetest girls in
the world, who had been her dear friends all the morning. From her, she
soon learned that the party to Clifton had taken place. “They set off at
eight this morning,” said Miss Anne, “and I am sure I do not envy
them their drive. I think you and I are very well off to be out of the
scrape. It must be the dullest thing in the world, for there is not a
soul at Clifton at this time of year. Belle went with your brother, and
John drove Maria.”

Catherine spoke the pleasure she really felt on hearing this part of the
arrangement.

“Oh! yes,” rejoined the other, “Maria is gone. She was quite wild to go.
She thought it would be something very fine. I cannot say I admire her
taste; and for my part, I was determined from the first not to go, if
they pressed me ever so much.”

Catherine, a little doubtful of this, could not help answering, “I wish
you could have gone too. It is a pity you could not all go.”

“Thank you; but it is quite a matter of indifference to me. Indeed, I
would not have gone on any account. I was saying so to Emily and Sophia
when you overtook us.”

Catherine was still unconvinced; but glad that Anne should have the
friendship of an Emily and a Sophia to console her, she bade her adieu
without much uneasiness, and returned home, pleased that the party had
not been prevented by her refusing to join it, and very heartily wishing
that it might be too pleasant to allow either James or Isabella to
resent her resistance any longer.



CHAPTER 15


Early the next day, a note from Isabella, speaking peace and tenderness
in every line, and entreating the immediate presence of her friend on
a matter of the utmost importance, hastened Catherine, in the happiest
state of confidence and curiosity, to Edgar’s Buildings. The two
youngest Miss Thorpes were by themselves in the parlour; and, on Anne’s
quitting it to call her sister, Catherine took the opportunity of asking
the other for some particulars of their yesterday’s party. Maria desired
no greater pleasure than to speak of it; and Catherine immediately
learnt that it had been altogether the most delightful scheme in the
world, that nobody could imagine how charming it had been, and that
it had been more delightful than anybody could conceive. Such was the
information of the first five minutes; the second unfolded thus much in
detail--that they had driven directly to the York Hotel, ate some soup,
and bespoke an early dinner, walked down to the pump-room, tasted the
water, and laid out some shillings in purses and spars; thence adjourned
to eat ice at a pastry-cook’s, and hurrying back to the hotel, swallowed
their dinner in haste, to prevent being in the dark; and then had a
delightful drive back, only the moon was not up, and it rained a little,
and Mr. Morland’s horse was so tired he could hardly get it along.

Catherine listened with heartfelt satisfaction. It appeared that Blaize
Castle had never been thought of; and, as for all the rest, there was
nothing to regret for half an instant. Maria’s intelligence concluded
with a tender effusion of pity for her sister Anne, whom she represented
as insupportably cross, from being excluded the party.

“She will never forgive me, I am sure; but, you know, how could I help
it? John would have me go, for he vowed he would not drive her, because
she had such thick ankles. I dare say she will not be in good humour
again this month; but I am determined I will not be cross; it is not a
little matter that puts me out of temper.”

Isabella now entered the room with so eager a step, and a look of such
happy importance, as engaged all her friend’s notice. Maria was without
ceremony sent away, and Isabella, embracing Catherine, thus began: “Yes,
my dear Catherine, it is so indeed; your penetration has not deceived
you. Oh! That arch eye of yours! It sees through everything.”

Catherine replied only by a look of wondering ignorance.

“Nay, my beloved, sweetest friend,” continued the other, “compose
yourself. I am amazingly agitated, as you perceive. Let us sit down and
talk in comfort. Well, and so you guessed it the moment you had my note?
Sly creature! Oh! My dear Catherine, you alone, who know my heart, can
judge of my present happiness. Your brother is the most charming of
men. I only wish I were more worthy of him. But what will your excellent
father and mother say? Oh! Heavens! When I think of them I am so
agitated!”

Catherine’s understanding began to awake: an idea of the truth suddenly
darted into her mind; and, with the natural blush of so new an emotion,
she cried out, “Good heaven! My dear Isabella, what do you mean? Can
you--can you really be in love with James?”

This bold surmise, however, she soon learnt comprehended but half the
fact. The anxious affection, which she was accused of having continually
watched in Isabella’s every look and action, had, in the course of their
yesterday’s party, received the delightful confession of an equal love.
Her heart and faith were alike engaged to James. Never had Catherine
listened to anything so full of interest, wonder, and joy. Her brother
and her friend engaged! New to such circumstances, the importance of
it appeared unspeakably great, and she contemplated it as one of those
grand events, of which the ordinary course of life can hardly afford a
return. The strength of her feelings she could not express; the nature
of them, however, contented her friend. The happiness of having such a
sister was their first effusion, and the fair ladies mingled in embraces
and tears of joy.

Delighting, however, as Catherine sincerely did in the prospect of the
connection, it must be acknowledged that Isabella far surpassed her
in tender anticipations. “You will be so infinitely dearer to me, my
Catherine, than either Anne or Maria: I feel that I shall be so much
more attached to my dear Morland’s family than to my own.”

This was a pitch of friendship beyond Catherine.

“You are so like your dear brother,” continued Isabella, “that I quite
doted on you the first moment I saw you. But so it always is with me;
the first moment settles everything. The very first day that Morland
came to us last Christmas--the very first moment I beheld him--my heart
was irrecoverably gone. I remember I wore my yellow gown, with my hair
done up in braids; and when I came into the drawing-room, and John
introduced him, I thought I never saw anybody so handsome before.”

Here Catherine secretly acknowledged the power of love; for, though
exceedingly fond of her brother, and partial to all his endowments, she
had never in her life thought him handsome.

“I remember too, Miss Andrews drank tea with us that evening, and wore
her puce-coloured sarsenet; and she looked so heavenly that I thought
your brother must certainly fall in love with her; I could not sleep
a wink all right for thinking of it. Oh! Catherine, the many sleepless
nights I have had on your brother’s account! I would not have you suffer
half what I have done! I am grown wretchedly thin, I know; but I will
not pain you by describing my anxiety; you have seen enough of it. I
feel that I have betrayed myself perpetually--so unguarded in speaking
of my partiality for the church! But my secret I was always sure would
be safe with you.”

Catherine felt that nothing could have been safer; but ashamed of an
ignorance little expected, she dared no longer contest the point,
nor refuse to have been as full of arch penetration and affectionate
sympathy as Isabella chose to consider her. Her brother, she found,
was preparing to set off with all speed to Fullerton, to make known his
situation and ask consent; and here was a source of some real agitation
to the mind of Isabella. Catherine endeavoured to persuade her, as she
was herself persuaded, that her father and mother would never oppose
their son’s wishes. “It is impossible,” said she, “for parents to be
more kind, or more desirous of their children’s happiness; I have no
doubt of their consenting immediately.”

“Morland says exactly the same,” replied Isabella; “and yet I dare not
expect it; my fortune will be so small; they never can consent to it.
Your brother, who might marry anybody!”

Here Catherine again discerned the force of love.

“Indeed, Isabella, you are too humble. The difference of fortune can be
nothing to signify.”

“Oh! My sweet Catherine, in your generous heart I know it would signify
nothing; but we must not expect such disinterestedness in many. As for
myself, I am sure I only wish our situations were reversed. Had I the
command of millions, were I mistress of the whole world, your brother
would be my only choice.”

This charming sentiment, recommended as much by sense as novelty,
gave Catherine a most pleasing remembrance of all the heroines of her
acquaintance; and she thought her friend never looked more lovely than
in uttering the grand idea. “I am sure they will consent,” was her
frequent declaration; “I am sure they will be delighted with you.”

“For my own part,” said Isabella, “my wishes are so moderate that the
smallest income in nature would be enough for me. Where people are
really attached, poverty itself is wealth; grandeur I detest: I would
not settle in London for the universe. A cottage in some retired village
would be ecstasy. There are some charming little villas about Richmond.”

“Richmond!” cried Catherine. “You must settle near Fullerton. You must
be near us.”

“I am sure I shall be miserable if we do not. If I can but be near you,
I shall be satisfied. But this is idle talking! I will not allow myself
to think of such things, till we have your father’s answer. Morland
says that by sending it tonight to Salisbury, we may have it tomorrow.
Tomorrow? I know I shall never have courage to open the letter. I know
it will be the death of me.”

A reverie succeeded this conviction--and when Isabella spoke again, it
was to resolve on the quality of her wedding-gown.

Their conference was put an end to by the anxious young lover himself,
who came to breathe his parting sigh before he set off for Wiltshire.
Catherine wished to congratulate him, but knew not what to say, and her
eloquence was only in her eyes. From them, however, the eight parts of
speech shone out most expressively, and James could combine them with
ease. Impatient for the realization of all that he hoped at home, his
adieus were not long; and they would have been yet shorter, had he not
been frequently detained by the urgent entreaties of his fair one that
he would go. Twice was he called almost from the door by her eagerness
to have him gone. “Indeed, Morland, I must drive you away. Consider how
far you have to ride. I cannot bear to see you linger so. For heaven’s
sake, waste no more time. There, go, go--I insist on it.”

The two friends, with hearts now more united than ever, were inseparable
for the day; and in schemes of sisterly happiness the hours flew along.
Mrs. Thorpe and her son, who were acquainted with everything, and
who seemed only to want Mr. Morland’s consent, to consider Isabella’s
engagement as the most fortunate circumstance imaginable for their
family, were allowed to join their counsels, and add their quota of
significant looks and mysterious expressions to fill up the measure
of curiosity to be raised in the unprivileged younger sisters. To
Catherine’s simple feelings, this odd sort of reserve seemed neither
kindly meant, nor consistently supported; and its unkindness she would
hardly have forborne pointing out, had its inconsistency been less their
friend; but Anne and Maria soon set her heart at ease by the sagacity of
their “I know what”; and the evening was spent in a sort of war of wit,
a display of family ingenuity, on one side in the mystery of an affected
secret, on the other of undefined discovery, all equally acute.

Catherine was with her friend again the next day, endeavouring to
support her spirits and while away the many tedious hours before
the delivery of the letters; a needful exertion, for as the time
of reasonable expectation drew near, Isabella became more and more
desponding, and before the letter arrived, had worked herself into a
state of real distress. But when it did come, where could distress
be found? “I have had no difficulty in gaining the consent of my kind
parents, and am promised that everything in their power shall be done to
forward my happiness,” were the first three lines, and in one moment
all was joyful security. The brightest glow was instantly spread over
Isabella’s features, all care and anxiety seemed removed, her spirits
became almost too high for control, and she called herself without
scruple the happiest of mortals.

Mrs. Thorpe, with tears of joy, embraced her daughter, her son, her
visitor, and could have embraced half the inhabitants of Bath with
satisfaction. Her heart was overflowing with tenderness. It was “dear
John” and “dear Catherine” at every word; “dear Anne and dear Maria”
 must immediately be made sharers in their felicity; and two “dears” at
once before the name of Isabella were not more than that beloved child
had now well earned. John himself was no skulker in joy. He not only
bestowed on Mr. Morland the high commendation of being one of the finest
fellows in the world, but swore off many sentences in his praise.

The letter, whence sprang all this felicity, was short, containing
little more than this assurance of success; and every particular was
deferred till James could write again. But for particulars Isabella
could well afford to wait. The needful was comprised in Mr. Morland’s
promise; his honour was pledged to make everything easy; and by what
means their income was to be formed, whether landed property were to
be resigned, or funded money made over, was a matter in which her
disinterested spirit took no concern. She knew enough to feel secure of
an honourable and speedy establishment, and her imagination took a rapid
flight over its attendant felicities. She saw herself at the end of
a few weeks, the gaze and admiration of every new acquaintance at
Fullerton, the envy of every valued old friend in Putney, with a
carriage at her command, a new name on her tickets, and a brilliant
exhibition of hoop rings on her finger.

When the contents of the letter were ascertained, John Thorpe, who had
only waited its arrival to begin his journey to London, prepared to set
off. “Well, Miss Morland,” said he, on finding her alone in the parlour,
“I am come to bid you good-bye.” Catherine wished him a good journey.
Without appearing to hear her, he walked to the window, fidgeted about,
hummed a tune, and seemed wholly self-occupied.

“Shall not you be late at Devizes?” said Catherine. He made no answer;
but after a minute’s silence burst out with, “A famous good thing this
marrying scheme, upon my soul! A clever fancy of Morland’s and Belle’s.
What do you think of it, Miss Morland? I say it is no bad notion.”

“I am sure I think it a very good one.”

“Do you? That’s honest, by heavens! I am glad you are no enemy to
matrimony, however. Did you ever hear the old song ‘Going to One Wedding
Brings on Another?’ I say, you will come to Belle’s wedding, I hope.”

“Yes; I have promised your sister to be with her, if possible.”

“And then you know”--twisting himself about and forcing a foolish
laugh--“I say, then you know, we may try the truth of this same old
song.”

“May we? But I never sing. Well, I wish you a good journey. I dine with
Miss Tilney today, and must now be going home.”

“Nay, but there is no such confounded hurry. Who knows when we may
be together again? Not but that I shall be down again by the end of a
fortnight, and a devilish long fortnight it will appear to me.”

“Then why do you stay away so long?” replied Catherine--finding that he
waited for an answer.

“That is kind of you, however--kind and good-natured. I shall not forget
it in a hurry. But you have more good nature and all that, than anybody
living, I believe. A monstrous deal of good nature, and it is not only
good nature, but you have so much, so much of everything; and then you
have such--upon my soul, I do not know anybody like you.”

“Oh! dear, there are a great many people like me, I dare say, only a
great deal better. Good morning to you.”

“But I say, Miss Morland, I shall come and pay my respects at Fullerton
before it is long, if not disagreeable.”

“Pray do. My father and mother will be very glad to see you.”

“And I hope--I hope, Miss Morland, you will not be sorry to see me.”

“Oh! dear, not at all. There are very few people I am sorry to see.
Company is always cheerful.”

“That is just my way of thinking. Give me but a little cheerful company,
let me only have the company of the people I love, let me only be where
I like and with whom I like, and the devil take the rest, say I. And
I am heartily glad to hear you say the same. But I have a notion, Miss
Morland, you and I think pretty much alike upon most matters.”

“Perhaps we may; but it is more than I ever thought of. And as to most
matters, to say the truth, there are not many that I know my own mind
about.”

“By Jove, no more do I. It is not my way to bother my brains with what
does not concern me. My notion of things is simple enough. Let me only
have the girl I like, say I, with a comfortable house over my head, and
what care I for all the rest? Fortune is nothing. I am sure of a good
income of my own; and if she had not a penny, why, so much the better.”

“Very true. I think like you there. If there is a good fortune on one
side, there can be no occasion for any on the other. No matter which
has it, so that there is enough. I hate the idea of one great fortune
looking out for another. And to marry for money I think the wickedest
thing in existence. Good day. We shall be very glad to see you at
Fullerton, whenever it is convenient.” And away she went. It was not in
the power of all his gallantry to detain her longer. With such news to
communicate, and such a visit to prepare for, her departure was not
to be delayed by anything in his nature to urge; and she hurried away,
leaving him to the undivided consciousness of his own happy address, and
her explicit encouragement.

The agitation which she had herself experienced on first learning her
brother’s engagement made her expect to raise no inconsiderable emotion
in Mr. and Mrs. Allen, by the communication of the wonderful event. How
great was her disappointment! The important affair, which many words of
preparation ushered in, had been foreseen by them both ever since
her brother’s arrival; and all that they felt on the occasion was
comprehended in a wish for the young people’s happiness, with a remark,
on the gentleman’s side, in favour of Isabella’s beauty, and on the
lady’s, of her great good luck. It was to Catherine the most surprising
insensibility. The disclosure, however, of the great secret of James’s
going to Fullerton the day before, did raise some emotion in Mrs. Allen.
She could not listen to that with perfect calmness, but repeatedly
regretted the necessity of its concealment, wished she could have known
his intention, wished she could have seen him before he went, as she
should certainly have troubled him with her best regards to his father
and mother, and her kind compliments to all the Skinners.



CHAPTER 16


Catherine’s expectations of pleasure from her visit in Milsom Street
were so very high that disappointment was inevitable; and accordingly,
though she was most politely received by General Tilney, and kindly
welcomed by his daughter, though Henry was at home, and no one else of
the party, she found, on her return, without spending many hours in
the examination of her feelings, that she had gone to her appointment
preparing for happiness which it had not afforded. Instead of finding
herself improved in acquaintance with Miss Tilney, from the intercourse
of the day, she seemed hardly so intimate with her as before; instead
of seeing Henry Tilney to greater advantage than ever, in the ease of a
family party, he had never said so little, nor been so little agreeable;
and, in spite of their father’s great civilities to her--in spite of his
thanks, invitations, and compliments--it had been a release to get
away from him. It puzzled her to account for all this. It could not
be General Tilney’s fault. That he was perfectly agreeable and
good-natured, and altogether a very charming man, did not admit of a
doubt, for he was tall and handsome, and Henry’s father. He could not
be accountable for his children’s want of spirits, or for her want of
enjoyment in his company. The former she hoped at last might have
been accidental, and the latter she could only attribute to her own
stupidity. Isabella, on hearing the particulars of the visit, gave
a different explanation: “It was all pride, pride, insufferable
haughtiness and pride! She had long suspected the family to be very
high, and this made it certain. Such insolence of behaviour as Miss
Tilney’s she had never heard of in her life! Not to do the honours of
her house with common good breeding! To behave to her guest with such
superciliousness! Hardly even to speak to her!”

“But it was not so bad as that, Isabella; there was no superciliousness;
she was very civil.”

“Oh! Don’t defend her! And then the brother, he, who had appeared
so attached to you! Good heavens! Well, some people’s feelings are
incomprehensible. And so he hardly looked once at you the whole day?”

“I do not say so; but he did not seem in good spirits.”

“How contemptible! Of all things in the world inconstancy is my
aversion. Let me entreat you never to think of him again, my dear
Catherine; indeed he is unworthy of you.”

“Unworthy! I do not suppose he ever thinks of me.”

“That is exactly what I say; he never thinks of you. Such fickleness!
Oh! How different to your brother and to mine! I really believe John has
the most constant heart.”

“But as for General Tilney, I assure you it would be impossible for
anybody to behave to me with greater civility and attention; it seemed
to be his only care to entertain and make me happy.”

“Oh! I know no harm of him; I do not suspect him of pride. I believe he
is a very gentleman-like man. John thinks very well of him, and John’s
judgment--”

“Well, I shall see how they behave to me this evening; we shall meet
them at the rooms.”

“And must I go?”

“Do not you intend it? I thought it was all settled.”

“Nay, since you make such a point of it, I can refuse you nothing. But
do not insist upon my being very agreeable, for my heart, you know, will
be some forty miles off. And as for dancing, do not mention it, I beg;
that is quite out of the question. Charles Hodges will plague me to
death, I dare say; but I shall cut him very short. Ten to one but he
guesses the reason, and that is exactly what I want to avoid, so I shall
insist on his keeping his conjecture to himself.”

Isabella’s opinion of the Tilneys did not influence her friend; she was
sure there had been no insolence in the manners either of brother or
sister; and she did not credit there being any pride in their hearts.
The evening rewarded her confidence; she was met by one with the same
kindness, and by the other with the same attention, as heretofore: Miss
Tilney took pains to be near her, and Henry asked her to dance.

Having heard the day before in Milsom Street that their elder brother,
Captain Tilney, was expected almost every hour, she was at no loss for
the name of a very fashionable-looking, handsome young man, whom she had
never seen before, and who now evidently belonged to their party. She
looked at him with great admiration, and even supposed it possible that
some people might think him handsomer than his brother, though, in her
eyes, his air was more assuming, and his countenance less prepossessing.
His taste and manners were beyond a doubt decidedly inferior; for,
within her hearing, he not only protested against every thought of
dancing himself, but even laughed openly at Henry for finding it
possible. From the latter circumstance it may be presumed that, whatever
might be our heroine’s opinion of him, his admiration of her was not
of a very dangerous kind; not likely to produce animosities between the
brothers, nor persecutions to the lady. He cannot be the instigator of
the three villains in horsemen’s greatcoats, by whom she will hereafter
be forced into a traveling-chaise and four, which will drive off with
incredible speed. Catherine, meanwhile, undisturbed by presentiments of
such an evil, or of any evil at all, except that of having but a short
set to dance down, enjoyed her usual happiness with Henry Tilney,
listening with sparkling eyes to everything he said; and, in finding him
irresistible, becoming so herself.

At the end of the first dance, Captain Tilney came towards them again,
and, much to Catherine’s dissatisfaction, pulled his brother away. They
retired whispering together; and, though her delicate sensibility did
not take immediate alarm, and lay it down as fact, that Captain Tilney
must have heard some malevolent misrepresentation of her, which he now
hastened to communicate to his brother, in the hope of separating them
forever, she could not have her partner conveyed from her sight without
very uneasy sensations. Her suspense was of full five minutes’ duration;
and she was beginning to think it a very long quarter of an hour, when
they both returned, and an explanation was given, by Henry’s requesting
to know if she thought her friend, Miss Thorpe, would have any objection
to dancing, as his brother would be most happy to be introduced to
her. Catherine, without hesitation, replied that she was very sure Miss
Thorpe did not mean to dance at all. The cruel reply was passed on to
the other, and he immediately walked away.

“Your brother will not mind it, I know,” said she, “because I heard him
say before that he hated dancing; but it was very good-natured in him
to think of it. I suppose he saw Isabella sitting down, and fancied she
might wish for a partner; but he is quite mistaken, for she would not
dance upon any account in the world.”

Henry smiled, and said, “How very little trouble it can give you to
understand the motive of other people’s actions.”

“Why? What do you mean?”

“With you, it is not, How is such a one likely to be influenced, What
is the inducement most likely to act upon such a person’s feelings, age,
situation, and probable habits of life considered--but, How should I be
influenced, What would be my inducement in acting so and so?”

“I do not understand you.”

“Then we are on very unequal terms, for I understand you perfectly
well.”

“Me? Yes; I cannot speak well enough to be unintelligible.”

“Bravo! An excellent satire on modern language.”

“But pray tell me what you mean.”

“Shall I indeed? Do you really desire it? But you are not aware of the
consequences; it will involve you in a very cruel embarrassment, and
certainly bring on a disagreement between us.”

“No, no; it shall not do either; I am not afraid.”

“Well, then, I only meant that your attributing my brother’s wish of
dancing with Miss Thorpe to good nature alone convinced me of your being
superior in good nature yourself to all the rest of the world.”

Catherine blushed and disclaimed, and the gentleman’s predictions were
verified. There was a something, however, in his words which repaid her
for the pain of confusion; and that something occupied her mind so much
that she drew back for some time, forgetting to speak or to listen, and
almost forgetting where she was; till, roused by the voice of Isabella,
she looked up and saw her with Captain Tilney preparing to give them
hands across.

Isabella shrugged her shoulders and smiled, the only explanation of this
extraordinary change which could at that time be given; but as it
was not quite enough for Catherine’s comprehension, she spoke her
astonishment in very plain terms to her partner.

“I cannot think how it could happen! Isabella was so determined not to
dance.”

“And did Isabella never change her mind before?”

“Oh! But, because--And your brother! After what you told him from me,
how could he think of going to ask her?”

“I cannot take surprise to myself on that head. You bid me be surprised
on your friend’s account, and therefore I am; but as for my brother, his
conduct in the business, I must own, has been no more than I believed
him perfectly equal to. The fairness of your friend was an open
attraction; her firmness, you know, could only be understood by
yourself.”

“You are laughing; but, I assure you, Isabella is very firm in general.”

“It is as much as should be said of anyone. To be always firm must be
to be often obstinate. When properly to relax is the trial of judgment;
and, without reference to my brother, I really think Miss Thorpe has by
no means chosen ill in fixing on the present hour.”

The friends were not able to get together for any confidential discourse
till all the dancing was over; but then, as they walked about the room
arm in arm, Isabella thus explained herself: “I do not wonder at your
surprise; and I am really fatigued to death. He is such a rattle!
Amusing enough, if my mind had been disengaged; but I would have given
the world to sit still.”

“Then why did not you?”

“Oh! My dear! It would have looked so particular; and you know how I
abhor doing that. I refused him as long as I possibly could, but he
would take no denial. You have no idea how he pressed me. I begged him
to excuse me, and get some other partner--but no, not he; after aspiring
to my hand, there was nobody else in the room he could bear to think of;
and it was not that he wanted merely to dance, he wanted to be with
me. Oh! Such nonsense! I told him he had taken a very unlikely way to
prevail upon me; for, of all things in the world, I hated fine speeches
and compliments; and so--and so then I found there would be no peace if
I did not stand up. Besides, I thought Mrs. Hughes, who introduced him,
might take it ill if I did not: and your dear brother, I am sure he
would have been miserable if I had sat down the whole evening. I am
so glad it is over! My spirits are quite jaded with listening to his
nonsense: and then, being such a smart young fellow, I saw every eye was
upon us.”

“He is very handsome indeed.”

“Handsome! Yes, I suppose he may. I dare say people would admire him
in general; but he is not at all in my style of beauty. I hate a florid
complexion and dark eyes in a man. However, he is very well. Amazingly
conceited, I am sure. I took him down several times, you know, in my
way.”

When the young ladies next met, they had a far more interesting subject
to discuss. James Morland’s second letter was then received, and the
kind intentions of his father fully explained. A living, of which Mr.
Morland was himself patron and incumbent, of about four hundred pounds
yearly value, was to be resigned to his son as soon as he should be
old enough to take it; no trifling deduction from the family income, no
niggardly assignment to one of ten children. An estate of at least equal
value, moreover, was assured as his future inheritance.

James expressed himself on the occasion with becoming gratitude; and
the necessity of waiting between two and three years before they could
marry, being, however unwelcome, no more than he had expected, was borne
by him without discontent. Catherine, whose expectations had been as
unfixed as her ideas of her father’s income, and whose judgment was now
entirely led by her brother, felt equally well satisfied, and heartily
congratulated Isabella on having everything so pleasantly settled.

“It is very charming indeed,” said Isabella, with a grave face. “Mr.
Morland has behaved vastly handsome indeed,” said the gentle Mrs.
Thorpe, looking anxiously at her daughter. “I only wish I could do as
much. One could not expect more from him, you know. If he finds he
can do more by and by, I dare say he will, for I am sure he must be an
excellent good-hearted man. Four hundred is but a small income to begin
on indeed, but your wishes, my dear Isabella, are so moderate, you do
not consider how little you ever want, my dear.”

“It is not on my own account I wish for more; but I cannot bear to
be the means of injuring my dear Morland, making him sit down upon an
income hardly enough to find one in the common necessaries of life. For
myself, it is nothing; I never think of myself.”

“I know you never do, my dear; and you will always find your reward in
the affection it makes everybody feel for you. There never was a young
woman so beloved as you are by everybody that knows you; and I dare say
when Mr. Morland sees you, my dear child--but do not let us distress
our dear Catherine by talking of such things. Mr. Morland has behaved so
very handsome, you know. I always heard he was a most excellent man;
and you know, my dear, we are not to suppose but what, if you had had a
suitable fortune, he would have come down with something more, for I am
sure he must be a most liberal-minded man.”

“Nobody can think better of Mr. Morland than I do, I am sure. But
everybody has their failing, you know, and everybody has a right to
do what they like with their own money.” Catherine was hurt by these
insinuations. “I am very sure,” said she, “that my father has promised
to do as much as he can afford.”

Isabella recollected herself. “As to that, my sweet Catherine, there
cannot be a doubt, and you know me well enough to be sure that a much
smaller income would satisfy me. It is not the want of more money that
makes me just at present a little out of spirits; I hate money; and if
our union could take place now upon only fifty pounds a year, I should
not have a wish unsatisfied. Ah! my Catherine, you have found me out.
There’s the sting. The long, long, endless two years and half that are
to pass before your brother can hold the living.”

“Yes, yes, my darling Isabella,” said Mrs. Thorpe, “we perfectly see
into your heart. You have no disguise. We perfectly understand the
present vexation; and everybody must love you the better for such a
noble honest affection.”

Catherine’s uncomfortable feelings began to lessen. She endeavoured to
believe that the delay of the marriage was the only source of Isabella’s
regret; and when she saw her at their next interview as cheerful and
amiable as ever, endeavoured to forget that she had for a minute thought
otherwise. James soon followed his letter, and was received with the
most gratifying kindness.



CHAPTER 17


The Allens had now entered on the sixth week of their stay in Bath; and
whether it should be the last was for some time a question, to which
Catherine listened with a beating heart. To have her acquaintance with
the Tilneys end so soon was an evil which nothing could counterbalance.
Her whole happiness seemed at stake, while the affair was in suspense,
and everything secured when it was determined that the lodgings should
be taken for another fortnight. What this additional fortnight was to
produce to her beyond the pleasure of sometimes seeing Henry Tilney made
but a small part of Catherine’s speculation. Once or twice indeed, since
James’s engagement had taught her what could be done, she had got so
far as to indulge in a secret “perhaps,” but in general the felicity of
being with him for the present bounded her views: the present was now
comprised in another three weeks, and her happiness being certain for
that period, the rest of her life was at such a distance as to excite
but little interest. In the course of the morning which saw this
business arranged, she visited Miss Tilney, and poured forth her
joyful feelings. It was doomed to be a day of trial. No sooner had she
expressed her delight in Mr. Allen’s lengthened stay than Miss Tilney
told her of her father’s having just determined upon quitting Bath
by the end of another week. Here was a blow! The past suspense of
the morning had been ease and quiet to the present disappointment.
Catherine’s countenance fell, and in a voice of most sincere concern she
echoed Miss Tilney’s concluding words, “By the end of another week!”

“Yes, my father can seldom be prevailed on to give the waters what I
think a fair trial. He has been disappointed of some friends’ arrival
whom he expected to meet here, and as he is now pretty well, is in a
hurry to get home.”

“I am very sorry for it,” said Catherine dejectedly; “if I had known
this before--”

“Perhaps,” said Miss Tilney in an embarrassed manner, “you would be so
good--it would make me very happy if--”

The entrance of her father put a stop to the civility, which Catherine
was beginning to hope might introduce a desire of their corresponding.
After addressing her with his usual politeness, he turned to his
daughter and said, “Well, Eleanor, may I congratulate you on being
successful in your application to your fair friend?”

“I was just beginning to make the request, sir, as you came in.”

“Well, proceed by all means. I know how much your heart is in it. My
daughter, Miss Morland,” he continued, without leaving his daughter time
to speak, “has been forming a very bold wish. We leave Bath, as she has
perhaps told you, on Saturday se’nnight. A letter from my steward tells
me that my presence is wanted at home; and being disappointed in my hope
of seeing the Marquis of Longtown and General Courteney here, some of
my very old friends, there is nothing to detain me longer in Bath. And
could we carry our selfish point with you, we should leave it without a
single regret. Can you, in short, be prevailed on to quit this scene
of public triumph and oblige your friend Eleanor with your company in
Gloucestershire? I am almost ashamed to make the request, though its
presumption would certainly appear greater to every creature in Bath
than yourself. Modesty such as yours--but not for the world would I pain
it by open praise. If you can be induced to honour us with a visit,
you will make us happy beyond expression. ‘Tis true, we can offer you
nothing like the gaieties of this lively place; we can tempt you neither
by amusement nor splendour, for our mode of living, as you see, is plain
and unpretending; yet no endeavours shall be wanting on our side to make
Northanger Abbey not wholly disagreeable.”

Northanger Abbey! These were thrilling words, and wound up Catherine’s
feelings to the highest point of ecstasy. Her grateful and gratified
heart could hardly restrain its expressions within the language of
tolerable calmness. To receive so flattering an invitation! To have her
company so warmly solicited! Everything honourable and soothing, every
present enjoyment, and every future hope was contained in it; and her
acceptance, with only the saving clause of Papa and Mamma’s approbation,
was eagerly given. “I will write home directly,” said she, “and if they
do not object, as I dare say they will not--”

General Tilney was not less sanguine, having already waited on her
excellent friends in Pulteney Street, and obtained their sanction of
his wishes. “Since they can consent to part with you,” said he, “we may
expect philosophy from all the world.”

Miss Tilney was earnest, though gentle, in her secondary civilities, and
the affair became in a few minutes as nearly settled as this necessary
reference to Fullerton would allow.

The circumstances of the morning had led Catherine’s feelings through
the varieties of suspense, security, and disappointment; but they were
now safely lodged in perfect bliss; and with spirits elated to rapture,
with Henry at her heart, and Northanger Abbey on her lips, she
hurried home to write her letter. Mr. and Mrs. Morland, relying on
the discretion of the friends to whom they had already entrusted their
daughter, felt no doubt of the propriety of an acquaintance which had
been formed under their eye, and sent therefore by return of post their
ready consent to her visit in Gloucestershire. This indulgence, though
not more than Catherine had hoped for, completed her conviction of being
favoured beyond every other human creature, in friends and fortune,
circumstance and chance. Everything seemed to cooperate for her
advantage. By the kindness of her first friends, the Allens, she had
been introduced into scenes where pleasures of every kind had met her.
Her feelings, her preferences, had each known the happiness of a return.
Wherever she felt attachment, she had been able to create it. The
affection of Isabella was to be secured to her in a sister. The Tilneys,
they, by whom, above all, she desired to be favourably thought of,
outstripped even her wishes in the flattering measures by which their
intimacy was to be continued. She was to be their chosen visitor, she
was to be for weeks under the same roof with the person whose society
she mostly prized--and, in addition to all the rest, this roof was to
be the roof of an abbey! Her passion for ancient edifices was next in
degree to her passion for Henry Tilney--and castles and abbeys made
usually the charm of those reveries which his image did not fill. To see
and explore either the ramparts and keep of the one, or the cloisters
of the other, had been for many weeks a darling wish, though to be more
than the visitor of an hour had seemed too nearly impossible for desire.
And yet, this was to happen. With all the chances against her of house,
hall, place, park, court, and cottage, Northanger turned up an abbey,
and she was to be its inhabitant. Its long, damp passages, its narrow
cells and ruined chapel, were to be within her daily reach, and she
could not entirely subdue the hope of some traditional legends, some
awful memorials of an injured and ill-fated nun.

It was wonderful that her friends should seem so little elated by the
possession of such a home, that the consciousness of it should be so
meekly borne. The power of early habit only could account for it. A
distinction to which they had been born gave no pride. Their superiority
of abode was no more to them than their superiority of person.

Many were the inquiries she was eager to make of Miss Tilney; but so
active were her thoughts, that when these inquiries were answered, she
was hardly more assured than before, of Northanger Abbey having been
a richly endowed convent at the time of the Reformation, of its having
fallen into the hands of an ancestor of the Tilneys on its dissolution,
of a large portion of the ancient building still making a part of the
present dwelling although the rest was decayed, or of its standing low
in a valley, sheltered from the north and east by rising woods of oak.



CHAPTER 18


With a mind thus full of happiness, Catherine was hardly aware that two
or three days had passed away, without her seeing Isabella for more than
a few minutes together. She began first to be sensible of this, and
to sigh for her conversation, as she walked along the pump-room one
morning, by Mrs. Allen’s side, without anything to say or to hear; and
scarcely had she felt a five minutes’ longing of friendship, before the
object of it appeared, and inviting her to a secret conference, led the
way to a seat. “This is my favourite place,” said she as they sat
down on a bench between the doors, which commanded a tolerable view of
everybody entering at either; “it is so out of the way.”

Catherine, observing that Isabella’s eyes were continually bent towards
one door or the other, as in eager expectation, and remembering how
often she had been falsely accused of being arch, thought the present a
fine opportunity for being really so; and therefore gaily said, “Do not
be uneasy, Isabella, James will soon be here.”

“Psha! My dear creature,” she replied, “do not think me such a simpleton
as to be always wanting to confine him to my elbow. It would be hideous
to be always together; we should be the jest of the place. And so you
are going to Northanger! I am amazingly glad of it. It is one of the
finest old places in England, I understand. I shall depend upon a most
particular description of it.”

“You shall certainly have the best in my power to give. But who are you
looking for? Are your sisters coming?”

“I am not looking for anybody. One’s eyes must be somewhere, and you
know what a foolish trick I have of fixing mine, when my thoughts are an
hundred miles off. I am amazingly absent; I believe I am the most absent
creature in the world. Tilney says it is always the case with minds of a
certain stamp.”

“But I thought, Isabella, you had something in particular to tell me?”

“Oh! Yes, and so I have. But here is a proof of what I was saying. My
poor head, I had quite forgot it. Well, the thing is this: I have just
had a letter from John; you can guess the contents.”

“No, indeed, I cannot.”

“My sweet love, do not be so abominably affected. What can he write
about, but yourself? You know he is over head and ears in love with
you.”

“With me, dear Isabella!”

“Nay, my sweetest Catherine, this is being quite absurd! Modesty, and
all that, is very well in its way, but really a little common honesty is
sometimes quite as becoming. I have no idea of being so overstrained!
It is fishing for compliments. His attentions were such as a child must
have noticed. And it was but half an hour before he left Bath that you
gave him the most positive encouragement. He says so in this letter,
says that he as good as made you an offer, and that you received his
advances in the kindest way; and now he wants me to urge his suit,
and say all manner of pretty things to you. So it is in vain to affect
ignorance.”

Catherine, with all the earnestness of truth, expressed her astonishment
at such a charge, protesting her innocence of every thought of Mr.
Thorpe’s being in love with her, and the consequent impossibility of
her having ever intended to encourage him. “As to any attentions on his
side, I do declare, upon my honour, I never was sensible of them for a
moment--except just his asking me to dance the first day of his coming.
And as to making me an offer, or anything like it, there must be some
unaccountable mistake. I could not have misunderstood a thing of that
kind, you know! And, as I ever wish to be believed, I solemnly protest
that no syllable of such a nature ever passed between us. The last half
hour before he went away! It must be all and completely a mistake--for I
did not see him once that whole morning.”

“But that you certainly did, for you spent the whole morning in Edgar’s
Buildings--it was the day your father’s consent came--and I am pretty
sure that you and John were alone in the parlour some time before you
left the house.”

“Are you? Well, if you say it, it was so, I dare say--but for the life
of me, I cannot recollect it. I do remember now being with you, and
seeing him as well as the rest--but that we were ever alone for five
minutes--However, it is not worth arguing about, for whatever might pass
on his side, you must be convinced, by my having no recollection of it,
that I never thought, nor expected, nor wished for anything of the kind
from him. I am excessively concerned that he should have any regard for
me--but indeed it has been quite unintentional on my side; I never had
the smallest idea of it. Pray undeceive him as soon as you can, and tell
him I beg his pardon--that is--I do not know what I ought to say--but
make him understand what I mean, in the properest way. I would not speak
disrespectfully of a brother of yours, Isabella, I am sure; but you know
very well that if I could think of one man more than another--he is not
the person.” Isabella was silent. “My dear friend, you must not be angry
with me. I cannot suppose your brother cares so very much about me. And,
you know, we shall still be sisters.”

“Yes, yes” (with a blush), “there are more ways than one of our being
sisters. But where am I wandering to? Well, my dear Catherine, the case
seems to be that you are determined against poor John--is not it so?”

“I certainly cannot return his affection, and as certainly never meant
to encourage it.”

“Since that is the case, I am sure I shall not tease you any further.
John desired me to speak to you on the subject, and therefore I have.
But I confess, as soon as I read his letter, I thought it a very
foolish, imprudent business, and not likely to promote the good of
either; for what were you to live upon, supposing you came together? You
have both of you something, to be sure, but it is not a trifle that will
support a family nowadays; and after all that romancers may say, there
is no doing without money. I only wonder John could think of it; he
could not have received my last.”

“You do acquit me, then, of anything wrong?--You are convinced that I
never meant to deceive your brother, never suspected him of liking me
till this moment?”

“Oh! As to that,” answered Isabella laughingly, “I do not pretend to
determine what your thoughts and designs in time past may have been. All
that is best known to yourself. A little harmless flirtation or so will
occur, and one is often drawn on to give more encouragement than one
wishes to stand by. But you may be assured that I am the last person in
the world to judge you severely. All those things should be allowed for
in youth and high spirits. What one means one day, you know, one may not
mean the next. Circumstances change, opinions alter.”

“But my opinion of your brother never did alter; it was always the same.
You are describing what never happened.”

“My dearest Catherine,” continued the other without at all listening to
her, “I would not for all the world be the means of hurrying you into an
engagement before you knew what you were about. I do not think anything
would justify me in wishing you to sacrifice all your happiness merely
to oblige my brother, because he is my brother, and who perhaps after
all, you know, might be just as happy without you, for people seldom
know what they would be at, young men especially, they are so amazingly
changeable and inconstant. What I say is, why should a brother’s
happiness be dearer to me than a friend’s? You know I carry my notions
of friendship pretty high. But, above all things, my dear Catherine, do
not be in a hurry. Take my word for it, that if you are in too great
a hurry, you will certainly live to repent it. Tilney says there is
nothing people are so often deceived in as the state of their own
affections, and I believe he is very right. Ah! Here he comes; never
mind, he will not see us, I am sure.”

Catherine, looking up, perceived Captain Tilney; and Isabella,
earnestly fixing her eye on him as she spoke, soon caught his notice. He
approached immediately, and took the seat to which her movements invited
him. His first address made Catherine start. Though spoken low, she
could distinguish, “What! Always to be watched, in person or by proxy!”

“Psha, nonsense!” was Isabella’s answer in the same half whisper. “Why
do you put such things into my head? If I could believe it--my spirit,
you know, is pretty independent.”

“I wish your heart were independent. That would be enough for me.”

“My heart, indeed! What can you have to do with hearts? You men have
none of you any hearts.”

“If we have not hearts, we have eyes; and they give us torment enough.”

“Do they? I am sorry for it; I am sorry they find anything so
disagreeable in me. I will look another way. I hope this pleases you”
 (turning her back on him); “I hope your eyes are not tormented now.”

“Never more so; for the edge of a blooming cheek is still in view--at
once too much and too little.”

Catherine heard all this, and quite out of countenance, could listen
no longer. Amazed that Isabella could endure it, and jealous for her
brother, she rose up, and saying she should join Mrs. Allen, proposed
their walking. But for this Isabella showed no inclination. She was so
amazingly tired, and it was so odious to parade about the pump-room;
and if she moved from her seat she should miss her sisters; she was
expecting her sisters every moment; so that her dearest Catherine must
excuse her, and must sit quietly down again. But Catherine could be
stubborn too; and Mrs. Allen just then coming up to propose their
returning home, she joined her and walked out of the pump-room, leaving
Isabella still sitting with Captain Tilney. With much uneasiness did
she thus leave them. It seemed to her that Captain Tilney was falling
in love with Isabella, and Isabella unconsciously encouraging him;
unconsciously it must be, for Isabella’s attachment to James was as
certain and well acknowledged as her engagement. To doubt her truth
or good intentions was impossible; and yet, during the whole of their
conversation her manner had been odd. She wished Isabella had talked
more like her usual self, and not so much about money, and had not
looked so well pleased at the sight of Captain Tilney. How strange that
she should not perceive his admiration! Catherine longed to give her a
hint of it, to put her on her guard, and prevent all the pain which
her too lively behaviour might otherwise create both for him and her
brother.

The compliment of John Thorpe’s affection did not make amends for this
thoughtlessness in his sister. She was almost as far from believing as
from wishing it to be sincere; for she had not forgotten that he
could mistake, and his assertion of the offer and of her encouragement
convinced her that his mistakes could sometimes be very egregious.
In vanity, therefore, she gained but little; her chief profit was in
wonder. That he should think it worth his while to fancy himself in love
with her was a matter of lively astonishment. Isabella talked of his
attentions; she had never been sensible of any; but Isabella had said
many things which she hoped had been spoken in haste, and would never
be said again; and upon this she was glad to rest altogether for present
ease and comfort.



CHAPTER 19


A few days passed away, and Catherine, though not allowing herself to
suspect her friend, could not help watching her closely. The result of
her observations was not agreeable. Isabella seemed an altered creature.
When she saw her, indeed, surrounded only by their immediate friends
in Edgar’s Buildings or Pulteney Street, her change of manners was so
trifling that, had it gone no farther, it might have passed unnoticed.
A something of languid indifference, or of that boasted absence of
mind which Catherine had never heard of before, would occasionally come
across her; but had nothing worse appeared, that might only have spread
a new grace and inspired a warmer interest. But when Catherine saw her
in public, admitting Captain Tilney’s attentions as readily as they were
offered, and allowing him almost an equal share with James in her notice
and smiles, the alteration became too positive to be passed over. What
could be meant by such unsteady conduct, what her friend could be at,
was beyond her comprehension. Isabella could not be aware of the pain
she was inflicting; but it was a degree of wilful thoughtlessness which
Catherine could not but resent. James was the sufferer. She saw him
grave and uneasy; and however careless of his present comfort the woman
might be who had given him her heart, to her it was always an object.
For poor Captain Tilney too she was greatly concerned. Though his looks
did not please her, his name was a passport to her goodwill, and she
thought with sincere compassion of his approaching disappointment; for,
in spite of what she had believed herself to overhear in the pump-room,
his behaviour was so incompatible with a knowledge of Isabella’s
engagement that she could not, upon reflection, imagine him aware of it.
He might be jealous of her brother as a rival, but if more had seemed
implied, the fault must have been in her misapprehension. She wished, by
a gentle remonstrance, to remind Isabella of her situation, and make
her aware of this double unkindness; but for remonstrance, either
opportunity or comprehension was always against her. If able to suggest
a hint, Isabella could never understand it. In this distress, the
intended departure of the Tilney family became her chief consolation;
their journey into Gloucestershire was to take place within a few days,
and Captain Tilney’s removal would at least restore peace to every heart
but his own. But Captain Tilney had at present no intention of removing;
he was not to be of the party to Northanger; he was to continue at Bath.
When Catherine knew this, her resolution was directly made. She spoke to
Henry Tilney on the subject, regretting his brother’s evident partiality
for Miss Thorpe, and entreating him to make known her prior engagement.

“My brother does know it,” was Henry’s answer.

“Does he? Then why does he stay here?”

He made no reply, and was beginning to talk of something else; but she
eagerly continued, “Why do not you persuade him to go away? The longer
he stays, the worse it will be for him at last. Pray advise him for his
own sake, and for everybody’s sake, to leave Bath directly. Absence will
in time make him comfortable again; but he can have no hope here, and it
is only staying to be miserable.”

Henry smiled and said, “I am sure my brother would not wish to do that.”

“Then you will persuade him to go away?”

“Persuasion is not at command; but pardon me, if I cannot even endeavour
to persuade him. I have myself told him that Miss Thorpe is engaged. He
knows what he is about, and must be his own master.”

“No, he does not know what he is about,” cried Catherine; “he does not
know the pain he is giving my brother. Not that James has ever told me
so, but I am sure he is very uncomfortable.”

“And are you sure it is my brother’s doing?”

“Yes, very sure.”

“Is it my brother’s attentions to Miss Thorpe, or Miss Thorpe’s
admission of them, that gives the pain?”

“Is not it the same thing?”

“I think Mr. Morland would acknowledge a difference. No man is offended
by another man’s admiration of the woman he loves; it is the woman only
who can make it a torment.”

Catherine blushed for her friend, and said, “Isabella is wrong. But I
am sure she cannot mean to torment, for she is very much attached to my
brother. She has been in love with him ever since they first met, and
while my father’s consent was uncertain, she fretted herself almost into
a fever. You know she must be attached to him.”

“I understand: she is in love with James, and flirts with Frederick.”

“Oh! no, not flirts. A woman in love with one man cannot flirt with
another.”

“It is probable that she will neither love so well, nor flirt so
well, as she might do either singly. The gentlemen must each give up a
little.”

After a short pause, Catherine resumed with, “Then you do not believe
Isabella so very much attached to my brother?”

“I can have no opinion on that subject.”

“But what can your brother mean? If he knows her engagement, what can he
mean by his behaviour?”

“You are a very close questioner.”

“Am I? I only ask what I want to be told.”

“But do you only ask what I can be expected to tell?”

“Yes, I think so; for you must know your brother’s heart.”

“My brother’s heart, as you term it, on the present occasion, I assure
you I can only guess at.”

“Well?”

“Well! Nay, if it is to be guesswork, let us all guess for ourselves. To
be guided by second-hand conjecture is pitiful. The premises are before
you. My brother is a lively and perhaps sometimes a thoughtless young
man; he has had about a week’s acquaintance with your friend, and he has
known her engagement almost as long as he has known her.”

“Well,” said Catherine, after some moments’ consideration, “you may be
able to guess at your brother’s intentions from all this; but I am sure
I cannot. But is not your father uncomfortable about it? Does not he
want Captain Tilney to go away? Sure, if your father were to speak to
him, he would go.”

“My dear Miss Morland,” said Henry, “in this amiable solicitude for your
brother’s comfort, may you not be a little mistaken? Are you not carried
a little too far? Would he thank you, either on his own account or
Miss Thorpe’s, for supposing that her affection, or at least her good
behaviour, is only to be secured by her seeing nothing of Captain
Tilney? Is he safe only in solitude? Or is her heart constant to him
only when unsolicited by anyone else? He cannot think this--and you may
be sure that he would not have you think it. I will not say, ‘Do not
be uneasy,’ because I know that you are so, at this moment; but be as
little uneasy as you can. You have no doubt of the mutual attachment
of your brother and your friend; depend upon it, therefore, that
real jealousy never can exist between them; depend upon it that no
disagreement between them can be of any duration. Their hearts are open
to each other, as neither heart can be to you; they know exactly what
is required and what can be borne; and you may be certain that one will
never tease the other beyond what is known to be pleasant.”

Perceiving her still to look doubtful and grave, he added, “Though
Frederick does not leave Bath with us, he will probably remain but a
very short time, perhaps only a few days behind us. His leave of absence
will soon expire, and he must return to his regiment. And what will then
be their acquaintance? The mess-room will drink Isabella Thorpe for
a fortnight, and she will laugh with your brother over poor Tilney’s
passion for a month.”

Catherine would contend no longer against comfort. She had resisted its
approaches during the whole length of a speech, but it now carried her
captive. Henry Tilney must know best. She blamed herself for the extent
of her fears, and resolved never to think so seriously on the subject
again.

Her resolution was supported by Isabella’s behaviour in their parting
interview. The Thorpes spent the last evening of Catherine’s stay in
Pulteney Street, and nothing passed between the lovers to excite
her uneasiness, or make her quit them in apprehension. James was in
excellent spirits, and Isabella most engagingly placid. Her tenderness
for her friend seemed rather the first feeling of her heart; but that
at such a moment was allowable; and once she gave her lover a flat
contradiction, and once she drew back her hand; but Catherine remembered
Henry’s instructions, and placed it all to judicious affection. The
embraces, tears, and promises of the parting fair ones may be fancied.



CHAPTER 20


Mr. and Mrs. Allen were sorry to lose their young friend, whose good
humour and cheerfulness had made her a valuable companion, and in the
promotion of whose enjoyment their own had been gently increased. Her
happiness in going with Miss Tilney, however, prevented their wishing
it otherwise; and, as they were to remain only one more week in Bath
themselves, her quitting them now would not long be felt. Mr. Allen
attended her to Milsom Street, where she was to breakfast, and saw her
seated with the kindest welcome among her new friends; but so great was
her agitation in finding herself as one of the family, and so fearful
was she of not doing exactly what was right, and of not being able to
preserve their good opinion, that, in the embarrassment of the first
five minutes, she could almost have wished to return with him to
Pulteney Street.

Miss Tilney’s manners and Henry’s smile soon did away some of her
unpleasant feelings; but still she was far from being at ease; nor could
the incessant attentions of the general himself entirely reassure her.
Nay, perverse as it seemed, she doubted whether she might not have felt
less, had she been less attended to. His anxiety for her comfort--his
continual solicitations that she would eat, and his often-expressed
fears of her seeing nothing to her taste--though never in her life
before had she beheld half such variety on a breakfast-table--made it
impossible for her to forget for a moment that she was a visitor. She
felt utterly unworthy of such respect, and knew not how to reply to it.
Her tranquillity was not improved by the general’s impatience for the
appearance of his eldest son, nor by the displeasure he expressed at his
laziness when Captain Tilney at last came down. She was quite pained by
the severity of his father’s reproof, which seemed disproportionate to
the offence; and much was her concern increased when she found herself
the principal cause of the lecture, and that his tardiness was chiefly
resented from being disrespectful to her. This was placing her in a
very uncomfortable situation, and she felt great compassion for Captain
Tilney, without being able to hope for his goodwill.

He listened to his father in silence, and attempted not any defence,
which confirmed her in fearing that the inquietude of his mind, on
Isabella’s account, might, by keeping him long sleepless, have been
the real cause of his rising late. It was the first time of her being
decidedly in his company, and she had hoped to be now able to form
her opinion of him; but she scarcely heard his voice while his father
remained in the room; and even afterwards, so much were his spirits
affected, she could distinguish nothing but these words, in a whisper to
Eleanor, “How glad I shall be when you are all off.”

The bustle of going was not pleasant. The clock struck ten while the
trunks were carrying down, and the general had fixed to be out of Milsom
Street by that hour. His greatcoat, instead of being brought for him
to put on directly, was spread out in the curricle in which he was to
accompany his son. The middle seat of the chaise was not drawn out,
though there were three people to go in it, and his daughter’s maid had
so crowded it with parcels that Miss Morland would not have room to sit;
and, so much was he influenced by this apprehension when he handed her
in, that she had some difficulty in saving her own new writing-desk from
being thrown out into the street. At last, however, the door was closed
upon the three females, and they set off at the sober pace in which
the handsome, highly fed four horses of a gentleman usually perform a
journey of thirty miles: such was the distance of Northanger from Bath,
to be now divided into two equal stages. Catherine’s spirits revived as
they drove from the door; for with Miss Tilney she felt no restraint;
and, with the interest of a road entirely new to her, of an abbey
before, and a curricle behind, she caught the last view of Bath without
any regret, and met with every milestone before she expected it. The
tediousness of a two hours’ wait at Petty France, in which there was
nothing to be done but to eat without being hungry, and loiter about
without anything to see, next followed--and her admiration of the style
in which they travelled, of the fashionable chaise and four--postilions
handsomely liveried, rising so regularly in their stirrups, and
numerous outriders properly mounted, sunk a little under this consequent
inconvenience. Had their party been perfectly agreeable, the delay would
have been nothing; but General Tilney, though so charming a man, seemed
always a check upon his children’s spirits, and scarcely anything was
said but by himself; the observation of which, with his discontent at
whatever the inn afforded, and his angry impatience at the waiters, made
Catherine grow every moment more in awe of him, and appeared to lengthen
the two hours into four. At last, however, the order of release was
given; and much was Catherine then surprised by the general’s proposal
of her taking his place in his son’s curricle for the rest of the
journey: “the day was fine, and he was anxious for her seeing as much of
the country as possible.”

The remembrance of Mr. Allen’s opinion, respecting young men’s open
carriages, made her blush at the mention of such a plan, and her first
thought was to decline it; but her second was of greater deference for
General Tilney’s judgment; he could not propose anything improper for
her; and, in the course of a few minutes, she found herself with Henry
in the curricle, as happy a being as ever existed. A very short trial
convinced her that a curricle was the prettiest equipage in the world;
the chaise and four wheeled off with some grandeur, to be sure, but it
was a heavy and troublesome business, and she could not easily forget
its having stopped two hours at Petty France. Half the time would
have been enough for the curricle, and so nimbly were the light horses
disposed to move, that, had not the general chosen to have his own
carriage lead the way, they could have passed it with ease in half a
minute. But the merit of the curricle did not all belong to the horses;
Henry drove so well--so quietly--without making any disturbance,
without parading to her, or swearing at them: so different from the only
gentleman-coachman whom it was in her power to compare him with! And
then his hat sat so well, and the innumerable capes of his greatcoat
looked so becomingly important! To be driven by him, next to being
dancing with him, was certainly the greatest happiness in the world. In
addition to every other delight, she had now that of listening to her
own praise; of being thanked at least, on his sister’s account, for
her kindness in thus becoming her visitor; of hearing it ranked as real
friendship, and described as creating real gratitude. His sister, he
said, was uncomfortably circumstanced--she had no female companion--and,
in the frequent absence of her father, was sometimes without any
companion at all.

“But how can that be?” said Catherine. “Are not you with her?”

“Northanger is not more than half my home; I have an establishment at
my own house in Woodston, which is nearly twenty miles from my father’s,
and some of my time is necessarily spent there.”

“How sorry you must be for that!”

“I am always sorry to leave Eleanor.”

“Yes; but besides your affection for her, you must be so fond of
the abbey! After being used to such a home as the abbey, an ordinary
parsonage-house must be very disagreeable.”

He smiled, and said, “You have formed a very favourable idea of the
abbey.”

“To be sure, I have. Is not it a fine old place, just like what one
reads about?”

“And are you prepared to encounter all the horrors that a building such
as ‘what one reads about’ may produce? Have you a stout heart? Nerves
fit for sliding panels and tapestry?”

“Oh! yes--I do not think I should be easily frightened, because there
would be so many people in the house--and besides, it has never been
uninhabited and left deserted for years, and then the family come back
to it unawares, without giving any notice, as generally happens.”

“No, certainly. We shall not have to explore our way into a hall dimly
lighted by the expiring embers of a wood fire--nor be obliged to spread
our beds on the floor of a room without windows, doors, or furniture.
But you must be aware that when a young lady is (by whatever means)
introduced into a dwelling of this kind, she is always lodged apart from
the rest of the family. While they snugly repair to their own end of the
house, she is formally conducted by Dorothy, the ancient housekeeper, up
a different staircase, and along many gloomy passages, into an apartment
never used since some cousin or kin died in it about twenty years
before. Can you stand such a ceremony as this? Will not your mind
misgive you when you find yourself in this gloomy chamber--too lofty and
extensive for you, with only the feeble rays of a single lamp to take
in its size--its walls hung with tapestry exhibiting figures as large as
life, and the bed, of dark green stuff or purple velvet, presenting even
a funereal appearance? Will not your heart sink within you?”

“Oh! But this will not happen to me, I am sure.”

“How fearfully will you examine the furniture of your apartment! And
what will you discern? Not tables, toilettes, wardrobes, or drawers,
but on one side perhaps the remains of a broken lute, on the other a
ponderous chest which no efforts can open, and over the fireplace
the portrait of some handsome warrior, whose features will so
incomprehensibly strike you, that you will not be able to withdraw your
eyes from it. Dorothy, meanwhile, no less struck by your appearance,
gazes on you in great agitation, and drops a few unintelligible hints.
To raise your spirits, moreover, she gives you reason to suppose that
the part of the abbey you inhabit is undoubtedly haunted, and informs
you that you will not have a single domestic within call. With this
parting cordial she curtsies off--you listen to the sound of her
receding footsteps as long as the last echo can reach you--and when,
with fainting spirits, you attempt to fasten your door, you discover,
with increased alarm, that it has no lock.”

“Oh! Mr. Tilney, how frightful! This is just like a book! But it cannot
really happen to me. I am sure your housekeeper is not really Dorothy.
Well, what then?”

“Nothing further to alarm perhaps may occur the first night. After
surmounting your unconquerable horror of the bed, you will retire to
rest, and get a few hours’ unquiet slumber. But on the second, or at
farthest the third night after your arrival, you will probably have a
violent storm. Peals of thunder so loud as to seem to shake the edifice
to its foundation will roll round the neighbouring mountains--and during
the frightful gusts of wind which accompany it, you will probably think
you discern (for your lamp is not extinguished) one part of the hanging
more violently agitated than the rest. Unable of course to repress your
curiosity in so favourable a moment for indulging it, you will instantly
arise, and throwing your dressing-gown around you, proceed to examine
this mystery. After a very short search, you will discover a division in
the tapestry so artfully constructed as to defy the minutest inspection,
and on opening it, a door will immediately appear--which door, being
only secured by massy bars and a padlock, you will, after a few efforts,
succeed in opening--and, with your lamp in your hand, will pass through
it into a small vaulted room.”

“No, indeed; I should be too much frightened to do any such thing.”

“What! Not when Dorothy has given you to understand that there is a
secret subterraneous communication between your apartment and the chapel
of St. Anthony, scarcely two miles off? Could you shrink from so simple
an adventure? No, no, you will proceed into this small vaulted room,
and through this into several others, without perceiving anything very
remarkable in either. In one perhaps there may be a dagger, in another
a few drops of blood, and in a third the remains of some instrument of
torture; but there being nothing in all this out of the common way,
and your lamp being nearly exhausted, you will return towards your own
apartment. In repassing through the small vaulted room, however, your
eyes will be attracted towards a large, old-fashioned cabinet of ebony
and gold, which, though narrowly examining the furniture before, you
had passed unnoticed. Impelled by an irresistible presentiment, you will
eagerly advance to it, unlock its folding doors, and search into
every drawer--but for some time without discovering anything of
importance--perhaps nothing but a considerable hoard of diamonds. At
last, however, by touching a secret spring, an inner compartment will
open--a roll of paper appears--you seize it--it contains many sheets of
manuscript--you hasten with the precious treasure into your own chamber,
but scarcely have you been able to decipher ‘Oh! Thou--whomsoever thou
mayst be, into whose hands these memoirs of the wretched Matilda may
fall’--when your lamp suddenly expires in the socket, and leaves you in
total darkness.”

“Oh! No, no--do not say so. Well, go on.”

But Henry was too much amused by the interest he had raised to be able
to carry it farther; he could no longer command solemnity either of
subject or voice, and was obliged to entreat her to use her own fancy
in the perusal of Matilda’s woes. Catherine, recollecting herself, grew
ashamed of her eagerness, and began earnestly to assure him that her
attention had been fixed without the smallest apprehension of really
meeting with what he related. “Miss Tilney, she was sure, would never
put her into such a chamber as he had described! She was not at all
afraid.”

As they drew near the end of their journey, her impatience for a sight
of the abbey--for some time suspended by his conversation on subjects
very different--returned in full force, and every bend in the road was
expected with solemn awe to afford a glimpse of its massy walls of grey
stone, rising amidst a grove of ancient oaks, with the last beams of the
sun playing in beautiful splendour on its high Gothic windows. But so
low did the building stand, that she found herself passing through the
great gates of the lodge into the very grounds of Northanger, without
having discerned even an antique chimney.

She knew not that she had any right to be surprised, but there was a
something in this mode of approach which she certainly had not expected.
To pass between lodges of a modern appearance, to find herself with such
ease in the very precincts of the abbey, and driven so rapidly along a
smooth, level road of fine gravel, without obstacle, alarm, or solemnity
of any kind, struck her as odd and inconsistent. She was not long
at leisure, however, for such considerations. A sudden scud of rain,
driving full in her face, made it impossible for her to observe anything
further, and fixed all her thoughts on the welfare of her new straw
bonnet; and she was actually under the abbey walls, was springing, with
Henry’s assistance, from the carriage, was beneath the shelter of the
old porch, and had even passed on to the hall, where her friend and
the general were waiting to welcome her, without feeling one awful
foreboding of future misery to herself, or one moment’s suspicion of any
past scenes of horror being acted within the solemn edifice. The breeze
had not seemed to waft the sighs of the murdered to her; it had wafted
nothing worse than a thick mizzling rain; and having given a good shake
to her habit, she was ready to be shown into the common drawing-room,
and capable of considering where she was.

An abbey! Yes, it was delightful to be really in an abbey! But she
doubted, as she looked round the room, whether anything within her
observation would have given her the consciousness. The furniture was in
all the profusion and elegance of modern taste. The fireplace, where she
had expected the ample width and ponderous carving of former times, was
contracted to a Rumford, with slabs of plain though handsome marble, and
ornaments over it of the prettiest English china. The windows, to which
she looked with peculiar dependence, from having heard the general talk
of his preserving them in their Gothic form with reverential care, were
yet less what her fancy had portrayed. To be sure, the pointed arch
was preserved--the form of them was Gothic--they might be even
casements--but every pane was so large, so clear, so light! To an
imagination which had hoped for the smallest divisions, and the heaviest
stone-work, for painted glass, dirt, and cobwebs, the difference was
very distressing.

The general, perceiving how her eye was employed, began to talk of the
smallness of the room and simplicity of the furniture, where everything,
being for daily use, pretended only to comfort, etc.; flattering
himself, however, that there were some apartments in the Abbey not
unworthy her notice--and was proceeding to mention the costly gilding
of one in particular, when, taking out his watch, he stopped short to
pronounce it with surprise within twenty minutes of five! This seemed
the word of separation, and Catherine found herself hurried away by Miss
Tilney in such a manner as convinced her that the strictest punctuality
to the family hours would be expected at Northanger.

Returning through the large and lofty hall, they ascended a broad
staircase of shining oak, which, after many flights and many
landing-places, brought them upon a long, wide gallery. On one side it
had a range of doors, and it was lighted on the other by windows which
Catherine had only time to discover looked into a quadrangle, before
Miss Tilney led the way into a chamber, and scarcely staying to hope she
would find it comfortable, left her with an anxious entreaty that she
would make as little alteration as possible in her dress.



CHAPTER 21


A moment’s glance was enough to satisfy Catherine that her apartment
was very unlike the one which Henry had endeavoured to alarm her by the
description of. It was by no means unreasonably large, and contained
neither tapestry nor velvet. The walls were papered, the floor was
carpeted; the windows were neither less perfect nor more dim than those
of the drawing-room below; the furniture, though not of the latest
fashion, was handsome and comfortable, and the air of the room
altogether far from uncheerful. Her heart instantaneously at ease on
this point, she resolved to lose no time in particular examination of
anything, as she greatly dreaded disobliging the general by any delay.
Her habit therefore was thrown off with all possible haste, and she was
preparing to unpin the linen package, which the chaise-seat had conveyed
for her immediate accommodation, when her eye suddenly fell on a large
high chest, standing back in a deep recess on one side of the fireplace.
The sight of it made her start; and, forgetting everything else, she
stood gazing on it in motionless wonder, while these thoughts crossed
her:

“This is strange indeed! I did not expect such a sight as this! An
immense heavy chest! What can it hold? Why should it be placed here?
Pushed back too, as if meant to be out of sight! I will look into
it--cost me what it may, I will look into it--and directly too--by
daylight. If I stay till evening my candle may go out.” She advanced and
examined it closely: it was of cedar, curiously inlaid with some darker
wood, and raised, about a foot from the ground, on a carved stand of the
same. The lock was silver, though tarnished from age; at each end
were the imperfect remains of handles also of silver, broken perhaps
prematurely by some strange violence; and, on the centre of the lid, was
a mysterious cipher, in the same metal. Catherine bent over it intently,
but without being able to distinguish anything with certainty. She could
not, in whatever direction she took it, believe the last letter to be
a T; and yet that it should be anything else in that house was
a circumstance to raise no common degree of astonishment. If not
originally theirs, by what strange events could it have fallen into the
Tilney family?

Her fearful curiosity was every moment growing greater; and seizing,
with trembling hands, the hasp of the lock, she resolved at all hazards
to satisfy herself at least as to its contents. With difficulty, for
something seemed to resist her efforts, she raised the lid a few inches;
but at that moment a sudden knocking at the door of the room made her,
starting, quit her hold, and the lid closed with alarming violence. This
ill-timed intruder was Miss Tilney’s maid, sent by her mistress to be of
use to Miss Morland; and though Catherine immediately dismissed her, it
recalled her to the sense of what she ought to be doing, and forced her,
in spite of her anxious desire to penetrate this mystery, to proceed in
her dressing without further delay. Her progress was not quick, for her
thoughts and her eyes were still bent on the object so well calculated
to interest and alarm; and though she dared not waste a moment upon
a second attempt, she could not remain many paces from the chest. At
length, however, having slipped one arm into her gown, her toilette
seemed so nearly finished that the impatience of her curiosity might
safely be indulged. One moment surely might be spared; and, so desperate
should be the exertion of her strength, that, unless secured by
supernatural means, the lid in one moment should be thrown back. With
this spirit she sprang forward, and her confidence did not deceive her.
Her resolute effort threw back the lid, and gave to her astonished eyes
the view of a white cotton counterpane, properly folded, reposing at one
end of the chest in undisputed possession!

She was gazing on it with the first blush of surprise when Miss Tilney,
anxious for her friend’s being ready, entered the room, and to the
rising shame of having harboured for some minutes an absurd expectation,
was then added the shame of being caught in so idle a search. “That is
a curious old chest, is not it?” said Miss Tilney, as Catherine hastily
closed it and turned away to the glass. “It is impossible to say how
many generations it has been here. How it came to be first put in this
room I know not, but I have not had it moved, because I thought it might
sometimes be of use in holding hats and bonnets. The worst of it is that
its weight makes it difficult to open. In that corner, however, it is at
least out of the way.”

Catherine had no leisure for speech, being at once blushing, tying her
gown, and forming wise resolutions with the most violent dispatch. Miss
Tilney gently hinted her fear of being late; and in half a minute they
ran downstairs together, in an alarm not wholly unfounded, for General
Tilney was pacing the drawing-room, his watch in his hand, and having,
on the very instant of their entering, pulled the bell with violence,
ordered “Dinner to be on table directly!”

Catherine trembled at the emphasis with which he spoke, and sat pale
and breathless, in a most humble mood, concerned for his children, and
detesting old chests; and the general, recovering his politeness as he
looked at her, spent the rest of his time in scolding his daughter for
so foolishly hurrying her fair friend, who was absolutely out of breath
from haste, when there was not the least occasion for hurry in the
world: but Catherine could not at all get over the double distress
of having involved her friend in a lecture and been a great simpleton
herself, till they were happily seated at the dinner-table, when the
general’s complacent smiles, and a good appetite of her own, restored
her to peace. The dining-parlour was a noble room, suitable in its
dimensions to a much larger drawing-room than the one in common use, and
fitted up in a style of luxury and expense which was almost lost on the
unpractised eye of Catherine, who saw little more than its spaciousness
and the number of their attendants. Of the former, she spoke aloud
her admiration; and the general, with a very gracious countenance,
acknowledged that it was by no means an ill-sized room, and further
confessed that, though as careless on such subjects as most people, he
did look upon a tolerably large eating-room as one of the necessaries
of life; he supposed, however, “that she must have been used to much
better-sized apartments at Mr. Allen’s?”

“No, indeed,” was Catherine’s honest assurance; “Mr. Allen’s
dining-parlour was not more than half as large,” and she had never
seen so large a room as this in her life. The general’s good humour
increased. Why, as he had such rooms, he thought it would be simple not
to make use of them; but, upon his honour, he believed there might be
more comfort in rooms of only half their size. Mr. Allen’s house, he was
sure, must be exactly of the true size for rational happiness.

The evening passed without any further disturbance, and, in the
occasional absence of General Tilney, with much positive cheerfulness.
It was only in his presence that Catherine felt the smallest fatigue
from her journey; and even then, even in moments of languor or
restraint, a sense of general happiness preponderated, and she could
think of her friends in Bath without one wish of being with them.

The night was stormy; the wind had been rising at intervals the whole
afternoon; and by the time the party broke up, it blew and rained
violently. Catherine, as she crossed the hall, listened to the tempest
with sensations of awe; and, when she heard it rage round a corner of
the ancient building and close with sudden fury a distant door, felt
for the first time that she was really in an abbey. Yes, these were
characteristic sounds; they brought to her recollection a countless
variety of dreadful situations and horrid scenes, which such buildings
had witnessed, and such storms ushered in; and most heartily did she
rejoice in the happier circumstances attending her entrance within walls
so solemn! She had nothing to dread from midnight assassins or drunken
gallants. Henry had certainly been only in jest in what he had told her
that morning. In a house so furnished, and so guarded, she could have
nothing to explore or to suffer, and might go to her bedroom as securely
as if it had been her own chamber at Fullerton. Thus wisely fortifying
her mind, as she proceeded upstairs, she was enabled, especially on
perceiving that Miss Tilney slept only two doors from her, to enter
her room with a tolerably stout heart; and her spirits were immediately
assisted by the cheerful blaze of a wood fire. “How much better is
this,” said she, as she walked to the fender--“how much better to find a
fire ready lit, than to have to wait shivering in the cold till all the
family are in bed, as so many poor girls have been obliged to do, and
then to have a faithful old servant frightening one by coming in with a
faggot! How glad I am that Northanger is what it is! If it had been like
some other places, I do not know that, in such a night as this, I could
have answered for my courage: but now, to be sure, there is nothing to
alarm one.”

She looked round the room. The window curtains seemed in motion. It
could be nothing but the violence of the wind penetrating through the
divisions of the shutters; and she stepped boldly forward, carelessly
humming a tune, to assure herself of its being so, peeped courageously
behind each curtain, saw nothing on either low window seat to scare her,
and on placing a hand against the shutter, felt the strongest conviction
of the wind’s force. A glance at the old chest, as she turned away from
this examination, was not without its use; she scorned the causeless
fears of an idle fancy, and began with a most happy indifference to
prepare herself for bed. “She should take her time; she should not hurry
herself; she did not care if she were the last person up in the house.
But she would not make up her fire; that would seem cowardly, as if
she wished for the protection of light after she were in bed.” The fire
therefore died away, and Catherine, having spent the best part of an
hour in her arrangements, was beginning to think of stepping into bed,
when, on giving a parting glance round the room, she was struck by the
appearance of a high, old-fashioned black cabinet, which, though in
a situation conspicuous enough, had never caught her notice before.
Henry’s words, his description of the ebony cabinet which was to escape
her observation at first, immediately rushed across her; and though
there could be nothing really in it, there was something whimsical, it
was certainly a very remarkable coincidence! She took her candle and
looked closely at the cabinet. It was not absolutely ebony and gold; but
it was japan, black and yellow japan of the handsomest kind; and as she
held her candle, the yellow had very much the effect of gold. The key
was in the door, and she had a strange fancy to look into it; not,
however, with the smallest expectation of finding anything, but it was
so very odd, after what Henry had said. In short, she could not sleep
till she had examined it. So, placing the candle with great caution on
a chair, she seized the key with a very tremulous hand and tried to turn
it; but it resisted her utmost strength. Alarmed, but not discouraged,
she tried it another way; a bolt flew, and she believed herself
successful; but how strangely mysterious! The door was still immovable.
She paused a moment in breathless wonder. The wind roared down the
chimney, the rain beat in torrents against the windows, and everything
seemed to speak the awfulness of her situation. To retire to bed,
however, unsatisfied on such a point, would be vain, since sleep must be
impossible with the consciousness of a cabinet so mysteriously closed
in her immediate vicinity. Again, therefore, she applied herself to the
key, and after moving it in every possible way for some instants with
the determined celerity of hope’s last effort, the door suddenly yielded
to her hand: her heart leaped with exultation at such a victory, and
having thrown open each folding door, the second being secured only by
bolts of less wonderful construction than the lock, though in that her
eye could not discern anything unusual, a double range of small drawers
appeared in view, with some larger drawers above and below them; and in
the centre, a small door, closed also with a lock and key, secured in
all probability a cavity of importance.

Catherine’s heart beat quick, but her courage did not fail her. With a
cheek flushed by hope, and an eye straining with curiosity, her fingers
grasped the handle of a drawer and drew it forth. It was entirely empty.
With less alarm and greater eagerness she seized a second, a third, a
fourth; each was equally empty. Not one was left unsearched, and in not
one was anything found. Well read in the art of concealing a treasure,
the possibility of false linings to the drawers did not escape her, and
she felt round each with anxious acuteness in vain. The place in the
middle alone remained now unexplored; and though she had “never from
the first had the smallest idea of finding anything in any part of the
cabinet, and was not in the least disappointed at her ill success thus
far, it would be foolish not to examine it thoroughly while she was
about it.” It was some time however before she could unfasten the door,
the same difficulty occurring in the management of this inner lock as of
the outer; but at length it did open; and not vain, as hitherto, was her
search; her quick eyes directly fell on a roll of paper pushed back
into the further part of the cavity, apparently for concealment, and
her feelings at that moment were indescribable. Her heart fluttered, her
knees trembled, and her cheeks grew pale. She seized, with an unsteady
hand, the precious manuscript, for half a glance sufficed to ascertain
written characters; and while she acknowledged with awful sensations
this striking exemplification of what Henry had foretold, resolved
instantly to peruse every line before she attempted to rest.

The dimness of the light her candle emitted made her turn to it with
alarm; but there was no danger of its sudden extinction; it had yet some
hours to burn; and that she might not have any greater difficulty in
distinguishing the writing than what its ancient date might occasion,
she hastily snuffed it. Alas! It was snuffed and extinguished in one. A
lamp could not have expired with more awful effect. Catherine, for a
few moments, was motionless with horror. It was done completely; not a
remnant of light in the wick could give hope to the rekindling breath.
Darkness impenetrable and immovable filled the room. A violent gust
of wind, rising with sudden fury, added fresh horror to the moment.
Catherine trembled from head to foot. In the pause which succeeded, a
sound like receding footsteps and the closing of a distant door struck
on her affrighted ear. Human nature could support no more. A cold sweat
stood on her forehead, the manuscript fell from her hand, and groping
her way to the bed, she jumped hastily in, and sought some suspension of
agony by creeping far underneath the clothes. To close her eyes in
sleep that night, she felt must be entirely out of the question. With
a curiosity so justly awakened, and feelings in every way so agitated,
repose must be absolutely impossible. The storm too abroad so dreadful!
She had not been used to feel alarm from wind, but now every blast
seemed fraught with awful intelligence. The manuscript so wonderfully
found, so wonderfully accomplishing the morning’s prediction, how was it
to be accounted for? What could it contain? To whom could it relate?
By what means could it have been so long concealed? And how singularly
strange that it should fall to her lot to discover it! Till she had made
herself mistress of its contents, however, she could have neither repose
nor comfort; and with the sun’s first rays she was determined to peruse
it. But many were the tedious hours which must yet intervene. She
shuddered, tossed about in her bed, and envied every quiet sleeper. The
storm still raged, and various were the noises, more terrific even
than the wind, which struck at intervals on her startled ear. The very
curtains of her bed seemed at one moment in motion, and at another
the lock of her door was agitated, as if by the attempt of somebody to
enter. Hollow murmurs seemed to creep along the gallery, and more than
once her blood was chilled by the sound of distant moans. Hour after
hour passed away, and the wearied Catherine had heard three proclaimed
by all the clocks in the house before the tempest subsided or she
unknowingly fell fast asleep.



CHAPTER 22


The housemaid’s folding back her window-shutters at eight o’clock the
next day was the sound which first roused Catherine; and she opened her
eyes, wondering that they could ever have been closed, on objects of
cheerfulness; her fire was already burning, and a bright morning
had succeeded the tempest of the night. Instantaneously, with the
consciousness of existence, returned her recollection of the manuscript;
and springing from the bed in the very moment of the maid’s going away,
she eagerly collected every scattered sheet which had burst from the
roll on its falling to the ground, and flew back to enjoy the luxury
of their perusal on her pillow. She now plainly saw that she must not
expect a manuscript of equal length with the generality of what she had
shuddered over in books, for the roll, seeming to consist entirely of
small disjointed sheets, was altogether but of trifling size, and much
less than she had supposed it to be at first.

Her greedy eye glanced rapidly over a page. She started at its import.
Could it be possible, or did not her senses play her false? An inventory
of linen, in coarse and modern characters, seemed all that was before
her! If the evidence of sight might be trusted, she held a washing-bill
in her hand. She seized another sheet, and saw the same articles with
little variation; a third, a fourth, and a fifth presented nothing
new. Shirts, stockings, cravats, and waistcoats faced her in each. Two
others, penned by the same hand, marked an expenditure scarcely more
interesting, in letters, hair-powder, shoe-string, and breeches-ball.
And the larger sheet, which had enclosed the rest, seemed by its first
cramp line, “To poultice chestnut mare”--a farrier’s bill! Such was the
collection of papers (left perhaps, as she could then suppose, by the
negligence of a servant in the place whence she had taken them) which
had filled her with expectation and alarm, and robbed her of half her
night’s rest! She felt humbled to the dust. Could not the adventure of
the chest have taught her wisdom? A corner of it, catching her eye as
she lay, seemed to rise up in judgment against her. Nothing could now
be clearer than the absurdity of her recent fancies. To suppose that a
manuscript of many generations back could have remained undiscovered in
a room such as that, so modern, so habitable!--Or that she should be the
first to possess the skill of unlocking a cabinet, the key of which was
open to all!

How could she have so imposed on herself? Heaven forbid that Henry
Tilney should ever know her folly! And it was in a great measure his
own doing, for had not the cabinet appeared so exactly to agree with his
description of her adventures, she should never have felt the smallest
curiosity about it. This was the only comfort that occurred. Impatient
to get rid of those hateful evidences of her folly, those detestable
papers then scattered over the bed, she rose directly, and folding them
up as nearly as possible in the same shape as before, returned them
to the same spot within the cabinet, with a very hearty wish that no
untoward accident might ever bring them forward again, to disgrace her
even with herself.

Why the locks should have been so difficult to open, however, was still
something remarkable, for she could now manage them with perfect ease.
In this there was surely something mysterious, and she indulged in the
flattering suggestion for half a minute, till the possibility of the
door’s having been at first unlocked, and of being herself its fastener,
darted into her head, and cost her another blush.

She got away as soon as she could from a room in which her conduct
produced such unpleasant reflections, and found her way with all speed
to the breakfast-parlour, as it had been pointed out to her by Miss
Tilney the evening before. Henry was alone in it; and his immediate hope
of her having been undisturbed by the tempest, with an arch reference
to the character of the building they inhabited, was rather distressing.
For the world would she not have her weakness suspected, and yet,
unequal to an absolute falsehood, was constrained to acknowledge that
the wind had kept her awake a little. “But we have a charming morning
after it,” she added, desiring to get rid of the subject; “and storms
and sleeplessness are nothing when they are over. What beautiful
hyacinths! I have just learnt to love a hyacinth.”

“And how might you learn? By accident or argument?”

“Your sister taught me; I cannot tell how. Mrs. Allen used to take
pains, year after year, to make me like them; but I never could, till
I saw them the other day in Milsom Street; I am naturally indifferent
about flowers.”

“But now you love a hyacinth. So much the better. You have gained a new
source of enjoyment, and it is well to have as many holds upon happiness
as possible. Besides, a taste for flowers is always desirable in your
sex, as a means of getting you out of doors, and tempting you to more
frequent exercise than you would otherwise take. And though the love
of a hyacinth may be rather domestic, who can tell, the sentiment once
raised, but you may in time come to love a rose?”

“But I do not want any such pursuit to get me out of doors. The pleasure
of walking and breathing fresh air is enough for me, and in fine weather
I am out more than half my time. Mamma says I am never within.”

“At any rate, however, I am pleased that you have learnt to love
a hyacinth. The mere habit of learning to love is the thing; and a
teachableness of disposition in a young lady is a great blessing. Has my
sister a pleasant mode of instruction?”

Catherine was saved the embarrassment of attempting an answer by the
entrance of the general, whose smiling compliments announced a happy
state of mind, but whose gentle hint of sympathetic early rising did not
advance her composure.

The elegance of the breakfast set forced itself on Catherine’s notice
when they were seated at table; and, luckily, it had been the general’s
choice. He was enchanted by her approbation of his taste, confessed it
to be neat and simple, thought it right to encourage the manufacture of
his country; and for his part, to his uncritical palate, the tea was as
well flavoured from the clay of Staffordshire, as from that of Dresden
or Save. But this was quite an old set, purchased two years ago.
The manufacture was much improved since that time; he had seen some
beautiful specimens when last in town, and had he not been perfectly
without vanity of that kind, might have been tempted to order a new
set. He trusted, however, that an opportunity might ere long occur of
selecting one--though not for himself. Catherine was probably the only
one of the party who did not understand him.

Shortly after breakfast Henry left them for Woodston, where business
required and would keep him two or three days. They all attended in
the hall to see him mount his horse, and immediately on re-entering the
breakfast-room, Catherine walked to a window in the hope of catching
another glimpse of his figure. “This is a somewhat heavy call upon your
brother’s fortitude,” observed the general to Eleanor. “Woodston will
make but a sombre appearance today.”

“Is it a pretty place?” asked Catherine.

“What say you, Eleanor? Speak your opinion, for ladies can best tell the
taste of ladies in regard to places as well as men. I think it would be
acknowledged by the most impartial eye to have many recommendations. The
house stands among fine meadows facing the south-east, with an excellent
kitchen-garden in the same aspect; the walls surrounding which I built
and stocked myself about ten years ago, for the benefit of my son. It
is a family living, Miss Morland; and the property in the place being
chiefly my own, you may believe I take care that it shall not be a bad
one. Did Henry’s income depend solely on this living, he would not be
ill-provided for. Perhaps it may seem odd, that with only two younger
children, I should think any profession necessary for him; and certainly
there are moments when we could all wish him disengaged from every tie
of business. But though I may not exactly make converts of you young
ladies, I am sure your father, Miss Morland, would agree with me in
thinking it expedient to give every young man some employment. The
money is nothing, it is not an object, but employment is the thing.
Even Frederick, my eldest son, you see, who will perhaps inherit as
considerable a landed property as any private man in the county, has his
profession.”

The imposing effect of this last argument was equal to his wishes. The
silence of the lady proved it to be unanswerable.

Something had been said the evening before of her being shown over the
house, and he now offered himself as her conductor; and though Catherine
had hoped to explore it accompanied only by his daughter, it was a
proposal of too much happiness in itself, under any circumstances, not
to be gladly accepted; for she had been already eighteen hours in the
abbey, and had seen only a few of its rooms. The netting-box, just
leisurely drawn forth, was closed with joyful haste, and she was ready
to attend him in a moment. “And when they had gone over the house, he
promised himself moreover the pleasure of accompanying her into the
shrubberies and garden.” She curtsied her acquiescence. “But perhaps
it might be more agreeable to her to make those her first object.
The weather was at present favourable, and at this time of year the
uncertainty was very great of its continuing so. Which would she prefer?
He was equally at her service. Which did his daughter think would most
accord with her fair friend’s wishes? But he thought he could discern.
Yes, he certainly read in Miss Morland’s eyes a judicious desire of
making use of the present smiling weather. But when did she judge amiss?
The abbey would be always safe and dry. He yielded implicitly, and
would fetch his hat and attend them in a moment.” He left the room,
and Catherine, with a disappointed, anxious face, began to speak of her
unwillingness that he should be taking them out of doors against his own
inclination, under a mistaken idea of pleasing her; but she was stopped
by Miss Tilney’s saying, with a little confusion, “I believe it will be
wisest to take the morning while it is so fine; and do not be uneasy on
my father’s account; he always walks out at this time of day.”

Catherine did not exactly know how this was to be understood. Why
was Miss Tilney embarrassed? Could there be any unwillingness on the
general’s side to show her over the abbey? The proposal was his own. And
was not it odd that he should always take his walk so early? Neither her
father nor Mr. Allen did so. It was certainly very provoking. She was
all impatience to see the house, and had scarcely any curiosity about
the grounds. If Henry had been with them indeed! But now she should not
know what was picturesque when she saw it. Such were her thoughts, but
she kept them to herself, and put on her bonnet in patient discontent.

She was struck, however, beyond her expectation, by the grandeur of
the abbey, as she saw it for the first time from the lawn. The whole
building enclosed a large court; and two sides of the quadrangle, rich
in Gothic ornaments, stood forward for admiration. The remainder was
shut off by knolls of old trees, or luxuriant plantations, and the steep
woody hills rising behind, to give it shelter, were beautiful even in
the leafless month of March. Catherine had seen nothing to compare with
it; and her feelings of delight were so strong, that without waiting for
any better authority, she boldly burst forth in wonder and praise. The
general listened with assenting gratitude; and it seemed as if his own
estimation of Northanger had waited unfixed till that hour.

The kitchen-garden was to be next admired, and he led the way to it
across a small portion of the park.

The number of acres contained in this garden was such as Catherine could
not listen to without dismay, being more than double the extent of all
Mr. Allen’s, as well as her father’s, including church-yard and orchard.
The walls seemed countless in number, endless in length; a village of
hot-houses seemed to arise among them, and a whole parish to be at
work within the enclosure. The general was flattered by her looks of
surprise, which told him almost as plainly, as he soon forced her to
tell him in words, that she had never seen any gardens at all equal to
them before; and he then modestly owned that, “without any ambition of
that sort himself--without any solicitude about it--he did believe them
to be unrivalled in the kingdom. If he had a hobby-horse, it was that.
He loved a garden. Though careless enough in most matters of eating, he
loved good fruit--or if he did not, his friends and children did. There
were great vexations, however, attending such a garden as his. The
utmost care could not always secure the most valuable fruits. The pinery
had yielded only one hundred in the last year. Mr. Allen, he supposed,
must feel these inconveniences as well as himself.”

“No, not at all. Mr. Allen did not care about the garden, and never went
into it.”

With a triumphant smile of self-satisfaction, the general wished he
could do the same, for he never entered his, without being vexed in some
way or other, by its falling short of his plan.

“How were Mr. Allen’s succession-houses worked?” describing the nature
of his own as they entered them.

“Mr. Allen had only one small hot-house, which Mrs. Allen had the use of
for her plants in winter, and there was a fire in it now and then.”

“He is a happy man!” said the general, with a look of very happy
contempt.

Having taken her into every division, and led her under every wall, till
she was heartily weary of seeing and wondering, he suffered the girls
at last to seize the advantage of an outer door, and then expressing
his wish to examine the effect of some recent alterations about the
tea-house, proposed it as no unpleasant extension of their walk, if Miss
Morland were not tired. “But where are you going, Eleanor? Why do you
choose that cold, damp path to it? Miss Morland will get wet. Our best
way is across the park.”

“This is so favourite a walk of mine,” said Miss Tilney, “that I always
think it the best and nearest way. But perhaps it may be damp.”

It was a narrow winding path through a thick grove of old Scotch firs;
and Catherine, struck by its gloomy aspect, and eager to enter it,
could not, even by the general’s disapprobation, be kept from stepping
forward. He perceived her inclination, and having again urged the plea
of health in vain, was too polite to make further opposition. He excused
himself, however, from attending them: “The rays of the sun were not too
cheerful for him, and he would meet them by another course.” He turned
away; and Catherine was shocked to find how much her spirits were
relieved by the separation. The shock, however, being less real than the
relief, offered it no injury; and she began to talk with easy gaiety of
the delightful melancholy which such a grove inspired.

“I am particularly fond of this spot,” said her companion, with a sigh.
“It was my mother’s favourite walk.”

Catherine had never heard Mrs. Tilney mentioned in the family before,
and the interest excited by this tender remembrance showed itself
directly in her altered countenance, and in the attentive pause with
which she waited for something more.

“I used to walk here so often with her!” added Eleanor; “though I never
loved it then, as I have loved it since. At that time indeed I used to
wonder at her choice. But her memory endears it now.”

“And ought it not,” reflected Catherine, “to endear it to her husband?
Yet the general would not enter it.” Miss Tilney continuing silent, she
ventured to say, “Her death must have been a great affliction!”

“A great and increasing one,” replied the other, in a low voice. “I was
only thirteen when it happened; and though I felt my loss perhaps as
strongly as one so young could feel it, I did not, I could not, then
know what a loss it was.” She stopped for a moment, and then added, with
great firmness, “I have no sister, you know--and though Henry--though my
brothers are very affectionate, and Henry is a great deal here, which I
am most thankful for, it is impossible for me not to be often solitary.”

“To be sure you must miss him very much.”

“A mother would have been always present. A mother would have been a
constant friend; her influence would have been beyond all other.”

“Was she a very charming woman? Was she handsome? Was there any picture
of her in the abbey? And why had she been so partial to that grove? Was
it from dejection of spirits?”--were questions now eagerly poured forth;
the first three received a ready affirmative, the two others were passed
by; and Catherine’s interest in the deceased Mrs. Tilney augmented with
every question, whether answered or not. Of her unhappiness in marriage,
she felt persuaded. The general certainly had been an unkind husband. He
did not love her walk: could he therefore have loved her? And besides,
handsome as he was, there was a something in the turn of his features
which spoke his not having behaved well to her.

“Her picture, I suppose,” blushing at the consummate art of her own
question, “hangs in your father’s room?”

“No; it was intended for the drawing-room; but my father was
dissatisfied with the painting, and for some time it had no place.
Soon after her death I obtained it for my own, and hung it in my
bed-chamber--where I shall be happy to show it you; it is very like.”
 Here was another proof. A portrait--very like--of a departed wife, not
valued by the husband! He must have been dreadfully cruel to her!

Catherine attempted no longer to hide from herself the nature of the
feelings which, in spite of all his attentions, he had previously
excited; and what had been terror and dislike before, was now absolute
aversion. Yes, aversion! His cruelty to such a charming woman made him
odious to her. She had often read of such characters, characters which
Mr. Allen had been used to call unnatural and overdrawn; but here was
proof positive of the contrary.

She had just settled this point when the end of the path brought them
directly upon the general; and in spite of all her virtuous indignation,
she found herself again obliged to walk with him, listen to him, and
even to smile when he smiled. Being no longer able, however, to receive
pleasure from the surrounding objects, she soon began to walk with
lassitude; the general perceived it, and with a concern for her health,
which seemed to reproach her for her opinion of him, was most urgent
for returning with his daughter to the house. He would follow them in
a quarter of an hour. Again they parted--but Eleanor was called back in
half a minute to receive a strict charge against taking her friend round
the abbey till his return. This second instance of his anxiety to delay
what she so much wished for struck Catherine as very remarkable.



CHAPTER 23


An hour passed away before the general came in, spent, on the part of
his young guest, in no very favourable consideration of his character.
“This lengthened absence, these solitary rambles, did not speak a mind
at ease, or a conscience void of reproach.” At length he appeared; and,
whatever might have been the gloom of his meditations, he could still
smile with them. Miss Tilney, understanding in part her friend’s
curiosity to see the house, soon revived the subject; and her father
being, contrary to Catherine’s expectations, unprovided with any
pretence for further delay, beyond that of stopping five minutes to
order refreshments to be in the room by their return, was at last ready
to escort them.

They set forward; and, with a grandeur of air, a dignified step,
which caught the eye, but could not shake the doubts of the well-read
Catherine, he led the way across the hall, through the common
drawing-room and one useless antechamber, into a room magnificent both
in size and furniture--the real drawing-room, used only with company of
consequence. It was very noble--very grand--very charming!--was all that
Catherine had to say, for her indiscriminating eye scarcely discerned
the colour of the satin; and all minuteness of praise, all praise
that had much meaning, was supplied by the general: the costliness or
elegance of any room’s fitting-up could be nothing to her; she cared for
no furniture of a more modern date than the fifteenth century. When the
general had satisfied his own curiosity, in a close examination of every
well-known ornament, they proceeded into the library, an apartment, in
its way, of equal magnificence, exhibiting a collection of books, on
which an humble man might have looked with pride. Catherine heard,
admired, and wondered with more genuine feeling than before--gathered
all that she could from this storehouse of knowledge, by running over
the titles of half a shelf, and was ready to proceed. But suites of
apartments did not spring up with her wishes. Large as was the building,
she had already visited the greatest part; though, on being told that,
with the addition of the kitchen, the six or seven rooms she had now
seen surrounded three sides of the court, she could scarcely believe it,
or overcome the suspicion of there being many chambers secreted. It was
some relief, however, that they were to return to the rooms in common
use, by passing through a few of less importance, looking into the
court, which, with occasional passages, not wholly unintricate,
connected the different sides; and she was further soothed in her
progress by being told that she was treading what had once been a
cloister, having traces of cells pointed out, and observing several
doors that were neither opened nor explained to her--by finding herself
successively in a billiard-room, and in the general’s private apartment,
without comprehending their connection, or being able to turn aright
when she left them; and lastly, by passing through a dark little room,
owning Henry’s authority, and strewed with his litter of books, guns,
and greatcoats.

From the dining-room, of which, though already seen, and always to be
seen at five o’clock, the general could not forgo the pleasure of pacing
out the length, for the more certain information of Miss Morland, as
to what she neither doubted nor cared for, they proceeded by quick
communication to the kitchen--the ancient kitchen of the convent, rich
in the massy walls and smoke of former days, and in the stoves and hot
closets of the present. The general’s improving hand had not loitered
here: every modern invention to facilitate the labour of the cooks had
been adopted within this, their spacious theatre; and, when the genius
of others had failed, his own had often produced the perfection wanted.
His endowments of this spot alone might at any time have placed him high
among the benefactors of the convent.

With the walls of the kitchen ended all the antiquity of the abbey; the
fourth side of the quadrangle having, on account of its decaying state,
been removed by the general’s father, and the present erected in its
place. All that was venerable ceased here. The new building was not
only new, but declared itself to be so; intended only for offices, and
enclosed behind by stable-yards, no uniformity of architecture had been
thought necessary. Catherine could have raved at the hand which had
swept away what must have been beyond the value of all the rest, for the
purposes of mere domestic economy; and would willingly have been spared
the mortification of a walk through scenes so fallen, had the general
allowed it; but if he had a vanity, it was in the arrangement of his
offices; and as he was convinced that, to a mind like Miss Morland’s,
a view of the accommodations and comforts, by which the labours of her
inferiors were softened, must always be gratifying, he should make
no apology for leading her on. They took a slight survey of all; and
Catherine was impressed, beyond her expectation, by their multiplicity
and their convenience. The purposes for which a few shapeless pantries
and a comfortless scullery were deemed sufficient at Fullerton, were
here carried on in appropriate divisions, commodious and roomy. The
number of servants continually appearing did not strike her less than
the number of their offices. Wherever they went, some pattened girl
stopped to curtsy, or some footman in dishabille sneaked off. Yet this
was an abbey! How inexpressibly different in these domestic arrangements
from such as she had read about--from abbeys and castles, in which,
though certainly larger than Northanger, all the dirty work of the house
was to be done by two pair of female hands at the utmost. How they could
get through it all had often amazed Mrs. Allen; and, when Catherine saw
what was necessary here, she began to be amazed herself.

They returned to the hall, that the chief staircase might be ascended,
and the beauty of its wood, and ornaments of rich carving might be
pointed out: having gained the top, they turned in an opposite direction
from the gallery in which her room lay, and shortly entered one on
the same plan, but superior in length and breadth. She was here shown
successively into three large bed-chambers, with their dressing-rooms,
most completely and handsomely fitted up; everything that money and
taste could do, to give comfort and elegance to apartments, had been
bestowed on these; and, being furnished within the last five years, they
were perfect in all that would be generally pleasing, and wanting in all
that could give pleasure to Catherine. As they were surveying the last,
the general, after slightly naming a few of the distinguished characters
by whom they had at times been honoured, turned with a smiling
countenance to Catherine, and ventured to hope that henceforward some of
their earliest tenants might be “our friends from Fullerton.” She felt
the unexpected compliment, and deeply regretted the impossibility of
thinking well of a man so kindly disposed towards herself, and so full
of civility to all her family.

The gallery was terminated by folding doors, which Miss Tilney,
advancing, had thrown open, and passed through, and seemed on the point
of doing the same by the first door to the left, in another long reach
of gallery, when the general, coming forwards, called her hastily, and,
as Catherine thought, rather angrily back, demanding whether she were
going?--And what was there more to be seen?--Had not Miss Morland
already seen all that could be worth her notice?--And did she not
suppose her friend might be glad of some refreshment after so much
exercise? Miss Tilney drew back directly, and the heavy doors were
closed upon the mortified Catherine, who, having seen, in a momentary
glance beyond them, a narrower passage, more numerous openings, and
symptoms of a winding staircase, believed herself at last within the
reach of something worth her notice; and felt, as she unwillingly paced
back the gallery, that she would rather be allowed to examine that end
of the house than see all the finery of all the rest. The general’s
evident desire of preventing such an examination was an additional
stimulant. Something was certainly to be concealed; her fancy, though
it had trespassed lately once or twice, could not mislead her here;
and what that something was, a short sentence of Miss Tilney’s, as they
followed the general at some distance downstairs, seemed to point out:
“I was going to take you into what was my mother’s room--the room
in which she died--” were all her words; but few as they were, they
conveyed pages of intelligence to Catherine. It was no wonder that the
general should shrink from the sight of such objects as that room
must contain; a room in all probability never entered by him since the
dreadful scene had passed, which released his suffering wife, and left
him to the stings of conscience.

She ventured, when next alone with Eleanor, to express her wish of being
permitted to see it, as well as all the rest of that side of the house;
and Eleanor promised to attend her there, whenever they should have a
convenient hour. Catherine understood her: the general must be watched
from home, before that room could be entered. “It remains as it was, I
suppose?” said she, in a tone of feeling.

“Yes, entirely.”

“And how long ago may it be that your mother died?”

“She has been dead these nine years.” And nine years, Catherine knew,
was a trifle of time, compared with what generally elapsed after the
death of an injured wife, before her room was put to rights.

“You were with her, I suppose, to the last?”

“No,” said Miss Tilney, sighing; “I was unfortunately from home. Her
illness was sudden and short; and, before I arrived it was all over.”

Catherine’s blood ran cold with the horrid suggestions which naturally
sprang from these words. Could it be possible? Could Henry’s father--?
And yet how many were the examples to justify even the blackest
suspicions! And, when she saw him in the evening, while she worked
with her friend, slowly pacing the drawing-room for an hour together in
silent thoughtfulness, with downcast eyes and contracted brow, she felt
secure from all possibility of wronging him. It was the air and attitude
of a Montoni! What could more plainly speak the gloomy workings of a
mind not wholly dead to every sense of humanity, in its fearful review
of past scenes of guilt? Unhappy man! And the anxiousness of her spirits
directed her eyes towards his figure so repeatedly, as to catch Miss
Tilney’s notice. “My father,” she whispered, “often walks about the room
in this way; it is nothing unusual.”

“So much the worse!” thought Catherine; such ill-timed exercise was of a
piece with the strange unseasonableness of his morning walks, and boded
nothing good.

After an evening, the little variety and seeming length of which made
her peculiarly sensible of Henry’s importance among them, she was
heartily glad to be dismissed; though it was a look from the general not
designed for her observation which sent his daughter to the bell.
When the butler would have lit his master’s candle, however, he was
forbidden. The latter was not going to retire. “I have many pamphlets to
finish,” said he to Catherine, “before I can close my eyes, and perhaps
may be poring over the affairs of the nation for hours after you are
asleep. Can either of us be more meetly employed? My eyes will be
blinding for the good of others, and yours preparing by rest for future
mischief.”

But neither the business alleged, nor the magnificent compliment,
could win Catherine from thinking that some very different object must
occasion so serious a delay of proper repose. To be kept up for hours,
after the family were in bed, by stupid pamphlets was not very likely.
There must be some deeper cause: something was to be done which could
be done only while the household slept; and the probability that Mrs.
Tilney yet lived, shut up for causes unknown, and receiving from the
pitiless hands of her husband a nightly supply of coarse food, was the
conclusion which necessarily followed. Shocking as was the idea, it
was at least better than a death unfairly hastened, as, in the natural
course of things, she must ere long be released. The suddenness of her
reputed illness, the absence of her daughter, and probably of her other
children, at the time--all favoured the supposition of her imprisonment.
Its origin--jealousy perhaps, or wanton cruelty--was yet to be
unravelled.

In revolving these matters, while she undressed, it suddenly struck her
as not unlikely that she might that morning have passed near the very
spot of this unfortunate woman’s confinement--might have been within
a few paces of the cell in which she languished out her days; for what
part of the abbey could be more fitted for the purpose than that which
yet bore the traces of monastic division? In the high-arched passage,
paved with stone, which already she had trodden with peculiar awe, she
well remembered the doors of which the general had given no account. To
what might not those doors lead? In support of the plausibility of this
conjecture, it further occurred to her that the forbidden gallery, in
which lay the apartments of the unfortunate Mrs. Tilney, must be, as
certainly as her memory could guide her, exactly over this suspected
range of cells, and the staircase by the side of those apartments of
which she had caught a transient glimpse, communicating by some
secret means with those cells, might well have favoured the barbarous
proceedings of her husband. Down that staircase she had perhaps been
conveyed in a state of well-prepared insensibility!

Catherine sometimes started at the boldness of her own surmises, and
sometimes hoped or feared that she had gone too far; but they were
supported by such appearances as made their dismissal impossible.

The side of the quadrangle, in which she supposed the guilty scene to be
acting, being, according to her belief, just opposite her own, it struck
her that, if judiciously watched, some rays of light from the general’s
lamp might glimmer through the lower windows, as he passed to the prison
of his wife; and, twice before she stepped into bed, she stole gently
from her room to the corresponding window in the gallery, to see if it
appeared; but all abroad was dark, and it must yet be too early. The
various ascending noises convinced her that the servants must still be
up. Till midnight, she supposed it would be in vain to watch; but then,
when the clock had struck twelve, and all was quiet, she would, if not
quite appalled by darkness, steal out and look once more. The clock
struck twelve--and Catherine had been half an hour asleep.



CHAPTER 24


The next day afforded no opportunity for the proposed examination of the
mysterious apartments. It was Sunday, and the whole time between morning
and afternoon service was required by the general in exercise abroad or
eating cold meat at home; and great as was Catherine’s curiosity, her
courage was not equal to a wish of exploring them after dinner, either
by the fading light of the sky between six and seven o’clock, or by the
yet more partial though stronger illumination of a treacherous lamp.
The day was unmarked therefore by anything to interest her imagination
beyond the sight of a very elegant monument to the memory of Mrs.
Tilney, which immediately fronted the family pew. By that her eye
was instantly caught and long retained; and the perusal of the highly
strained epitaph, in which every virtue was ascribed to her by the
inconsolable husband, who must have been in some way or other her
destroyer, affected her even to tears.

That the general, having erected such a monument, should be able to face
it, was not perhaps very strange, and yet that he could sit so boldly
collected within its view, maintain so elevated an air, look so
fearlessly around, nay, that he should even enter the church, seemed
wonderful to Catherine. Not, however, that many instances of beings
equally hardened in guilt might not be produced. She could remember
dozens who had persevered in every possible vice, going on from crime to
crime, murdering whomsoever they chose, without any feeling of humanity
or remorse; till a violent death or a religious retirement closed their
black career. The erection of the monument itself could not in the
smallest degree affect her doubts of Mrs. Tilney’s actual decease. Were
she even to descend into the family vault where her ashes were supposed
to slumber, were she to behold the coffin in which they were said to
be enclosed--what could it avail in such a case? Catherine had read too
much not to be perfectly aware of the ease with which a waxen figure
might be introduced, and a supposititious funeral carried on.

The succeeding morning promised something better. The general’s early
walk, ill-timed as it was in every other view, was favourable here; and
when she knew him to be out of the house, she directly proposed to Miss
Tilney the accomplishment of her promise. Eleanor was ready to oblige
her; and Catherine reminding her as they went of another promise, their
first visit in consequence was to the portrait in her bed-chamber. It
represented a very lovely woman, with a mild and pensive countenance,
justifying, so far, the expectations of its new observer; but they were
not in every respect answered, for Catherine had depended upon meeting
with features, hair, complexion, that should be the very counterpart,
the very image, if not of Henry’s, of Eleanor’s--the only portraits of
which she had been in the habit of thinking, bearing always an equal
resemblance of mother and child. A face once taken was taken for
generations. But here she was obliged to look and consider and study
for a likeness. She contemplated it, however, in spite of this drawback,
with much emotion, and, but for a yet stronger interest, would have left
it unwillingly.

Her agitation as they entered the great gallery was too much for any
endeavour at discourse; she could only look at her companion. Eleanor’s
countenance was dejected, yet sedate; and its composure spoke her inured
to all the gloomy objects to which they were advancing. Again she passed
through the folding doors, again her hand was upon the important lock,
and Catherine, hardly able to breathe, was turning to close the former
with fearful caution, when the figure, the dreaded figure of the general
himself at the further end of the gallery, stood before her! The name of
“Eleanor” at the same moment, in his loudest tone, resounded through the
building, giving to his daughter the first intimation of his presence,
and to Catherine terror upon terror. An attempt at concealment had been
her first instinctive movement on perceiving him, yet she could
scarcely hope to have escaped his eye; and when her friend, who with an
apologizing look darted hastily by her, had joined and disappeared
with him, she ran for safety to her own room, and, locking herself
in, believed that she should never have courage to go down again. She
remained there at least an hour, in the greatest agitation, deeply
commiserating the state of her poor friend, and expecting a summons
herself from the angry general to attend him in his own apartment. No
summons, however, arrived; and at last, on seeing a carriage drive up
to the abbey, she was emboldened to descend and meet him under the
protection of visitors. The breakfast-room was gay with company; and
she was named to them by the general as the friend of his daughter, in
a complimentary style, which so well concealed his resentful ire, as to
make her feel secure at least of life for the present. And Eleanor,
with a command of countenance which did honour to her concern for his
character, taking an early occasion of saying to her, “My father only
wanted me to answer a note,” she began to hope that she had either been
unseen by the general, or that from some consideration of policy she
should be allowed to suppose herself so. Upon this trust she dared still
to remain in his presence, after the company left them, and nothing
occurred to disturb it.

In the course of this morning’s reflections, she came to a resolution
of making her next attempt on the forbidden door alone. It would be much
better in every respect that Eleanor should know nothing of the matter.
To involve her in the danger of a second detection, to court her into
an apartment which must wring her heart, could not be the office of a
friend. The general’s utmost anger could not be to herself what it might
be to a daughter; and, besides, she thought the examination itself
would be more satisfactory if made without any companion. It would be
impossible to explain to Eleanor the suspicions, from which the other
had, in all likelihood, been hitherto happily exempt; nor could she
therefore, in her presence, search for those proofs of the general’s
cruelty, which however they might yet have escaped discovery, she felt
confident of somewhere drawing forth, in the shape of some fragmented
journal, continued to the last gasp. Of the way to the apartment she was
now perfectly mistress; and as she wished to get it over before Henry’s
return, who was expected on the morrow, there was no time to be lost.
The day was bright, her courage high; at four o’clock, the sun was now
two hours above the horizon, and it would be only her retiring to dress
half an hour earlier than usual.

It was done; and Catherine found herself alone in the gallery before the
clocks had ceased to strike. It was no time for thought; she hurried
on, slipped with the least possible noise through the folding doors,
and without stopping to look or breathe, rushed forward to the one in
question. The lock yielded to her hand, and, luckily, with no sullen
sound that could alarm a human being. On tiptoe she entered; the room
was before her; but it was some minutes before she could advance another
step. She beheld what fixed her to the spot and agitated every feature.
She saw a large, well-proportioned apartment, an handsome dimity bed,
arranged as unoccupied with an housemaid’s care, a bright Bath stove,
mahogany wardrobes, and neatly painted chairs, on which the warm beams
of a western sun gaily poured through two sash windows! Catherine had
expected to have her feelings worked, and worked they were. Astonishment
and doubt first seized them; and a shortly succeeding ray of common
sense added some bitter emotions of shame. She could not be mistaken
as to the room; but how grossly mistaken in everything else!--in Miss
Tilney’s meaning, in her own calculation! This apartment, to which she
had given a date so ancient, a position so awful, proved to be one end
of what the general’s father had built. There were two other doors in
the chamber, leading probably into dressing-closets; but she had no
inclination to open either. Would the veil in which Mrs. Tilney had last
walked, or the volume in which she had last read, remain to tell what
nothing else was allowed to whisper? No: whatever might have been the
general’s crimes, he had certainly too much wit to let them sue for
detection. She was sick of exploring, and desired but to be safe in her
own room, with her own heart only privy to its folly; and she was on
the point of retreating as softly as she had entered, when the sound of
footsteps, she could hardly tell where, made her pause and tremble.
To be found there, even by a servant, would be unpleasant; but by the
general (and he seemed always at hand when least wanted), much worse!
She listened--the sound had ceased; and resolving not to lose a
moment, she passed through and closed the door. At that instant a door
underneath was hastily opened; someone seemed with swift steps to ascend
the stairs, by the head of which she had yet to pass before she could
gain the gallery. She had no power to move. With a feeling of terror
not very definable, she fixed her eyes on the staircase, and in a few
moments it gave Henry to her view. “Mr. Tilney!” she exclaimed in a
voice of more than common astonishment. He looked astonished too. “Good
God!” she continued, not attending to his address. “How came you here?
How came you up that staircase?”

“How came I up that staircase!” he replied, greatly surprised. “Because
it is my nearest way from the stable-yard to my own chamber; and why
should I not come up it?”

Catherine recollected herself, blushed deeply, and could say no more. He
seemed to be looking in her countenance for that explanation which her
lips did not afford. She moved on towards the gallery. “And may I not,
in my turn,” said he, as he pushed back the folding doors, “ask how you
came here? This passage is at least as extraordinary a road from the
breakfast-parlour to your apartment, as that staircase can be from the
stables to mine.”

“I have been,” said Catherine, looking down, “to see your mother’s
room.”

“My mother’s room! Is there anything extraordinary to be seen there?”

“No, nothing at all. I thought you did not mean to come back till
tomorrow.”

“I did not expect to be able to return sooner, when I went away; but
three hours ago I had the pleasure of finding nothing to detain me. You
look pale. I am afraid I alarmed you by running so fast up those stairs.
Perhaps you did not know--you were not aware of their leading from the
offices in common use?”

“No, I was not. You have had a very fine day for your ride.”

“Very; and does Eleanor leave you to find your way into all the rooms in
the house by yourself?”

“Oh! No; she showed me over the greatest part on Saturday--and we were
coming here to these rooms--but only”--dropping her voice--“your father
was with us.”

“And that prevented you,” said Henry, earnestly regarding her. “Have you
looked into all the rooms in that passage?”

“No, I only wanted to see--Is not it very late? I must go and dress.”

“It is only a quarter past four” showing his watch--“and you are not now
in Bath. No theatre, no rooms to prepare for. Half an hour at Northanger
must be enough.”

She could not contradict it, and therefore suffered herself to be
detained, though her dread of further questions made her, for the first
time in their acquaintance, wish to leave him. They walked slowly up the
gallery. “Have you had any letter from Bath since I saw you?”

“No, and I am very much surprised. Isabella promised so faithfully to
write directly.”

“Promised so faithfully! A faithful promise! That puzzles me. I have
heard of a faithful performance. But a faithful promise--the fidelity
of promising! It is a power little worth knowing, however, since it can
deceive and pain you. My mother’s room is very commodious, is it not?
Large and cheerful-looking, and the dressing-closets so well disposed!
It always strikes me as the most comfortable apartment in the house, and
I rather wonder that Eleanor should not take it for her own. She sent
you to look at it, I suppose?”

“No.”

“It has been your own doing entirely?” Catherine said nothing. After a
short silence, during which he had closely observed her, he added, “As
there is nothing in the room in itself to raise curiosity, this must
have proceeded from a sentiment of respect for my mother’s character,
as described by Eleanor, which does honour to her memory. The world, I
believe, never saw a better woman. But it is not often that virtue can
boast an interest such as this. The domestic, unpretending merits of a
person never known do not often create that kind of fervent, venerating
tenderness which would prompt a visit like yours. Eleanor, I suppose,
has talked of her a great deal?”

“Yes, a great deal. That is--no, not much, but what she did say was very
interesting. Her dying so suddenly” (slowly, and with hesitation it
was spoken), “and you--none of you being at home--and your father, I
thought--perhaps had not been very fond of her.”

“And from these circumstances,” he replied (his quick eye
fixed on hers), “you infer perhaps the probability of some
negligence--some”--(involuntarily she shook her head)--“or it may be--of
something still less pardonable.” She raised her eyes towards him
more fully than she had ever done before. “My mother’s illness,” he
continued, “the seizure which ended in her death, was sudden. The malady
itself, one from which she had often suffered, a bilious fever--its
cause therefore constitutional. On the third day, in short, as soon as
she could be prevailed on, a physician attended her, a very respectable
man, and one in whom she had always placed great confidence. Upon his
opinion of her danger, two others were called in the next day, and
remained in almost constant attendance for four and twenty hours. On the
fifth day she died. During the progress of her disorder, Frederick and I
(we were both at home) saw her repeatedly; and from our own observation
can bear witness to her having received every possible attention
which could spring from the affection of those about her, or which her
situation in life could command. Poor Eleanor was absent, and at such a
distance as to return only to see her mother in her coffin.”

“But your father,” said Catherine, “was he afflicted?”

“For a time, greatly so. You have erred in supposing him not attached
to her. He loved her, I am persuaded, as well as it was possible for him
to--we have not all, you know, the same tenderness of disposition--and
I will not pretend to say that while she lived, she might not often have
had much to bear, but though his temper injured her, his judgment never
did. His value of her was sincere; and, if not permanently, he was truly
afflicted by her death.”

“I am very glad of it,” said Catherine; “it would have been very
shocking!”

“If I understand you rightly, you had formed a surmise of such horror as
I have hardly words to--Dear Miss Morland, consider the dreadful nature
of the suspicions you have entertained. What have you been judging from?
Remember the country and the age in which we live. Remember that we are
English, that we are Christians. Consult your own understanding, your
own sense of the probable, your own observation of what is passing
around you. Does our education prepare us for such atrocities? Do our
laws connive at them? Could they be perpetrated without being known, in
a country like this, where social and literary intercourse is on such a
footing, where every man is surrounded by a neighbourhood of voluntary
spies, and where roads and newspapers lay everything open? Dearest Miss
Morland, what ideas have you been admitting?”

They had reached the end of the gallery, and with tears of shame she ran
off to her own room.



CHAPTER 25


The visions of romance were over. Catherine was completely awakened.
Henry’s address, short as it had been, had more thoroughly opened her
eyes to the extravagance of her late fancies than all their several
disappointments had done. Most grievously was she humbled. Most bitterly
did she cry. It was not only with herself that she was sunk--but with
Henry. Her folly, which now seemed even criminal, was all exposed to
him, and he must despise her forever. The liberty which her imagination
had dared to take with the character of his father--could he ever
forgive it? The absurdity of her curiosity and her fears--could they
ever be forgotten? She hated herself more than she could express. He
had--she thought he had, once or twice before this fatal morning, shown
something like affection for her. But now--in short, she made herself as
miserable as possible for about half an hour, went down when the
clock struck five, with a broken heart, and could scarcely give an
intelligible answer to Eleanor’s inquiry if she was well. The formidable
Henry soon followed her into the room, and the only difference in his
behaviour to her was that he paid her rather more attention than usual.
Catherine had never wanted comfort more, and he looked as if he was
aware of it.

The evening wore away with no abatement of this soothing politeness; and
her spirits were gradually raised to a modest tranquillity. She did not
learn either to forget or defend the past; but she learned to hope that
it would never transpire farther, and that it might not cost her Henry’s
entire regard. Her thoughts being still chiefly fixed on what she had
with such causeless terror felt and done, nothing could shortly be
clearer than that it had been all a voluntary, self-created delusion,
each trifling circumstance receiving importance from an imagination
resolved on alarm, and everything forced to bend to one purpose by
a mind which, before she entered the abbey, had been craving to be
frightened. She remembered with what feelings she had prepared for a
knowledge of Northanger. She saw that the infatuation had been created,
the mischief settled, long before her quitting Bath, and it seemed as if
the whole might be traced to the influence of that sort of reading which
she had there indulged.

Charming as were all Mrs. Radcliffe’s works, and charming even as were
the works of all her imitators, it was not in them perhaps that human
nature, at least in the Midland counties of England, was to be looked
for. Of the Alps and Pyrenees, with their pine forests and their vices,
they might give a faithful delineation; and Italy, Switzerland, and
the south of France might be as fruitful in horrors as they were there
represented. Catherine dared not doubt beyond her own country, and even
of that, if hard pressed, would have yielded the northern and western
extremities. But in the central part of England there was surely some
security for the existence even of a wife not beloved, in the laws of
the land, and the manners of the age. Murder was not tolerated, servants
were not slaves, and neither poison nor sleeping potions to be procured,
like rhubarb, from every druggist. Among the Alps and Pyrenees, perhaps,
there were no mixed characters. There, such as were not as spotless as
an angel might have the dispositions of a fiend. But in England it was
not so; among the English, she believed, in their hearts and habits,
there was a general though unequal mixture of good and bad. Upon this
conviction, she would not be surprised if even in Henry and Eleanor
Tilney, some slight imperfection might hereafter appear; and upon this
conviction she need not fear to acknowledge some actual specks in
the character of their father, who, though cleared from the grossly
injurious suspicions which she must ever blush to have entertained, she
did believe, upon serious consideration, to be not perfectly amiable.

Her mind made up on these several points, and her resolution formed, of
always judging and acting in future with the greatest good sense, she
had nothing to do but to forgive herself and be happier than ever; and
the lenient hand of time did much for her by insensible gradations in
the course of another day. Henry’s astonishing generosity and nobleness
of conduct, in never alluding in the slightest way to what had passed,
was of the greatest assistance to her; and sooner than she could have
supposed it possible in the beginning of her distress, her spirits
became absolutely comfortable, and capable, as heretofore, of continual
improvement by anything he said. There were still some subjects, indeed,
under which she believed they must always tremble--the mention of a
chest or a cabinet, for instance--and she did not love the sight of
japan in any shape: but even she could allow that an occasional memento
of past folly, however painful, might not be without use.

The anxieties of common life began soon to succeed to the alarms of
romance. Her desire of hearing from Isabella grew every day greater.
She was quite impatient to know how the Bath world went on, and how the
rooms were attended; and especially was she anxious to be assured of
Isabella’s having matched some fine netting-cotton, on which she had
left her intent; and of her continuing on the best terms with James. Her
only dependence for information of any kind was on Isabella. James had
protested against writing to her till his return to Oxford; and Mrs.
Allen had given her no hopes of a letter till she had got back to
Fullerton. But Isabella had promised and promised again; and when she
promised a thing, she was so scrupulous in performing it! This made it
so particularly strange!

For nine successive mornings, Catherine wondered over the repetition
of a disappointment, which each morning became more severe: but, on
the tenth, when she entered the breakfast-room, her first object was a
letter, held out by Henry’s willing hand. She thanked him as heartily
as if he had written it himself. “‘Tis only from James, however,” as she
looked at the direction. She opened it; it was from Oxford; and to this
purpose:


“Dear Catherine,

“Though, God knows, with little inclination for writing, I think it my
duty to tell you that everything is at an end between Miss Thorpe and
me. I left her and Bath yesterday, never to see either again. I shall
not enter into particulars--they would only pain you more. You will soon
hear enough from another quarter to know where lies the blame; and I
hope will acquit your brother of everything but the folly of too easily
thinking his affection returned. Thank God! I am undeceived in time!
But it is a heavy blow! After my father’s consent had been so kindly
given--but no more of this. She has made me miserable forever! Let me
soon hear from you, dear Catherine; you are my only friend; your love
I do build upon. I wish your visit at Northanger may be over before
Captain Tilney makes his engagement known, or you will be uncomfortably
circumstanced. Poor Thorpe is in town: I dread the sight of him; his
honest heart would feel so much. I have written to him and my father.
Her duplicity hurts me more than all; till the very last, if I reasoned
with her, she declared herself as much attached to me as ever, and
laughed at my fears. I am ashamed to think how long I bore with it;
but if ever man had reason to believe himself loved, I was that man. I
cannot understand even now what she would be at, for there could be no
need of my being played off to make her secure of Tilney. We parted
at last by mutual consent--happy for me had we never met! I can never
expect to know such another woman! Dearest Catherine, beware how you
give your heart.

“Believe me,” &c.


Catherine had not read three lines before her sudden change of
countenance, and short exclamations of sorrowing wonder, declared her to
be receiving unpleasant news; and Henry, earnestly watching her through
the whole letter, saw plainly that it ended no better than it began. He
was prevented, however, from even looking his surprise by his father’s
entrance. They went to breakfast directly; but Catherine could hardly
eat anything. Tears filled her eyes, and even ran down her cheeks as she
sat. The letter was one moment in her hand, then in her lap, and then in
her pocket; and she looked as if she knew not what she did. The general,
between his cocoa and his newspaper, had luckily no leisure for noticing
her; but to the other two her distress was equally visible. As soon
as she dared leave the table she hurried away to her own room; but the
housemaids were busy in it, and she was obliged to come down again.
She turned into the drawing-room for privacy, but Henry and Eleanor had
likewise retreated thither, and were at that moment deep in consultation
about her. She drew back, trying to beg their pardon, but was, with
gentle violence, forced to return; and the others withdrew, after
Eleanor had affectionately expressed a wish of being of use or comfort
to her.

After half an hour’s free indulgence of grief and reflection, Catherine
felt equal to encountering her friends; but whether she should make
her distress known to them was another consideration. Perhaps, if
particularly questioned, she might just give an idea--just distantly
hint at it--but not more. To expose a friend, such a friend as Isabella
had been to her--and then their own brother so closely concerned in it!
She believed she must waive the subject altogether. Henry and Eleanor
were by themselves in the breakfast-room; and each, as she entered it,
looked at her anxiously. Catherine took her place at the table, and,
after a short silence, Eleanor said, “No bad news from Fullerton, I
hope? Mr. and Mrs. Morland--your brothers and sisters--I hope they are
none of them ill?”

“No, I thank you” (sighing as she spoke); “they are all very well. My
letter was from my brother at Oxford.”

Nothing further was said for a few minutes; and then speaking through
her tears, she added, “I do not think I shall ever wish for a letter
again!”

“I am sorry,” said Henry, closing the book he had just opened; “if I
had suspected the letter of containing anything unwelcome, I should have
given it with very different feelings.”

“It contained something worse than anybody could suppose! Poor James is
so unhappy! You will soon know why.”

“To have so kind-hearted, so affectionate a sister,” replied Henry
warmly, “must be a comfort to him under any distress.”

“I have one favour to beg,” said Catherine, shortly afterwards, in an
agitated manner, “that, if your brother should be coming here, you will
give me notice of it, that I may go away.”

“Our brother! Frederick!”

“Yes; I am sure I should be very sorry to leave you so soon, but
something has happened that would make it very dreadful for me to be in
the same house with Captain Tilney.”

Eleanor’s work was suspended while she gazed with increasing
astonishment; but Henry began to suspect the truth, and something, in
which Miss Thorpe’s name was included, passed his lips.

“How quick you are!” cried Catherine: “you have guessed it, I declare!
And yet, when we talked about it in Bath, you little thought of its
ending so. Isabella--no wonder now I have not heard from her--Isabella
has deserted my brother, and is to marry yours! Could you have believed
there had been such inconstancy and fickleness, and everything that is
bad in the world?”

“I hope, so far as concerns my brother, you are misinformed. I hope
he has not had any material share in bringing on Mr. Morland’s
disappointment. His marrying Miss Thorpe is not probable. I think you
must be deceived so far. I am very sorry for Mr. Morland--sorry that
anyone you love should be unhappy; but my surprise would be greater at
Frederick’s marrying her than at any other part of the story.”

“It is very true, however; you shall read James’s letter yourself.
Stay--There is one part--” recollecting with a blush the last line.

“Will you take the trouble of reading to us the passages which concern
my brother?”

“No, read it yourself,” cried Catherine, whose second thoughts were
clearer. “I do not know what I was thinking of” (blushing again that she
had blushed before); “James only means to give me good advice.”

He gladly received the letter, and, having read it through, with close
attention, returned it saying, “Well, if it is to be so, I can only
say that I am sorry for it. Frederick will not be the first man who has
chosen a wife with less sense than his family expected. I do not envy
his situation, either as a lover or a son.”

Miss Tilney, at Catherine’s invitation, now read the letter likewise,
and, having expressed also her concern and surprise, began to inquire
into Miss Thorpe’s connections and fortune.

“Her mother is a very good sort of woman,” was Catherine’s answer.

“What was her father?”

“A lawyer, I believe. They live at Putney.”

“Are they a wealthy family?”

“No, not very. I do not believe Isabella has any fortune at all: but
that will not signify in your family. Your father is so very liberal!
He told me the other day that he only valued money as it allowed him to
promote the happiness of his children.” The brother and sister looked
at each other. “But,” said Eleanor, after a short pause, “would it be to
promote his happiness, to enable him to marry such a girl? She must be
an unprincipled one, or she could not have used your brother so. And how
strange an infatuation on Frederick’s side! A girl who, before his eyes,
is violating an engagement voluntarily entered into with another man! Is
not it inconceivable, Henry? Frederick too, who always wore his heart so
proudly! Who found no woman good enough to be loved!”

“That is the most unpromising circumstance, the strongest presumption
against him. When I think of his past declarations, I give him up.
Moreover, I have too good an opinion of Miss Thorpe’s prudence to
suppose that she would part with one gentleman before the other
was secured. It is all over with Frederick indeed! He is a deceased
man--defunct in understanding. Prepare for your sister-in-law, Eleanor,
and such a sister-in-law as you must delight in! Open, candid, artless,
guileless, with affections strong but simple, forming no pretensions,
and knowing no disguise.”

“Such a sister-in-law, Henry, I should delight in,” said Eleanor with a
smile.

“But perhaps,” observed Catherine, “though she has behaved so ill by our
family, she may behave better by yours. Now she has really got the man
she likes, she may be constant.”

“Indeed I am afraid she will,” replied Henry; “I am afraid she will
be very constant, unless a baronet should come in her way; that is
Frederick’s only chance. I will get the Bath paper, and look over the
arrivals.”

“You think it is all for ambition, then? And, upon my word, there are
some things that seem very like it. I cannot forget that, when she first
knew what my father would do for them, she seemed quite disappointed
that it was not more. I never was so deceived in anyone’s character in
my life before.”

“Among all the great variety that you have known and studied.”

“My own disappointment and loss in her is very great; but, as for poor
James, I suppose he will hardly ever recover it.”

“Your brother is certainly very much to be pitied at present; but we
must not, in our concern for his sufferings, undervalue yours. You feel,
I suppose, that in losing Isabella, you lose half yourself: you feel a
void in your heart which nothing else can occupy. Society is becoming
irksome; and as for the amusements in which you were wont to share at
Bath, the very idea of them without her is abhorrent. You would not,
for instance, now go to a ball for the world. You feel that you have no
longer any friend to whom you can speak with unreserve, on whose regard
you can place dependence, or whose counsel, in any difficulty, you could
rely on. You feel all this?”

“No,” said Catherine, after a few moments’ reflection, “I do not--ought
I? To say the truth, though I am hurt and grieved, that I cannot still
love her, that I am never to hear from her, perhaps never to see her
again, I do not feel so very, very much afflicted as one would have
thought.”

“You feel, as you always do, what is most to the credit of human nature.
Such feelings ought to be investigated, that they may know themselves.”

Catherine, by some chance or other, found her spirits so very much
relieved by this conversation that she could not regret her being led
on, though so unaccountably, to mention the circumstance which had
produced it.



CHAPTER 26


From this time, the subject was frequently canvassed by the three young
people; and Catherine found, with some surprise, that her two young
friends were perfectly agreed in considering Isabella’s want of
consequence and fortune as likely to throw great difficulties in the way
of her marrying their brother. Their persuasion that the general would,
upon this ground alone, independent of the objection that might be
raised against her character, oppose the connection, turned her feelings
moreover with some alarm towards herself. She was as insignificant,
and perhaps as portionless, as Isabella; and if the heir of the Tilney
property had not grandeur and wealth enough in himself, at what point
of interest were the demands of his younger brother to rest? The very
painful reflections to which this thought led could only be dispersed by
a dependence on the effect of that particular partiality, which, as she
was given to understand by his words as well as his actions, she had
from the first been so fortunate as to excite in the general; and by a
recollection of some most generous and disinterested sentiments on the
subject of money, which she had more than once heard him utter, and
which tempted her to think his disposition in such matters misunderstood
by his children.

They were so fully convinced, however, that their brother would not
have the courage to apply in person for his father’s consent, and so
repeatedly assured her that he had never in his life been less likely to
come to Northanger than at the present time, that she suffered her mind
to be at ease as to the necessity of any sudden removal of her own. But
as it was not to be supposed that Captain Tilney, whenever he made his
application, would give his father any just idea of Isabella’s conduct,
it occurred to her as highly expedient that Henry should lay the whole
business before him as it really was, enabling the general by that means
to form a cool and impartial opinion, and prepare his objections on
a fairer ground than inequality of situations. She proposed it to him
accordingly; but he did not catch at the measure so eagerly as she had
expected. “No,” said he, “my father’s hands need not be strengthened,
and Frederick’s confession of folly need not be forestalled. He must
tell his own story.”

“But he will tell only half of it.”

“A quarter would be enough.”

A day or two passed away and brought no tidings of Captain Tilney. His
brother and sister knew not what to think. Sometimes it appeared to
them as if his silence would be the natural result of the suspected
engagement, and at others that it was wholly incompatible with it.
The general, meanwhile, though offended every morning by Frederick’s
remissness in writing, was free from any real anxiety about him, and had
no more pressing solicitude than that of making Miss Morland’s time at
Northanger pass pleasantly. He often expressed his uneasiness on this
head, feared the sameness of every day’s society and employments would
disgust her with the place, wished the Lady Frasers had been in the
country, talked every now and then of having a large party to dinner,
and once or twice began even to calculate the number of young dancing
people in the neighbourhood. But then it was such a dead time of year,
no wild-fowl, no game, and the Lady Frasers were not in the country.
And it all ended, at last, in his telling Henry one morning that when he
next went to Woodston, they would take him by surprise there some day
or other, and eat their mutton with him. Henry was greatly honoured and
very happy, and Catherine was quite delighted with the scheme. “And when
do you think, sir, I may look forward to this pleasure? I must be at
Woodston on Monday to attend the parish meeting, and shall probably be
obliged to stay two or three days.”

“Well, well, we will take our chance some one of those days. There is
no need to fix. You are not to put yourself at all out of your way.
Whatever you may happen to have in the house will be enough. I think I
can answer for the young ladies making allowance for a bachelor’s table.
Let me see; Monday will be a busy day with you, we will not come on
Monday; and Tuesday will be a busy one with me. I expect my surveyor
from Brockham with his report in the morning; and afterwards I cannot in
decency fail attending the club. I really could not face my acquaintance
if I stayed away now; for, as I am known to be in the country, it would
be taken exceedingly amiss; and it is a rule with me, Miss Morland,
never to give offence to any of my neighbours, if a small sacrifice of
time and attention can prevent it. They are a set of very worthy men.
They have half a buck from Northanger twice a year; and I dine with them
whenever I can. Tuesday, therefore, we may say is out of the question.
But on Wednesday, I think, Henry, you may expect us; and we shall be
with you early, that we may have time to look about us. Two hours and
three quarters will carry us to Woodston, I suppose; we shall be in the
carriage by ten; so, about a quarter before one on Wednesday, you may
look for us.”

A ball itself could not have been more welcome to Catherine than
this little excursion, so strong was her desire to be acquainted with
Woodston; and her heart was still bounding with joy when Henry, about an
hour afterwards, came booted and greatcoated into the room where she
and Eleanor were sitting, and said, “I am come, young ladies, in a
very moralizing strain, to observe that our pleasures in this world
are always to be paid for, and that we often purchase them at a great
disadvantage, giving ready-monied actual happiness for a draft on the
future, that may not be honoured. Witness myself, at this present hour.
Because I am to hope for the satisfaction of seeing you at Woodston on
Wednesday, which bad weather, or twenty other causes, may prevent, I
must go away directly, two days before I intended it.”

“Go away!” said Catherine, with a very long face. “And why?”

“Why! How can you ask the question? Because no time is to be lost in
frightening my old housekeeper out of her wits, because I must go and
prepare a dinner for you, to be sure.”

“Oh! Not seriously!”

“Aye, and sadly too--for I had much rather stay.”

“But how can you think of such a thing, after what the general said?
When he so particularly desired you not to give yourself any trouble,
because anything would do.”

Henry only smiled. “I am sure it is quite unnecessary upon your sister’s
account and mine. You must know it to be so; and the general made such
a point of your providing nothing extraordinary: besides, if he had not
said half so much as he did, he has always such an excellent dinner
at home, that sitting down to a middling one for one day could not
signify.”

“I wish I could reason like you, for his sake and my own. Good-bye. As
tomorrow is Sunday, Eleanor, I shall not return.”

He went; and, it being at any time a much simpler operation to Catherine
to doubt her own judgment than Henry’s, she was very soon obliged to
give him credit for being right, however disagreeable to her his going.
But the inexplicability of the general’s conduct dwelt much on her
thoughts. That he was very particular in his eating, she had, by her own
unassisted observation, already discovered; but why he should say
one thing so positively, and mean another all the while, was most
unaccountable! How were people, at that rate, to be understood? Who but
Henry could have been aware of what his father was at?

From Saturday to Wednesday, however, they were now to be without Henry.
This was the sad finale of every reflection: and Captain Tilney’s letter
would certainly come in his absence; and Wednesday she was very sure
would be wet. The past, present, and future were all equally in gloom.
Her brother so unhappy, and her loss in Isabella so great; and Eleanor’s
spirits always affected by Henry’s absence! What was there to interest
or amuse her? She was tired of the woods and the shrubberies--always so
smooth and so dry; and the abbey in itself was no more to her now than
any other house. The painful remembrance of the folly it had helped
to nourish and perfect was the only emotion which could spring from a
consideration of the building. What a revolution in her ideas! She, who
had so longed to be in an abbey! Now, there was nothing so charming
to her imagination as the unpretending comfort of a well-connected
parsonage, something like Fullerton, but better: Fullerton had its
faults, but Woodston probably had none. If Wednesday should ever come!

It did come, and exactly when it might be reasonably looked for. It
came--it was fine--and Catherine trod on air. By ten o’clock, the chaise
and four conveyed the trio from the abbey; and, after an agreeable drive
of almost twenty miles, they entered Woodston, a large and populous
village, in a situation not unpleasant. Catherine was ashamed to say
how pretty she thought it, as the general seemed to think an apology
necessary for the flatness of the country, and the size of the village;
but in her heart she preferred it to any place she had ever been at,
and looked with great admiration at every neat house above the rank of
a cottage, and at all the little chandler’s shops which they passed. At
the further end of the village, and tolerably disengaged from the rest
of it, stood the parsonage, a new-built substantial stone house, with
its semicircular sweep and green gates; and, as they drove up to the
door, Henry, with the friends of his solitude, a large Newfoundland
puppy and two or three terriers, was ready to receive and make much of
them.

Catherine’s mind was too full, as she entered the house, for her either
to observe or to say a great deal; and, till called on by the general
for her opinion of it, she had very little idea of the room in which she
was sitting. Upon looking round it then, she perceived in a moment that
it was the most comfortable room in the world; but she was too guarded
to say so, and the coldness of her praise disappointed him.

“We are not calling it a good house,” said he. “We are not comparing
it with Fullerton and Northanger--we are considering it as a mere
parsonage, small and confined, we allow, but decent, perhaps, and
habitable; and altogether not inferior to the generality; or, in other
words, I believe there are few country parsonages in England half so
good. It may admit of improvement, however. Far be it from me to say
otherwise; and anything in reason--a bow thrown out, perhaps--though,
between ourselves, if there is one thing more than another my aversion,
it is a patched-on bow.”

Catherine did not hear enough of this speech to understand or be pained
by it; and other subjects being studiously brought forward and supported
by Henry, at the same time that a tray full of refreshments was
introduced by his servant, the general was shortly restored to his
complacency, and Catherine to all her usual ease of spirits.

The room in question was of a commodious, well-proportioned size, and
handsomely fitted up as a dining-parlour; and on their quitting it to
walk round the grounds, she was shown, first into a smaller apartment,
belonging peculiarly to the master of the house, and made unusually tidy
on the occasion; and afterwards into what was to be the drawing-room,
with the appearance of which, though unfurnished, Catherine was
delighted enough even to satisfy the general. It was a prettily shaped
room, the windows reaching to the ground, and the view from them
pleasant, though only over green meadows; and she expressed her
admiration at the moment with all the honest simplicity with which she
felt it. “Oh! Why do not you fit up this room, Mr. Tilney? What a pity
not to have it fitted up! It is the prettiest room I ever saw; it is the
prettiest room in the world!”

“I trust,” said the general, with a most satisfied smile, “that it will
very speedily be furnished: it waits only for a lady’s taste!”

“Well, if it was my house, I should never sit anywhere else. Oh! What a
sweet little cottage there is among the trees--apple trees, too! It is
the prettiest cottage!”

“You like it--you approve it as an object--it is enough. Henry, remember
that Robinson is spoken to about it. The cottage remains.”

Such a compliment recalled all Catherine’s consciousness, and silenced
her directly; and, though pointedly applied to by the general for her
choice of the prevailing colour of the paper and hangings, nothing like
an opinion on the subject could be drawn from her. The influence of
fresh objects and fresh air, however, was of great use in dissipating
these embarrassing associations; and, having reached the ornamental part
of the premises, consisting of a walk round two sides of a meadow, on
which Henry’s genius had begun to act about half a year ago, she was
sufficiently recovered to think it prettier than any pleasure-ground she
had ever been in before, though there was not a shrub in it higher than
the green bench in the corner.

A saunter into other meadows, and through part of the village, with a
visit to the stables to examine some improvements, and a charming game
of play with a litter of puppies just able to roll about, brought them
to four o’clock, when Catherine scarcely thought it could be three. At
four they were to dine, and at six to set off on their return. Never had
any day passed so quickly!

She could not but observe that the abundance of the dinner did not seem
to create the smallest astonishment in the general; nay, that he was
even looking at the side-table for cold meat which was not there. His
son and daughter’s observations were of a different kind. They had
seldom seen him eat so heartily at any table but his own, and never
before known him so little disconcerted by the melted butter’s being
oiled.

At six o’clock, the general having taken his coffee, the carriage again
received them; and so gratifying had been the tenor of his conduct
throughout the whole visit, so well assured was her mind on the subject
of his expectations, that, could she have felt equally confident of the
wishes of his son, Catherine would have quitted Woodston with little
anxiety as to the How or the When she might return to it.



CHAPTER 27


The next morning brought the following very unexpected letter from
Isabella:


Bath, April

My dearest Catherine, I received your two kind letters with the greatest
delight, and have a thousand apologies to make for not answering them
sooner. I really am quite ashamed of my idleness; but in this horrid
place one can find time for nothing. I have had my pen in my hand to
begin a letter to you almost every day since you left Bath, but have
always been prevented by some silly trifler or other. Pray write to me
soon, and direct to my own home. Thank God, we leave this vile place
tomorrow. Since you went away, I have had no pleasure in it--the dust
is beyond anything; and everybody one cares for is gone. I believe if I
could see you I should not mind the rest, for you are dearer to me than
anybody can conceive. I am quite uneasy about your dear brother, not
having heard from him since he went to Oxford; and am fearful of some
misunderstanding. Your kind offices will set all right: he is the only
man I ever did or could love, and I trust you will convince him of it.
The spring fashions are partly down; and the hats the most frightful you
can imagine. I hope you spend your time pleasantly, but am afraid you
never think of me. I will not say all that I could of the family you are
with, because I would not be ungenerous, or set you against those you
esteem; but it is very difficult to know whom to trust, and young men
never know their minds two days together. I rejoice to say that the
young man whom, of all others, I particularly abhor, has left Bath. You
will know, from this description, I must mean Captain Tilney, who, as
you may remember, was amazingly disposed to follow and tease me, before
you went away. Afterwards he got worse, and became quite my shadow. Many
girls might have been taken in, for never were such attentions; but I
knew the fickle sex too well. He went away to his regiment two days ago,
and I trust I shall never be plagued with him again. He is the greatest
coxcomb I ever saw, and amazingly disagreeable. The last two days he was
always by the side of Charlotte Davis: I pitied his taste, but took no
notice of him. The last time we met was in Bath Street, and I turned
directly into a shop that he might not speak to me; I would not even
look at him. He went into the pump-room afterwards; but I would not have
followed him for all the world. Such a contrast between him and your
brother! Pray send me some news of the latter--I am quite unhappy about
him; he seemed so uncomfortable when he went away, with a cold, or
something that affected his spirits. I would write to him myself, but
have mislaid his direction; and, as I hinted above, am afraid he
took something in my conduct amiss. Pray explain everything to his
satisfaction; or, if he still harbours any doubt, a line from himself
to me, or a call at Putney when next in town, might set all to rights.
I have not been to the rooms this age, nor to the play, except going in
last night with the Hodges, for a frolic, at half price: they teased
me into it; and I was determined they should not say I shut myself up
because Tilney was gone. We happened to sit by the Mitchells, and they
pretended to be quite surprised to see me out. I knew their spite: at
one time they could not be civil to me, but now they are all friendship;
but I am not such a fool as to be taken in by them. You know I have a
pretty good spirit of my own. Anne Mitchell had tried to put on a
turban like mine, as I wore it the week before at the concert, but made
wretched work of it--it happened to become my odd face, I believe, at
least Tilney told me so at the time, and said every eye was upon me; but
he is the last man whose word I would take. I wear nothing but purple
now: I know I look hideous in it, but no matter--it is your dear
brother’s favourite colour. Lose no time, my dearest, sweetest
Catherine, in writing to him and to me, Who ever am, etc.


Such a strain of shallow artifice could not impose even upon Catherine.
Its inconsistencies, contradictions, and falsehood struck her from the
very first. She was ashamed of Isabella, and ashamed of having ever
loved her. Her professions of attachment were now as disgusting as her
excuses were empty, and her demands impudent. “Write to James on her
behalf! No, James should never hear Isabella’s name mentioned by her
again.”

On Henry’s arrival from Woodston, she made known to him and Eleanor
their brother’s safety, congratulating them with sincerity on it, and
reading aloud the most material passages of her letter with strong
indignation. When she had finished it--“So much for Isabella,” she
cried, “and for all our intimacy! She must think me an idiot, or she
could not have written so; but perhaps this has served to make her
character better known to me than mine is to her. I see what she has
been about. She is a vain coquette, and her tricks have not answered. I
do not believe she had ever any regard either for James or for me, and I
wish I had never known her.”

“It will soon be as if you never had,” said Henry.

“There is but one thing that I cannot understand. I see that she has
had designs on Captain Tilney, which have not succeeded; but I do not
understand what Captain Tilney has been about all this time. Why should
he pay her such attentions as to make her quarrel with my brother, and
then fly off himself?”

“I have very little to say for Frederick’s motives, such as I believe
them to have been. He has his vanities as well as Miss Thorpe, and the
chief difference is, that, having a stronger head, they have not yet
injured himself. If the effect of his behaviour does not justify him
with you, we had better not seek after the cause.”

“Then you do not suppose he ever really cared about her?”

“I am persuaded that he never did.”

“And only made believe to do so for mischief’s sake?”

Henry bowed his assent.

“Well, then, I must say that I do not like him at all. Though it has
turned out so well for us, I do not like him at all. As it happens,
there is no great harm done, because I do not think Isabella has any
heart to lose. But, suppose he had made her very much in love with him?”

“But we must first suppose Isabella to have had a heart to
lose--consequently to have been a very different creature; and, in that
case, she would have met with very different treatment.”

“It is very right that you should stand by your brother.”

“And if you would stand by yours, you would not be much distressed by
the disappointment of Miss Thorpe. But your mind is warped by an innate
principle of general integrity, and therefore not accessible to the cool
reasonings of family partiality, or a desire of revenge.”

Catherine was complimented out of further bitterness. Frederick could
not be unpardonably guilty, while Henry made himself so agreeable. She
resolved on not answering Isabella’s letter, and tried to think no more
of it.



CHAPTER 28


Soon after this, the general found himself obliged to go to London for
a week; and he left Northanger earnestly regretting that any necessity
should rob him even for an hour of Miss Morland’s company, and anxiously
recommending the study of her comfort and amusement to his children
as their chief object in his absence. His departure gave Catherine the
first experimental conviction that a loss may be sometimes a gain. The
happiness with which their time now passed, every employment voluntary,
every laugh indulged, every meal a scene of ease and good humour,
walking where they liked and when they liked, their hours, pleasures,
and fatigues at their own command, made her thoroughly sensible of the
restraint which the general’s presence had imposed, and most thankfully
feel their present release from it. Such ease and such delights made her
love the place and the people more and more every day; and had it not
been for a dread of its soon becoming expedient to leave the one, and
an apprehension of not being equally beloved by the other, she would at
each moment of each day have been perfectly happy; but she was now in
the fourth week of her visit; before the general came home, the fourth
week would be turned, and perhaps it might seem an intrusion if she
stayed much longer. This was a painful consideration whenever it
occurred; and eager to get rid of such a weight on her mind, she very
soon resolved to speak to Eleanor about it at once, propose going away,
and be guided in her conduct by the manner in which her proposal might
be taken.

Aware that if she gave herself much time, she might feel it difficult to
bring forward so unpleasant a subject, she took the first opportunity of
being suddenly alone with Eleanor, and of Eleanor’s being in the
middle of a speech about something very different, to start forth her
obligation of going away very soon. Eleanor looked and declared herself
much concerned. She had “hoped for the pleasure of her company for a
much longer time--had been misled (perhaps by her wishes) to suppose
that a much longer visit had been promised--and could not but think that
if Mr. and Mrs. Morland were aware of the pleasure it was to her to have
her there, they would be too generous to hasten her return.” Catherine
explained: “Oh! As to that, Papa and Mamma were in no hurry at all. As
long as she was happy, they would always be satisfied.”

“Then why, might she ask, in such a hurry herself to leave them?”

“Oh! Because she had been there so long.”

“Nay, if you can use such a word, I can urge you no farther. If you
think it long--”

“Oh! No, I do not indeed. For my own pleasure, I could stay with you as
long again.” And it was directly settled that, till she had, her leaving
them was not even to be thought of. In having this cause of uneasiness
so pleasantly removed, the force of the other was likewise weakened. The
kindness, the earnestness of Eleanor’s manner in pressing her to stay,
and Henry’s gratified look on being told that her stay was determined,
were such sweet proofs of her importance with them, as left her only
just so much solicitude as the human mind can never do comfortably
without. She did--almost always--believe that Henry loved her, and quite
always that his father and sister loved and even wished her to belong
to them; and believing so far, her doubts and anxieties were merely
sportive irritations.

Henry was not able to obey his father’s injunction of remaining wholly
at Northanger in attendance on the ladies, during his absence in London,
the engagements of his curate at Woodston obliging him to leave them on
Saturday for a couple of nights. His loss was not now what it had been
while the general was at home; it lessened their gaiety, but did not
ruin their comfort; and the two girls agreeing in occupation, and
improving in intimacy, found themselves so well sufficient for the time
to themselves, that it was eleven o’clock, rather a late hour at
the abbey, before they quitted the supper-room on the day of Henry’s
departure. They had just reached the head of the stairs when it seemed,
as far as the thickness of the walls would allow them to judge, that a
carriage was driving up to the door, and the next moment confirmed the
idea by the loud noise of the house-bell. After the first perturbation
of surprise had passed away, in a “Good heaven! What can be the matter?”
 it was quickly decided by Eleanor to be her eldest brother, whose
arrival was often as sudden, if not quite so unseasonable, and
accordingly she hurried down to welcome him.

Catherine walked on to her chamber, making up her mind as well as she
could, to a further acquaintance with Captain Tilney, and comforting
herself under the unpleasant impression his conduct had given her, and
the persuasion of his being by far too fine a gentleman to approve of
her, that at least they should not meet under such circumstances as
would make their meeting materially painful. She trusted he would never
speak of Miss Thorpe; and indeed, as he must by this time be ashamed of
the part he had acted, there could be no danger of it; and as long as
all mention of Bath scenes were avoided, she thought she could behave
to him very civilly. In such considerations time passed away, and it was
certainly in his favour that Eleanor should be so glad to see him, and
have so much to say, for half an hour was almost gone since his arrival,
and Eleanor did not come up.

At that moment Catherine thought she heard her step in the gallery, and
listened for its continuance; but all was silent. Scarcely, however,
had she convicted her fancy of error, when the noise of something moving
close to her door made her start; it seemed as if someone was touching
the very doorway--and in another moment a slight motion of the lock
proved that some hand must be on it. She trembled a little at the idea
of anyone’s approaching so cautiously; but resolving not to be again
overcome by trivial appearances of alarm, or misled by a raised
imagination, she stepped quietly forward, and opened the door. Eleanor,
and only Eleanor, stood there. Catherine’s spirits, however, were
tranquillized but for an instant, for Eleanor’s cheeks were pale, and
her manner greatly agitated. Though evidently intending to come in, it
seemed an effort to enter the room, and a still greater to speak when
there. Catherine, supposing some uneasiness on Captain Tilney’s account,
could only express her concern by silent attention, obliged her to be
seated, rubbed her temples with lavender-water, and hung over her with
affectionate solicitude. “My dear Catherine, you must not--you must not
indeed--” were Eleanor’s first connected words. “I am quite well.
This kindness distracts me--I cannot bear it--I come to you on such an
errand!”

“Errand! To me!”

“How shall I tell you! Oh! How shall I tell you!”

A new idea now darted into Catherine’s mind, and turning as pale as her
friend, she exclaimed, “‘Tis a messenger from Woodston!”

“You are mistaken, indeed,” returned Eleanor, looking at her most
compassionately; “it is no one from Woodston. It is my father himself.”
 Her voice faltered, and her eyes were turned to the ground as she
mentioned his name. His unlooked-for return was enough in itself to make
Catherine’s heart sink, and for a few moments she hardly supposed
there were anything worse to be told. She said nothing; and Eleanor,
endeavouring to collect herself and speak with firmness, but with eyes
still cast down, soon went on. “You are too good, I am sure, to think
the worse of me for the part I am obliged to perform. I am indeed a most
unwilling messenger. After what has so lately passed, so lately been
settled between us--how joyfully, how thankfully on my side!--as to your
continuing here as I hoped for many, many weeks longer, how can I tell
you that your kindness is not to be accepted--and that the happiness
your company has hitherto given us is to be repaid by--But I must not
trust myself with words. My dear Catherine, we are to part. My father
has recollected an engagement that takes our whole family away on
Monday. We are going to Lord Longtown’s, near Hereford, for a fortnight.
Explanation and apology are equally impossible. I cannot attempt
either.”

“My dear Eleanor,” cried Catherine, suppressing her feelings as well as
she could, “do not be so distressed. A second engagement must give
way to a first. I am very, very sorry we are to part--so soon, and so
suddenly too; but I am not offended, indeed I am not. I can finish my
visit here, you know, at any time; or I hope you will come to me. Can
you, when you return from this lord’s, come to Fullerton?”

“It will not be in my power, Catherine.”

“Come when you can, then.”

Eleanor made no answer; and Catherine’s thoughts recurring to something
more directly interesting, she added, thinking aloud, “Monday--so soon
as Monday; and you all go. Well, I am certain of--I shall be able to
take leave, however. I need not go till just before you do, you know. Do
not be distressed, Eleanor, I can go on Monday very well. My father
and mother’s having no notice of it is of very little consequence. The
general will send a servant with me, I dare say, half the way--and then
I shall soon be at Salisbury, and then I am only nine miles from home.”

“Ah, Catherine! Were it settled so, it would be somewhat less
intolerable, though in such common attentions you would have received
but half what you ought. But--how can I tell you?--tomorrow morning is
fixed for your leaving us, and not even the hour is left to your choice;
the very carriage is ordered, and will be here at seven o’clock, and no
servant will be offered you.”

Catherine sat down, breathless and speechless. “I could hardly believe
my senses, when I heard it; and no displeasure, no resentment that
you can feel at this moment, however justly great, can be more than I
myself--but I must not talk of what I felt. Oh! That I could suggest
anything in extenuation! Good God! What will your father and mother say!
After courting you from the protection of real friends to this--almost
double distance from your home, to have you driven out of the house,
without the considerations even of decent civility! Dear, dear
Catherine, in being the bearer of such a message, I seem guilty myself
of all its insult; yet, I trust you will acquit me, for you must have
been long enough in this house to see that I am but a nominal mistress
of it, that my real power is nothing.”

“Have I offended the general?” said Catherine in a faltering voice.

“Alas! For my feelings as a daughter, all that I know, all that I
answer for, is that you can have given him no just cause of offence. He
certainly is greatly, very greatly discomposed; I have seldom seen him
more so. His temper is not happy, and something has now occurred to
ruffle it in an uncommon degree; some disappointment, some vexation,
which just at this moment seems important, but which I can hardly
suppose you to have any concern in, for how is it possible?”

It was with pain that Catherine could speak at all; and it was only for
Eleanor’s sake that she attempted it. “I am sure,” said she, “I am very
sorry if I have offended him. It was the last thing I would willingly
have done. But do not be unhappy, Eleanor. An engagement, you know, must
be kept. I am only sorry it was not recollected sooner, that I might
have written home. But it is of very little consequence.”

“I hope, I earnestly hope, that to your real safety it will be of none;
but to everything else it is of the greatest consequence: to comfort,
appearance, propriety, to your family, to the world. Were your friends,
the Allens, still in Bath, you might go to them with comparative ease;
a few hours would take you there; but a journey of seventy miles, to be
taken post by you, at your age, alone, unattended!”

“Oh, the journey is nothing. Do not think about that. And if we are to
part, a few hours sooner or later, you know, makes no difference. I
can be ready by seven. Let me be called in time.” Eleanor saw that she
wished to be alone; and believing it better for each that they should
avoid any further conversation, now left her with, “I shall see you in
the morning.”

Catherine’s swelling heart needed relief. In Eleanor’s presence
friendship and pride had equally restrained her tears, but no sooner was
she gone than they burst forth in torrents. Turned from the house, and
in such a way! Without any reason that could justify, any apology that
could atone for the abruptness, the rudeness, nay, the insolence of
it. Henry at a distance--not able even to bid him farewell. Every hope,
every expectation from him suspended, at least, and who could say how
long? Who could say when they might meet again? And all this by such
a man as General Tilney, so polite, so well bred, and heretofore
so particularly fond of her! It was as incomprehensible as it was
mortifying and grievous. From what it could arise, and where it would
end, were considerations of equal perplexity and alarm. The manner in
which it was done so grossly uncivil, hurrying her away without any
reference to her own convenience, or allowing her even the appearance
of choice as to the time or mode of her travelling; of two days, the
earliest fixed on, and of that almost the earliest hour, as if resolved
to have her gone before he was stirring in the morning, that he
might not be obliged even to see her. What could all this mean but
an intentional affront? By some means or other she must have had the
misfortune to offend him. Eleanor had wished to spare her from so
painful a notion, but Catherine could not believe it possible that any
injury or any misfortune could provoke such ill will against a person
not connected, or, at least, not supposed to be connected with it.

Heavily passed the night. Sleep, or repose that deserved the name
of sleep, was out of the question. That room, in which her disturbed
imagination had tormented her on her first arrival, was again the scene
of agitated spirits and unquiet slumbers. Yet how different now the
source of her inquietude from what it had been then--how mournfully
superior in reality and substance! Her anxiety had foundation in
fact, her fears in probability; and with a mind so occupied in the
contemplation of actual and natural evil, the solitude of her situation,
the darkness of her chamber, the antiquity of the building, were felt
and considered without the smallest emotion; and though the wind was
high, and often produced strange and sudden noises throughout the house,
she heard it all as she lay awake, hour after hour, without curiosity or
terror.

Soon after six Eleanor entered her room, eager to show attention or give
assistance where it was possible; but very little remained to be done.
Catherine had not loitered; she was almost dressed, and her packing
almost finished. The possibility of some conciliatory message from the
general occurred to her as his daughter appeared. What so natural, as
that anger should pass away and repentance succeed it? And she only
wanted to know how far, after what had passed, an apology might properly
be received by her. But the knowledge would have been useless here;
it was not called for; neither clemency nor dignity was put to the
trial--Eleanor brought no message. Very little passed between them on
meeting; each found her greatest safety in silence, and few and trivial
were the sentences exchanged while they remained upstairs, Catherine in
busy agitation completing her dress, and Eleanor with more goodwill than
experience intent upon filling the trunk. When everything was done they
left the room, Catherine lingering only half a minute behind her friend
to throw a parting glance on every well-known, cherished object, and
went down to the breakfast-parlour, where breakfast was prepared. She
tried to eat, as well to save herself from the pain of being urged as
to make her friend comfortable; but she had no appetite, and could not
swallow many mouthfuls. The contrast between this and her last breakfast
in that room gave her fresh misery, and strengthened her distaste for
everything before her. It was not four and twenty hours ago since they
had met there to the same repast, but in circumstances how different!
With what cheerful ease, what happy, though false, security, had she
then looked around her, enjoying everything present, and fearing little
in future, beyond Henry’s going to Woodston for a day! Happy, happy
breakfast! For Henry had been there; Henry had sat by her and helped
her. These reflections were long indulged undisturbed by any address
from her companion, who sat as deep in thought as herself; and the
appearance of the carriage was the first thing to startle and recall
them to the present moment. Catherine’s colour rose at the sight of it;
and the indignity with which she was treated, striking at that instant
on her mind with peculiar force, made her for a short time sensible only
of resentment. Eleanor seemed now impelled into resolution and speech.

“You must write to me, Catherine,” she cried; “you must let me hear from
you as soon as possible. Till I know you to be safe at home, I shall
not have an hour’s comfort. For one letter, at all risks, all hazards, I
must entreat. Let me have the satisfaction of knowing that you are safe
at Fullerton, and have found your family well, and then, till I can ask
for your correspondence as I ought to do, I will not expect more. Direct
to me at Lord Longtown’s, and, I must ask it, under cover to Alice.”

“No, Eleanor, if you are not allowed to receive a letter from me, I am
sure I had better not write. There can be no doubt of my getting home
safe.”

Eleanor only replied, “I cannot wonder at your feelings. I will not
importune you. I will trust to your own kindness of heart when I am at
a distance from you.” But this, with the look of sorrow accompanying
it, was enough to melt Catherine’s pride in a moment, and she instantly
said, “Oh, Eleanor, I will write to you indeed.”

There was yet another point which Miss Tilney was anxious to settle,
though somewhat embarrassed in speaking of. It had occurred to her that
after so long an absence from home, Catherine might not be provided with
money enough for the expenses of her journey, and, upon suggesting it
to her with most affectionate offers of accommodation, it proved to be
exactly the case. Catherine had never thought on the subject till that
moment, but, upon examining her purse, was convinced that but for
this kindness of her friend, she might have been turned from the house
without even the means of getting home; and the distress in which she
must have been thereby involved filling the minds of both, scarcely
another word was said by either during the time of their remaining
together. Short, however, was that time. The carriage was soon announced
to be ready; and Catherine, instantly rising, a long and affectionate
embrace supplied the place of language in bidding each other adieu; and,
as they entered the hall, unable to leave the house without some mention
of one whose name had not yet been spoken by either, she paused a
moment, and with quivering lips just made it intelligible that she left
“her kind remembrance for her absent friend.” But with this approach to
his name ended all possibility of restraining her feelings; and, hiding
her face as well as she could with her handkerchief, she darted across
the hall, jumped into the chaise, and in a moment was driven from the
door.



CHAPTER 29


Catherine was too wretched to be fearful. The journey in itself had no
terrors for her; and she began it without either dreading its length or
feeling its solitariness. Leaning back in one corner of the carriage, in
a violent burst of tears, she was conveyed some miles beyond the walls
of the abbey before she raised her head; and the highest point of ground
within the park was almost closed from her view before she was capable
of turning her eyes towards it. Unfortunately, the road she now
travelled was the same which only ten days ago she had so happily passed
along in going to and from Woodston; and, for fourteen miles, every
bitter feeling was rendered more severe by the review of objects on
which she had first looked under impressions so different. Every mile,
as it brought her nearer Woodston, added to her sufferings, and when
within the distance of five, she passed the turning which led to it, and
thought of Henry, so near, yet so unconscious, her grief and agitation
were excessive.

The day which she had spent at that place had been one of the happiest
of her life. It was there, it was on that day, that the general had made
use of such expressions with regard to Henry and herself, had so
spoken and so looked as to give her the most positive conviction of his
actually wishing their marriage. Yes, only ten days ago had he
elated her by his pointed regard--had he even confused her by his too
significant reference! And now--what had she done, or what had she
omitted to do, to merit such a change?

The only offence against him of which she could accuse herself had been
such as was scarcely possible to reach his knowledge. Henry and her own
heart only were privy to the shocking suspicions which she had so idly
entertained; and equally safe did she believe her secret with each.
Designedly, at least, Henry could not have betrayed her. If, indeed, by
any strange mischance his father should have gained intelligence of
what she had dared to think and look for, of her causeless fancies
and injurious examinations, she could not wonder at any degree of his
indignation. If aware of her having viewed him as a murderer, she could
not wonder at his even turning her from his house. But a justification
so full of torture to herself, she trusted, would not be in his power.

Anxious as were all her conjectures on this point, it was not, however,
the one on which she dwelt most. There was a thought yet nearer, a more
prevailing, more impetuous concern. How Henry would think, and feel,
and look, when he returned on the morrow to Northanger and heard of
her being gone, was a question of force and interest to rise over every
other, to be never ceasing, alternately irritating and soothing; it
sometimes suggested the dread of his calm acquiescence, and at others
was answered by the sweetest confidence in his regret and resentment. To
the general, of course, he would not dare to speak; but to Eleanor--what
might he not say to Eleanor about her?

In this unceasing recurrence of doubts and inquiries, on any one article
of which her mind was incapable of more than momentary repose, the hours
passed away, and her journey advanced much faster than she looked for.
The pressing anxieties of thought, which prevented her from noticing
anything before her, when once beyond the neighbourhood of Woodston,
saved her at the same time from watching her progress; and though no
object on the road could engage a moment’s attention, she found no stage
of it tedious. From this, she was preserved too by another cause, by
feeling no eagerness for her journey’s conclusion; for to return in such
a manner to Fullerton was almost to destroy the pleasure of a meeting
with those she loved best, even after an absence such as hers--an eleven
weeks’ absence. What had she to say that would not humble herself and
pain her family, that would not increase her own grief by the confession
of it, extend an useless resentment, and perhaps involve the innocent
with the guilty in undistinguishing ill will? She could never do justice
to Henry and Eleanor’s merit; she felt it too strongly for expression;
and should a dislike be taken against them, should they be thought of
unfavourably, on their father’s account, it would cut her to the heart.

With these feelings, she rather dreaded than sought for the first view
of that well-known spire which would announce her within twenty miles of
home. Salisbury she had known to be her point on leaving Northanger; but
after the first stage she had been indebted to the post-masters for the
names of the places which were then to conduct her to it; so great
had been her ignorance of her route. She met with nothing, however,
to distress or frighten her. Her youth, civil manners, and liberal
pay procured her all the attention that a traveller like herself could
require; and stopping only to change horses, she travelled on for
about eleven hours without accident or alarm, and between six and seven
o’clock in the evening found herself entering Fullerton.

A heroine returning, at the close of her career, to her native village,
in all the triumph of recovered reputation, and all the dignity of
a countess, with a long train of noble relations in their several
phaetons, and three waiting-maids in a travelling chaise and four,
behind her, is an event on which the pen of the contriver may well
delight to dwell; it gives credit to every conclusion, and the author
must share in the glory she so liberally bestows. But my affair is
widely different; I bring back my heroine to her home in solitude and
disgrace; and no sweet elation of spirits can lead me into minuteness.
A heroine in a hack post-chaise is such a blow upon sentiment, as no
attempt at grandeur or pathos can withstand. Swiftly therefore shall her
post-boy drive through the village, amid the gaze of Sunday groups, and
speedy shall be her descent from it.

But, whatever might be the distress of Catherine’s mind, as she thus
advanced towards the parsonage, and whatever the humiliation of her
biographer in relating it, she was preparing enjoyment of no everyday
nature for those to whom she went; first, in the appearance of her
carriage--and secondly, in herself. The chaise of a traveller being
a rare sight in Fullerton, the whole family were immediately at the
window; and to have it stop at the sweep-gate was a pleasure to brighten
every eye and occupy every fancy--a pleasure quite unlooked for by all
but the two youngest children, a boy and girl of six and four years old,
who expected a brother or sister in every carriage. Happy the glance
that first distinguished Catherine! Happy the voice that proclaimed the
discovery! But whether such happiness were the lawful property of George
or Harriet could never be exactly understood.

Her father, mother, Sarah, George, and Harriet, all assembled at the
door to welcome her with affectionate eagerness, was a sight to awaken
the best feelings of Catherine’s heart; and in the embrace of each, as
she stepped from the carriage, she found herself soothed beyond anything
that she had believed possible. So surrounded, so caressed, she was even
happy! In the joyfulness of family love everything for a short time was
subdued, and the pleasure of seeing her, leaving them at first little
leisure for calm curiosity, they were all seated round the tea-table,
which Mrs. Morland had hurried for the comfort of the poor traveller,
whose pale and jaded looks soon caught her notice, before any inquiry so
direct as to demand a positive answer was addressed to her.

Reluctantly, and with much hesitation, did she then begin what might
perhaps, at the end of half an hour, be termed, by the courtesy of her
hearers, an explanation; but scarcely, within that time, could they
at all discover the cause, or collect the particulars, of her sudden
return. They were far from being an irritable race; far from any
quickness in catching, or bitterness in resenting, affronts: but here,
when the whole was unfolded, was an insult not to be overlooked, nor,
for the first half hour, to be easily pardoned. Without suffering any
romantic alarm, in the consideration of their daughter’s long and lonely
journey, Mr. and Mrs. Morland could not but feel that it might have been
productive of much unpleasantness to her; that it was what they could
never have voluntarily suffered; and that, in forcing her on such
a measure, General Tilney had acted neither honourably nor
feelingly--neither as a gentleman nor as a parent. Why he had done it,
what could have provoked him to such a breach of hospitality, and so
suddenly turned all his partial regard for their daughter into actual
ill will, was a matter which they were at least as far from divining
as Catherine herself; but it did not oppress them by any means so long;
and, after a due course of useless conjecture, that “it was a strange
business, and that he must be a very strange man,” grew enough for all
their indignation and wonder; though Sarah indeed still indulged in the
sweets of incomprehensibility, exclaiming and conjecturing with youthful
ardour. “My dear, you give yourself a great deal of needless trouble,”
 said her mother at last; “depend upon it, it is something not at all
worth understanding.”

“I can allow for his wishing Catherine away, when he recollected this
engagement,” said Sarah, “but why not do it civilly?”

“I am sorry for the young people,” returned Mrs. Morland; “they must
have a sad time of it; but as for anything else, it is no matter now;
Catherine is safe at home, and our comfort does not depend upon General
Tilney.” Catherine sighed. “Well,” continued her philosophic mother, “I
am glad I did not know of your journey at the time; but now it is all
over, perhaps there is no great harm done. It is always good for
young people to be put upon exerting themselves; and you know, my dear
Catherine, you always were a sad little scatter-brained creature; but
now you must have been forced to have your wits about you, with so much
changing of chaises and so forth; and I hope it will appear that you
have not left anything behind you in any of the pockets.”

Catherine hoped so too, and tried to feel an interest in her own
amendment, but her spirits were quite worn down; and, to be silent and
alone becoming soon her only wish, she readily agreed to her mother’s
next counsel of going early to bed. Her parents, seeing nothing in
her ill looks and agitation but the natural consequence of mortified
feelings, and of the unusual exertion and fatigue of such a journey,
parted from her without any doubt of their being soon slept away; and
though, when they all met the next morning, her recovery was not equal
to their hopes, they were still perfectly unsuspicious of there being
any deeper evil. They never once thought of her heart, which, for the
parents of a young lady of seventeen, just returned from her first
excursion from home, was odd enough!

As soon as breakfast was over, she sat down to fulfil her promise to
Miss Tilney, whose trust in the effect of time and distance on her
friend’s disposition was already justified, for already did Catherine
reproach herself with having parted from Eleanor coldly, with
having never enough valued her merits or kindness, and never enough
commiserated her for what she had been yesterday left to endure. The
strength of these feelings, however, was far from assisting her pen;
and never had it been harder for her to write than in addressing Eleanor
Tilney. To compose a letter which might at once do justice to her
sentiments and her situation, convey gratitude without servile regret,
be guarded without coldness, and honest without resentment--a letter
which Eleanor might not be pained by the perusal of--and, above all,
which she might not blush herself, if Henry should chance to see, was an
undertaking to frighten away all her powers of performance; and, after
long thought and much perplexity, to be very brief was all that she
could determine on with any confidence of safety. The money therefore
which Eleanor had advanced was enclosed with little more than grateful
thanks, and the thousand good wishes of a most affectionate heart.

“This has been a strange acquaintance,” observed Mrs. Morland, as the
letter was finished; “soon made and soon ended. I am sorry it happens
so, for Mrs. Allen thought them very pretty kind of young people; and
you were sadly out of luck too in your Isabella. Ah! Poor James! Well,
we must live and learn; and the next new friends you make I hope will be
better worth keeping.”

Catherine coloured as she warmly answered, “No friend can be better
worth keeping than Eleanor.”

“If so, my dear, I dare say you will meet again some time or other; do
not be uneasy. It is ten to one but you are thrown together again in the
course of a few years; and then what a pleasure it will be!”

Mrs. Morland was not happy in her attempt at consolation. The hope
of meeting again in the course of a few years could only put into
Catherine’s head what might happen within that time to make a meeting
dreadful to her. She could never forget Henry Tilney, or think of him
with less tenderness than she did at that moment; but he might forget
her; and in that case, to meet--! Her eyes filled with tears as she
pictured her acquaintance so renewed; and her mother, perceiving her
comfortable suggestions to have had no good effect, proposed, as another
expedient for restoring her spirits, that they should call on Mrs.
Allen.

The two houses were only a quarter of a mile apart; and, as they walked,
Mrs. Morland quickly dispatched all that she felt on the score of
James’s disappointment. “We are sorry for him,” said she; “but otherwise
there is no harm done in the match going off; for it could not be
a desirable thing to have him engaged to a girl whom we had not the
smallest acquaintance with, and who was so entirely without fortune; and
now, after such behaviour, we cannot think at all well of her. Just at
present it comes hard to poor James; but that will not last forever; and
I dare say he will be a discreeter man all his life, for the foolishness
of his first choice.”

This was just such a summary view of the affair as Catherine could
listen to; another sentence might have endangered her complaisance,
and made her reply less rational; for soon were all her thinking powers
swallowed up in the reflection of her own change of feelings and spirits
since last she had trodden that well-known road. It was not three months
ago since, wild with joyful expectation, she had there run backwards
and forwards some ten times a day, with an heart light, gay, and
independent; looking forward to pleasures untasted and unalloyed, and
free from the apprehension of evil as from the knowledge of it. Three
months ago had seen her all this; and now, how altered a being did she
return!

She was received by the Allens with all the kindness which her
unlooked-for appearance, acting on a steady affection, would naturally
call forth; and great was their surprise, and warm their displeasure,
on hearing how she had been treated--though Mrs. Morland’s account of
it was no inflated representation, no studied appeal to their passions.
“Catherine took us quite by surprise yesterday evening,” said she. “She
travelled all the way post by herself, and knew nothing of coming till
Saturday night; for General Tilney, from some odd fancy or other, all
of a sudden grew tired of having her there, and almost turned her out
of the house. Very unfriendly, certainly; and he must be a very odd
man; but we are so glad to have her amongst us again! And it is a great
comfort to find that she is not a poor helpless creature, but can shift
very well for herself.”

Mr. Allen expressed himself on the occasion with the reasonable
resentment of a sensible friend; and Mrs. Allen thought his expressions
quite good enough to be immediately made use of again by herself. His
wonder, his conjectures, and his explanations became in succession hers,
with the addition of this single remark--“I really have not patience
with the general”--to fill up every accidental pause. And, “I really
have not patience with the general,” was uttered twice after Mr.
Allen left the room, without any relaxation of anger, or any material
digression of thought. A more considerable degree of wandering attended
the third repetition; and, after completing the fourth, she immediately
added, “Only think, my dear, of my having got that frightful great rent
in my best Mechlin so charmingly mended, before I left Bath, that one
can hardly see where it was. I must show it you some day or other. Bath
is a nice place, Catherine, after all. I assure you I did not above half
like coming away. Mrs. Thorpe’s being there was such a comfort to us,
was not it? You know, you and I were quite forlorn at first.”

“Yes, but that did not last long,” said Catherine, her eyes brightening
at the recollection of what had first given spirit to her existence
there.

“Very true: we soon met with Mrs. Thorpe, and then we wanted for
nothing. My dear, do not you think these silk gloves wear very well?
I put them on new the first time of our going to the Lower Rooms, you
know, and I have worn them a great deal since. Do you remember that
evening?”

“Do I! Oh! Perfectly.”

“It was very agreeable, was not it? Mr. Tilney drank tea with us, and I
always thought him a great addition, he is so very agreeable. I have a
notion you danced with him, but am not quite sure. I remember I had my
favourite gown on.”

Catherine could not answer; and, after a short trial of other subjects,
Mrs. Allen again returned to--“I really have not patience with the
general! Such an agreeable, worthy man as he seemed to be! I do not
suppose, Mrs. Morland, you ever saw a better-bred man in your life. His
lodgings were taken the very day after he left them, Catherine. But no
wonder; Milsom Street, you know.”

As they walked home again, Mrs. Morland endeavoured to impress on her
daughter’s mind the happiness of having such steady well-wishers as Mr.
and Mrs. Allen, and the very little consideration which the neglect or
unkindness of slight acquaintance like the Tilneys ought to have with
her, while she could preserve the good opinion and affection of her
earliest friends. There was a great deal of good sense in all this; but
there are some situations of the human mind in which good sense has
very little power; and Catherine’s feelings contradicted almost every
position her mother advanced. It was upon the behaviour of these very
slight acquaintance that all her present happiness depended; and
while Mrs. Morland was successfully confirming her own opinions by the
justness of her own representations, Catherine was silently reflecting
that now Henry must have arrived at Northanger; now he must have heard
of her departure; and now, perhaps, they were all setting off for
Hereford.



CHAPTER 30


Catherine’s disposition was not naturally sedentary, nor had her habits
been ever very industrious; but whatever might hitherto have been her
defects of that sort, her mother could not but perceive them now to be
greatly increased. She could neither sit still nor employ herself for
ten minutes together, walking round the garden and orchard again and
again, as if nothing but motion was voluntary; and it seemed as if she
could even walk about the house rather than remain fixed for any time
in the parlour. Her loss of spirits was a yet greater alteration. In her
rambling and her idleness she might only be a caricature of herself; but
in her silence and sadness she was the very reverse of all that she had
been before.

For two days Mrs. Morland allowed it to pass even without a hint;
but when a third night’s rest had neither restored her cheerfulness,
improved her in useful activity, nor given her a greater inclination for
needlework, she could no longer refrain from the gentle reproof of, “My
dear Catherine, I am afraid you are growing quite a fine lady. I do not
know when poor Richard’s cravats would be done, if he had no friend
but you. Your head runs too much upon Bath; but there is a time for
everything--a time for balls and plays, and a time for work. You have
had a long run of amusement, and now you must try to be useful.”

Catherine took up her work directly, saying, in a dejected voice, that
“her head did not run upon Bath--much.”

“Then you are fretting about General Tilney, and that is very simple
of you; for ten to one whether you ever see him again. You should never
fret about trifles.” After a short silence--“I hope, my Catherine, you
are not getting out of humour with home because it is not so grand
as Northanger. That would be turning your visit into an evil indeed.
Wherever you are you should always be contented, but especially at home,
because there you must spend the most of your time. I did not quite
like, at breakfast, to hear you talk so much about the French bread at
Northanger.”

“I am sure I do not care about the bread. It is all the same to me what
I eat.”

“There is a very clever essay in one of the books upstairs upon much
such a subject, about young girls that have been spoilt for home by
great acquaintance--The Mirror, I think. I will look it out for you some
day or other, because I am sure it will do you good.”

Catherine said no more, and, with an endeavour to do right, applied
to her work; but, after a few minutes, sunk again, without knowing it
herself, into languor and listlessness, moving herself in her chair,
from the irritation of weariness, much oftener than she moved her
needle. Mrs. Morland watched the progress of this relapse; and seeing,
in her daughter’s absent and dissatisfied look, the full proof of that
repining spirit to which she had now begun to attribute her want of
cheerfulness, hastily left the room to fetch the book in question,
anxious to lose no time in attacking so dreadful a malady. It was some
time before she could find what she looked for; and other family matters
occurring to detain her, a quarter of an hour had elapsed ere she
returned downstairs with the volume from which so much was hoped. Her
avocations above having shut out all noise but what she created herself,
she knew not that a visitor had arrived within the last few minutes,
till, on entering the room, the first object she beheld was a young
man whom she had never seen before. With a look of much respect, he
immediately rose, and being introduced to her by her conscious daughter
as “Mr. Henry Tilney,” with the embarrassment of real sensibility began
to apologize for his appearance there, acknowledging that after what had
passed he had little right to expect a welcome at Fullerton, and stating
his impatience to be assured of Miss Morland’s having reached her home
in safety, as the cause of his intrusion. He did not address himself to
an uncandid judge or a resentful heart. Far from comprehending him or
his sister in their father’s misconduct, Mrs. Morland had been always
kindly disposed towards each, and instantly, pleased by his appearance,
received him with the simple professions of unaffected benevolence;
thanking him for such an attention to her daughter, assuring him that
the friends of her children were always welcome there, and entreating
him to say not another word of the past.

He was not ill-inclined to obey this request, for, though his heart was
greatly relieved by such unlooked-for mildness, it was not just at that
moment in his power to say anything to the purpose. Returning in silence
to his seat, therefore, he remained for some minutes most civilly
answering all Mrs. Morland’s common remarks about the weather and
roads. Catherine meanwhile--the anxious, agitated, happy, feverish
Catherine--said not a word; but her glowing cheek and brightened eye
made her mother trust that this good-natured visit would at least set
her heart at ease for a time, and gladly therefore did she lay aside the
first volume of The Mirror for a future hour.

Desirous of Mr. Morland’s assistance, as well in giving encouragement,
as in finding conversation for her guest, whose embarrassment on his
father’s account she earnestly pitied, Mrs. Morland had very early
dispatched one of the children to summon him; but Mr. Morland was from
home--and being thus without any support, at the end of a quarter of
an hour she had nothing to say. After a couple of minutes’ unbroken
silence, Henry, turning to Catherine for the first time since her
mother’s entrance, asked her, with sudden alacrity, if Mr. and Mrs.
Allen were now at Fullerton? And on developing, from amidst all her
perplexity of words in reply, the meaning, which one short syllable
would have given, immediately expressed his intention of paying his
respects to them, and, with a rising colour, asked her if she would
have the goodness to show him the way. “You may see the house from this
window, sir,” was information on Sarah’s side, which produced only a
bow of acknowledgment from the gentleman, and a silencing nod from
her mother; for Mrs. Morland, thinking it probable, as a secondary
consideration in his wish of waiting on their worthy neighbours, that he
might have some explanation to give of his father’s behaviour, which it
must be more pleasant for him to communicate only to Catherine, would
not on any account prevent her accompanying him. They began their walk,
and Mrs. Morland was not entirely mistaken in his object in wishing it.
Some explanation on his father’s account he had to give; but his first
purpose was to explain himself, and before they reached Mr. Allen’s
grounds he had done it so well that Catherine did not think it could
ever be repeated too often. She was assured of his affection; and that
heart in return was solicited, which, perhaps, they pretty equally
knew was already entirely his own; for, though Henry was now sincerely
attached to her, though he felt and delighted in all the excellencies
of her character and truly loved her society, I must confess that his
affection originated in nothing better than gratitude, or, in other
words, that a persuasion of her partiality for him had been the only
cause of giving her a serious thought. It is a new circumstance in
romance, I acknowledge, and dreadfully derogatory of an heroine’s
dignity; but if it be as new in common life, the credit of a wild
imagination will at least be all my own.

A very short visit to Mrs. Allen, in which Henry talked at random,
without sense or connection, and Catherine, rapt in the contemplation of
her own unutterable happiness, scarcely opened her lips, dismissed them
to the ecstasies of another tete-a-tete; and before it was suffered to
close, she was enabled to judge how far he was sanctioned by parental
authority in his present application. On his return from Woodston, two
days before, he had been met near the abbey by his impatient father,
hastily informed in angry terms of Miss Morland’s departure, and ordered
to think of her no more.

Such was the permission upon which he had now offered her his hand.
The affrighted Catherine, amidst all the terrors of expectation, as she
listened to this account, could not but rejoice in the kind caution
with which Henry had saved her from the necessity of a conscientious
rejection, by engaging her faith before he mentioned the subject; and
as he proceeded to give the particulars, and explain the motives of
his father’s conduct, her feelings soon hardened into even a triumphant
delight. The general had had nothing to accuse her of, nothing to lay
to her charge, but her being the involuntary, unconscious object of a
deception which his pride could not pardon, and which a better pride
would have been ashamed to own. She was guilty only of being less rich
than he had supposed her to be. Under a mistaken persuasion of her
possessions and claims, he had courted her acquaintance in Bath,
solicited her company at Northanger, and designed her for his
daughter-in-law. On discovering his error, to turn her from the house
seemed the best, though to his feelings an inadequate proof of his
resentment towards herself, and his contempt of her family.

John Thorpe had first misled him. The general, perceiving his son
one night at the theatre to be paying considerable attention to Miss
Morland, had accidentally inquired of Thorpe if he knew more of her
than her name. Thorpe, most happy to be on speaking terms with a man
of General Tilney’s importance, had been joyfully and proudly
communicative; and being at that time not only in daily expectation
of Morland’s engaging Isabella, but likewise pretty well resolved upon
marrying Catherine himself, his vanity induced him to represent the
family as yet more wealthy than his vanity and avarice had made him
believe them. With whomsoever he was, or was likely to be connected, his
own consequence always required that theirs should be great, and as his
intimacy with any acquaintance grew, so regularly grew their fortune.
The expectations of his friend Morland, therefore, from the first
overrated, had ever since his introduction to Isabella been gradually
increasing; and by merely adding twice as much for the grandeur of the
moment, by doubling what he chose to think the amount of Mr. Morland’s
preferment, trebling his private fortune, bestowing a rich aunt, and
sinking half the children, he was able to represent the whole family
to the general in a most respectable light. For Catherine, however, the
peculiar object of the general’s curiosity, and his own speculations,
he had yet something more in reserve, and the ten or fifteen thousand
pounds which her father could give her would be a pretty addition to Mr.
Allen’s estate. Her intimacy there had made him seriously determine on
her being handsomely legacied hereafter; and to speak of her therefore
as the almost acknowledged future heiress of Fullerton naturally
followed. Upon such intelligence the general had proceeded; for never
had it occurred to him to doubt its authority. Thorpe’s interest in the
family, by his sister’s approaching connection with one of its members,
and his own views on another (circumstances of which he boasted with
almost equal openness), seemed sufficient vouchers for his truth; and
to these were added the absolute facts of the Allens being wealthy and
childless, of Miss Morland’s being under their care, and--as soon as his
acquaintance allowed him to judge--of their treating her with parental
kindness. His resolution was soon formed. Already had he discerned a
liking towards Miss Morland in the countenance of his son; and thankful
for Mr. Thorpe’s communication, he almost instantly determined to spare
no pains in weakening his boasted interest and ruining his dearest
hopes. Catherine herself could not be more ignorant at the time of all
this, than his own children. Henry and Eleanor, perceiving nothing in
her situation likely to engage their father’s particular respect, had
seen with astonishment the suddenness, continuance, and extent of his
attention; and though latterly, from some hints which had accompanied an
almost positive command to his son of doing everything in his power to
attach her, Henry was convinced of his father’s believing it to be
an advantageous connection, it was not till the late explanation at
Northanger that they had the smallest idea of the false calculations
which had hurried him on. That they were false, the general had learnt
from the very person who had suggested them, from Thorpe himself, whom
he had chanced to meet again in town, and who, under the influence of
exactly opposite feelings, irritated by Catherine’s refusal, and
yet more by the failure of a very recent endeavour to accomplish a
reconciliation between Morland and Isabella, convinced that they were
separated forever, and spurning a friendship which could be no longer
serviceable, hastened to contradict all that he had said before to
the advantage of the Morlands--confessed himself to have been totally
mistaken in his opinion of their circumstances and character, misled by
the rhodomontade of his friend to believe his father a man of substance
and credit, whereas the transactions of the two or three last weeks
proved him to be neither; for after coming eagerly forward on the first
overture of a marriage between the families, with the most liberal
proposals, he had, on being brought to the point by the shrewdness of
the relator, been constrained to acknowledge himself incapable of
giving the young people even a decent support. They were, in fact, a
necessitous family; numerous, too, almost beyond example; by no means
respected in their own neighbourhood, as he had lately had particular
opportunities of discovering; aiming at a style of life which their
fortune could not warrant; seeking to better themselves by wealthy
connections; a forward, bragging, scheming race.

The terrified general pronounced the name of Allen with an inquiring
look; and here too Thorpe had learnt his error. The Allens, he believed,
had lived near them too long, and he knew the young man on whom the
Fullerton estate must devolve. The general needed no more. Enraged with
almost everybody in the world but himself, he set out the next day for
the abbey, where his performances have been seen.

I leave it to my reader’s sagacity to determine how much of all this
it was possible for Henry to communicate at this time to Catherine, how
much of it he could have learnt from his father, in what points his own
conjectures might assist him, and what portion must yet remain to be
told in a letter from James. I have united for their ease what they must
divide for mine. Catherine, at any rate, heard enough to feel that in
suspecting General Tilney of either murdering or shutting up his wife,
she had scarcely sinned against his character, or magnified his cruelty.

Henry, in having such things to relate of his father, was almost
as pitiable as in their first avowal to himself. He blushed for the
narrow-minded counsel which he was obliged to expose. The conversation
between them at Northanger had been of the most unfriendly kind. Henry’s
indignation on hearing how Catherine had been treated, on comprehending
his father’s views, and being ordered to acquiesce in them, had been
open and bold. The general, accustomed on every ordinary occasion to
give the law in his family, prepared for no reluctance but of feeling,
no opposing desire that should dare to clothe itself in words, could ill
brook the opposition of his son, steady as the sanction of reason and
the dictate of conscience could make it. But, in such a cause, his
anger, though it must shock, could not intimidate Henry, who was
sustained in his purpose by a conviction of its justice. He felt himself
bound as much in honour as in affection to Miss Morland, and believing
that heart to be his own which he had been directed to gain, no unworthy
retraction of a tacit consent, no reversing decree of unjustifiable
anger, could shake his fidelity, or influence the resolutions it
prompted.

He steadily refused to accompany his father into Herefordshire, an
engagement formed almost at the moment to promote the dismissal of
Catherine, and as steadily declared his intention of offering her his
hand. The general was furious in his anger, and they parted in dreadful
disagreement. Henry, in an agitation of mind which many solitary hours
were required to compose, had returned almost instantly to Woodston,
and, on the afternoon of the following day, had begun his journey to
Fullerton.



CHAPTER 31


Mr. and Mrs. Morland’s surprise on being applied to by Mr. Tilney for
their consent to his marrying their daughter was, for a few minutes,
considerable, it having never entered their heads to suspect an
attachment on either side; but as nothing, after all, could be more
natural than Catherine’s being beloved, they soon learnt to consider it
with only the happy agitation of gratified pride, and, as far as they
alone were concerned, had not a single objection to start. His pleasing
manners and good sense were self-evident recommendations; and having
never heard evil of him, it was not their way to suppose any evil could
be told. Goodwill supplying the place of experience, his character
needed no attestation. “Catherine would make a sad, heedless young
housekeeper to be sure,” was her mother’s foreboding remark; but quick
was the consolation of there being nothing like practice.

There was but one obstacle, in short, to be mentioned; but till that one
was removed, it must be impossible for them to sanction the engagement.
Their tempers were mild, but their principles were steady, and while
his parent so expressly forbade the connection, they could not allow
themselves to encourage it. That the general should come forward to
solicit the alliance, or that he should even very heartily approve it,
they were not refined enough to make any parading stipulation; but
the decent appearance of consent must be yielded, and that once
obtained--and their own hearts made them trust that it could not be
very long denied--their willing approbation was instantly to follow. His
consent was all that they wished for. They were no more inclined than
entitled to demand his money. Of a very considerable fortune, his son
was, by marriage settlements, eventually secure; his present income was
an income of independence and comfort, and under every pecuniary view,
it was a match beyond the claims of their daughter.

The young people could not be surprised at a decision like this. They
felt and they deplored--but they could not resent it; and they parted,
endeavouring to hope that such a change in the general, as each believed
almost impossible, might speedily take place, to unite them again in
the fullness of privileged affection. Henry returned to what was now
his only home, to watch over his young plantations, and extend his
improvements for her sake, to whose share in them he looked anxiously
forward; and Catherine remained at Fullerton to cry. Whether the
torments of absence were softened by a clandestine correspondence, let
us not inquire. Mr. and Mrs. Morland never did--they had been too kind
to exact any promise; and whenever Catherine received a letter, as, at
that time, happened pretty often, they always looked another way.

The anxiety, which in this state of their attachment must be the portion
of Henry and Catherine, and of all who loved either, as to its final
event, can hardly extend, I fear, to the bosom of my readers, who will
see in the tell-tale compression of the pages before them, that we are
all hastening together to perfect felicity. The means by which their
early marriage was effected can be the only doubt: what probable
circumstance could work upon a temper like the general’s? The
circumstance which chiefly availed was the marriage of his daughter with
a man of fortune and consequence, which took place in the course of
the summer--an accession of dignity that threw him into a fit of good
humour, from which he did not recover till after Eleanor had obtained
his forgiveness of Henry, and his permission for him “to be a fool if he
liked it!”

The marriage of Eleanor Tilney, her removal from all the evils of such
a home as Northanger had been made by Henry’s banishment, to the home of
her choice and the man of her choice, is an event which I expect to
give general satisfaction among all her acquaintance. My own joy on the
occasion is very sincere. I know no one more entitled, by unpretending
merit, or better prepared by habitual suffering, to receive and enjoy
felicity. Her partiality for this gentleman was not of recent origin;
and he had been long withheld only by inferiority of situation from
addressing her. His unexpected accession to title and fortune had
removed all his difficulties; and never had the general loved his
daughter so well in all her hours of companionship, utility, and patient
endurance as when he first hailed her “Your Ladyship!” Her husband was
really deserving of her; independent of his peerage, his wealth, and
his attachment, being to a precision the most charming young man in the
world. Any further definition of his merits must be unnecessary; the
most charming young man in the world is instantly before the imagination
of us all. Concerning the one in question, therefore, I have only to
add--aware that the rules of composition forbid the introduction of a
character not connected with my fable--that this was the very
gentleman whose negligent servant left behind him that collection of
washing-bills, resulting from a long visit at Northanger, by which my
heroine was involved in one of her most alarming adventures.

The influence of the viscount and viscountess in their brother’s behalf
was assisted by that right understanding of Mr. Morland’s circumstances
which, as soon as the general would allow himself to be informed, they
were qualified to give. It taught him that he had been scarcely
more misled by Thorpe’s first boast of the family wealth than by his
subsequent malicious overthrow of it; that in no sense of the word were
they necessitous or poor, and that Catherine would have three thousand
pounds. This was so material an amendment of his late expectations that
it greatly contributed to smooth the descent of his pride; and by no
means without its effect was the private intelligence, which he was at
some pains to procure, that the Fullerton estate, being entirely at
the disposal of its present proprietor, was consequently open to every
greedy speculation.

On the strength of this, the general, soon after Eleanor’s marriage,
permitted his son to return to Northanger, and thence made him the
bearer of his consent, very courteously worded in a page full of empty
professions to Mr. Morland. The event which it authorized soon followed:
Henry and Catherine were married, the bells rang, and everybody smiled;
and, as this took place within a twelvemonth from the first day of their
meeting, it will not appear, after all the dreadful delays occasioned by
the general’s cruelty, that they were essentially hurt by it. To begin
perfect happiness at the respective ages of twenty-six and eighteen is
to do pretty well; and professing myself moreover convinced that the
general’s unjust interference, so far from being really injurious to
their felicity, was perhaps rather conducive to it, by improving their
knowledge of each other, and adding strength to their attachment,
I leave it to be settled, by whomsoever it may concern, whether the
tendency of this work be altogether to recommend parental tyranny, or
reward filial disobedience.



*Vide a letter from Mr. Richardson, No. 97, Vol. II, Rambler.



A NOTE ON THE TEXT

Northanger Abbey was written in 1797-98 under a different title. The
manuscript was revised around 1803 and sold to a London publisher,
Crosbie & Co., who sold it back in 1816. The Signet Classic text
is based on the first edition, published by John Murray, London, in
1818--the year following Miss Austen’s death. Spelling and punctuation
have been largely brought into conformity with modern British usage.





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