Monday, November 5, 2007



Jane Austen
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.
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 unpropiteous 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 spinner; 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."
"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.
In addition to what has been already said of
Catherine Morlands 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 promosed 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.
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.
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 attornies might be set forth, and conversations,
which had passed twenty years before, be minutely repeated.
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.
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.
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.
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 be 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."
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 bag 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 sniffles 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.
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.
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?"
"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 catted 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.
"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 Tilneys 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.
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 fuming
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?
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?--l 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."
"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
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.
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 adjoined 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
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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 overbear 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 bad 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! 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.
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.
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
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.
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, lucidly, 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 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.
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
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.
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 bad 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 be 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 an 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?"
"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.
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.
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 two 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.
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.
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, thinkng 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.
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 comer 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
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 an 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 shatter-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.
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 case
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 in 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.
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.
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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