Part 3 out of 5
"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
"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
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
"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
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
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
"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
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
"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
"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
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
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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
A few days passed away, and Catherine, though not allowing herself
to suspect her friend, could not help watching her closely. The
result of her observations was not agreeable. Isabella seemed an
altered creature. When she saw her, indeed, surrounded only by
their immediate friends in Edgar's Buildings or Pulteney Street,
her change of manners was so trifling that, had it gone no farther,
it might have passed unnoticed. A something of languid indifference,
or of that boasted absence of mind which Catherine had never heard
of before, would occasionally come across her; but had nothing worse
appeared, that might only have spread a new grace and inspired a
warmer interest. But when Catherine saw her in public, admitting
Captain Tilney's attentions as readily as they were offered, and
allowing him almost an equal share with James in her notice and
smiles, the alteration became too positive to be passed over. What
could be meant by such unsteady conduct, what her friend could
be at, was beyond her comprehension. Isabella could not be aware
of the pain she was inflicting; but it was a degree of wilful
thoughtlessness which Catherine could not but resent. James was
the sufferer. She saw him grave and uneasy; and however careless
of his present comfort the woman might be who had given him her
heart, to her it was always an object. For poor Captain Tilney
too she was greatly concerned. Though his looks did not please
her, his name was a passport to her goodwill, and she thought with
sincere compassion of his approaching disappointment; for, in spite
of what she had believed herself to overhear in the pump-room,
his behaviour was so incompatible with a knowledge of Isabella's
engagement that she could not, upon reflection, imagine him aware
of it. He might be jealous of her brother as a rival, but if more
had seemed implied, the fault must have been in her misapprehension.
She wished, by a gentle remonstrance, to remind Isabella of her
situation, and make her aware of this double unkindness; but for
remonstrance, either opportunity or comprehension was always against
her. If able to suggest a hint, Isabella could never understand
it. In this distress, the intended departure of the Tilney family
became her chief consolation; their journey into Gloucestershire
was to take place within a few days, and Captain Tilney's removal
would at least restore peace to every heart but his own. But
Captain Tilney had at present no intention of removing; he was
not to be of the party to Northanger; he was to continue at Bath.
When Catherine knew this, her resolution was directly made. She
spoke to Henry Tilney on the subject, regretting his brother's
evident partiality for Miss Thorpe, and entreating him to make
known her prior engagement.
"My brother does know it," was Henry's answer.
"Does he? Then why does he stay here?"
He made no reply, and was beginning to talk of something else; but
she eagerly continued, "Why do not you persuade him to go away?
The longer he stays, the worse it will be for him at last. Pray
advise him for his own sake, and for everybody's sake, to leave
Bath directly. Absence will in time make him comfortable again;
but he can have no hope here, and it is only staying to be miserable."
Henry smiled and said, "I am sure my brother would not wish to do
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
A moment's glance was enough to satisfy Catherine that her apartment
was very unlike the one which Henry had endeavoured to alarm her
by the description of. It was by no means unreasonably large, and
contained neither tapestry nor velvet. The walls were papered, the
floor was carpeted; the windows were neither less perfect nor more
dim than those of the drawing-room below; the furniture, though not
of the latest fashion, was handsome and comfortable, and the air of
the room altogether far from uncheerful. Her heart instantaneously
at ease on this point, she resolved to lose no time in particular
examination of anything, as she greatly dreaded disobliging the
general by any delay. Her habit therefore was thrown off with all
possible haste, and she was preparing to unpin the linen package,
which the chaise-seat had conveyed for her immediate accommodation,
when her eye suddenly fell on a large high chest, standing back in
a deep recess on one side of the fireplace. The sight of it made
her start; and, forgetting everything else, she stood gazing on it
in motionless wonder, while these thoughts crossed her:
"This is strange indeed! I did not expect such a sight as this!
An immense heavy chest! What can it hold? Why should it be placed
here? Pushed back too, as if meant to be out of sight! I will
look into it -- cost me what it may, I will look into it -- and
directly too -- by daylight. If I stay till evening my candle may
go out." She advanced and examined it closely: it was of cedar,
curiously inlaid with some darker wood, and raised, about a foot
from the ground, on a carved stand of the same. The lock was
silver, though tarnished from age; at each end were the imperfect
remains of handles also of silver, broken perhaps prematurely by some
strange violence; and, on the centre of the lid, was a mysterious
cipher, in the same metal. Catherine bent over it intently, but
without being able to distinguish anything with certainty. She
could not, in whatever direction she took it, believe the last
letter to be a T; and yet that it should be anything else in that
house was a circumstance to raise no common degree of astonishment.
If not originally theirs, by what strange events could it have
fallen into the Tilney family?
Her fearful curiosity was every moment growing greater; and
seizing, with trembling hands, the hasp of the lock, she resolved
at all hazards to satisfy herself at least as to its contents.
With difficulty, for something seemed to resist her efforts, she
raised the lid a few inches; but at that moment a sudden knocking
at the door of the room made her, starting, quit her hold, and the
lid closed with alarming violence. This ill-timed intruder was Miss
Tilney's maid, sent by her mistress to be of use to Miss Morland;
and though Catherine immediately dismissed her, it recalled her to
the sense of what she ought to be doing, and forced her, in spite
of her anxious desire to penetrate this mystery, to proceed in her
dressing without further delay. Her progress was not quick, for
her thoughts and her eyes were still bent on the object so well
calculated to interest and alarm; and though she dared not waste a
moment upon a second attempt, she could not remain many paces from
the chest. At length, however, having slipped one arm into her
gown, her toilette seemed so nearly finished that the impatience
of her curiosity might safely be indulged. One moment surely might
be spared; and, so desperate should be the exertion of her strength,
that, unless secured by supernatural means, the lid in one moment
should be thrown back. With this spirit she sprang forward, and
her confidence did not deceive her. Her resolute effort threw
back the lid, and gave to her astonished eyes the view of a white
cotton counterpane, properly folded, reposing at one end of the
chest in undisputed possession!
She was gazing on it with the first blush of surprise when Miss
Tilney, anxious for her friend's being ready, entered the room, and
to the rising shame of having harboured for some minutes an absurd
expectation, was then added the shame of being caught in so idle
a search. "That is a curious old chest, is not it?" said Miss
Tilney, as Catherine hastily closed it and turned away to the
glass. "It is impossible to say how many generations it has been
here. How it came to be first put in this room I know not, but
I have not had it moved, because I thought it might sometimes be
of use in holding hats and bonnets. The worst of it is that its
weight makes it difficult to open. In that corner, however, it is
at least out of the way."
Catherine had no leisure for speech, being at once blushing,
tying her gown, and forming wise resolutions with the most violent
dispatch. Miss Tilney gently hinted her fear of being late; and in
half a minute they ran downstairs together, in an alarm not wholly
unfounded, for General Tilney was pacing the drawing-room, his watch
in his hand, and having, on the very instant of their entering, pulled
the bell with violence, ordered "Dinner to be on table directly!"
Catherine trembled at the emphasis with which he spoke, and sat pale
and breathless, in a most humble mood, concerned for his children,
and detesting old chests; and the general, recovering his politeness
as he looked at her, spent the rest of his time in scolding his daughter
for so foolishly hurrying her fair friend, who was absolutely out
of breath from haste, when there was not the least occasion for
hurry in the world: but Catherine could not at all get over the
double distress of having involved her friend in a lecture and
been a great simpleton herself, till they were happily seated at
the dinner-table, when the general's complacent smiles, and a good
appetite of her own, restored her to peace. The dining-parlour
was a noble room, suitable in its dimensions to a much larger
drawing-room than the one in common use, and fitted up in a style
of luxury and expense which was almost lost on the unpractised eye
of Catherine, who saw little more than its spaciousness and the
number of their attendants. Of the former, she spoke aloud her
admiration; and the general, with a very gracious countenance,
acknowledged that it was by no means an ill-sized room, and
further confessed that, though as careless on such subjects as most
people, he did look upon a tolerably large eating-room as one of
the necessaries of life; he supposed, however, "that she must have
been used to much better-sized apartments at Mr. Allen's?"
"No, indeed," was Catherine's honest assurance; "Mr. Allen's
dining-parlour was not more than half as large," and she had never
seen so large a room as this in her life. The general's good
humour increased. Why, as he had such rooms, he thought it would
be simple not to make use of them; but, upon his honour, he believed
there might be more comfort in rooms of only half their size. Mr.
Allen's house, he was sure, must be exactly of the true size for
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
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
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
"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
"He is a happy man!" said the general, with a look of very happy
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
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
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,
Back to Full Books