Part 4 out of 5
having seen, in a momentary glance beyond them, a narrower passage,
more numerous openings, and symptoms of a winding staircase,
believed herself at last within the reach of something worth her
notice; and felt, as she unwillingly paced back the gallery, that
she would rather be allowed to examine that end of the house than
see all the finery of all the rest. The general's evident desire
of preventing such an examination was an additional stimulant.
Something was certainly to be concealed; her fancy, though it had
trespassed lately once or twice, could not mislead her here; and
what that something was, a short sentence of Miss Tilney's, as they
followed the general at some distance downstairs, seemed to point
out: "I was going to take you into what was my mother's room
-- the room in which she died -- " were all her words; but few as
they were, they conveyed pages of intelligence to Catherine. It
was no wonder that the general should shrink from the sight of
such objects as that room must contain; a room in all probability
never entered by him since the dreadful scene had passed, which
released his suffering wife, and left him to the stings of conscience.
She ventured, when next alone with Eleanor, to express her wish of
being permitted to see it, as well as all the rest of that side of
the house; and Eleanor promised to attend her there, whenever they
should have a convenient hour. Catherine understood her: the general
must be watched from home, before that room could be entered. "It
remains as it was, I suppose?" said she, in a tone of feeling.
"And how long ago may it be that your mother died?"
"She has been dead these nine years." And nine years, Catherine
knew, was a trifle of time, compared with what generally elapsed
after the death of an injured wife, before her room was put to
"You were with her, I suppose, to the last?"
"No," said Miss Tilney, sighing; "I was unfortunately from home.
Her illness was sudden and short; and, before I arrived it was all
Catherine's blood ran cold with the horrid suggestions which
naturally sprang from these words. Could it be possible? Could
Henry's father -- ? And yet how many were the examples to justify
even the blackest suspicions! And, when she saw him in the evening,
while she worked with her friend, slowly pacing the drawing-room
for an hour together in silent thoughtfulness, with downcast eyes
and contracted brow, she felt secure from all possibility of wronging
him. It was the air and attitude of a Montoni! What could more
plainly speak the gloomy workings of a mind not wholly dead to every
sense of humanity, in its fearful review of past scenes of guilt?
Unhappy man! And the anxiousness of her spirits directed her eyes
towards his figure so repeatedly, as to catch Miss Tilney's notice.
"My father," she whispered, "often walks about the room in this
way; it is nothing unusual."
"So much the worse!" thought Catherine; such ill-timed exercise
was of a piece with the strange unseasonableness of his morning
walks, and boded nothing good.
After an evening, the little variety and seeming length of which
made her peculiarly sensible of Henry's importance among them, she
was heartily glad to be dismissed; though it was a look from the
general not designed for her observation which sent his daughter
to the bell. When the butler would have lit his master's candle,
however, he was forbidden. The latter was not going to retire.
"I have many pamphlets to finish," said he to Catherine, "before
I can close my eyes, and perhaps may be poring over the affairs of
the nation for hours after you are asleep. Can either of us be
more meetly employed? My eyes will be blinding for the good of
others, and yours preparing by rest for future mischief."
But neither the business alleged, nor the magnificent compliment,
could win Catherine from thinking that some very different object
must occasion so serious a delay of proper repose. To be kept up
for hours, after the family were in bed, by stupid pamphlets was
not very likely. There must be some deeper cause: something was
to be done which could be done only while the household slept;
and the probability that Mrs. Tilney yet lived, shut up for causes
unknown, and receiving from the pitiless hands of her husband a
nightly supply of coarse food, was the conclusion which necessarily
followed. Shocking as was the idea, it was at least better than a
death unfairly hastened, as, in the natural course of things, she
must ere long be released. The suddenness of her reputed illness,
the absence of her daughter, and probably of her other children,
at the time -- all favoured the supposition of her imprisonment.
Its origin -- jealousy perhaps, or wanton cruelty -- was yet to be
In revolving these matters, while she undressed, it suddenly struck
her as not unlikely that she might that morning have passed near
the very spot of this unfortunate woman's confinement -- might
have been within a few paces of the cell in which she languished
out her days; for what part of the abbey could be more fitted for
the purpose than that which yet bore the traces of monastic division?
In the high-arched passage, paved with stone, which already she had
trodden with peculiar awe, she well remembered the doors of which
the general had given no account. To what might not those doors
lead? In support of the plausibility of this conjecture, it
further occurred to her that the forbidden gallery, in which lay
the apartments of the unfortunate Mrs. Tilney, must be, as certainly
as her memory could guide her, exactly over this suspected range of
cells, and the staircase by the side of those apartments of which
she had caught a transient glimpse, communicating by some secret
means with those cells, might well have favoured the barbarous
proceedings of her husband. Down that staircase she had perhaps
been conveyed in a state of well-prepared insensibility!
Catherine sometimes started at the boldness of her own surmises,
and sometimes hoped or feared that she had gone too far; but they
were supported by such appearances as made their dismissal impossible.
The side of the quadrangle, in which she supposed the guilty scene
to be acting, being, according to her belief, just opposite her
own, it struck her that, if judiciously watched, some rays of light
from the general's lamp might glimmer through the lower windows, as
he passed to the prison of his wife; and, twice before she stepped
into bed, she stole gently from her room to the corresponding
window in the gallery, to see if it appeared; but all abroad was
dark, and it must yet be too early. The various ascending noises
convinced her that the servants must still be up. Till midnight,
she supposed it would be in vain to watch; but then, when the
clock had struck twelve, and all was quiet, she would, if not quite
appalled by darkness, steal out and look once more. The clock
struck twelve -- and Catherine had been half an hour asleep.
The next day afforded no opportunity for the proposed examination
of the mysterious apartments. It was Sunday, and the whole time
between morning and afternoon service was required by the general
in exercise abroad or eating cold meat at home; and great as
was Catherine's curiosity, her courage was not equal to a wish of
exploring them after dinner, either by the fading light of the sky
between six and seven o'clock, or by the yet more partial though
stronger illumination of a treacherous lamp. The day was unmarked
therefore by anything to interest her imagination beyond the sight
of a very elegant monument to the memory of Mrs. Tilney, which
immediately fronted the family pew. By that her eye was instantly
caught and long retained; and the perusal of the highly strained
epitaph, in which every virtue was ascribed to her by the inconsolable
husband, who must have been in some way or other her destroyer,
affected her even to tears.
That the general, having erected such a monument, should be able
to face it, was not perhaps very strange, and yet that he could sit
so boldly collected within its view, maintain so elevated an air,
look so fearlessly around, nay, that he should even enter the church,
seemed wonderful to Catherine. Not, however, that many instances
of beings equally hardened in guilt might not be produced. She
could remember dozens who had persevered in every possible vice,
going on from crime to crime, murdering whomsoever they chose,
without any feeling of humanity or remorse; till a violent death
or a religious retirement closed their black career. The erection
of the monument itself could not in the smallest degree affect her
doubts of Mrs. Tilney's actual decease. Were she even to descend
into the family vault where her ashes were supposed to slumber, were
she to behold the coffin in which they were said to be enclosed --
what could it avail in such a case? Catherine had read too much
not to be perfectly aware of the ease with which a waxen figure
might be introduced, and a supposititious funeral carried on.
The succeeding morning promised something better. The general's
early walk, ill-timed as it was in every other view, was favourable
here; and when she knew him to be out of the house, she directly
proposed to Miss Tilney the accomplishment of her promise. Eleanor
was ready to oblige her; and Catherine reminding her as they went
of another promise, their first visit in consequence was to the
portrait in her bed-chamber. It represented a very lovely woman,
with a mild and pensive countenance, justifying, so far, the expectations
of its new observer; but they were not in every respect answered,
for Catherine had depended upon meeting with features, hair,
complexion, that should be the very counterpart, the very image,
if not of Henry's, of Eleanor's -- the only portraits of which
she had been in the habit of thinking, bearing always an equal
resemblance of mother and child. A face once taken was taken
for generations. But here she was obliged to look and consider
and study for a likeness. She contemplated it, however, in spite
of this drawback, with much emotion, and, but for a yet stronger
interest, would have left it unwillingly.
Her agitation as they entered the great gallery was too much for
any endeavour at discourse; she could only look at her companion.
Eleanor's countenance was dejected, yet sedate; and its composure
spoke her inured to all the gloomy objects to which they were
advancing. Again she passed through the folding doors, again
her hand was upon the important lock, and Catherine, hardly able
to breathe, was turning to close the former with fearful caution,
when the figure, the dreaded figure of the general himself at the
further end of the gallery, stood before her! The name of "Eleanor"
at the same moment, in his loudest tone, resounded through the
building, giving to his daughter the first intimation of his presence,
and to Catherine terror upon terror. An attempt at concealment
had been her first instinctive movement on perceiving him, yet she
could scarcely hope to have escaped his eye; and when her friend,
who with an apologizing look darted hastily by her, had joined
and disappeared with him, she ran for safety to her own room, and,
locking herself in, believed that she should never have courage to
go down again. She remained there at least an hour, in the greatest
agitation, deeply commiserating the state of her poor friend, and
expecting a summons herself from the angry general to attend him
in his own apartment. No summons, however, arrived; and at last,
on seeing a carriage drive up to the abbey, she was emboldened
to descend and meet him under the protection of visitors. The
breakfast-room was gay with company; and she was named to them
by the general as the friend of his daughter, in a complimentary
style, which so well concealed his resentful ire, as to make her
feel secure at least of life for the present. And Eleanor, with
a command of countenance which did honour to her concern for his
character, taking an early occasion of saying to her, "My father
only wanted me to answer a note," she began to hope that she had
either been unseen by the general, or that from some consideration
of policy she should be allowed to suppose herself so. Upon this
trust she dared still to remain in his presence, after the company
left them, and nothing occurred to disturb it.
In the course of this morning's reflections, she came to a resolution
of making her next attempt on the forbidden door alone. It would
be much better in every respect that Eleanor should know nothing
of the matter. To involve her in the danger of a second detection,
to court her into an apartment which must wring her heart, could
not be the office of a friend. The general's utmost anger could
not be to herself what it might be to a daughter; and, besides, she
thought the examination itself would be more satisfactory if made
without any companion. It would be impossible to explain to Eleanor
the suspicions, from which the other had, in all likelihood, been
hitherto happily exempt; nor could she therefore, in her presence,
search for those proofs of the general's cruelty, which however they
might yet have escaped discovery, she felt confident of somewhere
drawing forth, in the shape of some fragmented journal, continued
to the last gasp. Of the way to the apartment she was now perfectly
mistress; and as she wished to get it over before Henry's return,
who was expected on the morrow, there was no time to be lost. The
day was bright, her courage high; at four o'clock, the sun was now
two hours above the horizon, and it would be only her retiring to
dress half an hour earlier than usual.
It was done; and Catherine found herself alone in the gallery
before the clocks had ceased to strike. It was no time for thought;
she hurried on, slipped with the least possible noise through the
folding doors, and without stopping to look or breathe, rushed
forward to the one in question. The lock yielded to her hand, and,
luckily, with no sullen sound that could alarm a human being. On
tiptoe she entered; the room was before her; but it was some
minutes before she could advance another step. She beheld what
fixed her to the spot and agitated every feature. She saw a large,
well-proportioned apartment, an handsome dimity bed, arranged as
unoccupied with an housemaid's care, a bright Bath stove, mahogany
wardrobes, and neatly painted chairs, on which the warm beams of
a western sun gaily poured through two sash windows! Catherine
had expected to have her feelings worked, and worked they were.
Astonishment and doubt first seized them; and a shortly succeeding
ray of common sense added some bitter emotions of shame. She
could not be mistaken as to the room; but how grossly mistaken in
everything else! -- in Miss Tilney's meaning, in her own calculation!
This apartment, to which she had given a date so ancient, a position
so awful, proved to be one end of what the general's father had
built. There were two other doors in the chamber, leading probably
into dressing-closets; but she had no inclination to open either.
Would the veil in which Mrs. Tilney had last walked, or the volume
in which she had last read, remain to tell what nothing else was
allowed to whisper? No: whatever might have been the general's crimes,
he had certainly too much wit to let them sue for detection. She
was sick of exploring, and desired but to be safe in her own room,
with her own heart only privy to its folly; and she was on the
point of retreating as softly as she had entered, when the sound of
footsteps, she could hardly tell where, made her pause and tremble.
To be found there, even by a servant, would be unpleasant; but by
the general (and he seemed always at hand when least wanted), much
worse! She listened -- the sound had ceased; and resolving not
to lose a moment, she passed through and closed the door. At that
instant a door underneath was hastily opened; someone seemed with
swift steps to ascend the stairs, by the head of which she had yet
to pass before she could gain the gallery. She had no power to
move. With a feeling of terror not very definable, she fixed her
eyes on the staircase, and in a few moments it gave Henry to her
view. "Mr. Tilney!" she exclaimed in a voice of more than common
astonishment. He looked astonished too. "Good God!" she continued,
not attending to his address. "How came you here? How came you
up that staircase?"
"How came I up that staircase!" he replied, greatly surprised.
"Because it is my nearest way from the stable-yard to my own chamber;
and why should I not come up it?"
Catherine recollected herself, blushed deeply, and could say no more.
He seemed to be looking in her countenance for that explanation
which her lips did not afford. She moved on towards the gallery.
"And may I not, in my turn," said he, as he pushed back the
folding doors, "ask how you came here? This passage is at least as
extraordinary a road from the breakfast-parlour to your apartment,
as that staircase can be from the stables to mine."
"I have been," said Catherine, looking down, "to see your mother's
"My mother's room! Is there anything extraordinary to be seen
"No, nothing at all. I thought you did not mean to come back till
"I did not expect to be able to return sooner, when I went away;
but three hours ago I had the pleasure of finding nothing to detain
me. You look pale. I am afraid I alarmed you by running so fast
up those stairs. Perhaps you did not know -- you were not aware
of their leading from the offices in common use?"
"No, I was not. You have had a very fine day for your ride."
"Very; and does Eleanor leave you to find your way into all the
rooms in the house by yourself?"
"Oh! No; she showed me over the greatest part on Saturday -- and
we were coming here to these rooms -- but only" -- dropping her
voice -- "your father was with us."
"And that prevented you," said Henry, earnestly regarding her.
"Have you looked into all the rooms in that passage?"
"No, I only wanted to see -- Is not it very late? I must go and
"It is only a quarter past four" showing his watch -- "and you are
not now in Bath. No theatre, no rooms to prepare for. Half an
hour at Northanger must be enough."
She could not contradict it, and therefore suffered herself to be
detained, though her dread of further questions made her, for the
first time in their acquaintance, wish to leave him. They walked
slowly up the gallery. "Have you had any letter from Bath since
I saw you?"
"No, and I am very much surprised. Isabella promised so faithfully
to write directly."
"Promised so faithfully! A faithful promise! That puzzles me. I
have heard of a faithful performance. But a faithful promise --
the fidelity of promising! It is a power little worth knowing,
however, since it can deceive and pain you. My mother's room is
very commodious, is it not? Large and cheerful-looking, and the
dressing-closets so well disposed! It always strikes me as the
most comfortable apartment in the house, and I rather wonder that
Eleanor should not take it for her own. She sent you to look at
it, I suppose?"
"It has been your own doing entirely?" Catherine said nothing.
After a short silence, during which he had closely observed her,
he added, "As there is nothing in the room in itself to raise
curiosity, this must have proceeded from a sentiment of respect for
my mother's character, as described by Eleanor, which does honour
to her memory. The world, I believe, never saw a better woman.
But it is not often that virtue can boast an interest such as this.
The domestic, unpretending merits of a person never known do not
often create that kind of fervent, venerating tenderness which would
prompt a visit like yours. Eleanor, I suppose, has talked of her
a great deal?"
"Yes, a great deal. That is -- no, not much, but what she did say
was very interesting. Her dying so suddenly" (slowly, and with
hesitation it was spoken), "and you -- none of you being at home
-- and your father, I thought -- perhaps had not been very fond of
"And from these circumstances," he replied (his quick eye fixed on
hers), "you infer perhaps the probability of some negligence --
some" -- (involuntarily she shook her head) -- "or it may be --
of something still less pardonable." She raised her eyes towards
him more fully than she had ever done before. "My mother's illness,"
he continued, "the seizure which ended in her death, was sudden.
The malady itself, one from which she had often suffered, a bilious
fever -- its cause therefore constitutional. On the third day, in
short, as soon as she could be prevailed on, a physician attended
her, a very respectable man, and one in whom she had always placed
great confidence. Upon his opinion of her danger, two others were
called in the next day, and remained in almost constant attendance
for four and twenty hours. On the fifth day she died. During the
progress of her disorder, Frederick and I (we were both at home)
saw her repeatedly; and from our own observation can bear witness
to her having received every possible attention which could spring
from the affection of those about her, or which her situation in
life could command. Poor Eleanor was absent, and at such a distance
as to return only to see her mother in her coffin."
"But your father," said Catherine, "was he afflicted?"
"For a time, greatly so. You have erred in supposing him not
attached to her. He loved her, I am persuaded, as well as it was
possible for him to -- we have not all, you know, the same tenderness
of disposition -- and I will not pretend to say that while she
lived, she might not often have had much to bear, but though his
temper injured her, his judgment never did. His value of her was
sincere; and, if not permanently, he was truly afflicted by her
"I am very glad of it," said Catherine; "it would have been very
"If I understand you rightly, you had formed a surmise of such
horror as I have hardly words to -- Dear Miss Morland, consider
the dreadful nature of the suspicions you have entertained. What
have you been judging from? Remember the country and the age in
which we live. Remember that we are English, that we are Christians.
Consult your own understanding, your own sense of the probable, your
own observation of what is passing around you. Does our education
prepare us for such atrocities? Do our laws connive at them? Could
they be perpetrated without being known, in a country like this,
where social and literary intercourse is on such a footing, where
every man is surrounded by a neighbourhood of voluntary spies,
and where roads and newspapers lay everything open? Dearest Miss
Morland, what ideas have you been admitting?"
They had reached the end of the gallery, and with tears of shame
she ran off to her own room.
The visions of romance were over. Catherine was completely awakened.
Henry's address, short as it had been, had more thoroughly opened
her eyes to the extravagance of her late fancies than all their
several disappointments had done. Most grievously was she humbled.
Most bitterly did she cry. It was not only with herself that
she was sunk -- but with Henry. Her folly, which now seemed even
criminal, was all exposed to him, and he must despise her forever.
The liberty which her imagination had dared to take with the
character of his father -- could he ever forgive it? The absurdity
of her curiosity and her fears -- could they ever be forgotten? She
hated herself more than she could express. He had -- she thought
he had, once or twice before this fatal morning, shown something
like affection for her. But now -- in short, she made herself as
miserable as possible for about half an hour, went down when the
clock struck five, with a broken heart, and could scarcely give
an intelligible answer to Eleanor's inquiry if she was well. The
formidable Henry soon followed her into the room, and the only
difference in his behaviour to her was that he paid her rather more
attention than usual. Catherine had never wanted comfort more,
and he looked as if he was aware of it.
The evening wore away with no abatement of this soothing politeness;
and her spirits were gradually raised to a modest tranquillity. She
did not learn either to forget or defend the past; but she learned
to hope that it would never transpire farther, and that it might not
cost her Henry's entire regard. Her thoughts being still chiefly
fixed on what she had with such causeless terror felt and done, nothing
could shortly be clearer than that it had been all a voluntary,
self-created delusion, each trifling circumstance receiving
importance from an imagination resolved on alarm, and everything
forced to bend to one purpose by a mind which, before she entered
the abbey, had been craving to be frightened. She remembered with
what feelings she had prepared for a knowledge of Northanger. She
saw that the infatuation had been created, the mischief settled,
long before her quitting Bath, and it seemed as if the whole might
be traced to the influence of that sort of reading which she had
Charming as were all Mrs. Radcliffe's works, and charming even as
were the works of all her imitators, it was not in them perhaps that
human nature, at least in the Midland counties of England, was to
be looked for. Of the Alps and Pyrenees, with their pine forests
and their vices, they might give a faithful delineation; and Italy,
Switzerland, and the south of France might be as fruitful in horrors
as they were there represented. Catherine dared not doubt beyond
her own country, and even of that, if hard pressed, would have
yielded the northern and western extremities. But in the central
part of England there was surely some security for the existence even
of a wife not beloved, in the laws of the land, and the manners of
the age. Murder was not tolerated, servants were not slaves, and
neither poison nor sleeping potions to be procured, like rhubarb,
from every druggist. Among the Alps and Pyrenees, perhaps, there
were no mixed characters. There, such as were not as spotless as
an angel might have the dispositions of a fiend. But in England
it was not so; among the English, she believed, in their hearts
and habits, there was a general though unequal mixture of good and
bad. Upon this conviction, she would not be surprised if even in
Henry and Eleanor Tilney, some slight imperfection might hereafter
appear; and upon this conviction she need not fear to acknowledge
some actual specks in the character of their father, who, though
cleared from the grossly injurious suspicions which she must ever
blush to have entertained, she did believe, upon serious consideration,
to be not perfectly amiable.
Her mind made up on these several points, and her resolution
formed, of always judging and acting in future with the greatest
good sense, she had nothing to do but to forgive herself and be
happier than ever; and the lenient hand of time did much for her
by insensible gradations in the course of another day. Henry's
astonishing generosity and nobleness of conduct, in never alluding
in the slightest way to what had passed, was of the greatest assistance
to her; and sooner than she could have supposed it possible in the
beginning of her distress, her spirits became absolutely comfortable,
and capable, as heretofore, of continual improvement by anything
he said. There were still some subjects, indeed, under which she
believed they must always tremble -- the mention of a chest or a
cabinet, for instance -- and she did not love the sight of japan
in any shape: but even she could allow that an occasional memento
of past folly, however painful, might not be without use.
The anxieties of common life began soon to succeed to the alarms
of romance. Her desire of hearing from Isabella grew every day
greater. She was quite impatient to know how the Bath world went
on, and how the rooms were attended; and especially was she anxious
to be assured of Isabella's having matched some fine netting-cotton,
on which she had left her intent; and of her continuing on the
best terms with James. Her only dependence for information of any
kind was on Isabella. James had protested against writing to her
till his return to Oxford; and Mrs. Allen had given her no hopes
of a letter till she had got back to Fullerton. But Isabella had
promised and promised again; and when she promised a thing, she
was so scrupulous in performing it! This made it so particularly
For nine successive mornings, Catherine wondered over the repetition
of a disappointment, which each morning became more severe: but,
on the tenth, when she entered the breakfast-room, her first object
was a letter, held out by Henry's willing hand. She thanked him as
heartily as if he had written it himself. "'Tis only from James,
however," as she looked at the direction. She opened it; it was
from Oxford; and to this purpose:
"Though, God knows, with little inclination for writing, I think
it my duty to tell you that everything is at an end between Miss
Thorpe and me. I left her and Bath yesterday, never to see either
again. I shall not enter into particulars -- they would only pain
you more. You will soon hear enough from another quarter to know
where lies the blame; and I hope will acquit your brother of everything
but the folly of too easily thinking his affection returned. Thank
God! I am undeceived in time! But it is a heavy blow! After my
father's consent had been so kindly given -- but no more of this.
She has made me miserable forever! Let me soon hear from you,
dear Catherine; you are my only friend; your love I do build upon.
I wish your visit at Northanger may be over before Captain Tilney
makes his engagement known, or you will be uncomfortably circumstanced.
Poor Thorpe is in town: I dread the sight of him; his honest heart
would feel so much. I have written to him and my father. Her
duplicity hurts me more than all; till the very last, if I reasoned
with her, she declared herself as much attached to me as ever, and
laughed at my fears. I am ashamed to think how long I bore with
it; but if ever man had reason to believe himself loved, I was
that man. I cannot understand even now what she would be at, for
there could be no need of my being played off to make her secure
of Tilney. We parted at last by mutual consent -- happy for me
had we never met! I can never expect to know such another woman!
Dearest Catherine, beware how you give your heart. "Believe me,"
Catherine had not read three lines before her sudden change of
countenance, and short exclamations of sorrowing wonder, declared
her to be receiving unpleasant news; and Henry, earnestly watching
her through the whole letter, saw plainly that it ended no better
than it began. He was prevented, however, from even looking his
surprise by his father's entrance. They went to breakfast directly;
but Catherine could hardly eat anything. Tears filled her eyes, and
even ran down her cheeks as she sat. The letter was one moment in
her hand, then in her lap, and then in her pocket; and she looked
as if she knew not what she did. The general, between his cocoa
and his newspaper, had luckily no leisure for noticing her; but
to the other two her distress was equally visible. As soon as she
dared leave the table she hurried away to her own room; but the
housemaids were busy in it, and she was obliged to come down again.
She turned into the drawing-room for privacy, but Henry and Eleanor
had likewise retreated thither, and were at that moment deep in
consultation about her. She drew back, trying to beg their pardon,
but was, with gentle violence, forced to return; and the others
withdrew, after Eleanor had affectionately expressed a wish of
being of use or comfort to her.
After half an hour's free indulgence of grief and reflection,
Catherine felt equal to encountering her friends; but whether she
should make her distress known to them was another consideration.
Perhaps, if particularly questioned, she might just give an idea
-- just distantly hint at it -- but not more. To expose a friend,
such a friend as Isabella had been to her -- and then their own
brother so closely concerned in it! She believed she must waive the
subject altogether. Henry and Eleanor were by themselves in the
breakfast-room; and each, as she entered it, looked at her anxiously.
Catherine took her place at the table, and, after a short silence,
Eleanor said, "No bad news from Fullerton, I hope? Mr. and Mrs.
Morland -- your brothers and sisters -- I hope they are none of
"No, I thank you" (sighing as she spoke); "they are all very well.
My letter was from my brother at Oxford."
Nothing further was said for a few minutes; and then speaking
through her tears, she added, "I do not think I shall ever wish
for a letter again!"
"I am sorry," said Henry, closing the book he had just opened;
"if I had suspected the letter of containing anything unwelcome,
I should have given it with very different feelings."
"It contained something worse than anybody could suppose! Poor
James is so unhappy! You will soon know why."
"To have so kind-hearted, so affectionate a sister," replied Henry
warmly, "must be a comfort to him under any distress."
"I have one favour to beg," said Catherine, shortly afterwards, in
an agitated manner, "that, if your brother should be coming here,
you will give me notice of it, that I may go away."
"Our brother! Frederick!"
"Yes; I am sure I should be very sorry to leave you so soon, but
something has happened that would make it very dreadful for me to
be in the same house with Captain Tilney."
Eleanor's work was suspended while she gazed with increasing
astonishment; but Henry began to suspect the truth, and something,
in which Miss Thorpe's name was included, passed his lips.
"How quick you are!" cried Catherine: "you have guessed it,
I declare! And yet, when we talked about it in Bath, you little
thought of its ending so. Isabella -- no wonder now I have not
heard from her -- Isabella has deserted my brother, and is to marry
yours! Could you have believed there had been such inconstancy
and fickleness, and everything that is bad in the world?"
"I hope, so far as concerns my brother, you are misinformed. I
hope he has not had any material share in bringing on Mr. Morland's
disappointment. His marrying Miss Thorpe is not probable. I think
you must be deceived so far. I am very sorry for Mr. Morland --
sorry that anyone you love should be unhappy; but my surprise would
be greater at Frederick's marrying her than at any other part of
"It is very true, however; you shall read James's letter yourself.
Stay -- There is one part -- " recollecting with a blush the last
"Will you take the trouble of reading to us the passages which
concern my brother?"
"No, read it yourself," cried Catherine, whose second thoughts were
clearer. "I do not know what I was thinking of" (blushing again
that she had blushed before); "James only means to give me good
He gladly received the letter, and, having read it through, with
close attention, returned it saying, "Well, if it is to be so,
I can only say that I am sorry for it. Frederick will not be the
first man who has chosen a wife with less sense than his family
expected. I do not envy his situation, either as a lover or a
Miss Tilney, at Catherine's invitation, now read the letter likewise,
and, having expressed also her concern and surprise, began to
inquire into Miss Thorpe's connections and fortune.
"Her mother is a very good sort of woman," was Catherine's answer.
"What was her father?"
"A lawyer, I believe. They live at Putney."
"Are they a wealthy family?"
"No, not very. I do not believe Isabella has any fortune at all:
but that will not signify in your family. Your father is so very
liberal! He told me the other day that he only valued money as it
allowed him to promote the happiness of his children." The brother
and sister looked at each other. "But," said Eleanor, after a
short pause, "would it be to promote his happiness, to enable him
to marry such a girl? She must be an unprincipled one, or she could
not have used your brother so. And how strange an infatuation on
Frederick's side! A girl who, before his eyes, is violating an
engagement voluntarily entered into with another man! Is not it
inconceivable, Henry? Frederick too, who always wore his heart so
proudly! Who found no woman good enough to be loved!"
"That is the most unpromising circumstance, the strongest presumption
against him. When I think of his past declarations, I give him up.
Moreover, I have too good an opinion of Miss Thorpe's prudence to
suppose that she would part with one gentleman before the other was
secured. It is all over with Frederick indeed! He is a deceased
man -- defunct in understanding. Prepare for your sister-in-law,
Eleanor, and such a sister-in-law as you must delight in! Open,
candid, artless, guileless, with affections strong but simple,
forming no pretensions, and knowing no disguise."
"Such a sister-in-law, Henry, I should delight in," said Eleanor
with a smile.
"But perhaps," observed Catherine, "though she has behaved so ill
by our family, she may behave better by yours. Now she has really
got the man she likes, she may be constant."
"Indeed I am afraid she will," replied Henry; "I am afraid she will
be very constant, unless a baronet should come in her way; that is
Frederick's only chance. I will get the Bath paper, and look over
"You think it is all for ambition, then? And, upon my word, there
are some things that seem very like it. I cannot forget that, when
she first knew what my father would do for them, she seemed quite
disappointed that it was not more. I never was so deceived in
anyone's character in my life before."
"Among all the great variety that you have known and studied."
"My own disappointment and loss in her is very great; but, as for
poor James, I suppose he will hardly ever recover it."
"Your brother is certainly very much to be pitied at present; but
we must not, in our concern for his sufferings, undervalue yours. You
feel, I suppose, that in losing Isabella, you lose half yourself:
you feel a void in your heart which nothing else can occupy.
Society is becoming irksome; and as for the amusements in which
you were wont to share at Bath, the very idea of them without her
is abhorrent. You would not, for instance, now go to a ball for
the world. You feel that you have no longer any friend to whom you
can speak with unreserve, on whose regard you can place dependence,
or whose counsel, in any difficulty, you could rely on. You feel
"No," said Catherine, after a few moments' reflection, "I do not
-- ought I? To say the truth, though I am hurt and grieved, that
I cannot still love her, that I am never to hear from her, perhaps
never to see her again, I do not feel so very, very much afflicted
as one would have thought."
"You feel, as you always do, what is most to the credit of human
nature. Such feelings ought to be investigated, that they may know
Catherine, by some chance or other, found her spirits so very much
relieved by this conversation that she could not regret her being
led on, though so unaccountably, to mention the circumstance which
had produced it.
From this time, the subject was frequently canvassed by the three
young people; and Catherine found, with some surprise, that her
two young friends were perfectly agreed in considering Isabella's
want of consequence and fortune as likely to throw great difficulties
in the way of her marrying their brother. Their persuasion that
the general would, upon this ground alone, independent of the
objection that might be raised against her character, oppose the
connection, turned her feelings moreover with some alarm towards
herself. She was as insignificant, and perhaps as portionless, as
Isabella; and if the heir of the Tilney property had not grandeur
and wealth enough in himself, at what point of interest were the
demands of his younger brother to rest? The very painful reflections
to which this thought led could only be dispersed by a dependence
on the effect of that particular partiality, which, as she was
given to understand by his words as well as his actions, she had
from the first been so fortunate as to excite in the general; and
by a recollection of some most generous and disinterested sentiments on
the subject of money, which she had more than once heard him utter,
and which tempted her to think his disposition in such matters
misunderstood by his children.
They were so fully convinced, however, that their brother would
not have the courage to apply in person for his father's consent,
and so repeatedly assured her that he had never in his life been
less likely to come to Northanger than at the present time, that she
suffered her mind to be at ease as to the necessity of any sudden
removal of her own. But as it was not to be supposed that Captain
Tilney, whenever he made his application, would give his father
any just idea of Isabella's conduct, it occurred to her as highly
expedient that Henry should lay the whole business before him as
it really was, enabling the general by that means to form a cool
and impartial opinion, and prepare his objections on a fairer ground
than inequality of situations. She proposed it to him accordingly;
but he did not catch at the measure so eagerly as she had expected.
"No," said he, "my father's hands need not be strengthened, and
Frederick's confession of folly need not be forestalled. He must
tell his own story."
"But he will tell only half of it."
"A quarter would be enough."
A day or two passed away and brought no tidings of Captain Tilney.
His brother and sister knew not what to think. Sometimes it
appeared to them as if his silence would be the natural result of
the suspected engagement, and at others that it was wholly incompatible
with it. The general, meanwhile, though offended every morning by
Frederick's remissness in writing, was free from any real anxiety
about him, and had no more pressing solicitude than that of making
Miss Morland's time at Northanger pass pleasantly. He often
expressed his uneasiness on this head, feared the sameness of every
day's society and employments would disgust her with the place,
wished the Lady Frasers had been in the country, talked every
now and then of having a large party to dinner, and once or twice
began even to calculate the number of young dancing people in
the neighbourhood. But then it was such a dead time of year, no
wild-fowl, no game, and the Lady Frasers were not in the country.
And it all ended, at last, in his telling Henry one morning that
when he next went to Woodston, they would take him by surprise
there some day or other, and eat their mutton with him. Henry was
greatly honoured and very happy, and Catherine was quite delighted
with the scheme. "And when do you think, sir, I may look forward
to this pleasure? I must be at Woodston on Monday to attend the
parish meeting, and shall probably be obliged to stay two or three
"Well, well, we will take our chance some one of those days. There
is no need to fix. You are not to put yourself at all out of your
way. Whatever you may happen to have in the house will be enough.
I think I can answer for the young ladies making allowance for a
bachelor's table. Let me see; Monday will be a busy day with you,
we will not come on Monday; and Tuesday will be a busy one with me.
I expect my surveyor from Brockham with his report in the morning;
and afterwards I cannot in decency fail attending the club. I
really could not face my acquaintance if I stayed away now; for,
as I am known to be in the country, it would be taken exceedingly
amiss; and it is a rule with me, Miss Morland, never to give
offence to any of my neighbours, if a small sacrifice of time and
attention can prevent it. They are a set of very worthy men. They
have half a buck from Northanger twice a year; and I dine with
them whenever I can. Tuesday, therefore, we may say is out of the
question. But on Wednesday, I think, Henry, you may expect us; and
we shall be with you early, that we may have time to look about us.
Two hours and three quarters will carry us to Woodston, I suppose;
we shall be in the carriage by ten; so, about a quarter before one
on Wednesday, you may look for us."
A ball itself could not have been more welcome to Catherine than
this little excursion, so strong was her desire to be acquainted
with Woodston; and her heart was still bounding with joy when
Henry, about an hour afterwards, came booted and greatcoated into
the room where she and Eleanor were sitting, and said, "I am come,
young ladies, in a very moralizing strain, to observe that our
pleasures in this world are always to be paid for, and that we often
purchase them at a great disadvantage, giving ready-monied actual
happiness for a draft on the future, that may not be honoured.
Witness myself, at this present hour. Because I am to hope for
the satisfaction of seeing you at Woodston on Wednesday, which
bad weather, or twenty other causes, may prevent, I must go away
directly, two days before I intended it."
"Go away!" said Catherine, with a very long face. "And why?"
"Why! How can you ask the question? Because no time is to be lost
in frightening my old housekeeper out of her wits, because I must
go and prepare a dinner for you, to be sure."
"Oh! Not seriously!"
"Aye, and sadly too -- for I had much rather stay."
"But how can you think of such a thing, after what the general
said? When he so particularly desired you not to give yourself
any trouble, because anything would do."
Henry only smiled. "I am sure it is quite unnecessary upon your
sister's account and mine. You must know it to be so; and the
general made such a point of your providing nothing extraordinary:
besides, if he had not said half so much as he did, he has always
such an excellent dinner at home, that sitting down to a middling
one for one day could not signify."
"I wish I could reason like you, for his sake and my own. Good-bye.
As tomorrow is Sunday, Eleanor, I shall not return."
He went; and, it being at any time a much simpler operation to
Catherine to doubt her own judgment than Henry's, she was very soon
obliged to give him credit for being right, however disagreeable
to her his going. But the inexplicability of the general's
conduct dwelt much on her thoughts. That he was very particular
in his eating, she had, by her own unassisted observation, already
discovered; but why he should say one thing so positively, and mean
another all the while, was most unaccountable! How were people, at
that rate, to be understood? Who but Henry could have been aware
of what his father was at?
From Saturday to Wednesday, however, they were now to be without
Henry. This was the sad finale of every reflection: and Captain
Tilney's letter would certainly come in his absence; and Wednesday
she was very sure would be wet. The past, present, and future
were all equally in gloom. Her brother so unhappy, and her loss
in Isabella so great; and Eleanor's spirits always affected by
Henry's absence! What was there to interest or amuse her? She was
tired of the woods and the shrubberies -- always so smooth and so
dry; and the abbey in itself was no more to her now than any other
house. The painful remembrance of the folly it had helped to
nourish and perfect was the only emotion which could spring from
a consideration of the building. What a revolution in her ideas!
She, who had so longed to be in an abbey! Now, there was nothing
so charming to her imagination as the unpretending comfort of
a well-connected parsonage, something like Fullerton, but better:
Fullerton had its faults, but Woodston probably had none. If
Wednesday should ever come!
It did come, and exactly when it might be reasonably looked for. It
came -- it was fine -- and Catherine trod on air. By ten o'clock,
the chaise and four conveyed the two from the abbey; and, after
an agreeable drive of almost twenty miles, they entered Woodston,
a large and populous village, in a situation not unpleasant. Catherine
was ashamed to say how pretty she thought it, as the general seemed
to think an apology necessary for the flatness of the country,
and the size of the village; but in her heart she preferred it to
any place she had ever been at, and looked with great admiration
at every neat house above the rank of a cottage, and at all the
little chandler's shops which they passed. At the further end of
the village, and tolerably disengaged from the rest of it, stood
the parsonage, a new-built substantial stone house, with its
semicircular sweep and green gates; and, as they drove up to the
door, Henry, with the friends of his solitude, a large Newfoundland
puppy and two or three terriers, was ready to receive and make much
Catherine's mind was too full, as she entered the house, for her
either to observe or to say a great deal; and, till called on by
the general for her opinion of it, she had very little idea of the
room in which she was sitting. Upon looking round it then, she
perceived in a moment that it was the most comfortable room in the
world; but she was too guarded to say so, and the coldness of her
praise disappointed him.
"We are not calling it a good house," said he. "We are not comparing
it with Fullerton and Northanger -- we are considering it as a mere
parsonage, small and confined, we allow, but decent, perhaps, and
habitable; and altogether not inferior to the generality; or, in
other words, I believe there are few country parsonages in England
half so good. It may admit of improvement, however. Far be it
from me to say otherwise; and anything in reason -- a bow thrown
out, perhaps -- though, between ourselves, if there is one thing
more than another my aversion, it is a patched-on bow."
Catherine did not hear enough of this speech to understand or be
pained by it; and other subjects being studiously brought forward
and supported by Henry, at the same time that a tray full of
refreshments was introduced by his servant, the general was shortly
restored to his complacency, and Catherine to all her usual ease
The room in question was of a commodious, well-proportioned size,
and handsomely fitted up as a dining-parlour; and on their quitting
it to walk round the grounds, she was shown, first into a smaller
apartment, belonging peculiarly to the master of the house, and made
unusually tidy on the occasion; and afterwards into what was to be
the drawing-room, with the appearance of which, though unfurnished,
Catherine was delighted enough even to satisfy the general. It
was a prettily shaped room, the windows reaching to the ground,
and the view from them pleasant, though only over green meadows;
and she expressed her admiration at the moment with all the honest
simplicity with which she felt it. "Oh! Why do not you fit up
this room, Mr. Tilney? What a pity not to have it fitted up! It
is the prettiest room I ever saw; it is the prettiest room in the
"I trust," said the general, with a most satisfied smile, "that it
will very speedily be furnished: it waits only for a lady's taste!"
"Well, if it was my house, I should never sit anywhere else. Oh!
What a sweet little cottage there is among the trees -- apple trees,
too! It is the prettiest cottage!"
"You like it -- you approve it as an object -- it is enough. Henry,
remember that Robinson is spoken to about it. The cottage remains."
Such a compliment recalled all Catherine's consciousness, and silenced
her directly; and, though pointedly applied to by the general for
her choice of the prevailing colour of the paper and hangings,
nothing like an opinion on the subject could be drawn from her.
The influence of fresh objects and fresh air, however, was of great
use in dissipating these embarrassing associations; and, having
reached the ornamental part of the premises, consisting of a walk
round two sides of a meadow, on which Henry's genius had begun to
act about half a year ago, she was sufficiently recovered to think
it prettier than any pleasure-ground she had ever been in before,
though there was not a shrub in it higher than the green bench in
A saunter into other meadows, and through part of the village, with
a visit to the stables to examine some improvements, and a charming
game of play with a litter of puppies just able to roll about,
brought them to four o'clock, when Catherine scarcely thought it
could be three. At four they were to dine, and at six to set off
on their return. Never had any day passed so quickly!
She could not but observe that the abundance of the dinner did not
seem to create the smallest astonishment in the general; nay, that
he was even looking at the side-table for cold meat which was not
there. His son and daughter's observations were of a different
kind. They had seldom seen him eat so heartily at any table but
his own, and never before known him so little disconcerted by the
melted butter's being oiled.
At six o'clock, the general having taken his coffee, the carriage
again received them; and so gratifying had been the tenor of his
conduct throughout the whole visit, so well assured was her mind on
the subject of his expectations, that, could she have felt equally
confident of the wishes of his son, Catherine would have quitted
Woodston with little anxiety as to the How or the When she might
return to it.
The next morning brought the following very unexpected letter from
My dearest Catherine, I received your two kind letters with the
greatest delight, and have a thousand apologies to make for not
answering them sooner. I really am quite ashamed of my idleness;
but in this horrid place one can find time for nothing. I have had
my pen in my hand to begin a letter to you almost every day since
you left Bath, but have always been prevented by some silly trifler
or other. Pray write to me soon, and direct to my own home. Thank
God, we leave this vile place tomorrow. Since you went away,
I have had no pleasure in it -- the dust is beyond anything; and
everybody one cares for is gone. I believe if I could see you
I should not mind the rest, for you are dearer to me than anybody
can conceive. I am quite uneasy about your dear brother, not
having heard from him since he went to Oxford; and am fearful of
some misunderstanding. Your kind offices will set all right: he
is the only man I ever did or could love, and I trust you will
convince him of it. The spring fashions are partly down; and the
hats the most frightful you can imagine. I hope you spend your
time pleasantly, but am afraid you never think of me. I will not
say all that I could of the family you are with, because I would
not be ungenerous, or set you against those you esteem; but it
is very difficult to know whom to trust, and young men never know
their minds two days together. I rejoice to say that the young
man whom, of all others, I particularly abhor, has left Bath. You
will know, from this description, I must mean Captain Tilney, who,
as you may remember, was amazingly disposed to follow and tease me,
before you went away. Afterwards he got worse, and became quite my
shadow. Many girls might have been taken in, for never were such
attentions; but I knew the fickle sex too well. He went away to
his regiment two days ago, and I trust I shall never be plagued with
him again. He is the greatest coxcomb I ever saw, and amazingly
disagreeable. The last two days he was always by the side of
Charlotte Davis: I pitied his taste, but took no notice of him.
The last time we met was in Bath Street, and I turned directly
into a shop that he might not speak to me; I would not even look at
him. He went into the pump-room afterwards; but I would not have
followed him for all the world. Such a contrast between him and
your brother! Pray send me some news of the latter -- I am quite
unhappy about him; he seemed so uncomfortable when he went away,
with a cold, or something that affected his spirits. I would write
to him myself, but have mislaid his direction; and, as I hinted
above, am afraid he took something in my conduct amiss. Pray
explain everything to his satisfaction; or, if he still harbours
any doubt, a line from himself to me, or a call at Putney when next
in town, might set all to rights. I have not been to the rooms this
age, nor to the play, except going in last night with the Hodges,
for a frolic, at half price: they teased me into it; and I was
determined they should not say I shut myself up because Tilney was
gone. We happened to sit by the Mitchells, and they pretended to
be quite surprised to see me out. I knew their spite: at one time
they could not be civil to me, but now they are all friendship; but
I am not such a fool as to be taken in by them. You know I have
a pretty good spirit of my own. Anne Mitchell had tried to put on
a turban like mine, as I wore it the week before at the concert,
but made wretched work of it -- it happened to become my odd face,
I believe, at least Tilney told me so at the time, and said every
eye was upon me; but he is the last man whose word I would take.
I wear nothing but purple now: I know I look hideous in it, but
no matter -- it is your dear brother's favourite colour. Lose no
time, my dearest, sweetest Catherine, in writing to him and to me,
Who ever am, etc.
Such a strain of shallow artifice could not impose even upon
Catherine. Its inconsistencies, contradictions, and falsehood
struck her from the very first. She was ashamed of Isabella, and
ashamed of having ever loved her. Her professions of attachment
were now as disgusting as her excuses were empty, and her demands
impudent. "Write to James on her behalf! No, James should never
hear Isabella's name mentioned by her again."
On Henry's arrival from Woodston, she made known to him and Eleanor
their brother's safety, congratulating them with sincerity on it,
and reading aloud the most material passages of her letter with strong
indignation. When she had finished it -- "So much for Isabella,"
she cried, "and for all our intimacy! She must think me an idiot,
or she could not have written so; but perhaps this has served to
make her character better known to me than mine is to her. I see
what she has been about. She is a vain coquette, and her tricks
have not answered. I do not believe she had ever any regard either
for James or for me, and I wish I had never known her."
"It will soon be as if you never had," said Henry.
"There is but one thing that I cannot understand. I see that she
has had designs on Captain Tilney, which have not succeeded; but
I do not understand what Captain Tilney has been about all this
time. Why should he pay her such attentions as to make her quarrel
with my brother, and then fly off himself?"
"I have very little to say for Frederick's motives, such as
I believe them to have been. He has his vanities as well as Miss
Thorpe, and the chief difference is, that, having a stronger head,
they have not yet injured himself. If the effect of his behaviour
does not justify him with you, we had better not seek after the
"Then you do not suppose he ever really cared about her?"
"I am persuaded that he never did."
"And only made believe to do so for mischief's sake?"
Henry bowed his assent.
"Well, then, I must say that I do not like him at all. Though it
has turned out so well for us, I do not like him at all. As it
happens, there is no great harm done, because I do not think Isabella
has any heart to lose. But, suppose he had made her very much in
love with him?"
"But we must first suppose Isabella to have had a heart to lose --
consequently to have been a very different creature; and, in that
case, she would have met with very different treatment."
"It is very right that you should stand by your brother."
"And if you would stand by yours, you would not be much distressed
by the disappointment of Miss Thorpe. But your mind is warped by
an innate principle of general integrity, and therefore not accessible
to the cool reasonings of family partiality, or a desire of revenge."
Catherine was complimented out of further bitterness. Frederick
could not be unpardonably guilty, while Henry made himself so
agreeable. She resolved on not answering Isabella's letter, and
tried to think no more of it.
Soon after this, the general found himself obliged to go to London
for a week; and he left Northanger earnestly regretting that any
necessity should rob him even for an hour of Miss Morland's company,
and anxiously recommending the study of her comfort and amusement
to his children as their chief object in his absence. His departure
gave Catherine the first experimental conviction that a loss may be
sometimes a gain. The happiness with which their time now passed,
every employment voluntary, every laugh indulged, every meal a scene
of ease and good humour, walking where they liked and when they
liked, their hours, pleasures, and fatigues at their own command,
made her thoroughly sensible of the restraint which the general's
presence had imposed, and most thankfully feel their present release
from it. Such ease and such delights made her love the place and
the people more and more every day; and had it not been for a dread
of its soon becoming expedient to leave the one, and an apprehension
of not being equally beloved by the other, she would at each moment
of each day have been perfectly happy; but she was now in the fourth
week of her visit; before the general came home, the fourth week
would be turned, and perhaps it might seem an intrusion if she
stayed much longer. This was a painful consideration whenever it
occurred; and eager to get rid of such a weight on her mind, she
very soon resolved to speak to Eleanor about it at once, propose
going away, and be guided in her conduct by the manner in which
her proposal might be taken.
Aware that if she gave herself much time, she might feel it difficult
to bring forward so unpleasant a subject, she took the first
opportunity of being suddenly alone with Eleanor, and of Eleanor's
being in the middle of a speech about something very different, to
start forth her obligation of going away very soon. Eleanor looked
and declared herself much concerned. She had "hoped for the pleasure
of her company for a much longer time -- had been misled (perhaps
by her wishes) to suppose that a much longer visit had been promised
-- and could not but think that if Mr. and Mrs. Morland were aware
of the pleasure it was to her to have her there, they would be too
generous to hasten her return." Catherine explained: "Oh! As to
that, Papa and Mamma were in no hurry at all. As long as she was
happy, they would always be satisfied."
"Then why, might she ask, in such a hurry herself to leave them?"
"Oh! Because she had been there so long."
"Nay, if you can use such a word, I can urge you no farther. If
you think it long -- "
"Oh! No, I do not indeed. For my own pleasure, I could stay with
you as long again." And it was directly settled that, till she
had, her leaving them was not even to be thought of. In having
this cause of uneasiness so pleasantly removed, the force of the
other was likewise weakened. The kindness, the earnestness of
Eleanor's manner in pressing her to stay, and Henry's gratified
look on being told that her stay was determined, were such sweet
proofs of her importance with them, as left her only just so much
solicitude as the human mind can never do comfortably without. She
did -- almost always -- believe that Henry loved her, and quite
always that his father and sister loved and even wished her to
belong to them; and believing so far, her doubts and anxieties were
merely sportive irritations.
Henry was not able to obey his father's injunction of remaining
wholly at Northanger in attendance on the ladies, during his absence
in London, the engagements of his curate at Woodston obliging him
to leave them on Saturday for a couple of nights. His loss was
not now what it had been while the general was at home; it lessened
their gaiety, but did not ruin their comfort; and the two girls
agreeing in occupation, and improving in intimacy, found themselves
so well sufficient for the time to themselves, that it was eleven
o'clock, rather a late hour at the abbey, before they quitted the
supper-room on the day of Henry's departure. They had just reached
the head of the stairs when it seemed, as far as the thickness of
the walls would allow them to judge, that a carriage was driving
up to the door, and the next moment confirmed the idea by the loud
noise of the house-bell. After the first perturbation of surprise
had passed away, in a "Good heaven! What can be the matter?" it
was quickly decided by Eleanor to be her eldest brother, whose
arrival was often as sudden, if not quite so unseasonable, and
accordingly she hurried down to welcome him.
Catherine walked on to her chamber, making up her mind as well
as she could, to a further acquaintance with Captain Tilney, and
comforting herself under the unpleasant impression his conduct
had given her, and the persuasion of his being by far too fine
a gentleman to approve of her, that at least they should not meet
under such circumstances as would make their meeting materially
painful. She trusted he would never speak of Miss Thorpe; and indeed,
as he must by this time be ashamed of the part he had acted, there
could be no danger of it; and as long as all mention of Bath scenes
were avoided, she thought she could behave to him very civilly. In
such considerations time passed away, and it was certainly in his
favour that Eleanor should be so glad to see him, and have so much
to say, for half an hour was almost gone since his arrival, and
Eleanor did not come up.
At that moment Catherine thought she heard her step in the gallery,
and listened for its continuance; but all was silent. Scarcely,
however, had she convicted her fancy of error, when the noise of
something moving close to her door made her start; it seemed as
if someone was touching the very doorway -- and in another moment
a slight motion of the lock proved that some hand must be on it. She
trembled a little at the idea of anyone's approaching so cautiously;
but resolving not to be again overcome by trivial appearances
of alarm, or misled by a raised imagination, she stepped quietly
forward, and opened the door. Eleanor, and only Eleanor, stood
there. Catherine's spirits, however, were tranquillized but for
an instant, for Eleanor's cheeks were pale, and her manner greatly
agitated. Though evidently intending to come in, it seemed an
effort to enter the room, and a still greater to speak when there.
Catherine, supposing some uneasiness on Captain Tilney's account,
could only express her concern by silent attention, obliged her to
be seated, rubbed her temples with lavender-water, and hung over
her with affectionate solicitude. "My dear Catherine, you must not
-- you must not indeed -- " were Eleanor's first connected words.
"I am quite well. This kindness distracts me -- I cannot bear it
-- I come to you on such an errand!"
"Errand! To me!"
"How shall I tell you! Oh! How shall I tell you!"
A new idea now darted into Catherine's mind, and turning as pale
as her friend, she exclaimed, "'Tis a messenger from Woodston!"
"You are mistaken, indeed," returned Eleanor, looking at her most
compassionately; "it is no one from Woodston. It is my father
himself." Her voice faltered, and her eyes were turned to the ground
as she mentioned his name. His unlooked-for return was enough in
itself to make Catherine's heart sink, and for a few moments she
hardly supposed there were anything worse to be told. She said
nothing; and Eleanor, endeavouring to collect herself and speak
with firmness, but with eyes still cast down, soon went on. "You
are too good, I am sure, to think the worse of me for the part
I am obliged to perform. I am indeed a most unwilling messenger.
After what has so lately passed, so lately been settled between us
-- how joyfully, how thankfully on my side! -- as to your continuing
here as I hoped for many, many weeks longer, how can I tell you
that your kindness is not to be accepted -- and that the happiness
your company has hitherto given us is to be repaid by -- But I must
not trust myself with words. My dear Catherine, we are to part.
My father has recollected an engagement that takes our whole family
away on Monday. We are going to Lord Longtown's, near Hereford,
for a fortnight. Explanation and apology are equally impossible.
I cannot attempt either."
"My dear Eleanor," cried Catherine, suppressing her feelings as
well as she could, "do not be so distressed. A second engagement
must give way to a first. I am very, very sorry we are to part --
so soon, and so suddenly too; but I am not offended, indeed I am
not. I can finish my visit here, you know, at any time; or I hope
you will come to me. Can you, when you return from this lord's,
come to Fullerton?"
"It will not be in my power, Catherine."
"Come when you can, then."
Eleanor made no answer; and Catherine's thoughts recurring to
something more directly interesting, she added, thinking aloud,
"Monday -- so soon as Monday; and you all go. Well, I am certain
of -- I shall be able to take leave, however. I need not go till
just before you do, you know. Do not be distressed, Eleanor, I can
go on Monday very well. My father and mother's having no notice of
it is of very little consequence. The general will send a servant
with me, I dare say, half the way -- and then I shall soon be at
Salisbury, and then I am only nine miles from home."
"Ah, Catherine! Were it settled so, it would be somewhat less
intolerable, though in such common attentions you would have received
but half what you ought. But -- how can I tell you? -- tomorrow
morning is fixed for your leaving us, and not even the hour is left
to your choice; the very carriage is ordered, and will be here at
seven o'clock, and no servant will be offered you."
Catherine sat down, breathless and speechless. "I could hardly
believe my senses, when I heard it; and no displeasure, no resentment
that you can feel at this moment, however justly great, can be more
than I myself -- but I must not talk of what I felt. Oh! That I
could suggest anything in extenuation! Good God! What will your
father and mother say! After courting you from the protection of
real friends to this -- almost double distance from your home, to
have you driven out of the house, without the considerations even
of decent civility! Dear, dear Catherine, in being the bearer
of such a message, I seem guilty myself of all its insult; yet,
I trust you will acquit me, for you must have been long enough in
this house to see that I am but a nominal mistress of it, that my
real power is nothing."
"Have I offended the general?" said Catherine in a faltering voice.
"Alas! For my feelings as a daughter, all that I know, all that I
answer for, is that you can have given him no just cause of offence.
He certainly is greatly, very greatly discomposed; I have seldom
seen him more so. His temper is not happy, and something has now
occurred to ruffle it in an uncommon degree; some disappointment,
some vexation, which just at this moment seems important, but
which I can hardly suppose you to have any concern in, for how is
It was with pain that Catherine could speak at all; and it was only
for Eleanor's sake that she attempted it. "I am sure," said she,
"I am very sorry if I have offended him. It was the last thing
I would willingly have done. But do not be unhappy, Eleanor. An
engagement, you know, must be kept. I am only sorry it was not
recollected sooner, that I might have written home. But it is of
very little consequence."
"I hope, I earnestly hope, that to your real safety it will be of
none; but to everything else it is of the greatest consequence:
to comfort, appearance, propriety, to your family, to the world.
Were your friends, the Allens, still in Bath, you might go to
them with comparative ease; a few hours would take you there; but
a journey of seventy miles, to be taken post by you, at your age,
"Oh, the journey is nothing. Do not think about that. And if
we are to part, a few hours sooner or later, you know, makes no
difference. I can be ready by seven. Let me be called in time."
Eleanor saw that she wished to be alone; and believing it better
for each that they should avoid any further conversation, now left
her with, "I shall see you in the morning."
Catherine's swelling heart needed relief. In Eleanor's presence
friendship and pride had equally restrained her tears, but no sooner
was she gone than they burst forth in torrents. Turned from the
house, and in such a way! Without any reason that could justify,
any apology that could atone for the abruptness, the rudeness, nay,
the insolence of it. Henry at a distance -- not able even to bid
him farewell. Every hope, every expectation from him suspended, at
least, and who could say how long? Who could say when they might
meet again? And all this by such a man as General Tilney, so
polite, so well bred, and heretofore so particularly fond of her!
It was as incomprehensible as it was mortifying and grievous. From
what it could arise, and where it would end, were considerations
of equal perplexity and alarm. The manner in which it was done
so grossly uncivil, hurrying her away without any reference to her
own convenience, or allowing her even the appearance of choice as
to the time or mode of her travelling; of two days, the earliest
fixed on, and of that almost the earliest hour, as if resolved to
have her gone before he was stirring in the morning, that he might
not be obliged even to see her. What could all this mean but an
intentional affront? By some means or other she must have had the
misfortune to offend him. Eleanor had wished to spare her from so
painful a notion, but Catherine could not believe it possible that
any injury or any misfortune could provoke such ill will against
a person not connected, or, at least, not supposed to be connected
Heavily passed the night. Sleep, or repose that deserved the
name of sleep, was out of the question. That room, in which her
disturbed imagination had tormented her on her first arrival, was
again the scene of agitated spirits and unquiet slumbers. Yet
how different now the source of her inquietude from what it had
been then -- how mournfully superior in reality and substance!
Her anxiety had foundation in fact, her fears in probability; and
with a mind so occupied in the contemplation of actual and natural
evil, the solitude of her situation, the darkness of her chamber,
the antiquity of the building, were felt and considered without the
smallest emotion; and though the wind was high, and often produced
strange and sudden noises throughout the house, she heard it all
as she lay awake, hour after hour, without curiosity or terror.
Soon after six Eleanor entered her room, eager to show attention
or give assistance where it was possible; but very little remained
to be done. Catherine had not loitered; she was almost dressed, and
her packing almost finished. The possibility of some conciliatory
message from the general occurred to her as his daughter appeared.
What so natural, as that anger should pass away and repentance
succeed it? And she only wanted to know how far, after what had
passed, an apology might properly be received by her. But the
knowledge would have been useless here; it was not called for; neither
clemency nor dignity was put to the trial -- Eleanor brought no
message. Very little passed between them on meeting; each found her
greatest safety in silence, and few and trivial were the sentences
exchanged while they remained upstairs, Catherine in busy agitation
completing her dress, and Eleanor with more goodwill than experience
intent upon filling the trunk. When everything was done they left
the room, Catherine lingering only half a minute behind her friend
to throw a parting glance on every well-known, cherished object, and
went down to the breakfast-parlour, where breakfast was prepared.
She tried to eat, as well to save herself from the pain of being
urged as to make her friend comfortable; but she had no appetite,
and could not swallow many mouthfuls. The contrast between this
and her last breakfast in that room gave her fresh misery, and
strengthened her distaste for everything before her. It was not
four and twenty hours ago since they had met there to the same
repast, but in circumstances how different! With what cheerful
ease, what happy, though false, security, had she then looked around
her, enjoying everything present, and fearing little in future,
beyond Henry's going to Woodston for a day! Happy, happy breakfast!
For Henry had been there; Henry had sat by her and helped her.
These reflections were long indulged undisturbed by any address
from her companion, who sat as deep in thought as herself; and
the appearance of the carriage was the first thing to startle and
recall them to the present moment. Catherine's colour rose at the
sight of it; and the indignity with which she was treated, striking
at that instant on her mind with peculiar force, made her for a
short time sensible only of resentment. Eleanor seemed now impelled
into resolution and speech.
"You must write to me, Catherine," she cried; "you must let me
hear from you as soon as possible. Till I know you to be safe at
home, I shall not have an hour's comfort. For one letter, at all
risks, all hazards, I must entreat. Let me have the satisfaction
of knowing that you are safe at Fullerton, and have found your family
well, and then, till I can ask for your correspondence as I ought
to do, I will not expect more. Direct to me at Lord Longtown's,
and, I must ask it, under cover to Alice."
"No, Eleanor, if you are not allowed to receive a letter from me,
I am sure I had better not write. There can be no doubt of my
getting home safe."
Eleanor only replied, "I cannot wonder at your feelings. I will
not importune you. I will trust to your own kindness of heart when
I am at a distance from you." But this, with the look of sorrow
accompanying it, was enough to melt Catherine's pride in a moment,
and she instantly said, "Oh, Eleanor, I will write to you indeed."
There was yet another point which Miss Tilney was anxious to settle,
though somewhat embarrassed in speaking of. It had occurred to
her that after so long an absence from home, Catherine might not
be provided with money enough for the expenses of her journey,
and, upon suggesting it to her with most affectionate offers of
accommodation, it proved to be exactly the case. Catherine had
never thought on the subject till that moment, but, upon examining
her purse, was convinced that but for this kindness of her friend,
she might have been turned from the house without even the means of
getting home; and the distress in which she must have been thereby
involved filling the minds of both, scarcely another word was said
by either during the time of their remaining together. Short,
however, was that time. The carriage was soon announced to be
ready; and Catherine, instantly rising, a long and affectionate
embrace supplied the place of language in bidding each other adieu;
and, as they entered the hall, unable to leave the house without
some mention of one whose name had not yet been spoken by either,
she paused a moment, and with quivering lips just made it intelligible
that she left "her kind remembrance for her absent friend." But
with this approach to his name ended all possibility of restraining
her feelings; and, hiding her face as well as she could with her
handkerchief, she darted across the hall, jumped into the chaise,
and in a moment was driven from the door.
Catherine was too wretched to be fearful. The journey in itself
had no terrors for her; and she began it without either dreading
its length or feeling its solitariness. Leaning back in one comer
of the carriage, in a violent burst of tears, she was conveyed some
miles beyond the walls of the abbey before she raised her head;
and the highest point of ground within the park was almost closed
from her view before she was capable of turning her eyes towards
it. Unfortunately, the road she now travelled was the same which
only ten days ago she had so happily passed along in going to and
from Woodston; and, for fourteen miles, every bitter feeling was
rendered more severe by the review of objects on which she had first
looked under impressions so different. Every mile, as it brought
her nearer Woodston, added to her sufferings, and when within the
distance of five, she passed the turning which led to it, and thought
of Henry, so near, yet so unconscious, her grief and agitation were
The day which she had spent at that place had been one of the
happiest of her life. It was there, it was on that day, that the
general had made use of such expressions with regard to Henry and
herself, had so spoken and so looked as to give her the most positive
conviction of his actually wishing their marriage. Yes, only ten
days ago had he elated her by his pointed regard -- had he even
confused her by his too significant reference! And now -- what
had she done, or what had she omitted to do, to merit such a change?
The only offence against him of which she could accuse herself had
been such as was scarcely possible to reach his knowledge. Henry
and her own heart only were privy to the shocking suspicions which
she had so idly entertained; and equally safe did she believe
her secret with each. Designedly, at least, Henry could not have
betrayed her. If, indeed, by any strange mischance his father
should have gained intelligence of what she had dared to think and
look for, of her causeless fancies and injurious examinations, she
could not wonder at any degree of his indignation. If aware of her
having viewed him as a murderer, she could not wonder at his even
turning her from his house. But a justification so full of torture
to herself, she trusted, would not be in his power.
Anxious as were all her conjectures on this point, it was not,
however, the one on which she dwelt most. There was a thought
yet nearer, a more prevailing, more impetuous concern. How Henry
would think, and feel, and look, when he returned on the morrow to
Northanger and heard of her being gone, was a question of force and
interest to rise over every other, to be never ceasing, alternately
irritating and soothing; it sometimes suggested the dread of
his calm acquiescence, and at others was answered by the sweetest
confidence in his regret and resentment. To the general, of course,
he would not dare to speak; but to Eleanor -- what might he not
say to Eleanor about her?
In this unceasing recurrence of doubts and inquiries, on any one
article of which her mind was incapable of more than momentary
repose, the hours passed away, and her journey advanced much faster
than she looked for. The pressing anxieties of thought, which
prevented her from noticing anything before her, when once beyond
the neighbourhood of Woodston, saved her at the same time from
watching her progress; and though no object on the road could engage
a moment's attention, she found no stage of it tedious. From this,
she was preserved too by another cause, by feeling no eagerness for
her journey's conclusion; for to return in such a manner to Fullerton
was almost to destroy the pleasure of a meeting with those she
loved best, even after an absence such as hers -- an eleven weeks'
absence. What had she to say that would not humble herself and pain
her family, that would not increase her own grief by the confession
of it, extend an useless resentment, and perhaps involve the innocent
with the guilty in undistinguishing ill will? She could never do
justice to Henry and Eleanor's merit; she felt it too strongly for
expression; and should a dislike be taken against them, should they
be thought of unfavourably, on their father's account, it would
cut her to the heart.
With these feelings, she rather dreaded than sought for the first
view of that well-known spire which would announce her within
twenty miles of home. Salisbury she had known to be her point on
leaving Northanger; but after the first stage she had been indebted
to the post-masters for the names of the places which were then to
conduct her to it; so great had been her ignorance of her route.
She met with nothing, however, to distress or frighten her. Her
youth, civil manners, and liberal pay procured her all the attention
that a traveller like herself could require; and stopping only
to change horses, she travelled on for about eleven hours without
accident or alarm, and between six and seven o'clock in the evening
found herself entering Fullerton.
A heroine returning, at the close of her career, to her native
village, in all the triumph of recovered reputation, and all the
dignity of a countess, with a long train of noble relations in their
several phaetons, and three waiting-maids in a travelling chaise
and four, behind her, is an event on which the pen of the contriver
may well delight to dwell; it gives credit to every conclusion, and
the author must share in the glory she so liberally bestows. But
my affair is widely different; I bring back my heroine to her home
in solitude and disgrace; and no sweet elation of spirits can lead
me into minuteness. A heroine in a hack post-chaise is such a blow
upon sentiment, as no attempt at grandeur or pathos can withstand.
Swiftly therefore shall her post-boy drive through the village,
amid the gaze of Sunday groups, and speedy shall be her descent
But, whatever might be the distress of Catherine's mind, as she
thus advanced towards the parsonage, and whatever the humiliation
of her biographer in relating it, she was preparing enjoyment of no
everyday nature for those to whom she went; first, in the appearance
of her carriage -- and secondly, in herself. The chaise of a
traveller being a rare sight in Fullerton, the whole family were
immediately at the window; and to have it stop at the sweep-gate
was a pleasure to brighten every eye and occupy every fancy -- a
pleasure quite unlooked for by all but the two youngest children,
a boy and girl of six and four years old, who expected a brother or
sister in every carriage. Happy the glance that first distinguished
Catherine! Happy the voice that proclaimed the discovery! But
whether such happiness were the lawful property of George or Harriet
could never be exactly understood.
Her father, mother, Sarah, George, and Harriet, all assembled at
the door to welcome her with affectionate eagerness, was a sight to
awaken the best feelings of Catherine's heart; and in the embrace
of each, as she stepped from the carriage, she found herself soothed
beyond anything that she had believed possible. So surrounded,
so caressed, she was even happy! In the joyfulness of family love
everything for a short time was subdued, and the pleasure of seeing
her, leaving them at first little leisure for calm curiosity, they
were all seated round the tea-table, which Mrs. Morland had hurried
for the comfort of the poor traveller, whose pale and jaded looks
soon caught her notice, before any inquiry so direct as to demand
a positive answer was addressed to her.
Reluctantly, and with much hesitation, did she then begin what might
perhaps, at the end of half an hour, be termed, by the courtesy of
her hearers, an explanation; but scarcely, within that time, could
they at all discover the cause, or collect the particulars, of her
sudden return. They were far from being an irritable race; far from
any quickness in catching, or bitterness in resenting, affronts:
but here, when the whole was unfolded, was an insult not to be
overlooked, nor, for the first half hour, to be easily pardoned.
Without suffering any romantic alarm, in the consideration of their
daughter's long and lonely journey, Mr. and Mrs. Morland could not
but feel that it might have been productive of much unpleasantness
to her; that it was what they could never have voluntarily suffered;
and that, in forcing her on such a measure, General Tilney had acted
neither honourably nor feelingly -- neither as a gentleman nor as
a parent. Why he had done it, what could have provoked him to such
a breach of hospitality, and so suddenly turned all his partial
regard for their daughter into actual ill will, was a matter which
they were at least as far from divining as Catherine herself; but
it did not oppress them by any means so long; and, after a due
course of useless conjecture, that "it was a strange business,
and that he must be a very strange man," grew enough for all their
indignation and wonder; though Sarah indeed still indulged in the
sweets of incomprehensibility, exclaiming and conjecturing with
youthful ardour. "My dear, you give yourself a great deal of
needless trouble," said her mother at last; "depend upon it, it is
something not at all worth understanding."
"I can allow for his wishing Catherine away, when he recollected
this engagement," said Sarah, "but why not do it civilly?"
"I am sorry for the young people," returned Mrs. Morland; "they must
have a sad time of it; but as for anything else, it is no matter
now; Catherine is safe at home, and our comfort does not depend
upon General Tilney." Catherine sighed. "Well," continued her
philosophic mother, "I am glad I did not know of your journey at
the time; but now it is all over, perhaps there is no great harm
done. It is always good for young people to be put upon exerting
themselves; and you know, my dear Catherine, you always were a sad
little scatter-brained creature; but now you must have been forced
to have your wits about you, with so much changing of chaises and
so forth; and I hope it will appear that you have not left anything
behind you in any of the pockets."
Catherine hoped so too, and tried to feel an interest in her own
amendment, but her spirits were quite worn down; and, to be silent
and alone becoming soon her only wish, she readily agreed to her
mother's next counsel of going early to bed. Her parents, seeing
nothing in her ill looks and agitation but the natural consequence
of mortified feelings, and of the unusual exertion and fatigue of
such a journey, parted from her without any doubt of their being
soon slept away; and though, when they all met the next morning,
her recovery was not equal to their hopes, they were still perfectly
unsuspicious of there being any deeper evil. They never once thought
of her heart, which, for the parents of a young lady of seventeen,
just returned from her first excursion from home, was odd enough!
As soon as breakfast was over, she sat down to fulfil her promise
to Miss Tilney, whose trust in the effect of time and distance on
her friend's disposition was already justified, for already did
Catherine reproach herself with having parted from Eleanor coldly,
with having never enough valued her merits or kindness, and never
enough commiserated her for what she had been yesterday left
to endure. The strength of these feelings, however, was far from
assisting her pen; and never had it been harder for her to write
than in addressing Eleanor Tilney. To compose a letter which might
at once do justice to her sentiments and her situation, convey
gratitude without servile regret, be guarded without coldness, and
honest without resentment -- a letter which Eleanor might not be
pained by the perusal of -- and, above all, which she might not
blush herself, if Henry should chance to see, was an undertaking
to frighten away all her powers of performance; and, after long
thought and much perplexity, to be very brief was all that she could
determine on with any confidence of safety. The money therefore
which Eleanor had advanced was enclosed with little more than grateful
thanks, and the thousand good wishes of a most affectionate heart.
"This has been a strange acquaintance," observed Mrs. Morland, as
the letter was finished; "soon made and soon ended. I am sorry it
happens so, for Mrs. Allen thought them very pretty kind of young
people; and you were sadly out of luck too in your Isabella. Ah!
Poor James! Well, we must live and learn; and the next new friends
you make I hope will be better worth keeping."
Catherine coloured as she warmly answered, "No friend can be better
worth keeping than Eleanor."
"If so, my dear, I dare say you will meet again some time or other;
do not be uneasy. It is ten to one but you are thrown together
again in the course of a few years; and then what a pleasure it
Mrs. Morland was not happy in her attempt at consolation. The hope
of meeting again in the course of a few years could only put into
Catherine's head what might happen within that time to make a meeting
dreadful to her. She could never forget Henry Tilney, or think of
him with less tenderness than she did at that moment; but he might
forget her; and in that case, to meet -- ! Her eyes filled with
tears as she pictured her acquaintance so renewed; and her mother,
perceiving her comfortable suggestions to have had no good effect,
proposed, as another expedient for restoring her spirits, that they
should call on Mrs. Allen.
The two houses were only a quarter of a mile apart; and, as they
walked, Mrs. Morland quickly dispatched all that she felt on the
score of James's disappointment. "We are sorry for him," said
she; "but otherwise there is no harm done in the match going off;
for it could not be a desirable thing to have him engaged to a
girl whom we had not the smallest acquaintance with, and who was so
entirely without fortune; and now, after such behaviour, we cannot
think at all well of her. Just at present it comes hard to poor
James; but that will not last forever; and I dare say he will be
a discreeter man all his life, for the foolishness of his first
This was just such a summary view of the affair as Catherine could
listen to; another sentence might have endangered her complaisance,
and made her reply less rational; for soon were all her thinking
powers swallowed up in the reflection of her own change of feelings
and spirits since last she had trodden that well-known road. It
was not three months ago since, wild with joyful expectation, she
had there run backwards and forwards some ten times a day, with
an heart light, gay, and independent; looking forward to pleasures
untasted and unalloyed, and free from the apprehension of evil as
from the knowledge of it. Three months ago had seen her all this;
and now, how altered a being did she return!
She was received by the Allens with all the kindness which
her unlooked-for appearance, acting on a steady affection, would
naturally call forth; and great was their surprise, and warm their
displeasure, on hearing how she had been treated -- though Mrs.
Morland's account of it was no inflated representation, no studied
appeal to their passions. "Catherine took us quite by surprise
yesterday evening," said she. "She travelled all the way post by
herself, and knew nothing of coming till Saturday night; for General
Tilney, from some odd fancy or other, all of a sudden grew tired
of having her there, and almost turned her out of the house. Very
unfriendly, certainly; and he must be a very odd man; but we are
so glad to have her amongst us again! And it is a great comfort to
find that she is not a poor helpless creature, but can shift very
well for herself."
Mr. Allen expressed himself on the occasion with the reasonable
resentment of a sensible friend; and Mrs. Allen thought his
expressions quite good enough to be immediately made use of again
by herself. His wonder, his conjectures, and his explanations
became in succession hers, with the addition of this single remark
-- "I really have not patience with the general" -- to fill up
every accidental pause. And, "I really have not patience with the
general," was uttered twice after Mr. Allen left the room, without
any relaxation of anger, or any material digression of thought. A
more considerable degree of wandering attended the third repetition;
and, after completing the fourth, she immediately added, "Only
think, my dear, of my having got that frightful great rent in my
best Mechlin so charmingly mended, before I left Bath, that one
can hardly see where it was. I must show it you some day or other.
Bath is a nice place, Catherine, after all. I assure you I did not
above half like coming away. Mrs. Thorpe's being there was such a
comfort to us, was not it? You know, you and I were quite forlorn
"Yes, but that did not last long," said Catherine, her eyes
brightening at the recollection of what had first given spirit to
her existence there.
"Very true: we soon met with Mrs. Thorpe, and then we wanted for
nothing. My dear, do not you think these silk gloves wear very
well? I put them on new the first time of our going to the Lower
Rooms, you know, and I have worn them a great deal since. Do you
remember that evening?"
"Do I! Oh! Perfectly."
"It was very agreeable, was not it? Mr. Tilney drank tea with us,
and I always thought him a great addition, he is so very agreeable.
I have a notion you danced with him, but am not quite sure. I
remember I had my favourite gown on."
Catherine could not answer; and, after a short trial of other
subjects, Mrs. Allen again returned to -- "I really have not patience
with the general! Such an agreeable, worthy man as he seemed to
be! I do not suppose, Mrs. Morland, you ever saw a better-bred man
in your life. His lodgings were taken the very day after he left
them, Catherine. But no wonder; Milsom Street, you know."
As they walked home again, Mrs. Morland endeavoured to impress on
her daughter's mind the happiness of having such steady well-wishers
as Mr. and Mrs. Allen, and the very little consideration which
the neglect or unkindness of slight acquaintance like the Tilneys
ought to have with her, while she could preserve the good opinion
and affection of her earliest friends. There was a great deal of
good sense in all this; but there are some situations of the human
mind in which good sense has very little power; and Catherine's
feelings contradicted almost every position her mother advanced.
It was upon the behaviour of these very slight acquaintance that
all her present happiness depended; and while Mrs. Morland was
successfully confirming her own opinions by the justness of her own
representations, Catherine was silently reflecting that now Henry
must have arrived at Northanger; now he must have heard of her
departure; and now, perhaps, they were all setting off for Hereford.
Catherine's disposition was not naturally sedentary, nor had her
habits been ever very industrious; but whatever might hitherto have
been her defects of that sort, her mother could not but perceive
them now to be greatly increased. She could neither sit still nor
employ herself for ten minutes together, walking round the garden
and orchard again and again, as if nothing but motion was voluntary;
and it seemed as if she could even walk about the house rather
than remain fixed for any time in the parlour. Her loss of spirits
was a yet greater alteration. In her rambling and her idleness
she might only be a caricature of herself; but in her silence and
sadness she was the very reverse of all that she had been before.
For two days Mrs. Morland allowed it to pass even without a hint;
but when a third night's rest had neither restored her cheerfulness,
improved her in useful activity, nor given her a greater inclination
for needlework, she could no longer refrain from the gentle reproof
of, "My dear Catherine, I am afraid you are growing quite a fine
lady. I do not know when poor Richard's cravats would be done, if
he had no friend but you. Your head runs too much upon Bath; but
there is a time for everything -- a time for balls and plays, and
a time for work. You have had a long run of amusement, and now
you must try to be useful."
Catherine took up her work directly, saying, in a dejected voice,
that "her head did not run upon Bath -- much."
"Then you are fretting about General Tilney, and that is very simple
of you; for ten to one whether you ever see him again. You should
never fret about trifles." After a short silence -- "I hope, my
Catherine, you are not getting out of humour with home because it
is not so grand as Northanger. That would be turning your visit into
an evil indeed. Wherever you are you should always be contented,
but especially at home, because there you must spend the most of
your time. I did not quite like, at breakfast, to hear you talk
so much about the French bread at Northanger."
"I am sure I do not care about the bread. it is all the same to
me what I eat."
"There is a very clever essay in one of the books upstairs upon
much such a subject, about young girls that have been spoilt for
home by great acquaintance -- The Mirror, I think. I will look
it out for you some day or other, because I am sure it will do you
Catherine said no more, and, with an endeavour to do right, applied
to her work; but, after a few minutes, sunk again, without knowing
it herself, into languor and listlessness, moving herself in her
chair, from the irritation of weariness, much oftener than she moved
her needle. Mrs. Morland watched the progress of this relapse; and
seeing, in her daughter's absent and dissatisfied look, the full
proof of that repining spirit to which she had now begun to attribute
her want of cheerfulness, hastily left the room to fetch the book
in question, anxious to lose no time in attacking so dreadful
a malady. It was some time before she could find what she looked
for; and other family matters occurring to detain her, a quarter
of an hour had elapsed ere she returned downstairs with the volume
from which so much was hoped. Her avocations above having shut
out all noise but what she created herself, she knew not that a
visitor had arrived within the last few minutes, till, on entering
the room, the first object she beheld was a young man whom she had
never seen before. With a look of much respect, he immediately
rose, and being introduced to her by her conscious daughter as "Mr.
Henry Tilney," with the embarrassment of real sensibility began to
apologize for his appearance there, acknowledging that after what
had passed he had little right to expect a welcome at Fullerton,
and stating his impatience to be assured of Miss Morland's having
reached her home in safety, as the cause of his intrusion. He did
not address himself to an uncandid judge or a resentful heart. Far
from comprehending him or his sister in their father's misconduct,
Mrs. Morland had been always kindly disposed towards each, and
instantly, pleased by his appearance, received him with the simple
professions of unaffected benevolence; thanking him for such an
attention to her daughter, assuring him that the friends of her
children were always welcome there, and entreating him to say not
another word of the past.
He was not ill-inclined to obey this request, for, though his
heart was greatly relieved by such unlooked-for mildness, it was
not just at that moment in his power to say anything to the purpose.
Returning in silence to his seat, therefore, he remained for some
minutes most civilly answering all Mrs. Morland's common remarks
about the weather and roads. Catherine meanwhile -- the anxious,
agitated, happy, feverish Catherine -- said not a word; but her
glowing cheek and brightened eye made her mother trust that this
good-natured visit would at least set her heart at ease for a
time, and gladly therefore did she lay aside the first volume of
The Mirror for a future hour.
Desirous of Mr. Morland's assistance, as well in giving encouragement,
as in finding conversation for her guest, whose embarrassment on
his father's account she earnestly pitied, Mrs. Morland had very
early dispatched one of the children to summon him; but Mr. Morland
was from home -- and being thus without any support, at the end
of a quarter of an hour she had nothing to say. After a couple
of minutes' unbroken silence, Henry, turning to Catherine for the
first time since her mother's entrance, asked her, with sudden
alacrity, if Mr. and Mrs. Allen were now at Fullerton? And on
developing, from amidst all her perplexity of words in reply, the
meaning, which one short syllable would have given, immediately
expressed his intention of paying his respects to them, and, with
a rising colour, asked her if she would have the goodness to show
him the way. "You may see the house from this window, sir," was
information on Sarah's side, which produced only a bow of acknowledgment
from the gentleman, and a silencing nod from her mother; for Mrs.
Morland, thinking it probable, as a secondary consideration in
his wish of waiting on their worthy neighbours, that he might have
some explanation to give of his father's behaviour, which it must
be more pleasant for him to communicate only to Catherine, would
not on any account prevent her accompanying him. They began their
walk, and Mrs. Morland was not entirely mistaken in his object in
wishing it. Some explanation on his father's account he had to
give; but his first purpose was to explain himself, and before they
reached Mr. Allen's grounds he had done it so well that Catherine
did not think it could ever be repeated too often. She was assured
of his affection; and that heart in return was solicited, which,
perhaps, they pretty equally knew was already entirely his own;
for, though Henry was now sincerely attached to her, though he felt
and delighted in all the excellencies of her character and truly
loved her society, I must confess that his affection originated in
nothing better than gratitude, or, in other words, that a persuasion
of her partiality for him had been the only cause of giving her a
serious thought. It is a new circumstance in romance, I acknowledge,
and dreadfully derogatory of an heroine's dignity; but if it be as
new in common life, the credit of a wild imagination will at least
be all my own.
A very short visit to Mrs. Allen, in which Henry talked at random,
without sense or connection, and Catherine, rapt in the contemplation
of her own unutterable happiness, scarcely opened her lips, dismissed
them to the ecstasies of another tete-a-tete; and before it was
suffered to close, she was enabled to judge how far he was sanctioned
by parental authority in his present application. On his return
from Woodston, two days before, he had been met near the abbey
by his impatient father, hastily informed in angry terms of Miss
Morland's departure, and ordered to think of her no more.
Such was the permission upon which he had now offered her his hand.
The affrighted Catherine, amidst all the terrors of expectation, as
she listened to this account, could not but rejoice in the kind
caution with which Henry had saved her from the necessity of a
conscientious rejection, by engaging her faith before he mentioned
the subject; and as he proceeded to give the particulars, and
explain the motives of his father's conduct, her feelings soon
hardened into even a triumphant delight. The general had had nothing
to accuse her of, nothing to lay to her charge, but her being the
involuntary, unconscious object of a deception which his pride could
not pardon, and which a better pride would have been ashamed to
own. She was guilty only of being less rich than he had supposed
her to be. Under a mistaken persuasion of her possessions and claims,
he had courted her acquaintance in Bath, solicited her company at
Northanger, and designed her for his daughter-in-law. On discovering
his error, to turn her from the house seemed the best, though to
his feelings an inadequate proof of his resentment towards herself,
and his contempt of her family.
John Thorpe had first misled him. The general, perceiving his son
one night at the theatre to be paying considerable attention to
Miss Morland, had accidentally inquired of Thorpe if he knew more
of her than her name. Thorpe, most happy to be on speaking terms
with a man of General Tilney's importance, had been joyfully and
proudly communicative; and being at that time not only in daily
expectation of Morland's engaging Isabella, but likewise pretty
well resolved upon marrying Catherine himself, his vanity induced
him to represent the family as yet more wealthy than his vanity and
avarice had made him believe them. With whomsoever he was, or was
likely to be connected, his own consequence always required that
theirs should be great, and as his intimacy with any acquaintance
grew, so regularly grew their fortune. The expectations of
his friend Morland, therefore, from the first overrated, had ever
since his introduction to Isabella been gradually increasing; and
by merely adding twice as much for the grandeur of the moment,
by doubling what he chose to think the amount of Mr. Morland's
preferment, trebling his private fortune, bestowing a rich aunt,
and sinking half the children, he was able to represent the whole
family to the general in a most respectable light. For Catherine,
however, the peculiar object of the general's curiosity, and his
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