Part 2 out of 5
"Did you indeed? And did they speak to you?"
"Yes, we walked along the Crescent together for half an hour.
They seem very agreeable people. Miss Tilney was in a very pretty
spotted muslin, and I fancy, by what I can learn, that she always
dresses very handsomely. Mrs. Hughes talked to me a great deal
about the family."
"And what did she tell you of them?"
"Oh! A vast deal indeed; she hardly talked of anything else."
"Did she tell you what part of Gloucestershire they come from?"
"Yes, she did; but I cannot recollect now. But they are very good
kind of people, and very rich. Mrs. Tilney was a Miss Drummond,
and she and Mrs. Hughes were schoolfellows; and Miss Drummond had
a very large fortune; and, when she married, her father gave her
twenty thousand pounds, and five hundred to buy wedding-clothes.
Mrs. Hughes saw all the clothes after they came from the warehouse."
"And are Mr. and Mrs. Tilney in Bath?"
"Yes, I fancy they are, but I am not quite certain. Upon recollection,
however, I have a notion they are both dead; at least the mother
is; yes, I am sure Mrs. Tilney is dead, because Mrs. Hughes told
me there was a very beautiful set of pearls that Mr. Drummond gave
his daughter on her wedding-day and that Miss Tilney has got now,
for they were put by for her when her mother died."
"And is Mr. Tilney, my partner, the only son?"
"I cannot be quite positive about that, my dear; I have some idea
he is; but, however, he is a very fine young man, Mrs. Hughes says,
and likely to do very well."
Catherine inquired no further; she had heard enough to feel that
Mrs. Allen had no real intelligence to give, and that she was most
particularly unfortunate herself in having missed such a meeting
with both brother and sister. Could she have foreseen such
a circumstance, nothing should have persuaded her to go out with
the others; and, as it was, she could only lament her ill luck,
and think over what she had lost, till it was clear to her that
the drive had by no means been very pleasant and that John Thorpe
himself was quite disagreeable.
The Allens, Thorpes, and Morlands all met in the evening at the
theatre; and, as Catherine and Isabella sat together, there was
then an opportunity for the latter to utter some few of the many
thousand things which had been collecting within her for communication
in the immeasurable length of time which had divided them. "Oh,
heavens! My beloved Catherine, have I got you at last?" was her
address on Catherine's entering the box and sitting by her. "Now,
Mr. Morland," for he was close to her on the other side, "I shall
not speak another word to you all the rest of the evening; so I
charge you not to expect it. My sweetest Catherine, how have you
been this long age? But I need not ask you, for you look delightfully.
You really have done your hair in a more heavenly style than ever;
you mischievous creature, do you want to attract everybody? I
assure you, my brother is quite in love with you already; and as
for Mr. Tilney -- but that is a settled thing -- even your modesty
cannot doubt his attachment now; his coming back to Bath makes it
too plain. Oh! What would not I give to see him! I really am
quite wild with impatience. My mother says he is the most delightful
young man in the world; she saw him this morning, you know; you
must introduce him to me. Is he in the house now? Look about, for
heaven's sake! I assure you, I can hardly exist till I see him."
"No," said Catherine, "he is not here; I cannot see him anywhere."
"Oh, horrid! Am I never to be acquainted with him? How do you
like my gown? I think it does not look amiss; the sleeves were
entirely my own thought. Do you know, I get so immoderately sick
of Bath; your brother and I were agreeing this morning that, though
it is vastly well to be here for a few weeks, we would not live
here for millions. We soon found out that our tastes were exactly
alike in preferring the country to every other place; really, our
opinions were so exactly the same, it was quite ridiculous! There
was not a single point in which we differed; I would not have had
you by for the world; you are such a sly thing, I am sure you would
have made some droll remark or other about it."
"No, indeed I should not."
"Oh, yes you would indeed; I know you better than you know yourself.
You would have told us that we seemed born for each other, or
some nonsense of that kind, which would have distressed me beyond
conception; my cheeks would have been as red as your roses; I would
not have had you by for the world."
"Indeed you do me injustice; I would not have made so improper a
remark upon any account; and besides, I am sure it would never have
entered my head."
Isabella smiled incredulously and talked the rest of the evening
Catherine's resolution of endeavouring to meet Miss Tilney again
continued in full force the next morning; and till the usual moment
of going to the pump-room, she felt some alarm from the dread of a
second prevention. But nothing of that kind occurred, no visitors
appeared to delay them, and they all three set off in good time for
the pump-room, where the ordinary course of events and conversation
took place; Mr. Allen, after drinking his glass of water, joined
some gentlemen to talk over the politics of the day and compare the
accounts of their newspapers; and the ladies walked about together,
noticing every new face, and almost every new bonnet in the room.
The female part of the Thorpe family, attended by James Morland,
appeared among the crowd in less than a quarter of an hour,
and Catherine immediately took her usual place by the side of her
friend. James, who was now in constant attendance, maintained a
similar position, and separating themselves from the rest of their
party, they walked in that manner for some time, till Catherine
began to doubt the happiness of a situation which, confining her
entirely to her friend and brother, gave her very little share in
the notice of either. They were always engaged in some sentimental
discussion or lively dispute, but their sentiment was conveyed
in such whispering voices, and their vivacity attended with so
much laughter, that though Catherine's supporting opinion was not
unfrequently called for by one or the other, she was never able to
give any, from not having heard a word of the subject. At length
however she was empowered to disengage herself from her friend,
by the avowed necessity of speaking to Miss Tilney, whom she most
joyfully saw just entering the room with Mrs. Hughes, and whom she
instantly joined, with a firmer determination to be acquainted,
than she might have had courage to command, had she not been urged
by the disappointment of the day before. Miss Tilney met her with
great civility, returned her advances with equal goodwill, and they
continued talking together as long as both parties remained in the
room; and though in all probability not an observation was made,
nor an expression used by either which had not been made and used
some thousands of times before, under that roof, in every Bath
season, yet the merit of their being spoken with simplicity and
truth, and without personal conceit, might be something uncommon.
"How well your brother dances!" was an artless exclamation of
Catherine's towards the close of their conversation, which at once
surprised and amused her companion.
"Henry!" she replied with a smile. "Yes, he does dance very well."
"He must have thought it very odd to hear me say I was engaged the
other evening, when he saw me sitting down. But I really had been
engaged the whole day to Mr. Thorpe." Miss Tilney could only bow.
"You cannot think," added Catherine after a moment's silence, "how
surprised I was to see him again. I felt so sure of his being
quite gone away."
"When Henry had the pleasure of seeing you before, he was in Bath
but for a couple of days. He came only to engage lodgings for us."
"That never occurred to me; and of course, not seeing him anywhere,
I thought he must be gone. Was not the young lady he danced with
on Monday a Miss Smith?"
"Yes, an acquaintance of Mrs. Hughes."
"I dare say she was very glad to dance. Do you think her pretty?"
"He never comes to the pump-room, I suppose?"
"Yes, sometimes; but he has rid out this morning with my father."
Mrs. Hughes now joined them, and asked Miss Tilney if she was ready
to go. "I hope I shall have the pleasure of seeing you again soon,"
said Catherine. "Shall you be at the cotillion ball tomorrow?"
"Perhaps we -- Yes, I think we certainly shall."
"I am glad of it, for we shall all be there." This civility was
duly returned; and they parted -- on Miss Tilney's side with some
knowledge of her new acquaintance's feelings, and on Catherine's,
without the smallest consciousness of having explained them.
She went home very happy. The morning had answered all her
hopes, and the evening of the following day was now the object of
expectation, the future good. What gown and what head-dress she
should wear on the occasion became her chief concern. She cannot
be justified in it. Dress is at all times a frivolous distinction,
and excessive solicitude about it often destroys its own aim.
Catherine knew all this very well; her great aunt had read her a
lecture on the subject only the Christmas before; and yet she lay
awake ten minutes on Wednesday night debating between her spotted
and her tamboured muslin, and nothing but the shortness of the time
prevented her buying a new one for the evening. This would have
been an error in judgment, great though not uncommon, from which
one of the other sex rather than her own, a brother rather than
a great aunt, might have warned her, for man only can be aware of
the insensibility of man towards a new gown. It would be mortifying
to the feelings of many ladies, could they be made to understand
how little the heart of man is affected by what is costly or new
in their attire; how little it is biased by the texture of their
muslin, and how unsusceptible of peculiar tenderness towards the
spotted, the sprigged, the mull, or the jackonet. Woman is fine
for her own satisfaction alone. No man will admire her the more,
no woman will like her the better for it. Neatness and fashion are
enough for the former, and a something of shabbiness or impropriety
will be most endearing to the latter. But not one of these grave
reflections troubled the tranquillity of Catherine.
She entered the rooms on Thursday evening with feelings very
different from what had attended her thither the Monday before.
She had then been exulting in her engagement to Thorpe, and was
now chiefly anxious to avoid his sight, lest he should engage her
again; for though she could not, dared not expect that Mr. Tilney
should ask her a third time to dance, her wishes, hopes, and plans
all centred in nothing less. Every young lady may feel for my
heroine in this critical moment, for every young lady has at some
time or other known the same agitation. All have been, or at least
all have believed themselves to be, in danger from the pursuit of
someone whom they wished to avoid; and all have been anxious for
the attentions of someone whom they wished to please. As soon
as they were joined by the Thorpes, Catherine's agony began; she
fidgeted about if John Thorpe came towards her, hid herself as much
as possible from his view, and when he spoke to her pretended not
to hear him. The cotillions were over, the country-dancing beginning,
and she saw nothing of the Tilneys.
"Do not be frightened, my dear Catherine," whispered Isabella,
"but I am really going to dance with your brother again. I declare
positively it is quite shocking. I tell him he ought to be ashamed
of himself, but you and John must keep us in countenance. Make
haste, my dear creature, and come to us. John is just walked off,
but he will be back in a moment."
Catherine had neither time nor inclination to answer. The others
walked away, John Thorpe was still in view, and she gave herself
up for lost. That she might not appear, however, to observe
or expect him, she kept her eyes intently fixed on her fan; and
a self-condemnation for her folly, in supposing that among such
a crowd they should even meet with the Tilneys in any reasonable
time, had just passed through her mind, when she suddenly found
herself addressed and again solicited to dance, by Mr. Tilney
himself. With what sparkling eyes and ready motion she granted his
request, and with how pleasing a flutter of heart she went with him
to the set, may be easily imagined. To escape, and, as she believed,
so narrowly escape John Thorpe, and to be asked, so immediately on
his joining her, asked by Mr. Tilney, as if he had sought her on
purpose! -- it did not appear to her that life could supply any
Scarcely had they worked themselves into the quiet possession of
a place, however, when her attention was claimed by John Thorpe,
who stood behind her. "Heyday, Miss Morland!" said he. "What is
the meaning of this? I thought you and I were to dance together."
"I wonder you should think so, for you never asked me."
"That is a good one, by Jove! I asked you as soon as I came into
the room, and I was just going to ask you again, but when I turned
round, you were gone! This is a cursed shabby trick! I only came
for the sake of dancing with you, and I firmly believe you were
engaged to me ever since Monday. Yes; I remember, I asked you
while you were waiting in the lobby for your cloak. And here have
I been telling all my acquaintance that I was going to dance with
the prettiest girl in the room; and when they see you standing up
with somebody else, they will quiz me famously."
"Oh, no; they will never think of me, after such a description as
"By heavens, if they do not, I will kick them out of the room for
blockheads. What chap have you there?" Catherine satisfied his
curiosity. "Tilney," he repeated. "Hum -- I do not know him. A
good figure of a man; well put together. Does he want a horse?
Here is a friend of mine, Sam Fletcher, has got one to sell that
would suit anybody. A famous clever animal for the road -- only
forty guineas. I had fifty minds to buy it myself, for it is one
of my maxims always to buy a good horse when I meet with one; but
it would not answer my purpose, it would not do for the field. I
would give any money for a real good hunter. I have three now, the
best that ever were backed. I would not take eight hundred guineas
for them. Fletcher and I mean to get a house in Leicestershire,
against the next season. It is so d -- uncomfortable, living at
This was the last sentence by which he could weary Catherine's
attention, for he was just then borne off by the resistless pressure
of a long string of passing ladies. Her partner now drew near,
and said, "That gentleman would have put me out of patience, had
he stayed with you half a minute longer. He has no business to
withdraw the attention of my partner from me. We have entered into
a contract of mutual agreeableness for the space of an evening, and
all our agreeableness belongs solely to each other for that time.
Nobody can fasten themselves on the notice of one, without injuring
the rights of the other. I consider a country-dance as an emblem
of marriage. Fidelity and complaisance are the principal duties of
both; and those men who do not choose to dance or marry themselves,
have no business with the partners or wives of their neighbours."
"But they are such very different things!"
" -- That you think they cannot be compared together."
"To be sure not. People that marry can never part, but must go and
keep house together. People that dance only stand opposite each
other in a long room for half an hour."
"And such is your definition of matrimony and dancing. Taken in
that light certainly, their resemblance is not striking; but I think
I could place them in such a view. You will allow, that in both,
man has the advantage of choice, woman only the power of refusal;
that in both, it is an engagement between man and woman, formed
for the advantage of each; and that when once entered into, they
belong exclusively to each other till the moment of its dissolution;
that it is their duty, each to endeavour to give the other no cause
for wishing that he or she had bestowed themselves elsewhere, and
their best interest to keep their own imaginations from wandering
towards the perfections of their neighbours, or fancying that they
should have been better off with anyone else. You will allow all
"Yes, to be sure, as you state it, all this sounds very well; but
still they are so very different. I cannot look upon them at all
in the same light, nor think the same duties belong to them."
"In one respect, there certainly is a difference. In marriage,
the man is supposed to provide for the support of the woman, the
woman to make the home agreeable to the man; he is to purvey, and
she is to smile. But in dancing, their duties are exactly changed;
the agreeableness, the compliance are expected from him, while she
furnishes the fan and the lavender water. That, I suppose, was the
difference of duties which struck you, as rendering the conditions
incapable of comparison."
"No, indeed, I never thought of that."
"Then I am quite at a loss. One thing, however, I must observe.
This disposition on your side is rather alarming. You totally
disallow any similarity in the obligations; and may I not thence
infer that your notions of the duties of the dancing state are not
so strict as your partner might wish? Have I not reason to fear
that if the gentleman who spoke to you just now were to return, or
if any other gentleman were to address you, there would be nothing
to restrain you from conversing with him as long as you chose?"
"Mr. Thorpe is such a very particular friend of my brother's, that
if he talks to me, I must talk to him again; but there are hardly
three young men in the room besides him that I have any acquaintance
"And is that to be my only security? Alas, alas!"
"Nay, I am sure you cannot have a better; for if I do not know
anybody, it is impossible for me to talk to them; and, besides, I
do not want to talk to anybody."
"Now you have given me a security worth having; and I shall proceed
with courage. Do you find Bath as agreeable as when I had the
honour of making the inquiry before?"
"Yes, quite -- more so, indeed."
"More so! Take care, or you will forget to be tired of it at the
proper time. You ought to be tired at the end of six weeks."
"I do not think I should be tired, if I were to stay here six
"Bath, compared with London, has little variety, and so everybody
finds out every year. 'For six weeks, I allow Bath is pleasant
enough; but beyond that, it is the most tiresome place in the
world.' You would be told so by people of all descriptions, who
come regularly every winter, lengthen their six weeks into ten
or twelve, and go away at last because they can afford to stay no
"Well, other people must judge for themselves, and those who go
to London may think nothing of Bath. But I, who live in a small
retired village in the country, can never find greater sameness in
such a place as this than in my own home; for here are a variety of
amusements, a variety of things to be seen and done all day long,
which I can know nothing of there."
"You are not fond of the country."
"Yes, I am. I have always lived there, and always been very happy.
But certainly there is much more sameness in a country life than
in a Bath life. One day in the country is exactly like another."
"But then you spend your time so much more rationally in the
"Do you not?"
"I do not believe there is much difference."
"Here you are in pursuit only of amusement all day long."
"And so I am at home -- only I do not find so much of it. I walk
about here, and so I do there; but here I see a variety of people
in every street, and there I can only go and call on Mrs. Allen."
Mr. Tilney was very much amused.
"Only go and call on Mrs. Allen!" he repeated. "What a picture
of intellectual poverty! However, when you sink into this abyss
again, you will have more to say. You will be able to talk of
Bath, and of all that you did here."
"Oh! Yes. I shall never be in want of something to talk of again
to Mrs. Allen, or anybody else. I really believe I shall always
be talking of Bath, when I am at home again -- I do like it so very
much. If I could but have Papa and Mamma, and the rest of them
here, I suppose I should be too happy! James's coming (my eldest
brother) is quite delightful -- and especially as it turns out that
the very family we are just got so intimate with are his intimate
friends already. Oh! Who can ever be tired of Bath?"
"Not those who bring such fresh feelings of every sort to it as
you do. But papas and mammas, and brothers, and intimate friends
are a good deal gone by, to most of the frequenters of Bath -- and
the honest relish of balls and plays, and everyday sights, is past
with them." Here their conversation closed, the demands of the
dance becoming now too importunate for a divided attention.
Soon after their reaching the bottom of the set, Catherine perceived
herself to be earnestly regarded by a gentleman who stood among the
lookers-on, immediately behind her partner. He was a very handsome
man, of a commanding aspect, past the bloom, but not past the
vigour of life; and with his eye still directed towards her, she saw
him presently address Mr. Tilney in a familiar whisper. Confused
by his notice, and blushing from the fear of its being excited by
something wrong in her appearance, she turned away her head. But
while she did so, the gentleman retreated, and her partner, coming
nearer, said, "I see that you guess what I have just been asked.
That gentleman knows your name, and you have a right to know his.
It is General Tilney, my father."
Catherine's answer was only "Oh!" -- but it was an "Oh!" expressing
everything needful: attention to his words, and perfect reliance
on their truth. With real interest and strong admiration did her
eye now follow the general, as he moved through the crowd, and "How
handsome a family they are!" was her secret remark.
In chatting with Miss Tilney before the evening concluded, a new
source of felicity arose to her. She had never taken a country walk
since her arrival in Bath. Miss Tilney, to whom all the commonly
frequented environs were familiar, spoke of them in terms which
made her all eagerness to know them too; and on her openly fearing
that she might find nobody to go with her, it was proposed by the
brother and sister that they should join in a walk, some morning
or other. "I shall like it," she cried, "beyond anything in the
world; and do not let us put it off -- let us go tomorrow." This
was readily agreed to, with only a proviso of Miss Tilney's, that
it did not rain, which Catherine was sure it would not. At twelve
o'clock, they were to call for her in Pulteney Street; and "Remember
-- twelve o'clock," was her parting speech to her new friend. Of
her other, her older, her more established friend, Isabella, of
whose fidelity and worth she had enjoyed a fortnight's experience,
she scarcely saw anything during the evening. Yet, though longing
to make her acquainted with her happiness, she cheerfully submitted
to the wish of Mr. Allen, which took them rather early away, and
her spirits danced within her, as she danced in her chair all the
The morrow brought a very sober-looking morning, the sun making only
a few efforts to appear, and Catherine augured from it everything
most favourable to her wishes. A bright morning so early in the
year, she allowed, would generally turn to rain, but a cloudy one
foretold improvement as the day advanced. She applied to Mr. Allen
for confirmation of her hopes, but Mr. Allen, not having his own
skies and barometer about him, declined giving any absolute promise
of sunshine. She applied to Mrs. Allen, and Mrs. Allen's opinion
was more positive. "She had no doubt in the world of its being a
very fine day, if the clouds would only go off, and the sun keep
At about eleven o'clock, however, a few specks of small rain upon
the windows caught Catherine's watchful eye, and "Oh! dear, I do
believe it will be wet," broke from her in a most desponding tone.
"I thought how it would be," said Mrs. Allen.
"No walk for me today," sighed Catherine; "but perhaps it may come
to nothing, or it may hold up before twelve."
"Perhaps it may, but then, my dear, it will be so dirty."
"Oh! That will not signify; I never mind dirt."
"No," replied her friend very placidly, "I know you never mind
After a short pause, "It comes on faster and faster!" said Catherine,
as she stood watching at a window.
"So it does indeed. If it keeps raining, the streets will be very
"There are four umbrellas up already. How I hate the sight of an
"They are disagreeable things to carry. I would much rather take
a chair at any time."
"It was such a nice-looking morning! I felt so convinced it would
"Anybody would have thought so indeed. There will be very few
people in the pump-room, if it rains all the morning. I hope Mr.
Allen will put on his greatcoat when he goes, but I dare say he will
not, for he had rather do anything in the world than walk out in
a greatcoat; I wonder he should dislike it, it must be so comfortable."
The rain continued -- fast, though not heavy. Catherine went every
five minutes to the clock, threatening on each return that, if it
still kept on raining another five minutes, she would give up the
matter as hopeless. The clock struck twelve, and it still rained.
"You will not be able to go, my dear."
"I do not quite despair yet. I shall not give it up till a quarter
after twelve. This is just the time of day for it to clear up, and
I do think it looks a little lighter. There, it is twenty minutes
after twelve, and now I shall give it up entirely. Oh! That we
had such weather here as they had at Udolpho, or at least in Tuscany
and the south of France! -- the night that poor St. Aubin died!
-- such beautiful weather!"
At half past twelve, when Catherine's anxious attention to the
weather was over and she could no longer claim any merit from its
amendment, the sky began voluntarily to clear. A gleam of sunshine
took her quite by surprise; she looked round; the clouds were
parting, and she instantly returned to the window to watch over and
encourage the happy appearance. Ten minutes more made it certain
that a bright afternoon would succeed, and justified the opinion
of Mrs. Allen, who had "always thought it would clear up." But
whether Catherine might still expect her friends, whether there
had not been too much rain for Miss Tilney to venture, must yet be
It was too dirty for Mrs. Allen to accompany her husband to the
pump-room; he accordingly set off by himself, and Catherine had
barely watched him down the street when her notice was claimed by
the approach of the same two open carriages, containing the same
three people that had surprised her so much a few mornings back.
"Isabella, my brother, and Mr. Thorpe, I declare! They are coming
for me perhaps -- but I shall not go -- I cannot go indeed, for you
know Miss Tilney may still call." Mrs. Allen agreed to it. John
Thorpe was soon with them, and his voice was with them yet sooner,
for on the stairs he was calling out to Miss Morland to be quick.
"Make haste! Make haste!" as he threw open the door. "Put on your
hat this moment -- there is no time to be lost -- we are going to
Bristol. How d'ye do, Mrs. Allen?"
"To Bristol! Is not that a great way off? But, however, I cannot
go with you today, because I am engaged; I expect some friends every
moment." This was of course vehemently talked down as no reason
at all; Mrs. Allen was called on to second him, and the two others
walked in, to give their assistance. "My sweetest Catherine, is
not this delightful? We shall have a most heavenly drive. You
are to thank your brother and me for the scheme; it darted into
our heads at breakfast-time, I verily believe at the same instant;
and we should have been off two hours ago if it had not been for
this detestable rain. But it does not signify, the nights are
moonlight, and we shall do delightfully. Oh! I am in such ecstasies
at the thoughts of a little country air and quiet! So much better
than going to the Lower Rooms. We shall drive directly to Clifton
and dine there; and, as soon as dinner is over, if there is time
for it, go on to Kingsweston."
"I doubt our being able to do so much," said Morland.
"You croaking fellow!" cried Thorpe. "We shall be able to do ten
times more. Kingsweston! Aye, and Blaize Castle too, and anything
else we can hear of; but here is your sister says she will not go."
"Blaize Castle!" cried Catherine. "What is that'?"
"The finest place in England -- worth going fifty miles at any time
"What, is it really a castle, an old castle?"
"The oldest in the kingdom."
"But is it like what one reads of?"
"Exactly -- the very same."
"But now really -- are there towers and long galleries?"
"Then I should like to see it; but I cannot -- I cannot go.
"Not go! My beloved creature, what do you mean'?"
"I cannot go, because" -- looking down as she spoke, fearful of
Isabella's smile -- "I expect Miss Tilney and her brother to call
on me to take a country walk. They promised to come at twelve,
only it rained; but now, as it is so fine, I dare say they will be
"Not they indeed," cried Thorpe; "for, as we turned into Broad Street,
I saw them -- does he not drive a phaeton with bright chestnuts?"
"I do not know indeed."
"Yes, I know he does; I saw him. You are talking of the man you
danced with last night, are not you?"
"Well, I saw him at that moment turn up the Lansdown Road, driving
a smart-looking girl."
"Did you indeed?"
"Did upon my soul; knew him again directly, and he seemed to have
got some very pretty cattle too."
"It is very odd! But I suppose they thought it would be too dirty
for a walk."
"And well they might, for I never saw so much dirt in my life.
Walk! You could no more walk than you could fly! It has not been
so dirty the whole winter; it is ankle-deep everywhere."
Isabella corroborated it: "My dearest Catherine, you cannot form
an idea of the dirt; come, you must go; you cannot refuse going
"I should like to see the castle; but may we go all over it? May
we go up every staircase, and into every suite of rooms?"
"Yes, yes, every hole and corner."
"But then, if they should only be gone out for an hour till it is
dryer, and call by and by?"
"Make yourself easy, there is no danger of that, for I heard Tilney
hallooing to a man who was just passing by on horseback, that they
were going as far as Wick Rocks."
"Then I will. Shall I go, Mrs. Allen?"
"Just as you please, my dear."
"Mrs. Allen, you must persuade her to go," was the general cry.
Mrs. Allen was not inattentive to it: "Well, my dear," said she,
"suppose you go." And in two minutes they were off.
Catherine's feelings, as she got into the carriage, were in a
very unsettled state; divided between regret for the loss of one
great pleasure, and the hope of soon enjoying another, almost its
equal in degree, however unlike in kind. She could not think the
Tilneys had acted quite well by her, in so readily giving up their
engagement, without sending her any message of excuse. It was
now but an hour later than the time fixed on for the beginning of
their walk; and, in spite of what she had heard of the prodigious
accumulation of dirt in the course of that hour, she could not
from her own observation help thinking that they might have gone
with very little inconvenience. To feel herself slighted by them
was very painful. On the other hand, the delight of exploring an
edifice like Udolpho, as her fancy represented Blaize Castle to
be, was such a counterpoise of good as might console her for almost
They passed briskly down Pulteney Street, and through Laura Place,
without the exchange of many words. Thorpe talked to his horse,
and she meditated, by turns, on broken promises and broken arches,
phaetons and false hangings, Tilneys and trap-doors. As they
entered Argyle Buildings, however, she was roused by this address
from her companion, "Who is that girl who looked at you so hard as
she went by?"
"On the right-hand pavement -- she must be almost out of sight
now." Catherine looked round and saw Miss Tilney leaning on her
brother's arm, walking slowly down the street. She saw them both
looking back at her. "Stop, stop, Mr. Thorpe," she impatiently cried;
"it is Miss Tilney; it is indeed. How could you tell me they were
gone? Stop, stop, I will get out this moment and go to them." But
to what purpose did she speak? Thorpe only lashed his horse into
a brisker trot; the Tilneys, who had soon ceased to look after her,
were in a moment out of sight round the corner of Laura Place, and
in another moment she was herself whisked into the marketplace.
Still, however, and during the length of another street, she
entreated him to stop. "Pray, pray stop, Mr. Thorpe. I cannot go
on. I will not go on. I must go back to Miss Tilney." But Mr.
Thorpe only laughed, smacked his whip, encouraged his horse, made
odd noises, and drove on; and Catherine, angry and vexed as she
was, having no power of getting away, was obliged to give up the
point and submit. Her reproaches, however, were not spared. "How
could you deceive me so, Mr. Thorpe? How could you say that you
saw them driving up the Lansdown Road? I would not have had it
happen so for the world. They must think it so strange, so rude of
me! To go by them, too, without saying a word! You do not know
how vexed I am; I shall have no pleasure at Clifton, nor in anything
else. I had rather, ten thousand times rather, get out now, and
walk back to them. How could you say you saw them driving out in
a phaeton?" Thorpe defended himself very stoutly, declared he had
never seen two men so much alike in his life, and would hardly give
up the point of its having been Tilney himself.
Their drive, even when this subject was over, was not likely to be
very agreeable. Catherine's complaisance was no longer what it
had been in their former airing. She listened reluctantly, and
her replies were short. Blaize Castle remained her only comfort;
towards that, she still looked at intervals with pleasure; though
rather than be disappointed of the promised walk, and especially
rather than be thought ill of by the Tilneys, she would willingly
have given up all the happiness which its walls could supply --
the happiness of a progress through a long suite of lofty rooms,
exhibiting the remains of magnificent furniture, though now for
many years deserted -- the happiness of being stopped in their way
along narrow, winding vaults, by a low, grated door; or even of
having their lamp, their only lamp, extinguished by a sudden gust
of wind, and of being left in total darkness. In the meanwhile,
they proceeded on their journey without any mischance, and were
within view of the town of Keynsham, when a halloo from Morland,
who was behind them, made his friend pull up, to know what was the
matter. The others then came close enough for conversation, and
Morland said, "We had better go back, Thorpe; it is too late to go
on today; your sister thinks so as well as I. We have been exactly
an hour coming from Pulteney Street, very little more than seven
miles; and, I suppose, we have at least eight more to go. It will
never do. We set out a great deal too late. We had much better
put it off till another day, and turn round."
"It is all one to me," replied Thorpe rather angrily; and instantly
turning his horse, they were on their way back to Bath.
"If your brother had not got such a d -- beast to drive," said
he soon afterwards, "we might have done it very well. My horse
would have trotted to Clifton within the hour, if left to himself,
and I have almost broke my arm with pulling him in to that cursed
broken-winded jade's pace. Morland is a fool for not keeping a
horse and gig of his own."
"No, he is not," said Catherine warmly, "for I am sure he could
not afford it."
"And why cannot he afford it?"
"Because he has not money enough."
"And whose fault is that?"
"Nobody's, that I know of." Thorpe then said something in the loud,
incoherent way to which he had often recourse, about its being a
d -- thing to be miserly; and that if people who rolled in money
could not afford things, he did not know who could, which Catherine
did not even endeavour to understand. Disappointed of what was
to have been the consolation for her first disappointment, she was
less and less disposed either to be agreeable herself or to find
her companion so; and they returned to Pulteney Street without her
speaking twenty words.
As she entered the house, the footman told her that a gentleman
and lady had called and inquired for her a few minutes after her
setting off; that, when he told them she was gone out with Mr.
Thorpe, the lady had asked whether any message had been left for
her; and on his saying no, had felt for a card, but said she had
none about her, and went away. Pondering over these heart-rending
tidings, Catherine walked slowly upstairs. At the head of them she
was met by Mr. Allen, who, on hearing the reason of their speedy
return, said, "I am glad your brother had so much sense; I am glad
you are come back. It was a strange, wild scheme."
They all spent the evening together at Thorpe's. Catherine was
disturbed and out of spirits; but Isabella seemed to find a pool of
commerce, in the fate of which she shared, by private partnership
with Morland, a very good equivalent for the quiet and country
air of an inn at Clifton. Her satisfaction, too, in not being at
the Lower Rooms was spoken more than once. "How I pity the poor
creatures that are going there! How glad I am that I am not amongst
them! I wonder whether it will be a full ball or not! They have
not begun dancing yet. I would not be there for all the world.
It is so delightful to have an evening now and then to oneself.
I dare say it will not be a very good ball. I know the Mitchells
will not be there. I am sure I pity everybody that is. But I dare
say, Mr. Morland, you long to be at it, do not you? I am sure you
do. Well, pray do not let anybody here be a restraint on you. I
dare say we could do very well without you; but you men think
yourselves of such consequence."
Catherine could almost have accused Isabella of being wanting
in tenderness towards herself and her sorrows, so very little did
they appear to dwell on her mind, and so very inadequate was the
comfort she offered. "Do not be so dull, my dearest creature,"
she whispered. "You will quite break my heart. It was amazingly
shocking, to be sure; but the Tilneys were entirely to blame. Why
were not they more punctual? It was dirty, indeed, but what did
that signify? I am sure John and I should not have minded it. I
never mind going through anything, where a friend is concerned;
that is my disposition, and John is just the same; he has amazing
strong feelings. Good heavens! What a delightful hand you have
got! Kings, I vow! I never was so happy in my life! I would
fifty times rather you should have them than myself."
And now I may dismiss my heroine to the sleepless couch, which is
the true heroine's portion; to a pillow strewed with thorns and wet
with tears. And lucky may she think herself, if she get another
good night's rest in the course of the next three months.
"Mrs. Allen," said Catherine the next morning, "will there be any
harm in my calling on Miss Tilney today? I shall not be easy till
I have explained everything."
"Go, by all means, my dear; only put on a white gown; Miss Tilney
always wears white."
Catherine cheerfully complied, and being properly equipped, was more
impatient than ever to be at the pump-room, that she might inform
herself of General Tilneys lodgings, for though she believed they
were in Milsom Street, she was not certain of the house, and Mrs.
Allen's wavering convictions only made it more doubtful. To Milsom
Street she was directed, and having made herself perfect in the
number, hastened away with eager steps and a beating heart to pay
her visit, explain her conduct, and be forgiven; tripping lightly
through the church-yard, and resolutely turning away her eyes, that
she might not be obliged to see her beloved Isabella and her dear
family, who, she had reason to believe, were in a shop hard by.
She reached the house without any impediment, looked at the number,
knocked at the door, and inquired for Miss Tilney. The man believed
Miss Tilney to be at home, but was not quite certain. Would she be
pleased to send up her name? She gave her card. In a few minutes
the servant returned, and with a look which did not quite confirm
his words, said he had been mistaken, for that Miss Tilney was
walked out. Catherine, with a blush of mortification, left the
house. She felt almost persuaded that Miss Tilney was at home,
and too much offended to admit her; and as she retired down the
street, could not withhold one glance at the drawing-room windows,
in expectation of seeing her there, but no one appeared at them.
At the bottom of the street, however, she looked back again, and
then, not at a window, but issuing from the door, she saw Miss
Tilney herself. She was followed by a gentleman, whom Catherine
believed to be her father, and they turned up towards Edgar's
Buildings. Catherine, in deep mortification, proceeded on her
way. She could almost be angry herself at such angry incivility;
but she checked the resentful sensation; she remembered her
own ignorance. She knew not how such an offence as hers might
be classed by the laws of worldly politeness, to what a degree of
unforgivingness it might with propriety lead, nor to what rigours
of rudeness in return it might justly make her amenable.
Dejected and humbled, she had even some thoughts of not going with
the others to the theatre that night; but it must be confessed
that they were not of long continuance, for she soon recollected,
in the first place, that she was without any excuse for staying at
home; and, in the second, that it was a play she wanted very much
to see. To the theatre accordingly they all went; no Tilneys
appeared to plague or please her; she feared that, amongst the
many perfections of the family, a fondness for plays was not to
be ranked; but perhaps it was because they were habituated to the
finer performances of the London stage, which she knew, on Isabella's
authority, rendered everything else of the kind "quite horrid."
She was not deceived in her own expectation of pleasure; the comedy
so well suspended her care that no one, observing her during the
first four acts, would have supposed she had any wretchedness about
her. On the beginning of the fifth, however, the sudden view of
Mr. Henry Tilney and his father, joining a party in the opposite
box, recalled her to anxiety and distress. The stage could no longer
excite genuine merriment -- no longer keep her whole attention.
Every other look upon an average was directed towards the opposite
box; and, for the space of two entire scenes, did she thus watch
Henry Tilney, without being once able to catch his eye. No longer
could he be suspected of indifference for a play; his notice was
never withdrawn from the stage during two whole scenes. At length,
however, he did look towards her, and he bowed -- but such a bow!
No smile, no continued observance attended it; his eyes were
immediately returned to their former direction. Catherine was
restlessly miserable; she could almost have run round to the box
in which he sat and forced him to hear her explanation. Feelings
rather natural than heroic possessed her; instead of considering
her own dignity injured by this ready condemnation -- instead of
proudly resolving, in conscious innocence, to show her resentment
towards him who could harbour a doubt of it, to leave to him all
the trouble of seeking an explanation, and to enlighten him on the
past only by avoiding his sight, or flirting with somebody else
-- she took to herself all the shame of misconduct, or at least of
its appearance, and was only eager for an opportunity of explaining
The play concluded -- the curtain fell -- Henry Tilney was no longer
to be seen where he had hitherto sat, but his father remained, and
perhaps he might be now coming round to their box. She was right;
in a few minutes he appeared, and, making his way through the then
thinning rows, spoke with like calm politeness to Mrs. Allen and
her friend. Not with such calmness was he answered by the latter:
"Oh! Mr. Tilney, I have been quite wild to speak to you, and make
my apologies. You must have thought me so rude; but indeed it was
not my own fault, was it, Mrs. Allen? Did not they tell me that
Mr. Tilney and his sister were gone out in a phaeton together? And
then what could I do? But I had ten thousand times rather have
been with you; now had not I, Mrs. Allen?"
"My dear, you tumble my gown," was Mrs. Allen's reply.
Her assurance, however, standing sole as it did, was not thrown away;
it brought a more cordial, more natural smile into his countenance,
and he replied in a tone which retained only a little affected
reserve: "We were much obliged to you at any rate for wishing us
a pleasant walk after our passing you in Argyle Street: you were
so kind as to look back on purpose."
"But indeed I did not wish you a pleasant walk; I never thought of
such a thing; but I begged Mr. Thorpe so earnestly to stop; I called
out to him as soon as ever I saw you; now, Mrs. Allen, did not --
Oh! You were not there; but indeed I did; and, if Mr. Thorpe would
only have stopped, I would have jumped out and run after you."
Is there a Henry in the world who could be insensible to such a
declaration? Henry Tilney at least was not. With a yet sweeter
smile, he said everything that need be said of his sister's concern,
regret, and dependence on Catherine's honour. "Oh! Do not say
Miss Tilney was not angry," cried Catherine, "because I know she
was; for she would not see me this morning when I called; I saw
her walk out of the house the next minute after my leaving it; I
was hurt, but I was not affronted. Perhaps you did not know I had
"I was not within at the time; but I heard of it from Eleanor, and
she has been wishing ever since to see you, to explain the reason
of such incivility; but perhaps I can do it as well. It was nothing
more than that my father -- they were just preparing to walk out,
and he being hurried for time, and not caring to have it put off --
made a point of her being denied. That was all, I do assure you.
She was very much vexed, and meant to make her apology as soon as
Catherine's mind was greatly eased by this information, yet a
something of solicitude remained, from which sprang the following
question, thoroughly artless in itself, though rather distressing
to the gentleman: "But, Mr. Tilney, why were you less generous than
your sister? If she felt such confidence in my good intentions,
and could suppose it to be only a mistake, why should you be so
ready to take offence?"
"Me! I take offence!"
"Nay, I am sure by your look, when you came into the box, you were
"I angry! I could have no right."
"Well, nobody would have thought you had no right who saw your
face." He replied by asking her to make room for him, and talking
of the play.
He remained with them some time, and was only too agreeable for
Catherine to be contented when he went away. Before they parted,
however, it was agreed that the projected walk should be taken
as soon as possible; and, setting aside the misery of his quitting
their box, she was, upon the whole, left one of the happiest
creatures in the world.
While talking to each other, she had observed with some surprise
that John Thorpe, who was never in the same part of the house for
ten minutes together, was engaged in conversation with General
Tilney; and she felt something more than surprise when she thought
she could perceive herself the object of their attention and
discourse. What could they have to say of her? She feared General
Tilney did not like her appearance: she found it was implied in
his preventing her admittance to his daughter, rather than postpone
his own walk a few minutes. "How came Mr. Thorpe to know your
father?" was her anxious inquiry, as she pointed them out to her
companion. He knew nothing about it; but his father, like every
military man, had a very large acquaintance.
When the entertainment was over, Thorpe came to assist them in
getting out. Catherine was the immediate object of his gallantry;
and, while they waited in the lobby for a chair, he prevented the
inquiry which had travelled from her heart almost to the tip of
her tongue, by asking, in a consequential manner, whether she had
seen him talking with General Tilney: "He is a fine old fellow,
upon my soul! Stout, active -- looks as young as his son. I have
a great regard for him, I assure you: a gentleman-like, good sort
of fellow as ever lived."
"But how came you to know him?"
"Know him! There are few people much about town that I do not
know. I have met him forever at the Bedford; and I knew his face
again today the moment he came into the billiard-room. One of the
best players we have, by the by; and we had a little touch together,
though I was almost afraid of him at first: the odds were five to
four against me; and, if I had not made one of the cleanest strokes
that perhaps ever was made in this world -- I took his ball exactly
-- but I could not make you understand it without a table; however,
I did beat him. A very fine fellow; as rich as a Jew. I should
like to dine with him; I dare say he gives famous dinners. But
what do you think we have been talking of? You. Yes, by heavens!
And the general thinks you the finest girl in Bath."
"Oh! Nonsense! How can you say so?"
"And what do you think I said?" -- lowering his voice -- "well
done, general, said I; I am quite of your mind."
Here Catherine, who was much less gratified by his admiration than
by General Tilney's, was not sorry to be called away by Mr. Allen.
Thorpe, however, would see her to her chair, and, till she entered
it, continued the same kind of delicate flattery, in spite of her
entreating him to have done.
That General Tilney, instead of disliking, should admire her, was
very delightful; and she joyfully thought that there was not one
of the family whom she need now fear to meet. The evening had done
more, much more, for her than could have been expected.
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday have
now passed in review before the reader; the events of each day, its
hopes and fears, mortifications and pleasures, have been separately
stated, and the pangs of Sunday only now remain to be described,
and close the week. The Clifton scheme had been deferred, not
relinquished, and on the afternoon's crescent of this day, it was
brought forward again. In a private consultation between Isabella
and James, the former of whom had particularly set her heart upon
going, and the latter no less anxiously placed his upon pleasing
her, it was agreed that, provided the weather were fair, the party
should take place on the following morning; and they were to set
off very early, in order to be at home in good time. The affair
thus determined, and Thorpe's approbation secured, Catherine only
remained to be apprised of it. She had left them for a few minutes
to speak to Miss Tilney. In that interval the plan was completed,
and as soon as she came again, her agreement was demanded; but
instead of the gay acquiescence expected by Isabella, Catherine
looked grave, was very sorry, but could not go. The engagement
which ought to have kept her from joining in the former attempt
would make it impossible for her to accompany them now. She had
that moment settled with Miss Tilney to take their proposed walk
tomorrow; it was quite determined, and she would not, upon any
account, retract. But that she must and should retract was instantly
the eager cry of both the Thorpes; they must go to Clifton tomorrow,
they would not go without her, it would be nothing to put off a
mere walk for one day longer, and they would not hear of a refusal.
Catherine was distressed, but not subdued. "Do not urge me, Isabella.
I am engaged to Miss Tilney. I cannot go." This availed nothing.
The same arguments assailed her again; she must go, she should go,
and they would not hear of a refusal. "It would be so easy to tell
Miss Tilney that you had just been reminded of a prior engagement,
and must only beg to put off the walk till Tuesday."
"No, it would not be easy. I could not do it. There has been no
prior engagement." But Isabella became only more and more urgent,
calling on her in the most affectionate manner, addressing her
by the most endearing names. She was sure her dearest, sweetest
Catherine would not seriously refuse such a trifling request to
a friend who loved her so dearly. She knew her beloved Catherine
to have so feeling a heart, so sweet a temper, to be so easily
persuaded by those she loved. But all in vain; Catherine felt
herself to be in the right, and though pained by such tender,
such flattering supplication, could not allow it to influence her.
Isabella then tried another method. She reproached her with having
more affection for Miss Tilney, though she had known her so little
a while, than for her best and oldest friends, with being grown
cold and indifferent, in short, towards herself. "I cannot help
being jealous, Catherine, when I see myself slighted for strangers,
I, who love you so excessively! When once my affections are placed,
it is not in the power of anything to change them. But I believe
my feelings are stronger than anybody's; I am sure they are too strong
for my own peace; and to see myself supplanted in your friendship
by strangers does cut me to the quick, I own. These Tilneys seem
to swallow up everything else."
Catherine thought this reproach equally strange and unkind. Was
it the part of a friend thus to expose her feelings to the notice
of others? Isabella appeared to her ungenerous and selfish,
regardless of everything but her own gratification. These painful
ideas crossed her mind, though she said nothing. Isabella, in the
meanwhile, had applied her handkerchief to her eyes; and Morland,
miserable at such a sight, could not help saying, "Nay, Catherine.
I think you cannot stand out any longer now. The sacrifice is
not much; and to oblige such a friend -- I shall think you quite
unkind, if you still refuse."
This was the first time of her brother's openly siding against her,
and anxious to avoid his displeasure, she proposed a compromise.
If they would only put off their scheme till Tuesday, which they
might easily do, as it depended only on themselves, she could go
with them, and everybody might then be satisfied. But "No, no,
no!" was the immediate answer; "that could not be, for Thorpe did
not know that he might not go to town on Tuesday." Catherine was
sorry, but could do no more; and a short silence ensued, which was
broken by Isabella, who in a voice of cold resentment said, "Very
well, then there is an end of the party. If Catherine does not
go, I cannot. I cannot be the only woman. I would not, upon any
account in the world, do so improper a thing."
"Catherine, you must go," said James.
"But why cannot Mr. Thorpe drive one of his other sisters? I dare
say either of them would like to go."
"Thank ye," cried Thorpe, "but I did not come to Bath to drive my
sisters about, and look like a fool. No, if you do not go, d --
me if I do. I only go for the sake of driving you."
"That is a compliment which gives me no pleasure." But her words
were lost on Thorpe, who had turned abruptly away.
The three others still continued together, walking in a
most uncomfortable manner to poor Catherine; sometimes not a word
was said, sometimes she was again attacked with supplications or
reproaches, and her arm was still linked within Isabella's, though
their hearts were at war. At one moment she was softened, at
another irritated; always distressed, but always steady.
"I did not think you had been so obstinate, Catherine," said James;
"you were not used to be so hard to persuade; you once were the
kindest, best-tempered of my sisters."
"I hope I am not less so now," she replied, very feelingly; "but
indeed I cannot go. If I am wrong, I am doing what I believe to
"I suspect," said Isabella, in a low voice, "there is no great
Catherine's heart swelled; she drew away her arm, and Isabella
made no opposition. Thus passed a long ten minutes, till they were
again joined by Thorpe, who, coming to them with a gayer look, said,
"Well, I have settled the matter, and now we may all go tomorrow
with a safe conscience. I have been to Miss Tilney, and made your
"You have not!" cried Catherine.
"I have, upon my soul. Left her this moment. Told her you had
sent me to say that, having just recollected a prior engagement of
going to Clifton with us tomorrow, you could not have the pleasure
of walking with her till Tuesday. She said very well, Tuesday was
just as convenient to her; so there is an end of all our difficulties.
A pretty good thought of mine -- hey?"
Isabella's countenance was once more all smiles and good humour,
and James too looked happy again.
"A most heavenly thought indeed! Now, my sweet Catherine, all our
distresses are over; you are honourably acquitted, and we shall
have a most delightful party."
"This will not do," said Catherine; "I cannot submit to this. I
must run after Miss Tilney directly and set her right."
Isabella, however, caught hold of one hand, Thorpe of the other,
and remonstrances poured in from all three. Even James was quite
angry. When everything was settled, when Miss Tilney herself said
that Tuesday would suit her as well, it was quite ridiculous, quite
absurd, to make any further objection.
"I do not care. Mr. Thorpe had no business to invent any such
message. If I had thought it right to put it off, I could have
spoken to Miss Tilney myself. This is only doing it in a ruder
way; and how do I know that Mr. Thorpe has -- He may be mistaken
again perhaps; he led me into one act of rudeness by his mistake
on Friday. Let me go, Mr. Thorpe; Isabella, do not hold me."
Thorpe told her it would be in vain to go after the Tilneys; they
were turning the corner into Brock Street, when he had overtaken
them, and were at home by this time.
"Then I will go after them," said Catherine; "wherever they are
I will go after them. It does not signify talking. If I could
not be persuaded into doing what I thought wrong, I never will be
tricked into it." And with these words she broke away and hurried
off. Thorpe would have darted after her, but Morland withheld him.
"Let her go, let her go, if she will go. She is as obstinate as -- "
Thorpe never finished the simile, for it could hardly have been a
Away walked Catherine in great agitation, as fast as the crowd would
permit her, fearful of being pursued, yet determined to persevere.
As she walked, she reflected on what had passed. It was painful
to her to disappoint and displease them, particularly to displease
her brother; but she could not repent her resistance. Setting her
own inclination apart, to have failed a second time in her engagement
to Miss Tilney, to have retracted a promise voluntarily made only
five minutes before, and on a false pretence too, must have been
wrong. She had not been withstanding them on selfish principles
alone, she had not consulted merely her own gratification; that
might have been ensured in some degree by the excursion itself,
by seeing Blaize Castle; no, she had attended to what was due to
others, and to her own character in their opinion. Her conviction
of being right, however, was not enough to restore her composure;
till she had spoken to Miss Tilney she could not be at ease; and
quickening her pace when she got clear of the Crescent, she almost
ran over the remaining ground till she gained the top of Milsom
Street. So rapid had been her movements that in spite of the
Tilneys' advantage in the outset, they were but just turning into
their lodgings as she came within view of them; and the servant still
remaining at the open door, she used only the ceremony of saying
that she must speak with Miss Tilney that moment, and hurrying by
him proceeded upstairs. Then, opening the first door before her,
which happened to be the right, she immediately found herself in
the drawing-room with General Tilney, his son, and daughter. Her
explanation, defective only in being -- from her irritation of nerves
and shortness of breath -- no explanation at all, was instantly
given. "I am come in a great hurry -- It was all a mistake -- I
never promised to go -- I told them from the first I could not go.
-- I ran away in a great hurry to explain it. -- I did not care
what you thought of me. -- I would not stay for the servant."
The business, however, though not perfectly elucidated by this speech,
soon ceased to be a puzzle. Catherine found that John Thorpe had
given the message; and Miss Tilney had no scruple in owning herself
greatly surprised by it. But whether her brother had still exceeded
her in resentment, Catherine, though she instinctively addressed
herself as much to one as to the other in her vindication, had no
means of knowing. Whatever might have been felt before her arrival,
her eager declarations immediately made every look and sentence as
friendly as she could desire.
The affair thus happily settled, she was introduced by Miss Tilney
to her father, and received by him with such ready, such solicitous
politeness as recalled Thorpe's information to her mind, and made
her think with pleasure that he might be sometimes depended on.
To such anxious attention was the general's civility carried, that
not aware of her extraordinary swiftness in entering the house, he
was quite angry with the servant whose neglect had reduced her to
open the door of the apartment herself. "What did William mean
by it? He should make a point of inquiring into the matter." And
if Catherine had not most warmly asserted his innocence, it seemed
likely that William would lose the favour of his master forever,
if not his place, by her rapidity.
After sitting with them a quarter of an hour, she rose to take
leave, and was then most agreeably surprised by General Tilney's
asking her if she would do his daughter the honour of dining and
spending the rest of the day with her. Miss Tilney added her own
wishes. Catherine was greatly obliged; but it was quite out of
her power. Mr. and Mrs. Allen would expect her back every moment.
The general declared he could say no more; the claims of Mr. and
Mrs. Allen were not to be superseded; but on some other day he
trusted, when longer notice could be given, they would not refuse
to spare her to her friend. "Oh, no; Catherine was sure they would
not have the least objection, and she should have great pleasure
in coming." The general attended her himself to the street-door,
saying everything gallant as they went downstairs, admiring the
elasticity of her walk, which corresponded exactly with the spirit
of her dancing, and making her one of the most graceful bows she
had ever beheld, when they parted.
Catherine, delighted by all that had passed, proceeded gaily to
Pulteney Street, walking, as she concluded, with great elasticity,
though she had never thought of it before. She reached home without
seeing anything more of the offended party; and now that she had
been triumphant throughout, had carried her point, and was secure
of her walk, she began (as the flutter of her spirits subsided) to
doubt whether she had been perfectly right. A sacrifice was always
noble; and if she had given way to their entreaties, she should
have been spared the distressing idea of a friend displeased, a
brother angry, and a scheme of great happiness to both destroyed,
perhaps through her means. To ease her mind, and ascertain by the
opinion of an unprejudiced person what her own conduct had really
been, she took occasion to mention before Mr. Allen the half-settled
scheme of her brother and the Thorpes for the following day. Mr.
Allen caught at it directly. "Well," said he, "and do you think
of going too?"
"No; I had just engaged myself to walk with Miss Tilney before they
told me of it; and therefore you know I could not go with them,
"No, certainly not; and I am glad you do not think of it. These
schemes are not at all the thing. Young men and women driving about
the country in open carriages! Now and then it is very well; but
going to inns and public places together! It is not right; and I
wonder Mrs. Thorpe should allow it. I am glad you do not think of
going; I am sure Mrs. Morland would not be pleased. Mrs. Allen,
are not you of my way of thinking? Do not you think these kind of
"Yes, very much so indeed. Open carriages are nasty things. A
clean gown is not five minutes' wear in them. You are splashed
getting in and getting out; and the wind takes your hair and your
bonnet in every direction. I hate an open carriage myself."
"I know you do; but that is not the question. Do not you think it
has an odd appearance, if young ladies are frequently driven about
in them by young men, to whom they are not even related?"
"Yes, my dear, a very odd appearance indeed. I cannot bear to see
"Dear madam," cried Catherine, "then why did not you tell me so
before? I am sure if I had known it to be improper, I would not
have gone with Mr. Thorpe at all; but I always hoped you would tell
me, if you thought I was doing wrong."
"And so I should, my dear, you may depend on it; for as I told
Mrs. Morland at parting, I would always do the best for you in my
power. But one must not be over particular. Young people will be
young people, as your good mother says herself. You know I wanted
you, when we first came, not to buy that sprigged muslin, but you
would. Young people do not like to be always thwarted."
"But this was something of real consequence; and I do not think
you would have found me hard to persuade."
"As far as it has gone hitherto, there is no harm done," said Mr.
Allen; "and I would only advise you, my dear, not to go out with
Mr. Thorpe any more."
"That is just what I was going to say," added his wife.
Catherine, relieved for herself, felt uneasy for Isabella, and
after a moment's thought, asked Mr. Allen whether it would not be
both proper and kind in her to write to Miss Thorpe, and explain the
indecorum of which she must be as insensible as herself; for she
considered that Isabella might otherwise perhaps be going to Clifton
the next day, in spite of what had passed. Mr. Allen, however,
discouraged her from doing any such thing. "You had better leave
her alone, my dear; she is old enough to know what she is about, and
if not, has a mother to advise her. Mrs. Thorpe is too indulgent
beyond a doubt; but, however, you had better not interfere. She
and your brother choose to go, and you will be only getting ill
Catherine submitted, and though sorry to think that Isabella should
be doing wrong, felt greatly relieved by Mr. Allen's approbation of
her own conduct, and truly rejoiced to be preserved by his advice
from the danger of falling into such an error herself. Her escape
from being one of the party to Clifton was now an escape indeed;
for what would the Tilneys have thought of her, if she had broken
her promise to them in order to do what was wrong in itself, if she
had been guilty of one breach of propriety, only to enable her to
be guilty of another?
The next morning was fair, and Catherine almost expected another
attack from the assembled party. With Mr. Allen to support her,
she felt no dread of the event: but she would gladly be spared a
contest, where victory itself was painful, and was heartily rejoiced
therefore at neither seeing nor hearing anything of them. The
Tilneys called for her at the appointed time; and no new difficulty
arising, no sudden recollection, no unexpected summons, no
impertinent intrusion to disconcert their measures, my heroine was
most unnaturally able to fulfil her engagement, though it was made
with the hero himself. They determined on walking round Beechen
Cliff, that noble hill whose beautiful verdure and hanging coppice
render it so striking an object from almost every opening in Bath.
"I never look at it," said Catherine, as they walked along the side
of the river, "without thinking of the south of France."
"You have been abroad then?" said Henry, a little surprised.
"Oh! No, I only mean what I have read about. It always puts me
in mind of the country that Emily and her father travelled through,
in The Mysteries of Udolpho. But you never read novels, I dare
"Because they are not clever enough for you -- gentlemen read better
"The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good
novel, must be intolerably stupid. I have read all Mrs. Radcliffe's
works, and most of them with great pleasure. The Mysteries of
Udolpho, when I had once begun it, I could not lay down again; I
remember finishing it in two days -- my hair standing on end the
"Yes," added Miss Tilney, "and I remember that you undertook to
read it aloud to me, and that when I was called away for only five
minutes to answer a note, instead of waiting for me, you took the
volume into the Hermitage Walk, and I was obliged to stay till you
had finished it."
"Thank you, Eleanor -- a most honourable testimony. You see,
Miss Morland, the injustice of your suspicions. Here was I, in
my eagerness to get on, refusing to wait only five minutes for my
sister, breaking the promise I had made of reading it aloud, and
keeping her in suspense at a most interesting part, by running away
with the volume, which, you are to observe, was her own, particularly
her own. I am proud when I reflect on it, and I think it must
establish me in your good opinion."
"I am very glad to hear it indeed, and now I shall never be ashamed
of liking Udolpho myself. But I really thought before, young men
despised novels amazingly."
"It is amazingly; it may well suggest amazement if they do -- for
they read nearly as many as women. I myself have read hundreds and
hundreds. Do not imagine that you can cope with me in a knowledge
of Julias and Louisas. If we proceed to particulars, and engage
in the never-ceasing inquiry of 'Have you read this?' and 'Have
you read that?' I shall soon leave you as far behind me as -- what
shall I say? -- I want an appropriate simile. -- as far as your
friend Emily herself left poor Valancourt when she went with her
aunt into Italy. Consider how many years I have had the start of
you. I had entered on my studies at Oxford, while you were a good
little girl working your sampler at home!"
"Not very good, I am afraid. But now really, do not you think
Udolpho the nicest book in the world?"
"The nicest -- by which I suppose you mean the neatest. That must
depend upon the binding."
"Henry," said Miss Tilney, "you are very impertinent. Miss Morland,
he is treating you exactly as he does his sister. He is forever
finding fault with me, for some incorrectness of language, and now
he is taking the same liberty with you. The word 'nicest,' as you
used it, did not suit him; and you had better change it as soon
as you can, or we shall be overpowered with Johnson and Blair all
the rest of the way."
"I am sure," cried Catherine, "I did not mean to say anything wrong;
but it is a nice book, and why should not I call it so?"
"Very true," said Henry, "and this is a very nice day, and we are
taking a very nice walk, and you are two very nice young ladies.
Oh! It is a very nice word indeed! It does for everything.
Originally perhaps it was applied only to express neatness, propriety,
delicacy, or refinement -- people were nice in their dress, in
their sentiments, or their choice. But now every commendation on
every subject is comprised in that one word."
"While, in fact," cried his sister, "it ought only to be applied
to you, without any commendation at all. You are more nice than
wise. Come, Miss Morland, let us leave him to meditate over our
faults in the utmost propriety of diction, while we praise Udolpho
in whatever terms we like best. It is a most interesting work.
You are fond of that kind of reading?"
"To say the truth, I do not much like any other."
"That is, I can read poetry and plays, and things of that sort,
and do not dislike travels. But history, real solemn history, I
cannot be interested in. Can you?"
"Yes, I am fond of history."
"I wish I were too. I read it a little as a duty, but it tells
me nothing that does not either vex or weary me. The quarrels of
popes and kings, with wars or pestilences, in every page; the men
all so good for nothing, and hardly any women at all -- it is very
tiresome: and yet I often think it odd that it should be so dull,
for a great deal of it must be invention. The speeches that are
put into the heroes' mouths, their thoughts and designs -- the chief
of all this must be invention, and invention is what delights me
in other books."
"Historians, you think," said Miss Tilney, "are not happy in
their flights of fancy. They display imagination without raising
interest. I am fond of history -- and am very well contented to
take the false with the true. In the principal facts they have
sources of intelligence in former histories and records, which
may be as much depended on, I conclude, as anything that does not
actually pass under one's own observation; and as for the little
embellishments you speak of, they are embellishments, and I like
them as such. If a speech be well drawn up, I read it with pleasure,
by whomsoever it may be made -- and probably with much greater, if
the production of Mr. Hume or Mr. Robertson, than if the genuine
words of Caractacus, Agricola, or Alfred the Great."
"You are fond of history! And so are Mr. Allen and my father;
and I have two brothers who do not dislike it. So many instances
within my small circle of friends is remarkable! At this rate, I
shall not pity the writers of history any longer. If people like
to read their books, it is all very well, but to be at so much trouble
in filling great volumes, which, as I used to think, nobody would
willingly ever look into, to be labouring only for the torment of
little boys and girls, always struck me as a hard fate; and though
I know it is all very right and necessary, I have often wondered
at the person's courage that could sit down on purpose to do it."
"That little boys and girls should be tormented," said Henry, "is
what no one at all acquainted with human nature in a civilized
state can deny; but in behalf of our most distinguished historians,
I must observe that they might well be offended at being supposed
to have no higher aim, and that by their method and style, they are
perfectly well qualified to torment readers of the most advanced
reason and mature time of life. I use the verb 'to torment,' as I
observed to be your own method, instead of 'to instruct,' supposing
them to be now admitted as synonymous."
"You think me foolish to call instruction a torment, but if you
had been as much used as myself to hear poor little children first
learning their letters and then learning to spell, if you had ever
seen how stupid they can be for a whole morning together, and how
tired my poor mother is at the end of it, as I am in the habit of
seeing almost every day of my life at home, you would allow that
'to torment' and 'to instruct' might sometimes be used as synonymous
"Very probably. But historians are not accountable for the difficulty
of learning to read; and even you yourself, who do not altogether
seem particularly friendly to very severe, very intense application,
may perhaps be brought to acknowledge that it is very well worth-while
to be tormented for two or three years of one's life, for the sake
of being able to read all the rest of it. Consider -- if reading
had not been taught, Mrs. Radcliffe would have written in vain --
or perhaps might not have written at all."
Catherine assented -- and a very warm panegyric from her on that
lady's merits closed the subject. The Tilneys were soon engaged
in another on which she had nothing to say. They were viewing
the country with the eyes of persons accustomed to drawing, and
decided on its capability of being formed into pictures, with all
the eagerness of real taste. Here Catherine was quite lost. She
knew nothing of drawing -- nothing of taste: and she listened to
them with an attention which brought her little profit, for they
talked in phrases which conveyed scarcely any idea to her. The
little which she could understand, however, appeared to contradict
the very few notions she had entertained on the matter before. It
seemed as if a good view were no longer to be taken from the top
of an high hill, and that a clear blue sky was no longer a proof
of a fine day. She was heartily ashamed of her ignorance. A
misplaced shame. Where people wish to attach, they should always
be ignorant. To come with a well-informed mind is to come with an
inability of administering to the vanity of others, which a sensible
person would always wish to avoid. A woman especially, if she have
the misfortune of knowing anything, should conceal it as well as
The advantages of natural folly in a beautiful girl have been
already set forth by the capital pen of a sister author; and to her
treatment of the subject I will only add, in justice to men, that
though to the larger and more trifling part of the sex, imbecility
in females is a great enhancement of their personal charms, there
is a portion of them too reasonable and too well informed themselves
to desire anything more in woman than ignorance. But Catherine
did not know her own advantages -- did not know that a good-looking
girl, with an affectionate heart and a very ignorant mind, cannot
fail of attracting a clever young man, unless circumstances are
particularly untoward. In the present instance, she confessed
and lamented her want of knowledge, declared that she would give
anything in the world to be able to draw; and a lecture on the
picturesque immediately followed, in which his instructions were
so clear that she soon began to see beauty in everything admired
by him, and her attention was so earnest that he became perfectly
satisfied of her having a great deal of natural taste. He talked
of foregrounds, distances, and second distances -- side-screens and
perspectives -- lights and shades; and Catherine was so hopeful
a scholar that when they gained the top of Beechen Cliff, she
voluntarily rejected the whole city of Bath as unworthy to make
part of a landscape. Delighted with her progress, and fearful
of wearying her with too much wisdom at once, Henry suffered the
subject to decline, and by an easy transition from a piece of rocky
fragment and the withered oak which he had placed near its summit,
to oaks in general, to forests, the enclosure of them, waste lands,
crown lands and government, he shortly found himself arrived at
politics; and from politics, it was an easy step to silence. The
general pause which succeeded his short disquisition on the state
of the nation was put an end to by Catherine, who, in rather a solemn
tone of voice, uttered these words, "I have heard that something
very shocking indeed will soon come out in London."
Miss Tilney, to whom this was chiefly addressed, was startled, and
hastily replied, "Indeed! And of what nature?"
"That I do not know, nor who is the author. I have only heard that
it is to be more horrible than anything we have met with yet."
"Good heaven! Where could you hear of such a thing?"
"A particular friend of mine had an account of it in a letter from
London yesterday. It is to be uncommonly dreadful. I shall expect
murder and everything of the kind."
"You speak with astonishing composure! But I hope your friend's
accounts have been exaggerated; and if such a design is known
beforehand, proper measures will undoubtedly be taken by government
to prevent its coming to effect."
"Government," said Henry, endeavouring not to smile, "neither desires
nor dares to interfere in such matters. There must be murder; and
government cares not how much."
The ladies stared. He laughed, and added, "Come, shall I make you
understand each other, or leave you to puzzle out an explanation
as you can? No -- I will be noble. I will prove myself a man, no
less by the generosity of my soul than the clearness of my head. I
have no patience with such of my sex as disdain to let themselves
sometimes down to the comprehension of yours. Perhaps the abilities
of women are neither sound nor acute -- neither vigorous nor keen.
Perhaps they may want observation, discernment, judgment, fire,
genius, and wit."
"Miss Morland, do not mind what he says; but have the goodness to
satisfy me as to this dreadful riot."
"Riot! What riot?"
"My dear Eleanor, the riot is only in your own brain. The confusion
there is scandalous. Miss Morland has been talking of nothing more
dreadful than a new publication which is shortly to come out, in
three duodecimo volumes, two hundred and seventy-six pages in each,
with a frontispiece to the first, of two tombstones and a lantern
-- do you understand? And you, Miss Morland -- my stupid sister
has mistaken all your clearest expressions. You talked of expected
horrors in London -- and instead of instantly conceiving, as any
rational creature would have done, that such words could relate
only to a circulating library, she immediately pictured to herself
a mob of three thousand men assembling in St. George's Fields, the
Bank attacked, the Tower threatened, the streets of London flowing
with blood, a detachment of the Twelfth Light Dragoons (the hopes
of the nation) called up from Northampton to quell the insurgents,
and the gallant Captain Frederick Tilney, in the moment of charging
at the head of his troop, knocked off his horse by a brickbat from
an upper window. Forgive her stupidity. The fears of the sister
have added to the weakness of the woman; but she is by no means a
simpleton in general."
Catherine looked grave. "And now, Henry," said Miss Tilney, "that
you have made us understand each other, you may as well make Miss
Morland understand yourself -- unless you mean to have her think
you intolerably rude to your sister, and a great brute in your
opinion of women in general. Miss Morland is not used to your odd
"I shall be most happy to make her better acquainted with them."
"No doubt; but that is no explanation of the present."
"What am I to do?"
"You know what you ought to do. Clear your character handsomely
before her. Tell her that you think very highly of the understanding
"Miss Morland, I think very highly of the understanding of all the
women in the world -- especially of those -- whoever they may be
-- with whom I happen to be in company."
"That is not enough. Be more serious."
"Miss Morland, no one can think more highly of the understanding
of women than I do. In my opinion, nature has given them so much
that they never find it necessary to use more than half."
"We shall get nothing more serious from him now, Miss Morland. He
is not in a sober mood. But I do assure you that he must be entirely
misunderstood, if he can ever appear to say an unjust thing of any
woman at all, or an unkind one of me."
It was no effort to Catherine to believe that Henry Tilney could
never be wrong. His manner might sometimes surprise, but his
meaning must always be just: and what she did not understand, she
was almost as ready to admire, as what she did. The whole walk
was delightful, and though it ended too soon, its conclusion was
delightful too; her friends attended her into the house, and Miss
Tilney, before they parted, addressing herself with respectful form,
as much to Mrs. Allen as to Catherine, petitioned for the pleasure
of her company to dinner on the day after the next. No difficulty
was made on Mrs. Allen's side, and the only difficulty on Catherine's
was in concealing the excess of her pleasure.
The morning had passed away so charmingly as to banish all her
friendship and natural affection, for no thought of Isabella or
James had crossed her during their walk. When the Tilneys were
gone, she became amiable again, but she was amiable for some time
to little effect; Mrs. Allen had no intelligence to give that could
relieve her anxiety; she had heard nothing of any of them. Towards
the end of the morning, however, Catherine, having occasion for
some indispensable yard of ribbon which must be bought without
a moment's delay, walked out into the town, and in Bond Street
overtook the second Miss Thorpe as she was loitering towards Edgar's
Buildings between two of the sweetest girls in the world, who had
been her dear friends all the morning. From her, she soon learned
that the party to Clifton had taken place. "They set off at eight
this morning," said Miss Anne, "and I am sure I do not envy them
their drive. I think you and I are very well off to be out of the
scrape. it must be the dullest thing in the world, for there is
not a soul at Clifton at this time of year. Belle went with your
brother, and John drove Maria."
Catherine spoke the pleasure she really felt on hearing this part
of the arrangement.
"Oh! yes," rejoined the other, "Maria is gone. She was quite
wild to go. She thought it would be something very fine. I cannot
say I admire her taste; and for my part, I was determined from the
first not to go, if they pressed me ever so much."
Catherine, a little doubtful of this, could not help answering, "I
wish you could have gone too. It is a pity you could not all go."
"Thank you; but it is quite a matter of indifference to me. Indeed,
I would not have gone on any account. I was saying so to Emily
and Sophia when you overtook us."
Catherine was still unconvinced; but glad that Anne should have
the friendship of an Emily and a Sophia to console her, she bade
her adieu without much uneasiness, and returned home, pleased that
the party had not been prevented by her refusing to join it, and
very heartily wishing that it might be too pleasant to allow either
James or Isabella to resent her resistance any longer.
Early the next day, a note from Isabella, speaking peace and
tenderness in every line, and entreating the immediate presence of
her friend on a matter of the utmost importance, hastened Catherine,
in the happiest state of confidence and curiosity, to Edgar's
Buildings. The two youngest Miss Thorpes were by themselves in the
parlour; and, on Anne's quitting it to call her sister, Catherine
took the opportunity of asking the other for some particulars of
their yesterday's party. Maria desired no greater pleasure than
to speak of it; and Catherine immediately learnt that it had been
altogether the most delightful scheme in the world, that nobody
could imagine how charming it had been, and that it had been more
delightful than anybody could conceive. Such was the information
of the first five minutes; the second unfolded thus much in detail
-- that they had driven directly to the York Hotel, ate some soup,
and bespoke an early dinner, walked down to the pump-room, tasted
the water, and laid out some shillings in purses and spars; thence
adjoined to eat ice at a pastry-cook's, and hurrying back to the
hotel, swallowed their dinner in haste, to prevent being in the
dark; and then had a delightful drive back, only the moon was not
up, and it rained a little, and Mr. Morland's horse was so tired
he could hardly get it along.
Catherine listened with heartfelt satisfaction. It appeared that
Blaize Castle had never been thought of; and, as for all the rest,
there was nothing to regret for half an instant. Maria's intelligence
concluded with a tender effusion of pity for her sister Anne, whom
she represented as insupportably cross, from being excluded the
"She will never forgive me, I am sure; but, you know, how could I
help it? John would have me go, for he vowed he would not drive
her, because she had such thick ankles. I dare say she will not
be in good humour again this month; but I am determined I will not
be cross; it is not a little matter that puts me out of temper."
Isabella now entered the room with so eager a step, and a look of
such happy importance, as engaged all her friend's notice. Maria
was without ceremony sent away, and Isabella, embracing Catherine,
thus began: "Yes, my dear Catherine, it is so indeed; your
penetration has not deceived you. Oh! That arch eye of yours!
It sees through everything."
Catherine replied only by a look of wondering ignorance.
"Nay, my beloved, sweetest friend," continued the other, "compose
yourself. I am amazingly agitated, as you perceive. Let us sit
down and talk in comfort. Well, and so you guessed it the moment
you had my note? Sly creature! Oh! My dear Catherine, you alone,
who know my heart, can judge of my present happiness. Your brother
is the most charming of men. I only wish I were more worthy of him.
But what will your excellent father and mother say? Oh! Heavens!
When I think of them I am so agitated!"
Catherine's understanding began to awake: an idea of the truth
suddenly darted into her mind; and, with the natural blush of so
new an emotion, she cried out, "Good heaven! My dear Isabella,
what do you mean? Can you -- can you really be in love with James?"
This bold surmise, however, she soon learnt comprehended but half
the fact. The anxious affection, which she was accused of having
continually watched in Isabella's every look and action, had,
in the course of their yesterday's party, received the delightful
confession of an equal love. Her heart and faith were alike engaged
to James. Never had Catherine listened to anything so full of
interest, wonder, and joy. Her brother and her friend engaged! New
to such circumstances, the importance of it appeared unspeakably
great, and she contemplated it as one of those grand events,
of which the ordinary course of life can hardly afford a return.
The strength of her feelings she could not express; the nature of
them, however, contented her friend. The happiness of having such
a sister was their first effusion, and the fair ladies mingled in
embraces and tears of joy.
Delighting, however, as Catherine sincerely did in the prospect of
the connection, it must be acknowledged that Isabella far surpassed
her in tender anticipations. "You will be so infinitely dearer to
me, my Catherine, than either Anne or Maria: I feel that I shall
be so much more attached to my dear Morland's family than to my
This was a pitch of friendship beyond Catherine.
"You are so like your dear brother," continued Isabella, "that I
quite doted on you the first moment I saw you. But so it always
is with me; the first moment settles everything. The very first
day that Morland came to us last Christmas -- the very first moment
I beheld him -- my heart was irrecoverably gone. I remember I wore
my yellow gown, with my hair done up in braids; and when I came
into the drawing-room, and John introduced him, I thought I never
saw anybody so handsome before."
Here Catherine secretly acknowledged the power of love; for, though
exceedingly fond of her brother, and partial to all his endowments,
she had never in her life thought him handsome.
"I remember too, Miss Andrews drank tea with us that evening, and
wore her puce-coloured sarsenet; and she looked so heavenly that I
thought your brother must certainly fall in love with her; I could
not sleep a wink all right for thinking of it. Oh! Catherine,
the many sleepless nights I have had on your brother's account!
I would not have you suffer half what I have done! I am grown
wretchedly thin, I know; but I will not pain you by describing my
anxiety; you have seen enough of it. I feel that I have betrayed
myself perpetually -- so unguarded in speaking of my partiality
for the church! But my secret I was always sure would be safe with
Catherine felt that nothing could have been safer; but ashamed of
an ignorance little expected, she dared no longer contest the point,
nor refuse to have been as full of arch penetration and affectionate
sympathy as Isabella chose to consider her. Her brother, she found,
was preparing to set off with all speed to Fullerton, to make known
his situation and ask consent; and here was a source of some real
agitation to the mind of Isabella. Catherine endeavoured to persuade
her, as she was herself persuaded, that her father and mother would
never oppose their son's wishes. "It is impossible," said she,
"for parents to be more kind, or more desirous of their children's
happiness; I have no doubt of their consenting immediately."
"Morland says exactly the same," replied Isabella; "and yet I dare
not expect it; my fortune will be so small; they never can consent
to it. Your brother, who might marry anybody!"
Here Catherine again discerned the force of love.
"Indeed, Isabella, you are too humble. The difference of fortune
can be nothing to signify."
"Oh! My sweet Catherine, in your generous heart I know it would
signify nothing; but we must not expect such disinterestedness in
many. As for myself, I am sure I only wish our situations were
reversed. Had I the command of millions, were I mistress of the
whole world, your brother would be my only choice."
This charming sentiment, recommended as much by sense as novelty,
gave Catherine a most pleasing remembrance of all the heroines
of her acquaintance; and she thought her friend never looked more
lovely than in uttering the grand idea. "I am sure they will
consent," was her frequent declaration; "I am sure they will be
delighted with you."
"For my own part," said Isabella, "my wishes are so moderate that
the smallest income in nature would be enough for me. Where people
are really attached, poverty itself is wealth; grandeur I detest:
I would not settle in London for the universe. A cottage in some
retired village would be ecstasy. There are some charming little
villas about Richmond."
"Richmond!" cried Catherine. "You must settle near Fullerton.
You must be near us."
"I am sure I shall be miserable if we do not. If I can but be near
you, I shall be satisfied. But this is idle talking! I will not
allow myself to think of such things, till we have your father's
answer. Morland says that by sending it tonight to Salisbury, we
may have it tomorrow. Tomorrow? I know I shall never have courage
to open the letter. I know it will be the death of me."
A reverie succeeded this conviction -- and when Isabella spoke
again, it was to resolve on the quality of her wedding-gown.
Their conference was put an end to by the anxious young lover
himself, who came to breathe his parting sigh before he set off
for Wiltshire. Catherine wished to congratulate him, but knew not
what to say, and her eloquence was only in her eyes. From them,
however, the eight parts of speech shone out most expressively, and
James could combine them with ease. Impatient for the realization
of all that he hoped at home, his adieus were not long; and they
would have been yet shorter, had he not been frequently detained
by the urgent entreaties of his fair one that he would go. Twice
was he called almost from the door by her eagerness to have him
gone. "Indeed, Morland, I must drive you away. Consider how far
you have to ride. I cannot bear to see you linger so. For heaven's
sake, waste no more time. There, go, go -- I insist on it."
The two friends, with hearts now more united than ever, were
inseparable for the day; and in schemes of sisterly happiness the
hours flew along. Mrs. Thorpe and her son, who were acquainted with
everything, and who seemed only to want Mr. Morland's consent, to
consider Isabella's engagement as the most fortunate circumstance
imaginable for their family, were allowed to join their counsels,
and add their quota of significant looks and mysterious expressions
to fill up the measure of curiosity to be raised in the unprivileged
younger sisters. To Catherine's simple feelings, this odd sort of
reserve seemed neither kindly meant, nor consistently supported;
and its unkindness she would hardly have forborne pointing out, had
its inconsistency been less their friend; but Anne and Maria soon
set her heart at ease by the sagacity of their "I know what"; and
the evening was spent in a sort of war of wit, a display of family
ingenuity, on one side in the mystery of an affected secret, on
the other of undefined discovery, all equally acute.
Catherine was with her friend again the next day, endeavouring to
support her spirits and while away the many tedious hours before
the delivery of the letters; a needful exertion, for as the time of
reasonable expectation drew near, Isabella became more and more
desponding, and before the letter arrived, had worked herself
into a state of real distress. But when it did come, where could
distress be found? "I have had no difficulty in gaining the consent
of my kind parents, and am promised that everything in their power
shall be done to forward my happiness," were the first three lines,
and in one moment all was joyful security. The brightest glow was
instantly spread over Isabella's features, all care and anxiety
seemed removed, her spirits became almost too high for control,
and she called herself without scruple the happiest of mortals.
Mrs. Thorpe, with tears of joy, embraced her daughter, her son,
her visitor, and could have embraced half the inhabitants of Bath
with satisfaction. Her heart was overflowing with tenderness. It
was "dear John" and "dear Catherine" at every word; "dear Anne and
dear Maria" must immediately be made sharers in their felicity;
and two "dears" at once before the name of Isabella were not more
than that beloved child had now well earned. John himself was
no skulker in joy. He not only bestowed on Mr. Morland the high
commendation of being one of the finest fellows in the world, but
swore off many sentences in his praise.
The letter, whence sprang all this felicity, was short, containing
little more than this assurance of success; and every particular
was deferred till James could write again. But for particulars
Isabella could well afford to wait. The needful was comprised in
Mr. Morland's promise; his honour was pledged to make everything
easy; and by what means their income was to be formed, whether
landed property were to be resigned, or funded money made over, was
a matter in which her disinterested spirit took no concern. She
knew enough to feel secure of an honourable and speedy establishment,
and her imagination took a rapid flight over its attendant felicities.
She saw herself at the end of a few weeks, the gaze and admiration
of every new acquaintance at Fullerton, the envy of every valued
old friend in Putney, with a carriage at her command, a new name on
her tickets, and a brilliant exhibition of hoop rings on her finger.
When the contents of the letter were ascertained, John Thorpe, who
had only waited its arrival to begin his journey to London, prepared
to set off. "Well, Miss Morland," said he, on finding her alone
in the parlour, "I am come to bid you good-bye." Catherine wished
him a good journey. Without appearing to hear her, he walked to the
window, fidgeted about, hummed a tune, and seemed wholly self-occupied.
"Shall not you be late at Devizes?" said Catherine. He made
no answer; but after a minute's silence burst out with, "A famous
good thing this marrying scheme, upon my soul! A clever fancy of
Morland's and Belle's. What do you think of it, Miss Morland? I
say it is no bad notion."
"I am sure I think it a very good one."
"Do you? That's honest, by heavens! I am glad you are no enemy
to matrimony, however. Did you ever hear the old song 'Going to
One Wedding Brings on Another?' I say, you will come to Belle's
wedding, I hope."
"Yes; I have promised your sister to be with her, if possible."
"And then you know" -- twisting himself about and forcing a foolish
laugh -- "I say, then you know, we may try the truth of this same
"May we? But I never sing. Well, I wish you a good journey. I
dine with Miss Tilney today, and must now be going home."
"Nay, but there is no such confounded hurry. Who knows when we
may be together again? Not but that I shall be down again by the
end of a fortnight, and a devilish long fortnight it will appear
"Then why do you stay away so long?" replied Catherine -- finding
that he waited for an answer.
"That is kind of you, however -- kind and good-natured. I shall
not forget it in a hurry. But you have more good nature and all
that, than anybody living, I believe. A monstrous deal of good
nature, and it is not only good nature, but you have so much, so
much of everything; and then you have such -- upon my soul, I do
not know anybody like you."