Chapter 1: This fic is now a free e-book!
It took me 3 years, but I have finally cleaned up (and in some places lightly rewritten) this fic and have now published it as a neat little e-book!
You can get it (for free) on platforms like Apple Books, Nook, Kobo, and more here: https://books2read.com/fullertonparsonage
Or you can download a Mobi, PDF or ePub directly from my website!
I won't be taking down this fic, but I won't be updating it to the polished version either. So if you're interested in a version with less typo's, a stronger first chapter and a more satisfying confrontation between Henry and the General, do go grab the book!
Henry Tilney had come to Bath to stay only one night and two days. This was by no means paying a proper respect to the place, but this was not his present object. His object was to procure lodgings for himself, his father, his sister, and possibly his brother, should he be able to join them. He had, today, secured these lodgings and now had the evening to himself. As he was not at all inclined to spend it alone at the inn, he went to the Lower Rooms. After walking about there for a moment, renewing some slight acquaintances, he made up his mind to dance a set. He was not particularly fond of cards and very fond of dancing, so this decision was easily made. The execution of it required some thought, however, for he was not then particularly acquainted with any lady in the room. So Henry Tilney, being a young man of cheerful spirits and quick mind, applied to the master of ceremonies to introduce him to any young lady in want of a partner.
This was a sorry circumstance indeed. A hero must never apply to a third for the introduction to a lady. Their introduction must be made by fate and fate alone, that is the proper order of things. The master of ceremonies obliged immediately, however, and introduced Henry to a Miss Morland. She was very young, quite pretty and excessively pleased to make his acquaintance and be asked to dance. Here once again Henry was not quite the hero, for he was neither shocked nor brought to brooding silence by this, and instead led her to the set with very pleasant and easy conversation.
In Henry’s defence, it must be said that his circumstances were such that he might be forgiven for feeling himself quite equal to the task of pleasing a young lady such as Miss Morland, for whom this was not just her first visit to bath, but her first visit away from home altogether. A much less agreeable man might have impressed so new a visitor to the social scene and Henry Tilney,rather tall, at least as clever and blessed with lively spirits, a charming countenance and an appearance that was, if not quite handsome, at least very near it, flattered himself he was very agreeable. Miss Morland certainly seemed to think so and in her turn gratified Henry sincerely by her unaffected and open manners. She danced like one who had not been used to dance much in company, but had great pleasure in doing so and Henry truly enjoyed himself.
When the dance was over and they sat down for tea he took it upon himself to supply her with lively conversation. He talked to her of the dance, the crowd, the ornaments in the room, all the commonplace subjects. Miss Morland attended to him as if she had never heard any of the spoken again and Henry, provoked into playfulness by such earnest attention, suddenly addressed her with:
“I have hitherto been very remiss, madam, in the proper attentions of a partner here; I have not yet asked you how long you have been in Bath; whether you were ever here before; whether you have been at the Upper Rooms, the theatre, and the concert; and how you like the place altogether. I have been very negligent — but are you now at leisure to satisfy me in these particulars? If you are I will begin directly.”
“You need not give yourself that trouble, sir,” said she, with a look of surprise.
“No trouble, I assure you, madam.” Then forming his features into a set smile, and affectedly softening his voice, he added, with a simpering air: “Have you been long in Bath, madam?”
“About a week, sir,” replied Miss Morland and he was pleased to see she was poorly repressing an amused smile.
“Really!” with affected astonishment.
“Why should you be surprised, sir?” she asked, her own surprise much more genuine.
“Why, indeed!” said he, in his natural tone and with twinkling eyes. “But some emotion must appear to be raised by your reply, and surprise is more easily assumed, and not less reasonable than any other. Now let us go on. Were you never here before, madam?”
“Indeed! Have you yet honoured the Upper Rooms?”
“Yes, sir, I was there last Monday.”
“Have you been to the theatre?”
“Yes, sir, I was at the play on Tuesday.”
“To the concert?”
“Yes, sir, on Wednesday.”
“And,” he closed with affected solemnity. “Are you altogether pleased with Bath?”
“Yes, I like it very well,” said she, smiling.
“Now I must give one smirk, and then we may be rational again.”
Miss Morland turned away her head. Henry was sure she was not distressed or offended, but instead struggling not to laugh. When she met his eye once more she looked positively puzzled and this he delighted in.
“I see what you think of me,” he said gravely. “I shall make but a poor figure in your journal tomorrow.”
“My journal!” exclaimed she, as if he had discovered a great secret.
“Yes,” he said archly. “I know exactly what you will say: Friday, went to the Lower Rooms; wore my sprigged muslin robe with blue trimmings — plain black shoes — appeared to much advantage; but was strangely harassed by a queer, half-witted man, who would make me dance with him, and distressed me by his nonsense.”
“Indeed I shall say no such thing,” said she, smiling.
“Shall I tell you what you ought to say?” he asked, sinking his voice.
“If you please.”
“I danced with a very agreeable young man, introduced by Mr. King; had a great deal of conversation with him — seems a most extraordinary genius — hope I may know more of him. That, madam, is what I wish you to say.”
“But, perhaps, I keep no journal.”
“Perhaps you are not sitting in this room, and I am not sitting by you. These are points in which a doubt is equally possible. Not keep a journal! How are your absent cousins to understand the tenour of your life in Bath without one? How are the civilities and compliments of every day to be related as they ought to be, unless noted down every evening in a journal? How are your various dresses to be remembered, and the particular state of your complexion, and curl of your hair to be described in all their diversities, without having constant recourse to a journal? My dear madam, I am not so ignorant of young ladies’ ways as you wish to believe me; it is this delightful habit of journaling which largely contributes to form the easy style of writing for which ladies are so generally celebrated. Everybody allows that the talent of writing agreeable letters is peculiarly female. Nature may have done something, but I am sure it must be essentially assisted by the practice of keeping a journal.”
“I have sometimes thought,” said Miss Morland, doubtingly. Whether ladies do write so much better letters than gentlemen! That is — I should not think the superiority was always on our side.”
“As far as I have had opportunity of judging, it appears to me that the usual style of letter-writing among women is faultless, except in three particulars.”
“And what are they?”
“A general deficiency of subject, a total inattention to stops, and a very frequent ignorance of grammar.”
“Upon my word!” his partner exclaimed. “I need not have been afraid of disclaiming the compliment. You do not think too highly of us in that way.”
Henry smiled and, fearing that she had taken this last speech to be sincere, he said:
“I should no more lay it down as a general rule that women write better letters than men, than that they sing better duets, or draw better landscapes. In every power, of which taste is the foundation, excellence is pretty fairly divided between the sexes.”
They were interrupted by Miss Morland’s companion, Mrs. Allen, a woman in her forties whose dress was fine and whose character nondescript.
“My dear Catherine,” said she, “do take this pin out of my sleeve; I am afraid it has torn a hole already; I shall be quite sorry if it has, for this is a favourite gown, though it cost but nine shillings a yard.”
“That is exactly what I should have guessed it, madam,” said Mr. Tilney, looking at the muslin.
“Do you understand muslins, sir?” Mrs Allen enquired, quite astonished.
“Particularly well,” Henry spoke with confidence. “I always buy my own cravats, and am allowed to be an excellent judge; and my sister has often trusted me in the choice of a gown. I bought one for her the other day, and it was pronounced to be a prodigious bargain by every lady who saw it. I gave but five shillings a yard for it, and a true Indian muslin.”
Mrs. Allen was quite struck by his genius. “Men commonly take so little notice of those things,” said she. “I can never get Mr. Allen to know one of my gowns from another. You must be a great comfort to your sister, sir.”
“I hope I am, madam.”
“And pray, sir, what do you think of Miss Morland’s gown?”
“It is very pretty, madam,” said he, gravely examining it. “But I do not think it will wash well; I am afraid it will fray.”
“How can you,” said Catherine, laughing, “be so — “ She held her tongue, but gave him a most wondering look.
“I am quite of your opinion, sir,” said Mrs. Allen, quite unaware of what was passing between the young people. “And so I told Miss Morland when she bought it.”
“But then you know, madam, muslin always turns to some account or other; Miss Morland will get enough out of it for a handkerchief, or a cap, or a cloak. Muslin can never be said to be wasted. I have heard my sister say so forty times, when she has been extravagant in buying more than she wanted, or careless in cutting it to pieces.”
“Bath is a charming place, sir; there are so many good shops here. We are sadly off in the country; not but what we have very good shops in Salisbury, but it is so far to go — eight miles is a long way; Mr. Allen says it is nine, measured nine; but I am sure it cannot be more than eight; and it is such a fag — I come back tired to death. Now, here one can step out of doors and get a thing in five minutes.”
Henry listened with affected interest as Mrs. Allen continued to talk of muslins and the comparative difficulty to procure them, till the dancing recommended. Meanwhile Miss Morland sat by them with a thoughtful expression on her face. When they rose and he offered her his hand, she took it with a very slight shake of the head. Henry repressed a smile and said, as they walked back to the ballroom:
“What are you thinking of so earnestly? Not of your partner, I hope, for, by that shake of the head, your meditations are not satisfactory.”
She coloured, and said: “I was not thinking of anything.”
“That is artful and deep, to be sure; but I had rather be told at once that you will not tell me.”
“Well then, I will not.”
“Thank you,” he said cheerfully. “For now we shall soon be acquainted, as I am authorized to tease you on this subject whenever we meet, and nothing in the world advances intimacy so much.”
Miss Morland almost ventured to laugh at this and they went down the second dance in mutual satisfaction. When the assembly closed they parted with a very charming adieu on his side and a very warm one on hers. Henry returned to his hotel in great spirits. It had been a very agreeable evening, certainly a good omen for the weeks to come he was to spend in Bath.
This is such fun to write! I hope it was as much fun to read :)
Chapter 2: Which takes place before Northanger Abbey
Since this retelling of Northanger Abbey started rather abruptly in Bath I tried to write an introductory chapter based partly on Catherine’s and partly on Emma Woodhouse’s introduction.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
When in search for a tragic hero, no one would have thought to look twice at Henry Tilney. His life may have begun promising, being born under the roof of a former abbey as the second son of a very stern military man, but from this point on both Henry’s situation in life and his disposition were entirely against him. His looks were neither strikingly fair nor unusually dark and he was neither wild and unruly nor quiet and withdrawn. Instead he was quite a pleasant looking boy with a brown complexion and a good-humoured, rather high-spirited temper. His family moreover was rich and though he had an overbearing father and was often at odds with his brother, he had a very kind and loving mother and doted on his younger sister. All in all Henry Tilney lived a full seventeen years in the world without a single tragedy befalling him. At that age, however, one did occur. Mrs. Tilney, a good, kind woman who was above all a loving mother and a very dutiful wife, died of a bilious fever. Her death was a great affliction to all her family, but her two youngest children especially. Where her husband and eldest son were grave and still, it was left to Henry and his sister Eleanor, only thirteen years old at that time, to find relief in bitter tears.
Despite what one might rightfully expect, this loss did not rob Henry of his cheerfulness. Having cried his tears of mourning, he instead undertook to look for cheer elsewhere if he could not find it in himself. This especially for the benefit of his sister, to whom he was particularly kind. No, Henry was not suited for tragedy. By the time he was sent off to university to study for a career in the church his character was quite fixed; he was good-humoured, kind-hearted, quite clever and even more witty. This made him a favourite with his fellow students rather than with his professors, but in general he did very well in his studies. When it came to preferment he was sure of a very valuable living, as it was in his father’s power to give him one.
In truth, at twenty-three Henry Tilney, quite good-looking, very well-spoken, of a good family and soon to be in the possession of an independent income, seemed much more suited for the romantic than the tragic. Even here he seemed intent on squandering his talents however, for though very fond of dancing, he was never seen to be in love. No, that particular passion was bestowed on his sister and most unhappily so. Henry had made a couple of very good friends at his university and one of them, a Mr. Laurence Fletcher, had been frequently invited to stay at Northanger Abbey. He and Henry were recommended to one another by a striking resemblance in pleasant wit and pleasant manners and as they were both second sons of good families, their friendship was generally encouraged. Mr. Fletcher was met with less encouragement when he began to bestow attention on Eleanor Tilney, however.
Henry watched with bitter regret how his father, as soon as he perceived the slightest inclination of his daughter towards her brother’s friend, promptly ended his visit to Northanger with very a decided hint that it would be his last. This was cruel treatment of a young man who was not only a worthy friend, but well-educated, well-bred, well-looking and altogether a most charming young man. What Mr. Fletcher was not, however, was well-provided for. At least not by the general’s definition of the word and thus he had to go. That this course of action hurt Mr. Fletcher must be abundantly clear. That it hurt Henry in the process can hardly be less so. Only the suffering of Eleanor must now be explained. Here I shall bring my readers pain, for Eleanor Tilney’s suffering was extreme. General Tilney was mistaken in thinking he had acted as soon as the first stir of affection had taken place. The severity of his character and the unpredictability of his moods had forced all three of his children to check their spirits around him, but none so much as Eleanor. She, being the nominal mistress of his house ever since she came home from school, had over the years taught herself to sink her feelings into compliance and a manner as guarded as it was pleasant. Eleanor’s attachment to Mr. Fletcher grew steadily from the moment of his first visit and was as earnest an affection as one could expect to find in the world by the time her father attempted to put an end to it. Eleanor submitted to the general’s will with nary a murmur of disagreement and none but Henry saw how sorely she was affected. He saw a very similar affliction in his friend, whom he invited as soon as he became rector of a parish and had a home of his own to invite him to. Had he consulted his heart alone, he would have told both his friend and his sister of the other’s misery, sure proofs of their mutual affection. Henry was more rational than this however and did not breathe a word of this, hoping instead that time, as it is often talked of, would be their joint cure.
Such were Henry Tilney’s experiences with the tragic and the romantic at age twenty five and under these very unpromising circumstances our story begins. Specifically with the preparation of the Tilney family’s near-yearly visit to Bath, which involved Henry going hither, ahead of the rest of the family.
This was harder than I thought it would be. Beginnings are never easy ^^;;
Chapter 4: Which takes place during Chapter 4-7 of Northanger Abbey
To my shock I found out I completely skipped chapters 4 through 9! Probably because that part of the book is so Isabella centric. In any case, I have now done my best to make up for it and have written two chapters that describe Henry and Eleanor's arrival and first couple days in Bath.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Having fulfilled his purpose in Bath Henry Tilney set off for home the very next day. Northanger Abbey, his family home, was some thirty miles off and had a spell of rain not detained him at an inn longer than he had meant to, his curricle would have carried him the entire distance in time for dinner. As it was he arrived at a quarter past five, which meant – as his father was at home – that dinner would be on the table already. Henry contemplated whether on this particular occasion his intrusion would be justified. His father would no doubt wish to hear every detail about the lodgings he had secured and them being in Milsom Street Henry was quite confident he would be pleased with them. Still, there was hardly anything that general Tilney abhorred more than being disturbed at dinner, so Henry thought the better of it. Instead he took his time at the stables and made certain it was far too late to join his father and sister for dinner by the time he actually entered the abbey.
He was greeted there by the butler who enquired after his good journey and asked whether he wished his arrival to be made known to his father directly.
“There is no need to disturb him, Carter,” Henry said smilingly. “If you would just inform him when he is at leisure, I shall be in my room.”
The butler bowed, having quite expected this answer and likewise not surprised to see Henry dismiss his valet and make his way in the direction of the kitchens instead of going up the stairs to where the family apartments were located. Henry ran down the steps with high-spirited rapidity, as he had done for nearly as many years as he could walk. It was therefore hardly remarkable that the cook was already opening the door for him when he reached her kitchen.
“Good evening, Master Henry,” she said pleasantly. “Back so soon?” She rested her plump hands on her hips. “But not, I see, in time for dinner.”
“But in very good time to see you, Mrs. Langley,” Henry proclaimed, leaning against the door.
The cook gave him a look that might have been scolding if it had not been quite so fond and called out to one of the scullery maids. “I’ll have a tray sent up for you, love,” she said. “Now off you go.”
Henry flashed her a grin and made his way upstairs to change his dress and wait for the tray he knew would be laden with all his favourite cold meats and pastries.
He had not yet finished this tray when there was a polite knock on his chamber door and a housemaid entered, curtsying apologetically.
“Beg your pardon, sir,” she said. “But the master is asking for you to come down.”
“Thank you, Sophie,” Henry nodded. “Tell him I shall be down directly.”
Now it was for Henry to decide whether to offend his father by keeping him waiting, or Mrs. Langley by not finishing her tray. But as the latter was considerably more forgiving, Henry left his unfinished pastry and hurried down to the drawing room where his father and sister were sitting.
“Henry,” Eleanor pronounced his name warmly and she rose instantly to embrace him.
The general’s welcome to his son was of a different sort. “Why did not you come join us at dinner as soon as you arrived?” he asked.
Henry took his seat by Eleanor, scarcely having let go of her hand. “I was detained by a spell of rain,” he answered pleasantly. “And did not make it here quite in time for dinner.”
The general did not answer this but instead enquired after the lodgings his son had managed to procure. He was a man with strong convictions and very particular taste and he expected both to be respected by all those around him. The apartment in Milsom Street was not one where they had stayed before, which is what the general had preferred, but Henry’s description of it pleased his father nonetheless. Its price, which was higher than the lodgings they had had the year before, was likewise gratifying to him. Something that did not surprise, but certainly did amuse Henry. His father’s satisfaction and good humour secured for the evening Henry’s return to Northanger was quite comfortable and when their father left them, he spoke to Eleanor of the various lodgings he had visited with great spirit.
“Eleanor,” he said with affected gravity. “There were lodgings in Camden Place which I was tempted to take merely on account of the wallpaper. You have never seen such a creation! Browns paired with purples in such a manner that one could not look at it without attracting headache. It was quite thrilling.”
“You do not suffer from headaches often I know,” Eleanor smiled. “Perhaps you find them to be a novelty?”
“Novelty is the word,” Henry exclaimed. “That is what the advertisement for the place should state, that it offers no lodgings, but a novelty.”
Eleanor laughed and Henry continued:
“Had the choice been my own I would have taken a place in Rivers Street.” He smiled fondly. “Rest assured, I had your room selected already. Curtains of the gentlest forest green and windows so high they flooded all the room with light.” Regretfully he shook his head. “But the drawing rooms were nowhere near large enough to satisfy our father.”
“The lodgings in Milsom Street as you described them sound perfectly delightful,” Eleanor said. “I am sure I shall not wish for green curtains.”
“Ah, but only because you never wish for all that you so truly deserve,” Henry said, shaking his head again. He had meant to speak in jest, even though he felt his words to be true, but to his dismay a shadow passed over Eleanor’s face. He had chosen his words poorly.
A silence followed that Henry felt he had not the right to fill. Eventually it was broken by his sister’s hesitant enquiry if he expected to see any particular acquaintances in Bath this year. He knew after whom she meant to enquire, but he likewise understood that to spare her feelings he should speak only in general terms.
“It seems none of my friends mean to come down this spring,” he said carefully. “My last letters were all answered with regrets and protestations of envy.”
Since Eleanor would not meet his eyes Henry could not very well read her feelings and he was unsure whether to her this news would be welcome or a disappointment.
“Then,” she said, raising her head. “You shall have to make new acquaintances. Or depend on mine. For Mrs. Hughes shall be there.”
Mrs. Hughes had been a schoolfellow of their late mother and had kept up a very steady correspondence with Eleanor ever since her acquaintance with the family had been renewed in town some five years ago.
“That is very fortunate,” Henry replied, and recollecting his time in the Lower Rooms he added: “Besides, I have made a new acquaintance already in the three days I was in town. If that must be seen as a precedent, I shall come away at the end of our visit with more acquaintances than I can reasonably maintain!”
This made Eleanor smile again. “Have you indeed? Anyone that is likely to be a good influence on you?” This was spoken in nearly a teasing tone of voice and Henry therefore eagerly pursued the subject further.
“Most definitely,” he said seriously. “For in the Lower Rooms I made the acquaintance of a young lady by the name of Catherine Morland who is enjoying her first ever stay in Bath. I felt thoroughly ashamed of myself in her company, I can assure you. She expressed such genuine unspoilt pleasure in being there that I felt I had never appreciated that gay bathing place as I ought.”
Eleanor laughed at his pantomime expression of heartfelt shame and Henry felt secure that whatever his sister’s feelings were at present, her spirits would not suffer too greatly.
Writing this made me love Eleanor more and made me very very cross with the general.
Chapter 5: Which takes place during chapter 8 and 9 of Northanger Abbey
Five days passed away at Northanger in preparation of their journey. Preparation that fell mostly to the share of Eleanor and the general, for Henry had done what needed doing before he set off the first time. Even though he spent a great deal of time at Northanger, his rightful home was at Woodston, where he was the rector of the parish. Henry took both pride and pleasure in his profession as a clergyman, but he knew his affairs to be in the capable hands of his curate and was quite free on any concerns on that subject.
The journey to Bath was nothing out of the ordinary and when they arrived in their lodgings in Milsom Street they were not at all as worn out as they might have been after a journey of thirty miles. Their arrival took place on a Friday, which meant that Saturday and Sunday gave the family ample time to settle in their new surroundings and when Monday came they were all quite eager for amusement. When Eleanor expressed her desire to visit the Upper Rooms, however, her father’s reply was less than favourable.
“I do not mean to be seen at a ball my first evening in company here,” he shook his head resolutely. “I have received an invitation already from both Sir Orville and General StYves.”
While he talked Henry attempted to divert Eleanor with stealthy glances in her direction, but when he had done he started: “Well, father, if you’ll allow me I’d be happy to escort Eleanor to her ball.”
The general seemed not at all satisfied with this idea, but before he had opened his mouth to reply Eleanor suggested gently: “Or we might join Mrs. Hughes's party. She sent me a very kind note on Saturday announcing that she would be there and that she would be most happy to-”
“That is all very proper,” general Tilney interrupted her. “But I very much doubt Mrs. Hughes can have an acquaintance large enough to secure your good company for the whole of the evening.”
“Very true,” Henry nodded gravely. “What a pity that one cannot be introduced in a ball-room.”
Eleanor checked her smile and the general gave him a very level stare. “I see how it is,” he spoke. “You need not resort to that impertinence you call wit. If you are determined to go, you shall go and if you are you had better meet with Mrs. Hughes.”
“Thank you, father,” Eleanor said emphatically. “You are very kind to indulge me.”
He merely nodded.
Henry joined her in less sincere, but equally high-spirited gratitude. He was fond of company and although very capable of being amused at home, he longed to be among people.
That evening Henry was quick in dressing and instead of taking up the book he had started this morning he repaired to his sister’s room where she and her maid had been busy at least these three quarters of an hour.
“Eleanor,” he spoke outside her door. “I have come to plague you with my company.”
The door was opened immediately and Eleanor said smilingly: “You plague dear Alice much more than you plague me, for now she has dropped a curl she had been quarrelling with immensely.”
“I quarrel with no curls of yours,” Alice protested and she once again took up the circlet of white beads she had been draping around her mistress’s head.
“You look lovely as ever, dear sister,” Henry said fondly, leaning against the bedpost. “I daresay you shall put all of Bath to shame.”
“You know that is not my object,” Eleanor smiled.
“Which is why you cannot fail to succeed,” Henry replied.
Eleanor would have shaken her head at him, but as that would have certainly upset Alice she did not and merely smiled. It was not long before her attire was finished and they set off for Mrs. Hughes lodgings with every expectation of being only fashionably late in their arrival at the Upper Rooms.
It was indeed so and Mrs. Hughes, who bestowed on them both all the affection she had felt for their mother, led them into the ballroom with great alacrity. In such a fashion, Mrs. Hughes preceding and Eleanor leaning on his arm, Henry entered the ballroom that evening.
“Now,” he said, inclining his head a little towards Eleanor. “I shall for a short time distress every young man in this room by making them think you are my wife instead of my sister.”
“Or every young lady, perhaps,” Eleanor retorted, though she spoke considerably lower than Henry had done.
“Do not attempt to flatter me,” he warned her. “I shall outdo you with hardly any effort.”
Eleanor laughed and shook her head, but Henry continued in earnest: “You think I speak in jest? I most certainly do not. Where shall I start? By comparing you to every other woman in this room, callously slighting your fellow creatures in an attempt to praise you or with idle comparisons to spirits and goddesses that no man has ever laid eyes on?”
At this moment Mrs. Hughes held still to speak to a lady that was sitting down by some others and Henry and Eleanor necessarily held still likewise. Upon Mrs. Hughes pronouncing his sister’s name Eleanor left Henry’s side and walked to hers instead, giving Henry a sudden view of one of the ladies sitting down by Mrs. Hughes acquaintance. It was the very Miss Morland he had danced with a week before. Her eyes were fixed on his immediately and they were just as bright as he remembered. His smile of recognition was readily returned and Henry advanced a little nearer, addressing both her and her companion Mrs. Allen. Miss Morland only managed a sweetly spoken “How do you do, sir”, but Mrs. Allen said most civilly:
“I am very happy to see you again, sir, indeed; I was afraid you had left Bath.”
“I thank you for your fears, madam,” replied he smilingly. “I had indeed quit it for a week, on the very morning after my having had the pleasure of seeing you.” This was directed as much at Miss Morland, but once again Henry had to content himself with an answer from the latter, while the former offered him only a smile.
“Well, sir, and I dare say you are not sorry to be back again, for it is just the place for young people—and indeed for everybody else too. I tell Mr. Allen, when he talks of being sick of it, that I am sure he should not complain, for it is so very agreeable a place, that it is much better to be here than at home at this dull time of year. I tell him he is quite in luck to be sent here for his health.”
“And I hope, madam, that Mr. Allen will be obliged to like the place, from finding it of service to him.”
“Thank you, sir. I have no doubt that he will. A neighbour of ours, Dr. Skinner, was here for his health last winter, and came away quite stout.”
“That circumstance must give great encouragement,” he smiled and this time he was sure that Miss Morland was smiling with him.
“Yes, sir,” Mrs. Allen nodded. “And Dr. Skinner and his family were here three months; so I tell Mr. Allen he must not be in a hurry to get away.”
Here they were interrupted by a request from Mrs. Hughes acquaintance, a Mrs. Thorpe, who was evidently likewise acquainted with Mrs. Allen and now begged of her that she would move a little to accommodate Mrs. Hughes and Miss Tilney with seats. Henry glanced over at his sister, who seemed quite ready to join this party and he found himself rather pleased with the development as well. It was a pleasant coincidence to meet Miss Morland here again and she was evidently gratified to see him again. Indeed, the pinkness of her cheeks and the smiles that overspread her face seemed rather excessive for a lady sitting down for a dance and Henry gratified himself in thinking that he was the cause of it. Quite prepared to flatter in turn where he was being flattered he made Miss Morland a bow and asked:
“Miss Morland, would you do me the honour of dancing with me again?”
Miss Morland flushed and Henry was quite surprised when she replied: “Oh, I am really very sorry, truly I am, but I am engaged for these two dances to Mr. Thorpe, Mrs. Thorpe’s son,” she clarified with a glance to the lady in question. “But I thank you, sir, and had it been in my power I would have been so glad to stand up with you.”
Henry was bemused, but truly felt that here was a rejection spoken with such genuine sorrow as he had never heard before. “I quite understand, Miss Morland,” he replied and privately he wondered whether her distress could truly originate solely from disappointing him or perhaps because her current partner was not entirely agreeable. It was certainly disagreeable of him to be absent.
A few moments later the gentleman appeared and as soon as he opened his lips he confirmed Henry’s most ungenerous presumptions.
“Here you are Miss Morland sitting down so forlornly, I have kept you waiting, have I not?”
“The dance has been going on these ten minutes,” Miss Morland replied, sounding not entirely pleased with this address. “Isabella and my brother are standing up but I do not know in what set.”
“Well, come then, let us go and join them,” Thorpe said, offering her his hand.
Miss Morland took it and allowed herself to be led away, but Henry did perceive the glance she made in his direction and so he smiled conciliatorily. He was not offended and he felt rather sorry for Miss Morland. This was a partner she could have no delight in dancing with. Most likely he had made use of her intimacy with his family to engage her early and she had not been able to refuse.
Be this as it may Henry was a little disappointed. He was fond of dancing and it was certainly more agreeable to dance with someone one did know than to dance with someone one did not. In admitting this however, he did laugh privately at himself and his former quip about introductions in ballrooms. His sister was just then making a new acquaintance. A young man had stopped to speak to Mrs. Hughes and was now being introduced to Eleanor. Henry looked on with amusement and as much approbation as was proper for a brother, how the gentleman lost no time at all in asking Eleanor to dance. Eleanor accepted, expressing only her concern of the dance having already started and her knowing no one in the set.
“That is uncomfortable,” Mrs. Hughes agreed sympathetically. She looked towards the dance with a slight frown. “I cannot at all see Miss Thorpe, or I would not hesitate to place you by her.”
Henry looked likewise and caught sight of Miss Morland, just moving to the end of the set. “But there is Miss Morland,” he put forward.
“Indeed,” Mrs. Thorpe spoke up. “Entrust Miss Tilney to her if you cannot get my Isabella, I am sure Miss Morland will not have the least objection into letting her by her.”
Thus persuaded Eleanor consented and Mrs. Hughes ushered her and her new partner towards the set to speak to Miss Morland. When Mrs. Hughes returned she could confirm that Miss Morland had been most ready to oblige and Henry was glad of it. He did not stay very long to watch the dancing, however. In watching Eleanor he would necessarily likewise be watching Miss Morland and to stand and watch a lady dance that he would have wished to be dancing with himself would surely be too much for any man. After walking here and there for quite some time, he finally did return to his former place. The dance must be nearly over and he was not at all averse to asking Miss Morland to dance a second time.
“Mister Tilney,” Mrs. Allen said complacently upon seeing him. “There you are again.”
“Indeed I am, madam,” he said. “And I am so tired of lounging about I am resolved to go and dance!”
Mrs. Thorpe made an observation on the spirit of young men that Mrs. Allen smiled kindly on, but Henry was looking past them in search of Mrs. Hughes. She was not now sitting by them and neither was Miss Morland. At that moment he saw Eleanor being escorted back by her partner and he excused himself to go and join her.
In joining her he also found Mrs. Hughes, who was just then talking to a young lady that she introduced to him as “Miss Louisa Smith, her mother was at school when your mother and I were.”
Henry readily entered into conversation with Miss Smith and, the dance nearly beginning and his wishes not having changed, he asked her to dance. She accepted immediately and he led her to the dance under the approving eye of Mrs. Hughes.
Miss Smith, whose beauty was nothing out of the common way, danced exceedingly well. So well that Henry began to think that there was a greater degree of effort at work than was reasonably called for. This, coupled with her frequent glances towards a couple some places removed from them in the dance, made him suspect that agreeable as Miss Smith was, she would rather have made herself agreeable to another. In particular a young man in a blue coat that was at that time dancing with a very pretty girl but a rather proud-looking face. It took this young man a couple of figures before he perceived Miss Smith going down the dance with Henry, but when he did his eyes were frequently turned towards her. The notion of his being an instrument of inciting jealousy amused Henry greatly and instead of being offended he did his best to engage Miss Smith in as spirited and charming conversation as he could furnish. Whether she was aware of his consciousness or not, she was exceedingly pleased with him and when their dances were over and he escorted her back to her party, she invited him to sit down and take tea with them. It had not escaped Henry that the young man, now looking positively uncomfortable, belonged to the same party, and he readily accepted.
In drinking tea and conversing with Miss Smith he had considerable pleasure and in seeing the young man engage her in earnest conversation soon after he had even more.
So smiling a face he still bore when reunited with Eleanor towards the close of the ball that she said: “I can see you found your partner agreeable, Henry.”
“Indeed I did,” he smiled and he fully proposed to tell Eleanor all about his suspicions and enjoyment, as soon as he could be sure that no one might overhear.
“I had thought you would ask Miss Morland again,” Eleanor said. “She would have been happy to dance with you again.”
“And I with her,” he said lightheartedly. “But so chance makes fools of us all. And, Eleanor, have you had an agreeable evening?”
“Most agreeable,” she replied. “My first partner, Mr. Holt, was very attentive and I was very glad of Miss Morland’s letting me in by her. She was most kind.”
“I had not expected otherwise,” Henry smiled. “And did you dance the second dance?”
“I did.” Eleanor detailed her enjoyments of the evening while they made ready to go home and by the time they were back in Milsom Street Henry and Eleanor were both quite tired. Henry decided to postpone the recounting of his partner’s romantic woes until a later moment and both brother and sister retired for the night.
The following morning Henry awoke rather late and was informed by his valet that his sister was not yet up and that his father had gone out. Henry therefore had breakfast at a very late hour and Eleanor evidently similarly inclined, he did not see his sister until twelve. By that time, however, they were both so well recovered from the preceding evening that they both longed to go out again, so at half past twelve they set off for the pump-room.
They met Mrs. Hughes there and agreed to take a turn in the Crescent with her. They had not been there long before Henry spied Mrs. Allen, walking with Mrs. Thorpe. Miss Morland was not with them and perhaps this was the reason that Henry did not point out their presence to Mrs. Hughes and Eleanor. His information was unnecessary, however, Mrs. Hughes had already seen them.
“Mrs. Thorpe, Mrs. Allen, how nice to meet with you again so soon,” she said pleasantly.
The two ladies repaid her in kind and it was clear they would be walking together at least for a while. Henry slowed his step so that he and Eleanor, who was leaning on his arm, fell behind a little and walked a couple of paces behind the others. Eleanor smiled at him.
“I hope I am not so transparent to the rest of the world as I am to you,” Henry said, sinking his voice.
The voices of the three ladies in front of them, all equally animated and seemingly all talking at once, filled the little silence Eleanor let fall before she answered. “I am sure I do not know what you mean,” she said and then, smiling a little wider: “Now will you tell me whatever it was you were clearly wishing to tell me last night?”
“You know me better than I know myself,” Henry exclaimed. “I had already forgotten!” He cast around once to make sure neither Miss Smith nor anyone else of their acquaintance was anywhere near and being assured on that account, immediately began to tell the story of his dance last night with great spirit and humour. Eleanor scolded him, but could not help laughing and they walked and talked very pleasantly, sometimes being called upon by Mrs. Hughes to confirm something and at last properly joining in her conversation with Mrs. Allen and Mrs. Thorpe.
When they were finally turning back again Mrs. Hughes said:
“What a pleasant walk we have had, I do like to go every morning when I am able to.”
“It is a very pleasant close of a morning,” Eleanor agreed readily.
“Shall I see you again tomorrow?” Mrs. Hughes enquired.
“I am afraid I shall be differently engaged,” Henry replied. “I am to ride out with my father.”
“And you, my dear?”
“I shall not be joining them,” said Eleanor.
“Then, if you wish to walk out, I shall call on you and we can set off together,” Mrs. Hughes offered very kindly.
“I should like that very much,” Eleanor accepted.
Henry thanked Mrs. Hughes by enquiring in detail after her enjoyment in the ball last night, something he had hitherto failed to do. She answered him very cheerfully and closed by asking: “Shall I see you at the play tonight? It promises to be a good one.”
“Father does not care for a comedy,” Eleanor shook her head.
“That is a pity,” Mrs. Hughes said feelingly. “But at any rate I shall be very glad of your company tomorrow morning.”
Eleanor smiled and Henry pressed her hand.
I do love writing Henry and Eleanor together, they are such Good Siblings. Thank you for reading! Next update will be soon.
Chapter 6: Which takes place during Chapter 10 of Northanger Abbey
“How was your drive, Henry?” Eleanor enquired when Henry came into the drawing room.
For speaking to their father there was no occasion, for no sooner had he changed, or he set off again. They had been riding about the countryside for most of the morning and he had personally insisted on making their tour longer, but now he insisted with equal solemnity that he should be late for an afternoon engagement.
“It was pleasant enough,” replied Henry, sitting down. “Every drive in the country is pleasant when one is staying in town, provided the country is furnished with grass and sky as it usually is.”
Eleanor smiled. Henry was always in need in relieving his feelings through caprice or sarcastic expressions when he had been spending time alone with their father. He was no longer used to it as she was. Suddenly she recollected a circumstance that must be of service to diverting his thoughts and she said:
“I met with Miss Morland at the pump-room this morning, which gave us the opportunity to get a little further acquainted.”
“Did you?” cried Henry, smiling. “And what is your opinion of her?”
“I do not believe I have ever met a girl so completely artless,” Eleanor said sincerely. “It makes her seem younger than her years.”
“That it does,” Henry agreed.
“But I will be pleased to make her further acquaintance,” Eleanor said warmly. “She strikes me as kind above anything.” She then ventured to add: “And most interested in you.”
“Indeed?” Henry laughed. “Have I puzzled her with my saucy speeches? Pray tell of what she has accused me, that I may not disappoint and repeat the offences when next we meet!”
“She has accused you of nothing,” Eleanor smiled. “But of being an excellent dancer.”
“Has she?” Henry said, cheerfully.
“She was eloquent on the subject,” Eleanor assured him. “And she expressed an earnest wish to see us at the cotillion ball tomorrow.”
“And what did you say?”
“That we would certainly be there.”
Henry looked pleased and Eleanor thought he certainly spoke of the ball with more decided pleasure from then on than he had done before.
The day of the ball General Tilney had business he did not wish to cut short or defer and therefore made his children late to a ball they had both rather looked forward to. When they arrived there were, of course, acquaintances to greet and polite conversation to make, but Henry detached himself from his party as soon as may be. After an expressive smile to his sister, he set off to find Miss Morland. The cotillions just being over and the country dances just beginning, he must not be too long in finding her.
He found Miss Morland sitting down beside Mrs Allen and Mrs Thorpe, looking very lovely, but also rather forlorn, with her dark eyes cast down and fixed intently on her fan.
“Good evening, Miss Morland,” he said cheerfully.
What a reward he was to receive for such a simple greeting, Miss Morland’s countenance changed instantly. Her head raised and she looked up at him with such bright eyes and greeted him with so delighted an accent that Henry could not have kept himself from smiling should he have tried.
“Would you do the honour of standing up with me again?” he asked.
“I would like that very much!” she exclaimed and in a moment he was leading her towards the set.
No sooner had they found themselves a place, however, or a young man came up to Miss Morland and addressed her in a loud voice:
“Heyday, Miss Morland! What is the meaning of this? I thought you and I were to dance together.”
Miss Morland’s reply was so gentle Henry could not make it out, but the stranger spoke so loudly he could not help but hear it.
“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.”
Henry grew increasingly impatient during the length of this speech. The young man was loud and his posture was not gentlemanlike. His crude attempts at a compliment to Miss Morland did not suit Henry either. He did not need to examine his feelings on this point, for Miss Morland seemed quite uncomfortable herself. She made a short reply and the young man began again, gesturing in Henry’s direction. Miss Morland evidently told him who he was and the stranger went off on another long speech, which only ended when he was conveniently borne off by a crowd of passing ladies.
Henry drew near Miss Morland 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!” she exclaimed.
“ — That you think they cannot be compared together.”
“To be sure not,” Miss Morland said openly. “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.”
Henry did not laugh, but he did smile. He certainly could not find fault with her description, it was very accurate.
“And such is your definition of matrimony and dancing,” said he. “Taken in that light certainly, their resemblance is not striking; but I think I could place them in such a view. You will allow, that in both, man has the advantage of choice, woman only the power of refusal; that in both, it is an engagement between man and woman, formed for the advantage of each; and that when once entered into, they belong exclusively to each other till the moment of its dissolution; that it is their duty, each to endeavour to give the other no cause for wishing that he or she had bestowed themselves elsewhere, and their best interest to keep their own imaginations from wandering towards the perfections of their neighbours, or fancying that they should have been better off with anyone else. You will allow all this?”
“Yes, to be sure, as you state it, all this sounds very well; but still they are so very different. I cannot look upon them at all in the same light, nor think the same duties belong to them.”
A man with less insight into Miss Morland’s artless, uninformed mind, might have been vexed by such continued questioning of his wit. Henry did her justice, however, and guessed that she had not at all been in the habit of being spoken to with the sole intention to amuse.
“In one respect, there certainly is a difference,” he said smilingly. “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,” said she honestly.
“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?”
His partner defended herself admirably. “Mr. Thorpe is such a very particular friend of my brother’s, that if he talks to me, I must talk to him again; but there are hardly three young men in the room besides him that I have any acquaintance with.”
“And is that to be my only security?” cried he. “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," Miss Morland said. And then she added, with her eyes so earnestly fixed on his face that it might have put him out of his countenance: “And, besides, I do not want to talk to anybody.”
“Now,” he said warmly. “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!” he cried. “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.” Henry must be forgiven for once again speaking with satire. It was too much of a temptation to have such an attentive and impressionable listener, and he really meant no harm by it. If anything he meant to give pleasure to his partner by informing her of the diverting follies that could be met with in Bath.
Miss Morland, however, evidently thought higher of that noble bathing place than he could do. “I do not think I should be tired,” said she. “If I were to stay here six months.”
“Bath, compared with London, has little variety, and so everybody finds out every year. ‘For six weeks, I allow Bath is pleasant enough; but beyond that, it is the most tiresome place in the world.’ You would be told so by people of all descriptions, who come regularly every winter, lengthen their six weeks into ten or twelve, and go away at last because they can afford to stay no longer.”
“Well, other people must judge for themselves, and those who go to London may think nothing of Bath. But I, who live in a small retired village in the country, can never find greater sameness in such a place as this than in my own home; for here are a variety of amusements, a variety of things to be seen and done all day long, which I can know nothing of there.”
This surprised him. “You are not fond of the country.”
“Yes, I am. I have always lived there, and always been very happy. But certainly there is much more sameness in a country life than in a Bath life. One day in the country is exactly like another.”
“But then you spend your time so much more rationally in the country.”
“Do you not?” he smiled.
“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.”
Henry’s amusement was great. He began to comprehend that Miss Morland’s situation, not her character, must be chiefly responsible for her present state of ignorance.
“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,” he said warmly. How could anything but warm be excited by such an amiable speech? “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, Henry found himself addressed in a half-whisper by his father, who had been watching him go down the dance.
“Are you much acquainted with this young lady?” he asked. “Who is she?”
“Catherine Morland, sir,” Henry replied. “I made her acquaintance when I was first here to secure lodgings. Eleanor made her acquaintance last Monday.”
The General looked at Miss Morland once more and Henry saw her change colour. She turned away her head and he feared his father’s discerning eye had distressed her, but his father was not disposed to ask any more questions and retreated to his former place. Henry immediately drew near Miss Morland to give her a reassuring smile.
“I see that you guess what I have just been asked,” he said. “That gentleman knows your name, and you have a right to know his. It is General Tilney, my father.”
Miss Morland’s answer was only “Oh!” — but it was an “Oh!” expressing everything needful: attention to his words, and perfect reliance on their truth. She looked back at his father with great interest and, luckily, with no further embarrassment. Henry attended to her most kindly, speaking with more warmth and a little less archness than he previously had done. For this he was rewarded with increasing confidence in Miss Morland’s own expressions and he was pleased to find that where she had ideas, they were both generous and indicative of common sense.
When their dance was over Miss Morland was brave enough to express a wish of paying her compliments to his sister and as luck would have it she was at that moment close by. Henry brought Miss Morland to her and watched with sincere pleasure how his affectionately they spoke to one another. After speaking of the ball and their enjoyment in it, Eleanor asked Miss Morland what other pursuits of pleasure she enjoyed.
“Do you mean to ask after my pursuits here in Bath,” Miss Morland enquired. “Or back at home, for they could not be more different.”
“Are they indeed?” Eleanor asked. “Are your pleasures in town different to those in the country?”
“You mistake Miss Morland’s meaning, Eleanor,” Henry laughed. “For I have already had the opportunity to learn that although Miss Morland find great happiness in living the country, this is entirely owing to her own good nature, for it furnishes her with no source of amusement at all!”
Miss Morland coloured at this compliment, however strangely worded and Eleanor gave Henry a gentle look that he knew rather than felt to be a remonstrance.
“I hope that is not true,” Eleanor said. “I should be sorry to think Miss Morland so deprived.”
“No indeed!” cried the young lady. “I have many pleasures at Fullerton, it is only that they are very different and much less varied than they are here.”
“Now I understand you,” Eleanor said. “You speak with a great deal more sense than my brother. Do tell me, Miss Morland, what your pleasures in the country consist of.”
“I love to be out of doors,” Miss Morland replied. “And when I wish to be outdoors it does not much signify what motive allows me to do it. I can take equal pleasure in walking out with a book, as in going to see about the chickens or to call on Mrs. Allen.”
Henry was very tempted to offer a reflection here, on the comparative merits of Mrs. Allen’s conversation and attending to a flock of hens, but his sister prevented him by saying:
“You are fond of walking then?”
“Then Bath must be a much more agreeable town to you than London,” said Eleanor. “The environs of Bath are delightful, exactly suited for a leisurely walk.”
“Indeed?” Miss Morland said. “I have not had the opportunity to take a country walk, since my arrival in Bath.”
“Then you certainly must venture to do so!” And Eleanor proceeded to warmly recommend several walks and spoke most eloquently on the subject of several natural beauties that were to be found on them.
“It sounds delightful indeed,” sighed Miss Morland. “But I do not know if I shall find anyone to go with me. Mr. and Mrs. Allen are not in the habit of walking and I am not at all sure if Isabella should like it.”
Had these words been spoken with the express intent of spelling for an invitation, Henry would not have been insensible, but as Miss Morland spoke without any such design, their appeal was irresistible. He looked at his sister and her smile was enough encouragement for him to offer with a most genuine smile:
“Then, Miss Morland, I am sure my sister and I would be very happy to join you on your walk, some morning or other.”
“Indeed we would,” Eleanor agreed. “If you should like it.”
“I shall like it,” Miss Morland cried. “Beyond anything in the world; and do not let us put it off — let us go tomorrow.”
Henry smiled and professed himself most ready, if his sister was also in agreement.
“I am,” she assured them both. “Providing that it does not rain.”
“Oh, I am sure it will not,” Miss Morland said happily.
“And I am sure the weather would have not courage to disappoint you,” Henry spoke. “Shall we then agree to call at you in Pulteney Street at twelve o’clock?”
Miss Morland was all happiness and Henry and Eleanor shared in her high spirits for a few minutes longer. At length, however, they returned Miss Morland to Mrs. Allen, who had then been joined by her husband. They took leave of her with sincere expressions of the pleasure it would be to see her again tomorrow and Miss Morland expressed feelings even more tender.
“Remember — twelve o’clock,” was her parting speech.
This was directed at Eleanor, but she looked at Henry with a countenance that spoke every good sort of feeling a lady could possibly feel towards a partner of four dances. Henry was very aware of it and therefore could not help feeling grateful. When they walked away to join their father’s party again, Eleanor gave him a gentle smile and said:
“Miss Morland is a sweet girl.”
“I defy anyone to find a sweeter,” he said playfully. “Take care Eleanor, it is not the usual style of young ladies to keep company with young women whom they are not greatly superior to in every way. How else can they benefit from the comparison?”
“It is you who should take care, Henry,” she said smilingly.
He made no reply to his, but he did smile back.
I decided to skip the unsatisfactory ball where Catherine doesn't get to dance with Henry and go straight to the conversation I thought must have occured between Henry and his sister. She must be the one that first started the idea that Catherine was particularly impressed with him.
I haven't decided what scene to do next, but when I finish it I'll be sure to upload it. Please leave a review if you have the time!
Chapter 7: Which takes place during chapter 11 of Northanger Abbey
The next day did not go quite as the young people had hoped. Henry and Eleanor had meant to be in Pultney Street at twelve to collect Miss Morland for a walk in the country around Bath, but at eleven it started raining.
“The weather does not favour our scheme,” Eleanor sighed. “How vexing.”
“It may still turn out fine,” said Henry, whose disposition was cheerful, even if his general character was more suited for realism than optimism.
In this particular case optimism would have been justified, however, for the sky soon cleared and the sun came out most obligingly.
“It is now hardly an hour later than our previously agreed time,” Henry said cheerfully. “We shall go now and surely find Miss Morland just as ready to go as she would have been at twelve.”
They father being away from home they could do as they pleased and accordingly they set off as soon as they could. Both Henry and Elinor found themselves walking rather faster than usual, they were convinced that Miss Morland would be sorely disappointed if she was led to believe they would not come. While they walked Henry considered out loud which walk they could best take to introduce Miss Morland to the country hereabouts, and Elinor listened. She was sometimes very tempted to offer the smiling observation that her brother had never before been so anxious that a walk in the countryside should be a perfectly pleasant one, but she generously refrained from teasing him.
Henry’s mind was so engaged that he had only a limited attention to bestow upon his surroundings. This became evident when, walking past Argyle Buildings, only Elinor saw a young woman in a passing gig that resembled Miss Morland with striking accuracy. She looked at her earnestly, but the young woman did not perceive her.
“Do I walk too fast?” Henry asked, feeling Elinor had slowed down.
“No,” Elinor said thoughtfully. “But look, Henry, is that not Miss Morland?”
Henry turned in the direction she indicated and saw to his astonishment that it was Miss Morland. Indeed, there could be no mistake, for right at that moment she turned around in the seat of the carriage and looked back at them. She was too far away to see her expression, but her movements seemed to indicate that she started at perceiving them. The coachman, whom Tilney could only suppose to be Thorpe, cracked his whip and the gig went around corner of the street and out of sight. There was a short, shocked silence.
“How very odd,” Eleanor said, breaking it.
Henry did not answer.
“I am sure there is a perfectly fair explanation for it,” Eleanor said.
Still Henry did not answer. His sister gave him an enquiring look and he said with an air of indifference:
“I suppose she decided she would rather drive than walk. A simpler explanation could not be asked for.”
“Simpler perhaps not,” Eleanor said. “But I should still desire a different one, for Miss Morland seems not at all the sort of girl to not honour an engagement.”
A moment ago Henry would have agreed, but at present he would only shrug his shoulders and make a rather cold remark on the difficulty with which some characters were to be penetrated.
Eleanor did not think this could be at all the case with Miss Morland, but she did not say so, and instead they walked in mutual silence. Though where Eleanor’s silence was mostly puzzled, Henry’s had a decided air of displeasure. Perhaps he would have been more inclined to allow that Miss Morland might be pardoned, if she had been driven by any other young man. But I think most would agree that even a very clever young man of five and twenty can sometimes be lacking in self-understanding on these points.
They walked on in a rather uncomfortable silence, following an unspoken decision to call in Pultney Street regardless of their being certain Miss Morland was not at home. The door was answered by a footman and as Henry was resolutely silent, Eleanor said:
“Mr. and Miss Tilney, calling for Miss Morland.”
“I am sorry, Miss,” the footman spoke politely. “Miss Morland has just now gone out with Mr. and Miss Thorpe and her brother.”
“Has there been any message left for me?” Eleanor asked.
“No, Miss,” was the reply.
Henry’s displeasure grew. He could imagine that Miss Morland thought they would not want to walk, it being so dirty, but that did not excuse her for not even leaving a message.
Eleanor was very surprised also. She felt about her for a card and was sorry to find she had none about her.
“I have no card to leave,” she told the footman. “But please tell Miss Morland we called.”
“Very good, Miss,” the footman bowed.
Henry silently offered his sister his arm again and they turned away and slowly walked back to Milsom Street. After a couple of streets Henry recollected that his being out of humour with Miss Morland should be no reasons for being disagreeable to Eleanor and he made an effort to shake off his gravity.
“Here we are, walking back exactly the same way we came,” he said. “I am a most uninspired guide. Shall we be adventurous and stray from our accustomed route?”
“If you like,” Eleanor smiled.
“Nay,” Henry cried. “I was asking for your wishes, not your acquiescence. You are far too apt, you know, to please others. Tell me what would please you, I am at your disposal.”
“It would please me,” Eleanor said. “If you would withhold your judgement of Miss Morland until she has had an opportunity to explain herself. I do not like to see you angry.”
“I am not angry, Eleanor,” Henry protested. “I am merely surprised. Are not you?”
“Very surprised,” Eleanor agreed. “But not nearly as affected.”
“Well,” Henry exclaimed. “First you call me angry then you accuse me of being affected. What grievous charges. I must go home directly for some solemn reflection and make use of this great display of personal weakness to write a sermon for my parish!”
This facetious speech convinced Eleanor that her brother was either convinced his feelings were justified, or unwilling to examine them at this time. She was convinced, however, that as soon as the opportunity arose, Miss Morland would give an explanation which proved her free of any desire to offend them and must therefore surely dispel Henry’s resentment. He did not have a resentful temper and Eleanor had never known him to dwell on things that contributed to his ill humour.
This being the case it was perhaps quite indicative of Henry’s feelings that he was not able to fully recover his spirits that day. Eleanor observed it all and did her brother justice by silently pitying him and actively endeavouring to distract and divert him.
This was just a short one, but stay tuned the next one is going to be such fun! And many thanks to the two guests who left kudos, you warm my heart.
Chapter 8: Which takes place during Chapter 12 of Northanger Abbey
The next morning the weather was very fine and Henry went out early to meet an acquaintance in the marketplace. This was just as well, for if he had been allowed to be idle, he might have been at leisure to quarrel with the weather about its decision to be so fine today while it was so disobliging yesterday. Henry was determined not to pay any mind to the weather however, and neither would he think about Miss Morland. Since the weather was so fine today it was not at all unlikely she would go our riding with that Thorpe fellow again.
When he came home that afternoon however he found that she could not have been, for as soon as they were along Eleanor addressed him in a tone of real regret:
“Oh Henry, Miss Morland came to call this morning and I could not receive her.”
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“Father would not allow me to see her,” Eleanor said miserably. “We were just preparing to walk out, you see and when she called he bid William to tell her I was not within. But then he wished to set off immediately and I am sure Miss Morland had not even turned to corner when I stepped outside. I am wretched to think she might have seen me. She must think me incredibly resentful.”
Henry was vexed with his father’s conduct for his sister’s sake and pressed her hand most kindly, but could not help saying:
“Perhaps it is as well. Miss Morland is young and a little instruction on the consequences of bad manners may be to her advantage.”
“How can you talk so, Henry?” Eleanor exclaimed. “I am certain Miss Morland called on purpose to explain herself. And even if she acted wrong I am sure she did not mean to. The way in which she turned around in the carriage when she perceived us yesterday made me believe her truly shocked. It would surprise me greatly if, when we hear her explanation, we would find her at all at fault.”
Against such feelings, so much better than his own, Henry did not feel right to argue. He tried to comfort Eleanor however, with representing to her the likelihood that Miss Morland might be at the play they were to attend that evening. If she was Eleanor could certainly take an opportunity to speak to her then. His sister was fully resolved to do so, but when evening came, she sadly felt herself plagued by such a headache that she felt she could not attend.
“If you are indisposed then you had better stay home,” General Tilney said.
“Yes, you had better rest yourself,” Henry said, speaking with a solicitude that had been wholly absent from his father’s voice. “Your headaches are not often long… But shall you be quite comfortable on your own, shall I not keep you company?”
General Tilney made a disapproving noise, but Henry chose not to hear it, pressing his sister again that she would have his company if she wished it. Eleanor smiled, however, and shook her head.
“No, no,” she said. “I shall retire early and be quite well again tomorrow. There is no reason for you to miss the play as well as myself.”
“Good,” Gen. Tilney said. “I shall order the carriage.”
When he had left the room, Eleanor repeated her assurances to Henry that she did not require his company, but she did add one urgent wish:
“If you should see Miss Morland at the play, do speak to her and make her my sincerest apologies for this morning.”
“Had you not rather speak to her yourself?” Henry said. The idea of meeting Miss Morland and very likely Mr. Thorpe, did not at all appeal to him.
Eleanor guessed his feelings, but persuaded as she was that his resentment towards Miss Morland was unjust, she made it a point to extort from him a promise to speak to Miss Morland if it were in his power.
So charged Henry left with his father to attend the play. Despite his promise Henry resolved not to be on the lookout for Miss Morland. He was almost successful, for it was a very good play and during the first half of the play even when he did look about, Miss Morland was nowhere to be seen. Between the fourth and fifth act, however, there was a change of situation. His father had caught sight of an acquaintance and upon being noticed by the gentleman they were invited to join his party. When the fifth act began therefore, Henry found himself in a box on the opposite part of the theatre and –as it happened – directly opposite Miss Morland. She was seated at the end of the bench, beside Mrs. Allen and Henry was honest enough to admit he was pleased to see that John Thorpe was not with them, even if the rest of the Thorpe family was.
Once he had perceived her however, he resolved not to look at her again, and fixed his attention most determinedly on the play. Sadly, he was forced to observe that a play, no matter how engaging, can hardly distract a young man from the very decided attention of a young lady. Because as soon as he had resolved not to look in Miss Morland’s direction again, Miss Morland noticed him in the box opposite hers and proceeded to look at him with as unrelenting a gaze as he was directing towards the stage. Since he would not look at her, however, it was not in Henry’s power to know whether this gaze was distressed, mocking, or merely curious. This was intolerable and indeed, Henry could not tolerate it any more after sitting through the fifth and sixth acts of the play without following any of the story. At least Miss Morland could hardly have a better idea of what had been going on, for he was sure that every other look upon an average had been directed towards him. One look, he thought, he might allow himself. The look was bestowed, followed by a short bow and then Henry once more fixed his eyes on the stage. Be this as it may, the stage was wholly unseen by him. As briefly as he had permitted himself to look into Miss Morlands face it had been quite sufficient to assure him of two things. The first was that she had smiled and the second that there had been a great deal of anxiety in her eyes.
It is of course of great importance what feelings at that moment most occupied Henry Tilney. From these feelings we must deduce what sort of hero he is to be. Whether he will be most likely to forgive Catherine Morland on the spot, quit his box and rush to her side, or if he is to make her and himself miserable by resolving never to speak to her again. His feelings, as they were, would not allow him to do either. He was for a while very conflicted, but at last he resolved to go speak to Miss Morland as soon as the play had ended. He could then fulfil his promise to his sister and, should she offer one, he was quite prepared to hear Miss Morlands explanation of her conduct yesterday afternoon. This decision cannot give us a very favourable idea of the poetic state of his sensibilities, but it may at least assure us of his comparative reasonableness.
So with reasonableness it was that Henry, as soon as the play ended, excused himself to his father and the rest of his party. He went round to Miss Morland’s box, made his way through then then thinning rows and bowed to Mrs. Allen and Miss Morland.
“Good evening, Mrs. Allen, Miss Morland, I hope you are both well.”
Mrs. Allen opened her mouth to answer with her usual complacency, but Henry was prevented from hearing her reply, by its being quite drowned out by Miss Morlands.
“Oh! Mr. Tilney,” she exclaimed. “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?”
She directed her eyes towards him and her companion by turns, but always with the greatest distress on her face. Mrs. Allen did not seem aware of this emotion.
“My dear, you tumble my gown,” was all she replied.
Henry could not be insensible however, and he offered Miss Morland a more genuine smile and said:
“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.”
He wished only to spare the feelings he had evidently distressed, but here once again Henry found he had not done did Miss Morland’s character justice. She was not to be comforted by a falsehood, however pleasant and however trifling.
“But indeed I did not wish you a pleasant walk,” she said miserably. “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.”
What a brute Henry must have thought himself in that moment. It was clear that his sister’s estimation of the situation had been correct. Miss Morland had not been to blame and yet she had blamed herself bitterly. The evident misery of her feelings at this very moment must have been as much his doing as her own though, and Henry was ashamed.
“I assure you,” he said with a yet sweeter smile. “That although my sister regretted very much not being able to walk out with you that day, she was mostly concerned for you happiness and welfare; feeling you did not look quite easy in the gig in which you were seated. It is true were surprised by the circumstance, but my sister’s confidence in your honour has never wavered, she was always certain you must have a perfectly fair explanation for it all and you have now proven her quite right.”
This was not enough, however, to comfort Miss Morland.
“Oh! Do not say Miss Tilney was not angry,” she cried, “because I know she was; for she would not see me this morning when I called; I saw her walk out of the house the next minute after my leaving it; I was hurt, but I was not affronted. Perhaps you did not know I had been there.”
She cast down her eyes for a moment, before looking up at Henry once more and he felt that now he was forced to admit not having done justice to his sister either. Her concern for Miss Morland’s feelings were as justified as her reliance on her good character.
“I was not within at the time,” he said earnestly. “But I heard of it from Eleanor, and she has been wishing ever since to see you, to explain the reason of such incivility; but perhaps I can do it as well. It was nothing more than that my father — they were just preparing to walk out, and he being hurried for time, and not caring to have it put off — made a point of her being denied. That was all, I do assure you. She was very much vexed, and meant to make her apology as soon as possible.”
This assurance, finally, produced a smile from Miss Morland. Henry delighted in it, and was in great danger of forgiving his own villainous conduct right then. He was spared of such unheroic insensibility however. For Miss Morland, thoroughly artless and quite unaware of the distress she was causing, asked him with genuine concern:
“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!” he cried, attempting to change sincerity for light-heartedness. “I take offence!”
“Nay, I am sure by your look, when you came into the box, you were angry,” Miss Morland said.
“I angry!” Henry said. “I could have no right.” This last sentence was spoken with emphasis and was as much an assurance to her as a condemnation towards himself.
“Well, nobody would have thought you had no right who saw your face,” she replied quietly.
What reply could possibly be made to this? Is there any single phrase in the English language that might at once convey warm regard and sincere regret, without embarrassing the feelings of either the speaker or the recipient? If there was Henry Tilney did not know it, so he spoke instead:
“Do you think you might contrive to find room for me on your bench, without repeating the offence to Mrs. Allen’s gown I have already led you to commit once?”
Miss Morland smiled and readily made room for him. He sat down beside her and talked of the play in as warm and pleasant a tone as one could possibly talk of a comedy. This course of action, although it might not be considered sufficient atonement for injury done to a lady, was at least quite sufficient to drive the anxiety from Miss Morland’s face. She was easy again and her cheerful looks made Henry easy as well. As eager as he was to bestow his full attention on Miss Morland, he could not help glancing in the direction of his father’s box once or twice. The general hated to be kept waiting.
This second glance across the theatre made Miss Morland look up also and they were both surprised to see General Tilney speaking to Mr. Thorpe. Henry could not imagine even Thorpe impertinent enough to address his father unless spoken to and he could think only one reason why his father would take the trouble to speak to Mr. Thorpe. Sure enough, his father’s eyes and Thorpe’s gestures were both directed towards Miss Morland. Henry felt uneasy, but masked these feelings well when Miss Morland asked:
“How came Mr. Thorpe to know your father?”
“I know nothing about it,” he replied. “But my father, like every military man, naturally has a very large acquaintance.”
“Ah yes, of course,” said Miss Morland. She glanced rather nervously at the General and Henry understood very well that she feared his disapprobation. After what has transpired this morning he could not wonder at it.
“Miss Morland,” he said, with a resolute smile. “I am certain I speak for my sister also when I say that one failed attempt to get you into the countryside and up to your ankles in dirt, should not prevent us from trying a second time. What say you?”
“Oh!” she replied with positively brilliant eyes. “I should like it above anything.”
“Then I shall carry the report to my sister that our walk should take place as soon as may be,” he said cheerfully. “Upon my honour, we shall have our airing, even if it shall rain for a fortnight.”
Miss Morland expressed her perfect agreement with this sentiment and he took leave of her with high spirits, returning to his father in a very good humour.
“Well, Henry,” his father said when he joined him again. “You have had a pleasant talk I can tell.”
“I have, sir,” Henry replied.
“That is the very Miss Morland that called on us this morning, is it not?”
“It is, Sir,” said Henry, and boldly going on: “Eleanor and I are to walk out with her to see the countryside one of these days.”
To Henry’s surprise, his father smiled.
“An excellent notion,” the General said. “Nothing so suitable to further an acquaintance as a walk.”
“I am glad you think so, sir,” Henry said, cautiously. His father usually took very little interest in his children’s amusements, as long as they did not offend him, and he rarely spoke of any person with decided approbation, certainly not when they lacked either rank or fortune. It did occur to him, however, that even his father might be forced to acknowledge that Miss Morland was as sweet and unpretending a creature as ever lived. These were circumstances that must endear her to everyone and as long as his father did not give him any cause to doubt it, Henry was quite ready to believe this the cause of the General’s approval of his acquaintance with her.
This is my favourite so far. Slighted lover Henry Tilney is a joy to write and this was much better than the last chapter because it ends happily :)
I haven't started on the next part yet, not sure if I'll do chapter 13 (which has more drama) or skip straight to chapter 14 (which has the lovely walk with the lesson on the picturesque).
Chapter 9: Which takes place during chapter 13 of Northanger Abbey
That Sunday afternoon Eleanor proposed that she like to take a turn in the Cresent.
“I have already gone out this morning,” her father said, barely looking up from his newspaper.
This was exactly what she had expected him to say and Henry’s reply was equally unsurprising:
“Then stay quietly at home father, I will accompany Eleanor so that she may get her air and exercise.”
“Very well,” General Tilney agreed and his children left him in high spirits.
Equipped with a pelisse and coat brother and sister set off for the Cresent and they made a very pretty picture, stepping so light and so cheerfully thought the streets of Bath.
“What an excellent notion of you to go out this afternoon instead of this morning,” Henry said good-humouredly.
“It was a pleasant morning, just the two of us,” Eleanor said calmly, and after a pause she added, “perhaps we may meet Miss Morland on our walk.”
“Perhaps we may,” her brother assented , choosing not to take note of her smile.
Upon reaching the Cresent Henry found that it was full of people and many among them his acquaintances, but none of them whom he wished to meet. He was beginning to grow quite impatient, not appreciating at all that it can hardly be creditable to a hero if he is to endure no hardship whatever before meeting his lady. At last, however, there was suddenly a “Miss Tilney, Mr. Tilney! How do you do!” spoken behind them and brother and sister turned round to see and greet Miss Morland. If the clouds were so disagreeable as to refuse parting to bathe this happy scene in sunshine, the smiles that overspread the faces of the young people were bright enough to need no additional illumination.
“We had rather hoped we would meet you here, Miss Morland,” Eleanor confided after the first happy greetings. “Hadn’t we, Henry?”
“Indeed we had,” Henry said with a smile and he offered Miss Morland his disengaged arm.
She took it with a face so flushed with exquisite feelings that it would have put any Emily to shame.
“Have you come out with Mr. and Mrs. Allen?” Eleanor asked.
“No, not this time,” Miss Morland replied. “I am here with my brother and Isabella Thorpe and her brother.”
“Then you are equally well attended to,” Henry observed pleasantly and why shouldn’t he be pleasant? To refer to someone by their relationship to oneself rather than their name is a mark of affection, but to refer to someone by their relationship to another and nothing more, is surely a mark of indifference.
“I am,” Miss Morland agreed. “But I must say that a party of three is more suited for a pleasant walk than a party of four, which is too likely to be split in half when a walkway is too narrow or a crowd too thick.”
“That is true enough,” Henry said gaily. “But how a party splits is often determined much more by the people who make up the party than by the narrowness of their walk or the crowds surrounding them.”
Miss Morland seemed rather puzzled by this speech, but before Henry could tease her further, Eleanor interjected:
“I am quite of your opinion, Miss Morland. A party of three is just the thing for a pleasant walk. Have you given any thought to when we might have our walk in the countryside?”
“Oh!” Miss Morland cried happily. “We could go tomorrow! If that would be agreeable to you, of course.”
“It would be most agreeable,” Eleanor smiled. “Tomorrow suits me very well, what about you Henry?”
“I cannot think of a better day to go for a walk than tomorrow,” Henry said smilingly. “Indeed, all pleasures should take place ‘tomorrow’, that way one can look forward to them forever.”
“Can you be serious for one moment and assure Miss Morland that we shall go on a walk with her,” Eleanor smiled.
“Miss Morland,” Henry said with affected gallantry. “We shall go on a walk with you!”
“Tomorrow?” Miss Morland laughed.
“Aye, tomorrow,” Henry said. “And we shall call for you at one o’clock, so that even if the morning is wet, it will not succeed in thwarting us a second time.”
Miss Morland blushed, but Henry had only meant to make a joke, his intention had not at all been to punish her. In an attempt to make amends he immediately began talking of the beauties of the countryside, expressing his wish that they would please Miss Morland as much as they pleased him. Of this she had no doubt and a few minutes later she took leave of them to rejoin her party with all the sweet smiles and happy expressions that Henry could have hoped to receive.
Having gained their point Eleanor and Henry did not stay much longer and soon agreed to walk back home. Just as they were turning into Brock Street, however, they were overtaken by a young man that addressed them rather suddenly.
Eleanor started and Henry turned round to see John Thorpe.
“Mr. Thorpe, I believe,” he said, a little stiffly. “Eleanor, this is Mr. Thorpe, Miss Isabella Thorpe’s brother.”
“How do you do,” Eleanor curtsied, with much more politeness than Henry could command. “Miss Morland has introduced you to us already via report.”
This was met with a grin and Thorpe said something about not standing upon ceremony where everybody was to be friends with everybody.
“I come on an errand from the very Miss Morland,” he said with a flourish. “She has just, upon leaving you, recollected the prior engagement of going to Cliffton tomorrow with me and her brother and Belle. This distressed her no end, of course, and I her, humble servant, ran after you directly to tell you of the mistake and inform you that Miss Morland sadly cannot have the pleasure of walking with you till Tuesday.”
Every word that left Thorpe’s mouth increased Henry’s ill-will and astonishment. Eleanor was equally surprised, but she did not show it.
“Very well,” she said. “I would not wish to put Miss Morland to any inconvenience and since Tuesday is just as convenient to me, we could take our walk the day after tomorrow if she chooses it.”
“I knew there wouldn’t be a problem there, I told Miss Morland so from the start,” Thorpe said triumphantly. “I shall tell her directly. Good day Miss Tilney, Mr. Tilney, damn fine afternoon is it not?” And with that he strode away, leaving the Tilneys with no very cordial feelings towards him.
“Well,” Eleanor said, taking Henry’s arm again. “I shall no longer wonder at the difficulty our father has in organizing political meetings, as we seem unable to organize a simple walk without running into obstacle upon obstacle.”
“Except that obstacle is always the same,” Henry remarked crossly. He had learned his lesson and this time could not believe that this uncivil rejection was truly Miss Morlands doing. If Thorpe was capable of carrying a lady away in a curricle against her will he was certainly equal to dispelling falsehoods to get his way.
Eleanor, though not inclined to share the sentiment, thought the same, and they walked back to Milsom Street in silence. Both were out of spirits and both were thinking with great displeasure on the perverseness of an afternoon that began so fair ending so badly. Just as they had gone inside, laid off their wraps and gone upstairs to the drawing room where their father still sat, there was a commotion heard downstairs. They heard the startled voice of William and suddenly the door of the drawing room flew open and Miss Morland tumbled in, quite out of breath and with eyes as wide as anything.
“I am come in a great hurry!” she began, with great irritation of nerves. “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.”
“My dear Miss Morland,” Eleanor exclaimed. “Do sit down and catch your breath.”
But Miss Morland would not sit down and her eyes darted from the surprised faces of Eleanor and Henry to the grave expression on the General’s and looked utterly miserable.
“I do apologize,” she pleaded. “I should not have run in as I did. But I could not rest until I had spoken to you! Really I did not send Mr. Thorpe to speak to you! I never would do such a thing. You ought to believe me, truly I would not.”
“Miss Morland, we believe you,” Henry assured her in the warmest of accents. “There never was a doubt in our minds.”
“Indeed there was not,” Eleanor said firmly. “When Mr. Thorpe came to deliver what he chose to say was your message I was greatly surprised by it and although I complied with his request, I must say I could not quite believe myself to be gratifying your wishes in doing so.”
Now Miss Morland looked easy again, or at least as easy as a young lady that has run a great while with great anxiety can look. As it was her flushed face and the slight disorder of her hair became her very well, at least Henry thought so and if he could have known this was much more Catherine Morland in her natural state than any other, he would have been extremely pleased.
The great misunderstanding settled and Miss Morland’s fears quieted, Eleanor now introduced her friend to her father.
“This is Catherine Morland, sir,” she said. “Miss Morland, this is my father, General Tilney.”
Miss Morland made an elegant, but anxious curtsy, clearly in awe of the General and neither Henry nor Eleanor could blame her. But their father greeted her with such ready, such solicitous politeness as to astonish them exceedingly. Henry did remember his father’s earlier approbation of his acquaintance with Miss Morland, but he had not expected the levels of cordiality he was now displaying.
“It is a pleasure to meet you, Miss Morland,” General Tilney said smilingly. “I have heard so much about you. You are very kind in calling on us, but-” he added with a look of displeasure, “I must apologize for the neglect of my servant, as it has reduced you to opening the door of the apartment yourself! What did William mean by it? I shall make a point of enquiring into the matter and I can assure you Miss Morland it has never occurred before and shall never do so again.”
“Oh, sir,” Miss Morland said hastily. “Please do not blame your servant, I entered the house with such rapidity, he could not have attended to me.” Most warmly did she assert his innocence and the General, seeing her thoughts ran more upon William’s well-being than on any slight towards herself, assured her that if she wished it, the matter would be spoken of no more.
Eleanor exchanged a glance of gentle wonder with Henry and he returned it with a smile that hid his greater surprise. Miss Morland sat with them for a quarter of an hour and Henry did everything in his power to make her feel welcome. Neither he nor Eleanor spoke a great deal, however, both because their father took it upon him to carry all the conversation and because they were still trying to make out why their father felt it necessary to court Miss Morland’s good opinion as he clearly did. His attentions were so marked that, when Miss Morland rose to take leave, Henry was not as surprised as he would have been to hear his father invite Miss Morland to do Eleanor the honour of dining and spending the rest of the day with her.
Eleanor did seem taken by surprise, but readily added her own wishes, with genuine warmth.
“Oh,” Miss Morland said, with a delighted smile. “I am much obliged to you, and I would love it very much, but it is not in my power to accept. Mr. and Mrs. Allen expect me back every moment…”
“Then I shall say no more to urge you,” General Tilney shook his head. “The claims of Mr. and Mrs. Alllen are, of course, not to be superseded, but on some other day, I trust, when longer notice can be given, I am sure they will not refuse to spare you to your friend.”
“Oh no, I am sure they will have not the least objection,” Miss Morland said, quite aglow with happiness. “And I should have great pleasure in coming.”
The General smiled and Eleanor shook hands with Miss Morland, saying:
“We shall see you tomorrow then?”
“Oh yes!” Miss Morland said. “Tomorrow! One o’clock,” she added with a shy look in Henry’s direction and he smiled most warmly at her.
“Never fear, Miss Morland,” he said. “You shall have your walk. Neither rain nor dirt nor curricles will prevent us now.”
She laughed at this and he took leave of her with very confused feelings as his father led her out of the room and proceeded to attend her all the way down to the street door. His voice carried up the stairs and Eleanor and Henry listened in silence how their father complemented Miss Morland’s person and character.
“I have never,” Eleanor began. She did not finish her sentence, but Henry understood her.
There was no occasion to talk any further, because their father was returning already. He sat down, taking up once more the political publication he had been reading before. Henry longed to ask him whether he was pleased with Miss Morland and, more importantly, to find out why. But he dared not begin upon such a subject and instead decided to be grateful that his father at east did not object to an acquaintance that was affording him and Eleanor so much pleasure.
The Emily that Catherine is to put to shame is of course the protagonist of The Mysteries of Udolpho, even though Catherine could never outfeel her. I would dearly like to get Emily St. Aubert and Marianne Dashwood in one room and read them something sad, you could probably mop the floors with the floods of tears. The next chapter is based on chapter 14, which has the sassiest dialogue for Henry, so there will be very little left for me to do ;)
Chapter 10: Which takes place during Chapter 14 of Northanger Abbey
The next morning was fair, and Henry and Eleanor called for Miss Morland at the appointed time. She was ready and eager to go, but Henry detected in her cheerful greeting a certain sound of relief, which proved she had still feared their walk would have been prevented again. This, of course, only made him more determined to make it the most delightful walk ever taken.
They soon settled it between them that they would walk round Beechen Cliff and set off in a pleasant party of three, the two young ladies each on one side of Henry. As it happened Miss Morland was very eager to see more of Beechen Cliff. That noble hill whose beautiful verdure and hanging coppice rendered it so striking an object from almost every opening in Bath had interested from the first.
“It is a happy hill, to have inspired such a desire to see it in you,” Henry observed, as they walked along the side of the river.
“I never look at it,” said Miss Morland, “without thinking of the south of France.”
This surprised Henry. “You have been abroad then?” he asked and Eleanor eyed Miss Morland with curiosity.
“Oh!” she exclaimed. “No, I only mean what I have read about. It always puts me in mind of the country that Emily and her father travelled through, in The Mysteries of Udolpho. But you never read novels, I dare say?”
“Why not?” Henry asked, highly diverted.
“Because they are not clever enough for you — gentlemen read better books.”
Henry was quite ready, eager actually, to be admired by Miss Morland, but such unjust and ill-founded admiration he could not accept.
“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid,” he said decisively, and then in a tone of confidence: “I have read all Mrs. Radcliffe’s works, and most of them with great pleasure. The Mysteries of Udolpho, when I had once begun it, I could not lay down again; I remember finishing it in two days — my hair standing on end the whole time.”
“Yes,” added Miss Tilney, “and I remember that you undertook to read it aloud to me, and that when I was called away for only five minutes to answer a note, instead of waiting for me, you took the volume into the Hermitage Walk, and I was obliged to stay till you had finished it.”
“Thank you, Eleanor — a most honourable testimony,” Henry laughed. “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.”
Miss Morland did indeed look pleased, certainly more pleased than surprised. “I am very glad to hear it indeed,” she said happily. “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,” Henry informed her. “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.” He studied earnestly for something that would impress upon Miss Morland that he not only read novels, but that he loved them well enough to remember them clearly. “— as far as your friend Emily herself left poor Valancourt when she went with her aunt into Italy,” he said at last.
Miss Morland gave him a surprised, but delighted look and Henry smiled at her.
“Consider how many years I have had the start of you,” he said. “I had entered on my studies at Oxford, while you were a good little girl working your sampler at home!”
Eleanor glanced at him and hid a smile as they walked between the trees.
“Not very good, I am afraid,” Miss Morland replied. “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 earnestly.
“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 Miss Morland, “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. Miss Morland’s confusion and Eleanor’s reproach both only served to heighten his spirits. “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 Eleanor, “it ought only to be applied to you, without any commendation at all. You are more nice than wise. Come, Miss Morland,” she said, taking her arm. “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.
Henry took up a stick and strode ahead, head held high in quiet semantic dignity, but he took care not to outstrip the ladies quite so much that he could no longer hear their conversation.
“It is a most interesting work,” his sister gently praised Udolpho. “You are fond of that kind of reading?”
“To say the truth, I do not much like any other,” Miss Morland confessed. This did not surprise Henry at all.
“Indeed!” Eleanor replied.
“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.”
The thought of Miss Morland, poring over some heavy volume of – as she called it – solemn history, made Henry smile. She ought to have had history read to her, if she had no taste for it. That was how his mother had encouraged enthusiasm for any topic.
“Historians, you think,” said Eleanor, “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!” Miss Morland said admiringly. “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, turning around to speak his mind, “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.”
He was only teasing, but as he had expected Miss Morland took his words rather seriously and gave him a much more eloquent reply than he deserved:
“You think me foolish to call instruction a torment, but if you had been as much used as myself to hear poor little children first learning their letters and then learning to spell, if you had ever seen how stupid they can be for a whole morning together, and how tired my poor mother is at the end of it, as I am in the habit of seeing almost every day of my life at home, you would allow that ‘to torment’ and ‘to instruct’ might sometimes be used as synonymous words.”
“Very probably,” Henry said kindly, her earnestness making him more serious also. “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.”
“I had not thought of it in such a manner,” Miss Morland said after a quiet moment. “Oh, to not have been able to read Mrs. Radcliffe! For Mrs. Radcliffe not to have read or written herself!”
She was appropriately horrified and gave relief to her feelings by speaking very warmly on that lady’s merit’s. Henry and Eleanor listened to her effusions of passion with kind smiles and ready encouragement. When she returned at the end of her speech to the beauty of the landscape around them and how she might almost suppose herself to be walking where her cherished heroines had walked, Henry said playfully:
“And so you are. Eleanor, does she not look quite the Gothic heroin? Rambling about the country side and yet looking quite spotless?”
“Very true,” Eleanor smiled.
“Had I my pencils about me, I would sketch the scene immediately and if I offered it as an illustration to Udolpho no one would be the wiser,” Henry said, pleased to see Miss Morland looking somewhat flustered by this idea.
“Another time we will bring our pencils,” his sister said. “I long to be drawing again. Do remind me, Henry, to return to that fork in the path we just now passed at a time a little earlier in the day, when the view might be lit by not quite so high a sun.”
Henry promised her he would and began to point out some particular aspects he would like to sketch himself. Eleanor answered him in kind and it was some time before they realized Miss Morland had grown rather quiet. She was in fact listening to them with a rather fretful sort of anxious attention, that marked her distress at not at all understanding them.
“Forgive us,” Eleanor said hastily. “We ought not to get so distracted.”
“Oh no,” Miss Morland said. “Why should you apologize for being so very accomplished.”
“Accomplishment severely misused,” Henry said. “For it has led us to neglect you.”
Miss Morland once again protested against such self-reproach and said with a sigh: “I must confess I know nothing of drawing, or the picturesque. I did not before know that I was so very ignorant, as I did not know there was so much to know. I really would give anything in the world to be able to draw.”
What reasonable, well-informed young man could resist such a plea? Certainly not Henry Tilney. Eleanor smiled and studied the clouds in the sky, while her brother immediately undertook to instruct Miss Morland in knowing the picturesque. He took Miss Morland’s arm and her attention was so unwavering and her admiration of whatever rock, tree or distant object he pointed out so earnest, he soon became convinced of her having a great deal of natural taste. More importantly, as he talked of foregrounds, distances and second distances, side screens and perspectives, lights and shades, he heard Miss Morland take up the terms with comparative ease. She was, as he had expected, not at all slow of understanding, merely very uninstructed, and probably long without any real motivation to learn. That she was determined to learn now, however, was evident. Henry was self-aware enough to know that his skill as a teacher might be of importance here than the mere fact that he was teaching her, but in any case the effect was equally pleasing. By the time they gained the top of Beechen Cliff Miss Morland surveyed the view with a critical eye and boldly rejected the whole city of Bath as unworthy to make part of a landscape.
“Well done, Miss Morland,” Henry praised her with a laugh and she smiled back at him delightedly.
Delighted as he was with her progress, he did not want to weary her and therefore Henry sought to change the subject.
“Should this not be a good thing to draw,” Miss Morland suggested, clearly not yet wearied. She gestured to a piece of rock that stuck out sharply among the green.
He smiled and said: “It would indeed, though, perhaps, not on its own.”
With a pedantic air he placed a branch of a withered oak near its summit to provide some contrast and declared it almost dramatic enough. Eleanor laughed at him and this made Miss Morland sure enough to laugh as well. Henry proceeded to apologize to both rock and oak for having their dignity so offended. He then spoke warmly of oaks in general and then let the subjects transition 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 rather thoughtful than uncomfortable, and it was put an end to by Miss Morland, 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.”
This was chiefly addressed to Eleanor and she was genuinely startled.
“Indeed!” she replied hastily. “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.”
Henry smiled, but Eleanor exclaimed: “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,” Miss Morland replied with a calmness that astonished Eleanor. “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, Eleanor in some distress, Miss Morland in confusion. Henry 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, judgement, fire, genius, and wit.”
Eleanor turned away from him with an impatient noise and said:
“Miss Morland, do not mind what he says; but have the goodness to satisfy me as to this dreadful riot.”
“Riot!” Miss Morland exclaimed. “What riot?”
“My dear Eleanor, the riot is only in your own brain,” Henry laughed. “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.”
When he began his speech Miss Morland’s face had lit up with understanding, but as it progressed her expression had grown grave.
“And now, Henry,” said Eleanor, “that you have made us understand each other, you may as well make Miss Morland understand yourself — unless you mean to have her think you intolerably rude to your sister, and a great brute in your opinion of women in general. Miss Morland is not used to your odd ways.”
“I shall be most happy to make her better acquainted with them,” Henry said, fully intending to do so.
“No doubt; but that is no explanation of the present.”
“What am I to do?” he cried.
“You know what you ought to do,” Eleanor said. “Clear your character handsomely before her. Tell her that you think very highly of the understanding of women.”
“Miss Morland,” Henry said with feigned solemnity. “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,” Eleanor admonished, while Miss Morland smiled uncertainly. “Be more serious.”
“Miss Morland,” he spoke emphatically. “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.”
Eleanor sighed. “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.”
If Henry had at all been convinced that his recent display of wit had injured him in Miss Morland’s opinion he would have lost no time in redeeming himself, but he was certain this was not the case. Miss Morland was puzzled, but not offended and he felt fully justified in carrying on as he had done before. Every wondering smile Miss Morland offered him was a further inducement and without realizing it Henry’s witty speeches devolved more and more into compliments on the sweetness of her temper and her fortitude in bearing with him. Eleanor saw it all with great amusement and the three of them greatly enjoyed the rest of their walk, albeit for a variety of different reasons.
Too soon for Henry’s taste they were back at Mr. and Mrs. Allan’s door, but Eleanor offered to attend Miss Morland into the house before he had even thought of giving her a hint to do so. Mrs. Allen received them in the drawing room with good-humoured vacantness of mind, very pleased to hear that they had had a pleasant walk. Henry said little, but smiled a lot. Especially at Miss Morland, who was all gentle happiness and bright attention, sitting next to the complacent Mrs. Allen. When it was time to take leave, as their father would expect them home again, Eleanor did another kind thing by her brother. She addressed herself very politely to both Miss Morland and Mrs. Allen and said:
“An earlier invitation of the kind was sadly given with very little notice, but if it is not inconvenient, might ask for the pleasure of your company, Miss Morland, to dinner on the day after the next?”
Miss Morland looked at Mrs. Allen, eyes bright as stars.
“Why, of course,” Mrs. Allen said. “I see no reason why you should not go, Catherine dear.”
This being the case Miss Morland accepted with what she no doubt thought was adequate composure, but was in fact such delighted enthusiasm that it was very hard for Henry and Eleanor to keep their own smiles composed.
“Until the day after tomorrow then,” Eleanor said, pressing Miss Morland’s hand.
“Yes,” she smiled happily. “Or sooner, should we happen to meet…at the pump room, or in the Cresent.”
“Quite right, Miss Morland,” Henry said with twinkling eyes. “One must always be prepared for such accidental eventualities and cannot allow them to make one’s parting an incorrect one.”
Miss Morland looked at him for a moment and then she laughed. Delighted with this improved understanding of his character Henry made her his bow and with that both brother and sister took their leave.
“You must not tease Miss Morland so,” Eleanor said when they had crossed the street.
“Oh but a young lady likes to be teased,” Henry said.
“I do believe,” Eleanor said thoughtfully. “That Miss Morland has not ever been teased in her life.”
“A great injustice,” Henry said emphatically. “Making my efforts to correct it all the more noble.”
Eleanor decided not to give her opinion on that observation and they walked home arm in arm under a sky that was far too blue to be picturesque, but very pleasing nonetheless.
This is one of my favourite chapters of the book and I was very anxious not to change anything for the worse. I wish I could have written a witty conversation on the picturesque, but I'm about as ignorant as Catherine :P
Shout-out to Elizabeth Perry, Fourthage, Hannahdrew, AMarguerite and the eight guests for either commenting, leaving kudo's or bookmarking. Thank you so much and I hope you're still enjoying it!
Chapter 11: Which takes place during Chapter 16 of Northanger Abbey
The request which Eleanor had made to Miss Morland, of her favouring them with her company during dinner, had not been entirely of her own devising. It had been the General who had instructed her to do so and even though Eleanor and Henry were both very eager to spend more time with her, they could not understand why their father would be and the wariness that this uncertainty inspired threw a gloom over the whole visit. Neither Henry nor Eleanor could be in truly high spirits when their father was present and at this time they were both driven to silence by their incomprehension of the situation. Henry especially listened with astonishment to his father’s expressions to Miss Morland, for they were numerous and full of civility and even affected gallantry. No matter how hard he tried, he could not bring himself to talk much and Eleanor suffered from the same affliction. Miss Morland seemed aware of a change and as the evening went on, she seemed increasingly desperate to please and Henry blamed himself for not being able to put her at ease. When she took leave of them in the evening his father bestowed on her such an array of thanks, invitations and compliments, that the subdued adieus of his children hardly had a hope to be heard. By Miss Morland, however, they certainly were and she looked at them both so anxiously and wished to see them again soon so earnestly, that both Henry and Eleanor resolved to make amends for this dinner at tomorrow’s ball.
Before the evening of that ball arrived, however, there was an arrival of a different sort. Their bother, Captain Frederick Tilney, who was now on leave from the army and had promised their father to join them as soon as may be, had finally arrived in Bath. The affection Henry felt for his brother was by no means equal to that which he felt for his sister, but he greeted him with sincere pleasure after so long a separation. Frederick, who did not have a disposition for sitting at home, readily agreed to accompany them to the ball that evening and the whole family set off in good time.
As soon as they entered the ballroom and their father had left them to go speak to some particular friends, it was the joint object of both Eleanor and Henry to find out Miss Morland. Many things might now have happened to delay their satisfaction and try their resolve, but as it was the crowded ballroom did a remarkably poor job of concealing the young lady from their notice. They spied her almost immediately and upon drawing near her, were greeted with equal delight and affection.
Eleanor immediately attached herself to her, meaning with pleasant conversations and warm professions of regard, to make up for her earlier silence and Henry immediately asked Miss Morland if she could be prevailed on to stand up with him again as soon as the dancing began.
“I would be delighted!” said she and he smiled on her, saying that he would return in a moment.
He went then to find his brother who, after having been introduced to Miss Morland and Mrs. Allen, had walked off, evidently disinterested in their further acquaintance. Henry felt his rudeness and attempted to bring him back to their party, walking with him and asking him if he did not mean to dance.
“Dance?” Frederick scoffed, with a dismissive glance at the company around them. “I shall do no such thing. I wonder at you, Henry, for finding it at all possible, under the present circumstances.”
“Please yourself, Frederick,” Henry said airily. “And leave me to do the same.” He knew his brother too well to quarrel with him and quickly left him to himself, going to collect Miss Morland soon after. Miss Morland, he knew, was looked at with some admiration as he led her down the dance. And well she might, he thought, for she looked remarkably pretty this evening. It is certainly to Henry’s credit that he should think so, for though it was very true, the admiring looks were turned towards them as a couple much more than they were directed at her in particular. The two of them seemed so well-matched. He smiling so amiably and speaking with such warmth, and her looking up at him with such lively admiration in her eyes, that they were a joy to behold.
At the end of this very agreeable dance, Henry was rather unwelcomely pulled away by his brother.
“What can you mean by this, Frederick?” Henry said, somewhat nettled. “Am I to have no enjoyment in dancing because you choose to be dull?”
“No indeed,” his brother replied. “Quite the opposite. Who, pray tell, is that pretty little thing sitting down just there? I saw her speak to one of your partner’s party, is she acquainted with her?”
Henry looked round and saw Miss Thorpe, sitting down beside her mother. She sat as if resolute to remain seated, but moved her head so often and cast such expressive looks toward the different corners of the room, as to assure she would attract at least some notice.
“That is a Miss Thorpe,” Henry answered. “A particular friend of Miss Morlands, and-” he added, “I believe, of her brother’s.”
Frederick chose not to take this hint. His eyes were fixed most particularly on Miss Thorpe’s lovely face and he said:
“If your partner would be so kind as to introduce me to her, I would be quite happy to stand up with her friend, if the lady means to dance of course.”
Henry gave his brother a silent look, but then said in as neutral a tone as he could command:
“I shall ask Miss Morland directly.”
He then returned to his partner, who looked very relieved to see him return with a smiling aspect, but rather surprised when he made his enquiry.
“That is very kind of your brother,” she answered. “But I am very sure Miss Thorpe does not mean to dance at all this evening.”
Henry had suspected no other answer and promptly conveyed it to his brother. Frederick made no reply beyond a rather mocking smile and immediately walked away. Henry returned to Miss Morland and they recommenced their dancing. The lady, evidently, still had to quiet her own solicitude for his disappointed brother.
“Your brother will not mind it, I know,” said she, “because I heard him say before that he hated dancing; but it was very good–natured in him to think of it. I suppose he saw Isabella sitting down, and fancied she might wish for a partner; but he is quite mistaken, for she would not dance upon any account in the world.”
Henry smiled. How pleasant and fair the world must be, he thought, when seen through the eyes of a Catherine Morland. How well-meaning every action, how just every thought and how noble every heart. “How very little trouble it can give you to understand the motive of other people’s actions,” he said teasingly.
“Why? What do you mean?”
“With you, it is not, How is such a one likely to be influenced, What is the inducement most likely to act upon such a person’s feelings, age, situation, and probable habits of life considered — but, How should I be influenced, What would be my inducement in acting so and so?”
“I do not understand you.”
“Then we are on very unequal terms,” he smiled. “For I understand you perfectly well.”
“Me? Yes; I cannot speak well enough to be unintelligible.”
“Bravo!” he laughed. “An excellent satire on modern language.”
“But pray tell me what you mean,” she entreated.
“Shall I indeed?” he said, pretending to possess great scruples. “Do you really desire it? But you are not aware of the consequences; it will involve you in a very cruel embarrassment, and certainly bring on a disagreement between us.
“No, no; it shall not do either; I am not afraid.”
“Well, then, I only meant that your attributing my brother’s wish of dancing with Miss Thorpe to good nature alone convinced me of your being superior in good nature yourself to all the rest of the world.”
Henry had the sincere pleasure of seeing Miss Morland turn quite pink and she hastily disclaimed the compliment. Her confusion gave way to a very particular pre-occupation and they danced in silence for some minutes, Henry being too generous to force her to talk while her head was evidently still full of what had painted her cheeks with roses.
Miss Morland’s mind being so pleasantly engaged she did not notice as Henry did that another couple had joined the dance. His brother was now dancing with Miss Thorpe and directing a most self-satisfied smile towards Henry when their eyes met. Henry prepared for Miss Morland’s surprise and possible dismay, and when the dance brought the two couples together to give each other hands across, it came. Miss Morland looked at her friend with unrestrained wonder and was answered only by a slight shrug and a smile.
“I cannot think how it could happen! Isabella was so determined not to dance,” Miss Morland exclaimed to Henry as soon as Isabella was no longer likely to hear.
“And did Isabella never change her mind before?” asked he gently. He was not at all surprised. Miss Thorpe was not the sort of young lady to shy away from attention and his brother was not the sort of young man to easily resign himself to a denial.
“Oh! But, because — And your brother! After what you told him from me, how could he think of going to ask her?”
“I cannot take surprise to myself on that head. You bid me be surprised on your friend’s account, and therefore I am; but as for my brother, his conduct in the business, I must own, has been no more than I believed him perfectly equal to. The fairness of your friend was an open attraction; her firmness, you know, could only be understood by yourself.”
He meant to divert his fair partner, but she was not so easily distracted. “You are laughing; but, I assure you, Isabella is very firm in general.”
“It is as much as should be said of anyone. To be always firm must be to be often obstinate. When properly to relax is the trial of judgment; and, without reference to my brother, I really think Miss Thorpe has by no means chosen ill in fixing on the present hour.”
Miss Morland gave him a rather doubtful look, but she was soon persuaded to think no more of it, at least for the present. Henry teased her pleasantly on former favourite subjects and soon she willingly once again bestowed all of her attention only on himself. A great thing both for her peace of mind and his enjoyment in the evening.
Just a short one, but some of the chapters in Northanger really are very very short. Soon we'll actually be going to Northanger and you know what that means. Flirting, drama, more flirting and then Drama.
Shout-out to TheWalkingDebt and Unchartedsea. Welcome! I hope you enjoy your stay :)
Chapter 12: Which takes place during chapter 17 of Northanger Abbey
In a rare display of punctuality on Frederick's side the Tilneys were all gathered at breakfast the morning that General Tilney announced his intention of quitting Bath by the end of another week. This rather sudden declaration was followed by a tense silence, during which Henry was very aware that Eleanor’s eyes were turned immediately towards him.
“Indeed, father,” she said when it was clear neither of her brothers intended to speak. “So soon?”
“I was already disappointed in my hope of seeing General Courteney,” her father replied firmly. “And now I have had word that the Marquis of Longtown does not mean to come this way at all. I see no reason for staying.”
Once again Eleanor’s eyes darted to Henry, but he avoided her gaze. Beside him, Frederick leaned back in his chair with considerable ease. Their leaving would be extremely agreeable to him. He was to stay in Bath for as long as his leave allowed him and without his father’s presence he was much more capable of enjoying it. Henry could not share these feelings. If his father chose to leave Bath, he would have to quit it likewise. He did not have Frederick’s income, but even if he could have justified spending his money so freely, he would not allow Eleanor to be shut up on her own with their father while he was out of humour due to his disappointed hopes. These persuasions of brotherly affection were as unwavering in him as they were commendable, but they could not make him forget what he was to leave behind.
“I would be sorry to leave so soon,” Eleanor confessed. “And I think-”
“My presence is wanted at home,” the General interrupted her curtly. “Richards told me as much in his last letter. “And Henry had better not neglect his parish any longer. He has been away too much this past year as it is.”
“Really, Sir,” Henry began, the distress of the lady before him making him mindful of the distress of another. “You have hardly given the waters a fair trial.” He took up a light-hearted tone and added: “Who is to say that the restorative benefits that work on the constitution of the body, do not also aid the constitution of the mind. You may be removing yourself from the cure for your disappointed hopes, father.”
“Indeed,” the General replied. “And I suppose disappointed hopes are certainly foremost in your mind at present.”
Henry, overcome with confusion, shut his mouth. His father looked satisfied and turned back to Eleanor. “Do not look so dull, Eleanor,” he said. “If you are persuaded you shall miss Bath so much, you must bring some of its attractions home with you. You must ask Miss Morland to accompany you to Northanger and stay with us a while.”
His children stared at him.
“Really, father?” Eleanor managed to say.
“Indeed,” the General said. “I think an invitation would be very well received. You being her particular friend.”
This was spoken to Eleanor, but his eyes were turned towards Henry, who attempted to hide his confusion by looking at Frederick, as if to ask his opinion on this plan. He had better kept his eyes on his plate, because far from wanting to spare his brother’s feelings, Frederick looked at him with an expression of great amusement. All his relief must once again come from Eleanor, who said:
“I would be very happy to have Miss Morland’s company, but I do not at all know if she would wish to quit Bath.”
The General smiled incredulously at this. “Considering the inducements,” he said. “I cannot imagine she will be unwilling to accept your invitation. Do you not expect her to call on you the morning after next?”
“I do expect a morning visit to be returned, but not at any set date,” Eleanor replied.
“Ah, but you called on her yesterday, so she shall surely call the day after next,” her father said decidedly. He rose from the breakfast table in a determined manner. “I shall call upon Mr. and Mrs. Allen tomorrow to secure their consent, if they are in agreement I am certain Miss Morland will not have a single objection to the scheme.”
With that he left the breakfast parlour, leaving his daughter considerably anxious about what might happen should Miss Morland chose to call a day sooner or later than the General expected. Henry’s feelings meanwhile, were no less disturbed. The idea of quitting bath so soon and so suddenly did not at all suit him and if he was honest with himself, this was purely because leaving behind Bath would be leaving behind Miss Morland. It brought an urgency to their situation that was very unwelcome. To cut an acquaintance short in such a way, an acquaintance too that was growing in importance every day, was distressing. To invite her to Northanger was such a step, however, such a very marked attention. Henry could no longer doubt his father’s intentions. It was evident he meant to give him the opportunity of securing Miss Morland’s affections.
“You might well look pale, Henry,” Frederick remarked, rising from his seat beside him. “Father has made your match for you.”
“Really, Frederick,” Eleanor said gently.
“We needn’t be missish about it, dear sister,” Frederick said with a smirk. “And spare me your indignant looks, Reverend Tilney.” He looked bitter for a moment. “Father’s scheming works in your favour at least, I have not seen you so out of your senses over a girl since we were boys.”
“You think me out of my senses, Frederick?” Henry replied coolly. “Thank you for the caution, I shall try to keep them in a firmer grasp from now on. May I advise you to do the same where Miss Thorpe is involved?”
Frederick laughed by way of a reply and left the room. No sooner had the door closed behind him or Henry left the table and took to pacing around the room.
“Henry,” Eleanor said softly. “Surely you would not dislike it if Miss Morland came home with us?” Her tone was gentle as ever, but there was real concern in it and not all of it was for her brother.
The sound of her apprehension made Henry recollect himself. He walked to her side. “I would not dislike it,” he said sincerely. “Quite the contrary. I am merely– concerned.” His face fell and he could not keep the emotion out of his voice as he continued: “Miss Morland may not want to come.”
“Surely,” Eleanor said, but she did not finish her thought.
“To be taken away from her first real run of amusement,” Henry said gravely. “And to a place so far off, so far from her friends and family…” He shook his head.
Eleanor rested her hand on his arm for a moment. “But should she accept?” she asked.
“Then I would be a happy man,” Henry smiled.
Eleanor returned his smile with a warmth that showed that she had a great deal more confidence in their friend’s acquiescence than her brother could at this moment command. This was quite as it should be. To be sanguine in the face of a distressed heart, is the privilege of a hero’s favourite sister. She was not quite correct in assuming Henry’s distress was strictly that of the heart, however, a great deal of it was founded firmly in reason.
“It makes me uneasy, Eleanor,” he said after a moment’s contemplation. “To think that our father will almost certainly make sure he is present when you give Miss Morland our invitation.” His father was not accustomed to opposition. Miss Morland, who was too amiable to disappoint anyone, could never be expected to stand up to him. Henry could not allow her to accept an invitation she wished to decline.
Eleanor bowed her head in agreement. The General rarely let any business that concerned his household be dispatched by someone other than himself. “If you are present,” she said. “He might be inclined to let you address Miss Morland.”
That might very well be true, but that did not serve Henry’s purpose. His presence might only pressure Miss Morland further to accept the invitation. As much as he wanted her to accept, he could not shake the notion that to a young lady like her, a place as secluded and isolated as Northanger would be very dull and rather frightening after the gay scenes of Bath. “I do not think I should be present at all,” he said finally.
Eleanor seemed to understand him and said, after a moment’s contemplation: “Perhaps you might try to keep our father occupied?”
Henry smiled. There was almost no sight more beloved to him than the gentle contraction of Eleanor’s brow when she entertained a thought she doubted was quite proper. “That must be our only hope,” he said warmly. “I must keep our father rapt with my conversation and you must ask Miss Morland to accompany you to Northanger so gently she will be strong enough to say no but so warmly that she does not wish to do so.” He gave her a look of half-laughing apprehension. “At least one of us will have no trouble in completing their task.”
Eleanor certainly meant to do her brother’s faith in her justice, but when Miss Morland called on her, she hardly was forced to convey her warmth and gentleness by looks alone. For speaking there was hardly an opportunity, for Miss Morland was in raptures.
“I was so afraid Mr. Allan might want to come away soon,” said she, face all aglow. “But Mrs. Allen has persuaded him and we are to stay for another three weeks! Is it not delightful?”
“You have not yet tired of Bath then,” Eleanor said with a smile.
“I don’t think I ever will!” her friend exclaimed. She launched into a panegyric on the merits of the place, dwelling emphatically on all she still wished to do there.
Eleanor listened smilingly. The sentiments might have been expressed countless times by countless people, but never, she was certain, with such artless sincerity.
“I would have been so sorry to go,” Miss Morland concluded her speech. “Mr. Allen has made me so happy by lengthening his stay and Mrs. Allen too.” She folded her hands in her lap with a contented sigh. Quite the picture of happiness.
It was a heavy task for Eleanor to tarnish such contentment. “I am sure your happiness was as great an inducement to Mr. Allen as the pleasures of Bath,” she said warmly. Miss Morland smiled and Eleanor added in a more sober tone: “It is very kind of you to wish that we may walk out together again, but I am afraid we shall not have many more opportunities to do some. Sadly my father has just determined upon quitting bath by the end of another week.”
Miss Morland’s countenance fell immediately. “By the end of another week!” she echoed Miss Tilney’s concluding words, in a voice of most sincere concern.
“Yes,” Eleanor said, touched by the strength of her feelings. “My father can seldom be prevailed on to give the waters what I think a fair trial. He has been disappointed of some friends’ arrival whom he expected to meet here, and as he is now pretty well, is in a hurry to get home.”
“I am very sorry for it,” said Miss Morland dejectedly. “If I had known this before—”
Having heard her friend’s wild admiration for everything Bath had to offer, Eleanor now shared her brother’s anxiety. She was embarrassed to make the invitation she had previously been at least tolerably convinced would give Miss Morland great pleasure. “Perhaps,” she began uncertainly. “You would be so good—it would make me very happy if—”
This valiant attempt was put an end to by the entrance of her father, who had been upstairs in his study with Henry, but who had now come into the room with great energy.
“Miss Morland,” he exclaimed. “How do you do? I do apologize for not coming down to greet you at once.”
Miss Morland curtsied and replied to his civilities with all the appearance of good spirits. When she had done, the General turned to his daughter and said: “Well, Eleanor, may I congratulate you on being successful in your application to your fair friend?”
“I was just beginning to make the request, sir, as you came in,” said Eleanor unhappily. She glanced at Miss Morland, but her face showed nothing but curiosity.
“Well, proceed by all means. I know how much your heart is in it. My daughter, Miss Morland,” he continued, without leaving his daughter time to speak. “Has been forming a very bold wish. We leave Bath, as she has perhaps told you, on Saturday se’nnight. A letter from my steward tells me that my presence is wanted at home; and being disappointed in my hope of seeing the Marquis of Longtown and General Courteney here, some of my very old friends, there is nothing to detain me longer in Bath. And could we carry our selfish point with you, we should leave it without a single regret. Can you, in short, be prevailed on to quit this scene of public triumph and oblige your friend Eleanor with your company in Gloucestershire? I am almost ashamed to make the request, though its presumption would certainly appear greater to every creature in Bath than yourself. Modesty such as yours—but not for the world would I pain it by open praise. If you can be induced to honour us with a visit, you will make us happy beyond expression. ‘Tis true, we can offer you nothing like the gaieties of this lively place; we can tempt you neither by amusement nor splendour, for our mode of living, as you see, is plain and unpretending; yet no endeavours shall be wanting on our side to make Northanger Abbey not wholly disagreeable.”
It was all Eleanor could do to keep her countenance during such a speech. Her eyes were fixed anxiously on Miss Morland. What she saw there, however, must comfort her. Her friend’s face was overspread with gratification and excitement and when she spoke it was with ready delight.
“I would love it above all things,” she exclaimed, immediately earning herself one of the General’s most gracious smiles. “I had never thought- Yes! Yes, I will gladly keep Eleanor company! Except-” She reigned in her exuberant spirits a very little. “I will have to speak to Mr. and Mrs. Allen, of course, and apply to Papa and Mamma.” She looked from the General to Eleanor and back again with a most eager smile. “I will write home directly,” said she, “and if they do not object, as I dare say they will not—”
Eleanor was quietly relieved and seeing her friend's delight, began to be truly happy herself. She wished Henry had come down with their father, so that he might see how ready Miss Morland’s acceptance of their invitation had been.
“I have taken the liberty,” the General said. “Of waiting on your excellent friends in Pulteney Street, and have already obtained their explicit sanction of my wishes. Since they can consent to part with you, we may expect philosophy from all the world.”
Miss Morland agreed wholeheartedly with this and Eleanor now added her own earnest, though gentle secondary civilities. In a few minutes more the affair became as nearly settled as the necessary reference to Fullerton would allow and Eleanor could see very clearly that all the sweets of Bath were now quite forgotten. Miss Morland’s head ran entirely upon Northanger Abbey. When she took leave of Eleanor it was in the highest spirits and she promised to return as soon as she had secured her parents’ consent.
As soon as she had left, Eleanor hurried upstairs, where Henry was applying himself to his books with very little success. When his sister entered he rose and smiled immediately, reading on her face everything he needed to know.
“Miss Morland has hurried home to write to her parents,” Eleanor said with a happy smile. “And if they see fit to give their consent, she has assured me she will be delighted to quit Bath for Northanger.” She proceeded to tell him of her apprehensions when Miss Morland first shared her raptures on being able to stay three weeks more and her happiness in finding these apprehensions unfounded.
Henry smiled at this. “Ah, how fickle is the female mind,” he sighed. “How quickly her delight is transferred from one source to another.”
“Aye, Henry, very fickle,” Eleanor said meaningfully. “Never was there a more fickle young woman than Miss Catherine Morland.”
“Do not subject me to your irony,” Henry exclaimed in mock dismay. “It is so seldom heard I can never get used to it!”
Eleanor laughed and he pressed her hand with happy affection. He could not imagine Mr. and Mrs. Morland, who seemed both very indulgent and very unconcerned parents, would have any objections. Therefore he felt fully justified in imagining Catherine Morland being seated in the carriage beside his sister at the end of another week.
“Was she truly happy to be invited?” he asked Eleanor.
“Delighted, Henry,” Eleanor assured him. She smiled. “Although I do suspect that however much she might prefer our company, Northanger being and abbey was perhaps quite as strong an inducement as our being there.”
Henry laughed heartily and shook his head. “How could I have forgotten,” he said. “Northanger Abbey, indeed. How different, how strange, how gothic compared to sweet Fullerton Parsonage.” What a delight that would be, to see Miss Morland roaming the halls with her mind set on everything romantic and adventurous. “Did she have many questions?” he asked smilingly.
“A great deal I believe,” Eleanor replied. “But none that she asked while our father was present.”
“Then she shall ask them all when she visits next,” Henry said cheerfully. “And I shall take care to be there so I can prepare her for the horrors she is to face.”
“You shall do no such thing,” Eleanor warned him and though he protested warmly that he would and that no such gentle admonishing could ever prevent him, his sister carried her point in the end. This was only because she met Miss Morland in the Cresent the morning of her having received her parents letter and was therefore the first to hear that Miss Morland was now at liberty to accept their invitation. What a loss to Henry Tilney that he could not be there to hear Miss Morland call herself the happiest creature in existence for being able to go into Gloucestershire. How cruel that he should miss this opportunity to regale Miss Morland with stories by way of answers to her many inquiries about the house to which she would soon remove. No, all these sweets fell to Eleanor, who told Miss Morland of Northanger Abbey having been a richly endowed convent at the time of the Reformation, of its having fallen into the hands of an ancestor of the Tilneys on its dissolution, of a large portion of the ancient building still making a part of the present dwelling although the rest was decayed, or of its standing low in a valley, sheltered from the north and east by rising woods of oak. And all this she related so calmly and plainly, without even the slightest invention or embellishment, that her brother let her know he felt himself very ill-used by her spoiling his fun in such an excessive degree.
I had forgotten there were two more chapters before the journey to Northanger. This chapter was not so fun to write, but important to show the various relationships in the Tilney family I think. I hope you liked it!
Shout-out to FlamingDiva and Heather and to the guests that left kudo's!
Thank you so much for reading everyone, the next update will be next weekend on friday :)
Chapter 13: Which takes place During chapter 19 of Northanger Abbey
A few days passed away, and all the Tilneys excepting Frederick made ready to leave Bath. Of course it was necessary to fill these last days with more social engagements than it was comfortable to attend and to this self-imposed discomfort Henry and Eleanor suffered the added distress of seeing their brother frequently seeking Miss Thorpe’s company and bestowing on her very marked attentions whenever their father was not present. Miss Thorpe seemed more than gratified by this, allowing their brother equal share with Miss Morland’s brother in her notice and smiles. Eleanor felt for him and grew ashamed of her brother, but Henry felt most of all for Miss Morland. As uncomfortable as James Morland’s situation must be at this moment, he could not help but feel his brother was inadvertently doing him a service. If Miss Thorpe was so little constant, was it not best he should find it out now? No, it was Miss Morland who was to be pitied most of all. It pained Henry to see her eyes turned towards Miss Thorpe and his brother not only in vexation and confusion, but with real concern. Especially since this concern seemed to be directed in no small degree at Captain Tilney himself. This much was evident when Henry found himself alone with Miss Morland at the next assembly they attended, and she said in a tone of real solicitude:
“I had thought that your brother was to come away to Gloucestershire with all your family, but your sister tells me this is not the case.”
“No indeed,” Henry replied. “Frederick is to continue at Bath for the remainder of his leave if his present intentions are anything to go by.”
“In that case,” Miss Morland said gravely. “There is something I feel I must discuss with you.”
Henry could have smiled at so much gravity, but he did not. Instead he regarded her soberly, contemplating how unfair it was that two such people as his brother and Miss Thorpe were capable of hurting a third so far removed from them in excellence of feeling.
“I do believe that your brother has a partiality for Miss Thorpe that is bound to hurt him very much if he does not take care that it doesn’t. I beg of you, Mr. Tilney, speak to your brother and tell him of her prior engagement, so that he may know what he is about.”
This Henry had not expected. Even in all his high esteem of her tender feelings he had still done her injustice. He had expected an entreaty to make his brother come away, but of course she thought Frederick unaware of the evil he was doing. What a blow he was now forced to deliver. “My brother does know it,” he answered gently.
“Does he? Then why does he stay here?” Miss Morland asked, her surprise genuine.
Henry did not wish to reply to this and searched for any subject more likely to give mutual satisfaction. He was just beginning to ask Miss Morland if she had had the opportunity of starting another of Mrs. Radcliffe’s works, when Miss Morland eagerly pressed him:
“Why do not you persuade him to go away? The longer he stays, the worse it will be for him at last. Pray advise him for his own sake, and for everybody’s sake, to leave Bath directly. Absence will in time make him comfortable again; but he can have no hope here, and it is only staying to be miserable.”
Henry smiled to hide his discomfort and said, “I am sure my brother would not wish to do that.”
“Then you will persuade him to go away?”
She overestimated the sway he held over his brother, Henry thought, but this was only natural. Why should Catherine Morland suspect anyone of possessing the sort of character Frederick possessed. Or Miss Thorpe for that matter. “Persuasion is not at command; but pardon me, if I cannot even endeavour to persuade him,” Henry said gravely. “I have myself told him that Miss Thorpe is engaged. He knows what he is about, and must be his own master.”
“No, he does not know what he is about,” cried Miss Morland. “He does not know the pain he is giving my brother. Not that James has ever told me so, but I am sure he is very uncomfortable.”
“And are you sure it is my brother’s doing?” Henry asked gently.
“Yes, very sure.”
“Is it my brother’s attentions to Miss Thorpe,” Henry enquired. “Or Miss Thorpe’s admission of them, that gives the pain?” It pained him to open to Miss Morland the suggestion that her beloved friend might not be blameless in this matter, but he felt it would be dishonest not to.
“Is not it the same thing?” Miss Morland asked openly.
“I think Mr. Morland would acknowledge a difference,” he replied carefully. “No man is offended by another man’s admiration of the woman he loves; it is the woman only who can make it a torment.”
Miss Morland coloured, “Isabella is wrong. But I am sure she cannot mean to torment, for she is very much attached to my brother. She has been in love with him ever since they first met, and while my father’s consent was uncertain, she fretted herself almost into a fever. You know she must be attached to him.”
She defended her friend warmly and Henry smiled. “I understand: she is in love with James, and flirts with Frederick.”
“Oh! no, not flirts. A woman in love with one man cannot flirt with another.”
The upper rooms were unworthy to be the scene where such virtue was voiced so artlessly and Henry knew it. “It is probable that she will neither love so well, nor flirt so well, as she might do either singly,” he said. “The gentlemen must each give up a little.”
There was a short pause and Henry could see that Miss Morland was not ready to drop the subject. She was thinking earnestly on what he had said and unsurprisingly, the slight frown on her face proved her reflections to be rather unsatisfactory. He waited for her to speak.
“Then,” she said soberly. “You do not believe Isabella so very much attached to my brother?”
“I can have no opinion on that subject,” Henry replied. Even if he did have one, it would not be to his credit to share it. Mr. Morland only should be the one to judge on this matter.
“But what can your brother mean? If he knows her engagement, what can he mean by his behaviour?”
“You are a very close questioner.” His tone of voice was not as light-hearted as he had meant it. Henry wished the dancing would begin. Music and movement would surely sweep these troublesome thoughts from Miss Morland’s mind sooner than any assurance or explanation of his could do.
“Am I?” said she bashfully. “I only ask what I want to be told.”
“But do you only ask what I can be expected to tell?” he asked her solemnly.
“Yes, I think so; for you must know your brother’s heart.”
“My brother’s heart, as you term it, on the present occasion, I assure you I can only guess at.”
“Well?” she pressed.
“Well!” cried he, submitting to the truth that Miss Morland was not to be led away from the subject. “Nay, if it is to be guesswork, let us all guess for ourselves. To be guided by second-hand conjecture is pitiful. The premises are before you. My brother is a lively and perhaps sometimes a thoughtless young man; he has had about a week’s acquaintance with your friend, and he has known her engagement almost as long as he has known her.”
“Well,” said Miss Morland, after some moments’ consideration. “You may be able to guess at your brother’s intentions from all this; but I am sure I cannot. But is not your father uncomfortable about it? Does not he want Captain Tilney to go away? Sure, if your father were to speak to him, he would go.”
“My dear Miss Morland,” said Henry. “In this amiable solicitude for your brother’s comfort, may you not be a little mistaken? Are you not carried a little too far? Would he thank you, either on his own account or Miss Thorpe’s, for supposing that her affection, or at least her good behaviour, is only to be secured by her seeing nothing of Captain Tilney? Is he safe only in solitude? Or is her heart constant to him only when unsolicited by anyone else? He cannot think this—and you may be sure that he would not have you think it. I will not say, ‘Do not be uneasy,’ because I know that you are so, at this moment; but be as little uneasy as you can. You have no doubt of the mutual attachment of your brother and your friend; depend upon it, therefore, that real jealousy never can exist between them; depend upon it that no disagreement between them can be of any duration. Their hearts are open to each other, as neither heart can be to you; they know exactly what is required and what can be borne; and you may be certain that one will never tease the other beyond what is known to be pleasant.”
If Henry did not quite believe all of this himself, he must be forgiven. He could not fail to provide comfort to Miss Morland while she so sorely needed it and this, meagre as it was, was the only comfort he could rationally provide. All his best efforts were not quite enough, however. Miss Morland still looked doubtful and grave and he added:
“Though Frederick does not leave Bath with us, he will probably remain but a very short time, perhaps only a few days behind us. His leave of absence will soon expire, and he must return to his regiment. And what will then be their acquaintance? The mess-room will drink Isabella Thorpe for a fortnight, and she will laugh with your brother over poor Tilney’s passion for a month.”
This, finally, seemed to sway Miss Morland’s feelings. She allowed Henry to change the subject to the new publication that was to come out in London and had now been confirmed to indeed contain murder and everything of the kind. Gently he filled her head with pleasanter thoughts and when the dancing began he was confident he led to the floor a Catherine Morland perhaps not quite unconcerned, but at least perfectly cheerful once more. When she next spoke of Miss Thorpe it was only to tell him that her last evening in Pulteney Street all the Thorpes were engaged to spend the evening with them, as well as her brother. Henry predicted her enjoyment in the evening and she readily agreed with him, as she was wont to do on nearly everything he said for the rest of the night.
As I promised, new chapter on Friday! I hope I did this conversatin justice, it is very important for the development of Henry's feelings I think. In the next chapter we finally leave for Northanger! And the way things are looking now that one will be ready by next friday as well, so I hope I'll see you all again next week ^_^
Thanks to the guests who let kudo's. And Sunshineandskulls, thank you for the bookmark!
Chapter 14: Which takes place during Chapter 20 and 21 of Northanger Abbey
The morning the Tilney’s were to leave Bath Miss Morland was to take breakfast with them and she was punctually attended to their door by Mr. Allen. It was evident their guest was very agitated at finding herself as one of the family and no less fearful of doing exactly what was right. If it was evident to Henry and Eleanor, it could not be unnoticed by Mr. Allen, who took leave of her with the warmest affection and wished her every happiness and enjoyment at Northanger. When he had gone Miss Morland’s embarrassment was so great that Henry was very sorry for his father’s officious attentions. His anxiety for her comfort — his continual solicitations that she would eat, and his often expressed fears of her seeing nothing to her taste — though never in her life before had she beheld half such variety on a breakfast table — clearly served only to increase her confusion.
The united efforts of Henry and Eleanor were called on to put their young companion at ease and they both felt all their work was quite counteracted by what passed when Frederick appeared. His tardiness was not appreciated by their father and Miss Morland’s presence did not prevent him from voicing his displeasure in no uncertain terms. Quite the contrary, a large part of the lecture he gave his eldest son was meant to instil in him the realization that his being late was a show of disrespect to her. Henry saw that this distressed Miss Morland greatly and had the situation not been so painful, he might have smiled at his father's ill-judged manner of recommending himself and his family to his guest.
Seeing how affected Miss Morland was Henry undertook to divert her with pleasant conversation as soon as his father left the room. Eleanor meanwhile attended to Frederick, who for all his affected indifference, was prone to sulking moods after any remonstrance from their father, his pride hurt more than anything else.
When breakfast was over there followed all the confusion of departure. Henry was now not in the opportunity to devote himself to Miss Morland’s company as much as he would wish. He did, however, assure her that she would ride with his sister and her maid in the chaise and four, while he would drive his father in his curricle. Judging from Miss Morland’s expression this was of great comfort to her and Henry hoped it would help her bear his father’s outbursts of poorly restrained anger whenever something did not transpire exactly according to his wishes.
The clock struck ten while the trunks were carrying down, and the general had fixed to be out of Milsom Street by that hour. His greatcoat, instead of being brought for him to put on directly, was spread out in the curricle in which he was to accompany his son. The middle seat of the chaise was not drawn out, though there were three people to go in it, and his daughter’s maid had so crowded it with parcels that Miss Morland would not have room to sit; and, so much was he influenced by this apprehension when he handed her in, that she had some difficulty in saving her own new writing–desk from being thrown out into the street.
Henry was relieved when his father finally joined in him the curricle and the carriage carrying the three young ladies led the way.
“We are a full quarter of an hour late,” his father observed sternly. “We have a full thirty miles to go and I will not suffer my horses to be hurried.”
“No, Sir,” Henry replied, knowing full well that no other answer would be accepted.
They sank into a mutual silence after this and as they drove out of Bath Henry entertained himself with imagining what might be going on in the carriage. Now, perhaps, Miss Morland would be looking back at the last view of Bath. He could easily imagine Miss Morland’s excitement. She and Eleanor would talk without restraint and no doubt the latter would have to answer the many questions of the former. With such pleasant reflections, neither the persistent silence nor the long drive were uncomfortable to Henry and he first caught sight of Petty France, which lay at exactly half the distance between Northanger and Bath, before he looked for it. His father seemed likewise pleasantly surprised and observed that they had not made it in bad time after all.
The two hours at the inn while the horses and carriages were seen to, were extremely uncomfortable however. The general’s good humour did not last when confronted with the limited supplies of the inn larder and he so pointedly criticized the waiters that even Eleanor abandoned her attempts at uplifting conversation. Henry smiled encouragingly at Miss Morland and while she did smile back, her eyes remained large and grave.
When at last they were ready to set off again, Henry was slow in getting into his curricle. He meant to hand Eleanor and Miss Morland into the carriage, taking the opportunity to speak a few words of comfort, but it seemed his father had other comforts in mind.
“Miss Morland,” he spoke suddenly. “What say you to the notion of taking my place in my son’s curricle for the rest of the journey. The day is fine, and I am anxious for you to see as much of the country as possible.”
Henry was taken completely by surprise and he resolved never again draw limits to his father’s determination.
“Oh!” Miss Morland exclaimed and she coloured. She glanced at Henry and he smiled. How could he have done otherwise? Surprised as he was by his father’s invitation, nothing could possibly make the second stage of their journey more agreeable to him than having Miss Morland as his passenger.
“How about it, Miss Morland?” his father urged and Eleanor smiled at her brother when Miss Morland replied:
“I would like that very much!”
Now, of course, Henry was swift in taking his seat and soon they were off, Miss Morland sitting beside him, all smiles and shining eyes. He held the horses back to a gentle pace, as they were not to pass the chaise and four, but the wind obligingly undertook to compensate for the lack of movement, by tugging charmingly on Miss Morland’s curls and habit. Henry glanced at her several times, until she caught his eye and he said smilingly:
“Allow me to thank you, on my sister’s account, for your kindness in consenting to become her visitor and companion.”
“I was very happy to be asked,” Miss Morland replied modestly.
He could well believe it, but this did not lessen his joy in her acceptance, quite the contrary. “Your own happiness proves you to be a true friend to my sister,” he said. “And her happiness and gratitude – and my own – has been warmly excited by your kindness.” He hesitated for a moment. “My sister is uncomfortably circumstanced. She had no female companion and, in the frequent absence of her father, is sometimes without any companion at all.”
“But how can that be?” said Miss Morland. “Are not you with her?”
“Northanger is not more than half my home; I have an establishment at my own house in Woodston, which is nearly twenty miles from my father’s, and some of my time is necessarily spent there.”
“How sorry you must be for that!”
Henry smiled kindly at this exclamation. “I am always sorry to leave Eleanor,” said he.
“Yes,” Miss Morland said. “But besides your affection for her, you must be so fond of the abbey! After being used to such a home as the abbey, an ordinary parsonage–house must be very disagreeable.”
“You have formed a very favourable idea of the abbey,” he said smilingly.
“To be sure, I have. Is not it a fine old place, just like what one reads about?”
With this definite assurance that Miss Morland had not meant to slight parsonage houses, but merely to greatly admire abbeys, Henry was more than willing to indulge her and he said, with eyes narrowed in amusement:
“And are you prepared to encounter all the horrors that a building such as ‘what one reads about’ may produce? Have you a stout heart? Nerves fit for sliding panels and tapestry?”
“Oh!” Miss Morland laughed. “Yes, I do not think I should be easily frightened, because there would be so many people in the house — and besides, it has never been uninhabited and left deserted for years, and then the family come back to it unawares, without giving any notice, as generally happens.”
“No, certainly,” replied he. “We shall not have to explore our way into a hall dimly lighted by the expiring embers of a wood fire — nor be obliged to spread our beds on the floor of a room without windows, doors, or furniture. But-” He took up a graver tone of voice. “-you must be aware that when a young lady is (by whatever means) introduced into a dwelling of this kind, she is always lodged apart from the rest of the family. While they snugly repair to their own end of the house, she is formally conducted by Dorothy, the ancient housekeeper, up a different staircase, and along many gloomy passages, into an apartment never used since some cousin or kin died in it about twenty years before. Can you stand such a ceremony as this? Will not your mind misgive you when you find yourself in this gloomy chamber — too lofty and extensive for you, with only the feeble rays of a single lamp to take in its size — its walls hung with tapestry exhibiting figures as large as life, and the bed, of dark green stuff or purple velvet, presenting even a funereal appearance? Will not your heart sink within you?”
“Oh! But this will not happen to me, I am sure.”
This, spoken with a slight blush and a delighted eye, was encouragement enough and Henry continued gravely:
“How fearfully will you examine the furniture of your apartment! And what will you discern? Not tables, toilettes, wardrobes, or drawers, but on one side perhaps the remains of a broken lute, on the other a ponderous chest which no efforts can open, and over the fireplace the portrait of some handsome warrior, whose features will so incomprehensibly strike you, that you will not be able to withdraw your eyes from it. Dorothy, meanwhile, no less struck by your appearance, gazes on you in great agitation, and drops a few unintelligible hints. To raise your spirits, moreover, she gives you reason to suppose that the part of the abbey you inhabit is undoubtedly haunted, and informs you that you will not have a single domestic within call. With this parting cordial she curtsies off — you listen to the sound of her receding footsteps as long as the last echo can reach you — and when, with fainting spirits, you attempt to fasten your door, you discover, with increased alarm, that it has no lock.”
“Oh! Mr. Tilney, how frightful!” Miss Morland exclaimed. “This is just like a book! But it cannot really happen to me. I am sure your housekeeper is not really Dorothy. Well, what then?”
“Nothing further to alarm perhaps may occur the first night. After surmounting your unconquerable horror of the bed, you will retire to rest, and get a few hours’ unquiet slumber. But on the second, or at farthest the third night after your arrival, you will probably have a violent storm. Peals of thunder so loud as to seem to shake the edifice to its foundation will roll round the neighbouring mountains — and during the frightful gusts of wind which accompany it, you will probably think you discern (for your lamp is not extinguished) one part of the hanging more violently agitated than the rest. Unable of course to repress your curiosity in so favourable a moment for indulging it, you will instantly arise, and throwing your dressing–gown around you, proceed to examine this mystery. After a very short search, you will discover a division in the tapestry so artfully constructed as to defy the minutest inspection, and on opening it, a door will immediately appear — which door, being only secured by massy bars and a padlock, you will, after a few efforts, succeed in opening — and, with your lamp in your hand, will pass through it into a small vaulted room.”
“No, indeed, I should be too much frightened to do any such thing,” Miss Morland protested.
“What!” Henry exclaimed, shaking his head. “Not when Dorothy has given you to understand that there is a secret subterraneous communication between your apartment and the chapel of St. Anthony, scarcely two miles off? Could you shrink from so simple an adventure? No, no, you will proceed into this small vaulted room, and through this into several others, without perceiving anything very remarkable in either. In one perhaps there may be a dagger, in another a few drops of blood, and in a third the remains of some instrument of torture; but there being nothing in all this out of the common way, and your lamp being nearly exhausted, you will return towards your own apartment. In repassing through the small vaulted room, however, your eyes will be attracted towards a large, old-fashioned cabinet of ebony and gold, which, though narrowly examining the furniture before, you had passed unnoticed. Impelled by an irresistible presentiment, you will eagerly advance to it, unlock its folding doors, and search into every drawer — but for some time without discovering anything of importance — perhaps nothing but a considerable hoard of diamonds. At last, however, by touching a secret spring, an inner compartment will open — a roll of paper appears — you seize it — it contains many sheets of manuscript — you hasten with the precious treasure into your own chamber, but scarcely have you been able to decipher ‘Oh! Thou — whomsoever thou mayst be, into whose hands these memoirs of the wretched Matilda may fall’ — when your lamp suddenly expires in the socket, and leaves you in total darkness.”
“Oh! No, no — do not say so!” Miss Morland cried and Henry nearly laughed. “Well, go on,” she urged.
But Henry could no longer contain his smiles. He had not expected to raise quite so much interest in her and his amusement made him incapable of continuing his story further in the appropriate solemnity.
“Forgive me,” he said. “I am a most neglectful storyteller and do not at all know how to carry on. Pray use your own fancy in the perusal of Matilda’s woes.”
Miss Morland seemed suddenly very interested in her gloves and said hastily: “Oh, I only asked because it was such a good story – I mean, you told it so well – I do not have the smallest apprehension of really meeting with what you related, I assure you.”
“You do not?” Henry asked, highly diverted. He did not doubt Miss Morland’s words, but her protestations were even more endearing than her fixed attention.
“Of course not,” she said stoutly. “Miss Tilney, I am sure, would never put me into such a chamber as you just described! I am not at all afraid.”
“Very good,” he said approvingly. “I see you have already begun to place all your faith concerning your comfort at Northanger on the sense and kindness of my sister. That is exactly what I do.”
Miss Morland dared to laugh at this, but did follow it with an effusion on the subject of Eleanor’s many merits. Henry seconded them all wholeheartedly and then asked Miss Morland after the well-being of her brothers and sisters, of which she must have had an account in the letter which carried her parents’ consent. Miss Morland was eloquent on the subject of sisterly affection as she related the health and comparative happiness of Harriet, George, Edward, Anne, Jane, Sally, Charles and Richard. “And James you of course know is well,” she finished her speech. “As he remains in Bath.”
“As certain an assurance of health and happiness as one could ask for,” Henry nodded.
“Nay, I only mean you have seen him yourself not too long ago,” Miss Morland said. “You are intent on teasing me.”
“I confess I am,” he said cheerfully. “And will you be teased into telling me some more about your family and your home?”
After at first protesting that there was not at all that much to tell, Miss Morland happily contradicted herself by talking first with great pride of whatever of taste, talent or genius she attributed to her siblings and then with equal warmth of the merits of Fullerton Parsonage. Because a humble parsonage house it may be and full of faults it certainly was, but Henry was also to understand that it had a most delightful orchard, the sweetest henhouse and a green slope at the back of the house to rival any other. Of the particular excellence of this slope Henry of course required proof and he kept her talking of her home and her childhood until they had almost reached their destination.
When this happened Miss Morland exclaimed in surprise to find herself passing through the great gates of the lodge and into the ground of Northanger, without having spied the building even once before. The building stood too long for it to come slowly into view from a winding road, the last beams of the sun playing in beautiful splendour on its high Gothic windows and Henry felt the narrative deficiencies of his family home most keenly. Their arrival at it, however, was sufficiently Gothic. A sudden spread of dark clouds drew in from the west and a cold scud of rain drove full in their faces. Now it was Henry’s duty to leave off his leisurely style of driving and get Miss Morland to the Abbey as quickly as possible. He had allowed his father’s carriage to outstrip them, but now he hurried the horses and within moments he had driven under the abbey walls and was helping Miss Morland out of the curricle.
“My bonnet,” Miss Morland breathed. “I hope it has not come to any harm.”
“If it has,” Henry said seriously. “It was injured while fulfilling the duty of protecting your curls. A nobler cause no bonnet could possibly ask for.”
Miss Morland looked as if she might smile at this, but they were then just passing into the hall, where Eleanor and the General were waiting to welcome her. Henry drew back a little while his father talked and observed Miss Morland as she gave a good shake to her habit, doing away with most of the rain. It seemed she was a great deal more anxious about her clothes being wet than her own self being so. His father led Miss Morland into the common drawing room and Henry followed, joined by his sister.
“Did you have a pleasant drive?” she asked softly.
“I do not believe I have often had a pleasanter one,” he replied, smiling.
Their father, meanwhile, was talking to Miss Morland, who was looking about the room with bemused curiosity.
“This is only a very common apartment,” he spoke. “It is certainly on the smaller side and the simplicity of the furniture, you see, is meant for nothing but daily use and pretends only to comfort. I flatter myself, however, that there are some apartments in the Abbey not unworthy of your notice, Miss Morland.”
Henry, who had through Miss Morland’s accounts of her home gotten a considerably better understanding of the simplicity of living she was used to, was ashamed to hear his father mention with affected modesty the costly gilding of one of these prized apartments. He was almost glad when his father took out his watch and pronounced, in a tone of great surprise, that it was within twenty minutes of five.
Eleanor immediately attached herself to Miss Morland and led her away. Henry saw the slight confusion on Miss Morland’s face and he was sorry for it, but it was best that she learned of his father’s strict ways immediately. Eleanor would be able to make light of them and Miss Morland, free of any prejudice or judgement as she was, would come to regard them as a matter of course.
With that comforting thought he hurried up the stairs to his own apartment to make himself ready for dinner. This was soon done, but despite his swiftness, his father was already waiting for him in the drawing room. The young ladies could not be ready yet and Henry attempted to distract his father with conversation, against his better judgement. His father merely answered his questions curtly and paced the drawing room, watch in hand. Discouraged, Henry lapsed into silence, which allowed him to hear all to clearly, the running footsteps on the stairs a few moments later. Eleanor and Miss Morland appeared, Miss Morland looking rather wide-eyed, and as soon as they entered the drawing room the General pulled the bell with violence and ordered: “Dinner to be on table directly!”
Eleanor sat down looking at her hands and Henry looked at Miss Morland, who sat pale and breathless, even trembling slightly.
“Now what have you done, Eleanor,” the General spoke, recovering the politeness he generally showed around Miss Morland. “You have hurried your fair friend. She is absolutely out of breath from haste. How foolish of you, when there is not eh least occasion for hurry in the world.”
Eleanor’s replies were gentle and complacent, but Henry was angry. He was angry for Eleanor’s clasped hands, angry for Miss Morland’s silent trembling and angry for his own disturbed feelings. Dinner was soon served, however, and as food and drink seemed to restore Miss Morland, so Henry’s spirits rose. His trials, however, were not over, for when she had recovered enough to speak, Miss Morland expressed her admiration on the spaciousness of the dining-parlour.
“It is by no means an ill-sized room,” the General acknowledged graciously. “And I do confess that, though careless enough on such subjects as most people, I do look upon a tolerably large eating-room as one of the necessaries of life.” He gave Miss Morland a benevolent smile. “I suppose, however, that you must have been used to much better-sized apartments at Mr. Allen’s?”
Henry grimaced into his glass, but Miss Morland felt no embarrassment and answered only with honest assurance:
“No, indeed. Mr. Allen’s dining-parlour is not more than half as large. I am sure I have never seen so large a room as this in my life.”
His father, at least, was pleased by this answer. “Why, as I have such rooms, I think it would be simple not to make use of them,” he replied with affected indifference. “But upon my honour, I believe there might be more comfort in rooms of only half their size. Mr. Allen’s house, I am sure, must be exactly of the true size for rational happiness.”
Henry’s eyes met Eleanor’s and they shared a moment of regret. Dinner was soon over, however, and the evening did not pass away unpleasantly. Henry attended to his sister and Miss Morland with such gentle conversation as was comforting after a long day’s travel and in the moments that his father was absent, there was genuine cheerfulness between the three of them. Miss Morland seemed quite comfortable now and quite content with her current situation. Whenever his father was not present she talked without restraint and could even be prevailed upon by Henry to tell Eleanor of that famous green slope. So promising were these circumstances for the pleasantness of the coming weeks that Henry was in great spirits when they all retreated to their chambers for the night and not even the storm that had taken up outside could dampen them.
We're finally at Northanger! I could have taken the opportunity to write more Frederick Tilney at the beginning of this chapter, but I was too eager to get to the flirty carriage ride. (Also, as I was writing this I realized that what Henry is doing is telling Catherine a damn Gothic reader-insert. Really, Austen humanity all figured out…) I compressed chapters 20 and 21 into one, since Henry doesn’t spend so much time being embarrassed by large wooden chests.
I'm not sure I'll be able to upload again next Friday, but I'll certainly do my best. Thanks for reading!
Chapter 15: Which takes place during chapter 22 of Northanger Abbey
I am very sorry for the lack of updates, but some heavy stuff went down that needed dealing with. But what better place to find comfort than in historical romance? This is only a very short chapter (the chapters in Northanger are too, way shorter than I always remember them...) but I am working on the next one already.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The morning, in an apparent apology for last night’s exuberance, was exceedingly fair and Henry found himself the first of the family to be up. He had not been long in the breakfast parlour, however, before he was joined by Miss Morland, who looked slightly out of spirits. This could not surprise Henry, as this had been her first night in a place so entirely new to her and he immediately addressed her in the following, light-hearted manner:
“Good morning Miss Morland, I hope you are well this morning and that you have been undisturbed by the tempest last night. I hope the latches on your windows were well fastened and that there were no draughts blowing through the dark abbey halls?”
To his amusement Miss Morland seemed a little flustered by this. She replied uncertainly that the wind had kept her awake a little. “But we have a charming morning after it,” she added, casting her eyes round the room, “and storms and sleeplessness are nothing when they are over. What beautiful hyacinths! I have just learnt to love a hyacinth.”
Henry looked smiling at the cluster of blue flowers and then back at Miss Morland. “And how might you learn?” asked he. “By accident or argument?”
“Your sister taught me; I cannot tell how. Mrs. Allen used to take pains, year after year, to make me like them, but I never could, till I saw them the other day in Milsom Street. I am naturally indifferent about flowers.”
Naturally indifferent to flowers. What a blow this must have been to any young man of romantic sensibility. Henry, however, was remarkably unfazed. “But now you love a hyacinth,” he said pleasantly. “So much the better. You have gained a new source of enjoyment, and it is well to have as many holds upon happiness as possible. Besides, a taste for flowers is always desirable in your sex, as a means of getting you out of doors, and tempting you to more frequent exercise than you would otherwise take. And though the love of a hyacinth may be rather domestic, who can tell, the sentiment once raised, but you may in time come to love a rose?”
“But I do not want any such pursuit to get me out of doors. The pleasure of walking and breathing fresh air is enough for me, and in fine weather I am out more than half my time. Mamma says I am never within.”
This Henry could well believe. Miss Morland was as good a walker as his sister and he had noticed that whenever Miss Morland did talk of home, the scenes she described seemed always set in orchard, lane or grove, rather than indoors. “At any rate, however,” he said. “I am pleased that you have learnt to love a hyacinth.”
Miss Morland smiled happily at him, an unwise decision on her part, for it provoked Henry to archness once more.
“The mere habit of learning to love is the thing,” he continued. “And a teachableness of disposition in a young lady is a great blessing. Has my sister a pleasant mode of instruction?”
Miss Morland flushed and Henry mourned the entrance of his father, who at once prevented him from hearing her answer and from continuing this conversation. Instead he was forced to listen to his father’s smiling compliments on Miss Morland’s person and his gentle hint of sympathetic early rising. The latter especially seemed to discompose Miss Morland and Henry grew almost annoyed at his father’s ability to give distress where he meant to give ease.
Upon Eleanor’s joining them the mood lightened somewhat and they were soon seated around the breakfast table.
“What an elegant breakfast set,” Miss Morland declared with an admiring look that was so honest and without any desire of flattery that it called forth twin smiles from Henry and Eleanor.
Their father’s smile was even wider. He pronounced himself enchanted by her approbation of his taste and, when Miss Morland did not dare speak again, continued: “I confess my taste to be nothing but neat and simple. Where I to consult only my own feelings I would spend no money on finery of this kind, it is only that I think it right to encourage the manufacture of my country. For my part, to my uncritical palate, the tea is as well flavoured from the clay of Staffordshire, as from that of Dresden or Save. But this is quite an old set, Miss Morland, purchased two years ago. The manufacture has much improved since that time, I have seen some beautiful specimens when last in town, and had I not been perfectly without vanity of that kind, I might have been tempted to order a new set.” He smiled very deliberately. “I trust, however, that an opportunity might ere long occur of selecting one- though not for myself.”
Henry refused to look at his father and could not look at Miss Morland. Had he looked he would have seen, like Eleanor did, that Miss Morland did not suffer from his father’s impertinence, by not at all understanding his elusions. This knowledge gave Eleanor the courage to resolutely try for a change of subject and breakfast was tolerably pleasant after that. Miss Morland still seemed quite excited with her new abode and the prospect of going over it was delightful to her. Henry was sorry to leave her and Eleanor to the company of his father, but he was obliged to do so. He was needed at his parish in Woodston and would likely have to stay there for two or three days. The ride hither was pleasant, as the weather was fine, but Henry’s mind ran too much upon Miss Morland and specifically his father’s behaviour towards her.
It had been very evident, almost from the start of their acquaintance, that the general had taken a liking to Miss Morland. For what reason Henry could not fathom, for while Miss Morland was everything good and kind she had none of the qualities his father liked to see in a woman, namely wealth and connections. His father’s efforts to advance their intimacy Henry had not minded, they had rather come as a welcome surprise, even if they were sometimes executed with what was very nearly military bluntness. Now, however, his father seemed intent on raising expectations in Miss Morland that Henry felt were decidedly his prerogative to raise. This was distressing to him for several reasons. Not least of which his own doubts over whether he wanted these expectations to be raised at all. He was fond of Miss Morland and very aware of her admiration of him, but he had not given himself the time to think serious about it. Not as seriously at any rate as he was persuaded such matter should be thought about. Luckily the ride to Woodston, even in this fine weather and with the roads in excellent condition, was long enough to give him ample time for thought.
It’s good to be back. I hope you liked it! Thank you to everyone that left kudo's while I was away, that is very encouraging :) And thank all of you for reading!
Chapter 16: Which takes place during Chapter 24 of Northanger Abbey
Prepare yourself for all the emotions, this is the chapter where Catherine goes to see Mrs. Tilney’s room. This was very hard to write, I hope I did it justice.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Sunday brought with it all the usual responsibilities and Henry conducted his two services with his usual enjoyment. In dispatching his business as a rector he was sadly most neglectful as a lover. Not once did he wish Miss Morland to be sitting in the foremost pew, listening to his words with quiet admiration. And this not even because he feared his words would have failed him had she been there, but simply because he forgot to think about her. Truly, the only time he thought about Miss Morland in earnest was when he recollected that Eleanor must be glad of her company in church today. This can hardly be called promising and it was certain that Henry at that moment was a better brother than a lover. But, having had considerably more practice in the former, perhaps he may be shown leniency.
In any case, when afternoon service was over and he was again somewhat at leisure Henry began to make amends. He was not expected back at Northanger until the day after tomorrow, and there was still much parish business to tend to, but he frequently found himself restless at his desk. While there were visitors to demand his attention he could be productive, but in every idle moment he mourned having missed every first moment of Miss Morland’s getting acquainted with the abbey, beyond that short interview at breakfast. The train of serious thought, started on his ride to Woodston, was now involuntarily continued. The substance of these thoughts is of very little matter, that they dominated his mind must be proof enough of the state of his heart.
That Monday he was extraordinarily quick in finishing whatever needed doing. He rode to Northanger that very afternoon and he was forced to admit that in his hurry to get there he was looking forward to seeing Miss Morland as much as he did Eleanor.
The weather was again very fine and Henry arrived at the abbey in very good time. Having entrusted his horse to the stable hand he proceeded to make his way to his room, that he might dress for dinner directly. With high spirited energy he ran up the winding staircase and his head was not quite so full of Miss Morland that he was not taken very much by surprise when she was suddenly before him. She was standing in the corridor, still in her day dress and looking quite startled.
“Mr. Tilney!” she exclaimed.
“Miss Morland,” he bowed, smiling bemusedly. “How do you do?”
Miss Morland seemed scarcely to have heard him. “Good God!” she continued in the same accent. “How came you here? How came you up that staircase?”
“How came I up that staircase!” he replied, greatly surprised. “Because it is my nearest way from the stable-yard to my own chamber; and why should I not come up it?”
Miss Morland opened her mouth and closed it again. The degree of discomposure on her face confused Henry even more and he gave her an earnest, inquiring look. This look was not answered, however, and Miss Morland moved towards the gallery. Henry quickly took up to precede her and, pushing back the folding doors, asked curiously:
“And may I not, in my turn ask how you came here? This passage is at least as extraordinary a road from the breakfast-parlour to your apartment, as that staircase can be from the stables to mine.”
“I have been,” said Miss Morland, looking down, “to see your mother’s room.”
“My mother’s room!” he said, surprised. “Is there anything extraordinary to be seen there?”
“No, nothing at all,” replied she, still not meeting his eyes. “I thought you did not mean to come back till tomorrow,” she added with something very near helplessness in her voice.
“I did not expect to be able to return sooner, when I went away; but three hours ago I had the pleasure of finding nothing to detain me,” Henry explained. The latter half of this statement was only partly true. It had indeed been a pleasure, but he had not so much found as arranged that there would be nothing to detain him. At the moment these reflections were very far from his mind, however, as Miss Morland really looked rather unwell to him. “You look pale,” he said, concerned. “I am afraid I alarmed you by running so fast up those stairs. Perhaps you did not know — you were not aware of their leading from the offices in common use?”
“No, I was not,” she said in a quiet voice and then, trying to sound more like herself: “You have had a very fine day for your ride.”
“Very,” Henry agreed. He gave her an encouraging smile. “And does Eleanor leave you to find your way into all the rooms in the house by yourself?” He rather suspected that Miss Morland had felt the need to do some solitary rambling, but it surprised him she should have chosen that part of the abbey, where so little of the original features of the building had been left intact, to indulge this desire.
Miss Morland seemed to take his teasing as an earnest enquiry, however, and exclaimed: “Oh! No, she showed me over the greatest part on Saturday — and we were coming here to these rooms — but only” — she dropped her voice and looked up at him — “your father was with us.”
“And that prevented you,” said Henry, earnestly regarding her. This surprised him. His father was indeed not fond of going into his mother’s apartments, but he was most fond of showing his house. This part of the abbey having been passed over in her tour of the house, did at least explain Miss Morland’s curiosity to see it. “Have you looked into all the rooms in that passage?” he asked obligingly. Perhaps he would have an opportunity to see some of her first impressions after all.
“No,” Miss Morland said, shifting her feet uncomfortably. “I only wanted to see — Is not it very late? I must go and dress.”
“It is only a quarter past four,” said he smilingly, showing his watch, “and you are not now in Bath. No theatre, no rooms to prepare for. Half an hour at Northanger must be enough.”
Miss Morland nodded, but sensing in her no desire to see the apartments behind them Henry did not press her further. Instead he walked with her slowly up the gallery. “Have you had any letter from Bath since I saw you?” he asked, searching for a subject to put her at ease.
“No, and I am very much surprised,” Miss Morland replied. “Isabella promised so faithfully to write directly.”
There was a turn of phrase he could make merry with. “Promised so faithfully! A faithful promise! That puzzles me. I have heard of a faithful performance. But a faithful promise — the fidelity of promising!” His look softened. “It is a power little worth knowing, however, since it can deceive and pain you.”
Miss Morland looked a little more like her usual self. Henry was gratified, but he could not help but wonder what had occurred to discompose her so. It could not be merely his sudden appearance. That, his feelings at least told him, should have inspired discomposure of a different kind in her. The curiosity to know why she should be so interested to see his mother’s room returned and he remarked:
“My mother’s room is very commodious, is it not? Large and cheerful–looking, and the dressing–closets so well disposed! It always strikes me as the most comfortable apartment in the house, and I rather wonder that Eleanor should not take it for her own.” He gave her another inquiring look. “She sent you to look at it, I suppose?”
“It has been your own doing entirely?”
Miss Morland said nothing. Henry waited, looking at her in earnest, but was met with nothing but silence. Henry was quite perplexed. He had seen Miss Morland silent and uncomfortable often enough, but never with him. Never when they were alone. Not once before in his acquaintance had she seemed so unwilling to answer his questions or so eager to avoid his gaze. After a short while he said: “As there is nothing in the room in itself to raise curiosity, this must have proceeded from a sentiment of respect for my mother’s character, as described by Eleanor, which does honour to her memory.” Now Miss Morland looked at him and Henry continued warmly: “The world, I believe, never saw a better woman. But it is not often that virtue can boast an interest such as this. The domestic, unpretending merits of a person never known do not often create that kind of fervent, venerating tenderness which would prompt a visit like yours. Eleanor, I suppose, has talked of her a great deal?”
“Yes, a great deal,” Miss Morland said, but then instantly interrupting herself: “That is — no, not much, but what she did say was very interesting.” Hesitation made its way into her voice. “Her dying so suddenly,” she said, slowly. “And you — none of you being at home — and your father, I thought — perhaps had not been very fond of her.”
Henry’s eyes were fixed on her most intently. The meaning of these words could not escape him, spoken as they were with such trepidation.
“And from these circumstances,” he replied, “you infer perhaps the probability of some negligence — some-” His voice faltered for a moment and Miss Morland shook her head, but by the paleness of her face he could see he had surmised correctly. “Or it may be,” he spoke in a tone that betrayed his emotion, “of something still less pardonable.”
She raised her eyes towards him more fully than she had ever done before and Henry was pained to see the question in them. Proof. She required proof of him. Proof that his father had no hand in his mother’s death.
“My mother’s illness,” he continued gravely, “the seizure which ended in her death, was sudden. The malady itself, one from which she had often suffered, a bilious fever — its cause therefore constitutional. On the third day, in short, as soon as she could be prevailed on, a physician attended her, a very respectable man, and one in whom she had always placed great confidence. Upon his opinion of her danger, two others were called in the next day, and remained in almost constant attendance for four and twenty hours. On the fifth day she died. During the progress of her disorder, Frederick and I (we were both at home) saw her repeatedly; and from our own observation can bear witness to her having received every possible attention which could spring from the affection of those about her, or which her situation in life could command. Poor Eleanor was absent, and at such a distance as to return only to see her mother in her coffin.”
“But your father,” said Miss Morland hesitantly, “was he afflicted?”
Such a question. That the affliction of a husband on the death of his wife should admit of doubt. Henry was mortified, but when he spoke it was in indignation. “For a time, greatly so. You have erred in supposing him not attached to her. He loved her, I am persuaded, as well as it was possible for him to.” Miss Morland’s earnest eyes were still fixed on him and Henry felt an embarrassment he was wholly unfamiliar with. “We have not all, you know, the same tenderness of disposition,” he added stiffy. “— and I will not pretend to say that while she lived, she might not often have had much to bear, but though his temper injured her, his judgment never did. His value of her was sincere; and, if not permanently, he was truly afflicted by her death.”
“I am very glad of it,” said Miss Morland. “It would have been very shocking!”
Henry regarded her with feelings so disturbed he was incapable of staying his tongue. “If I understand you rightly,” he said, struggling through the worlds. “— you had formed a surmise of such horror as I have hardly words to — Dear Miss Morland, consider the dreadful nature of the suspicions you have entertained. What have you been judging from?”
How could she be standing there, curls soft upon her forehead, dressed in yellow calico print, and think his own father capable of murder? They were still walking, but only because they had started out thus and Henry had not the presence of mind to cease moving. The worlds came more rapidly now, fuelled by astonishment and indignation, but spoken by a man more deeply hurt than he was at all aware of.
“Remember the country and the age in which we live,” he spoke. “Remember that we are English, that we are Christians. Consult your own understanding, your own sense of the probable, your own observation of what is passing around you. Does our education prepare us for such atrocities? Do our laws connive at them? Could they be perpetrated without being known, in a country like this, where social and literary intercourse is on such a footing, where every man is surrounded by a neighbourhood of voluntary spies, and where roads and newspapers lay everything open? Dearest Miss Morland, what ideas have you been admitting?”
They had reached the end of the gallery and Miss Morland turned away from him, but not in time to hide her tears. Henry started, but before he could speak another word she had rushed around the corner and Henry could impossibly mistake the sound of her sobbing. One impulsive step he took with the desire to follow her, before he shrank back in mortification. His astonishment at Miss Morland’s suspicions, the pain of the knowledge that his father could be believed to be a murderer, they all sank under the misery of his own words. He had spoken in anger. He had spoken in abhorrence and he had done it badly.
In great agitation Henry repaired to his room and as he walked the empty corridors he keenly remembered that it was he, no one else, who had told Miss Morland she was to expect all kinds of horror at Northanger Abbey. Of course he had meant that image to fall away into absurdity as soon as she had actually seen the abbey, modern and unromantic as it was, but had he done anything to ensure that it had? No, he had left Miss Morland to see for herself how even in airy, spacious apartments there might be dismal loneliness and how even in an Englishman of reputation and good breeding, there might be severe flaws of character. Shame of the acutest kind took hold of Henry’s heart. He had accused Miss Morland of injustice, cruelty almost, towards his father. Miss Morland, who was a great deal too apt to see nothing but goodness and innocence around her and who must have seen and felt his father’s duplicity with considerable distress. Who must have witnessed his treatment of his children and his servants with great uneasiness. Artless and open as she was, it was not unthinkable that to her, these kinds of mundane cruelty were hardly less horrific and unusual than the most deviant intentions.
This line of thought, detrimental to his opinion of himself as well as of his father, brought him to realise that Miss Morland had never actually spoken a single accusation. None except her doubtful surmise that his father might not have been very fond of his wife. Perhaps he had not been. Perhaps to be very fond of someone was beyond his father’s capabilities. With another unpleasant sensation it occurred to Henry that should she have wished to do so, Miss Morland might have avoided his scrutiny entirely. She could have told him she had merely attempted to take an adventurous route to her chamber. She might have agreed with his assumption that it was Eleanor that had inspired in her a desire to see his mother’s room. Henry stopped pacing and considered the fact that in all the time he had known her, he had never once heard Miss Morland speak a falsehood. No, when she spoke it was plainly and honestly and when she heard she believed she was being told the truth as far as she could comprehend it. Such a girl had looked at his father and had been afraid of him. And such a girl he had angrily begged to use her reason. Such a girl he had brought to tears and dared to call “dearest” for the first time, while punishing her so unfairly. This was the sombre closing thought of Henry’s unhappy reflections, but in mourning that he had so thrown away the first use of such a term of affection, he was at last aware that it had truly been spoken in affection. Would he have suffered so keenly now had it been otherwise? Would he have been so hurt by Miss Morland’s suspicions? No, affection alone could have been the author of both.
All these realizations made Henry quite miserable, but perhaps, not miserable enough. For he did not sink down in his chair, incapable of moving, nor did he prepare for having lost Miss Morland’s good opinion forever. Instead he dressed for dinner, and prepared to make amends.
Phew. Poor Catherine! I was obliged to make Henry suffer for making her so unhappy. But now the good stuff starts! Because Henry knows his heart now and the canon text gives me plenty of time at Northanger that is only very slightly described, which means I can fill it with all the romantic historically accurate fluff I want! So stay tuned for that and thanks for reading. :)
Chapter 17: Which takes place during Chapter 25 of Norhanger Abbey
Nice long chapter right here! Henry makes amends, all the amends. With a shout-out to my sister for asking for a history lesson ;)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Henry feared that he had already spent too much time lost in thought and once he had made the necessary alterations to his attire, he hurried down. If Henry Tilney’s romantic ideas suffered humiliation due to the fact that a mutual transgression of conduct was needed to make him know his own feelings, he did not look it. In running down the fine broad steps of Northanger he looked every bit the eager lover and the slight shadow of anxiousness diffused over his face, though not particularly attractive, was at least very appropriate for the moment.
He found Miss Morland sitting by his sister, the former extremely pale the latter highly concerned. To his intense relief his father had not yet joined them.
“Good evening Eleanor, Miss Morland,” he said, taking up a light-hearted tone. “Here I am a day before I am either expected or wanted, to spoil your moments of confidence.”
Eleanor rose to embrace him, not at all surprised by his presence, as her maid had already told her that Master Henry was come back again. “You know you are always wanted, Henry,” she said smilingly. “So I shall not tell you again that you are.”
Henry answered her cheerfully and glanced at Miss Morland, who had made no answer other than a startled look and a shy inclination of the head. She met his eyes, however, and he smiled at her as warmly as he could without drawing Eleanor’s notice. The uncertainty in her looks and the very real distress directly beneath its surface were exactly calculated to strengthen Henry’s resolve. He spoke to Miss Morland at every opportunity he got, even after his father entered the room and did so warmly and soothingly that at length Miss Morland seemed to grow tranquil again. The general, who was very pleased with these more marked attentions of his son, seemed a little surprised at Miss Morland’s modest replies. Henry was aware of this and he was likewise conscious that Eleanor sometimes looked at both him and Miss Morland with something like concern. Fortunately Henry’s sister and father chose very different methods in dealing with this situation. After dinner Eleanor suggested to Miss Morland that they both take up some needlework, to give her young friend something to employ her fidgeting hands. This offer was gladly accepted and Henry was thankful for it. Even more thankful was he for the withdrawing of his father, who seemed to have concluded that his formidable presence must make Miss Morland shy.
“As pleasant as it would be,” the general said smilingly, “to enjoy a quiet family evening. I have some business to tend to that cannot be delayed. I trust your abilities in entertaining the ladies, Henry.”
“I am most sincerely flattered, Sir,” Henry replied. “I shall certainly do my best.”
After his father’s removal a more comfortable atmosphere filled the drawing room and while Eleanor and Miss Morland sewed Henry talked pleasantly of many subjects, carefully avoiding books or any other that might remind Miss Morland of what had just passed.
His conduct the following day was much the same and his efforts were rewarded by seeing Miss Morland steadily grow more easy, more cheerful and more lively. This was greatly aided by his father continuing the practice of leaving the young people by themselves for significant stretches of time. When the general was present, Henry had to conclude soberly, Miss Morland now reacted much in the same way he and his sister did, with dampened sprits and long silences. Amongst the three of them, however, ease and comfort returned fully over the course of a few days. In Miss Morland this comfort gave rise to something very akin to boldness, for on Wednesday Henry found her and Eleanor in the drawing room, employed in looking over a collection of histories.
“What is going on here?” Henry asked pleasantly and both ladies looked up.
Miss Morland looked a little shy, a blush overspreading her cheeks, but Eleanor answered readily: “Miss Morland requested I recommend her something to read.”
“Has she?” Henry cried. “Miss Morland’s taste surely is very good, acknowledging the excellence of yours.”
Eleanor spoke a few smiling words about flattery and Miss Morland looked a little more sure of herself. Henry was delighted with this effort of self-improvement and he felt that he might have repeated his sister’s speech on being flattered had he felt he had the right to.
“Here I was, meaning to be idle all afternoon,” he shook his head. “But with you young ladies engaged in serious study I can hardly set such a deplorable example.”
“Well Henry,” Eleanor said, striking up an idea that she expected would greatly improve Miss Morland’s enjoyment in the study. “Then you may read to us while we finish our embroidery.”
“An excellent idea!” Henry exclaimed. “That is, if it would be agreeable to Miss Morland?”
“Oh! Yes, very agreeable,” Miss Morland blushed and indeed, Henry was giving her such a smile that she was very unlikely to disagree with anything at that very moment.
“Well, what have you here collected?” Henry asked, drawing near the table with unapologetically playful spirits. He studied every book so solemnly there was nothing of solemnity left in him and finally selected a hefty volume entitled: ‘A Manual Of Ancient History, Particularly With Regard To The Constitutions, The Commerce, And The Colonies, Of The States Of Antiquity’. “Here is something worth reading,” Henry said cheerfully.
He stole a glance at Miss Morland and had to make considerable effort to check his laugh when he saw how her face had fallen. With a look of complete innocence he held the novel out for her inspection and when she saw it to be by a German author she shrank even further.
“It is a very…informative work,” Eleanor said carefully. She raised her eyes at Henry, but he chose not to understand her and merely smiled.
“I am sure it will be very interesting,” Miss Morland said in a small, but determined voice.
“If it is not,” Henry said, sitting down. “I shall be the guilty party, for it will be down to my reading skills.”
“Indeed it will, Henry,” Eleanor said, taking up her embroidery ring. “So take care.”
He pulled his face into a smirk and made a show of turning the pages. “We shall certainly not begin at the beginning,” he decided and then, glancing at a page: “Would you young ladies not like to know about Argos?” Without waiting for an answer he read: “Even previously to the Dorian migration, the country of Argolis was parcelled out into several small kingdoms, such as those of Argos, Mycenæ, and Tiryns. In Argos, the oldest Grecian state next to Sicyon, ruled the forefathers of Perseus, who exchanged the kingdom of his ancestors for Tiryns: here his successors continued to reign till the time of Hercules.” Here he stopped and glanced at Miss Morland, who to her credit looked very attentive. “You know of Perseus and Hercules?” he asked and his tone was so open and free of judgement that she did not scruple to reply:
“I know of Hercules.”
“But not of Perseus?” Henry asked.
She shook her head and he looked so delighted that she was no longer sorry for it.
“Not know of Perseus,” Henry sighed, lowering the book onto his lap.
“We did not all of us have time to study endless foreign classics,” Eleanor remarked pleasantly.
“That is very true,” Henry agreed. “But that does not make it any less tragic. I assure you Miss Morland, the story of Perseus is well worth hearing.”
Miss Morland’s eyes were fixed upon him with attentive brightness and she said shyly: “I would be very happy to hear it.”
That put an end to the solemn history lesson. Henry Tilney must speak of the hero Perseus instead. He talked of oracles, gorgons and winged horses with great spirit and whatever secrets the volume on his lap still had to tell of Dorians and Pelops, Corinth and Sicyon, secrets they would remain. The book was all forgotten and Miss Morland listened with rapturous to every detail of the saga, be it tragic or romantic. Every show of enjoyment on her side made Henry’s retelling longer and on the hubris of Queen Cassiopeia and the rescue of Princess Andromeda Henry dwelt so long that he had hardly concluded when Eleanor gently pronounced it to be thirty minutes to five, time to dress for dinner.
“Oh!” Miss Morland exclaimed, looking upon her with surprised eyes. “Did so much time pass, truly?”
“I declare it has,” Henry smiled. “That is the way it often goes with serious study.”
Eleanor gave him a most penetrating look at that speech, but Miss Morland merely smiled and shook her head, declaring that she had made very little progress with her needlework. That Henry of course immediately pronounced to be the sincerest form of flattery a reader could wish for and Miss Morland left the drawing room in excellent spirits.
“There Eleanor,” Henry said, smiling at Eleanor. “I think I have done your favourite subject justice, have I not?”
“I think, Henry,” Eleanor said meaningfully, “that you have shown off yourself with considerably more success than you did the subject of history.”
“Have I?” Henry exclaimed, widening his eyes in insincere surprise. “How humiliating, to fail so completely in one’s object.”
Eleanor laughed out loud at that and gave him as reproachful a look as her gentle face could manage. “Henry,” she said, suddenly grown sober. “Do you know your object?”
Henry looked into her eyes, which were very like his own, to show her he meant to be serious and replied: “Yes, Eleanor, I do know it.”
She smiled and walked out of the drawing room.
“But perhaps,” Henry said, following her, “Perhaps you should be the one to select our reading matter next time.”
“Perhaps I shall,” she nodded.
The next day there was no opportunity for reading, however, and the day after that was destined for reading of a different sort. Miss Morland had written to Miss Thorpe twice since at Northanger and Henry heard her speak her surprise at not receiving an answer with increasing frequency. Henry, having observed Miss Thorpe both as a lover and a friend, was the less surprised by this, but as Miss Morland hoped for a letter he hoped with her. That Friday the long awaited letter came and Henry was delighted he was the one present to receive the post in the breakfast-room.
“Here, at last,” he said when his sister entered. “Is Miss Morland’s letter.”
“I am glad of it!” Eleanor exclaimed. “For she has been expecting it this week at least.”
Sure enough, smiles overspread Miss Morland’s face entirely when Henry offered her the letter. “Oh thank you, Mr. Tilney!” she said, so heartily as if he had written it himself. “Thank you!”
Henry sat down, smiling sincerely at her delight.
“’Tis only from James, however,” Miss Morland observed as she looked at the direction. She seemed rather surprised by this and Henry guessed that not only had she expected a letter from her friend, she had apparently not expected one from her brother. She opened it with the genuine pleasure of an affectionate sister, however, and read with a cheerful aspect. Or rather, that was how she began. For hardly had her eyes moved across the paper twice, before she let out a short exclamation of sorrow and wonder and her countenance changed so drastically that Henry felt his own face fall. Earnestly he watched her through the whole letter and whatever unpleasant news it contained, it was plain that it ended no better than it began. What a blow, to think he would do her pleasure and instead be delivering her pain with the letter he had so joyfully handed her.
He was prevented, however, from even looking his surprise by his father’s entrance. Not one question as to the state of her well-being could he pose her. They went to breakfast directly, but Miss Morland hardly ate anything. To Henry’s distress tears filled her eyes and even ran down her cheeks as she sat. The unhappy letter was one moment in her hand, then in her lap, and then in her pocket; and she looked as if she knew not what she did. Henry’s only comfort at that moment was that his father, between his cocoa and his newspaper, had no leisure for noticing her. But besides this there was very little to console Henry, as he was at present unable to console Miss Morland in any way. What her brother’s letter might contain he could only wonder at, but as distressed as Miss Morland was it could be a great many things of varying gravity. If some misfortune had befallen her family back at Fullerton, it was not unthinkable Miss Morland would wish to leave them as soon as possible to return home. He exchanged many a concerned glance with Eleanor, whose thoughts were evidently of a similar kind.
Not long after Miss Morland excused herself. The general was still absorbed in his newspaper and while his parting words to her were most jovial, his eyes turned towards her for only a moment. Henry, who had largely forgotten to eat while Miss Morland was present, now finished his plate. As soon as this was done, however, he could no longer remain still. He retreated to the drawing room and Eleanor followed him tither at once.
“Oh Henry,” she breathed as soon as the door had shut behind her. “You do not think there was a death in Miss Morland’s family?”
Her eyes were wide and anxious and Henry, even in his distress for Miss Morland, felt a pang of sorrow for the letter his sister had received at fourteen years old. Words of comfort he could not offer, however, and he replied soberly: “I do not know,” and after a moment: “I hope that is not the case.”
At that moment the door opened and Miss Morland appeared, pale as death and with eye still heavy with tears. Upon seeing them she instantly drew back.
“I beg your pardon,” she spoke in a voice weak with distress. “I did not know-”
“Miss Morland, I beg of you, stay,” Henry exclaimed. “You shall have the room to yourself if you so wish it.”
“Yes, do not go, we insist,” Eleanor joined him and Miss Morland stepped back into the room, her eyes fixed on the floor.
Henry was miserable at the sight of her, but now at least he could act in a way that would afford her comfort, even if it was by withdrawing. He lingered at the door while Eleanor expressed the wish of being of use or comfort to Miss Morland with genuine warmth and affection. Miss Morland thanked her quietly and with this Eleanor joined Henry and they returned to the breakfast room. Their father, thankfully, was nowhere to be seen, and Henry sat down with a sigh.
“I think…” Eleanor said hesitantly. “I think it cannot be a death in the family. Miss Morland would wish to be carried home to Fullerton instantly if that had been the case.”
Henry shook his head doubtingly. There was a short silence. “Should we not order the carriage be made ready?” he suggested with sudden impatience. “In the eventuality Miss Morland has need of it.”
“We cannot do so without informing our father,” Eleanor said gently. “And he would insist on speaking to her.”
Henry conceded, but he was now grown so restless that he took to pacing around the room. Eleanor sat in quiet concern, attempting to take up her embroidery and not knowing what to say to alleviate his feelings while her own were so disturbed. At length Henry grew calmer and sat down by her. “I think you must be right, Eleanor,” he said. “If the news was so very serious and come directly from Fullerton, the letter would have been by her mother or father’s hand.”
“I had not thought of that,” Eleanor said, sounding a little relieved. “But what can Miss Morland’s brother have to relate that would distress her so much?”
Henry considered this and for the first time since Miss Morland’s distress had been visible an idea of what the subject of the letter might have been entered his mind. He was prevented from voicing it, however, for at that moment Miss Morland entered the breakfast-room.
Brother and sister both looked up at her anxiously. Miss Morland looked as if she might say something, but did not and merely took her place at the table. After a short silence Eleanor said:
“No bad news from Fullerton, I hope? Mr. and Mrs. Morland — your brothers and sisters — I hope they are none of them ill?”
“No, I thank you,” said she, sighing as she spoke, “they are all very well. My letter was from my brother at Oxford.”
Nothing further was said for a few minutes. Eleanor dared not ask again and Henry, seeing tears once again well up in Miss Morland’s eyes, felt he should not be here now. To leave, however, was wholly impossible. His heart would not allow it. In an attempt to give Miss Morland some privacy therefore, he opened a book and stared into its pages unseeingly.
Then, with the unmistakable sound of tears in her voice, Miss Morland spoke: “I do not think I shall ever wish for a letter again!”
Henry closed the book. “I am sorry,” said he, fixing his eyes on her earnestly, “if I had suspected the letter of containing anything unwelcome, I should have given it with very different feelings.”
“It contained something worse than anybody could suppose!” Miss Morland exclaimed. “Poor James is so unhappy! You will soon know why.”
This lamentation, though spoken with such grief, confirmed Henry’s suspicions and must therefore comfort him. If Miss Morland merely had to lament over poor James, and over his unhappiness alone, it must be a calamity of the heart that had occurred. Henry could not be happy while Miss Morland cried, but he could be relieved. “To have so kind–hearted, so affectionate a sister,” he replied warmly, “must be a comfort to him under any distress.”
Miss Morland sighed at this and shortly afterwards added, in an agitated manner: “I have one favour to beg. That, if your brother should be coming here, you will give me notice of it, that I may go away.”
“Our brother! Frederick!” Eleanor exclaimed, wholly surprised.
“Yes; I am sure I should be very sorry to leave you so soon, but something has happened that would make it very dreadful for me to be in the same house with Captain Tilney.”
Eleanor’s hands lay idly on her needlework and she gazed on her friend with increasing astonishment, but Henry was now quite sure his earlier surmise had been correct. “I suppose,” he began carefully, “your brother was forced to relate to you something unpleasant on the subject of Isabella Thorpe.”
Miss Morland’s eyes were fixed on him immediately. “How quick you are!” she cried. “You have guessed it, I declare! And yet, when we talked about it in Bath, you little thought of its ending so. Isabella — no wonder now I have not heard from her — Isabella has deserted my brother, and is to marry yours! Could you have believed there had been such inconstancy and fickleness, and everything that is bad in the world?”
Henry could not escape the feeling that two great disappointments in human nature had now been suffered by Miss Morland in close connection to his family. This was very unpleasant, but he could not ignore that the possibility of Miss Morland’s being disappointed by Isabella Thorpe would have been near inevitable no matter whose interference. “I hope, so far as concerns my brother, you are misinformed,” he said seriously. “I hope he has not had any material share in bringing on Mr. Morland’s disappointment. His marrying Miss Thorpe is not probable. I think you must be deceived so far. I am very sorry for Mr. Morland — sorry that anyone you love should be unhappy; but my surprise would be greater at Frederick’s marrying her than at any other part of the story.”
Truly, he could not believe that Frederick had, or would ever have, any serious designs on Miss Thorpe.
“It is very true, however,” Miss Morland protested. “You shall read James’s letter yourself. Stay — There is one part —“ She blushed.
“Will you take the trouble of reading to us the passages which concern my brother?” Henry asked. He did not wish to force her confidence, but he was very eager to confirm for himself whatever of probability there was that his brother really had found himself entangled with Miss Thorpe.
“No, read it yourself,” cried Miss Morland. “I do not know what I was thinking of.” A blush once again overspread her face. “James only means to give me good advice.”
Boldly she handed the letter over to him and Henry gladly received it. He read it through with close attention. It was the letter of a man suffering most acutely and read as follows:
“Though, God knows, with little inclination for writing, I think it my duty to tell you that everything is at an end between Miss Thorpe and me. I left her and Bath yesterday, never to see either again. I shall not enter into particulars — they would only pain you more. You will soon hear enough from another quarter to know where lies the blame; and I hope will acquit your brother of everything but the folly of too easily thinking his affection returned. Thank God! I am undeceived in time! But it is a heavy blow! After my father’s consent had been so kindly given — but no more of this. She has made me miserable forever! Let me soon hear from you, dear Catherine; you are my only friend; your love I do build upon. I wish your visit at Northanger may be over before Captain Tilney makes his engagement known, or you will be uncomfortably circumstanced. Poor Thorpe is in town: I dread the sight of him; his honest heart would feel so much. I have written to him and my father. Her duplicity hurts me more than all; till the very last, if I reasoned with her, she declared herself as much attached to me as ever, and laughed at my fears. I am ashamed to think how long I bore with it; but if ever man had reason to believe himself loved, I was that man. I cannot understand even now what she would be at, for there could be no need of my being played off to make her secure of Tilney. We parted at last by mutual consent — happy for me had we never met! I can never expect to know such another woman! Dearest Catherine, beware how you give your heart. “Believe me,” &c.
In progressing through the letter Henry grew very grave. He could not but see a similarity of feeling, of disposition at least, between Miss Morland and her brother. His prevailing assurance in John Thorpe’s good character especially. The last line, a feeling caution from brother to sister, could hardly fail to move him. And yet the most surprising and most distressing of all the letter’s contents was the apparent truth of Miss Thorpe making a conquest of his brother. Soberly Henry returned the letter to Miss Morland, who looked at him expectantly.
“Well,” he said gravely. “If it is to be so, I can only say that I am sorry for it. Frederick will not be the first man who has chosen a wife with less sense than his family expected. I do not envy his situation, either as a lover or a son.”
Eleanor looked both surprised and distressed at this speech and Miss Morland instantly invited her to read the letter also. She did and expressed her concern and surprise most openly. “May I ask,” she added cautiously. “What sort of a family Miss Thorpe is from?”
“Her mother is a very good sort of woman,” was Miss Morland’s answer.
“What was her father?”
“A lawyer, I believe. They live at Putney.”
“Are they a wealthy family?”
“No, not very. I do not believe Isabella has any fortune at all: but that will not signify in your family. Your father is so very liberal! He told me the other day that he only valued money as it allowed him to promote the happiness of his children.”
Eleanor glanced at Henry and he felt ashamed.
“But,” said Eleanor, after a short pause, “would it be to promote his happiness, to enable him to marry such a girl? She must be an unprincipled one, or she could not have used your brother so. And how strange an infatuation on Frederick’s side! A girl who, before his eyes, is violating an engagement voluntarily entered into with another man!” She shook her head. “Is not it inconceivable, Henry? Frederick too, who always wore his heart so proudly! Who found no woman good enough to be loved!”
“That is the most unpromising circumstance,” Henry said grimly. “The strongest presumption against him. When I think of his past declarations, I give him up. Moreover, I have too good an opinion of Miss Thorpe’s prudence to suppose that she would part with one gentleman before the other was secured.” It pained him to admit it, but he felt it to be true. “It is all over with Frederick indeed!” he cried, raising his hands. “He is a deceased man — defunct in understanding. Prepare for your sister–in–law, Eleanor, and such a sister–in–law as you must delight in! Open, candid, artless, guileless, with affections strong but simple, forming no pretensions, and knowing no disguise.”
“Such a sister–in–law, Henry, I should delight in,” said Eleanor with a smile and, her wit taking him by surprise, her brother almost flushed.
“But perhaps,” observed Miss Morland, quite unaware of the significance of this little exchange, “though she has behaved so ill by our family, she may behave better by yours. Now she has really got the man she likes, she may be constant.”
Generous Miss Morland, she and her brother were truly like. “Indeed I am afraid she will,” replied Henry strongly. “I am afraid she will be very constant, unless a baronet should come in her way; that is Frederick’s only chance. I will get the Bath paper, and look over the arrivals.”
“You think it is all for ambition, then?” Miss Morland asked dejectedly. “And, upon my word, there are some things that seem very like it. I cannot forget that, when she first knew what my father would do for them, she seemed quite disappointed that it was not more. I never was so deceived in anyone’s character in my life before.”
Now Henry could not repress a smile, but it was fond, and quite free of cencure. “Among all the great variety that you have known and studied,” said he.
Miss Morland shook her head. “My own disappointment and loss in her is very great; but, as for poor James, I suppose he will hardly ever recover it.”
“Your brother is certainly very much to be pitied at present; but we must not, in our concern for his sufferings, undervalue yours,” spoke Henry. Miss Morland looked at him and seeing her troubled face he swore to himself that if he could say nothing that could move that expression, he would distrust his words from then on. “You feel, I suppose,” he began, “that in losing Isabella, you lose half yourself: you feel a void in your heart which nothing else can occupy. Society is becoming irksome; and as for the amusements in which you were wont to share at Bath, the very idea of them without her is abhorrent. You would not, for instance, now go to a ball for the world. You feel that you have no longer any friend to whom you can speak with unreserve, on whose regard you can place dependence, or whose counsel, in any difficulty, you could rely on. You feel all this?”
“No,” said Catherine, after a few moments’ reflection, “I do not — ought I? To say the truth, though I am hurt and grieved, that I cannot still love her, that I am never to hear from her, perhaps never to see her again, I do not feel so very, very much afflicted as one would have thought.”
Henry smiled. “You feel, as you always do,” he said warmly, “what is most to the credit of human nature. Such feelings ought to be investigated, that they may know themselves.”
Happy, happy words. The troubled frown left Miss Morland’s brow and it did not return. To coax a smile from her was beyond Henry’s powers at present, but as the three of them sat and talked he was quietly confident that this would not last long.
Next up is the visit to Woodston! And you'd better believe I am looking forward to the visit to Woodston! Thank you all so much for reading!
Those of you who leave comments: I treasure very one. Guests who leave kudo’s: I see you, I appreciate you.
Hopefully I will see you all next time. :)
(There are puppies at Woodston, PUPPIES!).
Chapter 18: Which takes place during Chapter 26 of Northanger Abbey
Henry Tilney has Newfoundlands and Terriers, it doesn’t say in the text of Norhtanger Abbey what breed the puppies are but I have decided they are Newfoundland puppies because LOOK AT THEM (http://puppytoob.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Newfoundland-Puppies-1.jpg).
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
To Henry’s very sincere pleasure Miss Morland soon indeed grew less dejected. She did not learn to consider the matter with less gravity, however. Over the course of the next few days the three young people shared their thoughts on the subject with both feeling and frequency. During these discussions both Henry and Eleanor were forced to repeatedly voice the opinion that Miss Thorpe’s want of consequence and fortune was likely to throw great difficulties in the way of her marrying their brother. Whatever Captain Tilney and Miss Thorpe may be, the persuasion that General Tilney would refuse his son his consent on this objection alone could hardly raise him in Miss Morland’s esteem and Henry was sorry for it. Still, in talking of Frederick and his impending misery, Henry allowed himself to be thankful. Thankful that he had chosen to bestow his affections on someone that was truly worthy of them and thankful – though still most surprised – that his father seemed to sanction his choice. Because the General’s attentions to Miss Morland did not wane, they grew only more pointed. By this time Henry had decided for himself that his father must truly like Miss Morland for the amiable qualities of her character. As to why he liked them, Henry would have preferred his father’s approval to be founded in nothing but earnest, disinterested admiration, but he did not dare indulge himself that far. Part of him silently thought that his father saw in Miss Morland someone easy to direct and instruct. This ought to have made him smile, for while Miss Morland was always very eager to listen to instruction, Henry was by now convinced that this was to introduce her own opinions to new ideas, not to let them take their place. But to think ill of his own father, no matter how justified by previous experience, could never please him. Therefore, when Henry saw his father employed in flattering Miss Morland, praising her for her modesty and simplicity, he could not be truly pleased. He could pity his brother however, and he did, in a way that Miss Morland evidently did not share.
After a conversation in which Henry assured her that she truly need not think of removing herself from Northanger in order to avoid his brother, as he was completely unlikely to apply in person for his father’s consent, she said gravely:
“You think he will write then, to ask your father’s blessing?”
Henry doubted if Frederick would even do that. Sometimes it seemed as likely to him that when next they heard of Frederick he would be married already and in other moments he expected even worse, at least as far as Miss Thorpe was concerned. Nevertheless he gave a silent inclination of the head.
“In that case,” Miss Morland said, still grave. “He most likely will not give your father any just idea of Isabella’s conduct.” She raised her eyes to his face most earnestly. “Would it not be better if you go to him now and lay the whole business before him as it really is. Then at least you have enabled him to form a cool and impartial opinion, and prepare his objections to Miss Thorpe on a fairer ground than inequality of situations.”
Had this been another person, Henry would have expected a desire for revenge to have inspired at least part of that speech, but Miss Morland seemed concerned with integrity and integrity only. Be that as it may, he could not agree with her.
“No,” said he, “my father’s hands need not be strengthened, and Frederick’s confession of folly need not be forestalled. He must tell his own story.”
Miss Morland looked displeased. “But he will tell only half of it.”
“A quarter would be enough.”
This seemed to trouble her still more, but she merely nodded and soon afterwards changed the subject to the latest book she and Eleanor had been reading together. Henry was glad of it, both of the change of subject and her enjoyment in the book.
A day or two passed away and brought no tidings of Frederick. Neither Henry nor Eleanor knew what to think at this point. Sometimes it appeared to them as if his silence would be the natural result of the suspected engagement, and at others that it was wholly incompatible with it. Every morning they dreaded that there should be a letter and every morning their father was offended that there was none. Every morning likewise brought on a speech from him on the subject of his fear that Miss Morland was not spending her time at Northanger pleasantly. He eloquently lamented the sameness of every day’s society and employments, wished the Lady Frasers had been in the country, talked every now and then of having a large party to dinner, and once or twice began even to calculate the number of young dancing people in the neighbourhood. But then it was such a dead time of year, no wild–fowl, no game, and the Lady Frasers were not in the country. Miss Morland repeatedly assured him she was very well pleased with both the company and the employments at Northanger, but to no avail. On Saturday morning, when the general had once again bemoaned the lack of any real diversion he had to offer, he suddenly spoke:
“But here’s an idea. Miss Morland, should you not like to see my younger son’s establishment? It is only thirty miles off and a very pleasant drive through the country.” And without pausing for an answer: “When next you are in Woodston, Henry, we shall take you by surprise there some day or other, and eat our mutton with you.”
For once his father’s wishes aligned perfectly with his own. “I would be very honoured to receive you, Sir,” Henry said.
Smiles overspread the faces of both Eleanor and Miss Morland, the latter looking so delighted that Henry’s spirits rose even further. “It would be a great happiness to me,” said he, “to show you all the recent improvements made to my home.”
“And I would so like to see it!” Miss Morland said happily.
“Then it is settled,” his father nodded with great contentment.
“And when do you think, sir, I may look forward to this pleasure?” Henry asked him. “I must be at Woodston on Monday to attend the parish meeting, and shall probably be obliged to stay two or three days.”
“Well, well, we will take our chance some one of those days,” the general said good-naturedly. “There is no need to fix. You are not to put yourself at all out of your way. Whatever you may happen to have in the house will be enough. I think I can answer for the young ladies making allowance for a bachelor’s table. Let me see; Monday will be a busy day with you, we will not come on Monday; and Tuesday will be a busy one with me. I expect my surveyor from Brockham with his report in the morning; and afterwards I cannot in decency fail attending the club. I really could not face my acquaintance if I stayed away now; for, as I am known to be in the country, it would be taken exceedingly amiss; and it is a rule with me, Miss Morland, never to give offence to any of my neighbours, if a small sacrifice of time and attention can prevent it. They are a set of very worthy men. They have half a buck from Northanger twice a year; and I dine with them whenever I can. Tuesday, therefore, we may say is out of the question. But on Wednesday, I think, Henry, you may expect us; and we shall be with you early, that we may have time to look about us. Two hours and three quarters will carry us to Woodston, I suppose; we shall be in the carriage by ten; so, about a quarter before one on Wednesday, you may look for us.”
“Excellent, Sir,” Henry readily agreed and Miss Morland was all smiles and Eleanor all calm cheerfulness.
Directly after breakfast Henry made ready to leave for Woodston and it was hardly an hour later when he walked into the drawing room, booted and greatcoated, to take leave of Miss Morland and his sister. They were sitting together with their book and looked up in surprise when he entered.
“I am come, young ladies,” said he, with a dramatic air, “in a very moralizing strain, to observe that our pleasures in this world are always to be paid for, and that we often purchase them at a great disadvantage, giving ready–monied actual happiness for a draft on the future, that may not be honoured. Witness myself, at this present hour. Because I am to hope for the satisfaction of seeing you at Woodston on Wednesday, which bad weather, or twenty other causes, may prevent, I must go away directly, two days before I intended it.”
“Go away!” said Miss Morland, with a very long face. “And why?”
“Why!” he exclaimed. “How can you ask the question? Because no time is to be lost in frightening my old housekeeper out of her wits, because I must go and prepare a dinner for you, to be sure.”
“Oh! Not seriously!”
“Aye, and sadly too — for I had much rather stay.” This was certainly true, but he could not deny he would take much greater pleasure in going to Woodston than usual, knowing he would be preparing for such a visit.
“But how can you think of such a thing, after what the general said?” Miss Morland said earnestly. “When he so particularly desired you not to give yourself any trouble, because anything would do.”
Henry smiled, but Miss Morland did not give up yet.
“I am sure it is quite unnecessary upon your sister’s account and mine. You must know it to be so; and the general made such a point of your providing nothing extraordinary: besides, if he had not said half so much as he did, he has always such an excellent dinner at home, that sitting down to a middling one for one day could not signify.”
It was gratifying to see her so very eager not to have him leave, but he would not risk his father’s disapproval and certainly would not distress his servants by exposing them to it. “I wish I could reason like you, for his sake and my own,” he said. “Good-bye. As tomorrow is Sunday, Eleanor, I shall not return.”
“Good-bye, Henry,” Eleanor said warmly. “I hope you shall have a good journey.”
“Good-bye, Mr. Tilney,” Miss Morland joined her, and then as if answering her own thoughts: “But we shall meet again soon.”
“Very soon,” he smiled and only after she had smiled back at him did he leave the room.
As he drove through Woodson and approached his own parsonage house, Henry looked at the entire scene with more attention than he had done in quite some time. The village was large and populous, with many pretty cottages and several very near houses and little chandler’s shops which Henry was sure would please Miss Morland. Now he came to look at them again, he was reminded how much they pleased him. The parsonage stood tolerably disengaged from the village. It was a new–built substantial stone house, with a semicircular sweep and handsome green gates and when Henry rode up to its stables he felt justly proud.
At the parsonage his arrival was naturally unlooked for, but not at all unwelcome. When he told his housekeeper of the honour he was to expect, she was not at all frightened out of her wits.
“I am sure we will all be very happy to see General and Miss Tilney again, Sir,” she said. “And the young lady will be with them, yes?”
“Indeed she will, Mrs. Byrd,” Henry smiled.
“Very good, Sir,” she nodded with a rather particular smile. “Will that be all, Sir?”
He told her that it was and left her to her arrangements. As he had many of his own to make the following days did not seem long to him. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday all passed with obliging speed and Wednesday arrived with accommodating punctuality.
In just as good time his father’s carriage drove up to the door and Henry greeted them with all the joy and cordiality he truly felt in his heart. To lend charm to his reception he was accompanied by his dogs – kind friends of his solitude – a large Newfoundland puppy and two terriers.
Cheerfully Henry led his guests into the house, observing with great pleasure that Miss Morland was almost too excited to speak two words together. This silence obviously disturbed his father, however, who called on her for her opinion on the dining parlour as soon as they had taken their seats in it.
“It is a very nice room,” Miss Morland said shyly.
Henry smiled and Eleanor smiled, but their father frowned.
“We are not calling it a good house,” said he. “We are not comparing it with Fullerton and Northanger — we are considering it as a mere parsonage, small and confined, we allow, but decent, perhaps, and habitable; and altogether not inferior to the generality; or, in other words, I believe there are few country parsonages in England half so good. It may admit of improvement, however. Far be it from me to say otherwise; and anything in reason — a bow thrown out, perhaps — though, between ourselves, if there is one thing more than another my aversion, it is a patched–on bow.”
Eleanor hastily brought forth a new subject and Henry promptly ordered the prepared refreshments to be brought in. This pleased his father as well as gave comfort to Miss Morland and Eleanor gave Henry an encouraging smile from behind her cup and saucer. When the travellers had been adequately refreshed, Henry undertook to show them the house and grounds. To Eleanor and his father there could not be very much of novelty to see and Henry was therefore justified in fixing nearly all his attention on Miss Morland.
They walked from the dining parlour – which was well-proportioned and commodious – into one of his own apartments. It was of a much smaller size and Henry had spent a considerable part of the previous day tidying it. After which came the as yet unfinished drawing room. Upon entering it Miss Morland exclaimed:
“Oh! Why do not you fit up this room, Mr. Tilney? What a pity not to have it fitted up! It is the prettiest room I ever saw; it is the prettiest room in the world!”
That a mere room, no matter how prettily shape, could excite such admiration, expressed with nothing but honest simplicity, gratified Henry exceedingly. It was even enough to please his father, who said with a most satisfied smile:
“I trust that it will very speedily be furnished: it waits only for a lady’s taste!”
Eleanor blushed, but Miss Morland had walked to the windows, which reached to the ground and was too engrossed in admiring its prospects over the green meadows to be embarrassed.
“Well, if it was my house, I should never sit anywhere else,” she said, and then exclaimed: “Oh! What a sweet little cottage there is among the trees — apple trees, too! It is the prettiest cottage!”
“You like it,” the general said firmly, “you approve it as an object — it is enough. Henry, remember that Robinson is spoken to about it. The cottage remains.”
This was too much, even for Miss Morland’s unsuspecting mind. She looked conscious and Henry was pained to see her quiet again. His father, embarrassing both his children, applied pointedly to her for her choice of the prevailing colour of the paper and hangings, but nothing like an opinion on the subject could be drawn from her.
“I am impatient to show you the grounds,” Henry confessed. He smiled at Miss Morland. “I know how much you appreciate the finery of nature.”
Miss Morland was very happy to be led outside and Henry was very happy to have her leaning on his arm while they crossed the very field with the cottage she had just been admiring.
“You must tell me,” said he, in an accent as gentle as his father’s had been urging, “what you think of my pleasure-ground. I have begun to design it only half a year ago.”
This ornamental garden consisted of a walk round two sides of a meadow, and there was not a shrub in it higher than the green bench in the corner. To Henry’s delight, however, Miss Morland said earnestly:
“It is very pretty. The prettiest I have ever seen to be sure.”
“I thank you,” Henry smiled, yet only he knew if he was thanking her on behalf of his garden, or for yielding to his application so easily where his father had previously failed. His father at present, was walking with Eleanor a few paces behind them, looking about him with his ever-discerning eye. They sauntered into other meadows, and through part of the village, with a visit to the stables to examine some improvements. By some of these improvements, the general was not at all convinced and he suffered himself to be detained by the stable master, which gave Henry the opportunity to take both his sister and Miss Morland to the part of the stables where his Newfoundland breeder was tending to her litter of puppies. They were charming creatures, only just able to roll about and the ladies were delighted with them.
“I do not know if I ever felt anything so soft,” Eleanor said smilingly, stroking the dark fur.
Miss Morland was laughing, attempting to lift the biggest of the puppies onto her lap and Henry felt himself unable to stop smiling. He was scratching the mother behind her ears, rewarding her for her gentle patience.
“I wish,” said Miss Morland, “that I was able to draw well enough to capture one of the puppies. Sally will not believe me when I describe how very fluffy they are.”
“Miss Sally should be ashamed to doubt her sister’s good information,” Henry smiled. “However…” He took out his pocket book and took from it Robinson’s last letter. On the very bottom of the envelope there was sufficient blank space left to attempt a drawing. “Eleanor, if you would,” Henry requested, handing her the paper. “You are always so much neater in such matters than I ever can be.”
“Certainly,” Eleanor smiled and while she folded and carefully tore the paper, Henry searched his pockets for a stub of pencil he was certain he still had about him.
“Now Miss Morland, if you will make your favourite sit still, I shall sketch him for you,” Henry said, taking the piece of blank paper from Eleanor.
“Will you?” Miss Morland exclaimed. “Only I do not know if I will manage…” She held the excitable young dog in her lap, attempting to placate it with continuous stroking.
“You managed very well,” said Henry, quickly setting down the general shape and features that must define every dog. “Here we are, Miss Morland,” he said after a few moments. “Shall this be sufficient to convince your siblings?”
He held out the sketch to her and Miss Morland took it with genuine delight. In admiring it she allowed the puppy to make its escape and she laughed as it jumped off her lap. “Oh, Mr. Tilney,” she exclaimed. “It looks just like him! How very clever of you, to draw something so like in so little time.”
“How very generous of you,” Henry said gravely. “To presume the faithfulness of my sketch is owing to my talent as an artist and not to the sad fact that I spend far too great a deal of my time observing my dogs.”
“Oh,” Miss Morland laughed. “I am sure that if I knew such lovely creatures to be in my very own stables I would go see them every day.”
“That is exactly what Henry does, I assure you,” Eleanor said smilingly. “Depend upon it Miss Morland when he is not entertaining us at Northanger, he is entertaining his dogs at Woodston.”
“And rightly so,” Henry said, provoked into ridiculousness again. “Dogs are noble company. They are among the wisest of God’s creatures.”
“They are known to be very good company,” Miss Morland readily agreed. “And loyal above all else, but I cannot find I have ever heard them spoken of as very wise.”
“Oh but they are,” Henry assured her. “Wiser, I think, than most human beings.”
“You do not really think so,” Miss Morland protested smilingly.
“Indeed I do!” he exclaimed, eyes twinkling down on her.
“Henry…” Eleanor said gently.
“Eleanor, we shall not argue,” Henry said decidedly. “I shall prove to you both that dogs are wise. We shall let them state their own case.”
Miss Morland looked up at him so merrily that he almost laughed himself, but he kept a straight face as he said:
“These little ones, of course, cannot yet form very coherent arguments, but their mother certainly can. You shall see for yourself. She shall bestow her favour on whichever of us she thinks most correct in their opinion.”
At that moment the mother dog, having retreated to a corner of the barn for a moment, returned to see about her children. She walked around Henry and Eleanor and stopped at Miss Morland’s side, inspecting her lap as if she expected one of her little ones to be in it still. Miss Morland smiles and stroked her good-natured snout.
“You see, Henry,” Eleanor said cheerfully. “Dogs are more affectionate than they are wise. Your champion of wisdom sides with our friend.”
“And by doing so she has proved herself to be very wise indeed,” Henry declared. “I am glad of it too, I do not think I could respect my dog's intelligence if she chose me, or any man for that matter, over the company of a lady.” He smiled knowingly at Miss Morland. “You see, Miss Morland, I have not forgotten I never did make amends for my pleasantly on women's abilities that afternoon in Bath.”
“Nor have you made amends now,” Eleanor laughed. “But I trust Miss Morland has by now grown used to your odd ways, Henry, and had learned to take you not at all seriously.”
“Have you truly, Miss Morland?” Henry asked pleasantly and Miss Morland looked as if she was about to reply, when the general appeared in the doorway and pronounced it to be four o’clock already.
“Then,” said Henry, too merry to be regretful even at this unwelcome interruption, “dinner shall be on the table for us directly.”
They all returned to the house, where a dinner much finer than was usually had at the parsonage was laid out in the dining parlour. Miss Morland expressed her surprise and admiration and Henry assured her he would personally speak to the cook to convey her compliments. His father was in excellent spirits. Henry had seldom seen him eat so heartily at any table but his own. Only once did he look at the side-table for cold meat which was not there and never before had he known him so little disconcerted by the melted butter’s being oiled. Eleanor observed it too and looked so comfortable sitting beside Miss Morland that Henry wished the meal were a longer one.
At six o’clock, however, after the general had taken his coffee, the carriage was brought round to carry the visitors back to Northanger.
“When shall we see you return, Henry?” Eleanor asked. “Shall you be able to come tomorrow?”
“I think I shall,” he replied and he just caught Miss Morland’s smile under the rim of her bonnet.
He saw the carriage off with very happy feelings. Miss Morland had approved of his house, his garden, his table and his dogs and his father had made it abundantly clear that the idea of her being mistress of them all was very pleasing to him. And, as he walked back into the house, Henry thought it would be more than pleasing to himself. It would be very close to perfection.
I promised puppies, puppies were abundant. My sister must get the credit for both Henry drawing the puppy and banter about dogs being clever though!
Next up: Isabella's deceitful letter...
(Welcome to the new readers! I treasure your kudo's and it makes me very happy that people are still discovering this story.)
Chapter 19: Which takes place during Chapter 27 of Northanger Abbey
The following day Henry had only very little left to do at home and he left for Northanger in such good time he arrived at two o’clock. There he joined his sister in the drawing room, where she was reading by herself. Just as he was about to ask after Miss Morland the door opened and the lady herself appeared, with a heightened colour and a look of spirited indignation on her face. It was quite becoming on her.
“How do you do, Miss Morland?” Henry smiled.
“Mr. Tilney,” she said. “I am very well, I am glad you are come back!” And, immediately explaining her current state: “I received a letter from Isabella this morning.”
Eleanor glanced up at Miss Morland, who held the letter with something that might have been called contempt if expressed on a face with features less soft and less young. “And what did she have to say?” she asked.
“A great deal,” Miss Morland replied. “And none of it worth attending to.”
This was the most unforgiving speech Henry had ever heard Miss Morland offer, but he was pleased by it and therefore he smiled. Miss Morland sat down and unfolded the letter, sitting quit upright and with her head raised in a resolute manner. “At least,” she said, “her letter will quiet your fears. Your brother is quite safe from her. I do congratulate you.”
“Indeed?” Eleanor exclaimed and Henry took a seat by her, saying: “Can it be so?”
“You shall hear how it is,” Miss Morland said and she read from her letter, in a tone of cool indignation:
“Thank God, we leave this vile place tomorrow. Since you went away, I have had no pleasure in it — the dust is beyond anything; and everybody one cares for is gone. I believe if I could see you I should not mind the rest, for you are dearer to me than anybody can conceive. I am quite uneasy about your dear brother, not having heard from him since he went to Oxford; and am fearful of some misunderstanding. Your kind offices will set all right: he is the only man I ever did or could love, and I trust you will convince him of it.”
Eleanor lifted up her eyes in amazement and Henry found himself studying the almost angry glitter in Miss Morland’s eyes with unrestrained admiration.
“Now here is the passage,” Miss Morland said, and read:
“I will not say all that I could of the family you are with, because I would not be ungenerous, or set you against those you esteem; but it is very difficult to know whom to trust, and young men never know their minds two days together. I rejoice to say that the young man whom, of all others, I particularly abhor, has left Bath. You will know, from this description, I must mean Captain Tilney, who, as you may remember, was amazingly disposed to follow and tease me, before you went away. Afterwards he got worse, and became quite my shadow. Many girls might have been taken in, for never were such attentions; but I knew the fickle sex too well. He went away to his regiment two days ago, and I trust I shall never be plagued with him again. He is the greatest coxcomb I ever saw, and amazingly disagreeable.”
Henry leaned back in his seat, not quite knowing what to think. It seemed his brother had escaped, but no matter how reprehensible Miss Thorpe’s character, this affair was hardly a testament to Frederick’s good conduct either. Eleanor looked uncomfortable as well, but Miss Morland was still reading and evidently struggling to keep her voice level.
“Such a contrast between him and your brother! Pray send me some news of the latter — I am quite unhappy about him; he seemed so uncomfortable when he went away, with a cold, or something that affected his spirits. I would write to him myself, but have mislaid his direction; and, as I hinted above, am afraid he took something in my conduct amiss. Pray explain everything to his satisfaction; or, if he still harbours any doubt, a line from himself to me, or a call at Putney when next in town, might set all to rights.”
She dropped the letter to her lap, looking from Henry to Eleanor and back again with strong indignation. “So much for Isabella,” she cried, “and for all our intimacy! She must think me an idiot, or she could not have written so; but perhaps this has served to make her character better known to me than mine is to her. I see what she has been about. She is a vain coquette, and her tricks have not answered. I do not believe she had ever any regard either for James or for me, and I wish I had never known her.”
“It will soon be as if you never had,” said Henry. He was not quite sure it was his place to be so, but he was proud of Miss Morland. Proud of the dignified resolve in her looks and proud of the rational manner in which she received this new information.
“There is but one thing that I cannot understand,” Miss Morland said. “I see that she has had designs on Captain Tilney, which have not succeeded; but I do not understand what Captain Tilney has been about all this time. Why should he pay her such attentions as to make her quarrel with my brother, and then fly off himself?”
Eleanor bowed her head, but Henry replied soberly: “I have very little to say for Frederick’s motives, such as I believe them to have been. He has his vanities as well as Miss Thorpe, and the chief difference is, that, having a stronger head, they have not yet injured himself. If the effect of his behaviour does not justify him with you, we had better not seek after the cause.”
Miss Morland’s looks were sober. “Then you do not suppose he ever really cared about her?”
“I am persuaded that he never did.”
“And only made believe to do so for mischief’s sake?”
Henry bowed his assent.
“Well, then,” Miss Morland said gravely. “I must say that I do not like him at all.”
This Henry could not wonder at, he could not even fault her for it. Neither, it was plain to see, could Eleanor, who looked most ashamed.
Miss Morland continued: “Though it has turned out so well for us, I do not like him at all. As it happens, there is no great harm done, because I do not think Isabella has any heart to lose. But, suppose he had made her very much in love with him?”
Here Henry felt he did have a rebuttal to give. “But we must first suppose Isabella to have had a heart to lose,” he said. “Consequently to have been a very different creature; and, in that case, she would have met with very different treatment.”
“It is very right that you should stand by your brother,” Miss Morland replied, but it was evident she disagreed with him.
“And if you would stand by yours,” said Henry gently. “You would not be much distressed by the disappointment of Miss Thorpe. But your mind is warped by an innate principle of general integrity, and therefore not accessible to the cool reasonings of family partiality, or a desire of revenge.”
This made Miss Morland colour a little and Eleanor smiled at her book, that now lay closed in her lap.
“I do not see,” Miss Morland said, “how revenge could be of any service to James.”
“You are very right,” Henry agreed. “And see clearer on this point than most people do.”
“If Isabella is capable of suffering, she must suffer now,” Miss Morland considered. “And I am sure your brother does.”
“You have expressed it most eloquently before,” Henry said, carefully ignoring the comment on his brother. “She is a vain coquette, and her tricks have not answered.”
Miss Morland nodded. “I shall not answer her letter,” she declared, folding it and laying it aside.
“That, I believe, is a kindness both to yourself and to Miss Thorpe,” Henry said. “And I commend you for it.” She gave him a conflicted look and as he felt her good humour was at present rather fragile, he added in a conspiratory tone: “If you will profit by my advice, I press you to make use of this current circumstance to prevail upon Eleanor to read to you aloud to dispel your thoughts. For she is at present reading an excellent collection of short stories and is quite ten times the storyteller I am.”
Eleanor smiled and opened her book again. “I would be happy to read aloud,” she said. “If Miss Morland would care for it.”
“Oh yes,” Miss Morland sighed eagerly. “Only I have misplaced my needlework.”
“Then,” Henry said, sinking his voice. “You and I shall both listen to my sister with idle hands and pray she does not expose us.”
Miss Morland nearly laughed aloud and Henry’s triumph was complete.
This was a very short one, but it was very short in the book also.
Now comes the part of the story where I will take most liberties with the canon, because this is the week that the General leaves Henry, Eleanor and Catherine alone at Northanger. Austen does not describe this time beyond: "The happiness with which their time now passed, every employment voluntary, every laugh indulged, every meal a scene of ease and good humour, walking where they liked and when they liked, their hours, pleasures, and fatigues at their own command"
So that justifies me in writing seven days of regency fluff! It does mean that I'll have to write it from scratch, however, so you may have to wait a while.
I hope you will not mind the wait and leave you with the future promise of picnics, walks in shady groves, drawing lessons and singing duets!
Chapter 20: Which takes place during Chapter 28 of Northanger Abbey
I am very sorry it took me this long to upload again, I seem to have fallen into the Les Mis fandom. But, here is a chapter filled to the bring with regency fluff!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Not all triumphs can be owed to personal exertion or brilliance, for some delights one must invariably depend on others. Soon after his conversation with Miss Morland Henry found himself talking to his father and, in a rare occurrence, finding himself delighted by what he heard. His father, it seemed, had affairs to tend to in London.
“It cannot be helped,” he said gravely. “I had hoped my business could have been put off a little longer, but it seems not.”
“I am sure we will be very sorry to miss you, Sir,” Henry said, because even if he could never manage to be as dutiful a child as Eleanor, he could at least make an effort. “But if duty calls-”
“Indeed,” the general said. He fixed Henry with a commanding look. “I expect that, in my absence, you will attend to the ladies. Indeed, it would be highly expedient that you remain at Northanger for the entire duration of my visit.”
That would be no hardship at all, Henry thought privately, but he merely answered: “I shall certainly strive to do so.”
“Miss Morland has been generous enough to grace us with her company this long,” his father continued. “It is imperative that she should be well entertained.”
“I assure you,” Henry replied. “That contributing to Miss Morland’s entertainment is fast becoming a favourite pastime of mine.”
Never before had Henry seen his father look so gratified at so archly spoken a speech and he was only grateful that his father did not make him repeat it when he acquainted the ladies with his plans at dinner that evening.
“Sadly,” he said as soon as the soup had been served, “I find myself obliged to go to London for a week on business that cannot be delayed. Much as I regret that any necessity should rob me even for an hour of your company, Miss Morland, it appears it must be so.”
Miss Morland, who had grown more composed of late, listened to this speech without confusion and said: “You are very kind, Sir.”
“I hope, however,” the general continued, “that with Eleanor and Henry for company you will not find it too hard to spend your time pleasantly.” He directed his attention to his children and added: “I do expect you to make the study of Miss Morland’s comfort and amusement your chief object in my absence.”
It was very clear Miss Morland did not find the suggestion of her being a drain on her friends’ time at all pleasing, but Eleanor said smilingly that in pursuing Miss Morland’s pleasure she would likewise be pursuing her own. Henry expressed his complete agreement with this sentiment and between them they managed to at once please their father and give comfort to Miss Morland.
Henry was certain this comfort would only increase with his father’s departure and indeed it was so. No sooner had the General left them that Saturday morning, or Henry felt that familiar lightening of the mood that always came over Northanger when its master left. Henry perceived that Miss Morland felt it too, and instead of being sorry for this proof of the restraint that his father’s presence had imposed, he was determined to delight in it. Here they were, the three of them already in perfect agreement, and now with the whole estate to themselves and a full week of nothing but enjoyment to look forward to.
Eleanor’s mind seemed equally happy and as she looked out of the window she sighed: “What a very fine day it is.”
Miss Morland agreed emphatically and Henry was suddenly struck with a happy idea. “There is, Miss Morland,” he began, “a green slope in our park as well. It is perhaps not very suited for rolling down-” This earned a light blush from Miss Morland. “-but it is quite perfect for picnics.”
“Oh yes,” Eleanor said joyfully. “A picnic! What a wonderful idea. Do you not think so, Miss Morland?”
“Yes!” Miss Morland exclaimed. “Oh the most wonderful idea. I have not had a picnic since Richard came to visit!”
That settled the matter immediately.
“What?” Henry exclaimed in horror, without enquiring when this visit had taken place. “That is a great injustice. Eleanor, we must speak to Cook directly!”
“Oh, but do not go to any trouble on my account!” Miss Morland protested.
“Miss Morland,” Henry said, pulling a most serious face. “You cannot back out now. Not after giving me the most delightful justification to beg Mrs. Langley to make her famous syllabub.”
Miss Morland laughed and Eleanor said smilingly: “You have never needed a justification before, to beg dear Mrs. Langley for any of her deserts.”
“Very true, Eleanor,” Henry agreed readily. “But my request will be so much nobler if made on behalf of a deprived young lady.”
This deprived young lady, as it happened, was most happy to help Eleanor with planning the picnic. Henry delighted in seeing his sister and her friend give instructions as to what blankets and cushions were to be brought out. Mrs. Langley graciously promised a syllabub and when the servants carried the picnic basket out to the hillside Henry had spoken of, it was packed with bread pudding, cold meat, meat pies, cheeses and pickles besides.
“Why, Eleanor,” Henry observed. “We have forgotten to ask for fruit. Our father will be disappointed. We are supposed to be such famous supporters of fresh fruit.”
“You are mistaken Henry,” Eleanor said. “I am sure I saw a selection of plums and peaches in the basket.”
Henry dramatically cried his relief and Miss Morland and Eleanor shared an amused look that made him even more merry. He had always thought, although he had never told Eleanor this, that whether his sister was disposed to approve of a new acquaintance of his was perhaps the most important determinant in him pursuing further friendship. It was extremely gratifying to him that he had met Miss Morland first, but just as important to him that Eleanor now truly considered her a friend. His sister looked truly happy, sitting beside Miss Morland, pressing her to choose her favourite between two sauces. In turn Miss Morland, Henry thought privately, looked much more at home sitting on a pillow in the grass, than in Northanger’s fine dining room. Clad in her light blue muslin and with her curls less perfect and more natural, she looked just as she ought to look. Or at least she looked just how it pleased him most to see her.
This was a very pretty thought and it lost none of its value in being an absolute falsehood. For in truth, at this time Catherine Morland could be in any state of dress and toilette and please Henry Tilney regardless. That was a thought still prettier, but it was not one that Henry Tinley had time to entertain, for he was being called upon to decide between sauces.
“If my opinion was to be depended upon when it comes to sauces,” he said, when so much food had been eaten that necessity at least made it time for dessert. “Then you must depend upon it again and tell me if this is not the finest syllabub you have ever tasted.”
“I am afraid that will not be as high praise as it might be,” Miss Morland replied, taking the plate he offered her. “Because I have not eaten many different ones in my life at all.”
“Then,” Henry said cheerfully, “I am confident this one will spoil you for all the other ones you have yet to taste.”
“I will not manage to eat a bit if you keep looking at me so,” Miss Morland laughed, taking up her spoon.
“I am sorry,” he grinned. “I shall avert my eyes, would that be more agreeable?”
“You see how he gets, Miss Morland, filled up on sweets and sunshine,” Eleanor said affectionately. “I am lucky to have you as reinforcements, for in general I stand no chance against him when we are left alone.”
“Oh yes, Eleanor!” Henry cried. “Make me out to be the tyrannical brother. I seem to remember you coaxing me up many a tree under the pretence of desiring a particularly fine-looking apple, but in reality merely because you had a desire to see me fall out of it.”
“Only you never do, Henry,” Eleanor laughed.
“I have fallen out of many a tree,” Henry contradicted.
“Yes, but never because I wished it,” Eleanor smiled.
Miss Morland lowered her spoon again to laugh and Henry grimaced at her. “My sister has exposed me,” he complained. “Here I try to pass myself off as a gentleman of fashion and now you know me to be climbing trees.”
“And falling out of them,” Miss Morland smiled.
“That makes it sound as if you blame me for falling, but not for climbing them,” Henry pointed out amusedly.
“No indeed,” Miss Morland said with laughing eyes. “I have climbed more trees than my brothers.”
“Have you!” Henry cried in delight. “And did you fall out of them?”
“Never, Sir,” Miss Morland said.
“Excellent,” Henry smiled.
“What is excellent, Henry?” Eleanor asked teasingly and serving out more syllabub, as it seemed that waiting for Miss Morland’s opinion could mean delaying the desert considerably.
“The syllabub,” Henry replied, “and if only Miss Morand would try it we would know.”
Miss Morland obediently took up her neglected spoonful again and Henry was very pleased to see her face full of genuine appreciation.
“You need not speak your opinion,” he said, “I am glad to see you like it.”
“I like it very much,” Miss Morland said and, with suddenly a rather arch look on her face: “It would not be too big a sacrifice on my part to eat some more. That way you can make a desert of the peaches, as you are so very fond of fresh fruit.”
“A very good thought, Miss Morland,” Eleanor exclaimed. “I heartily agree. I daresay we will be able to finish all the syllabub between us.”
“Now who is the one who is in need of reinforcements,” Henry jested, but he was in need of nothing. Indeed, he could not remember the last time he had been this perfectly content.
This contentment was still very present the next day, when it was Henry’s pleasure to accompany his sister and Miss Morland to church. He was to drive them all thither in his curricle, as his father had the carriage, and they were all dressed in Sunday best and high spirit. Miss Morland looked especially lovely in a bonnet she had trimmed afresh with lace Eleanor had brought back from Bath and had insisted on sharing with her.
“I can only endeavour to be worthy of attending two such very lovely young ladies to church,” Henry said, as he handed first Miss Morland and then his sister into his curricle.
Eleanor smiled and Miss Morland blushed happily and Henry took the reins with feelings very befitting a young man in love, though perhaps not so much a young clergyman on a Sunday. That he was in love, and very much so, Henry was by now thoroughly persuaded. In the world of romance persuasion is not a very elegant word, but then Henry did not fall in love elegantly. Much as it must pain any writer to expose the shortcomings of her hero, it is the truth. When he first met Miss Morland he thought her quite pretty and a very agreeable partner, but had thought of her as very little else. No, even after dancing with her a second time, it had been up to persuasion to bring a change in his attitude. In the sense that it was his persuasion of her partiality for him had been the only cause of giving her a serious thought. Dreadfully derogatory of a heroine’s dignity and a hero’s heart as this must be, it must be said that as soon as he did begin to think of her, he had done everything in his power to make amends. He had scorned his brother’s censure, resented John Thorpe, delighted in Eleanor approbation and taken every opportunity to make himself agreeable to Miss Morland. That he was already sure of being found agreeable can only lessen his value as a lover a very little, for a hero can hardly be held accountable for the strength of a heroine’s feelings.
This being the case, all that there is left to defend is why, finally in the full possession of a lover’s hear, Henry Tilney had not yet thrown himself at Catherine Morland’s feet to beg for her hand. Once again this must come down to the lady’s feelings instead of his own. Miss Morland, earnest and artless in her admiration, had shown her preference for Henry Tilney freely and much more openly that she was herself aware of. Henry, however, was very much aware that in her admiration there was a great deal of awe. Gratifying as it was to inspire such feelings, he was not the sort of young man that could be easy with the notion of being an object of awe to his wife. If he was to be praised, he preferred it to be done laughingly and – having had his father for an example – where marriage was concerned Henry Tilney was most anxious the match should be founded in real affection on both sides. All this considered, Henry must be forgiven for not making haste in the matters of love. Besides, he was certain of Miss Morland’s company for weeks to come and looked forward to them with great satisfaction. Although he still blamed himself for his outburst to her concerning his father and mother, he could not be sorry for her change in behaviour since that day. Miss Morland had not grown afraid of him, after a day or two of uncertainty she had seemed to admit his attentions with greater pleasure and greater ease. He now often heard her laughing out loud with Eleanor and although Henry would not give up the power to make her blush for the world, he would be very gratified if she were always so bold as she had been during their picnic.
At present Miss Morland was seated very happily beside his sister, all three of them crowded into the curricle most cheerfully.
“How much pleasanter it is,” she observed. “To be going by curricle than by carriage.”
“You are very kind,” Henry smiled. “It is as well to be pleased with what one is given when there is no alternative.”
“I would prefer it even if there were,” Miss Morland declared.
“So would I,” Eleanor agreed with her.
“I shall certainly not argue with you, as I get the pleasure of driving you,” Henry said cheerfully and they were at the church all too soon. Walking to the family pew with Eleanor on one arm and Miss Morland on the other, Henry’s thoughts were nothing short of indulgent. He smiled at Miss Morland as they sat down and she smiled back at him, although he did see her eyes momentarily directed towards his mother’s monument with something of a pained look. This did not last long, however, and Henry felt no need to be concerned.
The sermon was nothing very remarkable, but to Henry hearing the old parson speak was a familiar and therefore valued part of spending Sunday at Northanger. When service was over, he suggested taking the long way home, to which both ladies happily consented.
All this driving about the country was still not enough to make them weary of sunshine and when they were at home once more, Eleanor expressed a wish to walk into the park to make some sketches.
“An excellent idea, Eleanor,” Henry agreed. “I have been neglecting my drawing, save the occasional dog.”
Miss Morland looked merry at this and said: “I would like very much to see you draw. You have taught me what is picturesque in the country, but I think it might not be the same for a park.”
“Not quite the same,” Eleanor smiled, “but very similar.” When she sent a servant to fetch her and Henry their drawing materials she added: “And do bring a third drawing board for Miss Morland.” She smiled at her. “Perhaps you would like to sketch something yourself?”
“There would be nothing for me to draw that I could do justice,” Miss Morland said shyly. “I do not really draw anything well.” She allowed herself a playful smile. “Unless you should wish to see chickens.”
“I would very much like to see chickens,” Henry said cheerfully. “Indeed nothing would please me more.”
Miss Morland would not deny such an earnest request and dutifully sketched a plump, speckled hen for him when they were all seated in the garden.
Henry received and looked over it with great delight. “That is a fine chicken,” he said. “And a happy one too, for I never saw a hen so evenly speckled or so spherical.”
“Henry,” Eleanor said reproachfully.
“I know it is not very like,” Miss Morland said.
It was, indeed, not very like, but Henry said merrily: “If it is not, it must be a prescriptive instead of a likeness, for every chicken in the world that wishes to be round and happy surely aspires to this image.”
Miss Morland laughed and shook her head and soon put down her own pencil in favour of watching the progress he and Eleanor made. Henry was sketching the outline of the little copse a little way off and Miss Morland admired it very much, but Eleanor was sketching some close-ups of flowers and at those she could not look without exclaiming:
“However do you make the petals look like that?”
After the third exclamation, Eleanor looked up smilingly and put her pencil aside. “If you sit by me I can show you how,” she offered.
Henry carefully refrained from any comment, but he watched them from behind his own paper with great interest. Miss Morland drew and Eleanor explained how omitting details could yet give the impression of a complete shape and gently corrected her hold on the pencil. It was a long while before Miss Morland allowed herself to straighten up and held the paper at arm’s length to inspect her own creation, but when she did she exclaimed:
“I have never before drawn anything half so well! Oh thank you, Eleanor!”
Her cheeks flushed and it was not quite clear whether this was from excitement or confusion on having used her friend’s Christian name, but Eleanor immediately responded most affectionately:
“You are so very welcome, Catherine. And you are a very fast learner.”
The two girls looked at each other with equally brilliant smiles and Henry could not help his own grin overspreading his face entirely. “May I be allowed to see the fruits of your education?” he begged and Miss Morland proudly showed him her work.
“Now that is very like,” he praised her, “and very pretty because of it.”
Miss Morland thanked him and looked towards his own drawing, but Henry shook his head.
“You shall not see much progress on my paper, I have done very little.”
“Oh?” Miss Morland exclaimed. “You have not taken a dislike to your subject? It is such a charming little copse.”
“No indeed,” Henry smiled. “I think my subject as charming as ever. It just so happened that there was a scene of even greater charming being played out right beside me and I quite forgot to draw.”
“It really is a wonder to me, Henry,” Eleanor said, sparing Catherine the attempt at an answer, “why you so often speak nonsense when you can flatter so prettily.”
“Very simple, dearest Eleanor,” Henry said.
“Now do not say they are the same thing,” Eleanor warned him. “Or Catherine and I will be very offended, won’t we?”
Miss Morland laughed and shook her head and Henry made believe to be quite shocked at his sister’s speech and said:
“You are very severe on me! No, dear sister, I was merely going to say that I must practice my language on nonsense before I can use it for flattery.”
“Then may I say you are a very devoted scholar,” Eleanor teased.
Henry turned abruptly to Miss Morland. “My sister is intent on hurting me, Miss Morland, can you not persuade her to be more kind?”
“Is she not being kind?” Miss Morland asked earnestly. “Because I should think she is, as you look so pleased with her.”
Henry laughed. “You are too apt an observer Miss Morland,” he said. “You must point out what is in my eyes when I am trying to convey something different with my mouth and that is very unkind of you.”
“I am sorry,” Miss Morland laughed. “Shall I attempt to draw another flower and give it you to make amends?”
“That,” Henry said emphatically, “would be a great kindness.” And his eyes spoke in exact accordance with his mouth.
Thank you for reading! (It's good to be back.)
Chapter 21: Which still takes place during Chapter 28 of Northanger Abbey
After such a sweet Sunday, it was only natural that Henry and Eleanor were looking forward to the coming days with the solid pleasure of expectation. This was, of course, most unwise. One should always take care to create at least some imaginary evil to be sure of actually receiving the pleasure one looks forward to. Miss Morland was evidently more aware of this necessity than her hosts. She had dutifully convinced herself that, now entering into the fourth week of her visit at Northanger and having been shown nothing but enjoyment in her company by both Henry and Eleanor, they must both be wishing her to leave them. This anxious sentiment she expressed to a highly startled Eleanor, who managed to convey her disappointment at the idea of her friend leaving so well, that Miss Morland promptly agreed to stay. It was in the newly created happiness of this agreement that Henry found them when he joined Miss Morland and Eleanor in the drawing room that morning. He found them both smiling, but these were clearly the smiles of recently alleviated distress.
“Henry!” Eleanor exclaimed happily as soon as he entered. “Catherine has just kindly agreed to stay with us for another month at least.”
Henry was extremely gratified. In truth it had not even occurred to him that Miss Morland might be leaving any sooner than this. He was lucky then, in having his anxiety taken away as soon as it could arise. He thanked Miss Morland most heartily, on behalf of his sister as well as his own and she looked sweeter with every proof of her importance with him that he bestowed on her. Now her lengthened stay had been determined on, Eleanor and Miss Morland spent the rest of the morning in drawing up schemes for their amusement.
“Well, Miss Morland,” Henry said, after looking out of the window. “It seems Northanger is intent on making you regret your choice. That there is a very dark-looking sky. I am afraid it shall rain.”
“I will not mind the rain,” Miss Morland replied happily. “Who would mind the rain when there is such pleasant company within?”
“Who indeed?” Eleanor smiled. “We might spend an afternoon sewing.” She smiled at her brother. “And I have found a very good history I think Miss Morland will like.”
“Have you really?” Miss Morland said gratefully. “Thank you, Eleanor.”
“Was this a veiled attempt to persuade me to read to you both, dear sister?” Henry said with a smile. “Because I will not be directed so easily.”
“Oh, would you read it to us, Mr. Tilney?” Miss Morland entreated. “I must confess that I have liked being read to a great deal, it is not something I have ever been used to.”
Eleanor smiled expressively at him as Henry proved himself quite easily directed after all, by giving in to Miss Morland directly. She fetched him the volume she had selected, a favourite of hers that detailed the unification of England. Henry was familiar with it and he could read it with pleasure. The young ladies both took up their needlework, but neither managed to aspire to any real diligence. Miss Morland was too much occupied in listening to Henry and Eleanor was too much occupied in observing her friend and brother. As this relative idleness suited all three of them very well, however, they spent much of the day in the same fashion.
The following day it was once again very wet and Henry would have happily resumed his reading, had he not had some letters to write. When he emerged from his apartment and enquired after the whereabouts of Miss Morland and his sister, he was told the young ladies had repaired to the still room to try their hand at making orange wine. Naturally Henry immediately went down to join them and in the still room he indeed found them. Not at work, but laughing heartily amidst the bunches of dried herbs and flowers.
“My, my,” Henry said teasingly. “Here I expected to enter a bastion of female industry and instead I find you are hiding away to be merry without me.”
They both protested, still half-laughing, that he was more than welcome to join in their merriment. Miss Morland then proceeded to explain that she had made cowslip wine before, but had never worked with oranges and that she had made a mistake Eleanor had not anticipated. Eleanor defended Miss Morland’s still room skills warmly and Henry leaned back against the wall and listened in silent gratification. The way Eleanor and Miss Morland clutched at each other’s hands made him smile more than anything. It suddenly occurred to him that it had been very long indeed that he had seen Eleanor so light-hearted.
Henry grew uncharacteristically quiet as he considered that his marrying Miss Morland would allow him to promote not only his own happiness, but his sister’s as well. Mrs. Tilney would be able to visit her sister Eleanor even when her brother could not spare the time. She would bring lightness and laughter not only to Woodston, but to Northanger also. The feelings these sweet ideas called forth were so strong that Henry might have asked Miss Morland for her hand that very moment, with his laughing sister for a witness and surrounded by the smell of freshly cut oranges. However, he did not. He remained woefully in control of himself. Even the following day, when he found himself walking with Miss Morland quite alone, he did not speak a word of it. He talked cheerfully of many things, but neglected to mention how happy it made him to have her leaning on his arm.
Miss Morland at least seemed in need of no compliments. Judging from her expression to be leaning on Henry’s arm was an equal source of happiness to her and she happily let him choose whatever path he liked. When he turned into a narrow winding path leading into a thick grove of old Scotch firs, however, he felt her hesitate.
“Do you not wish to take this walk?” Henry asked attentively. “We can choose another.” Perhaps Miss Morland was afraid of spoiling her shoes. This path was always rather damp.
“Oh,” Miss Morland said hastily, “I have no objections! Please, let us walk through the grove.”
Henry smiled at her and they continued. He was fond of this grove and its melancholy aspect. “You have not walked here before, then?” he said curiously. “It is one of my sister’s favourite walks.”
“I know it is,” Miss Morland replied. “We have walked here before.”
Henry heard the presence of unspoken words in her voice and wondered if he might ask what was at present making her uncomfortable. She was looking about her with genuine interest and even fondness, however. “Perhaps,” Henry began cautiously, a possible reason for her discomposure occurring to him. “Perhaps Eleanor told you our mother was very fond of walking here.”
“She did,” Miss Morland nodded quietly.
There was a slight discomfort in the silence that followed. Henry did not wish to say anything that might distress Miss Morland, but he felt he must say something. Something to make amends for his words the last time they spoke about his parents.
He directed his gaze towards the trees, looking away from Miss Morland. “Perhaps you also learned that my father dislikes this grove,” he said quietly.
“Yes,” Miss Morland replied demurely.
Henry pressed on despite the tinge of shame to his feelings. “That is rather singular of him, is it not?”
“I did think so at the time…” Miss Morland said hesitantly.
“And you were right to think so,” Henry said, his voice as firm as gentle expression would allow.
Miss Morland looked up at him and he met her eyes. “It is singular,” he repeated and she looked at him quietly. He smiled at her and, because he would rather speak of the fond than the painful, he said: “I wish you could have known my mother, Miss Morland.”
“I wish I could have,” she said feelingly. “I am sure I would have liked her very much.”
Henry’s smile grew a little fonder still. “I am certain she would have liked you exceedingly.”
Miss Morland did not answer this, but she looked as touched by this assurance as any young woman of feeling would have been. With a slight sigh she cast her eye around the shady grove and when Henry did not speak said admiringly: “I do think this is one of the prettiest walks I have ever seen.”
“What do you like about it?” Henry asked and as they walked on Miss Morland talked of the melancholy and the picturesque, of the romantic and the aesthetic, in such a way that showed very clearly she was most capable of combining whatever she had chosen to learn from the Tilneys with her own natural taste. In walking there and discussing and comparing their opinions they forgot the time to such a degree that they were eventually met by Eleanor, who had walked out in search of them. Both ramblers apologized profusely and Eleanor very smilingly told them they were quite forgiven.
Considering the inducement Henry absolutely intended to obey his father’s orders and remain wholly at Northanger during his absence. On Thursday, however, he received a letter from his curate at Woodston, informing him of an engagement that would oblige Henry to go to his parish on Saturday and remain there a couple of nights. This was hardly agreeable to him and even less so, it seemed, to the ladies.
“Miss Morland is quite put out,” Eleanor informed Henry that evening. “You had better come back as soon as you can.”
“If I saw my way clear I would not leave at all,” Henry assured her, but it was flattering to know that even with only a few days of expected absence he would be so missed.
He nobly attempted to make amends by hardly leaving Miss Morland’s side that Friday, but even this resolution he could not keep, as he was called upstairs by his servant with enquiries about which books to pack.
As the young ladies were thus left to entertain themselves, Miss Morland begged very earnestly for some music.
Eleanor was more than happy to oblige. “Of course I will play for you,” she said cheerfully. “But perhaps you would like to choose a song and sing with me?”
“Oh,” Miss Morland said, colouring. “I do not sing very well at all. I am not musical.”
“But do you like to sing?” Eleanor encouraged.
“Very much,” Miss Morland smiled. “When there is no danger of anyone hearing me.”
“Well, here there is only me,” Eleanor said smilingly. “And I should very much like to hear you sing.”
Miss Morland relented and happily leafed through the sheets of music on the piano. It seemed that there were none among them that she knew well enough to dare to sing them.
“Do you know any Scottish airs?” she asked Eleanor eagerly.
“I do indeed,” Eleanor answered, and she tried earnestly to think of one that Miss Morland was likely to know and enjoy. “I can play Maid in Bedlam,” she offered.
Miss Morland’s face lit up and Eleanor smiled, she had chosen well and her friend accepted her proposal immediately. Eleanor sat down at her instrument and reminded herself of the melody, while Miss Morland fidgeted and attempted to clear her throat without coughing. When Eleanor was ready, she smiled encouragingly and started the accompaniment, giving Miss Morland all the time she needed to prepare. After one false start Miss Morland began the first couplet, singing in a sweet, though rather unsteady voice:
“Abroad as I was walking one evening in the spring
I heard a maid in Bedlam who mournfully did sing
Her chains she rattled on her hands, and thus replied she:
I love my love because I know my love loves me!”
From outside the room the sounds of the piano quite drowned out Miss Morland’s singing, which meant that Henry, upon approaching it, was not aware of her singing until he was right outside the door. He stopped and heard to his surprise that not only was there someone singing, it was not his sister. It was unmistakably Miss Morland’s voice that sang:
“With straw I'll weave a garland, I'll weave it wondrous fine
With roses, lilies, daisies I'll mix the eglantine
And I'll present it to my love when he returns from sea
I love my love because I know my love loves me!”
Henry could not help smiling. He longed to go inside, but he hesitated, lest his entrance should make her leave off singing. He knew this song too well, however, and when Miss Morland began the penultimate verse he could no longer resist the temptation.
“Just as she sat there weeping, her love, he came on land
Then hearing she was in Bedlam he ran straight out of hand
He flew into her snow-white arms, and thus replied he-”
Henry stepped in, surprising both Miss Morland and Eleanor and singing in his warm voice:
"I love my love because I know my love loves me!”
Miss Morland turned quite red and shut her mouth in embarrassment, but as Eleanor kept playing, Henry smilingly continued the song:
“She said: My love, don't frighten me, are you my love or no?
"Oh yes, my dearest Nancy, I am your love also,
I am returned to make amends for all your injury,
I love my love because I know my love loves me!
I love my love because I know my love loves me!”
Miss Morland was now looking at him with eyes as brilliant as her cheeks were red and Henry looked at her all the while he was completing the song. When Eleanor elegantly finished the accompaniment he smiled at Miss Morland and said:
“Forgive me, I intruded most rudely on your shared enjoyment.”
“Oh, no,” she said hastily. “It was no intrusion.”
“It was,” Eleanor smiled. “But that does not mean it was an unwelcome one. You see, Miss Morland, my brother has a very good voice, even if he has awkward timing.”
“My timing,” Henry said severely, “was purely justified from an artistic standpoint. It was socially inept, certainly, but no one mind such matters where the arts are concerned.”
“Do they not?” Miss Morland smiled.
“Certainly not,” Henry shook his head. “I know I never do. Whenever I concern myself with music I grow abominably rude.”
“Clearly,” Eleanor said amusedly. “But you can make amends by singing with us.”
“That would be no punishment at all and I will do it gladly,” Henry said warmly. “That is if Miss Morland would not object to singing with me.” He looked at her affectionately. “You did sing so beautifully just now.”
If Miss Morland had had any objections, they certainly were no more. They sang together, sometimes in pairs, sometimes all three of them, until it was time for Eleanor to speak to the cook about supper. When the general was not present, the meals were simpler and much less punctual. After enquiring of the others if what she had in mind would suit their fancy, Eleanor left her brother alone with Miss Morland. He had just determined to playfully open the instrument again and tease Miss Morland into playing for him, when she spoke eagerly, perhaps guessing his design:
“Would you read to me once more? If it suits you that is. I have tried to take up the volume myself, but I do not like it half so well as when you read it to me.”
As must now be abundantly clear, Henry Tilney, though many things, was not immune to flattery and he readily consented. The book Miss Morland was referring to was the same they had started with on Monday. He read a full chapter and Miss Morland was all earnest attention, so much so that she looked disappointed when he closed the book.
“Is it not delightful,” Henry said with a smile. “That I can now earnestly divert Catherine with what would have tormented young Kitty.”
Eleanor, who had re-joined them somewhere during the first half of the chapter, smiled fondly at this.
Miss Morland smiled, not at all averse to this picture of herself and said: “Very delightful, except I was never Kitty. I was always Catherine, even when being tormented.” This last sentence was spoken almost archly.
“Always Catherine,” Henry repeated solemnly. “What a fine notion of constancy. And yet you might not have been a Catherine, so to be always Catherine may not be as firm an anchor in this existence as you have made it out to be.”
“Have I?” Miss Morland.
“You did not,” Eleanor assured her. “You conveyed in straightforward English that you never answered to the abbreviation of your name and Henry has chosen to take it as philosophy.”
“Ah, but a most interesting philosophy,” Henry cried. “For it is very possible you might not have had the name Catherine. You might have been a Suzanna, or a Nancy.”
Henry fixed his eyes upon her with such a teasing look when he spoke that particular name that Miss Morland coloured. She was not flustered out of replying, however.
“I suppose that is all true,” she said. “But then I am very glad of being Catherine. I am sure I should not like to be a Suzanna.”
“Nor a Nancy?” Henry teased.
She coloured a little deeper. “No,” she said. “Nor a Nancy. I am sure I would not like myself as much as I do now.”
Henry looked at her in amusement. “What? Not like yourself? Is the name such a determinant of character for you that, should a person change their name, they would lose their amiable qualities?” Miss Morland frowned slightly at him and he continued: “Take fair Nancy, waiting for her beau. Would she not have been as brave and constant if called Catherine? Would her love not have loved her as deeply?”
“I suppose so,” Miss Morland conceded. “But-” she added with conviction. “I am sure she would have preferred to stay a Nancy.”
Henry well understood her meaning, but Miss Morland was arguing with him and this was so rare an occurrence he was not inclined to give up the pleasure just yet. He formed his face into an expression of dismay. “And what of her beau? Is he allowed to change his name without suffering degradation? I hope you would still like us if we were not Eleanor and Henry Tilney?”
“But I am so very glad you are Eleanor and Henry Tilney,” Miss Morland said earnestly and Eleanor smiled at her.
Henry, however, cried out: “Well, I shall take care to retain my name, lest I fall out of your favour forever!”
“You mistake my meaning,” Miss Morland said patiently.
“He does not,” Eleanor interjected. “Or if he does it is all by design. Your choice of words surprised him and now he will not stop until he has brought you to quote Shakespeare in acquiescence with his opinion. Is it not so, Henry? A rose by any other name?”
“You mock a wounded man, sister,” Henry grimaced. “How am I to be sure of Miss Morland’s esteem if she does not subscribe to those words fair Juliet once spoke?”
“A rose may smell as sweet when called by any other name,” Miss Morland said. “But…knowing what they should be called, do we not love them better for being roses?”
Eleanor gave this solid piece of philosophy the moment of quiet contemplation it deserved, but Henry was unable to cease his pleasantries just yet. “So you would have me place the merit of a person at least partly on their name?”
“No,” Miss Morland protested warmly. “I only mean that we may love a name more dearly through knowing who bears it.”
This was spoken with genuine feeling and had this been a proper argument Henry was certain he would have been convinced. As it was, he dropped his sportive manner and looked into Miss Morland’s face with a bright eye and a smile overspreading his entire face. “Ah, Miss Morland,” he said. “At last we understand each other. Well then, if that be your opinion, let me assure you that I shall in future infinitely prefer any Catherine over whatever Nancy or Suzanna I meet.”
Miss Morland turned quite pink and Eleanor laid down her embroidery and said: “You have missed your calling, Henry. You should have joined father in his politicking.”
Henry laughed and shook his head. “Thank you, but writing sermons is a vast deal more agreeable to me. Were I to go into politics, I would be forced to enter into arguments with disagreeable people.”
Miss Morland laughed at his grimace and, assured that the compliment had not escaped her, Henry then dropped the subject by saying: “Speaking of sermons. If you young ladies are not yet tired of my reading, I would greatly appreciate your listening to my latest piece, as I will be forced to deliver it a Sunday sooner than I had expected.”
“Oh yes!” Miss Morland said readily. “I would love to hear it.”
“Of course, Henry,” Eleanor smiled. “Miss Morland and I would be happy to give you our opinions.”
Miss Morland laughed nervously at that, but Henry got to his feet with affected gravity. “Thank you,” he said emphatically. “For I am sorely in need of them.”
He left Eleanor to enquire of Miss Morland if her mother was not in the habit of reviewing Mr. Morland’s sermons and went upstairs to fetch his writing. His spirits were irrepressibly high and although he did not say that it was a very good thing that Miss Morland placed importance on the constancy of first names only, he thought it so fervently it was as though he had.
Maid in Bedlam is a Scottish air from 1787, I like it a lot and I thought the line “I love my love because I know my love loves me” fit the Henry/Catherine romance very well.
In the next chapter Henry will leave for Woodston. And we all know what happens while he’s away, don’t we…
I would like to say thank you to everyone that left comments and kudo’s while I was struggling with this chapter, it really motivated me. And a very warm welcome to all you new readers, I am so happy more people have found this story and I hope you’ll enjoy it!
Chapter 22: Which takes place during chapter 28 and 29 of Northanger Abbey
Okay, so this was not a lot of fun to write. It’s a grim chapter. But it is necessary suffering and I hope I did it justice.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
It was with a very understandable reluctance that Henry Tilney set off for Woodston that Saturday, but what he was leaving behind was also to enliven his journey. Because in driving to his home he thought cheerfully that the next time he took this road, it might be with Miss Morland as his betrothed. By now he was fully intent on asking Miss Morland for her hand as soon as the General had returned from Bath. Henry was quite convinced of his father’s approbation, even if his exact reasons still eluded him, but he still had some matters to discuss with him. Woodston was by no means a meagre living and Henry cared very little for fortune, but at present a considerable amount of his income still depended upon his father and this necessarily must be looked at if he was to marry. Of Miss Morland accepting his suit Henry was certain and concerning her parent’s consent he was also free of anxiety. As he could not be anxious, he undertook to be restless instead and Henry looked at every treasured object on the road to Woodston and at every comforting scene at his home with spirited impatience. This impatience was largely without foundation, excepting the fact that Henry remembered Miss Morland’s reaction to everything during her visit and that now he wished to see it again. Only this time uncurbed by the company of his father and in the knowledge that she surveyed the house and grounds as its future mistress. Against such impatience there was no cure and his curate as well as his servants were quite surprised to see him so distracted.
Were Henry to relate his exploits during that Saturday and Sunday he would certainly not be able to give a lot of actual information. As he did very little of importance we shall not attempt on these pages what our hero certainly would not manage. Amongst his activities only two are worth mentioning; he wrote letters on parish business and he delivered his sermon on Sunday. During both he had Miss Morland very much on his mind, but interestingly the same condition produced a very different symptom in these two instances. Because while his letters were really rather deplorable and clearly bore the marks of his absence of mind, during his sermon all his parishioners thought the young parson was looking particularly spirited and good-humoured today and he was listened to with considerable pleasure.
On Monday, while pouring over more business, Henry found himself sketching the outline of a French church instead. Miss Morland had asked him about travel and architecture and he had had trouble explaining the difference between the French and the English Gothic. Naturally he had promised her a sketch to illustrate this difference and Henry, who usually took great pride as well as pleasure in tending to his parish, now found himself continually abandoning his papers in favour of this drawing.
“This will not do,” Henry admonished himself after yet another attempt of applying himself to his work ended in nothing. “I shall get nothing done at all.”
This being the case he determined there was nothing to do but to return to Northanger a day early. This was not very self-denying decision, but it was certainly a great restorative of his spirits. Now his diligence would lead to immediate reward, Henry was quick in settling whatever business needed dealing with and before the morning was out he was in his curricle and on his way to Northanger.
The weather was fair today and Henry cheerfully thought that if Eleanor and Miss Morland had not determined on an amusement for the afternoon yet, he might take them all for a drive. In missing Sunday he had missed the second opportunity to do so and he was eager to make up for it. When he arrived and drove up to the stables, however, he was very surprised to see his father’s horses there.
“My father has not come back already?” he asked the stable hand in surprise.
“He has, Master Henry,” the young man replied, his eyes directed towards the ground. “Last night, sir.”
Ungracious as it was, his father appearing before he was looked for would normally have inspired disappointment in his son. At this moment, however, it did not. Quite the contrary. Because Henry had determined not to speak to Miss Morland until he had spoken to his father and now he was in a position to do both a great deal sooner than he had expected.
Henry, therefore, greeted his father most cheerfully when he was met by him on his way to the Abbey. Before he could even finish, however, his father interrupted him by saying he was to get himself ready, as they were all going into Herefordshire.
“Herefordshire?” Henry echoed in astonishment. “To what purpose? Are Miss Morland and Eleanor-”
“Miss Morland,” his father said with unmistakable anger in his voice and looks, “has departed from Northanger and shall not be returning.”
“Departed from Northanger?” Henry found himself again repeating his father’s words.
“Yes,” his father said coldly. “And you would do well to think of her no more. Have my horses been tended to?”
His son gave him no reply, too bewildered to speak, and the General strode past him towards the stables. Henry turned to watch him walk away with angry paces and for a moment he feared that through some cruel trick of circumstances his father had somehow learned of the suspicions Miss Morland had briefly entertained against him. If that was the case his anger, if not justified, would at least be somewhat understandable. Except Henry could not imagine Miss Morland ever voluntarily bringing up that subject, not even to Eleanor and furthermore, if this was his father’s grievance, surely he would voice it. No, it must have been Miss Morland’s choice to leave them. His father’s anger sprang from disappointed hopes. Disappointment was certainly very violent in Henry’s heart at present, but it was accompanied by concern instead of anger. He could not believe Miss Morland indifferent to him and neither could he imagine her departure completely voluntary. Perhaps she had been called urgently home or some other circumstance had occurred that had forced her to decide in favour of leaving them.
Unwilling to speak with his ill-tempered father on a subject so very close to his heart Henry decided not to follow him, but hurried into the house instead. There was no comfort to be found within, however, for no sooner had Henry found out his sister or she burst into tears.
“Eleanor!” Henry cried out, taking her in his arms. “My dearest Eleanor what is the matter? Miss Morland- She has not fallen ill, has she?”
“Oh Henry,” Eleanor said, drawing back in an attempt to compose herself. Her cheeks were pale and her hands trembled despite her clasping them together. “That is just what she thought. ‘Tis a messenger from Woodston, said she. Good, kind, affectionate Catherine.” Tears sprang to her eyes once more and nearly ran down her cheeks as she looked at her brother and said: “Father turned her from the house this Sunday morning! And without so much as an explanation. I was to tell her we had a prior engagement with Lord Longtown on Monday and she was to be gone by seven.”
Despite her great agitation Eleanor managed to convey all this quite comprehensibly, but Henry was still sure he had not understood her. “Father sent her away?” he said in startled indignation. “Surely I mistake your meaning Eleanor.”
“You do not,” Eleanor said, her misery plain on her face. “Our father returned home quite unexpectedly on Saturday evening and he was so angry as I have hardly ever seen him before. He would give no explanations, he merely bid me go up to Miss Morland’s room directly and tell her she was to leave us. Such an errand…”
Her composure failed her and she nearly cried again, her voice breaking as she went on: “And she was so kind, Henry. So attentive to me and so anxious to know what she could have done. So very sorry for having offended our father even though we both knew there was nothing she could have done to have done so! There I was, sending her from our home without even a servant to attend her and all she did was beg me to come visit her. And me not being able to accept her invitation!”
“Without a servant…” Henry repeated. He had grown pale and his mind was in such a state of turmoil he could not think. His only explanation, that his father might have found out about Miss Morland’s suspicions, could be no explanation at all while Eleanor was unaware of it. She was talking still, in tones of increasing emotion.
“I do not know what befell our father to ruffle his temper so, but he has made me behave most cruelly to our dear friend and I cannot bear it. After I begged her to stay with us too.” Eleanor looked at him in mortification. “We courted her from her friends and then to treat her in such a way. Imagine Henry, she did not even have money enough to pay her way!”
Henry grew paler still, but now there was anger with the mortification. “And our father would give you no reason,” he demanded. “No explanation of any kind for this….this despicable behaviour?”
Eleanor shook her head silently.
In an attempt to quiet himself, Henry began to pace through the room. He was keenly aware of his sister wringing her hands, but he could offer her no comfort while he was himself so discomposed. “And she left on Sunday morning?” he asked sharply.
“Yes,” his sister said defeatedly. “Father did not take breakfast with us, nor did he see her off.” Shame mingled with the grief on her face. “I made her promise to write to me and even that request I was forced to disgrace, by asking her to address her letter to Alice instead of to me.” She looked up at Henry with tears once again in her eyes. “She begged me to convey her kind remembrance for her absent friend, those were the last words she spoke to me. Kind, generous creature! Oh, how shall she ever forgive us?”
“How indeed,” Henry breathed.
“Oh Henry,” Eleanor wept. “I am so sorry.”
Henry pressed her hand in an attempt to offer at least a little comfort. He well remembered the last time he had seen Eleanor cry. They had been bitter tears and they had been wept after their father’s making clear his disapprobation of her affection. But even then her grief had not been so mixed with self-reproach and shame. At that moment their father’s voice was heard in the vestibule and Henry turned towards the door with an abruptness that made Eleanor start.
“Henry,” she begged. “Henry, please-”
But Henry had already strode out of the room. He was more angry than he had possibly ever been in his life. He met his father in the hallway and without giving him time to speak addressed him in the following manner:
“Sir, Eleanor informs me that Miss Morland has left us on your arrangement. An arrangement too, which does our family no credit. Have you an explanation to give for these actions?”
“Only these,” the General replied coldly. “That our acquaintance with Miss Morland is now at an end and that it shall not be renewed.”
There was no mistaking his meaning. Henry had never understood why his father should have taken such a liking to Catherine Morland and now it seemed this approbation had vanished in as inexplicable a manner. Henry was used to his father’s temper and his father was used to his children submitting to it, but in this particular case Henry found that submission was completely and utterly impossible. When his father refused to give any further explanation of his treatment of Miss Morland and instead charged Henry once again to think no more of her and to prepare to depart to Herefordshire, Henry gave way to his own anger and boldly refused.
The General, accustomed on every ordinary occasion to give the law in his family and prepared for no reluctance but of feeling, no opposing desire that should dare to clothe itself in words, was sincerely shocked by this opposition. Where his anger had been cold, it now grew heated and he informed the incredulous Henry that they had all been deceived in Miss Morland and that he would not suffer his son and daughter to keep company with a girl that had nothing but bad connections and deserved to be called nothing better than a fortune hunter.
The degree of pain and anger that must at that moment be felt by both parties can only be imagined. That it was very great goes without saying, for in that moment a father and son between whom affection had never been particularly strong, all respect must now also dissolve. Henry could not forgive his father for having mistreated the woman he loved in such a deplorable way. He defended Miss Morland’s character most vehemently and when his father shamed him for his insubordination he burst forth:
“Are you a gentleman, sir? Are you a father? Are you even a Christian? To turn from your house without even common civility a young woman whose society you courted more than anyone! And on what principle? None that any other would not blush to even admit! I have long known you to be unfeeling, sir, but I had never thought you so dishonourable.”
The General proved himself as unfeeling a parent as might now be expected, by making it abundantly clear that he cared very little for his son’s disrespecting him in feeling, as long as his actions were in accordance with his wishes.
Neither his demands nor his anger, however, could move Henry. “I have long thought of Miss Morland,” he said in a tone of steady defiance, “as one of the few people capable of immediately influencing my happiness. And you, Sir, have been encouraging our acquaintance since before this was the case. Your tacit consent, incomprehensible as it always was to me, has led me to follow my own feelings to a place where I believe them to be understood by the lady. I will not disgrace myself by withdrawing now. I feel myself bound to Catherine Morland, as much in honour as in affection and as I believe the heart to be my own which I have been directed to gain, I shall offer her mine at my earliest opportunity of doing so.”
The General had turned quite red and wasted no time in refusing his consent in the strongest of terms.
Henry remained unmoved and his fidelity unshaken. No matter his father’s threats, all that now left Henry’s lips was his refusal to accompany him into Herefordshire and his intention of offering for Miss Morland. In repeating himself he grew bolder and bolder and his father more furious in his anger, until they parted in dreadful disagreement.
In an agitation of mind made many degrees worse by the knowledge that he left behind his sister in a situation most impossible, Henry departed from Northanger Abbey with no notion of whether he was ever to return to it. He drove back to Woodston, completely insensible of his surroundings as he travelled and with his thought almost exclusively on Miss Morland’s journey. Eleanor had not yet received the promised letter providing proof of her safety, how could she have done, Miss Morland might not even have arrived home yet. The thought of her being forced to travel post, all by herself and without having even the possibility of proper preparation, increased Henry suffering extremely. He found himself quite incapable of imagining how Miss Morland would conduct herself in such an uncomfortable situation and this uncertainty made his suffering worse.
By the time he arrived at Woodston he was so thoroughly discomposed that he shut himself in his room, partaking of the only restorative he could imagine effective: solitude and reflection. Many hours passed before Henry felt himself once more in command of himself, but as soon as this degree of composure was reached he set out to prepare his slightly bewildered servants for his imminent departure.
Because Henry did not intend to stay at Woodston. He might have spoken in anger when he swore to his father he would propose to Miss Morland as soon as may be, but he had said nothing he did not mean. No later than the afternoon of the following day did he set off for Fullerton Parsonage, wishing most sincerely that the lady residing there had not only returned home in perfect safety, but would also be disposed to receive him there.
I would like to give a most sincere thank you to the people that left kudo's and comments. There is nothing more motivating when wrestling with a chapter than seeing your work appreciated <3
Now, with the bad stuff out of the way it is time for the very best of things: declarations of love!
Chapter 23: Which takes place during Chapter 30 of Northanger Abbey
Henry Tilney generally did not require much to be comfortable during travel, but his travel at present was necessarily most uncomfortable. His destination and his journey were very much in discord with one another. A young man travelling to the home of the woman he loves must do so in triumph. With his family’s consent lending the hooves of his horses speed, despite the many gifts he bears her attempting to slow it down. Such is the general tradition.
But Henry, only stopping to change horses and travelling without even his valet, made a very different picture. Instead of the happy nerves of a lover, Henry had only the grim considerations of a mortified son to keep him company. His father’s behaviour was still largely incomprehensible to Henry and while manning his curricle his speculations on this subject were what most occupied his mind. ‘A fortune hunter with nothing but bad connections.’ Henry’s anger was still hot when he remembered the accusations his father levelled at Miss Morland. Clearly his father had supposed her richer and more well-connected than she was and had become undeceived during his stay in town. If this correction even deserved to be called undeceiving, because it was certainly not Catherine Morland who had done even the slightest thing to encourage such an idea. Henry did remember that his father spoke to her of Mr Allen rather more than polite conversation required. Perhaps there was an explanation for his father’s behaviour to be found in this. The Allen’s were rich and childless and Catherine being under their care and clearly a favourite with them, it was not beyond the usual Bath gossip to presume Mr Allen might have made her his heir.
Henry was not used to thinking his father easily led by idle reports, but in his greed and ambition he supposed it was possible. That must have been what persuaded his father to court Miss Morland’s favour, a persuasion of her affluence. An affluent, pliable girl, fond of his youngest son. His father must simply have been too pleased with the circumstance to question it further. Perhaps he had met an acquaintance of the Allen’s in town that had contradicted the report, or perhaps someone familiar with the Morland’s themselves. Yes, that must have been what incited his father’s anger. Such an anger too, Henry thought bitterly, an anger born from nothing but misplaced price. For a better pride would have been ashamed to own the motives that led him to court Miss Morland’s favour and had his father’s character been any degree more correct, his anger would have been turned towards himself, not Miss Morland. Finally satisfied that he was now capable of at least explaining – even if all justification was wholly impossible – his father’s behaviour, it was to Miss Morland that Henry’s thoughts turned for the remainder of the journey. For the first time during their acquaintance there was true anxiety in his mind. He felt as secure of Miss Morland’s affection as ever, but this could at that moment be only partial comfort. It did not guarantee that she might not be too mortified to see him and it certainly did not ensure that her father and mother would be at all disposed to admit him into their daughter’s presence after the treatment she had suffered at the hands of his family.
These feelings were not alleviated by the rather restless night he spent in an inn at the end of his first day's travel and they accompanied him all the way to the sweep-gate that he had been informed in the village marked the entrance to Fullerton parsonage.
If Henry had thought his arrival might have gone unnoticed, he must have forgotten the quickness of youth, because he had barely descended from the carriage when a cry came from the parsonage house.
“It is James! I know it is!”
As soon as these words were uttered, however, there came an immediate contradiction from a voice equally young, proclaiming: “It is not! It is Richard!”
By then, however, Henry had passed through the gate and the young boy and girl standing on the doorstep of the house, perceiving that he was in fact not a brother of theirs at all, hastily darted back inside. This little endearing scene was not enough to dispel Henry’s anxiety, but it did at least make him smile as he walked up to the house.
The door, still slightly ajar, was answered by a maid who though very polite, regarded him with such a degree of thinly veiled suspicion upon Henry pronouncing his name, that it was plain she was both well informed and very fond of the family. He was shown into the drawing room, where the announcing of his name produced an astonished exclamation in a voice so beloved that upon entering the room there was no telling whose face was more flushed, Henry Tilney’s or Catherine Morland’s.
After a moment’s confused silence, Miss Morland recollected herself and managed to welcome him to her home, beg him to sit down and introduce him to her sister Sally, almost all in one breath. Henry fared very little better and, finding it impossible to say anything to the purpose after the first general civilities, sat down in great embarrassment. In front of Miss Morland’s sister, who was looking upon him with great curiosity, it was not in his power to speak freely and to speak of anything else seemed wholly impossible.
“It is very kind of you to call,” Miss Morland broke the silence in a tone so far from mere politeness and so clearly full of real emotion, that Henry looked at her and replied in a very similar accent:
“It is most kind of you to receive me.”
To Henry’s feelings these words were wholly inadequate, but they nevertheless did their office, for Miss Morland’s face lit up with a smile so bright that it would have made Henry easy at once, had it not been for the door to the drawing-room opening once more. A woman that certainly had something of Catherine about her looked upon him in surprise. Henry rose immediately, turning with respect to the woman who he presumed to be Mrs Morland. His suspicions were confirmed by her daughter, who with a very conscious look exclaimed:
“Mama! This is Mr. Henry Tilney.”
Despite the kind expression on Mrs Morland’s face, Henry could not help apologize for his visiting so unexpectedly. “After what all that passed,” he spoke with the embarrassment of real sensibility. “I certainly have little right to expect any sort of welcome at Fullerton. All I can do is to beg your forgiveness for this intrusion and to believe me when I say that my impatience to be assured of Miss Morland’s having reached her home in safety has been the cause of it. As well as an immediate desire to apologize for the despicable conduct of my father, for which there can be no excuse.”
Mrs Morland, having taken a seat with a most friendly countenance, received him with the simple professions of unaffected benevolence. “You are very welcome here, Mr. Tilney,” she spoke smilingly. “I assure you, the friends of my children are always welcome in my house. You are very kind to pay such an attention to my daughter and as you can see, she is quite well.” Smiling at Catherine a moment before turning back to him, she added kindly: “Please, say not another word of the past and be assured that I am grateful for the kindness that both you and your sister have shown my dear Catherine from the very start of your acquaintance.”
Such mildness Henry had certainly not expected, but as he silently took his seat again, he considered that he might have expected it. Because in speaking to Mrs Morland, who immediately sent Sally to fetch her father and afterwards began to make very pleasant civil conversation, he found all the simplicity and unpretending kindness that Catherine Morland possessed also. This young lady, meanwhile, was sitting by her mother in happy silence. And Henry was happy to look at her, for not only were her eyes brightened and her cheeks glowing, but her entire countenance displayed such agitated delight that he was every moment more assured that the actions of the father had not made her feelings for the son less tender.
Sarah having returned with the regretful report that Mr Morland was from home, Mrs Morland did her best to supply sufficient conversation. After a quarter of an hour, however, she seemed to have nothing more to say. A silence followed, during which Henry, who had been wondering these past ten minutes how he might contrive to speak to Miss Morland alone, finally resolved upon a course of action. Then, turning to her for the first time since her mother’s entrance, he spoke with sudden alacrity:
“Are Mr and Mrs Allen now at Fullerton?”
“Mr and Mrs Allen?” Miss Morland exclaimed, uncommonly flustered by such a common question.
From the perplexity of words that followed by way of reply Henry managed to ascertain the information, which one short syllable would have given, that they were indeed at home. This exactly what he had hoped for and he immediately expressed his intention of paying his respects to them, and, with a rising colour added: “Perhaps, Miss Morland, you would be so good as to show me the way.”
“You may see the house from this window, sir,” spoke Sarah sensibly, but Mrs Morland, who perhaps had perceived the delighted eagerness on her elder daughter’s face or merely supposed that he had further explanation to give of his father’s behaviour, which it must be more pleasant for him to communicate only to Catherine, gave her a silencing nod.
“By all means,” she said. “I daresay Catherine will like the walk.”
“Of course,” Miss Morland said happily. “I mean, I would be very happy to walk with you.”
“I am most obliged,” Henry smiled, at the mother as well as at the daughter and the two young people began their walk in mutual agitation of spirits.
Now, however, Henry was finally at liberty to act, and they had barely walked out of the gate when he turned to Miss Morland and began, rather abruptly:
“Miss Morland, what is your opinion on apologies and proposals?”
At the beginning of their acquaintance such a question might have bemused Miss Morland, but at present she merely looked flushed and replied: “They are very different things, I think.”
“Indeed,” Henry agreed, walking beside her very slowly. “And yet, they must sometimes necessarily share a conversation.”
“May they?” Miss Morland asked and her voice trembled so that Henry stopped walking, turned to her in the shade of the hedgerow and said sincerely:
“I do not know if I am capable of explaining my father, although I certainly shall try. But let me first attempt to explain myself. I have been a fool, Miss Morland and the past two days a most unhappy one. But, if in granting me my happiness you would likewise secure your own, I do believe I shall never again know a single unhappy day in my life.”
Miss Morland looked at him with eyes both brilliant and bewildered and Henry smiled. Of course she would not answer him, not until he spoke plainly. Instantly he reached out and pressed both her hands in his.
“Miss Morland,” he said feelingly and the look in her eyes might have taken his words from him had he not been most courageous. “Catherine,” he started anew. “I love you and I have loved you and if you can forgive me for not owning to it sooner, would you consent to be my wife?”
“Yes,” Miss Morland burst forth. Happiness blooming on her cheeks and lighting up her eyes in a perfect display of natural beauty. “I do! I mean I will. Yes!”
There could be no surprise on Henry’s side, but his delight was unmitigated. He smiled as wide as Miss Morland did and, glowing with the triumph of happy love, he brought her hand to his lips and kissed it. “My dearest and only Catherine,” he said tenderly. He kissed her hand again and met her eyes to see all his own happiness reflected. “Always Catherine.”
It is perhaps not surprising that Catherine, finally secure of his affection and having her heart solicited in such a way, was not at that moment capable of saying a great deal. Luckily this was not required, however. Because Henry Tilney, having made rather a poor lover up to this point, earnestly attempted to make amends for it now. He was as eloquent as he was affectionate and dwelt on the sweetness of Catherine’s temper, the strength of his attachment and the many excellencies of her character so excessively that the mere lane that lay between Fullerton Parsonage and Mr Allen’s grounds was entirely too short. It certainly was to the object of his affections, who seemed that now he had finally explained himself, he could not repeat his professions too often.
A very short visit to Mrs. Allen, in which Henry talked at random, without sense or connection, and Catherine still scarcely opened her lips, dismissed them to the ecstasies of another tête–a–tête. This time Henry’s spirits were unrestrained by nerves and he took pride in making Catherine laugh out loud twice before they were even clear of the Allen’s garden. When she had done laughing, however, she asked very cautiously:
“Have you come directly from Northanger? I hope you left Eleanor well…”
This, Henry well understood, expressed a wish of knowing how he had parted with his family and no matter how uncomfortable a subject, he did not shy away from it. He had from the start fully intended to tell Catherine everything that had passed between him and his father, but it was no mistake that he had engaged her faith before doing so. Because he was not at all convinced that, strong as her feelings for him were, her sense of propriety might not have been stronger yet, forcing her to give him a conscientious rejection. As it was she listened with real sorrow and genuine shock to his account of what had happened when he returned from Woodston. Henry repeated some part of his father’s words and added to them his own speculative explanation of his conduct. In having such things to relate of his father, was almost as pitiable as in their first avowal to himself. He blushed for the narrow–minded counsel which he was obliged to expose and struggled to conceal if to his misery, at least part of his anger from Catherine’s earnest observation. At last he spoke solemnly:
“So you see, dear Catherine, where all the blame in this affair must lie. I am most heartily ashamed of my father.”
Catherine was perhaps too generous to say aloud what she thought of the man in question, because instead she shook her head, was silent for a moment and then expressed her sorrow at Eleanor’s situation and at not having sent her a letter more deserving of her friendship.
This was a show of goodness and friendship exactly calculated to increase Henry’s misery, because it proved how truly undeserving Catherine was of censure of any kind. It would have prompted him to apologize most earnestly for the time he had accused her of cruelty against his father, had he not wisely decided that between apologies and proposals, the latter were truly more pleasant. And instead of apologizing, he thanked her for goodness, assured her of Eleanor’s affection and begged her to make herself no reproaches whatsoever.
All this having been said, they found themselves back at the parsonage gate and uncomfortably close to being in company once more.
“Miss Morland, Catherine,” Henry said gently. “I know I come unsanctioned by any parental authority, but I think I should at least attempt to secure the consent of your kind parents.”
“Yes,” Catherine blushed nervously. “I am sure my father will not be long…”
Henry perceived her anxiety and he could not help but share it in, for although Mr. and Mrs. Morland were certainly most affectionate parents and Henry did not have to flatter himself to think himself a good match for their daughter, it was not at all inconceivable that they would not accept his suit without his father’s approbation. He had to be hopeful, however. It was his duty in the face of the quiet distress in Catherine’s eyes.
“Do not be uneasy,” he said warmly, opening the gate for her to pass through. “I am sure your kind father and mother will not wish to separate us. How could they? There is a number of puppies steadily growing at Woodston who sorely require your inspection.”
Catherine laughed at this and she looked up at him with such unwavering affection that Henry laughed also.
I try to upload once a month which means I am just too late with this one ^^;;
But this is a very imporant chapter and I did not want to rush it! Hopefully I did Henry's declaration of love justice...
Now there is only one more chapter of Northanger Abbey left, but I have decided I will try to go a bit more into detail than Austen so prepare for some pining romantic letters!
Thank you very much for reading and may I say it absolutely warms my heart to receive your kudo's and comments and to see that Northanger hasn't been forgotten yet <3
Chapter 24: Which takes place during Chapter 31 of Northanger Abbey
Upon applying to Mr. and Mrs. Morland for their consent to his marrying their daughter, Henry was at first met with considerable surprise. Henry himself was in turn surprised to find out that neither parent had suspected an attachment on either side, not even after his sudden appearance. Fortunately it did not take much more than Henry’s pointing out that nothing could be more natural than Catherine’s being beloved – a fact that he defended admirably and that they were already very much disposed to believe – to turn all their surprise to the happy agitation of gratified pride. Catherine blushed in agreement and Henry nearly blushed in embarrassment when first Mrs. and then Mr. Morland expressed their satisfaction with his pleasing manners, good sense and general character. That his situation would make him an excellent match for their daughter, Henry would not try to deny. Even without his father’s assistance, his present income was one of independence and comfort and he was by marriage settlements eventually secure of a very considerable fortune. But he had yet expected more parental concern on the subject of his character. The only speech of this kind that passed either parent’s lips, however, was Mrs. Morland smilingly exclaiming:
“Catherine would make a sad, heedless young housekeeper to be sure,” and even that was immediately followed by the kind consolation of there being nothing like practice.
“Certainly,” said Henry, smiling at Catherine, who looked rather embarrassed. “But Miss Morland has seen in what a paltry state I keep my house and knows it must make an excellent place of instruction, as there is very little to spoil to begin with.”
This led to Catherine very warmly defending the merits of Woodston and only the presence of her mother and father prevented Henry from encouraging her in it by pretending to argue against it. He restrained himself, however, and this gave Mr. Morland the opportunity to ask the one question Henry had been dreading. That one question, of course, being the only one he had no satisfactory answer to and that none of his personal charms could do away with; the question of his own father’s consent. Henry attempted, with more feeling than conviction, to argue that considering his parent’s recent actions, his approbation was not worth seeking. Mr. and Mrs. Morland very naturally did not share this view on the matter.
Their tempers were mild, but their principles were steady, and while his father so expressly forbade the connection, they could not allow themselves to encourage it. Spurred on by his own heart, as well as by the tears welling in the eyes of Catherine, Henry pleaded with them a little longer, but to no avail. There really was very little to plead against, because their demands were really very slight. Catherine’s parents spoke of neither money nor apology, did not require that the General should come forward to solicit the alliance, or even that he should very heartily approve it. All they required was the decent appearance of consent and that once obtained, their willing approbation was instantly to follow.
“And all things considered,” was Mr. Morland’s kind assurance, “surely this cannot be very long denied.”
Neither Henry nor Catherine, finally being in an exactly comparable state of anxious love at this time, would allow themselves to hope that this could be true. They were likewise incapable, however, of resenting the condition just given them. The young people felt and they deplored — but they knew it to be just and Henry saw that there was no use in further argument.
“Then,” he said in resignation, “I suppose there is nothing for me to do but to return to my home and hope that it shall soon receive its mistress.”
Catherine had the past few minutes made a very great effort to be subdued, but these words produced from her something very like a sob. This, of course, brought new suffering to Henry and Mr. Morland looked very nearly as distressed, but Mrs. Morland said calmly:
“I do think that would be best, Mr. Tilney.” She smiled and turned to Catherine, saying: “I am sure it is not necessary to call Molly from her work. Catherine, if you would show Mr. Tilney to the stables?”
“Oh,” Catherine flushed. “Yes, of course, Mama.”
Henry, now a great deal more disposed to actually take his leave, shook hands with both Mr. and Mrs. Morland most affectionately. He gratefully accepted and returned their good wishes and had he been able to share in their belief that the General must surely be reconciled to the match before long, he would have been very cheerful.
Catherine’s looks betrayed that she was of his opinion. They neither of them believed that such a change in the General, as would unite them again in the sweetness of authorized affection, was likely to take place soon, if indeed at all. These were miserable reflections to part on and Henry, keenly aware that neither Mr. nor Mrs. Morland had exacted any kind of promise on the subject of correspondence, took Catherine’s hand in his and said:
“Will you allow me to write to you, Catherine?”
“Oh yes,” Catherine replied feelingly. “Please write to me.”
“As often as I may,” he promised, pressing her hand. “Provided you will write me back.”
“I will,” she said emphatically, and something of defiance rising into her face: “I will write to you and Eleanor both, even if it has to be through Alice.”
“My sister’s maid will have to contend with a distressing amount of correspondence,” Henry smiled. His looks softened and he added: “I am sure Eleanor will be very happy to receive your letters. Though I will be so bold as to say her happiness will not quite equal mine.”
Catherine’s reply left him in no doubt of how his letters were to be received and with the promise of correspondence in place Henry Tilney finally overcame his reluctance and made ready to leave Fullerton parsonage. Whether before he did so Catherine Morland received her first kiss underneath the tree behind the stables, it is really not worthwhile to ask, after all there was no one there to see it and it was quite possible that the smiling look with which Henry finally stepped into his curricle was of different origins.
He looked back no less than five times and every single time he saw Catherine still standing in the lane; marked sadness in her countenance and yet surrounded by April’s sunshine. It was a sight that might have induced Henry to turn back at once, away from what was now his only home and the torments of absence, but he did not. Instead he drove steadily on, vowing that the letter he had promised would be written no later than the moment that he was once again seated at his desk.
Having arrived back at Woodston, however, Henry found it extremely difficult to express all that he felt on paper. His feelings were profound, but he could not bear to be solemn and several days passed after he was at all able to draft anything worth reading. At last he sent Miss Morland the following letter:
In taking up my pen I am most cruelly reminded of some very improper speeches I once delivered to you on the subject of letter writing. Cruel, because now I shall be forced to expose myself to you and with this letter prove that I am far more talented in wit upon the subject of writing than at performing the actual art itself.
I have chosen my audience poorly too, for you are too artless to hide your amusement at my paltry lines and too honest to ply me with idle flattery. I truly believe there has never been a man subject to such acute suffering as myself at this moment, for you yourself are so heedless of flattery that I shall have nothing to write that will move you.
My only conciliation is that you are too generous to blame me for my falling short of the proper talents of a lover and too kind to expose me to the world in general when I confess to you this letter, unimpressive as it may be, was preceded by several drafts far more deplorable. It is most unfair that we should be separated and left with nothing but words on paper, when I hope I have demonstrated during our acquaintance that in person I am far less stupid and not incapable of expressing myself with tolerable eloquence.
Better to keep this letter short, brevity, after all, is the soul of wit. I shall keep my ill-articulated musings to myself then. When one cannot be eloquent, one must be mysterious and silence is certainly the best way to appear so. I shall therefore omit to tell you how frightfully dissatisfied I have grown with my house and garden and how earnestly I am tending to their improvement. There is a sweet little drawing room I have very recently taken a liking to and am now preparing to have fitted up. I make no progress, however, for I am undecided on every single point of style and colour. If I had chosen to write about it I might have asked you whether a lighter or a warmer palette would suit this particular room best, but I certainly shall not. Nor shall I tell you of the cottage that can be seen from its windows, once destined to be torn down, but now being restored to its former glory. Restored, of course, in the proper sense of the word, combatting only the decay of time and removing none of its original charm. Except I really wish to tell you of this, for I am sure you would be pleased. Perhaps, as the pencil might be more my ally than the pen, I shall include a sketch in my next letter. Provided, of course, I ever dare to correspond with you again. For my courage will very likely fail me in the absence of your company.
My dearest Catherine, I cannot tell you how disagreeable a person I have become. I have picked up many a book and set it down again, disgusted that I should have no one to read it to but myself. If you do not write to me soon and scold me into patience and good humour, I shall drive everyone about me to distraction. Please believe all that is amiable about me to be enclosed in these pages.
Yours very affectionately,
This letter was answered, with endearing promptness, by a script twice its length and containing such a multitude of affection that it was absolutely necessary for Henry to read it at least thrice before he could be satisfied that he had comprehended the whole of it. Before he could write back, however, a second letter arrived, on in a very different style, although no less affectionate towards himself. The principal part of it was to this effect:
Such news from my brother James! I do not know if you have already received my first, but I had to write you again at once. It seems I am not the only one to have been deceived. Poor James writes so grimly. I would have enclosed his letter, only I am sure that he would not wish anyone to see it. He has met Mr. Thorpe again in Oxford and he was not all friendly with him. Quite the opposite. My brother did feel that T. had been avoiding him, but he had very naturally supposed this to be because of mortified feelings on account of what happened to Isabella. But it seems her brother is no better than she is, for this was not at all the case!
I can scarcely write. James’ letter tells me that T. has been telling his acquaintances that he had to prevent the marriage between his sister and my brother, because our father would give them nothing to live upon! Such falsehoods! But that is not all. A mutual friend told my brother that he overheard T. claiming that I had attempted to secure him. I have never been so shocked. And indeed you must believe me that I have certainly never attempted anything of the sort. Truly, I never sought his attention. Indeed, it was Isabella that told me that her brother had a regard for me! It was most distressing at the time, but even more so now. For I did ask her most sincerely to beg his pardon and to make him understand, in the properest way, that I had not the smallest idea of his attentions towards me and certainly never expected or wished anything of the kind from him. And Isabella spoke of it as if I would make him frightfully unhappy. That too must have been a deception, however, for if he cared for either me or James he would never say such things. James writes that T. has said the most despicable things about all our family, though he will not tell me what they are.
Well, I can only hope that there is some mistake or deception at play that has made Thorpe speak in such a way. For if there isn’t, I can only say that he is a liar and that he does not deserve my brother’s friendship.
After this bold statement, with which Henry heartily agreed, the letter continued in a different vein, which conveyed much less information, but considerably more affection. This affection, very eloquently expressed and occasionally mixed with a vehement dislike of Mr. Thorpe, was exactly calculated to gratify Henry. Apart from flattering him, however, this letter also made Henry at last understand his father. It must have been Thorpe. Thorpe had been his father’s source of information on Catherine and her family.
Here Henry had finally hit upon the truth. The mistaken persuasion of her possessions and claims under which the General had courted her acquaintance in Bath, solicited her company at Northanger, and designed her for his daughter-in-law, had originated from a conversation with John Thorpe.
The facts of the matter were as follows. The General, perceiving his son one night at the theatre to be paying considerable attention to Miss Morland, had by chance inquired of Thorpe if he knew more of her than her name. Thorpe, most happy to be on speaking terms with a man of General Tilney’s importance, had been joyfully and proudly communicative; and being at that time not only in daily expectation of Morland’s engaging Isabella, but likewise pretty well resolved upon marrying Catherine himself, his vanity induced him to represent the family as yet more wealthy than his vanity and avarice had made him believe them. With whomsoever he was, or was likely to be connected, his own consequence always required that theirs should be great, and as his intimacy with any acquaintance grew, so regularly grew their fortune. The expectations of his friend Morland, therefore, from the first overrated, had ever since his introduction to Isabella been gradually increasing; and by merely adding twice as much for the grandeur of the moment, by doubling what he chose to think the amount of Mr. Morland’s preferment, trebling his private fortune, bestowing a rich aunt, and sinking half the children, he was able to represent the whole family to the General in a most respectable light. For Catherine, however, the peculiar object of the General’s curiosity, and his own speculations, he had yet something more in reserve, and the ten or fifteen thousand pounds which her father could give her would be a pretty addition to Mr. Allen’s estate. (This part of the deception Henry had guessed most accurately.)
Upon such intelligence the General had proceeded; for never had it occurred to him to doubt its authority. Thorpe’s interest in the family, by his sister’s approaching connection with one of its members, and his own views on another (circumstances of which he boasted with almost equal openness), seemed sufficient vouchers for his truth; and to these were added the absolute facts of the Allens being wealthy and childless, of Miss Morland’s being under their care, and — as soon as his acquaintance allowed him to judge — of their treating her with parental kindness. His resolution was soon formed. Already had he discerned a liking towards Miss Morland in the countenance of his son; and thankful for Mr. Thorpe’s communication, he almost instantly determined to spare no pains in weakening his boasted interest and ruining his dearest hopes.
This endeavour had continued until the General, by complete coincidence, learned that his calculations were false from the very person who had suggested them. Upon his visit to town he chanced to meet Thorpe again, and he, under the influence of exactly opposite feelings, irritated by Catherine’s refusal, and yet more by the failure of a very recent endeavour to accomplish a reconciliation between James Morland and Isabella, convinced that they were separated forever, and spurning a friendship which could be no longer serviceable, hastened to contradict all that he had said before to the advantage of the Morlands — confessed himself to have been totally mistaken in his opinion of their circumstances and character, misled by the rhodomontade of his friend to believe his father a man of substance and credit, whereas the transactions of the two or three last weeks proved him to be neither; for after coming eagerly forward on the first overture of a marriage between the families, with the most liberal proposals, he had, on being brought to the point by the shrewdness of the relator, been constrained to acknowledge himself incapable of giving the young people even a decent support. They were, in fact, a necessitous family; numerous, too, almost beyond example; by no means respected in their own neighbourhood, as he had lately had particular opportunities of discovering; aiming at a style of life which their fortune could not warrant; seeking to better themselves by wealthy connections; a forward, bragging, scheming race.
The terrified General pronounced the name of Allen with an inquiring look; and here too Thorpe had learnt his error. The Allens, he believed, had lived near them too long, and he knew the young man on whom the Fullerton estate must devolve. The General needed no more. Enraged with almost everybody in the world but himself, he set out the next day for the abbey, to turn the unsuspecting Catherine from the house, though this seemed to his feelings an inadequate proof of his resentment towards herself, and his contempt of her family.
Of course Henry could not extract all this information from Catherine’s letter. Even his sagacity did not stretch that far. But he managed to conjecture a fair bit of it and was aided still further by a letter from his sister. It was a response to the letter he had sent to her via the very dutiful Alice, which had contained an account of his visit to Fullerton. Eleanor’s reply therefore began with professions of her affection for Catherine and himself and a page was nearly completely filled with her wishes for their happiness. The remainder of her letter detailed her endeavours to work upon the General and her unhappiness at her failure thus far. Among her regrets was a partial explanation into their father’s meeting with John Thorpe in London.
As this seemed to suggest that his father had once again received his information from Thorpe, Henry privately began to hope that if his father could be persuaded to be informed more accurately, there might be a possibility of his being reconciled to the match. This altogether made Henry rather cheerful. The notion his father being so led by Thorpe and Thorpe in turn being so thwarted, might actually have amused Henry, had it not been for the uncomfortable question whether without his father’s misplaced interference, he would have allowed himself to go where his heart wished to lead him. Luckily it was not in Henry’s character to torment himself with fruitless speculation and he dispelled every uncomfortable feeling on that account by writing Catherine a most affectionate reply. Full of wit on the subject of the lengths a disappointed man will go to in order to save face and, of course, not neglecting to laugh at the lengths a truly gratified man will go to as well.
The reply he sent to his sister was scarcely less fond and in it he begged her to offer no more apologies, as he only had need of her affection, nothing else. Her letter had been as much a comfort to him as to Catherine and Henry suspected that it was from letters that his comforts must arise for the time being. This is not very much to his credit as a hero, who are generally expected to take up the sword rather than the pen. But there was truly nothing to do for him but to watch over his young plantations, and extend the improvements on his house for her sake, to whose share in them he looked most anxiously forward. Of course he still tended to his parish business with diligence, there was certain masculine activity in that, but Henry Tilney’s chief pleasure at that time most certainly arose from the writing and receiving of letters.
Only two more chapters to go! And I am pleased to say they are as good as finished already, so this time you will not have to wait an entire month ^_^
If you are still here, thank you for sticking with this story. I look forward to finally finishing it and giving Henry, Catherine and Eleanor their well-deserved happiness.
Chapter 25: Which takes place during chapter 31 of Northanger Abbey
It would certainly do me credit as an author, and give great opportunity to test the fortitude of my hero and heroine, if what followed now was no less than some thirty pages consisting only of the heartfelt correspondence of divided lovers. This, sadly, is wholly unnecessary, as my readers must have accurately guessed from the tell-tale compression of the pages before them. Indeed, certainly where Henry’s solicitude is concerned, there is need to mention no more than three pieces of correspondence. Two of which were not even from the desk of the lady his solicitude must be exclusively tied to— even thou it is of course quite impossible for a man in love to receive joy from any other communication than from his beloved.
At least it certainly ought to be so and one morning not long after his return home Henry was in a position to test his adequacy as a lover, as he received both a letter from Catherine and from his brother Frederick.
As Henry expected considerable more pleasure from the perusal of the former, he opened the latter first. It was short, as all Frederick’s letters were, and contained the following:
Received a letter from father concerning you and Miss M. Whatever can you be about? I knew you were rather fond of the girl, but surely she cannot be worth all this trouble.
Don’t be a fool, Henry. I know you’re hardly likely to take my advice, but I wish you would take my word for it that no woman is worth making your life so damned uncomfortable over as you must be now. I must congratulate you, however, I’m sure our father was never quite so angry in his entire life. But you must have made our sister unhappy in the process. How Eleanor bears his company I do not know. Nor you either. Is that what this is about? You could have cut back your visits to the Abbey without being cut off, you know.
Still, I almost cannot blame you. Would not be settled so near home as you are for the world.
Do write to me to explain this business.
Capt. F. Tilney
It will not surprise the reader to hear that this letter did not inspire very cordial feelings towards his brother in Henry. There was, however, a post-script, clearly written at a later date:
Glad I did not post this letter when I finished it. Eleanor’s latest letter informs me I had better not persuade you to give up your point. She would not write explicitly, she never does, but her choice of words leads me to believe you have spoken to the lady already.
You have singular tastes, brother, but I know you too well to think you could be persuaded to change your mind now.
Until August I shan’t be able to take leave, but if it be necessary I shall visit Northanger then and speak to our father. Perhaps something may yet be done for you.
These exuberant professions of brotherly affection softened Henry to such a degree that in his reply he contented himself with only one allusion to Miss Thorpe. Be this as it may, on this particular occasion the second letter very rightly brought more happiness, certainly as it began thus:
Your latest letter made me so very happy. I have read it twelve times over I am sure. Only it is not fair of you to tease me so. I am not so averse to instruction you know. Mama says I am making progress in the stillroom already—
Such a beginning could not fail to make the affectionate recipient smile and Henry smiled all the way through the three sheets of paper. Such as it was Henry’s reputation as a lover was safe. It was a several weeks later, however – and many an treasured letter – that another letter came to present an attack on it. For then, while Henry was inspecting the improvements to a particular sitting-room, that an express arrived from his good friend Laurence Fletcher. Except that it took some finding out that it was indeed from him, for the letter bore the seal of the Viscount Standen. Perplexing as this was, the author of the letter at least proved himself very aware of it as he started in the following manner:
I write to you with the most unexpected and incredible news—
So read the ominous beginning, but whatever of dread or agitation Henry might have felt it all soon turned to a most sincere joy. For the entire first passage of the letter contained his friend’s account of his very sudden acquisition of the very title and accompanying estate the seal of which had so surprised the recipient of the letter.
The happiness Henry felt upon learning that so worthy a friend had been so unexpectedly elevated in situation was very sincere and must do him credit. It was not, however, purely derived from friendship, as the second passage of the letter, written to express emotion rather than information, must explain:
As I write to you now, Viscount of Standen, I am as hopeful and as anxious a man as ever put pen to paper. Tilney, you cannot be at a loss as to the hopes I now dare to entertain. The inferiority of my situation prevented me from seeking your sister’s hand when nothing in the world would have made me happier than to gain it. Considering my current circumstances I must at last have both the title and the fortune to satisfy your father, but this is worth nothing to me if I have since lost the lady’s heart. Please, kind friend, tell me if I still have any claim at all to Miss Tilney’s affections. My love for her has not diminished under our cruel separation, quite the contrary. She is the only creature on this earth that I could love as my partner in life. But is it possible that she can still care for me? Do I have any chance at all? I beg of you to write to me by return of post, for I rely on you alone for this information that must decide my happiness.
But forgive me, I have not written to you these past months and now write only of myself. I hope you are well, Tilney, and I wish with all my heart that when we see each other once more it will be under the happiest of circumstances.
Pray write to me instantly. I shall not act without your information.
Your friend as ever,
The effect of this letter on Henry’s spirits was as follows. At first he was merely shocked, then he grew agitated and soon he was so full of hopeful delight that he sat down at once to write his friend the so earnestly begged for reply. In it he assured his friend in no uncertain terms that his sister’s heart had been as constant as his own and scrupled not to lay before him every single circumstance that had occurred within his observation that testified to this fact. Perhaps it was wrong of Henry to betray his sister’s confidence in such a way, if Eleanor had been present she would certainly have protested against such detailed frankness– as well as to the manifold compliments bestowed on her within the letter. The effect it produced, however, must procure pardon for the letter’s contents. Because it was but a day later that Viscount Standen called at Northanger Abbey with all the regard his newly acquired title and rank could provide.
The General received him most civilly and it took all Eleanor’s fortitude not to burst into tears upon seeing again the man she had privately given her heart a year and a sixmonth ago and not been allowed to look upon since. Laurence Fletcher, by virtue of being Henry’s friend and the object of Eleanor’s affection, must at once inspire similar affection in my readers. It is therefore quite unnecessary to dwell further upon his merits and it shall suffice to say that in being parted from her, he had suffered as keenly as Eleanor and that in soliciting the General for her hand in marriage his first thought was of her happiness instead of his own. He was, then, truly deserving of her and as the General – thrown into quite a fit of good humour at the prospect of having a viscount for a son-in-law – immediately gave his consent to the marriage, Eleanor was finally made as happy as she deserved.
The announcement of the upcoming nuptials of Eleanor Tilney and her subsequent removal from all the evils of such a home as Northanger had been made by Henry’s banishment, to the home of her choice and the man of her choice, gave general satisfaction among all her acquaintance. My own joy on the occasion is very sincere. I know no one more entitled, by unpretending merit, or better prepared by habitual suffering, to receive and enjoy felicity.
Having nothing to wait for and every reason to be impatient, the young couple was married in the course of that very summer. Had her youngest brother been allowed to be present, Eleanor’s happiness would have been complete. Towards restoring this last happiness she could now employ herself, however, and it seemed that Henry the lover might be made happy by the same means as Henry the brother. For Lady Standen had powers that Eleanor Tilney had not had. Indeed, never had the General loved his daughter so well in all her hours of companionship, utility, and patient endurance as when he first hailed her “Your Ladyship!” With his vanity and ambition so gratified the General was persuaded by his daughter and her husband – for the viscount was most anxious to be of service to the friend he could now also call his brother and was very much mortified that he had been previously unaware of Henry’s predicament – to at least allow them to give him more accurate information on Miss Morland’s situation than Mr. Thorpe had been disposed to give. Eleanor had, just as her brother had, long fostered the hope that an amendment of the terrible light in which Thorpe had cast the Morland family might do much to weaken the General’s disapproval. The General was indeed pleasantly surprised to learn that the Morland’s were in no sense of the word either necessitous or poor, and that Catherine would have three thousand pounds. This was so material an amendment of his late expectations that it greatly contributed to smooth the descent of his pride; and by no means without its effect was the private intelligence, which he was at some pains to procure, that the Fullerton estate, being entirely at the disposal of its present proprietor, was consequently open to every greedy speculation.
Under the combined influence of this understanding and the dignity of her newly acquired title Eleanor managed to obtain her father’s forgiveness for his second son, or at least his permission for him to return to Northanger.
Of this permission the anxious Henry was immediately informed by letter, along with his sister’s heartfelt wishes that surely now he was hastening towards as perfect a felicity as hers joined with her entreaty that he would come to Northanger without delay.
The very next day therefore, Henry rode out from Woodston towards his parental home, perhaps not quite the picture of a contrite son, but certainly an example of hopeful love.
I was very nervous about this one, but my beloved beta and sister helped me out and I'm quite pleased with it after all. It is important to me that Captain Tilney is more than just a flirt and I really wanted Eleanor to have an actual living character to love, not just "the most charming young man in the world" ;)
Thanks for reading!
Next chapter will be the last and we all know what will happen <3
Chapter 26: Which takes place during chapter 31 of Northanger Abbey
It may well be imagined with what an amalgamation of anxiety, hopefulness and defiance Henry returned to Northanger Abbey after being banished from it nearly four months before. With great uneasiness did he drive up to the house and with considerable apprehension did he enter it. Upon being greeted by his sister, however, he could not help but smile.
“Your Ladyship,” he said with as much playfulness as genuine tenderness. “I am truly humbled, to be in the presence of a Viscountess.”
“Oh Henry,” she exclaimed, embracing him affectionately.
“Where is your husband?” Henry asked smilingly. “I owe him congratulations that were made very poorly on paper and must be given again to do them justice.”
“He is in the drawing room,” said Eleanor fondly. “But please, go see our father in his study without delay, he has surely been alerted to your arrival already.”
So eager was she to secure not only the happiness of her brother, but also that of her beloved friend, that she would not hear of any postponement and, embracing the anxious Henry once more, sent him on his way to speak with their father. Eleanor herself, however, was free of any real trepidation, for she had privately already acquired her father’s concession that Henry was allowed, “to be a fool if he liked it!”
The outcome of the interview that followed, then, could not at all surprise her, though it did bring great happiness to all.
“Dearest Eleanor!” Henry burst forth as soon as he left his father’s study and re-entered the drawing room where she was seated with her husband. “You are truly unwise to have made me so happy, because I shall surely plague you to death.” Eleanor laughed and could not even answer before her brother turned to her husband and cried: “Fletcher! My friend and my brother, have you not considered how great a nuisance I will make myself to the both of you! Because I know you and you shall claim that you are happier than I am in this moment and this shall prompt me to enter into an argument that shall last at least an hour.”
During the whole of this speech he had not released Eleanor from the embrace in which he had wrapped her upon entering the room and Eleanor now laughed:
“You shall do no such thing, Henry. Indeed, you shall not have the time for it. If you are not in your curricle and on your way to Fullerton within the hour, I shall be very much disappointed in you.”
“Had it been in my power to depart,” Henry said, at last allowing her freedom of movement once more, “I would have done so already! But our father is now putting to paper the consent he just made me the bearer of and until I have his letter to Mr. Morland in my hand I shall stay where I am and make you suffer for your generosity by the exuberance of my spirits. Eleanor, I am the happiest man that ever breathed.”
“You shall run out of breath soon enough,” his friend smiled, and then: “But as long as you have some to spare, may I remind you that I owe nearly all my information of Miss Morland to my wife?”
This was indeed a most shameful circumstance and Henry promptly sat down by his friend to rectify it. He talked of Catherine, frequently calling for his sister’s assistance, even though he required none, until his father entered the drawing room.
“Well, then,” he said, looking upon his son with philosophical good humour and he handed him the all-important letter.
Henry thanked his father with words quite as courteous and empty as the professions filling that sealed page and to the amusement of his friend and sister, proved them both right by hastily taking leave of them all and running from the room, quite breathless.
How different this second trip to Fullerton to the first; how free of anxiety and full of gladness the man in the curricle; but how equally unsuspecting the inhabitants of the parsonage house that was his destination.
Still, the family being at home and any carriage, certainly one driven so swiftly, being a rare sight in those parts, the Morland’s were immediately at the window. For once it was neither George, nor Harriet, nor even Sarah who first cried out with joy, for it was Catherine herself who exclaimed:
“Can it be Henry?”
That it was indeed no one but himself, Henry hastened to prove by leaping promptly out of the carriage and waiting for no servant to either take his horse’s reins or open the door for him. For the opening of doors there was no need at any rate, for Catherine came running outside already, followed by her siblings and – at a gentler pace – both Mr. and Mrs. Morland.
As soon as Catherine reached him, Henry caught both her hands in his, to prevent himself from embracing her outright and looked into her face with a face that expressed all the tenderness and joy he felt in his heart.
“Have you news from the General?” Catherine asked breathlessly, her eyes wide and fearfully hopeful.
“Come, come, Catherine,” said Mr. Morland steadily. “Calm yourself. How do you do Mr. Tilney?”
“How do you do, sir,” Henry exclaimed, still clasping Catherine’s hands and continuing in a positively elated tone: “Would it be at all convenient for me to, at this time, renew the application for your daughters hand?” He looked smilingly from the father to the daughter and added most happily: “This time in the possession of my entire family’s approbation.”
The joy on Catherine’s face was equal only to that on Henry’s. Her younger siblings, as far as they comprehended the conversation, expressed their glee on this occasion with a series of delighted gasps, their mother smiled and Mr. Morland said cheerfully:
“Now there is some news that does one good! Well done, sir.”
“I thank you,” replied Henry with laughing eyes. “But will you not answer me?”
“Answer you?” Mr. Morland repeated in confusion.
“Mr. Tilney asked you whether it was convenient for him to renew his application, Papa,” Catherine laughed, translating with alacrity the fanciful speeches of the man she loved but that her father was not yet used to.
“By all means,” Mrs. Morland smiled. “My husband is quite at leisure, are you not my dear?”
“Why yes, of course,” her husband laughed. “Go ahead, sir.”
“Then may I beg of you,” Henry spoke warmly, looking at Catherine instead of his prospective father-in-law, “to consent to me marrying your daughter Catherine, as I am quite hopelessly in love with her and I daresay always will be.”
As the consent so eloquently asked for was already his own, it was not very surprising that neither Henry nor Catherine heard very much of Mr. Morland’s reply. Indeed, neither of the lady’s parents held it against them and were instead very sincere in their happiness.
This happiness only increased when they became further acquainted with Henry and Henry himself felt increasingly assured of his own future happiness with Catherine for his wife, when observing the Morland’s and their mutual affection. And for this future happiness there was very little waiting left to be done, for the event which the approbation of both families finally authorized now soon followed.
What a happy day it was when Henry was at in a position not only to call Catherine his wife, but also to hear both Eleanor and Catherine address the other as sister. It was as perfect a day as one could wish for. The bells rang, everybody smiled; and, as this took place within a twelvemonth from the first day of Henry and Catherine’s meeting, it will not appear, after all the dreadful delays occasioned by the General’s cruelty, that they were essentially hurt by it. To begin perfect happiness at the respective ages of twenty–six and eighteen is to do pretty well; and professing myself moreover convinced that the General’s unjust interference, so far from being really injurious to their felicity, was perhaps rather conducive to it, by improving their knowledge of each other, and adding strength to their attachment, I leave it to be settled, by whomsoever it may concern, whether the tendency of this work be altogether to recommend parental tyranny, or reward filial disobedience.
For the last paragraph I really had to return to Austen’s text, it wouldn’t have been right otherwise ;)
Well, I made this a considerably bigger project than I thought it was going to be, but it has been lovely to write and I’m so grateful so many of you read and enjoyed it!
Now it’s over I would like to ask you two things, in the interest of improving myself:
- Is there anything in this story you think I should have done differently?
- Do you think this is good enough to try and publish? (A few of you have been very kind and suggested I should try and I think I would like to?)
In any case: thank you so much for reading and I really hope I did this wonderful book and all it's beloved characters justice <3