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|The unaccountableness of it all
Written by Line
(3/26/2009 6:45 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Thanks, Line - that helped, penned by JoAnn
First, I think the standard of *perfect* behaviour at the time (a la Jane Bennet) would have been for Catherine to keep James' private business to herself, at least until Frederick Tilney arrived home to announce *his* engagement to Isabella. (JA's novels are full of people honourably keeping secrets from each other.) The reason she said "Poor James is so unhappy! You will soon know why" is because she expected Frederick to arrive home with *his* news within a few days, not because she was planning to tell her friends about it herself at that point. That's also why she asked to be forewarned about Frederick's arrival without giving the reason why - because she was still trying to keep her brother's secret.
Second, I think Catherine was still literal-minded enough to expect that either Henry would ask her outright what was in the letter, in which case she would politely refrain from telling him, or more likely, since he was an honourable man himself, he would not pry at all. The more subtle method he used to encourage her to tell him the news was lost on her, IMO. As soon as she realized that he had guessed part of it, she spilled *all* the beans!
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