A Hero's Destiny
A Northanger Abbey Twist
No one who had ever known Henry Tilney in his infancy would have supposed him to be a hero.
His family situation suggested that he could be, as his father was a selfish, diabolical, unfeeling military-man (although the general acquaintance, and his family, had little idea of the General's true nature), and his good, kind, generous mother had died when young Henry was in late adolescence, in the tradition of heroes and heroines. General Tilney had a commanding presence, handsome yet unfeeling. He married a rich woman, who unfortunately fell for the faíade of charm the General mustered up for her. She bore three children before a fateful illness came upon her and took her life, leaving the children to their cold father. But, alas, with such circumstances, he still was not thought to be a hero.
His childhood home was an abbey, Northanger Abbey in Gloucestershire, and although the abbey lacked hidden passageways and spooky corridors, it did have ancient cabinetwork, and could be suitable for the upbringing of a hero. But, sadly, no one thought of the advantages of living in such an abbey when they passed Henry over.
Henry's demeanor was perfect for a hero. He had a good air, a handsome countenance (or, if not handsome, very close to it), and lively, chivalrous manners. His wit flowed long, and his intelligence sparked at every opportunity. He was accomplished, having attended one of the best schools in the country. He could draw, and dance, and had impeccable grammar, and was an avid reader who appreciated novels as well as histories, travels, prose and especially verse, as a fated hero must have a thorough knowledge of poetry, so he might woo the heroine:
From Pope he learned that
One truth is clear,
Whatever is, is right.
From Gray, to let others
Teach me to love, and to forgive,
Exact my own defects to scan,
What others are to feel, and know myself a Man.
And Thomson, to command himself by saying
Be my tongue mute--my fancy paint no more,
And, dead to joy, forget my heart to beat!
when he had forgotten the glory of all that lay around him.
And Shakespeare brought a wealth of knowledge to the hero-to-be. He was required to know the finer points of love:
For thy sweet love remember'd, such wealth brings,
That I scorn to change my state with kings.
The rose looks fair, but fairer we it deem
For that sweet odour which doth in it live.
And, still more,
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
But still, opinions of Henry Tilney endured. Most acquaintances expected his elder brother, Captain Frederick Tilney, to be the hero of the family. Yes, dear reader, Henry was a younger brother, and although he had an independent fortune via his mother's death and marriage settlements, he was not the dashing heir to a large fortune. He had not the elder brother's right of sweeping women off their feet and carrying them off on a large white horse to a large chateau in the Pyrenees. And, his greatest deficiency to his brother was that he was not in regimentals; he was a clergyman instead. Poor Henry! He might be witty, brave, gallant, and handsome, but those traits were soon forgotten when the word ¤clergymanË was spoken. A clergyman, even one who had a good living and nice parsonage overlooking a pretty field, was not expected to be the hero, but to be odious and toad-like, and to condescend to marry the hero and heroine instead.
But yet, he was destined for heroism, although all that he was and all he had learned had yet to be of use, as there had been no opportunity to practice his skill. No damsel in distress had crossed his path; no overturned carriages, drunken robbers, or satchel-snatching gypsies to rescue a young, innocent lady from. How frustrating it was! But when Fate has given a young man such qualities, she never wastes them. So when General Tilney suggested a trip to Bath, it was as though she finally smiled on Henry Tilney. To Bath, therefore, he must go, to the heroine that would be thrown in his way.
The paternal instincts of such a man as General Tilney could not be supposed to be great as Henry Tilney left for Bath. A father should have a thousand worries for his son, should bestow his well-earned wisdom upon his son, with hopes that he would be guided through any and all dangers. But no, General Tilney was careless in such manners, and merely instructed Henry ¤to get lodgings in a respectable part of Bath--Milsom Street, perhaps.Ë Henry's sister, Eleanor, was more profuse in her farewell tidings, and wished him a safe journey.
Eleanor Tilney was one of the few women Henry Tilney truly respected. Not that Henry hated women, or considered them all to be undignified, but no woman had yet compared to his sister, except perhaps his mother. Eleanor was an honest, unpretending woman, with a pretty face and a good air. She had sense and breeding, and never engaged in the mind games many women Henry knew used when vulgarly pursuing a husband. In fact, Eleanor was somewhat indifferent to a husband--she claimed that when that man came around, she would be ready, and silently refused to run after anyone. At social gatherings, she captivated the attention of men around her, but it was never purposely done, as she had no wish of appearing too eager. There was a friend, a young man, who had recently stayed with the Tilney family at Northanger Abbey, and had admired Eleanor. Henry thought that she might have returned some of the same feelings, but nothing ever came of it. Her lively spirits fell slightly, her brother noticed, after the young man's departure, but as Eleanor was used to the habitual suffering of often being by herself at the Abbey, she rebounded soon enough. Such a sister was expected to be a close friend and companion to our hero, and so it was. Eleanor and Henry got along together perfectly.
Anyone who saw Henry Tilney as he traveled to Bath would have never conjectured that he was a hero in the making. Instead of walking, with his gun slung over his shoulder and his hounds in close pursuit, he drove a curricle, and in replacement of the huntsman's garb, he sported a fine greatcoat. Some might have even guessed he was a dandy! But, alas, dear reader, do not be worried on Henry's account: he was a righteous man, with correct morals and good intentions. Anyone who knew him knew he adhered to his sense of right, even though he was a bit of a flirt.
The hero did have a few negative qualities of person. As intelligent as he was, he was well aware of his endowments--he knew he was witty, and handsome. As one might suppose, there is more beauty in not knowing one's personal advantages than not knowing them. And because of this self-knowledge, he occasionally indulged himself a little too much with the foibles of others. But we must allow our hero to have a few faults, as it is those faults that make him human.
Milsom Street was Henry's first destination after depositing his belongings at an inn. Fortunately for the General and Henry, there was a building available in that street, and our hero snatched it up with alacrity. He went about the business of securing that lodging and enlisting the servants to prepare it for their master and mistress. These tasks kept Henry quite busy, and only when hunger overcame him did he retire for the day to a tavern and the inn.
The next morning brought its duties: the rent to finalize more directions to give, and items to be bought in Bath. But pleasure, even on a business trip, was tempting to Henry, and he decided to make an appearance in the Lower Rooms that evening.
"Good evening, Mr. Tilney." The master of ceremonies addressed him.
"Good evening, Mr. King!" Henry bowed to the gentleman.
The man continued. "How long are you in Bath?"
"I am here to secure lodgings, and will leave tomorrow, but I return with my father and sister in a week."
"Good! I am eager to see General Tilney again." He paused. "May I beg a favor of you?"
"I would like to introduce a young lady to you."
Henry smiled broadly. "Is that all? I thought I was in for something serious."
Mr. King smiled back. "Actually, Mr. Tilney, this young lady is in an unfortunate situation. She came with an older couple, the Allens, and neither she nor the couple knows a soul in Bath. I have overheard Mrs. Allen wish for one of her acquaintances to arrive, but because none have, poor Miss Morland has not had a dance yet during her stay, as she knows not a soul, though she is a pretty girl, from no fault of her own."
"Well, it seems that I must be her savior, in some assent! Lead the way."
They walked across the room, and Henry was introduced as a dance partner to Miss Morland. She was a very genteel, pretty girl, about seventeen or eighteen, in bloom, with open, sweet manners. Henry felt relieved at her amiability. There was little leisure for talking while they danced; but when they were seated for tea he found her as agreeable as he had been led to believe. Henry had a gift of conversing easily with strangers, which he used to his advantage--his young partner was attentive and eagerly chatted along with him on matters that arose from objects around him.
He suddenly addressed her with one of his well-used lines: "I have hitherto been remiss, madam, in the proper attentions of a partner here; I have not asked you how long you have been in Bath, whether you were ever here before, whether you have been to 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," was her frank reply.
"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. "How long have you been in Bath, madam?"
"About a week, sir," replied Miss Morland, who appeared on the verge of laughing.
"Really!" Henry replied with affected astonishment.
"Why should you be surprised, sir?" Miss Morland eyes grew wide with wonder.
"Why indeed?" said he, in his natural tone; "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. Where you never here before, madam?"
"Indeed! Have you yet honored 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 are you altogether pleased with Bath?"
"Yes, I like it very well."
"Now I must give one smirk, then we may be rational again."
Miss Morland turned her head away.
Henry softened. "I see what you think of me," he said gravely; "I shall make a but a poor figure in your journal to-morrow."
"My journal!" Miss Morland exclaimed.
Henry continued, amused. "Yes; I know exactly what you will say: ╬Friday, went to Lower Rooms; wore my sprigged muslin robe with blue trimmings, plain black shoes, appeared much to advantage--'" he saw a slight blush, "'--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."
"Shall I tell you what you ought to say?"
"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." Miss Morland smiled.
Henry leaned back, mock astonishment spread across his features. "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 tenor of you life 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 you hair to be described in all their diversities, without having constant recourse to a journal?" Miss Morland was staring at him with some incredulity, but he continued his ranting. "My dear madam, I am not so ignorant of young ladies' ways as you wish to believe me. It is this delightful habit of journalizing 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 particularly 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," Miss Morland said, doubtingly, "whether ladies do write so much better letters than gentlemen. That is, I should not think the superiority was always on our side."
Henry smiled. Miss Morland's honesty suited him. "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?" came the direct response.
Henry had nothing but a very devilish answer. "A general deficiency of subject, a total inattention to stops, and a very frequent ignorance of grammar."
"Upon my word, I need not have been afraid of disclaiming the compliment! You do not think too highly of us in that way."
Her accusation must be appeased. "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 Mrs. Allen, the lady Miss Morland was staying with. "My dear Catherine," said she to Miss Morland, "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 favorite gown though it cost but nine shillings a yard."
"That is exactly what I should have guessed it, madam," said Henry, looking at the muslin.
"Do you understand muslins, sir?"
Henry smirked to himself. This Mrs. Allen presented herself as an easy target. "Particularly well; 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."
The lady appeared to be quite struck by his genius. "Men commonly take 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, appearing to gravely exam it, "but I do not think it will wash well. I am afraid it will fray."
"How can you," Miss Morland suddenly burst out, laughing, "be so ----?" She did not finish her thought.
"I am quite of your opinion, sir," replied Mrs. Allen; "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."
Mrs. Allen's solemn nod almost discomposed the amused Henry. "Bath is a charming place, sir; there are so many good shops here. We are sadly off in the country; nor 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."
It was all that Henry could do to stay politely interested in what Mrs. Allen said; and she kept him on the subject of muslin until the dancing recommenced. Miss Morland, who had been silent through most of the conversation, was contemplating something solemnly, which worried Henry a little. "What are you think of so earnestly?" said he, as they walked back to the ball-room; "not of your partner, I hope, for by that shake of the head, your meditations are not satisfactory."
Miss Morland colored, and said, "I was not thinking of anything."
This response surprised him a little. Miss Morland's manner, as far as he could decipher, was usually very direct. "That is very 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; for now we shall soon be aquatinted, as I am authorized to tease you on this subject whenever we meet, and nothing advances intimacy so much."
They danced again; and when the assembly closed, parted on the gentleman's side with a very good opinion of her. That our hero was not struck dumb with love upon view of this young lady may be surprising to the reader, but such was the case with Henry Tilney. Miss Catherine Morland, as good a creature as he had ever met, was a pretty, amiable girl, and Henry had enjoyed himself and his discourse thoroughly, but no sleep that night was lost by the disturbance of her steadfast image. No thoughts to her situation of family or money, or marriage, ever crossed his mind; but her direct manner of conversing in comparison to his lively, flirtatious manner was granted the honor of a few minutes' pondering.
The next morning Henry Tilney left Bath for Woodston, and then Northanger Abbey. Everything was settled with at Milsom Street, and Henry was eager to join his sister again. He knew that Eleanor was anticipating the trip to Bath, as her own life was often spent in solitaire. He was not with her as often as he liked, as he had duties that pulled him away from Northanger, and General or Captain Tilney could not always be with her, either. Therefore, Eleanor Tilney spent many of her days almost entirely without conversation, and her brother felt pity for her. He knew that she daily expected his return, so that their journey to Bath might commence. But before he could return to Northanger, he had to take care of a little bit of parish business--that is, delivering a few sermons. (Yes, friends, God sometimes makes demands on His subjects. Even heroes.) Henry made the most of his sermons, as he was livelier from the pulpit than some of his colleagues, but mostly he looked forward to the chicken lunches he was often asked to between the morning and afternoon services.
Henry Tilney, along with his curricle, greatcoat, and witty lines, drove into Woodston around four in the afternoon on a cool February Saturday. The insignificant town stood on the flat horizon, not drawing attention to itself, but radiated warmth and homeliness all the same. The parsonage stood at the end of the village, past the neat houses and the chandler's shops, rising substantially from the village. The modern stone house, well built, was a friendly sight to Henry. The sweep and the green gates carried him off to his sanctuary of bachelor-hood of peace, strength, and comfort. As he entered his house, he found his dogs, a large Newfoundland and three terriers, laying by the warmth of the fire in the sitting room, as he expected. Mrs. Hering, his housekeeper, greeted him warmly before quickly returning to the kitchen to prepare her master's supper. Winthrop represented stability in Henry's eyes--a slow, sleepy village, where things stayed the same. It was comfortable, and Henry was content there--so he told himself. But there was a desire slowly building in his soul, one many men of five and twenty feel. He found himself wishing for a different person, another person, besides Mrs. Hering to greet him warmly as he returned home. The barks of his loyal companions were no match for the sweet ringing of a female voice--one that would belong to his wife.
No woman had been able to tempt Henry Tilney into matrimony. He was aquatinted with many amiable, pleasing women, and had often engaged their attentions readily, but they were always playing some sort of game with him and with the other women of their acquaintance. Flirtations, wicked secrets, inconsistency, and mercenary ambitions were all he could find. Why, he thought, could not more women just be like Eleanor--sweet, unpretending, intelligent, artless? He had not discovered a woman who possessed his sister's qualities, and until he did, the house would always be silent upon his return.
The first order of business upon Henry's return was to write to his father and sister, informing them of his arrival at Woodston, the situation concerning their housing arrangements and the plan of travel for Monday. He thought it best that his father and sister break their journey at the parsonage for lunch, and then he would join them, driving his own equipage, for the rest of the journey to Bath, with hopes of arriving in time to attend the Octagon Room that evening. The second demand was the writing of his sermons for the next day: they were only partially finished, and what notes he had were misplaced in his untidy room:
"I could have sworn I put them right here! Mrs. Hering, have you seen my sermon notes?"
"No, sir, you know I never move your belongings. You always insist on that!"
"But did you happen to see them when you were cleaning at all?"
"No, master, I do not discern one set of papers from another. Not in your bedchamber."
Eventually, Henry discovered his sermon under a large pile of novels. Yes, novels, dear reader. Henry often indulged himself with a delicious, horrid, romantic novel, even though he was a clergyman and an example to his parish. He and Eleanor often spent hours feeding their passion for the written word, devouring novels as quickly as they could. Sometimes the novels made them laugh, and other times, tremble at the picturesque grossness, but they always enjoyed them together.
The third item of business was that Henry had to write out instructions for his curate. As he would be spending many weeks in Bath, that business needed to be done as quickly as possible. Henry was very thankful that his living was a family living; other patrons might not allow him as much leave. His curate was a bright young man just out of Cambridge, and Henry thought well of him, despite his Oxford loyalty.
His business being concluded, Henry had nothing left but to work through Sunday, and await the arrival of General Tilney and Eleanor the following day. Bath's pleasures fervently called to him, and he was eager to go.
On the morning of their intended departure, Henry received a note from his father:
Eleanor and I will be unable to leave this week: important parish business has arisen, and cannot be put off. Therefore, we will delay our departure until Monday the 12th. Please write to whoever the proprietor is at Milsom Street and inform him of our intentions. The plan of travel will remain the same.
"Oh. Well, another week must go by, I suppose!"
The next Monday, General Tilney and Eleanor joined Henry at Woodston for an early lunch before setting off for Bath. Henry was glad to find his family in great spirits--Eleanor especially. She talked excessively, even though, Henry noted, their father was present. For a reason unbeknownst to him, General Tilney's company always stifled their conversation and their spirits. But Eleanor was far too excited to be tamed.
"So, Henry, how was Bath last week? You never gave us any details in you letter, brother." Eleanor was in the middle of her lunch.
Henry smiled. "It is always the same, Eleanor. I wonder that you bother for details at all."
"I know that it is always the same for you, for you never allow anyone to be as entertaining as you!"
"Where," General Tilney interrupted, "is the gravy?"
Henry pointed at a small dish on the sideboard.
"Is that all?" General Tilney protested. "No wonder I rarely eat from home," he muttered under his breath.
Eleanor brow creased in sympathy. Henry shrugged, and smiled, vowing to ignore his father for a while. "Why," he addressed his sister, "would you say that? Surely I am not vain of my wit, I hope."
"You know you are a great comedian, Henry."
"Comedian! Is that all? Not handsome, or clever, or intelligent, or rich, but merely a comic? Oh, what a coxcomb I am turning out to be!"
Eleanor laughed. "Not a coxcomb. You know I do not mean that!"
"What do you mean, then?"
"That you never allow any woman to be different from any other. They are all the same, therefore they are not entertaining."
"That makes little sense, Eleanor." He grinned.
"Why," he continued, "should I go to Bath for entertainment? You and your strange ideas about my character and temperament would suffice."
"Henry, that is cruel! You know I am right."
Henry shook his head. "No, you are not. I want a woman who is witty, intelligent, and caring, who can match my conversation. I want a woman who is honest, and loyal, and is not conniving. Let her be funny, yet young and innocent, for then, she is not spoiled to the world. But the Rooms as of yet have not provided such a woman. When I find her, I will carefully pen a letter, full of important yet trivial details about her, and send that letter express to you, so that you can quickly share in my felicity."
"Henry, do be serious!" Eleanor was smiling. "But to satisfy my own curiosity, how was your short stay?"
They were interrupted once again by General Tilney. "Henry, do you have a copy of the Bath paper?"
"No, Father, I did not think..."
"Humph. Why not? Oh, forget it, son. I will buy one as soon as we get there today. That will do."
"Henry, come now with the details," Eleanor persisted.
"Oh, nothing of importance happened, Eleanor. Well, I did go to the Lower Rooms."
Henry smiled mischievously, waving his hand about. "Why, the usual things happened!"
"Oh, Henry! Just tell me, for once, and not try to make such dramatics!"
"Fine, Eleanor, I am at your command." He leaned back in his chair. "I took care of all the little arrangements of our housing situation on Thursday, and Friday morning, and then I attended the Lower Rooms Friday evening. Mr. King--"
"Oh, Mr. King! Such a nice man!"
"--as I was saying, Mr. King introduced me to a young lady of about seventeen as a dance partner. She was a pretty, amiable girl, sweet, honest yet very blunt in her manners. She resides in Wiltshire, I believe."
"What is her name, might I ask?"
"Miss Catherine Morland."
"She sounds nice. And harmless."
"Yes. She is residing with a couple named Allen--very genteel people. Mrs. Allen was dressed finely, and she and I had quite an interlude on the subject of muslin." He grinned again.
Eleanor stared at him. "Henry, what did you say?"
"Nothing of consequence." He laughed.
Eleanor shook her head. "It would be best not to inquire. I know you too well." She sipped her drink. "Poor woman, I pity her."
"Alas, she is quite unaware of any affront!" He finished his meal and, suddenly remembering business he had with his steward, quickly left the room. Much was left to be arranged before leaving, and Henry hurried to get it done, knowing that the General ran things, including travel, in an very timely matter.
The Northanger party rode to Bath in good time. General and Miss Tilney took their place in the carriage, while the dashing Mr. Tilney rode ahead in his dashing curricle.
The lodgings at Milsom Street amazingly met all of General Tilney's expectations. In fact, the General heartily congratulated his son on a job well done, probably (the Author dares to say) because he considered himself the originator of Henry's taste.
Mrs. Hughes, an old friend of the late Mrs. Tilney, called that afternoon almost immediately after the arrival of the Tilneys.
"Good afternoon, Mrs. Hughes! I was expecting you." Eleanor greeted the genteel older woman.
"Oh, Eleanor! It is good to see you again." Mrs. Hughes hugged the young woman. "I was beginning to think you would never arrive! Oh, and General Tilney, and Henry!" she exclaimed after the entrance of the gentleman into the parlor. "What a pleasure."
They bowed their greetings. "I had no idea that you were in Bath, Mrs. Hughes," Henry said.
"I have been her two weeks. I had hopes that you would have arrived last week, but Eleanor wrote to inform me of your changed plans." She smiled widely. "Goodness! It has been a while since I have seen you! Henry, you are growing so handsome." He blushed a little. "Now, now, I know that is rather impertinent, but I am an old friend, and an old woman, which gives me all the more right to say such a thing."
He laughed. "Thank you."
"Are you planning to attend the Rooms this evening?" General Tilney asked.
"Did not Eleanor tell you? She asked if I would attend her tonight. Of course I am delighted to be of service--anything for my dear Mrs. Tilney's children." She paused abruptly, wondering if the mention of Mrs. Tilney caused discomfort. "I am sorry if you had no notice, General," she added softly.
General Tilney stiffened a little. "No, no, do not blame yourself, for Eleanor did not mention it at all."
"I am sorry, Father, but I forgot." Eleanor said meekly.
"Think of it as a pleasant surprise, Father!" Henry interjected. His sister was beginning to become discomposed, and Henry could not bear to see her first evening in Bath ruined by General Tilney's chastisement. "We will have a merry time in the Octagon Room this evening!"
"Yes, yes, that is true. Well, I suppose we must dress and eat now, if we want to."
Eleanor glanced at Henry with gratitude. "Yes, Father, you are right. Time to get ready." She turned to Mrs. Hughes. "May we have the pleasure of taking you this evening?"
"Oh, yes, dear. I am sure it would be no problem. Until tonight, then!" She kissed Eleanor and left.
"Henry, come here please."
Henry traced his steps back up the hall. His sister was sitting at her table, vainly attempting to tuck a wayward strand of hair into place.
"Yes, Eleanor?" He pulled a chair behind her, so that she might talk to him via the looking glass.
She set her comb down and turned around to him. "I do not think I have ever told you this, but I am so thankful that you are my brother."
"Why, thank you, but..."
"Please let me finish. I appreciate how you make peace in our home. Or at least make it peaceful for me. Father and I..." She broke off abruptly, unsure of how to express herself without dishonoring the General.
"I understand, sister."
She shook her head. "No, no, you do not. I am blessed to have such an older brother, one who protects me like you do--not from the outer elements, but from the inner ones. Believe me, Henry, I suffer sometimes."
"I know you do."
"I came to Bath to enjoy myself, Henry. But I do not think I can allow myself to entertain any man's affection right now. Especially since... well, that must be over now. Father did not think it good enough for me. I know he did not."
"He said something to you?"
"No, but he let me know in one of his many ways." Eleanor sighed. "He subtly discouraged my affections."
"Was there ever an understanding?"
"No, no. My worries are all in vain." She smiled slightly. "I must attempt to attract a better man while I am here. If there is such a person."
"I am sure there is, but not one that would suit you. Poor Eleanor!" He kissed his sister's hand. "Please, cheer up! Enjoy yourself, and be patient, dear sister! Everything will happen in due course. Promise."
"Of course." He smiled. "Do you think God would give a person beauty, intelligence, and a good nature and waste it? No, I think not!"
"Henry!" she laughed. "Well, I suppose you are right. I will be patient, except with this hair!" She grimaced at her reflection.
"No one would notice, Eleanor, if it was out of place or not--you could claim you planned it that way! Or, that you needed it to be there because of your exquisite," he grabbed a feather and tucked it behind his ear, "remarkable, and highly-original coif!"
"Henry! Give that back!" She made a plunge for it.
"Or," he continued, dodging his sister and snatching a ribbon as well, "you could make it stick up even farther, and put a ribbon around it, with a big bow. And, maybe put some more feathers in!" he tied the ribbon around his head, tucking spare feathers in it on all sides of his head.
"Oh, stop it!"
Henry clutched his chest. "What? Stop?" he asked in falsetto voice, "Madam Tilney would not dare refuse my advice, would she? I have slaved day in and day out in my poor, cramped shop, carefully scratching down the details of your dress and hair, so that I might provide a suitable ensemble for the esteemed Miss Tilney! Well, I suppose my advice is just not good enough! I will end here!"
Eleanor laughed heartily. "No, dear lady, continue!"
"Very well, though it gives me little pleasure, you spoiled woman, you! Never in my life have I seen someone so difficult! I have worked diligently on your coif, and you will wear it, madam! You will! And you shall call it your... ╬Carnival Horse Headgear'!
"'Carnival Horse Headgear'? Is that what you think, after all of our work? Worthy of a carnival? Henry, how cruel!"
"Actually, I did not coin the phrase, dear sister. I overheard it somewhere," he smiled broadly, "and I thought it fit. Although yours is not very bad at all--more hair shows than feather. But my opinion is of no matter."
Eventually, they did finish preparing for the evening's festivities. Henry relented bantering, and Eleanor called a maid to assist her--and she used very few hair ornaments for fear of being sent to join the Bath carnival. She never learned where Henry had learned that phrase, and assumed that he had made it up himself. There were women of Henry's acquaintance whose dress was worthy of a carnival. Oftentimes those women where the daughters of rich tradesmen, who had decent dowries and where in search of a land-owning husband to raise their social ranking, and their exaggerated dress was meant to attract the notice of such men. But unfortunately for them, men never notice such things, unless it is hideous, and therefore worthy of the name ╬Carnival Horse Headgear.' It is better for a woman to simplify her dress so that her features stand out, than to wear extremely gaudy pieces to induce ridicule from the men they mean to impress. Sometimes country fashions do more for a woman than their Town counterparts, but the Author will remain unbiased and silent on such matters as these, for she hopes to sell her novels to women of all geographic areas. And if any woman residing in Town is upset by the phrase of ╬Carnival Horse Headgear', she must be aware that our hero did not coin the phrase, but that a woman, residing in the Republic of Pemberley (a small and insignificant but intellectually stimulating country) did. It has been rumored that this woman has excellent taste, but I leave it to the Reader to decide for herself. Therefore, do not blame our poor hero for degrading women in any way, but rather for belittling their dress, and be glad that at least he takes notice of such matters, unlike other men.
The dancing music swirled around them as the Tilneys entered the Rooms that evening, enveloping them in gaiety and laughter, supporting their expectations of a pleasant evening. Mrs. Hughes followed close behind with General Tilney, who, after a few minutes, abandoned her for the card-room.
"Well, Eleanor, you look nice."
"Thank you Henry. You probably noticed that I took extreme caution with my hair, for fear of disappointing you."
"I like the white beads--they meet all my expectations." He smiled.
Mrs. Hughes presently joined them. "Your father has left for the card-room, by the by. He did not wait long at all!" Eleanor and Henry laughed.
They were moving across the floor, Eleanor on Henry's arm, when Mrs. Hughes spoke up suddenly. "Oh, look! Mrs. Thorpe, I declare! I have not seen that good lady for many years. Come, I would like to introduce you!" She quickly moved to the seated party.
Henry turned around toward that group, and was surprised to see Miss Morland. She had seen him, also. Smiling, he moved toward his former partner, who looked to be in good spirits and good looks, with the rosy cheeks, bright smile, and sparkling eyes that did justice to the natural sweetness Henry had discovered in her when they last danced. Beside Miss Morland was Mrs. Allen.
"Good evening, Mrs. Allen, Miss Morland." He bowed.
Miss Morland curtsied in reply. "I am very happy to see you again, sir, indeed; I was afraid you had left Bath," she said eagerly. He thanked her for her fears, and said that he had quitted it the day after his having the pleasure of seeing her.
Mrs. Allen spoke up. "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 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," Henry said, "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 neighbor of ours, Dr. Skinner, was here for his health last winter, and came away quite stout."
"This circumstance must give great encouragement."
"Yes, sir; 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 Mrs. Hughes' friend Mrs. Thorpe interrupted them, requesting that Mrs. Allen and Miss Morland move a little to accommodate Mrs. Hughes and Miss Tilney, as they had agreed to join the party. This gave Henry a few moments of contemplation. Miss Morland was quite excited to see him, and her interest in him piqued his interest in her. She was a very nice girl and pretty--Henry had no qualms about admitting that--but he wondered what sort of impression he left with her during their first dance together. For her to be so eager, artlessly eager, to see him again told Henry that he must have done something good without really realizing it!
After things had settled down a little, Henry turned to Miss Morland. "Would you honor me with the next two dances, madam?"
Catherine Morland's face fell a little. "I am sorry, sir, but I am engaged for these next two dances to Mr. Thorpe. He asked this morning. I know it looks as though I am not engaged (and believe me, sir, if I was not, I would dance with you in a heartbeat!), but I am. Mr. Thorpe just has not come to claim my hand yet, that is all."
"If you are engaged, madam, then there is no need to apologize."
"But I am sorry that we cannot dance! I had a pleasant time the last time we met." She turned away slightly, coloring.
"Miss Morland!" a voice came bellowing across the room. "Are you coming?"
She nodded to the man., then turned back to Henry. "Good evening, Mr. Tilney," she curtsied with a glum face, and left.
Henry could hear the man leading her away, informing her in a boisterous voice of a friend with a great many horses and dogs, and could discern Miss Morland looking back, as if to escape. Poor girl! he thought. Even though she aspired to politeness, her feelings of disinclination could not be hidden from her face, and Henry pitied her a little.
He sat down next to Mrs. Allen to watch the dance. His sister was asked, and Mrs. Hughes took it upon herself to find Eleanor and the gentleman a place in the set. They found a place by Mr. Thorpe and Miss Morland, and thusly Eleanor and Miss Morland were introduced. Henry intended to introduce her to his sister, but Mr. Thorpe claimed her hand before he had the chance. Henry watched as his sister took pains to converse with Miss Morland--how far in intimacy they grew, however, Henry knew not.
Henry had determined to ask Miss Morland for the two dances following these. It was a rare thing for Henry Tilney to sit out dances, but he had a feeling that Miss Morland did want to dance with him, and he was not one to brook disappointment. If he had danced with another, he might have been obliged to join their party, and he would have missed out on fulfilling her wishes. It was plain to Henry that Catherine Morland liked him, and his vanity was flattered enough to want to continue that acquaintance.
The dances concluded. Henry looked toward Miss Morland, but saw that she was claimed by a friend and her friend's partner, who looked as though he were related to Miss Morland. The fashionable friend talked animatedly to her, punctuating her sentences with dramatic arm gestures. Then Catherine pulled her friend away, and Henry stopped watching them--she obviously was not in a hurry to return to him and Mrs. Allen, and Henry was impatient to dance. Another acquaintance, a Mr. Smith, was in the room with his sister, who Henry had not met, and seemed to be a pretty girl. He concluded that he must have read Miss Morland's feelings on dancing with him wrong, and standing up, he bowed to Mrs. Allen and said smilingly, "I am tired of lounging around. I suppose I shall go and dance! Good evening."
The man saw him coming. "Tilney! How do you do?"
"Smith." Henry shook the man's hand. "It has been a long time."
"Oh! This is my sister." He brought his sister forward. "Dolly, this is Mr. Henry Tilney." The girl curtsied.
"Nice to meet you, Miss Smith." Henry smiled at the girl, who was studying him with a complacent look. "And, if you can bear it, would you care to dance the next two with me?"
"Certainly, sir." She smiled archly.
"So, Tilney! Have you seen your brother lately?" Mr. Smith inquired. "I saw him in Town the other week. I guess he was there on some sort of business."
"No, no, I have not seen Frederick for a while. And he writes to me rarely, unless it is on some business." The music started again. "I will join you later, perhaps?"
Henry led Miss Smith out onto the floor. As they made their way out, he noticed Miss Morland sitting down, talking to Mrs. Allen with a look of disappointment. Henry turned quickly away, realizing his mistake, and continued to search for a place in the set for he and his partner.
Miss Smith was staring at him as they began to dance, seeming to examine his personage with her eyes. Finally, she smiled fetchingly at him. "So, Mr. Tilney, what is it that you do?"
"I am a clergyman."
"Oh! The church! Such a noble profession!" she exclaimed. "Do you have a good parish?"
"Oh, yes, I have a comfortable living at Woodston."
"Then Woodston must be a large parish?"
"No, no, it is a town of little consequence." He looked at her curiously. "Why do you say that?"
"I assumed that if you have a comfortable living, you must have a good-sized parish, unless..."
Henry's forehead momentarily dropped into a rare, slight scowl. "Or what?" He recollected himself, could not help but ask, "Do you assume that I have an independent fortune, if Woodston is small?"
She colored, and replied shortly, "Well, yes, that would make sense, Mr. Tilney."
"And if I did not? If I considered a smallish parish comfortable enough to fulfil my needs?" She turned away, shocked. He softened. "Do not mind me, Miss Smith. I am just trying to rile you up, in a pleasant way, but it does not seem to be so pleasant for you." He paused. "I do have a fortune, Miss Smith, if you care to know. Now, if you do not mind, we shall leave this thread of thought and move on to something else."
They conversed on general topics for the remainder of the dances. Henry was disturbed a little--Miss Smith was trying to size him up! His appearance, his fortune, his social standing--she was interrogating into all of these! Henry knew what he said to her in reply was a little rude, but he was disgusted at her mercenary behavior. It was typical of a woman to examine these things first, he believed.
After their dances, he joined the Smith party, almost completely ignoring Miss Smith by conversing with her brother. They talked pleasantly until General Tilney appeared, demanding that they go home.
Henry paused. Even as a clergyman, our hero found it difficult to speak to God sometimes, especially when he knew that he had done something wrong. He imagined God as being similar to his father, and no one wants to admit personal faults to General Tilney.
"Lord, I give thee thanks--much thanks. And, um..." He looked at his folded hands, searching for inspiration. He sighed. "God, I acted horribly to a young lady last evening..."
"What a lovely time we had last night!" Eleanor exclaimed as she sat herself down for breakfast.
General Tilney looked up from his newspaper. "You are fifteen minutes late, Eleanor."
"Yes, yes, it was a nice time." Henry muttered quickly.
Eleanor peered at her brother. "You are not in spirits, Henry."
"No, I suppose not."
Henry shrugged. "I would rather not say." He glanced at his father. Not here. he mouthed to his sister.
Eleanor nodded. "Oh, of course."
"Who was the girl you danced with, Henry?" the General suddenly asked loudly.
"The sister of my friend, Mr. Smith." Henry paled.
"And what is she?"
"A lady, sir." Henry shrugged his shoulders.
"Has she a good family?"
"They are respectable sir."
General Tilney took a sip of coffee. "You did not answer my question."
"I thought I did."
"You said respectable. I want to know if they are good."
"I should think so, although I doubt she has much fortune."
"Ah." The General returned to his paper.
"She looked like a nice girl," Eleanor quietly remarked before finishing her breakfast in silence.
The sun was shining through the parlor windows as Henry and Eleanor sat to chat after breakfast, without the restrained atmosphere their father created. It was a remarkable fine day for February, and the bustle of Bath rang outside, muffled and far away. They sat in silence, listening to the sounds of the street, for a few minutes before the entrance of their father broke their reverie.
"Henry, Eleanor, I am going to go out. I will see you later today."
"Yes, Father. Have a pleasant day."
"Well, Henry," Eleanor said when General Tilney left the room, "why are you glum?"
Henry leaned back into the cushions of the sofa, cradling his head in his hands. "Remember Miss Smith?" Eleanor nodded. "I was rude to her last night."
Eleanor eyes widened. "Why?"
"She was inquiring about my, well, financial situation in a vague way, and I snapped at her."
"Oh, Henry." Eleanor shook her head.
Henry sighed in exasperation. "Why is the marriage game such a conniving, artful business? Why must I be summed up by my pounds?"
"Are not we all?" Eleanor looked him in the eye. "Is not that the case with everyone? We are all kept from some people because of their situation, or others try to impress us because of our situation, or we try to impress others because of their situation. We, the Tilneys, are not innocent of it." She gave him a knowing glance. "Why cannot we just love who we want to love, because of who they are? I wish it worked that way, I truly do."
"As do I. But money always makes a person more attractive, for some reason."
She picked up her needlework absentmindedly. "Perhaps. But sometimes the lack of money is exciting, also." She looked up at Henry with her best face of sisterly consolidation. "Henry, I know that you probably did not mean to say anything rude to Miss Smith, and that she provoked you, but sometimes people make false assumptions of the most horrid kind, and we must learn to help them see the truth without making them wretched by becoming angry ourselves. And we must learn to forgive them. That is the role a Christian should take."
Henry sat silent, contemplating his sister's words in his mind. After a few silent minutes, he rose suddenly, saying, "Eleanor, you never cease to amaze me."
"Thank you, Henry." She smiled. "Are you leaving?"
"Yes, yes, I will be back for lunch, and then we can head to one of the Rooms, if you like."
"That is fine by me."
The busy streets called to Henry, inviting him to lose his thoughts amid the rumbling noise. The fine day brought many walkers out to pay their respects to various shops, rooms, watering places, and baths, creating a crowd for which our hero could feel lonely in, or contemplate in, or greet in, whatever his feelings dictated at the moment. This time, Henry was considering his sister's words of wisdom, trying to overcome the follies of human nature. Eleanor was a perceptive person, and she knew what sort of speech Henry needed to hear at the moment. In the past Henry was the one dispensing advice to his younger sister, but lately Eleanor was guiding him in some areas. She understood his temperament and mind better than anyone else, including his brother. They were not only siblings, they were friends.
A jewelry shop sat on the corner of the street Henry was walking along. Seeing it, he had a sudden whim to see what he could find for his sister. He was a brother that rejoiced in purchasing surprise gifts for a beloved sister. Eleanor wore everything Henry bought for her, for Henry had excellent taste. Occasionally he entered a shop, looking somewhat crude with his gun flung over his shoulder and his greatcoat muddied, but surprised the shopkeeper with impeccable taste that contradicted his appearance.
"Good day, sir," the shopkeeper said to Henry upon his entrance. "What can I do for you?"
"I am looking for a gift for my sister, sir."
"Anything particular in mind?"
"Well, this looks very fine..." And the decision-making process began, with Henry examining pieces while the shopkeeper brought others up ferociously for his judgement.
A half-hour later, Henry made his way back home with his wrapped package in his coat, softly whistling an Irish jig and stopping at another shop briefly to admire the new selection of shotguns. He had considered his sister's words, and returned to Milsom Street with a new resolution and in a better mood.
Henry and Eleanor met Mrs. Hughes at the Crescent that afternoon.
"Oh, my dear Eleanor and Mr. Henry!" Mrs. Hughes bubbled. "I was so busy last night, I hardly had time to inquire if you were enjoying yourselves, so I suppose I must ask you now."
"I had a pleasant time, Mrs. Hughes," Henry simply said.
"I am glad to hear it!" She smiled sweetly. "You young people are a joy to watch. Older women take pleasure in ╬quizzing' (is not that such a vulgar phrase?) all of you. It is a source of consolation."
"Mrs. Hughes!" A voice greeted them.
"Oh, Mrs. Thorpe and Mrs. Allen! What a delight." The two parties greeted each other. "I am pleased to see you!"
"And we are pleased to see you and Mr. and Miss Tilney!" Mrs. Thorpe said. "I hope you did not catch cold last night?"
"No, no, not at all. Where is Miss Morland, Mrs. Allen?"
"She is out driving," Mrs. Allen said serenely.
"With my son," Mrs. Thorpe interjected proudly.
"Ah, I see." Mrs. Hughes smiled politely. "Shall we walk?"
Miss Morland was driving with Mr. Thorpe? Henry's curiosity was high. Miss Morland did not appear to enjoy that man's company, yet she consented to a drive. It was strange, but Henry concluded that there must be other circumstances surrounding that situation that he was not aware of.
They walked together for a half-hour: the young Tilneys walking a little ahead, involved in a lively conversation which the three older women would not have followed, even if they tried, and the three older ladies entertained themselves fine with their trivial gossip. Eleanor and Henry did not even bother listening to the women's conversation, which was fortunate for them because they were the main topic.
"Eleanor," Henry said suddenly during their walk, "I have something for you."
"Not another present, I hope? You spoil me." He grinned. "Oh, Henry!"
"Here." He took the package out of his coat.
She opened the package, all the time giving Henry a reprimanding look. Inside lay pretty little silver combs with a flower design. Eleanor laughed. "Hair ornaments? I thought you disapproved of such things!"
"Only gaudy ones, sister! My taste is too good to choose something extravagant."
"You are vain, Mr. Tilney! But thank you." She smiled rosily.
"You are welcome, sister." He offered his arm, and they rejoined the other women for a few minutes before returning home.
The next morning brought a loud knock at Henry's bedchamber door. General Tilney had made plans to go riding with his son, and Henry had little choice but to accompany his father to the countryside around Bath. There were many pleasures to be had in such an outing, and the gentlemen left soon after breakfast.
Eleanor Tilney had made plans with Mrs. Hughes to attend the Pump Room that morning. Parading around a room was not a chore as long as she met up with some acquaintance that she liked. Even though Eleanor knew a multitude of people because of her father's large acquaintance, she there were few that she liked very well, and even fewer she would consider a close friend.
When they entered the Pump Room, Eleanor and Mrs. Hughes spotted the Thorpe and Allen parties assembled. Miss Morland came up and eagerly greeted them, and Eleanor was glad to fall into some delightful conversation. While Mrs. Hughes conversed with Mrs. Thorpe, Eleanor and Miss Morland conversed pleasantly about on common topics that had been repeated over and over by various people visiting the Rooms, yet they spoke with such sincerity that the topics seemed fresh and new.
"How well your brother dances!" was an artless exclamation of Miss Morland's towards the close of their conversation.
Eleanor was amused and surprised. "Henry!" she replied with a smile. "Yes, he does dance very well."
"He must have thought it odd to hear me say I was engaged the other evening, when he saw me sitting down. But I really had been engaged the whole day to Mr. Thorpe." Eleanor could only bow. "You cannot think," Miss Morland continued after a moment's silence, "how surprised I was to see him again. I felt so sure of his being quite gone away."
"When Henry had the pleasure of seeing you before, he was in Bath but for a couple of days. He came only to engage lodgings for us."
"That never occurred to me; and of course, not seeing him anywhere, I thought he must be gone." Eleanor smiled at Miss Morland searching relentlessly for her brother among the crowds of Bath. She continued, "Was not the young lady he danced with on Monday a Miss Smith?"
"Yes; an acquaintance of..." she paused slightly. "Mrs. Hughes," she fibbed for her brother's sake.
"I dare say she was very glad to dance. Do you think her very pretty?"
"Not very," Eleanor fibbed for Miss Morland's sake.
She looked relieved. "He never comes to the Pump Room, I suppose?"
"Yes; sometimes, but he has ridden out this morning with my father."
Mrs. Hughes now joined them, and asked Miss Tilney if she was ready to go. "I hope I shall have the pleasure of seeing you again soon," Miss Morland said eagerly. "Shall you be at the cotillion ball tomorrow?"
Eleanor was not sure what their plans were. "Perhaps we--yes, I think we certainly shall." She did not want to disappoint the girl.
"I am glad of it, for we shall all be there." This civility was duly returned and they parted.
Eleanor could not help laughing when they left the Room. "What is it, my dear?" Mrs. Hughes inquired.
Eleanor smiled sweetly. "Someone is in love with my brother!"
The Tilneys had a quiet family supper that night, an unusual occurrence while they were in Bath. General Tilney and Henry, although they had a pleasant time on their ride, were a bit tired from it.
"Father, what are our plans for tomorrow?" Eleanor asked over the main course.
"I had not made any? Why?"
Eleanor smiled. "Today at the Pump Room, I had a delightful conversation with Miss Morland, and she expressed a wish to see us at cotillion ball tomorrow."
"You saw Miss Morland today?" Henry asked, curious.
"Yes, Henry; she was hoping to meet with you, also."
"Is this the Miss Morland you danced with while you were in Bath those few days, Henry?" General Tilney asked.
"Yes, sir, she is a sweet girl." Henry smiled. "Did you say she wanted to see me?"
"She wondered if you never came to the Pump Room, and I said that you did, but were riding with Father." Eleanor cocked her eyebrows at him. "Does not that mean the same as wanting to see you?"
"Yes, I suppose so."
"Perhaps," General Tilney said, "we should go to the cotillion tomorrow. I should like to see this Miss Morland."
The Tilney party arrived at the cotillion later than planned. The cotillions themselves were almost over, and the country-dances were soon to begin. General Tilney left in search of amusement, Miss Tilney found Mrs. Hughes, and Henry looked for Catherine Morland.
He had dressed with more-than-usual care that evening. He knew women noticed such trivialities, and that men were judged on their appearance as a gentleman. Henry was always sharply dressed, but the knowledge of a young lady who liked him well enough was all the more reason to take care. Henry had no doubt she had worried about her appearance, and even though men never took the initiative to notice the gains of women's toils, he was ready to admire them.
It was no wonder that Henry had troubles finding Miss Morland--she appeared to be hiding from someone, with the help of a fan. "Miss Morland," he addressed her.
"Mr. Tilney!" The customary bow and curtsey took place.
Henry smiled nicely. "Would you do me the honor of dancing with me, madam?"
She answered readily in the affirmative, and followed him to the set with sparkling eyes and a pretty smile. What luck for our hero, to have a pretty, feeling girl admire him completely! He knew she admired, especially after Eleanor's hints the night before, and he was willing to allow them, to encourage them. He was gratified by her artless affection--she was not conniving like some of the other ladies.
They had hardly worked themselves into the quiet possession of a place, however, when Mr. Thorpe, the man who she had danced with and gone driving with before, the son of Mrs. Thorpe, demanded Miss Morland's attention. He was talking eagerly to her, seeming to accuse her of something. Miss Morland's short, direct answers should have been enough to send him away, but only the pressure from a long string of passing ladies separated him and Miss Morland. His demanding her attention during their dance miffed Henry a little, and he said to Miss Morland, as soon as they reunited, "That gentleman would have put me out of patience, had he stayed with you 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." Miss Morland nodded slightly in agreement, her eyes transfixed on his face, drinking in every word. "I consider a country-dance as an emblem of marriage. Fidelity and complaisance are the principle 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 neighbors."
Miss Morland shook her head a little at this. "But they are very different things!"
"That you think they cannot be compared to each other?"
"To be sure not. People that marry can never part, but must go and keep house together. People that dance, only stand opposite to each other in a long room for half an hour."
This statement reminded Henry of the literalness of Miss Morland's mind. "And such is you definition of matrimony and dancing. Taken into this light certainly, their resemblance is not striking; but I think that I could place them in such a view." He began to draw comparisons. "You will agree 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 until the moment of its dissolution; that it is their duty each to endeavor to give no cause for wishing that he or she had bestowed themselves elsewhere, and their best interests to keep their own imaginations from wandering towards the perfection of their neighbors, or fancying that they should have been better off with anyone else. You will allow all of this?"
"Yes, to be sure, as you state it, all this sounds well; but still they are so different. I cannot look upon one of them at all in the same light, nor think the same duties belong to them."
"In one respect, there certainly is a difference. In marriage, the man is supposed to provide for the support of the woman, the woman to make the home agreeable to the man; he is to purvey, and she is to smile. But in dancing, their duties are exactly changed; the agreeableness, the compliance are expected from him, while she furnishes the fan and the lavender water. That, I suppose, was the difference of duties which struck you, as rendering the conditions incapable of comparison."
"No, indeed, I never thought of that."
"Then I am quite at a loss. One thing, however, I must observe. This disposition on your side is rather alarming. You totally disallow any similarity in the obligations; and may I not thence infer that your notions of the duties of the dancing state are not so strict as your partner might wish? Have I not reason to fear that if the gentleman who spoke to you just now were to return, or if any other gentleman were to address you, there would be nothing to restrain you from conversing with him as long as you chose?"
"Mr. Thorpe is such a very particular friend of my brother's, that if he talks to me, I must talk to him again; but there are hardly three young men in the room besides him that I have any acquaintance with."
"And is that to be my only security? Alas, alas!"
"Nay, I am sure you cannot have a better; for if I do not know anybody, it is impossible for me to talk to them; and, besides, I do not want to talk to anybody."
Henry grinned. "Now you have given me a security worth having; and I shall proceed with courage. Do you find Bath as agreeable as when I had the honor of making the inquiry before?"
"Yes, quite - more so, indeed."
"More so! Take care, or you will forget to be tired of it at the proper time. You ought to be tired at the end of six weeks."
"I do not think I should be tired, if I were to stay here six 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."
"You are not fond of the country," Henry said, thinking of Woodston.
"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?"
"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 was very much amused. "Only go and call on Mrs. Allen!" he repeated. "What a picture of intellectual poverty! However, when you sink into this abyss again, you will have more to say. You will be able to talk of Bath, and of all that you did here."
"Oh! Yes. I shall never be in want of something to talk of again to Mrs. Allen, or anybody else. I really believe I shall always be talking of Bath, when I am at home again - I do like it so very much. If I could but have Papa and Mamma, and the rest of them here, I suppose I should be too happy! James's coming (my eldest brother) is quite delightful - and especially as it turns out that the very family we are just got so intimate with are his intimate friends already. Oh! Who can ever be tired of Bath?"
"Not those who bring such fresh feelings of every sort to it as you do. But papas and mammas, and brothers, and intimate friends are a good deal gone by, to most of the frequenters of Bath - and the honest relish of balls and plays, and everyday sights, is past with them." Here their conversation closed, the demands of the dance becoming now too importunate for a divided attention.
When they reached the bottom of the set, his father addressed Henry. "Is this Miss Morland, Henry?" the General asked in a whisper. "She seems to be a pretty sort."
"Yes, Father, it is, and she is." Henry replied. General Tilney walked away, and Henry noticed Miss Morland with her head turned away in slight agitation. "I see that you guess what I have just been asked. That gentleman knows your name, and you have a right to know his. It is General Tilney, my father."
Miss Morland's answer was a mere "Oh!" but it expressed her deep interest to Henry. He watched as she followed the General through the crowd with her eyes, possibly making a comparison between the two.
In chatting before the evening concluded, a new source of felicity arose to the couple. Eleanor had been speaking of the countryside around Bath, and Miss Morland, who had not been on a walk since her arrival in Bath, was eager to see it, and it was proposed by the siblings that they should join in a walk, some morning or another. " I shall like it," Miss Morland cried, "beyond anything in the world; and do not let us put it off; let us go tomorrow." This was readily agreed to (after a sly look from Eleanor to Henry), with only a proviso of Eleanor's, that it did not rain, which Miss Morland was sure it would not. At twelve o'clock Eleanor and Henry were to call upon her in Pulteney Street, and they parted with "remember twelve o'clock" by Miss Morland. The walk was sure to be pleasurable, and both Henry and Eleanor were looking foreword to it with eagerness. Eleanor was beginning to consider Miss Morland a good friend, but Henry considered Miss Morland differently. He enjoyed his time with her, and admired her, but was completely unaware of any regard he had for her beyond those two points.
The morrow brought a very somber-looking morning, the sun making few efforts to appear. Henry and Eleanor hoped that it would clear, as they were eagerly looking forward to the walk and the company of Miss Morland, but the sky was foreboding and dreary. They applied to General Tilney for his opinion on the weather, but as he was reading the newspaper there was no response on that subject.
"I have no doubt of it being a fine day," Henry said to his sister around ten forty-five. He was sitting on a sofa that faced a window, feet propped up on a table, watching his sister pace over the top of a history book. "You might as well sit down, Eleanor. You will tire yourself before we even have the opportunity of walking out of doors."
She abruptly sat down and took up her needlework. "I am just excited, that is all. Miss Morland will be pleasant company."
"I have no doubt of that."
Eleanor mechanically pulled her needle in and out of the fabric. "What do you really think of her, Henry?"
Henry set his book down and sat up. "What do you mean?"
She kept her eyes on her work. "You seem to have made a good impression on her."
"She is very impressionable!" Henry smiled. "I have done nothing that I can think of."
Eleanor stared at him. "Do not try to pull wool over my eyes, Henry," she said softly. "You are very aware of her regard for you. I want to know what yours is for her."
"How did you know of her regard for me?"
"Answer my question first."
"Must I? Since when does a sister demand to know the workings of her brother's heart?"
"Since ever!" Eleanor laughed.
Henry leaned back again. "Actually, Eleanor, I have not really turned my mind to that specifically." He leaned back, thinking. "Miss Morland," he said, "is very high in my esteem."
"No, you do not get another question until you answer the one I presented you with! How did you know Miss Morland regards me highly?"
Eleanor bit her lip. "Must I tell?"
She set her work down. "When she and I talked at the Pump Room, her comments indicated her true feelings. She is not one to hide any emotion."
"She meant for you to take her comments in that way?"
"Oh, no, I do not think she had any idea of the impression she was leaving with me."
"Ah." He looked out the window. A few raindrops were making their way down from the gray sky, and a few umbrellas began to unfold.
"Oh, dear," said Eleanor, "I hope it quits soon."
"I hate to be pessimistic, but it is coming down faster." The rain continued through the hour, fast but not heavy. Eleanor began to pace again, anxious to call on her friend, who must be waiting impatiently. The clock read twenty past twelve when they noticed a gleam of sunshine breaking through the parting clouds.
"Shall we go, Henry? I am sure Miss Morland is waiting on us."
They presently set out--the streets dirty, but they did not seem to care very much. They walked toward Milsom Street earnestly, not wanting their friend to worry. The weather had cleared up greatly, and numerous open gigs made their appearances on the pavement.
A loud rattle started the Tilneys as they crossed into Argyle Street. They looked up and were surprised to see a girl who looked like Miss Morland riding in a gig with a young man! The girl was frantically motioning to the man to stop, but he continued to drive on, leaving Henry and Eleanor bewildered. "Was that her?" Eleanor asked quietly, aversely. Henry did not know. "I suppose we should call and see if she is home, then," she continued.
They walked on and called at Milsom Street, only to find that Catherine Morland was not there. "She has gone out with Mr. Thorpe," the footman said.
"Has there been any message left for us?" Eleanor asked.
Eleanor pretended to feel for a card. "I do not have any about me," she said, coloring. "Come, Henry."
As they left the building, she let out a long sigh. "I cannot believe this--it is so unlike the behavior we have seen before from her."
"No, it was not." Henry replied shortly. Miss Morland's snub came as a surprise to him. She was not the sort of girl who was intentionally rude--at least that is what he thought. But what really hurt Henry was that Miss Morland chose the company of another man (a pretty stupid man, on that account) over himself. Jealousy arose, as he had considered her heart his, even though he had yet to claim it, and that surprised him. Why should I be this upset? It is not as if she means anything to me--does she? She obviously does not consider Eleanor and myself with any true regard, after this behavior. But she has been so eager, so generous! This makes no sense at all. His good opinion of her was at risk and she was not there to redeem it. It is a sad thing when a pretty, amiable girl makes a wrong turn and disappoints the man who is aware of her regard for him. He may be of a forgiving nature, but when feelings toward a girl become serious, every move she makes is a deciding factor for the end result.
Henry walked into his bedchamber around two in the afternoon. He threw his coat over a chair and flopped down on his bed, tired. He had spent the morning aimlessly meandering about Bath, turning those couple of day's occurrences in his mind. Miss Morland's person occupied much of his time. He could see her before him--a young little sprite, plenty of spirit, pretty without being aware of it, loved to ask questions, and direct in her thinking, even in a ballroom-- and he could not help but smile and admire her. But her marked attentions and pretty smiles lost clout when he remembered that odious gig and his sister's hurt expression. But Eleanor's past words floated through the muck of his head: We must learn to forgive them. That is the role a Christian should take. He was upset with Catherine Morland, to be sure, but Henry knew what action he should take, still, forgiveness is a hard thing to acquire. He desperately wanted to acquit her, for she had rooted herself into a place where few had gone: Henry Tilney's affectionate heart.
A knock at the door interrupted his reverie. "Come in," he said groggily.
"Henry, are you awake?" Eleanor asked quietly.
"Yes." He sat up. "I was out this morning, and I am a little tired."
"Perhaps I am growing old." He smiled, shaking off the weariness of cumbersome thoughts. "When a man reaches the age of five-and-twenty, his body begins to rust away."
"Hardly." Eleanor quipped as she scooted a chair next to the bed. "Henry, something terrible happened this morning!"
"What?" he implored, concerned. "Eleanor, are you well?"
"Yes, perfectly well," she said unconvincingly. "But I am not sure about Miss Morland."
Henry started. "Is she hurt?"
"No, no, not physically, just..." A tear rolled down her cheek. "I slighted her this morning, Henry. She called, and Father said not to admit her--"
"Why?" He fell back onto the bed, his head in his hands. "She has done us a wrong, but that is no reason for us to repay her with the same behavior," he whispered, almost to himself, as if he was trying to block out his sister's presence and think through the situation himself. Miss Morland called, he thought. She must have come to make her excuses.
The silence was broken after a few moments by Eleanor. "I did not mean to hurt her back, Henry, but Father insisted on her being rejected, as he did not want to wait for her, for Father and myself were going out--"
"Father and I," Henry absentmindedly corrected, his face still covered by his hands.
"Pardon?" Irritation rang in her voice.
Henry, suddenly realizing what he had just said, clasped his mouth in horror. "I'm so sorry, Ellie..."
Eleanor relaxed a little at the mention of her childhood nickname. "You have not called me that since..."
"...since Mother passed," Henry finished. He sat up, shaking his head. "She would have known what to do."
"I think she still does."
Henry's dark eyes softened. "Yes, you are right. She would." He clasped his sister's hand, smiling. "You are so much like her! Not really in appearance, but in spirit."
"Then I must apologize."
"True. And I apologize to you." He let go of her hand. "I am sorry, but would you mind leaving me alone for a while? I need to think."
Eleanor stood. "Only if you allow me to send Dobson to your room to tidy it up. It is an absolute disaster."
"Is it really that bad?" She nodded. "Fine, fine, agreed." And she left him.
Henry and General Tilney joined some friends that night in their box at the theater. They had spent the first four acts in their own box when they noticed the party across the way contained acquaintances. General Tilney was determined to join them. The party received them with much cordiality, and they stayed there for the rest of the play.
Never had a play held Henry's interest like this one did. He was in a sort of stupor, eager to have something to claim his attention from his thoughts, and two scenes had passed when Henry before, by chance, happened to look up and see Miss Morland in the opposite box with the Allens and the Thorpes. She seemed to be staring at him. Still irritated with the entire situation surrounding her, he gave her the acknowledgement of a stiff bow, but no more: his eyes returned to the play at present. Little did he know the misery he was causing on her side.
Towards the end of the play, he stole a glance at the girl across the way. She looked as though she was miserable. Henry admonished himself. Stop being such a clot! She deserves better treatment than what you have showed tonight to her, Tilney.
The play concluded - the curtain fell Ďand Henry left his box in search of Miss Morland. He made his way through the then thinning rows, and approached Mrs. Allen and her friend with words of composed calmness. Miss Morland, however, was anything but. "Oh! Mr. Tilney, I have been quite wild to speak to you, and make my apologies. You must have thought me so rude; but indeed it was not my own fault, was it, Mrs. Allen? Did not they tell me that Mr. Tilney and his sister were gone out in a phaeton together? And then what could I do? But I had ten thousand times rather have been with you; now had not I, Mrs. Allen?"
"My dear, you tumble my gown," was Mrs. Allen's reply.
Her assurance, however, standing sole as it did, was not thrown away; it brought a more cordial, more natural smile into his countenance, and he replied in a tone which retained only a little affected reserve: "We were much obliged to you at any rate for wishing us a pleasant walk after our passing you in Argyle Street: you were so kind as to look back on purpose."
"But indeed I did not wish you a pleasant walk; I never thought of such a thing; but I begged Mr. Thorpe so earnestly to stop; I called out to him as soon as ever I saw you; now, Mrs. Allen, did not - Oh! You were not there; but indeed I did; and, if Mr. Thorpe would only have stopped, I would have jumped out and run after you."
Is there a Henry in the world who could be insensible to such a declaration? Henry Tilney at least was not. With a yet sweeter smile, he said everything that need be said of his sister's concern, regret, and dependence on Catherine's honor. "Oh! Do not say Miss Tilney was not angry," cried Miss Morland, "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."
"I was not within at the time; but I heard of it from Eleanor, and she has been wishing ever since to see you, to explain the reason of such incivility; but perhaps I can do it as well. It was nothing more than that my father - they were just preparing to walk out, and he being hurried for time, and not caring to have it put off - made a point of her being denied. That was all, I do assure you. She was very much vexed, and meant to make her apology as soon as possible."
Miss Morland appeared eased by this information, but the remnants of solicitude remained, from which sprang the following question: "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?"
Henry was distressed: Miss Morland read his feelings a little to well for his comfort. "Me! I take offence!"
"Nay, I am sure by your look, when you came into the box, you were angry."
"I angry! I could have no right." Henry said more as a reminder to himself. Of course I do not have a right! She is not engaged to me!
"Well, nobody would have thought you had no right who saw your face." He replied by asking her to make room for him, and talking of the play. He remained with them some time, and was determined to be agreeable, with hopes that she and he would forget their former worries. Before they parted it was agreed that the projected walk should be taken as soon as possible; and, seeing her face light up with pleasure, he could only be a very happy man.
While talking with her, he observed she obtain a puzzled look. "How can Mr. Thorpe to know your father?" was her anxious inquiry. He replied that he did not know, but as his father was a military man, he had a large acquaintance.
A few minutes after he unwillingly left Miss Morland's box, General Tilney joined a smiling, dazed Henry.
"Well, Henry, I dare say you were talking to that pretty Miss Morland?" he asked, shaking his son out of his trance.
"Why, yes, sir." Henry replied, puzzled.
"Ah! You are so gallant!" The General laughed curiously, satisfied, and left Henry to ponder the meaning of his short inquiry for the remainder of the night.
Continued in Part 2
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