A Hero's Destiny
A Northanger Abbey Twist
Even on Sunday the residents and visitors to Bath visited Rooms of one sort or another. The Tilney family was no exception: they made their respects to the Crescent soon after Sunday lunch. They were so fortunate as to meet up with Miss Morland and her party; Eleanor searched her out and spent a few minutes of conversation with the young woman, leaving General Tilney and Henry across the room to scrutinize.
"She is quite a gentlewoman, Henry." General Tilney said. "Look at her! Such manners! Such a pretty face! She is always so eager to speak with Eleanor--that must say something for her taste, I think. She seems to have a lot of it, but that must come from her birth or breeding perhaps, for she displays her taste so artlessly! There is honesty written all over her, and one does not meet with that in many women. It least I have not, except in your mother, and Eleanor, I suppose. Hopefully she and Eleanor become and remain good friends." Henry nodded his acquiescence. "And," the General continued with grandiose benevolence, "I hope you and Miss Morland remain good friends as well." He glanced slyly at Henry. "After all, the two of you looked remarkably happy the other night. Why, you and she seem to get along at all times, from what I hear from your sister and from general acquaintances and observers." Henry gaped at him. "Don't stare at me, boy! Get after it, if you like her! She's a pretty prize."
This all came as a shock to Henry. His father rarely approved of anyone who was not of high rank or high riches, but Henry had never bothered examining Miss Morland on these sort of details of her life. It had not been an objective of his to judge her, nor anyone else, on these principles. His father had a habit of abusing respectable, good people based on their wealth or lack thereof, but surprisingly, Henry never acquired this downfall. He knew what values were important in a person, and he sought those out. As for titles and fortune, as he had no title, it was of no difference; and as he lived quite comfortably, money was of no concern either. For a younger son to be completely indifferent to such matters is a rare thing indeed, and lucky for the woman, especially one with a meager dowry, who he happens to fall in love with.
Eleanor joined them soon after, and they left the Crescent for Milsom Street. Eleanor was in high spirits: Miss Morland, she said, had excepted her apology, and made her own, and all was well between them. "She is very excited about our walk tomorrow," Eleanor said, "and she expressed a wish that it would be fair tomorrow. I said, ÎHopefully, God is willing to comply!'"
A young man breathing heavily interrupted her laughter. "Pardon me, General, ma'am, sir," Mr. Thorpe said, "but I came in a great hurry to make Miss Morland's apologies."
"Apologies?" Eleanor asked in wonderment.
"Yes, ma'am," he said. "Miss Morland regrets to inform you that she has just now recollected a prior engagement tomorrow, which unhappily prevents her from attending you until Tuesday."
"And with whom is the engagement with?" Henry asked mordaciously.
"Myself, sir," he said pompously, "and my sister and her brother Mr. James Morland, who is a d--m good chap, he is." He smiled smugly at Henry. "We are going to ride to Clifton."
There was a brief silence. "Very well," Eleanor said eventually, "Tuesday is convenient for us also. Thank you, sir."
"Welcome, ma'am," he said with a bow, and left.
Eleanor sighed. "Well!" She gave her brother a crooked smile, trying to disguise her wavering emotions. "Henry, give me your arm. I am so suddenly tired."
The Tilneys had been seated in the drawing room all of a few seconds when a frantic Catherine Morland burst into the room. Her agitated nerves and shortness of breath hampered her explanation of her sudden arrival: "I am come in a great hurry--it was all a mistake; I never promised to 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."
Never had Henry heard anything more delightful--it was satisfying to hear that she preferred their (meaning his) company over that of Mr. Thorpe and his sister. Eleanor, too, let out a great breath of relief. "I must admit, I was greasy surprised by Mr. Thorpe's information, but I am glad he was mistaken!" She turned to her father. "I do not believe you have met my father, General Tilney. This is Miss Catherine Morland, Papa."
General Tilney received Miss Morland with such solicitous politeness that Henry could not help but wonder if his father truly meant to make the most of his acquaintance with Miss Morland. The General was very attentive to Miss Morland, and very angry with the servant whose negligence had forced her to open the drawing room door by herself. "What did William mean by it?" he declared. "He should make a point of inquiring into the matter." Miss Morland was quick to declare poor William's innocence into the matter, and consequently saved his job.
She sat with them for a quarter of an hour, and when she rose to take her leave, was surprised by General Tilney's asking if she would do his daughter the honor of dining and spending the rest of the day with her. Eleanor added her own wishes, and Henry observed hopefully. Miss Morland expressed her great obligation, but it was quite out of her power to accept, as Mr. and Mrs. Allen would expect her back any moment. The General declared he could say no more; the claims of Mr. and Mrs. Allen were not to be superseded; but expressed a wish that when longer notice could be given, they would not refuse to spare her to her friend. "Oh, no, I am sure they would not have the least objection," she said, "and should have great pleasure in coming." General Tilney attended her himself to the street door, and Henry was amazed at he admired the elasticity of her walk, which, he said, corresponded exactly with the spirit of her dancing. She received a deep bow from him upon her departure, and left, with a brief glance at Henry, quite delighted.
That the father of a hero should approve of a lady before she is his son's beloved contradicts all rules of novelizing, and should not have occurred within the Tilney family, as General Tilney was typically of a diffident temper, but so it was. General Tilney, from all outward signs, approved of Catherine Morland as a friend to his daughter, and a wife to his son. This unexplained phenomenon went against all laws of nature and left the hero and his sister in a state of wonderment: why had their father liked this young lady? They liked her for her sincerity and her warmth, but he? Why did he like her? It made little sense to them. Never did they question General Tilney of his motives, but pondered it by themselves that evening when their father had retired for bed.
The servant had already laid out Henry's clothes when he awoke to a fair morning. It was this morning that Henry made a point of grooming himself meticulously: bathing, carefully examining his clothing for creases, and other such things heroes do to impress a lover.
"Henry! Are you going to your wedding?" Eleanor laughed as he joined them for breakfast.
Henry smiled broadly. "No, Eleanor, I believe we are walking today."
"Walking?" she exclaimed with a twinkle in her eye. "No, no, your attire would not suit a walk. It is too perfect, Henry. Unless," she paused dramatically, lowering her voice to a whisper, "we are trying to impress someone?"
He glowered at her playfully as General Tilney walked in and ended their conversation.
Henry and Eleanor were sent off later that morning with their father's best wishes. He still continued his praises of Miss Morland's person, which Henry could not help but delight in, yet wonder about at the same time. But as they desired to call on Miss Morland on time, they had little time that morning for General Tilney. Once they united with Miss Morland, they determined on walking round Beechen Cliff, that noble hill whose beautiful verdure and hanging coppice render it so striking an object from almost every opening in Bath.
"I never look at it," said Miss Morland, as they walked along the side of the river, "without thinking of the south of France."
"You have been abroad then?" said Henry, a little surprised.
"Oh! No, I only mean what I have read about. It always puts me in mind of the country that Emily and her father traveled through, in The Mysteries of Udolpho. But you never read novels, I dare say?"
Henry visualized the stacks of books lying about his room at home and at Northanger. "Why not?"
"Because they are not clever enough for you - gentlemen read better books."
"The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid. I have read all Mrs. Radcliffe's works, and most of them with great pleasure. The Mysteries of Udolpho, when I had once begun it, I could not lay down again; I remember finishing it in two days - my hair standing on end the whole time."
"Yes," added Eleanor, "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 honorable testimony. You see, Miss Morland, the injustice of your suspicions. Here was I, in my eagerness to get on, refusing to wait only five minutes for my sister, breaking the promise I had made of reading it aloud, and keeping her in suspense at a most interesting part, by running away with the volume, which, you are to observe, was her own, particularly her own. I am proud when I reflect on it, and I think it must establish me in your good opinion."
"I am very glad to hear it indeed, and now I shall never be ashamed of liking Udolpho myself. But I really thought before, young men despised novels amazingly." She smiled.
"It is amazingly; it may well suggest amazement if they do - for they read nearly as many as women. I myself have read hundreds and hundreds. Do not imagine that you can cope with me in a knowledge of Julias and Louisas. If we proceed to particulars, and engage in the never-ceasing inquiry of `Have you read this?' and `Have you read that?' I shall soon leave you as far behind me as-- what shall I say? -- I want an appropriate simile-- as far as your friend Emily herself left poor Valancourt when she went with her aunt into Italy. Consider how many years I have had the start of you. I had entered on my studies at Oxford, while you were a good little girl working your sampler at home!"
"Not very good, I am afraid. But now really, do not you think Udolpho the nicest book in the world?"
Henry smiled devilishly. "The nicest - by which I suppose you mean the neatest. That must depend upon the binding."
"Henry," said Eleanor, "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 emphatically, "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, while Eleanor shook her head in good-humored disapprobation, "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, let us leave him to meditate over our faults in the utmost propriety of diction, while we praise Udolpho in whatever terms we like best. It is a most interesting work. You are fond of that kind of reading?"
"To say the truth, I do not much like any other."
"That is, I can read poetry and plays, and things of that sort, and do not dislike travels. But history, real solemn history, I cannot be interested in. Can you?"
"Yes, I am fond of history."
"I wish I were too. I read it a little as a duty, but it tells me nothing that does not either vex or weary me. The quarrels of popes and kings, with wars or pestilences, in every page; the men all so good for nothing, and hardly any women at all - it is very tiresome: and yet I often think it odd that it should be so dull, for a great deal of it must be invention. The speeches that are put into the heroes' mouths, their thoughts and designs - the chief of all this must be invention, and invention is what delights me in other books."
"Historians, you think," said 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 exclaimed. "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 laboring only for the torment of little boys and girls, always struck me as a hard fate; and though I know it is all very right and necessary, I have often wondered at the person's courage that could sit down on purpose to do it."
"That little boys and girls should be tormented," said Henry, "is what no one at all acquainted with human nature in a civilized state can deny; but in behalf of our most distinguished historians, I must observe that they might well be offended at being supposed to have no higher aim, and that by their method and style, they are perfectly well qualified totorment 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."
Miss Morland stopped suddenly, her hands on her hips in protest. "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."
Henry thought a moment. "Very probably. But historians are not accountable for the difficulty of learning to read; and even you yourself, who do not altogether seem particularly friendly to very severe, very intense application, may perhaps be brought to acknowledge that it is very well worth-while to be tormented for two or three years of one's life, for the sake of being able to read all the rest of it. Consider - if reading had not been taught, Mrs. Radcliffe would have written in vain - or perhaps might not have written at all."
Miss Morland assented - and a very warm panegyric from her on that lady's merits closed the subject. Henry and Eleanor engaged themselves in a new subject: they were discussing the countryside and its drawing potential. Miss Morland was silent throughout this conversation, and when asked for her opinion, she declared shamefully that she was completely ignorant of that topic, and how she wished she could draw. Miss Morland did not know her own advantages, for what man can resist gratifying his own vanity by teaching a beautiful girl? Henry could not. He immediately set about instructing her in the ways of drawing, speaking of foregrounds, distances, and second distances - side-screens and perspectives - lights and shades; and Miss Morland was so hopeful a scholar that when they gained the top of Beechen Cliff, she voluntarily rejected the whole city of Bath as unworthy to make part of a landscape--with this he was assured of her having plenty of natural taste. But delighted with her progress, and fearful of wearying her with too much wisdom at once, Henry suffered the subject to decline, and by an easy transition from a piece of rocky fragment and the withered oak which he had placed near its summit, to oaks in general, to forests, the enclosure of them, waste lands, crown lands and government, he shortly found himself arrived at politics; and from politics, it was an easy step to silence. The general pause which succeeded his short disquisition on the state of the nation was put an end to by 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."
Eleanor, to whom this was chiefly addressed, was startled, and hastily replied, "Indeed! And of what nature?"
"That I do not know, nor who is the author. I have only heard that it is to be more horrible than anything we have met with yet."
"Good heaven! Where could you hear of such a thing?"
"A particular friend of mine had an account of it in a letter from London yesterday. It is to be uncommonly dreadful. I shall expect murder and everything of the kind."
"You speak with astonishing composure! But I hope your friend's accounts have been exaggerated; and if such a design is known beforehand, proper measures will undoubtedly be taken by government to prevent its coming to effect."
"Government," said Henry, endeavoring not to smile, "neither desires nor dares to interfere in such matters. There must be murder; and government cares not how much."
The ladies stared. He laughed, and added, "Come, shall I make you understand each other, or leave you to puzzle out an explanation as you can? No - I will be noble. I will prove myself a man, no less by the generosity of my soul than the clearness of my head. I have no patience with such of my sex as disdain to let themselves sometimes down to the comprehension of yours. Perhaps the abilities of women are neither sound nor acute - neither vigorous nor keen. Perhaps they may want observation, discernment, judgment, fire, genius, and wit."
"Miss Morland, do not mind what he says; but have the goodness to satisfy me as to this dreadful riot."
"Riot! What riot?"
"My dear Eleanor, the riot is only in your own brain. The confusion there is scandalous. Miss Morland has been talking of nothing more dreadful than a new publication which is shortly to come out, in three duodecimo volumes, two hundred and seventy-six pages in each, with a frontispiece to the first, of two tombstones and a lantern - do you understand? And you, Miss Morland - my stupid sister has mistaken all your clearest expressions. You talked of expected horrors in London - and instead of instantly conceiving, as any rational creature would have done, that such words could relate only to a circulating library, she immediately pictured to herself a mob of three thousand men assembling in St. George's Fields, the Bank attacked, the Tower threatened, the streets of London flowing with blood, a detachment of the Twelfth Light Dragoons (the hopes of the nation) called up from Northampton to quell the insurgents, and the gallant Captain Frederick Tilney, in the moment of charging at the head of his troop, knocked off his horse by a brickbat from an upper window. Forgive her stupidity. The fears of the sister have added to the weakness of the woman; but she is by no means a simpleton in general."
Miss Morland looked 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."
Henry smiled widely, giving his sister a knowledgeable glance. "I shall be most happy to make her better acquainted with them."
"No doubt; but that is no explanation of the present."
"What am I to do?"
"You know what you ought to do. Clear your character handsomely before her. Tell her that you think very highly of the understanding of women."
"Miss Morland, I think very highly of the understanding of all the women in the world-- especially of those-- whoever they may be -- with whom I happen to be in company."
"That is not enough. Be more serious."
"Miss Morland, no one can think more highly of the understanding of women than I do. In my opinion, nature has given them so much that they never find it necessary to use more than half."
She turned away from him. "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."
Henry merely shook his head at his sister. Miss Morland was too eager to approve of him and Eleanor, and although he was assured of her having a head on her shoulders, so to speak, she was too young and too impressionable to be displeased with either of them. The whole walk was wonderful and passed a great deal too quickly. The Tilneys attended Miss Morland into the house, and Eleanor, addressing herself respectfully to both Miss Morland and Mrs. Allen, petitioned for the pleasure of Miss Morland's company to dinner on the day after next. There was no difficulty on her side, and Miss Morland accepted with alacrity.
Later that day Henry received a letter:
Saturday, February 17, ----
I was so fortunate as to obtain a leave of absence, which was hard considering the Colonel's bad temper lately. His temper certainly does not make any sense, for we have not done anything too risqu» since that London theatre fiasco--which, by the by, was great fun. You really should join us occasionally--get yourself out of that stuffy church. So, how is Bath, little brother? I intend to join you Thursday or Friday, depending on particular circumstances--you may guess at what they are. Just inform Father of my intentions, but do not let him see this letter, for he has hinted that he has been hearing rumors; and as I do not want to hear the "act with Tilney pride" speech, you can keep this under your hat. But you can know, as you are my brother, and if a clergyman knows, well, that is like confessing or something. My stay will not be long, as there is a possibility of our regiment having to go to France. It is hellish there right now, and I would rather not go, but duty calls, correct? Give my love to Eleanor,
He folded the letter and carefully placed it in his trunk, and let out an exasperated sigh. Covering up his brother's sinful, dirty business was not want he ever wanted to do, but more often than not he found himself lying for Frederick. Henry pulled the letter back out and reread it. "Stuffy church?" he muttered to himself. "As if his life is any more satisfying."
"Father, Frederick has just obtained a leave of absence," Henry announced at the breakfast table the next morning.
"Oh, did he?" the General replied. "And..."
"He is planning to join us Thursday or Friday."
"Good." The General swallowed a large bite of egg. "It will do him good to get away from his regiment for a while."
"Ah." Henry glanced at his sister. She was engrossed in filling her plate at the buffet, and did not pay much attention to what her father said. Hiding Frederick's behavior from the world also included hiding it from Eleanor. He did not tell Eleanor of Frederick's escapades because she was unable to handle them, but because a delicate sense of propriety and pride forbade him from doing it. Eleanor loved with a sister's heart, but she was still a lady. And Frederick never betrayed himself to her, and Henry had not the courage to do it himself. Perhaps this is not very noble of our hero, but it was done in an effort to maintain peace in his small family circle. Eleanor would only know Frederick's true nature if he did something very stupid in front of her, but as he was rather an artful person, this was unlikely. But General Tilney had reports from other officers, and was never too blind to his son's impropriety. However, he never really did anything to check Frederick's action. He had spoke of getting his son transferred, but it never happened, and the General let the issue slide, much to Henry's disappointment.
That evening brought a dinner party at Lord Longtown's lodgings, in -----Street. He and Lady Longtown, old friends of the General's, were to leave Bath the next day for Hereford, along with their son, Charles, a man of two and twenty, and a daughter, Gertrude, who was Eleanor's age. General Tilney had before tried to bring this young lady into either of his sons' favor, but, as Frederick was not interested and Henry was not impressed, it came to nothing. Also at the party was the Earl of ------ and his wife, Lady Sylvia, an elderly couple that, some said jokingly, refused to die. They introduced Monsieur de Meaux, the husband of their late daughter, Lady Emily. Monsieur de Meaux was a well-bred gentleman of five and thirty, handsome with a wide smile. His expression was of agreeableness; his manner was of compliance. Strangely enough, he spoke English without the slightest accent, which was the first think suspicious General Tilney questioned him about.
"My mother was English, General Tilney," he said with a smile, "and drilled me and my brother relentlessly in English since the time of our birth. She did not want her language Îdisgraced'."
General Tilney looked at him inquisitively, almost accusingly. It was ingrained in him, being a military man, to distrust any Frenchman, even a civilian. Monsieur de Meaux was an emigrate, but his English blood ties made him an object of curiosity. "Your mother was English! How did she meet your father? And how did you meet your wife?"
Monsieur de Meaux stared at him, thinking. "I can see you are curious about my past. No, no," he stopped the objections with a wave of the hand, "I know you do not mean to pry, but a Frenchman during these times is almost always questioned. I am a little wary, but I do not worry excessively, as I have powerful friends here. Now," he said, leaning back in his chair, setting his silverware down, "let me tell you, sir, a little love story."
"A love story?" Eleanor perked up.
"Yes, it is a wonderful story, Miss Tilney! But it is not about my parents at all. It is about me." He turned to his in-laws. "I hope this does not bother you?" They nodded for him to continue.
He plunged in. "My father was a Marquis, sir, as his father was before him, and so on. He met my mother on a ship bound for England when my grandfather was still alive. She had been traveling with her father, and was on her way home, while he had been sent to deliver some important papers (of what type, I do not know). They fell in love; he married her in England and took her home to the family's little town in Bourgogne. After a year of marriage, my brother was born, and myself three years later.
"We grew up in bliss. The life of luxury is an easy one. Looking back on that life, I wish that I had learned what hardship was when I was younger, so as to prepare us for the turmoil we knew not of, but, alas, that never happened. But at least I was the younger son, and I knew that I had to find other sources of income besides my inheritance if I wanted to live at the same standard, and because of that I decided I wanted to become as educated as I could. Paris did not appeal to me, but the land of my mother's birth, England, did. So, I maneuvered my way into Oxford."
Henry grinned. "Good choice."
He smiled slightly at Henry's comment. "While I was there, I happened to meet my Emily. She was eighteen, all smiles and curls, and I was smitten. She was loveliness itself. And for some reason unknown except to God," he glanced down the table, "I pleased the Earl, and he consented to our marrying after my graduation. And we did, and I took her back to France. The year was 1785. Our country was still peaceful. Peaceful for us, I mean. The peasants were suffering. Economic troubles plagued the country and the aristocracy continued to feed off those lower than them to maintain their living styles. I had not realized the extent of the exploitation until after I returned from England, and I am heartily ashamed that others had to suffer so I could prance around from country to country. But," he said with a self-condemning shake of his head, "I liked my life, and I liked my privileges, and it is nearly impossible for a man to live with less than he had before, even if he becomes enlightened to others' suffering."
"So you believe the Revolutionists, that the people were truly suffering?" General Tilney asked, perplexed.
"I speak from what I observed, General. Coming back to a country after a long absence gave me an outsider's perspective. Yes, I say they were suffering." He paused ominously. "And for my benefit."
"But that sounds of Republicanism, sir!"
"If I were to be a Republican, I would be in France right now, not here." He smiled nicely at the General. "But the problem with reforming a country to better serve the needs of the people is that it cannot be done from the top."
"What do you mean?"
"Would you want to give up power or possessions? My family certainly did not."
"So revolution is necessary?"
"In this case, yes. How effective it was is debatable." He smiled. "I would love to argue with you more, sir, but as the ladies are present, shall we save the politics for the drawing room?" General Tilney nodded.
He continued his story. "The day the Estates General convened at Versailles was a notable day for history, but a notable day for Emily and me personally as well: it was the day she discovered she was with child. She had struggled to conceive for over three years, and that day became a joyous one. But the joy soon ended when we heard weeks later from my father, who was serving in the First Estate, of the disruption at Versailles." Here he paused. "The day the Bastille fell, I made arrangements to send my wife and mother to England. Call it intuition, but I knew that we would not be safe. My mother refused to go--she did not want to leave France without my father. Emily agreed to return to her parents' home, and I would follow as soon as I could make financial arrangements. I fled, sir, not for my sake, but for her sake. So she left as soon after, and as she was English, would hopefully have little trouble returning home.
"The Great Fear was upon us. Two weeks after Emily's departure, I ran myself, half the family jewels sewn in my coat, with false papers drawn up for me. I passed myself off as an Englishman, and it worked--almost. When I reached Calais, I was stopped and arrested at the gate--apparently, a man on the road said he recognized me as French nobility. That is what they informed me, at least, for I never beheld the man myself.
"Emily during this time was suffering greatly. Traveling made her very weak and she caught a severe cold, and was forced to stop in Calais to be nursed back to health. I thought she was in England by then, but it was only a guess, as there was no way to contact her. Little did we know that we were but a mile from each other, and both in misery from the fact that we could not search out the other. I had managed to escape from prison--I bribed the guard to let me out with a gem from my clothing--and took the next boat to England to join with my wife. When I reached the Island, I sent word of my arrival express to the Earl, but unhappily learned that Emily had not arrived!
"And here is the point of the story: a man will do anything for love. He ought to, he should. I went back to France with the Earl, and we brought Emily back. She was so ill! Do you see? There was no option as to whether or not I should have returned to France, for love outweighs all risks. You will know for certain that you love a woman when you willingly face uncertainties, when you challenge authority, to be with her. Emily did not live long after that--she died in childbirth, but it was worth it to have her for a few months more."
"That is...truly tragic," Henry said quietly after an uncomfortable pause. His sister beside him was weeping silently, her hands clasped so tightly together the knuckles were white. Whether she was weeping from the story or from her own experience with separation, Henry did not know, but he handed her a handkerchief with a comforting smile.
Monsieur de Meaux shook his head. "No, no, not tragic. How can that be? I had the chance to be with her, Mr. Tilney, to comfort and protect! Is that not what I vowed to do? You are a clergyman, sir, you should know that! Someday, someday, you will know." He nodded resolutely.
"Would you ever go back to France?" Charles Longtown asked precariously.
"No, no, I will stay in England. I want my Emily's and my son to be raised here."
"What is your son's name?" Eleanor asked.
"Michael." He smiled. "He is a very good boy."
"Surely," she responded. The rest of the evening passed by in quiet tranquility. The Frenchman's story was on everyone's mind, but not as much as it was on Henry's. He was plagued Monsieur de Meaux's comment "someday, you will know." How would he know he loved a woman? The opposition he knew was his father, and most likely there would not be any opposition to fight, for nearly every woman he knew was the daughter of a friend of his father's. Except for Miss Morland, he remembered. Except for Miss Morland. <
The high expectations of an agreeable dinner party with Miss Morland were short-lived. Henry had gone downstairs early on the occasion to assist his sister, but was distressed to find that poor Eleanor was in low spirits. General Tilney had given her a lecture about the evening's menu, declaring that it was quite unsatisfactory and vulgar, and that a guest like Miss Morland deserved better planning from her friend. Eleanor had declared her innocence, that she was under the impression that Miss Morland was joining them for a family meal, and that she thought two courses would more than suffice. General Tilney continued to lecture her until she, dejected, resolved to apply to the cook for a quick solution. "Mrs. Brown was not pleased with the request, Henry, as you might imagine. She said it was a possibility that she could discover the means to adding another course, but that it was a great difficulty. I have no doubts that it was."
"No doubt," Henry said. "I thought it was to be a family dinner also."
"Miss Morland hopefully does not expect more."
"No, surely not, for friends are the source of her happiness."
"You undertake to understand her, then? I rejoice in that, for you have been acquainted with her for a greater period of time than myself. I am glad that you know her so well."
"Miss Morland's feelings are easily read."
"So they are," Eleanor said. "That is perhaps why we like her?"
"Perhaps." Henry grinned self-consciously. "Then again, perhaps not. But she has qualities that everyone likes her for."
"Admit it, you are flattered!"
"Flattered? I do not have the pleasure of understanding you, dear sister. Do you think me a slave to my vanity?" he asked.
"I suppose it depends."
"On whether or not you like the particular woman endeavoring to capture your fancy." Eleanor smiled, well pleased with herself.
"That is a rather vulgar way of expressing Miss Morland's attentions," Henry protested. "She would not openly 'endeavor' to gain anyone's good opinion."
"So she has captured your fancy without arts and allurements?" Eleanor's eyebrows were raised in amused query.
"Yes, I say that she..." Henry broke off. "Eleanor," he observed smugly, "that was a commendable attempt, but it failed. It is a very good thing I can outwit you, or I might have committed myself to something I know not of yet!"
The entrance of General Tilney prevented Eleanor from responding to her brother's boast, and dampened her spirits once again. General Tilney had learnt from the cook that there was no possible way of preparing another course on such short notice, and his misplaced wrath toward Eleanor was only shortened by the announcement of the arrival of a particular young lady.
The evening passed by uneventfully. General Tilney was the only one of the party with much to say, and it was mostly on Miss Morland's person. Eleanor hardly said anything outside of common civilities, and Henry was uneasy. His sister's jesting left him in a state of bafflement. In all the stories he had read, the hero was aware of his love for the heroine the moment he laid eyes on her--lightning struck, thunder rolled, and passion melted the frosty sky. Or it happened at a moment's glance, like Monsieur de Meaux and Lady Emily--the curls and laughter claimed his heart for good, and he was willing to risk all for his wife. Confusion was never a part of love's equation in these stories. That he wanted to marry for love was quite certain, but the growing wind that embedded itself deep in his bones was overlooked as he searched for the bolt to strike. And listening to his father's excessive praise of Miss Morland all evening still left Henry with his thoughts. Miss Morland appeared to be well entertained, but occasional confused glances at Eleanor and Henry showed she was disappointed in their coldness. However, her unhappiness, when felt by Henry, caused him to try and exert himself more for her sake, so that she knew his opinion of her was still favorable, but General Tilney commanded all of Miss Morland's attention. Little did the General know that, when engrossing her to recommend his son, he was robbing Miss Morland of the intended's company!
Eleanor was severely disappointed in herself after Miss Morland left. "I should have tried harder to be like I was before in her company." She shook her head in self-approbation. "We have had lively, close conversations just days before, and then this! The next opportunity we have in her company, we must try and rectify the situation. There was a marked difference, not in civility, but in intimacy, and only because Father was angry with me! She would not know that, and must be wondering."
The next evening was better. The General forgot his quarrel with Eleanor upon the arrival of his eldest son. Frederick was to attend the Rooms with the family that evening, and all was pleasant in their family again--at least, Henry hoped, for a while. Miss Morland and her party were there in the Rooms, of course, and Eleanor took pains to be near her as a way of apologizing, and Henry asked her to dance.
Halfway down the set Captain Frederick Tilney found his way to his brother's side. Henry, who had pushed aside disturbing thoughts of love and other unsolvable problems in the stead of his pretty partner, was a little perturbed at Frederick's interrupting that experience: "Well? Are you not going to dance, Frederick?"
He laughed heartily. "Dance? I declare, I never had a thought to!"
"And why not?" Henry asked quietly. "This is Bath, and most come here to dance and flirt, which you are excessively good at."
"What a notion! Henry, as much as I love to indulge myself, I cannot bring myself to dance here, unless," he lowered his voice, "there is an extraordinarily pretty girl." He grinned. "I cannot believe you are dancing here!" he exclaimed as he looked about the room. "Well, enough of your company. Goodbye!"
Miss Morland had heard parts of this exchange and was regarding it curiously. But as Henry talked of other things, her attention remained with him, engrossed with what he said. Her sparkling eyes showcased her obvious happiness at being with him; her bona fide devotion to his words and his personage made her irresistible herself.
At the end of the first dance, Frederick returned and pulled a reluctant Henry away from Miss Morland. "Who is that charming creature over there?" he whispered, nodding in the direction of the Thorpe party.
"Which young lady, Frederick?"
"The tall, fashionable one."
"That is Miss Thorpe--she is a friend of my partner, Miss Morland."
Frederick smiled. "Would Miss Morland know--I mean, would she have any objections to introducing her?"
"Are you wanting to dance now?" Henry teased. "I should let you know, Miss Thorpe is engaged to Mr. James Morland, Miss Morland's brother. Miss Morland might know if Miss Thorpe has objections to dancing."
"Well ask her then!" Frederick demanded impatiently.
Miss Morland was applied to, and immediately answered that she was very sure Miss Thorpe did not mean to dance at all. Henry passed this information on to Frederick, who in turn walked away.
"Your brother will not mind it, I know," said Miss Morland, "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 at this account of Frederick, and said, "How very little trouble it can give you to understand the motive of other people's actions."
"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, for I understand you perfectly well."
"Me? Yes; I cannot speak well enough to be unintelligible."
"Bravo! An excellent satire on modern language."
"But pray tell me what you mean."
Henry smiled. "Shall I indeed? 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." Her eyes met his in earnest devotion to his words.
"Well, then," he continued in a softer tone, "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."
Miss Morland blushed and disclaimed prettily, and Henry's predictions were verified. There must have been something, however, in his words which affected her, that she withdrew for a while in thought; till, roused by the voice of Miss Thorpe, she looked up and saw her with Frederick preparing to give them hands across.
Henry watched as Miss Thorpe shrugged her shoulders and smiled at Catherine, the only explanation of this extraordinary change, which could at that time be given. But Miss Morland was not satisfied, and spoke her astonishment in very plain terms to her partner: "I cannot think how it could happen! Isabella was so determined not to dance."
"And did Isabella never change her mind before?"
"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."
"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." This was the best Henry could do in defending his brother.
Their two dances ended, and Isabella Thorpe took the opportunity of seizing her friend's arm and dragging her across the room in confidence, leaving Henry to scold his brother. "You should not have done that, Frederick. Miss Morland was not pleased with the attentions you bestowed on her brother's fianc»e."
Frederick laughed. "Do you always think of Miss Morland?"
Henry let that comment pass. "You really should not try to steal someone else's beloved, Frederick," he said softly.
"It does not depend on me, does it? The lot falls to her to maintain fidelity," Frederick said in a huff, and left in search of the card-room and the General.
General Tilney complaints were steadily growing during their stay in Bath. His children had no knowledge of what in particular was bothering him, and, strive as they might, they could hardly bring about a good mood in the General. In fact, they had only seen him amiable when he was talking to or about Miss Morland, but as he was scheming her marriage to his son, there can be no doubt in the reader's mind why that would be a source of felicity. Nine days after the arrival of Frederick Tilney, General Tilney announced his plan of returning home at the end of another week whilst dining with his family.
"Leave?" Henry asked, astonished. "But we have hardly been here, Father, and you have not once been to the baths. And we have made a few new acquaintances that I would like to see at least few weeks more," he said earnestly.
General Tilney set his wine down with a thump. "Are you arguing with me, Henry? Perhaps you and Eleanor have happily met with friends, but I certainly have not, especially after the removal of Lord and Lady Longtown. Yes, I expected a few other acquaintances to be here, but they are not, and now I desire to reestablish myself at home. You may stay if you like."
Henry shook his head. "No, I must return with you. Woodston expects me back with your arrival. If I stayed longer, it would appear that I was trying to parry my duties."
General Tilney was about to protest, but was interrupted with a gentle, "Who were you expecting, Father?" from a peacekeeping Eleanor, and returned to his original speech. "Well, General Courtenay, for one. And I had hoped to see the Marquis longer. But since I did not, I feel no obligation to stay, except one, and we might arrange that affair after dinner, Eleanor, if you do not mind." He glanced discreetly at Henry.
Surprise and curiosity crossed Eleanor's face. "Yes, of course, Father, if you insist."
He smiled. "You are a good girl. And besides," he continued, "Johnson has written to me concerning some business that needs my attention--"
"What I am supposed to do, Father?" Frederick interrupted. "I really have no desire to remove to Northanger."
"Then stay in Bath, by all means, but do haul your belongings off to an inn! Milsom Street is too much for a single young man to have all to himself, and I really do not feel like paying for it any longer."
Miss Morland was ushered into the parlor the following Monday, her eyes lighting up at the sight of her friend Miss Tilney rising to greet her. "Oh, Miss Tilney, I have such happy news! Mr. Allen has lengthened our stay in Bath three more weeks! I was so disheartened at the thought of leaving you for Fullerton, but look at the wonderful turn of events!"
"My dear Miss Morland, I wish my luck was the same!" She led her friend to a seat. "My father was just determined to quit Bath at the end of another week!"
Miss Morland's countenance fell; and in a voice of sincere concern and disappointment she echoed her friend's words, "By the end of another week!"
"Yes, 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--"
"Perhaps," said Eleanor, embarrassed, "you would be so good - it would make me very happy if--"
The entrance of her father put a stop to Eleanor's invitation. After addressing Miss Morland with his usual politeness, he 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."
"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 honor 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 splendor, for our mode of living, as you see, is plain and unpretending; yet no endeavors shall be wanting on our side to make Northanger Abbey not wholly disagreeable."
Miss Morland's face expressed her elation, and accepted immediately, as long as her parents approved. "I will write home directly," said she, and if they do not object, as I dare say they will not--"
General Tilney was not less sanguine, having already waited on her excellent friends in Pulteney Street, which Miss Morland was unaware, and obtained their sanction of his wishes. "Since they can consent to part with you," he said, "we may expect philosophy from all the world."
Eleanor was earnest, though gentle, in her secondary civilities, and the affair became in a few minutes as nearly settled as this necessary reference to Fullerton would allow.
Soon after Miss Morland had left, Henry found his sister at her work in the parlor. He had been to the tailor's shop to have a coat altered, and expressed a wish that his sister would accompany him that afternoon to give her opinion on the directions of alteration before the tailor initiated his handiwork. The man was reckoned by many to be the best in Bath, but Henry still left the shop unsure.
Eleanor consented, and asked, "Is it the two-toned coat, Henry? That one never fit quite right." He nodded. "I do so like that coat, though. For being a clergyman, you certainly dress quite stylishly."
"I really should resign myself completely to black, but I cannot bring myself to dress that way every evening. Other colors are also appealing, and while black appears to great advantage on a tall," here he winked at Eleanor, "handsome gentleman like myself, who is to say that he should confine himself to that dark color?"
Eleanor smiled. "Handsome? Are you positive you fit that description?"
He smirked. "I have not heard anyone contradict it, sister dear." She glowered at him, trying to put on her best mother-like reprimand. "Oh, come, now, Eleanor, do not think me a vain dandy," he said. "I do pay careful attention to my attire and appearance, but only because it reflects on you, Father, and Frederick as well. I would never want to disgrace or embarrass you by looking ragged. Or the other evil, stuffy, as Frederick would say. However, I do not really approve of the word 'stuffy', but I must makes amends for his diction: after all, he is amongst a pile of ruffians most of the time." He smiled.
Eleanor smiled back. "Well, Henry, I promise that you will not hear any censure of your person or your attire, for at least a little while, from any of our party at Northanger." She turned back to her needlework, feigning unconcern.
"Of course Father does not care, Eleanor."
"I was not referring to Father."
"To yourself then."
"Yes, and..." She broke off, blushing.
Henry stopped, placing himself on the sofa beside his sister. "And?"
She regained her composure, smiling innocently. "Nothing!" Withholding information from those extremely curious was a game Eleanor could play just as well as her brother.
"You were about to say something. What is it?"
"As I said before, Henry, it was nothing. My mind was just rambling before--silly me." Her eyes twinkled at her brother's impatience, and at her newly found power.
Henry paused for a moment before realization set in. "By chance, did yours and Father's plans--which seemed to be formed as secretly the Army plans its strategies--happen to include an invitation, by chance?" Her hearty laugh confirmed his suspicions. "Is Miss Morland planning to join us for a visit?" he asked cautiously.
"Are you not pleased with the news?"
"Are you and Father playing matchmaker? The idea goes against my sensibilities."
"You were the one who desired a longer stay in Bath, Henry, and we assumed that was on Miss Morland's account!" She stared at him, confused.
"It was!" He stopped. "And it still is. You are right, Eleanor, it was on her account. But," he continued abruptly, "as much as I want to continue our friendship, I am not sure that I like you and Father inviting her as to place her in my way, so to speak. It seems rather," he searched for a word, "shrewd."
"She is my friend as well, Henry, and our confidence in each other has grown. I should miss her. When Father suggested inviting her, it was not only for your sake that I consented." She smiled. "If your conscience is still bothered, tell yourself that she is my guest, and then feel free to do as you choose."
"As you wish, Madam," he laughed. "She is your guest. And I will enjoy her company during my sporadic visits to Northanger, at your command." He bowed gallantly. "Now, what time shall we visit the tailor's?"
Captain Frederick Tilney was causing unrest in the heart of his younger brother. He had continued his marked attentions to Miss Thorpe, singling her out in public and singing his raptures of her persona when her fianc» or her fianc»'s sister stole her away from him (I use the word stole instead of claiming or requesting her presence, as Captain Tilney was under the opinion that he possessed her true affections). Henry began to worry: as Miss Morland was to be guest at Northanger, and as she had grown in intimacy and endearment with himself and Eleanor, he was eager to stop Frederick from placing strain on the Northanger party. Miss Morland was an astute enough observer to notice such affections, Henry thought, and her sisterly knowledge would detect a lowness of spirits in her brother long before others would.
Frederick had gone to the Pump Room that day in search of Miss Thorpe. He has declared his intentions to his brother after breakfast that morning, and while Henry gave him a short speech reminding him of her engagement, Frederick never wavered in his resolution. He insisted that they were the "best of friends," and that Mr. Morland would be "utterly pleased" with her new friend, as he was "a connection well worth having." Henry knew that he held little influence with his brother, and giving Frederick a morality speech would be a waste of his time and efforts. Frederick was a good-natured man, and Henry loved him as only a brother could, but he was not blind to Frederick's indulgences, and strove to mask his behavior when the need arose. And it looked as though he might have to find a way to explain away Frederick and Miss Thorpe's involvement to the very inquisitive sister of Miss Thorpe's fianc».
"I have just received," Eleanor entered the parlor that afternoon where Henry was working figures in his account book, "a letter from Mrs. Hughes. She has some...interesting information."
Henry set the odious work down. "What sort of information?"
"There is one passage which touched my heart." She lowered her voice. "It is about," she looked around for the absence of her father, "him."
Eleanor sat down beside her brother, clutching her letter. "It seems that he just discovered he is the heir of an uncle or cousin, who happens to be a Viscount! Mrs. Hughes is not sure of the particulars: it was just discovered and she had rushed home to inform me. Is that not good news, Henry? Perhaps," she ventured to say, "this might place him higher in Father's favor."
"Undoubtedly. Is he planning--I mean, has he written you, Eleanor?"
She blushed. "He might not make his addresses--I can only hope he will. He left me with every expectation of his affection. He has not declared himself, though."
Henry smiled. Eleanor's embarrassment was quite charming in his eyes. "And what is the status of the Viscount?"
"Mrs. Hughes reports that the Viscount visited him while in London consulting with a doctor. One can only guess at the Viscount's health." Eleanor paused uncomfortably. "Henry, I would not wish the Viscount's death upon him for my own gains, but I do hope that the news of Thomas being an heir to fortune and title might be enough to gain consent."
A few days passed, and the day before the expected departure soon came. Henry had awoken that morning with a resolution to call on Miss Morland that morning on the pretence of offering his assistance; but truthfully, he found himself missing her company. She had called on Eleanor many times the last few days, but he had hardly seen her. Because of this he found himself at the house in Pulteney Street, rapping on the door with eagerness.
Miss Morland, though glad to see him, was a little out of spirits. She received him, however, with the same attentiveness she had shown heretofore, and thanked him for his assistance. They sat a few moments in silence, she staring at the ground in contemplation, and he admiring from the sofa. Henry, regaining his senses, inquired after her family, but the young lady broke him off with: "Mr. Tilney, I must ask: why does your brother seek Isabella's attentions?"
Henry was startled by her question. He was gratified that she would confide in him, but defensive at the mention of Frederick, and these feelings were conflicting with each other. Miss Catherine Morland had a firm sense of right and wrong, and she was evidentially displeased with his behavior on account of her brother, and urged Henry to make it known to his brother of Miss Thorpe's engagement.
"My brother does know it," Henry answered defensively.
"Does he? Then why does he stay here?"
Henry made no made no reply, and tried to speak of something cheerful; but she eagerly continued, "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."
He smiled at her blameless nature, and said, "I am sure my brother would not wish to do that."
"Then you will persuade him to go away?" she asked earnestly.
He became solemn. "Persuasion is not at command; but pardon me, if I cannot even endeavor to persuade him. 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?" he asked pointedly. He was thinking of Miss Thorpe.
"Yes, very sure," she replied decidedly.
"Is it my brother's attentions to Miss Thorpe, or Miss Thorpe's admission of them, that gives the pain?"
"Is not it the same thing?"
"I think Mr. Morland would acknowledge a difference. 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 blushed. "Isabella is wrong," she said eventually, "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." Just as Henry tried to justify Frederick, honor and affection called Catherine Morland to justify her friend.
"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."
"It is probable that she will neither love so well, nor flirt so well, as she might do either singly. The gentlemen must each give up a little."
Henry's words placed doubt into her innocent heart. "Then you do not believe Isabella so very much attached to my brother?" she asked quietly, almost despondently.
"I can have no opinion on that subject," he said just as quietly.
"But what can your brother mean? If he knows her engagement, what can he mean by his behavior?"
"You are a very close questioner."
"Am I? I only ask what I want to be told."
"But do you only ask what I can be expected to tell?"
"Yes, I think so; for you must know your brother's heart."
Henry cringed at her response: Frederick shared his escapades, but Henry had witnessed very few serious feelings from him recently. "My brother's heart, as you term it, on the present occasion, I assure you I can only guess at."
"Well! 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." He took a deep breath, and the criticism he so longed to give her came out: "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 behavior, 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."
Perceiving her still to look doubtful and grave, 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."
She satisfied herself with this, and Henry, after writing down a few instructions for her, took his leave. He was done hiding his brother's dirty secrets.
Miss Morland joined the Tilneys the next morning accompanied by Mr. Allen. Expectation of pleasure and anxiety of doing right worked on the heart of the young lady, and spent the family breakfast slightly agitated. Eleanor's manners and Henry's smile soon did away some of her unpleasant feelings; but Henry could see she was still far from being at ease, despite General Tilney's incessant attentions. Henry could only guess that she felt unequal to receiving his father's marked attentions, which, if true, further proved the guilelessness of her character.
General Tilney was interrupted by the tardy appearance of Frederick. He was a little disheveled, and Henry wondered if he had stayed out a little too long, and drank a little too much, the night before. The General scolded Frederick heartily, blaming him of disrespect towards their guest. Frederick listened to his father in silence, and attempted not any defense. Miss Morland was the sister of Isabella's fianc» as well as Henry's 'sweetheart'; and neither of these qualities did much to convince him to rise early. His less-than-generous sentiments were conveyed to Eleanor in a whisper: "How glad I shall be when you are all off!"
The bustle of going was not pleasant. The clock struck ten; and General Tilney was upset that the trunks were not packed by the hour he had fixed to leave at. (Needless to say, the General was not pleased with the Bath servants.) The gentlemen were to go in Henry's curricle, leaving the ladies to the chaise overflowing with packages. General Tilney was so worried that Miss Morland would not have room to sit that a new writing desk was almost discarded, but Miss Morland declared hastily that it was hers, and found room for it and herself.
The General left Henry to his own thoughts most of the way to Petty France, their breaking point, which was agreeable to Henry. When they did converse, it was on the condition of the roads, or on the remarkably fine weather. It was not until they entered the village that the General asked, "What are your intentions towards Miss Morland?"
Startled, he could give no answer. "What are you waiting on, Henry?" General Tileny continued to pursue.
"But I do not know if I really love her yet, Father. I do care for her--"
"Pshaw!" the General interrupted. "Love? What a romantic notion!" Henry blushed. "I have a proposal. I will propose to Miss Morland riding in the curricle with you. It is a fine day, and she is better company for you than your gouty father. Converse with her, make her happy--you have my approval."
They had stopped at the inn at that point, and Henry was glad for the break from the tete-a-tete with his father. He tried to push Henry into compromising himself, but Henry, confused, gave him no satisfaction, which put him in a bit of a foul mood: he had expected Henry and Miss Morland to have some sort of understanding, and discovering that it was not the case, he released his frustration on the waiters at the inn. But the Tilney party struggled through, and Miss Morland was delighted that General Tilney wanted to switch places with her. Henry could not help but smile at Miss Morland; her excitement was contagious.
The second leg of the trip began quietly for our hero and his beloved: there were no robbers or tempests to befall them, no overturned carriages, wild boars, or flooded rivers crossed their path. Fortunately for our characters, they were not hoping for adventure, so the lack of misfortune suited them just fine.
"I must thank you, Miss Morland, on my sister's account," Henry smiled broadly at the pretty lady next to him. "Your kindness in becoming her guest is a mark of real friendship! We are very gratified." Miss Morland blushed. "Eleanor is uncomfortably circumstanced," he continued, "she has no female companion, and because my father is often gone, sometimes she has no companion at all."
"But how can that be?" Miss Morland asked. "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!"
"I am always sorry to leave Eleanor."
"Yes; 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."
He smiled, and said, "You have formed a very favorable idea of the Abbey."
"To be sure, I have. Is not it a fine old place, just like what one reads about?"
"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! 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," Henry teased. "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 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!" Miss Morland exclaimed. "But this will not happen to me, I am sure."
"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! 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?"
Henry thought for a moment, and continued with a smirk: "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 neighboring 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 favorable 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," she protested innocently.
"What! 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. Well, go on."
But Henry was too much amused by the interest he had raised to be able to carry it farther; he could no longer command solemnity either of subject or voice, and was obliged to entreat her to use her own fancy in the perusal of Matilda's woes. Miss Morland, recollecting herself, began earnestly to assure him that her attention had been fixed without the smallest apprehension of really meeting with what he related. "Miss Tilney, she was sure, would never put her into such a chamber as he had described! She was not at all afraid."
The Abbey soon rolled into view, with its grand grounds and modern, neat appearance. Miss Morland's eyes were eagerly scanning it, and she looked a little disappointed: She must have been expecting something gloomier, Henry thought with a smile. A sudden burst of rain prevented her from examining the building further, and Henry hurried to assist her to the house: he did not want her to catch cold. But she sprang for the curricle almost without his help, and rushed inside to explore the Abbey.
She looked delighted to be at Northanger Abbey, but doubt settled on her face. Henry watched as she examined the furniture (which was in all the profusion and elegance of modern taste), the fireplace, and the windows (which were large, clear and light). What she expected, only Henry could guess at. But the general, perceiving how her eye was employed, began to talk of the smallness of the room and simplicity of the furniture, where everything, being for daily use, pretended only to comfort, etc.; flattering himself, however, that there were some apartments in the Abbey not unworthy her notice - and was proceeding to mention the costly gilding of one in particular, when, taking out his watch, he stopped short to pronounce it with surprise within twenty minutes of five! This seemed the word of separation, and Miss Morland found herself hurried away by Eleanor in such a manner as convinced her that the strictest punctuality to the family hours would be expected at Northanger.
Henry hurried to his own room, throwing his greatcoat and hat aside and hurrying to arrange his hair and dress for dinner. While searching for a particular jacket, he noticed the novels stacked in a pile beside his bed, and, laughing, he recalled Miss Morland's naivete, and at her obvious enjoyment of his absurdities. "Well, Mrs. Radcliffe," he spoke out loud, laughing, "you have created illusions in the minds of young ladies everywhere! How shall we bring them to reality?"
Henry finished his grooming in good time and made his appearance in the drawing-room with a minute to spare. His father was already in the room, pacing the length of the floor and continually checking his watch. The hall clock struck five, and the General contorted his face in irritation, quickening his pace and snorting. Our hero was considering dashing up the stairs, and, by reminding them of the time, saving them from ruinous peril, but Eleanor and Miss Morland were running down the stairs and into the drawing room at the moment Henry thought to rescue them, and faced the General's wrath by themselves: "Dinner to be on the table directly!" he ordered, violently pulling the bell.
Miss Morland trembled a little at these words, looking very humble and concerned, and quite breathless; General Tilney recollected himself as he noticed this, and promptly scolded Eleanor for so foolishly hurrying her fair friend. This upset Miss Morland even more: she felt wretched that her own tardiness had caused Eleanor to be scolded, and was only recovered when she entered the dining-parlor escorted by the master of the house.
Henry offered his sister his arm. "It is alright, Eleanor. You were hardly late."
"I fear that Miss Morland blames herself," Eleanor whispered. "She was examining the cedar chest in her room when I entered--it distracted her from her toilette, I believe."
"Oh, the chest!" He smiled to himself. Eleanor did not suspect the reason why Miss Morland was so very interested in the chest, but he had a good suspicion why: she must have thought it very strange that a chest was in her room after his teasing that afternoon. She probably suspects someone is playing an immense practical joke on her, he thought, amused.
Miss Morland was looking about her in awe while she was seated at the table. The room was very noble, suitable in its dimensions to a much larger drawing-room than the one in common use, and fitted up in a style of luxury and expense. The young lady remarked aloud at the spaciousness of the room, and of her admiration of it; and the General graciously acknowledged that it was by no means an ill-sized room. "Although I am as careless on such subjects as most people," he said, "I do feel that a tolerably large eating room is a necessity of life. But I suppose that you must have been used to much better sized apartments at Mr. Allen's?"
"No, indeed," was Miss Morland's honest answer. "Mr. Allen's dining-parlor was not more than half as large. I have never seen so large a room as this in my life."
The General's good humor increased. "Why, as I have such rooms, I thought it would be simple not to make use of them; but, upon my honor, I believe there might be more comfort in rooms only half this size. Mr. Allen's house, I am sure, must be exactly of the true size for rational happiness."
The rest of the evening passed in tranquility, and in the absence of the General, the young people of the house could sit and talk in relative ease. It was only in the presence of the General that Henry and Eleanor bit their tongues on many subjects, and when he retired it was ecstasy.
The wind gusts rattled the shutters outside of Henry's bedchamber as he lay in his bed that night. The rain pelted against the windows, and even with the curtains tightly drawn, he still could not drift off into slumber. It was not just the tempest outside that bothered Henry, keeping him from rest: questions were plaguing him, running through his mind repeatedly. He was worried about his brother in Bath, of his flirtations with Miss Thorpe. Even though Mr. Morland and Miss Thorpe were still engaged, Henry was sure there must be tension on the gentleman's side which his fianc»e and Frederick had created.
And then the situation of Thomas and Eleanor harried his thoughts. General Tilney had noticed the growing admiration on both sides, and made it clear that while he liked the gentleman, he did not approve of him as a son-in-law. The man left after a six-week stay and returned to London, affectionate to poor Eleanor until the end, but unable or unsure of making a proposal to the deserving young lady. Whether Thomas still fancied Eleanor, Henry knew not of. Thomas had sent him a letter once after the visit at Northanger, but it was very short, and did not betray any feelings, favorable or regretful, that the young man had towards Eleanor.
But mostly he thought of Catherine Morland. He admired her for being so sincere, for never feigning to be anything than what she was. She was lively, she was pretty, and she trusted Henry thoroughly, which was very flattering, but it caused Henry to be apprehensive. Even though she questioned him and debated with him, she ultimately based her decisions on his inclination, which could be a downfall for her. If he fell, he could drag her down; if he mislead her, she would not know it; if he found her to be in error, he could break her heart with his words. Henry began to feel the responsibility of love, of caring for another person's feelings. He was pressed to make Catherine Morland a happy, wise woman, and he had not ever felt that sort of pressure in his life before. He had always flirted with women, indulging his vanity without much care to the ladies' heart; but his feelings and affections toward Miss Morland had grown to the point were he cared more about her than about himself; but even in acknowledging that he still did not recognize the love in his heart for her. Instead, he was confused, wondering why Catherine's actions, intentions, and thoughts, even when they had nothing to do with himself, meant so much to him.
The rain continued to beat against the window, and Henry was drawn from his perplexities to the storm outside. He was restless, and baffled, and, what mostly disturbed him, he was hungry. There was no need to call a servant, he decided, as he knew the way to the kitchen. He slipped on a robe, and lighting a candle, proceeded in the direction of the dining-parlor, of which the kitchen lay directly beside. Down the halls and corridors he went, tiptoeing past Eleanor's room, and, surprised, he paused at the guestroom beside Eleanor's. A candle was lit at this late hour, creeping under the door: Miss Morland was awake. While Henry pondered the reason why she would be awake, he dare not intrude on her solitude to discover the reason, and instead left quickly in pursuit of cold meat and bread. His meal was made and eaten, and he returned to his room, falling asleep with the utmost satisfaction.
Continued in Part 3
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