Northanger Abbey. Part 17

Northanger Abbey 17b (3)


‘Do just as you please, my dear,’ replied Mrs. Allen, with

the most placid indifference. Catherine took the advice, and

ran off to get ready. In a very few minutes she reappeared,

having scarcely allowed the two others time enough to get

through a few short sentences in her praise, after Thorpe

had procured Mrs. Allen’s admiration of his gig; and then

receiving her friend’s parting good wishes, they both hurried downstairs.

Northanger Abbey 17a

 

‘My dearest creature,’ cried Isabella, to

whom the duty of friendship immediately called her before

she could get into the carriage, ‘you have been at least three

hours getting ready. I was afraid you were ill. What a de-

lightful ball we had last night. I have a thousand things to

say to you; but make haste and get in, for I long to be off.’

Catherine followed her orders and turned away, but not

too soon to hear her friend exclaim aloud to James, ‘What a

sweet girl she is! I quite dote on her.’

Northanger Abbey 17b (1)Northanger Abbey 17b (2)Northanger Abbey 17b (3)Northanger Abbey 17b (4)Northanger Abbey 17b (5)

‘You will not be frightened, Miss Morland,’ said Thorpe

as he handed her in, ‘if my horse should dance about a lit-

tle at first setting off. He will, most likely, give a plunge or

two, and perhaps take the rest for a minute; but he will soon

know his master. He is full of spirits, playful as can be, but

there is no vice in him.’

Northanger Abbey 17c

 

Catherine did not think the portrait a very inviting one,

but it was too late to retreat, and she was too young to own

herself frightened; so, resigning herself to her fate, and

trusting to the animal’s boasted knowledge of its owner, she

sat peaceably down.

Northanger Abbey 17d

 

Catherine, though she could not help wondering that with such

perfect command of his horse, he should think it neces-

sary to alarm her with a relation of its tricks, congratulated

herself sincerely on being under the care of so excellent a

coachman; and perceiving that the animal continued to go

on in the same quiet manner, without showing the smallest

propensity towards any unpleasant vivacity.

Northanger Abbey 17e

 

A silence of several minutes succeeded their first short dialogue;

it was broken by Thorpe’s saying very abruptly, ‘Old Allen is as

rich as a Jew — is not he?’ Catherine did not understand

him — and he repeated his question, adding in explanation,

‘Old Allen, the man you are with.’

‘Oh! Mr. Allen, you mean. Yes, I believe, he is very rich.’

‘And no children at all?’

‘No — not any.’

‘A famous thing for his next heirs. He is your godfather,

is not he?’

‘My godfather! No.’

‘But you are always very much with them.’

‘Yes, very much.’
Northanger Abbey 17f

 

Thorpe’s ideas then all reverted to the merits of his own

equipage, and she was called on to admire the spirit and

freedom with which his horse moved along, and the ease

which his paces, as well as the excellence of the springs, gave

the motion of the carriage. She followed him in all his admi-

ration as well as she could. To go before or beyond him was

impossible. His knowledge and her ignorance of the subject,

his rapidity of expression, and her diffidence of herself put

that out of her power; she could strike out nothing new in

commendation, but she readily echoed whatever he chose to

assert.
Northanger Abbey 17g

 

All the rest of his conversation, or rather talk, began and ended

with himself and his own concerns. He told her of horses which

he had bought for a trifle and sold for incredible sums; of racing

matches, in which his judgment had infallibly foretold the winner; of

shooting parties, in which he had killed more birds (though

without having one good shot) than all his companions together.
Northanger Abbey 17h

 

Little as Catherine was in the habit of judging for herself,

and unfixed as were her general notions of what men ought

to be, she could not entirely repress a doubt, while she bore

with the effusions of his endless conceit, of his being alto-

gether completely agreeable. It was a bold surmise, for he

was Isabella’s brother; and she had been assured by James

that his manners would recommend him to all her sex;

but in spite of this, the extreme weariness of his company,

which crept over her before they had been out an hour, and

which continued unceasingly to increase till they stopped

in Pulteney Street again, induced her, in some small degree,

to resist such high authority, and to distrust his powers of

giving universal pleasure.
Northanger Abbey 17i (1)Northanger Abbey 17i (2)Northanger Abbey 17i (3)

 

To be continued

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