Northanger Abbey. Part 32

Northanger Abbey. The walk

Northanger Abbey 32b (5)

In a private consultation between Isabella and

James, the former of whom had particularly set her heart

upon going, and the latter no less anxiously placed his upon

pleasing her, it was agreed that, provided the weather were

fair, the party should take place on the following morning;

and they were to set off very early, in order to be at home

in good time. The affair thus determined, and Thorpe’s ap-

probation secured, Catherine only remained to be apprised

of it.
Northanger Abbey 32a

Catherine looked grave, was very sorry, but could not go. The

engagement which ought to have kept her from joining in

the former attempt would make it impossible for her to ac-

company them now. She had that moment settled with Miss

Tilney to take their proposed walk tomorrow; it was quite

determined, and she would not, upon any account, retract.

Northanger Abbey 32b (1)Northanger Abbey 32b (2)Northanger Abbey 32b (3)Northanger Abbey 32b (4)Northanger Abbey 32b (5)Northanger Abbey 32b (6)

But that she must and should retract was instantly the eager

cry of both the Thorpes; they must go to Clifton tomorrow,

they would not go without her, it would be nothing to put

off a mere walk for one day longer, and they would not hear

of a refusal. Catherine was distressed, but not subdued. ‘Do

not urge me, Isabella. I am engaged to Miss Tilney. I cannot

go.’ This availed nothing. The same arguments assailed her

again; she must go, she should go, and they would not hear

of a refusal. ‘It would be so easy to tell Miss Tilney that you

had just been reminded of a prior engagement, and must

only beg to put off the walk till Tuesday.’

Northanger Abbey 32c

‘No, it would not be easy. I could not do it. There has

been no prior engagement.’ But Isabella became only more

and more urgent, calling on her in the most affectionate

manner, addressing her by the most endearing names. She

was sure her dearest, sweetest Catherine would not serious-

ly refuse such a trifling request to a friend who loved her

so dearly. She knew her beloved Catherine to have so feel-

ing a heart, so sweet a temper, to be so easily persuaded by

those she loved. But all in vain; Catherine felt herself to be

in the right, and though pained by such tender, such flatter-

ing supplication, could not allow it to influence her.
Northanger Abbey 32d

Isabella then tried another method. She reproached her with

having more affection for Miss Tilney, though she had known

her so little a while, than for her best and oldest friends, with

being grown cold and indifferent, in short, towards herself.

‘I cannot help being jealous, Catherine, when I see myself

slighted for strangers, I, who love you so excessively! When

once my affections are placed, it is not in the power of any-

thing to change them. But I believe my feelings are stronger

than anybody’s; I am sure they are too strong for my own

peace; and to see myself supplanted in your friendship by

strangers does cut me to the quick, I own. These Tilneys

seem to swallow up everything else.’
Northanger Abbey 32e

Catherine thought this reproach equally strange and un-

kind. Was it the part of a friend thus to expose her feelings

to the notice of others? Isabella appeared to her ungenerous

and selfish, regardless of everything but her own gratifica-

tion. These painful ideas crossed her mind, though she said

nothing. Isabella, in the meanwhile, had applied her hand-

kerchief to her eyes; and Morland, miserable at such a sight,

could not help saying, ‘Nay, Catherine. I think you cannot

stand out any longer now. The sacrifice is not much; and to

oblige such a friend — I shall think you quite unkind, if you

still refuse.’

Northanger Abbey 32f

This was the first time of her brother’ s openly sid-

ing against her, and anxious to avoid his displeasure, she

proposed a compromise. If they would only put off their

scheme till Tuesday, which they might easily do, as it de-

pended only on themselves, she could go with them, and

everybody might then be satisfied. But ‘No, no, no!’ was the

immediate answer; ‘that could not be, for Thorpe did not

know that he might not go to town on Tuesday.’
Northanger Abbey 32g

Catherine was sorry, but could do no more; and a short silence

ensued, which was broken by Isabella, who in a voice of cold

resentment said, ‘Very well, then there is an end of the party.

If Catherine does not go, I cannot. I cannot be the only

woman. I would not, upon any account in the world, do so

improper a thing.’

‘Catherine, you must go,’ said James.

‘But why cannot Mr. Thorpe drive one of his other sis-

ters? I dare say either of them would like to go.’

‘Thank ye,’ cried Thorpe, ‘but I did not come to Bath to

drive my sisters about, and look like a fool. No, if you do not

go, d — me if I do. I only go for the sake of driving you.’

‘That is a compliment which gives me no pleasure.’ But

her words were lost on Thorpe, who had turned abruptly

Northanger Abbey 32h

To be continued

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