Away walked Catherine in great agitation, as fast as the
crowd would permit her, fearful of being pursued, yet de-
termined to persevere. As she walked, she reflected on what
had passed. It was painful to her to disappoint and displease
them, particularly to displease her brother; but she could
not repent her resistance. Setting her own inclination apart,
to have failed a second time in her engagement to Miss
Tilney, to have retracted a promise voluntarily made only
five minutes before, and on a false pretence too, must have
So rapid had been her movements that in
spite of the Tilneys’ advantage in the outset, they were but
just turning into their lodgings as she came within view of
them; and the servant still remaining at the open door, she
used only the ceremony of saying that she must speak with
Miss Tilney that moment, and hurrying by him proceeded
upstairs. Then, opening the first door before her, which hap-
pened to be the right, she immediately found herself in the
drawing-room with General Tilney, his son, and daughter.
Her explanation, defective only in being — from her irrita-
tion of nerves and shortness of breath — no explanation at
all, was instantly given. ‘I am come in a great hurry — It was
all a mistake — I never promised to go — I told them from
the first I could not go. — I ran away in a great hurry to ex-
plain it. — I did not care what you thought of me. — I would
not stay for the servant.’
The business, however, though not perfectly elucidated
by this speech, soon ceased to be a puzzle. Catherine found
that John Thorpe had given the message; and Miss Tilney
had no scruple in owning herself greatly surprised by it.
But whether her brother had still exceeded her in resent-
ment, Catherine, though she instinctively addressed herself
as much to one as to the other in her vindication, had no
means of knowing. Whatever might have been felt before
her arrival, her eager declarations immediately made every
look and sentence as friendly as she could desire.
To be continued
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