Northanger Abbey. Part 37

Northanger Abbey. The tender friend

Northanger Abbey 37g

Early the next day, a note from Isabella, speaking peace

and tenderness in every line, and entreating the immediate

presence of her friend on a matter of the utmost importance,

hastened Catherine, in the happiest state of confidence and

curiosity, to Edgar’s Building.
Northanger Abbey 37a

Isabella now entered the room with so eager a step, and

a look of such happy importance, as engaged all her friend’s


‘Nay, my beloved, sweetest friend,’ continued the other,

‘compose yourself. I am amazingly agitated, as you per-

ceive. Let us sit down and talk in comfort. Well, and so you

guessed it the moment you had my note? Sly creature! Oh!

My dear Catherine, you alone, who know my heart, can

judge of my present happiness. Your brother is the most

charming of men. I only wish I were more worthy of him.

But what will your excellent father and mother say? Oh!

Heavens! When I think of them I am so agitated!’
Northanger Abbey 37b

Catherine’s understanding began to awake: an idea of the

truth suddenly darted into her mind; and, with the natural

blush of so new an emotion, she cried out, ‘Good heaven!

My dear Isabella, what do you mean? Can you — can you

really be in love with James?’

Never had Catherine listened to anything so full of interest,

wonder, and joy. Her brother and her friend engaged!

The happiness of having such a sister was their first effusion,

and the fair ladies mingled in embraces and tears of joy.
Northanger Abbey 37c

‘You are so like your dear brother,’ continued Isabella,

‘that I quite doted on you the first moment I saw you. But

so it always is with me; the first moment settles everything.

The very first day that Morland came to us last Christmas

— the very first moment I beheld him — my heart was ir-

recoverably gone. I remember I wore my yellow gown, with

my hair done up in braids; and when I came into the draw-

ing-room, and John introduced him, I thought I never saw

anybody so handsome before.’

Here Catherine secretly acknowledged the power of love;

for, though exceedingly fond of her brother, and partial to

all his endowments, she had never in her life thought him

Northanger Abbey 37d

Her brother, she found, was preparing to set

off with all speed to Fullerton, to make known his situa-

tion and ask consent; and here was a source of some real

agitation to the mind of Isabella. Catherine endeavoured to

persuade her, as she was herself persuaded, that her father

and mother would never oppose their son’s wishes. ‘It is

impossible,’ said she, ‘for parents to be more kind, or more

desirous of their children’s happiness; I have no doubt of

their consenting immediately.’

‘Morland says exactly the same,’ replied Isabella; ‘and

yet I dare not expect it; my fortune will be so small; they

never can consent to it. Your brother, who might marry


Here Catherine again discerned the force of love.
Northanger Abbey 37e

‘Indeed, Isabella, you are too humble. The difference of

fortune can be nothing to signify.’

‘Oh! My sweet Catherine, in your generous heart I know

it would signify nothing; but we must not expect such dis-

interestedness in many. As for myself, I am sure I only

wish our situations were reversed. Had I the command of

millions, were I mistress of the whole world, your brother

would be my only choice.’
Northanger Abbey 37f

‘For my own part,’ said Isabella, ‘my wishes are so mod-

erate that the smallest income in nature would be enough

for me. Where people are really attached, poverty itself is

wealth; grandeur I detest: I would not settle in London for

the universe. A cottage in some retired village would be

ecstasy. There are some charming little villas about Rich-

Northanger Abbey 37g

‘Richmond!’ cried Catherine. ‘You must settle near Ful-

lerton. You must be near us.’

‘I am sure I shall be miserable if we do not. If I can but be

near you, I shall be satisfied. But this is idle talking! I will

not allow myself to think of such things, till we have your

father’s answer. Morland says that by sending it tonight to

Salisbury, we may have it tomorrow. Tomorrow? I know I

shall never have courage to open the letter. I know it will be

the death of me.’
Northanger Abbey 37h

To be continued

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