Northanger Abbey. The tender friend
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
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!
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.
‘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
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
‘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
‘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-
‘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
To be continued
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