Northanger Abbey. Part 42

Northanger Abbey. He is such a rattle!

Northanger Abbey 42b


At the end of the first dance, Captain Tilney came to-

wards them again, and, much to Catherine’s dissatisfaction,

pulled his brother away. They retired whispering together;

and, though her delicate sensibility did not take immediate

alarm, and lay it down as fact, that Captain Tilney must have

heard some malevolent misrepresentation of her, which he

now hastened to communicate to his brother, in the hope of

separating them forever, she could not have her partner con-

veyed from her sight without very uneasy sensations.
Northanger Abbey 42a


Her suspense was of full five minutes’ duration; and she was

beginning to think it a very long quarter of an hour, when they

both returned, and an explanation was given, by Henry’s

requesting to know if she thought her friend, Miss Thorpe,

would have any objection to dancing, as his brother would

be most happy to be introduced to her. Catherine, without

hesitation, replied that she was very sure Miss Thorpe did

not mean to dance at all. The cruel reply was passed on to

the other, and he immediately walked away.
Northanger Abbey 42b


‘Your brother will not mind it, I know,’ said she, ‘because

I heard him say before that he hated dancing; but it was very

good-natured in him to think of it. I suppose he saw Isabella

sitting down, and fancied she might wish for a partner; but

he is quite mistaken, for she would not dance upon any ac-

count in the world.’

Henry smiled, and said, ‘How very little trouble it can

give you to understand the motive of other people’s ac-

tions.’

‘Why? What do you mean?’

‘With you, it is not, How is such a one likely to be influ-

enced, What is the inducement most likely to act upon such

a person’s feelings, age, situation, and probable habits of life

considered — but, How should I be influenced, What would

be my inducement in acting so and so?’
Northanger Abbey 42c


‘But pray tell me what you mean.’

‘Shall I indeed? Do you really desire it? But you are not

aware of the consequences; it will involve you in a very cruel

embarrassment, and certainly bring on a disagreement between us.

‘No, no; it shall not do either; I am not afraid.’

‘Well, then, I only meant that your attributing my broth-

er’s wish of dancing with Miss Thorpe to good nature alone

convinced me of your being superior in good nature your-

self to all the rest of the world.’
Northanger Abbey 42d


Catherine blushed and disclaimed, and the gentleman’s

predictions were verified. There was a something, however,

in his words which repaid her for the pain of confusion; and

that something occupied her mind so much that she drew

back for some time, forgetting to speak or to listen, and al-

most forgetting where she was; till, roused by the voice of

Isabella, she looked up and saw her with Captain Tilney

preparing to give them hands across.
Northanger Abbey 42e


Isabella shrugged her shoulders and smiled, the only ex-

planation of this extraordinary change which could at that

time be given; but as it was not quite enough for Catherine’s

comprehension, she spoke her astonishment in very plain

terms to her partner.

‘I cannot think how it could happen! Isabella was so determined not to dance.’

‘And did Isabella never change her mind before?’

‘Oh! But, because — And your brother! After what you

told him from me, how could he think of going to ask her?’
Northanger Abbey 42f


‘I cannot take surprise to myself on that head. You bid

me be surprised on your friend’s account, and therefore

I am; but as for my brother, his conduct in the business, I

must own, has been no more than I believed him perfectly

equal to. The fairness of your friend was an open attraction;

her firmness, you know, could only be understood by yourself.’

‘You are laughing; but, I assure you, Isabella is very firm in general.’
Northanger Abbey 42g


The friends were not able to get together for any con-

fidential discourse till all the dancing was over; but then,

as they walked about the room arm in arm, Isabella thus

explained herself: ‘I do not wonder at your surprise; and I

am really fatigued to death. He is such a rattle! Amusing

enough, if my mind had been disengaged; but I would have

given the world to sit still.’

‘Then why did not you?’
Northanger Abbey 42h


‘Oh! My dear! It would have looked so particular; and

you know how I abhor doing that. I refused him as long as

I possibly could, but he would take no denial. You have no

idea how he pressed me. I begged him to excuse me, and

get some other partner — but no, not he; after aspiring to

my hand, there was nobody else in the room he could bear

to think of; and it was not that he wanted merely to dance,

he wanted to be with me. Oh! Such nonsense!

I am so glad it is over! My spirits are quite jaded with listening

to his nonsense: and then, being such a smart young fellow,

I saw every eye was upon us.’

‘He is very handsome indeed.’

‘Handsome! Yes, I suppose he may. I dare say people

would admire him in general; but he is not at all in my style

of beauty. I hate a florid complexion and dark eyes in a man.

However, he is very well. Amazingly conceited, I am sure. I

took him down several times, you know, in my way.’
Northanger Abbey 42i


To be continued

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