Northanger Abbey. Part 47

Northanger Abbey. Torn

Northanger Abbey 47c

Catherine, with all the earnestness of truth, expressed

her astonishment at such a charge, protesting her innocence

of every thought of Mr. Thorpe’s being in love with her, and

the consequent impossibility of her having ever intended to

encourage him. ‘As to any attentions on his side, I do de-

clare, upon my honour, I never was sensible of them for a

moment — except just his asking me to dance the first day of

his coming. And as to making me an offer, or anything like

it, there must be some unaccountable mistake. I could not

have misunderstood a thing of that kind, you know! And, as

I ever wish to be believed, I solemnly protest that no syllable

of such a nature ever passed between us. The last half hour

before he went away! It must be all and completely a mistake

— for I did not see him once that whole morning.’
Northanger Abbey 47a

‘But that you certainly did, for you spent the whole

morning in Edgar’s Buildings — it was the day your fa-

ther’s consent came — and I am pretty sure that you and

John were alone in the parlour some time before you left

the house.’

‘Are you? Well, if you say it, it was so, I dare say — but for

the life of me, I cannot recollect it. I do remember now be-

ing with you, and seeing him as well as the rest — but that

we were ever alone for five minutes — However, it is not

worth arguing about, for whatever might pass on his side,

you must be convinced, by my having no recollection of it,

that I never thought, nor expected, nor wished for anything

of the kind from him. I am excessively concerned that he

should have any regard for me — but indeed it has been

quite unintentional on my side; I never had the smallest idea

of it. Pray undeceive him as soon as you can, and tell him I

beg his pardon — that is — I do not know what I ought to

say — but make him understand what I mean, in the prop-

erest way. I would not speak disrespectfully of a brother of

yours, Isabella, I am sure; but you know very well that if I

could think of one man more than another — he is not the

person.’ Isabella was silent. ‘My dear friend, you must not be

angry with me. I cannot suppose your brother cares so very

much about me. And, you know, we shall still be sisters.’
Northanger Abbey 47b

‘Yes, yes’ (with a blush), ‘there are more ways than one

of our being sisters. But where am I wandering to? Well,

my dear Catherine, the case seems to be that you are deter-

mined against poor John — is not it so?’

‘I certainly cannot return his affection, and as certainly

never meant to encourage it.’
Northanger Abbey 47c

‘Since that is the case, I am sure I shall not tease you any

further. John desired me to speak to you on the subject, and

therefore I have.’

‘You do acquit me, then, of anything wrong? — You are

convinced that I never meant to deceive your brother, never

suspected him of liking me till this moment?’

‘Oh! As to that,’ answered Isabella laughingly, ‘I do not

pretend to determine what your thoughts and designs in

time past may have been. All that is best known to yourself.

A little harmless flirtation or so will occur, and one is often

drawn on to give more encouragement than one wishes to

stand by. But you may be assured that I am the last person in

the world to judge you severely. All those things should be

allowed for in youth and high spirits. What one means one

day, you know, one may not mean the next. Circumstances

change, opinions alter.’

‘But my opinion of your brother never did alter; it was al-

ways the same. You are describing what never happened.’

Northanger Abbey 47d

‘My dearest Catherine,’ continued the other without at all

listening to her, ‘I would not for all the world be the means

of hurrying you into an engagement before you knew what

you were about. I do not think anything would justify me in

wishing you to sacrifice all your happiness merely to oblige

my brother, because he is my brother, and who perhaps af-

ter all, you know, might be just as happy without you, for

people seldom know what they would be at, young men es-

pecially, they are so amazingly changeable and inconstant.

What I say is, why should a brother’s happiness be dearer to

me than a friend’s? You know I carry my notions of friend-

ship pretty high. But, above all things, my dear Catherine,

do not be in a hurry. Take my word for it, that if you are in

too great a hurry, you will certainly live to repent it. Tilney

says there is nothing people are so often deceived in as the

state of their own affections, and I believe he is very right.

Ah! Here he comes; never mind, he will not see us, I am


Northanger Abbey 47e

To be continued

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