A few days passed away, and Catherine, though not allow-
ing herself to suspect her friend, could not help watching
her closely. The result of her observations was not agree-
able. Isabella seemed an altered creature. When she saw her,
indeed, surrounded only by their immediate friends in Ed-
gar’s Buildings or Pulteney Street, her change of manners
was so trifling that, had it gone no farther, it might have
passed unnoticed. A something of languid indifference, or
of that boasted absence of mind which Catherine had never
heard of before, would occasionally come across her; but had
nothing worse appeared, that might only have spread a new
grace and inspired a warmer interest.
But when Catherine saw her in public, admitting Captain
Tilney’s attentions as readily as they were offered, and
allowing him almost an equal share with James in her
notice and smiles, the alteration became too positive
to be passed over. What could be meant by such unsteady
conduct, what her friend could be at, was beyond her
comprehension. Isabella could not be aware of the pain
she was inflicting; but it was a degree of wilful
thoughtlessness which Catherine could not but resent.
James was the sufferer. She saw him grave and uneasy;
and however careless of his present comfort the woman
might be who had given him her heart, to her it was always
To be continued
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