Northanger Abbey. Part 6

Northanger Abbey. They finally meet
Northanger Abbey 6b


Every morning now brought its regular duties — shops

were to be visited; some new part of the town to be looked

at; and the pump-room to be attended, where they paraded

up and down for an hour, looking at everybody and speak-

ing to no one. The wish of a numerous acquaintance in Bath

was still uppermost with Mrs. Allen, and she repeated it af-

ter every fresh proof, which every morning brought, of her

knowing nobody at all.

Northanger Abbey 6a


They made their appearance in the Lower Rooms; and

here fortune was more favourable to our heroine. The mas-

ter of the ceremonies introduced to her a very gentlemanlike

young man as a partner; his name was Tilney. He seemed to

be about four or five and twenty, was rather tall, had a pleas-

ing countenance, a very intelligent and lively eye, and, if not

quite handsome, was very near it.

Northanger Abbey 6b


His address was good, and Catherine felt herself in high luck.

There was little leisure for speaking while they danced; but when

they were seated at tea, she found him as agreeable as she had

already given him credit for being. He talked with fluency and

spirit — and there was an archness and pleasantry in his manner

which interested, though it was hardly understood by her.

Northanger Abbey 6c


After chatting some time on such matters as naturally

arose from the objects around them, he suddenly addressed

her with — ‘I have hitherto been very remiss, madam, in

the proper attentions of a partner here; I have not yet asked

you how long you have been in Bath; whether you were ever

here before; whether you have been at the Upper Rooms,

the theatre, and the concert; and how you like the place al-

together. I have been very negligent — but are you now at

leisure to satisfy me in these particulars? If you are I will

begin directly.’

Northanger Abbey 6d


‘You need not give yourself that trouble, sir.’

‘No trouble, I assure you, madam.’ Then forming his fea-

tures into a set smile, and affectedly softening his voice, he

added, with a simpering air, ‘Have you been long in Bath,

madam?’

‘About a week, sir,’ replied Catherine, trying not to

laugh.

‘Really!’ with affected astonishment.

‘Why should you be surprised, sir?’

‘Why, indeed!’ said he, in his natural tone. ‘But some

emotion must appear to be raised by your reply, and sur-

prise is more easily assumed, and not less reasonable than

any other. Now let us go on. Were you never here before,

madam?’

‘Never, sir.’

‘Indeed! Have you yet honoured the Upper Rooms?’

‘Yes, sir, I was there last Monday.’

‘Have you been to the theatre?’

‘Yes, sir, I was at the play on Tuesday.’

‘To the concert?’

‘Yes, sir, on Wednesday.’

‘And are you altogether pleased with Bath?’

‘Yes — I like it very well.’

‘Now I must give one smirk, and then we may be ratio-

nal again.’ Catherine turned away her head, not knowing

whether she might venture to laugh. ‘I see what you think

of me,’ said he gravely — ‘I shall make but a poor figure in

your journal tomorrow.’

‘My journal!’

‘Yes, I know exactly what you will say: Friday, went to

the Lower Rooms; wore my sprigged muslin robe with blue

trimmings — plain black shoes — appeared to much ad-

vantage; but was strangely harassed by a queer, half-witted

man, who would make me dance with him, and distressed

me by his nonsense.’

‘Indeed I shall say no such thing.’

‘Shall I tell you what you ought to say?’

‘If you please.’

‘I danced with a very agreeable young man, introduced

by Mr. King; had a great deal of conversation with him —

seems a most extraordinary genius — hope I may know

more of him. That, madam, is what I wish you to say.’

‘But, perhaps, I keep no journal.’

‘Perhaps you are not sitting in this room, and I am not

sitting by you. These are points in which a doubt is equally

possible. Not keep a journal! How are your absent cous-

ins to understand the tenour of your life in Bath without

one? How are the civilities and compliments of every day

to be related as they ought to be, unless noted down every

evening in a journal? How are your various dresses to be

remembered, and the particular state of your complexion,

and curl of your hair to be described in all their diversi-

ties, without having constant recourse to a journal? My dear

madam, I am not so ignorant of young ladies’ ways as you

wish to believe me; it is this delightful habit of journaling

which largely contributes to form the easy style of writing

for which ladies are so generally celebrated. Everybody al-

lows that the talent of writing agreeable letters is peculiarly

female. Nature may have done something, but I am sure

it must be essentially assisted by the practice of keeping a

journal.’

Northanger Abbey 6e (1)Northanger Abbey 6e (2)


They were interrupted by Mrs. Allen: ‘My dear Catherine,’ said she, ‘do take this pin out of my sleeve; I am afraid

it has torn a hole already; I shall be quite sorry if it has, for

this is a favourite gown, though it cost but nine shillings a

yard.’

‘That is exactly what I should have guessed it, madam,’

said Mr. Tilney, looking at the muslin.

‘Do you understand muslins, sir?’

‘Particularly well; I always buy my own cravats, and am

allowed to be an excellent judge; and my sister has often

trusted me in the choice of a gown. I bought one for her the

other day, and it was pronounced to be a prodigious bargain

by every lady who saw it. I gave but five shillings a yard for

it, and a true Indian muslin.’

Mrs. Allen was quite struck by his genius. ‘Men com-

monly take so little notice of those things,’ said she; ‘I can

never get Mr. Allen to know one of my gowns from another.

You must be a great comfort to your sister, sir.’

‘I hope I am, madam.’

Northanger Abbey 6f


‘And pray, sir, what do you think of Miss Morland’s

gown?’

‘It is very pretty, madam,’ said he, gravely examining it;

‘but I do not think it will wash well; I am afraid it will fray.’

‘How can you,’ said Catherine, laughing, ‘be so — ‘ She

had almost said ‘strange.’

‘I am quite of your opinion, sir,’ replied Mrs. Allen; ‘and

so I told Miss Morland when she bought it.’

‘But then you know, madam, muslin always turns to

some account or other; Miss Morland will get enough out

of it for a handkerchief, or a cap, or a cloak. Muslin can never

be said to be wasted. I have heard my sister say so forty

times, when she has been extravagant in buying more than

she wanted, or careless in cutting it to pieces.’
Northanger Abbey 6g


Catherine feared, as she listened to

their discourse, that he indulged himself a little too much

with the foibles of others. ‘What are you thinking of so ear-

nestly?’ said he, as they walked back to the ballroom; ‘not

of your partner, I hope, for, by that shake of the head, your

meditations are not satisfactory.’

Catherine coloured, and said, ‘I was not thinking of anything.’

‘That is artful and deep, to be sure; but I had rather be

told at once that you will not tell me.’

‘Well then, I will not.’

‘Thank you; for now we shall soon be acquainted, as I am

authorized to tease you on this subject whenever we meet,

and nothing in the world advances intimacy so much.’

Northanger Abbey 6h


They danced again; and, when the assembly closed, part-

ed, on the lady’s side at least, with a strong inclination for

continuing the acquaintance. Whether she thought of him

so much, while she drank her warm wine and water, and

prepared herself for bed, as to dream of him when there,

сannot be ascertained; but I hope it was no more than in a

slight slumber, or a morning doze at most; for if it be true, as

a celebrated writer has maintained, that no young lady can

be justified in falling in love before the gentleman’s love is

declared,* it must be very improper that a young lady should

dream of a gentleman before the gentleman is first known

to have dreamt of her.

Northanger Abbey 6i (1)Northanger Abbey 6i (2)Northanger Abbey 6i (3)


To be continued

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