She ventured, when next alone with Eleanor, to express
her wish of being permitted to see it, as well as all the rest of
that side of the house; and Eleanor promised to attend her
there, whenever they should have a convenient hour. Cath-
erine understood her: the general must be watched from
home, before that room could be entered. ‘It remains as it
was, I suppose?’ said she, in a tone of feeling.
‘And how long ago may it be that your mother died?’
‘She has been dead these nine years.’
And nine years, Catherine knew, was a trifle of time, compared with what generally elapsed after the death of an injured wife, before her room was put to rights.
‘You were with her, I suppose, to the last?’
‘No,’ said Miss Tilney, sighing; ‘I was unfortunately from home. Her illness was sudden and short; and, before I arrived it was all over.’
Catherine’s blood ran cold with the horrid suggestions
which naturally sprang from these words. Could it be pos-
sible? Could Henry’s father — ? And yet how many were the
examples to justify even the blackest suspicions!
And the anxiousness of her
spirits directed her eyes towards his figure so repeatedly,
as to catch Miss Tilney’s notice. ‘My father,’ she whispered,
‘often walks about the room in this way; it is nothing unusual.’
‘So much the worse!’ thought Catherine; such ill-timed
exercise was of a piece with the strange unseasonableness of
his morning walks, and boded nothing good.
Shocking as was the idea, it was at least better
than a death unfairly hastened, as, in the natural course of
things, she must ere long be released. The suddenness of her
reputed illness, the absence of her daughter, and probably of
her other children, at the time — all favoured the supposi-
tion of her imprisonment. Its origin — jealousy perhaps, or
wanton cruelty — was yet to be unravelled.
The side of the quadrangle, in which she supposed the
guilty scene to be acting, being, according to her belief, just
opposite her own, it struck her that, if judiciously watched,
some rays of light from the general’s lamp might glimmer
through the lower windows, as he passed to the prison of
his wife; and, twice before she stepped into bed, she stole
gently from her room to the corresponding window in the
gallery, to see if it appeared; but all abroad was dark, and
it must yet be too early. The various ascending noises con-
vinced her that the servants must still be up. Till midnight,
she supposed it would be in vain to watch; but then, when
the clock had struck twelve, and all was quiet, she would,
if not quite appalled by darkness, steal out and look once
more. The clock struck twelve — and Catherine had been
half an hour asleep.
To be continued
Subscribe to my blog and you won’t miss any of it!
Like and share it with your friends!