Northanger Abbey. Part 66

Northanger Abbey. Conspiring

Northanger Abbey 66b


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.

‘Yes, entirely.’

‘And how long ago may it be that your mother died?’

‘She has been dead these nine years.’
Northanger Abbey 66a


 

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.’
Northanger Abbey 66b


 

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.
Northanger Abbey 66c


 

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.
Northanger Abbey 66d (1)Northanger Abbey 66d (2)Northanger Abbey 66d (3)


 

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.
Northanger Abbey 66e


 

To be continued

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