Northanger Abbey. Part 67

Northanger Abbey. The portrait

Northanger Abbey 67b (3)


The next day afforded no opportunity for the proposed

examination of the mysterious apartments. It was Sunday,

and the whole time between morning and afternoon ser-

vice was required by the general in exercise abroad or eating

cold meat at home; and great as was Catherine’s curiosity,

her courage was not equal to a wish of exploring them after

dinner, either by the fading light of the sky between six and

seven o’clock, or by the yet more partial though stronger il-

lumination of a treacherous lamp.
Northanger Abbey 67a


 

The succeeding morning promised something better.

The general’s early walk, ill-timed as it was in every other

view, was favourable here; and when she knew him to be out

of the house, she directly proposed to Miss Tilney the ac-

complishment of her promise. Eleanor was ready to oblige

her; and Catherine reminding her as they went of another

promise, their first visit in consequence was to the portrait

in her bed-chamber.

Northanger Abbey 67b (1)Northanger Abbey 67b (2)Northanger Abbey 67b (3)Northanger Abbey 67b (4)


 

It represented a very lovely woman,

with a mild and pensive countenance, justifying, so far, the

expectations of its new observer; but they were not in every

respect answered, for Catherine had depended upon meet-

ing with features, hair, complexion, that should be the very

counterpart, the very image, if not of Henry’s, of Eleanor’s

— the only portraits of which she had been in the habit of

thinking, bearing always an equal resemblance of moth-

er and child. A face once taken was taken for generations.

But here she was obliged to look and consider and study

for a likeness. She contemplated it, however, in spite of this

drawback, with much emotion, and, but for a yet stronger

interest, would have left it unwillingly.
Northanger Abbey 67c


 

Her agitation as they entered the great gallery was too

much for any endeavour at discourse; she could only look

at her companion. Eleanor’s countenance was dejected,

yet sedate; and its composure spoke her inured to all the

gloomy objects to which they were advancing. Again she

passed through the folding doors, again her hand was upon

the important lock, and Catherine, hardly able to breathe,

was turning to close the former with fearful caution, when

the figure, the dreaded figure of the general himself at the

further end of the gallery, stood before her!
Northanger Abbey 67d


 

The name of ‘Eleanor’ at the same moment, in his loudest

tone, resounded through the building, giving to his daughter

the first intimation of his presence, and to Catherine terror upon terror.

An attempt at concealment had been her first instinctive

movement on perceiving him, yet she could scarcely hope

to have escaped his eye; and when her friend, who with an

apologizing look darted hastily by her, had joined and dis-

appeared with him, she ran for safety to her own room, and,

locking herself in, believed that she should never have cour-

age to go down again.
Northanger Abbey 67e (1)Northanger Abbey 67e (2)


 

She remained there at least an hour,

in the greatest agitation, deeply commiserating the state

of her poor friend, and expecting a summons herself from

the angry general to attend him in his own apartment. No

summons, however, arrived; and at last, on seeing a carriage

drive up to the abbey, she was emboldened to descend and

meet him under the protection of visitors.
Northanger Abbey 67f


 

To be continued

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