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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
To be continued
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