Northanger Abbey. Part 74

Northanger Abbey. No bad news from Fullerton

Northanger Abbey 74e


The general, between his cocoa and his newspaper, had luckily no leisure for noticing her; but to the other two her distress was equally visible. As soon as she dared leave the table she hurried away to her own room; but the housemaids were busy in it, and she was obliged to come down again. She turned into the drawing-room for privacy, but Henry and Eleanor had likewise retreated thither, and were at that moment deep in consultation about her. She drew back, trying to beg their pardon, but was, with gentle violence, forced to return; and the others withdrew, after Eleanor had affectionately expressed a wish of being of use or comfort to her.
Northanger Abbey 74a


 

To expose a friend, such a friend as Isabella

had been to her — and then their own brother so closely

concerned in it! She believed she must waive the subject

altogether. Henry and Eleanor were by themselves in the

breakfast-room; and each, as she entered it, looked at her

anxiously. Catherine took her place at the table, and, after

a short silence, Eleanor said, ‘No bad news from Fullerton, I

hope? Mr. and Mrs. Morland — your brothers and sisters —

I hope they are none of them ill?’

‘No, I thank you’ (sighing as she spoke); ‘they are all very

well. My letter was from my brother at Oxford.’

Nothing further was said for a few minutes; and then

speaking through her tears, she added, ‘I do not think I

shall ever wish for a letter again!’
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‘I am sorry,’ said Henry, closing the book he had just

opened; ‘if I had suspected the letter of containing anything

unwelcome, I should have given it with very different feelings.’

‘It contained something worse than anybody could sup-

pose! Poor James is so unhappy! You will soon know why.’

‘To have so kind-hearted, so affectionate a sister,’ replied

Henry warmly, ‘must be a comfort to him under any distress.’

‘I have one favour to beg,’ said Catherine, shortly after-

wards, in an agitated manner, ‘that, if your brother should

be coming here, you will give me notice of it, that I may go away.’

‘Our brother! Frederick!’
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‘Yes; I am sure I should be very sorry to leave you so soon,

but something has happened that would make it very dread-

ful for me to be in the same house with Captain Tilney.’

Eleanor’s work was suspended while she gazed with in-

creasing astonishment; but Henry began to suspect the

truth, and something, in which Miss Thorpe’s name was in-

cluded, passed his lips.

‘How quick you are!’ cried Catherine: ‘you have guessed

it, I declare! And yet, when we talked about it in Bath, you

little thought of its ending so. Isabella — no wonder now I

have not heard from her — Isabella has deserted my broth-

er, and is to marry yours! Could you have believed there had

been such inconstancy and fickleness, and everything that

is bad in the world?’
Northanger Abbey 74d


 

‘I hope, so far as concerns my brother, you are mis-

informed. I hope he has not had any material share in

bringing on Mr. Morland’s disappointment. His marrying

Miss Thorpe is not probable. I think you must be deceived

so far. I am very sorry for Mr. Morland — sorry that any-

one you love should be unhappy; but my surprise would be

greater at Frederick’s marrying her than at any other part

of the story.’

‘It is very true, however; you shall read James’s letter

yourself. Stay — There is one part — ‘ recollecting with a

blush the last line.

‘Will you take the trouble of reading to us the passages

which concern my brother?’
Northanger Abbey 74e


 

‘No, read it yourself,’ cried Catherine, whose second

thoughts were clearer. ‘I do not know what I was thinking

of’ (blushing again that she had blushed before); ‘James only

means to give me good advice.’

He gladly received the letter, and, having read it through,

with close attention, returned it saying, ‘Well, if it is to be

so, I can only say that I am sorry for it. Frederick will not

be the first man who has chosen a wife with less sense than

his family expected. I do not envy his situation, either as a

lover or a son.’
Northanger Abbey 74f


 

To be continued

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