The next morning brought the following very unexpected
letter from Isabella:
My dearest Catherine, I received your two kind letters
with the greatest delight, and have a thousand apologies
to make for not answering them sooner. I really am quite
ashamed of my idleness; but in this horrid place one can
find time for nothing. I have had my pen in my hand to
begin a letter to you almost every day since you left Bath,
but have always been prevented by some silly trifler or
other. Pray write to me soon, and direct to my own home.
Thank God, we leave this vile place tomorrow. Since you
went away, I have had no pleasure in it — the dust is beyond
anything; and everybody one cares for is gone.
I believe if I could see you I should not mind the rest, for you are dearer to me than anybody can conceive. I am quite uneasy about your dear brother, not having heard from him since he went to Oxford; and am fearful of some misunderstanding. Your kind offices will set all right: he is the only man I ever did or could love, and I trust you will convince him of it. I rejoice to say that the young man whom, of all others, I particularly abhor, has left Bath. You will know, from this description, I must mean Captain Tilney, who, as you may remember, was amazingly disposed to follow and tease me, before you went away. Afterwards he got worse, and became quite my shadow. Many girls might have been taken in, for never were such attentions; but I knew the fickle sex too well. He went away to his regiment two days ago, and I trust I shall never be plagued with him again. He is the greatest coxcomb I ever saw, and amazingly disagreeable.
Such a contrast between him and your brother!
Pray send me some news of the latter — I am quite unhap-
py about him; he seemed so uncomfortable when he went
away, with a cold, or something that affected his spirits. I
would write to him myself, but have mislaid his direction;
and, as I hinted above, am afraid he took something in my
conduct amiss. Pray explain everything to his satisfaction;
or, if he still harbours any doubt, a line from himself to me,
or a call at Putney when next in town, might set all to rights.
I wear nothing but purple now: I know I look hideous in it,
but no matter — it is your dear brother’s favourite colour.
Lose no time, my dearest, sweetest Catherine, in writing
to him and to me,
Who ever am, etc.
Such a strain of shallow artifice could not impose even
upon Catherine. Its inconsistencies, contradictions, and
falsehood struck her from the very first. She was ashamed of
Isabella, and ashamed of having ever loved her. Her profes-
sions of attachment were now as disgusting as her excuses
were empty, and her demands impudent. ‘Write to James
on her behalf! No, James should never hear Isabella’s name
mentioned by her again.’
To be continued
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