Northanger Abbey. Part 79

Northanger Abbey. Alone with Eleanor

Northanger Abbey 79a


Soon after this, the general found himself obliged to go

to London for a week; and he left Northanger earnestly re-

gretting that any necessity should rob him even for an hour

of Miss Morland’s company, and anxiously recommending

the study of her comfort and amusement to his children as

their chief object in his absence.
Northanger Abbey 79a


 

His departure gave Catherine the first experimental conviction

that a loss may be sometimes a gain. The happiness with which

their time now passed, every employment voluntary, every laugh

indulged, every meal a scene of ease and good humour, walking

where they liked and when they liked, their hours, pleasures, and

fatigues at their own command, made her thoroughly

sensible of the restraint which the general’s presence had

imposed, and most thankfully feel their present release from it.
Northanger Abbey 79b (1)Northanger Abbey 79b (2)Northanger Abbey 79b (3)Northanger Abbey 79b (4)


 

Such ease and such delights made her love the place

and the people more and more every day; and had it not

been for a dread of its soon becoming expedient to leave the

one, and an apprehension of not being equally beloved by

the other, she would at each moment of each day have been

perfectly happy; but she was now in the fourth week of her

visit; before the general came home, the fourth week would

be turned, and perhaps it might seem an intrusion if she

stayed much longer. This was a painful consideration when-

ever it occurred; and eager to get rid of such a weight on her

mind, she very soon resolved to speak to Eleanor about it at

once, propose going away, and be guided in her conduct by

the manner in which her proposal might be taken.
Northanger Abbey 79c


 

Aware that if she gave herself much time, she might feel

it difficult to bring forward so unpleasant a subject, she

took the first opportunity of being suddenly alone with

Eleanor, and of Eleanor’s being in the middle of a speech

about something very different, to start forth her obliga-

tion of going away very soon. Eleanor looked and declared

herself much concerned. She had ‘hoped for the pleasure

of her company for a much longer time — had been mis-

led (perhaps by her wishes) to suppose that a much longer

visit had been promised — and could not but think that if

Mr. and Mrs. Morland were aware of the pleasure it was to

her to have her there, they would be too generous to hasten

her return.’ Catherine explained: ‘Oh! As to that, Papa and

Mamma were in no hurry at all. As long as she was happy,

they would always be satisfied.’
Northanger Abbey 79d


 

‘Then why, might she ask, in such a hurry herself to leave them?’

‘Oh! Because she had been there so long.’

‘Nay, if you can use such a word, I can urge you no farther. If you think it long — ‘

‘Oh! No, I do not indeed. For my own pleasure, I could

stay with you as long again.’ And it was directly settled that,

till she had, her leaving them was not even to be thought of.

In having this cause of uneasiness so pleasantly removed,

the force of the other was likewise weakened. The kindness,

the earnestness of Eleanor’s manner in pressing her to stay,

and Henry’s gratified look on being told that her stay was

determined, were such sweet proofs of her importance with

them, as left her only just so much solicitude as the human

mind can never do comfortably without. She did — almost

always — believe that Henry loved her, and quite always

that his father and sister loved and even wished her to be-

long to them; and believing so far, her doubts and anxieties

were merely sportive irritations.
Northanger Abbey 79e


 

To be continued

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