Northanger Abbey. Part 84

Northanger Abbey. Inconsolable

Catherine was too wretched to be fearful. The journey

in itself had no terrors for her; and she began it without ei-

ther dreading its length or feeling its solitariness. Leaning

back in one comer of the carriage, in a violent burst of tears,

she was conveyed some miles beyond the walls of the abbey

before she raised her head; and the highest point of ground

within the park was almost closed from her view before she

was capable of turning her eyes towards it.

Unfortunately, the road she now travelled was the same which only ten days ago she had so happily passed along in going to and from Woodston; and, for fourteen miles, every bitter feeling was rendered more severe by the review of objects on which she had first looked under impressions so different. Every mile, as it brought her nearer Woodston, added to her sufferings, and when within the distance of five, she passed the turning which led to it, and thought of Henry, so near, yet so unconscious, her grief and agitation were excessive.

The day which she had spent at that place had been one

of the happiest of her life. It was there, it was on that day,

that the general had made use of such expressions with re-

gard to Henry and herself, had so spoken and so looked as

to give her the most positive conviction of his actually wish-

ing their marriage. Yes, only ten days ago had he elated her

by his pointed regard — had he even confused her by his

too significant reference! And now — what had she done, or

what had she omitted to do, to merit such a change?

The only offence against him of which she could accuse

herself had been such as was scarcely possible to reach his

knowledge. Henry and her own heart only were privy to the

shocking suspicions which she had so idly entertained; and

equally safe did she believe her secret with each. Designed-

ly, at least, Henry could not have betrayed her. If, indeed, by

any strange mischance his father should have gained intel-

ligence of what she had dared to think and look for, of her

causeless fancies and injurious examinations, she could not

wonder at any degree of his indignation. If aware of her hav-

ing viewed him as a murderer, she could not wonder at his

even turning her from his house. But a justification so full

of torture to herself, she trusted, would not be in his power.

Anxious as were all her conjectures on this point, it was

not, however, the one on which she dwelt most. There was

a thought yet nearer, a more prevailing, more impetuous

concern. How Henry would think, and feel, and look, when

he returned on the morrow to Northanger and heard of

her being gone, was a question of force and interest to rise

over every other, to be never ceasing, alternately irritating

and soothing; it sometimes suggested the dread of his calm

acquiescence, and at others was answered by the sweetest

confidence in his regret and resentment. To the general,

of course, he would not dare to speak; but to Eleanor —

what might he not say to Eleanor about her?
Northanger Abbey 84e

To be continued

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