Northanger Abbey. Part 92

Northanger Abbey. John Thrope

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John Thorpe had first misled him. The general, perceiv –

ing his son one night at the theatre to be paying considerable

attention to Miss Morland, had accidentally inquired of

Thorpe if he knew more of her than her name. Thorpe, most

happy to be on speaking terms with a man of General Tilney’s

importance, had been joyfully and proudly communicative;

and being at that time not only in daily expectation of Mor-

land’s engaging Isabella, but likewise pretty well resolved

upon marrying Catherine himself, his vanity induced him

to represent the family as yet more wealthy than his vanity

and avarice had made him believe them. Catherine herself

could not be more ignorant at the time of all this, than Henry and Eleanor.
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Henry was convinced of his father’s believing it to be an advantageous connection, it was not till the late explanation at Northanger that they had the smallest idea of the false calculations which had hurried him on. That they were false, the general had learnt from the very person who had suggested them, from Thorpe himself, whom he had chanced to meet again in town, and who, under the influence of exactly opposite feelings, irritated by Catherine’s refusal, and yet more by the failure of a very recent endeavour to accomplish a reconciliation between Morland and Isabella, convinced that they were separated forever, and spurning a friendship which could be no longer serviceable, hastened to contradict all that he had said before to the advantage of the Morlands — confessed himself to have been totally mistaken in his opinion of their circumstances and character.
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They were, in fact, a necessitous family; numerous, too, almost beyond example; by no means respected in their own neighbourhood, as he had lately had particular opportunities of discovering; aiming at a style of life which their fortune could not warrant; seeking to better themselves by wealthy connections; a forward, bragging, scheming race. The terrified general pronounced the name of Allen with an inquiring look; and here too Thorpe had learnt his error. The Allens, he believed, had lived near them too long, and he knew the young man on whom the Fullerton estate must devolve. The general needed no more. Enraged with almost everybody in the world but himself, he set out the next day for the abbey, where his performances have been seen.
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But, in such a cause, his anger, though it must shock, could not

intimidate Henry, who was sustained in his purpose by a

conviction of its justice. He felt himself bound as much in

honour as in affection to Miss Morland, and believing that

heart to be his own which he had been directed to gain, no

unworthy retraction of a tacit consent, no reversing decree

of unjustifiable anger, could shake his fidelity, or influence

the resolutions it prompted.
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He steadily refused to accompany his father into Her-

efordshire, an engagement formed almost at the moment to

promote the dismissal of Catherine, and as steadily declared

his intention of offering her his hand. The general was furi-

ous in his anger, and they parted in dreadful disagreement.

Henry, in an agitation of mind which many solitary hours

were required to compose, had returned almost instantly to

Woodston, and, on the afternoon of the following day, had

begun his journey to Fullerton.
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To be continued

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