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Chapter 16

  • Catherine's expectations of pleasure from her visit in Milsom Street were s_ery high that disappointment was inevitable; and accordingly, though she wa_ost politely received by General Tilney, and kindly welcomed by his daughter, though Henry was at home, and no one else of the party, she found, on he_eturn, without spending many hours in the examination of her feelings, tha_he had gone to her appointment preparing for happiness which it had no_fforded. Instead of finding herself improved in acquaintance with Mis_ilney, from the intercourse of the day, she seemed hardly so intimate wit_er as before; instead of seeing Henry Tilney to greater advantage than ever, in the ease of a family party, he had never said so little, nor been so littl_greeable; and, in spite of their father's great civilities to her — in spit_f his thanks, invitations, and compliments — it had been a release to ge_way from him. It puzzled her to account for all this. It could not be Genera_ilney's fault. That he was perfectly agreeable and good-natured, an_ltogether a very charming man, did not admit of a doubt, for he was tall an_andsome, and Henry's father. He could not be accountable for his children'_ant of spirits, or for her want of enjoyment in his company. The former sh_oped at last might have been accidental, and the latter she could onl_ttribute to her own stupidity. Isabella, on hearing the particulars of th_isit, gave a different explanation: "It was all pride, pride, insufferabl_aughtiness and pride! She had long suspected the family to be very high, an_his made it certain. Such insolence of behaviour as Miss Tilney's she ha_ever heard of in her life! Not to do the honours of her house with commo_ood breeding! To behave to her guest with such superciliousness! Hardly eve_o speak to her!"
  • "But it was not so bad as that, Isabella; there was no superciliousness; sh_as very civil."
  • "Oh! Don't defend her! And then the brother, he, who had appeared so attache_o you! Good heavens! Well, some people's feelings are incomprehensible. An_o he hardly looked once at you the whole day?"
  • "I do not say so; but he did not seem in good spirits."
  • "How contemptible! Of all things in the world inconstancy is my aversion. Le_e entreat you never to think of him again, my dear Catherine; indeed he i_nworthy of you."
  • "Unworthy! I do not suppose he ever thinks of me."
  • "That is exactly what I say; he never thinks of you. Such fickleness! Oh! Ho_ifferent to your brother and to mine! I really believe John has the mos_onstant heart."
  • "But as for General Tilney, I assure you it would be impossible for anybody t_ehave to me with greater civility and attention; it seemed to be his onl_are to entertain and make me happy."
  • "Oh! I know no harm of him; I do not suspect him of pride. I believe he is _ery gentleman-like man. John thinks very well of him, and John's judgment — "
  • "Well, I shall see how they behave to me this evening; we shall meet them a_he rooms."
  • "And must I go?"
  • "Do not you intend it? I thought it was all settled."
  • "Nay, since you make such a point of it, I can refuse you nothing. But do no_nsist upon my being very agreeable, for my heart, you know, will be som_orty miles off. And as for dancing, do not mention it, I beg; that is quit_ut of the question. Charles Hodges will plague me to death, I dare say; but _hall cut him very short. Ten to one but he guesses the reason, and that i_xactly what I want to avoid, so I shall insist on his keeping his conjectur_o himself."
  • Isabella's opinion of the Tilneys did not influence her friend; she was sur_here had been no insolence in the manners either of brother or sister; an_he did not credit there being any pride in their hearts. The evening rewarde_er confidence; she was met by one with the same kindness, and by the othe_ith the same attention, as heretofore: Miss Tilney took pains to be near her, and Henry asked her to dance.
  • Having heard the day before in Milsom Street that their elder brother, Captai_ilney, was expected almost every hour, she was at no loss for the name of _ery fashionable-looking, handsome young man, whom she had never seen before, and who now evidently belonged to their party. She looked at him with grea_dmiration, and even supposed it possible that some people might think hi_andsomer than his brother, though, in her eyes, his air was more assuming, and his countenance less prepossessing. His taste and manners were beyond _oubt decidedly inferior; for, within her hearing, he not only proteste_gainst every thought of dancing himself, but even laughed openly at Henry fo_inding it possible. From the latter circumstance it may be presumed that, whatever might be our heroine's opinion of him, his admiration of her was no_f a very dangerous kind; not likely to produce animosities between th_rothers, nor persecutions to the lady. He cannot be the instigator of th_hree villains in horsemen's greatcoats, by whom she will hereafter be force_nto a traveling-chaise and four, which will drive off with incredible speed.
  • Catherine, meanwhile, undisturbed by presentiments of such an evil, or of an_vil at all, except that of having but a short set to dance down, enjoyed he_sual happiness with Henry Tilney, listening with sparkling eyes to everythin_e said; and, in finding him irresistible, becoming so herself.
  • At the end of the first dance, Captain Tilney came towards them again, and, much to Catherine's dissatisfaction, pulled his brother away. They retire_hispering together; and, though her delicate sensibility did not tak_mmediate alarm, and lay it down as fact, that Captain Tilney must have hear_ome malevolent misrepresentation of her, which he now hastened to communicat_o his brother, in the hope of separating them forever, she could not have he_artner conveyed from her sight without very uneasy sensations. Her suspens_as of full five minutes' duration; and she was beginning to think it a ver_ong quarter of an hour, when they both returned, and an explanation wa_iven, by Henry's requesting to know if she thought her friend, Miss Thorpe, would have any objection to dancing, as his brother would be most happy to b_ntroduced to her. Catherine, without hesitation, replied that she was ver_ure Miss Thorpe did not mean to dance at all. The cruel reply was passed o_o the other, and he immediately walked away.
  • "Your brother will not mind it, I know," said she, "because I heard him sa_efore that he hated dancing; but it was very good-natured in him to think o_t. I suppose he saw Isabella sitting down, and fancied she might wish for _artner; but he is quite mistaken, for she would not dance upon any account i_he world."
  • Henry smiled, and said, "How very little trouble it can give you to understan_he motive of other people's actions."
  • "Why? What do you mean?"
  • "With you, it is not, How is such a one likely to be influenced, What is th_nducement most likely to act upon such a person's feelings, age, situation, and probable habits of life considered — but, How should I be influenced, Wha_ould be my inducement in acting so and so?"
  • "I do not understand you."
  • "Then we are on very unequal terms, for I understand you perfectly well."
  • "Me? Yes; I cannot speak well enough to be unintelligible."
  • "Bravo! An excellent satire on modern language."
  • "But pray tell me what you mean."
  • "Shall I indeed? Do you really desire it? But you are not aware of th_onsequences; it will involve you in a very cruel embarrassment, and certainl_ring on a disagreement between us.
  • "No, no; it shall not do either; I am not afraid."
  • "Well, then, I only meant that your attributing my brother's wish of dancin_ith Miss Thorpe to good nature alone convinced me of your being superior i_ood nature yourself to all the rest of the world."
  • Catherine blushed and disclaimed, and the gentleman's predictions wer_erified. There was a something, however, in his words which repaid her fo_he pain of confusion; and that something occupied her mind so much that sh_rew back for some time, forgetting to speak or to listen, and almos_orgetting where she was; till, roused by the voice of Isabella, she looked u_nd saw her with Captain Tilney preparing to give them hands across.
  • Isabella shrugged her shoulders and smiled, the only explanation of thi_xtraordinary change which could at that time be given; but as it was no_uite enough for Catherine's comprehension, she spoke her astonishment in ver_lain terms to her partner.
  • "I cannot think how it could happen! Isabella was so determined not to dance."
  • "And did Isabella never change her mind before?"
  • "Oh! But, because — And your brother! After what you told him from me, ho_ould he think of going to ask her?"
  • "I cannot take surprise to myself on that head. You bid me be surprised o_our friend's account, and therefore I am; but as for my brother, his conduc_n the business, I must own, has been no more than I believed him perfectl_qual to. The fairness of your friend was an open attraction; her firmness, you know, could only be understood by yourself."
  • "You are laughing; but, I assure you, Isabella is very firm in general."
  • "It is as much as should be said of anyone. To be always firm must be to b_ften obstinate. When properly to relax is the trial of judgment; and, withou_eference to my brother, I really think Miss Thorpe has by no means chosen il_n fixing on the present hour."
  • The friends were not able to get together for any confidential discourse til_ll the dancing was over; but then, as they walked about the room arm in arm, Isabella thus explained herself: "I do not wonder at your surprise; and I a_eally fatigued to death. He is such a rattle! Amusing enough, if my mind ha_een disengaged; but I would have given the world to sit still."
  • "Then why did not you?"
  • "Oh! My dear! It would have looked so particular; and you know how I abho_oing that. I refused him as long as I possibly could, but he would take n_enial. You have no idea how he pressed me. I begged him to excuse me, and ge_ome other partner — but no, not he; after aspiring to my hand, there wa_obody else in the room he could bear to think of; and it was not that h_anted merely to dance, he wanted to be with me. Oh! Such nonsense! I told hi_e had taken a very unlikely way to prevail upon me; for, of all things in th_orld, I hated fine speeches and compliments; and so — and so then I foun_here would be no peace if I did not stand up. Besides, I thought Mrs. Hughes, who introduced him, might take it ill if I did not: and your dear brother, _m sure he would have been miserable if I had sat down the whole evening. I a_o glad it is over! My spirits are quite jaded with listening to his nonsense: and then, being such a smart young fellow, I saw every eye was upon us."
  • "He is very handsome indeed."
  • "Handsome! Yes, I suppose he may. I dare say people would admire him i_eneral; but he is not at all in my style of beauty. I hate a flori_omplexion and dark eyes in a man. However, he is very well. Amazingl_onceited, I am sure. I took him down several times, you know, in my way."
  • When the young ladies next met, they had a far more interesting subject t_iscuss. James Morland's second letter was then received, and the kin_ntentions of his father fully explained. A living, of which Mr. Morland wa_imself patron and incumbent, of about four hundred pounds yearly value, wa_o be resigned to his son as soon as he should be old enough to take it; n_rifling deduction from the family income, no niggardly assignment to one o_en children. An estate of at least equal value, moreover, was assured as hi_uture inheritance.
  • James expressed himself on the occasion with becoming gratitude; and th_ecessity of waiting between two and three years before they could marry, being, however unwelcome, no more than he had expected, was borne by hi_ithout discontent. Catherine, whose expectations had been as unfixed as he_deas of her father's income, and whose judgment was now entirely led by he_rother, felt equally well satisfied, and heartily congratulated Isabella o_aving everything so pleasantly settled.
  • "It is very charming indeed," said Isabella, with a grave face. "Mr. Morlan_as behaved vastly handsome indeed," said the gentle Mrs. Thorpe, lookin_nxiously at her daughter. "I only wish I could do as much. One could no_xpect more from him, you know. If he finds he can do more by and by, I dar_ay he will, for I am sure he must be an excellent good-hearted man. Fou_undred is but a small income to begin on indeed, but your wishes, my dea_sabella, are so moderate, you do not consider how little you ever want, m_ear."
  • "It is not on my own account I wish for more; but I cannot bear to be th_eans of injuring my dear Morland, making him sit down upon an income hardl_nough to find one in the common necessaries of life. For myself, it i_othing; I never think of myself."
  • "I know you never do, my dear; and you will always find your reward in th_ffection it makes everybody feel for you. There never was a young woman s_eloved as you are by everybody that knows you; and I dare say when Mr.
  • Morland sees you, my dear child — but do not let us distress our dea_atherine by talking of such things. Mr. Morland has behaved so very handsome, you know. I always heard he was a most excellent man; and you know, my dear, we are not to suppose but what, if you had had a suitable fortune, he woul_ave come down with something more, for I am sure he must be a most liberal- minded man."
  • "Nobody can think better of Mr. Morland than I do, I am sure. But everybod_as their failing, you know, and everybody has a right to do what they lik_ith their own money." Catherine was hurt by these insinuations. "I am ver_ure," said she, "that my father has promised to do as much as he can afford."
  • Isabella recollected herself. "As to that, my sweet Catherine, there cannot b_ doubt, and you know me well enough to be sure that a much smaller incom_ould satisfy me. It is not the want of more money that makes me just a_resent a little out of spirits; I hate money; and if our union could tak_lace now upon only fifty pounds a year, I should not have a wish unsatisfied.
  • Ah! my Catherine, you have found me out. There's the sting. The long, long, endless two years and half that are to pass before your brother can hold th_iving."
  • "Yes, yes, my darling Isabella," said Mrs. Thorpe, "we perfectly see into you_eart. You have no disguise. We perfectly understand the present vexation; an_verybody must love you the better for such a noble honest affection."
  • Catherine's uncomfortable feelings began to lessen. She endeavoured to believ_hat the delay of the marriage was the only source of Isabella's regret; an_hen she saw her at their next interview as cheerful and amiable as ever, endeavoured to forget that she had for a minute thought otherwise. James soo_ollowed his letter, and was received with the most gratifying kindness.