The Allens had now entered on the sixth week of their stay in Bath; an_hether it should be the last was for some time a question, to which Catherin_istened with a beating heart. To have her acquaintance with the Tilneys en_o soon was an evil which nothing could counterbalance. Her whole happines_eemed at stake, while the affair was in suspense, and everything secured whe_t was determined that the lodgings should be taken for another fortnight.
What this additional fortnight was to produce to her beyond the pleasure o_ometimes seeing Henry Tilney made but a small part of Catherine'_peculation. Once or twice indeed, since James's engagement had taught he_hat could be done, she had got so far as to indulge in a secret "perhaps,"
but in general the felicity of being with him for the present bounded he_iews: the present was now comprised in another three weeks, and her happines_eing certain for that period, the rest of her life was at such a distance a_o excite but little interest. In the course of the morning which saw thi_usiness arranged, she visited Miss Tilney, and poured forth her joyfu_eelings. It was doomed to be a day of trial. No sooner had she expressed he_elight in Mr. Allen's lengthened stay than Miss Tilney told her of he_ather's having just determined upon quitting Bath by the end of another week.
Here was a blow! The past suspense of the morning had been ease and quiet t_he present disappointment. Catherine's countenance fell, and in a voice o_ost sincere concern she echoed Miss Tilney's concluding words, "By the end o_nother week!"
"Yes, my father can seldom be prevailed on to give the waters what I think _air trial. He has been disappointed of some friends' arrival whom he expecte_o meet here, and as he is now pretty well, is in a hurry to get home."
"I am very sorry for it," said Catherine dejectedly; "if I had known thi_efore — "
"Perhaps," said Miss Tilney in an embarrassed manner, "you would be so good —
it would make me very happy if — "
The entrance of her father put a stop to the civility, which Catherine wa_eginning to hope might introduce a desire of their corresponding. Afte_ddressing her with his usual politeness, he turned to his daughter and said,
"Well, Eleanor, may I congratulate you on being successful in your applicatio_o your fair friend?"
"I was just beginning to make the request, sir, as you came in."
"Well, proceed by all means. I know how much your heart is in it. My daughter,
Miss Morland," he continued, without leaving his daughter time to speak, "ha_een forming a very bold wish. We leave Bath, as she has perhaps told you, o_aturday se'nnight. A letter from my steward tells me that my presence i_anted at home; and being disappointed in my hope of seeing the Marquis o_ongtown and General Courteney here, some of my very old friends, there i_othing to detain me longer in Bath. And could we carry our selfish point wit_ou, we should leave it without a single regret. Can you, in short, b_revailed on to quit this scene of public triumph and oblige your frien_leanor with your company in Gloucestershire? I am almost ashamed to make th_equest, though its presumption would certainly appear greater to ever_reature in Bath than yourself. Modesty such as yours — but not for the worl_ould I pain it by open praise. If you can be induced to honour us with _isit, you will make us happy beyond expression. 'Tis true, we can offer yo_othing like the gaieties of this lively place; we can tempt you neither b_musement nor splendour, for our mode of living, as you see, is plain an_npretending; yet no endeavours shall be wanting on our side to mak_orthanger Abbey not wholly disagreeable."
Northanger Abbey! These were thrilling words, and wound up Catherine'_eelings to the highest point of ecstasy. Her grateful and gratified hear_ould hardly restrain its expressions within the language of tolerabl_almness. To receive so flattering an invitation! To have her company s_armly solicited! Everything honourable and soothing, every present enjoyment,
and every future hope was contained in it; and her acceptance, with only th_aving clause of Papa and Mamma's approbation, was eagerly given. "I wil_rite home directly," said she, "and if they do not object, as I dare say the_ill not — "
General Tilney was not less sanguine, having already waited on her excellen_riends in Pulteney Street, and obtained their sanction of his wishes. "Sinc_hey can consent to part with you," said he, "we may expect philosophy fro_ll the world."
Miss Tilney was earnest, though gentle, in her secondary civilities, and th_ffair became in a few minutes as nearly settled as this necessary referenc_o Fullerton would allow.
The circumstances of the morning had led Catherine's feelings through th_arieties of suspense, security, and disappointment; but they were now safel_odged in perfect bliss; and with spirits elated to rapture, with Henry at he_eart, and Northanger Abbey on her lips, she hurried home to write her letter.
Mr. and Mrs. Morland, relying on the discretion of the friends to whom the_ad already entrusted their daughter, felt no doubt of the propriety of a_cquaintance which had been formed under their eye, and sent therefore b_eturn of post their ready consent to her visit in Gloucestershire. Thi_ndulgence, though not more than Catherine had hoped for, completed he_onviction of being favoured beyond every other human creature, in friends an_ortune, circumstance and chance. Everything seemed to cooperate for he_dvantage. By the kindness of her first friends, the Allens, she had bee_ntroduced into scenes where pleasures of every kind had met her. He_eelings, her preferences, had each known the happiness of a return. Whereve_he felt attachment, she had been able to create it. The affection of Isabell_as to be secured to her in a sister. The Tilneys, they, by whom, above all,
she desired to be favourably thought of, outstripped even her wishes in th_lattering measures by which their intimacy was to be continued. She was to b_heir chosen visitor, she was to be for weeks under the same roof with th_erson whose society she mostly prized — and, in addition to all the rest,
this roof was to be the roof of an abbey! Her passion for ancient edifices wa_ext in degree to her passion for Henry Tilney — and castles and abbeys mad_sually the charm of those reveries which his image did not fill. To see an_xplore either the ramparts and keep of the one, or the cloisters of th_ther, had been for many weeks a darling wish, though to be more than th_isitor of an hour had seemed too nearly impossible for desire. And yet, thi_as to happen. With all the chances against her of house, hall, place, park,
court, and cottage, Northanger turned up an abbey, and she was to be it_nhabitant. Its long, damp passages, its narrow cells and ruined chapel, wer_o be within her daily reach, and she could not entirely subdue the hope o_ome traditional legends, some awful memorials of an injured and ill-fate_un.
It was wonderful that her friends should seem so little elated by th_ossession of such a home, that the consciousness of it should be so meekl_orne. The power of early habit only could account for it. A distinction t_hich they had been born gave no pride. Their superiority of abode was no mor_o them than their superiority of person.
Many were the inquiries she was eager to make of Miss Tilney; but so activ_ere her thoughts, that when these inquiries were answered, she was hardl_ore assured than before, of Northanger Abbey having been a richly endowe_onvent at the time of the Reformation, of its having fallen into the hands o_n ancestor of the Tilneys on its dissolution, of a large portion of th_ncient building still making a part of the present dwelling although the res_as decayed, or of its standing low in a valley, sheltered from the north an_ast by rising woods of oak.