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Chapter 19

  • A few days passed away, and Catherine, though not allowing herself to suspec_er friend, could not help watching her closely. The result of he_bservations was not agreeable. Isabella seemed an altered creature. When sh_aw her, indeed, surrounded only by their immediate friends in Edgar'_uildings or Pulteney Street, her change of manners was so trifling that, ha_t gone no farther, it might have passed unnoticed. A something of langui_ndifference, or of that boasted absence of mind which Catherine had neve_eard of before, would occasionally come across her; but had nothing wors_ppeared, that might only have spread a new grace and inspired a warme_nterest. But when Catherine saw her in public, admitting Captain Tilney'_ttentions as readily as they were offered, and allowing him almost an equa_hare with James in her notice and smiles, the alteration became too positiv_o be passed over. What could be meant by such unsteady conduct, what he_riend could be at, was beyond her comprehension. Isabella could not be awar_f the pain she was inflicting; but it was a degree of wilful thoughtlessnes_hich Catherine could not but resent. James was the sufferer. She saw hi_rave and uneasy; and however careless of his present comfort the woman migh_e who had given him her heart, to her it was always an object. For poo_aptain Tilney too she was greatly concerned. Though his looks did not pleas_er, his name was a passport to her goodwill, and she thought with sincer_ompassion of his approaching disappointment; for, in spite of what she ha_elieved herself to overhear in the pump-room, his behaviour was s_ncompatible with a knowledge of Isabella's engagement that she could not,
  • upon reflection, imagine him aware of it. He might be jealous of her brothe_s a rival, but if more had seemed implied, the fault must have been in he_isapprehension. She wished, by a gentle remonstrance, to remind Isabella o_er situation, and make her aware of this double unkindness; but fo_emonstrance, either opportunity or comprehension was always against her. I_ble to suggest a hint, Isabella could never understand it. In this distress,
  • the intended departure of the Tilney family became her chief consolation;
  • their journey into Gloucestershire was to take place within a few days, an_aptain Tilney's removal would at least restore peace to every heart but hi_wn. But Captain Tilney had at present no intention of removing; he was not t_e of the party to Northanger; he was to continue at Bath. When Catherine kne_his, her resolution was directly made. She spoke to Henry Tilney on th_ubject, regretting his brother's evident partiality for Miss Thorpe, an_ntreating him to make known her prior engagement.
  • "My brother does know it," was Henry's answer.
  • "Does he? Then why does he stay here?"
  • He made no reply, and was beginning to talk of something else; but she eagerl_ontinued, "Why do not you persuade him to go away? The longer he stays, th_orse it will be for him at last. Pray advise him for his own sake, and fo_verybody's sake, to leave Bath directly. Absence will in time make hi_omfortable again; but he can have no hope here, and it is only staying to b_iserable."
  • Henry smiled and said, "I am sure my brother would not wish to do that."
  • "Then you will persuade him to go away?"
  • "Persuasion is not at command; but pardon me, if I cannot even endeavour t_ersuade him. I have myself told him that Miss Thorpe is engaged. He know_hat he is about, and must be his own master."
  • "No, he does not know what he is about," cried Catherine; "he does not kno_he pain he is giving my brother. Not that James has ever told me so, but I a_ure he is very uncomfortable."
  • "And are you sure it is my brother's doing?"
  • "Yes, very sure."
  • "Is it my brother's attentions to Miss Thorpe, or Miss Thorpe's admission o_hem, that gives the pain?"
  • "Is not it the same thing?"
  • "I think Mr. Morland would acknowledge a difference. No man is offended b_nother man's admiration of the woman he loves; it is the woman only who ca_ake it a torment."
  • Catherine blushed for her friend, and said, "Isabella is wrong. But I am sur_he cannot mean to torment, for she is very much attached to my brother. Sh_as been in love with him ever since they first met, and while my father'_onsent was uncertain, she fretted herself almost into a fever. You know sh_ust be attached to him."
  • "I understand: she is in love with James, and flirts with Frederick."
  • "Oh! no, not flirts. A woman in love with one man cannot flirt with another."
  • "It is probable that she will neither love so well, nor flirt so well, as sh_ight do either singly. The gentlemen must each give up a little."
  • After a short pause, Catherine resumed with, "Then you do not believe Isabell_o very much attached to my brother?"
  • "I can have no opinion on that subject."
  • "But what can your brother mean? If he knows her engagement, what can he mea_y his behaviour?"
  • "You are a very close questioner."
  • "Am I? I only ask what I want to be told."
  • "But do you only ask what I can be expected to tell?"
  • "Yes, I think so; for you must know your brother's heart."
  • "My brother's heart, as you term it, on the present occasion, I assure you _an only guess at."
  • "Well?"
  • "Well! Nay, if it is to be guesswork, let us all guess for ourselves. To b_uided by second-hand conjecture is pitiful. The premises are before you. M_rother is a lively and perhaps sometimes a thoughtless young man; he has ha_bout a week's acquaintance with your friend, and he has known her engagemen_lmost as long as he has known her."
  • "Well," said Catherine, after some moments' consideration, "you may be able t_uess at your brother's intentions from all this; but I am sure I cannot. Bu_s not your father uncomfortable about it? Does not he want Captain Tilney t_o away? Sure, if your father were to speak to him, he would go."
  • "My dear Miss Morland," said Henry, "in this amiable solicitude for you_rother's comfort, may you not be a little mistaken? Are you not carried _ittle too far? Would he thank you, either on his own account or Mis_horpe's, for supposing that her affection, or at least her good behaviour, i_nly to be secured by her seeing nothing of Captain Tilney? Is he safe only i_olitude? Or is her heart constant to him only when unsolicited by anyon_lse? He cannot think this — and you may be sure that he would not have yo_hink it. I will not say, 'Do not be uneasy,' because I know that you are so,
  • at this moment; but be as little uneasy as you can. You have no doubt of th_utual attachment of your brother and your friend; depend upon it, therefore,
  • that real jealousy never can exist between them; depend upon it that n_isagreement between them can be of any duration. Their hearts are open t_ach other, as neither heart can be to you; they know exactly what is require_nd what can be borne; and you may be certain that one will never tease th_ther beyond what is known to be pleasant."
  • Perceiving her still to look doubtful and grave, he added, "Though Frederic_oes not leave Bath with us, he will probably remain but a very short time,
  • perhaps only a few days behind us. His leave of absence will soon expire, an_e must return to his regiment. And what will then be their acquaintance? Th_ess-room will drink Isabella Thorpe for a fortnight, and she will laugh wit_our brother over poor Tilney's passion for a month."
  • Catherine would contend no longer against comfort. She had resisted it_pproaches during the whole length of a speech, but it now carried he_aptive. Henry Tilney must know best. She blamed herself for the extent of he_ears, and resolved never to think so seriously on the subject again.
  • Her resolution was supported by Isabella's behaviour in their partin_nterview. The Thorpes spent the last evening of Catherine's stay in Pultene_treet, and nothing passed between the lovers to excite her uneasiness, o_ake her quit them in apprehension. James was in excellent spirits, an_sabella most engagingly placid. Her tenderness for her friend seemed rathe_he first feeling of her heart; but that at such a moment was allowable; an_nce she gave her lover a flat contradiction, and once she drew back her hand;
  • but Catherine remembered Henry's instructions, and placed it all to judiciou_ffection. The embraces, tears, and promises of the parting fair ones may b_ancied.