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Chapter 27

  • The next morning brought the following very unexpected letter from Isabella:
  • Bath, April
  • My dearest Catherine, I received your two kind letters with the greates_elight, and have a thousand apologies to make for not answering them sooner.
  • I really am quite ashamed of my idleness; but in this horrid place one ca_ind time for nothing. I have had my pen in my hand to begin a letter to yo_lmost every day since you left Bath, but have always been prevented by som_illy trifler or other. Pray write to me soon, and direct to my own home.
  • Thank God, we leave this vile place tomorrow. Since you went away, I have ha_o pleasure in it — the dust is beyond anything; and everybody one cares fo_s gone. I believe if I could see you I should not mind the rest, for you ar_earer to me than anybody can conceive. I am quite uneasy about your dea_rother, not having heard from him since he went to Oxford; and am fearful o_ome misunderstanding. Your kind offices will set all right: he is the onl_an I ever did or could love, and I trust you will convince him of it. Th_pring fashions are partly down; and the hats the most frightful you ca_magine. I hope you spend your time pleasantly, but am afraid you never thin_f me. I will not say all that I could of the family you are with, because _ould not be ungenerous, or set you against those you esteem; but it is ver_ifficult to know whom to trust, and young men never know their minds two day_ogether. I rejoice to say that the young man whom, of all others, _articularly abhor, has left Bath. You will know, from this description, _ust mean Captain Tilney, who, as you may remember, was amazingly disposed t_ollow and tease me, before you went away. Afterwards he got worse, and becam_uite my shadow. Many girls might have been taken in, for never were suc_ttentions; but I knew the fickle sex too well. He went away to his regimen_wo days ago, and I trust I shall never be plagued with him again. He is th_reatest coxcomb I ever saw, and amazingly disagreeable. The last two days h_as always by the side of Charlotte Davis: I pitied his taste, but took n_otice of him. The last time we met was in Bath Street, and I turned directl_nto a shop that he might not speak to me; I would not even look at him. H_ent into the pump-room afterwards; but I would not have followed him for al_he world. Such a contrast between him and your brother! Pray send me som_ews of the latter — I am quite unhappy about him; he seemed so uncomfortabl_hen he went away, with a cold, or something that affected his spirits. _ould write to him myself, but have mislaid his direction; and, as I hinte_bove, am afraid he took something in my conduct amiss. Pray explai_verything to his satisfaction; or, if he still harbours any doubt, a lin_rom himself to me, or a call at Putney when next in town, might set all t_ights. I have not been to the rooms this age, nor to the play, except goin_n last night with the Hodges, for a frolic, at half price: they teased m_nto it; and I was determined they should not say I shut myself up becaus_ilney was gone. We happened to sit by the Mitchells, and they pretended to b_uite surprised to see me out. I knew their spite: at one time they could no_e civil to me, but now they are all friendship; but I am not such a fool a_o be taken in by them. You know I have a pretty good spirit of my own. Ann_itchell had tried to put on a turban like mine, as I wore it the week befor_t the concert, but made wretched work of it — it happened to become my od_ace, I believe, at least Tilney told me so at the time, and said every ey_as upon me; but he is the last man whose word I would take. I wear nothin_ut purple now: I know I look hideous in it, but no matter — it is your dea_rother's favourite colour. Lose no time, my dearest, sweetest Catherine, i_riting to him and to me, Who ever am, etc.
  • Such a strain of shallow artifice could not impose even upon Catherine. It_nconsistencies, contradictions, and falsehood struck her from the very first.
  • She was ashamed of Isabella, and ashamed of having ever loved her. He_rofessions of attachment were now as disgusting as her excuses were empty,
  • and her demands impudent. "Write to James on her behalf! No, James shoul_ever hear Isabella's name mentioned by her again."
  • On Henry's arrival from Woodston, she made known to him and Eleanor thei_rother's safety, congratulating them with sincerity on it, and reading alou_he most material passages of her letter with strong indignation. When she ha_inished it — "So much for Isabella," she cried, "and for all our intimacy!
  • She must think me an idiot, or she could not have written so; but perhaps thi_as served to make her character better known to me than mine is to her. I se_hat she has been about. She is a vain coquette, and her tricks have no_nswered. I do not believe she had ever any regard either for James or for me,
  • and I wish I had never known her."
  • "It will soon be as if you never had," said Henry.
  • "There is but one thing that I cannot understand. I see that she has ha_esigns on Captain Tilney, which have not succeeded; but I do not understan_hat Captain Tilney has been about all this time. Why should he pay her suc_ttentions as to make her quarrel with my brother, and then fly off himself?"
  • "I have very little to say for Frederick's motives, such as I believe them t_ave been. He has his vanities as well as Miss Thorpe, and the chie_ifference is, that, having a stronger head, they have not yet injure_imself. If the effect of his behaviour does not justify him with you, we ha_etter not seek after the cause."
  • "Then you do not suppose he ever really cared about her?"
  • "I am persuaded that he never did."
  • "And only made believe to do so for mischief's sake?"
  • Henry bowed his assent.
  • "Well, then, I must say that I do not like him at all. Though it has turne_ut so well for us, I do not like him at all. As it happens, there is no grea_arm done, because I do not think Isabella has any heart to lose. But, suppos_e had made her very much in love with him?"
  • "But we must first suppose Isabella to have had a heart to lose — consequentl_o have been a very different creature; and, in that case, she would have me_ith very different treatment."
  • "It is very right that you should stand by your brother."
  • "And if you would stand by yours, you would not be much distressed by th_isappointment of Miss Thorpe. But your mind is warped by an innate principl_f general integrity, and therefore not accessible to the cool reasonings o_amily partiality, or a desire of revenge."
  • Catherine was complimented out of further bitterness. Frederick could not b_npardonably guilty, while Henry made himself so agreeable. She resolved o_ot answering Isabella's letter, and tried to think no more of it.