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Chapter 29

  • Catherine was too wretched to be fearful. The journey in itself had no terror_or her; and she began it without either dreading its length or feeling it_olitariness. Leaning back in one comer of the carriage, in a violent burst o_ears, she was conveyed some miles beyond the walls of the abbey before sh_aised her head; and the highest point of ground within the park was almos_losed from her view before she was capable of turning her eyes towards it.
  • Unfortunately, the road she now travelled was the same which only ten days ag_he had so happily passed along in going to and from Woodston; and, fo_ourteen miles, every bitter feeling was rendered more severe by the review o_bjects on which she had first looked under impressions so different. Ever_ile, as it brought her nearer Woodston, added to her sufferings, and whe_ithin the distance of five, she passed the turning which led to it, an_hought of Henry, so near, yet so unconscious, her grief and agitation wer_xcessive.
  • The day which she had spent at that place had been one of the happiest of he_ife. It was there, it was on that day, that the general had made use of suc_xpressions with regard to Henry and herself, had so spoken and so looked a_o give her the most positive conviction of his actually wishing thei_arriage. Yes, only ten days ago had he elated her by his pointed regard — ha_e even confused her by his too significant reference! And now — what had sh_one, or what had she omitted to do, to merit such a change?
  • The only offence against him of which she could accuse herself had been suc_s was scarcely possible to reach his knowledge. Henry and her own heart onl_ere privy to the shocking suspicions which she had so idly entertained; an_qually safe did she believe her secret with each. Designedly, at least, Henr_ould not have betrayed her. If, indeed, by any strange mischance his fathe_hould have gained intelligence of what she had dared to think and look for,
  • of her causeless fancies and injurious examinations, she could not wonder a_ny degree of his indignation. If aware of her having viewed him as _urderer, she could not wonder at his even turning her from his house. But _ustification so full of torture to herself, she trusted, would not be in hi_ower.
  • Anxious as were all her conjectures on this point, it was not, however, th_ne on which she dwelt most. There was a thought yet nearer, a mor_revailing, more impetuous concern. How Henry would think, and feel, and look,
  • when he returned on the morrow to Northanger and heard of her being gone, wa_ question of force and interest to rise over every other, to be neve_easing, alternately irritating and soothing; it sometimes suggested the drea_f his calm acquiescence, and at others was answered by the sweetes_onfidence in his regret and resentment. To the general, of course, he woul_ot dare to speak; but to Eleanor — what might he not say to Eleanor abou_er?
  • In this unceasing recurrence of doubts and inquiries, on any one article o_hich her mind was incapable of more than momentary repose, the hours passe_way, and her journey advanced much faster than she looked for. The pressin_nxieties of thought, which prevented her from noticing anything before her,
  • when once beyond the neighbourhood of Woodston, saved her at the same tim_rom watching her progress; and though no object on the road could engage _oment's attention, she found no stage of it tedious. From this, she wa_reserved too by another cause, by feeling no eagerness for her journey'_onclusion; for to return in such a manner to Fullerton was almost to destro_he pleasure of a meeting with those she loved best, even after an absenc_uch as hers — an eleven weeks' absence. What had she to say that would no_umble herself and pain her family, that would not increase her own grief b_he confession of it, extend an useless resentment, and perhaps involve th_nnocent with the guilty in undistinguishing ill will? She could never d_ustice to Henry and Eleanor's merit; she felt it too strongly for expression;
  • and should a dislike be taken against them, should they be thought o_nfavourably, on their father's account, it would cut her to the heart.
  • With these feelings, she rather dreaded than sought for the first view of tha_ell-known spire which would announce her within twenty miles of home.
  • Salisbury she had known to be her point on leaving Northanger; but after th_irst stage she had been indebted to the post-masters for the names of th_laces which were then to conduct her to it; so great had been her ignoranc_f her route. She met with nothing, however, to distress or frighten her. He_outh, civil manners, and liberal pay procured her all the attention that _raveller like herself could require; and stopping only to change horses, sh_ravelled on for about eleven hours without accident or alarm, and between si_nd seven o'clock in the evening found herself entering Fullerton.
  • A heroine returning, at the close of her career, to her native village, in al_he triumph of recovered reputation, and all the dignity of a countess, with _ong train of noble relations in their several phaetons, and three waiting-
  • maids in a travelling chaise and four, behind her, is an event on which th_en of the contriver may well delight to dwell; it gives credit to ever_onclusion, and the author must share in the glory she so liberally bestows.
  • But my affair is widely different; I bring back my heroine to her home i_olitude and disgrace; and no sweet elation of spirits can lead me int_inuteness. A heroine in a hack post-chaise is such a blow upon sentiment, a_o attempt at grandeur or pathos can withstand. Swiftly therefore shall he_ost-boy drive through the village, amid the gaze of Sunday groups, and speed_hall be her descent from it.
  • But, whatever might be the distress of Catherine's mind, as she thus advance_owards the parsonage, and whatever the humiliation of her biographer i_elating it, she was preparing enjoyment of no everyday nature for those t_hom she went; first, in the appearance of her carriage — and secondly, i_erself. The chaise of a traveller being a rare sight in Fullerton, the whol_amily were immediately at the window; and to have it stop at the sweep-gat_as a pleasure to brighten every eye and occupy every fancy — a pleasure quit_nlooked for by all but the two youngest children, a boy and girl of six an_our years old, who expected a brother or sister in every carriage. Happy th_lance that first distinguished Catherine! Happy the voice that proclaimed th_iscovery! But whether such happiness were the lawful property of George o_arriet could never be exactly understood.
  • Her father, mother, Sarah, George, and Harriet, all assembled at the door t_elcome her with affectionate eagerness, was a sight to awaken the bes_eelings of Catherine's heart; and in the embrace of each, as she stepped fro_he carriage, she found herself soothed beyond anything that she had believe_ossible. So surrounded, so caressed, she was even happy! In the joyfulness o_amily love everything for a short time was subdued, and the pleasure o_eeing her, leaving them at first little leisure for calm curiosity, they wer_ll seated round the tea-table, which Mrs. Morland had hurried for the comfor_f the poor traveller, whose pale and jaded looks soon caught her notice,
  • before any inquiry so direct as to demand a positive answer was addressed t_er.
  • Reluctantly, and with much hesitation, did she then begin what might perhaps,
  • at the end of half an hour, be termed, by the courtesy of her hearers, a_xplanation; but scarcely, within that time, could they at all discover th_ause, or collect the particulars, of her sudden return. They were far fro_eing an irritable race; far from any quickness in catching, or bitterness i_esenting, affronts: but here, when the whole was unfolded, was an insult no_o be overlooked, nor, for the first half hour, to be easily pardoned. Withou_uffering any romantic alarm, in the consideration of their daughter's lon_nd lonely journey, Mr. and Mrs. Morland could not but feel that it might hav_een productive of much unpleasantness to her; that it was what they coul_ever have voluntarily suffered; and that, in forcing her on such a measure,
  • General Tilney had acted neither honourably nor feelingly — neither as _entleman nor as a parent. Why he had done it, what could have provoked him t_uch a breach of hospitality, and so suddenly turned all his partial regar_or their daughter into actual ill will, was a matter which they were at leas_s far from divining as Catherine herself; but it did not oppress them by an_eans so long; and, after a due course of useless conjecture, that "it was _trange business, and that he must be a very strange man," grew enough for al_heir indignation and wonder; though Sarah indeed still indulged in the sweet_f incomprehensibility, exclaiming and conjecturing with youthful ardour. "M_ear, you give yourself a great deal of needless trouble," said her mother a_ast; "depend upon it, it is something not at all worth understanding."
  • "I can allow for his wishing Catherine away, when he recollected thi_ngagement," said Sarah, "but why not do it civilly?"
  • "I am sorry for the young people," returned Mrs. Morland; "they must have _ad time of it; but as for anything else, it is no matter now; Catherine i_afe at home, and our comfort does not depend upon General Tilney." Catherin_ighed. "Well," continued her philosophic mother, "I am glad I did not know o_our journey at the time; but now it is all over, perhaps there is no grea_arm done. It is always good for young people to be put upon exertin_hemselves; and you know, my dear Catherine, you always were a sad littl_catter-brained creature; but now you must have been forced to have your wit_bout you, with so much changing of chaises and so forth; and I hope it wil_ppear that you have not left anything behind you in any of the pockets."
  • Catherine hoped so too, and tried to feel an interest in her own amendment,
  • but her spirits were quite worn down; and, to be silent and alone becomin_oon her only wish, she readily agreed to her mother's next counsel of goin_arly to bed. Her parents, seeing nothing in her ill looks and agitation bu_he natural consequence of mortified feelings, and of the unusual exertion an_atigue of such a journey, parted from her without any doubt of their bein_oon slept away; and though, when they all met the next morning, her recover_as not equal to their hopes, they were still perfectly unsuspicious of ther_eing any deeper evil. They never once thought of her heart, which, for th_arents of a young lady of seventeen, just returned from her first excursio_rom home, was odd enough!
  • As soon as breakfast was over, she sat down to fulfil her promise to Mis_ilney, whose trust in the effect of time and distance on her friend'_isposition was already justified, for already did Catherine reproach hersel_ith having parted from Eleanor coldly, with having never enough valued he_erits or kindness, and never enough commiserated her for what she had bee_esterday left to endure. The strength of these feelings, however, was fa_rom assisting her pen; and never had it been harder for her to write than i_ddressing Eleanor Tilney. To compose a letter which might at once do justic_o her sentiments and her situation, convey gratitude without servile regret,
  • be guarded without coldness, and honest without resentment — a letter whic_leanor might not be pained by the perusal of — and, above all, which sh_ight not blush herself, if Henry should chance to see, was an undertaking t_righten away all her powers of performance; and, after long thought and muc_erplexity, to be very brief was all that she could determine on with an_onfidence of safety. The money therefore which Eleanor had advanced wa_nclosed with little more than grateful thanks, and the thousand good wishe_f a most affectionate heart.
  • "This has been a strange acquaintance," observed Mrs. Morland, as the lette_as finished; "soon made and soon ended. I am sorry it happens so, for Mrs.
  • Allen thought them very pretty kind of young people; and you were sadly out o_uck too in your Isabella. Ah! Poor James! Well, we must live and learn; an_he next new friends you make I hope will be better worth keeping."
  • Catherine coloured as she warmly answered, "No friend can be better wort_eeping than Eleanor."
  • "If so, my dear, I dare say you will meet again some time or other; do not b_neasy. It is ten to one but you are thrown together again in the course of _ew years; and then what a pleasure it will be!"
  • Mrs. Morland was not happy in her attempt at consolation. The hope of meetin_gain in the course of a few years could only put into Catherine's head wha_ight happen within that time to make a meeting dreadful to her. She coul_ever forget Henry Tilney, or think of him with less tenderness than she di_t that moment; but he might forget her; and in that case, to meet — ! He_yes filled with tears as she pictured her acquaintance so renewed; and he_other, perceiving her comfortable suggestions to have had no good effect,
  • proposed, as another expedient for restoring her spirits, that they shoul_all on Mrs. Allen.
  • The two houses were only a quarter of a mile apart; and, as they walked, Mrs.
  • Morland quickly dispatched all that she felt on the score of James'_isappointment. "We are sorry for him," said she; "but otherwise there is n_arm done in the match going off; for it could not be a desirable thing t_ave him engaged to a girl whom we had not the smallest acquaintance with, an_ho was so entirely without fortune; and now, after such behaviour, we canno_hink at all well of her. Just at present it comes hard to poor James; bu_hat will not last forever; and I dare say he will be a discreeter man all hi_ife, for the foolishness of his first choice."
  • This was just such a summary view of the affair as Catherine could listen to;
  • another sentence might have endangered her complaisance, and made her repl_ess rational; for soon were all her thinking powers swallowed up in th_eflection of her own change of feelings and spirits since last she ha_rodden that well-known road. It was not three months ago since, wild wit_oyful expectation, she had there run backwards and forwards some ten times _ay, with an heart light, gay, and independent; looking forward to pleasure_ntasted and unalloyed, and free from the apprehension of evil as from th_nowledge of it. Three months ago had seen her all this; and now, how altere_ being did she return!
  • She was received by the Allens with all the kindness which her unlooked-fo_ppearance, acting on a steady affection, would naturally call forth; an_reat was their surprise, and warm their displeasure, on hearing how she ha_een treated — though Mrs. Morland's account of it was no inflate_epresentation, no studied appeal to their passions. "Catherine took us quit_y surprise yesterday evening," said she. "She travelled all the way post b_erself, and knew nothing of coming till Saturday night; for General Tilney,
  • from some odd fancy or other, all of a sudden grew tired of having her there,
  • and almost turned her out of the house. Very unfriendly, certainly; and h_ust be a very odd man; but we are so glad to have her amongst us again! An_t is a great comfort to find that she is not a poor helpless creature, bu_an shift very well for herself."
  • Mr. Allen expressed himself on the occasion with the reasonable resentment o_ sensible friend; and Mrs. Allen thought his expressions quite good enough t_e immediately made use of again by herself. His wonder, his conjectures, an_is explanations became in succession hers, with the addition of this singl_emark — "I really have not patience with the general" — to fill up ever_ccidental pause. And, "I really have not patience with the general," wa_ttered twice after Mr. Allen left the room, without any relaxation of anger,
  • or any material digression of thought. A more considerable degree of wanderin_ttended the third repetition; and, after completing the fourth, sh_mmediately added, "Only think, my dear, of my having got that frightful grea_ent in my best Mechlin so charmingly mended, before I left Bath, that one ca_ardly see where it was. I must show it you some day or other. Bath is a nic_lace, Catherine, after all. I assure you I did not above half like comin_way. Mrs. Thorpe's being there was such a comfort to us, was not it? Yo_now, you and I were quite forlorn at first."
  • "Yes, but that did not last long," said Catherine, her eyes brightening at th_ecollection of what had first given spirit to her existence there.
  • "Very true: we soon met with Mrs. Thorpe, and then we wanted for nothing. M_ear, do not you think these silk gloves wear very well? I put them on new th_irst time of our going to the Lower Rooms, you know, and I have worn them _reat deal since. Do you remember that evening?"
  • "Do I! Oh! Perfectly."
  • "It was very agreeable, was not it? Mr. Tilney drank tea with us, and I alway_hought him a great addition, he is so very agreeable. I have a notion yo_anced with him, but am not quite sure. I remember I had my favourite gow_n."
  • Catherine could not answer; and, after a short trial of other subjects, Mrs.
  • Allen again returned to — "I really have not patience with the general! Suc_n agreeable, worthy man as he seemed to be! I do not suppose, Mrs. Morland,
  • you ever saw a better-bred man in your life. His lodgings were taken the ver_ay after he left them, Catherine. But no wonder; Milsom Street, you know."
  • As they walked home again, Mrs. Morland endeavoured to impress on he_aughter's mind the happiness of having such steady well-wishers as Mr. an_rs. Allen, and the very little consideration which the neglect or unkindnes_f slight acquaintance like the Tilneys ought to have with her, while sh_ould preserve the good opinion and affection of her earliest friends. Ther_as a great deal of good sense in all this; but there are some situations o_he human mind in which good sense has very little power; and Catherine'_eelings contradicted almost every position her mother advanced. It was upo_he behaviour of these very slight acquaintance that all her present happines_epended; and while Mrs. Morland was successfully confirming her own opinion_y the justness of her own representations, Catherine was silently reflectin_hat now Henry must have arrived at Northanger; now he must have heard of he_eparture; and now, perhaps, they were all setting off for Hereford.