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Chapter 7

  • Half a minute conducted them through the pump-yard to the archway, opposit_nion Passage; but here they were stopped. Everybody acquainted with Bath ma_emember the difficulties of crossing Cheap Street at this point; it is indee_ street of so impertinent a nature, so unfortunately connected with the grea_ondon and Oxford roads, and the principal inn of the city, that a day neve_asses in which parties of ladies, however important their business, whethe_n quest of pastry, millinery, or even (as in the present case) of young men, are not detained on one side or other by carriages, horsemen, or carts. Thi_vil had been felt and lamented, at least three times a day, by Isabella sinc_er residence in Bath; and she was now fated to feel and lament it once more, for at the very moment of coming opposite to Union Passage, and within view o_he two gentlemen who were proceeding through the crowds, and threading th_utters of that interesting alley, they were prevented crossing by th_pproach of a gig, driven along on bad pavement by a most knowing-lookin_oachman with all the vehemence that could most fitly endanger the lives o_imself, his companion, and his horse.
  • "Oh, these odious gigs!" said Isabella, looking up. "How I detest them." Bu_his detestation, though so just, was of short duration, for she looked agai_nd exclaimed, "Delightful! Mr. Morland and my brother!"
  • "Good heaven! 'Tis James!" was uttered at the same moment by Catherine; and, on catching the young men's eyes, the horse was immediately checked with _iolence which almost threw him on his haunches, and the servant having no_campered up, the gentlemen jumped out, and the equipage was delivered to hi_are.
  • Catherine, by whom this meeting was wholly unexpected, received her brothe_ith the liveliest pleasure; and he, being of a very amiable disposition, an_incerely attached to her, gave every proof on his side of equal satisfaction, which he could have leisure to do, while the bright eyes of Miss Thorpe wer_ncessantly challenging his notice; and to her his devoirs were speedily paid, with a mixture of joy and embarrassment which might have informed Catherine, had she been more expert in the development of other people's feelings, an_ess simply engrossed by her own, that her brother thought her friend quite a_retty as she could do herself.
  • John Thorpe, who in the meantime had been giving orders about the horses, soo_oined them, and from him she directly received the amends which were her due; for while he slightly and carelessly touched the hand of Isabella, on her h_estowed a whole scrape and half a short bow. He was a stout young man o_iddling height, who, with a plain face and ungraceful form, seemed fearful o_eing too handsome unless he wore the dress of a groom, and too much like _entleman unless he were easy where he ought to be civil, and impudent wher_e might be allowed to be easy. He took out his watch: "How long do you thin_e have been running it from Tetbury, Miss Morland?"
  • "I do not know the distance." Her brother told her that it was twenty-thre_iles.
  • "Three and twenty!" cried Thorpe. "Five and twenty if it is an inch." Morlan_emonstrated, pleaded the authority of road-books, innkeepers, and milestones; but his friend disregarded them all; he had a surer test of distance. "I kno_t must be five and twenty," said he, "by the time we have been doing it. I_s now half after one; we drove out of the inn-yard at Tetbury as the tow_lock struck eleven; and I defy any man in England to make my horse go les_han ten miles an hour in harness; that makes it exactly twenty-five."
  • "You have lost an hour," said Morland; "it was only ten o'clock when we cam_rom Tetbury."
  • "Ten o'clock! It was eleven, upon my soul! I counted every stroke. Thi_rother of yours would persuade me out of my senses, Miss Morland; do but loo_t my horse; did you ever see an animal so made for speed in your life?" (Th_ervant had just mounted the carriage and was driving off.) "Such true blood!
  • Three hours and and a half indeed coming only three and twenty miles! Look a_hat creature, and suppose it possible if you can."
  • "He does look very hot, to be sure."
  • "Hot! He had not turned a hair till we came to Walcot Church; but look at hi_orehand; look at his loins; only see how he moves; that horse cannot go les_han ten miles an hour: tie his legs and he will get on. What do you think o_y gig, Miss Morland? A neat one, is not it? Well hung; town-built; I have no_ad it a month. It was built for a Christchurch man, a friend of mine, a ver_ood sort of fellow; he ran it a few weeks, till, I believe, it was convenien_o have done with it. I happened just then to be looking out for some ligh_hing of the kind, though I had pretty well determined on a curricle too; bu_ chanced to meet him on Magdalen Bridge, as he was driving into Oxford, las_erm: 'Ah! Thorpe,' said he, 'do you happen to want such a little thing a_his? It is a capital one of the kind, but I am cursed tired of it.' 'Oh! D — ,' said I; 'I am your man; what do you ask?' And how much do you think he did, Miss Morland?"
  • "I am sure I cannot guess at all."
  • "Curricle-hung, you see; seat, trunk, sword-case, splashing-board, lamps, silver moulding, all you see complete; the iron-work as good as new, o_etter. He asked fifty guineas; I closed with him directly, threw down th_oney, and the carriage was mine."
  • "And I am sure," said Catherine, "I know so little of such things that _annot judge whether it was cheap or dear."
  • "Neither one nor t'other; I might have got it for less, I dare say; but I hat_aggling, and poor Freeman wanted cash."
  • "That was very good-natured of you," said Catherine, quite pleased.
  • "Oh! D — it, when one has the means of doing a kind thing by a friend, I hat_o be pitiful."
  • An inquiry now took place into the intended movements of the young ladies; and, on finding whither they were going, it was decided that the gentleme_hould accompany them to Edgar's Buildings, and pay their respects to Mrs.
  • Thorpe. James and Isabella led the way; and so well satisfied was the latte_ith her lot, so contentedly was she endeavouring to ensure a pleasant walk t_im who brought the double recommendation of being her brother's friend, an_er friend's brother, so pure and uncoquettish were her feelings, that, thoug_hey overtook and passed the two offending young men in Milsom Street, she wa_o far from seeking to attract their notice, that she looked back at them onl_hree times.
  • John Thorpe kept of course with Catherine, and, after a few minutes' silence, renewed the conversation about his gig. "You will find, however, Miss Morland, it would be reckoned a cheap thing by some people, for I might have sold i_or ten guineas more the next day; Jackson, of Oriel, bid me sixty at once; Morland was with me at the time."
  • "Yes," said Morland, who overheard this; "but you forget that your horse wa_ncluded."
  • "My horse! Oh, d — it! I would not sell my horse for a hundred. Are you fon_f an open carriage, Miss Morland?"
  • "Yes, very; I have hardly ever an opportunity of being in one; but I a_articularly fond of it."
  • "I am glad of it; I will drive you out in mine every day."
  • "Thank you," said Catherine, in some distress, from a doubt of the propriet_f accepting such an offer.
  • "I will drive you up Lansdown Hill tomorrow."
  • "Thank you; but will not your horse want rest?"
  • "Rest! He has only come three and twenty miles today; all nonsense; nothin_uins horses so much as rest; nothing knocks them up so soon. No, no; I shal_xercise mine at the average of four hours every day while I am here."
  • "Shall you indeed!" said Catherine very seriously. "That will be forty miles _ay."
  • "Forty! Aye, fifty, for what I care. Well, I will drive you up Lansdow_omorrow; mind, I am engaged."
  • "How delightful that will be!" cried Isabella, turning round. "My deares_atherine, I quite envy you; but I am afraid, brother, you will not have roo_or a third."
  • "A third indeed! No, no; I did not come to Bath to drive my sisters about; that would be a good joke, faith! Morland must take care of you."
  • This brought on a dialogue of civilities between the other two; but Catherin_eard neither the particulars nor the result. Her companion's discourse no_unk from its hitherto animated pitch to nothing more than a short decisiv_entence of praise or condemnation on the face of every woman they met; an_atherine, after listening and agreeing as long as she could, with all th_ivility and deference of the youthful female mind, fearful of hazarding a_pinion of its own in opposition to that of a self-assured man, especiall_here the beauty of her own sex is concerned, ventured at length to vary th_ubject by a question which had been long uppermost in her thoughts; it was,
  • "Have you ever read Udolpho, Mr. Thorpe?"
  • "Udolpho! Oh, Lord! Not I; I never read novels; I have something else to do."
  • Catherine, humbled and ashamed, was going to apologize for her question, bu_e prevented her by saying, "Novels are all so full of nonsense and stuff; there has not been a tolerably decent one come out since Tom Jones, except Th_onk; I read that t'other day; but as for all the others, they are th_tupidest things in creation."
  • "I think you must like Udolpho, if you were to read it; it is so ver_nteresting."
  • "Not I, faith! No, if I read any, it shall be Mrs. Radcliffe's; her novels ar_musing enough; they are worth reading; some fun and nature in them."
  • "Udolpho was written by Mrs. Radcliffe," said Catherine, with some hesitation, from the fear of mortifying him.
  • "No sure; was it? Aye, I remember, so it was; I was thinking of that othe_tupid book, written by that woman they make such a fuss about, she wh_arried the French emigrant."
  • "I suppose you mean Camilla?"
  • "Yes, that's the book; such unnatural stuff! An old man playing at see-saw, _ook up the first volume once and looked it over, but I soon found it woul_ot do; indeed I guessed what sort of stuff it must be before I saw it: a_oon as I heard she had married an emigrant, I was sure I should never be abl_o get through it."
  • "I have never read it."
  • "You had no loss, I assure you; it is the horridest nonsense you can imagine; there is nothing in the world in it but an old man's playing at see-saw an_earning Latin; upon my soul there is not."
  • This critique, the justness of which was unfortunately lost on poor Catherine, brought them to the door of Mrs. Thorpe's lodgings, and the feelings of th_iscerning and unprejudiced reader of Camilla gave way to the feelings of th_utiful and affectionate son, as they met Mrs. Thorpe, who had descried the_rom above, in the passage. "Ah, Mother! How do you do?" said he, giving her _earty shake of the hand. "Where did you get that quiz of a hat? It makes yo_ook like an old witch. Here is Morland and I come to stay a few days wit_ou, so you must look out for a couple of good beds somewhere near." And thi_ddress seemed to satisfy all the fondest wishes of the mother's heart, fo_he received him with the most delighted and exulting affection. On his tw_ounger sisters he then bestowed an equal portion of his fraternal tenderness, for he asked each of them how they did, and observed that they both looke_ery ugly.
  • These manners did not please Catherine; but he was James's friend an_sabella's brother; and her judgment was further bought off by Isabella'_ssuring her, when they withdrew to see the new hat, that John thought her th_ost charming girl in the world, and by John's engaging her before they parte_o dance with him that evening. Had she been older or vainer, such attack_ight have done little; but, where youth and diffidence are united, i_equires uncommon steadiness of reason to resist the attraction of bein_alled the most charming girl in the world, and of being so very early engage_s a partner; and the consequence was that, when the two Morlands, afte_itting an hour with the Thorpes, set off to walk together to Mr. Allen's, an_ames, as the door was closed on them, said, "Well, Catherine, how do you lik_y friend Thorpe?" instead of answering, as she probably would have done, ha_here been no friendship and no flattery in the case, "I do not like him a_ll," she directly replied, "I like him very much; he seems very agreeable."
  • "He is as good-natured a fellow as ever lived; a little of a rattle; but tha_ill recommend him to your sex, I believe: and how do you like the rest of th_amily?"
  • "Very, very much indeed: Isabella particularly."
  • "I am very glad to hear you say so; she is just the kind of young woman _ould wish to see you attached to; she has so much good sense, and is s_horoughly unaffected and amiable; I always wanted you to know her; and sh_eems very fond of you. She said the highest things in your praise that coul_ossibly be; and the praise of such a girl as Miss Thorpe even you, Catherine," taking her hand with affection, "may be proud of."
  • "Indeed I am," she replied; "I love her exceedingly, and am delighted to fin_hat you like her too. You hardly mentioned anything of her when you wrote t_e after your visit there."
  • "Because I thought I should soon see you myself. I hope you will be a grea_eal together while you are in Bath. She is a most amiable girl; such _uperior understanding! How fond all the family are of her; she is evidentl_he general favourite; and how much she must be admired in such a place a_his — is not she?"
  • "Yes, very much indeed, I fancy; Mr. Allen thinks her the prettiest girl i_ath."
  • "I dare say he does; and I do not know any man who is a better judge of beaut_han Mr. Allen. I need not ask you whether you are happy here, my dea_atherine; with such a companion and friend as Isabella Thorpe, it would b_mpossible for you to be otherwise; and the Allens, I am sure, are very kin_o you?"
  • "Yes, very kind; I never was so happy before; and now you are come it will b_ore delightful than ever; how good it is of you to come so far on purpose t_ee me."
  • James accepted this tribute of gratitude, and qualified his conscience fo_ccepting it too, by saying with perfect sincerity, "Indeed, Catherine, I lov_ou dearly."
  • Inquiries and communications concerning brothers and sisters, the situation o_ome, the growth of the rest, and other family matters now passed betwee_hem, and continued, with only one small digression on James's part, in prais_f Miss Thorpe, till they reached Pulteney Street, where he was welcomed wit_reat kindness by Mr. and Mrs. Allen, invited by the former to dine with them, and summoned by the latter to guess the price and weigh the merits of a ne_uff and tippet. A pre-engagement in Edgar's Buildings prevented his acceptin_he invitation of one friend, and obliged him to hurry away as soon as he ha_atisfied the demands of the other. The time of the two parties uniting in th_ctagon Room being correctly adjusted, Catherine was then left to the luxur_f a raised, restless, and frightened imagination over the pages of Udolpho, lost from all worldly concerns of dressing and dinner, incapable of soothin_rs. Allen's fears on the delay of an expected dressmaker, and having only on_inute in sixty to bestow even on the reflection of her own felicity, in bein_lready engaged for the evening.