He had been puzzled by the way that Catherine carried herself; her attitude a_his sentimental crisis seemed to him unnaturally passive. She had not spoke_o him again after that scene in the library, the day before his intervie_ith Morris; and a week had elapsed without making any change in her manner.
There was nothing in it that appealed for pity, and he was even a littl_isappointed at her not giving him an opportunity to make up for his harshnes_y some manifestation of liberality which should operate as a compensation. H_hought a little of offering to take her for a tour in Europe; but he wa_etermined to do this only in case she should seem mutely to reproach him. H_ad an idea that she would display a talent for mute reproaches, and he wa_urprised at not finding himself exposed to these silent batteries. She sai_othing, either tacitly or explicitly, and as she was never very talkative,
there was now no especial eloquence in her reserve. And poor Catherine was no_ulky—a style of behaviour for which she had too little histrionic talent; sh_as simply very patient. Of course she was thinking over her situation, an_he was apparently doing so in a deliberate and unimpassioned manner, with _iew of making the best of it.
"She will do as I have bidden her," said the Doctor, and he made the furthe_eflexion that his daughter was not a woman of a great spirit. I know no_hether he had hoped for a little more resistance for the sake of a littl_ore entertainment; but he said to himself, as he had said before, that thoug_t might have its momentary alarms, paternity was, after all, not an excitin_ocation.
Catherine, meanwhile, had made a discovery of a very different sort; it ha_ecome vivid to her that there was a great excitement in trying to be a goo_aughter. She had an entirely new feeling, which may be described as a stat_f expectant suspense about her own actions. She watched herself as she woul_ave watched another person, and wondered what she would do. It was as if thi_ther person, who was both herself and not herself, had suddenly sprung int_eing, inspiring her with a natural curiosity as to the performance o_ntested functions.
"I am glad I have such a good daughter," said her father, kissing her, afte_he lapse of several days.
"I am trying to be good," she answered, turning away, with a conscience no_ltogether clear.
"If there is anything you would like to say to me, you know you must no_esitate. You needn't feel obliged to be so quiet. I shouldn't care that Mr.
Townsend should be a frequent topic of conversation, but whenever you hav_nything particular to say about him I shall be very glad to hear it."
"Thank you," said Catherine; "I have nothing particular at present."
He never asked her whether she had seen Morris again, because he was sure tha_f this had been the case she would tell him. She had, in fact, not seen him,
she had only written him a long letter. The letter at least was long for her;
and, it may be added, that it was long for Morris; it consisted of five pages,
in a remarkably neat and handsome hand. Catherine's handwriting was beautiful,
and she was even a little proud of it; she was extremely fond of copying, an_ossessed volumes of extracts which testified to this accomplishment; volume_hich she had exhibited one day to her lover, when the bliss of feeling tha_he was important in his eyes was exceptionally keen. She told Morris i_riting that her father had expressed the wish that she should not see hi_gain, and that she begged he would not come to the house until she shoul_ave "made up her mind." Morris replied with a passionate epistle, in which h_sked to what, in Heaven's name, she wished to make up her mind. Had not he_ind been made up two weeks before, and could it be possible that sh_ntertained the idea of throwing him off? Did she mean to break down at th_ery beginning of their ordeal, after all the promises of fidelity she ha_oth given and extracted? And he gave an account of his own interview with he_ather—an account not identical at all points with that offered in thes_ages. "He was terribly violent," Morris wrote; "but you know my self-control.
I have need of it all when I remember that I have it in my power to break i_pon your cruel captivity." Catherine sent him, in answer to this, a note o_hree lines. "I am in great trouble; do not doubt of my affection, but let m_ait a little and think." The idea of a struggle with her father, of settin_p her will against his own, was heavy on her soul, and it kept her formall_ubmissive, as a great physical weight keeps us motionless. It never entere_nto her mind to throw her lover off; but from the first she tried to assur_erself that there would be a peaceful way out of their difficulty. Th_ssurance was vague, for it contained no element of positive conviction tha_er father would change his mind. She only had an idea that if she should b_ery good, the situation would in some mysterious manner improve. To be good,
she must be patient, respectful, abstain from judging her father too harshly,
and from committing any act of open defiance. He was perhaps right, after all,
to think as he did; by which Catherine meant not in the least that hi_udgement of Morris's motives in seeking to marry her was perhaps a just one,
but that it was probably natural and proper that conscientious parents shoul_e suspicious and even unjust. There were probably people in the world as ba_s her father supposed Morris to be, and if there were the slightest chance o_orris being one of these sinister persons, the Doctor was right in taking i_nto account. Of course he could not know what she knew, how the purest lov_nd truth were seated in the young man's eyes; but Heaven, in its time, migh_ppoint a way of bringing him to such knowledge. Catherine expected a goo_eal of Heaven, and referred to the skies the initiative, as the French say,
in dealing with her dilemma. She could not imagine herself imparting any kin_f knowledge to her father, there was something superior even in his injustic_nd absolute in his mistakes. But she could at least be good, and if she wer_nly good enough, Heaven would invent some way of reconciling all things—th_ignity of her father's errors and the sweetness of her own confidence, th_trict performance of her filial duties and the enjoyment of Morris Townsend'_ffection. Poor Catherine would have been glad to regard Mrs. Penniman as a_lluminating agent, a part which this lady herself indeed was but imperfectl_repared to play. Mrs. Penniman took too much satisfaction in the sentimenta_hadows of this little drama to have, for the moment, any great interest i_issipating them. She wished the plot to thicken, and the advice that she gav_er niece tended, in her own imagination, to produce this result. It wa_ather incoherent counsel, and from one day to another it contradicted itself;
but it was pervaded by an earnest desire that Catherine should do somethin_triking. "You must ACT, my dear; in your situation the great thing is t_ct," said Mrs. Penniman, who found her niece altogether beneath he_pportunities. Mrs. Penniman's real hope was that the girl would make a secre_arriage, at which she should officiate as brideswoman or duenna. She had _ision of this ceremony being performed in some subterranean chapel—
subterranean chapels in New York were not frequent, but Mrs. Penniman'_magination was not chilled by trifles—and of the guilty couple—she liked t_hink of poor Catherine and her suitor as the guilty couple—being shuffle_way in a fast-whirling vehicle to some obscure lodging in the suburbs, wher_he would pay them (in a thick veil) clandestine visits, where they woul_ndure a period of romantic privation, and where ultimately, after she shoul_ave been their earthly providence, their intercessor, their advocate, an_heir medium of communication with the world, they should be reconciled to he_rother in an artistic tableau, in which she herself should be somehow th_entral figure. She hesitated as yet to recommend this course to Catherine,
but she attempted to draw an attractive picture of it to Morris Townsend. Sh_as in daily communication with the young man, whom she kept informed b_etters of the state of affairs in Washington Square. As he had been banished,
as she said, from the house, she no longer saw him; but she ended by writin_o him that she longed for an interview. This interview could take place onl_n neutral ground, and she bethought herself greatly before selecting a plac_f meeting. She had an inclination for Greenwood Cemetery, but she gave it u_s too distant; she could not absent herself for so long, as she said, withou_xciting suspicion. Then she thought of the Battery, but that was rather col_nd windy, besides one's being exposed to intrusion from the Irish emigrant_ho at this point alight, with large appetites, in the New World and at las_he fixed upon an oyster saloon in the Seventh Avenue, kept by a negro—a_stablishment of which she knew nothing save that she had noticed it i_assing. She made an appointment with Morris Townsend to meet him there, an_he went to the tryst at dusk, enveloped in an impenetrable veil. He kept he_aiting for half an hour—he had almost the whole width of the city t_raverse—but she liked to wait, it seemed to intensify the situation. Sh_rdered a cup of tea, which proved excessively bad, and this gave her a sens_hat she was suffering in a romantic cause. When Morris at last arrived, the_at together for half an hour in the duskiest corner of a back shop; and it i_ardly too much to say that this was the happiest half-hour that Mrs. Pennima_ad known for years. The situation was really thrilling, and it scarcel_eemed to her a false note when her companion asked for an oyster stew, an_roceeded to consume it before her eyes. Morris, indeed, needed all th_atisfaction that stewed oysters could give him, for it may be intimated t_he reader that he regarded Mrs. Penniman in the light of a fifth wheel to hi_oach. He was in a state of irritation natural to a gentleman of fine part_ho had been snubbed in a benevolent attempt to confer a distinction upon _oung woman of inferior characteristics, and the insinuating sympathy of thi_omewhat desiccated matron appeared to offer him no practical relief. H_hought her a humbug, and he judged of humbugs with a good deal of confidence.
He had listened and made himself agreeable to her at first, in order to get _ooting in Washington Square; and at present he needed all his self-command t_e decently civil. It would have gratified him to tell her that she was _antastic old woman, and that he should like to put her into an omnibus an_end her home. We know, however, that Morris possessed the virtue of self-
control, and he had, moreover, the constant habit of seeking to be agreeable;
so that, although Mrs. Penniman's demeanour only exasperated his alread_nquiet nerves, he listened to her with a sombre deference in which she foun_uch to admire.