فصل 02

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فصل 02

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Chapter two

Extremely Agreeable Introductions

Every morning now brought its regular duties for Catherine and Mrs Allen: visiting shops, exploring Bath, attending the Pump Room, where they walked up and down for an hour, looking at everybody and speaking to no one. Mrs Allen repeated her usual disappointment every morning: ‘Oh, my dear, I would very much like to find someone I know in this crowd!’

Then on Friday evening when they arrived in the Lower Rooms, Catherine’s fortunes improved. Mr King, whose job was to act as host, introduced Catherine to a young gentleman as her dance partner. Mr Henry Tilney was about twenty-five years old, rather tall, with a pleasing, if not quite handsome, face and, in general, an intelligent and energetic manner. He spoke politely and Catherine felt lucky to have him as a partner. When the two young people retired to the tea table, Catherine discovered that Mr Tilney was very entertaining company. After some polite conversation, he said in a dramatic whisper, ‘Miss Morland, I must apologise. I have not asked you how long you have been in Bath; if you have been here before; whether you have been in the Upper Rooms, to the theatre, to a concert. Forgive me and allow me to begin my list of questions immediately.’ Then Mr Tilney, with a bow and in an exaggerated, extremely polite voice asked, ‘Have you been in Bath long, madam?’

‘About a week, sir,’ answered Catherine, trying not to laugh.

‘A week! Really!’ replied Mr Tilney with excessive surprise.

‘Why should you be so surprised, sir?’ asked Catherine. She too was now speaking like an actor in the theatre.

‘That is a good question!’ said Tilney in his normal voice, ‘But reacting to your answers with appropriate emotions and gestures is my duty. Now let us continue. Were you ever here before, madam?’

‘Never, sir,’ replied Catherine, enjoying the game.

‘How interesting!’ cried Mr Tilney, continuing with his actor’s voice. ‘Have you been to the Upper Rooms? The theatre? The concert hall? And are you totally pleased with Bath?’

Catherine smiled at her companion and said, ‘Yes, I have been everywhere, and I like the city very much.’ She turned her head away, not knowing whether she should laugh or not.

‘Miss Morland, will you be writing unkind things about me in your journal? I predict you will say: “Friday, went to the Lower Rooms and had to dance with a silly man who bothered me with his strange conversation, delivered in a funny voice.’”

‘I would never say such a thing,’ objected Catherine.

‘May I tell you what you ought to say?’ asked Mr Tilney.

‘Please, sir.’

“‘I danced with a very agreeable young man. We enjoyed a great deal of pleasant conversation and he seemed a most extraordinary and intelligent person. I hope I get to know him better.” That, madam, is what I wish you to write in your journal.’

‘But perhaps I do not have a journal.’

‘Not have a journal! How will you re-live every dance, every flattering word, every admiring glance? My dear madam, I think writing a journal is delightful and so particularly suited to the talents of young ladies, whose usual writing style is perfectly faultless except in two areas: a lack of subject, and no attention to the essential rules that govern the English language.’

‘You do not have a very high opinion of ladies’ talents.’

‘Actually, I believe that in every area where good taste is the basis for success, high achievement is quite fairly divided between the sexes,’ finished Mr Tilney.

But then this interesting discussion was interrupted by Mrs Allen. ‘My dear Catherine, can you look at my dress? Have I torn it? It cost me more than any other dress in my wardrobe.’

‘Madam, I can see why it was so expensive,’ said Mr Tilney. ‘Miss Morland’s dress, on the other hand, is pretty but the fabric is too delicate. It will not wash well.’

Catherine began laughing and said, ‘Sir, how can you be so…’ She almost said, ‘strange’.

But Mrs Allen was delighted to talk about her favourite subject, and Mr Tilney was polite enough to continue chatting about fabrics and current fashions for another five minutes.

When Mr Tilney and Catherine returned to the dance floor, he noticed a troubled look on his partner’s face.

‘What are you thinking of so seriously?’ he asked.

Catherine blushed; she had been wondering if Mr Tilney had been too obviously teasing Mrs Allen. But she said, ‘I was not thinking of anything.’

‘You would not look so serious if something had not upset you. I would prefer to be told at once that you choose not to tell me what you are thinking.’

‘Well, then, I choose not to tell you,’ replied Catherine with clear determination.

‘Thank you,’ said her dance partner. ‘Now I can tease you about your serious, secret thoughts and opinions whenever we meet. Nothing brings people closer than a bit of teasing.’

They danced again, and when the assembly closed, Catherine, at least, hoped that there would be many more opportunities to continue their friendship. She did not intend to dream of Henry Tilney that night. As a famous writer has insisted, a young lady must not dream about a gentleman or fall in love with him before the gentleman declares his love for her.

As Catherine’s host and protector, Mr Allen enquired about her dance partner. Discovering that Henry Tilney was a clergyman from a very respectable family in Gloucestershire allowed him to feel satisfied that he had done his duty.


With more than usual eagerness, Catherine hurried to the Pump Room the next day. She felt sure that she would see Mr Tilney there and she was ready to meet him with a smile. But unfortunately no smile was required. It seemed that every other creature in Bath arrived in the room during the fashionable hours; only Henry Tilney remained absent.

Mrs Allen once again repeated her usual complaint: ‘How pleasant Bath would be if we had some acquaintances here!’ This wish had been repeated by Mrs Allen so often that it is not surprising that on this morning she had her reward. When she and Catherine sat down, the woman to their right stared at them for a few seconds before crying, ‘Madam, if my eyes do not deceive me, your name is Allen.’

Looking closely at the woman next to her, Mrs Allen cried in delight, ‘Mrs Thorpe, my old school friend - it is you, isn’t it?’ The two ladies had not been in contact for more than fifteen years, and now their joy in meeting again was enormous. They chatted excitedly, talking both at the same time, and each much more interested in giving than receiving information.

Although Mrs Thorpe was a widow, and not a very rich one, she had one great advantage over Mrs Allen: she had three sons and three daughters. Mrs Allen had no children to talk about, but as she listened to all the news about the Thorpe children, she enjoyed noticing that her old friend’s costume was quite inferior to anything in her own wardrobe.

‘Look! Here are my dear girls,’ cried Mrs Thorpe, pointing at three smart-looking females moving towards them. ‘The tallest, the most beautiful and most elegant is Isabella, my eldest.’

After Mrs Allen was introduced, she presented Catherine Morland to the Thorpe ladies.

‘Miss Morland! You are the picture of your brother!’ the Thorpes cried.

They quickly explained that their brother, John, was at Oxford University and was a great friend of James Morland, Catherine’s brother, who was studying to be a clergyman like his father. Catherine remembered that James had recently visited a college friend and his family near London. And this was the family. How lovely!

Soon the eldest Thorpe girl, Isabella, invited Catherine to take her arm and walk round the room with her. Catherine was so delighted that she almost forgot Henry Tilney while she was talking to Miss Thorpe. Friendship is certainly the finest medicine for the pain of disappointed love.

Because Miss Isabella Thorpe was four years older, Catherine felt that she could learn a lot about society from her new friend. When they parted, she watched Isabella as she walked away. She admired the older girl’s graceful walk, her lovely figure, her fashionable dress, and she felt extremely lucky to have found such a charming companion.

That evening at the theatre and the next morning in the warm sunshine in the Crescent, Catherine enjoyed the sweet pleasure of her new and agreeable friendship with Isabella. She was so much happier than she had been in her first week in Bath, but she desired another meeting with Mr Henry Tilney and could find him nowhere. He must have left Bath, although he had not mentioned his departure on Friday evening. Of course this sort of mysterious behaviour is always attractive in a hero, and it made our heroine anxious to know more about him.

Isabella loved to hear anything with even a hint of romance, and wanted to know everything about Henry Tilney; therefore, he became a regular topic of conversation for the two young ladies. Catherine re-lived every moment that she had spent with the young gentleman, and Isabella analysed the situation and gave advice from her superior experience and wisdom.

‘He must be a charming young man, and I am sure he found you equally charming. He must have important business in Gloucestershire and will soon return to Bath. And he is a clergyman! I have a particular liking for clergymen,’ Isabella said in a rather dreamy voice.

Not being experienced in the etiquette of romance, Catherine did not demand to know the cause of Isabella’s emotional response to clergymen. Perhaps as a good friend she should have insisted that her friend tell her more about her ‘particular liking’.


The friendship between the two girls nevertheless continued to grow and to become more and more affectionate. Even if the weather was very poor, the two young ladies walked through mud and rain to sit together and read novels. Yes, novels!

To many people, novels are considered to be nothing more than foolish nonsense. But why? Novels may not be as serious as books about history or science or even art, but novels have humour, mystery, culture and elegance. Do not, therefore, say, ‘Oh! It is only a novel!’ Read novels and learn everything about human nature in the most delightful language and through the most entertaining plots. Our two young ladies, you will see, had already learned this lesson. Listen to their conversation in the Pump Room after a friendship of only eight or nine days.

‘My dear Catherine,’ Isabella began, ‘I saw the prettiest hat you can imagine in the shop in Milsom Street; I must say that I longed to have it. But, Catherine, what have you been doing all morning? Have you read more Udolpho?’

‘Oh, yes!’ cried Catherine. ‘I am at the part with the black veil.’

‘You are desperate to know what is behind the veil, aren’t you?’

‘Do not tell me! I know it must be Laurentina’s bones. Oh, I love Udolpho! I assure you that only a meeting with you could persuade me to come away from it.’

‘How charming of you. When you finish Udolpho, I have a list of ten or twelve other Gothic novels that I am certain you will love,’ Isabella said.

‘But are they all frightening and full of dark secrets and mysterious accidents?’ hoped Catherine.

‘Of course,’ Isabella assured her. ‘My friend Miss Andrews has recommended them to me. Miss Andrews is as beautiful as an angel, and I often scold men terribly for not admiring her!’

‘Scold them! Do you really scold them for not admiring her?’ asked Catherine, who was quite shocked by Isabella.

‘Yes, in fact, I told Captain Hunt at a ball this winter that even if he teased me all evening, I would not dance with him unless he admitted that Miss Andrews was beautiful. I am determined to show men that we ladies are capable of real friendship. For example, if I heard anybody say anything negative about you, I would quickly lose my temper. Of course, that will not happen, because you will always be a great favourite with the men.’

‘How can you say that?’ Catherine cried, blushing bright red. ‘Dear Catherine, Miss Andrews is really quite dull compared to you. I saw a young man watching you yesterday, and I am sure he is in love with you. Don’t look embarrassed. I understand perfectly that your heart is attached to another man, who shall remain nameless.’

‘But I may never see Mr Tilney again,’ said Catherine rather desperately. ‘Don’t say that I have lost my heart to him. I will not think about him; instead, I shall worry about the black veil.’

‘Well, my dear, we will change the subject. Have you decided what you will wear tonight? I am determined to dress exactly like you. The men take notice of that sometimes, you know.’

‘Does it mean anything?’ asked Catherine innocently.

‘Mean anything! I make it a rule to ignore what men notice or what they say. They are often very bold if you do not treat them with spirit and make them keep their distance.’

‘Are they bold? Men always behave very politely to me,’ said Catherine, feeling quite confused.

‘Oh, men think they are so important! But, listen, I have meant to ask you something: do you prefer men with dark or fair hair?’

‘I have not really thought about it,’ answered Catherine, ‘but perhaps neither. Something between the two: a medium brown.’

‘That sounds like your description of Mr Tilney’s hair, and he has dark brown eyes, if I remember correctly. I actually prefer fair hair and blue eyes better than any other, but do not reveal my preference if you know anyone like that.’

‘Why would I do that?’ Catherine asked, feeling more confused than ever.

‘Catherine, let us drop the subject for now. Let us move to the other end of the room. I believe there are two bold young men near us who have been staring at me for more than half an hour.’ The young ladies walked to the book at the front of the room. ‘Watch those two young men, dear Catherine. I hope they are not following us. I refuse to take any notice of them.’

‘There is nothing to worry about, dear Isabella,’ Catherine assured her friend. ‘They have left the Pump Room.’

‘Which way did they go?’ asked Isabella in a rush. ‘One was very good-looking.’

‘They went towards the church.’

‘Well, I am very glad that I have got rid of them!’ insisted Isabella. ‘Now please accompany me to the hat shop.’

‘That would be lovely,’ agreed Catherine, ‘but we may see those two young men if we go in that direction.’

‘I will not take any notice of them. If I did, it would spoil them and make them believe they were important.’

Catherine did not know how to argue against this logic, so she and her friend walked as quickly as possible towards the hat shop, following in the steps of the two young men.

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