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Patterns of Diction in Jane Austen's Major Novels


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Catherine’s disposition was not naturally sedentary, nor had her habits been ever very industrious; but whatever might hitherto have been her defects of that sort, her mother could not but perceive them now to be greatly increased. She could neither sit still nor employ herself for ten minutes together, walking round the garden and orchard again and again, as if nothing but motion was voluntary; and it seemed as if she could even walk about the house rather than remain fixed for any time in the parlour. Her loss of spirits was a yet greater alteration. In her rambling and her idleness she might only be a caricature of herself; but in her silence and sadness she was the very reverse of all that she had been before.
For two days Mrs. Morland allowed it to pass even without a hint; but when a third night’s rest had neither restored her cheerfulness, improved her in useful activity, nor given her a greater inclination for needlework, she could no longer refrain from the gentle reproof of,
“My dear Catherine, I am afraid you are growing quite a fine lady. I do not know when poor Richard’s cravats would be done, if he had no friend but you. Your head runs too much upon Bath; but there is a time for everything — a time for balls and plays, and a time for work. You have had a long run of amusement, and now you must try to be useful.”
“her head did not run upon Bath — much.”
“Then you are fretting about General Tilney, and that is very simple of you; for ten to one whether you ever see him again. You should never fret about trifles.”
After a short silence —
“I hope, my Catherine, you are not getting out of humour with home because it is not so grand as Northanger. That would be turning your visit into an evil indeed. Wherever you are you should always be contented, but especially at home, because there you must spend the most of your time. I did not quite like, at breakfast, to hear you talk so much about the French bread at Northanger.”
“I am sure I do not care about the bread. It is all the same to me what I eat.”
“There is a very clever essay in one of the books upstairs upon much such a subject, about young girls that have been spoilt for home by great acquaintance — The Mirror, I think. I will look it out for you some day or other, because I am sure it will do you good.”
Catherine said no more, and, with an endeavour to do right, applied to her work; but, after a few minutes, sunk again, without knowing it herself, into languor and listlessness, moving herself in her chair, from the irritation of weariness, much oftener than she moved her needle. Mrs. Morland watched the progress of this relapse; and seeing, in her daughter’s absent and dissatisfied look, the full proof of that repining spirit to which she had now begun to attribute her want of cheerfulness, hastily left the room to fetch the book in question, anxious to lose no time in attacking so dreadful a malady. It was some time before she could find what she looked for; and other family matters occurring to detain her, a quarter of an hour had elapsed ere she returned downstairs with the volume from which so much was hoped. Her avocations above having shut out all noise but what she created herself, she knew not that a visitor had arrived within the last few minutes, till, on entering the room, the first object she beheld was a young man whom she had never seen before.
With a look of much respect, he immediately rose, and being introduced to her by her conscious daughter as
“Mr. Henry Tilney,”
with the embarrassment of real sensibility
began to apologize
for his appearance there,
acknowledging that
after what had passed he had little right to expect a welcome at Fullerton,
his impatience to be assured of Miss Morland’s having reached her home in safety, as the cause of his intrusion.
He did not address himself to an uncandid judge or a resentful heart. Far from comprehending him or his sister in their father’s misconduct, Mrs. Morland had been always kindly disposed towards each, and instantly, pleased by his appearance, received him with the simple professions of unaffected benevolence;
thanking him for
such an attention to her daughter,
assuring him that the friends of her children were always welcome there, and entreating him to say not another word of the past.
He was not ill-inclined to obey this request, for, though his heart was greatly relieved by such unlooked-for mildness, it was not just at that moment in his power to say anything to the purpose. Returning in silence to his seat, therefore, he remained for some minutes most civilly answering all Mrs. Morland’s common remarks about the weather and roads. Catherine meanwhile — the anxious, agitated, happy, feverish Catherine — said not a word; but her glowing cheek and brightened eye
made her mother trust that
this good-natured visit would at least set her heart at ease for a time,
and gladly therefore did she lay aside the first volume of The Mirror for a future hour.
Desirous of Mr. Morland’s assistance, as well in giving encouragement, as in finding conversation for her guest, whose embarrassment on his father’s account she earnestly pitied, Mrs. Morland had very early dispatched one of the children to summon him; but Mr. Morland was from home — and being thus without any support, at the end of a quarter of an hour she had nothing to say. After a couple of minutes’ unbroken silence,
turning to Catherine for the first time since her mother’s entrance,
asked her,
with sudden alacrity,
if Mr. and Mrs. Allen were now at Fullerton?
on developing,
from amidst all her perplexity of words in reply,
the meaning,
which one short syllable would have given,
immediately expressed
his intention of paying his respects to them,
and, with a rising colour,
asked her
if she would have the goodness to show him the way.
“You may see the house from this window, sir,”
was information on Sarah’s side, which produced only a bow of acknowledgment from the gentleman, and a silencing nod from her mother; for
Mrs. Morland, thinking
it probable, as a secondary consideration in his wish of waiting on their worthy neighbours, that he might have some explanation to give of his father’s behaviour, which it must be more pleasant for him to communicate only to Catherine,
would not on any account prevent her accompanying him.
They began their walk, and Mrs. Morland was not entirely mistaken in his object in wishing it. Some explanation on his father’s account he had to give; but his first purpose was to explain himself, and before they reached Mr. Allen’s grounds he had done it so well that Catherine did not think it could ever be repeated too often. She was assured of his affection; and that heart in return was solicited, which, perhaps, they pretty equally knew was already entirely his own; for, though Henry was now sincerely attached to her, though he felt and delighted in all the excellencies of her character and truly loved her society, I must confess that his affection originated in nothing better than gratitude, or, in other words, that a persuasion of her partiality for him had been the only cause of giving her a serious thought. It is a new circumstance in romance, I acknowledge, and dreadfully derogatory of an heroine’s dignity; but if it be as new in common life, the credit of a wild imagination will at least be all my own.