‘I am sorry, but I will not change my plans,’ Catherine insisted.
‘Very well, then that is the end of our party tomorrow. If Catherine does not go, I cannot,’ said Isabella through her tears. ‘It would be very improper.’
‘Why can’t Mr Thorpe invite one of his younger sisters? I imagine they would like to go for a carriage ride,’ suggested Catherine.
Mr Thorpe, who had left the group for a few minutes, heard this suggestion and shouted, ‘Thank you very much, but I did not come to Bath to drive those silly girls around. And anyway, I have solved the problem, and now we may all four go tomorrow with no worries. I have spoken to Miss Tilney and made your excuses. You can go out with them another day.’
‘No! I cannot believe you would do such a thing,’ cried Catherine.
‘I have done it. I told her you had sent me to say that having just remembered a prior engagement of going to Clifton with us tomorrow, you could not walk with her until Tuesday. She said Tuesday was convenient for her, so there is an end to our argument. That was a good idea of mine, wasn’t it?’
‘No, it was not! I must run after Miss Tilney and explain everything. You had no business inventing a message from me and trying to trick me into doing what I thought was wrong.’ As Catherine rushed off to find Miss Tilney, her mind was greatly troubled. She did not like disappointing and displeasing her brother and Isabella, but she would not break a promise that had already been made, and she would not fail to keep an engagement with Miss Tilney and her brother for the second time.
She saw the Tilneys and their father as they entered their lodgings and hurried after them.
‘Miss Tilney!’ Catherine shouted. ‘I told them that I could not go with them. I ran here to explain everything to you.’ Although Catherine’s speech was not completely clear, the Tilneys understood her and everyone was on friendly terms again. Eleanor introduced Catherine to General Tilney, who welcomed her into their house very politely and invited her to join them for dinner one evening if the Allens could spare her. After sitting with the three of them for a quarter of an hour, General Tilney accompanied Catherine to the street and said goodbye in the most graceful, friendly manner.
At Pulteney Street, Catherine wondered if she had been unkind to Isabella and James, and mentioned their plan to Mr Allen.
‘Were you thinking of going with them?’ asked Mr Allen.
‘No, sir. I had just agreed to go for a walk with Miss Tilney, so I could not go with them, could I?’
‘No, certainly not, and I am glad you would not consider it. I do not approve of young men and women who are not related driving around the country in open carriages, going to inns and public places together! It is not proper, and I am surprised that Mrs Thorpe allows it.’
‘I wish Mrs Allen had stopped me on the other occasion,’ said Catherine quietly.
‘No harm has been done,’ Mr Allen replied, ‘but I would advise you, my dear, not to go out with Mr Thorpe anymore.’
Monday dawned clear and bright and Catherine was rewarded with a perfect walk in the country with the pleasantest companions: Eleanor and Henry Tilney.
The conversation covered every imaginable topic, ranging from the novels of Mrs Radcliff, which all three were fans of, to an analysis of the current government. Catherine listened with great attention after the talk moved away from the Gothic novels that she loved so much. She was very impressed with how much both Eleanor and Henry knew about history, art, nature and even politics. You may remember that she had never been a very willing student, and this fact actually made her very good company for such clever conversationalists as the Tilneys. Obvious admiration for a young man’s superior knowledge is always a great advantage in an attractive young woman.
The whole walk was delightful, and although it ended too soon for Catherine, she was very pleased by its conclusion. When they returned to Pulteney Street, Miss Tilney asked Mrs Allen if they might invite Catherine to join them for dinner on the day after next. No difficulty was made on Mrs Allen’s side, and Catherine’s only problem was to hide her excessive pleasure at receiving this kind invitation.
The morning had been so charming, so enjoyable that Catherine had not thought about James or Isabella, but was reminded of them in the afternoon when she happened to meet Miss Anne Thorpe in Bond Street.
‘Good afternoon, Anne,’ Catherine began. ‘Did your sister and brother go for their drive to Clifton this morning?’
‘Yes, my other sister, Maria, went with them. I think you had a lucky escape. It must have been a very boring, dull drive, but Maria was excited about going. I decided immediately that I did not want to go with them.’
Catherine doubted that Anne wanted to be left behind, but she was happy to know that the trip had not been cancelled because of her refusal to join it. Before leaving she asked, ‘And did Maria enjoy seeing Blaize Castle?’