Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey: Ch. 6

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Chapter 6

The following conversationd, which took place between the two friends in the pump-room one morning, after an acquaintance of eight or nine days, is given as a specimen of their very warm attachment, and of the delicacy, discretion, originality of thought, and literary taste which marked the reasonableness of that attachment.

They met by appointment; and as Isabella had arrived nearly five minutes before her friend, her first address naturally was, "My dearest creature, what can have made you so late? I have been waiting for you at least this age!d"

"Have you, indeed! I am very sorry for it; but really I thought I was in very good time. It is but just one. I hope you have not been here long?"

"Oh! These ten ages at least. I am sure I have been here this half hour. But now, let us go and sit down at the other end of the room, and enjoy ourselves. I have an hundred things to say to you. In the first place, I was so afraid it would rain this morning, just as I wanted to set off; it looked very showery, and that would have thrown me into agonies! Do you know, I saw the prettiest hat you can imagine, in a shop window in Milsom Street just now—very like yours, only with coquelicotw ribbons instead of green; I quite longed for it. But, my dearest Catherine, what have you been doing with yourself all this morning? Have you gone on with Udolphoh?"

"Yes, I have been reading it ever since I woke; and I am got to the black veil."

"Are you, indeed? How delightful! Oh! I would not tell you what is behind the black veil for the world! Are not you wild to know?"

"Oh! Yes, quite; what can it be? But do not tell me—I would not be told upon any account. I know it must be a skeleton, I am sure it is Laurentina's skeleton. Oh! I am delighted with the book! I should like to spend my whole life in reading it. I assure you, if it had not been to meet you, I would not have come away from it for all the world."

"Dear creature! How much I am obliged to you; and when you have finished Udolpho, we will read the Italianh together; and I have made out a list of ten or twelve more of the same kind for you."

"Have you, indeed! How glad I am! What are they all?"

"I will read you their names directly; here they are, in my pocketbook. Castle of Wolfenbach, Clermont, Mysterious Warnings, Necromancer of the Black Forest, Midnight Bell, Orphan of the Rhine, and Horrid Mysteriesh. Those will last us some time."

"Yes, pretty well; but are they all horrid, are you sure they are all horridw?"

"Yes, quite sure; for a particular friend of mine, a Miss Andrews, a sweet girl, one of the sweetest creatures in the world, has read every one of them. I wish you knew Miss Andrews, you would be delighted with her. She is netting herself the sweetest cloak you can conceive. I think her as beautiful as an angel, and I am so vexed with the men for not admiring her! I scold them all amazingly about it."

"Scold them! Do you scold them for not admiring her?"

X [d] The following conversation

Writing & Reading

Shows the influence of the theater, especially comedy, upon Austen. Catherine plays the ingénue to the self-promoting and comparatively worldly Isabella.

X [d] at least this age!

Isabella's speech is peppered with gross exaggerations such as this and faddish language.

X [w] coquelicot

A brilliant red poppy with a dash of orange.

X [h] Udolpho

Writing & Reading

Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho. (Search + Gothic)

X [h] the Italian

Writing & Reading

Or The Confessional of the Black Penitents, 1797, the last novel of her novels, though she died in 1823.

X [h] Castle of Wolfenbach, Clermont, Mysterious Wa…

Writing & Reading

The story by Eliza Parsons, 1793, of an innocent pursued by her predatory uncle; Clermont (1798) by Regina Maria Roche; The Necromancer(1794) is by Ludwig Flammenberg, the pen name of Carl Friedrich Kahlert; The Midnight Bell  (1798), by Francis Lathom; Orphan of the Rhine, a romance (1798) by Eleanor Sleath; Horrid Mysteries: a story from the German of the Marquis of Grosse (1796).

Austen read and liked much of the Gothic literaure.

X [w] horrid

Causing horror.