Missing scenefrom Northanger Abbey. General Tilney learns that Catherine isn't everything she appears to be.
This was written for a Jane Austen class in college.
All characters and places belong to Jane Austen. I don't own them, nor am I making any money off of them.
General Tilney silently urged his driver to go faster. The sooner he reached Northanger Abbey, the sooner he could rectify the situation, and remove That Girl from his home. He wished that he had the horses of the respectable Mr. John Thorpe. Why, they could cover the distance at double the speed. This time, his urgings were not silent.
"Faster, Peter. We must go faster. I hope it is not too late." The General sat back and reflected upon his trip. It was to have been a simple business trip. Who could have guessed that he would uncover such startling revelations?
He had arrived in London early Friday afternoon. After settling his belongings at his residence in Berkeley Square, he set off at once to the office of his solicitor, one Mr. Edward Thomas. He was warmly greeted by his old acquaintance.
"My dear General, it has been too long since last we met. Let us not spoil your visit by attending only to business."
"Now, Thomas, it is business that has brought me here. The care of my estate must take precedence over entertainment. Business before pleasure, I always say."
"Yes, of course. But surely you could join my wife and I tomorrow. We will be holding a delightful luncheon. There will be others there with whom you hold an acquaintance. Why, we have invited Colonel Richards, who is especially looking forward to seeing you. Also, Mr. John Thorpe, another client of mine, will be present. I believe he mentioned meeting you in Bath. Surely you can find time to join us for a few hours," Mr. Thomas entreated.
The General pondered for a bit. He would very much like to see his old friend, the Colonel. And John Thorpe, who seemed to be such a respectable, and wealthy, gentleman, was surely a good contact to have. Perhaps he could persuade Henry to pay Thorpe a visit when next he came to London. Henry could do worse than have a friend like Thorpe.
"Yes, perhaps I will join you. But, come, let us attend to my business. Estates do not run themselves, you know."
Mr. Thomas and the General talked of business for quite some time. Both agreed that the addition of a few thousand pounds could greatly improve the estate, perhaps improving the General's income as well. One thought was always in the General's mind: if Henry married well, the General would no longer have to present him with a yearly allowance. That money would enable him to make the necessary improvements. It was as if Mr. Thomas had read the General's mind.
"I have heard a rumor that your son will not long remain single. It is said that there is a great heiress who currently resides at the Abbey, and she has caught Henry's eye, as well as his affections. Tell me, friend, is it true?"
The General smiled at his friend and replied, "Nothing is certain yet, Thomas, but I feel that, with my help, a match will soon be made. Let us hope for the best."
"And what, may I inquire, is the young heiress's name?"
"Moreland. Catherine Moreland. Not only is she to inherit from her father, but she is also the heiress to the Fullerton Estate, which belongs to a Mr. Allen. Indeed, she is a very wealthy woman. I could not imagine a better match for my beloved son." Again, General Tilney smiled. Talk of money always brought out the best in him.
Mrs. Edward Thomas greeted the General warmly when he arrived at the Thomas house the next afternoon. "General Tilney, how good it is to see you. You are well, I hope. And how are your children?"
"Ah, Mrs. Thomas, my children are in excellent health, as am I. My prospects can only improve when I am in the presence of such a gracious and charming hostess," the General replied with genuine warmth. He had always been fond of Mrs. Thomas. She was a true lady, talented, kind hearted and, above all, sensible. "Would you do me the honor of allowing me to escort you to the table?"
Mrs. Thomas smiled and replied, "The honor would be mine, General." With arms linked, they entered the dining room, where each took up their places at the table.
The General found himself seated next to his friend, Colonel Richards. They spent the meal reminiscing about their time in the army and recounting stories of their children. The General could not remember when he had spent a more pleasant afternoon.
After they finished their meal, the guests retired to the drawing room in search of conversation and tea. The General spied John Thorpe across the room, engaged in conversation with an elegant young woman. He walked up to the couple and greeted the young man. "Mr. Thorpe, what a pleasure it is to see you again."
"General Tilney," Thorpe replied in a boisterous voice, "It is good to see you. May I introduce you to Miss Evelyn Lears? Miss Lears, General Tilney."
"A pleasure to meet you, Miss Lears," the General said, while bowing to the young lady, who curtsied in return.
Thorpe turned back to the young lady. "Miss Lears, would you be so kind as to excuse me?" Miss Lears, a woman of few words, curtsied again, then joined Mrs. Thomas on the couch.
"Mr. Thorpe, you are acquainted with Miss Catherine Moreland. Have you corresponded at all with the young lady? Has she, perhaps, mentioned my son Henry to you?"
Thorpe looked aghast at the notion. "Good God, no. Nor do I have any wish to correspond with her in the future. I have wiped my hands clean of her."
The General was shocked at this response, as well as greatly confused. Why ever would Thorpe respond this way? Was not Miss Moreland a woman of character and respectability? He posed these questions to Thorpe. The response he was given was enough to freeze his blood, and cause a panic to erupt in him. It seemed that Miss Moreland had misrepresented herself. She was no heiress. In fact, her family was piteously poor, and not in the least bit respectable.
"But, what of her connection to the Allens? Surely she is heiress to the Fullerton estate."
Alas, this proved to be false as well. The estate was not to descend to Catherine, but onto a young man of Thorpe's acquaintance. The devious young woman had lied about this as well, hoping that the prospects of a large fortune would attract the attentions of a wealthy young man. She was nothing but a fortune hunter, her brother as well.
"I almost fell into her trap, I must confess. And my dear, sweet sister Isabella was almost ensnared by James Moreland. Thank heavens she discovered the truth before it was too late. I only wish that I had never met any of the Morelands. No more devious family exists in all of England, I should think. Be sure, General, to keep her far away from your family, especially from your son. Now, if you would excuse me, General, I must tend to my horses. They are the fastest in all of London, you know, and need special treatment. Good day."
"Ah, good day, Mr. Thorpe," the General stammered, still in shock at the discovery of such news. And to think, that girl was in his home at that very moment. He had to hurry back. The General made his excuses to his hosts and then hurried to Berkeley Square. From there, he loaded his carriage and set off at once for the Abbey.
The General's thoughts returned to the present, and to the fact that Miss Moreland was currently in his home. He had no doubt in his mind that Catherine was after the Tilney fortune. Such a devious young lady! How could he have been such a fool as to be taken in by her lies? Why, she assumed the air of a great lady! She could not even condescend to praise the elegance of Henry's parsonage, which was surely a palace compared to her home. Insufferable girl!
He should have known by her actions in Bath that she was not what she seemed. First, she broke her engagement with Eleanor and Henry, which no true lady would have done. Then, she burst into their home on Milsom-street unannounced, which no person of good breeding would ever do. He wondered how he could have been so blind.
"What a superb actress you are, Miss Moreland. But I have finally seen through your facade. You will not snare my son. Oh no, I will not allow that," the General muttered.
The General was so lost in his thoughts that he was unaware of his arrival at Northanger Abbey. Peter broke into his reverie by announcing that they had arrived. The General burst from the carriage and rushed into the Abbey's foyer. He thrust his greatcoat into the hands of his manservant and quickly set off for his study.
"Have my daughter come to me. There is something I must set to rights," he shouted over his shoulder. The General allowed himself a brief sigh as he sat down behind his desk. It was going to be all right. It was not too late. He would rid his family of the treacherous Miss Moreland for good.