I wrote this fan-fiction a few years ago, and posted it elsewhere anonymously. Now I'd like to share it with you here. Some changes are made, in an attempt to make it better.
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Alas! if the heroine of one novel be not patronized by the heroine of another, from whom can she expect protection and regard? -- Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey, Volume I, Chapter v
Catherine Morland, the heroine of Northanger Abbey, after reading many Gothic novels, wishes to help a heroine (who shall remain nameless) of another novel. Will her advice be good? And will Henry do anything about it?
Letter I – From one heroine to another
My dear friend (may I thus address you?),
We are, I believe, in similar circumstances. Having received and read your letter, I decided that I must not scruple to give you what advyce I can. Fear not to admit to yourself any suspicions you may have. I sometimes start at the boldness of my own surmises, and sometimes hope or fear that I have gone too far; but they are supported by such appearances as made their dismissal impossible. The General has done everything possible to prevent me from looking over the Abbey; and one room in particular, has he forbidden me. I must wait for an opportunity to unravel this mystery alone. – But more about me another time.
Consider those instances: 1st, on your first day there, at the walk, when he did not go after you. Was it not the favourite walk of his late wife? Ought it not, to endear it to her husband? Yet he would not enter it. He certainly had been an unkind husband. He does not love her walk: – could he therefore have loved her? Do you not feel persuaded of her unhappiness in marriage? 2nd, when the housekeeper told you about the picture of the late mistress, that he did not care for it! – a portrait – very like – of a departed wife, not valued by the husband! – He must have been dreadfully cruel to her! 3rd, does he not avoid her room? It is no wonder that he should shrink from the sight of such objects as that room must contain; a room in all probability never entered by him since the dreadful scene had passed, which released his suffering wife, and left him to the stings of conscience. 4th, does he not walk about a room? with the air and attitude of a Montoni? What could more plainly speak the gloomy workings of a mind not wholly dead to every sense of humanity, in its fearful review of past scenes of guilt? Unhappy man! Does not your blood run cold with those horrid suggestions which naturally sprang? Could it be possible? – And yet how many were the examples to justify even the blackest suspicions!
I will now caution you from my own experiences. 1st, be not alarmed by the number of servants there. Here I am at an Abbey, yet how inexpressibly different in these domestic arrangements from such as I have read about – from abbeys and castles, in which, though certainly larger than Northanger, all the dirty work of the house was to be done by two pairs of female hands at the utmost. How they could get through it all, had often amazed Mrs Allen; and, when I see what is necessary here, I began to be amazed myself. 2nd, for privacy, do not hurry away to your own room after breakfast – the housemaids would be busy in there. 3rd, you, perhaps, are not so lucky as I am to find a fire ready lit, and will have to wait shivering in the cold till all the family are in bed, as so many poor girls have been obliged to do, and then to have a faithful old servant frightening you by going in with a faggot! And 4th, have you an ancient housekeeper like Dorothee? and does she give you reason to suppose that the place you inhabit is undoubtedly haunted? Beware and take care! Another thing I wish to warn you about, Mr Allen has once told my that for young women to be driven about the country by men to whom they are not even related is objectionable, that it is not right, and has an odd appearance. I do hope you are being careful about that. I am writing to explain to you the indecorum of which you must be as insensible as I myself was, as you have no mother to advyse you. I mean it kindly. Yours ever,
PS You are so like the heroines one reads about: you've lost both parents; you have a lovely name; and you are living in a strangely mysterious house! If need be, we may perhaps each escape from our dangerous place of abode and arrive at the same chateau. There we would be freinds; and there our heroes may find and rescue us; and we would all be happy ever after. What think you? RSVP, by return of post if possible, and tell me more about yourself. I'm so very interested to know how events unfold for you. Oh! I forgot to ask you – are there many doors that were neither opened nor explained to you? To what might not those doors lead? I have read too much not to be perfectly aware of the ease with which a waxen figure might be introduced, and a supposititious funeral carried on. Yours, &c.