Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey: Ch. 5

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Chapter 5

Catherine was not so much engaged at the theatre that evening, in returning the nods and smiles of Miss Thorpe, though they certainly claimed much of her leisure, as to forget to look with an inquiring eye for Mr. Tilney in every box which her eye could reach; but she looked in vain. Mr. Tilney was no fonder of the play than the pump-room. She hoped to be more fortunate the next day; and when her wishes for fine weather were answered by seeing a beautiful morning, she hardly felt a doubt of it; for a fine Sunday in Bath empties every house of its inhabitants, and all the world appears on such an occasion to walk about and tell their acquaintance what a charming day it is.

As soon as divine service was overd, the Thorpes and Allens eagerly joined each other; and after staying long enough in the pump-room to discover that the crowd was insupportable, and that there was not a genteelw face to be seen, which everybody discovers every Sunday throughout the season, they hastened away to the Crescenth, to breathe the fresh air of better company. Here Catherine and Isabella, arm in arm, again tasted the sweets of friendship in an unreserved conversation; they talked much, and with much enjoyment; but again was Catherine disappointed in her hope of reseeing her partner. He was nowhere to be met with; every search for him was equally unsuccessful, in morning lounges or evening assemblies; neither at the Upper nor Lower Rooms, at dressed or undressedh balls, was he perceivable; nor among the walkers, the horsemen, or the curricle-driversw of the morning. His name was not in the pump-room bookw, and curiosity could do no more. He must be gone from Bath. Yet he had not mentioned that his stay would be so short! This sort of mysteriousness, which is always so becoming in a hero, threw a fresh grace in Catherine's imagination around his person and manners, and increased her anxiety to know more of him. From the Thorpes she could learn nothing, for they had been only two days in Bath before they met with Mrs. Allen. It was a subject, however, in which she often indulged with her fair friend, from whom she received every possible encouragement to continue to think of him; and his impression on her fancy was not suffered therefore to weaken. Isabella was very sure that he must be a charming young man, and was equally sure that he must have been delighted with her dear Catherine, and would therefore shortly return. She liked him the better for being a clergyman, "for she must confess herself very partial to the profession"; and something like a sigh escaped her as she said it. Perhaps Catherine was wrong in not demanding the cause of that gentle emotion—but she was not experienced enough in the finesse of love, or the duties of friendship, to know when delicate railleryw was properly called for, or when a confidence should be forced.

Mrs. Allen was now quite happy—quite satisfied with Bath. She had found some acquaintance, had been so lucky too as to find in them the family of a most worthy old friend; and, as the completion of good fortune, had found these friends by no means so expensively dressed as herself. Her daily expressions were no longer, "I wish we had some acquaintance in Bath!" They were changed into, "How glad I am we have met with Mrs. Thorpe!" and she was as eager in promoting the intercourse of the two families, as her young charge and Isabella themselves could be; never satisfied with the day unless she spent the chief of it by the side of Mrs. Thorpe, in what they called conversationd, but in which there was scarcely ever any exchange of opinion, and not often any resemblance of subject, for Mrs. Thorpe talked chiefly of her children, and Mrs. Allen of her gowns.

X [d] divine service was over


A rare mention of attending church, which is all the more noticeable for there being so many clergymen in the novels and Austen's being the daughter of a rector.

X [w] genteel

"Belonging to or included among the gentry; of a rank above the commonalty" (OED). 

X [h] the Crescent


They will enjoy the open, park-like grounds of the Royal Crescent, completed in 1774. Designed by John Wood the Younger, the Crescent is a large half-circle of thirty private but barely distinguishable individual homes facing upon a large, manicured green.…

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X [h] dressed or undressed

Formal and less formal balls.

X [w] the curricle-drivers


Sporty open carriages, light and high, for one or two horses; they were the sports car of the day. More about them shortly.

X [w] pump-room book

Visitors to Bath signed in with names and addresses, thus providing a directory of newcomers. It seems from this that people may also have checked daily to know arrivals and departures.

X [w] raillery

Playful mockery.

X [d] in what they called conversation

Writing & Reading

"Conversation" means "interchange of thoughts and words" (OED). Austen finds that much conversation is banal, consisting of little more than egotistical braying of no interest to the listener, who impatiently awaits his or her turn to commandeer the podium for an equally slumber-inducing solo. …

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