"No, I thank you" (sighing as she spoke); "they are all very well. My letter was from my brother at Oxford."
Nothing further was said for a few minutes; and then speaking through her tears, she added, "I do not think I shall ever wish for a letter again!"
"I am sorry," said Henry, closing the book he had just opened; "if I had suspected the letter of containing anything unwelcome, I should have given it with very different feelings."
"It contained something worse than anybody could suppose! Poor James is so unhappy! You will soon know why."
"To have so kind-hearted, so affectionate a sister," replied Henry warmly, "must be a comfort to him under any distress."
"I have one favour to beg," said Catherine, shortly afterwards, in an agitated manner, "that, if your brother should be coming here, you will give me notice of it, that I may go away."
"Our brother! Frederick!"
"Yes; I am sure I should be very sorry to leave you so soon, but something has happened that would make it very dreadful for me to be in the same house with Captain Tilney."
Eleanor's work was suspended while she gazed with increasing astonishment; but Henry began to suspect the truth, and something, in which Miss Thorpe's name was included, passed his lips.
"How quick you are!" cried Catherine: "you have guessed it, I declare! And yet, when we talked about it in Bath, you little thought of its ending so. Isabella - no wonder now I have not heard from her - Isabella has deserted my brother, and is to marry yours! Could you have believed there had been such inconstancy and fickleness, and everything that is bad in the world?"
"I hope, so far as concerns my brother, you are misinformed. I hope he has not had any material share in bringing on Mr. Morland's disappointment. His marrying Miss Thorpe is not probable. I think you must be deceived so far. I am very sorry for Mr. Morland - sorry that anyone you love should be unhappy; but my surprise would be greater at Frederick's marrying her than at any other part of the story."
"It is very true, however; you shall read James's letter yourself. Stay - There is one part - " recollecting with a blush the last line.
"Will you take the trouble of reading to us the passages which concern my brother?"
"No, read it yourself," cried Catherine, whose second thoughts were clearer. "I do not know what I was thinking of" (blushing again that she had blushed before); "James only means to give me good advice."
He gladly received the letter, and, having read it through, with close attention, returned it saying, "Well, if it is to be so, I can only say that I am sorry for it. Frederick will not be the first man who has chosen a wife with less sense than his family expected. I do not envy his situation, either as a lover or a son."
Miss Tilney, at Catherine's invitation, now read the letter likewise, and, having expressed also her concern and surprise, began to inquire into Miss Thorpe's connections and fortune.
"Her mother is a very good sort of woman," was Catherine's answer.
"What was her father?"
"A lawyer, I believe. They live at Putney."
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