Northanger Abbey is my second favorite Jane Austen work. For this session, I decided to try my hand at an unseen scene from Mr. Tilney’s point of view. We know after Catherine and Henry danced, she dreamed (just a little) bit about him. Did he dream of her?
How proper Mr. Tilney might be as a dreamer or a lover had not yet perhaps entered Mr. Allen’s head…
Dream a Dream
It was her eyes that got him.
He rolled over and punched his pillow, seeking slumber once more. “Useless,” he mumbled to himself.
How could he be so restless after two dances with a young lady barely out of the schoolroom and so inexperienced in the world that everything in Bath looked charming and perfect to her? He had never much been like Frederick. He had never had a roving eye and cared to gain the attention of the most handsome girl in the room. He did not dally with hearts. Raised from the start to be a clergyman, he did not dally with the female sex at all. However, a man he must be and desire he must know.
Desiring Catherine Morland was the height of stupidity. She was hardly pretty. Everywhere he looked in the Lower Rooms that evening, he had seen a more beautiful girl, a lovelier figure. There was nothing remarkable about the lady he spent much of the evening with. She was no wit, she did not enthrall men with her airs or voice. She danced well enough.
But her eyes.
The animation in her eyes as they spoke appeared in his mind again and again. She had no artifice about her. She could not hide that she found him appealing. Henry did not know her enough to crave her good opinion or find great delight in it—but for now, it was enough. It was enough that she had liked him without knowing anything about his family fortune. She had liked him without wondering about his brother—or even as some ladies did, his father. No, she had enjoyed him.
Laughing to himself as he considered that he might be in a fairer fix if he kept a diary and could list his opinion of the evening. What would he write?
“Friday, went to the Lower Rooms. Wore my blue waistcoat which I had always thought looked very elegant before but this evening I danced with a lady who took no notice of my attire. Instead, she provided artless conversation and genuine laughter at all my nonsense. It is just the refreshment I needed before leaving Bath to return to my Father tomorrow.”
If he were entirely honest with himself, he had found her pretty. It made no sense as she was not the most handsome lady in the room. There were several ravishing ladies present. One or two had looked his way, had beckoned him forward and yet, he had spent half the evening talking with a girl fresh from the country. However, as he finally drifted off to sleep, it was Catherine Morland’s animated eyes as she hid a sly smile after a particularly ridiculous comment he had made, that had filled his mind.