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Old Friends - Essays In Epistolary Parody - LETTER: From Miss Catherine Morland to Miss Eleanor Tilney Post by :JUNJOY Category :Essays Author :Andrew Lang Date :August 2011 Read :1212

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Old Friends - Essays In Epistolary Parody - LETTER: From Miss Catherine Morland to Miss Eleanor Tilney

LETTER: From Miss Catherine Morland to Miss Eleanor Tilney

Miss Catherine Morland, of "Northanger Abbey," gives her account of a visit to Mr. Rochester, and of his governess's peculiar behaviour. Mrs. Rochester (nee Eyre) has no mention of this in her Memoirs.

Thornfield, Midnight

At length, my dear Eleanor, the terrors on which you have so often rallied me are become REALITIES, and your Catherine is in the midst of those circumstances to which we may, without exaggeration, give the epithet "horrible." I write, as I firmly believe, from the mansion of a maniac! On a visit to my Aunt Ingram, and carried by her to Thornfield, the seat of her wealthy neighbour, Mr. Rochester, how shall your Catherine's trembling pen unfold the mysteries by which she finds herself surrounded! No sooner had I entered this battlemented mansion than a cold chill struck through me, as with a sense of some brooding terror. All, indeed, was elegance, all splendour! The arches were hung with Tyrian-dyed curtains. The ornaments on the pale Parian mantelpiece were of red Bohemian glass. Everywhere were crimson couches and sofas. The housekeeper, Mrs. Fairfax, pointed out to my notice some vases of fine purple spar, and on all sides were Turkey carpets and large mirrors. Elegance of taste and fastidious research of ornament could do no more; but what is luxury to the mind ill at ease? or can a restless conscience be stilled by red Bohemian glass or pale Parian mantelpieces?

No, alas! too plainly was this conspicuous when, on entering the library, we found Mr. Rochester--alone! The envied possessor of all this opulence can be no happy man. He was seated with his head bent on his folded arms, and when he looked up a morose--almost a malignant--scowl blackened his features! Hastily beckoning to the governess, who entered with us, to follow him, he exclaimed, "Oh, hang it all!" in an accent of despair, and rushed from the chamber. We distinctly heard the doors clanging behind him as he flew! At dinner, the same hollow reserve; his conversation entirely confined to the governess (a Miss Eyre), whose position here your Catherine does not understand, and to whom I distinctly heard him observe that Miss Blanche Ingram was "an extensive armful."

The evening was spent in the lugubrious mockery of pretending to consult an old gipsy-woman who smoked a short black pipe, and was recognised BY ALL as Mr. Rochester in disguise. I was conducted by Miss Eyre to my bedroom--through a long passage, narrow, low, and dim, with two rows of small black doors, all shut; 'twas like a corridor in some Blue Beard's castle. "Hurry, hurry, I hear the chains rattling," said this strange girl; whose position, my Eleanor, in this house causes your Catherine some natural perplexity. When we had reached my chamber, "Be silent, silent as death," said Miss Eyre, her finger on her lip and her meagre body convulsed with some mysterious emotion. "Speak not of what you hear, do not remember what you see!" and she was gone.

I undressed, after testing the walls for secret panels and looking for assassins in the usual place, but was haunted all the time by an unnatural sound of laughter. At length, groping my way to the bed, I jumped hastily in, and would have sought some suspension of anguish by creeping far underneath the clothes. But even this refuge was denied to your wretched Catherine! I could not stretch my limbs; for the sheet, my dear Eleanor, had been so arranged, in some manner which I do not understand, as to render this impossible. The laughter seemed to redouble. I heard a footstep at my door. I hurried on my frock and shawl and crept into the gallery. A strange dark figure was gliding in front of me, stooping at each door; and every time it stooped, came A LOW GURGLING NOISE! Inspired by I know not what desperation of courage, I rushed on the figure and seized it by the neck. It was Miss Eyre, the governess, filling the boots of all the guests with water, which she carried in a can. When she saw me she gave a scream and threw herself against a door hung with a curtain of Tyrian dye. It yielded, and there poured into the passage a blue cloud of smoke, with a strong and odious smell of cigars, into which (and to what company?) she vanished. I groped my way as well as I might to my own chamber: where each hour the clocks, as they struck, found an echo in the apprehensive heart of


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