Isabella: A (Short) Northanger Abbey Sequel

I just want to say that I normally don’t care for sequels not written by the original author.  That being said, I had an assignment for my Jane Austen class five years ago, where we had to write a sequel to one of her novels.  I chose Northanger Abbey because it is a little less known and because Ms. Austen wrote that novel when she was a new writer too!  I’m kind of proud of writing this piece, and am interested in any comments you might have!

It is a generally acknowledged truth that a lady should, if adventures not befall her in her own village, seek them elsewhere. Isabella Thorpe, a handsome young woman of nineteen years, living in her mother’s modest home in a droll little village in the south of England, and though seeming to know little of adventure, was quite acquainted with it. Indeed, her impatience and eagerness to attract the attention of all the world sent her as frequently to Bath and other desirous towns as possible. Her unfortunate mother was always eager to spare her eldest daughter whenever an opportunity arose and was generally helpful in seeking opportunity when it didn’t. The concern of three unmarried daughters and a foolish son was felt daily and either nerves or a perception of duty prevailed her to bestow Isabella on any willing traveling neighbor or acquaintance.

A full fortnight had passed since the family had last quit Bath and already the eldest Miss Thorpe was suffering from the pace of life in the country. The rain of late had kept her indoors where the company of her sisters and of her mother afforded her very little pleasure, leaving poor Isabella very much alone for a great deal of the time. A walk was unimaginable as the weather had been so disagreeable and Isabella was not going to suffer a dirtied gown at any cost. She perused the bookshelves in hope of finding some entertainment but was very disappointed in the selection as there were no new novels.

‘Mama we should have purchased some new novels while we were in town,’ said Isabella with a grim face. ‘There is nothing to read.’

‘I’m sure we have something dearest,’ said Mrs. Thorpe looking concernedly at her daughter. ‘Why, you could read one of those dark novels you love so. I’m certain one of those would set you in better spirits my dear.’

Isabella turned impatiently from the books toward the window. ‘That will be quite impossible Mama, for they could never be as interesting nor as horrid upon a second reading. I fear you would find me quite vexed over such an odious endeavor.’

Mrs. Thorpe looked quite at a loss for what to say. She was saved from a response, however, by the sound of someone coming down the lane.

‘Why, who could possibly coming here at this hour? I am certain the roads are in no state for travelling.’ she exclaimed. “Hurry dear make the room presentable, there is no knowing who might be paying us the honor of a visit.’

Mrs. Thorpe busied herself straightening cushions and setting aside her needlepoint as to make the room appear as presentable as she could manage in a matter of minutes. Isabella directly went to the looking glass and upon finding no hair out of place and her cheeks sufficiently red settled herself by the window in what she imagined to be a very romantic posture.

‘Where are your sisters?’ Mrs. Thorpe inquired with hurried breathing. ‘Our guest should arrive now any minute. I am certain of it.’

‘I am sure I do not know Mama.’ Isabella returned. ‘Wherever they may be I am sure you will find them doing one droll thing or another. What care have I in their affairs?’

Mrs. Thorpe anxiously settled herself onto an old cushion opposite her daughter. ‘Yes, yes I am sure you are right dearest, they are such silly little girls. Their presence could not be of much benefit to our party.’

This exchange of dialogue was interrupted as the front door swung open with such force as to knock the modest wreath that was upon it to the ground.

‘Isabella! What news have I! You will never believe, dear sister, what I have learned just now. Inconceivable! I assure you I am astounded to my very core. That d— girl, and to think I once believed she loved me!’ John Thorpe burst forth.

‘John dearest we had no idea to expect you-’

‘Oh do hush Mother I am trying to speak with Isabella can not you see?’ John interrupted pointing to the door. ‘Haven’t you some cooking or other task to occupy yourself with?’

With this sufficient dismissal and upon his mother’s quitting the room John turned once again to his sister.

‘Can not you guess?’

‘I am sure I have no idea of what you are speaking of. Do get to the core of your message John, you know how I despise riddles so.’

‘It is to do with Tilney, to be sure Isabella. I must say that fellow always had the strangest manners. I never could understand his method of speech to be sure.’

Isabella rose on this and interrupted her brother with a rush of hope. ‘Oh my dear brother! Has he come to you to inquire after me? Is he returned to Bath? I knew I had conquered him! How un-gentleman like of him to tease me so and for all this time! Oh, I must go at once to be sure.’ she proclaimed with the greatest happiness. ‘There is not a moment to lose. Will you drive me brother? Oh you must drive me.’

Without waiting for an answer she continued, ‘we must set off at once. I’ll be sure to tell mama.’ Isabella began to reach for her new ribbons and bonnet and was only stopped when they were stolen from her fingers and flung to the furthest corner of the room.

‘D— foolish girl.’ John laughed. ‘Your rushing off to Bath will certainly do no good, for he is recently married!’

‘Married?’ Isabella sank into a chair under the weight of her despair.

‘Indeed. I heard it nearly straight from the source of the matter. He was married to Catherine Morland just this past week. It was a pretty quiet affair from what I understand. No doubt the General was unpleased to have his son marry such a girl. From my understanding Henry could have done much better, her dowry was hardly tempting.’ John continued.

‘Catherine Morland!’ Isabella exclaimed rising from her chair to pace the room and quickly attaining a rather lovely purple color. ‘Catherine Morland!’ Then again after a pause she declared, ‘Catherine Morland? Are you quite certain?’

‘Indeed I am. I heard it from her brother James, whom I am sure you remember, that she and Mr. Tilney were married.’

‘I never would have believed her to have stolen away Captain Tilney from me. I was quite certain that her heart was engaged to Henry Tilney. Oh how odious.’

‘Captain Tilney!’ John snorted picking at mud that had splashed upon his jacket. ‘My dear sister I am afraid you misunderstand me. It is not Captain Tilney of whom I speak but of his younger brother the very Henry Tilney you just mentioned.’

A few moments afforded Isabella sufficient time to recover from the most grave of shocks. Her cheeks returned to their pretty redness and a smile graced her face once again.

‘Henry Tilney and Catherine Morland? Oh how delightful! They should be most happy in their marriage to be sure. Oh brother I am most grateful for the news you have brought me. It has given me considerable happiness!’

‘I am only glad to be rid of the d— girl. She is the most incorrigible creature I have ever met. Better she is married than to let her run free to ruin the hearts of young gentlemen and refuse perfectly adequate proposals.’

‘Indeed, brother, indeed.’ Isabella responded, pleasantly absorbed in her thoughts.

‘I do wonder at our paying them a visit soon…’


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