Sunday, September 21, 2008

What do you think of my gig, Miss Morland?

I painted this scene from Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey, to illustrate the part where Catherine Morland is introduced to Isabella's boorish brother. Catherine and her friend Isabella have almost been run over by an approaching gig, which to their surprise contains their brothers.

“Oh, these odious gigs!” said Isabella, looking up. “How I detest them.” But this detestation, though so just, was of short duration, for she looked again and exclaimed, “Delightful! Mr. Morland and my brother!”

“Good heaven! ‘Tis James!” was uttered at the same moment by Catherine; and, on catching the young men’s eyes, the horse was immediately checked with a violence which almost threw him on his haunches, and the servant having now scampered up, the gentlemen jumped out, and the equipage was delivered to his care.

Catherine, by whom this meeting was wholly unexpected, received her brother with the liveliest pleasure; and he, being of a very amiable disposition, and sincerely attached to her, gave every proof on his side of equal satisfaction, which he could have leisure to do, while the bright eyes of Miss Thorpe were incessantly challenging his notice; and to her his devoirs were speedily paid, with a mixture of joy and embarrassment which might have informed Catherine, had she been more expert in the development of other people’s feelings, and less simply engrossed by her own, that her brother thought her friend quite as pretty as she could do herself.

John Thorpe, who in the meantime had been giving orders about the horses, soon joined them, and from him she directly received the amends which were her due; for while he slightly and carelessly touched the hand of Isabella, on her he bestowed a whole scrape and half a short bow. He was a stout young man of middling height, who, with a plain face and ungraceful form, seemed fearful of being too handsome unless he wore the dress of a groom, and too much like a gentleman unless he were easy where he ought to be civil, and impudent where he might be allowed to be easy. He took out his watch: “How long do you think we have been running it from Tetbury, Miss Morland?"


After running on and boasting about how little time it has taken them, he continues to brag.


”What do you think of my gig, Miss Morland? A neat one, is not it? Well hung; town–built; I have not had it a month. It was built for a Christchurch man, a friend of mine, a very good sort of fellow; he ran it a few weeks, till, I believe, it was convenient to have done with it. I happened just then to be looking out for some light thing of the kind, though I had pretty well determined on a curricle too; but I chanced to meet him on Magdalen Bridge, as he was driving into Oxford, last term: ‘Ah! Thorpe,’ said he, ‘do you happen to want such a little thing as this? It is a capital one of the kind, but I am cursed tired of it.’ ‘Oh! D — ,’ said I; ‘I am your man; what do you ask?’ And how much do you think he did, Miss Morland?”

“I am sure I cannot guess at all.”

“Curricle–hung, you see; seat, trunk, sword–case, splashing–board, lamps, silver moulding, all you see complete; the iron–work as good as new, or better. He asked fifty guineas; I closed with him directly, threw down the money, and the carriage was mine.”

“And I am sure,” said Catherine, “I know so little of such things that I cannot judge whether it was cheap or dear.”

Poor Catherine has to endure much more of John Thorpe's company - hurry up Mr Tilney and come to the rescue!

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