Henry Tilney was eager to return to his family home at Northanger Abbey, for guesting there was the woman within whom all his dreams of future happiness resided. His hope that his father had not yet returned home – that he might enjoy some time with his beloved unencumbered by that man's imposing presence – was tempered very little by feelings of guilt. During his journey he settled it with himself that he would make his proposals that very day. He was confident in the lady's acceptance of his offer; and there could be no question that his father encouraged and wished for the match. Yet Henry knew the General must be under some misapprehension regarding Catherine's fortune; he therefore intended to secure her hand and his father's sanction as soon as possible. If General Tilney should learn after the engagement – or better yet, after the marriage – that Miss Morland's fortune was not what he believed it to be, Henry would assuage his father's disappointment the best he could, all the while shielding Catherine from its ill-effects.
As he approached the abbey he discerned the figure of his father coming towards him. He dismounted and made to walk with him. General Tilney began hastily, "I have been looking out for you this quarter hour with the intent of informing you of some news I received in London. The truth is, I was misinformed as to the benefit of an alliance with Miss Morland and you are to think of her no more.” He spoke with the obvious conviction that his will would be carried.
Henry was shocked, particularly as his father had very recently expressed his hope for a union between the two in terms which, though not verbal, were as explicit as any declaration could be. It was impossible that Catherine had done anything to affront the General. Surely she had not made known to him her silly suspicions. "How can you speak so, Father," he said steadily, "when only a few days ago you treated her with such warmth? She cannot have done anything to offend you."
"Her entire manner is offensive. She is nothing but a scheming upstart who set out to ensnare us all – to extort a proposal from you so that she could gain some footing in society for her otherwise ignoble family through false pretenses and insincere affections."
"Good God! How can you speak of her with such vehemence? She is the most artless girl I have ever known."
“Artless?” cried the General with rising anger. “She has been insinuating herself into this family for weeks under false pretenses.”
“This opinion of her character cannot be derived from her own behavior, I have rarely seen such sweetness and generosity.”
"You will cease to entertain any such silly romantic notions of her this moment. We are to go to Herefordshire on Monday to visit Lord Longtown for a fortnight."
"And you expect to distract me from thinking of Miss Morland by forcing me to be in company with the Miss Longtowns? Do you suppose that any other woman could erase her from my thoughts now that my feelings for her are decided – a result in which your encouragement was instrumental?"
"Feelings!” the General scoffed.
“My love for her cannot surprise you.”
“Do you fancy yourself in love? Foolish boy. You will forget her soon enough once you are surrounded by more worthy companions; then you will be relieved to have been spared from such a connection."
"There can be no worthier companion for me than Miss Morland. She has proven herself to be of the highest quality in every way."
"The highest quality, indeed! She has nothing to offer you."
"She is capable of offering everything that I could want."
"You want only a plain face and a silly disposition, then? For that is all she has to give. She has no fortune, no connections, and she has succeeded in misleading us all."
"If you have been misled as to her fortune, it was not by her."
"The source of my information is a reliable one, I assure you. Mr. Thorpe's sister was engaged to Miss Morland's brother.”
“Mr. Thorpe?” said Henry in surprise. “You would credit the likes of Mr. Thorpe?”
“Why should I not? It is his family who was taken in, though he has me to thank for not being doubly taken in! Thorpe was led to believe the Morlands were a family of fortune, and so he told me in Bath. He had then been deceived into the conviction that she was to inherit Fullerton. But Thorpe learned the truth in time. The Morlands are a necessitous and grasping family. When I saw him again in London, he informed me that while in the midst of negotiating the marriage settlements for his sister, he had by chance made the acquaintance of the real heir of Fullerton! It is all decided. She is to get nothing. She and her brother only wished to give the impression of being so much favoured by Mr. Allen.”
“Does not it occur to you sir, that if the first account related by Mr. Thorpe was not accurate, then the second must be no more creditable? ”
“As Mr. Thorpe's first account was certainly not accurate, the reliability of the second is inconsequential. The extent of the family's poverty or of their cunning is not my concern. I am assured of enough to be satisfied that she is not worth my notice, as I was earlier led to believe. There can be no question that Thorpe was misinformed when he first spoke to me, and that is all that matters. Needless to say his sister's engagement was broken. Miss Thorpe has escaped, and you shall do no less.”
“You may do well to ask Captain Tilney why her engagement was dissolved.”
General Tilney was surprised, but said only. “Leave Frederick out of this. He knows his duty. He would not force a worthless connection on his family. He knows better than to engage himself to a woman who is not only impoverished but deceitful! Yet you would connect yourself to just such a woman!”
"It is a connection already made as much by honour as if the words had been spoken – and under your own very particular direction."
"But, thankfully, the words had not been spoken before I learned of her deception. She is not worthy of the notice and hospitality we have already shown her, and the sooner she is forgotten and all evidence of our association with her has faded, the better. When you are no longer blinded by the confusion you call love, you will thank me for turning her out yesterday morning."
"What is this?" cried Henry, unable to conceal his anger. "You turned her out? Under what circumstances?"
"When I returned here two nights ago with the true intelligence as to her situation in life I informed your sister of my intent to have Miss Morland removed from the house immediately. It was only out of kindness that I allowed her to remain until yesterday morning. The arrangements had already been made for her departure."
"Out of kindness? You sent her away so abruptly, and you call it kindness not to have turned her out in the middle of the night? That she was given the benefit of traveling by the light of day you consider a kindness, after having taken her under your protection? This is abominable! Tell me that you provided her with a servant, that you offered her some assistance to make her journey at least somewhat comfortable."
"She had already got from me more than she ever deserved."
By now, they were arguing heatedly in front of the house and Eleanor joined them. Henry, still reeling from his father's most recent disclosure and finding himself unable to form any suitable response, chose instead to address himself to her. "My dearest Eleanor, I must speak with you. I implore you to tell me how it all went between yourself and Miss Morland."
"Do not seek complicity in your defiance from her."
Seeing that he would not be allowed to speak of the matter to his sister, Henry turned to mount his horse again as he replied, "I do not consider obedience to honour and justice defiance. I leave for Fullerton tomorrow where I shall make my proposals."
"You shall do no such thing! We are all of us engaged to go to Lord Longtown tomorrow."
"You expect me to honour an engagement made by you without consulting me and contracted only as a pretense to justify turning Miss Morland away so that I cannot form a different kind of engagement which you have been forwarding for weeks?”
“I expect only the duty owed to a father.”
“That you shall have. I will not dishonour you by abandoning those purposes which were formed and prompted by your own tacit consent simply because you now, so unjustifiably seek to retract it.”
“You are expected in Herefordshire.”
“I will not be going to Herefordshire, nor do I send my excuses, as none are necessary. Tomorrow I go to Fullerton to justify the expectations you have created in Miss Morland."
"I shall never give my blessing to such a union."
"Then I shall marry without it," replied Henry, turning his horse about and heading back to Woodston.
The following day he departed for Wiltshire with no other thought than to relieve the distress Catherine must be enduring over the entire business and reassure her of his affection and his constancy. His efforts were rewarded with the promise of her hand within a half hour of his arrival.