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Northanger Abbey and Angels and Dragons

Jane Austen


  Northanger Abbey and Angels and Dragons

  “Fie! This flimsy tome is nothing but a bore. I found no mention of my own person between its vulgar pages.”

  —A Lady of Prominence

  “I called out the Marquis of G. over this book. We dueled; I was vilely injured. As a result, there is a dire possibility I may not produce heirs. But it was all decidedly worth it!’

  —A Gentleman of the World

  “Angels! Angels, by Jove! What a rare amusement! And genuine dragons in Bath? Why was I not informed of this?”

  —A Certain Regent

  “A rather pleasant little trifle of a novel. Hardly an adequate travelogue of Bath. But a fair warning of its nightly terrors!”

  —A Lady of Fortune

  “This volume stands as a cautionary tale to the young people of our fair isle. Disdain fashion and pursue fortune, but not treasure; and above all, stand clear of Bath and Brighton and its ducks!”

  —A Retired Admiral

  “Where might one be able to procure a walking-shovel?”

  —A Gentleman of Fashion

  “Mrs. Radcliffe and her horrid novels are a travesty, not suitable for impressionable young ladies. As for this dreadful volume, it has given me the vapors.”

  —A Lady of Delicate Constitution

  “This is what happens to young ladies left to fend for themselves and wholly unsupervised. Angels! Dragons! Ducks! Where in all this was her chaperone?”

  —A Lady of Propriety


  —The Brighton Duck

  Table of Contents

  A Daring Dedication 11

  Advertisement by the Authoress, to Northanger Abbey 12

  Chapter 1 13

  Chapter 2 24

  Chapter 3 37

  Chapter 4 45

  Chapter 5 52

  Chapter 6 57

  Chapter 7 65

  Chapter 8 78

  Chapter 9 93

  Chapter 10 106

  Chapter 11 120

  Chapter 12 132

  Chapter 13 138

  Chapter 14 145

  Chapter 15 158

  Chapter 16 166

  Chapter 17 174

  Chapter 18 182

  Chapter 19 189

  Chapter 20 193

  Chapter 21 203

  Chapter 22 223

  Chapter 23 235

  Chapter 24 242

  Chapter 25 253

  Chapter 26 261

  Chapter 27 266

  Chapter 28 270

  Chapter 29 278

  Chapter 30 288

  Chapter 31 302

  A Note on the Text 310

  Author’s After-Note 311

  About the Harridan 312

  This book is a work of fiction. All characters, names, locations, and events portrayed in this book are fictional or used in an imaginary manner to entertain, and any resemblance to any real people, situations, or incidents is purely coincidental.



  Jane Austen and Vera Nazarian

  Copyright © 2010 by Vera Nazarian

  All Rights Reserved.

  Cover Art Details: “St. George And The Dragon,” Paolo Uccello, 1460; “Saint Michael and the Dragon,” Raphael, c1505; “An Angel Playing a Flageolet,” Edward Burne-Jones, 1878; “Angel (two details from the Linaioli Tabernacle),” Fra Angelico 1433; “Angel Annunciating,” “Madonna and Child with Saints and an Angel,” Lorenzo Lotto, 1527-1528; “Angel with the Flaming Sword,” Franz von Stuck (1863-1928); “Dead Christ Attended By Two Angels,” Alessandro Allori (1535-1607); “Angel,” Georg Pencz, 1525-1530; “Angel,” Abbott Handerson Thayer, c1889; “An Angel Awakens the Prophet Elijah,” Juan Antonio Frias y Escalante, 1667; “How an Angel rowed Sir Galahad across the Dern Mere,” Joseph Noel Paton, 1888; “The Violinist,” Edward John Poynter, 1891

  Interior Illustrations:

  “Appendix,” courtesy of Pearson Scott Foresman.

  All other interior illustrations Copyright © 2010 by Vera Nazarian

  Cover Design Copyright © 2010 by Vera Nazarian

  Electronic Edition

  December 18, 2010

  (Revised, January 10, 2011)

  (Associated with: Trade Paperback First Edition: ISBN: 978-1-60762-058-7)

  A Publication of

  Norilana Books

  P. O. Box 2188

  Winnetka, CA 91396

  Printed in the United States of America

  Northanger Abbey


  Angels and Dragons


  an imprint of

  Norilana Books

  The Collected Supernatural Jane Austen

  by Vera Nazarian

  (Series includes the following titles)

  Mansfield Park and Mummies:

  Monster Mayhem, Matrimony, Ancient Curses,

  True Love, and Other Dire Delights

  Northanger Abbey and Angels and Dragons


  Pride and Platypus: Mr. Darcy’s Dreadful Secret

  Pagan Persuasion: All Olympus Descends on Regency

  Emma Enchanted

  Sense and Sanguine Sensibility

  Lady Susan, Succubus

  Northanger Abbey





  Jane Austen


  Vera Nazarian

  With Scholarly Footnotes and Appendices

  A Daring Dedication

  To the Almighty

  With profound gratitude for creating Satire

  And being the only One

  Consistently, eternally, unconditionally

  Able to Appreciate it.

  Advertisement by the Authoress, to Northanger Abbey

  This little work was finished in the year 1803, and intended for immediate publication. It was disposed of to a bookseller, it was even advertised, and why the business proceeded no farther, the author has never been able to learn. That any bookseller should think it worthwhile to purchase what he did not think it worthwhile to publish seems extraordinary. But with this, neither the author nor the public have any other concern than as some observation is necessary upon those parts of the work which thirteen years have made supernaturally obsolete. The public are entreated to bear in mind that thirteen years have passed since it was finished, many more since it was begun, and that during that period, places, manners, books, and opinions—indeed, the very fabric of the world itself!—have undergone considerable changes. . . .

  Not the least of which is the sometime-tangible presence in nature of angels, demons, and the great winged dragons.

  Chapter 1

  In the beginning was the Word—also known as a very big bang marvelous sort of Expletive—a circumstance wherein God created the universe.

  He made light and stars and constellations and galaxies and planets, and a certain very particular lump of matter called earth, which He populated—heavens and firmament—with teeming curious creatures. These included, among others, trilobites and baboons, porcupines and ferrets, pigeons and bumblebees, manatees and kangaroo, the duck and the duckbill platypus, and of course, the upright great apes called humans.

  The latter, created most in His Image, immediately proceeded to “ape” for all they were worth—in other words, to create in turn—and were directly responsible for the manufacture of virtue and taste, style and erudition, and henceforth the knowledge of Good and Evil as pertaining to f
ashionable trifles suitable for adornment during a preening exhibition called the London Season.

  Also created were gossip and dowry, followed by courtship and matrimony, and then tedium and ennui. Last, and not least, came the acquired taste for trimming hedges in the French style, and the secret delight in sanguine scenes of murderous dread, gothic terrors, and dark rending romance, particularly in the young female of the species, as perpetuated by a certain literary female by the name of Mrs. Radcliffe.

  To provide this teeming Creation with some modicum of order and supervision, God also created angels and demons and seraphim and nephilim, and occasional great serpents and dragons, all of which he initially imbued with common sense—the one precious and infinitely rare faculty that the rest of the Creation was sorely lacking.

  For, what is order without common sense, but Bedlam’s front parlor? What is imagination without common sense, but the aspiration to out-dandy Beau Brummell with nothing but a bit of faded muslin and a limp cravat? What is Creation without common sense, but a scandalous thing without form or function, like a matron with half a dozen unattached daughters?

  And God looked upon the Creation in all its delightful multiplicity, and saw that, all in all, it was quite Amiable.

  There was but one minor problem.

  Common sense was not as common as the Deity might wish for. Indeed, not even angelic choirs were entirely free of a certain vice known as silliness.

  And if the very angels were thus flawed, then what might one expect of innocent young ladies?

  Speaking of innocent young ladies—behold our heroine, Catherine Morland. Admittedly, no one who had ever seen Catherine in her infancy would have supposed her born to be an heroine. Her situation in life, the character of her father and mother, her own person and disposition, were all equally against her.

  In one inconsequential detail alone was she at all a standout—indeed, it was such a very peculiar and supernatural thing that some might venture to question its validity. For, not unlike the saintly Joan of Arc of old, our Catherine could hear the voices and speech of angels and demons, and had the innate ability to understand their language, both profane and divine. Furthermore, she was also able to see them as corporeal beings, in all their bright glory and terrifying aspect. Of course, for a very long time she was blessedly unaware of the fact.

  But, gentle Reader, we are getting ahead of ourselves.

  As is rather appropriate for a young girl who was one day to commune with the otherworldly, her father was a clergyman. Without being neglected, or poor, he was a very respectable man, though his name was Richard[1]—and he had never been handsome. He had a considerable independence besides two good livings—and he was not in the least addicted to locking up his daughters.

  Her mother was a woman of useful plain sense, with a good temper, and, what is more remarkable, with a good constitution. She had three sons before Catherine was born; and instead of dying in bringing the latter into the world, as anybody might expect, she still lived on—lived to have six children more—to see them growing up around her, and to enjoy excellent health herself. A family of ten children will be always called a fine family, where there are heads and arms and legs enough for the number; but the Morlands had little other right to the word, for they were in general very plain. And Catherine, for many years of her life, was as plain as any, not to mention, completely deaf to any dulcet tones of the angel choirs in the ether all around.

  She had a thin awkward figure, a sallow skin without colour, dark lank hair, and strong features. Her eyes were not sapphire like the summer skies; nor her lips like ripe cherries (though occasionally this could be said of her nose after she had been outside on a particularly frosty winter day). Neither were her cheeks like roses (tea or floribunda), nor the tone of her voice like tinkling bells, but more often like a foghorn coming off a very distant waterway (their domicile being nowhere near the coast) when she rolled about the grass screaming with rather gargantuan laughter among her younger siblings;—so much for her person; and not less unpropitious for heroism seemed her mind.

  She was fond of all boy’s plays, and greatly preferred cricket not merely to dolls, but to the more heroic enjoyments of infancy, nursing a dormouse,[2] feeding a canary-bird, or watering a rose-bush. Indeed she had no taste for a garden (nor had she any idea of the extent to which gardens were filled to bursting with all manner of angels, paunchy cherubs, and other metaphysical spirits and fae). And if she gathered flowers at all, it was chiefly for the pleasure of mischief (indeed, a mild bit of demonic inclination here—but, rest assured, dear Reader, quickly overcome and conquered as a youthful personality deficit)—at least so it was conjectured from her always preferring those which she was forbidden to take.

  Such were her propensities. Her abilities were quite as extraordinary. She never could learn or understand anything before she was taught; and sometimes not even then, for she was often inattentive, and occasionally stupid. Her mother was three months in teaching her only to repeat the “Beggar’s Petition”; and after all, her next sister, Sally, could say it better than she did. Not that Catherine was always stupid—by no means; she learnt the fable of “The Hare and Many Friends” as quickly as any girl in England (and since the days of her metaphysical ignorance were numbered, there was just a hint of Ancient Hebrew, hovering, one might say, at the tip of the tongue, and quite ready to be thoroughly absorbed and fathomed).

  Her mother wished her to learn music; and Catherine was sure she should like it, for she was very fond of tinkling the keys of the old forlorn spinnet; so, at eight years old she began. She learnt a year, and could not bear it (and neither could most of the household angelic sprites who, upon the first tinkling sound, fled the music room in greater haste and dread than had they been chastised by the archangels themselves). Thankfully, Mrs. Morland, who did not insist on her daughters being accomplished in spite of incapacity or distaste, allowed her to leave off (for which, little did she know, but the good matron received a host of supernatural blessings, including a permanent guarantee against curdled milk on the premises). The day which dismissed the music-master was one of the happiest of Catherine’s life. That same happy day was marked by hosannas and seraphim making particular celebratory music in the spheres.

  Her taste for drawing was likewise not superior; though whenever she could obtain the outside of a letter from her mother or seize upon any other odd piece of paper, she did what she could in that way, by drawing houses and trees, hens and chickens, and an occasional monstrous duck, all very much like one another. Writing and accounts she was taught by her father; French by her mother: her proficiency in either was not remarkable, and she shirked her lessons in both whenever she could (for, as can be seen, there was as yet no dulcet angelic voice whispering in her ear and guiding her toward prudence).

  What a strange, unaccountable character!—for with all these symptoms of profligacy at ten years old, she had neither a bad heart nor a bad temper, was seldom stubborn, scarcely ever quarrelsome, and very kind to the little ones, with few interruptions of tyranny. She was moreover noisy and wild, hated confinement and cleanliness, and loved nothing so well in the world as rolling down the green slope at the back of the house.

  Such was Catherine Morland at ten. And precisely at such a youthful junction, an event of arcane magnitude occurred that, with a single blow of fate, transformed our mundane heroine into a metaphysical prodigy.

  Catherine, merrily skipping down the above-mentioned green slope in the back, did not notice where her foot was placed. She tripped and fell; her head came in contact with a rocky lump of earth. And just as a freshly painful lump immediately appeared at the back of her head—a lump not unlike numerous other lumps she had received previously upon many similar circumstances—in that very same moment Catherine felt and heard a crack . . . It was as though her skull was curiously cracked open like a walnut, and something opened inside her head.

  The next moment was a veritable flood of senses. Sight
and sound were suddenly more pungent; colors rippled and doubled as though imbued with a secret rainbow; sunlight fractured into splinters of magical glass, and sweet music filled the air from all directions.