Chapter 12 Summary

Catherine sets out to walk to the Tilneys’ house. Upon arriving, she knocks on the door and is greetd by a butler. She asks if Miss Tilney is at home. The butler says he thinks she is, but he then he returns and says he was mistaken. Miss Tilney had just recently left.

Catherine is perplexed. She senses that the butler is not being honest. She walks away but looks back, thinking she might see someone at the window. She sees no one. After walking but a short distance from the house, however, she turns back again and sees someone leaving the house. It is Miss Tilney with her father. Catherine feels that the Tilneys are shaming her by refusing to see her because she missed the appointment with Miss Tilney and her brother the previous day.

That evening, Catherine goes to the theater with Mr. and Mrs. Allen. She searches the audience, hoping to see the Tilneys. It is not until the play is all but over that she finds Henry sitting with his father. She feels that Henry is avoiding eye contact with her, as he is completely absorbed in the play. For her part, Catherine is distracted from seeing any of the remaining acts of the play. Finally Henry looks at her, but there is no smile on his face upon recognition. He merely bows his head toward her, cordially and without any feeling.

After a while, Catherine looks back to where Henry had been sitting. Henry’s father is still there, but Henry’s seat is vacant. She hopes Henry is on his way to talk to her. In a few minutes, he approaches the box where Catherine is sitting. First Henry speaks to Mrs. Allen. Once he turns to Catherine, she immediately apologizes for having missed her walk with him the day before. She explains how she had been misled to think he had gone out of town and how, upon seeing him, she had tried to make Mr. Thorpe stop the carriage so she could get out to be with him. Henry’s expression softens at this news.

Catherine asks Henry why his sister slighted her by not answering her visit that morning. Henry tells her it was his father’s fault. His father was about to leave the house and had no extra time to meet with her, so he ordered the butler to say Miss Tilney was out.

Catherine glances over to where Henry’s father is sitting and sees John Thorpe is talking to the older gentleman. When John comes to talk to Catherine, she questions him about his conversation with Henry’s father. John says he played billiards with the old man earlier in the day and had beaten him with a brilliant move. John continues by telling Catherine that Henry’s father has very favorable impressions of her.