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Chapter 24
The Doctor, during the first six months he was abroad, never spoke to his
daughter of their little difference; partly on system, and partly because he had a
great many other things to think about. It was idle to attempt to ascertain the
state of her affections without direct inquiry, because, if she had not had an
expressive manner among the familiar influences of home, she failed to gather
animation from the mountains of Switzerland or the monuments of Italy. She was
always her father's docile and reasonable associate--going through their sight-
seeing in deferential silence, never complaining of fatigue, always ready to start
at the hour he had appointed over-night, making no foolish criticisms and
indulging in no refinements of appreciation. "She is about as intelligent as the
bundle of shawls," the Doctor said; her main superiority being that while the
bundle of shawls sometimes got lost, or tumbled out of the carriage, Catherine
was always at her post, and had a firm and ample seat. But her father had
expected this, and he was not constrained to set down her intellectual limitations
as a tourist to sentimental depression; she had completely divested herself of the
characteristics of a victim, and during the whole time that they were abroad she
never uttered an audible sigh. He supposed she was in correspondence with
Morris Townsend; but he held his peace about it, for he never saw the young
man's letters, and Catherine's own missives were always given to the courier to
post. She heard from her lover with considerable regularity, but his letters came
enclosed in Mrs. Penniman's; so that whenever the Doctor handed her a packet
addressed in his sister's hand, he was an involuntary instrument of the passion
he condemned. Catherine made this reflexion, and six months earlier she would
have felt bound to give him warning; but now she deemed herself absolved.
There was a sore spot in her heart that his own words had made when once she
spoke to him as she thought honour prompted; she would try and please him as
far as she could, but she would never speak that way again. She read her lover's
letters in secret.
One day at the end of the summer, the two travellers found themselves in a
lonely valley of the Alps. They were crossing one of the passes, and on the long
ascent they had got out of the carriage and had wandered much in advance.
After a while the Doctor descried a footpath which, leading through a transverse
valley, would bring them out, as he justly supposed, at a much higher point of the
ascent. They followed this devious way, and finally lost the path; the valley
proved very wild and rough, and their walk became rather a scramble. They were
good walkers, however, and they took their adventure easily; from time to time
they stopped, that Catherine might rest; and then she sat upon a stone and
looked about her at the hard- featured rocks and the glowing sky. It was late in
the afternoon, in the last of August; night was coming on, and, as they had
reached a great elevation, the air was cold and sharp. In the west there was a
great suffusion of cold, red light, which made the sides of the little valley look only
the more rugged and dusky. During one of their pauses, her father left her and
wandered away to some high place, at a distance, to get a view. He was out of