Margaret C Sullivan

There Must Be Murder

Dedicated to the members of Team

(Henry and Catherine) Tilney everywhere.

"Government," said Henry, endeavouring not to smile, "neither desires nor dares to interfere in such matters. There must be murder; and government cares not how much."

 — Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, Volume I, Chapter XIV

Chapter One

Winter Pleasures

The Reverend Henry Tilney, the rector of Woodston parish in Gloucestershire, looked up from his book and addressed his wife. “Catherine, do you know what day this is?”

Catherine Tilney smiled at her husband. “It is Saturday, beloved.”

“Yes, it is, but this is no ordinary Saturday. This is Saturday, the ninth day of February.”

Though they had been married but a short time, Catherine knew that Henry was not in the habit of stating the obvious without a particular reason; thus, she looked at him expectantly, her needle suspended above the fabric.

“My sweet, I am surprised at you. Do not you remember? We met exactly one year ago tonight, in the Lower Rooms at Bath.”

“Did we?” Catherine was delighted with this intelligence.

“We did. I presumed that you were already aware of this anniversary, as you have recourse to your journal to remind you of it. I dare say you were certain to record such an important event as meeting your future husband.”

“Henry, you know perfectly well that I keep no journal. Besides, I did not know then that you were my future husband.”

“Some husbands would be injured at such an admission, but not I; after all, I did not know that you were my future wife. I remember that I was wandering about the rooms like a lost soul, having no acquaintance there. The master of ceremonies, Mr. King, took pity upon me and asked if I would like an introduction to a clergyman’s daughter who was in need of a partner. In Christian charity, I could not decline; though from my past experience of ladies described as ‘clergymen’s daughters,’ I expected to be presented to an elderly spinster with a squint. You may imagine my relief when Miss Morland turned out to be rather a pretty girl, and I considered myself fortunate that no other gentleman had already claimed the honor of dancing with her.”

Catherine’s eyes were shining. “You thought me pretty?”