Catherine is happy to learn that the Allens intend to stay at least another three weeks in Bath. The fact of her brother’s engagement has shown her how quickly an engagement can come about, but she hardly thinks of more than the pleasure of seeing Henry Tilney sometimes and speculates very little about the future. She joyfully tells Eleanor Tilney that they will be staying, only to receive the news that General Tilney wishes to leave Bath in one week. Catherine is disappointed, but at that very moment the General enters and asks if Eleanor has yet made her request. Eleanor says she has not, and the General asks if he could be so bold as to ask Catherine to come and spend some time with Eleanor at their home, Northanger Abbey. He makes a long speech saying how honored he would be to host her, despite their simple mode of life.
After her quiet life in the country, Catherine has been soaking in the new experiences available to her in Bath. Unlike Isabella, who seems to be spending time in Bath in the hopes of finding a husband, each new experience and acquaintance is sufficient in and of itself for Catherine. She only wants more time to get to know the people she has met. For Catherine, the invitation to Northanger opens up an exciting new frontier. Unaware of how such invitations are usually made and of the Tilney’s wealth and social standing relative to her own, she finds nothing strange in the General’s extremely flattering speech.
Catherine is thrilled, and quickly writes to her parents to get explicit permission to make the trip to Northanger Abbey a certainty. She feels that she is the luckiest person in the world: she has been introduced to new people whom she likes and has succeeded in making them like her too. Isabella will become her sister-in-law, while the Tilneys have gone above and beyond by inviting her to be a guest in their home.
Catherine feels lucky because she does not have the experience to wonder what motivates the Thorpes and Tilneys to treat her so kindly. She assumes that everyone likes her for her personal qualities (or because they are just kind to everyone) and not out of any ulterior motive.
Catherine is thrilled that she will be visiting an abbey, an old building and similar to the setting of the gothic novels she loves. She is almost as excited about the prospect of staying in an abbey as she is about spending more time with Henry Tilney. She hopes that she will learn that the building was the scene of some story fit for a gothic novel, and marvels at how little the Tilneys think about what a marvelous place they call home. Although she asks Miss Tilney many questions about the abbey, Catherine is too excited to process what she hears.
Catherine is fascinated by the idea of an old building that may have been the scene for historical intrigues and spooky occurrences. She has high hopes for new and exciting experiences, but does not recognize that this excitement sets her apart from the Tilneys, who are used to living in an abbey. Nor does she think about the difference in her family’s fortune and the Tilneys’ fortune signified by their living in such a building.