Your mind passes over the intervening years since you lost the truest friend you have ever known. In fact, eight years have passed, and you are now a teacher at Lowood.
The months after Helen’s death was devastating, but for the changes it wrought at Lowood, it was a blessing. An inquiry was made into the source of the disease that went on to plague the school. Younger and older girls succumbed to the blight of poor nutrition and the wretched and inadequate clothing and accommodations. Several wealthy and benevolent individuals in the county subscribed to a larger building for the school erected in a better situation. The management was entrusted to a committee with Mr. Brocklehurst remaining on as treasurer. The school, in time, becomes a truly noble and useful institution. And you remain on - six years as a pupil and two as a teacher.
The loss of Helen has made you more appreciative of the blessings God has bestowed on you. And while your life at Lowood has not been unhappy, you are merely content with your lot. You take advantage of your education, with a fondness for some of your studies and a desire to excel at all. But after two years of discharging your duties as a teacher, an event occurs that alters you.
Through Miss Temple, you owe the best part of your acquirements; her friendship and society have been a solace to you. At this time, however, she marries (an excellent man, almost worthy of such a wife) and she is lost to you.
With her departure, every settled feeling, every association that made Lowood a home to you disappears. And yet you are a respected member of the institution and know you can continue to do good for the girls who are still here. While old emotions of longing for excitement and adventure stir within you, your settled and useful existence at Lowood also beckons you to stay.
That evening, a knock on your bedroom door admits an excitable Miss Miller.
“Oh good, you are still up! I have overheard from the committee this afternoon that they are considering offering you the superintendent position at Lowood! They feel your steadfastness and attention to detail may enhance the institution. Isn’t that wonderful?”
“Surely, I am too young for such a position. You, for instance…”
“Oh no, I could never be superintendent. I have not the constitution for it, I fear. The older matrons might not be pleased with your appointment, but I feel you would do us all an enormous amount of good. I thought I would tell you, so you could prepare for the proposal. It is unusual for someone so young to be offered the position, but I know that you are well-regarded among everyone here.”
Overwhelmed, you murmur, “Thank you,” as you close the door on Miss Miller’s retreating back.
Sinking into the seat by your bed, you consider your options.
To stay at Lowood and become superintendent, go to THIRTEEN
To look for a job elsewhere, go to FOURTEEN