Fretfully you catch the loose threads of your bed covers. You have done much good at Lowood during your two years of teaching. Your pupils look up to you, and your fellow teachers regard you with a respect you could not have hoped to earn when you first set foot at Lowood. While Lowood has not always been the home you might have wished for, it has treated you better and been more rewarding than anything you have ever known. And perhaps, with Miss Temple gone, or rather Mrs. Nasmyth as you must remember to think of her now, Lowood needs a kindly, stern, and sympathetic directing hand. Someone who will welcome to the institution, girls as friendless and unloved as you once were.
Having made that decision, the next few weeks pass in a blur. The committee makes a formal proposal to you and you gladly accept. The students are ecstatic and only a minor group of teachers murmur in surprise at your appointment.
Late one evening one of the under-teachers calls to you as you are readying for bed.
“I am sorry to disturb you, but Amelia is terribly ill!”
“Amelia? Is she the one who hasn’t been eating well lately? What is wrong with her?”
“She is so dehydrated and can barely keep any food down. I do fear she cannot last long if she does not eat. I am also afraid a couple of other girls may have the same complaint.”
“Where is she? Take me to her. And ask Miss Johnson to send for the doctor.”
Despite your best efforts to keep sickness and contagion at bay, cholera spreads throughout Lowood. Gloom and fear become an inhabitant within Lowood’s walls as it’s rooms and passages are steamed with hospital smells; the drug and the pastille striving vainly to overcome the effluvia of mortality. And then, unfortunately, you discover you have contracted the dread disease.