The Governess of Thornfield

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FOURTEEN

Rising from your seat, you open your window and gaze out. There are the two buildings of Lowood; the garden; the hilly horizon. Your gaze passes all those objects to rest on the most remote - the blue peaks. How you long to surmount all! School-rules, school-duties, school-habits and notions, and voices, and faces, and phrases, and costumes, and preferences, and antipathies—such is what you know of existence. And it is not enough. You desire liberty; for liberty you gasp; for liberty you utter a prayer; it seems to scatter on the wind then faintly blowing. Abandoning that, you frame a humbler supplication; for change, stimulus: that petition, too, seems swept off into vague space: “Then,” you cry, half desperate, “grant me at least a new servitude!”

As you prepare for bed, your reflections become more purposeful. A new servitude - surely that is not too much to ask for. And as you drift to sleep, inspiration naturally and quietly comes to mind - “Those who want situations must advertise.”

With earliest day, you are up: your advertisement is written, enclosed, and directed before the bell rings to rouse the school; it runs thus: —

“A young lady accustomed to tuition is desirous of meeting with a situation in a private family where the children are under fourteen. She is qualified to teach the usual branches of a good English education, together with French, Drawing, and Music.”

It is merely a walk of two miles to Lowton, and in the evening you slip the letter into the post-office.

The succeeding week seems long, but it comes to an end at last, and once more, you find yourself afoot on the road to Lowton. In the meantime, you have not yet received an offer from the committee for the position of superintendent, which suits you, as your decision relies on the outcome of your advertisement.

You make your way to the post-office, which is kept by an old dame, wearing horn spectacles perched on her nose. After asking for any letters, she takes her time fumbling among the contents of a drawer and examining every document with her spectacles. At last, she hands you a letter.

“Is there only one?” you demand.

“There are no more,” says she; and you put it in your pocket and turn your face homeward: You cannot open it now; rules oblige you to be back by eight, and it is already half-past seven.

Various duties await you on your arrival. You sit with the girls during their hour of study; then it is your turn to read prayers; to see them to bed: afterward, you sup with the other teachers. When you finally retire for the night, you break the seal of the letter and read by the light of the short candle in your candlestick. The contents are brief.

“If the lady who advertised in the Yorkshire Herald of last Thursday, possesses the acquirements mentioned, and if she is in a position to give satisfactory references as to character and competency, a situation can be offered her where there is but one pupil, a little girl, under ten years of age; and where the salary is thirty pounds per annum. Please send references, name, address, and all particulars to the direction: —

“Mrs. Fairfax, Thornfield, near Millcote, Derbyshire.”

The next day, new steps are taken. You must tender your resignation to Mr. Brocklehurst and the committee. A note is sent to Mrs. Reed, as your natural guardian and her return answer that you - ‘might do as you pleased: she had long relinquished all interference in my affairs’ dispels your fears of her being an obstacle. The inspectors of Lowood furnish you with a testimonial as to your character and capacity, and in two weeks more you will assume your post as governess in Mrs. Fairfax’s house.


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