The Governess of Thornfield

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It is a very strange sensation to inexperienced youth to feel quite alone in the world; cut adrift from every connection, uncertain whether the port to which it is bound can be reached. Having arrived at the George Inn, you quietly await some description of carriage to convey you to Thornfield. After sixteen hours of travel from Lowton to Millcote, you hope you have not made a mistake in quitting everything you have known for this new adventure.

Thankfully your doubts and fears are dispelled when a coachman comes up to you.

“I’m to take you to Thornfield, Miss,” he says. “This is your luggage, I suppose.”

Abruptly, the man hoists your trunk and carries it to his vehicle. You get in and once he fastens the door, you are on your way.

The roads are heavy and the night misty, but from what you can see of the region, it is more populous and less picturesque than the area around Lowood. The town of Millcote seems a magnitude larger than Lowton, with houses scattered all over the district.

After a drive of about two hours, the driver gets down and opens a pair of gates, passing through, you slowly ascend a drive and come upon the long front of a house; candle-light gleams from one curtained bow-window - all the rest is dark.

Ushered into a room, the double illumination of fire and candle dazzles your eyes, but very soon you can take in the snug, small room with the neatest little elderly lady in a widow’s cap and a black silk gown sitting by the fire in an armchair.

“How do you do, my dear? I am afraid you have had a tedious ride, John drives so slowly; come to the fire.”

“Mrs. Fairfax, I suppose?” you say.

“Yes, you are right; do sit down.”

She conducts you to her own chair and helps you to remove your shawl and untie your bonnet-string. “Your luggage will be carried to your room; will you like some refreshments?” She indicates the teapot near to hand.

You take a cup of tea from her and ask, “Shall I have the pleasure of seeing Miss Fairfax tonight?”

“Miss Fairfax? Oh, you mean Miss Varens! Adele Varens is the name of your future pupil. She is in bed, but you will see her in the morning. I am so glad you have come,” she continues. It will be quite pleasant living now with a companion. Mr. Rochester will be here soon, however, and he always livens up the quiet house.”

“Who is Mr. Rochester?”

“Oh, he is the owner of Thornfield, did you not know he was called Rochester?”

“I thought the house belonged to you.”

“To me! Bless you, child. I am only the housekeeper. To be sure, I am distantly related to the Rochesters by the mother’s side, but I never presume on the connection. Adele is Mr. Rochester’s ward - he commissioned me to find a governess for her. But I’ll not keep you sitting up late tonight, it is almost twelve now and you must feel tired. If your feet are warmed, I’ll show you to your bedroom.”

Feeling fatigued, you acquiesce, and she leads you up great oak steps to a long gallery which bedroom doors open onto. After bidding Mrs. Fairfax, a kind good night, you soon fall asleep.

In the morning, you rise and dress with care, obliged to be plain - as you have no article of attire that was not made with extreme simplicity - but you are eager to make a good impression on your new pupil. Traversing the long and matted gallery and descending the slippery steps of oak you gain the hall and hear voices in a room just ahead. One sounds like Mrs. Fairfax, and the other that of a child. You step inside.

“C’est là ma gouvernante?” A girl who was perhaps seven or eight with a redundancy of curls to her waist, runs up to you in excitement.

Fortunately, your French is excellent, and you greet your new charge.

“Ah!” she cries in French, “you speak my language as well as Mr. Rochester does; I can talk to you as I can to him.

Eagerly she takes your hand and leads you to Mrs. Fairfax, who is sitting by the window with some knitting.

“Can you understand her when she runs on so fast?” Mrs. Fairfax asks.

“I understand her very well, I learned French from a Frenchwoman at Lowood.”

“I wish you would ask her a question or two about her parents; I wonder if she remembers them?”

You ask Adele, and she says she remembers living in a “pretty, clean town” with her Mamma, but her Mamma was gone to the “Holy Virgin” now. This leads Adele to tell you that her Mamma used to teach her to sing and dance for the ladies. And would you like to hear her sing now?”

“Perhaps later, Adele.”

“Oh, I was wondering if you would like a tour of the house before you get started with your work?” Mrs. Fairfax interjects.

On your first day at Thornfield, you want to start work right away, but it might be a good idea to familiarize yourself with your new surroundings.

To start your work and see more of the house later, go to SIXTEEN

To take a tour of the house first, go to SEVENTEEN

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