The Governess of Thornfield

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SIXTEEN

After breakfast, you and Adèle withdraw to the library, the room, it appears, Mr. Rochester has directed should be used as the schoolroom. There is one bookcase left open, containing everything you could need in the way of elementary works. The other books are locked up behind glass doors. The room also contains a cabinet piano and an easel for painting. Everything you need to teach a young girl has been prepared for you.

Your pupil is sufficiently docile but disinclined to apply. You wonder at her previous upbringing as she does not appear to be used to regular occupation of any kind. Feeling it injudicious to confine her too much at first, you talk to her a great deal and get her to learn a little.

Several days pass in this manner, as you become more acquainted with your pupil and the beautiful home of which you are now a member. Eventually, Mrs. Fairfax finds time to show you the stately dining room, the grand drawing-room, and even a quick glimpse of Mr. Rochester’s apartments only a few doors down from your bedroom.

Left for last, you ascend another staircase to view the third story rooms which house dark and low furniture - interesting for their air of antiquity. The third story of Thornfield Hall has the aspect of a home of the past - a shrine of memory. You like the hush and the gloom of the retreat by day, but by no means covet a night’s repose on one of those wide heavy beds.

“Do the servants sleep in these rooms?” you ask.

“No, they occupy a range of smaller apartments to the back. No one ever sleeps here.”

In a most alarming response to Mrs. Fairfax’s statement, you both hear a long slow, and mirthless laugh, echoing strangely off the thick walls of the third story.

“Mrs. Fairfax!” you cry. “Did you hear that laugh? Who is it?”

“Some of the servants, very likely, Grace Poole. She often sews in one of these rooms. Grace!” she exclaims.

The door nearest you opens and you see a woman of between thirty and forty with a set, square-made figure and a hard, plain face come out.

“Too much noise, Grace,” says Mrs. Fairfax. “Remember directions!” Grace curtsies silently and goes back in.

After that strange exchange, Mrs. Fairfax asks you how your teaching is going and you answer her, resisting the urge to find out more about this Grace Poole.


Go to EIGHTEEN

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