The Governess of Thornfield

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SEVENTEEN

Mrs. Fairfax first shows you the stately dining room with its lofty, molded ceiling, and large window of stained glass. The grand drawing-room is next, and a quick tour of the upper rooms, including a glimpse of Mr. Rochester’s apartments only a few doors down from your bedroom.

Mrs. Fairfax then takes you outside, and in the early sun, you see that the house is a vast, though not considerable gentleman’s manor-house, with battlements around the top giving it a picturesque look. There is a great meadow off to the side which has an array of mighty old thorn trees behind. This obviously explained the etymology of the mansion’s designation. Further off are hills which seem to embrace Thornfield with a seclusion you had not expected to see so near the stirring locality of Millcote.

Looking back at the house, you inquire of Mrs. Fairfax if there is anything to see on the third story.

“Oh, nothing of note, my dear. The servants sometimes work in those rooms, but they are largely unused. No one sleeps there.”

Mrs. Fairfax’s answer seems curt and troubled, and you take the hint to not question her further. You know you must return to your pupil soon and commence teaching.

Mrs. Fairfax has indicated that you will set up the library as your schoolroom. And while the library is stocked with enough books of elementary work, a cabinet piano, and an easel for drawing, you find you would like to bring some of your own art from Lowood for extra instruction. Leaving Adele briefly with her nurse, Sophie, you hurry up to your bedroom. Securing your work, you glance briefly to the left as you exit the room.

You notice the doorway that leads to the third story down the hall.

Curiosity gets the better of you. Reassuring yourself that you would only take a quick peek and then leave, you ascend the staircase to view the third story rooms. A room immediately to your right has an open door and you glimpse dark and low furniture - interesting for their air of antiquity. It has the aspect of a home of the past - a shrine of memory. The hush and gloom and the quiet embrace you. However, before you can leave you hear a long, slow, and mirthless laugh, echoing strangely off the thick walls. A most alarming sound to hear in so still a region.

Pinpointing the door from which the sound issued, you hesitantly turn the handle and peer inside.

Your eyes immediately focus on a candle which poorly illuminates the room. Despite the shining sun outside, the curtains have been deliberately drawn. Adding to the mystery, this room is sparsely furnished with a heavy air of disuse. So preoccupied by the state of this room, you fail to see the man standing off to the side until he moves. He appears to be bent over another form, lying inert.

In the dim light, you make out that the man is of middle height with broad square shoulders. The form he stands over has long, tangled black curls. She appears to be wearing a nightdress.


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