Foolishly, you listen to your heart and not your mind. Mr. Rochester and Miss Ingram turn towards the staircase as you hesitate, and it is Blanche who first notices you and Adéle.
“Well, who is that? Is that your ward, Edward? She looks so sweet.”
Mr. Rochester’s eyes find yours and widen in surprise. He answers while gazing at you. “Yes, that is Adéle. And that is her governess.”
As Miss Ingram’s eyes shift to yours, you pull the door open wider, and curtsey low, inwardly berating getting caught staring.
“I could have recognized her breed anywhere,” says Blanche. “I did not realize you had a governess for her. I should think you would send her off to school.”
“Schools are so dear.”
“Nonsense. You have the keep of the governess to consider. To say nothing of their incompetency and caprice; I thank Heaven I have now done with them!”
“I daresay that young lady does not have a capricious bone in her body. Come, Blanche, let us see how my charge is doing. Clearly, we have interrupted their lesson.”
Miss Ingram looks considerably unwilling to talk to you and Adèle, but then again, the expression on your face probably matched her own.
With stately reverence, Adele greets Blanche. “Bon jour, mademoiselle.”
Miss Ingram looks down with a mocking air and exclaims, “Oh, what a little puppet!”
“And how are the lessons?” Mr. Rochester asks you.
“Very well, sir. Adéle has made considerable progress in her arithmetic this morning.”
Miss Ingram sighs theatrically. “I suppose we will shortly be regaled with the child’s scholastic achievements.”
“No, Miss Ingram,” you say with asperity, “I would not dare bore you with such details. No achievements could match your own, I’m sure.”
“Hmm.” The look on Miss Ingram’s face is one of misgiving. “Thank you.” Her tone was such that she might have been thanking a horse for kicking up mud on her fine riding habit.
Turning to Mr. Rochester she tugs gracefully on his arm. “Please show me to my room, Edward. I really must ready myself for tonight’s dinner.”
With a nod of farewell, the pair leave, and you resume Adéle’s lessons.
Go to TWENTY-SEVEN