Firmly, you shut the door. “We must return to your studies, Adéle.”
“Shall we see the fine ladies and gentlemen after dinner, Mademoiselle?” Adele asks in French.
“I suppose you may be called down for introductions, but I shall have a quiet dinner alone. I feel the need for a restful night after the excitement of the past few days.”
The truth is, you would rather not see more of the party if your reaction to seeing Miss Ingram with Mr. Rochester was any indication of how you would feel. A quiet night to steady your resolve would be most welcome. You did not think that seeing him again after mere days would overcome your sensibilities so completely. Yet, how could you imagine your feelings would disappear when every good, true, and vigorous sentiment you have, gathers impulsively around him.
Your attempt to avoid the issue brings you face to face with Miss Ingram that evening. In the act of procuring some chicken and tarts from the kitchen for your quiet dinner, you chance to overhear voices ahead of you in the upper hall. The conversation floating towards you appears to be about the mysterious Mr. Mason and his inclusion in the party. From the condescending tone of the voice discussing Mr. Mason’s state of dress, you guess it is Miss Ingram speaking. It is, and she is heading down to the dining room with another lady you hazard is her sister.
“Oh Mary,” Miss Ingram exclaims with glee, “I believe this must be the governess for Edward’s ward. She has the look of one. Poor sickly thing.”
This “Mary” laughs obligingly, shaking her head. “Oh Blanche, you must not say such things in her company.”
A worse kind of meeting with the one lady you wished to avoid could not be imagined. Carefully balancing the food, you make an effort to curtsey. “Good evening,” you intone, hoping they will move past you.
The two ladies do move past you without acknowledgment, but you can still hear their comments as Miss Ingram continues her train of thought.
“Do you remember what tricks we used to play on Miss Wilson and Mrs Grey? I see them yet in their raging passions, when we had driven them to extremities - spilling our tea, crumbling our bread and butter, and tossing our books up to the ceiling.”
“Oh, to be sure, Blanche!”
“They are such a ridiculous race; thank Heavens we are now done with them!”
Your personal feelings notwithstanding, it is hard to imagine why Mr. Rochester would wish to marry someone like Blanche Ingram.
Go to TWENTY-NINE