The Governess of Thornfield

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SIX

With uncertainty, you shake your head. “No, I would not like to go to school.”

Mr. Lloyd regards you carefully and then nods. “Perhaps that is for the best. You should stay with your relations as they do care for you, despite everything. They are your family and took you in when you had no one. I’m sure if you remember that, you will fare better. Get some rest now and try to listen to your betters.”

Mr. Lloyd’s optimistic words do not stay with you. John Reed continues to pull your hair and take your sweets at every possible opportunity. Eliza and Georgiana sneer and openly laugh at your mistreatment, while Mrs. Reed ignores your existence.

Every day you attempt to stay out of your cousins’ path so that, on a particularly dreary November morning, you slip outside to drop some crumbs of bread for the birds in the garden. While you had only planned to be out for a moment, you take your time observing the joy in which these feathered visitors flit around in the air. Suddenly a large splash of water hits the top of your head and you rush to the front door as the skies open in a sudden rainstorm. Your path back to the house is circuitous, and you are soaked when you finally pound on the now locked front door.

Long minutes pass before the butler answers, surprised to see you standing there.

With chattering teeth, you walk dripping into the front hall, expecting every moment that Mrs. Reed will appear and chastise you for ruining the floor.

“I’m sorry,” you murmur, “I didn’t realize it would rain.”

Bessie takes you to the nursery and attempts to get you dry and comfortable. As you collect your book and doll, you feel a scratchiness in your throat and soon come down with a fever and a cough.

In annoyance, Mrs. Reed refuses to call for the apothecary in the middle of the night and decides she will call for him at a more appropriate time the next day. It is another day before Mr. Lloyd gets away from his patient, and by then you are gravely ill. “You have pneumonia,” Mr. Lloyd says. And from the mournful expression on his face, you feel you don’t have much more time left in this world.

THE END

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