The last ten years had been...interesting, for Rose. Ten years in Lowwood school, having to live as one person but knowing herself to be another. She'd slipped a few times, but it had always been dismissed as childish nonsense - thank God. At least she was a teacher now, no longer a pupil. But she had to leave this dammed place before she wound up spending the rest of her life here; hence, her advertisement. She had no answers yet, but they would come.
Smoothing the bodice of her plain grey dress, Rose examined her reflection in the mirror. Her mousy hair had darkened over the years, and was now a very dark brown, bordering on black. Her eyes weren't brown any more, but they weren't her original turquoise either; instead, her eyes were a very peculiar shade of green. She wasn't completely Jane Eyre, but neither was she her old self either. Rose let out a soft sigh.
"I'm different, in whatever life I'm in," she whispered, straightening her shoulders and moving towards the door. She had classes to teach.
Breakfast was the same as usual - porridge and tea, but as a teacher, she could have sugar in her tea or honey on her porridge. Not that exciting, Rose mused, taking a sip of her tea, but much better then the plain fare the students had to eat; though Miss Temple was trying to change that.
She saw Richard, one of the servants, approach the table from the corner of her eye, a bundle of letters in his large hand. He handed them to Miss Scatcherd, then made his way down the hall, bobbing his head at the girls as he went. Rose smiled. He was such a sweetheart to them.
"Miss Eyre?" Miss Scatcherd said loudly from the opposite end of the long table. Rose glanced up curiously. "There appears to be a letter for you, Miss Eyre."
The letter was slowly passed along the table to her, most of the teachers taking a long look at said item before passing it to their neighbour. When it reached Rose, she glanced at it quickly and stuffed it into her pocket, determined to read it later.
"Aren't you going to open it, Miss Eyre?" Miss Wilson asked poisonously. Rose shook her head.
"It is rude to read at the table, Miss Wilson," she replied serenely, mentally doing a fist-pump at her neighbour's acid expression. The meal was finished quietly, and the hall soon emptied, its occupants going to their respective classes. The day dragged by for Rose. She was busy for most of the day with her students, then she had to supervise them for their hour of study, then it was her turn to read prayers, to see them to bed and afterwards, to eat her supper with the other teachers. When she was finally able to retire for the night, she sat on her bed cross-legged and finally took out her letter. The wax seal was set with the initial F and was quickly broken as Rose essentially dissected the letter. The contents were brief, to the point, and a smile spread across her face.
If J.E. who advertised in the Yorkshire Herald of last Thursday possesses the acquirements mentioned, and if she is in a position to give satisfactory references as to character and competency, a situation can be offered to her. There is but one pupil, a little girl, under ten years of age, and the salary is thirty pounds per annum. J.E. is requested to send references, name, address, and all particulars to Mrs Fairfax, Thornfield Hall, Buckinghamshire.
The next day, Rose set her plan into motion; she couldn't keep this to herself any longer if she wanted to take the position. After lunch, she cornered Miss Temple in her room and informed her she had a prospect of getting a new situation where the salary would be double what Rose currently received. Rose asked if Miss Temple would discuss the matter for her with the committee, and inquire whether they would give her references. Miss Temple obliged, and the next day she laid the affair before Mr. Brocklehurst, who said that a Mrs. Reed must be written to, as she was Rose's natural guardian. A note was accordingly addressed to the lady in question, who replied that she could do as she pleased, for 'I have long relinquished all interference in that child's affairs.'
"Snotty cow," Rose giggled in her room, and that was all she would say on the matter.
The note went around the committee, and after a week, formal leave was given Rose to 'better your condition if you can', and an assurance added, that as 'you have always conducted yourself well, both as teacher and pupil at Lowood', a testimonial of character and capacity, signed by the inspectors of said hellish institution, would be issued directly. Rose received her references and forwarded copies of them to Mrs. Fairfax imminently, waiting anxiously for a reply. Mrs. Fairfax answered swiftly, stating that she was satisfied, and informed Rose that she would be expected on the 18th of February, two weeks from now.
Rose plunged herself in preparations and the fortnight passed quickly. She didn't have a very large wardrobe, courtesy of the Lowood charity box, but she did afford herself one luxury; a new dress that was plain and simple, in a soft, dark blue that exposed her shoulders. It was dull and insignificant next to the other dresses in the shop, but Rose loved it, and it suited her very well.
The evening before she left, Rose hurried around her rooms, mentally ticking things off. The box was corded, the card nailed on. Her travelling dress had been brushed, her bonnet, gloves, and muff prepared; her drawers checked to see that no article was left behind; and eventually, Rose sank into the easy chair by the fire and fell into a fitful sleep.
The following evening saw Rose sitting in a private room at the George Inn in the town of Millcote, richly furnished in comparison to her previous accommodation and warm due to the blazing fire in the grate. She was crouched in front of the fire, her hands spread to absorb the warmth quickly. Her cloak, bonnet, muff and umbrella lay on the table dripping slightly, as the clock struck eight. Sixteen hours travelling - and not a single person to meet her when she arrived.
In confusion, she had entered the inn and asked if anyone had been looking for her. She was answered in the negative, and with little else to do, asked to be shown to a private room and peeled her damp over-clothes off, doubts and fears scuttling across her mind rapidly as she waited. Half an hour ticked by, and still, no-one had come to fetch her. Annoyed, she rang the bell and a young maid answered.
"Is there a place in this neighbourhood called Thornfield?" Rose asked.
"Thornfield? I don't know, ma'am; I'll inquire at the bar." She vanished, but reappeared instantly. "Is your name Eyre, Miss?"
"Person here waiting for you."
Rose swung her cloak on, muff, bonnet and umbrella in hand, and hastened into the inn-passage: a man was standing by the open door, an irritated look on his face.
"This will be your luggage, I suppose?" the man said rather abruptly when he saw her, pointing to her trunk in the passage.
He hoisted it on to the carriage, and bundled Rose inside.
"How far is it to Thornfield?" she asked.
"A matter of six miles," was her answer.
"How long shall we be before we get there?"
"Happen an hour and a half."
He fastened the car door, climbed to his own seat outside, and they set off. Their progress was leisurely, and gave Rose ample time to think; she was quite happy to be so near the end of her journey; and as she leaned back in the comfortable seat, she closed her eyes and dozed. A rap on the roof jolted her from her nap.
"You're noan so far fro' Thornfield now," the driver informed her.
About ten minutes after, the driver stopped before a large wooden gate. A small side door was opened by a maid, who spoke briefly with the driver before opening the carriage door. Rose exited the carriage and went in.
"Will you walk this way, ma'am?" the girl said as she bobbed a curtsy. Rose followed her across the courtyard and into a square hall with high doors all round and was ushered into a room which was bright with candlelight, too bright for her eyes which had been in darkness the past two hours; when she could see, however, a cosy and agreeable picture greeted her.
A cosy room, a round table by a cheerful fire, an arm-chair high-backed and old-fashioned, in which sat the neatest imaginable little elderly lady, in a widow's cap, black silk gown, and snowy muslin apron. She was occupied in knitting; a large cat sat demurely at her feet; nothing in short was wanting to complete the picturesque of domestic comfort. There was no grandeur to overwhelm, no stateliness to embarrass; and then, as she entered, the old lady got up and promptly came forward to meet her, a smile on her face