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Agnes Grey

2. First Lessons In The Art Of Instruction
AS we drove along, my spirits revived again, and I turned, with pleasure, to the
contemplation of the new life upon which I was entering. But though it was not far
past the middle of September, the heavy clouds and strong north-easterly wind
combined to render the day extremely cold and dreary; and the journey seemed
a very long one, for, as Smith observed, the roads were 'very heavy'; and
certainly, his horse was very heavy too: it crawled up the hills, and crept down
them, and only condescended to shake its sides in a trot where the road was at a
dead level or a very gentle slope, which was rarely the case in those rugged
regions; so that it was nearly one o'clock before we reached the place of our
destination. Yet, after all, when we entered the lofty iron gateway, when we drove
softly up the smooth, well-rolled carriage-road, with the green lawn on each side,
studded with young trees, and approached the new but stately mansion of
Wellwood, rising above its mushroom poplar-groves, my heart failed me, and I
wished it were a mile or two farther off. For the first time in my life I must stand
alone: there was no retreating now. I must enter that house, and introduce myself
among its strange inhabitants. But how was it to be done? True, I was near
nineteen; but, thanks to my retired life and the protecting care of my mother and
sister, I well knew that many a girl of fifteen, or under, was gifted with a more
womanly address, and greater ease and self-possession, than I was. Yet, if Mrs.
Bloomfield were a kind, motherly woman, I might do very well, after all; and the
children, of course, I should soon be at ease with them - and Mr. Bloomfield, I
hoped, I should have but little to do with.
'Be calm, be calm, whatever happens,' I said within myself; and truly I kept this
resolution so well, and was so fully occupied in steadying my nerves and stifling
the rebellious flutter of my heart, that when I was admitted into the hall and
ushered into the presence of Mrs. Bloomfield, I almost forgot to answer her polite
salutation; and it afterwards struck me, that the little I did say was spoken in the
tone of one half-dead or half-asleep. The lady, too, was somewhat chilly in her
manner, as I discovered when I had time to reflect. She was a tall, spare, stately
woman, with thick black hair, cold grey eyes, and extremely sallow complexion.
With due politeness, however, she showed me my bedroom, and left me there to
take a little refreshment. I was somewhat dismayed at my appearance on looking
in the glass: the cold wind had swelled and reddened my hands, uncurled and
entangled my hair, and dyed my face of a pale purple; add to this my collar was
horridly crumpled, my frock splashed with mud, my feet clad in stout new boots,
and as the trunks were not brought up, there was no remedy; so having
smoothed my hair as well as I could, and repeatedly twitched my obdurate collar,
I proceeded to clomp down the two flights of stairs, philosophizing as I went; and
with some difficulty found my way into the room where Mrs. Bloomfield awaited
me.
 
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