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Agnes Grey

21.
The School
I LEFT Horton Lodge, and went to join my mother in our new abode at A-. I found
her well in health, resigned in spirit, and even cheerful, though subdued and
sober, in her general demeanour. We had only three boarders and half a dozen
day-pupils to commence with; but by due care and diligence we hoped ere long
to increase the number of both.
I set myself with befitting energy to discharge the duties of this new mode of life. I
call it new, for there was, indeed, a considerable difference between working with
my mother in a school of our own, and working as a hireling among strangers,
despised and trampled upon by old and young; and for the first few weeks I was
by no means unhappy. 'It is possible we may meet again,' and 'will it be of any
consequence to you whether we do or not?' - Those words still rang in my ear
and rested on my heart: they were my secret solace and support.
'I shall see him again. - He will come; or he will write.' No promise, in fact, was
too bright or too extravagant for Hope to whisper in my ear. I did not believe half
of what she told me: I pretended to laugh at it all; but I was far more credulous
than I myself supposed; otherwise, why did my heart leap up when a knock was
heard at the front door, and the maid, who opened it, came to tell my mother a
gentleman wished to see her? and why was I out of humour for the rest of the
day, because it proved to be a music-master come to offer his services to our
school? and what stopped my breath for a moment, when the postman having
brought a couple of letters, my mother said, 'Here, Agnes, this is for you,' and
threw one of them to me? and what made the hot blood rush into my face when I
saw it was directed in a gentleman's hand? and why - oh! why did that cold,
sickening sense of disappointment fall upon me, when I had torn open the cover
and found it was only a letter from Mary, which, for some reason or other, her
husband had directed for her?
Was it then come to this - that I should be disappointed to receive a letter from
my only sister: and because it was not written by a comparative stranger? Dear
Mary! and she had written it so kindly - and thinking I should be so pleased to
have it! - I was not worthy to read it!
And I believe, in my indignation against myself, I should have put it aside till I had
schooled myself into a better frame of mind, and was become more deserving of
the honour and privilege of its perusal: but there was my mother looking on, and
wishful to know what news it contained; so I read it and delivered it to her, and
then went into the schoolroom to attend to the pupils: but amidst the cares of
copies and sums - in the intervals of correcting errors here, and reproving
derelictions of duty there, I was inwardly taking myself to task with far sterner
severity.
 
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