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Agnes Grey

4. The Grandmamma
I SPARE my readers the account of my delight on coming home, my happiness
while there - enjoying a brief space of rest and liberty in that dear, familiar place,
among the loving and the loved - and my sorrow on being obliged to bid them,
once more, a long adieu.
I returned, however, with unabated vigour to my work - a more arduous task than
anyone can imagine, who has not felt something like the misery of being charged
with the care and direction of a set of mischievous, turbulent rebels, whom his
utmost exertions cannot bind to their duty; while, at the same time, he is
responsible for their conduct to a higher power, who exacts from him what cannot
be achieved without the aid of the superior's more potent authority; which, either
from indolence, or the fear of becoming unpopular with the said rebellious gang,
the latter refuses to give. I can conceive few situations more harassing than that
wherein, however you may long for success, however you may labour to fulfil
your duty, your efforts are baffled and set at nought by those beneath you, and
unjustly censured and misjudged by those above.
I have not enumerated half the vexatious propensities of my pupils, or half the
troubles resulting from my heavy responsibilities, for fear of trespassing too much
upon the reader's patience; as, perhaps, I have already done; but my design in
writing the few last pages was not to amuse, but to benefit those whom it might
concern; he that has no interest in such matters will doubtless have skipped them
over with a cursory glance, and, perhaps, a malediction against the prolixity of
the writer; but if a parent has, therefrom, gathered any useful hint, or an
unfortunate governess received thereby the slightest benefit, I am well rewarded
for my pains.
To avoid trouble and confusion, I have taken my pupils one by one, and
discussed their various qualities; but this can give no adequate idea of being
worried by the whole three together; when, as was often the case, all were
determined to 'be naughty, and to tease Miss Grey, and put her in a passion.'
Sometimes, on such occasions, the thought has suddenly occurred to me - 'If
they could see me now!' meaning, of course, my friends at home; and the idea of
how they would pity me has made me pity myself - so greatly that I have had the
utmost difficulty to restrain my tears: but I have restrained them, till my little
tormentors were gone to dessert, or cleared off to bed (my only prospects of
deliverance), and then, in all the bliss of solitude, I have given myself up to the
luxury of an unrestricted burst of weeping. But this was a weakness I did not
often indulge: my employments were too numerous, my leisure moments too
precious, to admit of much time being given to fruitless lamentations.