MISS MURRAY now always went twice to church, for she so loved admiration
that she could not bear to lose a single opportunity of obtaining it; and she was
so sure of it wherever she showed herself, that, whether Harry Meltham and Mr.
Green were there or not, there was certain to be somebody present who would
not be insensible to her charms, besides the Rector, whose official capacity
generally obliged him to attend. Usually, also, if the weather permitted, both she
and her sister would walk home; Matilda, because she hated the confinement of
the carriage; she, because she disliked the privacy of it, and enjoyed the
company that generally enlivened the first mile of the journey in walking from the
church to Mr. Green's park-gates: near which commenced the private road to
Horton Lodge, which lay in the opposite direction, while the highway conducted in
a straightforward course to the still more distant mansion of Sir Hugh Meltham.
Thus there was always a chance of being accompanied, so far, either by Harry
Meltham, with or without Miss Meltham, or Mr. Green, with perhaps one or both
of his sisters, and any gentlemen visitors they might have.
Whether I walked with the young ladies or rode with their parents, depended
upon their own capricious will: if they chose to 'take' me, I went; if, for reasons
best known to themselves, they chose to go alone, I took my seat in the carriage.
I liked walking better, but a sense of reluctance to obtrude my presence on
anyone who did not desire it, always kept me passive on these and similar
occasions; and I never inquired into the causes of their varying whims. Indeed,
this was the best policy - for to submit and oblige was the governess's part, to
consult their own pleasure was that of the pupils. But when I did walk, the first
half of journey was generally a great nuisance to me. As none of the before-
mentioned ladies and gentlemen ever noticed me, it was disagreeable to walk
beside them, as if listening to what they said, or wishing to be thought one of
them, while they talked over me, or across; and if their eyes, in speaking,
chanced to fall on me, it seemed as if they looked on vacancy - as if they either
did not see me, or were very desirous to make it appear so.
It was disagreeable, too, to walk behind, and thus appear to acknowledge my
own inferiority; for, in truth, I considered myself pretty nearly as good as the best
of them, and wished them to know that I did so, and not to imagine that I looked
upon myself as a mere domestic, who knew her own place too well to walk
beside such fine ladies and gentlemen as they were - though her young ladies
might choose to have her with them, and even condescend to converse with her
when no better company were at hand.
Thus - I am almost ashamed to confess it - but indeed I gave myself no little
trouble in my endeavours (if I did keep up with them) to appear perfectly
unconscious or regardless of their presence, as if I were wholly absorbed in my