'Will you walk this way, ma'am?' said the girl; and I followedher across a square hall with high doors all round: she ushered meinto a room whose double illumination of fire and candle at firstdazzled me, contrasting as it did with the darkness to which my eyeshad been for two hours inured; when I could see, however, a cosy andagreeable picture presented itself to my view.。，
。， Meantime, Mr. Brocklehurst, standing on the hearth with his handsbehind his back, majestically surveyed the whole school. Suddenlyhis eye gave a blink, as if it had met something that either dazzledor shocked its pupil; turning, he said in more rapid accents than hehad hitherto used-
'I suppose,' thought I, 'judging from the plainness of theservant and carriage, Mrs. Fairfax is not a very dashing person: somuch the better; I never lived amongst fine people but once, and I wasvery miserable with them. I wonder if she lives alone except thislittle girl; if so, and if she is in any degree amiable, I shallsurely be able to get on with her; I will do my best; it is a pitythat doing one's best does not always answer. At Lowood, indeed, Itook that resolution, kept it, and succeeded in pleasing; but withMrs. Reed, I remember my best was always spurned with scorn. I prayGod Mrs. Fairfax may not turn out a second Mrs. Reed; but if she does,I am not bound to stay with her! let the worst come to the worst, Ican advertise again. How far are we on our road now, I wonder?'。， I really did not expect any Grace to answer; for the laugh was astragic, as preternatural a laugh as any I ever heard; and, but that itwas high noon, and that no circumstance of ghostliness accompanied thecurious cachinnation; but that neither scene nor season favoured fear,I should have been superstitiously afraid. However, the event showedme I was a fool for entertaining a sense even of surprise.
。， If even this stranger had smiled and been good-humoured to mewhen I addressed him; if he had put off my offer of assistance gailyand with thanks, I should have gone on my way and not felt anyvocation to renew inquiries: but the frown, the roughness of thetraveller, set me at my ease: I retained my station when he waved tome to go, and announced-
。， One afternoon (I had then been three weeks at Lowood), as I wassitting with a slate in my hand, puzzling over a sum in long division,my eyes, raised in abstraction to the window, caught sight of a figurejust passing: I recognised almost instinctively that gaunt outline;and when, two minutes after, all the school, teachers included, roseen masse, it was not necessary for me to look up in order to ascertainwhose entrance they thus greeted. A long stride measured theschoolroom, and presently beside Miss Temple, who herself had risen,stood the same black column which had frowned on me so ominouslyfrom the hearthrug of Gateshead. I now glanced sideways at thispiece of architecture. Yes, I was right: it was Mr. Brocklehurst,buttoned up in a surtout, and looking longer, narrower, and more rigidthan ever.
I was confirmed in this idea by the fact of her once or twicecoming downstairs on very warm sunny afternoons, and being taken byMiss Temple into the garden; but, on these occasions, I was notallowed to go and speak to her; I only saw her from the schoolroomwindow, and then not distinctly; for she was much wrapped up, andsat at a distance under the verandah.。，
And where, meantime, was Helen Burns? Why did I not spend thesesweet days of liberty with her? Had I forgotten her? or was I soworthless as to have grown tired of her pure society? Surely theMary Ann Wilson I have mentioned was inferior to my firstacquaintance: she could only tell me amusing stories, andreciprocate any racy and pungent gossip I chose to indulge in;while, if I have spoken truth of Helen, she was qualified to givethose who enjoyed the privilege of her converse a taste of farhigher things.。，
THE promise of a smooth career, which my first calm introduction toThornfield Hall seemed to pledge, was not belied on a longeracquaintance with the place and its inmates. Mrs. Fairfax turned outto be what she appeared, a placid-tempered, kind-natured woman, ofcompetent education and average intelligence. My pupil was a livelychild, who had been spoilt and indulged, and therefore was sometimeswayward; but as she was committed entirely to my care, and noinjudicious interference from any quarter ever thwarted my plans forher improvement, she soon forgot her little freaks, and becameobedient and teachable. She had no great talents, no marked traitsof character, no peculiar development of feeling or taste which raisedher one inch above the ordinary level of childhood; but neither hadshe any deficiency or vice which sunk her below it. She madereasonable progress, entertained for me a vivacious, though perhapsnot very profound, affection; and by her simplicity, gay prattle,and efforts to please, inspired me, in return, with a degree ofattachment sufficient to make us both content in each other's society.。，
， These ladies were deferentially received by Miss Temple, as Mrs.and the Misses Brocklehurst, and conducted to seats of honour at thetop of the room. It seems they had come in the carriage with theirreverend relative, and had been conducting a rummaging scrutiny of theroom upstairs, while he transacted business with the housekeeper,questioned the laundress, and lectured the superintendent. They nowproceeded to address divers remarks and reproofs to Miss Smith, whowas charged with the care of the linen and the inspection of thedormitories: but I had no time to listen to what they said; othermatters called off and enchained my attention.。， A snug small room; a round table by a cheerful fire; an arm-chairhigh-backed and old-fashioned, wherein sat the neatest imaginablelittle elderly lady, in widow's cap, black silk gown, and snowy muslinapron; exactly like what I had fancied Mrs. Fairfax, only less statelyand milder looking. She was occupied in knitting; a large cat satdemurely at her feet; nothing in short was wanting to complete thebeau-ideal of domestic comfort. A more reassuring introduction for anew governess could scarcely be conceived; there was no grandeur tooverwhelm, no stateliness to embarrass; and then, as I entered, theold lady got up and promptly and kindly came forward to meet me.