Chapter 8 – The ‘Coming Out’

Anne Bronte2016年07月20日'Command+D' Bookmark this page

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AT eighteen, Miss Murray was to emerge from the quiet obscurity of
the schoolroom into the full blaze of the fashionable world – as
much of it, at least, as could be had out of London; for her papa
could not be persuaded to leave his rural pleasures and pursuits,
even for a few weeks’ residence in town. She was to make her debut
on the third of January, at a magnificent ball, which her mamma
proposed to give to all the nobility and choice gentry of O- and
its neighbourhood for twenty miles round. Of course, she looked
forward to it with the wildest impatience, and the most extravagant
anticipations of delight.

‘Miss Grey,’ said she, one evening, a month before the all-
important day, as I was perusing a long and extremely interesting
letter of my sister’s – which I had just glanced at in the morning
to see that it contained no very bad news, and kept till now,
unable before to find a quiet moment for reading it, – ‘Miss Grey,
do put away that dull, stupid letter, and listen to me! I’m sure
my talk must be far more amusing than that.’

She seated herself on the low stool at my feet; and I, suppressing
a sigh of vexation, began to fold up the epistle.

‘You should tell the good people at home not to bore you with such
long letters,’ said she; ‘and, above all, do bid them write on
proper note-paper, and not on those great vulgar sheets. You
should see the charming little lady-like notes mamma writes to her

‘The good people at home,’ replied I, ‘know very well that the
longer their letters are, the better I like them. I should be very
sorry to receive a charming little lady-like note from any of them;
and I thought you were too much of a lady yourself, Miss Murray, to
talk about the “vulgarity” of writing on a large sheet of paper.’

‘Well, I only said it to tease you. But now I want to talk about
the ball; and to tell you that you positively must put off your
holidays till it is over.’

‘Why so? – I shall not be present at the ball.’

‘No, but you will see the rooms decked out before it begins, and
hear the music, and, above all, see me in my splendid new dress. I
shall be so charming, you’ll be ready to worship me – you really
must stay.’

‘I should like to see you very much; but I shall have many
opportunities of seeing you equally charming, on the occasion of
some of the numberless balls and parties that are to be, and I
cannot disappoint my friends by postponing my return so long.’

‘Oh, never mind your friends! Tell them we won’t let you go.’

‘But, to say the truth, it would be a disappointment to myself: I
long to see them as much as they to see me – perhaps more.’

‘Well, but it is such a short time.’

‘Nearly a fortnight by my computation; and, besides, I cannot bear
the thoughts of a Christmas spent from home: and, moreover, my
sister is going to be married.’

‘Is she – when?’

‘Not till next month; but I want to be there to assist her in
making preparations, and to make the best of her company while we
have her.’

‘Why didn’t you tell me before?’

‘I’ve only got the news in this letter, which you stigmatize as
dull and stupid, and won’t let me read.’

‘To whom is she to be married?’

‘To Mr. Richardson, the vicar of a neighbouring parish.’

‘Is he rich?’

‘No; only comfortable.’

‘Is he handsome?’

‘No; only decent.’


‘No; only middling.’

‘Oh, mercy! what a wretch! What sort of a house is it?’

‘A quiet little vicarage, with an ivy-clad porch, an old-fashioned
garden, and – ‘

‘Oh, stop! – you’ll make me sick. How CAN she bear it?’

‘I expect she’ll not only be able to bear it, but to be very happy.
You did not ask me if Mr. Richardson were a good, wise, or amiable
man; I could have answered Yes, to all these questions – at least
so Mary thinks, and I hope she will not find herself mistaken.’

‘But – miserable creature! how can she think of spending her life
there, cooped up with that nasty old man; and no hope of change?’

‘He is not old: he’s only six or seven and thirty; and she herself
is twenty-eight, and as sober as if she were fifty.’

‘Oh! that’s better then – they’re well matched; but do they call
him the “worthy vicar”?’

‘I don’t know; but if they do, I believe he merits the epithet.’

‘Mercy, how shocking! and will she wear a white apron and make pies
and puddings?’

‘I don’t know about the white apron, but I dare say she will make
pies and puddings now and then; but that will be no great hardship,
as she has done it before.’

‘And will she go about in a plain shawl, and a large straw bonnet,
carrying tracts and bone soup to her husband’s poor parishioners?’

‘I’m not clear about that; but I dare say she will do her best to
make them comfortable in body and mind, in accordance with our
mother’s example.’


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