Chapter 12 – The Shower

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

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THE next visit I paid to Nancy Brown was in the second week in
March: for, though I had many spare minutes during the day, I
seldom could look upon an hour as entirely my own; since, where
everything was left to the caprices of Miss Matilda and her sister,
there could be no order or regularity. Whatever occupation I
chose, when not actually busied about them or their concerns, I
had, as it were, to keep my loins girded, my shoes on my feet, and
my staff in my hand; for not to be immediately forthcoming when
called for, was regarded as a grave and inexcusable offence: not
only by my pupils and their mother, but by the very servant, who
came in breathless haste to call me, exclaiming, ‘You’re to go to
the schoolroom DIRECTLY, mum, the young ladies is WAITING!!’
Climax of horror! actually waiting for their governess!!!

But this time I was pretty sure of an hour or two to myself; for
Matilda was preparing for a long ride, and Rosalie was dressing for
a dinner-party at Lady Ashby’s: so I took the opportunity of
repairing to the widow’s cottage, where I found her in some anxiety
about her cat, which had been absent all day. I comforted her with
as many anecdotes of that animal’s roving propensities as I could
recollect. ‘I’m feared o’ th’ gamekeepers,’ said she: ‘that’s all
‘at I think on. If th’ young gentlemen had been at home, I should
a’ thought they’d been setting their dogs at her, an’ worried her,
poor thing, as they did MANY a poor thing’s cat; but I haven’t that
to be feared on now.’ Nancy’s eyes were better, but still far from
well: she had been trying to make a Sunday shirt for her son, but
told me she could only bear to do a little bit at it now and then,
so that it progressed but slowly, though the poor lad wanted it
sadly. So I proposed to help her a little, after I had read to
her, for I had plenty of time that evening, and need not return
till dusk. She thankfully accepted the offer. ‘An’ you’ll be a
bit o’ company for me too, Miss,’ said she; ‘I like as I feel
lonesome without my cat.’ But when I had finished reading, and
done the half of a seam, with Nancy’s capacious brass thimble
fitted on to my finger by means of a roll of paper, I was disturbed
by the entrance of Mr. Weston, with the identical cat in his arms.
I now saw that he could smile, and very pleasantly too.

‘I’ve done you a piece of good service, Nancy,’ he began: then
seeing me, he acknowledged my presence by a slight bow. I should
have been invisible to Hatfield, or any other gentleman of those
parts. ‘I’ve delivered your cat,’ he continued, ‘from the hands,
or rather the gun, of Mr. Murray’s gamekeeper.’

‘God bless you, sir!’ cried the grateful old woman, ready to weep
for joy as she received her favourite from his arms.

‘Take care of it,’ said he, ‘and don’t let it go near the rabbit-
warren, for the gamekeeper swears he’ll shoot it if he sees it
there again: he would have done so to-day, if I had not been in
time to stop him. I believe it is raining, Miss Grey,’ added he,
more quietly, observing that I had put aside my work, and was
preparing to depart. ‘Don’t let me disturb you – I shan’t stay two

‘You’ll BOTH stay while this shower gets owered,’ said Nancy, as
she stirred the fire, and placed another chair beside it; ‘what!
there’s room for all.’

‘I can see better here, thank you, Nancy,’ replied I, taking my
work to the window, where she had the goodness to suffer me to
remain unmolested, while she got a brush to remove the cat’s hairs
from Mr. Weston’s coat, carefully wiped the rain from his hat, and
gave the cat its supper, busily talking all the time: now thanking
her clerical friend for what he had done; now wondering how the cat
had found out the warren; and now lamenting the probable
consequences of such a discovery. He listened with a quiet, good-
natured smile, and at length took a seat in compliance with her
pressing invitations, but repeated that he did not mean to stay.

‘I have another place to go to,’ said he, ‘and I see’ (glancing at
the book on the table) ‘someone else has been reading to you.’

‘Yes, sir; Miss Grey has been as kind as read me a chapter; an’ now
she’s helping me with a shirt for our Bill – but I’m feared she’ll
be cold there. Won’t you come to th’ fire, Miss?’

‘No, thank you, Nancy, I’m quite warm. I must go as soon as this
shower is over.’

‘Oh, Miss! You said you could stop while dusk!’ cried the
provoking old woman, and Mr. Weston seized his hat.

‘Nay, sir,’ exclaimed she, ‘pray don’t go now, while it rains so

‘But it strikes me I’m keeping your visitor away from the fire.’

‘No, you’re not, Mr. Weston,’ replied I, hoping there was no harm
in a falsehood of that description.

‘No, sure!’ cried Nancy. ‘What, there’s lots o’ room!’

‘Miss Grey,’ said he, half-jestingly, as if he felt it necessary to
change the present subject, whether he had anything particular to
say or not, ‘I wish you would make my peace with the squire, when
you see him. He was by when I rescued Nancy’s cat, and did not
quite approve of the deed. I told him I thought he might better
spare all his rabbits than she her cat, for which audacious
assertion he treated me to some rather ungentlemanly language; and
I fear I retorted a trifle too warmly.’

‘Oh, lawful sir! I hope you didn’t fall out wi’ th’ maister for
sake o’ my cat! he cannot bide answering again – can th’ maister.’

‘Oh! it’s no matter, Nancy: I don’t care about it, really; I said
nothing VERY uncivil; and I suppose Mr. Murray is accustomed to use
rather strong language when he’s heated.’

‘Ay, sir: it’s a pity.’

‘And now, I really must go. I have to visit a place a mile beyond
this; and you would not have me to return in the dark: besides, it
has nearly done raining now – so good-evening, Nancy. Good-
evening, Miss Grey.’

‘Good-evening, Mr. Weston; but don’t depend upon me for making your
peace with Mr. Murray, for I never see him – to speak to.’

‘Don’t you; it can’t be helped then,’ replied he, in dolorous
resignation: then, with a peculiar half-smile, he added, ‘But
never mind; I imagine the squire has more to apologise for than I;’
and left the cottage.

I went on with my sewing as long as I could see, and then bade
Nancy good-evening; checking her too lively gratitude by the
undeniable assurance that I had only done for her what she would
have done for me, if she had been in my place and I in hers. I
hastened back to Horton Lodge, where, having entered the
schoolroom, I found the tea-table all in confusion, the tray
flooded with slops, and Miss Matilda in a most ferocious humour.

‘Miss Grey, whatever have you been about? I’ve had tea half an
hour ago, and had to make it myself, and drink it all alone! I
wish you would come in sooner!’

‘I’ve been to see Nancy Brown. I thought you would not be back
from your ride.’

‘How could I ride in the rain, I should like to know. That damned
pelting shower was vexatious enough – coming on when I was just in
full swing: and then to come and find nobody in to tea! and you
know I can’t make the tea as I like it.’

‘I didn’t think of the shower,’ replied I (and, indeed, the thought
of its driving her home had never entered my head).

‘No, of course; you were under shelter yourself, and you never
thought of other people.’

I bore her coarse reproaches with astonishing equanimity, even with
cheerfulness; for I was sensible that I had done more good to Nancy
Brown than harm to her: and perhaps some other thoughts assisted
to keep up my spirits, and impart a relish to the cup of cold,
overdrawn tea, and a charm to the otherwise unsightly table; and –
I had almost said – to Miss Matilda’s unamiable face. But she soon
betook herself to the stables, and left me to the quiet enjoyment
of my solitary meal.


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