Chapter 15 – The Walk

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

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‘OH, dear! I wish Hatfield had not been so precipitate!’ said
Rosalie next day at four P.M., as, with a portentous yawn, she laid
down her worsted-work and looked listlessly towards the window.
‘There’s no inducement to go out now; and nothing to look forward
to. The days will be so long and dull when there are no parties to
enliven them; and there are none this week, or next either, that I
know of.’

‘Pity you were so cross to him,’ observed Matilda, to whom this
lamentation was addressed. ‘He’ll never come again: and I suspect
you liked him after all. I hoped you would have taken him for your
beau, and left dear Harry to me.’

‘Humph! my beau must be an Adonis indeed, Matilda, the admired of
all beholders, if I am to be contented with him alone. I’m sorry
to lose Hatfield, I confess; but the first decent man, or number of
men, that come to supply his place, will be more than welcome.
It’s Sunday to-morrow – I do wonder how he’ll look, and whether
he’ll be able to go through the service. Most likely he’ll pretend
he’s got a cold, and make Mr. Weston do it all.’

‘Not he!’ exclaimed Matilda, somewhat contemptuously. ‘Fool as he
is, he’s not so soft as that comes to.’

Her sister was slightly offended; but the event proved Matilda was
right: the disappointed lover performed his pastoral duties as
usual. Rosalie, indeed, affirmed he looked very pale and dejected:
he might be a little paler; but the difference, if any, was
scarcely perceptible. As for his dejection, I certainly did not
hear his laugh ringing from the vestry as usual, nor his voice loud
in hilarious discourse; though I did hear it uplifted in rating the
sexton in a manner that made the congregation stare; and, in his
transits to and from the pulpit and the communion-table, there was
more of solemn pomp, and less of that irreverent, self-confident,
or rather self-delighted imperiousness with which he usually swept
along – that air that seemed to say, ‘You all reverence and adore
me, I know; but if anyone does not, I defy him to the teeth!’ But
the most remarkable change was, that he never once suffered his
eyes to wander in the direction of Mr. Murray’s pew, and did not
leave the church till we were gone.

Mr. Hatfield had doubtless received a very severe blow; but his
pride impelled him to use every effort to conceal the effects of
it. He had been disappointed in his certain hope of obtaining not
only a beautiful, and, to him, highly attractive wife, but one
whose rank and fortune might give brilliance to far inferior
charms: he was likewise, no doubt, intensely mortified by his
repulse, and deeply offended at the conduct of Miss Murray
throughout. It would have given him no little consolation to have
known how disappointed she was to find him apparently so little
moved, and to see that he was able to refrain from casting a single
glance at her throughout both services; though, she declared, it
showed he was thinking of her all the time, or his eyes would have
fallen upon her, if it were only by chance: but if they had so
chanced to fall, she would have affirmed it was because they could
not resist the attraction. It might have pleased him, too, in some
degree, to have seen how dull and dissatisfied she was throughout
that week (the greater part of it, at least), for lack of her usual
source of excitement; and how often she regretted having ‘used him
up so soon,’ like a child that, having devoured its plumcake too
hastily, sits sucking its fingers, and vainly lamenting its

At length I was called upon, one fine morning, to accompany her in
a walk to the village. Ostensibly she went to get some shades of
Berlin wool, at a tolerably respectable shop that was chiefly
supported by the ladies of the vicinity: really – I trust there is
no breach of charity in supposing that she went with the idea of
meeting either with the Rector himself, or some other admirer by
the way; for as we went along, she kept wondering ‘what Hatfield
would do or say, if we met him,’ &c. &c.; as we passed Mr. Green’s
park-gates, she ‘wondered whether he was at home – great stupid
blockhead’; as Lady Meltham’s carriage passed us, she ‘wondered
what Mr. Harry was doing this fine day’; and then began to abuse
his elder brother for being ‘such a fool as to get married and go
and live in London.’

‘Why,’ said I, ‘I thought you wanted to live in London yourself.’

‘Yes, because it’s so dull here: but then he makes it still duller
by taking himself off: and if he were not married I might have him
instead of that odious Sir Thomas.’

Then, observing the prints of a horse’s feet on the somewhat miry
road, she ‘wondered whether it was a gentleman’s horse,’ and
finally concluded it was, for the impressions were too small to
have been made by a ‘great clumsy cart-horse’; and then she
‘wondered who the rider could be,’ and whether we should meet him
coming back, for she was sure he had only passed that morning; and
lastly, when we entered the village and saw only a few of its
humble inhabitants moving about, she ‘wondered why the stupid
people couldn’t keep in their houses; she was sure she didn’t want
to see their ugly faces, and dirty, vulgar clothes – it wasn’t for
that she came to Horton!’

Amid all this, I confess, I wondered, too, in secret, whether we
should meet, or catch a glimpse of somebody else; and as we passed
his lodgings, I even went so far as to wonder whether he was at the
window. On entering the shop, Miss Murray desired me to stand in
the doorway while she transacted her business, and tell her if
anyone passed. But alas! there was no one visible besides the
villagers, except Jane and Susan Green coming down the single
street, apparently returning from a walk.

‘Stupid things!’ muttered she, as she came out after having
concluded her bargain. ‘Why couldn’t they have their dolt of a
brother with them? even he would be better than nothing.’

She greeted them, however, with a cheerful smile, and protestations
of pleasure at the happy meeting equal to their own. They placed
themselves one on each side of her, and all three walked away
chatting and laughing as young ladies do when they get together, if
they be but on tolerably intimate terms. But I, feeling myself to
be one too many, left them to their merriment and lagged behind, as
usual on such occasions: I had no relish for walking beside Miss
Green or Miss Susan like one deaf and dumb, who could neither speak
nor be spoken to.

But this time I was not long alone. It struck me, first, as very
odd, that just as I was thinking about Mr. Weston he should come up
and accost me; but afterwards, on due reflection, I thought there
was nothing odd about it, unless it were the fact of his speaking
to me; for on such a morning and so near his own abode, it was
natural enough that he should be about; and as for my thinking of
him, I had been doing that, with little intermission, ever since we
set out on our journey; so there was nothing remarkable in that.

‘You are alone again, Miss Grey,’ said he.


‘What kind of people are those ladies – the Misses Green?’

‘I really don’t know.’

‘That’s strange – when you live so near and see them so often!’

‘Well, I suppose they are lively, good-tempered girls; but I
imagine you must know them better than I do, yourself, for I never
exchanged a word with either of them.’

‘Indeed? They don’t strike me as being particularly reserved.’

‘Very likely they are not so to people of their own class; but they
consider themselves as moving in quite a different sphere from me!’

He made no reply to this: but after a short pause, he said, – ‘I
suppose it’s these things, Miss Grey, that make you think you could
not live without a home?’

‘Not exactly. The fact is I am too socially disposed to be able to
live contentedly without a friend; and as the only friends I have,
or am likely to have, are at home, if it – or rather, if they were
gone – I will not say I could not live – but I would rather not
live in such a desolate world.’

‘But why do you say the only friends you are likely to have? Are
you so unsociable that you cannot make friends?’

‘No, but I never made one yet; and in my present position there is
no possibility of doing so, or even of forming a common
acquaintance. The fault may be partly in myself, but I hope not

‘The fault is partly in society, and partly, I should think, in
your immediate neighbours: and partly, too, in yourself; for many
ladies, in your position, would make themselves be noticed and
accounted of. But your pupils should be companions for you in some
degree; they cannot be many years younger than yourself.’

‘Oh, yes, they are good company sometimes; but I cannot call them
friends, nor would they think of bestowing such a name on me – they
have other companions better suited to their tastes.’

‘Perhaps you are too wise for them. How do you amuse yourself when
alone – do you read much?’

‘Reading is my favourite occupation, when I have leisure for it and
books to read.’

From speaking of books in general, he passed to different books in
particular, and proceeded by rapid transitions from topic to topic,
till several matters, both of taste and opinion, had been discussed
considerably within the space of half an hour, but without the
embellishment of many observations from himself; he being evidently
less bent upon communicating his own thoughts and predilections,
than on discovering mine. He had not the tact, or the art, to
effect such a purpose by skilfully drawing out my sentiments or
ideas through the real or apparent statement of his own, or leading
the conversation by imperceptible gradations to such topics as he
wished to advert to: but such gentle abruptness, and such single-
minded straightforwardness, could not possibly offend me.

‘And why should he interest himself at all in my moral and
intellectual capacities: what is it to him what I think or feel?’
I asked myself. And my heart throbbed in answer to the question.

But Jane and Susan Green soon reached their home. As they stood
parleying at the park-gates, attempting to persuade Miss Murray to
come in, I wished Mr. Weston would go, that she might not see him
with me when she turned round; but, unfortunately, his business,
which was to pay one more visit to poor Mark Wood, led him to
pursue the same path as we did, till nearly the close of our
journey. When, however, he saw that Rosalie had taken leave of her
friends and I was about to join her, he would have left me and
passed on at a quicker pace; but, as he civilly lifted his hat in
passing her, to my surprise, instead of returning the salute with a
stiff, ungracious bow, she accosted him with one of her sweetest
smiles, and, walking by his side, began to talk to him with all
imaginable cheerfulness and affability; and so we proceeded all
three together.

After a short pause in the conversation, Mr. Weston made some
remark addressed particularly to me, as referring to something we
had been talking of before; but before I could answer, Miss Murray
replied to the observation and enlarged upon it: he rejoined; and,
from thence to the close of the interview, she engrossed him
entirely to herself. It might be partly owing to my own stupidity,
my want of tact and assurance: but I felt myself wronged: I
trembled with apprehension; and I listened with envy to her easy,
rapid flow of utterance, and saw with anxiety the bright smile with
which she looked into his face from time to time: for she was
walking a little in advance, for the purpose (as I judged) of being
seen as well as heard. If her conversation was light and trivial,
it was amusing, and she was never at a loss for something to say,
or for suitable words to express it in. There was nothing pert or
flippant in her manner now, as when she walked with Mr. Hatfield,
there was only a gentle, playful kind of vivacity, which I thought
must be peculiarly pleasing to a man of Mr. Weston’s disposition
and temperament.

When he was gone she began to laugh, and muttered to herself, ‘I
thought I could do it!’

‘Do what?’ I asked.

‘Fix that man.’

‘What in the world do you mean?’

‘I mean that he will go home and dream of me. I have shot him
through the heart!’

‘How do you know?’

‘By many infallible proofs: more especially the look he gave me
when he went away. It was not an impudent look – I exonerate him
from that – it was a look of reverential, tender adoration. Ha,
ha! he’s not quite such a stupid blockhead as I thought him!’

I made no answer, for my heart was in my throat, or something like
it, and I could not trust myself to speak. ‘O God, avert it!’ I
cried, internally – ‘for his sake, not for mine!’

Miss Murray made several trivial observations as we passed up the
park, to which (in spite of my reluctance to let one glimpse of my
feelings appear) I could only answer by monosyllables. Whether she
intended to torment me, or merely to amuse herself, I could not
tell – and did not much care; but I thought of the poor man and his
one lamb, and the rich man with his thousand flocks; and I dreaded
I knew not what for Mr. Weston, independently of my own blighted

Right glad was I to get into the house, and find myself alone once
more in my own room. My first impulse was to sink into the chair
beside the bed; and laying my head on the pillow, to seek relief in
a passionate burst of tears: there was an imperative craving for
such an indulgence; but, alas! I must restrain and swallow back my
feelings still: there was the bell – the odious bell for the
schoolroom dinner; and I must go down with a calm face, and smile,
and laugh, and talk nonsense – yes, and eat, too, if possible, as
if all was right, and I was just returned from a pleasant walk.


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