Chapter 16 – The Substitution

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

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NEXT Sunday was one of the gloomiest of April days – a day of
thick, dark clouds, and heavy showers. None of the Murrays were
disposed to attend church in the afternoon, excepting Rosalie: she
was bent upon going as usual; so she ordered the carriage, and I
went with her: nothing loth, of course, for at church I might look
without fear of scorn or censure upon a form and face more pleasing
to me than the most beautiful of God’s creations; I might listen
without disturbance to a voice more charming than the sweetest
music to my ears; I might seem to hold communion with that soul in
which I felt so deeply interested, and imbibe its purest thoughts
and holiest aspirations, with no alloy to such felicity except the
secret reproaches of my conscience, which would too often whisper
that I was deceiving my own self, and mocking God with the service
of a heart more bent upon the creature than the Creator.

Sometimes, such thoughts would give me trouble enough; but
sometimes I could quiet them with thinking – it is not the man, it
is his goodness that I love. ‘Whatsoever things are pure,
whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are honest and of
good report, think on these things.’ We do well to worship God in
His works; and I know none of them in which so many of His
attributes – so much of His own spirit shines, as in this His
faithful servant; whom to know and not to appreciate, were obtuse
insensibility in me, who have so little else to occupy my heart.

Almost immediately after the conclusion of the service, Miss Murray
left the church. We had to stand in the porch, for it was raining,
and the carriage was not yet come. I wondered at her coming forth
so hastily, for neither young Meltham nor Squire Green was there;
but I soon found it was to secure an interview with Mr. Weston as
he came out, which he presently did. Having saluted us both, he
would have passed on, but she detained him; first with observations
upon the disagreeable weather, and then with asking if he would be
so kind as to come some time to-morrow to see the granddaughter of
the old woman who kept the porter’s lodge, for the girl was ill of
a fever, and wished to see him. He promised to do so.

‘And at what time will you be most likely to come, Mr. Weston? The
old woman will like to know when to expect you – you know such
people think more about having their cottages in order when decent
people come to see them than we are apt to suppose.’

Here was a wonderful instance of consideration from the thoughtless
Miss Murray. Mr. Weston named an hour in the morning at which he
would endeavour, to be there. By this time the carriage was ready,
and the footman was waiting, with an open umbrella, to escort Miss
Murray through the churchyard. I was about to follow; but Mr.
Weston had an umbrella too, and offered me the benefit of its
shelter, for it was raining heavily.

‘No, thank you, I don’t mind the rain,’ I said. I always lacked
common sense when taken by surprise.

‘But you don’t LIKE it, I suppose? – an umbrella will do you no
harm at any rate,’ he replied, with a smile that showed he was not
offended; as a man of worse temper or less penetration would have
been at such a refusal of his aid. I could not deny the truth of
his assertion, and so went with him to the carriage; he even
offered me his hand on getting in: an unnecessary piece of
civility, but I accepted that too, for fear of giving offence. One
glance he gave, one little smile at parting – it was but for a
moment; but therein I read, or thought I read, a meaning that
kindled in my heart a brighter flame of hope than had ever yet

‘I would have sent the footman back for you, Miss Grey, if you’d
waited a moment – you needn’t have taken Mr. Weston’s umbrella,’
observed Rosalie, with a very unamiable cloud upon her pretty face.

‘I would have come without an umbrella, but Mr. Weston offered me
the benefit of his, and I could not have refused it more than I did
without offending him,’ replied I, smiling placidly; for my inward
happiness made that amusing, which would have wounded me at another

The carriage was now in motion. Miss Murray bent forwards, and
looked out of the window as we were passing Mr. Weston. He was
pacing homewards along the causeway, and did not turn his head.

‘Stupid ass!’ cried she, throwing herself back again in the seat.
‘You don’t know what you’ve lost by not looking this way!’

‘What has he lost?’

‘A bow from me, that would have raised him to the seventh heaven!’

I made no answer. I saw she was out of humour, and I derived a
secret gratification from the fact, not that she was vexed, but
that she thought she had reason to be so. It made me think my
hopes were not entirely the offspring of my wishes and imagination.

‘I mean to take up Mr. Weston instead of Mr. Hatfield,’ said my
companion, after a short pause, resuming something of her usual
cheerfulness. ‘The ball at Ashby Park takes place on Tuesday, you
know; and mamma thinks it very likely that Sir Thomas will propose
to me then: such things are often done in the privacy of the ball-
room, when gentlemen are most easily ensnared, and ladies most
enchanting. But if I am to be married so soon, I must make the
best of the present time: I am determined Hatfield shall not be
the only man who shall lay his heart at my feet, and implore me to
accept the worthless gift in vain.’

‘If you mean Mr. Weston to be one of your victims,’ said I, with
affected indifference, ‘you will have to make such overtures
yourself that you will find it difficult to draw back when he asks
you to fulfil the expectations you have raised.’

‘I don’t suppose he will ask me to marry him, nor should I desire
it: that would be rather too much presumption! but I intend him to
feel my power. He has felt it already, indeed: but he shall
ACKNOWLEDGE it too; and what visionary hopes he may have, he must
keep to himself, and only amuse me with the result of them – for a

‘Oh! that some kind spirit would whisper those words in his ear,’ I
inwardly exclaimed. I was far too indignant to hazard a reply to
her observation aloud; and nothing more was said about Mr. Weston
that day, by me or in my hearing. But next morning, soon after
breakfast, Miss Murray came into the schoolroom, where her sister
was employed at her studies, or rather her lessons, for studies
they were not, and said, ‘Matilda, I want you to take a walk with
me about eleven o’clock.’

‘Oh, I can’t, Rosalie! I have to give orders about my new bridle
and saddle-cloth, and speak to the rat-catcher about his dogs:
Miss Grey must go with you.’

‘No, I want you,’ said Rosalie; and calling her sister to the
window, she whispered an explanation in her ear; upon which the
latter consented to go.

I remembered that eleven was the hour at which Mr. Weston proposed
to come to the porter’s lodge; and remembering that, I beheld the
whole contrivance. Accordingly, at dinner, I was entertained with
a long account of how Mr. Weston had overtaken them as they were
walking along the road; and how they had had a long walk and talk
with him, and really found him quite an agreeable companion; and
how he must have been, and evidently was, delighted with them and
their amazing condescension, &c. &c.


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