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Chapter 25 – Conclusion

Anne BronteJul 20, 2016'Command+D' Bookmark this page

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‘WELL, Agnes, you must not take such long walks again before
breakfast,’ said my mother, observing that I drank an extra cup of
coffee and ate nothing – pleading the heat of the weather, and the
fatigue of my long walk as an excuse. I certainly did feel
feverish and tired too.

‘You always do things by extremes: now, if you had taken a SHORT
walk every morning, and would continue to do so, it would do you
good.’

‘Well, mamma, I will.’

‘But this is worse than lying in bed or bending over your books:
you have quite put yourself into a fever.’

‘I won’t do it again,’ said I.

I was racking my brains with thinking how to tell her about Mr.
Weston, for she must know he was coming to-morrow. However, I
waited till the breakfast things were removed, and I was more calm
and cool; and then, having sat down to my drawing, I began – ‘I met
an old friend on the sands to-day, mamma.’

‘An old friend! Who could it be?’

‘Two old friends, indeed. One was a dog;’ and then I reminded her
of Snap, whose history I had recounted before, and related the
incident of his sudden appearance and remarkable recognition; ‘and
the other,’ continued I, ‘was Mr. Weston, the curate of Horton.’

‘Mr. Weston! I never heard of him before.’

‘Yes, you have: I’ve mentioned him several times, I believe: but
you don’t remember.’

‘I’ve heard you speak of Mr. Hatfield.’

‘Mr. Hatfield was the rector, and Mr. Weston the curate: I used to
mention him sometimes in contradistinction to Mr. Hatfield, as
being a more efficient clergyman. However, he was on the sands
this morning with the dog – he had bought it, I suppose, from the
rat-catcher; and he knew me as well as it did – probably through
its means: and I had a little conversation with him, in the course
of which, as he asked about our school, I was led to say something
about you, and your good management; and he said he should like to
know you, and asked if I would introduce him to you, if he should
take the liberty of calling to-morrow; so I said I would. Was I
right?’

‘Of course. What kind of a man is he?’

‘A very RESPECTABLE man, I think: but you will see him to-morrow.
He is the new vicar of F-, and as he has only been there a few
weeks, I suppose he has made no friends yet, and wants a little
society.’

The morrow came. What a fever of anxiety and expectation I was in
from breakfast till noon – at which time he made his appearance!
Having introduced him to my mother, I took my work to the window,
and sat down to await the result of the interview. They got on
extremely well together – greatly to my satisfaction, for I had
felt very anxious about what my mother would think of him. He did
not stay long that time: but when he rose to take leave, she said
she should be happy to see him, whenever he might find it
convenient to call again; and when he was gone, I was gratified by
hearing her say, – ‘Well! I think he’s a very sensible man. But
why did you sit back there, Agnes,’ she added, ‘and talk so
little?’

‘Because you talked so well, mamma, I thought you required no
assistance from me: and, besides, he was your visitor, not mine.’

After that, he often called upon us – several times in the course
of a week. He generally addressed most of his conversation to my
mother: and no wonder, for she could converse. I almost envied
the unfettered, vigorous fluency of her discourse, and the strong
sense evinced by everything she said – and yet, I did not; for,
though I occasionally regretted my own deficiencies for his sake,
it gave me very great pleasure to sit and hear the two beings I
loved and honoured above every one else in the world, discoursing
together so amicably, so wisely, and so well. I was not always
silent, however; nor was I at all neglected. I was quite as much
noticed as I would wish to be: there was no lack of kind words and
kinder looks, no end of delicate attentions, too fine and subtle to
be grasped by words, and therefore indescribable – but deeply felt
at heart.

Ceremony was quickly dropped between us: Mr. Weston came as an
expected guest, welcome at all times, and never deranging the
economy of our household affairs. He even called me ‘Agnes:’ the
name had been timidly spoken at first, but, finding it gave no
offence in any quarter, he seemed greatly to prefer that
appellation to ‘Miss Grey;’ and so did I. How tedious and gloomy
were those days in which he did not come! And yet not miserable;
for I had still the remembrance of the last visit and the hope of
the next to cheer me. But when two or three days passed without my
seeing him, I certainly felt very anxious – absurdly, unreasonably
so; for, of course, he had his own business and the affairs of his
parish to attend to. And I dreaded the close of the holidays, when
MY business also would begin, and I should be sometimes unable to
see him, and sometimes – when my mother was in the schoolroom –
obliged to be with him alone: a position I did not at all desire,
in the house; though to meet him out of doors, and walk beside him,
had proved by no means disagreeable.

One evening, however, in the last week of the vacation, he arrived
– unexpectedly: for a heavy and protracted thunder-shower during
the afternoon had almost destroyed my hopes of seeing him that day;
but now the storm was over, and the sun was shining brightly.

‘A beautiful evening, Mrs. Grey!’ said he, as he entered. ‘Agnes,
I want you to take a walk with me to – ‘ (he named a certain part
of the coast – a bold hill on the land side, and towards the sea a
steep precipice, from the summit of which a glorious view is to be
had). ‘The rain has laid the dust, and cooled and cleared the air,
and the prospect will be magnificent. Will you come?’

‘Can I go, mamma?’

‘Yes; to be sure.’

I went to get ready, and was down again in a few minutes; though,
of course, I took a little more pains with my attire than if I had
merely been going out on some shopping expedition alone. The
thunder-shower had certainly had a most beneficial effect upon the
weather, and the evening was most delightful. Mr. Weston would
have me to take his arm; he said little during our passage through
the crowded streets, but walked very fast, and appeared grave and
abstracted. I wondered what was the matter, and felt an indefinite
dread that something unpleasant was on his mind; and vague
surmises, concerning what it might be, troubled me not a little,
and made me grave and silent enough. But these fantasies vanished
upon reaching the quiet outskirts of the town; for as soon as we
came within sight of the venerable old church, and the – hill, with
the deep blue beyond it, I found my companion was cheerful enough.

‘I’m afraid I’ve been walking too fast for you, Agnes,’ said he:
‘in my impatience to be rid of the town, I forgot to consult your
convenience; but now we’ll walk as slowly as you please. I see, by
those light clouds in the west, there will be a brilliant sunset,
and we shall be in time to witness its effect upon the sea, at the
most moderate rate of progression.’

When we had got about half-way up the hill, we fell into silence
again; which, as usual, he was the first to break.

‘My house is desolate yet, Miss Grey,’ he smilingly observed, ‘and
I am acquainted now with all the ladies in my parish, and several
in this town too; and many others I know by sight and by report;
but not one of them will suit me for a companion; in fact, there is
only one person in the world that will: and that is yourself; and
I want to know your decision?’

‘Are you in earnest, Mr. Weston?’

‘In earnest! How could you think I should jest on such a subject?’

He laid his hand on mine, that rested on his arm: he must have
felt it tremble – but it was no great matter now.

‘I hope I have not been too precipitate,’ he said, in a serious
tone. ‘You must have known that it was not my way to flatter and
talk soft nonsense, or even to speak the admiration that I felt;
and that a single word or glance of mine meant more than the honied
phrases and fervent protestations of most other men.’

I said something about not liking to leave my mother, and doing
nothing without her consent.

‘I settled everything with Mrs. Grey, while you were putting on
your bonnet,’ replied he. ‘She said I might have her consent, if I
could obtain yours; and I asked her, in case I should be so happy,
to come and live with us – for I was sure you would like it better.
But she refused, saying she could now afford to employ an
assistant, and would continue the school till she could purchase an
annuity sufficient to maintain her in comfortable lodgings; and,
meantime, she would spend her vacations alternately with us and
your sister, and should be quite contented if you were happy. And
so now I have overruled your objections on her account. Have you
any other?’

‘No – none.’

‘You love me then?’ said be, fervently pressing my hand.

‘Yes.’

Here I pause. My Diary, from which I have compiled these pages,
goes but little further. I could go on for years, but I will
content myself with adding, that I shall never forget that glorious
summer evening, and always remember with delight that steep hill,
and the edge of the precipice where we stood together, watching the
splendid sunset mirrored in the restless world of waters at our
feet – with hearts filled with gratitude to heaven, and happiness,
and love – almost too full for speech.

A few weeks after that, when my mother had supplied herself with an
assistant, I became the wife of Edward Weston; and never have found
cause to repent it, and am certain that I never shall. We have had
trials, and we know that we must have them again; but we bear them
well together, and endeavour to fortify ourselves and each other
against the final separation – that greatest of all afflictions to
the survivor. But, if we keep in mind the glorious heaven beyond,
where both may meet again, and sin and sorrow are unknown, surely
that too may be borne; and, meantime, we endeavour to live to the
glory of Him who has scattered so many blessings in our path.

Edward, by his strenuous exertions, has worked surprising reforms
in his parish, and is esteemed and loved by its inhabitants – as he
deserves; for whatever his faults may be as a man (and no one is
entirely without), I defy anybody to blame him as a pastor, a
husband, or a father.

Our children, Edward, Agnes, and little Mary, promise well; their
education, for the time being, is chiefly committed to me; and they
shall want no good thing that a mother’s care can give. Our modest
income is amply sufficient for our requirements: and by practising
the economy we learnt in harder times, and never attempting to
imitate our richer neighbours, we manage not only to enjoy comfort
and contentment ourselves, but to have every year something to lay
by for our children, and something to give to those who need it.

And now I think I have said sufficient.

 

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