Support the Monkey! Tell All your Friends and Teachers
dazzled me, contrasting as it did with the darkness to which my
eyes had been for two hours inured; when I could see, however, a
cosy and agreeable picture presented itself to my view.
A snug small room; a round table by a cheerful fire; an arm-chair
high-backed and old-fashioned, wherein sat the neatest imaginable
little elderly lady, in widow’s cap, black silk gown, and snowy
muslin apron; exactly like what I had fancied Mrs. Fairfax, only
less stately and milder looking. She was occupied in knitting; a
large cat sat demurely at her feet; nothing in short was wanting to
complete the beau-ideal of domestic comfort. A more reassuring
introduction for a new governess could scarcely be conceived;
there was no grandeur to overwhelm, no stateliness to embarrass;
and then, as I entered, the old lady got up and promptly and
kindly came forward to meet me.
‘How do you do, my dear? I am afraid you have had a tedious
ride; John drives so slowly; you must be cold, come to the fire.’
‘Mrs. Fairfax, I suppose?’ said I.
‘Yes, you are right: do sit down.’ She conducted me to her own
chair, and then began to remove my shawl and untie my bonnet-
strings; I begged she would not give herself so much trouble.
‘Oh, it is no trouble; I daresay your own hands are almost numbed
Leah, make a little hot negus and cut a sandwich or two: here are
the keys of the storeroom.’ And she produced from her pocket a
most housewifely bunch of keys, and delivered them to the
‘Now, then, draw nearer to the fire,’ she continued. ‘You’ve
brought your luggage with you, haven’t you, my dear?’ ‘Yes,
ma’am.’ ‘I’ll see it carried into your room,’ she said, and bustled
‘She treats me like a visitor,’ thought I. ‘I little expected such a
reception; I anticipated only coldness and stiffness: this is not like
what I have heard of the treatment of governesses; but I must not
exult too soon.’ She returned; with her own hands cleared her
knitting apparatus and a book or two from the table, to make room
for the tray which Leah now brought, and then herself handed me
the refreshments. I felt rather confused at being the object of more
attention than I had ever before received, and, that too, shown by
my employer and superior; but as she did not herself seem to
consider she was doing anything out of her place, I thought it
better to take her civilities quietly.
‘Shall I have the pleasure of seeing Miss Fairfax to-night?’ I asked,
when I had partaken of what she offered me.