you 0 know , was
a sort of
gentleman farmer 3
in — shire 52
I 1 , by
his 2 express desire , succeeded
him 2 in the same quiet occupation , not very willingly , for ambition urged
me 1 to higher aims , and self-conceit assured
me 1 that , in disregarding its voice ,
I 1 was burying
my 1 talent in the earth , and hiding
my 1 light under a bushel .
her 4 utmost to persuade
me 1 that
I 1 was capable of great achievements ; but , who thought ambition was the surest road to ruin , and change but another word for destruction , would listen to no scheme for bettering either
my 1 own condition , or that of .
He 2 assured
me 1 it was all rubbish , and exhorted
me 1 , with
his 2 dying breath , to continue in the good old way , to follow
his 2 steps , and those of before
him 2 , and let
my 1 highest ambition be to walk honestly through
the world 7 , looking neither to the right hand nor to the left , and to transmit
the paternal acres 8 to in , at least , as flourishing a condition as
he 2 left
them 8 to
me 1 .
‘ Well !
an honest and industrious farmer 10 is one of
the most useful members of society 11 ; and if
I 1 devote
my 1 talents to the cultivation of , and the improvement of agriculture in general ,
I 1 shall thereby benefit , not only
, but , in some degree ,
own immediate connections and dependants 13
mankind at large 5 : — hence
I 1 shall not have lived in vain . ’
With such reflections as these
I 1 was endeavouring to console
myself 1 , as
I 1 plodded
home 14 from
the fields 8 , one cold , damp , cloudy evening towards the close of October .
But the gleam of a bright red fire through
the parlour 15 window had more effect in cheering
my 1 spirits , and rebuking
my 1 thankless repinings , than all the sage reflections and good resolutions
I 1 had forced
my 1 mind to frame ; — for
I 1 was young then , remember — only four-and-twenty — and had not acquired half the rule over
my 1 own spirit that
I 1 now possess — trifling as that may be .
However , that haven of bliss must not be entered till
I 1 had exchanged
my 1 miry boots for a clean pair of shoes , and
my 1 rough surtout for a respectable coat , and made
myself 1 generally presentable before
decent society 16 ; for , with all
her 4 kindness , was vastly particular on certain points .
In ascending to
I 1 was met upon
the stairs 18 by
a smart , pretty girl of nineteen , with a tidy , dumpy figure , a round face , bright , blooming cheeks , glossy , clustering curls , and little merry brown eyes 19 .
I 1 need not tell
you 0 this was
Rose 19 .
She 19 is ,
I 1 know ,
a comely matron still 53 , and , doubtless , no less lovely — in
your 0 eyes — than on the happy day
you 0 first beheld
her 19 .
me 1 then that
she 19 , a few years hence , would be
; as , besides being more than commonly thick , it was protected by a redundant shock of short , reddish curls , that called auburn .
the wife of
one entirely unknown to
as yet , but destined hereafter to become a closer friend than even
, more intimate than
that unmannerly lad of seventeen 20
, by whom
was collared in the passage , on coming down , and well-nigh jerked off
equilibrium , and who , in correction for
impudence , received a resounding whack over the sconce , which , however , sustained no serious injury from the infliction 0
the parlour 15
we 21 found
that honoured lady seated in
arm-chair at the fireside , working away at
knitting , according to
usual custom , when
had nothing else to do 4
She 4 had swept the hearth , and made a bright blazing fire for
our 21 reception ;
the servant 22 had just brought in the tea-tray ; and
Rose 19 was producing the sugar-basin and tea-caddy from the cupboard in the black oak side-board , that shone like polished ebony , in the cheerful
parlour 15 twilight .
‘ Well !
they 21 both are , ’ cried , looking round upon
us 21 without retarding the motion of
her 4 nimble fingers and glittering needles .
‘ Now shut the door , and come to the fire , while
Rose 19 gets the tea ready ;
I 4 ’m sure
you 1 must be starved ; — and tell
me 4 what
you 1 ’ve been about all day ; —
I 4 like to know what have been about . ’
I 1 ’ve been breaking in the grey colt — no easy business that — directing the ploughing of the last wheat stubble — for
the ploughboy 24 has not the sense to direct
himself 24 — and carrying out a plan for the extensive and efficient draining of
the low meadowlands 25 . ’
‘ That ’s !
Fergus 20 , what have
you 20 been doing ? ’
‘ Badger-baiting . ’
he 20 proceeded to give a particular account of
his 20 sport , and the respective traits of prowess evinced by the badger and the dogs ; pretending to listen with deep attention , and watching
his 20 animated countenance with a degree of maternal admiration
I 1 thought highly disproportioned to its object .
‘ It ’s time
you 20 should be doing something else ,
Fergus 20 , ’ said
I 1 , as soon as a momentary pause in
his 20 narration allowed
me 1 to get in a word .
‘ What can
I 20 do ? ’
he 20 ; ‘ wo n’t let
me 20 go to
sea 26 or enter
the army 27 ; and
I 20 ’m determined to do nothing else — except make
myself 20 such a nuisance to
you 28 all , that
you 28 will be thankful to get rid of
me 20 on any terms . ’
his 20 stiff , short curls .
He 20 growled , and tried to look sulky , and then
we 29 all took
our 29 seats at the table , in obedience to the thrice-repeated summons of
Rose 19 .
‘ Now take
your 29 tea , ’ said
she 19 ; ‘ and
I 19 ’ll tell
you 29 what
I 19 ’ve been doing .
I 19 ’ve been to call on
the Wilsons 30 ; and it ’s a thousand pities
you 1 did n’t go with
me 19 ,
Gilbert 1 , for
Eliza Millward 31 was
there 32 ! ’
‘ Well !
her 31 ? ’
‘ Oh , nothing !
I 19 ’m not going to tell
you 1 about
her 31 ; — only that
she 31 ’s
a nice , amusing little thing 54 , when
she 31 is in a merry humour , and
I 19 should n’t mind calling
her 31 — ’ ‘ Hush , hush , !
has no such idea ! ’
whispered earnestly , holding up
her 4 finger .
‘ Well , ’ resumed
Rose 19 ; ‘
I 19 was going to tell
you 1 an important piece of news
I 1 heard
there 32 —
I 19 have been bursting with it ever since .
You 1 know it was reported a month ago , that
somebody 33 was going to take
Wildfell Hall 34 — and — what do
you 1 think ?
It 34 has actually been inhabited above a week !
we 35 never knew ! ’
‘ Impossible ! ’
‘ Preposterous !!! ’
Fergus 20 .
It 34 has indeed !
— and by
a single lady 36 ! ’
‘ Good gracious ,
my 4 dear !
The place 34 is in ruins ! ’
She 36 has had
two or three rooms 37 made habitable ; and
she 36 lives , all alone — except
an old woman for
a servant 39 38
‘ Oh , dear !
that spoils it —
I 20 ’d hoped
she 36 was
a witch 40 , ’ observed
Fergus 20 , while carving
his 20 inch-thick slice of bread and butter .
‘ Nonsense ,
Fergus 20 !
But is n’t it strange ,
mamma 4 ? ’
‘ Strange !
I 4 can hardly believe it . ’
you 4 may believe it ; for
Jane Wilson 41 has seen
her 36 .
She 41 went with
mother , who , of course , when
a stranger being in
the neighbourhood 44 43
, would be on pins and needles till
and got all
could out of
her 36 42
She 36 is called
Mrs. Graham 36 , and
she 36 is in mourning — not widow ’s weeds , but slightish mourning — and
she 36 is quite young ,
they 45 say , — not above five or six and twenty , — but so reserved !
They 45 tried all
they 45 could to find out who
she 36 was and where
she 36 came from , and , all about
her 36 , but neither
Mrs. Wilson 42 , with
her 42 pertinacious and impertinent home-thrusts , nor
Miss Wilson 41 , with
her 41 skilful manoeuvring , could manage to elicit a single satisfactory answer , or even a casual remark , or chance expression calculated to allay
their 45 curiosity , or throw the faintest ray of light upon
her 36 history , circumstances , or connections .
she 36 was barely civil to
them 45 , and evidently better pleased to say ‘ good-by , ’ than ‘ how do
you 46 do . ’
Eliza Millward 31 says intends to call upon
her 36 soon , to offer some pastoral advice , which
he 47 fears
she 36 needs , as , though
she 36 is known to have entered
the neighbourhood 44 early last week ,
she 36 did not make
her 36 appearance at
church 48 on Sunday ; and
she 31 —
Eliza 31 , that is — will beg to accompany
him 47 , and is sure
she 31 can succeed in wheedling something out of
her 36 —
you 1 know ,
Gilbert 1 ,
she 31 can do anything .
we 49 should call some time ,
mamma 4 ; it ’s only proper ,
you 4 know . ’
‘ Of course , .
Poor thing !
she 36 must feel ! ’
‘ And pray , be quick about it ; and mind
you 20 bring
me 20 word how much sugar
she 36 puts in
her 36 tea , and what sort of caps and aprons
she 36 wears , and all about it ; for
I 20 do n’t know how
I 20 can live till
I 20 know , ’ said
Fergus 20 , very gravely .
he 20 intended the speech to be hailed as a master-stroke of wit ,
he 20 signally failed , for
nobody 50 laughed .
he 20 was not much disconcerted at that ; for when
he 20 had taken a mouthful of bread and butter and was about to swallow a gulp of tea , the humour of the thing burst upon
him 20 with such irresistible force , that
he 20 was obliged to jump up from the table , and rush snorting and choking from
the room 15 ; and a minute after , was heard screaming in fearful agony in
the garden 51 .
me 1 ,
I 1 was hungry , and contented
myself 1 with silently demolishing the tea , ham , and toast , while and
sister 19 went on talking , and continued to discuss the apparent or non-apparent circumstances , and probable or improbable history of
the mysterious lady 36 ; but
I 1 must confess that , after ’s misadventure ,
I 1 once or twice raised the cup to
my 1 lips , and put it down again without daring to taste the contents , lest
I 1 should injure
my 1 dignity by a similar explosion .