فصل 05

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فصل 05

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CHAPTER FIVE

Looking for work

I do not remember everything they did.

Charlotte and Anne worked as governesses for some months, teaching rich children in big houses, and Branwell got a job like that too, for a while. But they didn’t like their work. At home my children were full of talk and laughter, but away from home they were shy, quiet, unhappy.

They wrote a lot of letters in their search for work - sometimes to famous people. Branwell wanted to be a writer, so he wrote to writers; but not many of them wrote back. He began to look pale and sad in those days, and he was often in the village pub, drinking and talking to the people there. Then he got a job selling tickets on the railways, and left home.

The girls had an idea. I remember the day when they told me about it. Charlotte and Anne were at home on holiday, and we were all in the sitting-room after dinner one evening. Anne was playing the piano, and singing quietly to herself. She was the prettiest of the three girls, I suppose. She had long wavy brown hair, and a gentle, kind face. Emily sat on the floor beside her, stroking the ears of her dog, Keeper. Charlotte sat opposite me on the sofa, like a little child with a serious, thoughtful face. She was the smallest; her feet were no bigger than my hands.

She looked at me carefully. ‘Papa,’ she said. ‘We want to start a school.’

‘Really, my dear? Where?’

‘Here.’

‘But Charlotte, my dear, we have no room. This house is full already.’

‘Oh, but we could change the house, papa. We could build a schoolroom.’

‘Well, yes, I suppose so,’ I said. ‘But - why do you want to do this? Isn’t it better to work as governesses, in some big fine house?’

‘Oh no, papa!’ All three girls spoke at once. Anne had stopped playing, and Emily looked very angry and frightening. I could see they had thought hard about this.

Charlotte said: ‘The life of a governess is terrible, papa! A governess has no time of her own, no friends, no one to talk to, and if she gets angry with the children, they just run to their mother. I couldn’t possibly be a governess all my life!’

‘It’s true, papa,’ Anne said. ‘It’s an awful life. We’re so lonely away from each other. Why can’t we have a school, and all live here? Then we can take care of you and Aunt Branwell when you get old.’

I looked at Emily. Her eyes were shining; I could see that the idea was important to her too.

‘But why will people send their children here?’ I asked. ‘Haworth is not a big town, or a beautiful place. How will you find children to teach?’

‘We have thought of that too, papa,’ Charlotte said. ‘We must learn more, and become better teachers. I have spoken to Aunt Branwell, and she will give us the money, if you agree. Emily and I want to go to Belgium, to learn French. If we can speak French well, then parents will send their children to us to learn that.’

‘Emily will go?’ I said. I looked at her. Emily had only been away from home twice, and each time she had been very unhappy. But now she looked excited.

‘Yes, papa,’ she said. ‘I will go. Charlotte is right - we must do something. And this will help us to stay together.’

‘And Anne?’

‘I will stay as a governess with the Robinson family,’ Anne said sadly. ‘There’s not enough money for us all to go, and… the Robinsons are not so very bad.’

It was always like that. Anne was a gentle girl; she did not fight as hard as the others. Perhaps her life was easier because of that. I don’t know.

But I thought it was a wonderful idea. I wrote to Belgium, and found them places in a school in Brussels, which was owned by a Monsieur Heger. I agreed to take the girls there, and for a month I wrote down French words in a little pocket book, to help me on the journey. Then, one afternoon in 1842, we caught the train to London.

I had not been to London for over twenty years, and my daughters had never been there. We stayed for three days, and then we took the night boat to Belgium, and arrived at a tall, fine school building in the centre of Brussels.

Heger himself was a very polite, friendly man - very kind. He did not always understand my French, but he showed me round the school, and talked a lot, very fast. I smiled, and tried to answer.

The two girls were very excited when I left them. As I came home on the boat, I thought: ‘This is a good thing, a fine thing, perhaps. My daughters will start a good school, and Haworth will become famous. I hope Branwell can make a success of his life, too. Then my wife Maria will be pleased with us all.’

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