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A Dark Night's Work Elizabeth Gaskell

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Miss Monro's lips went into a form prepared for whistling. Mr. Ness continued:

"She is at present unwilling enough to leave this house, poor girl. It is but natural; but she has no power in the matter, even were there any other course open to her. I can only say how glad, how honoured, I shall feel by as long a visit as you and she can be prevailed upon to pay me at the Parsonage."

"Where is Mr. Corbet?" said Miss Monro.

"I do not know. After breaking off his engagement he wrote me a long letter, explanatory, as he called it; exculpatory, as I termed it. I wrote back, curtly enough, saying that I regretted the breaking-off of an intercourse which had always been very pleasant to me, but that he must be aware that, with my intimacy with the family at Ford Bank, it would be both awkward and unpleasant to all parties if he and I remained on our previous footing. Who is that going past the window? Ellinor riding?"

Miss Monro went to the window. "Yes! I am thankful to see her on horseback again. It was only this morning I advised her to have a ride!"

"Poor Dixon! he will suffer too; his legacy can no more be paid than the others; and it is not many young ladies who will be as content to have so old-fashioned a groom riding after them as Ellinor seems to be."

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As soon as Mr. Ness had left, Miss Monro went to her desk and wrote a long letter to some friends she had at the cathedral town of East Chester, where she had spent some happy years of her former life. Her thoughts had gone back to this time even while Mr. Ness had been speaking; for it was there her father had lived, and it was after his death that her cares in search of a subsistence had begun. But the recollections of the peaceful years spent there were stronger than the remembrance of the weeks of sorrow and care; and, while Ellinor's marriage had seemed a probable event, she had made many a little plan of returning to her native place, and obtaining what daily teaching she could there meet with, and the friends to whom she was now writing had promised her their aid. She thought that as Ellinor had to leave Ford Bank, a home at a distance might be more agreeable to her, and she went on to plan that they should live together, if possible, on her earnings, and the small income that would be Ellinor's. Miss Monro loved her pupil so dearly, that, if her own pleasure only were to be consulted, this projected life would be more agreeable to her than if Mr. Wilkins's legacy had set her in independence, with Ellinor away from her, married, and with interests in which her former governess had but little part.

As soon as Mr. Ness had left her, Ellinor rang the bell, and startled the servant who answered it by her sudden sharp desire to have the horses at the door as soon as possible, and to tell Dixon to be ready to go out with her.

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A Dark Night's Work
Elizabeth Gaskell

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