Sunday, April 28, 2013
ANNE EYRE (modern Jane Eyre) chapter five: Hay Lane
The day Nathanial Rochester was due to return to Thornton, Sophie and I followed our usual schedule. We began by speaking together in English and then I decided on a swim before lunch. In the afternoon, while Sophie attended her riding lessons, I prepared to go into the village. I waved to Sophie as I opened the gates. I was told I was welcome to take the car, but since I’d never learnt how to drive properly, I thought I’d better not. I left Sophie with her riding instructor and decided to go for a walk to the bus stop.
‘Oh Anne,’ Mrs Fairfax said, ‘would you take these to the post office for me if you are going into town? One of the workmen will give you a lift.’
I nodded, adding ‘It’s alright, I prefer to walk, and I need the exercise.’
The afternoon grew overcast as I made my way down Hay Lane towards the main road that led to the bus stop, a walk of at least half an hour. I was enjoying the solitude, having time to myself. I wore my favourite jeans rolled to my calves and had borrowed a pair of Wellington boots from the scullery. It was breezy but warm enough to go outside wearing the light floral shirt I’d packed for fine weather.
I wore sunglasses to shade me from the glare and had my favourite album blasting from my headphones as I walked in the sun. I’d taken off my summer coat and had it tied around my hips as I walked. I looked like a typical eighteen year old holidaying out of my comfort zone and I was tied up in my music as I veered slightly off the park and wandered more on the edge of the road. From nowhere, or so it seemed, a black sports car sped up and swerved towards me, skidding close by and very near my feet. The driver, a man in his twenties or thereabouts, slammed on the brakes.
The car was motionless, missing both me and a tree by seconds.
‘Careful!’ the man shouted. ‘You need to look where you are going.’
‘And you shouldn’t be driving this fast down country lanes,’ I replied, haughtily.
The driver got out and loomed above me.
He was tall with very dark hair that looked unruly and messy. He wore designer sunglasses and an unironed shirt and I could not see his eyes. His shoulders were broad and his boots covered in mud.
His expression softened, ‘You’re right, I’m sorry. I didn’t see you there. You were camouflaged by the glare and sunlight.’
It was true but not a good enough excuse for almost killing me. I pulled my ear phones over my head and tried to walk past him. He walked towards me. Instantly, I took a step back into the mud.
‘I’m sorry if I startled you. You’re new around these parts, am I right?’
‘Yes,’ I said hesitantly. In London, I’d never stop to speak but they did things differently here. ‘I… I’m the new governess at Thornton Hall.’
‘The new governess?’
‘What’s that - a glorified nanny?’
‘I suppose so,’ I said, annoyed by his questions and keen to move on.
‘But you hardly look old enough to have finished school…’
He considered this for a moment as I adjusted the volume on my speakers, irritated by his tall and overbearing presence. Men like this thought they were so it: tall, fast car, hot, rich, older; I walked on.
‘Just a minute,’ he said.
‘I’m in a hurry; I’ve got to send these letters before the post office closes.’ Did he think I had all day to talk to a complete stranger and a rude one at that? I’d show him who was boss.
‘What do you want?’ I asked impatiently.
‘Oh, nothing,’ he added, ‘I think I’m on London time – fast.’
‘Probably,’ I said dismissively.
‘I might see you soon.’
‘Where? At the local pub? I don’t go out much at night.’ I laughed.
‘Right,’ he said with a sarcastic, superior look on his face.
‘So, see you when I see you,’ I added finally, sure I wouldn’t.
‘Not if I see you first,’ he mumbled. ‘The tutors at Thornton don’t tend to last too long,’ he added as his parting shot.
‘What would you know?’ I replied under my breath.
I could have asked him how he knew all of this, but by then I’d turned my back on him and heard his car start. I raised the volume on my speakers. He drove slower in the opposite direction to me but then I heard him speed up in the distance; typical. He was exactly like the arrogant men that existed in most of my schoolgirl novels.