"I cannot tell; Aunt Reed says if I have any, they must be a beggarly
set: I should not like to go a begging."
"Would you like to go to school?"
Again I reflected: I scarcely knew what school was: Bessie sometimes
spoke of it as a place where young ladies sat in the stocks, wore
backboards, and were expected to be exceedingly genteel and precise: John
Reed hated his school, and abused his master; but John Reed's tastes were
no rule for mine, and if Bessie's accounts of school-discipline (gathered
from the young ladies of a family where she had lived before coming to
Gateshead) were somewhat appalling, her details of certain
accomplishments attained by these same young ladies were, I thought,
equally attractive. She boasted of beautiful paintings of landscapes and
flowers by them executed; of songs they could sing and pieces they could
play, of purses they could net, of French books they could translate;
till my spirit was moved to emulation as I listened. Besides, school
would be a complete change: it implied a long journey, an entire
separation from Gateshead, an entrance into a new life.