Sundays were dreary days in that wintry season. We had to walk two miles
to Brocklebridge Church, where our patron officiated. We set out cold,
we arrived at church colder: during the morning service we became almost
paralysed. It was too far to return to dinner, and an allowance of cold
meat and bread, in the same penurious proportion observed in our ordinary
meals, was served round between the services.
At the close of the afternoon service we returned by an exposed and hilly
road, where the bitter winter wind, blowing over a range of snowy summits
to the north, almost flayed the skin from our faces.
I can remember Miss Temple walking lightly and rapidly along our drooping
line, her plaid cloak, which the frosty wind fluttered, gathered close
about her, and encouraging us, by precept and example, to keep up our
spirits, and march forward, as she said, "like stalwart soldiers." The
other teachers, poor things, were generally themselves too much dejected
to attempt the task of cheering others.
How we longed for the light and heat of a blazing fire when we got back!
But, to the little ones at least, this was denied: each hearth in the
schoolroom was immediately surrounded by a double row of great girls, and
behind them the younger children crouched in groups, wrapping their
starved arms in their pinafores.