'Petticoats and Dirty Linen: the dark side of Jane Eyre?' by Gina Headden
Adele! Enough! No more French verbs! Today, I need to talk to you about Miss Ingram. Blanche. Have you seen the way she looks at him — the most delectable Edward, Monsieur de Rochester, your father and my master? Don’t fly-catch, child! You may be only nine and yet you know exactly what I mean. Your ‘oohlalas’ don’t wash with me, your twirling round in circles, flouncing petticoats on show. Oh no, young miss. I know too well the games you play. So tell me — Blanche Ingram and your father — what have you seen? Are they close? Intimate perhaps? Does he stop before her shapely form, draw near to inhale the scent she wears while dallying at her side far longer than is decent? And what of her? Does she reach out and touch his sleeve, lean in and whisper in his ear so that he looks at her and smiles? Are they close? How close? Come now, Adele, no need for rosy cheeks. We could do well together, you and I, for if I win your father’s hand won’t you be a winner too? Toujours les belles cadeaux. Imagine! Frocks from Paris, nestling in fine boxes bound with golden ribbons, each one made to measure just for you. Ah, I see you’re beginning to appreciate the benefits that may ensue should we unite against our common enemy. That’s it. Come, sit down beside me and tell me what you know.